Sunday, 28 April 2013

Czech your Geography

            For those of you that missed the story, the Czech Ambassador has been forced to make a statement explaining that the Czech republic is not the same as Chechnya.

            I am certain people interested in my book are not so ignorant, but to help anyone you know understand the difference...


Monday, 22 April 2013

Sweet Dangers.

            Today’s blog subject is at the request of my girlfriend, following a recent conversation we had.

            About a year ago, when I decided to exercise more and eat a bit more wisely, the BBC screens a program called “The Men Who Made Us Fat”. One statement that struck me was that sodas were the single biggest contributor of calories in the American diet. This is quite staggering given the average American takes in quite a few calories.

            Doing a little research I discovered that a can of coke or similar has the equivalent of eleven cubes of sugar in it. A friend of mine was drinking a bottle of iced tea so I looked at the ingredients. Seventeen grams of carbohydrate in 500mls, and nearly all of that would be sugar. These are not the only culprits, of course. Most of us consider fruit juices to be a healthy option, but they too include considerable quantities of sugars. What is a considerable concern with sweet drinks is that you are taking in calories without any bulk to make you feel sated.

            Knowing the above has not made me swear off sodas etc for the rest of my life, and I don’t expect you to either. What it has done is that I have greatly reduced my intake, and if truth is told I don’t really miss them as much as you might expect.

            On one blog I viewed the author pointed out that if he drank six cans of soda a day he was consuming his entire weight in sugar every year. What I find interesting about this statement is that it never occurs to him that six cans of drink a day might be in anyway excessive. In the BBC program mentioned earlier the presenter buys a “Double Gulp”, which is a 64 fl oz cup of soda. Let us conduct a short thought experiment:-

            You come across a friend or colleague drinking from an entire jug of water. The chances are this would concern you and you might suggest they need to see a doctor. Suppose your friend is drinking a bucket of coffee with 50 cubes of sugar in it. That would certainly concern you. Yet if you come across someone drinking a Double Gulp, your only observation might be that they must be thirsty. Interesting?

            I have to admit to a certain dark admiration to the recent adverts for a certain soft drink that claims their product has 140 “Happy” calories that can be used to do fun things. A piece of population perception manipulation at its finest!

            By no means am I saying give up drinking soda. I don’t intend to. Make them an occasional treat, as I do. If you cannot, at least be aware how many calories you are taking in through this medium and adjust your intake of other calories accordingly. Try cutting down, and you might find you need them less than you thought.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Friday Funny: Under undress...

For those of you that have missed the Friday Funny...

           I think this is actually from the "Springbreakers" movie that is about to come out. The odd thing is that since I share my life with a brazilian lady these bikinis look rather conservative and modest to me.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Acupressure for Self Help

            I dislike the term “Alternative Medicine”. It suggests an “either/or” or “Us and Them” mentality that is not productive. Both “sides” of the medical profession are guilty of this. Like any important issue medical care should be determined by empirical rather than emotional or historical factors. If something works, use it. That you cannot explain how something works, or that the explanations offered for how it works don’t make sense is not a reason to ignore it, but an indication that we need to learn more. Primitive man knew nothing about aerodynamics but this did not stop the birds flying.

            Acupressure is a good example of what I am talking about. Many of the traditional explanations of how it works quite frankly do not make a lot of sense. One meridian is assigned to an organ that doesn’t physically exist in the body. If we dissect the body there are no apparent meridians. Some practitioners will talk about the blood flow being different in different times of the day, but we know blood flow is not tidal but circulates. On the other hand acupressure/acupuncture could be demonstrated to be having an effect that was more than psychosomatic.

            Erle Montaigue used to tell a story of a student of his who was a surgeon. While operating on a patient one day the patient went into cardiac arrest. The surgeon stabbed his scalpel into a “energy point” on the sole of the foot and the patient’s heart started again. That the patient was unconscious and also pumped full of pain killers eliminates that this was a psychological effect. That we cannot see the meridians may simply mean that we do not know what to look for, and that they may be a number of structures that conventional anatomy regards as discrete. Many people who have experienced heart attacks have reported shooting pains along the inside of their left arm –a location that acupuncture designates as the heart meridian. Blood flow may not be tidal, but we do know the body is subject to biorhythms and that we feel more energetic at certain times of the day. Acupressure and Acupuncture gained greater acceptance in the west when it was discovered that it stimulated the body to produce endorphins –natural painkillers.

            Many decades ago when I had started my first ever full time job I brought a copy of “Acupressure Techniques Book. A Self-Help Guide” by Dr Julian Kenyon. My first job was at a research centre located in a large country estate. Many of the rolling fields around us were bright yellow with the flowers of rape (Brassica napus) and I was soon to make the unwelcome discovery that I was allergic to rapeseed pollen. I had never had any indication that I suffered from hayfever before, but all of a sudden I was clawing at my eyes. More out of curiosity than anything else I took a look at my new book. I knew Acupressure could produce endorphins, but that did not seem much help for what was a disproportionate immune response. None the less, I consulted the book and found a page on hayfever and allergies. Not expecting much I tried stimulating the points suggested. I actually did not expect this to work at all!

            The next day I had no symptoms at all. In fact I have not been subject to hayfever again in more than 25 years. Much to my surprise that one treatment was enough.

            As you may expect, I have a healthy respect for the capabilities of acupressure (pun intended). There are obviously possible effects other than endorphin production. I still have the book and still consult it on occasion.

            Many years ago my mother was experiencing considerable back pain. On certain evenings she would ask that I “do her back” and slowly and painfully lower herself to the floor to lay face down. I’d probe the relevant points between her vertebrae for a minute or so and she would then spring back to her feet like she was 20 years younger. The relief this could produce was quite dramatic.

            I don’t know if the book is still in print, but if you can find a copy by consider buying one. In my own book I mention that Liver 4 is also a useful healing point. This is a point worth learning since it can be used on a number of ailments including toothache and headaches. I have nothing against using painkillers, and oil of cloves is miraculous for tooth pain but there will be times when you do not have such things handy so acupressure can be a very useful alternative.

            If you have hayfever or allergies then it will cost you nothing (other than the price of the book) to try some acupressure on yourself. Hopefully you will experience similar success to my self.

            On particular page in the book sticks in mind. In the section on haemorrhoids the author recounts on how he has witnessed haemorrhoids visibly reducing before his eyes while a point on the patient’s head was stimulated. Perhaps this section struck me since it was another example of acupressure having an effect that seemed to be more than just than of endorphins. Haemorrhoids affects millions of people, including a significant proportion of pregnant women so if there is a way that their effects can be reduced by an acupressure point on the head such information needs to be more widely circulated.

            The relevant point is GV-20. This is on the centreline on the top of the head, intersecting a line drawn up from the angle of the jaw and through the apex of the ear. Press down on this point and rock your fingers forwards to stimulate. Usefully this point can be stimulated in any social situation. Kenyon’s book also includes a number of other points that might have an effect. While researching this post I also came across this video on a point for relief of haemorrhoid pain. Not tried this myself but worth experimenting with.