Sunday, August 27, 2006

Laugh a day keeps the doctor away

August 27, 2006

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: For the health conscious Hyderabadis, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" is no longer the magic mantra. This age-old proverb has just metamorphosed for the stress-ridden Hyderabadis, who now believe that "laugh a day keeps the doctor away".
No wonder then that the number of laughter clubs in twin cities has doubled in just a couple of years. And the number is growing fast with new clubs added to the list every month as more and more people are turning to "laughter therapy" or "Hasya Yoga". The city has a couple of Hasya Yoga centres where chronic health problems are simply "laughed out" without the prescription of any conventional medicines.
Says Dr Sriranga Lakshmi, consultant neurologist at Apollo Hospitals, DRDO, "when one laughs the neuro transmitters get activated and when these are activated one overcomes depression. The work efficiency goes up. Moreover, laughing also leads to our facial muscles and the whole body being exercised resulting in burning of body calories".
One minute of a good bout of laugh is equivalent to 10 minutes of jogging. "All one has to do is a hearty laugh, just smiling and giggling will not help", says OA Seth, secretary of Hasya Yoga Club, KBR Park.
Seth points out that laughter therapy beats stress effectively and solves health problems like high blood pressure, heart ailments, depression, cough and cold, peptic ulcers, insomnia, allergies, asthma and migraine and even cancer-related stress.
Shirin Panjwani, who runs a "laughter clinic", gives examples of two persons recovering from severe health problems through simple laughing techniques. Stating that "laughter is inner jogging", Shirin recalls how one Shyamala Reddy got rid of chronic sinus problem within six months of taking to laughter therapy.
"After all conventional medicines failed to give relief, Shymala Reddy underwent laughter therapy. Within three months she set aside all her woollen clothes she used to wear to keep herself warm to reduce sinus problem. And within six months she got rid of the problem. Another person, an officer in LIC, had his facial texture improved within a month of joining the laughter club. All the wrinkles on his forehead vanished in no time," she observes.
Hasya yoga or laughter therapy is a 5000 year old Indian tradition that modern-day Indians have forgotten to utilise for their benefits. As the A Japanese proverb says, "time spent in laughter is time spent with God", but the Indian ancient texts have emphasised the importance of laughter in one's life thousands of years before the Japanese learnt to employ the technique.
Laughing leads to release of endorthins from different parts of the body, brain etc. These help in dilation of the blood vessels and improved blood circulation resulting in good health, according to Dr Suchi Madhusudan, consultant endocrinologist.
Dr Madan Kataria, who is known as the "Hasya Yoga Guru" and runs a website extolling the importance of laughter therapy, argues that since more than 70 per cent of illnesses have some relation to stress, laughter is the best medicine to treat mind-related diseases.
Laughter reduces the release of stress related hormones and aids in relaxation. "Our studies have shown that people suffering from a variety of diseases have benefited in some way or the other. There is a 10-20 mm drop in blood pressure after a 10 minute laughter session. The daily guffaws strengthen the immune system of the body by helping to increase the count of natural killer lymphocytes and raise the antibody levels. The antibodies in the mucous membranes of the nose and respiratory passages increase after laughter therapy," according to Dr Kataria.
A typical laughter yoga session in city parks, mainly KBR and Indira parks, lasts between 20 and 30 minutes as too much of laughter is also bad for health.
World-wide there are 3000 laughter clubs and of them Mumbai has 90 and Bangalore 78. With new laughter clubs coming up in the city, Hyderabad is all set to beat Mumbai and Bangalore when it comes having a "hearty laugh".

Thursday, August 10, 2006

New vaccine based on Virosome technology to prevent Hepatitis A


By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Aug 10: A new vaccine based on the latest virosome technology for prevention of Hepatitis A will soon enter the Indian market.
According to Dr Christian Herzog, who developed the vaccine, the new technology that went into the preparation of the vaccine makes it quite gentle on the body without causing fever, pain or red rash. Virosome uses a biodegradable delivery system presenting the most natural way of delivering antigens to the immune system of the body.
Unlike conventional vaccines for Hepatitis A, which uses aluminium salt as an adjuvant to give extra kick to the vaccine, the virosome Hepatitis A vaccine employs the empty shell of influenza virus. No adjuvants are added to the vaccine and this makes it safer. The empty viral shell ensures that the vaccine embedded on it is delivered effectively without causing any side effects, said Dr Herzog.
According to Dr M Indra Shekar Rao, professor and head of the department of paediatrics, Institute of Child Health, Niloufer Hospital, the Hepatitis A virus is quite active during rainy seasons and it spreads fast in comparison to other viruses. The virus easily spreads in areas where there are poor sanitary conditions or where personal hygiene is not observed.
"Of the 50 cases of jaundice reported in Niloufer Hospital every day, one case relates to Hepatitis A. The latest problem is that it is being observed in older age group of people between 15 and 20 years. Earlier it was felt only in small children," Dr Indra Shekar pointed out.
Dr S Sanjay of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics' committee on immunisation, said though Hepatitis A was not as problematic as Hepatitis B, it's better one should get immunised for the A variant of the virus if one could afford it.

Most of the animals slaughtered in Hyderabad are not healthy

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Aug 10: Meat-eaters beware! About 80 per cent of animals slaughtered in twin cities do not undergo the mandatory veterinary tests for diseases.
According to a survey commissioned by Information and Energy Minister Muhammad Ali Shabber, only 20 per cent of meat available in the city market is hygienic and undergoes the regular statutory tests. The remaining meat is from animals slaughtered at unauthorised abattoirs.
"Following the closure of abattoirs in twin cities for hygienic reasons, the State government has opened the modern abattoir at Chengicherla. Animals need to be slaughtered only at the Chengicherla slaughter house but our findings show that only 20 per cent of meat available in the city is from animals slaughtered at Chengicherla," Muhammad Ali Shabber told this correspondent.
The remaining 80 per cent of meat is from animals slaughtered either at houses or at the Jiaguda abattoir. There is no veterinary surgeon at the Jiaguda abattoir, he said.
Muslim religious scholars have been demanding closure of illegal slaughter houses in the city as such abattoirs do not have veterinary surgeons to test whether is animal is fit for consumption and mullahs to slaughter the animals in the Islamic halal procedure.
The State government rules stipulate that abattoirs should have veterinary doctors and Muslim mullahs. Around 10,000 animals are slaughtered in the city daily.
Shabber said he would convene a meeting of senior officials and representatives of abattoirs and butcher community to discuss the issue to ensure that only hygienic meat is sold in the market.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Environmental Information System to keep check on spread of diseases

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Aug 7: Finally, the State government will be able to keep various epidemics, particularly the life-taking Japanese encephalitis, under control thanks to a special software being developed by the city-based Indian Institute of Chemical Technology.
Dozens of people fall victim to brain fever or Japanese encephalitis and several hundred to malaria and viral fevers in the State every year. The agency areas dominated by tribals are the worst hit. So far this year as many as a dozen people died due to viral attacks in different parts of the State. The main Opposition, Telugu Desam, however puts the number of deaths at around 1100.
The Environmental Information System at the IICT is presently working on a database management system for integrated control of Japanese encephalitis and bancroftian filariasis. It will be released in market soon. The software will help in successfully predicting the outbreak of epidemics round the year so that the State government wakes up in time to control the health menace.
"We are working on development of database on various ecological niches responsible for breeding of vector species with special reference to water quality," IICT director JS Yadav said.
The Envis is also busy developing a web-based software on identification of vector species with special reference to habitats by using expert system, text and graphics as well as a database on environmental and cultural methods for vector control in paddy fields.
The study includes development of various databases like micro and
macro breeding habitats, surveillance with special reference to ecological parameters like percentage of organic matter and factors influencing the emergence.
The software throws light on the ecological parameters affecting the dispersal and distribution of the vector species. The data will effectively bring out various environmental management methodologies for the control of vectors and vector borne diseases through integrated system and disseminate to various end users like post-graduate students of environmental sciences, health officials and non-governmental organisations.