News on Health & Science

Bitter Truth About Betel

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Indian researchers have discovered that areca nut is quite addictive and, when combined with tobacco, can lead to cancer.

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If you thought only the tobacco in chewing pan is addictive, think again. Researchers in Bangalore have found that betel nut (Areca catechu or supari), too, is addictive and long-term users develop a dependency on it.

According to a team of researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans), the chances of those chewing areca nut — with or without tobacco — developing oral submucous fibrosis (OSF) are much higher than in smokers. OSF is a medical condition that leads to cancers of the oral cavity and throat.

The relative risk of those who use areca nut along with tobacco developing OSF is nearly 400 times more than plain tobacco users, Nimhans psychiatrist Vivek Benegal and his colleagues at the institute’s Deaddiction Centre said in a study reported online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

“Traditionally, it is thought that areca nut is not addictive and hence safe to consume. For this reason, even children, for whom other stimulants such as tobacco are taboo, are allowed to use it,” observed Benegal. It is a matter of concern as a significant portion of the younger generation in India consumes areca products, he said.

“Our study shows that it is not just gutka (which contains tobacco along with areca nut and several spices) that is harmful; even plain pan masala is injurious to health as it, too, develops a dependence syndrome on persistent use,” he said.

Tobacco in areca nut mixtures — although not a causative factor of OSF — is believed to be more responsible for the disease as it increases addiction, leading to a greater yearning for nut chewing.

Areca nut, which is said to be the fourth most commonly used psychoactive stimulant, makes more than 70 per cent of its users addicted to it. Popular in South Asia and South-east Asia, it is used by nearly 10 per cent of the world’s population. Though there could be subtle variations in its effects on people, the consumption of areca nut generally produces a sense of well being, euphoria, warm sensation in the body and heightened alertness.

The scientists said that long-term areca users may develop the same kind of dependence syndrome as those indulging in other substances of abuse do. They hoped that the work might highlight a public health problem that has hitherto been ignored.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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News on Health & Science

Body’s Natural Painkillers Can Block Phobias

Magnetic resonance image showing a median sagittal cross section through a human head.

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Human body’s own pain-relief system has the ability to block phobias, claims a new study which is likely to soon throw light on the neural mechanisms behind anxiety and stress.

A international team, led by researchers at the University Medical Centre of Hamburg-Eppendorf, has found that the way humans are conditioned by fearful stimuli is to some extent damped down by the body’s own pain-relief system.

For their study, the researchers recruited 30 male volunteers who were asked to watch green triangles and blue pentagons on a screen inside an MRI scanner. One symbol was followed half the time by a moderately painful application of heat to the forearm; the other was never followed by pain.

Half the volunteers were infused with a drug that blocks the effects of opioids, while the others got saline solution as a control. The brain scans showed that in people whose opioid systems had been blocked, the amygdala showed a fear response that did not diminish with exposure. Every time they saw the symbol associated with pain, their amygdalas reacted strongly.

In the control group, however, the activation decreased over the course of the experiment. As the group receiving the drug was reacting fearfully, the researchers speculate, they were learning the association intensively.

At the beginning of each trial, volunteers had to perform a reaction time task – pressing a button to indicate on which half of the screen the symbol had appeared. Overall, the subjects reacted more quickly to the cue signalling pain than the cue signalling nothing – but the opioid-free subjects reacted significantly faster.

The team speculates that opioid deficiency could be a contributing factor to anxiety disorders and exaggerated fear responses.

Sources:The Times Of India

Anti Drug Movement

Dangers Of Prescription Drug Abuse

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Although teens are turning away from street drugs, now there’s a new threat and it’s from the family medicine cabinet: The abuse of prescription (Rx) and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.


Parents and caregivers are the first line of defense in addressing this troubling trend.

What’s the problem?
Teens are abusing some prescription and over-the-counter drugs to get high. This includes painkillers, such as those drugs prescribed after surgery; depressants, such as sleeping pills or anti-anxiety drugs; and stimulants, such as those drugs prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Teens are also abusing over-the-counter drugs, such as cough and cold remedies.

Every day 2,500 youth age 12 to 17 abuse a pain reliever for the very first time. More teens abuse prescription drugs than any illicit drug except marijuana. In 2006, more than 2.1 million teens ages 12 to 17 reported abusing prescription drugs. Among 12- and 13-year-olds, prescription drugs are the drug of choice.

Because these drugs are so readily available, and many teens believe they are a safe way to get high, teens who wouldn’t otherwise touch illicit drugs might abuse prescription drugs. And not many parents are talking to them about it, even though teens report that parental disapproval is a powerful way to keep them away from drugs.

What are the dangers?
There are serious health risks related to abuse of prescription drugs. A single large dose of prescription or over-the-counter painkillers or depressants can cause breathing difficulty that can lead to death. Stimulant abuse can lead to hostility or paranoia, or the potential for heart system failure or fatal seizures. Even in small doses, depressants and painkillers have subtle effects on motor skills, judgment, and ability to learn.

The abuse of OTC cough and cold remedies can cause blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, coma, and even death. Many teens report mixing prescription drugs, OTC drugs, and alcohol. Using these drugs in combination can cause respiratory failure and death.

Prescription and OTC drug abuse is addictive. Between 1995 and 2005, treatment admissions for prescription painkillers increased more than 300 percent.

Found out your teen is abusing Rx drugs?

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Anti Drug Movement

A Strange Addiction

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The girl’s mother sounded really upset. “She shuts herself up in her room and sniffs a cloth soaked in petrol. I don’t understand it at all,” she said. “Strange behaviour… How did it start,” asked the doctor. Apparently innocently enough, as it turned out, smelling the rags discarded by her mother after cleaning the petrol spills from the generator. The girl looked tired, despondent and disoriented. She twitched and dithered, anxiously eyeing the door, hoping to escape, probably to get her next “fix”.

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…………IInhalant abuse can occur with common household items such as permanent markers, adhesives, moth balls or shoe polish

Further questioning revealed that the girl’s academic performance had also deteriorated in the last few months. She suffered from an addiction to petrol fumes, a recognised form of inhalant abuse. This is defined as the intentional inhalation of any volatile substance for the purpose of achieving an altered mental state, a “high”.

Inhalants are easily addictive. Abuse was first documented among children in slums and ghettos in Africa. Now this addiction is found all over the world, among all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. It can start in elementary school and continue throughout adolescence. The extent of the problem is under reported as it often goes unrecognised. Addiction to inhalants is easy as unlike alcohol, marijuana, crack, heroin and other hard core “recreational” drugs these are cheap, plentiful, appear innocent and can be easily purchased without arousing suspicion.

In addition to petrol, any product containing volatile chemicals like acetone, butane, chlorinated hydrocarbons, fluorocarbons, propane and toluene can be addictive. These chemicals are found in common household products such as permanent markers, adhesive, glue, paint thinner, shoe polish, room fresheners and correction fluids. There are several innovative ways of inhaling fumes like “sniffing” or “snorting” from containers. Alternatively, aerosols are sometimes sprayed directly into the nose or mouth. Kids can “huff” these products by soaking rags in inhalants and then pressing the damp cloth to the mouth. Fumes can also be inhaled from the products poured into plastic bags. Inhalants can be fatal as they can cause palpitations and irregular heart beats. They can also cause suffocation, especially when inhaled from plastic bags.

Parents may not be aware that their child is addicted to inhalants. They may only note inexplicably bizarre behaviour like euphoria, drowsiness, giddiness, loss of coordination, slurred speech, irritation and agitation.

Petrol, including the unleaded variety, contains a significant amount of lead. In addition to nerve and brain damage, petrol sniffers can develop symptoms of lead poisoning. In the long term, the lead and volatile hydrocarbons can damage the fat (myelin) lining of the brain and nerves. The gait then becomes abnormal and unsteady. Visual recognition, attention, memory and learning are affected. Academic performance, too, deteriorates. Physical activity and sports become curtailed as there is poor coordination and tremor. These neurological changes increase the reaction time, thus making these young people accident prone.

Children who are addicted have additional physical and psychological problems. They may be depressed, fatigued (because of anaemia) and have subnormal hearing and vision. The kidneys may be damaged and may eventually fail. Once the habit is curtailed there is some improvement, but much of the neurological damage is permanent. Inhalant abuse must be stopped as soon as it is spotted. This can result in withdrawal symptoms, such as sleep disturbances, irritability, nausea, vomiting, sweating, rapid heartbeat, hallucinations or delusions.

Addiction can occur to many things — like food, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, sleeping tablets, painkillers, cough mixtures or even sex. Addiction occurs when there is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. In other words, it occurs when a person with such genetic makeup — which predisposes him or her to addiction — is brought up in a family where motive and opportunity are aplenty.

Sometimes, the elders in the family may be to blame.
The child may observe a lack of control in his or her parents’ lifestyle. One or both of them may consistently overeat, be overweight and exhibit no restraint. There may be smoking, use of snuff or chewing tobacco. Alcohol may be misused with uncontrolled daily consumption or binge drinking.

To help addicted children, parents have to look within as their activities are often emulated by children blindly. They have to stop their addictions. At the same time, they must closely supervise and keep a watch on the child. Disappearing into a room, under the staircase or the terrace is a danger signal. They have to provide supervised activities to occupy the child from morning till night. Physical activity must be encouraged, even if there are pressures of homework, for 40 minutes a day. Yoga and training in the martial arts are also helpful as they teach mental discipline.

The road back to normalcy is long, winding, hard and full of pitfalls with plenty of opportunities for relapse. It is only with the help of supportive and dedicated family and friends that success can be achieved.

Sources:The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Ailmemts & Remedies

Alcohol Dependence

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A person who is dependent on alcohol has an irresistible compulsion to drink, which takes priority over almost everything else in life. This craving for drink coupled with withdrawal symptoms when drinking stops, is what separates alcohol dependence from alcohol abuse, a term used to describe regular drinking to excess. About 14 million people in the us abuse or are dependent on alcohol. drinking problems are most common in men, particularly between the ages of 20 and 40. In addition to causing damage to the liver and brain, the need to drink to excess regularly is damaging to mental health and may destroy a person’s family and social life and career.

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What are the causes?
Alcohol dependence is often the result of a combination of factors. sometimes alcohol dependence runs in families, partly as a result of children growing up in an environment of heavy drinking and partly because of an inherited predisposition. People who are shy, anxious, or depressed may rely heavily on alcohol. Working as a bartender or in an occupation that is associated with social drinking increases the risk of dependence. stressful life events may turn a moderate drinker into a heavy one.

What are the symptoms?
Alcohol dependence may develop after a number of years of moderate to heavy drinking.

symptoms may include:
· A compulsion to drink and loss of control over the amount consumed.
· Increased tolerance to the effects of alcohol, leading to greater consumption to achieve the desired effects.
· Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, and tremor, which starts a few hours after the last drink.

In severe cases, withdrawal seizures develop after alcohol is stopped. after a few days without alcohol, delirium tremens may develop with symptoms of liver, shakes, seizures, disorientation and hallucinations. Symptoms last for 3 to 4 days and are usually followed by a deep, prolonged sleep. in extreme cases, shock occurs and may be fatal.

Are there complications?
Alcohol has direct effects on the body and may cause many diseases. long-term alcohol dependence is the most common cause of severe liver disease and may damage the digestive system, causing peptic ulcers.

Heavy drinkers often have a poor diet, which may lead to a deficiency in vitamin b1 that may eventually cause dementia. rarely, sever thiamine, deficiency leads to wernicke-korsakoff syndrome, a severe brain disorder that causes confusion and amnesia and may lead to coma. If excessive drinking continues for a prolonged period of time, damage to vital organs may be life-threatening.

Psychiatric disorder associated with alcohol dependence include anxiety, depression and suicidal behavior. generally, a person with alcohol dependence becomes self-centered and lacks concerns for family and friends.

How is it diagnosed?
Before the doctor can make a diagnosis, a person may need to be persuaded to seek help. the doctor will ask about the extent of the person’s drinking and look for evidence of dependence. Blood tests to assess possible damage to the liver and other organs may be arranged.

What is the treatment?
Gradual reduction of alcohol intake or limiting alcohol consumption to social drinking is rarely possible. instead, the person will be asked to stop drinking completely. In mild to moderate cases, withdrawal can take place at home, provided that adequate support is available. antianxiety drugs, such as benzodiazepine, may be prescribed for a short time to reduce agitation and other physical effects of withdrawal.

When heavy drinking is stopped suddenly, withdrawal seizures or delirium tremens may develop. the symptoms of delirium tremens are potentially life-threatening and require admission to the hospital or a special detoxification unit. “withdrawal symptoms are usually treated with antianxiety drugs.

Treatment for physical problems as a result of long-term alcohol dependence includes ulcer-healing drugs for peptic ulcers and vitamin b1 injections for a thiamine deficiency.

When the symptoms of withdrawal have been treated, the doctor may prescribe drugs that reduce craving for alcohol or cause unpleasant reaction when it is consumed.Support is given to help prevent a relapse. Individual counseling or group therapy may help people address the problems that contribute to alcohol dependence.

What is the prognosis?
Accepting that there is a problem and receiving emotional support during the effort to give up drinking greatly improve a person’s chance of recovery. attending a self-help group, such as alcoholics anonymous, reduces the risk of relapse. however, after a long period of dependence, several attempts at detoxification may be needed before a person abstains from alcohol altogether.

In about 1 in 5 cases in which delirium tremens develop and is untreated, the condition proves fatal.

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Ayurvedic treatment for Alcohol Dependence

Recommended Ayurvedic Product: Sumenta , Traquinyl forte
Recommended Therapy: Shirobasti , Shirodhara

Studies have shown acupuncture to be more effective than conventional methods in
the treatment of alcohol dependence and withdrawal symptoms

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Homeopathic treat ment for Alcohol Dependence…………….(1)……...(2)
Robert McDowell’s Herbal Treatments
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Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.


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