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5 Herbs For A Healthy Digestive System

The Kashmir Monitor

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Today’s lifestyle has several unhealthy facets such as lack of physical activity, poor sleep habits and consumption of unhealthy foods, including fast, processed and junk food.

Hectic work schedules have increased stress levels (which, in turn, has led to disturbed sleep), unhealthy dietary habits such as eating either too much or too less, and, more often than not, not spending enough time to eat well. Smoking and alcoholism are other aspects that have led to health issues.

The negative outcome of this stress-filled lifestyle is visible in the form of ill health, the most common being poor digestive health. This is worsened by the decreasing ability of the digestive system to function efficiently with age and handle digestive problems such as indigestion, bloating, flatulence and gastritis.

 

According to Dr Rajesh Kumawat, Head – Medical Services and Clinical Development, The Himalaya Drug Company, digestive problems should not be ignored as they can cause irreversible complications in the long run. Several medicinal herbs and natural ingredients, some of which are well known and a part of Indian cuisine, can help in managing digestive problems the natural way.

5 herbs for a healthy digestive system

1. Ginger: A common flavouring agent in the Indian kitchen, ginger has a pungent smell and a warming effect when consumed. It is a home remedy for indigestion, and stimulates gastric acids and digestive enzymes that improve digestion. Ginger also helps in expelling gas from the digestive system.

2. Black Pepper: A seasoning as well as flavouring agent, black pepper is a common spice. It contains a compound called Piperine that improves the absorption of nutrients. Black pepper improves the secretion of bile acids and thus the breakdown of foods. It also expels gas from the digestive system and hence is useful in curing flatulence, belching, etc.

3. Triphala: An effective Ayurvedic blend of fruits of three herbs — amla (gooseberry), haritaki (chebulic myrobalan), bibhitaki (Belleric myrobalan), triphala is known for its health benefits. It prevents the accumulation of gas in the digestive system, improves the contractile movement of muscles of the digestive system and helps in the movement of food. Triphala also helps in curing indigestion.

4. Fennel Seeds: Commonly used as a mouth freshener, fennel seeds have several digestive system-friendly medicinal properties. It has an antispasmodic action that helps in relaxing the contracted intestinal muscles. Fennel seeds also help in expelling gas from the digestive system.

5. Shankha Bhasma: An Ayurvedic preparation made from conch shell, shankha bhasma improves appetite and digestion, and also provides relief from digestive problems like gastritis and duodenitis.

While these ingredients can be used individually or in combination for better management of digestive problems, it is always advisable to consult your doctor for appropriate dosage before taking them.


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Health

Hepatitis A Causes and Symptoms

The Kashmir Monitor

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Generally speaking, hepatitis A is more common in parts of the planet that are developing. It’s for the fact that sanitation and food handling practices are by and large poor. However, medical experts say that living in developed countries can also put you at risk of having hepatitis A, but it’s really a rare occurrence.

Just like what’s mentioned earlier, hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus or HAV. It can be spread around by someone who has hepatitis A because he or she is a carrier of the virus behind it. It is said that a person with hepatitis A is most infectious about 2 weeks before he or she begins to experience signs and symptoms.

Here are some of the ways that hepatitis A is spread around:

 

Consumption of food that is prepared by a person who has hepatitis A. This is most especially true if he or she has not properly washed his or her hands.

Drinking of water that is contaminated with the hepatitis A virus.

Intake of raw or undercooked seafood obtained from contaminated water.

Close contact with someone who has hepatitis A. This includes having sexual intercourse with an infected person, especially when the rectal or anal area has been touched with the fingers, mouth or tongue.

Using illegal drugs, especially when paraphernalia contaminated with the hepatitis A virus are used.

Symptoms

Medical experts say that it may take a while before the various signs and symptoms associated with hepatitis A show up. They say that someone may experience them about 4 weeks after getting infected. It’s even possible for someone with hepatitis A to not experience any sign and symptom at all.

Some of the initial signs and symptoms of hepatitis A include:

Tiredness and malaise
Achy muscles and joints
Pain in the upper right section of the abdomen
Loss of appetite
Mild fever
Headaches
Sore throat
Diarrhea or constipation
Hives or raised rash that’s itchy

These initial signs and symptoms associated with hepatitis A can last anywhere from a few days only to a couple of weeks. Afterwards, as the infection of the liver progresses, the following may be experienced by the individual:

Jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin as well as the whites of the eyes (sclera)

Pale colored stools
Dark colored urine
Skin itching

Tenderness and swelling of the upper right section of the abdomen

Although it rarely happens, hepatitis A can cause liver failure. When such develops, the person who is infected may experience severe vomiting, frequent bruising, bleeding of the nose and gums, drowsiness and confusion.

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Health

Busting myths around blood donation

The Kashmir Monitor

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As per the World Health Organisation (WHO) norms, ideally, one per cent of the total population should regularly donate blood to meet the requirements, which is anywhere between 1% and 3% of country’s population that would require blood in a year.

Contrary to the myth about blood donations making a person weak or anaemic, the body replenishes the lost blood in a matter of a few days, say experts.

“A healthy bone marrow makes a constant supply of red cells, plasma and platelets, so there is no question of becoming weak, much less anaemic. It is a myth and should not deter people from donating blood,” says Dr RK Singal, chairman, internal medicine department, BLK super-speciality Hospital.

 

The donors can give either whole blood or specific blood components, as there is sophisticated equipment available these days that extract relevant components from blood and the rest of the blood can be transfused back to the donor.

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO) norms, ideally, one per cent of the total population should regularly donate blood to meet the requirements, which is anywhere between 1% and 3% of country’s population that would require blood in a year.

About 65% of India’s population is young and if this section donates blood regularly, chances of the country facing blood shortage will be remote. Hence, there is all the more reason for people, especially youngsters, to come forward and be regular blood donors.

How to prepare

Have enough fruit juice and water in the night and morning before you donate

Have a full meal 3 hours before donation; never on an empty stomach

Have some rest for about 10-15 minutes after donation

Have some snacks or a juice with high sugar content after donation

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Health

Erectile dysfunction’s connection with lifestyle

The Kashmir Monitor

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By Dr Anjani Kumar Agrawal

healthy-lifestyle-can-reverse-effects-of-hypertensionAll over the world, but perhaps more so in India, men are embarrassed to admit that they may have a problem getting or keeping an erection — a condition known as erectile dysfunction (ED).

All over the world, but perhaps more so in India, men are embarrassed to admit that they may have a problem getting or keeping an erection — a condition known as erectile dysfunction (ED). From my research, I have found a strong link between ED and stress. Other major causes include smoking, drinking, diabetes, hypertension or high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. My advice to these patients is — do not get even more stressed over this situation. Instead, focus on taking the right medication and making some changes to your lifestyle, so you can once again enjoy a satisfactory sexual life.

 

DIAGNOSIS OF ED

We normally diagnose ED and its underlying causes by asking the patient a few questions about his medical and sexual history. This is sometimes done by sharing a questionnaire with the patient. The questions that we ask are designed to help us understand the cause of ED in the particular patient.

We also do a physical exam, ask for certain blood tests to rule out other medical conditions responsible for erectile dysfunction, and recommend imaging tests (if required) to determine whether the person is physically able to have an erection or not.

SHORT-TERM SOLUTION, LONG-TERM CURE

Underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia (high cholesterol levels) can cause ED. In these cases, ED can be reversed once the patient starts treatment.

In my experience, many men suffer from ED because of work stress, family pressure and anxiety. So, changes in lifestyle with regular exercise, yoga, abstaining from alcohol and smoking, and proper counselling help in treating ED. Along with this, medicines for ED are usually prescribed for about 3 to 6 months by which time lifestyle changes start to take effect and the patient is physically and mentally healthier, which helps resolve the problem.

An estimated 16% to 25% of men experience ED at some point in their lives. I would urge them not to be embarrassed about it. Seek medical help from a urologist or andrologist; get the necessary advice/medication; and go on to enjoy a healthy, fulfilling sexual life.

The author of this article is Dr Anjani Kumar Agrawal, head, andrology, department of urology sciences, Max Smart Super Speciality Hospital, Saket

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