Archive for April, 2009


Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

One of the difficulties in the management of functional pain is that we find it very hard to accept the idea that the pain is in fact due to our nerves. We feel the pain; it hurts; it is a real pain. We are convinced in our mind that such real pain is not psychological in origin. We tell this to the doctor, but somehow he does not seem to understand. If he would only do some additional test we feel sure that it would show some organic cause for our trouble. We undoubtedly want to find an organic cause. Such is our scale of values that no one is very proud of himself when he has to explain to his friends that his pain is merely due to nerves. But there is more to it than this. The pain is so bad that we ourselves feel sure that it must be due to some physical condition of our body. This is particularly the case in psychosomatic abdominal pain. Our anxiety has affected the smooth working of our bowels. They contract in spasms, and often quite violently, and the part of the bowels in front of the contraction does not relax properly in the way that it should. The pain nerves in the bowels are stimulated and we experience real colic.

It is clear that the first step in the self-management of such a condition is the acceptance of the idea that the pain is in fact the result of our anxiety. By acceptance of the idea I do not just mean verbal agreement with our doctor. It is very easy to do this, and at the same time to keep our own reservations on the matter. No. We must accept the truth openly and without reservation.

There is a further point that needs explanation. We are often inclined to think that our pain should be directly related to the cause of our anxiety. For instance, if our anxiety is caused by a sexual conflict, as it often is, then we might expect it to show itself in pain in the sexual parts rather than in pain in the stomach. But this is not so. There are usually two factors: one is the conflict or conflicts which produce our anxiety; and the other is usually some incidental matter, such as past trouble in some organ, so that our attention is focused there in a way that has the effect of localizing our psychological pain in this part of the body.



Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Q. What is this?

A. It is a disorder of the bowel, commonly of the small intestine but often including the colon. It is named after a New York physician, Dr. Burrill Crohn, of the late 1800s, who first described it, calling it regional ileitis. It is common in western countries and is much like ulcerative colitis, producing similar symptoms and also greatly increasing the patient’s risk of bowel cancer, especially if it starts before the age of 21 years.

Q. What are the symptoms?

A. Recurring bouts of pain in the lower abdomen, often worse after meals, loss of weight, diarrhoea, recurring fevers, probably the passage of blood.

Q. How is it diagnosed and treated?

A. The methods for diagnosis include x-rays, the use of the endoscope for the upper small bowel or the colonoscope for the large bowel and taking a biopsy for laboratory confirmation. The bowel is often rigid and thickened and the canal narrowed. Treatment is unsatisfactory and although various drugs such as the corticosteroids, sulfasalazine, azothioprine and others have been used, they are not curative. Surgical treatment may be resorted to if symptoms become intolerable.



Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

While medical treatments can cure many forms of back problems, including those that give rise to sciatica, it still remains a fact that many sufferers will continue to experience pain at times because of their underlying condition. Essentially, a patient is most likely to have to cope with pain under the following circumstances:

When the problem first manifests itself, pain being almost invariably the first symptom. Naturally, depending upon the severity of the problem, the sufferer will then either seek medical help immediately or perhaps wait a while in the hope that the symptoms ease or disappear of their own account.

Even when medical treatment or other remedial therapy has been initiated, it may take a while for this to take full effect and pain may still be experienced now and then.

Then, of course, many people have what might be called ‘mild sciatica’ in that occasionally they have pain or perhaps only discomfort, which although bothersome, they feel is not severe enough to seek medical help. It needs to be stated once again that anyone experiencing symptoms severe enough to cause concern should seek medical advice. However, there’s little doubt that good though this advice is, not everyone will take it, many people preferring to try to control or reduce their pain rather than seeking to deal with the problem that may be causing it.

While the many forms of treatment available for back problems are described elsewhere in this book, in this chapter we will concentrate solely on those measures intended to eliminate or reduce pain. But first of all. . .



Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

A clue to why some of us can stay trim on a diet that causes others to gain weight may be found in the way the body handles sodium and potassium.

According to a recent report in Science News (118:295), Harvard Medical researchers have found there is a direct relationship between body weight and the capacity to move sodium and potassium through body membranes. Since this transport process burns up a lot of energy, a relative lack of sodium and potassium transporters could understandably be associated with increased body weight.

“For the first time we have evidence that obese people have a primary biochemical defect not caused by overeating,” reported one of the researchers. The question of whether the biochemical defect is hereditary remains to be fully answered. Meanwhile, let us not use this as an excuse. It may be harder for some of us to diet if we have fewer than normal sodium and potassium transporters, but it is not impossible.



Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

For unknown reasons, a testis, the male sex gland, may become twisted, shutting off the blood supply. Although the condition is more apt to affect boys who have an undescended testis, it is quite common among boys whose testes are in the normal position in the scrotum, the pouch of skin behind the penis. The condition may also follow a minor injury.

Signs and symptoms

A testis that is twisted first becomes slightly swollen and tender. Within a few hours it is intensely painful, and very tender and swollen. The testis and the surrounding skin become discolored (red or blue), and the boy may be nauseated or vomit and have lower abdominal pain and a fever.

Torsion (twisting) of a testis that has descended into the scrotum may be confused with an infection (orchitis), a strangulated hernia, or a bruise of the scrotum. Torsion of a testis that has not descended and lies in the groin may be confused with a strangulated hernia, an injury, or infected lymph glands in the groin. Torsion of an undescended testis that lies within the abdominal cavity is difficult to diagnose but may be suspected whenever abdominal pain occurs. This is an emergency situation and requires immediate medical treatment.

Torsion of a part of a testis (appendix of the testis) causes similar, although less intense, symptoms. Nevertheless, this too is considered an emergency. Both conditions are treated the same way.

Home care

Do not attempt home treatment. Torsion  of the testis is an emergency that requires G immediate surgical correction.

• Take your child to a doctor immediately if pain near testis increases and the testis is tender, swollen, or discolored. Do not delay; hours count.

• Suspect torsion of the testis in a boy with an uncorrected, undescended testis if he has lower abdominal pain or pain in the groin.

• An injury or a bruise of the scrotum and testis is not uncommon and will cause instant pain that gradually subsides. If pain increases following an injury or a bruise, suspect torsion of the testis.

Medical treatment

Your doctor will arrange immediate surgery to untwist the testis and to anchor it in the scrotum in order to prevent further episodes. If surgery is not performed within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms the testis may be damaged permanently.



Thursday, April 23rd, 2009


«I am depressed. My mind is filled with morbid thoughts. Can’t face the day. Would just like to stay in bed. Not get up. Never get up. Never wake up again. Sometimes as bad as that. Can’t get going. Everything a burden. Getting the children off to school. He helps, but he does not understand. Sometimes tells me to pull myself together. That bites. It hurts me. He does not mean it. But it hurts me. All I am trying to do is to pull myself together. But I can’t. I just can’t. »

Depression has different causes. Sometimes it is the direct result of stress, but not always so.

In stress our brain is bombarded with an excess of messages so that it is not functioning as well as it should. We become aware that we are not coping properly with our situation in life. It is this awareness of our failure that makes us depressed.


«Have lost my cool. Edgy. Blow up about trivial things. Irritable. Just plain irritable. Used not to be like this. Irritable at work. Irritable with my wife. Poor dear, she bears the brunt of it. Scold the children for playing around like normal kids. It used not to be like this. There has been a change. And the change is in me. »

In stress, the nerve cells of our brain have become over-alerted by the excess of messages they are receiving. They fire off too quickly, and in inappropriate circumstances. As a result we are soon finding fault unnecessarily with those at work, bickering with our wife and scolding the children.

An unhappy consequence of this situation is that people withdraw from us to avoid our irritability. Workmates no longer suggest a friendly drink on the way home. Our wife spends longer doing the chores rather than sitting with us. And the children, without any conscious evaluation on their part, take to playing in another room.



Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Self-conscious conversation

“No reason at all. No reason at all. I know I am just as good as the others. Just ill at ease with them for no reason at all.

They are talking, joking, happy. They are all so natural. Feel I should say something. Think of something good to say. Can’t get the chance to say it. So butt in. But the subject has changed to something else. It just sounds stupid. Then more ill at ease than ever. I don’t know.

‘It breaks up. They move on. The ring of their jaunty footsteps echoes their light-heartedness. I leave. Then start brooding over what I’ve said. All the time knowing it is all so trivial.

‘The next day, and the day after, it crowds in on my mind. Life should not be like this.”

A high level of anxiety keeps alerting our mind and making us self-conscious. The self-consciousness increases our anxiety still further, and a vicious circle mechanism is established.

The answer. Secure enough to talk if we wish to. Secure enough to remain silent, if that is what we want. Inner security comes to us when our brain runs easy, interpreting the messages as they come to it.

The drift apart

“I love her. Really love her. Don’t doubt me on that. But something within me tells me, we must break it up. Why? I can’t explain. Can’t possibly explain. Living together three years. Still love her. Must be my love has changed. Somehow a feeling of emptiness. What is the purpose. What does it all mean? Sex, everything. It’s all good. Tried to talk to her about ultimate being. She didn’t understand. Just happily relaxed about it. Mildly amused. Is that good enough? Life together, but on a different wavelength. I must break it up.

‘But how? How can I break it up without hurting her? Sex last night. Something you could not surpass. That does not make it any easier. Keep the sex, and not her soul! That would be cheating. I don’t want that.

‘Final exams in two months. Should come top. What does it matter? End up nowhere”

His brain is muddled with idealistic introspection. He is likely to come under stress, and his examination results will suffer. I have seen other young people, girls and young men, caught in similar situations. ‘What is a degree? A piece of paper. I want more in life than that.’ Some have dropped out. In a year or two they have found that a degree would have been a help in furthering their idealistic aspirations in a practical way.

He would agree that we are all individuals. And he would readily apply this to himself. Yet he denies this same individuality to his girlfriend. He has not lived long enough to learn that love transcends individual idiosyncrasies.

Young people often forget the naturalness of it all. Love is for loving. It is a tender process. And is easily bruised, harmed or even destroyed by the bite of intellectual examination. If ever a man should just let his mind run quiet, it is he.

There are, however, practical considerations that can save some of the stress. If there has to be a break up, better by far that it should come about by a gradual drift apart, rather than some terrible confrontation and attempts to give reasons in words, which in this case are really no more than toys of the intellect.



Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

The respiratory tract is made up of large tubes which divide into smaller ones until these become finer than threads. Each tiny tube then ends in a sac where air comes in contact with thin-walled blood vessels to exchange oxygen for the carbon dioxide in the blood. Oxygen cannot be stored in the body; it has to be provided through the air that one breathes, about one-fifth of which consists of oxygen.

Oxygenation and Environment

An altitude of 300 to 600 feet is ideal for healthful oxygenation. (Altitudes above 4,000 feet have less oxygen in the air.)

A warm, dry climate permits outdoor living; it causes fewer lung infections than a rainy, damp climate that requires indoor living. Smoke, dust, fumes, odors, and gases cause fine particles of ash to deposit them on the lung mucosa and bring about an extra secretion of mucus which may become infected. Recurrent infections cause a destruction of the air sacs of the lung, a condition called pre-emphysema. This is a ballooning of the chest through air retention. The lungs lose their elasticity and cannot stretch to receive fresh air or recoil to expel stale air.

The diagnosis of pre-emphysema rests on frequent upper respiratory infections, mucus production, a history of breathlessness, wheezing after walking or playing, an X-ray finding in the lung, and a diminished breathing capacity when respiratory function tests are performed.

Preventive measures consist of avoiding upper respiratory infections, removing dust from the bedroom (with an electrostatic precipitator or a filter), and eliminating cigarette smoke from the house.

Drugs which facilitate breathing, such as adrenalin, aminophylline, steroids, antibiotics, expectorants, aerosols of mucolytic agents, saturated solution KI, all help in the treatment of pre-emphysema. Mechanical devices can be used to force oxygen into the lungs, and breathing and postural exercises can help empty the mucus accumulated in the lungs. Two mechanical devices to supplement the lack of oxygen in the lungs are a portable oxygen tank and an intermittent positive pressure machine which can push air forcefully on and off into the alveoli.

Pre-emphysema is a milder illness than emphysema because it is reversible. There are many places in the United States where the outdoor climate is ideal for the healthful breathing of a child with pre-emphysema; for example, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Texas, and Colorado.

The problem of air pollution is recognized universally now, but appropriate solutions come slowly. Air chemistry is in the early stages of scientific development, with government and industry subsidizing dozens of research projects to explore the relationship between environmental, industrial, and automotive emissions and to establish better air quality standards.



Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

•     Too little fluoride in drinking water. This subject, unlike that of fluoridated toothpaste, is highly controversial. Fluoride in drinking water gets incorporated into the developing tooth of a child, making it more resistant to decay. Fluoridation of water supplies cuts dental decay by about half but it has vocal opponents who claim that it is dangerous and pointless to give a whole population a medication when so few need it. In fluoridated areas tooth decay is becoming a thing of the past yet alarming, if unconfirmed, reports are appearing about the increase of certain cancers and other diseases in these same areas.

Almost every responsible health body right up to the World Health Organisation recommends the fluoridation of water, but still only a small proportion of people in the western world are actually receiving fluoridated water. Dentists ostensibly support the fluoridation of water but few are truly committed to the cause and this coupled with the power and influence of the anti-fluoride lobby has made the fluoridation of drinking water a slow business. Dentists have been slow too when it comes to making progress with the food industry and the government on the subject of sugar control.

•     Poor health education. There are numerous myths about tooth decay and its causes, especially when it comes to sugar. Far too many people still think of sugar as healthy and essential for energy-it is neither, of course.

Most dentists acknowledge that sweets are harmful but say little about the harm done by sugar in other forms or the dangers of refined foods generally. Dentists have not banded together to stop sweet advertising or tried to ban it from TV during children’s programmes, for example. They also seem not to be particularly conscientious about preventive measures. In 1978, for example, a study found that only just over a quarter of adults claimed to have had tooth-brushing demonstrated to them by a dentist.



Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

•     Some people who are allergic to foods have arthritis as their main symptom. One US expert believes that as much as 80 per cent of arthritis pain is triggered by food or chemical allergy. He uses an elimination diet and then slowly adds foods until the arthritis pain returns. The commonest group of culprits he has found are the nightshades, which include potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, tobacco and peppers. According to a study done by Prevention Magazine in the US the arthritic symptoms of some 50 per cent of those who tried a nightshade-free diet diminished.

Gluten is also currently under suspicion. In 1964 a paper published in Medical World News blamed gluten-a protein present in wheat, oats and rye-as a culprit in arthritis. People who eat a lot of cereals (especially wheat) are more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis, according to the author, than those who live mainly on maize or rice. Two-thirds of his patients became symptom-free on a gluten-free diet. If you want to give a gluten-free diet a trial, talk to your doctor, who will be able to give you a diet sheet.

•     Vitamin Ñ is essential for the formation and health of connective tissues. Arthritis and rheumatism appear to be disorders that mainly affect connective tissue, a fact which has led various researchers to look at the role of this vitamin. A leading US expert who has studied this connection believes that in those who are vitamin C-deficient there is instability and fragility of bones, cartilage, muscles and vascular tissue, mainly as a result of the breakdown of an intercellular cement substance which, in turn, causes tissues to rupture easily. Two other researchers have correlated a shortage of vitamin Ñ with rheumatic disease. They found an impairment of the joints of animals artificially deprived of vitamin C. When the animals had any kind of infection the joint symptoms became worse. Those animals exposed to the same infection while on a diet rich in vitamin Ñ did not have arthritic symptoms. The same two researchers then looked at vitamin Ñ levels in arthritic patients and found them to be extremely low. One report found that rheumatoid arthritis patients who were receiving plenty of the vitamins in their diets excreted less of it than average, suggesting that perhaps the vitamin was being used faster than normal. Another researcher found that the bioflavonoids occurring naturally with vitamin Ñ had a favourable influence on the condition of blood vessels in infections. Perhaps these flavonoids (often known as vitamin P) act along with vitamin Ñ in a way which is more natural. After all, synthetic vitamin Ñ is to some extent ‘unnatural’.

To be sure of getting enough vitamin C, eat foods that are rich in it, stop smoking and take 1 g of synthetic vitamin Ñ a day.

•     One researcher in Florida analyzed the diets of arthritics and found that they were all very similar-full of refined foods and sugar, all of which are low in trace elements, minerals and vitamins. He postulated that sugar upsets the calcium-phosphorus balance in the body, resulting in extreme swings of these two vital minerals, and claims good results from eliminating all sugars and refined foods from the diet of arthritics.