Archive for the ‘health risk’ Category

Travelling? Here’s an Excellent Resource for the World Traveller

May 9, 2013

ImageIf you are considering travel to destinations in tropical and less developed countries, you have many things to check off your to-do list. Along with the usual trip planning, there is the added complication of informing yourself on diseases very different from the ones to be found at home. There are many, and some of them can be very serious.

The World Travellers’ Manual of Homeopathy By Dr. Colin B. LESSELL, (available at Whole Health Now: is an excellent resource for this preparatory stage. It covers a range of conditions that the traveler can be subjected to, from the usual travel sickness, jet-lag and accidents, to infections from bacteria, viruses, parasites, bites, stings, poisonings, etc. There is a special section for women, which includes advice for the pregnant traveler, and even a section at the end of the book that evaluates the quality of water in various regions of the world.

Dr. Lessell spent 5 years preparing this book and the result is a manual that is almost encyclopedic in its scope. It tries to be comprehensive in the multitude of ways in which you could get stung, poisoned, parasitized, bitten, injured, envenomed, infected and infested in the course of travels around the globe. For example, in his chapter on diseases of the skin, he covers windburn, boils, carbuncles, cold sores, impetigo, intertrigo, Dhobi’s itch, ringworm, scalp ringworm, Pityriasis versicolor, surfer’s ear, scabies, louse infestation, human maggot infestation, sandworm infestation, swimmer’s itch, blister beetles, shellfish urticaria, poison ivy rash, stinging tree rash, nettle stings, algae dermatitis, and tropical wood dermatitis.

Aside from vivid descriptions of the conditions you need to be concerned about, he includes commonsense advice on how to avoid getting ill, supportive treatment, when to seek medical advice, and suggestions on homeopathic treatment. This book is an eye opener for the layperson who may have no idea of the myriad things that can befall an unwary traveler when traveling abroad, and a useful reference for the practitioner. It is well worth the time to read up on the areas to which you will be traveling, and to assemble a homeopathic kit specific to the conditions to be found there, as an addition to your regular travel kit.

Our Bacteria, Ourselves

April 14, 2013

bacteria_in_waterWe worry about bacteria, we wash and scrub and avoid the occasion of bacteria, but bacteria are a necessary part of keeping us healthy. We need bacteria for balance in our body. We can’t thrive or even survive without them.

Scientists from the Human Microbiome Project  have nearly finished cataloguing the 10,000 microbial species that live in healthy humans. This data will hopefully help in future research to understand how health and disease are correlated with changes in our bacterial makeup. For instance, it is known that illnesses such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome appear to be microbiome-related.

Matt Kwong says in his article for CBC News, Scientists Map Bacteria Living Inside Us:  “For a bit of perspective, there are so many non-human microbial cells residing in our two-legged ecosystems that they outnumber our human cells 10 to one. If one were to mass together all the bacteria populating a 150-pound adult, it would weigh about 4.5 pounds.”

We depend on our good bacteria for health and nutrition – it is the bacteria in our gut that helps digest our food to make the nutrients available for us to absorb, and it is the presence and proper density of good bacteria on our skin, in our respiratory, digestive, and urinary mucosa that crowds out pathogenic bacteria and fungi. This is why, when these colonies of healthy bacteria are disturbed by toxins like antibiotics which kill off healthy bacteria in the gut and on the mucus membranes, there can follow many repeating cycles of digestive upset and fungal infections such as candida and pathogenic bacterial infections such as C. difficile.

Most bacteria residing on and in our bodies do not help or harm us. The concern is over the few bacteria that are harmful pathogenic parasites, which cause disease by resisting our bodies’ defences and growing at the expense of the body. These bacteria produce poisonous substances called endotoxins and exotoxins which are responsible for the symptoms that occur with an illness. These harmful bacteria are the targets of advertising campaigns promoting antibacterial cleaning solutions. A much healthier way of cleaning is a good scrubbing with plain soap and water for hands, and a vinegar solution for surfaces.

Holistically though, bacteria are more helpful to us than harmful and we need to allow them their place, even encourage the right ones. For instance, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium genera aid your body in digestion. “Good” bacteria, are known as probiotics. This is why your natural health practitioner may recommend that you supplement your diet with some. They are found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, and natto as well as in capsules that you can buy.

Read more about digestion and probiotics here:

Furthermore, healthy bacteria in the vagina keep away infections and can be encouraged by a diet which includes acidophilous.

Though “good” bacteria are to be encouraged, we need to remember that normal flora bacteria can act as opportunistic pathogens at times of lowered immunity. It is important to take care of yourself, eat well, rest, and exercise in order to maintain a strong immune system and a balanced bacterial environment.

Natural remedies and a homeopathic constitutional treatment can help your system cope with stress and encourage a healthy immune system. And, regular follow-ups with your homeopath can help maintain you in a strong and healthy state.

Relatively Speaking: What is the Risk?

September 25, 2012

We often feel we must address any risk of illness without looking at all the factors involved.  Assessing relative risk before taking medication is important.  For instance, if you are traveling, do some research into the risks associated with various immunizations and prophylactic medications.  For instance read this article on the relative risk of getting malaria on your particular trip vs. some of the dangerous side effects of malaria drugs.

We need to pay attention to risk of illness vs. risk of, and severity of, side effects from medications.  As a society we fear some things all out of proportion to the relative risk of injury or illness.  For instance there is a much higher fear of flying, a relatively safe method of travel,  than there is of driving a vehicle, a much higher risk activity.  I, for instance, like to hike and camp.  Often my family and friends indicate I should be careful of wild animals.  If I take a walk in my neigbourhood in the city there is less concern, but probably a higher risk of injury from vehicles, or criminals.  I also bike, recently there is concern that bike helmet laws prevent more active participation in commuting by bike. There is risk of injury on a bike and risk of attack by wild animals while hiking, camping etc. And, the risk of sitting on the couch and not exercising is the highest risk of all.

When it comes to treating illness, if you are considering taking medication for high blood pressure, hot flashes, a gastrointestinal disorder, or regularly have dental or other Xrays or other radiation involved tests, for example, look into the side effects or the risks involved long term. Assess the danger.  Think about how you might prevent, lower risk or heal through modifying your behavior or by finding a less intrusive way to treat what ails you.  There is a lot of information out there.  Some reliable, some not so much so.  It is important to do your research carefully.

Assess the risks, make an informed decision.  It is your health and your body. Take charge.