Tag Archives: Industrial Revolution

Regular Moderate Exercise can cut the Risk of Acid Reflux

For people with chronic heartburn, too much running and jumping can induce acid reflux. However, the right type of exercise may actually improve the condition.


Short bouts of fairly moderate exercise at least a couple of times a week can cut the risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, in part because it reduces body mass index.

The New York Times reports:

“The specific exercise is crucial. Scientists found that aerobic exercises with the highest ‘agitation of the body,’ like vigorous running, consistently induced acid reflux, even in people who did not have chronic heartburn …

Another factor is body position. Bench presses, leg curls or any other exercise that involves lying flat sharply raise the risk of acid reflux.”

What Types of Activities Make Heartburn Worse?
As you might suspect, vigorous jumping, bouncing, running and other activities that cause agitation of your body can make heartburn worse, simply because it makes it easier for your stomach acid to move into your esophagus. For this reason, vigorous aerobics and other agitating exercise routines may exacerbate your symptoms, especially if you eat within two hours of your workout.

That said, heartburn also tends to flare up during other routine activities as well, such as:

•After eating a heavy meal
•Bending over
•Lying down, especially when laying on your back
If you know you have GERD, or even if you suffer from heartburn only occasionally, it makes sense to limit these activities, especially shortly after eating, or at least tailor them so they’re less likely to cause a problem.

For instance, by eating smaller portions at your meals it can help you to avoid overeating, which is a major trigger for heartburn. Likewise, if you wait two or three hours after dinner before lying down in bed, it will also give you some relief.

When you do lie down, elevating the head of your bed may make you more comfortable, as can squatting down when you need to pick something up (instead of bending over).

And just as you can modify these common activities so they don’t make your heartburn worse, you can modify your exercise program to follow suit as well.

But at the same time Exercise is Essential, Even if You Have Heartburn

One of my top recommendations for treating heartburn and GERD is to implement an exercise program.

Physical activity is an important way to improve your body’s immune system, which is imperative to fight off all kinds of infections. What does this have to do with GERD?

Source: New York Times July 26, 2010

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Sharing Your Bed May be Bad for Your Health


Couples should consider sleeping apart for the good of their health and relationship, say experts.

One study found that, on average, couples suffered 50 percent more sleep disturbances if they shared a bed.

The modern tradition of the marital bed only began with the industrial revolution, when people moving to overcrowded towns and cities found themselves short of living space. Before the Victorian era it was not uncommon for married couples to sleep apart.

Source: BBC News , January 26, 2010

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Alum is a salt that in chemistry is a combination of an alkali metal, such as sodium, potassium, or ammonium and a trivalent metal, such as aluminum, iron, or chromium.

click to see the picture

It refers to a specific chemical compound and a class of chemical compounds. The specific compound is the hydrated aluminum potassium sulfate with the formula KAl(SO4)2.12H2O. The wider class of compounds known as alums have the related stoichiometry, AB(SO4)2.12H2O.

The most common form, potassium aluminum sulfate, or potash alum, is one form that has been used in food processing. Another, sodium aluminum sulfate, is an ingredient in commercially produced baking powder. (Have you never noticed the faint metallic taste in baking powder? It comes from the alum.)

The potassium-based alum has been used to produce crisp cucumber and watermelon-rind pickles as well as maraschino cherries, where the aluminum ions strengthen the fruits’ cell-wall pectins.

Alums are useful for a range of industrial processes. They are soluble in water; have an astringent, acid, and sweetish taste; react acid to litmus; and crystallize in regular octahedra. When heated they liquefy; and if the heating is continued, the water of crystallization is driven off, the salt froths and swells, and at last an amorphous powder remains.

Potassium alum is the common alum of commerce, although soda alum, ferric alum, and ammonium alum are manufactured.

Aluminium sulfate is sometimes called alum in informal contexts, but this usage is not regarded as technically correct. Its properties are quite different from those of the set of alums formally described above.

Early uses in industry:-
Alum was imported into England mainly from the Middle East, and, from the late 15th century onwards, the Papal States for hundreds of years. Its use there was as a dye-fixer (mordant) for wool (which was one of England’s primary industries), the value of which increased significantly if dyed. These sources were unreliable, however, and there was a push to develop a source in England especially as imports from the papal states were ceased following the excommunication of King Henry VIII. With state financing, attempts were made throughout the 16th century, but without success until early on in the 17th century. An industry was founded in Yorkshire to process the shale which contained the key ingredient, aluminium sulfate, and made an important contribution to the Industrial Revolution. Alum (known as turti in local Indian languages) was also used for water treatment by Indians for hundreds of years.

Current uses
Alum is used in vaccines as an adjuvant. Alum is commonly used as a coagulant in water treatment.


Alum from alunite
In order to obtain alum from alunite, it is calcined and then exposed to the action of air for a considerable time. During this exposure it is kept continually moistened with water, so that it ultimately falls to a very fine powder. This powder is then lixiviated with hot water, the liquor decanted, and the alum allowed to crystallize. The alum schists employed in the manufacture of alum are mixtures of iron pyrite, aluminium silicate and various bituminous substances, and are found in upper Bavaria, Bohemia, Belgium, and Scotland. These are either roasted or exposed to the weathering action of the air. In the roasting process, sulfuric acid is formed and acts on the clay to form aluminium sulfate, a similar condition of affairs being produced during weathering. The mass is now systematically extracted with water, and a solution of aluminium sulfate of specific gravity 1.16 is prepared. This solution is allowed to stand for some time (in order that any calcium sulfate and basic ferric sulfate may separate), and is then evaporated until ferrous sulfate crystallizes on cooling; it is then drawn off and evaporated until it attains a specific gravity of 1.40. It is now allowed to stand for some time, decanted from any sediment, and finally mixed with the calculated quantity of potassium sulfate (or if ammonium alum is required, with ammonium sulfate), well agitated, and the alum is thrown down as a finely-divided precipitate of alum meal. If much iron should be present in the shale then it is preferable to use potassium chloride in place of potassium sulfate.

Alum from clays or bauxite
In the preparation of alum from clays or from bauxite, the material is gently calcined, then mixed with sulfuric acid and heated gradually to boiling; it is allowed to stand for some time, the clear solution drawn off and mixed with acid potassium sulfate and allowed to crystallize. When cryolite is used for the preparation of alum, it is mixed with calcium carbonate and heated. By this means, sodium aluminate is formed; it is then extracted with water and precipitated either by sodium bicarbonate or by passing a current of carbon dioxide through the solution. The precipitate is then dissolved in sulfuric acid, the requisite amount of potassium sulfate added and the solution allowed to crystallize.

Types of alum:-

Soda alum
Sodium alum, Na2SO4·Al2(SO4)3·24H2O, mainly occurs in nature as the mineral mendozite. It is very soluble in water, and is extremely difficult to purify. In the preparation of this salt, it is preferable to mix the component solutions in the cold, and to evaporate them at a temperature not exceeding 60 °C. 100 parts of water dissolve 110 parts of sodium alum at 0 °C, and 51 parts at 16 °C. Soda alum is used in the acidulent of food as well as in the manufacture of baking powder.

Ammonium alum
Ammonia alum, NH4Al(SO4)2·12H2O, a white crystalline double sulfate of aluminium, is used in water purification, in vegetable glues, in porcelain cements, in natural deodorants (though potassium alum is more commonly used), in tanning, dyeing and in fireproofing textiles.

General Uses

*Alum in block form (usually potassium alum) is used as an aftershave, rubbed over the wet, freshly shaved face.
*Alum was used as a base in skin whiteners and treatments during the late 16th Century. A recipe for one such compound was given thus :
“For the Freckles which one getteth by the heat of the Sun: Take a little Allom beaten small, temper amonst it a well brayed white of an egg, put it on a milde fire, stirring it always about that it wax not hard, and when it casteth up the scum, then it is enough, wherewith anoint the Freckles the space of three dayes: if you will defend your self that you get no Freckles on the face, then anoint your face with the whites of eggs.” —Christopher Wirzung, General Practise of Physicke, 1654.

*Alum may be used in depilatory waxes used for the removal of body hair, or applied to freshly waxed skin as a soothing agent.
*In the 1950s, men sporting crewcut or flattop hairstyles sometimes applied alum to their front short hairs as an alternative to pomade. When the hair dried, it would stay up all day.
*Alum’s antibacterial properties contribute to its traditional use as an underarm deodorant. It has been used for this purpose in Europe; Mexico; Thailand, where it is called Sarn-Som; throughout Asia; and in the Philippines, where it is called Tawas. Today, potassium alum is sold commercially for this purpose as a “deodorant crystal,” often in a protective plastic case.

*Alum is used in vaccines as an adjuvant to enhance the body’s response to immunogens.
*Styptic pencils containing aluminium sulfate or potassium aluminium sulfateare are used as astringents to prevent bleeding from small shaving cuts.
*Alum in powder or crystal form, or in styptic pencils, is sometimes applied to cuts to prevent or treat infection.
*Powdered alum is commonly cited as a home remedy for canker sores.
*Preparations containing alum are used by pet owners to stem bleeding associated with animal injuries caused by improper nail clipping.


*Alum powder, found in the spice section of many grocery stores, may be used in pickling recipes and as a preservative to maintain fruit and vegetable crispness.
*Alum is used as the acidic component of some commercial baking powders.

As a Flame Retardant
Solutions containing alum may be used to treat cloth, wood and paper materials to increase their resistance to fire.
Alum is also a component of foamite, used in fire extinguishers to smother chemical and oil fires.

As a Chemical Flocculant
Alum is used to clarify water by catching the very fine suspended particles in a gel-like precipitate of aluminum hydroxide. This sinks to the bottom of the containing vessel and can be removed in a variety of ways.
Alum may be used to increase the viscosity of a ceramic glaze suspension; this makes the glaze more readily adherent and slows its rate of sedimentation.
Alum is an ingredient in some recipes for homemade modeling compounds intended for use by children. (These are often called “play clay” or “play dough” for their similarity to “Play-Doh”, a trademarked product marketed by American toy manufacturer Hasbro).

Related compounds
In addition to the alums, which are dodecahydrates, double sulfates and selenates of univalent and trivalent cations occur with other degrees of hydration. These materials may also be referred to as alums, including the undecahydrates such as mendozite and kalinite, hexahydrates such as guanidinium (CH6N3+) and dimethylammonium (CH3)2NH2+) “alums”, tetrahydrates such as goldichite, monohydrates such as thallium plutonium sulfate and anhydrous alums (yavapaiites). These classes include differing, but overlapping, combinations of ions.

A pseudo alum is a double sulfate of the typical formula ASO4·B2(SO4)3·22H2O, where A is a divalent metal ion, such as cobalt (wupatkiite), manganese (apjohnite), magnesium (pickingerite) or iron (halotrichite or feather alum), and B is a trivalent metal ion.

A Tutton salt is a double sulfate of the typical formula A2SO4·BSO4·6H2O, where A is a univalent cation, and B a divalent metal ion.

In popular culture
Gags in which someone ingests alum, either accidentally self-administered or surreptitiously administered by another, resulting in exaggerated effects, are a traditional staple of comedy. In live-action comedies, effects on the victim usually include extreme puckering of the mouth and lips and tightening of the throat. An example of this is in the Three Stooges short “No Census, No Feeling” when Curly is making a fruit punch and thinking it was sugar, puts alum in the fruit punch.

In animated cartoons, the effects are normally expanded to include extreme shrinking of the head. One example would be in the Merrie Melodies cartoon Long-Haired Hare featuring Bugs Bunny in which he plays a prank on a pompus opera singer named Giovanni Jones by lacing his atomizer with liquid alum. This causes Jones’ head to shrink and his voice to squeak. (Please see the link to the cartoon for a more complete synopsis.) Another such use is Back Alley Op-Roar (Freleng, 1945), in which Elmer feeds Sylvester Pussycat alum-laced milk, shrinking his head and driving his voice up several octaves while singing Figaro.

Also, Thomas Pynchon borrows the joke in chapter 16 of his 1963 novel V., in a scene where alum is slipped into the beer of a jazz trumpet player.


Getting a Grip on the Winter Blues (SAD)

It is that time of year again, when despite the ratcheting up of festivities for the holidays, fully one person in five in the United States ratchets down. The cause is a now well-known but still infrequently treated disorder, winter blues or SAD, for seasonal affective disorder.


There are several remedies to help those affected by SAD escape an affliction that leaves many wanting to climb into bed, put their heads under the covers and not come out until spring. Indeed, some experts refer to SAD as a form of hibernation.

The problem typically starts gradually as the days become shorter in late summer or fall and peaks in midwinter in regions where there may be just 9 or 10 hours of daylight, if that.

For the estimated 14 million severely affected American adults, SAD can send them into a tailspin that makes it difficult if not impossible to fulfill daily responsibilities and derive any joy from life. An additional 33 million people are less severely affected but may experience declines in energy, cheerfulness, creativity or productivity in the dark days of winter.

The most commonly used treatment is exposure for up to several hours a day to high-intensity artificial light, in an effort to simulate the longer days of summer when people with SAD function at top speed.

Jet Lag and Circadian Rhythm
Dr Alfred J. Lewy, a psychiatrist who has been studying the biology behind SAD, describes it as a form of jet lag, a concept he proposed 20 years ago. He recently published experimental evidence that he says attests to the validity of this theory. If true, this would make SAD a disturbance in the circadian rhythm, the 24-hour pattern that normally aligns the sleep-wake cycle with all the other bodily rhythms. Dr. Lewy suggests that with the delayed dawn and shorter days of fall and winter, the rhythms of people afflicted with SAD drift out of phase with the sleep-wake cycle, as if they had traveled across many time zones.

With jet lag, recovery occurs over a matter of days, and the circadian rhythm once again becomes synchronized with day and night. “In people with SAD, this adjustment takes five months,” Dr. Lewy said.

If his theory is substantiated by further research, it may one day be possible to treat SAD with tiny daily doses of time-released melatonin, the substance in the brain that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin naturally increases in the evening, causing sleepiness, and falls off as morning approaches. The idea would be to tailor the administration of melatonin in a way that realigns the out-of-sync circadian rhythm in people with SAD, just as tiny doses (much smaller than those typically sold in health-food and drug stores) of melatonin can be used to speed recovery from jet lag.

In his study, conducted with three colleagues at Oregon Health Sciences University, Dr. Lewy identified two types of SAD patients. About two-thirds required morning light or evening melatonin to correct their body clocks. The remainder needed evening light or morning melatonin to put their body rhythms back on track. Currently, there is no commercial source of time-release low-dose melatonin that could be used, with or without light therapy, to help people with SAD.

Current Remedies
Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal, a native of South Africa who discovered his own serious problem with SAD while a resident in psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute in 1976, has become an expert in diagnosing and treating the problem. His knowledge and experience in helping himself and countless patients afflicted with SAD are summarized in “Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder,” whose revised edition the Guilford Press published this year.

Dr. Rosenthal aptly describes SAD as “an energy crisis.” Patients are not depressed in the usual emotional sense, but rather feel as if their batteries have run down.

The symptoms of SAD do mimic those of serious depression. Patients say they have to drag themselves out of bed in the morning, even after 10 hours of sleep, and force themselves to perform necessary chores. They feel leaden and would just as soon not see anybody or do anything. They find it difficult to concentrate and think clearly and quickly.

Sex drive often dwindles markedly but is often replaced by an insatiable appetite for carbohydrates — breads, pasta, potatoes, rice and sweets — that results in weight gain. Many people with SAD have two wardrobes, the one for winter being two sizes larger.

The most common remedy is light therapy. But not just any light. Patients are advised to sit in front of a specially designed light box that emits about 10,000 lux from a fluorescent bulb, most often in the morning for at least 45 minutes. Some patients require hours of light therapy each day to ward off the symptoms of SAD, which may mean having one light box at home and a second at work.

Among commercial sources for these light boxes is the Center for Environmental Therapeutics, which sells them for $200. Its Web site, www.cet.org, is a useful source of information about SAD.

Among other light-enhancing suggestions from Dr. Rosenthal are planning a winter vacation in a sunny climate or relocating to someplace nearer the Equator, where the days are longer in winter. (But, he cautions, first be sure you can tolerate the summer there.)

Helpful Machines and Therapies
For those who remain in northern latitudes, Michael and Jiuan Su Terman of the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University, who have conducted pioneering studies of SAD remedies, suggest considering a “dawn simulator.” This device gradually turns on a bedroom light every morning while you are still asleep, helping ease SAD symptoms by making the body think that it is experiencing the early sunrises of summer.

This might also help people who do not have SAD but who hate getting up in the morning when it is still dark out.

The Termans have also found another helpful gadget, a negative-ion generator. They showed that sitting in front of a machine that emits negative ions at a high rate for 30 minutes every morning was as effective as sitting in front of a light box for the same time. The generators are available for $165 from the Center for Environmental Therapeutics (Michael Terman is the president of its board). The advantage of this device is that it can be used while sleeping.

A third approach that has proved effective is cognitive behavioral therapy, when used with or without light therapy. Kelly J. Rohan of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., (and currently of the University of Vermont) found that this therapy, a brief form of psychotherapy that helps people change negative thoughts and behaviors, was as effective as light therapy in a study of 23 patients with SAD.

And unlike light therapy used alone, cognitive behavioral therapy helped prevent a relapse of SAD symptoms the next winter.

Dr. Rosenthal also recommends eating a diet relatively high in protein and low in carbohydrates and performing regular physical exercise, which is especially helpful if it is outdoors in the morning or, if indoors, in front of a light box.

Source:The New York Times