Saturday, 31 July 2010

How safe is packaged drinking water

By Syed Akbar

Packaged drinking water is fit for human consumption only if it conforms to the following guidelines:

* It should be subjected to treatment and disinfected to a level that will not lead to harmful contamination.
* Odour and taste should be agreeable
* Total dissolved solids should not exceed 500 mg/litre
* The PH value should be between 6.5 and 8.5
* There should be no mineral oil or phenolic compounds
* Residual free chlorine should not be more than 0.2 mg/litre
* Pesticide residues should not exceed 0.0001 mg/litre
* It should be free of biological contaminants like yeast, moulds, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli or thermo tolerant bacteria, Coli form bacteria, faecal streptococci and Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Hyderabad, July 31: When Surendra Kumar, a resident of posh Banjara Hills, purchased a 5 litres packaged drinking water can, little did he realise that he was compromising on his and family’s health. He was damn sure that he had the purest drinking water can in his hands, far safer than the “dirty” water supplied through municipal taps. But when Surendra returned home, he found to his horror that the water can was contaminated by fungus, moulds and bacterial colonies.
There are lakhs of Surendras, who blindly believe that packaged drinking water is always potable. But contrary to popular belief, packaged drinking water is not necessarily safer than the tap water. Leading brands too often fail the water test, even in the USA and the UK. For water to be fit for drinking, it should pass stringent physical, chemical and biological tests.
Health experts say, physically water should be clear, free of turbidity and with total dissolved solids not exceeding half a gram per litre of water. Chemically, it should be free of harmful chemicals, while generally available elements should be present within the prescribed limits. And then comes the all-important biological test. Drinking water should be free of all pathogens particularly those that come out of human waste.
No one should assume that just because he or she purchases water in a bottle that it is necessarily any better regulated, purer, or safer than most tap water.
While thousands including our VIPs  like to vouchsafe for the safety of packaged drinking water, the Natural Resources Defence Council, an environment action group in the USA, argues  “no one should assume that just because he or she purchases water in a bottle that it is necessarily any better regulated, purer, or safer than most tap water.” When even in an advanced country like the USA there are several regulatory gaps, one can imagine to what extent Indian manufacturers would strictly adhere to the Central guidelines.
“I bought Bisleri mineral water of 5 litres on July 15 from Road No.10, Banjara Hills. When we observed the jar we were shocked to find fungus formation at one corner. There are many dirty particles. The date of production is July 7, 2010 with the code number 8 906017290071. I wonder whether we are paying money for ill health. I made a call to Bisleri-Habsiguda office and they informed to their franchisee Gautami Industries,” Surendra said.
The Bureau of Indian Standards has delicensed several packaged drinking water brands after its laboratory tests showed they failed to maintain the prescribed standards. Thanks to the popular myth that tap water is unsafe, people spend between 200 and 400 times more per litre for packaged water than on municipal water. In Hyderabad for instance, the water board collects Rs 325 for 5000 litres of “pure and safe” drinking water, while the packaged drinking water of the same quantity and quality costs a whopping Rs 75,000.
Says GHMC senior biologist Balaji Raju, “water supplied through municipal taps is safe unless there is some contamination between the source and supply points. The same holds good for packaged drinking water. There are stringent rules on quality of drinking water and they are equally applicable for packaged drinking water and water supplied through taps”. While packaged drinking water samples are tested at random and occasionally, municipal water undergoes hundreds of tests at several points every day.
“Only on Thursday the United Nations declared that safe and pure drinking water is a basic human right. Whether our water comes from a municipal tap or a bottle from a leading manufacturer, we have every right to know how safe it is to drink,” points out senior advocate AK Basha.
Officials of the Bureau of Indian Standards suggest that before purchasing a packaged drinking water bottle, one should check the manufacture date and whether the bottle has any leaks and the tamper proof seal is in tact. Physical examination of the water can or bottle is a must as it will reveal foreign bodies, if any.
Since packaged drinking water comes under the purview of the Food Adulteration Act, affected consumers can seek legal action against, including compensation from, the manufacturer. They can lodge complaint with the Food and Sanitation wing of the local municipal authority, with the Bureau of Indian Standards or with the local police.
Now that the police had finally acted against municipal and water board officials holding them responsible for the last year’s cholera deaths in Bholakpur area of the city, consumers can hope that the erring and unscrupulous manufactures of packaged drinking water will pull up their socks and adhere to the high quality water standards fixed by the Centre.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Reference Man of India: The Indian Ideal Man is 60 kgs, Ideal Woman 55 kgs now

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 29: The "ideal" man of India is now 5 kgs heavier while the "ideal" woman has put on 10 kgs of weight in the last 70 years.
The Central government has fixed the weight of the Indian Reference Man at 60 kgs and the Indian Reference Woman at 55 kgs. This will henceforth be taken as the standard weight for Indian adult. The earlier values were 55 kgs for man and 45 kgs for woman, fixed before Independence.
According to the new anthropometric values suggested by the experts committee on daily recommended dietary allowance, appointed by the Indian Council of Medical Research, the ideal or reference man of India is between 18 and 29 years of age and weighs 60 kgs with a height of 1.73 metres and a body mass index of 20.3. He is free from disease and physically fit for active work.
In case of ideal Indian woman or Indian reference woman, the age has been fixed between 18 and 29 years of age. She should weigh 55 kgs with a height of 1.61 metres, a body mass index of 21.2 and free from disease. She should also be non-pregnant and non-lactating and physically fit for active work.
Based on these new anthropometric values, the total calorie intake for an Indian adult man has been fixed at 2320 kilo calories if he leads a sedentary life. The values for moderate work and heavy work respectively are 2730 kilo calories and 3490 kilo calories. The corresponding figures for the ideal Indian woman are 1900 kcal, 2230 kcal and 2850 kcal.
"For any nation to have its own recommended dietary allowance there needs to be an ideal or reference man and woman. We have arrived at the new values for the Indian reference man and woman based on the present day conditions," Dr BS Narasinga Rao, chairman of the experts committee told this correspondent.
The earlier values were fixed before Independence (1936-1944) on the recommendations of the committee of nutrition, British Medical Association, and the health committee, League of Nations. The nutrition requirements for Indians were then fixed based on the values for the Indian reference man at 55 kgs and Indian reference woman at 45 kgs. Now this has been revised to 60 kgs (up by 5 kgs) for man and 55 kgs (up by 10 kgs) for woman.
To arrive at the ideal man or woman of India, nutrition experts identify members of well-to-do, elite population with no nutritional constraints and with good health care. The anthropometric measurements of that select population are collected to set up local reference standards.
The ideal Indian man on each working day should be engaged in 8 hours of occupation which usually involves moderate activity, while when not at work he spends 8 hours in bed, 4-6 hours in sitting and moving about, 2 hours in walking and in active recreation or household duties. The same set of rules also applies for the ideal Indian woman.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Sheesha puffing: Hookah smoking is 100 times more dangerous than cigarette smoke

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 28: The State government may not want to see hookah puffing in pubs and restaurants as a 
crime that requires a ban, but doctors and health experts warn that this ancient water pipe is indeed a major health risk and may even lead to addiction.
With hookah smoking becoming a favourite pastime with many young Hyderabadis of late, pressure has been building up on the State government to ban hookah in public places.
While the reports on the toxicity or otherwise of hookah samples sent by the city police to AP State Forensic Laboratory are still awaited, several leaders including Congress legislator E Pratap Reddy want a check on hookah to protect the health of youngsters. Sources in the AP Forensic Laboratory said as many as eight samples are under test and the report would be ready later this week.
“Pub owners use flavours in hookah to attract youngsters. Some of the pubs charge even Rs 1,000 for an hour of hookah smoking,” Pratap Reddy pointed out. Pratap Reddy was forced to raise the issue on the floor of the State Assembly recently after the Cyberabad police noticed several youths including young schoolchildren enjoying a hookah session at a bar in the city outskirts.
The city and Cyberabad police have been booking cases against hookah shops only if they allow minors to smoke. Hookah as such cannot be banned unless some narcotics are used, the police argue. Says Banjara Hills police assistant commissioner Ravinder Reddy, “children below 18 years are banned from taking tobacco and its products. We are regularly collecting samples and sending them to Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory (APFSL) to ascertain whether any banned substances are used in the ingredients”.
However, the State government does not want to take any drastic action against puffing hookah in public places till the forensic reports come in. But the World Health Organisation makes it clear that the water pipe contains a number of toxicants capable of causing several diseases.
City doctors point out that even if the forensic reports are negative for tobacco or narcotics, hookah still poses danger to the lives of people, particularly the young ones.
According to senior physician Dr Aftab Ahmad of Apollo Hospitals, hookah smoking gives a false sense of security but is as harmful as cigarette smoking. “About 70 per cent more nicotine is inhaled from hookah smoking than from one cigarette smoking. Hookah is associated with five times more chances of developing gum disease and lung cancer compared to a normal person who doesn't smoke,” he warns.
"Contrary to ancient lore and popular belief, the smoke that emerges from a water pipe contains numerous toxicants known to cause lung cancer, heart disease and other diseases," according to a WHO report on hookah.
Youngsters are made to believe that smoking hookah or shisha does not cause any harm as the smoke comes out through water. They are also in the false notion that they are puffing just chocolate, apple, grape or mango flavours. Many of them are unaware that tobacco and molasses are often used to create a false sense of happiness in the customers.
The WHO is of the view that a person can inhale about 100 times more smoke in a hookah session than in a single cigarette. It will also cause addiction if tobacco or drugs are used along with molasses and fruit flavours.
Facts About Hookah 
* Hookah is about a hundred times more dangerous than cigarette smoking. The amount of  tar inhaled through a single hookah session equals to the tar present in 100 cigarettes.  In the case of carbon monoxide poisoning the risk goes up to 50 times as compared with cigarette smoking.
* The water used in a hookah system may not work effectively always, exposing users to smoke.
* Hookah smoking may cause lung cancer, mouth diseases and heart troubles.
* What starts as a pastime or fun, soon becomes an addiction, exposing hookah puffers to more smoke and toxic elements including tar and carbon monoxide.
* There is also the element of infection since the pipes may not be disinfected properly.
The same pipe is puffed by several people, exposing the risk of infectious diseases.

Monday, 26 July 2010

How much of salt is too much for Indians? ICMR says 5 grams is the upper limit

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 25: Indians should take not more than 5 grams of salt a day if they want to keep hypertension and related heart diseases at bay.
The expert committee on new dietary guidelines, appointed by the Indian Council of  Medical Research, has
recommended daily salt dose of 1.1 grams to 3.3 grams. But in no case it should cross 5 grams if Indians
want to keep hypertension under check.
The new guidelines are likely to come into effect in a couple of months. Meanwhile, people may send in
their suggestions to the ICMR to its website, if they feel the salt quantity recommended is
either too low or too high.
While fixing the upper limit for salt consumption, the expert committee said scientific evidence shows that
primitive Indians and other people did not use much salt and thus were free from theproblem of
The salt content of natural diets, predominantly plant-based foods in India, does not exceed 300-400 mg of
sodium or one gram of salt. The Indian diet provides 90 per cent sodium from salt or sodium chloride, and
only 10-15 per cent originates from natural foods.
According to the expert committee report, salt intakes higher than 10 grams can be considered to have a
definite tendency to increase blood pressures. In India, 10 per cent of the attributable deaths are due to
hypertension and this appears to be an escalating disorder.
"Chronic disease risk factors are a leading cause of death and disability in all  countries and the important
risk factor is raised blood pressure. Around 7.1 million deaths occur as a result of  hypertension and
therefore, it is essential to have dietary approaches at a population level to decrease  hypertension, salt being
one of the important factors in the genesis of blood pressure. Hypertension is prevalent in 24-25 per cent of
people in rural India," the report said.
Apart from its relationship to hypertension, at intakes of 590-680 mmol (millimoles per litre), healthy
individuals can develop fluid retention.
The most common cause of sodium deficit is acute diarrhoea. The other disease, where it has a vital role to
play, is hypertension. A safe and adequate level is 1100-3300 mg/day. The minimum requirement for a
healthy person is 500 mg of sodium for adults and for infants and children, 58 mg/day. The maximum daily
intake of sodium chloride should not exceed 5 g per day.
But in different places people consume up to 30 g of salt every day. Almost 40 per cent of families consume
around 10 grams of sodium daily.
The dietary guidelines are being revised after a gap of 20 years. Besides salt, the ICMR will fix the
maximum and the minimum intake of protein, fat and carbohydrate, besides including new nutrients, dietary
components like selenium, B6, dietary fibre and antioxidants.
"Since 1990, there has been newer information generated by international research, updated and more
precise approaches adopted in assessing human nutrient requirement and dietary intakes and covering newer
nutrients, which have not been considered hitherto," said ICMR experts committee chairman BS Narasinga
Rao in his draft report.
Emphasising the need for new dietary guidelines, NIN director B Sesikeran said nutrients below the RDA or
many times beyond the RDA could affect the health of an individual. "The physiological status also decides
the individual's nutrient needs and this has been factored into the RDA," he added.

Guduchi kills cancer cells

By Syed Akbar
Tinospora cordifolia, popularly known as Guduchi or Amrit, has been in use in traditional systems of medicine for almost 4,000 years. Ayurveda regards Guduchi as a wonder herb, and thus the name Amrit or
nectar. A number of research studies have been conducted on the medicinal properties of Tinospora and all of
them confirm that it is useful in controlling diabetes, inflammation, arthritis, various allergies, stress and
malarial fevers.
It has also been hailed as a general tonic thanks to its anti-oxidant and anti-stress  properties. Guduchi protects the liver from malfunctions and infections and keeps it functioning well. Ayurveda  practitioners often prescribe Guduchi for stomach pain, and as a blood purifier.
Ayurveda and Unani formulations for fever and urinary problems include Guduchi as one of  the important
ingredients. The stem of Guduchi as also its roots find their way in these formulations.  The leaves are also often used.
Some practitioners claim that Guduchi has special properties that control the growth of a  number of cancers. The treatment varies from one month to six months. The root extract is given to people bitten  by snake or scorpion. As an external herbal application, Guduchi is recommended for skin diseases including filariasis.
However, as is the case with several herbs, Guduchi is not recommended for people with liver and kidney problems, pregnant women and small children. It's better these sections of people avoid Guduchi or its herbal formulations, though it has been hailed as one of the important rasayanas (rejuvenators) mentioned in
ancient Ayurveda texts.
Quick remedies
Guduchi is often considered as the best natural ointment to treat wounds filled with pus. Paste prepared from the Guduchi leaves can be applied externally to treat skin problems.
Oil obtained from Guduchi can be applied on the skin to reduce body pains, particularly those caused by arthritis.
Gently rub the oil on the affected portion and feel the relief within minutes.
For women suffering from endometrial cancer, Ayurveda doctors recommend Guduchi drink twice a day. Take a tablespoon of Guduchi powder and mix it in a small glass of water. Boil it, cool the mixture and filter it. The Guduchi drink is ready for consumption.
Diabetics may also try Guduchi decoction obtained from its stem. But here is a word of  caution. Take it in a small quantity as heavy doses could lower blood sugar levels and cause complications. Take a  few pieces of Guduchi stem and wash them thoroughly. Boil the pieces in a glass of water, filter the extract and preserve it in a clean and neat bottle. Consume two tablespoons of Guduchi decoction twice every day.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Carom seeds: Ajwain removes kidney stones

By Syed Akbar
If the mirchi bhajji from coastal Andhra is famous for its flavour and unique taste, it is thanks to the presence of Ajwain (carom seeds). Finely ground ajwain is stuffed inside mirchi (green chilli) before it is dipped into Bengal gram paste for frying golden yellow.
Ajwain also finds its way into several Indian dishes, including bakery items like ajwain biscuits. Neatly cut and cleaned Ajwain leaves are also used as stuffing agent in ajwain bhajjis, while its seeds go into
preparation of ajwain rotis, parathas and savouries prepared from Bengal gram flour.
Besides its taste and flavour enhancing properties, ajwain is considered in traditional system of medicine as the simple home remedy to remove kidney stones. Ayurveda and Unani practitioners believe that intake of
ajwain seeds with honey will help in breaking down kidney stones into pieces and gradual removal from the body through urine.
Ajwain has a number of medicinal properties and it is considered the best bet for fighting flatulence (gas), abdominal discomfort, and harmful bacteria and fungi and controlling diarrhoea. Some Ayurveda
doctors are of the view that ajwain has aphrodisiac properties and is good for middle-aged men.
Quick Remedies
Those addicted to alcohol may take a teaspoon of ajwain seeds twice a day for deaddiction. Its strong flavour and aromatic compounds present in it help in reducing the craving and urge for alcohol.
A drop of ajwain oil will provide instant relief from earache.
Since many herbal medicine experts feel that ajwain is a good stomach tonic, chewing of ajwain seeds once or twice a day may provide relief from digestive problems, and improve the functioning of stomach.
A little quantity of ajwain with a betel leaf will provide relief from dry cough.
Ajwain along with Saunf is considered a good mouth freshener.
Ajwain oil may be massaged on legs for relief from pain in patients of arthritis.

Beat depression with cardamom

2010By Syed Akbar
Cardamom or elaichi is one of the best flavouring agents in kitchens across the world. It also finds its use in providing distinctive flavour and taste to a number of sweet dishes and desserts.
Besides its major strength, the unique flavour, cardamom has a number of health benefits. But here is a word of caution. Like in the case of many other herbs, cardamom should not be consumed in large proportions. It has its side effects too, including impotency if consumed in heavy doses regularly.
Those who wish to include cardamom in their herbal treatment schedule should make it a point to consume it in small proportions. When consumed in a little quantity, cardamom gives relief from depression, provides clarity to mind and thought and keeps a person stable in actions too. It has anti-cancer properties too.
Cardamom has been used in traditional systems of medicines for several hundreds of years. It is the seeds that give the flavour and benefits of health. Take a few fruits of cardamom. Remove the outer covering (skin). Take out the seeds and finely ground them. Add the powder to normal or herbal tea. Ayurvedic doctors believe that cardamom tea will help fight depression.
Some practitioners of herbal medicine prescribe cardamom as a cure to certain male sexual problems including premature ejaculation. Regular intake of cardamom either directly or through foods will help in improving appetite.
Home remedies
Those with a complaint of erectile dysfunction may drink a glass of milk mixed with a little quantity of finely ground cardamom seeds. Ayurvedic doctors believe that if cardamom milk is consumed everyday before going to bed, it will increase sexual potency.
A little cardamom (a pod or two) will help in controlling nausea. It is also prescribed for mouth ulcers.
Those who are intolerant to gluten (people who develop stomach upset on use of wheat or wheat products) may add a little cardamom powder to rotis or wheat upma to overcome the problem.
Cardamom tea is recommended as a home remedy to treat indigestion and the resultant flatulence.
For women, herbal doctors feel, cardamom tea is the best bet to ward off certain menstruation-related troubles.

Neem controls acne, blackheads

By Syed AkbarNeem has always been hailed as the panacea for a number of ailments ranging from simple skin rashes to dental decay and from piles to fighting cancers. Ancient Indian literature had dealt in detail on the medicinal properties of the neem, its bark, seeds, gum, flowers and fruits and twigs. Practically every part of
the neem tree has medicinal properties to treat one health problem or the other. Neem is a good antiseptic agent and  helps in controlling pimples, and blackheads. It also prevents scarring of the skin after pimples or acne heal.
Though the credit on the neem research should go to ancient Indians, it is strangely  attributed to Westerners. We did not take the ancient neem literature further, while researchers in the West extracted a  number of products and chemicals from the neem tree. They have also patented the neem products.
As many as 135 compounds have been recovered from the neem tree. These compounds work  against several disease-causing agents including bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoans, besides  helminth worms. Latest research shows that neem helps in reducing swelling, fever, blood sugar levels, ulcers and  tumours. It can fight malaria too.
Neem is a good natural contraceptive too. It kills sperm and prevents pregnancy.
Coming to acne or pimples, neem oil and neem leaves work wonders. A paste of neem leaves,  if applied on the affected area, provides relief from pustular pimples. A paste obtained from the neem bark
is also useful in fighting pimples.
Quick remedies
Neem oil has been found to be of great help to people with cracks on feet. Many people  tend to develop fissures and cracks on their heels during summer and winter or whenever there's a sudden change in
climatic conditions. Simple application of neem oil to the affected area will provide immediate relief.
Neem leaves have been found to possess anti-septic properties. Just soak some neem leaves  in hot water and mix it with your regular bath water for relief from skin problems, including dandruff and rashes.
Neem oil and paste from neem leaves can be rubbed gently on the scalp to prevent hair  fall and fight fungal
Take a few neem leaves and a little piece of fresh turmeric rhizome. Make a paste out of  them and apply on the affected portion of the skin for relief from insect bites.
When one talks of the neem, will one forget about the benefits it gives to oral health  and dental hygiene. Regular brushing of teeth with a neem twig will prevent tooth decay and kill harmful bacteria in  the mouth.

The beneficial banyan

By Syed Akbar
Banyan tree has always occupied a pride of place in Indian systems of medicine, particularly Ayurveda and Unani. It is also linked to spiritualism and asceticism. The tree is revered for its shade on a hot summer day. Medicinal properties of banyan tree galore, ranging from treating infertility, both male and female, to fighting venereal diseases like syphilis and gonorrhoea.
Banyan belongs to the Ficus genus and is a close cousin of the fig tree. Fruits,flowers, milk (latex), roots and leaves of banyan tree find use in preparation of traditional herbal medicines.
Both Ayurveda and Unani doctors prescribe banyan preparations to clear bowels, treat ulcers, fever and a variety of skin diseases including leprosy. It has anti-inflammatory properties too. The roots of banyan that hang out from the branches (aerial roots) are used to treat inflammation of liver and check bleeding (styptic property).
Other ailments that can be treated through banyan leaf buds are diarrhoea, bleeding piles and irregular monthly cycles in women.
Home  remedies
If you want relief from chronic dysentery, take a few fresh leaf buds of banyan and soak them in water for a few hours. Remove the leaves, filter the water and drink it. Alternatively, you may try banyan milk (latex) in small quantities as latex if consumed in higher quantities may prove dangerous.
For those suffering from painful bleeding piles, a little quantity of banyan latex mixed in diary milk will provide the much needed relief.
Practitioners of traditional medicine recommend finely ground banyan root powder mixed in milk as remedy for female infertility. They suggest that it should be consumed for three days after monthly periods. This should be repeated every month.
Like the neem twig, a piece of aerial root of banyan can be used to brush the teeth. It fights bacteria and makes the teeth and gums strong and healthy.

Nariyal cure: Coconut water keeps digestive system in healthy condition

By Syed Akbar
On a hot summer day one cannot resist a fresh and tender coconut. Tender coconut milk and 
the thin layer of copra inside the fruit make a natural rehydration formula. Coconut milk (water) keeps the body cool, fights sunstroke, and recharges the body with its natural vitamins, minerals and trace  elements. Coconut water is also good for digestion and fights infection in the body including worms.
According to Ayurveda and Unani practitioners, coconut milk aids in controlling diabetes 
and helps in weight loss while coconut oil helps in the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the  body. Coconut oil contains unique medicinal properties that prevents osteoporosis.
The Coconut Development Board of India proudly refers to an ancient Indian saying 
describing coconut as "unctuous, sweet, increasing semen, promoting digestion and clearing the urinary path".
While fruits and vegetables cannot be fed to infants, coconut milk is recommended by many 
doctors for infants suffering from intestinal disturbances. It is also considered even by modern  medical practitioners as the best source of oral rehydration. Coconut oil if applied on the body keeps off prickly  heat and summer boils. Coconut milk is prescribed for cholera patients too.
Senior dietician Rupali Dutta describes coconut as a "functional food" as it gives several health benefits beyond its nutritional content.
Home Remedies
Suffering from skin rashes or prickly heat? Just take a few tablespoons of pure coconut 
oil and gently rub it on the affected portion. You will get relief soon.
You can beat the heat by applying a few drops of pure coconut oil on the scalp or 
drinking a glass of tender coconut milk.
If you are suffering from stomach-ache or digestion problems, drink a couple of tender 
Regular intake of coconut milk will keep the intestines clean and removes harmful material (toxins) from the body.
Coconut oil in combination with lemon juice is the best natural method of fighting the 
problem of dandruff. Just apply a little mixture of lemon juice and coconut oil and apply it on the scalp.
For those conscious of their hair, a few drops of coconut oil will be of great help. Simply massage the scalp after applying coconut oil. This improves blood circulation and stimulates the hair  follicles. The result is long and healthy hair with no split ends.

The power of Paan: Betel leaf heals wounds

By Syed Akbar
No auspicious ritual is complete in any Indian family without the serving of paan to guests. Distribution of paan (betel leaf) and supari (betel nut) among guests is considered a good omen by people of all communities. Though paan has been traditionally linked to functions in India, betel is a native of Malaysia. It was introduced in India several centuries ago and has gradually become a part of the Indian culture and tradition.
There is a myth associated with paan chewing that it causes throat or tongue cancer. But many scientists have made it clear that paan per se will not cause cancer. If tobacco products are taken along with paan, the tobacco products will trigger oral cancers.
Betel leaf as well as its fruit is used in traditional systems of medicine to treat a number of health problems including relief from headache, stomach-ache, constipation, common cold and boils. Betel is also used in the treatment of wounds as natural chemicals present in it will help in wound healing.
Paan also promotes saliva formation which helps in easy digestion of food. It is a good diuretic, meaning promotes urine. Since it promotes urine, excess water in the body can be removed in case of swelling of legs and hands. 
Ayurvedic and Unani doctors prescribe paan as a natural analgesic (pain relieving agent). Just put a betel leaf on the affected area and it will show results within minutes.
Home Remedies
Boils are really painful. For relief from skin problems particularly boils, just apply a few drops of castor oil on a betel leaf and then warm it. Spread the leaf on the affected portion. Keep it for a couple of hours or allow it to stay overnight.
For those conscious of good health, juice obtained from a few paan leaves mixed with honey will do wonders. Not only does it keep the body healthy, but also helps in fighting infections.
Here is a grandma's recipe to promote lactation in nursing mothers. Just keep betel leaves on the breasts and it increases milk production in lactating mothers.
To keep the mouth fresh and free of bacteria, simply chew a paan leaf. Do not add any tobacco product. A little of limestone will not do any harm, according to practitioners of traditional systems of medicine.

Chandan: Sandalwood kills gonorrhoea germs, other STD bacteria

By Syed Akbar
Chandan. The very name creates around us an aura of divine aroma and blissful fragrance. 
No ritual in several religions is complete without the application of Chandan or burning of Chandan sticks to  invoke the Divine Grace.
Chandan or the Indian sandalwood is a native of the Indian sub-continent and is presently 
confined to the peninsular India. It is an endangered plant species and protected plant. Nevertheless, Chandan has been in use for centuries and ancient Ayurvedic texts refer to its medicinal and curative properties. The sandalwood  gets its unique fragrance thanks to the presence of an essential oil, scientifically called santalol.
Chandan can consumed internally or applied on the body externally. In both ways, it has 
its own curative and healing properties. Chandan has always been considered to be a natural medicine to treat a myriad  of skin diseases, including those transmitted sexually. It is the best bet in treating gonorrhoea.
Modern life has taken a heavy toll of the Indian traditions. Remember those days when 
grandmas used to apply sandal paste to stomach and forehead of crying babies and infants. This would provide  them relief from pain and itching. Another old family recipe is application of sandal paste on face to treat  pimples and blackheads.
The grandma's medicinal recipe still holds good. Application of sandal paste on the 
forehead will give relief from high temperature and resultant headache. It also tones up the skin texture, controlling pimples and blackhead formation.
It's okay with the sandal paste. But when it comes to the use of pure chandan oil, make 
sure that it is diluted. Pure chandan oil is generally not recommended by practitioners of herbal medicine.
Home remedies
Those suffering from the notorious gonorrhoea may take sandal pills (prepared from sandal 
powder and milk). This will give relief from gonorrhoea, a sexually transmitted disease.
Prepare a little quantity of decoction from sandalwood and consume it for relief from 
stomach problems, particularlyindigestion.
Those conscious of beauty may try herbal packs of pure chandan. Apply a little quantity 
of chandan paste on face and gently massage it. You will get a glowing and youthful skin.
A paste of sandalwood and rose water is also recommended for a healthy skin. This will 
keep off summer skin eruptions. It is also good to treat freckles, those melanin concentrated spots on the  face and other parts of the body.
For immediate relief from eczema, you may apply a little sandal paste mixed with camphor. 
Sandal paste with coconut oil will also work.

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In the News

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This Day In History

Mother's Care

Mother's Care
Minnu The Cat & Her Kittens Brownie, Goldie & Blackie

Someone with Nature

Someone with Nature
Syed Akbar in an island in river Godavari with Papikonda hills in the background

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

Under the shade of Baobab tree

Under the shade of Baobab tree
At Agha Khan Akademi in Kenya

Gateway to the Southern Hemisphere

Gateway to the Southern Hemisphere

Convention on Biodiversity

Convention on Biodiversity
Syed Akbar at the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity