Natural healing, natural wellness

Archive for September, 2009

Banish The Blues

People with cancer who are depressed are more likely to die than patients with good mental health, psychologists say in the science journal Cancer, the peer-reviewed science journal of the American Cancer Society.

The study reported that death rates from cancer “were up to 25 per cent higher in patients experiencing depressive symptoms and up to 39 per cent higher in patients diagnosed with major or minor depression.” Lead researcher Jillian Satin, of the University of British Columbia in Canada, told AFP: “In both of those groups, you can predict cancer mortality,”

The study by Satin and co-authors Wolfgang Linden and Melanie Phillips was an overview, called a meta-analysis, of 26 previous studies on the effect of depression on the progression of cancer and survival rates in 9,417 patients.

“The field of psycho-oncology has experienced exponential growth,” noted the study. “Eighty-five percent of cancer patients and 71.4 per cent of oncologists endorse the belief that psychological variables affect cancer.”

Satin and her co-authors observed that other researchers earlier linked heart disease, depression and higher risk of death.

Citing another study, they noted: “Depressed patients with coronary heart disease have a two-times greater risk of mortality than non-depressed patients after adjusting for clinical factors,”

Well, sheesh, who doesn’t know that your state of mind can affect your health and even your chances of recovery! This is why it’s important to avoid negative influences like pessimistic people and people who simply rub you up the wrong way, unhealthy thoughts and beliefs, bad news and disturbing TV programs. You’ve got to be discerning about what you spend your time and energy on. What are you feeding your mind and spirit with? What are you exposing yourself to everyday? What are you saying about your situation?

If you’re dealing with an illness, especially a serious one, don’t just feed your body with health-giving foods. Nourish your spirit and your mind as well. Surround yourself with positive forces such as life-affirming people, uplifting spiritual messages, happy music and things which make you laugh and bring you joy. Read and watch only uplifting material. Dwell only on things which will build you up. Sow what you want to reap. You can turn things around!

Allopathic Medicine or Alternative Therapy?

I’m not a fan of allopathic or conventional medicine. I dislike taking any kind of drugs, even aspirin, as virtually all of them have side-effects. The idea of being hospitalised and being hooked up to tubes and machines also fills me with horror. I’ve watched family members and friends suffer during medical treatment, only to eventually die. Ironically, allopathic treatment such as for cancer often causes more pain and suffering than the disease itself.

Even so, conventional medicine has its place, and it has saved lives, imperfect though it may be. Alternative therapy has become increasingly popular, as people seek less harmful ways of healing. However, alternative programs, just like allopathic medicine, cannot offer guarantees of a cure, whatever claims may be made. The internet is swarming with salesmen peddling a dizzying array of alternative programs and products for every conceivable health problem you can think of. Healing testimonials abound, giving hope to the desperate and the gullible.

If you have a serious, life-threatening sickness, such as cancer or heart disease, do your research very, very thoroughly before doing anything drastic like choosing an alternative program over medical treatment. Look into all the information available, and check the credibility and reliability of the sources. Let your doctor know if you are planning to do, or have already started on, an alternative or complementary program. A good doctor will hear you out, even if he or she may have reservations. My oncologist, for instance, is very open and I can discuss anything with him. He will even patiently explain to me how various medical treatments work, and he never rushes me into doing any allopathic program.

Alternative and complementary health therapies have helped me stay relatively healthy over the years, but I always do extensive research before trying anything. And, when something doesn’t seem to be working for me, I don’t stubbornly continue with that particular therapy. No two individuals are alike, and all health disorders are different, so what may work for some may not work for others. I have come across people who refused to consider any kind of conventional medical treatment, completely counting on alternative programs to heal them. Their condition deteriorated and, by the time they agreed to consider conventional medical treatment, it was too late for them.

Some health disorders, like cancer, are deadly, so think carefully before spending precious time on either a conventional or unconventional approach. By all means, find out more about alternative and complementary therapies. But be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Modern medicine is always advancing, so don’t close your mind to it.

Go Native

A new book by the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warns that the rich diversity of food in indigenous societies throughout the world is threatened by the spread of Western eating habits. In the last century alone, about three-quarters of the genetic diversity once found in agricultural crops has been lost.

Dragonfruit and red bananas

Dragonfruit and red bananas

The Western diet is actually far inferior to indigenous diets, as it relies heavily on four main commercial crops – wheat, corn, rice and soya – and some of these are even known to cause health problems. Ethnic communities in areas of the world which are far-removed from the West and its influences enjoy a wide range of fruits and vegetables relatively uncommon and unknown in the West. The Karen community of Sanephong in Thailand, near the Myanmar border, have a choice of 387 species of indigenous food. including jackfruit, tree ear and wax gourd. Wildlife food sources include the painted bullfrog and the bush-tailed porcupine.

Traditional foods frequently contain high levels of micro-nutrients which are good for the body. For instance, in a hamlet named Mand, located on the Micronesian island of Pohnpei, one of the 26 local varieties of bananas – the utin ilap – contains huge amounts of beta carotene and is more effective in combating Vitamin A deficiencies than any pharmaceutical supplement. How many banana varieties can you find in the Western world and urban societies?

But even remote places like Mand have been introduced to convenience and processed foods, causing health problems typically found in Western societies, such as obesity, high-blood pressure and diabetes, known to be diet-related disorders.

The diet of the Inuits or Eskimos in Baffin Bay in Canada’s frozen north may lack fruits and vegetables, but they eat 79 different varieties of wildlife, such as the ringed seal, caribou, and many species of oily-fish which are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamins A and D. In spite of their diet being dominated by animal protein and the massive fat intake, the Inuits traditionally had very low levels of heart disease – and low levels of rheumatoid arthritis as well. However, the Western way of life has been encroaching into Inuit society. Fast-foods and other convenience foods are gradually edging out native Inuit foods.

Next time I go to the supermarket, I’m going to buy more tropical fruits and vegetables like starfruit, chiku, guava, jackfruit, soursop (graviola), dragonfruit, brinjals (eggplants), four-angled beans and gourds. I must also make it a point to check out the local market, as they carry a wider variety of indigenous vegetables and fruits than supermarkets do. Someone gave me some red bananas recently, They were absolutely delicious and, no doubt, extremely nutritious. There’s a whole Garden of Eden out there that many of us are missing out on. Let’s make the most of it before more indigenous foods, with their health-giving nutrients, disappear.