Dhanvantari Ayurveda Center Michael Dick, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Leesburg, Florida e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inside This Issue
Health and Science in the News
Some Health Tips
Opinion—You, Your Doctor & CAM
Book Review—Water for Health
Disease Modeling – The Ayurvedist
-- A long-term study of children in the Faroe Islands found that eating seafood that contains mercury causes heart and brain damage in older children and not just in babies; the study also concluded that mercury poisoning is irreversible.
-- A substance in turmeric was found to help cystic fibrosis.
-- A study found that removing soft drinks from schools helps reduce obesity among children.
-- Researchers at the National Museum of Natural History discovered that a kind of bird-biting mosquito has crossbred with one that prefers humans, a development that might have aided the rapid spread of the West Nile virus across the United States.
A type of nanocomputer made of DNA was unveiled that scientists speculated could someday diagnose and treat diseases from inside infected cells. According to Nanotechnologists, self-assembling nanotubes could be used to make better joints. – Harper’s Magazine July 2004
A study published in a recent issue of the Journal of Periodontology revealed that people with periodontal diseases are at a significant higher risk for coronary artery disease. One reason is that pathogens can enter the bloodstream, invade the blood vessel walls and ultimately cause atherosclerosis. Another reason is that several studies have shown that periodontal infections can be correlated with increased blood levels of inflammation such as fibrinogen , C-reactive protein, or several hormone proteins.
-- While the placement of stents in newly reopened coronary arteries has been shown to reduce the need for repeat angioplasty procedures, researchers from the Duke Clinical Research Institute have found that stents nave no impact on mortality over the long term.
– Health Notes by Carolyn Susman PB Post.
-- Acupressure tip may help those suffering from insomnia. Tape a dried kidney bean to the inside of your right wrist. To locate this point it’s between the two tendons about three finger’s width from the crease in the wrist. The point in acupressure is called the “Inner Gate.” Pressing on this spot is reported to help reduce anxiety, to slow the heart, and to promote sleep.
-- To stop nosebleed place a cold key or ring of keys down the back of the neck, according to an old folk remedy.
-- Ringworm is relatively common skin disease. To treat peel the green outer hull off a black walnut and rub the inside of the hull on the spot affected. It will stain the skin brown but it will kill the ringworm in about three days. The hulls are rich in tannins and a compound called juglone that has antimicrobial and antifungal actions.
-- For pesky diarrhea 2 to 3 tsp. shredded coconut on your breakfast cereal daily for couple months will do the trick. – People’s Pharmacy Joe & Terry Graedon
Opinion--As most of you readers know, I have been teaching and practicing Ayurveda since 1993. I had just completed a two-year program, marketed as a Master of Science in Ayurveda, under the auspices of MIIVS in Cambridge, Mass. During my schooling I had the opportunity to interface with numerous expert doctors and to solicit their opinion on how best to pursue the practice of Ayurveda here in the US. Since my training fell well short of training standards for doctors in India, as well as here in the US, I was urged to consider myself an educator or consultant in diet and lifestyle. Thus for this many years I have been an Ayurveda Consultant.
As many readers can testify, either from a practitioner’s perspective or from a patient’s perspective, the healthcare environment has changed rather dramatically over the past two decades. The evidence of this fact was presented in both the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the New England Journal of Medicine in the early 90’s as separate research findings on the interest and use of CAM by patients. (CAM is an acronym for Complementary Alternative Medicine practices and represents almost any health modality or practice outside the halls of allopathy—orthodox medicine.) What researchers found was that patients were going to herbalists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, Reiki practitioners, and so on, for treatment of their complaints. But, the patients were not telling their doctors about using other modalities. This caused a huge stir among the traditional healthcare providers as the data showed that patients were willing to spend billions of dollars (in aggregate) out of their pockets for these unorthodox services. At some point the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was compelled to take notice of these medical renegades and to try to determine whether there were safety and efficacy issues that it should know about. The Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) was created.
The significance of these data findings revealed in JAMA and the formation of OAM was that the role of these complementary or alternative practices had to be reassessed and government would take some initiative in this vetting.
In 2004 it was increasingly common to find Mind, Body, Spirit departments in hospitals and the OAM budget for researching these modalities was over $16m/year. TCM, chiropractic, massage therapy, and other modalities are now “in” and patients can find these services on the grounds of their traditional hospitals. Insurance companies are increasingly providing coverage for some of these services.
Now to the point of this column—“What, one may ask, is the appropriate role of the healthcare provider in this environment of CAM?” My opinion follows from an experience I had consulting with a patient of breast cancer. She had seen an oncologist, etc., had a biopsy, but had not yet received a diagnosis. She consulted me in ABQ about her “condition” and I told her that by pulse assessment I had found the physiology to be “confused.” (No use of the “C-word” here.) I suggested that she continue to consult with her doctors and we would add some things and stop some other things to go along with what her doctors advised. Then she told me she was not comfortable doing all of the treatments that her doctors recommended. In fact, her oncologist told her that if she didn’t do what he required he didn’t want her as a patient. Further, he told her to see a psychiatrist, a transparent effort to get her to see that she was irrational, and needed to change her attitude. I counseled that she should fire the oncologist and find a team player—a specialist who would serve her needs first, not his / her own. It was, and remains, my opinion that the patient comes first and all serve her or him. Each professional serves in the category of expert but must give opinions or advice, based upon his experience, epidemiological data, an so on-- “it is my experience that if you do this therapy such and such results (maybe x percent of the time), and so on.
Each patient should be seen as a new experience and a new problem to be solved. Second opinions by others should be a comfortable option for all involved, if not a sacred right of the patient. This client went home to San Diego, and sought new counsel, who was willing to help to the extent of his abilities. Her outcome was good. Her worry about following doctor’s orders and her own intuition, were resolved. She adopted a staged or reactive strategy that allowed her to feel in control of her destiny. She is in complete remission and following my suggestion she no longer directly ministers to patients in her hospice. It is my firm opinion that humility is a pre-requisite of the expert practitioner. One need not know all nor be expert in all things. Practitioners should relish in the environment to have others examine a client from different perspectives. No paradigm need feel that it has the only answers—diagnostic or therapeutic. As clinicians let’s be open to other truths.
From time to time my studies bring my attention to books—some new and some old—that bring more clarity, scope, and depth to a topic. While writing my Ayurvedic Herbology Handbook, I came across a reference in two classical texts referring to the therapeutic value of drinking water at dawn. There is a reasonably large amount of discourse on the properties and kinds of water, but these references were about a specific therapy using plain water. Someone gave a friend a book, written by a medical doctor who “discovered” the healing value of water while incarcerated in an Iranian prison. The book, titled Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, by Batmanghelidj, MD sounded interesting and I heard a little about the message. While internet shopping I came across another title by the same author—You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty—Water for Health, for Healing, for Life. This book goes beyond the testimonial of the first and presents the science of the health value of water. There is a broad mixture of anecdotal accounts, scientific fact, and belief. He states two interesting functions of water: “1) the neurotransmission systems of the brain and nerves depend on rapid movement of sodium and potassium in and out of the membrane along the full length of the nerves. Water that is loose and not bonded with something else is free to move across the cell membrane and turn the element-moving pumps; 2) some of the element-moving pumps are voltage-generating pumps. In its osmotic urge to get into the cell, water generates energy by turning the pump units that force potassium into the cell and push sodium outside the cell—just as water turns the turbines at a hydroelectric dam to make electricity. Up until now, however, it has been assumed that all energy storage in adenosine triphosphate (ATP), is from food intake. This is why water has not received much attention as a source of energy in the energy-generating systems in the body.” In short we get energy from the movement of free water in and around the cells.
From the clinical side of the matter he declares that chronic dehydration is the primary and root cause of asthma, allergies, hypertension, constipation, type II diabetes, autoimmune diseases and more.
To avoid the pitfalls of dehydration he has a few simple guidelines: balance the water and salt content of the body, exercise body muscles to enhance brain function efficiency, avoid beverages that dehydrate the body, eat a balanced diet of proteins and veggies, fruit, legumes (with as little starch and sugar as possible) in the ratio of 20% protein to 80%.
His water intake guidelines are: drink 30’ before meals, anytime you are thirsty, 2.5 hrs. after meals, first thing in the AM, before exercising to prevent dehydration, and by those who are constipated—2-3 glasses first thing in AM. Daily intake should be 8 8oz glasses of water, according to conditions of activity, climate, and health.
Overall the author presents technical material in an easy-to-understand manner, while darting into some pretty esoteric areas of physiology. He candidly admits ignorance on important causal relationships yet still pleads for his thesis. Rating ***1/2
OTHER BOOKS OF INTEREST
The Concise Encyclopedia of Foods & Nutrition by Ensminger et al. 1175 pp. List $189. but half price at Amazon. This is a must for those wanting / needing nutritional info of herbs and foods. Rating ****1/2
Fats that Heal Fats that Kill by Erasmus; pp. 456, $23.95 This is the definitive book on the subject of oils / fats. The constituents of, biochemistry of, the processing of, cooking with, etc. etc. every topic relating to oil is considered. Discover which oil is best for cooking, cold, how to store, and what are EFA’s. This is a must reading for everyone-clinician or consumer. Rating: ****1/2
The Body Clock—Guide to Better Health, Smolensky and Lamberg, pp. 425, $16. Learn how the body clock operates and what affects it. Learn why medications are dangerous or safe depending upon when they are taken. Rating: **1/2
Periodicals of Interest
Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients—This is the journal of choice for alternative medicine reading. Much is peer reviewed and it covers the gamut of modalities.
Light on Ayurveda—This is a relatively recent entry into the community of Ayurvedic journals. It’s published in the US but has contributors from around the world.
Contact: for subscriptions
Disease Modeling--A Holistic Approach
For the amateur and professional this article presents one scholar’s thinking about disease modeling. Its thesis is that the Ayurvedic literature lists and describes 6 different kinds of diseases or agents of disease—without awareness of which will lead the practitioner to doom. Excerpted from A Topical Survey of Ayurvedic Herbology, by this author:
...It is proposed that ...six different disease entities can be viewed as models of disease. This means that they can be studied independently as well as interactively and that this is a useful distinction in diagnosis and treatment. They behave differently, increase, and spread their influence in unique ways. Thus here are the 6 models:
1. humoral (doshic) = vata, pitta, and kapha are physical states of matter, which when in excess quantity cause degenerative, inflammatory, or congestive symptoms/ syndromes, respectively
2. infectious (krimi) = organisms ranging in size from viri and bacteria to the large tape worms
3. toxicity (amaja) = Ayurveda calls this ama, and it may be self-generated (and others believe ingested in air, water, food, transdermally, etc.)
4. mental (manasa) = this is the idea that mental states lead to physical / physiological changes (psychosomatic disorders)
5. spirit possession (bhutabadka) = common to many ancient/primitive cultures this idea is nonetheless an important one in both mental and physical abnormalities
6. malnutrition = the classical scheme mentions depletion of dosha and not malnutrition but modern findings along these lines may find support in this traditional factor
The basis for positing the existence of a model is--uniqueness of a specific agent of disease. The meaning of “agent” in this context shall be understood as based in unique substances—qualitatively distinct in function, if not molecular composition .... In excess, it is inimical to the viability of the body. In case of the so-called humors—vata, pitta, and kapha, they do constitute the body always and guide functioning in toto. But when these substances are too much they cause dis-ease and ultimately failure of tissues and organs. Accumulation occurs from diet items that resemble them and from the impaired functioning of the doÃas, themselves. What’s native to the body causes the body to fail.
Other agents in the body are not functional necessities. Caraka and others write of krimi, visible and invisible organisms, that invade the body from the environment. ... this term accounts for all kinds of worms, mites, molds, fungi, bacteria, and viri. Some produce fever or other symptoms, while others may be in the body, undetected for years. Their mode of proliferation differs from the humoral model as these organisms may reproduce within the body and then move by normal means of circulation. Because this form of disorder is not propelled by the physiological principles of vata, pitta, or kapha, and elimination of vata, pitta, or kapha is not an universal treatment for them; they are seen as an unique pathological state requiring unique treatment.
The world is literally full of toxicity. Some of the poisons in our body, however, are self-generated. Ayurveda has identified four clinical states of digestion—three are bad, and potentially can promote poisons, called ama. This ama interferes with physiology wherever it is. It’s produced as a metabolic waste of cell activity, also. It’s sticky and leads to inflammation, pain, and even auto-immune disorders. Rheumatoid arthritis is a good example of self-generated poisoning. As ama is really an indication of a defect of digestion and metabolism, this is neither a humoral model of disease nor an infectious one.
Ayurveda holds that there are defects of mind—attachment, aversion, fear, worry, etc. that have implications for physiology of the body. In modern jargon this mechanism of pathophysiology is the field of psycho-neuro-immunology (PNI). The PNI model shows how a large set of neuropeptides is generated as a response to thoughts that have mood, feeling, or emotional content. The researchers believe that every cell in the body has the ability to make, send, and receive all these molecules. Further, there is evidence that every cell in the body makes them at the same time—mind is everywhere in the body, literally. ...The substances are not the stuff of healthy functioning, even though they are natural. Since this mechanism is not based upon the qualitative or quantitative misbehavior of the humors—vata, pitta, & kapha, is not a manner of infection, is not created out of faulty digestion or metabolism, it is another model of pathophysiology.
Ayurveda holds that life is fundamentally spirit. While there is no perfect linguistic description of this entity, experience by many suggests that it’s as real as the physical body. Moreover, intuitive Ayurvedic doctors and rishis (seers) have described the presence and effects of these as the field of graharoga (those that seize, literally--modern writers in this field defer to the unsatisfactory heading—psychiatry). Doctors treating these disorders have noted life-long depression and poor physiology...Since this mechanism is exogenous, but not infectious, not native to the host, and not causing autoimmune responses, this is not one of the first three types of disease. We can suggest that it operates causally differently than mental disorders by being a foreign, powerful, conscious agent. ...
Finally, the idea of malnutrition as causative to disease has been known now for some centuries since trans-Atlantic ship travel produced scurvy. Subsequently we have been able to attribute numerous diseases to under-nourishment of nutritional factors--especially vitamins. While the treatment of this category is with the missing nutrient, still we feel that this is a relevant and significant cause of disease.
...In conclusion we have argued for uniqueness of 6 entities based upon both the distinct properties of an offending substance and of its origin. As such we contend that each type presents different challenges for treatment—has a unique treatment protocol. Ayurveda holds that humoral excesses are best treated with elimination therapy—called pancha karma (meaning 5 actions). However, for infections/parasites Caraka advises their extraction, then destruction of their favorable environment, and avoidance of etiological factors... this must be seen as a separate treatment modality. Toxicity is primarily a defect of digestion and must be treated by digestives and burning agents. For issues of neuropeptides ... elimination of them is secured best by restraining the mind from desire from unwholesome objects and the cultivation of right knowledge, self knowledge, courage, memory, and samadhi. Spirit possession requires mantras and other interventions from a guru. Malnutrition is anti-doted with proper nutrition. Thus our conclusion is that each model of pathology warrants an unique differential diagnosis within the appropriate category, and this prompts unique treatment challenges. Using the wrong treatment is fruitless and maybe even harmful.
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