Monday, April 26, 2010

Benefits of cucumber

  • Cucumber is high in potassium, making it useful for people suffering from high and low blood pressure.cucumber
  • It is a natural diuretic that improves urine flow.
  • Studies say that the high silicon and sulphur content in cucumber helps hair growth.
  •   Mix cucumber juice with carrot juice and have it daily. This is very beneficial  for people   with rheumatic conditions.
  • Suffer from weak or brittle nails? Cucumber juice is known to prevent splitting of nails because of the high mineral content found in it.
  • The juice of this vegetable is very beneficial in combating conditions like heartburn, acidity, gastritis, eczema, arthritis, gout ulcers.

Source: TOI

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Insomnia is a symptom which can accompany several sleep, medical and psychiatric disorders, characterized by persistent difficulty falling asleep and/or difficulty staying asleep. Insomnia is typically followed by functional impairment while awake.

insomnia-t11767 People with insomnia have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
  • Waking up too early in the morning
  • Feeling tired upon waking

Types of Insomnia

There are two types of insomnia: primary insomnia and secondary insomnia.

  • Primary insomnia: Primary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem.
  • Secondary insomnia: Secondary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems because of something else, such as a health condition (like asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn); pain; medication they are taking; or a substance they are using (like alcohol.

Causes of Insomnia

  • Significant life stress (job loss or change, death of a loved one, divorce, moving).
  • Illness.
  • Emotional or physical discomfort.
  • Environmental factors like noise, light, or extreme temperatures (hot or cold) that interfere with sleep.
  • Some medications (for example those used to treat colds, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma) may interfere with sleep.
  • Interferences in normal sleep schedule (jet lag or switching from a day to night shift, for example).


  • If you've been lying in bed but are beginning to fear you're not going to drop off, try some of these techniques: Count sheep or count backwards from 100 (one of my favorites) to stop yourself from thinking about the problems of yesterday or tomorrow; breathe deeply for awhile; or visualize some peaceful place.
  • If you can't get to sleep after lying in bed for 30 minutes or more, get up for awhile. What to do? Try reading something incredibly boring.
  • Develop a bedtime routine and Keep regular bedtime hours.
  • Before bedtime, avoid tobacco and caffeinated beverages (not just coffee, but other drinks like tea, cola)insomnia-cartoon  and Alcohol.
  • Exercise every day, but not shortly before bedtime since exercise gets the adrenaline going.
  • If you use an illuminated clock for a wakeup alarm, place it where you can't keep looking at it to check the time.
  • Buy a firm mattress and keep your bedroom well ventilated (a cool temperature works best for me).
  • And you might also try some of these: a warm bath, warm milk, light bedtime snack, massage, or quiet music (which turns itself off automatically).
  • Use earplugs for extreme quiet.
  • If you have a painful joint or a headache, take a pain pill before bedtime (but be sure it doesn't contain caffeine).
  • Avoid stimulating reading or television shows late at night.

If the insomnia stubbornly persists, check with your doctor to make sure some underlying health problem (such as depression, anxiety, hyperthyroidism, heart failure, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) isn't keeping you awake.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Plant virus jumps to humans

Pepper Virus Infecting People

It has always been assumed that plant viruses cannot infect animals, and vice versa. But French scientists have now found what they claim is the first evidence of a plant virus infecting humans — they say pepper virus is making people sick.

Pepper virus

A team at the University of the Mediterranean in Marseilles, France, led by Didier Raoult, have found RNA from the pepper mild mottle virus in the faeces of 7% of the 304 adults they tested; those with the virus were more likely to report fever, itching and abdominal pain, the ‘New Scientist’ reported on Wednesday.

Not everyone is convinced, however. Because Raoult looked at many possible symptoms, he would be expected to find a few that randomly appear more common in virus positive people, according to Robert Garry, a virologist at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Moreover, in order to enter a cell and replicate, a virus must bind to a receptor on its surface, and a plant virus would be highly unlikely to recognize a receptor on a human cell, Garry said.

virus on leaves

One possibility, Raoult said, is that the virus does not infect human cells directly. Instead, the naked viral RNA may alter the function of the cells via a mechanism similar to RNA interference, in which presence of certain RNA sequences can turn genes on and off.

The study identified a local source of Pepper mild mottle virus (PMMoV), a plant virus, and linked the presence of PMMoV RNA in stool with a specific immune response and clinical symptoms. Although clinical symptoms may be imputable to another cofactor, including spicy food, their data suggest the possibility of a direct or indirect pathogenic role of plant viruses in humans.  PMMoV RNA sequences were recovered from twelve (57%) of the twenty-one pepper or spice-containing food products picked for the research. Of all Tabasco sauce contained the highest viral load.

The virus does not infect human cells directly. Instead, the naked viral RNA may alter cell function via a mechanism similar to RNA interference, in which presence of certain RNA sequences can turn genes on and off. Pepper virus RNA sequences found from 12 (57%) of the 21 pepper or spice-containing food products picked for the study. Of all Tabasco sauce had the highest viral load.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Lipstick or poison on your lips?

46 Varieties, Also Leading Brands, Contain Lead Toxins: CERS Study

Next time you pick up that innocuous-looking colour stick from your dressing table, think twice! The latest study conducted by Consumer Education and Research Society (CERS), Ahmedabad, revealed that many popular lipstick brands have a high lead content. Some interesting findings were that the luscious reds were less poisonous than the sober browns and the lesser priced lipsticks had less lead than the premium brands.


CERS tested 46 varieties of lipsticks in the laboratory which included 43 shades of 19 widely used brands, and three lip glosses, all of which had lead toxins. The lipsticks costing Rs 10 had lead content ranging from 2 particles per million (ppm) to 17 ppm. The lipsticks priced over Rs 100 had 11 ppm to 23 ppm of lead. Of the varieties tested, Ivovi 10 (brown) revealed 25 parts per million (ppm) and Lakme D414 (red) 23 ppm which are higher than the permissible limit of 20 ppm by Bureau of Indian Standard. Maybelline 09 Water Shine Liquid Diamond lipgloss had the highest among lipglosses at 12 ppm.

“There is no safe lead exposure for humans. Lead is a neurotoxin causing learning, language and behavioral problems. Exposure to lead also develops infertility and miscarriage. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure,’’ the report says.

The higher the cost of the lipstick, the lower it scores on the safety, reveal tests. The Rs 10 worth Personi 140 Matte (magenta) contained only 2 ppm, whereas L'Oreal 903 Color Riche (brown), priced at Rs 490, contained 17 ppm of Lead. The results of the laboratory tests were published in the consumer magazine brought out by CERS.

Besides, manufacturers were also found to have violated mandatory labeling requirement. The batch number was missing in 23 lipsticks and 1 lip gloss, 10 lipsticks and 2 lip glosses had no license number. There were 33 varieties of lipsticks without date of manufacture or expiry. The CERS have approached the BIS to lower limit of permissible lead content in colours from 20 ppm to 0 ppm in cosmetics. They have also asked BIS to make it mandatory for manufacturers to display list of ingredients, maximum retail price, date of manufacture and expiry on products below pack size of 10gm or 10 ml.


Thursday, April 8, 2010


Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects approximately 14 million adults in the United States. It primarily affects the face. If it progresses untreated, it can cause itching, pain and thickening of the skin.


Rosacea can affect anyone, but individuals with fair skin who tend to flush or blush easily are believed to be at greatest risk. There is no cure for rosacea and no known cause, but medication can control or reverse the symptoms. You should see a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment if you experience chronic redness on the cheeks, nose, chin, or forehead; small visible blood vessels on the face; bumps and pimples on the face; or water or irritated eyes. Left untreated, there may be burning or stinging sensations; rough, dry central facial skin; raised red patches known as plaques; and facial swelling (edema).


Research has shown that certain antibiotics can be chemically modified to remove their antibiotic effects while retaining those properties that make them effective in treating inflammatory diseases. CollaGenex scientists modified the antibiotic doxycycline, typically prescribed to control inflammation from rosacea. They separated the antibiotic and anti-inflammatory active ingredients to produce a version of doxycycline that can be used for longer periods, with no stomach problems or side effects, because it is no longer an antibiotic. Patients can benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties without taking antibiotics they don't really need.


Treatment varies from patient to patient depending on the severity of the condition, including oral and topical medications to treat the bumps, pimples and redness. Good skin care can help control symptoms: use mild cleaners and blot your face dry, and be sure to use non-irritating skin-care products. In extreme cases, laser treatment or surgery may be necessary to remove visible blood vessels or reduce wetness. Some people find certain things aggravate their rosacea: hot baths, strenuous exercise, menopause, hot or spicy foods, alcohol, and motional stress. Identifying potential triggers and avoiding those things can also reduce outbreaks.


CollaGenex Pharmaceuticals has introduced a new drug for the treatment of rosacea, a skin condition that affects fair-skinned people of European descent. In two controlled clinical trials, those patients who received Oracea showed a 61 percent and 46 percent reduction, respectively, in inflammatory lesions, compared to 29 percent and 20 percent reduction in patients who received a placebo.

The first FDA-approved pill to treat rosacea, called Oracea, may help heal rosacea in just a matter of weeks. Oracea contains a low dose of the antibiotic doxycycline, which reduces the chance of a patient developing antibiotic resistance. As a result, one capsule a day stops the release of chemicals that cause inflammation bumps and pimples in the skin.

Source: TOI

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Toxic toys on sale, no brand safe: NGO study

Even branded plastic toys sold in India markets cause asthma, lung problems and reproductive problems in children due to high toxic levels, says a study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). In its latest study released on Friday, CSE's pollution monitoring laboratory found high levels of phthalates, a chemical used to soften plastic, in all samples of toys it tested. Over 45 percent of the samples exceeded the internationally accepted safety limits for phthalates.

"We randomly purchased 24 toys from different parts of Delhi, especially those toys that children are more likely to chew and suck. Out of 24 toys, 15 were soft and nine were hard. These toys were manufactured in China (14), India (7), Taiwan (2) and Thailand (1)," said CSE Associate Director Chandra Bhushan.


"The sample included major brands like Funskool and Mattel. In our test we detected one or more phthalates in all toys. Taiwanese and Chinese toys were the most contaminated. Taiwan toys exceeded the safe limits by 100 percent. While eight out of 14 toys manufactured in China exceeded the limits," he said.According to Bhushan, only one Indian toy manufacturer exceeded the safety limits.

"Pip Squeaks, a toy manufactured by Funskool Ltd, for 3-18 months old had highest levels of phthalates. It exceeded the standards by 162 times. Worse, the label on the toy says - non-toxic, suitable for ages 3-18 months," Bhushan said. "In totality 60 percent of soft toys and 20 percent of hard toys exceeded the safe limits," he said.

Phthalates are organic chemicals commonly used as plasticisers to make plastic supple. It helps in making plastic products cheap and easy--and toxic.

The chemical can damage the male reproductive system, impair the lungs and affect the duration of pregnancy. Laboratory tests on mammals have indicated that it can also trigger asthma, allergies, poor semen quality, genital defects, premature breast development and skeletal defects.

"Children under three years are more likely to be exposed to phthalates because they tend to chew and suck on plastic toys and since their metabolic, endocrine and reproductive systems are immature, they are more vulnerable as well," said CSE director Sunita Narain.

Narain said India has no regulations to control the use of phthalates in toys. "It only has voluntary standards covering safety aspects of toys. On January 23, the government ban on import of toys not meeting these standards will end. In the unregulated free-for-all that threatens to follow, the health of children will be compromised, putting them at a huge risk." Bhushan said as the regulation on imports expires on January 23, the government has two options.

"Either regulate all toys, both domestic production and imports. Second, and the easier option, let the order expire and leave the entire market unregulated, endangering the health and safety of children. As things stand now, the government does not want to make the effort to make standards mandatory for all," he said.

CSE is a non-governmental organization working on environment and research.

Source: ToI