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Low cost health and medical care

More ways to guard your health and attend to basic medical needs for very, very low cost.

(...continued from How to Live Well on Very, Very Little)

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Schooling everyone in the family in basic first aid techniques, and occasionally refreshing their memory with practice and question and answer sessions, should maximize the value of the techniques for you and yours.

Assuming a rural or near wilderness location, with professional medical help some time and distance away, the minimal first aid supplies it's wise to keep on hand include:

#1: Soap. Washing scratches and cuts with soap and water is usually preferable to using antiseptics like alcohol, as the antiseptics will also kill some surrounding skin tissue, thereby offering potential infections an easier beach head in the wound. The killed tissue at the site will also delay healing. Do not use ointments on wounds except in cases where infection is already taking place.

#2: Sterile dressings or bandages. Packages of these should be available at local drug stores. Don't open sterile packages until you're ready to use them. In a pinch handkerchiefs, cloth napkins, or cloth diapers all can double as bandages, IF they are CLEAN.

#3: Sterilized suture needles and thread for sewing up wounds requiring closure. A sterile suture package of this type may be available at your nearest drug store. One experienced physician recommends package size 3-0 for most such instances.

Keep in mind that needles for sewing up human injuries are shaped considerably different from the needles used to sew clothing-- mostly because human skin is usually only a quarter inch thick, and there's no free space underneath to pull your needle through for the next pass.

#4: A hemostat (also called a mosquito clamp), is essentially a tiny set of locking needle nose pliers, useful for handling the needle when sewing up wounds, extracting splinters, and more.

#5: A commercially purchased (or expertly assembled) snake bite kit, including usage instructions.

#6: Aspirin for pain relief and reduction of inflammation. Empirin Compound can be more effective than aspirin in some situations, partly because it includes the stimulant caffeine, and partly because it treats ailments similar to those tended by aspirin, but also others, such as relating to skin irritations, and muscle and joint pains. (However, merely giving a person a cup of coffee with their aspirin will match the caffeine portion of the Empirin effect.)

-- Survival With Style [shop for this] by Bradford Angier, Vintage Books, 1972

Another possible source of helpful information may be World Wide Wounds - The Electronic Journal of Wound Management Practice (including woundcare, wounds, and dressings).

Low cost health and medical contents

More general purpose (read: costs not necessarily considered, as these are targeted at middle-class folk in developed countries) online health or medical references include:

| MayoClinic | KidsHealth - Kids | FitDay - Your online nutrition, weight loss, diet & fitness manager! | Household Products Database Health and Safety Information on Household Products |

Low cost health and medical contents

Disease and injury prevention is almost always preferable to (and lower cost than) treating such incidents after the fact. This is true for both rich and poor-- but should be especially emphasized for the poor, who do not usually enjoy the same quality of medical care as the rich. Thus, the best low cost health care stems from preventative measures. Potent low cost measures to prevent illness and injury include:

Breathing through your nose rather than your mouth is likely more healthy for most situations where lots of exertion isn't involved. Your nose offers a natural and more comprehensive air filter than your mouth can, thereby protecting you from more possible airborne dangers, both infectious and not. Your nasal passages even condition the air your throat and lungs get in terms of temperature and humidity too-- not to mention how the sinus airflow likely helps keep your brain operating at optimum temperatures.

Anything you inhale, you also swallow; story.news.yahoo.com

But changing over to breathing predominately through your nose rather than your mouth can take some consistent effort, if you've already become a mouth-breather by habit. For instance, sinuses which aren't used for a while seem to become prone to blockages of various sorts, some of which seems due to a swelling of the lining of the passages. At least this was my own impression when I first switched to nose-breathing as my dominant technique, decades ago. For quite some time after you begin trying to adopt this new technique you may find that one side or the other of your sinuses will stubbornly refuse to cooperate. And this impediment will inexplicably switch sides on occasion. This strange lop-sided nasal breathing will occur in the total absence of any illness, so don't be surprised. Plus, while you're restricted to single nostril breathing you may not get enough air at times (even at rest) and have to use mouth breathing as a supplement. But keep working at it and things should clear up for the most part in a matter of weeks.

I believe reading a yoga or meditation related text inspired me in changing my breathing patterns. But I'd also noticed that nose breathers simply looked smarter than mouth-breathers too, at the time-- for mouth breathers must stand around with their mouths open most of the time-- a most unflattering display.

There is a downside to the technique though. For although it likely reduces the frequency with which you contract certain respiratory ailments, when you do catch something that clogs your sinuses and forces you to mouth-breathe for days, you'll find the experience pretty uncomfortable and annoying-- likely more so than someone who breathes that way all the time.

As I said above, my original supporting references for this are lost in time and memory. But I'll post any new ones I come across here as I am able.

Low cost health and medical contents

Getting yourself and family members vaccinated against the worst and most common disease threats in your region can be a life-saver. In some cases the vaccinations may be low cost or even free-- subsidized by world health organizations or other entities. Most such vaccination programs likely are aimed at children, but some may be available for adults too.

One type of vaccination everyone should have, and probably refreshed every 5 years or so, is a vaccination against lockjaw, or tetanus.

-- Survival With Style [shop for this] by Bradford Angier, Vintage Books, 1972

Defending against natural flying biological weapons in your neighborhood. Yes, most folks suffer these around the world. In most instances they're mosquitoes, but they can be other types of insects (like flies) as well. Mosquitoes are essentially tiny flying hyperdermic needles which flit around injecting folks with all sorts of nasty bugs. Such infectious injections can be deadly, as they routinely bypass many of your body's natural defense systems by going straight into the blood stream. In many regions it's imperative that such flying menaces be stopped or at least reduced in effectiveness as much as possible.

Mosquito netting may be vital in some regions. Suitably fine meshed metal or fiberglass screens may be useful too in some cases. Where at all possible the breeding grounds of such pests in the area should be eliminated.

-- Malaria nets 'could save thousands'; BBC

-- Fight the bite with weaponry to battle mosquitoes - Jul. 1, 2003; cnn.com

-- Mosquitoes Repelled By Tomato-Based Substance; Safer, More Effective Than DEET; sciencedaily.com

In some cases certain types of applied sound may help reduce pest concentrations in a small area. There are both dedicated appliances and software written for PCs available for this function today.

-- PC-powered mozzie-buster gets upgrade - July 31, 2002; cnn.com

-- Noise From Phone Can Chase Mosquitoes (TechNews.com); washingtonpost.com

-- Cell ring that repels mosquitoes - Jul. 11, 2003; cnn.com

-- Tools Zap, Poison, Suck Skeeters; wired.com

Low cost health and medical contents

Washing your hands frequently with soap and water, and getting those around you to do the same, is a powerful measure in prevention.

Washing before meals, after using toilet facilities, before and after food preparation and/or the feeding of children, after handling animals, and immediately after returning home from public events, meeting places, or shopping, are all recommended practices. The lowest cost soap which doesn't cause you other problems like skin irritation, should do just fine. Instilling the habit of regular hand-washing into all children as early as possible may well save their lives, and almost certainly will make their lives longer and healthier than they might otherwise be.

-- Hand-washing is overall the very best, easiest, most effective and cheapest way to protect oneself and others from a variety of infectious and/or toxic agents.

-- America's dirty little secret: second handwashing survey reveals Americans still don't get it; 18 SEPTEMBER 2000; EurekAlert!; US Contact: Barbara Hyde bhyde@asmusa.org 202-942-9206 American Society for Microbiology; http://www.asmusa.org

-- Handwashing Could Cut Childhood Deaths Worldwide; Yahoo Health Headlines/Reuters Health; September 21, 2001; American Journal of Infection Control 2001;29:239-240 is cited.

-- Wash your hands, or your kids will die; yomiuri.co.jp

-- Proper hand washing helps keep kids in school; Reuters Health

People who wash their hands well and at critical moments become ill less often, require less medical attention and prescription medicines, and don't miss as much school or work as those who don't consistently practice such handwashing.

Using water alone to wash with is almost useless, compared to using water with soap. Even using ashes and water, or dirt and water together, will remove more dangerous items from hands during washing than plain water alone can.

Antibacterial soaps are only better than plain soaps in very narrow circumstances; in general using plain soap is usually best.

-- Antibacterial Soaps by Alan Greene MD; December 30, 1996

-- Japan SARS-Free Thanks to Luck...And Hand-Washing; ABC News

Allow me to elaborate a bit here. Frequently we may find ourselves needing to cleanse our hands but presently being nowhere near a sink. In those cases, alcohol-based instant hand sanitizer gels may be very handy. I don't know how well they'll remove dirt or grease, but at least you can kill germs on-the-go with them, such as when you're out shopping, or on road trips, etc.

Other circumstances where these come in handy include households with small children present, where you have to wash your hands so often they chap and peel or worse from all the water exposure. In those cases, the alcohol-based sanitizers can give your hands an occasional break from the excess water. Those of us with skin especially sensitive to excessive washing will also like these gels-- especially in the wintertime, when our skin is most vulnerable to such problems.

10-17-04 UPDATE: Well, it appears the alcohol gels may irritate skin too-- they just do it in a somewhat different way than water. So the optimal method is to balance out hand-washing and gel-use however you can to minimize the overall adverse skin results. END UPDATE.

Low cost health and medical contents

Washing your fruits and vegetables with soap and water before eating them or preparing them for eating can be as important as regular hand-washing.

Our food can be coated with everything from pesticides to animal waste residues (even if we can't see it). Washing it with soap and water will take the bad stuff right off. Merely rinsing with plain water is NOT good enough.

Washing lettuce or other leafy vegetables? These can be more difficult to wash than other items. Fully immerse the leaves in a small bowl of soapy water and gently prod them so the soapy water circulates well all around and through them. Then pour off the soapy water, replace with plain water, and repeat, to rinse. Some folks seem to think this process will leave a soapy taste on their veggies. This simply isn't true if you rinse them well. And in at least a few cases such washing will save someone's life.

Households and/or small communities can make their own soap if necessary. But it can be an arduous and hazardous process.

-- The Basics Are the Same No Matter What the Soap; page 369, Reader's Digest Back to Basics [shop for this]; 1981

Low cost health and medical contents

Asthma and allergy prevention/reduction Note that all the washing described above appears to primarily help us by keeping dangerous organisms from human waste products like feces, and chemical toxins like pesticides, from getting into our systems to wreak havoc with our well-being. Other types of contaminants however, may actually be beneficial to our long term health-- especially when we're exposed to them as children under one year of age. For example, development of asthma, certain allergies, and other immune system problems of later life might be prevented or minimized by infantile exposure to multiple house pets, the microbes found in farm animal waste, and good old dirt. As well as to other mega microbe carriers like fellow children in a daycare environment, and older siblings. Just keep in mind you want to minimize exposure to chemicals like pesticides, and human manure along the way. And dangerous food poisoning organisms like E Coli also may be found in animal wastes (so washing hands and food before eating is still essential!).

Studies into the matters of childhood hygiene and long term health are still preliminary as of late 2002, early 2003. Some experts also say they are much more relevant to rural folks than urban and suburban inhabitants (though it's unclear why). Plus, increasing yourself and your families' exposure to such things to treat already existing ailments (and when any kids involved are already older than one year old) may do more harm than good. For example, children who already suffer from asthma badly need a clean house to live in, as airborne allergens only worsen their condition.

Basically the data indicates that human immune systems are primarily configured and 'tuned' during the first year of life, and that during that period excessive isolation from the microbes commonly found in the natural environment may make us more vulnerable to immune system disorders thereafter, including allergies, asthma, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.

There's indications that exposure of pregnant mothers to certain bacteria may also help prevent later incidence of asthma in their children-- since antibiotic treatments for mothers which tend to kill off such microbes worsen asthma incidence in their kids after birth.

The question of vaccine side effects possibly including higher risks for immune system afflictions in children. Children in developing nations typically get older and cheaper versions of vaccines than those of developed nations, and so suffer more side effects (including inflammation and pain) than their developed nation cousins-- however, studies show the vaccines applied to folks in the developed countries appear unlikely to cause any statistically significant number of new chronic disease cases as byproducts, as the micro-organisms used in their creation are much less robust than those found in the wild. All this seems to indicate that vaccines used for both developed and developing nations are overwhelmingly safe and effective for the vast majority of those treated, typically bringing about no more undesirable side effects than temporary discomfort for most, and apparently presenting statistically negligible risk for causing new chronic diseases in the recipients like asthma, allergies, and others. But general purpose anti-biotics and/or excessively hygienic environments for mothers-to-be and children under one year old may be detrimental in regards to the children later developing various immune system problems.

As all this is still a developing story, I urge everyone not to take this page as the last word on the subject, but do their own research and keep an eye on breaking news regarding this field.

-- Parents Look for Good Dirt on Child Health (washingtonpost.com) By Avram Goldstein; September 22, 2002; Page C01

-- Asthma Risk May Be Cut by Dirt, Study Says (washingtonpost.com) By David Brown; September 19, 2002; Page A03

-- The Dirt on Bad Hygiene, Good Health (washingtonpost.com) By Suz Redfearn; November 12, 2002; Page HE01


-- Study shows link between antibiotics and allergies, asthma; eurekalert.org

-- Treating acid reflux reduces asthma symptoms and improves quality of life in patients with asthma; eurekalert.org

-- Do vaccines cause asthma, allergies or other chronic diseases?; EurekAlert!; eurekalert.org; 3-Mar-2003; Contact: Erin McDermott; McDermotte@email.chop.edu; 215-590-7429; Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia

-- Children in developing countries are more likely to suffer side-effects from vaccines compared to those in the West; BBC; 2003/04/14

-- Treatment by an allergy specialist reduces emergency room visits for asthma; eurekalert.org

-- Inhaled asthma drugs more effective than oral therapy; eurekalert.org

-- High estrogen-progestin levels may reduce asthma severity, say Pittsburgh researchers; eurekalert.org

-- Practical Home Treatment of Asthma for Your Child; abcnews.go.com

-- Study shows asthmatics more irritated by airborne dog allergens than cat allergens; eurekalert.org

-- Full fat milk and butter may help prevent asthma; eurekalert.org

-- Asthma severity is variable and unpredictable; eurekalert.org

Allergy sufferers of all ages may want to consider replacing some of their daily drinks with green tea, as it may relieve some of the symptoms incurred by a variety of allergen sources. Green tea is typically less processed than other types, and so retains more of the ingredients potentially helpful to allergy sufferers.

-- Green tea may fight allergies; EurekAlert!; eurekalert.org

Low cost health and medical contents

Getting sufficient quality and quantity of sleep is vital to good health, both physical and mental. Of course, this can often be tough to do under stressful and/or deprived circumstances, as well as for the elderly or those already ill, or parents of small children or infants.

There's LOTS you can do to improve your sleep quality and quantity.

CLICK HERE for low cost sleep improvement techniques

Low cost health and medical contents

Getting enough daily exercise to stay fit and reasonably lean is a very powerful and free way to maintain good health for a lifetime. It helps protect you from an astonishingly long list of potential misfortunes.

-- Leanness, Not Diet, May Be Key to Long Life -Study; ABC News

Indeed, as of early 2003, research seems to indicate that regular, moderate amounts of exercise may the closest thing to a real 'fountain of youth' available to us today-- and about the only advantage the rich might have over the poor in regards to this particular type of life extension and health maintenance is the capability to buy more expensive workout machines and have more free time to use them.

Of course, it may be that such advice for getting adequate physical activity on a daily basis really only applies to relatively wealthy westerners-- as most other folks usually get more than enough exercise in their daily labors to realize those particular benefits.

-- Turn Back the Clock on Aging; ABC News

-- Exercise Said Best for Blood Pressure; worldscientist.com

-- Exercise Shown to Have Positive Effect On Cholesterol; dukemednews.org

-- 'exercise, no smoking leads to longer life in adults over 75'; EurekAlert!; eurekalert.org

-- Exercise May Reduce Risk of Colds (washingtonpost.com)

-- Jogging Every Day May Keep Alzheimer's Away; Exercise Seen To Help Brain Respond To Outside Stimuli...; Science Daily; sciencedaily.com

-- Nutrition and exercise boost effectiveness of flu shot in older people; EurekAlert!; eurekalert.org

-- 'yoga and exercise can improve patientsí quality of life'; EurekAlert!; eurekalert.org

-- Small amounts of physical activity found to be significantly protective; buffalo.edu

-- Moderate physical activity is critical for reducing the risk of chronic disease in older women; EurekAlert!; eurekalert.org

-- Men more dependent on exercise than women, UF study shows; EurekAlert!; eurekalert.org

-- MEDLINEplus Exercise for Seniors

-- Yahoo! News - Steady Exercise Beats Back Diabetes After 40

-- Mayo Clinic study finds people over 40 need frequent exercise to prevent or treat Type 2 diabetes; eurekalert.org

-- UGA researchers find caffeine reduces muscle pain during exercise; eurekalert.org

-- Yahoo! News - Women Who Exercise With Mirrors Feel Worse

-- Yahoo! News - Exercise Benefits Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers

-- Exercise can reduce prevent diabetes for people of any weight, say Pittsburgh researchers; eurekalert.org

-- Yahoo! News - Exercise Before Surgery Aids Recovery, Study Finds

-- Physical Inactivity Rapidly Increases Visceral Fat; Exercise Can Reverse Accumulation

-- Moderation Appears Key to Sustaining an Exercise Program

-- Beneficial Effect of Exercise on Cholesterol Levels Persists After Exercise Cessation


Though exercise can be a surprisingly potent way to protect your health and extend your life, it's not a cure-all by any means.

-- Mild aerobic exercise no protection from osteoporosis; EurekAlert!

-- 'exercise triggers both beneficial and disease-associated factors'

Best buys in exercise machines

A dedicated machine is by no means required in order for a person to get the recommended amount of exercise for optimal health. But for many folks in the developed nations whose daily routine doesn't offer the rigorous workout regimen of other nations, and who have far too much access to cars, fast food, and TV, a machine may indeed be very practical-- IF the owners of such machines actually use them regularly.

Gaining and maintaining the discipline to regularly use such machines is by no means easy for many. But achieving such discipline for machine use may be easier than getting it for exercise where no machine is involved-- for although there's plenty of exercise techniques you can do with nothing more than a floor or road or sidewalk, you'll have to study up on some of the methods for best results, and often these sorts of things will be harder in many ways than using a good machine. For instance, running or walking any significant distance requires quite a bit of real estate, routes safe from hazards like auto traffic and animal attacks, as well as plentiful cooperation from the weather and your personal schedule (i.e., walking/running in the rain or snow or at night is not usually advisable).

In the machine-less category you may also want or need more or different results than walking or running alone can provide. Here you get into the research and training aspect required for such workouts. The rich can hire personal trainers to guide them, while others can join sports clubs for such advice, but the rest of us would likely have to read some books and try to train ourselves in the best techniques. This would likely include some experimentation, and we might even get hurt in the process. Sure, this route will work well for some folks-- but I'm not sure it will for the majority. Elements like these are what make many eventually begin trying out machines.

The choice of what machine you use can be very important. For example, I've personally found rowing machines and treadmills to be highly annoying for various reasons. And immobile cycle machines (as well as bicycles) sporting the standard seat are turning out to be potentially damaging to the virility of men(!), due to possible physical damage to the circulatory system relating to the genitalia. YIKES!

But it's also a fact that many machines on the western market are way, way too expensive for what they do. So you can not only increase your chances of regularly using such devices, but save lots of money too with the proper selection.

Please see Tony Little's Gazelle Freestyle Elite User's Log for more information relating to this subject.

Low cost health and medical contents

What we eat and how much can literally be a life and death matter for us.

Fortunately there's LOTS of ways you can improve your diet.

CLICK HERE for low cost diet improvement techniques

Low cost health and medical contents

Avoid the use of non-prescribed drugs like alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and others. Life's hard enough when your brain is working correctly. It can become downright impossible when your brain's on drugs.

Even where some of these substances might be thought to help against obscure ailments or unusual conditions, or aid in relaxation or pain or nausea relief, it's exceedingly rare that their benefits outweigh the risks to your organs and physical and mental capabilities that may accompany their use. Many often are expensive, to boot. Plus, many are illegal, and could adversely affect your life and destiny with prison sentences, stiff fines, or worse.

Too, even if you could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that a particular drug didn't damage you mentally or physically, if it has mind-alterring effects those alone could get you hurt, ill, or killed as they might encourage you to take greater risks than normal, or not notice new dangers to your well being when they approach. If you can't understand what's happening around you at a crucial moment, you may pay the ultimate price.

Life's hard enough when your brain is working correctly. It can become downright impossible when your brain's on drugs.

Whenever someone offers you such drugs-- or an opportunity to participate in some sort of crime-- ask yourself this:

Don't you already have ENOUGH problems to deal with? For maybe 99% of folks on Earth in the early 21st century, the honest answer to that one would usually be an emphatic YES. So why add to your troubles by taking illegal or otherwise known-to-be-harmful drugs, or committing other crimes?

-- Tobacco, Alcohol and Illicit Drugs Responsible for Seven Million Preventable Deaths Worldwide

-- Donít drink & drive

-- Alcohol 'increases crash injuries'; BBC

-- Moms' high prenatal alcohol use triples childs' odds of having drinking-related problems at 21; EurekAlert!; eurekalert.org

-- WHO study links common cancers to smoking ; New Scientist

-- Cigarettes send male sex life up in smoke; Eurekalert; eurekalert.org

-- Studies show bidis and smoking products are no safer than conventional cigarettes; Eurekalert; eurekalert.org

-- Smoking could speed up lung cancer; Eurekalert; eurekalert.org

-- 'new reason for smokers to keep this unhealthy habit away from infants-children'; Eurekalert; eurekalert.org

-- Passive smoking dents children's IQ; New Scientist

-- Six-month public smoking ban slashes heart attack rate in community; Eurekalert; eurekalert.org

-- Cannabis smoking 'more harmful' than tobacco; New Scientist

-- Early marijuana use increases risk of drug and alcohol problems later in life; Eurekalert; eurekalert.org

-- Starting marijuana use during teens may result in cognitive impairment later in life; eurekalert.org

Low cost health and medical contents

OK, now that I've warned about the enormous dangers of things like alcohol, tobacco, and other items, I must also point out that moderate and careful use of alcohol can offer significant health benefits for adult men and women (though pregnant women may need to avoid any alcohol consumption whatsoever). However, these benefits can't even come close to making worthwhile the risks that excessive alcohol consumption and/or binge drinking bring with them, to both yourself and others.

Just as smoking injures both the smoker and non-smokers around them, alcohol abuse can injure not only the drinker, but other folks who suffer the bad luck to be around them. Frequent innocents (non-drinkers) among this group may include friends, spouse, kids, parents, or even strangers. But alcohol abuse can become deadly much faster and more violently than smoking. Everyone involved may end up suddenly and violently dead, severely injured, or critically ill.

Basically, you can't get drunk-- or even just a bit tipsy-- without wiping out ALL the potential health advantages of the stuff, and going straight to hell in medical terms, and possibly spiritual and karmic terms as well. So if you can't stop when you should, or feel you might easily overdo it if you start drinking regularly, then you'd best forget about using alcohol consumption as a health maintenance device altogether. The situation may also be complicated by friends or family members who are so vulnerable, and so you must abstain yourself to help them avoid such problems.

-- Frequency of light-to-moderate drinking reduces heart disease risk in men; eurekalert.org

-- 'frequent consumption of alcohol linked to lower risk of heart attack in men'; eurekalert.org

-- New study ties moderate beer drinking to lower heart attack risk; eurekalert.org

-- New study finds moderate alcohol consumption linked to lower risk of dementia in older adults; eurekalert.org

-- Frequent drinking cuts heart attack risk

-- Drinking wine may lower risk of dementia; eurekalert.org

-- Researchers link red wine to 'good cholesterol'; eurekalert.org (so making red wine good for health plus possibly a profitable small business production enterprise in some locales)

-- New white wine has red's health benefits

Even moderate alcohol use can still present health dangers to certain folks.

-- One drink per day boosts breast cancer risk

-- Army Researchers Find A Possible Link Between Pre-Natal Alcohol Consumption And A Debilitating Kidney Disease

-- Prenatal exposure to alcohol may cause temporal processing deficits; eurekalert.org

-- Even small amount of alcohol affects driving skills; eurekalert.org

Our sense of smell can be more important to us than most of us realize. It affects our sense of taste, so that those with a damaged or non-existent sense of smell cannot enjoy the taste of food and drink like everyone else. This can lead to them eating poorly and inadequately, thereby worsening their health. Impaired smell and taste can also make us more likely to eat spoiled food and so get food poisoning, or even accidentally eat or drink toxic items such as household cleansers and the like, not realizing our mistake until it's too late. Being unable to smell smoke also makes us more vulnerable to death by smoke inhalation from fires. Smell and taste provide us with many elements of our own personal safety and security. So impairment in these areas can be serious indeed.

-- Heavy drinking can impair one's sense of smell; eurekalert.org

-- Alcohol abuse may increase susceptibility to HIV infection; eurekalert.org

-- Alcohol consumption and intimate partner violence; eurekalert.org

Low cost health and medical contents

For adults, low daily doses of aspirin (one 81 mg tablet per day, commonly labeled as 'children's aspirin') apparently reduce the risk of several types of cancer, help stave off some infectious diseases, and reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and heart attacks. It also helps protect against other ailments, such as Alzheimer's disease.

-- Aspirin reduces lung cancer risk; New Scientist

-- Aspirin may help prevent pancreatic cancer; Eurekalert; eurekalert.org

-- Aspirin slashes risk of mouth and throat cancers

-- An aspirin a day may keep colon cancer away, Dartmouth researchers find; eurekalert.org

-- Daily aspirin lowers colorectal cancer risk

-- Aspirin Prevents Polyps In Colon Cancer Patients

-- Major study shows aspirin can cut polyp return in GI cancer patients; eurekalert.org

-- 'regular use of aspirin may lower risk of adult leukemia'; eurekalert.org

-- Can An Aspirin A Day Keep Atherosclerosis At Bay?

-- Aspirin inhibits ovarian cancer growth

-- Can aspirin really help beat breast cancer?

-- aspirin reduces risk of a first heart attack by one-third; eurekalert.org

-- Aspirin as effective as Ticlopidine in African American stroke prevention; eurekalert.org

-- Aspirin within two days of ischemic stroke reduces deaths

-- Mt. Sinai researchers report that aspirin reduces risk of first heart attack by one-third

-- Ibuprofen, Aspirin May Reduce Woman's Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer

-- An aspirin a day keeps Staphylococcus aureus away

-- Aspirin could reduce the risk of deadly infections

There's a few caveats to aspirin use. Like most other things, it is possible to overdose on aspirin, resulting in many possible problems, or even death. But the size of the dosage required for overdose is considerable. In certain circumstances children should not take aspirin. A small percentage of adults may be advised by their physicians to avoid aspirin, for a variety of reasons. For one thing, aspirin thins the blood, and so may not be wise to use if you're already on another blood thinning drug regimen. Possibilities like this should be discussed with your doctor.

-- Aspirin Should Be Banned for Under-16s; ABC News

-- Yahoo! News - Cousin Drugs Interfere with Aspirin Heart Benefits

For more information regarding aspirin, check out the Aspirin studies page, the Aspirin Foundation, Aspirin overdose, The Chemistry of Aspirin, the Synthesis of Aspirin, and Google Search: aspirin

Low cost health and medical contents

Regularly getting a certain amount of sunlight on the skin is beneficial to long term health and wound healing. But if you overdo it, you'll increase your risk of skin cancer. Exposure to sunlight causes vitamin D to be produced in our skin-- an essential nutrient for good health.

-- Vitamin D can prevent fractures in older people; EurekAlert!

-- Vitamin D gets an A+ for treating heart disease; EurekAlert!

-- Novel form of vitamin D shown to grow bone; EurekAlert!

-- Sun exposure seems to reduce risk of multiple sclerosis; eurekalert.org

-- nutritionists recommend getting five to ten minutes of sun exposure between roughly 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily in the summer; eurekalert.org

-- Yahoo! News - Sunlight reduces need for pain medication

Vitamin D is crucial to good health. A wide variety of common ailments can stem from Vitamin D deficiency alone. Indeed, the US government's recommended daily allowances for D circa 2004 may be too low, according to the latest scientific findings.

One way to get vitamin D is to drink milk fortified with it. The best and cheapest method for many though may be to simply get ten to fifteen minutes of strong (mid-day) sunlight exposure of face and arms several times a week during warm weather.

-- Vitamin D gains favor as health key By Ronald Kotulak; Chicago Tribune; Mar 01, 2004; story.news.yahoo.com

-- Latest cancer research features small molecule therapy, and the preventative benefits of sunshine; eurekalert.org

But as with most things in life there's trade-offs involved in getting more sun exposure. I already mentioned skin cancer. Another possibility is increased susceptibility to sexually transmitted diseases.

-- Yahoo! News - Sun May Increase Chance of Certain STD

Taking care of your teeth is of vital health importance. People with few or no teeth soon suffer from malnutrition since their diet becomes restricted to soft foods and liquids. This malnutrition makes them ever more vulnerable to illness, injury, and mental lapses. Having bad teeth can have much the same effect, plus include various gum diseases, which can lead to a myriad of other afflictions, including pneumonia/chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes. As of 2001 there was uncertainty as to whether gum disease may contribute to strokes and heart disease risks as well.

The American Academy of Periodontology (800-356-7736) may offer more information on this subject.

-- Chronic periodontal disease could lead to diabetes;19 APRIL 2001; EurekAlert!; US Contact: Amanda Widtfeldt; amanda@perio.org; 312-573-3243; American Academy of Periodontology

-- Personal Health: Flossing Protects Far More Than the Teeth and Gums By JANE E. BRODY; January 19, 1999; The New York Times

-- Study Links Gum Disease with Oral Cancer Risk

-- Researchers find a link between obesity and periodontal disease

-- Gum Disease May Not Boost Heart Disease Risk By Amy Norton; January 31, 2001; Yahoo!/Reuters Health; Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2001;37:445-450 cited.

-- Scientific American: Science and The Citizen: Taken to Heart: May 2001 by Julia Karow

I'm pretty miserly myself. But the considerable sums I've spent on my own teeth over my life I today consider to have been among the best and most satisfying investments I've ever made. As a bonus, wherever modern dental care is available, such visits can even often be the highlight of your day-- rather than the scary sessions they were in my own youth.

I highly recommend the nitrous oxide gas when available (but if it bothers you don't use it; I've heard some people say they had problems with it).

Today I personally spend at least 20 minutes a day on brushing, flossing, and a mouthwash rinse.

The book 'Where There Is No Dentist' [shop for this] by Murray Dickson may be a good home or village reference on this subject.

Learning to read and write will have a huge impact on anyone's health and life in general, by increasing their awareness and opportunities in regards to many diverse elements.

In general, the more education you get, the wealthier and healther and longer-lived you are likely to become. But when you get into the more advanced levels of education, such as university studies, some educational directions (such as technology, medical, and science degrees) turn out to be healthier than others.

Those with medical degrees live the longest and are the healthiest, while those with art degrees die the soonest and are sick the most frequently.

In general, science, engineering, and medical-related degree-holders all do better health-wise than graduates of art or law studies.

-- For a long life, study medicine, not arts (possibly by Olga Wojtas); 01 August 2003

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Personal perspectives and their impact on health

Although there's many health-related matters which cannot be effectively addressed by attitudes or behavior changes alone, there's also a surprising number which can and do respond to such elements. These responses can be either negative or positive, as they will often reflect the nature of the attitude/behavior being expressed or propagated.

Below are offered just a few examples of how a person's mental outlook and related behavior can affect either their own health or that of those around them. Note that this 'mental viewpoint' aspect of your health may also relate to the 'placebo effect' recognized by modern science. I.e., merely your belief or faith that something will have some sort of effect on you-- either for good or ill-- can actually cause that effect to occur (in some cases)! This means someone can begin acting inebriated just because they think they've been drinking alcohol (but really haven't).

The placebo effect does not mean folks can necessarily 'wish' themselves well (or ill). It just means that your own belief can, in some but not all circumstances, have a real effect on your physical health by way of your mental perspective. And perhaps serve as a complement (or detriment) to real medical treatments and drugs.

So whatever you do, DO NOT put your own fate or that of others solely into the care of faith-based healing or treatments-- unless and until you have exhausted all other, more mainstream and modern methods.

-- Happy People More Immune to Common Cold

-- Get the Last Laugh on Colds

-- Happy people may have more immunities to common cold

-- Get out of that funk - Persistent bad mood leads to poor health

-- Optimistic Outlook May Reduce Risk of Stroke By Alan Mozes; Yahoo!/Reuters Health; March 22, 2001; SOURCE: Psychosomatic Medicine March 23, 2001

-- Power of Positive Thinking May Have a Health Benefit, Study Says

-- Happiness Powerful Medicine in Warding Off Stroke; March 22, 2001; Yahoo!/Reuters

-- Worriers more prone to cancer

Either depression or anxiety can slow healing of wounds.

-- Depression May Slow Wound Healing; Yahoo!/Reuters Health; April 19, 2001; SOURCE: Psychosomatic Medicine 2001;63:216-220

-- Depression may worsen high blood pressure


-- How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body

The more control people feel they have over their own lives, or the more confidence they have in their ability to perform their jobs, the stronger their immune systems seem to be.

-- How people perceive personal control when coping with demanding jobs can make them more vulnerable to colds and the flu; 29 APRIL 2001; EurekAlert!; US Contact: Pam Willenz pwillenz@apa.org 202-336-5707 American Psychological Association

-- Forgiveness Boosts Health; Effect Varies with Age; Yahoo!/Reuters Health; December 28, 2001; citing Journal of Adult Development 2001;8:249-257

-- Forgive and your health won't forget csmonitor.com

-- People who give, live longer U-M study shows; EurekAlert

-- Protesting May Be Good for Your Health ; Reuters

-- Bad dreams haunt right-wingers; New Scientist

-- High hostility may predict heart disease more than other risk factors such as cholesterol; EurekAlert

-- Mellow Out, or Risk High Blood Pressure; ABC News

-- Obsessional Men Prone to Heart Disease Death; Yahoo!/Reuters Health; March 15, 2001

-- Expecting a laugh boosts stress-busting hormones; EurekAlert

A better cultivated sense of humor might be all that's necessary to help prevent many people from becoming extremists of whatever stripe, joining cults, becoming terrorists, or committing suicide or violent (or otherwise malevolent) acts against others.

-- The cult of the ultimate sacrifice by Ian Buruma; June 4, 2002; The Guardian

-- Friends And Hormones Interact to Decrease Stress By Carrie Wingate; Yahoo!/Reuters Health; March 26, 2001

Some types of stress can be beneficial to your health. Stress from working to meet a deadline can be good for you. On the other hand, stresses like those experienced during the viewing of a horror movie may be bad for you-- especially if you watch several in a row. They can suppress the immune system.

-- Study: Some Stressors Boost Immune System Function; Yahoo! /Reuters Health; November 6, 2001; SOURCE: Psychophysiology 2001;38:836-846

-- Depression Ups Risk of Dying From Heart Disease; Yahoo!/Reuters Health; March 15, 2001; SOURCE: Archives of General Psychiatry 2001;58:221-227

-- Low-income mothers' mental health may soften the impact of growing up in poverty

-- A caring mother is a child's best defence against drug culture

-- Are Some Friends Dangerous to Your Health?

-- Tai chi chih boosts shingles immunity in older adults and Tai Chi class boosts shingles immunity

-- Is Buddhism Good for Your Health?

-- 'Simply the belief that you are drinking alcohol can impair judgement and dent memory, say researchers'

-- Wrist bands can ease cancer nausea, especially for patients who expect them to work

-- The Nocebo Effect Placebo's Evil Twin (washingtonpost.com)

-- Putting placebos to work

-- Depressed brains get better on placebo!

-- Doctor Says Yoga May Be Prescription For Better Health

-- Study Shows Positive Impact of Meditation on Brain, Anti-bodies

-- Yahoo! News - Study: Expecting Pain Relief May Help

-- Repressing anxiety may protect against stress disorders

In some experiments it has appeared that bacteria may exert control over their own evolution to better cope with traumatic environmental conditions. The process appeared to occur much faster than mere random mutations could account for. High stress or severe environmental challenges seemed to bring about a decidedly non-random type of mutation, well suited to the new circumstances.

--"ADAPTIVE" MUTATION From Science Frontiers Digest of Scientific Anomalies #96, NOV-DEC 1994 by 1997 William R. Corliss citing Elizabeth Culotta; "A Boost for 'Adaptive' Mutation," Science, 265:318, 1994

Some implications of adaptive or directed mutation (if true) would include things like the evolutionary relationships between species accepted today being thrown in doubt-- for non-random mutations could cause virtually any species to eventually take on characteristics resembling another due purely to similar environmental conditions for both. And the evolutionary process could be faster for some and slower for others due to differences in their respective adaptive rates. Both these consequences could complicate the application of the theory of evolution as it stands in the late 20th century.

-- DIRECTED MUTATION From Science Frontiers Digest of Scientific Anomalies #64, JUL-AUG 1989 by William R. Corliss, citing Anne Simon Moffat; "A Challenge to Evolutionary Biology," American Scientist, 77:224, 1989

-- Even thoughts can turn genes on and off by SHARON BEGLEY; June 21, 2002; Associated Press/The Wall Street Journal

Psychological Self-Help - Table of Contents may also prove useful to some folks.

Live with someone. Most human beings are born social animals. That means they don't typically do as well in isolation as they do in a more populated environment. This carries over to our health as well. Loneliness can lead to depression, which can make for a downward health spiral, as described elsewhere on this page.

So being part of a couple, family, or circle of friends is very important to us. Besides the direct health benefits, there's also indirect advantages. For instance, being part of a group means we're more likely to receive help and aid when we're sick or hurt, and couldn't take care of ourselves.

But what of those folks unwilling or unable to participate in human social groups this way? Well, there's always pets.

In many cases pets can offer tangible benefits to people's outlook and perspective on life, that will carry over to their health in general.

-- Rx For A Better Life? Get A Pet, And Do It Now; 11/5/2001; ScienceDaily Magazine; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011105073401.htm; Source: Texas A&M University (http://www.tamu.edu/)

-- People may draw more support from furry friends than spouses, human allies

-- Pets Keep People Healthy [ABC News does not provide a dedicated URL for the initial appearance of articles by this columnist, so you may have to search their archives to find this piece. Sorry!]

-- Therapy Dogs Seem to Boost Health of Sick and Lonely

But try to avoid getting a bird for a pet.

Pet birds could become a source of deadly flu bugs.

-- As sick as a parrot by Alka Agrawal; New Scientist magazine, 24 March 2001; Journal of Virology (vol 75, p 3490)

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Sex and health. Most people like and enjoy sex under the proper circumstances and with the right partners. Though there are risks associated with sex, such as unwanted pregnancy or infection by sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS and others, if and when those risks are suitably addressed, sex can offer several net health benefits for participants. Keep in mind the simple mood elevation sex can bring with it can help participants maintain a more positive outlook on life in general. And such a perspective all alone can help improve and maintain health, as supported by references elsewhere on this page.

-- Ananova - Sex 'is an anti-depressant'; ananova.com

-- Semen acts as an anti-depressant; newscientist.com

-- Semen makes you happy; eurekalert.org

-- Can semen cure the blues?; salon.com

-- Masturbation 'may prevent cancer' (July 16, 2003); news.com.au

-- Can masturbating keep the doctor away?; eurekalert.org

-- Masturbation could protect against prostate cancer, study suggests; news.independent.co.uk

-- Frequent ejaculation may protect against cancer; newscientist.com

-- Sex stimulates the brain and makes people more intelligent; ananova.com

A few more relevant topics here may include circumcision and others...

-- 'why uncircumcised men have more HIV'; eurekalert.org

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If at all possible, breast feed babies rather than using formula. Also insure they are kept warm. These two items alone can help a lot in increasing the chances that babies will survive to the toddler stage. Seeking professional medical help when the babies are sick or exhibiting signs of unusual distress may help even more.

-- Study: Low-Cost Measures Can Cut Infant Mortality; September 18 2001; Yahoo Science Headlines/Reuters

-- Scientific American: News In Brief: Soy-Based Infant Formulas May Hinder Immune System: May 21, 2002 by Rachael Moeller

-- Breast Milk Found Good for Babies' Brains (washingtonpost.com)By Marc Kaufman; May 7, 2002

-- Study finds full breastfeeding for six months boosts baby's resistance to respiratory illnesses; 6-May-2002; Contact: Martha Alcott martha.alcott@udcmc.ucdavis.edu 916-734-9027 University of California, Davis - Medical Center

-- Breast-Feeding May Boost Baby's Own Immune System; story.news.yahoo.com

-- Breastfeeding may compensate for harmful effects of smoking during pregnancy; eurekalert.org

-- Health benefits of training mothers in developing countries to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months; eurekalert.org

-- Breast milk may help control growing appetite; sfgate.com

-- Breast feeding can relieve pain during medical procedures; eurekalert.org

More generalized information regarding the health and happiness of children (which may not be found elsewhere on this page) includes:

-- Keeping your child out of the ER: Prevent seven common sources of injuries - MayoClinic.com

-- Too many sweetened drinks, from soda to lemonade, put children at risk for obesity, poor nutrition

-- 'A significant percentage of children with attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder did just as well when harmless placebos, pills without any specific effect, replaced some of their medications'

-- A room with a view helps rural children deal with life's stresses

-- Iron supplements help anemic children even if they have colds

-- Dog collars cut parasitic infection in children

Various herbs and spices can offer significant health and medical benefits. Many may often be grown locally, in little space.

A priority list of what herbs/spices to grow (and why) might look like so:

#1: Oregano
I mainly list oregano rather than garlic first here because of its impending commercial value and so potential proft as well as health benefits for the impoverished. Most oregano circa 2000 was gathered from the wild. But experts expected the wild supply to become scarce in years to come. When that happens, oregano growers should enjoy a new cash crop.

-- Ripe for revival by Fred Pearce; New Scientist magazine; 02 September 2000

Some herbs may offer even more antioxidant benefits than vegetables, fruits, and various spices. Oregano appears to be the very best in this regard.

After oregano, "...dill, garden thyme, rosemary and peppermint..." offer the most antioxidant benefits, in that order.

Herbs can be drank in the form of extracts, added to meals, or applied to skin in oils. Like virtually all other items however, it's best to avoid excessive intake even of herbal items proven to be beneficial.

-- Researchers call herbs rich source of healthy antioxidants; oregano ranks highest by Mark T. Sampson ; Contact: Beverly Hassell b_hassell@acs.org 202-872-4065 American Chemical Society ; 7-Jan-2002

Oregano, as well as black pepper and cinnamon, slows or stops the growth of bacteria in food.

-- Oregano Slows Bacterial Growth; Yahoo!/Reuters Health; May 26, 2000

-- Oregano may cut listeria risk - US meat industry

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#2: Garlic
Garlic in the daily diet looks to reduce the risk of catching cold-- and where it's caught anyway, recovery is faster. Garlic also has antibacterial and antifungal properties, and appears to reduce the risk of some cancers and cardiovascular disease.

-- Garlic 'prevents common cold'; 3 October, 2001; BBC News Online

-- Scientific American: News In Brief: Malaria and Cancer Cells Yield to the Same Garlic Compounds by Kate Wong: November 14, 2001

-- Garlic seems to ward off cancer; MSNBC

Garlic appears to lower both blood pressure and 'bad' cholesterol levels in the body. It acts as an antioxidant (which may slow aging effects), and thins the blood (thereby reducing stroke risk).

-- Garlic May Lower Heart Disease Risk; Yahoo!/Reuters Health; August 9, 2000: Nutrition in Clinical Care 2000;3:145-152 cited.

Note I personally only began occasionally adding garlic to my diet after seeing the research listed here and elsewhere. My sister however, had been swearing by it for years already. It really does seem to help against some respiratory afflictions, and may offer noticeable positive effects in some cases within just hours. My sister seems to rarely catch the respiratory illnesses which often make the rounds in wintertime here, despite her job exposing her to thousands of possible sources for such (she helps in government rehabilitation of teenagers). And when she does catch something, it doesn't seem to hit her as hard as many others. I believe my dad told me that he found a single meal with garlic lowered his blood pressure significantly, according to the local gauge he uses almost daily. There are downsides to garlic however. One is the well known aroma on the breath of garlic eaters, that may not seem all that nice to folks forced to get into close quarters with them. Luckily, drinking green tea seems to greatly lessen that odor on the breath. My sister tells me that eating significant amounts of garlic regularly may also cause the aroma to emanate from your pores, all over. Yikes! But it may be you have to eat it more regularly than I do, and in larger amounts, for this to occur. Plus, I don't believe I've ever noticed this 'pore emanation' from my sister, who eats quite a bit of garlic (but she acts like her co-workers have, at times). Still other downsides include a bit of a learning curve in discovering how best to incorporate it into your diet, as garlic-- especially fresh, raw garlic-- can have a spectacularly hot taste, and won't necessarily go well with just anything. It's easy for the beginner to buy far too much garlic at first-- for garlic can only be easily consumed in fairly small quantities, at least in the beginning. It seems eaters gradually develop a higher tolerance for consumption over time. Tiny amounts of raw garlic may go well in salads-- but be careful that everyone invited to the meal knows ahead of time of its presence, and welcomes it. You may often have to keep the prepared garlic in a separate dish of its own, for aficionadoes to apply as they will to their own dishes, and keep the general food servings garlic free. On the other hand, fried garlic may lose its unique taste identity altogether in a dish like fried steak, peppers, onions, and garlic. But I suspect that fresh, raw (uncooked) garlic offers the greatest health benefits of all-- the very variety that may be the most difficult for many folks to eat. Another disadvantage to garlic is its preparation. It's harder to peel and cut than an onion-- so most people will be surprised, since externally garlic may closely resemble onions. If you're going to consume garlic on a regular basis (which apparently many of us should), then you'll likely want to buy one or more specialized preparation tools for your garlic. I'll try to provide more info on this, and possibly direct order links, in a future update.


-- Tea fights bad breath

-- Google Search: preparing garlic tip

10-11-03 UPDATE: I searched for some garlic preparation tools at the local Wal-Mart recently, but was disappointed with what I found. The items available didn't look like they'd be that much better than a plain peeling knife. I guess I'll have to order something off the internet. I've also taken up one of my sister's habits: namely, swallowing small chunks of cut up garlic whole to get a convenient daily dose. This way you largely avoid the intense spicy hot taste of the garlic, which can severely limit your intake. I've experienced no stomach upset at all from the practice, though I do usually wash it down with a soft drink (sugarless decaff), and eat a regular meal at around the same time. The daily amounts involved? Before I cut my daily dose up into maybe six or eight smaller, more digestible chunks, the whole thing is about the same (or slightly smaller) volume as an average sized over-the-counter vitamin pill. If you try this swallowing of garlic chunks whole be sure to remember that you could choke or strangle on excessively large pieces-- so make sure they are small enough. The smaller the better. But the smaller the more prep work involved too. Other potential downsides to excessively large chunks might be stomach upset or vomiting (I've often known of people to throw up food they hadn't sufficiently chewed down to size), as well as just plain wasting the garlic-- for too large a piece might pass completely though you before it can be fully digested. As I've said before, I actually like the taste of the stuff with the proper dishes. But as garlic really only goes well with certain infrequent types of meals, there's considerable trouble and time involved in preparing it, I'm chronically time-short, and I'd like to get a daily dose of garlic for its health advantages, I am now resorting to the same practice as my sister, for reasons of practicality. END UPDATE.

10-17-04 UPDATE: Well, I've not kept up my regular garlic dosage. Mainly because of the overhead involved. Maybe I'm eating a bit more processed foods like soup incorporating garlic though, as I take greater note of its presence now than before in an ingredient list. With the looming flu shot shortage in the US during winter 2004, I'll hopefully step up my raw garlic ingestion for protective purposes. END UPDATE.

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#3: Curry spice
Including the curry spice turmeric in the diet may reduce the risk and effect of Alzheimer's disease. It may also help against liver problems associated with alcohol abuse.

-- Curry Spice Could Slow Alzheimer's, Study Shows By E. J. Mundell; Yahoo! Health Headlines/Reuters Health; November 15, 2001

-- Curry spice combats alcohol-related liver disease; New Scientist

-- Curry 'may treat radiation burns'

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#4: Sage

-- Sage improves memory, study shows

-- Study sage may combat Alzheimers

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The American Botanical Council, The Herb Research Foundation and MSKCC.org - About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products may offer more (and updated) information on the relative value of various herbs to certain situations.


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