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Dec
15

MUMPS

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Mumps is an infectious viral disease which is spread by droplets which are released into the air during coughing or sneezing. It occurs in epidemics, mainly affecting children over two years old, but can infect people of any age. After a two to three week incubation period visible symptoms appear, the most obvious being the swelling of the saliva-producing parotid glands on one or both sides of the face. This is accompanied by fever, swelling in the sub-maxillary salivary glands, swollen glands in other parts of the body and muscular pain in the jaw, ear and abdomen. The pancreas may be inflamed, causing vomiting. In some adult men mumps can cause swelling and inflammation of the testicles, sometimes leading to sterility. There are some rare but serious complications which can result, including encephalitis and meningitis in which the brain or its surrounding membranes become inflamed.

Vaccines against mumps are available and many doctors recommend immunisation for all babies aged between 12 and 15 months. The vaccine has a life of five years, following which boosters are required. Pregnant women should not receive these vaccines since they contain live viruses which can affect the foetus. Normally, once a person has had mumps, they develop an immunity to the disease. However, there are some cases where people have been re-infected.

Treatment of mumps includes isolation to prevent the spread of infection. Rest is recommended until the swollen glands subside, and mild painkillers may be used. Medical treatment may be required if there are complications such as painful or swollen testicles, severe earaches or headaches or a stiff neck. Natural practitioners prescribe a range of treatments. These include herbal medicines such as infusions of yarrow, elderflower and marigold, supplements to boost the immune system, homeopathic medicines or tissue salts and cold compresses to reduce swelling.

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Dec
15

ALLERGIES AND COPING WITH CHEMICAL EXPOSURE: REEXAMINE YOUR HEATING SYSTEM

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How to heat a home according to sound, ecologic principles is a topic beyond the scope of this book (see “Suggested Reading”). However, certain basic guidelines can be given to those responsible for this area of domestic life. First, it is a good idea to have a heating engineer recheck the efficiency and safety of the heating system periodically. This will minimize undetected leaks or breaks in the system and save money, as well as trips to the doctor.

If a chemically susceptible person has a gas-fired heating system, he has to consider changing it, or changing houses, regardless of the immediate cost. The reason is that it is difficult for a susceptible person to remain in anything resembling good health if he is subjected to the fumes of such a system.

An oil-fired heating system may also present a danger, since the fumes of the oil and its combustion products can often make their way into the living quarters of the house. If the oil is accidentally spilled, it is almost impossible ever to remove it, and fumes and odors will continue to contaminate the vicinity of the burner and beyond.

The ideal solution is to remove the heating unit from the house and locate it in a separate area or building of its own, so that only the hot water pipes enter the house. Installing electric heat, with or without solar heat, is another alternative.

For those in apartment houses who have a choice, it is best to live as far from the boiler room as possible. Steam or hot water radiators, on floors other than the ground level, are fairly good ecologically. It is a good idea to clean the radiators periodically and to give them an especially thorough cleaning in the fall before the heat is turned on.

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Dec
15

POWER OVER PANIC/IN SEARCH OF SELF: THE BIRTH OF THE NEW

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It is unknown and unfamiliar. The dawning sense of self is like living with a person we don’t know, living with a person whose values and needs are different. Having to welcome such a stranger into our life on such an intimate level is naturally frightening, even though the stranger is ourself.

This is one of the most confusing aspects of the working-through process. As we learn to face the attacks, the anxiety and the fear we may also have to learn to face the fear of change and the fear of the new emerging self. The carefully constructed defences of a lifetime have been torn down. Rebuilding on more solid foundations means we have to push past the new fears.

When the new fears emerge we will have already broken through many barriers and overcome many of the fears associated with the disorder. We will be able to push past these new fears also, but it must be done gently and intuitively.

The essence of who we are, the essence of our self, is intact. It has always been there and will always be there. Now we have a chance to get to know our self. Now we have the chance to develop and integrate it into our life.

The process is hard, but each step we take means we learn more about the process. In the beginning it is difficult; there is fear, there is anger, there is frustration. ‘Why do I have to go through this, why can’t I just be normal like everyone else?’ What is ‘normal’ anyway? Use the anger, the fear and frustration to push past these new fears. With each step we gain new awareness, new knowledge and increased strength.”The process becomes easier and more tolerable. This is life, this is growth, a continual evolution. Now we can work with it by letting go and flowing with it, not by trying to control it.

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Dec
15

POWER OVER PANIC/IN SEARCH OF SELF: DESTRUCTION TO CONSTRUCTION

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The seemingly inherent negativity of the disorder can actually be the most positive experience of our life. How many other people are given such an opportunity! The disorder has done so much of the hard work for us. It has stripped away the image of who we thought we should be, and has returned us to the basis of who we could be.

Life isn’t just about growing up, having a career, getting married, having children and so on. These are things we do during life, but they are not life. Life is continual evolution and development.

Our need to be in control of ourselves and our environment is our unconscious effort to try to stop this change. Although there are many external changes in our life, we fight to control any internal changes and development of ourselves. We need to be in control to keep the image we have, and the image other people have, of ourselves. We haven’t been able to let our image change in case it meant we did not meet the expectations of other people. We are now paying dearly for this.

Our continual suppression of self means we have blocked the ongoing development of our self. Although we have always wanted to be able to express and develop our self, we have never been willing to take the risk. How many times have we ignored the call to self, or not heard its almost silent whisperings? This time it is not whispering. It is shouting.

Anxiety disorders are destructive. They tear away the very fabric of our whole being. They destroy our way of life. The attacks and the anxiety terrify us sometimes to the extent that normal everyday living is non-existent. Yet we do not recognise in this destruction an equally positive force. The destruction can be a positive turning point in becoming our real self.

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Dec
15

ANXIETY DISORDERS/WORKING THROUGH THE RECOVERY: MAKING ALLOWANCES

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Making allowances is not giving in; it is working with the disorder. Doing nothing is giving in. In the early stages of recovery, making allowances helps us to reduce the amount of pressure we feel. Making allowances indefinitely means we are not putting ourselves under enough pressure!

Another example of an allowance is breaking down the time we know we will have to spend in any given situation. It may be a business meeting, it may be an evening with friends, it may be doing the shopping. It could be anything.

If we know something will take two hours, work with the first hour first. Don’t even think about the second hour. If it is too difficult and our anxiety level doesn’t settle down, we can leave after the first hour. Usually by the second hour we are not even aware the first hour is over, because we have become involved with what we are doing, and not with the anxiety and attacks.

In the beginning there may be times when we feel we will have to leave a situation. If it becomes too difficult to manage, then leave, not with a sense of failure, but accepting that this time it was too difficult. A sense of failure defeats us, not only in the short term but also in the long term. Accept it and let go of the worrying. There will be other times when we will be able to do it as long as we keep practising.

We become ultra-sensitive to ourselves, and tend to think other people’s reactions towards us are as intensified as our own. In fact, a situation which we consider devastating is either unnoticed by other people or is quickly forgotten by them. Don’t add unnecessary stress by worrying about what people have thought or will think. It is not important. Recovery is.

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Dec
15

EPILEPSY: THE FACTS-NEW DRUGS AND SURGERY

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In the past, many new drugs were tested on their ability to stop experimental seizures in animals. This is what happened with drugs such as phenobarbitone, phenytoin, carbamazepine, and sodium valproate. Because such a drug’s action is not just on stopping seizures, other effects, some adverse, are common. More recently through biochemical and neurological research, a number of chemicals, have been identified which appear to have a crucial role in epilepsy. One of these, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), acts by inhibiting or stopping seizures. One new drug, vigabatrin, has been developed to increase the concentration of this substance within the brain, and so prevent seizures from happening. Other neurotransmitters called glutamate and aspartate can stimulate a seizure, or make a seizure more likely to happen. Lamotrigine is a new drug designed specifically to reduce the concentration of these substances in the brain and therefore prevent seizures. There are other drugs which are being assessed in a similar way, and which may become generally available in the next few years. Examples include gabapentin, oxcarbazepine, topirimate, remacemide, and zonisamide. It is to be hoped that such drugs

‘tailor-made’ to interfere with specific chemical processes will be associated with fewer

side-effects, and will therefore be safer, and more acceptable to patients.

Surgery-It is likely that the surgical treatment of epilepsy will increase over the next decade. This is because scanning and EEG techniques will become more advanced, and more widely available, thereby enabling the identification of subtle abnormalities within the brain responsible for seizures, some of which will be capable of being removed surgically. It is likely that more specialist centres will become established to perform such surgery, and the operations will be undertaken at a younger age.

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Dec
15

WHAT ABOUT COMBINING ST JOHN’S WORT WITH ALCOHOL?

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Alcohol itself often complicates the treatment of depression. Although depressed people often report a pleasant buzz after using alcohol, in my experience they often pay for this buzz heavily in the days that follow. This delayed effect is often difficult to discern. If your mood is bad to start with and it feels worse on certain days, there are any number of good reasons to explain the mood worsening. The two or three drinks you had last night or the night before are by now a distant memory and hardly seem to be likely culprits. But careful observation in many patients has shown that once the alcohol is stopped, mood control is often much smoother and better. Now, if you enjoy having several drinks of an evening I hardly expect these mild observations of mine to persuade you to stop doing so, but it’s worth thinking about it. If you’re keeping the mood log I mentioned above, you might note when you drink (including the number and type of drinks you have) and see whether you can detect an impact of the drinks on your mood over the ensuing days.

Quite apart from the potential problem of drinking alcohol if you happen to suffer from depression is the question of whether you can safely drink alcohol if you are on St John’s Wort. The answer is that there is no known negative interaction between St John’s Wort and alcohol. Even so, I always suggest that my patients go easy on the alcohol if they are on any anti-depressant (no more than one or two lagers or glasses of wine or one glass of spirits is what I usually recommend). After all, if these drugs are all working on the brain, it would be strange if they did not affect each other’s actions in one way or another.

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Dec
15

ANXIETY DISORDERS/WORKING THROUGH THE RECOVERY: DAVID’S CASE

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David had been making little progress with his recovery and was becoming disillusioned with the recovery program. He was having difficulty in finding any time to himself to concentrate on his recovery. There were so many other things which needed to be done first. He had volunteered to take on extra duties at work because of staff shortages. That meant he wasn’t getting home until 7.00 p.m. Working late meant he spent less time with his children, so he did his best to make up for it on weekends. This interfered with the work he did for two service clubs in his area, but he tried to juggle his time. This in turn was complicated by the fact that his neighbours and friends were always dropping by with various requests for favours or help. On top of all this he had to stop and take time out when the anxiety and the attacks became too much. Having to find time to work on his recovery was the final straw. David was feeling quite resentful because he thought there should be some sort of recovery program which took all these demands on his time into account.

To complete our list, write down how many times we have taken time out to meditate or practise some other form of relaxation. Then estimate how much time we have put into working with our thinking. That usually gives us the complete answer.

Illness can also lower our threshold. Many people react to the additional symptoms with further anxiety and panic. We need to realise that if we are unwell, we would have these new symptoms even if we did not have the disorder. Don’t add to them. Let go of the anxiety-producing thoughts.

Remember, we mustn’t spend time and energy continually worrying about the setback and thinking we’ll never get over the disorder. We will with practice and patience.

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Dec
15

CASE STUDY: DEPRESSION WITH FATIGUE AND OBESITY

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Francine Phillips was a graduate student who had been periodically depressed and fatigued since high school. Basically intelligent and capable, she often had periods in which she could not perform even simple tasks. She also suffered from obesity.

She herself suspected that “sugar” was the cause of her problem (most people do not differentiate between the various forms of sugar). She believed, as well, that part of her weight problem was caused by fluid retention. She reported feeling swollen after eating a heavy meal. She said that she could gain three or four pounds in a day, but that she could also lose ten pounds on a crash diet. Miss Phillips also suspected that she was allergic to certain kinds of water and reported abdominal bloating whenever she drank tap water.

When she was treated in the Ecology Unit, her depression became worse before it gradually lessened. At the end of the fast period, she felt well. She was then tested on various waters, and she did, in fact, react to several of them, including chlorinated city water.

Her own suspicions about foods were largely correct. She reacted with depression, headache, or fatigue to corn and corn sugar and also to cane sugar, as well as to tea and coffee. She also had lesser reactions to onions, acorn squash, walnuts, lettuce, potatoes, chocolate, and honey.

She also reacted to some foods tolerated in their organic form when she was fed them in their commercial, supermarket form. This was taken as a positive test for chemical susceptibility.

Miss Phillips’ case was not very advanced, and her depression was rated at a minus-three level. With careful control of food intake and avoidance of environmental chemicals, she has been able to lead a happier life and pursue her studies without interruption.

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Dec
15

YOGHURT

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Live yoghurt contains ‘friendly’ bacteria which form lactic acid in milk, suppressing the growth of harmful bacteria. Some of the bacteria which are used to make yoghurt are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. The bacteria in many yoghurts are still alive, but are kept dormant by refrigeration. However yoghurts which have been pasteurised or otherwise treated by heat, no longer contain live organisms.

Yoghurt is often recommended for its nutritional properties: it is a good source of protein, calcium and other minerals and A and B vitamins. Because yoghurt also contains lactose, the calcium is readily absorbed by the body. Yoghurt stimulates the synthesis of lactase, so that some people with a lactose intolerance are able to eat it without ill effect.

The inclusion of yoghurt in the diet is useful in preventing the proliferation of toxic intestinal bacteria which are often introduced into the body by contaminated foods. There are substances in yoghurt which have an antibiotic effect in the gut, reducing the concentrations of pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli so that a balanced concentration of friendly bacteria is encouraged. As a result, yoghurt may be beneficial in treating diarrhoea and other digestive disorders.

In the treatment of thrush or Candida, live acidophilus and bifidus bacteria can help to recolonise gut flora which have become unbalanced by the fungus. The lactobacilli in live yoghurt are the same which normally inhabit the vagina, so when these have been killed by some cause, such as a course of antibiotics, yoghurt inserted into the vagina for a few days, either with a spoon or a plunger, is often of benefit.

Orotic acid, a substance found in some yoghurts, interferes with the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver. Inclusion of acidophilus and bifidus yoghurts in the diet is therefore recommended in the prevention of heart disease.

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