Thursday 24th of July 2014

health and risk management...

fish medicine

Over the last 80 years, there has been many medical ways to deal with health, including taking a hunch... As well the western world has been warming up to some of the old remedies from the East — the Chinese. I am lucky, All I need so far is a bit of acetylsalicylic acid twice or so a year to help cure a hangover...

I was going to write a self-inflicted hangover but a hangover is always self-inflicted...

As the government is thinking of ways to plug the budget's round holes with square pegs, here are few though about health and risk management, with usage of gut-feeling. Most of my aches and pains, I let them sort themselves out. I believe the body knows how to fix these things within itself... I have no clue how far I can push this theory but I do my best to be ignorant of pain. Should my back become sore, I have a rest. Should I feel drowsy I take a nap. And so forth...

I know people of course for whom this would not be enough. They need medicine or treatment to survive, from the time they are born to the time they're of pension age.

Thus pharmaceuticals have invested lots of money into developing stuff that will help most people, but not all. My grand-mother was generally healthy till she died aged 97. It's only because she fell down on a hard surface that she died. She was a great source of obscure cures for treating various rashes, stings and flu — some using poisons such as Belladona... It all worked. She could not solve a TB infection but she could mostly prevent one from occurring. Camphor was a potent ingredient in her special famous cream. Prevention, maintaining a healthy profile was her way to survive well. One catches a disease more easily when one is in a state of general weakness, say due to overindulgence or lack of sleep or whatever. Dancing in moderation.

Pharmaceuticals have also invested money into marketing their products to make sure you buy them. 

One essential point is that though most medicine are created to be "universal", they are not, because we are not the same. I know from some experimental work on cancer research that people have differentiated physiology thus react differently to dosage and what type of "drugs", and even have allergies. Some people get quickly addicted to some drugs while other people wont. Dosage is "averaged" but for example a small frame person may need less of the "active ingredients" than a big tall fat bloke, but not necessarily so. And one can be sure that many pharmaceutical medicines have side-effects. As well many "active ingredients" are the same as those in my granny's medicines, but plants cannot be patented. Thus the pharmaceuticals "extract" the active ingredients and mix them with other stuff including other active ingredients also found in plants. The synthesis of man-made compound for medicinal purpose has soared. But there is always a step at which these substances need to be tested.

Thus there is an ongoing fight between medicine — supported by doctors, hospitals and pharmaceuticals — versus traditional medicines using herbal concoctions, massages and acupuncture, plus alternative medicines such as homeopathy and vitamin supplements.  

The Australian government is thus doing reviews on the worth of all "alternative" ways to keep healthy, with a view to poopoo these alternatives and not make them part of Medicare scheduled medical treatments. 

I know personally that red-ned tends to soothe my aches. Alcohol is my medicine of choice but it's generally not recognised on schedule B. Marijuana can be useful to some patient but there yet again, it's still not recognised as a medical drug and it's still criminal to use it... It's not the only one to be illegal. In the early part of the 20th century, many "nerve pills" (see picture at top) and other concoctions including soothing children's pains used to have cocaine, heroin and other lovely drugs that are now illicit. 

Meanwhile, our overuse of antibiotics has created new monsters out-there. These are tiny monsters but they can quickly multiply in such quantities that they become deadly. Here is part of the fight of mind about the value of some medicine: 

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http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/2014-05-02/5424078

 

Our peak medical research body has begun a series of reviews into the effectiveness of complementary medicines. So far the NHMRC has looked at homeopathy and its verdict is that there is 'no reliable evidence' that homeopathic remedies are any better than a placebo.

Have you used complementary medicine, did it work for you? Why? Did you seek your GPs advice?

Or do you think it’s all a waste of money?

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One comment on this radio programme:

 

Maitreyee Banerjee, Ph.D. :

01 May 2014 9:17:37pm

NHMRC undertook condiserable time and tax payers money to conduct study on effectiveness of homoeopathy on clinical conditions. The report concludes to say that homoeopathy medicines are all placebos and hence should not be encouraged in Australia.

As a homoeopath with over 15 years experience and ex-academic and scientist in Medical Sciences. I am compelled to question the relevance of the NHMRC report to basics and fundamentals of science and philosophy of homoeopathy practices in Australia and elsewhere in the world.

The panel did not include experienced homeopaths even though Australia has one of the largest experienced Homoeopaths in the western world

Homoeopathy is highly individualized and the philosophy of similimum ( ie like cures like ) is also highly individualized based on each patient's unique constitution and vital force. Therefore, for each clinical condition, such as ear ache or irritable bowel or arthritis etc, the homoeopathy medicines would need to be appropriately selected along with the potency by the homoeopath to match the constitution and vital force of the patient hased on the philosphy of Similia Similibus Curenter. Therefore, two patients with similar clinical symptoms may not receive the same medicine and potency as their constitution and vital force would be different. 

Homoeopathy medicines would not work unless the right medicine and right potency are matched with the constitution and vital force. 

Therefore, randomized trials considered by MHMRC giving same medicine and same potency to group of patients have no relevance to science and philosophy of homoeopathy.

The concept of similimum is not new. All vaccines are made based on the same principal. Reviewing the trials of several vaccines, it is more often difficult to differentiate the responses between placebo and patients as statistically significant. It is because, even response to vaccines is extremely individualized and depends on individual constitution and vital force.

If homoeopathy medicines are placebos, so are all vaccines in the world.

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Gus: on this last point I disagree. Vaccines work on the principle of rejection. Usually, the immune system reacts to an invasion of microbes or viruses and destroys them (or looses the battle). This happens many many times daily.

Vaccination is like training the body in advance to be prepared in case of an attack of a specific kind of microbes. The body is injected with a weakened form of the disease and usually the body is victorious over this intrusion. Thus for this or that type of microbes, the immune system retains a memory of battle and can quickly produce antibodies against a real infection that cannot develop, because it is snuffed by the "vaccinated" immune system. All this stems from the study of small pox in the late 1890s.

The dilution of "effective/active ingredients" in homeopathic treatment as well as the need to know the "individual vital force" leads to a lot more hit and miss than vaccination. I was "homeopathised" once and it did not work... This does not mean that homeopathy does not work...

But vaccination (from the French: cow pox) has more or less helped eradicate some serious diseases such as small pox, polio and TB, though some strains are coming back because of two factors : one is our relaxed attitude to vaccination and second, the overuse of antibiotics has created more virulent strains of diseases.

So in the end it's what works for patients. There are of course some useless forms of snake oils out there or slimming teas that are less efficient than a small bowl of dandelion leaves... Very good for you, dandelion leaves are, said my granny. I still believe her, though she died many years ago in her prime (97 as mentioned earlier). Thus a soup of red-ned, water and bread, plus a salad of dandelion is all one's need... Well not every one.

One also needs variety and moderation — and intuition as to make a decision as to what works and what does not for one. One thing too, being generally content helps maintain  a good health...

 

 

being risk savvy...

 

At 66, the moustachioed psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer exudes strapping good health – but that's not because he goes regularly to the doctor for checkups. "I follow the evidence," he says. "People who go to checkups: do fewer of them die from heart disease? From cancer? Or from any cause? The answer, three times: no. They just get more treatment, take more medication, and worry more often."

The Bavarian-born Gigerenzer – though once a professional banjo player – has spent decades studying risk, and he long ago concluded that the ways we attempt to cope with life's uncertainties – including medical checkups – can make matters worse. These days, when he is in an upmarket restaurant, he won't even bother opening the menu: asking the waiter what he or she would order is the only way to get what's best, he insists. For research purposes, he once tested an unlikely strategy for managing financial risk: instead of trusting the experts, as most people might, what if you stopped pedestrians at random, gave them a list of companies, asked which ones they had heard of, then just invested in those?

"I try as hard as I can to live by my principles, so I put in a large sum of my own money," recalls Gigerenzer, who lives in Berlin but today is sipping coffee in the New York offices of his American publisher. "It was one of the most lucrative things I've ever done."

For the rest of us – as Gigerenzer demonstrates in his new book, Risk Savvy – things regularly don't turn out so well. We hear a terrifying news story involving aeroplanes, so we switch to car travel instead, even though it's vastly more dangerous: in the 12 months following 9/11, that choice killed an estimated 1,600 Americans, unacknowledged victims of al-Qaida. Or we're told that taking the contraceptive pill "doubles" the risk of thrombosis – as the Department of Health notoriously announced in 1995 – but nobody explains what that really means: a doubling from one woman in every 7,000 to two in 7,000. That report scared so many women off the pill, it's been calculated, that there were 13,000 additional abortions in England and Wales the following year.

read more: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/04/advice-stock-market-crashes-plane-disasters-bad-weather-risk-not-reading

 

pain, pus, poisons...

Science has unlocked the human body, enabling us to survive diseases and infections. We’ve gone from finding antidotes to using the poisons themselves as a cure; the most poisonous toxin known to man - Botulinum - is now used as an anti-wrinkle drug called Botox. Scorpion venom is even being tested for the treatment of life threatening diseases.

Yet it’s a myth that most of our drugs come from nature. Modern drugs are man-made, designed in some of the world’s most high tech labs.

Pain

Pain is all in the brain. When we break a leg or pull a muscle, millions of nerve cells in our brains fire torelease chemicals telling us 'it hurts'. To fight the pain, our brains release their own natural painkillers. The problem is, these homemade medicines aren’t enough. 

Herbs, willow bark and poppies were used by our ancestors for their painkilling powers. The scientific revolution really began with the isolation of morphine at the start of the 19th century – and continued into the 20th century when scientists found a way to synthesise a stable form of a safe painkiller called aspirin, a drug that could be manufactured on an industrial scale.

Pus

The Black Death wiped out close to a quarter of the world’s population. Even our familiar foe 'the flu' was one of the deadliest infectious diseases of the twentieth century. Fighting these killers is an ongoing battle, as each infection adapts to outwit our defences. 

Ancient treatments ranged from using leeches to suck out blood to performing strange magical rituals, but nothing stopped the infection - until we discovered antibiotics. The average person now takes two courses of antibiotics every year. Yet even as we’re discovering new uses for antibiotics, the original infections are
developing new drug-resistant strains...

Poison

Poisons in the natural world kill thousands of people every year. They attack our bodies, leading to a 'short-circuit'. Yet some poisons are now being used to improve the way we look! The deadly poison curare was first used on the tips of arrows used by indigenous hunters in the Amazon rainforests, but its active ingredient is now used every day in hospitals across the world. Even the chemical weapon Mustard Gas used in the horrors of trench warfare has now been adapted to be useful in chemotherapy treatments.

Today the hunt is on for other poisons that can actually help to cure us; we extract the deadly venom of the Death Stalker scorpion, which may offer hope to people suffering from brain cancer.

http://www.sbs.com.au/shop/product/category/DVDs/9912/Pain-Pus-Poison

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Knowing a few geezers and sheilas working in the pharmaceutical industry, thus I have a good insight into how medicinal substances are created and tested, tonight's series episode on poison shown on SBS filled a few gaps in my knowledge. See story at top...