Monthly Archives: November 2017

HIV/AIDS

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is characterized by weakening of the immune system on contracting the notorious Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). This virus specifically attacks the immune cells called T-helper cells, which leads to increased susceptibility to infections.

Did You Know?
A specific genetic defect in a set of people with European and Asian heritage has rendered them resistant to AIDS.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is one of the most notorious viruses, and affects about 50,000 people ever year in the USA alone. This virus infects several types of cells in the body including a set of white blood cells called T-helper (Th) cells. Reduction in the number of T-helper cells weakens the immune system, ultimately leading to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which is characterized by increased bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections.

In an infected individual, HIV is present in the genital fluids and blood. Hence it gets transmitted sexually as well as through the use of infected syringes, transfusion of infected blood, and on contact of a wound with the infected fluids. The virus also spreads from an infected mother to the child during pregnancy, delivery, or through breast milk. After transmission, the virus may persist in a latent state for several years before leading to AIDS.

The interaction of HIV with T-helper cells, as well as the different stages of HIV infection have been explained below.

HIV and T-helper Cells
HIV belongs to the family of retroviruses, which are RNA (ribonucleic acid) viruses characterized by their ability to synthesize DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) from RNA by a process called reverse transcription. The HIV genome comprises two copies of single stranded RNA (ssRNA). These RNA molecules and the enzymes required for multiplication of the virus are enclosed inside a conical protein structure called capsid. The capsid is surrounded by an envelope that is similar to the cell membrane of human cells.

T-helper cells are the main targets of HIV, and are also called CD4 positive cells due to the presence of a specialized protein called CD4 (cluster of differentiation 4) on their cell surface. These cells are a type of soldier cells present in the body, and play an important role in detecting foreign bodies and pathogens, as well as activating other cells of the immune system. HIV attacks these cells, multiplies inside them, and ultimately destroys them. In simple terms, HIV reprograms the T-helper cells into HIV-producing cells. This replication cycle of HIV occurs through the following sequence of events.

Attachment and Entry

The HIV envelope contains specialized protein stems onto which a set of glycoproteins called gp120 are attached. These glycoproteins can identify and bind to CD4 molecules present on T-helper cells. This interaction is analogous to lock and key interaction, and serves as a gate opener for HIV. Once HIV docks onto the cell membrane of T-helper cells, fusion of the viral and cellular membranes occurs, and the viral capsid is released into the cytoplasm.

Naturopathy

Naturopathy is a form of alternative medicine and is often referred to as naturopathic medicine or art of healing using natural remedies. Naturopathy uses a holistic approach to cure an illness. A naturopathic doctor understands the body, soul and mind of a person before he starts the treatment. Naturopathy focuses mainly on two areas – the healing ability of body and the lifestyle of a person. Naturopathy stresses on using various therapies such as acupuncture, sauna bath and so on to cure the disease. In early 20th century, naturopathy was practiced in the US on a wider scale than any other country in the Western World.

A Brief Look at Naturopathy

The history of naturopathy can be traced back to 400 BC when it was practiced in ancient Greece. However, Dr Benedict Lust is considered the founder of modern-day naturopathy. Dr Lust not only practiced the art of natural healing but also introduced it to the US in the year 1892.

Dr Benedict Lust was a student of the hydrotherapy practitioner Father Kneipp.1n 1902, Dr Lust established the American School of Naturopathy.

1902-1917 was the formative period of naturopathic medicine and art of natural healing in the US. Dr Lust stressed on the hygiene, diet habits, hydrotherapy and emotional strength as essential tools for a healthy body. He merged herbalism with naturopathic healing.

The years ranging from 1918-1937 were known as the halcyon years. During this period, naturopathy gained importance and the public not only supported but also showed a keen interest in naturopathic medicines and therapies. Many states in the US introduced naturopathic license laws during these halcyon years.

During late 1920s and early 1930s, many naturopathic journals were circulated among the public in the US. This was done to provide information on how to prevent diseases and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Naturopathic journals emphasized on the eating habits of the common man and focused on taking measures to correct poor eating habits. Naturopathy advises the inclusion of fiber rich food in, and stresses on curtailing red meat from, one’s diet.

After Dr. Lust’s death in 1945, there was a considerable decline in the usage of naturopathic healing methods and therapies in the United States. During this period, more importance was given to allopathic medicines and treatment.
During the 1960s, the public of America became more aware of the importance of good nutrition and healthy lifestyles. During this period importance was given to alternative medicines and the science of naturopathy was revived.

In 1978, the first naturopathic college, known as the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, was established in America. This was the first registered college for naturopathy.

Benefits of Wheat Oil for Health

Wheat germ oil is an unrefined oil that is obtained from the germ of the wheat kernel. It is the richest source of Vitamin E than any other vegetable oil. It also has a high content of Vitamin A and Vitamin D. It is rich in protein and lecithin. It is very popular for external application due to its beneficial effects on the skin. Hence, it is increasingly finding place in the manufacture of skin care products. Other benefits of wheat germ oil include its antioxidant properties and its effect in strengthening the immune system and restoring overall health.

What is Wheat Germ Oil?
Obtained from the embryo or kernel of the wheat grain, wheat germ oil is a light yellow, fat soluble natural oil. As it is an unrefined oil, it has a thick consistency and a strong aroma. Although the germ of the wheat forms only 3% of the weight of the wheat grain, the benefits of wheat germ stem from the fact that it contains almost 25% of the total proteins, vitamins and minerals of the wheat grain. It is a very sensitive oil that tends to degrade if not stored with care. It should be kept away from high temperatures because if exposed to extreme temperatures, it may turn rancid. However, if kept properly, the shelf life of wheat germ oil can be extended up to a few months.

Benefits
If you are wondering what is wheat germ oil good for, consider the following benefits:
The benefits of this oil include curing skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. It works effectively to heal burns and skin ulcers. As an external application it is very helpful for dry skin.
Wheat germ oil is beneficial for the general health of the skin as it improves circulation of blood in the skin when used externally. It also helps the skin cells that may have been damaged due to the scorching heat of the sun. It also fights off conditions like dermatitis and reduces scarring.
Health benefits of this oil include improving the overall working of the heart. Research has shown beneficial effects of octacosanol and specifically policosanol in improving cardiovascular functions. Policosanol has been found to be effective in controlling production of cholesterol by the liver. It is believed to raise the level of ‘good’ cholesterol and reduce that of ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Wheat germ oil is known for its antioxidant properties. Hence it helps in preventing the skin from bearing the signs of aging. It is probably this reason that it is added to other carrier oils. However, it is used in lower amounts to prepare carrier oil blend as it is high in nutritional value.

That Accurately Indicate Anxiety and Stress

Stress, as well as anxiety are some of the main contributing factors for health problems. This write-up provides information on the physical symptoms that are indicators of anxiety and stress.

In today’s fast paced life, anxiety and stress seems to be affecting people from different age groups. These can have an adverse effect on the functioning of the human body, which in turn might give rise to a series of physical symptoms. Such symptoms should not be overlooked or neglected, as these can give rise to major health problems in the absence of prompt treatment.

Symptoms Associated with Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety can also be described as a response to stress. It is estimated that around 18% Americans are affected by anxiety disorders. The physical signs and symptoms that can be observed in individuals affected by anxiety are enlisted below.
Sweating: This is one of the commonly observed symptoms. It is often a physiological reaction or response to anxiety that might occur in response to nervousness, embarrassment, anger, or fear.
Trembling: The problem of trembling that might occur in response to anxiety might be a deep-rooted one. The body shakes or trembles because of the biochemical changes that take place in the body. These changes directly affect the nervous system and brain.
Difficulty in Breathing: Anxiety might also cause difficulty in breathing. This is because of the insufficient oxygen supply to the body. The affected individual can also experience dizziness during this phase.
Chest Pain: A feeling of tightness in the chest might be experienced by the affected person. The chest pain might sometimes be confused with the precursor to heart attack. The chest pain associated with anxiety can be either dull or sharp.
Nausea and Vomiting: These symptoms are stimulated by different states of the body including anxiety. Nausea is the central nervous system’s way to respond to anxiety. There is a vomiting center in the brain that is responsible for vomiting.
Most of the stress-related symptoms are similar to those experienced in the anxiety phase.
Lowered Immunity: Prolonged stress can lower a person’s immunity, thereby making one susceptible to recurring infections. The affected person is more likely to experience aches in different parts of the body.
Headaches: Stress can trigger headaches and migraine, which can create a lot of problems in daily life. The feeling of tightness in the head, or continuous pounding/throbbing sensation can certainly disturb one’s routine.
Fatigue: An individual who has been under stress for long periods is likely to feel fatigued.
Digestive Problems: Stress can act in different ways on different people. It can make one susceptible to diarrhea or constipation.
Aches: The affected person might frequently experience aches or pains in different parts of the body.
Insomnia: One’s sleep pattern might get affected due to prolonged stress. It can give rise to sleeplessness.