Health & Healing

How Wine Can Help the Heart


Newsweek (January 22, 1996) recently published an article on the great benefits of preventing heart attacks by the drinking of wine. In fact, one investigator exaggerates to say that we are at risk if we do not drink wine. A little common sense evaluation will bring us to a more reasonable truth.§

Perhaps we should first understand how the alcohol in wines effects the body. The first response of our body to alcohol is to stimulate acid production in the stomach. This may stimulate the appetite. Secondly, it affects the brain to bring about a loss of inhibitions and provide some feelings of serenity. Ultimately, however, the alcohol produces free radicals and energy without any nutritious value. The alcohol also acts as a vasodilator; that is, it dilates the blood vessels leading to a faint blush and possibly a lowering of the blood pressure. Alcohol also tends to decrease the “stickiness” of red blood cells which helps to prevent their agglutination and blood clot formation. §

Another aspect of wine is its taste, which is very complex. It is primarily astringent in taste; it may also have some sweet and bitter components. As we know, these tastes will act upon the doshas, the overall effect being to decrease the pitta dosha; that is cooling. Since the wine tends also to be drying, there will be an increase in vata and a slight decrease in kapha. After the digestion of the sweet, bitter and astringent tastes, a pungent vipaka [post-digestive effect] is produced. This may lead to intestinal gas and constipation and may also decrease genital secretions and semen. The bouquet of wine is also a very strong stimulant to the appetite, a relaxant of tensions, and helps to visualize pleasing surroundings and delightful fantasies. The fragrance of wine is even more complex than the taste and adds greatly to its appreciation and beneficial effects upon our physiology. §

Investigators have cautioned against excessive use of wine or other alcoholic beverages. Mead from honey acts in much the same manner as the wines. Beer and hard liquors do not have the same effects, it seems, upon the prevention of heart attacks, perhaps because beer is somewhat higher in calories and different in taste, and the hard liquors are concentrated alcohol emphasizing its drying and soporific effects. The wine should be consumed with food in order to decrease the rapid absorption of the alcohol, thus decreasing its adverse effects. It is suggested that no more than two glasses a day is to be consumed, for its effect on preventing coronary heart disease.§

A caution: Many wines have added nitrites, to which many people are allergic. One should attempt to find wines without this addition of potentially toxic substances. Another note is that this amount of alcohol will antidote any homeopathic remedies that are being used. §

So we readily see that wine in itself can be beneficial to the body and aid in preventing coronary heart disease. It also has a great impact upon ones lifestyle, giving the ability to relax and truly enjoy food that is taken. This settling effect is also very powerful in coronary artery disease prevention. The drinking of wine with meals may make each meal a celebraton of the good life and the proper use of the gifts of life. The combination of the physiological effects of wine and the relaxed lifestyle, as Ayurveda discusses, are very potent and enjoyable ways to help assure a body free of coronary artery disease. §

Mad Cow Disease and CJD


Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD) is a debilitating and fatal disease that occurs in humans throughout the world. It is characterized by progressive dementia and chronic seizures of muscles, ultimately leading to death. It most often occurs in people at age 50 or 60. The pathology is sponge-like changes in the brain. §

It has been transmitted from human to human inadvertently during organ transplant and other surgical procedures. It has also been seen in people that were given human growth hormones as children. It is definitely infectious, although there is also a familial aspect. It is not caused by bacteria, viruses, mold or any other of the usual pathogenic materials. It is now known to be transmitted by a “prion” which is a section of protein devoid of any genetic material. It is able to replicate by using its host’s DNA or RNA. §

An animal form of the disease, known as scrapie, has been around for many hundreds of years, especially in sheep and goats. It has been known to be transmitted to the shepherds and goat herders, but the method of transmission is obscure. The most alarming form of the disease at present is “mad cow disease” (BSE) which is found mostly in Great Britain, although a few rare cases have been seen in the US. It is characterized by leg weakness and obvious abnormal mental behavior in infected animals. Herds that graze in the same fields show transmission from animal to animal; and those herds that eat the same food also see lateral transmission. This suggests that it may be transmitted by air, such as the prion being attached to dust or dust mites in the fields. In 1988 the use of sheep brains and other byproducts of butchered sheep in cattle feed in the USA was made illegal.§

There have been cases of CJD in England all out of proportion to that seen throughout the world. It is especially found in the farmers and cattlemen that have infected breeds. Recently, a form of the disease has been found in a teenage girl (commonly only found in humans of age 50 or over). She was very fond of hamburgers, and her doctor blames them for the disease. Since the prions that are the infectious agent are in the diseased animals blood, they are also obviously in the muscle tissues and can be transmitted to humans who eat this contaminated meat. It is also felt that the prions attach themselves to the leukocytes (white blood cells) that appear in the milk. Thus it is possible to also transmit this disease by drinking the milk of infected animals. §

Yet, many involved agencies say that there is no actual proof of the transmission of the disease from animal to humans. They have said that the “contaminated” feed was not proven to transmit the disease, despite a decrease in the incidence of the disease amongst the animals since the changes in the feed were made. §

It is said that the incubation period may take many years, especially in humans. The truth is that there is no warning of the disease in animals or humans. It is not diagnosed until the irreversible symptoms of brain damage appear. At the present time there is no cure for the disease. There is good research being done with many suggestions of ways to combat the disease. These approaches prevent replication of the prion after it has already produced symptoms in the brain. The lesson to be learned is that herbivorous animals should not be fed animal parts; and the human does not need to eat other animals either. Even UK milk and milk products, such as cheese, should be avoided.§

Menopause and Women: Part 1


During the years between age 40 and 50, many changes occur in our bodies and minds as the bodily doshic cycle turns into the vata period. This cyclic vata phase brings on a change in our life and its purpose. §

In women it is the beginning of the end of the childbearing period and cessation of the menstrual periods. This is called menopause. There is a gradual withdrawal of energy from the function of the ovaries so that they no longer produce the ovum and slowly decrease the formation of the hormones that prepare the uterus to receive the egg (ovum) for fertilization and its further development into a fetus. This is a natural condition and is not to be considered a disease.§

However, it is accompanied by some physical symptoms that vary greatly according to the physical condition of the women. There are also mental and psychological changes that are a result of the menopause. §

It is now time for the woman to have more concern about herself and her spiritual center than before. She is free from the biological necessity of producing children and the constant concern for their welfare. She now has more time to think of herself and her husband and their well being, physically and spiritually. §

The most common symptom of this period of life is the experiencing of “hot flashes,” the sudden spontaneous surging of heat throughout the body, with the skin flushing and often sweating. The liberated woman has called these episodes “power surges.” It is a time-limited experience but may be shocking and troublesome when it does occur. Women who practice hatha yoga postures as a routine seldom, if ever, have these vasomotor experiences. A good hatha yoga routine emphasizing the inverted and forward bending postures can assure great relief from these episodes. §

Sometimes women will ask for doses of estrogen, usually given as a synthetic drug, to get them through this phase. This is not recommended because these drugs cause the body to not recover naturally from the “hot flashes” and these episodes will continue as long as the drugs are taken. The taking of these drugs has been connected to increased risk of breast cancer as well as uterine cancer and other adverse effects. §

Dietary changes to a grain-based diet and giving special attention to foods rich in calcium, vitamin E, and elimination of smoking, drinking coffee, hot spices and alcohol are indicated, as these aggravate the pitta dosha which controls the heat production within the body. The diet should be a vata pacifying diet. Herbs such as valerian and passion flower are calming. There are homeopathic remedies compounded for helping one overcome these symptoms. They are highly recommended and are readily available in health food stores and homeopathic pharmacies.§

To aid in the mood swings, meditation and yoga postures are suggested. The postures that work on the adrenals and kidneys such as the twisting postures will help these organs to furnish the hormones that are no longer being produced by the ovaries.§

A good diet, adequate aerobic exercise, hatha yoga, meditation and even dietary supplements will make the menopause a favorable experience as far as the short-term effects are concerned. There are long-term symptoms also associated with the menopause, such as thinning and dryness of the vaginal mucosa, muscle loss, water retention, osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases. §

Mitigating Menopause


Vegetarian diet, proper supplements and appropriate exercise can ease the transition.§

One of the most alarming consequences of menopause is the loss of calcium from the bones, leading to weakening of the skeleton and possibly an increase in fractures. The solution to this is a correct meat-free diet high in calcium and other nutrients, at least beginning in one’s mid-thirties, for this is when the problem of osteoporosis really begins, accelerated by the lack of estrogen at menopause.§

A high-protein diet is acidic, causing calcium to be leached from the bones. A high-fat diet decreases absorption of calcium from ingested food. Smoking, alcohol, colas containing phosphates, and chronic stress all add to this condition. Low magnesium levels due to too much refined grain (flours) and lack of green, leafy vegetables contribute to calcium deficiency. Thus we see that a well-balanced diet high in calcium-rich foods such as kale, chard, turnip greens, Chinese cabbage and other green, leafy vegetables is desirable. The average woman needs adequate magnesium and exposure to sunshine to help metabolize at least 1,500 mg. of calcium daily. This may require some supplementation to the diet, especially if dairy products are not consumed. Exercise is absolutely essential to maintain bone strength. Weight-bearing forms of exercise, such as dancing, walking, golf, swimming, cycling and Tai Chi are not too strenuous and will help to maintain strength and decrease chronic tension. The possible cardiovascular complications during menopause can be kept at a minimum by following an ayurvedic diet that balances the doshas. Unsettling emotional swings will be lessened by an exercise program of hatha yoga and aerobics and helped a great deal by the stress reduction of regular meditation.§

One of the common effects of the decrease in production of estrogen during the period called menopause is the thinning of the mucosa of the female organs and a decrease in mucus and other secretions, leading to dryness. This causes discomfort and susceptibility to frequent infections. The use of synthetic hormones is not suggested for treatment of this condition. Symptoms can be alleviated by a diet high in vitamin E, grains, nuts and cold-pressed oils from fruit and nuts. Plenty of liquids and fluid foods, such as melons, greens and other moist vegetables, are recommended. The organs can be lubricated with cocoa butter, vegetable and fruit oils such as sesame, coconut, almond and cold-pressed castor oil. In spite of this dryness there can be bloating from water retention as well as tenderness of the tissues and even emotional depression. The necessary diuresis can be assured by the use of the homeopathic cell salt Natrum Sulphurica taken in four to eight daily doses. Frequent sips of warm water throughout the day and teas made of green tea, corn silk or dandelion greens may also naturally stimulate the diuresis so that harsh and mineral-depleting drugs will not be necessary. Cranberry and watermelon juices are also very good and have a tendency to decrease possible urinary tract infections.§

Menopause is a normal, natural event in life. It is not a disease and should not be treated as a disease with harmful hormone-replacement treatments which use strong, synthetic and dangerous drugs.§