Health & Healing

Hospital Hopes And Hazards


Historically The Hospital was an institution created for centralizing a place for administering care and medical treatment to the ill of the community. A place to get the patient away from his home environment and offer him expert services and nursing care. Today the Hospital is a major institution dedicated to the preservation of life and the study and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses. At the same time every hospital has a teaching and monitoring responsibility for the health and wellness of its community. The larger teaching hospitals are the bringing together of specialists in the various disease categories and elaborate structures for teaching every phase of the medical team. There is an infinite variety in what we call the hospital today from the barely adequate to the best there is to offer.§

All hospitals have this in common: the expense or cost of running the hospital continues whether or not any patients are present. An empty bed does not lower the expense, but merely lowers the income. Also another common denominator is that the hospitals are the most controlled industry in the USA. There are federal, state, local and sometimes special rules and regulations that must be followed. At the same time there are constraints upon the medical care and its quality by the above agencies as well as the hospital committees on quality of care, mortality and morbidity, and medical ethics. The most recent invasion of this world of constraints and regulations is by the insurance companies, that do pay most of the patient’s bills. They have determined the maximum length of hospital stay of patients regardless of the clinical condition of the patient. Thus the insurance company will deny certain charges, often without any good clinical reason, in order to keep their payouts as low as possible.§

The hospital’s stated mission is the preservations of life. This often means that in spite of"living will” stipulations (do not resuscitate orders) the patient may be put on life support machines contrary to the wish of the patient and the family. Once this is instituted it is becomes almost impossible to remove the machines even though the cost are mounting and no benefit is derived to the patient.§

The greatest hazard to hospitalization is the nosocomial infections (or hospital acquired infections). The institution is the home of many germs, viruses, toxins, and allergens that one is not familiar with in his own environment. So the patient is susceptible to massive new infections since he has no natural immunity. And, of course, antibiotics are given at once often without the desired testing and matching of the antibiotic and the offending organism, and frequently without patient consent as it is considered covered by the blanket permit signed upon admission. We all know of the serious consequences of indiscriminate and often unneccesary antibiotic use.§

Another great problem is the food that is served to the patient. If one is vegetarian, he will not be able to get a good vegetarian diet-the nutritionists do not understand the concept. The other food is also often inadequate to the patient needs. It has been said that malnutrition is very common in the modern hospital without supplemental and very expensive feeding. §

Because of the current litigious nature of our society excessive testing is done especially the latest and most expensive technics..even though a simple test may give the same results. This is merely to satisfy the medical and hospital protocols.§

The patient can control many of these “errors” by insisting that he be part of every decision that his physician makes. The patient must be an active participant in his own care, he shall demand that some things be treated on an outpatient or hospice basis rather than being hospitalized. He has the right to know what his disease is and what the are options of treatment. He also has a right of a second and third opinion. Most hospitals due not allow alternative methods to be used in the hospital which denies the patient the right to choose between allopathy, homeopathy, Ayurveda, traditional herbal medicine and such other alternatives as acupuncture, healing by laying on of hands, Reiki, and even chiropractic adjustments.§

There are many other things that are contrary to the paient’s interest in the modern day hospital; but we must also admit that we have the best treatment in the world today.§

Antidotes For Andropause


Are you a man 45 years or older who is finding himself becoming more irritable and argumentative than before? Have you become a procrastinator? Do you feel you are not the “hunk” that you once were whose libido seems to be decreasing as your spouse’s is increasing? Are you more emotional and sentimental these days, frequently responding to situations with tears? Has proving your virility gained a new importance, enough to have you change your style of dress to a more sporty look–no longer donning subdued and drab colors? Have you been tempted to buy a flashy new sportscar recently, perhaps a red Jaguar or Mercedes Benz? Or do you say to yourself, “It is not my fault that I cannot respond intimately anymore. It must be my wife. Maybe I should take on a mistress.” Finally, do you tend to blame others for all of these changes? §

If you fit this picture, you may be passing through male menopause, known in the US as andropause and in Europe as viropause. Symptoms during this changing time in life include a definite, although slight, change in physical and mental attitudes toward sex. Usually there is no hormonal cause to explain this midlife crises, as men remain fertile into late life. Normally there is no decrease in the male hormone, testosterone, although a slow abatement may develop, usually after age 65. However, the anxiety that is felt during this period of natural readjustment to life and its demands may not only be traumatic but catastrophic. Since most men take pride in their virility, fitness and physical prowess, it is truly a shock when they discover they are not as agile or adaptive as they once were.§

Retirement may become a real problem. If work is no longer there to take up active time, and it has not been replaced with other tasks, life may seem tedious and useless. A man’s self-esteem can be threatened, making him defensive and miserable. He may experience high stress levels for the first time in his life, which may result in complications, such as alcohol abuse or perhaps even drugs.§

Primarily andropause occurs among white-collar men who have high goals, perhaps higher than their life’s achievements. Frequent thoughts of getting old and fears of death, loss of confidence during intimacy, retirement and of being fired from his job can amplify the stress. If that weren’t enough, psychological changes can provoke a fear of losing physical and mental stability.§

The more a man is “me” oriented, the more likely he is to have symptoms of andropause. It is far more common in the West than in calmer Oriental cultures; however, this is changing as the East becomes more Westernized. Not all men pass through this andropause, and it is possible to prevent the occurrence altogether by consciously adopting more realistic goals. Treatment of andropause is primarily psychological and philosophical. Controversial hormone replacement therapy is not recommended. Simply recognizing and understanding it as a syndrome may in itself decrease the severity of symptoms. Male menopause is very real and can be serious, but adhering to a dharmic path can aid in diminishing or even bypassing the experience. §

DHEA: Menace or Miracle


Stop aging now!” “do we have the fountain of youth?” These are some of the exaggerated claims found in the lay press and in ads selling the “food supplement” DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). In the human body DHEA is a natural hormone produced by the adrenal gland and is intimately involved in the manufacture of testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and cortisone. It is a vital factor as a hormone precursor in the human endocrine system. It reaches its peak level in both men and women between ages 20 and 30, then gradually decreases. At age 70 the level is 10 to 20% of that at age 20. Logic tells us that if the blood level is lower at the time aging symptoms appear, then we may be able to reverse these symptoms by an exogenous dosage or replacement of the hormone. To some extent this seems to be true, at least there seems to be a decrease in the aging symptoms and a certain well-being as the levels are elevated to those seen in one’s youth.§

There are reports that adding DHEA to the diet can be anti-depressant, anti-aging, anti-obesity, anti-dementia, give protection to the thymus and reduce stress. It can also protect against heart disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, viral disease, and postmenopausal syndrome. Most of the evidence is backed only by animal experimentation, and extrapolation from these studies to human use is not very reliable. There is some data from human studies that tend to support the less exaggerated claims in the advertisements. Yet, there are no long term reports sufficient to claim that life is prolonged, or that this is “truly the fountain of youth” or the “wonder hormone of the 90s.”§

According to Dr. Billie Jay Sahley, a pain clinic operator, DHEA treatment can result in “increased energy and less susceptibility to the ravages of chronic pain and depression.”§

DHEA is beneficial only if a blood test shows a level much lower than expected for one’s age. Otherwise DHEA should not be taken because the body can stop producing it naturally resulting in a dependency on the external source. Should treatment begin, it is important that every six months the blood level be tested and an adjustment made in the dosage if it is excessive. Higher levels can produce a total disruption of the endocrine balance in the body and result in many concurrent symptoms as well as an increased incidence of cancer of the breast in women or prostrate cancer in men. Fortunately, side effects from DHEA are relatively few–acne and headaches are among them. Hirsutism may also occur among women, but all of these symptoms are reversed by decreasing or stopping the dosage.§

Only top grade pharmaceutically pure DHEA should be used, and vegetarians should be aware it may come from an animal source. Most brands made from the South American yam are not trustworthy, as there is no evidence this precursor source can give a reliable dose or be absorbed and utilized by our bodies.§

As aging occurs, most people compensate by adjustments in their lifestyle, making aging the truly natural phenomenon that it is. If one has a good regimen of hatha yoga, sadhana (including meditation) and an adequate vegetarian diet, he is not likely to suffer from aging symptoms.§

A Toxic Monster In Your Mouth


If you have silver amalgam dental fillings, you may have a time bomb ticking in your mouth. Amalgam is a mixture of silver, copper, indium, palladium and 43 to 50.5 percent metallic mercury. Mercury is a liquid at room temperature but becomes solid when combined with other metals. It is more toxic than lead, cadmium or arsenic and has the property of giving off mercury vapor. Even in a compacted dental filling, vapor can be inhaled and distributed into tissues of the body, especially the brain, kidneys, liver and nerves. The Australasian Society of Oral Medicine and Toxicology has affirmed, “Mercury is poisonous. There is no safe form of mercury in living tissue.”§

It has been proven that mercury continuously leaves the amalgam. The amount exuded depends upon the number of fillings in the mouth and the length of time the fillings have been there. Its release increases when chewing, when the intraoral temperature is raised by smoking and drinking hot fluids, by grinding of teeth and even by brushing the teeth. The mercury vapor is absorbed through the lungs directly into the arterial blood at a rate of 80 percent. In the brain it is preferentially stored in the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. It binds to hemoglobin, causing decreased transportation of oxygen to the tissues and can destroy kidney cells, leading to kidney failure.§

The greatest affect of elevated mercury in the system is neurotoxic, leading to memory loss along with a tingling and loss of sensations in the peripheral nerves. There may be hormonal changes, since it is selectively stored in the pituitary, the grand conductor of the nervous and hormonal system. Mercury also passes the placental barrier and can adversely affect the fetus with possible physical and mental defects. There are studies that implicate increased mercury levels with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease. In one Alzheimer’s patient, all the amalgams were removed and mercury purged from the body by chelation. All symptoms of the disease disappeared.§

What can we do about this controversial subject? Select a family dentist who does not use amalgams. Many dentists still deny it is a hazard to health. If your doctor feels there is sufficient cause, you may opt for a more extreme course of action: replacing the amalgams with porcelain or non-amalgam fillings. Your dentist must proceed cautiously, following a prescribed pattern of replacement. The mere manipulation of the fillings will tend to release more mercury vapor, which may be inhaled. While removing the amalgams, the effects of mercury in the system can be offset by a diet rich in greens, high fiber, garlic, onions, distilled water, and supplements of vitamin A, C, and E, beta carotene and selenium.§

We discussed other aspects of dental hygiene in the August 1989 issue of Hinduism Today and warned of another toxic element, fluoride, found in fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses. Fluoride produces marked and irreversible changes in the teeth and bones. On Nov. 14, 1996, a London Telegraph headline confirmed, “Colgate pays out for fluoride damaged teeth.” It was proven that a 10-year-old boy had the condition called dental fluorosis which developed due to small but frequent swallowings of fluoridated toothpaste.§

Coming of Age, From Lass to Lady


A girl’s puberty may be a tumultuous time, but careful tutelage can guide her into adulthood.§

There are three important milestones which we reach in our lifetimes–childhood, from birth to age 16 (kapha), adulthood from 16 to 50 (pitta) and old age from 50 onwards (vata). These three cycles co-exist with the cycle of the body’s constitution, and at the juncture of each period a great turmoil naturally occurs.§

During the first transition, called puberty, the body and mind are growing, maturing and adjusting to a new purpose in life; i.e., procreation. Puberty brings with it a collision between kapha and pitta which, in itself, is trying and explosive.§

Parents should teach their daughters what to expect when puberty begins. On average it starts at about age ten but may occur as early as eight. The first signs are budding of the breasts and growing of pubic and underarm hair. Coarse hair on the legs and arms may also appear. The body experiences a surge of growth that begins at the feet and leads to an awkward gait. This is followed by a lengthening of the legs which may produce even more clumsiness.§

Often a skin condition called acne develops which brings great concern to the girl because it is unsightly, and she may be the only one in her class to be so marked. This can best be treated, as can all of the indications of puberty, by eating a pitta-satisfying ayurvedic diet, by having plenty of exercise and by seeing that the digestive process is always functioning at an optimum.§

While these external metamorphoses are happening, marked changes are going on within the body. The sexual organs begin to grow, as well as an awareness of them. Hormonal changes commence which will initiate menarche, but this beginning of the menstrual cycle comes fairly late in the puberty process. It may initially occur as a feeling of dampness or only as a spot of blood. As she develops further, the flow increases. When the ovaries begin producing eggs, the flow usually becomes more regular. In the meantime, the breasts continue to enlarge, and their ultimate size is determined by genetic and other factors which cannot be predicted.§

Along with physical changes come psychological transformations which may lead to erratic behavior, moodiness, inactivity and self-protecting attitudes. These must be understood as a part of the grand process of growing into adulthood. Many children may not desire this change because they have developed a dependency on being a child. On the other hand, most welcome it with excitement and look at it as a time of great challenge.§

A blooming young lady may feel a need to experiment with her independence by desiring to do more things for herself and separating at times from authority figures. Usually this is not a troublesome phase if it is understood as a normal part of development. The main emotional problems to be dealt with are self-consciousness, a feeling of isolation and of “being different.”§

Teaching celibacy and planning early for the coming-of-age samskara, the ritukala, will help her to adjust to this period of change and prepare for adult responsibilities. A persistent healthy diet, good exercise, meditation, parental guidance and understanding siblings will insure that she grows and matures into a graceful, beautiful, loving, alluring, mystifying and exciting embodiment of Shakti, capable of bearing wonderful children.§

Boys Will Be Boys, But Not for Long


A boy’s puberty is a time to prepare him for the responsibilities of adult life.§

Puberty in boys proceeds about the same as in girls, except the changes are more external due to the differences in anatomy. On the average, puberty begins between 12 and 13 but may occur as early as nine. In some cases, the process of growing into manhood may be delayed as late as the 14th and 15th years.§

Parents should help prepare their sons before puberty on what to expect. One of the first signs is some swelling of the mammary glands. This often leads to a brief but very sore and swollen nipple area. It gradually recedes and returns to a normal flatness, and the underlying muscles become harder and more prominent. This period of change may take up to one and half years to complete, but some boys may not go through this phase.§

Concurrently hair will begin to grow in the pubic area and the armpits. The sweat glands in these areas will tend to produce copious amount of sweat, more than in females. The facial hair starts as a very fine fuzz, and in late puberty it may not only be more coarse but also be quite visible. The boys take a lot of teasing about their “peach fuzz” from their peers and adults.§

The gangly gait and awkwardness produced by the rapid growth of the lower extremities may be much greater than in girls. But what boys lack in grace they make up in speed. The musculature of the upper body is emphasized with a squareness to the shoulders and hardness of the muscles, unlike the soft curves of the females. Another change that opens the boys to teasing and ridicule is the change in the voice. It begins by becoming deeper and deeper in pitch, but it is not a smooth transition. The boy may be speaking or reciting in class when the voice “breaks” and returns to its soprano pitch momentarily. This may occur with concomitant blushing, something which seems to develop slightly more with boys. Of course, this occurs at all of the inopportune moments, again leading to teasing and moderate discomfort.§

One of the earliest changes develops in the sex organs. The testicles tend to enlarge. It is normal for one to be larger than the other, and it is also normal for one to suspend, when standing, lower than the other. The male organ is made of erectile tissue and when it is filled with blood becomes hard and erect. This may occur at any time without provocation or apparent cause. This leads to blushing and teasing which should be understood by everyone.§

As the external organs are growing in prominence there are internal hormonal changes occurring which eventually lead to the production of semen. There may be spontaneous, sometimes nocturnal, emissions. Yogis say this is perfectly normal, but masturbation should be discouraged. Boys should be taught to save the sacred seed and trained prior to puberty to re-channel sexual desire by learning to transmute their vital energies and sacred fluids.§

Other internal changes are in the boys perception of girls. The childhood joshing of “those dumb girls” changes to a new appreciation for them. But the vital life force must be focused on studies and spiritual pursuits. The sexual drives and impulses are natural but should be confined within a sanctified marriage. Celibacy until marriage will enable the boy to merit a good wife and a happy life together.§