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How to choose the right Ayurvedic shampoo for your hair

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The instant results of chemical-based shampoos is almost addictive – one wash, and your hair resembles that from a commercial. However, when it comes to Ayurvedic hair products – and by this we mean the real deal sans any chemicals, opinion is still divided regarding their efficacy.
“The feel of using chemical products is certainly much better, with respect to fragrance and immediate effects,” says Dr Sharad Kulkarni, in-house expert at brand Kama Ayurveda. “However, while the high levels of chemicals and synthetic materials may give instant results, over a period of time they tend to damage the hair, and even the skin.”
Agrees Dr Akanksha Kotibhaskar, Ayurvedic Consultant with Forest Essentials, who says, “Synthetic substances present in chemical-based shampoos and conditioners cause excessive dryness, which makes the hair brittle and leads to breakage. The natural oil from the scalp and hair gets stripped off due to the harsh chemicals, leading to premature greying and frizziness.”
In contrast, they opine that the natural ingredients and herbs in Ayurvedic shampoos and conditioners not only cleanse the hair and scalp gently, but also have a curative effect in the long run. According to experts at Ayurvedic beauty brand Biotique, “Ayurvedic hair products are made with natural plant and vegetable extract that are aimed at solving specific concerns.” They state that chemical-based products can only control the conditions symptomatically, but not offer a long-term cure.
Of course, it’s not all that simple as it looks. The dosha (bodily humor or bio-energy centre in Ayurvedic medicine) and season also play important roles in deciding what product would work for you. As Dr Kulkarni explains, “I prefer selecting herbal products with respect to the dosha of the individual, and according to the season, which we term Rutu/Ritu (season) Charya (regimen to maintain a healthy life). There is also a possibility that the dosha may turn aggressive in a given season or because of an imbalance in the hair, mind, body or skin. All these factors need to be kept in mind.”
Only a trained specialist or Ayurvedician can prescribe the correct products, but Dr. Kotibhaskar states that the current formulations are more holistically created and are clinically backed to cure different concerns. “For example, bhringraj controls hair thinning and promotes hair growth, mulethi conditions and strengthens the hair, amla (Indian gooseberry) prevents premature aging, and lotus extract is an excellent conditioning agent. Therefore, Ayurvedic Haircare products can be selected on the basis of a particular concern and the key ingredients as well,” she adds.
That said, the results can sometimes take a tad longer than what one may be used. While the effects also depend on one’s diet, the results intensify gradually with each successive use. “I would call it a subtle, positive effect that adds up over time,” says Dr Kulkarni, adding, “It is a stable, longer effect unlike chemical-based products that can give you faster and noticeable results but at the cost of harming the hair in the long run.”
The mane can also sometimes get too dry after using Ayurvedic products, but Dr Kotibhaskar explains, “This is because Ayurvedic shampoos that are not formulated with pure ingredients contain plant substances like tannins. They lack the sufficient natural conditioning agents, leading to dryness. Always select products carefully, and supplement this with oil massage for nourishment and conditioning.”
If you don’t have the time for a leisurely head massage before the wash, Dr Kulkarni suggests applying a few drops of oil to wet hair post the wash.
Lastly, some ingredients work better for certain conditions, but as a general rule of thumb, remember that dry hair is best cured with oils such as sesame, almond and coconut; oily hair can be treated with triphala; amla and aloe vera work wonders on damaged hair; and ingredients like neem, hibiscus and methi (fenugreek).


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Health

This winter control asthma with inhalation therapy

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Whether youre indoors or outdoors, winter will exacerbate asthma attacks. Winter is the most loved season, but it might be unpleasant for patients with lung diseases. An American Lung Association fact-sheet states that asthma is one of the most common chronic disorders and currently affects about 7.1 million children under 18 years. The World Health Organisation Global Burden of Disease Study estimates that 13.8 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) are lost yearly due to asthma, representing 1.8 per cent of the total global disease burden.

For 300 million people around the globe suffering from asthma, the cold winter months often lead to a worsening of their symptoms.

The cold environment it not suitable for asthma patients. Their lungs and airway passages are quite sensitive. To a larger extent, asthma symptoms related to winter can be in controlled and managed by precise treatment and medication. Due to the swelling in the lining of the airways which leads to their narrowing, and the sticky mucus or phlegm build-up that blocks the airways, breathing is difficult and forced for asthmatic patients.

 

During winter, the cold air causes airways to tighten further, making it even more difficult to breathe.

Many patients and their family members are misinformed about the causes of asthma and the treatment options available. It is a necessity to educate patients and caregivers about the disease and treatment with minimal side-effects of inhaled corticosteroids, i.e. inhalation therapy.

Many pharmaceutical organisations are running campaigns to bust myths around inhalation therapy. Often, the word steroids evokes apprehensions in the minds of patients causing them to shy away from inhalers. The steroid is produced by the human body naturally to deal with inflammation and it is also safe for children and pregnant women. The inhalation therapy consists of an inhaler pump to send the corticosteroids into airway passages.

According to a research article published in Respiratory Medicine journal, the correlation between inhalation therapy for asthma and clinical efficacy is positive, with improved symptom-control and lung-function shown in most studies of adults, adolescents and children.

In the inhalation therapy, the inflammation of the airway requires a very small quantity of corticosteroids — around 25 to 100 micrograms — but when it is consumed through the oral/intestinal route the amount administered is very large — about 10,000 micrograms, since only a fraction of the drug reaches the lungs. This means that every time an asthma patient pops a pill or a tablet, he/she is actually taking almost 200 times the amount of medication required, leading to ill-effects on health.

Inhalation therapy directly gives body only that amount of steroid needed to control the symptoms. Against this, oral medication first gets dissolved in the blood and then reaches various organs, including the lungs.

Thus, inhalation therapy is a simple and easy solution for asthma patients to enjoy their winter to the fullest.

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Health

Some nose, throat bacteria less likely to develop into flu: Study

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US researchers have identified a cluster of nose and throat bacteria that made their hosts less likely to get flu.

The researchers from the University of Michigan (UM) looked at samples of nose and throat bacteria and used DNA sequencing to identify which bacteria were present.

Analysing the bacterial composition across all samples, they found five clusters.After taking into account other known factors that could affect an individual’s
susceptibility to influenza, such as age, exposure to tobacco, crowded household and flu vaccination, the researchers then looked to see if individuals with a given cluster were less likely to get influenza.

 

“We looked at who had which cluster and whether it makes a difference on whether they got influenza, and it does,” said lead author Betsy Foxman, Professor at UM. “That’s the exciting thing about it. It tells us if you have this bacterial community, you have lower risk for getting the flu. That’s big news because it really hasn’t been shown before.”

However, the findings published in PLOS ONE journal also bring new questions.”Is it really possible to push someone’s microbiome in a way that would make a difference? Is it possible that we could tell people – ‘Here’s your microbiome pill?'” Foxman said, adding that “It’s a very long road and we’re at the beginning.”

Researchers hope that similar studies can be done in a different population and possibly follow them longer for secondary bacterial infections.”We know we are always going to need new antibiotics but this way we could hold on to them longer and, presumably, if we could intervene in this way there would be fewer side effects,” Foxman said.

For the study, the team enrolled 717 participants from 144 households. Household members of individuals with confirmed influenza were recruited for the study and followed for 13 days or until they developed influenza, whichever came first. They included only the 537 individuals who tested negative for influenza at the beginning of the study.

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Taking artificial sweeteners as a sugar substitute? Study says it may not be effective

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While some people who are trying to avoid sugar are increasingly opting for artificial sugar, a recent study has revealed that taking artificial sugar may not be a good idea after all.”Growing concerns about health and quality of life have encouraged people to adapt healthy lifestyles and avoid the consumption of food rich in sugars, salt, or fat to prevent obesity and other non-communicable diseases. With increased consumer interest in reducing energy intake, food products containing non-sugar sweeteners (NSSs) rather than simple sugars (monosaccharides and disaccharides) have become increasingly popular”, the study stated.

But replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners used in Diet Coke and other soft drinks has no effect on weight loss and their long-term health effects are still poorly understood, the review said. The study titled ‘Association between intake of non-sugar sweeteners and health outcomes: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised and non-randomised controlled trials and observational studies’ was led by the University of Freiburg and published in the BMJ.

It also highlighted the absence of research on the long-term health effects of sweeteners when taken over years or decades. In this comprehensive systematic review, a broad range of health outcomes was investigated to determine a possible association with non-sugar sweetener used by a generally healthy population.

 

“The studies were set up to look at different types of sweeteners, measuring weight, blood sugar (glycaemic) control, oral health, cancer, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, mood and behaviour in consumers. For most of them, there was no statistical difference in weight loss or health benefits of adults and children using higher doses of sweeteners rather than small amounts or none”, a report in The Guardian stated.

This comprehensive systematic review covers a broad range of benefits and harms of NSSs in a generally healthy population of adults and children, following rigorous systematic review methods. “Overall, we included 56 studies of adults and children, which assessed the associations and effects of NSSs on different health outcomes.

For most outcomes, there seemed to be no statistically or a clinically relevant difference between NSS intake versus no intake, or between different doses of NSSs. No evidence was seen for health benefits from NSSs and potential harms could not be excluded. The certainty of the included evidence ranged from very low to moderate, and our confidence in the reported effect estimates is accordingly limited”, the study stated.

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