Friday, August 19, 2011

An exciting read, a strong message

I particularly liked this passage from Ted Simon's Jupiter's Travels. Simon travelled over 65,000 km around the world on his motorbike for four years in the 1970s. The book is about his journey, his experiences and a time when new lines were being drawn on the world map to mark new countries.

"There are shapes and forms which rise out of the natural order. Trees, caves and animal architecture lead us naturally to thatched roofs, stone houses and mud walls. If you knew this you would not choose to put up a roof in corrugated iron. Nor would you think of throwing a plastic bag in a stream, not because of what you have been told about pollution, but because the idea of a plastic bag in a stream is offensive in itself. Without this sense of what is naturally fitting you can be cleaning up the world with one hand and spreading poison with the other."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book review: Stop Pain - Inflammation relief for an active life

Author: Vijay Vad with Peter Occhiogrosso
Publisher: Hay House, Inc
Pages: 235
Price: Rs 999 (Hardbound imported edition; paperback available on Flipkart for Rs 532)

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Times Wellness on Tuesday, August 16, 2011  

"Why me?" You keep searching for an answer. Pain is personal. You feel trapped, you avoid going to places and doing the things you once loved. And you choose as per your comfort, not desire. It maybe physical, but pain alters all aspects of your life, especially if it is chronic and debilitating. It causes stress, robs you of your sleep and the treatment burns a hole in your pocket. You feel there are few who understand your predicament, fewer who can spell it out in words. Luckily, Vijay Vad is among them.

Stop Pain by the Indo-American sports medicine specialist is a book for the millions of sufferers of chronic pain, who are still asking themselves, "Why me?" While there are many books on cancer and heart diseases, few volumes have been devoted to pain in all its forms, 'the truth about pain', its cause ("it's so important to locate the precise cause of your pain, so you can avoid being labeled with one of the many commonly overdiagnosed syndromes"), its mechanism and pathways and how it is linked with inflammation.

Having watched his paternal grandfather use yoga and incorporate ginger in his daily diet to counteract arthritic pain and inflammation in his younger days, Vad learnt early that simple remedies can help alleviate pain, no matter how severe it may be. "One thing I've learned in my many years of treating chronic pain is that a low-tech, traditional, minimally invasive approach can often get better results than invasive surgery." These essential self-care options include:
  • An anti-inflammatory diet that will help reduce your sensitivity to pain
  • Sensible exercise that you can do even when you are suffering from chronic pain
  • Ergonomically sound working and living recommendations that will help you avoid some of the major causes of chronic pain
  • Effective dietary supplements e.g ginger, fish oil, turmeric, etc, to relieve chronic pain, that drug companies don't usually talk about
  • Common over-the-counter medications, including pills, patches and topical creams and gels - how good they are, how they work and the possible dangerous side-effects
  • Techniques to help you cope with the 12 most common pain problems

From integrative care, to complementary therapy to yoga postures, Vad does well to describe different therapies for different grades of pain and also indicates at what juncture should you opt for surgery. He answers some of the most frequently asked questions, trashes the "no pain, no gain" myth and enlists eight steps for you to follow if you are in severe acute pain right now. He also enlists the 'resources' where you can get grass-fed meat, topical creams, tinctures, dietary supplements and medical equipment in the US.

Since this book has been written primarily for the 50 million-odd sufferers of chronic pain in the US, you may not be familiar with many of the drugs. For example, what is known as acetaminophen in the US is called paracetamol (aka Crocin) in India. Do check with your doctor before you try any of the over-the-counter (OTC) or non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that Vad has talked about in this book.

Stop Pain is a handy guide for those who've been suffering from pain for years. Vad has judiciously used medical jargon in the book (he calls the discs separating the vertebrae in the spine, "jelly donuts") because he didn't "want to subject you to that awkward sense of floating in a strange world, like being underwater without a scuba tank and mask." His language is lucid and you can actually go through the whole book in a couple of sittings, without feeling the strain. After reading Stop Pain, you will have more options for non-aggressive remedies to alleviate pain. It's that choice that makes you feel better.