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Is Compassion Unscientific?

Science revolves around quick discoveries, patents and money. What is the role of compassion in this?

If, according to Marie Curie, “science is measurement and measurement is science,” where is the role for compassion in science? Compassion can never be measured and, as such, is unscientific! The whole meaning and purpose of science seems to have been distorted today, thanks to the...

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  • World Heart Day: Tell people the benefits of healthy living

    World Heart Day could be very profitably used to inculcate heart-healthy habits in the populace rather than screen a few and treat them at their asymptomatic stage without any benefit to them

    “What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things”—
    Margaret Mead

    Thanks to this annual thamasha of the World Heart Day, another one of those clandestine business tricks, to get more business for the pharmaceutical lobby, more than 14,000 hapless, unsuspecting victims have been converted into patients in one establishment alone according to the newspapers.  Any human being who goes for a check-up becomes a patient; s/he rarely ever, if ever, becomes normal human being again! Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the like are backed by the greeting card and hospitality lobbies, the human organ-based days are lucrative business for the hospital lobbies. They organise marathon running on those days. The gullible public joins in the fond hope of helping a good cause. It is, of course, a good cause to fill the coffers of those hospitals which would have earlier advertised reduced charges for check-ups on that day.

    Disease mongering has many faces these days what with plethora of hospitals and laboratories vying with each other to get as many bakras as possible. This, however, is not a new development; let us not give credit to the new managers of today. When drugs for lowering the blood pressure first started coming to the market they introduced nice mini mobile clinics, WELL MAN CLINICS, in Germany with a cute nurse inside and a blood pressure apparatus. These were parked outside churches on Sundays and outside shopping malls on weekdays for a FREE check-up! Thus started the bonanza of blood pressure drug sales.


    What is cholesterol?

    It is not a disease. It is one of the thousands of chemicals inside the human system. This white, odorless and tasteless powder is the life line of humans. Every human cell, of which we have between 50-100 trillion in all, has its walls made up of cholesterol. The cell wall is needed for good health. A weak cell wall is a good invitation for cancer! We need to regenerate billions of body cells daily.

    90% of your blood cholesterol is manufactured in your own liver for your good. I do not think that the body produces anything that is bad for it. Only 10% of it comes from the food that we eat. The only way people bring down the cholesterol levels in the laboratory reports is by blocking the liver enzymes manufacturing cholesterol which, in turn, blocks many other vital body functions!

    Cholesterol phobia, created by this kind of marketing strategy, is one of the common causes of hypochondriasis and miserable life for the informed common person. One has only to see it to believe it.


    What is NORMAL cholesterol level?

    How I wish I knew! We only know the average cholesterol for any population by epidemiological studies. This average is used as normal level synonymously to confuse the public and sell drugs. In the human system we do not know the normals but know the averages. That apart the average level for one population is not the same for another population. For some mysterious reasons, the averages keep going down as years pass by, thereby increasing the drug sales! In addition, cholesterol, like any other body parameter, keeps changing from second to second, so called, healthy CHAOS. If two readings are taken a few minutes apart two different levels are obtained! Studies have shown that if the same sample of blood is analysed in twenty laboratories simultaneously twenty different levels will be shown!

    A recent French nursing home study of the old elderly beyond 90 years of age did reveal that those ladies had their cholesterol levels far beyond the average, way up in the 600s! Maybe for living long one has to have high cholesterol levels to be able to replace dead cells by new ones daily.


    What do the cholesterol lowering drugs do?

    We doctors tell patients that elevated cholesterol is a risk factor for killer vascular diseases. There is no irrefutable evidence to prove that. The largest and the longest risk factor interventional trial in the world, the MRFIT study, did show that these drugs might lower the risk factor without lowering the risk of death. These drugs, starting from the first drug cholestyramine to the present day expensive statins have all been shown to have INCREASED total deaths at the end of the day. The last mentioned one has many dangerous side effects like diabetes, cancer, suicide, accidents, muscle damage, liver damage and kidney failure, in addition.

    Professor Philippe Even, director of the prestigious Necker Institute, and Bernard Debré, a doctor and Member of Parliament, were appointed by French president Nicholas Sarkozy to study the medical care in that country. They recommended to the government that more than half of the drugs used there are superfluous and hazardous (worth 10 billion euros). Apart from that saving they also opined that this reduction will reduce drug induced deaths in that country by 20,000 annually. Among those that they alleged were “completely useless” were statins, widely taken to lower cholesterol. The blacklisted 58 drugs (they said were dangerous) included anti-inflammatories and drugs prescribed for cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, osteoporosis, contraception, muscular cramps and nicotine addiction.


    Collateral industrial benefits of World Heart Day


    Routine screening of the apparently healthy could be most dangerous, according to an article in the prestigious British Medical Journal. The so called normal levels statistically increase false positive reports to the extent of 5%-25% for every parameter. If we could check, say, twenty five parameters in one sitting (free) we get to label 125 people as patients out of every 100 screened!!

    Does that make good business sense? Some of them, like borderline technical alterations in the ECG, could generate more money by collateral tests like TMT and coronary angiogram, all for no extra effort on the part of the establishment. The bakra is already caught in the screening thamasha.




    World Heart Day could be very profitably used to inculcate heart healthy habits in the populace at large rather than screen a few and treat them at their asymptomatic stage without any benefit to them. This message could then be propagated to the younger generations who have to change their mode of living to avoid precocious diseases. Fortunately, the advice is very easy to follow—balanced moderate intake of food, regular physical exertion, avoidance of junk food, alcohol and tobacco, to work hard loving what one does and to develop universal compassion—for good health. Unfortunately, this sane advice will fall on deaf ears as it does not generate revenue for the sponsors and might even harm the junk food and sedentary habit encouraging businesses. What is anti-business is pro-people and what is anti-people is pro-business. In the monetary world the business wins the race and human misery remains a statistic. Love all to live well.


    “Gee, there is something wrong with just about everything, isn't there, Dad?”—“Beaver” (Theodore Cleaver)


    (Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, Chairman of the State Health Society's Expert Committee, Govt of Bihar, Patna. He is former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University at Mangalore and former professor for Cardiology of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London. Prof Dr Hegde can be contacted at [email protected].)

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    Ramesh Poapt

    7 years ago

    The Docs/Labs resorting to such practices should be made liable to sec.302 of IPC.

    jagadeeswaran deventhiran

    7 years ago

    "Love all to live well" - wonderful words which many people forget. Thanks for the nice article.... looking forward to more from the author.....

    Nem Chandra Singhal

    7 years ago

    So no free lunches in the world. If one is obsessed with free things, infection awaits.
    Nem Chandra Singhal

    Psychiatry: What is it?

    The advantages of psychotherapy far outweigh the drug therapy but the powers that be are disinclined since the drug lobby runs the medical world today

    “No further evidence is needed to show that “mental illness” is not the name of a biological condition whose nature awaits to be elucidated, but is the name of a concept whose purpose is to obscure the obvious”—
    Thomas S Szasz

    What is the mind, anyway? Psychiatrists are supposed to deal with the mind! Quantum physics now shows that the mind is the body and the body is the mind—all are but simple energy vibrations which appear to be solid! If that were the reality then psychiatrists and physicians become one and the same. The caste system automatically disappears. What does this mean to patients? A lot, indeed! If every physician becomes adept at understanding the human mind without having to scan that through a scope, except the mind scope, like a stethoscope, which every doctor should possess, the myriad physical problems could be solved without much physical intervention.

    The divine interventionalists, of course, will be the losers. They would fight this concept tooth and nail. The medical establishment has become a commercial venture with the US spending more than $1.72 trillion last year for the so called “health care” which in effect was nothing but sickness care. The latter, most of the time, are man made—iatrogenic. I call those diseases as “doctor-thinks-you-have-a-disease” syndrome.

    Where IS the mind?

    Bruce Lipton, a cell biologist professor at Wisconsin School of Medicine and also at St George’s University School of Medicine, is a noted developmental biologist who discovered that each and every cell in the human body (of which there are between 50-100 trillion in all) has its own brain, which he calls as memBrain with antennae to receive the signals from the universal consciousness.

    In short, new biology now thinks that the human mind is in every cell and not just restricted to the brain as was the conventional thinking, originally based on the Canadian surgeon Penfield’s crude experiments on his patients in the operating room. The new concept matches the “times out of mind” view in Indian Ayurveda and also in the Vedic wisdom of two minds—the universal mind and the individual mind.

    Ayurveda also explains how the mind can be made to evolve through several stages to the ultimate level of equanimity (stithaprajna), in the bargain going through several stages viz: manas, budhi, chitta, purusha and Ishwara. A good psychiatrist would be able guide a misguided mind to attain that equanimity as per the Indian scriptures.

    The seed for this line of thinking in the west recently was sown by Candace Pert, a young post doc at the NIH with the ‘great’ Sol Snyder, who, for the first time, found out opiate receptors outwith the brain in every cell. She deserved the Nobel but her boss wanted his name to be the first on the paper! She fought that idea with all her might and in the bargain, lost both her job and the Nobel. Snyder managed to get the Laskar award, the steeping stone to the Nobel, but Candace managed to send her laboratory logs to the Swedish Academy to prove to them that the work for which Snyder got the Laskar was her own. Snyder did not get his Nobel! Her book Molecules of Emotion, a classic, was an encouragement to Bruce Lipton. His book Biology of Belief is another all time classic.


    Professor JC Bose was the man credited to have initiated scientific studies of consciousness and had shown the presence of consciousness even in inert metals and, of course, in plants. The conventional ‘scientific’ world mostly ignored his findings in the beginning up until Cambridge University picked him up for his outstanding research. He quickly became a Fellow of the Royal Society, at one time thought to be better than the Nobel what with all the latter’s lobbying.  Nobel committee refused to award the prize to him despite being repeatedly nominated! Animals do have consciousness even according Indian scriptures. Human consciousness is supposed to be the one evolved to the highest level. A simple example will be your dog in the house. When you go home the dog feels a lot better but will be sad when you leave. It has the consciousness that you will be out for some time. But if you told the dog that you are going for a lecture at the psychiatrists’ meet, it makes no sense to the dog. Man has the most evolved consciousness according to Indian wisdom. The graphic descriptions in the Sankya School of philosophy are peerless.

    Western psychiatric management:

    From the time of locking up severe psychotics for decades at the Karolinska institutet in Sweden to the present day chemical antipsychotics nothing much has changed for those hapless patients. Freudian psychoanalysis, based largely on the Oedipus complex with a strong sexual bias, has not been of much benefit as per some of the independent audits. Anti-psychotics, starting with the first chlorpromazine to the latest SSRIs have had their own inherent adverse drug reactions (ADRs). The latter are the leading cause of iatrogenic deaths in the world. We need to rethink in this area for the good of our patients who can not be partners in their treatment unlike in other areas of medicine. Paternalism alone works in psychiatry where the moral responsibility of the treating doctor becomes paramount.

    An epoch-making study by a leading American geneticist, Douglas C Wallace, (Genetic 2008; 179: 727) did show that ALL reductionist chemical drugs have the power to destroy human cells but eastern herbal drugs are accepted by the body as food and do not damage the system. One other reason is that all reductionist chemicals are dextrorotatory but body molecules are laevorotatory—a square plug in a round hole! For all these reasons and more we need to urgently look for holistic pharmacotherapy using herbal drugs, properly scientifically authenticated. The burden is on India psychiatrists to give the world the leadership.


    I am a strong proponent of psychotherapy as the be all and end all of psychiatric management and NOT drugs. I am aware that the conventional psychiatrists will laugh at me. Be that as it may, the advantages of psychotherapy far outweigh the drug therapy. Again, it boils down to the man/woman doing that job, a thankless job at that. It is not economically viable either in the present corporate philosophy which has percolated into the medical world. The powers that be also are disinclined since the drug lobby runs the medical world today. People on the top of the Forbes list are in charge of these formulations in the West although Forbes himself did say that “life is not to get rich but to enrich the world!”


    You could laugh at me, hate me, or weep with me for these unconventional ideas, but do not ignore what I have said above. Go home and think about it. If you ignore me you will doing a great disservice to the hapless mentally challenged people of this world who require our compassion and empathy just like an innocent child needing that from a doting mother.

     “If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia”— Margaret Atwood, Canadian writer

    (Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, Chairman of the State Health Society's Expert Committee, Govt of Bihar, Patna. He is former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University at Mangalore and former professor for Cardiology of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London. Prof Dr Hegde can be contacted at [email protected].)

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