» Ayurveda
  » Yoga
  » Health
  » Cuisine
  » Beauty & Fashion

Kerala has shown a healthy growth in the field of health care. Testimony to this is the infant mortality rate which is generally considered an index to the quality of the physical life of the population. At 12 per thousand live births, Kerala's infant mortality rate is the lowest in the country, and can be attributed to the improvement in maternal and child health services.

When the state was formed it had 250 allopathic medical institutions; today there are 1,280 government medical institutions, an equation of almost one primary health centre in every panchayat. A network of 962 primary health centres and 5,094 sub-centres take care of the needs of the community.

The Director of Health Services supervises and coordinates field level programmes in health and family welfare, while the vaarious national and state health programmes are looked after by additional directors and deputy directors. Along with district medical officers, and programme officers at state and district levels for technical support, there is an efficient chain of action down the line.

Medical Plants

Common Name Malayalam Name Botonical Name Family
Black cutch Karingali Acacia catachu Mimosaceae
Asparagus Sathavari Asparagus race-mosus Var. javanicus Liliaceae
Brahmi Neerbrahmi Bacopa monnieria Scrophulariaceae
Aparjit Sankupushpam Clitoria ternatea Fabaceae
Indian borage Njavara / Panikoorka Coleus amboinicus Lamiaceae
Nut grass Muthanga Cyperus rotundus Cyperaceae
Sadovani Velipparuthy Pergularia daemia Asclepiadaceae
Sarivan Orila Desmodium gangeticum Fabaceae
Indian sarasaparilla Narunandi Hemidesmus indicus Asclepiadaceae
nywort Kudangal Centella asiatica Apiaceae
Kachura Kacholam Kaempferia galanga Zingiberaceae
Neem Veppu Azadirchta indica Meliaceae
Holibasil Thulasi Ocimum sanctum Lamiaceae
Jaramala Keeharnelli Phyllanthus fraternus Euphorbiaceae
Long pepper Thippali Moovila Piper longum Pseudarthria viscida Piperaceae Fabaceae
Rauvolfia Sarpagandhi Rauvolfia serpentina Apocynaceae
Garden Rue Sathappu / Arutha Ruta graveolens Rutaceae
Sida Kurumthotti Sida rhombifolia spp Malvaceae
Gulancha[Hindi name] Chittamruthu Tinospora cordifolia Menispermaceae
Antamul [Hindi name] Vallippala Tylophora indica Asciepiadaceae
Khas-khas Ramacham Vetiveria zizanioides Poaceae
Nirgandi [Hindi name] Karinochi Vitex negundo Verbenaceae
Asgand [Hindi name] Amukkuram Withania somnifera Solanaceae

Basic First Aid
Accidents, at least some of them, can either be avoided or prevented if proper care is taken at the appointed time. Millions of people are involved in accidents in their homes, hostels, factories, offices and institutions everyday. These commonly include burns and scalds, cuts, bruises and fractures. This section  tells you how to deal with such injuries and how they can be prevented by checking potentially dangerous situations.

FIRST AID is not medical treatment and you should not compare what you can do with what a doctor would do. What is required is common sense decisions that should be in the injured person’s best interest at the time. Do not do anything hazardous or thoughtless that puts you in danger. Get the casualty and yourself away from hazards as soon as possible. Examine the casualty and check for breathing, choking, bleeding ad consciousness. Action on these can save life and get professional help as soon as the life-saving is under way. Reassure the injured person and keep him as happy as possible under the circumstances. Combine confidence with kindliness.

1.RESPIRATION If it is failing, give artificial respiration- MOUTH to MOUTH or MOUTH to NOSE.
Artificial respiration is the breathing induced by some manipulative technique when natural respiration has ceased or is faltering. Such techniques, if applied quickly and properly, can prevent some deaths from drowning, choking, strangulation, suffocation, carbon monoxide poisoning and electric shock. Artificial respiration consists chiefly of two actions:
(i) Establishing and maintaining an open air passage from the upper respiratory tract (MOUTH, THROAT, PHARYNX) to the lungs, and 
(ii) exchanging air and carbon dioxide in the terminal air sacs of the lungs while the heart is still functioning.
The person, using MOUTH to MOUTH breathing, places the victim on his back, clears his mouth of foreign material and mucus, lifts the lower jaws forward and upward to open the Air passage, places his own mouth over the victim’s mouth in such a way as to establish a leak proof seal, and clamps the nostrils. He then alternately breaths into the victim’s mouth and lifts his own mouth away, permitting the victim to exhale. If the victim is a child, the rescuer may also press gently on the upper abdomen to aid exhalation. The rescuer breathes 12 to 15 times each minute into the victim’s mouth.
There is another method in which the victim is placed on a prone position (with Abdomen to the ground) with head turned to one side and resting on one hand. The rescuer kneels to the victim’s head, facing him. He first rocks forward, pressing with both hands on the victim’s back at the level of the chest and then leaning backward , lifts the victim’s arms forward and upward. The cycle is repeated 10 to 12 times a minute.
1.First aid when breathing stopped Put your cheek against the person’s mouth and feel for breaths. If breathing is not obvious, purse the person’s lips and try cheek again. If breathing has stopped, lie the person on the ground. See if there is anything in his mouth (Vomit, false teeth, foreign body etc.) that may be causing obvious obstruction. If so, remove it and lie him on his back. Pull the chin upwards so that the person’s head is bent backwards. With your left hand pull the chin up, push the top of his head down with your right.This simple procedure opens the airway at the back of the throat and he may restart breathing.
2. Fainting
Lay the victim down and loosen the clothing around chest and waist. Turn his head to one side. The legs may be raised a little. Do not attempt to give him any solids or liquids. On recovery, a small quantity of a drink may be given. Afterwards, he may be allowed to sit up and move after rest.
3. Bleeding
Arrest the bleeding and protect the victim’s wound. Apply direct or indirect pressure. Cover the wound with a dressing. Apply a pad and a firm bandage. Keep the wound at an elevated position.
4. Nose Bleeding:
Let the victim sit up facing the breeze and the head slightly forward. Ask him to breath through the mouth and ask him not to blow the nose. Apply a cold compress over the nose. The soft part of the nose may be pinched close with the fingers for 10 minutes. Cold application on the back of the neck and forehead may be helpful.
5. Burns & Scalds: A burn is caused by dry heat and a scald by moist heat like steam, very hot water or oil. Cool the affected area IMMEDIATELY with cold water for 15 minutes till pain subsides. Do not break blisters, or apply anything on the burns. Cover the burn with a sterile or clean cloth, pad and bandage. Give him fluids.
6. Fractures: IMMOBILISE it with a well padded stiff support reaching the joints on either side. Apply bandages on either side of the site and at the joints on either side support.
7. Snake Bites: Keep the victim calm. Wash the site with plenty of water and soap. Do not rub hard. First apply a constrictive bandage on the heart side of the bite. Do not incise or attempt to suck the wound. Get the victim medical aid as quickly as possible. Try to identify the snake.
8. Diabetes: A disease of unknown cause that results from the person having too little insulin in his bloodstream. In most cases, it can be controlled with diet and tablets alone. In some cases the patient has to take insulin for the rest of his life. Diabetics can become very ill if they get the balance of insulin, exercise and food intake wrong. The trouble they get into is caused by too low a blood sugar. If a diabetic shows signs of sweating, trembling, tingling around the tongue and lips, weakness, palpitation, hunger with nausea, staggering as if drunk, uncharacteristic behaviour, bad temper and yawning, what he needs is a little sugar by mouth to make him better. If he is conscious, help him to eat a couple of sugar lumps or a teaspoonful of jam. Never force an unconscious diabetic to eat or drink anything. In that case, get him immediate medical aid.
9. Dysentery: Dysentery is a serious disease, yet it is a  preventable disease. If you take care, you can save others a lot of worry, illness and trouble. It is caused by swallowing dysentery germs. The swallowed germs breed in the bowel and cause diarrhea, tummy pains, vomiting and fever. If anybody shows signs of dysentery, get him immediate medical aid.

If anyone has dysentery in the house, others must take precautionary measures. Food must be prepared only after the hands are properly washed with soap and running water. Hands must be washed before and after handling food. Serve the food hot. Keep friends and visitors away while the person is still ill. Put all the infected person’s dirty laundry into a plastic bin or bag apart from all the rest of the family’s wash, and it must be washed only after boiling it.
10. Croup: It is inflammation of the vocal chords in children. It makes breathing difficult. Every breath is accompanied by a high pitched croaking or crowing noise. Croup is usually caused by a virus and, therefore, can not be treated by antibiotics. It can also be caused by whooping cough, diphtheria and foreign bodies in the voice box. If the child has any difficulty in breathing or if there is any pulling of the lower end of the breastbone and side ribs with each breath, he must be taken to a doctor. As fear and tension may make the croup worse, you have to reassure the child.
11. Earche:
It is a very common and unpleasant condition in children, but rare in adults. It is usually caused by bacteria spreading up from the nose and throat via the tube that connects these areas to the ear. The child will often have a cold for a few days before the earache. The pain of earache may be very severe and may be accompanied by a fever of over 100 degree F.

If your child shows any signs of earache such as pulling on the ear or if he has unexplained fever, Vomiting, diarrhea or loss of appetite, he may have a mild ear infection (otitis media). Give the child a full dose of aspirin as directed for his age on the pack and hold a warm hot water bottle wrapped in a cloth against the affected ear.

Ear infections in children are very serious. It needs medical treatment and should not be ignored.
12. FLU:
It is a viral infection. The germs are spread in the air and can infect someone else even if you do not cough over him. It is worth taking care by sneezing or coughing into a handkerchief. ‘Flu is characterized by aching limbs and back, shivering and a fever. Later sweating may be profuse and your eyes may hurt as you move them. There is nothing a doctor can do that you cannot do yourself. So do not get your doctor in unless you have a history of chest pain.
Go to bed at once, drink plenty of fluids and take aspirin in the full reccommended dose to bring down the fever and relieve the aches. After 3 or 4 days the worst of the symptoms will have gone, but you may feel weak or depressed for weeks afterwards.
13. Heart Burn :
A burning sensation behind the lower end of the breast bone usually worst when lying down or bending down. People with hiatus hernia suffer from heartburn as do some pregnant women. Many of us get it from time to time as a part of simple indigestion. Persistent heartburn needs medical investigation. Short lived heartburn can be treated with indigestion tablets. A glass of milk also helps, If ever you get heartburn, accompanied by pain in the arm or neck, see your doctor as soon as you can because a pain that is sometimes indistinguishable from heartburn can be angina or even a heart attack. Any heartburn that makes you feel really ill as opposed to simply uncomfortable needs medical attention.
14. Asthma Among the common diseases, Asthma has the pride of place as being a disease that is very common and at the same time most distressing, and no system of medicine is comfortable with it. The individual has a vital role to play and has to be motivated to help himself.
In Ayurveda, Asthma comes under the category of respiratory diseases. The theory is based on the concept of three doshas- vata, pita, and kapha. One of these doshas or a combination of these doshas may trigger off asthma. In amny cases it is also a hereditary factor.
Water for your health
You know you need at least eight glasses of water daily to keep your system functioning eficiently. But many of you hardly adhere to this quota and end up facing various disorders like gas, constipation etc. During summer, you need to be extra cautious regarding to your water intake as dehydration can trigger heat exhaustion and heat stroke. This will raise your body temperature leading to fatigue, dryskin,headaches and dark urine. Drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages is known to dehydrate the body. So, even though you are drinking sufficient water, a couple of cups of coffee or a cola can undo its effects. Therefore, experts advise that for every cup of tea/coffee/cola you consume, drink an extra glass of water.
Almost everyone knows that drinking adequate water is good for health. But most people do not know why this is so and what exactly happens when the body does not have adequate water. Upto 70% of the total body weight is due to water.
Water had been an integral part of the treatment of several diseases by the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks, Persians and Indians for several centuries. The Chinese used water as a remedy several centuries before Christ. The Japanese used cold water for treatment of several diseases almost 800 years ago. Hippocrates, father of modern medicine, also used hot and cold water successfully for management of diseases such as fever, ulcers, bleeding in or outside the body.

How is body water regulated ?
There are three stages of water regulation of body at different stages of life- before birth, between birth and adolescence and in adulthood. Before birth, the unborn baby sends signals to the mother, if more water is required for its growth and development, and the mother experiences the effect. It is believed that morning sickness in pregnant women is the first indication that the unborn baby needs more water.
Water regulation efficiency of the body reaches its peak by the age of 20 years. Subsequently, it gradually declines through life. Thus the thirst sensation gradually decreases as age advances. This is perhaps why chronic `diseases such as arthritis, high blood pressure etc that are also attributed to inadequate intake of water are more common in the older age group. The amount of tea, coffee, alcohol, aerated drinks etc. you consume regularly may also adversely affect the water regulation in later life. The ratio of water content in and outside the cells of the various organs is very important. As age advances, water content in the cells decreases. Since the water content in each cell plays a vital role in maintaining its normal function, inadequate water can lead to loss of some functions.
Why is water important for maintaining normal health?
Every function of the body is influenced by the flow of water in the various organs. Adequate distribution of water to all parts of the body ensures that water and the chemical substances that it transports (such as hormones, nutrients etc) first reach the more important organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys and lungs. Several organs secrete chemical substances that act on distant parts of the body. The important functions of water in the body can be listed as follows:

  • Water is necessary for all chemical reactions in the body. Just as water helps a seed grow into a tree, it helps our body grow from birth to adulthood.
  • The flow of water inside and outside the cells generates energy. This energy is stored in the body along with other chemical sources of energy in the body.
  • The energy generated by the water in the cells helps transmit impulses in the nerves.
  • Water helps formation of a glue like material that helps the solid substances in the walls of the cells to be ‘stuck’ to one another.
  • It helps transport the chemical substances produced by the brain that carry its message to different parts of the body
  • Water content in the body influences the functions of the various proteins and enzymes that are dissolved in it.

In addition, it regulates body temperature and so also removes ‘poisons’ or ‘toxins’ from the body through urine, sweat and breathing. The body loses about four litres of water every day. It is, therefore, necessary to replenish this volume by drinking at least the equivalent amount of water every day. Inadequate intake of water can lead to dehydration.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration is excessive loss of water from the body. It results in imbalance in sodium, potassium and chloride levels. The common symptoms of dehydration of the entire body include increased thirst, loss of skin elasticity, dry skin, decreased urine production, irritability and confusion.

What are the indications of dehydration?
Thirst is an early indicator of inadequate water in the entire body. Inadequate water in the body cells can adversely affect their functioning. Chronic pains and allergies are the most common symptoms indicating limited functions of an organ due to chronic dehydration of the affected organs.
What are the common health problems due to chronic dehydration?

Some of the health hazards due to chronic deprivation of water to specific organs of the body are Dyspepsia, Joint pains, Low backache, chest pain, headache etc.


It is the term used for a vague feeling of discomfort in the stomach region soon after eating food. This discomfort can be in the form of a feeling of fullness, heartburn, bloating and nausea. Dyspepsia is not a disease but a symptom indicating that there is an underlying disease such as ulcer in the stomach, diseases of the gall bladder or chronic appendicitis

How does drinking more water prevent dyspepsia?
When you drink a glass of water, especially on empty stomach, it passes into the intestines immediately and is absorbed into the body. After about one to one-and-half hour, the absorbed wateris secreted into the stomach through its inner layer and as a result removes the excess salt deposits on it. Thus the protective layer of water remains intact. The acids, therefore, cannot penetrate the layer and cause dyspepsia. This is why Nature Cure recommends drinking water at least an hour before meals.
You can cure gastritis and heartburn just by increasing the intake of water by about two and a half litres of more water every day.
Joint Pains
Some medical practitioners opine that pain in the joints is one of the early indications of water deficiency in the affected joints. All the ends of the bone in a joint have a protective structure called cartilage.
Cartilages have more water content as compared to the bones, which are harder. The water in the cartilage helps provide lubrication and thus enables the two ends of the bone to glide one over the other very freely. During this gliding motion, some cells die and are peeled away. These dead cells are replaced by new cells. When there is less water in the cartilage, the lubrication is less. Then the number of dead cells increases. Joint pain results when the number of dead cells is more than the number of new cells being produced.

Low Backache
Water shortage in the back bone can also lead to low back pain. Joints in the backbone contain more water in two areas- in the surface of the cartilage near the backbones and in the centre of the discs between the two backbones.
The water near the cartilage surface provides lubrication just as in the joints of the hands and legs. The water in the disc supports almost 75% of the weight of the upper part of the body that tends to compress the discs. The tissues around the discs support the remaining 25% of the upper body weight.
Water in the joints of the backbones is circulated through periodic creation of a vacuum. Specific exercises are normally recommended to strengthen the muscles of the backbone and therefore reduces the pain. This is because these exercises increase the water circulation by drawing it in the vacuum area. Drinking more water will not only maintain normal content of the water in these joints but also increase the efficiency of the exercise-related water regulation in the discs.
It is important to remember that appropriate and regular exercises and posture are necessary for preventing backache. Water mainly contributes to the positive effects of exercises and correct posture.
[ SOURCE: Health Update, Society for Health Education and Learning Packages (HELP), D-31, Defence Colony, New Delhi-110 024]

How is stone formed in the kidney?
Stone formation can occur in the kidneys, ureters, liver, pancreas, salivery glands or in the uterus. Stones formed are of varied shapes and sizes. The stones formed in the kidneys and ureters are of larger size. Stones are formed around a tiny nucleus which is made up of some organic material. Phosphates or oxalates of calcium, magnesium, or amonia are accumulated around the nucleus , and thus the formation of the stone takes place. One of the reasons of stone formation is the excess of these chemicals in urine.

Tea helps reduce danger of heart attacks
Green and black tea have long been credited with many curative properties. The latest findings indicate that tea drinkers show significantly lowerrisk of heart attack compared to non-tea drinkers. This may be due to the presence of flavonoids in tea, which are antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body that can damage tissues, cells and genes. Studies conducted earlier regarding the benefits of green and black tea have shown that they may play a vital role in preventing cancer. According to the researchers in the U.S, tea may reduce the risk of heart attack in three ways- by inhibiting low density lipoprotein cholesterol oxidation; by reducing platelet aggregation (blood clotting) or by reducing damage caused by a lack of oxygen to the heart (ischemic damage)
'Anti-age' drug found
For the first time, scientists have succeeded in boosting an animal's life span with drugs. Microscopic worms, given the therapy, lived nearly 50% longer than normal.

The researchers say the experiments are the first real indication that ageing can be treated. They believe the drugs might be useful for combating human diseases that strike in later life.

Clinical trials for disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's could take place in the near future.

"As far as we know, this is the first convincing example of drugs being used to extend life span," said Dr Gordon Lithgow of the University of Manchester, UK, who carried out the research along with colleagues in the United States.

He said the drugs had an anti-ageing effect on the worms. "The treated worms appear youthful and active at the same time as when the untreated worms are showing the characteristics of old age," he told BBC.

The nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans was used in the studies. This tiny creature has been studied in the laboratory for many years. One of the first living things to have its genetic blueprint decoded, around 40% of the worm's genes are also found in humans.

The scientists added a cocktail of two synthetic drugs to the medium in which the worms, when kept in the laboratory, live and reproduce.

Both of the drugs are antioxidants. They mimic the effect of natural enzymes that mop up free radicals - highly reactive molecules that damage cells.

When given the drugs, the worms lived on average nearly 50% longer than normal. The reason, the scientists believe, is that the drugs prevented free radical damage.

Other experts say the research is interesting but must be duplicated in creatures other than the worm.

"The idea that antioxidants might have an effect [on ageing] has been around for quite a long time," said Professor David White, director of science at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, UK, which is funding research into the science of ageing.

"It seems to have a dramatic effect in worms," he added. "Whether it will have the same effect in other organisms will have to be established."

The research is published in the journal, Science.