Hyperlipidemia 101

Hyperlipidemia 101

A couple days ago I blogged on the issue of hypertension and whether it is actually disease. I described it as a self-reinforcing concept that appears to be true, but only if you accept the erroneous premise of the argument. Hypertension, I argued, is not a disease but merely a diagnostic sign, and that by treating a diagnostic sign we mask our ability to monitor the progression of the disease. There are many other diseases in Western medicine that are defined, at least in terms of treatment, not by their symptomology or cause, but by their diagnostic signs. A similar issue is hyperlipidemia, or ‘high cholesterol’. For years now people have been worried about their cholesterol levels, which like hypertension, is just a simple measurement of a very narrow parameter of physiological function. Like hypertension, you can walk around with elevated cholesterol and not know it. On its own, elevated cholesterol doesn't cause any problem, and there are no noticeable symptoms. Yet despite this, … [Read more...]

Is hypertension a disease?

Is hypertension a disease?

Simply put, hypertension is an increase in blood pressure. It is a diagnostic feature developed during the early 1900s with the invention of the sphygmomanometer, and over the last 100 years or so of experimental evidence has been associated with an increased risk of chronic illness and death. Very clearly chronic high blood pressure is not a good sign, and as such it has received a lot of attention. Most hypertension is diagnosed as 'essential' hypertension.  It has no observable cause but nonetheless enjoys the prestige of being an important disease, right up there with necrotizing fasciitis and cancer.  Perhaps this doesn't confuse anyone with a strict medical background, but unlike bacterial infections and tumors, both of which have very clear causes, the induction of hypertension into the Hall of Disease seems rather over-reaching.  In Ayurveda the concept of diagnosis is called 'nidana', which itself means 'causes'.  In other words diseases aren't named unless the cause is kno … [Read more...]

A question about pea protein…

A question about pea protein…

I recently posted an article to the urbandiner.ca website on the subject of the legumes ("Beans, beans, the magical fruit?"), in part taken from a chapter of my upcoming book "Food As Medicine" The Theory and Practice of Food". In the last part of my blog I discuss the issue of the vegan protein powders that seem all the rage these days. I have spent some time on medline researching these ingredients, chief among them being pea protein isolate. If you do a google search on it, most of the "information" is marketing, about how it's well-tolerated, well-digested and hypoallergenic. But is it really? Looking on medline however there is very little research to back up any of these claims. There is one chemical study which suggests that it might be suitable for infant formula, and another short trial in non-anemic healthy women, but nothing much else.  With regard to the last trial, it's important to point out that many vegans are in fact iron-deficient, despite the fact that their diet … [Read more...]

The Wonders of Chyavanprash

The Wonders of Chyavanprash

Among the thousands of different herbs and formulas used in Ayurveda, there is perhaps none better known and celebrated than the medicated herbal jam called Chyavanprash. It is named after Chyavana muni, a forest-dwelling sage that had long turned his back on the world, who was enticed into marriage by the great beauty of the princess Sukanya. Being withered and aged, Chyavana enlisted the help of the Ashwin Kumaras, the celestial physicians, to create a formula that would restore his youth, and the result of these efforts was Chyavanprash. Chyavanprash is classified as a rasayana, a medication that helps to promote youthfulness and prevent disease, helping one to 'follow' ('ayana') into the 'juiciness' of life ('rasa').  It was already acclaimed as famous in the Charaka samhita, an ancient text of Ayurveda that is well over 2000 years old. Apart from helping to restore youthfulness and prevent aging, the Charaka samhita mentions the utility of this formula in the treatment of chronic … [Read more...]

How to make a cold infusion

A cold infusion is used in preference to hot infusions in order to preserve heat-labile constituents in the final preparation, such as volatile oils, that would be evaporated off with heat. Cold infusions are prepared by macerating 1 part herb (in grams) in 20 parts cool water (in millilitres). The most common method is to place the coarsely ground herb in cheesecloth and suspend it in water and let it sit overnight. In the morning the herb is squeezed out through the cheesecloth, and the resultant preparation is consumed that day. Equipment and supplies mason jar and lid cheesecloth cold or tepid water herb Examples of plants best prepared as cold infusions Agropyron (Couchgrass) rhizome Althaea (Marshmallow) root Fucus spp. (Bladderwrack) and other medicinal seaweeds, whole plant Hyssopus (Hyssop) flowering tops Marrubium (Horehound) tops Mentha spp (and the Lamiaceae generally) herb Tabebuia (Pau d'Arco) tree bark Ulmus fulva (Slippery Elm) In … [Read more...]