Thursday, January 20, 2011

What You Know About Herbal Medicine

What is Herbal Medicine?

Over thousands of years traditional ways of using plants medicinally have developed in different societies. Today the study of herbs has become a medical science and new ways of using plants therapeutically have been found such as the advent of nutraceuticals or aromatherapy and its essential oil.

Herbal Medicine, also known as phytotherapy, is the treatment of illnesses using measured doses of specific plants. A qualified medical herbalist can prescribe plants to be internally or used externally in various forms and concentration, depending on the ailment.

The herbalist may suggest the addition of certain edible plants to the diet - such as celery, radish or cabbage - or may prescribe a medicinal preparation, such as a suspension, powder, infusion, tincture or extract. The herbalist may also recommend an essential oil, distilled from the plant.

Conventional drug research tends to be focused on identifying a single active constituent in a plant and this approach has yielded a significant number of blockbusting drugs. Herbalist take a holistic approach believing that the whole of the plants should be used, because all the constituents are important, not just the compounds that have been shown to be active.

A herbal medicine consists of hundreds of phytochemicals - plant based compounds that herbalist believe interact in a 'synergistic' way. Together they achieve a greater effect than the sum of all their individual effects. An analogy can be made to music - we can appreciate that when single notes are playied together in a certain way they make up the pleasing sound of a chord. The pharmaceutical industry is still focused on producing 'single notes', while herbalist argue that the 'chords' found in herbal medicine are more effective.

What You know about HPV Vaccines ?

Concern Over HPV Vaccines

There are many areas of concern over the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine which is said to prevent infection against certain species of papillomavirus associated with cervical cancer, genital warts and some less common cancers.

Many countries are going slow on this vaccine because of many doubts raised. However, Malaysia is rushing into it. HPV vaccines, givens in a series of three shots, are to make the body's immune system produce antibodies against HPV type 16 and 18, which cause seven out of 10 cases of cervical cancer. The antibodies supposedly protect one from getting infected with HPV.

And yet the authority are not giving the people any details. Even the type of vaccine used seem to be top secret. Two HPV vaccines are in the market: Gardisil and Cervarix. Which one is Malaysia using? And experts tell us that the regular Paps smear screening must be continued to be done even after vaccination because the vaccine only covers some high-risk types of HPV.

The WHO warned last year that those vaccinated and do not continue with screening, such as Pap smear because they wrongly believe they are protected against cervical cancer, can raise the death figures, especially with the vaccine protection waning over time.

Some concerns have been raised by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
  • As of Sep 1, 2009, there were 15 037 Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) cases of adverse events following Gardisil vaccination in the US. Of these reports, 93% were reports of non-serious events, and 7% were reports of serious events.
  • Non serious adverse events include fainting, pain and swelling at the injection site, headache, nausea and fever.
  • VAERS defines serious adverse events as those that involve hospitalisation, permanent disability, life-threatening illnesses and death.
  • As of Sept 1, 2009, there have been 44 reports of death among females in the US who received the vaccine.
Some believe that inoculating schoolgirls with the vaccine is a symptomatic and simplistic solution to the problem of cervical cancer in childern who may contract cervical cancer due to early sexual activity when instead, the root cause for contracting HPV - sexual relations with multiple partners; should be countered by education.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Patient's Right on Medication

There are fundamentally eight patient rights which are universally acknowledged by the global society.

1,     Right to Basic Needs
Healthcare is a basic need essential to live. It is your basic rights as an individual to have equitable access to medical care and medicine for health and wellbeing. Therefore, it forms the fundamental responsibilities of governments in every country to ensure that their people have equitable access to basic medicine needs.

2.   Right to Information
Patients have the right to be well-informed of the medicines they are taking. Healthcare professionals and the labels on medicine products must inform patients what kind of medicines they are taking, what are the side effects, how to take their medicines, how frequent to take it, and the stating precautionary health warnings.

3.    Right to Choice
The right to choose is essentially a consumer's right to choose a safe and healthy product of good quality over an unsafe or defective product. By doing so, patients can also influence healthy practices to be adopted by the market.  It is also important for patients to have a variety of healthy choices and in medicines, patients have every right to choose and request for generic versions of their medicines from healthcare providers.

4.   Right to Safety
Every patients has the right to safe medication. All medicines, whether its prescription drug or health supplements must not in anyway, bring harm to consumers. In Malaysia, the Pharmaceutical Services Division of the Ministry of Health strives to ensure that every single medicine sold in the market is safe for consumer to use.

5.   Right to Redress
The right to obtain redress is an important element given to protect patients interests. In Malaysia, redress mechanisms such as the Consumer Tribunal and legal courts exist for patientss to gain redress and seek compensation for damages incurred.

6.    Right to be heard
The right to be heard means that consumers should be allowed to voice their opinions and grievances at appropriate channels e.g. health authorities. If you have been cheated in the market place or deprived of the right quality of service, your complaint should be heard and given due attention by the authorities. Patients should also have a right to voice their opinion when rules and regulations concerning them are being drafted.

7.     Right to a Healthy and Sustainable Environment
The need for environmental conservation is seen as a necessary defense against deteriorating quality of life world-wide. As certain medicines are poisons, their disposal must be carefully and safely done so that it would not cause any significant harm to the surrounding living environment. Polluted environments lead to increased health costs and discomfort for consumers. Valuable resources are lost due to polluted environment and living conditions. Patients need to understand that only a safe environment can ensure the fulfillment of their consumer rights. 

8.     Right to Patient Education
Patient education empowers patients to exercise their rights and is perhaps the single most powerful tool for patient protection. Patient education is dynamic, participatory and is mostly acquired by hands-on and practical experience. Patient education can be in the form of past experiences of patients, information dissemination by government agencies and NGOs, classroom teaching by teachers and informal lessons by parents.

What is Drugs ?

What you should know about drugs ?

What is a drug ?
A drug or medicine is a chemical substance which is used to prevent, control or treat diseases.

In Malaysia, Drugs as medicines are classified as:

Over-The-Counter Medicines
These are medicines that you can buy without a prescription from pharmacies or shops.
Examples: Vitamins, fever medicine (such as paracetamol)


Controlled Medicines with prescriptions
These must be obtained from doctors or pharmacists.
Examples: Medicines for hypertension and diabetes.

Controlled Medicines without prescriptions
These must be obtained from pharmacists.
Examples: Creams, cough and cold medicines.

What Should You Know About Vitamin & Supplements

Vitamin & Supplements

Vitamins also known as micronutrients are one of the six basic nutrients that make up our food dietary needs. It aids our body to function and grow normally. The natural source of vitamins can be obtained from our food during cooking, processing, or storage. If symptoms occur due to direct lacking of these vitamins, extra vitamins supplements may be needed.

We have to be aware that small amounts of vitamins are essential but more is not always better. The vitamins' requirements vary according to age, sex, and physical activities.

Type of Vitamin

Vitamins can be divided into 2 major groups namely water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins:

Water-soluble vitamins

More rapidly removed from the body so a regular daily intake is needed.
Easily lost in cooking
Vitamin B1, B2, B6, B12, C, Niacin, Panthotheric acid, folic acid, biotin
Fat-soluble vitamins

Soluble in oil.
Stored in liver and fat tissue from which they are slowly removed
Vitamin A, D, E, K
The following are some steps and habits we can practise to enjoy and preserve as much vitamins in our food, making sure we are able to get the most from our food.

Eat a variety of foods
Buy 2-3 times a week of fresh vegetables and store in the fridge or a cool dark place
Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily
Prepare food just before servings
Cook frozen vegetables quickly without thawing
Reuse cooking water in gravies, soups and stews
Use wholegrain or wholemeal bread
Cut vegetables up into small pieces
Cook for too long
Use soda bicarbonate when cooking
Use copper or brass cooking pots.
The following are the different types of vitamins:
A) Vitamin A 
B) Vitamin B1
C) Vitamin B2
D) Vitamin B6
E) Vitamin B12
F) Biotin
G) Folic Acid
H) Panthothenic acid
I) Vitamin C
J) Vitamin D
K) Vitamin E
L) Vitamin K
M) Niacin

Vitamin A (retinol) 250-750 mcg RE*
Source: Fish liver oil, eggs, butter, milk, cheese, liver, apricots, broccoli, cabbage, and carrots.
What does it do: Essential for night vision, healthy skin, and mucous membranes
Possible problems: At risk heavy drinkers, patients with liver problem, increased cholesterol level . Too much damages hair, skin, liver, bone, can cause birth defects and increase osteoporosis risk.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) 0.5-1.0 mg*
Source: Yeast, whole-grains, pork, liver, nuts, legumes, potatoes.
What does it do: Essential for normal function of nerve cells, heart muscle and carbohydrate metabolism.
Possible problems: Lost with heat, air, cooking water, meat drippings, when grains are refined. At risk eating lots of sugar, heavy drinkers.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.8 -1.2 mg*
Source: Yeast, eggs, milk, cheese, liver, kidney, green vegetables.
What does it do: Essential for normal protein and carbohydrate metabolism and for the maintaining mucous membranes.
Possible problems: Lost with light. At risk heavy drinkers, make urine bright yellow.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) - 0.25 -2.2 mg*
Source: Yeast, whole-grains, fish, liver, legumes.
What does it do: Essential for general functioning of body cells and amino acid metabolism.
Possible problems: Lost in light, heat, cooking water. At risk pregnancy, elderly, heavy drinkers. Too much 500 mg/day can damage nerves
Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) - 0.3 -2 mcg*
Source: eggs, milk, cheese, butter, liver, beef, pork.
What does it do:
Essential for growth of red blood cells and normal functioning of nerve cells.
Possible problems: At risk - heavy drinkers, people taking large amounts of vitamin C, people who eat no animal products at all.

Biotin -100-200 mcg**
Source: present in all common foods.
What does it do: Essential for energy production from fats and carbohydrates and for formation of hormones.
Possible problems: At risk - people who eat 8-10 raw egg white daily, long term high dose antibiotics, people with chronic conditions.

Folic Acid 50 - 200 mcg*
Source: yeast, liver, kidney, leafy green vegetables, fruit.
What does it do: Essential for growth of red blood cells.
Possible problems: Lost with heat, light, cooking water.
At risk pregnancy, elderly, heavy drinkers, people on certain medication.

Panthothenic acid 4.7 mg**
Source: Whole grains, eggs, liver, kidney, peanuts, cabbage
What does it do: Essential for normal functioning of enzymes inside the body cells.
Possible problems: too much - occasional diarrhoea, Too little - rare.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 20 - 30 mg*
Source : citrus fruits,tomatoes,potatoes,green vegetables
What does it do: Essential for normal tissue growth and repair and normal functioning of blood vessels.
Possible problems: Lost with heat,air,cooking water.
Side-effects- diarrhea,stomach cramps. Rebound scurvy when one stops taking large doses.

Vitamin D (calciferol) -10 mcg*
Source : Fish liver oil,eggs,butter,liver,yeast.
What does it do: Essential for normal absorption of calcium and phosphorus and for normal bone formation.
Possible problems: At risk bedridden elderly and infants not exposed to unfiltered sunlight.
Too much high calcium levels result and cause vomiting,thirst,headache,hardening of tissues.

Vitamin E (tocopherol) - 2.5 12.5 mg*
Source : Eggs,vegetables oil,wheat,germ,green vegetables.
What does it do: Essential for  stability of cell membranes..
Possible problems: Lost when exposed to light and high heat.
Too much minor stomach upsets,fatigue,weakness affect anti-clotting medicines

Vitamin K (phytomenadione) - 70-140 mcg**
Source : Vegetables oil,cabbage,spinach,cauliflower.Also made in the gut..
What does it do: Essential for normal blood clotting.
Possible problems: Breast milk is a poor source and newborns can t make their own vitamin K. An injection is often given to cover  until they can.

Niacin (nicotinic acid) -9 -17 mg NE*
Source : Lean meats,fish.poultry,peanuts,wholemeal cerealas,yeast.
What does it do: Essential for cell metabolism and absorption of carbohydrates,helps maintain healthy skin.
Possible problems: lost if food is overcooked.At risk heavy drinkers.
Too much flushing, tingling, diziness

* Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) range covers all age groups (infants, children, adults, pregnant and lactating women)
* * No RDI suggested daily dose
A niacin rquivalent (NE) is 1 mg niacin or 60 mg dietary tryptophan.
Vitamin A is expressed as mcg retinal equivalent (RE). 1 RE = 1 mcg retinal or 6 mcg β -carotene