Tag: Medicine and Therapy

Baby Blues

Baby Blues

Whenever a life is saved, we thank at least two beings – one is of course the omnipotent, omniscient creator that most of us call God. But the other, more tangible being, is the doctor who attended to the patient medically. In that sense, doctors carry a huge burden of hope on their shoulders. And when the patient they are attending to is a child, the burden is considerably heavier.

A few months ago we carried a story on the availability of facilities for neonatal surgeries in Thane. Recently, another sensitive neonatal surgery was performed on a mere 25-day-old infant. So complicated was the case that the incidence of its occurrence is three in a million! This case serves as a cautionary note to parents of infants who might be tempted to disregard or discount abnormalities as not serious.

A 15-day-old baby, who was otherwise normal, suddenly started passing urine from his umbilicus (navel). Initially, his mother ignored it, thinking that it is an ordinary serous discharge, as the child was also passing urine normally. There was no fever or any other abnormality detected. However, when the discharge continued for a couple of days, the concerned parents took their baby to Dr. Geeta Bhat, the pediatrician who was treating the infant. Dr Bhat immediately referred the parents to Dr. Laxmikant Kasat, who promptly diagnosed the infant as suffering from a condition that is medically known as “Patent Urachus”. The urachus is a tube that connects the bladder to the umbilicus. After birth, the urachus normally closes and becomes a ligament. But, if for some reason the urachus fails to close after birth, the tube remains open (patent). It is then that the urine starts leaking from the umbilicus and surgery becomes necessary to avoid bacterial and other infections.

When Dr Kasat decided to operate the infant, who was now 25-days-old, he was aware of the rarity of this case and took the most cautious approach. While the child was unconscious and made insensitive to pain using general anesthesia, an incision was made in the lower abdomen. The urachus was located and removed from the umbilicus and the bladder. The bladder opening was repaired, and the incision was closed. Thus, the oblivious baby was saved from what could’ve developed into a life threatening medical condition.

Like in the above case, many parents tend to self-diagnose and self-treat the symptoms using home remedies. This, according to Dr Kasat, is a dangerous practice. He said, “The point to remember is that whenever there is a urine-like discharge from the navel, especially in the newborns, parents must immediately consult a pediatric surgeon as there is a high likelihood of a patent urachus, which needs prompt surgery to prevent any possibility of severe urinary infections.” In fact Dr Kasat warned against treating such leaks with ointments, herbal paste   or simply waiting it out, all of which can prove dangerous, leading to pus formation and often inadequate and prolonged treatment. As in all medical complications, early diagnosis and treatment gives excellent results.

So the next time you observe any abnormal phenomenon in your newborn, however mild it may seem, do not take it lightly. Rush to your pediatrician and have the possibility of anything serious ruled out. After all you owe it your baby.

Infant Saviours

Infant Saviours

Newborn babies are a bundle of joy for their parents and others related to them. But often, when the baby is born with medical complications, panic replaces the usual delight like it recently happened in Thane.

A three-day old infant gets ready for surgery. He is dressed like an astronaut to maintain normal body temperature.

About two weeks ago, a newborn baby boy brought immeasurable joy to his parents. On the third day, he threw up a little green-yellow juice, and the parents casually informed their paediatrician, assuming that it was normal for the baby to burp out liquids. The paediatrician, however, knew that this could be more complicated than it appears and he quickly recommended that the baby be brought for examination. The parents panicked and followed the doctor’s advice. On scrutiny, it was found that the baby had a severe case of mal-rotation, a condition where the intestines are not in the right position. In this baby’s case, his intestines had a turn of 270 degrees, and had to be operated immediately to avoid any danger to his life. The parents of this baby understood the emergency and quickly approved the surgery. Neonatal surgeon Dr Laxmikant Kasat came to the rescue and operated upon the baby, who is absolutely fine now.

This is good news for soon-to-be parents in and around Thane because in the event that your newborn needs immediate surgical attention, you need not rush to distant hospitals in Mumbai. Thane is now capable of handling neonatal emergencies. Hospitals like Kaushalya Medical Foundation Hospital and Lok Hospital are well equipped with NICUs and ventilators and a dedicated team of neonatologists to help in pre and post-operative care of the infants. What is more important is that Thane now has resident neonatal surgeons.

Neonatal surgeries are a highly specialised branch of medicine as they need extreme care. Neonatal surgeons operate under difficult conditions. Because of the baby’s susceptibility, the neonatal surgeon has to operate without air-conditioning. Also, these surgeries are carried out with minute incisions, a maximum of two inches, as the babies are very small, and the operation lasts for hours. “A neonate is a child who is between the ages of one hour to one month after birth. Operating such young infants is a supra-specialised job that demands extreme dedication, lots of tolerance, very good back up and is an extremely delicate job,” says Dr Kasat, a paediatric and neonatal surgeon who is based in Thane.

To understand the significance of having neonatal surgeon accessible at a moment’s notice, readers might find it interesting to know that paediatric surgery is a super speciality brand of surgery and paediatrics. To specialise in it, a general surgeon (MS) has to opt for MCh in Paediatric Surgery after passing MS in General Surgery. Only 50 centres in 12 states of India teach paediatric surgery, and Mumbai has seven of them.

Administering correct anaesthesia to tiny tots is also an exceptionally intricate task. Once again, Thane residents can heave a sigh of relief. Besides being equipped with facilities and surgeons, your city also has a few good anaesthetists who are qualified and experienced in giving anaesthesia to newborns.

Our society often equates doctors with God. And not without a reason. For parents such as those of the three-day-old baby boy who had to be operated for his twisted intestines, availability of neonatal surgery in Thane is no less than Godsend.

A Great Indian from Great Britain

A Great Indian from Great Britain

Dr Kartar Lalwani’s simple appearance and his unpretentious demeanour hide the virtues that have made him one of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs. This founder-owner of Britain’s first vitamin supplement company Vitabiotics is as unassuming as you can get. For one, he looks much younger than his age. At 72, this scientist-turned-entrepreneur displays an almost contagious enthusiasm for life – effect of consuming his own products, he suggests in all seriousness. For another, he’s actively involved in running Vitabiotics – he’s the President and CEO of the company. In fact, his pioneering work in pharma-medical research has got him four prestigious awards in the year 2003 including one for his company.

The first among the awards was The Queen’s Award for Enterprise bestowed by Her Majesty the Queen on the recommendation of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair in recognition of the company’s remarkable contribution to International Trade. Then there was the Asian Achiever’s Award for Trade and Industry followed by Entrepreneur of the Year in UK sponsored by British Telecom and GG2. And most recently in December 2003, he was honoured with the Asian of the Year 2003-2004, awarded by the Asian Who’s Who.

Lalwani’s romance with nutrient technology began in the early 1960s when, as a young research scientist at AIIMS Delhi, he observed anomalies in the administration of some of the most basic vitamins and minerals. "The iron administered to patients at AIIMS was at least seven to eight times more than the recommended dosage," he remembers. Today, his company Vitabiotics is UK’s fastest growing vitamin company, exporting to sixty countries.

Lalwani has, in more ways than one, been a pioneer. And among his many pioneering efforts is Menopace, the first non-HRT remedy for menopausal women, which is today a market leader in UK. "Today HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) is under serious clout," declares Lalwani with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

He describes his lifestyle as simple and loves the old and the historic. Antiques and ancient works of art such as ivories, furniture and paintings fascinate him. His rare possessions include two of the oldest and most beautiful English homes in Regent Park in London. An exceptional painting of the beautiful Gayatri Devi by Augustus John adorns the living room of his home in Bombay, of which he says, "This one was a jackpot." He bought it at an auction in the UK some twenty five years ago. Nobody there seemed to know who she was – they referred to her as "some Indian princess". Augustus John was one of the best-known English portrait painters during the early part of the 20th century. He painted many wealthy and important people and Her Highness Gayatri Devi was certainly one such person.

He’s got a collection of historical books, with some amazing insights into times gone by, illustrated with beautiful sketches. In fact such is his interest in history that these days Lalwani’s is actively involved in co-writing a book about the role of British in the history of India.

In spite of all the wealth, fame and recognition, Lalwani has remained down-to-earth. From the moment you first meet Lalwani, he surprises you with his modesty. He wears simple clothes, speaks in an Indian accent and doesn’t talk much unless you happen discuss his favourite subject – vitamins and minerals. Then he doesn’t stop. He’s passionate about his work, his company and his vision of making it the world’s foremost vitamin supplement company.

Lalwani was born in Karachi, Pakistan in 1931. After partition, Lalwani’s family moved to India. "In Pakistan, my father ran one of the biggest wholesale and retail pharmacies of the time" he reveals. In 1956, after his B.Pharm, Lalwani left Indian shores for higher education. He acquired a post-graduate degree in pharmacy in London before proceeding to Germany for his doctorate in Medicinal Chemistry. After a brief stint in Germany where he worked as a professor, he returned to India, got married to a medical doctor and worked with the AIIMS as a research scientist for two years before returning to London where he joined a pharma publication in an editorial position. "It was a journal that published a compilation of abstracts of world patents in medicine. Almost all major pharma companies in the world were subscribers," he reveals proudly.
 
During the late sixties, Lalwani suffered from persistent mouth ulcers. He had tried lots of medicines, but nothing had worked. Finally, after having suffered for about five years, he had decided to find a cure himself – after all he was a qualified pharmacist. He invented a medicine which worked wonders – he used it a few times, after which his mouth ulcers vanished completely never to return again. It was time for him to use his knowledge of patents which he had learnt in his editorial job in London. He applied for a British patent for this new cure for mouth ulcers and got it.   Next, he tried to sell the patent but no company would buy it.

His failure to sell the patent was a blessing in disguise as Lalwani then decided to produce and sell his new creation himself. Having studied pharmacy locally, he had a fair amount of knowledge of the local market. He also knew that people often rely on pharmacists for such things as headaches and ulcers. So he packed a dozen units of Oralcer in a neat box and sent them to all the local chemists along with a letter and a return stamp and address. He reminisces, "I said in the letter: You know that nothing works for ulcers. This is the first treatment in the world that will work. If you’re happy, you sell the product, and if not, you may return the box. Only ten per cent of the boxes came back. The rest of them sent repeat orders." This was the beginning of Vitabiotics. Then, when he visited Nigeria, Lalwani noticed that there was a market for multivitamin brand there and decided to introduce a multivitamin supplement. He developed an attractive packaging for the brand and called it Omega-H3. Today, Omega H3 is the largest selling nutritional supplement in several countries around the world.

Lalwani has stuck to his vision of making products out of natural ingredients like vitamins and minerals for prevention and treatment of a range of health issues, from common ailments to lethal ones like AIDS. His believes that vitamins and minerals combined in accurate quantities can cure as well as, and sometimes even better than, traditional medicine – the belief has certainly paid him rich dividends.

The success of his children means a great deal to him. He proudly describes the achievement of his eldest son, Ajit Lalwanii, who is a medical doctor at the Oxford. Ajit has achieved a rare distinction of inventing a test for tuberculosis which has 99 per cent accuracy with the results being available on the same day displacing a hundred year old test that required six days for a result and has an accuracy of only 80 per cent. According to Lalwani, TB was not a disease of the developed world, so multinationals never took it seriously.

Talk about the awards bestowed on him and he shifts uncomfortably from shyness. He was reluctant to accept the Asian of the Year award this year as he thought that it would be one award too many in a single year. Yet he was persuaded to receive it this year itself. However, his true source of delight, he contends, is the appreciation and positive feedback he receives from the thousands of users of his products from across the world about how his medicines are benefiting them. He even recalls an incident of a young girl who attempted suicide because her mouth ulcers were so bad that she felt that "life was not liveable." Her desperate attempt came after nothing had cured her. Then she was given Oralcer, and her condition improved immediately and gradually she was permanently cured. These and many other episodes are the driving force behind Lalwani.

"It’s not profit that drives us. We sac
rifice a lot even today. We don’t jump into something simply because of a fad. It’s true that success would have come to me quicker if I was more businesslike. But that’s not been my philosophy. If I am not satisfied, if I am not sure that a product will truly benefit people, I will not get involved in it, even if trends suggest that it would be profitable to do so."

Compassion is written all over his face, as he tells us how he prices his products low in developing countries. When it comes to generosity, he does not distinguish between nationalities. He will donate money and help needy people wherever they are. And he thinks doing charity is no big deal. He recollects an incident that took place about two years ago. A young English man aged about 24 years, came to Kulu Manali for an adventure trek. While paragliding, he was lost. His mother was a nurse and father was school teacher. The boy’s parents contacted the British High Commission for assistance who in turn contacted the Indian High Commission. They were told that the search operation would cost them a lot of money, which they could not afford. When Lalwani read this in the newspapers, he instructed his secretary to locate the hassled parents and then sponsored the entire search operation for two days. Although the search did not yield the desired results (the boy was unfortunately never found), at least the parents were satisfied that a serious attempt had been made.

Ask him if he has any regrets in life, and he says he has none. He has lived a good, contended life. He does have dreams, though, that he’d like to see coming true in his lifetime. Like Vitabiotics being a major International player and an India with 100 per cent rate of literacy. Lalwani thinks that India’s future can be bright if only our literacy rates could go up. He also leaves us with a thought to ponder: With a population like ours, if every earning Indian would set aside only one day’s income for a charitable purpose like education, India could attain hundred per cent literacy in five years.

Vitamin King

Vitamin King

On his early life and his foray interest in Vitamin technology

I was born in Karachi, Pakistan in 1931. After partition, my family moved to India. In Pakistan, my father ran one of the biggest wholesale and retail pharmacies of the time. In 1956, after my B.Pharm, I left the Indian shores and went to London for higher education. There I acquired a post-graduate degree in pharmacy before proceeding to Germany for my doctorate in Medicinal Chemistry. After a brief stint in Germany where I worked as a professor, I returned to India, got married to a medical doctor and worked with the AIIMS as a research scientist for two years before returning to London where I joined a pharma publication in an editorial position. It was a journal that published a compilation of abstracts of world patents in medicine. Almost all major pharma companies in the world were subscribers.

As a young research scientist at AIIMS Delhi, I observed anomalies in the administration of some of the most basic vitamins and minerals. The iron administered to patients at AIIMS was at least seven to eight times more than the recommended dosage. I decided to study this subject further and that’s when my interest in Vitamins and Nutrients developed.

On how he set it up Vitabiotics

During the late sixties, I suffered from persistent mouth ulcers. I had tried lots of medicines, but nothing had worked. Finally, after having suffered for about five years, I had decided to find a cure himself – after all I was a qualified pharmacist. I invented a medicine which worked wonders – used it a few times, after which my mouth ulcers vanished completely never to return again. I applied for a British patent for this new cure for mouth ulcers and got it. Then, I tried to sell the patent but did not find a buyer. So I decided to manufacture and distribute the product myself.

Having studied pharmacy locally, I was familiar with the local market. I also knew that people often relied on pharmacists for such common ailments as headaches and ulcers. So I packed a dozen units of Oralcer in neat boxes and sent them to all the local chemists along with a letter and a return stamp and address. I said in the letter: "You know that nothing works for ulcers. This is the first treatment in the world that will work. If you’re happy, you sell the product, and if not, you may return the box. Only ten per cent of the boxes came back. The rest of them sent repeat orders." This was the beginning of Vitabiotics. Then, when I visited Nigeria, I noticed that there was a market for multivitamin brand there and decided to introduce a multivitamin supplement. I developed an attractive packaging for the brand and called it Omega-H3. Today, Omega H3 is the largest selling nutritional supplement in several countries around the world.

On his awards and his source of delight

I have received four awards in the year 2003. The first among the awards was The Queen’s Award for Enterprise bestowed by Her Majesty the Queen on the recommendation of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair in recognition of the company’s remarkable contribution to International Trade. Then there was the Asian Achiever’s Award for Trade and Industry followed by Entrepreneur of the Year in UK sponsored by British Telecom and GG2. And most recently in December 2003, I received the Asian of the Year 2003-2004, awarded by the Asian Who’s Who.

I was reluctant to accept the Asian of the Year award this year as I thought that it would be one award too many in a single year. Yet I was persuaded to receive it this year itself. Awards are fine…however, my true source of delight is the positive feedback I receive from the thousands of users of my products from across the world about how the medicines are benefiting them.

I remember an incident of a young girl who attempted suicide because her mouth ulcers were so bad that she felt that "life was not liveable." Her desperate attempt came after nothing had cured her. Then she was given Oralcer, and her condition improved immediately and gradually she was permanently cured. These and many other episodes are what make me really happy.

On his conviction in the power of nutrients

There are countless instances of our products working where traditional formulations have failed. I truly believe that natural ingredients like vitamins and minerals can prevent and cure of a range of health issues, from common ailments to lethal ones like AIDS. Combined in accurate quantities, they can cure as well as, and sometimes even better than, traditional medicine.

Not only that – our formulations are very safe as they are made from natural products, whereas most traditional medicines have counter effects. Take for instance Menopace, a pioneering product we developed – the first non-HRT remedy for menopausal women, which is today a market leader in UK. Today HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) is under serious clout. Doctors and scientists across the globe are questioning the use of HRT remedies.

What drives him…

Certainly not profitability – we sacrifice a lot even today. We don’t jump into something simply because of a fad. It’s true that success would have come to me quicker if I was more businesslike. But that’s not been my philosophy. If I am not satisfied, if I am not sure that a product will truly benefit people, I will not get involved in it, even if trends suggest that it would be profitable to do so.

I voluntarily price my product low in the developing countries. And I simply do not distinguish between nationalities when it comes to charity, social service or financial assistance of any kind. I donate money and help needy people wherever they are.

About two years ago, a young English man aged about 24 years, came to Kulu Manali for an adventure trek. While paragliding, he was lost. His mother was a nurse and father was school teacher. The boy’s parents contacted the British High Commission for assistance who in turn contacted the Indian High Commission. They were told that the search operation would cost them a lot of money, which they could not afford. When I read about this in the newspapers, I instructed my secretary to locate the hassled parents and then sponsored the entire search operation for two days. Although the search did not yield the desired results (the boy was unfortunately never found), at least the parents were satisfied that a serious attempt had been made.

On his lifestyle

I live a simple life. Nothing extravagant. I love the old and the historic. I am fascinated by antiques and ancient works of art such as ivories, furniture and paintings. This (pointing to a painting on the rear wall behind) was a jackpot! She is Gayatri Devi painted by Augustus John. I bought it at an auction in the UK some twenty five years ago. Nobody there seemed to know who she was – they referred to her as "some Indian princess". Augustus John was one of the best-known English portrait painters during the early part of the 20th century. He painted many wealthy and important people and Her Highness Gayatri Devi was certainly one such person.

I’ve also got a collection of historical books, with some amazing insights into times gone by, illustrated with beautiful sketches. These days I am co-writing a book about the role of British in the history of India.

On his children

The success of my children makes me a proud. My eldest son, Ajit Lalwanii, who is a medical doctor at the Oxford, has achieved a rare distinction of inventing a test for tuberculosis which has 99 per cent accuracy with the results being available on the same day displacing a hundred year old test that required six days for a result and has an accuracy of only 80 per cent. You see, TB was not a disease of the developed world, so multinationals never took it seriously. My younger son is now the head of marketing at Vitabiotics a
nd is doing very well.

His vision for India

I think that India’s future can be bright if only our literacy rates could go up. With a population like ours, if every earning Indian would set aside only one day’s income for a charitable purpose like education, India could attain hundred per cent literacy in five years.

Any regrets in life?

None at all. I am 72 now and I have lived a good, contended life. But I have dreams that I’d like to see coming true in my lifetime. Like Vitabiotics becoming a major International player and India’s rate of literacy nearing 100 per cent.

Ethics of Medicine

Ethics of Medicine

The recently held Annual Conference of the Indian Medical Association’s Thane chapter was the largest conference of its kind ever to be held in the city. The conference which started at 9:30 in the morning ended at 7:30 in the evening at the Gadkari Rangayatan, had a number of high spots for which it will be remembered.

The highlight of the day was the felicitation of the 72-year old Dr. O P Kapoor, a Senior Physician who has decades of rich experience as a medical practitioner as well as a professor. Crowned with multiple degrees like MD (Med), FRCP (Hon), FCCP among others, Dr. Kapoor was awarded the Life Achievement Award for his rather valuable contribution to the Indian Medical fraternity.

Dr. Kapoor has served at top Hospitals in Mumbai like Jaslok and Bombay Hospital and taught medicine at Grant Medical College. Although he has now retired from active practice, he imparts his knowledge by other means. Like, he is currently the editor of the Bombay Hospital Journal. Dr. Kapoor has the distinction of having taught more than 55,000 medical students and general practitioners in his lifetime, which is a record by itself. Dr. Kapoor has also been a family physician for the famous Kapoor family of Bollywood.

In his packed-with-wisdom address to an audience of more than 400 doctors, Dr. Kapoor offered some extremely thoughtful insights pertaining to the medical profession. Concerned about the increasing trend of relying on advanced gadgets, which is especially observed among the younger doctors, he urged practitioners to take the clinical approach. "Before sending the patient hurriedly for a CT scan or an MRI, the doctor should be absolutely certain that such an investigation is required", he said, adding "Like the tradition GPs, doctors must learn to apply their own minds before sending them to a specialist consultant." He asserted that it is the duty of the every doctor to keep his/her knowledge as current as possible by reading, participating in relevant seminars and keeping track of new discoveries and inventions in the field of medicine and health.

Another highlight of the conference was a panel debate on the extremely sensitive issue of ethics in the medical profession. The topic of the debate was, "Ethics should be made part of the syllabus in the medical degree course." The medical profession, once acknowledged as a noble profession, has become highly commercialised and topic of ethics is an extremely relevant matter, a subject of great concern indeed.

A panel of four prominent specialists (two for and two against) debated for over an hour. While Dr. R D Lele (nuclear medicine consultant with Leelavati Hospital and former dean of JJ Hospital, as well as ex-Director of Jaslok Hospital) and Dr. Amdekar (Honorary Professor of Paediatrics at JJ Hospital argued against including ethics in the course, Dr. Ravi Bapat (Ex Professor and HOD of surgery Seth GS Medical College) and Dr. Supe (Professor and HOD of surgery, Grant Medical College) insisted that teaching ethics is important. The debate was moderated by Dr. S R Munje (Ex. Superintendent of St. George Hospital). The general consensus among the audience seemed to be in favour of including the subject of ethics as they felt that it might help in developing a sense of conscience among the students.

Dr. Ram Murthy, a senior physician at Bombay hospital, discussed the effects of the current mania: SARS. He assured the doctors that as Indians, we need not panic as our immunity levels are really high. The quality of water we drink and the air we breathe has helped all of us build great resistance to such diseases. To us common people, Dr. Murthy’s words are such a relief.

The entire day was chock-a-block with information for practitioners. Various surgeons/specialists spoke about the latest advances in the field of medical science: technology, tools, discoveries and inventions. Among the various branches covered were pathology, ophthalmology, neurology, neurosurgery and cardiology.

The driving force behind the conference was Dr. Anil Tambe, organising Chairman and President of IMA Thane. A former HOD of Medicine at Rajiv Gandhi Medical College, he is currently Professor of Medicine at Terna Medical College and also a practicing Cardiologist in Thane. Others involved in the organising committee were Dr. Shekhar Suradkar, Dr. P A Kale and Dr. Mahavarkar.

Bypassing the Bypass

Bypassing the Bypass

Mark Twain said, "True love is the only heart disease that is best left to "run on" – the only affection of the heart for which there is no help, and none desired." But when the heart is plagued not by love but by excess cholesterol, emergency help is not only desired but is urgently sought!

A few days ago Dr. Nitu Mandke, one of the world’s leading cardiac surgeons was at Thane to speak about the new frontiers in conquering Heart disease. While delivering his speech, he said, "Ayurveda is the mother of all medical sciences. With its help, we can bypass the bypass surgery of the heart". According to Dr. Mandke Ayurveda has a historic significance and has been gaining immense recognition around the world. Research studies on Ayurveda and Yogic Sciences are being conducted in advanced countries such as America and Germany.

Dr. Mandke was here as a part of the delegation of reputed doctors from around Mumbai and Thane who had gathered at Gadkari Rangayatan to impart important information about heart disease to the ordinary, ignorant patients. Among the other doctors were Dr. Uday Kulkarni, Ayurveda Specialist and Dr. Satish Pathak from Ambika Yoga Kutir. Ayurveda Specialist Dr. Madhura Kulkarni and Sr. Journalist & former chief editor of Maharashtra Times Mr. Kumar Ketkar compered the show.

More than a thousand people attended the seminar, of which about eighty percent were suffering from one or the other heart ailment. Organized by Ayurveda and Panchkarma Centre of Thane, the seminar’s primary objective was to inform the public about how simple measures like lifestyle changes and dietary precautions can help prevent heart attacks.

During the seminar, a Cardiac Emergency Directory was circulated free among all attendees. The directory is extremely handy as it contains a map of Thane and contact numbers of all eminent cardiologists, ambulance numbers, blood banks, 24-hour chemists and scanning centers etc.

Most people are badly informed about heart diseases and its causes. In such a state of affairs, this effort of disseminating important information and providing useful guidance to the common people is really heartening.

Namesake confusion
Thane is a historic city and its present name is said to be derived from the word Sthan, the Capital of the Shilahara kings of Konkan. But when most people use the word "Thane" in Hindi, they refer to "Police Thane" or Police Station. This sometimes creates an awkward situation for Thaneites. Like it once did for Amit Arora.

When Amit was on a holiday in Punjab, his uncle asked him, "Where is your father?" to which he replied in all seriousness, "He’s in Thane". His uncle’s face turned pale and he asked him hesitantly, "Why, what happened?" Amit realized that the word ‘Thane’ had misled his Uncle to think that his father was at the Police Station. So he quickly clarified and saw his uncle relieved.

"What’s in a name?" asked Shakespeare. Well, he probably didn’t know then, that names have enormous capacity to generate confusion!

Healing Stars

Healing Stars

With allopathic medicine’s failure in dealing with a number of health problems, people are increasingly turning towards other therapeutic systems for respite. According to Dr. Uday Kulkarni, an Ayurvedic Specialist, "Allopathic medicine is heavily skewed in favour of physical aspect of healing, while completely ignoring the mental and physical aspects." It is to address this extremely important issue that a novel system of therapy, called "Rashi Prakalp", has been introduced at Pandit Deendayal Smriti Ayurveda Panchakarma Kendra in Thane’s Yeoor Hills.

The system relies on Nature and Astrology and uses the knowledge of zodiac signs and planetary aspects for curing patients. The concept took shape about one and a half years ago with specific trees being planted for each zodiac sign. Using special mantras, these zodiac trees were infused with powerful spiritual energy during plantation and growth.

Introduced for the first time in India, the "Rashi Prakalp" system works in tandem with Panchakarma, an ayurvedic method, which basically denotes detoxification or elimination of toxins from the body. The Panchakarma treatment consists of four basic forms, namely – medicine or drug therapy, pancha (five) karma (actions/systems), dietary regime and regulation of lifestyle.

"Rashi Prakalp" helps in the last one, namely, regulation of lifestyle. Patients with chronic depression or other psychosomatic diseases are asked to meditate under a designated zodiac tree. The vibrations of the tree act on the patient in a miraculous way to cure him/her of both mental and physical ailments.

Since its commencement in October last year, a number of patients from Thane have already found relief from the so-called incurable diseases such as arthritis and asthma. For more information, readers may contact Mr. Nandu Gore on 5451461 or Dr. Uday Kulkarni on 5433036.

Holy chants
The Bhagwad Gita is one of the three principal texts that define and capture the essence of Hinduism, the other two being the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras. Bhagawad Gita means "Song of the God", is revered by Hindus for the infinite wisdom that it offers.

To make this wisdom available to residents of Thane, Bharat Sahakari Bank has organized a series of lectures called Gita Saar or the essence of Gita. Being held at Saraswati School (Naupada), Dr. Shankar Abyankar, a learned scholar from Pune, explains the real meaning of Gita to an audience of more than 3000 educated people.

The discourse begins with Deepa Parjavalan (lighting of a diya) followed garlanding of Lord Krishna’s picture and Dr. Shankar Abyankar by a well-known Thane resident. The series began on December 26, 2001 and will continue through January 13, 2002. All through the 90-minute lecture, there is pin-drop silence, while Dr. Abhyankar imparts wealth of spiritual wisdom to the audience comprising of the young and the old.

Thaneites are indeed fortunate, as those who have attended the lectures claim to have benefited tremendously. In times when war clouds are looming large over the world, Krishna consciousness is just what the peace doctors have prescribed.