Pets for Mental Health
Having pets around you is known to aid recovery from some illnesses. Many studies have focused on recovery from physical illnesses. A new study, done in the Bristol-Sheffield area, has shown that having pets does a lot of good to help patients recover from mental illnesses. This study was conducted through an initial questionnaire and follow-up interviews by clinical psychologists at either the hospital or home. The findings of the study are important for two reasons. First, it showed that pets did give positive support for the recovery of a mental patient. Second and, more important, is why this works. Pets give a patient the selfless devotion that they fail to get from human relatives. There have been recorded instances where pets have remained by the side of an unwell master for up to two days without food. Patients need compassion as the most important intervention in their recovery.
Role of Alcohol in Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease where the hyperactive immune system stimulates skin cell replacement at such a fast rate that the skin cells get replaced once in three or four days instead of in those many months. Stress is an important factor in the onset of this disease, in otherwise susceptible people. Recent studies have shown that alcohol, even in moderate doses, is another important provocateur. Alcohol, with tobacco, has now been shown to be important in bringing on cancers. On the heels of that study, comes this news that alcohol is a vital factor in precipitating psoriasis, a skin disease which is difficult to treat!
Wall Street Greed in Medicine
The British Medical Journal (BMJ), in an editorial, says that when hapless infertile couples walk into UK’s private clinics to treat infertility, they are immediately given sermons to brainwash them to go for artificial test-tube babies, instead of educating them on the many likely causes of infertility, some of which are eminently reversible. Lifestyle changes are never stressed or even mentioned. The editor thinks this is bad practice. This is not the lone area of science-based business. It is rampant in other areas of medical practice too. One of my patients suffered some chest pain and was worried. He also happens to be an anxiety neurotic. The doctors immediately recommended a coronary angiogram. He was also packed off to the nephrologist to clear his kidneys to undergo the procedure, since his creatinine level was 1.8 which has been so for years now! The latter, instead of assessing his kidney function, told him to immediately register for regular dialysis in order to bring down the creatinine. Is this evidence-based medicine?
In artificial fertility efforts, doctors get the egg from the mother’s ovary and fertilise it outside, in test tubes (in vitro fertility), to be later transferred to the mother’s womb. This is a simple procedure and does not require even a sedative. Now, here’s the catch. Some doctors, to be certain of pregnancy resulting from their procedure (either to build a reputation for success or out of greed), transfer multiple fertilised embryos into one uterus.
A recent study has shown that this is not only unnecessary, but could result in multiple babies (twins, triplets, etc)! In fact, it is safer to repeat the procedure, at a later date, if the first one fails. The hapless patients, who have immense faith in their doctors, do not realise that scientific medicine is now dictated by money.
Are We Controlled by Germs? Are We Germs?
It is now suspected that the gut microbes may alter the levels of neurotransmitter-related metabolites, affecting gut-to-brain communication and/or altering brain function. The gut has defences against pathogens; but, at the same time, it encourages the survival and growth of ‘healthy’ gut bacteria. The vast majority of these single-celled germs in the gut are based in the colon, where no less than one trillion reside in each gram of intestinal content. Estimating the number of bacterial guests in our gut is challenging.
To date, the best guess is that 40 trillion bacteria reside in our gut, partially dependent on the size of your last bowel movement (major part of our poop is bacteria). So, in a very real sense, we are more bacteria than human!