Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants


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Botanical Name: Daucus carota
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Daucus
Species: D. carota
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Common Name: Carrot

Habitat : Carrot is native to Europe and southwestern Asia. The domestic carrot has been selectively bred for its greatly enlarged and more palatable, less woody-textured edible taproot. The wild ancestors of the carrot are likely to have come from Persia (regions of which are now Iran and Afghanistan), which remain the centre of diversity of Daucus carota, the wild carrot. A naturally occurring subspecies of the wild carrot, Daucus carota subsp. sativus, has been selectively bred over the centuries to reduce bitterness, increase sweetness and minimise the woody core. This has produced the familiar garden vegetable

Daucus carota is a biennial plant that grows a rosette of leaves in the spring and summer, while building up the stout taproot that stores large amounts of sugars for the plant to flower in the second year….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Soon after germination, carrot seedlings show a distinct demarcation between the taproot and the hypocotyl. The latter is thicker and lacks lateral roots. At the upper end of the hypocotyl is the seed leaf. The first true leaf appears about 10–15 days after germination. Subsequent leaves, produced from the stem nodes, are alternating (with a single leaf attached to a node, and the leaves growing in alternate directions) and compound, and arranged in a spiral. The leaf blades are pinnate. As the plant grows, the bases of the cotyledon are pushed apart. The stem, located just above the ground, is compressed and the internodes are not distinct. When the seed stalk elongates, the tip of the stem narrows and becomes pointed, extends upward, and becomes a highly branched inflorescence. The stems grow to 60–200 cm (20–80 in) tall.

Most of the taproot consists of parenchymatous outer cortex (phloem) and an inner core (xylem). High-quality carrots have a large proportion of cortex compared to core. Although a completely xylem-free carrot is not possible, some cultivars have small and deeply pigmented cores; the taproot can appear to lack a core when the colour of the cortex and core are similar in intensity. Taproots typically have a conical shape, although cylindrical and round cultivars are available. The root diameter can range from 1 cm (0.4 in) to as much as 10 cm (4 in) at the widest part. The root length ranges from 5 to 50 cm (2.0 to 19.7 in), although most are between 10 and 25 cm (4 and 10 in)

Flower development begins when the flat apical meristem changes from producing leaves to an uplifted conical meristem capable of producing stem elongation and an inflorescence. The inflorescence is a compound umbel, and each umbel contains several umbellets. The first (primary) umbel occurs at the end of the main floral stem; smaller secondary umbels grow from the main branch, and these further branch into third, fourth, and even later-flowering umbels. A large primary umbel can contain up to 50 umbellets, each of which may have as many as 50 flowers; subsequent umbels have fewer flowers. Flowers are small and white, sometimes with a light green or yellow tint. They consist of five petals, five stamens, and an entire calyx. The anthers usually dehisce and the stamens fall off before the stigma becomes receptive to receive pollen. The anthers of the brown male sterile flowers degenerate and shrivel before anthesis. In the other type of male sterile flower, the stamens are replaced by petals, and these petals do not fall off. A nectar-containing disc is present on the upper surface of the carpels.


Flower development is protandrous, so the anthers release their pollen before the stigma of the same flower is receptive. The arrangement is centripetal, meaning the oldest flowers are near the edge and the youngest flowers are in the center. Flowers usually first open at the periphery of the primary umbel, followed about a week later on the secondary umbels, and then in subsequent weeks in higher-order umbels. The usual flowering period of individual umbels is 7 to 10 days, so a plant can be in the process of flowering for 30–50 days. The distinctive umbels and floral nectaries attract pollinating insects. After fertilization and as seeds develop, the outer umbellets of an umbel bend inward causing the umbel shape to change from slightly convex or fairly flat to concave, and when cupped it resembles a bird’s nest.

The fruit that develops is a schizocarp consisting of two mericarps; each mericarp is an achene or true seed. The paired mericarps are easily separated when they are dry. Premature separation (shattering) before harvest is undesirable because it can result in seed loss. Mature seeds are flattened on the commissural side that faced the septum of the ovary. The flattened side has five longitudinal ribs. The bristly hairs that protrude from some ribs are usually removed by abrasion during milling and cleaning. Seeds also contain oil ducts and canals. Seeds vary somewhat in size, ranging from less than 500 to more than 1000 seeds per gram.

The carrot is a diploid species, and has nine relatively short, uniform-length chromosomes (2n=9). The genome size is estimated to be 473 mega base pairs, which is four times larger than Arabidopsis thaliana, one-fifth the size of the maize genome, and about the same size as the rice genome.

Carrots are grown from seed and take around four months to mature. They grow best in full sun but tolerate some shade. The optimum growth temperature is between 16 and 21 °C (61 and 70 °F).(click & see the seedling germination)  The ideal soil is deep, loose and well-drained, sandy or loamy and with a pH of 6.3 to 6.8. Fertiliser should be applied according to soil type and the crop requires low levels of nitrogen, moderate phosphate and high potash. Rich soils should be avoided, as these will cause the roots to become hairy and misshapen. Irrigation should be applied when needed to keep the soil moist and the crop should be thinned as necessary and kept weed free… & see

Edible Uses:
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that world production of carrots and turnips (these plants are combined by the FAO for reporting purposes) for calendar year 2011 was almost 35.658 million tonnes. Almost half were grown in China. Carrots are widely used in many cuisines, especially in the preparation of salads, and carrot salads are a tradition in many regional cuisines.

Carrots can be eaten in a variety of ways. Only 3 percent of the -carotene in raw carrots is released during digestion: this can be improved to 39% by pulping, cooking and adding cooking oil. Alternatively they may be chopped and boiled, fried or steamed, and cooked in soups and stews, as well as baby and pet foods. A well-known dish is carrots julienne. Together with onion and celery, carrots are one of the primary vegetables used in a mirepoix to make various broths.

The greens are edible as a leaf vegetable, but are only occasionally eaten by humans; some sources suggest that the greens contain toxic alkaloids. When used for this purpose, they are harvested young in high-density plantings, before significant root development, and typically used stir-fried, or in salads.

In India carrots are used in a variety of ways, as salads or as vegetables added to spicy rice or dal dishes. A popular variation in north India is the Gajar Ka Halwa carrot dessert, which has carrots grated and cooked in milk until the whole mixture is solid, after which nuts and butter are added. Carrot salads are usually made with grated carrots with a seasoning of mustard seeds and green chillies popped in hot oil. Carrots can also be cut in thin strips and added to rice, can form part of a dish of mixed roast vegetables or can be blended with tamarind to make chutney.

Since the late 1980s, baby carrots or mini-carrots (carrots that have been peeled and cut into uniform cylinders) have been a popular ready-to-eat snack food available in many supermarkets. Carrots are puréed and used as baby food, dehydrated to make chips, flakes, and powder, and thinly sliced and deep-fried, like potato chips.

The sweetness of carrots allows the vegetable to be used in some fruit-like roles. Grated carrots are used in carrot cakes, as well as carrot puddings, an English dish thought to have originated in the early 19th century. Carrots can also be used alone or with fruits in jam and preserves. Carrot juice is also widely marketed, especially as a health drink, either stand-alone or blended with fruits and other vegetables.

Neutricinal Value of Carrot:
The medicine of the future will no longer be remedial, it will be preventive; not based on drugs but on the best diet for health. Always remember carrots nourish they do not heal. If the body has the ability to heal itself, it will use the raw materials found in foods to do its own healing work. Herbs do not heal, they feed. Herbs do not force the body to maintain and repair itself. They simply support the body in these natural functions.

Meditional Uses:
Carrots nourish they do not heal. If the body has the ability to heal itself, it will use the raw materials found in foods to do its own healing work. Herbs do not heal, they feed. Herbs do not force the body to maintain and repair itself. They simply support the body in these natural functions.

Carrots are credited with many medicinal properties; they are said to cleanse the intestines and to be diuretic, remineralizing, antidiarrheal, an overall tonic and antianemic. Carrot is rich in alkaline elements which purify and revitalize the blood. They nourish the entire system and help in the maintenance of acid-alkaline balance in the body. The carrot also has a reputation as a vegetable that helps to maintain good eyesight.

Raw grated carrot can be applied as a compress to burns for a soothing effect. Its highly energizing juice has a particularly beneficial effect on the liver.

An infusion of carrot seeds (1 teaspoon per cup of boiling water) is believed to be diuretic, to stimulate the appetite, reduce colic, aid fluid retention and help alleviate menstrual cramps. The dried flowers are also used as a tea as a remedy for dropsy. Taken in wine, or boiled in wine and taken, the seeds help conception. Strangely enough the seeds made into a tea have been used for centuries as a contraceptive. Applied with honey, the leaves cleanse running sores or ulcers. Carrots are also supposed to help break wind and remove stitches in the side. Chewing a carrot immediately after food kills all the harmful germs in the mouth. It cleans the teeth, removes the food particles lodged in the crevices and prevents bleeding of the gums and tooth decay. Carrot soup is supposed to relieve diarrhoea and help with tonsillitis.

In days gone by they grated raw carrot and gave it to children to expel worms. Pulped carrot is used as a cataplasm for application to ulcers and sores. They were also supposed to improve your memory abilities and relieve nervous tension. An Old English superstition is that the small purple flower in the centre of the Wild Carrot (Queen Annes Lace) was of benefit in curing epilepsy.

Queen Annes Lace (the Wild Carrot) was also considered toxic. The leaves contain furocoumarins that may cause allergic contact dermatitis from the leaves, especially when wet. Later exposure to the sun may cause mild photodermatitis. Wild Carrot seed is also an early abortifacient, historically, sometimes used as a natural “morning after” contraceptive tea. Queen Annes Lace has long been used because of its contraceptive properties. It has since been scientifically proven that the carrot seed extract, if given orally at the correct dosage from day 4 to 6 post-coitum, effectively inhibits implantation.

As the carrot was improved it found its way into medicine chests as well as stew pots. Both Gerard and Culpeper recommend the carrot for numerous ills. Culpeper says that the carrot is influenced by Mercury, the god of wind, and that a tea made from the dried leaves should dispel wind from the bowels and relieve dropsy, kidney stones, and women’s complaints.

Experimentally hypoglycemic, a tea made from Queen Annes Lace was believed to help maintain low blood sugar levels in humans, but it had no effect on diabetes artificially induced in animals. Wild carrot tea has been recommended for bladder and kidney ailment, dropsy, gout, gravel; seeds are recommended for calculus, obstructions of the viscera (internal organs), dropsy, jaundice, scurvy. Carrots of one form or another were once served at every meal for liver derangements; now we learn that they may upset the liver.

Medicinally the Carrot was used as a diuretic, stimulant, in the treatment of dropsy, flatulence, chronic coughs, dysentery, windy colic, chronic renal diseases and a host of other uses.Eating carrots is also good for allergies, aneamia, rheumatism, tonic for the nervous system. Everyone knows they can improve eye health; But it does not stop there the delicious carrot is good for diarrhoea, constipation (very high in fibre), intestinal inflammation, cleansing the blood (a liver tonic), an immune system tonic. Carrot is traditionally recommended to weak, sickly or rickety children, to convalescents or pregnant women, its anti-aneamic properties having been famous for a long time.

Tea made the seeds can promote the onset of menstruation. It is effective on skin problems including broken veins/capillaries, burns, creeping impetigo, wrinkles and sun damage. Carrots also help in stimulating milk flow during lactation. Believe it or not the carrot is also effective against roundworms and dandruff. Pureed carrots are good for babies with diarrhoea, providing essential nutrients and natural sugars.

Uses of carrot in Alternative Medicine:
The alternative medicine believers consider the carrot (the whole plant or its seeds) to have the following properties:

*Anthelmintic (destroying or expelling worms).
*Carminative (expelling flatulence).
*Diuretic (promoting the discharge of urine).
*Emmenagogue (producing oils which stimulate the flow of menstrual blood).
*Galactogogue (promoting the secretion of milk).
*Ophthalmic (pertaining to the eye).
*Oedema (water retention).

Known Hazards:
Some people are allergic to carrots. In a 2010 study on the prevalence of food allergies in Europe, 3.6 percent of young adults showed some degree of sensitivity to carrots. Because the major carrot allergen, the protein Dauc c 1.0104, is cross-reactive with homologues in birch pollen (Bet v 1) and mugwort pollen (Art v 1), most carrot allergy sufferers are also allergic to pollen from these plants.

Consumtion of excessive quantities, carrots can cause the skin to turn yellow; this phenomenon, which is called Carotenemia and caused by the carotene coEating carrots is also good for allergies, aneamia, rheumatism, tonic for the nervous system. Everyone knows they can improve eye health; But it does not stop there the delicious carrot is good for diarrhoea, constipation (very high in fibre), intestinal inflammation, cleansing the blood (a liver tonic), an immune system tonic. Carrot is traditionally recommended to weak, sickly or rickety children, to convalescents or pregnant women, its anti-aneamic properties having been famous for a long time.ntained in carrots, is frequently seen in young children but is not at all dangerous.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.



Cold Weather Increases the Possibility of Heart Attacks

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In the light of global climate change, the relations between weather and health are of increasing interest.  Studies have shown that outdoor temperature is linked to mortality risk in the short term, with both hot and cold days having an effect, but the effect of temperature on the risk of heart attacks (called myocardial infarctions) is unclear.
click & see the pictures
Cold weather may increase the risk of a heart attack, according to new research from the UK. Each 1.8 degree Fahrenheit reduction in temperature on a single day was linked to about 200 additional heart attacks.

The greatest risk came within two weeks of cold-weather exposure, and those aged 75-84, along with those with coronary heart disease, were most vulnerable to the temperature changes.

LiveScience reported:
“Cold temperatures are known to raise blood pressure and also increase levels of certain proteins that could increase the risk for blood clots. Certain activities more commonly performed during cold weather, such as snow shoveling, might also contribute to the risk, the researchers say.”

Resources: August 10. 2010
BMJ August 10, 2010; 341:c3823


Eat Local, Think Global

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Many Americans are buying food grown locally not only to get quality produce but also to reduce carbon emissions. P. Hari on the growing popularity of the movement for sustainable living.

RED ALERT: The US meat industry is one of the most polluting ones in the world
.Susan Osofsky, a computer scientist by training, was working at Adobe Systems in the Silicon Valley when the idea struck her. She had volunteered in organic farms in the past. She decided to use her knowledge to teach people the practice of sustainable living — eating healthy while making sure that our planet stays healthy too.

Today, Osofsky holds workshops on cheese making, fermentation, landscaping with edible plants, and other activities that help people grow or make their own food. Osofsky says that people’s interest in such workshops is growing. “One of my workshops on cheese making was sold out a month in advance,” she says.

All over the US, people are discovering the huge burden food production places on the environment, and are volunteering to reduce it as much as they can. Some of them grow their own food, buy only local produce, avoid processed food and often give up meat.

“There has been a tremendous increase of interest in sustainable living since 2007,” says Erin Barnett, director of Local Harvest, in Santa Cruz, California. Local Harvest puts consumers in touch with local farmers so that they can buy food grown locally and avoid being participants in the high carbon emissions that are involved in transporting food over long distances.

Local Harvest is part of a movement called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Under CSA, you pay the farmer in advance for a specified amount of produce every season. Farmers use this money instead of a loan from a bank to buy their seeds and other things necessary for farming. If the crop fails, both the farmer and the consumer suffer. “It is a shared risk,” says Osofsky, who acts as a node for several farmers around her home in Palo Alto, California.

Apart from getting quality produce, buying food locally has the important effect of reducing global warming. The food industry is the most polluting industry in the US, and produces at least one-fifth of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the country. While the main reason for this is the excessive amounts of meat Americans eat, transport of food also plays an important role in raising emissions. The food found in supermarkets in America travels, on an average, 2414km. So buying locally grown food immediately cuts transport emissions.

But there’s more to the sustainable food movement than just reducing one’s carbon footprint. It also involves taking an entirely new look at how people relate to their food.

Three years ago, Barbara Kingsolver, a novelist, spent a year consuming food only grown near her home, if not in her garden. This meant eschewing several things that people take for granted. For example, she could only eat tomatoes when they were in season. Kingsolver has narrated her experience in a book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, which immediately became a bestseller.

Since then there has been a raft of books on sustainable living. Michael Pollan, professor of journalism at the University of California in Berkeley, wrote a book called The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Jonathan Safran Foer, considered one of the most promising young novelists in the US, recently published a book called Eating Animals. Both became instant bestsellers. Foer’s book in particular was a frontal attack on the meat industry, now widely recognised in America as among the most polluting and unethical industries in the world.

The sheer statistics of meat production and consumption in America are mind-boggling. More than 10 billion cows are slaughtered every year. The industrial production of meat is so carbon intensive that it accounts for 18 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is because of the inordinately large amount of resources needed to support the animals. “You could reduce your carbon footprint significantly by reducing your meat consumption,” says Eugene Cordero, climate change researcher and professor of meteorology at San Jose State University. Cordero also recently wrote a book on food and climate change.

The spate of books has also added to a growing awareness among Americans about the need to take sustainable food practices seriously. The website of Local Harvest had 40 million unique visitors this year, up from 32 million last year. There are over 5,000 farmers markets in the US, versus 1,700 in the 1990s. And The Eat Well Guide, another website that provides information about aspects of sustainable food in each town in the US, gets about 30,000 visitors every month. “We do not focus on carbon footprints but it is a wonderful side effect of sustainable agriculture,” says Dawn Brighid, marketing manager of Sustainable Table, the non-profit organisation that publishes the Eat Well Guide.

Sustainable food practices currently constitute only about 1 per cent of the US food industry, but the current movement could gather momentum. And that could make a significant impact on US carbon emissions.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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News on Health & Science

Hot Antidote for Cool Climes

2D representation of CO2
Image via Wikipedia

Recent research shows that the next ice age can be staved off if we act SO fast:-

Conventional wisdom says that the build up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not good for the earth’s inhabitants. Carbon dioxide absorbs heat, passes it around, and raises the earth’s temperatures. The rising temperatures release more carbon dioxide, and the gas absorbs more heat, passes it around, and raises the temperatures further. We would want to avoid this chain reaction, unless we can control it like in a nuclear reactor. That is exactly what we might end up doing, according to new research published last month.

We do not like scorching temperatures, but mild heat may be preferable to intense cold. When the earth is in an ice age — a phenomenon frequent in its history — snow covers a substantial part of the globe, making agriculture impossible, except in some warm areas. Human beings just managed to scrape through the last ice age. We are in the middle of an interglacial period (period between two ice ages), and we do not know precisely when the next ice age will come.

As it now turns out now, higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are the best way to keep the ice age away. Says Gary Shaffer, scientist at Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen: “If we use the fossil fuel reserves wisely, we can modulate the carbon dioxide levels and keep the ice ages away for at least half a million years.”

Shaffer is not proposing a new idea but he has gathered enough data about it to crystal gaze with confidence. He has just finished a study on the earth’s climate for the next half a million years, using a new model he developed with his colleagues. The model points to one reassuring possibility. If we reduce fossil fuel use — compared to 1990s levels — globally by 20 per cent by 2020 and 60 per cent by 2050, we would have done enough to keep the temperature rise to one degree centigrade. And we would also have enough fossil fuel reserves to increase the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at some time in the future when the temperatures begin to drop.

Shaffer’s study is a tangential piece of good news at a time when everything regarding climate change seems to be gloomy. While all studies point to disaster, Shaffer says that we would be in reasonable shape if we act fast enough.

There was more direct good news recently. The journal Nature reported that forests have been soaking up carbon dioxide at levels much higher than previously thought. Recent studies in the Amazon forests suggest that increasing levels of carbon dioxide spur plant growth, but scientists were not sure whether this happens all over the world. Now Simon Lewis and his colleagues at the University of Leeds say that it happens in Africa as well. In fact, forests have absorbed around 18 per cent of the increase in carbon dioxide emissions.

These two studies are unrelated, but they together point to one fact: the earth can recover from a potentially disastrous climate change if we act quickly, and that plants should be an important part of our strategy to fight climate change. Just three months ago, climate scientist James Hansen of Columbia University and 10 other leading scientists argued in a paper in the Open Atmospheric Science Journal that carbon dioxide levels should be brought back to pre-industrial levels of 350 parts per million (ppm), from the current 385 ppm, by the end of the century if we want to avoid total ice melt in the earth. “Ice sheets are the issue that matters,” Hansen had said some time ago, “especially to countries like China and India that have a large population near the coast.”

Hansen and others also calculated what it takes to do this. Technologies are being developed (one in Columbia University itself) to take carbon dioxide from the air and put it back to the earth. Hansen calculated that it would take at least $10 trillion to remove 50 ppm of carbon dioxide. But the good news is that the scientists have also calculated that improved agriculture and forestry methods can remove at least this much carbon dioxide in 100 years.

The Nature paper shows that the forests could make a more significant contribution as they grow faster when there is more carbon dioxide in the air. “We were very lucky,” says Lewis. “There is now more reason to preserve our forests.”

Palaeo-climate studies unambiguously show that the earth warmed up or cooled down depending on the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. There was a time when the entire earth had frozen, and it was the release of carbon dioxide that slowly warmed it. There could be a day when snow conditions return, but the presence of more carbon dioxide in the air would ward off snow for longer periods. And when an ice age is still inevitable, as is bound to happen during certain periods owing to the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit, we could pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. “We should not use up our fossil fuel reserves completely,” says Shaffer. “We should save it for use when we need it.”

A scientific conference to be held in Copenhagen next week is likely to give us new guidelines on exactly how to go about it in this new light.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Health Problems & Solutions

Few Health Questions & Answers

Few Health Questions & Answers by Dr Gita Mathai is a paediatrician with a family practice at Vellore. If you have any questions on health issues, please write to

Q: Can I pierce my bellybutton?

A: Body piercing is now popular. If you are 21 years old, you are free to pierce your nose, ears or belly button. However, make sure your immunisations are up-to-date so that you do not develop tetanus or Hepatitis B from the procedure.

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Also ensure the shop is clean, the person washes his hands, uses disposable gloves and has disposable and sterile instruments. Check the type of metal being used in the jewellery.

Can I eat honey?

Q: I read honey is better and safer than sugar. Can I eat honey and give it to the rest of my family?

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A: Honey is sweeter than sugar and has a palatable flavour. This is why some people to prefer it to sugar and other sweeteners. The honey used should, however, be pure and not sweetened with sugar or jaggery.

Most bacteria do not grow in honey. However, it can be contaminated with dormant spores of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. In children these spores can be transformed into toxin-producing bacteria. It can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and even death.

Abnormal movements

Q: My eight-year-old daughter suddenly started writhing and sticking out her tongue. We took her to a neurologist. After blood tests, a CT scan and an MRI scan, he said it is chorea. His treatment, however, hasn’t helped.

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A: Sydenham chorea occurs in childhood, is commoner in girls and results from an infection by the same bacterium that causes rheumatic fever. It is characterised by rapid, irregular and aimless involuntary movements of the arms and legs, trunk and facial muscles.

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for chorea. If it is mild, bed rest may be sufficient. In more severe cases, sedative drugs or seizure medication may be needed.

However, most children recover completely in three to six weeks, although some may have symptoms for several months. In a third of the affected children, it can recur one or two years after the initial attack.

Painful knee

Q: My son has pain in his right knee. My doctor said it is apophysitis and that he will grow out of it. I am upset and confused.

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Your doctor has probably diagnosed tibial apophysitis. This is commoner in athletic boys and manifests itself during the adolescent growth spurt. It is due to overuse and typically causes pain, swelling and tenderness of the bony prominence of the upper shinbone. It does not cause any permanent deformity or complications. It needs only rest, warm fomentations and mild analgesics.

Lurching gait

Q: My son, 36, has developed severe headaches. He also lurches towards the right when he walks. He has a red birthmark on the left side of his face. The doctor says these are connected and has asked for a scan.

A: A red birthmark is a haemangiona, an abnormal collection of blood vessels. A similar malformation may be present internally, near the brain. Your doctor probably wants to rule that out as part of the investigations for the lurching gait.

Infectious diseases:

Q: My seven-year-old daughter developed typhoid. A few months later she developed jaundice. She has become thin and weak. Is anything wrong with her immunity?

A: We live in a tropical country with a high incidence of infectious diseases. Both the diseases you have mentioned (if the jaundice was Hepatitis A) are food or water borne.

Boil or purify the water before drinking it. Wash fruits and vegetables, if eaten raw, in the same purified water.

Immunisation is available against both these diseases. Typhoid can be prevented with a single vaccine injection. It costs between Rs 200 and Rs 300. It is given after the age of two years and repeated every three years. Hepatitis A and B can also be prevented. Immunisation for hepatitis A consists of two injections four to six months apart. It costs between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,300. No booster doses are required.

Your child’s immunity is probably normal. There seems to have been a breakdown in hygiene and immunisation.


My grandfather is a smoker and asthmatic. He gets frequent attacks of bronchitis. The doctor has asked us to immunise him. It sounded silly to us and so we changed doctors.

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A: Asthmatics are prone to exacerbations owing to infection or exposure to an allergen. If it is due to a bacterial infection, the sputum will be purulent for 48 hours. Among the organisms that can cause frequent infections, H Influenzae and S pneumoniae can be prevented by immunisation. Both can be given before the age of two years. As they are fairly recent vaccines your grandfather would not have received them.

The polyvalent pneumococcal vaccine can be given after the age of two years as a single injection against S pneumoniae. It provides a lifetime of protection. It is offered to adults over the age of 65 years who are at risk for pneumonia.

Source: The Telegraph (India, Kolkata)