Immune System Development

Your immune system is your body’s defense mechanism against harmful pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasitic worms, etc. The system is an interactive combination of various ways in which the body recognizes foreign cells, tissues and organisms and proceeds to fight them. The body system is your own, silent intelligence network and private army that identifies harmful organisms and destroys them throughout your life.

The immune can be of two types: Innate and Acquired. All livings beings are created with an auto-immune system or innate immune system. However, while some people are born with a strong immunity, others have to develop it. This is acquired or adaptive immunity. If you need to acquire better immunity, the following practices can strengthen and reinforce it.

1. Good Diet

All things related to the body start with healthy nutrition consisting of a well-balanced diet. Your immune system is also directly affected by the food you eat. Making some foods part of your staple diet can work wonders for your immune system. Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, tangerines, grapefruits); berries, particularly strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries; papaya and kiwi are very potent immunity boosters.

Certain vegetables have ingredients, which can considerably enhance the potency of your resistant system. These are carrots, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, and onions. Even ordinary spices like turmeric, garlic, and ginger have medicinal properties that can toughen weak immune systems. Yogurt, almonds, flaxseeds, and mushrooms are some other foodstuffs, which can boost your immunity considerably.

2. Good Sleep

Proper rest and sound sleep can perform miracles on your mind and body. It is common knowledge that fatigue, stress, and anxiety have a negative impact on health. Intense stress and fatigue trigger a hormonal imbalance that can wreak havoc on your body with far-reaching consequences for your body’s immunity and the diseases you may be exposing yourself to.

Stress may even lead to loss of sleep, becoming a vicious cycle, which can be catastrophic. Hence, learn to worry less and never compromise on your sleep, however busy you may be. We would do well to follow the old dictum of “early to bed an early to rise”. Make sure you get your minimum daily sleep quota of 8 hours.

3. Reduce Stress

Exercise and physical activities are good stress busters. They are significant contributors to building better immunity. Physical exertion lowers the level of stress hormones in the body, thus enhancing your immune system. Another stress-preventer is meditation. Apart from keeping you mentally healthy, it also increases the body’s resistance to various bacteria, viral illnesses, and infections.

Spending quality time with your loved ones, being cheerful and having a positive attitude diminishes worries and keeps stress at bay. Stress has no place in the workplace either; you can take short breaks or go on annual vacations to revitalize yourself. Remember this mantra: The lower the stress, the stronger your immunity.

4. Lifestyle Habits

Smoking and alcohol consumption is bad news for the body but they can be particularly harmful to your immune system as well. What’s more, the dangerous pathogens present in them can actually weaken a strong immune system.

So, try and quit smoking and drink only socially if you want to fortify your body with a strong immune system. Trying to quit smoking may seem difficult, but if you consider how much more potent you can make your immunity, it’s well worth trying. All the best!

The Office Visit Ritual

The office visit is repeated in the clinics of millions of practitioners every day across America. In some offices 15 minutes is allotted, in others 20. Doctors who see fifty people a day must schedule about 8 minutes. If anything slows down the process, an elderly person, a talkative person, someone who needs translation or just needs to go to the bathroom the delicate mechanism is smashed as if by the fist of a storm giant. Somehow she must catch up; there are people in the waiting room getting mad and if something isn’t done the physician will face a whole day of angry patients forced to wait too long. No matter how she looks, in her head a little voice is whispering”hurry up hurry up”. Last month she did not meet her RVU target and she is facing a big salary cut.

In the first part of the visit, the caregiver stands outside the door and tries to confirm where she is on the computer schedule to make sure she clicks the right patient. Theoretically she knows him as this is not a “new patient visit”, but if the wrong computer chart is entered it can lead to catastrophic results. The dreaded “what are you talking about, I didn’t have a mammogram”or “Fill my Flexeril prescription? The only medication I take is Synthroid” will cause an icy chill in her spine. Once she is satisfied the door opens and she tries to immediately manage the interaction.

As the door opens, the patient scans her face and forms first impressions. He already has fixed beliefs about her from previous sessions. Strangely he may have already decided that she is “useless” and that he will ignore everything she says. He may be seething with anger at the medical profession in general. He may have deep-seated fears about anything that violates his personal space. He may be ashamed of his alcoholism or his sexual preferences or his obesity. Last time he promised to take his blood pressure medication but he hasn’t. Last time he said he would exercise and get a colonoscopy but there is no way he is going to do this. She reminds him of his very annoying sister who is the one who made him come in the first place. Today she just looks at the computer cradled in her arms not at him. “Looks pissed”,he thinks.

She sits down and launches into his prescriptions. He has not filled the expensive diabetes medication for months and there is no way he hasn’t run out. He insists he is taking it. The cultural tradition is that both accept this and move on. If she tries to argue with him it will waste time which is inexorably moving on like a fine flow of sand cascading down her back. He wants that Percocet from the ER refilled but she kindly refuses as it “is not in his best interest”. When he gets this news his sensory system may shut down, like lowering one of those metal screens in the front of an inner city store at night. He will signal this by grunting all subsequent answers.

She does a “review of systems” theoretically to get him to open up about any new symptoms or problems. Actually if there is a new problem she is forced by time to ask him to schedule another visit to discuss it. He would rather wrestle his mother in law in a sewer during a rainstorm than make an extra visit so he does not volunteer anything. She next performs an examination which probably does not involve getting undressed or putting on a gown. In her heart she knows this is not ideal but the clock is ticking. She launches into her assessment and orders tests including labs and X-Rays. She prints an after visit summary that generally looks like a small book and reads like “Moby Dick”.

At this point he is pointed toward the door. He never got to mention that he wanted some Viagra or that he has got up to urinate six times every night. Unless his sister makes him there is no way he will get that X-Ray.

Getting Rid of A Cold Sore – Natural Remedies and Medication

Cold sores are frequently called fever blisters. The majority of cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus or HSV-1.

The WHO reports that approximately 65% of adults aged over 50 are inflicted with HSV-1, and around 50% of American children already have the virus. The virus doesn’t constantly show symptoms, and only around 30% of individuals with HSV-1 will show infection signs namely cold sores.

Cold sores often appear on the mouth and lips, but they can show anywhere on the skin, even the tongue.

Home Remedies

Immune-boosting, antiviral, and antimicrobial compounds are usually excellent for treating cold sores. Some remedies help reduce the transmission of the virus while others cut the possibility of more infections or ease discomfort and pain. Not all treatment works for each person, but various natural products could help lessen symptoms and inhibit future recurrences.

Natural remedies include:

• lemon tea and its compresses
• lip balms with no less than 1% lemon
• witch hazel oil, mint, and peppermint
• Aloe vera gel to soothe inflamed lesions while giving moisture.
• licorice powder, combined with petroleum jelly or water and applied to sores
• licorice root, with glycyrrhizic acid
• l-lysine supplements or lysine cream used as an immune booster and help in cell repair
• Echinacea to boost immunity, best consumed in supplement form or tea. Echinacea is available online.
• sage and rhubarb mixtures
• cornstarch paste, made with starch and water, 1:1
• milk, with l-lysine and antibodies

Vitamin E aids the body to repair damaged dermal cells as well as grow them. Food rich in Vitamin E include nuts, leafy greens, and whole wheat. Moreover, oils with Vitamin E are available. Furthermore, Vitamin C can increase white blood cells, which are mainly the infection-fighting cells of the body. Food rich in Vitamin C is frequently deep green, orange, or red in color. And these include tomatoes, peppers, berries, kiwis, spinach, and broccoli.

There are OTC medications available as well to treat symptoms of cold sores. Lots of them provide child-friendly dosages. These include:

• Orajel and Anbesol numb sores, reducing pain
• Zilactin and Abreva, both available online, may aid to cut recovery time
• Inflammation- and pain-reducing medications such as ibuprofen can help as well
• Rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide keep the lesions clean
• Applying zinc oxide creams to scabs could kill viral cells that the sores release

Medication

Individuals with cold sores ought to seek medical attention if the infection does not improve in several weeks. HSV-1 complications are uncommon but highly possible. Individuals with weak immune systems ought to seek expert medical advice whenever recurrences are becoming frequent. Several complications can result when the virus starts to spread to other body parts. For instance, the virus could infect the fingertips (herpes whitlow) or the eyes (herpes keratitis).

Commonly prescribed treatments for cold sores include anti-viral tablets and creams. According to the British National Health Service (NHS), creams are usually only effective if applied when the sores first appear.

For treating cold core symptom, the doctor usually prescribes anti-viral creams and tablets. The British National Health Service states that creams are often only effective if applied as soon as the initial sores appear – which is the first outbreak.

Prescribed medications for cold sores include:

• Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
• Acyclovir (Zovirax, Xerese)
• Penciclovir (Denavir)
• Famciclovir (Famvir)

What Are the Different Diseases Which Come Under Neurosurgery?

Brain and spinal cord are the two most important parts of the nervous system. It acts as a relay. It transmits information to different parts of the body. The actions taken by the body is because of the information given by the nervous system. This system is divided into two sub categories – central nervous system and peripheral nervous system. Together, they make sure our body is working fine. Some diseases prevent this system from working in a normal manner. The branch of medicine which deals with the conditions and diseases of the nervous system is known as neurology. When the treatment requires surgical intervention, then neurosurgery comes into play.

Following explained are the conditions which are dealt by a neurosurgeon

• Brain Tumor

It is the condition in which abnormal cells from within the brain. They can either start in the brain or at other places and travel to the brain. A malignant tumor is cancerous whereas a benign one of non cancerous. The rate at which it grows depends on the extent of the tumor. This growth determines the function of the tumor.

Some of the types of tumor are glioma, meningioma, brain metastases etc. These occur when there is error in DNA mutation. It is identified with the help of symptoms such as onset of headache, nausea, vomiting, vision problem, seizures etc.

• Epilepsy

It is a group of neurological disorders in which there is abnormal brain activity leading to seizures. There is a random period of unusual behavior which causes sensation and loss of awareness. The symptoms which are observed by the patients can be of different intensity. Some people twitch their arms while some of them can stare at a blank space.

You should consult a doctor when they last for more than five minutes and after it has stopped, there is no return of consciousness. It is linked to various factors such as genes, head injury, brain conditions etc.

• Pituitary Tumor

Tumors that begin in the pituitary gland are known as pituitary tumor. Most of them are non cancerous and don’t spread to other parts of the body. They cause glands to produce lower levels of hormones. There may not be symptoms in each and every case. Some of the symptoms which are associated with these tumors are headache, vision loss, feeling cold etc.

Some of the common treatment options are as follows

• Brain Tumor Surgery

It is an operation to remove tumor from the brain. Surgery depends on the type and grade of the tumor. It is the first treatment which is recommended by the doctor. There are different surgical options. In cortical mapping, areas of the brain which control the senses and language, are identified. If the skull needs to be opened, then craniotomy is the way to go. You are first given anesthesia and then incisions are made in the scalp to remove as much tumor as possible.

• Epilepsy Surgery

It is a surgical procedure given to control seizures. The main aim of this surgery is to remove the particular part of the brain which causes seizures. In vagus nerve stimulation, a device is placed under skin which lowers the onset of seizure by giving an electrical jolt. Temporal lobe epilepsy is treated by cutting away the area of the brain tissue which is affected. Focus of the seizure is removed in this method.

• Deep Brain Stimulation

It is a surgical procedure which is mostly done for Parkinson’s disease, OCD and Dystonia. Electrodes are implanted in certain specific areas of the brain. They produce electrical impulses that regulate abnormal impulses. The impulses given are controlled by a device which looks like a pacemaker. There may be some side effects after the surgery such as seizure, infection, headache, stoke, temporary pain at the site of implantation etc.

5 Tips That Can Help You Choose A Good Family Doctor

Choosing a good family doctor is not easy. You need to see a doctor who can perform the right diagnosis based on the symptoms of the patient. So, we suggest that you take your time while doing research before choosing a doctor. Given below are 5 tips that may help you make the best choice.

1) Consider an In-Network Specialist

If you have a health insurance policy, you may be able to avail the service of a doctor at discounted rates. Seeing these doctors won’t cost you an arm and a leg. These are in-network professionals. This type of pro can help you avoid any additional fees or surprise co-pays.

If you don’t know any of these doctors, your insurance provider can give you a list of a few good names. Alternatively, you can check online or ask the doctor that can accept your insurance.

2) Opt for Specialized Care

While choosing a doctor, make sure you take into account the needs of your family. In other words, if a family member is in need of special care, your chosen doctor should be able to offer it.

If your doctor can’t help you with this, your best bet is to look for a specialist. Typically, family care doctors can help you get in touch with a good specialist.

3) Consider the Commute

Often, distance is one of the most overlooked factors when opting for a doctor. Although 10 miles is not a long ride, you may not be able to spare that much time if you have a busy schedule. So, it may cause you a lot of inconveniences. Therefore, we suggest that you be practical as far as the distance is concerned.

4) Schedule an Initial Visit

You need to see the doctor in person before you choose them as the doctor may not have the bedside manners you want. Typically, most professionals offer a free of charge initial consultation. This discussion can help you find out if they have a good personality.

5) Read reviews and Ask for Referrals

Nowadays, you can read reviews on almost anything under the sun if you have access to the internet. The same goes for family medicine. It is not a factor that you have to consider, but it can help you get a deeper insight into the quality of service the doctor offers.

For instance, talking to the referrals will help you find out if the staff is friendly. By reading reviews and talking to a few referrals, you can make a better decision.

The Takeaway

Looking for a good family doctor is really important. So, it’s better that you do your homework and consider all the options that your insurance provider gives you. Actually, what you need to do is look for a doctor that you can work with for a long-term. After all, your health, as well as the health of your family members, depends largely on good health care. So, make sure you consider these tips before choosing a family doctor.

Mom! Do I Have To Eat That?

Vitamins and Minerals

You know, I may be barking up the wrong tree but if you are a type B personality (more on that later) then chances are you need to take the vitamins and minerals given to you. But will you take them? Probably sporadically at best! That’s just your nature. You’re so calmed, cool and relaxed that nothing seems to stress you out. You’re also probably one of the more well liked people out there.

These are the building blocks for any man or woman. As such, they need to get re-balanced. Type B people need this re-balancing more than type A people.

To determine if you are a type A or B answer the following question: If you had three things to do, all at the same time, all the same priority, would you do one to completion, do the second to completion and do the third to completion or would you start one, think about the other one, start one and two together and then think about the third one as well, and go ahead and start all three at once? If you answered option one where you do one at a time then you’re most likely a type B personality. While type B people are great at handling stress they don’t absorb vitamins and minerals very well. For this reason, they must be re-balanced from them. Type A people, however, are vastly different from type B people. Type A’s absorb the vitamins and minerals like no other but they don’t handle stress, worry or concern very well.

While type A people could use a re-balancing of the substances as well, they don’t lack them like the type B people do. But, ironically, it is the type A people who will come to me first whereas the type B people are so cool and relaxed that they will get to it when they get to it, which may never happen!

Neuroplasticity: How to Improve It?

Neuroplasticity is the ability of human brain to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. It allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease, and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.

Our brain does this by axonal sprouting, in which undamaged axons grow new nerve endings to reconnect neurons whose links were injured or severed. Undamaged axons can also sprout nerve endings and connect with other undamaged nerve cells, forming new neural pathways to accomplish a needed function. For example, if one hemisphere of the brain is damaged, the intact hemisphere may take over some of its functions by reorganizing and forming new connections between intact neurons. In order to do so, the neurons need to be stimulated through an activity.

Neuroplasticity is also called brain plasticity or brain malleability.

Its Characteristics

  • Neuroplasicity is at work throughout our life.
  • Most of us have very different behaviors and thoughts today than we had 25 years ago. This is because of action of neuroplasticity resulting in changes in brain structure and organization as we experience, learn, and adapt.
  • It is the ‘muscle building’ part of the brain. With every repetition of a thought or emotion, we reinforce a neural pathway. Similarly, with each new thought, we begin to create a new way of being.
  • As we age, change doesn’t come so easily because the brain loses some of its plasticity and we become more fixed in how we think, learn, and perceive.

How to improve neuroplasticity?

The research has shown conclusively that the brain can form new neural pathways and create neurons throughout life. Notwithstanding our genes we inherit, our lifestyle plays an important role in improving this unique quality of brain. The following are ways that help you improve your brain fitness by harnessing neuroplasticity:

Do exercise regularly – Regular exercise and increased fitness promote brain functioning through a variety of mechanisms, including increased brain volume, blood supply and growth hormone levels.

Undertake intermittent fasting – It is a great way to increase brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). In the brain, the BDNF protein is active at the connections between nerve cells (synapses), where cell-to-cell communication occurs. The synapses can change and adapt over time in response to experience, a characteristic called synaptic plasticity. Moreover, it detoxifies the body and recycles old proteins with new ones through the process of autophagy. The brain will benefit from this as well since a short fast has profound effects on neuronal autophagy.

Do meditations regularly – There is a ton of evidence that regular meditation has profound effects on the brain. The neuroscientists now view meditation as the top way to upgrade your brain, with the potential to transform your life in many big ways. Mostly it has to do with increased attention span, improved memory and higher activity at the prefrontal cortex. There are also a number of studies showing that it enhances cortical thickness and the density of grey matter.

Take adequate sleep – Sleep might be the most essential nutrient for neuroplasticity. The sleep deprived brain is muddled with connections, causing disorder of nervous information. Sleep restores that. Sleep provides a soft wipe of the brain, giving you the opening necessary to lay down new connections, form new memories, and learn new skills.

Remove stress – Stress dampens neuroplasticity in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex while increasing it in the amygdala, which is associated with fear, anger, anxiety, and other autonomic emotional responses.

Learn an instrument – Music training enhances brain plasticity. The research has found that children, who engage in musical training, show increases in IQ, verbal memory, and linguistic ability, even when the control group is composed of kids with otherwise similar backgrounds such as socioeconomic status, academics, etc. except for the music training. Merely listening to the same music doesn’t have the same effect. You have to actively participate in its creation.

Learn something new – The process of learning something new improves brain plasticity. Learning and practicing a new language or an art skill has been found to strengthen the brain.

Read a novel – The researchers at Emory University have found that reading fiction creates heightened connectivity in the brain. Apart from this, reading stories provides a chance for you to relax.

The crux

Neuroplasticity is a unique characteristic of our brain to reorganize itself so as to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust to changes in our situations and environment. It is at work throughout our life but with age there occurs a gradual decline in this special ability of the brain. We can improve this unique ability by taking appropriate measures.