Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Things You Didn't Know About You

The human body is a great, sweaty, fluid-filled machine, moving and mixing chemicals with precision and coordination, making everything from memories to mucus. Here we explore some of the complex, beautiful or just plain gross mysteries of how you function.

Your stomach secretes corrosive acid


There's one dangerous liquid no airport security can confiscate from you: It's in your gut. Your stomach cells secrete hydrochloric acid, a corrosive compound used to treat metals in the industrial world. It can pickle steel, but mucous lining the stomach wall keeps this poisonous liquid safely in the digestive system, breaking down lunch.

Body position affects your memory

Can't remember your anniversary, hubby? Try getting down on one knee. Memories are highly embodied in our senses. A scent or sound may evoke a distant episode from one's childhood. The connections can be obvious (a bicycle bell makes you remember your old paper route) or inscrutable. A scientific study helps decipher some of this embodiment. An article in the January 2007 issue of Cognition reports that episodes from your past are remembered faster and better while in a body position similar to the pose struck during the event.

Bones break (down) to balance minerals


In addition to supporting the bag of organs and muscles that is our body, bones help regulate our calcium levels. Bones contain both phosphorus and calcium, the latter of which is needed by muscles and nerves. If the element is in short supply, certain hormones will cause bones to break down, upping calcium levels in the body until the appropriate extracellular concentration is reached.

Much of a meal is food for thought


Though it makes up only 2 percent of our total body weight, the brain demands 20 percent of the body's oxygen and calories. To keep our noggin well-stocked with resources, three major cerebral arteries are constantly pumping in oxygen. A blockage or break in any of them starves brain cells of the energy they require to function, impairing the functions controlled by the affected region. This is a stroke.

Puberty reshapes brain structure, makes for missed curfews

We know that hormone-fueled changes in the body are necessary to encourage growth and ready the body for reproduction. But why is adolescence so emotionally unpleasant? Hormones like testosterone actually influence the development of neurons in the brain, and the changes made to brain structure have many behavioral consequences. Expect emotional awkwardness, apathy and poor decision-making skills as regions in the frontal cortex mature.

Cell hairs move mucus

Cells  move hair

Most cells in our bodies sport hair-like organelles called cilia that help out with a variety of functions, from digestion to hearing. In the nose, cilia help to drain mucus from the nasal cavity down to the throat. Cold weather slows down the draining process, causing a mucus backup that can leave you with snotty sleeves. Swollen nasal membranes or condensation can also cause a stuffed schnozzle.

Big brains cause cramped mouths

Cramped mouth

Evolution isn't perfect. If it were, we might have wings instead of wisdom teeth. Sometimes useless features stick around in a species simply because they're not doing much harm. But wisdom teeth weren't always a cash crop for oral surgeons. Long ago, they served as a useful third set of meat-mashing molars. But as our brains grew, our jawbone structure changed, leaving us with expensively overcrowded mouths.

The world laughs with you

Just as watching someone yawn can induce the behavior in yourself, recent evidence suggests that laughter is a social cue for mimicry. Hearing a laugh actually stimulates the brain region associated with facial movements. Mimicry plays an important role in social interaction. Cues like sneezing, laughing, crying and yawning may be ways of creating strong social bonds within a group.

Your skin has four colors


All skin, without coloring, would appear creamy white. Blood vessels near the surface add a blush of red. A yellow pigment also tints the canvas. Lastly, sepia-toned melanin, created in response to ultraviolet rays, appears black in large amounts. These four hues mix in different proportions to create the skin colors of all the peoples of Earth.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Top 10 Mysterious Diseases

There are many sicknesses doctors can cure with the swish of a pen across a prescription pad. But for all we understand now about some illnesses, there are even more that still stump the pros, confound the public and rage on uncontested.

Morgellons disease

This mysterious illness, which has cropped up again recently, displays almost sci-fi symptoms. Sufferers complain of intensely creepy-crawly skin and odd fibrous strands which protrude from open wounds. Some in the medical community blame the "disease" on psychotic delusion, but others say the symptoms are very real.

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic fatigue is a classic MUPS (medically unexplained physical symptoms) disease, with a diagnosis based only on the ruling out of other possibilities. More than just feeling a little tired, CFS patients are often bed-ridden for days at a time.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

One version of this rare brain disorder is better known "mad cow" and can be contracted by eating contaminated beef. "Regular" CJD is also always fatal, quick acting and is the most common form, but develops in most patients for reasons doctors have yet to figure out and can not prevent.



Experts consider this the most puzzling of mental disorders, one which robs the sufferer of the ability to logically distinguish between reality and fantasy. Symptoms range wildly between patients and include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, and lack of motivation or emotion, but the disease has no defining medical tests.

Autoimmune disorders


A catch-all term for a host of afflictions including lupus and MS, autoimmune disorders treat the body's organs and normal functions as enemy invaders. They're usually chronic, always debilitating, and doctors can do little except ease their symptoms.



People diagnosed with Pica have an insatiable urge to eat non-food substances like dirt, paper, glue and clay. Though it is believed to be linked with mineral deficiency, health experts have found no real cause and no cure for the peculiar disorder.

Avian flu

Avian flu

Humans have no immunity to this powerful flu virus carried by birds, which health officials fear could mutate into a strain that can be transmitted between humans. Death rates for infected humans are around 50 percent, but, so far, humans have been infected mostly by direct handling of infected birds. A recent cluster of cases, however, appeared to involve its spread between people.

The common cold

Even with an estimated 1 billion cases in the United States every year, doctors still know very little about the nose-running, cough-inducing cold, whose root causes number in the hundreds. Time and chicken soup, not antibiotics, is often the only prescription that helps.

Alzheimer's disease

Not to be confused with the forgetfulness that affects most everyone in their later years, Alzheimer's is a degenerative brain disorder that manifests differently in each of its sufferers. The exact cause isn't understood and it can't yet be effectively treated.



Twenty-five years since it was first identified, there is still no cure for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS remains among the world's most potent killers, especially in developing countries. The disease likely started with the virus jumping from a chimp to a human, recent research confirmed.

Source: Msn

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Superfoods: The Next Frontier

No longer, thanks to research that's shifting the spotlight to a new generation of health-boosting foods—many of which do double or triple duty to help prevent illness. Here are six on the brink of superstar status.

1. Pomegranate

If you're going to have a martini, at least make it a pomegranate one. This fall fruit has higher antioxidant activity than red wine and green tea, which may be why a number of studies show it may prevent skin cancer and kill breast and prostate cancer cells. It also helps to:


Fight Alzheimer's disease
Researchers at Loma Linda University found that mice who drank pomegranate juice experienced 50 percent less brain degeneration than animals that consumed only sugar water. The pomegranate drinkers also did better in mazes and tests as they aged.

Guard your arteries
A group of diabetics who drank about 2 ounces of pomegranate juice a day for three months kept their bodies from absorbing bad cholesterol into their immune system cells (a major contributing factor to hardened arteries), discovered Israeli researchers.

2. Kiwifruit

Don't judge this fruit by its cover: Under that bristly brown peel you'll find a bright green star bursting with antioxidants and full of fiber. Kiwifruit works to:


Protect against free radical damage

A study from Rutgers University compared the 27 most popular fruits and determined that kiwifruit was the most nutritionally dense. Plus, it makes the short list of fruits with substantial amounts of vitamin E, and contains more vision-saving lutein than any other fruit or vegetable, except for corn.

Lower blood-clot risk

In a 2004 study from the University of Oslo in Norway, participants who ate two or three kiwis for 28 days significantly reduced their potential to form a clot. They also got a bonus benefit: Their triglycerides, a blood fat linked to heart attack, dropped by 15 percent.

3. Barley

When some whole grains, such as wheat and oats, are processed, they lose their fiber content. Not so with barley, which is full of soluble beta-glucan fiber in its whole kernel or refined flour form. Studies show this particular fiber may:


Knock down bad cholesterol by as much as 17.4 percent, according to USDA research

A 2004 study found that adults with moderately high cholesterol levels who went on a low-fat American Heart Association diet began to see an improvement only when barley was added to the menu.

Decrease blood sugar and insulin levels
That makes barley a better choice for people with type 2 diabetes, says a 2005 Agricultural Research Services study.

4. Cranberries

This born-and-bred American berry is among the top 10 antioxidant-rich foods, making it a potent cancer protector. You know it helps prevent urinary tract infection, and perhaps you heard it prevents gum disease, too, but did you know that these beneficial berries may:


Eradicate E. coli

Compounds in the juice can actually alter antibiotic-resistant strains, making it impossible for the harmful bacteria to trigger an infection. A small pilot study from Harvard Medical School and Rutgers University found that eating about 1/3 cup of dried cranberries yielded the same effect.

Help prevent strokes

Research on pigs with a genetic predisposition to atherosclerosis—narrow, hardened arteries that may lead to heart attack and stroke—found that those fed dried cranberries or juice every day had healthier, more flexible blood vessels

5. Broccoli sprouts

Yes, we've been through this: broccoli, good. The news: Broccoli sprouts are even better. At a mere 3 days old, they contain at least 20 times as much of disease-fighting sulforaphane glucosinolate (SGS) as their elders. SGS has been shown to:


Kill tumors

The chemical triggers enzymes in the body that either kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. Just 1 ounce of sprouts has as much SGS as 1 1/4 pounds of broccoli. That'll save you lots of chewing.

Protect your heart

A Japanese pilot study found people who ate about a half cup a day of sprouts lowered their total cholesterol by an average of 15 points. And women in the study raised their good cholesterol by 8 points—in just 1 week.

Save your sight

Exposure to UV sunlight over time may lead to an eye condition called macular degeneration, which is the number-one cause of blindness in U.S. seniors. Researchers at Johns Hopkins determined that broccoli sprouts can protect retinal cells from ultraviolet light damage.

6. Kefir

This cultured milk drink stacks up in calcium—one 8-ounce serving contains 30 percent of the recommended daily intake. It also contains more beneficial bacteria than yogurt. It may also:


Reduce food allergies

Baby mice fed kefir had a threefold reduction in the amount of an antibody linked to food allergies, say researchers at an agricultural university.

Battle breast cancer

Women age 50 and older who consumed fermented milk products had a lower risk than those who ate little or none.

Avoid triggering lactose intolerance

Kefir contains lactase, the enzyme that people with lactose intolerance are missing, say researchers at Ohio State University. And the taste? Like plain yogurt, just a little thinner.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Green Tea

Archeological evidence suggests that people consumed tea leaves steeped in boiling water as many as 500,000 years ago. There are three main varieties of tea  green, black, and oolong. The difference between the teas is in their processing. Green tea is made from unfermented leaves and reportedly contains the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. Antioxidants such as polyphenols in green tea can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.

Polyphenols contained in teas are classified as catechins. Green tea contains six primary catechin compounds: catechin, gallaogatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and apigallocatechin gallate (also known as EGCG). EGCG is the most studied polyphenol component in green tea and the most active.

Green tea

Green tea also contains alkaloids including caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline. These alkaloids provide green tea's stimulant effects. L-theanine, an amino acid compound found in green tea, has been studied for its calming effects on the nervous system.

Green tea has been consumed throughout the ages in India, China, Japan, and Thailand. In traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, practitioners used green tea as a stimulant, diuretic (to promote the excretion of urine), astringent (to control bleeding and help heal wounds), and to improve heart health. Other traditional uses of green tea include treating flatulence (gas), regulating body temperature and blood sugar, promoting digestion, and improving mental processes.


1. Atherosclerosis: Population-based clinical studies indicate that the antioxidant properties of green tea may help  prevent atherosclerosis, particularly    coronary artery disease.

2. Cholesterol: Green tea lowers total cholesterol and raises HDL ("good") cholesterol in both animals and people. men who drink    green tea are more likely to have lower   total cholesterol than those who do not drink green tea. Results from one animal study suggest that polyphenols in green tea may block the intestinal    absorption of cholesterol and promote its excretion from the body.

3.  Cancer: Green tea protects against Bladder, Breast, Ovarian, Colorectal, Esophageal,  Lung, Pancreatic, Prostate, cancer.

4. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Green tea may help reduce inflammation associated with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, the two types of IBD. If    green tea proves to be helpful for preventing colon cancer, this would be an added benefit for those with IBD because they are at risk for colon cancer.

5. Diabetes: Green tea has been used traditionally to control blood sugar in the body. Animal studies suggest that green tea may help prevent the development    of type 1 diabetes and slow the progression once it has developed. People with type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin, a hormone that converts    glucose (sugar), starches, and other foods into energy needed for daily life. Green tea may help regulate glucose in the body.

6. Liver disease: Green tea also seems to protect the liver from the damaging effects of toxic substances such as alcohol. Animal studies have shown that    green tea helps protect against the development of liver tumors in mice. Results from several animal and human studies suggest that one of the polyphenols    present in green tea, known as catechin, may help treat viral hepatitis (inflammation of the liver from a virus). In these studies, catechin was isolated    from green tea and used in very high concentrations. It is not clear whether green tea (which contains a lower concentration of catechins) confers these    same benefits to people with hepatitis.

7. Weight loss: Clinical studies suggest that green tea extract may boost metabolism and help burn fat. One study confirmed that the combination of green tea    and caffeine improved weight loss and maintenance in overweight and moderately obese individuals. Some researchers speculate that substances in green tea    known as polyphenols, specifically the catechins, are responsible for the herb's fat-burning effect.

8. Other uses: Drinking green tea has been found effective in a small clinical study for dental caries, or tooth decay. More studies need to be performed. Green tea may also be useful in inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis. Research indicates that green tea may benefit arthritis by reducing inflammation  and slowing cartilage breakdown. Chemicals found in green tea may also be effective in treating genital warts and preventing symptoms of colds and influenza.


The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. However, herbs contain active substances that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, people should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a practitioner knowledgeable in the field of botanical medicine.

People with heart problems, kidney disorders, stomach ulcers, and psychological disorders (particularly anxiety) should not take green tea. Pregnant and breast feeding women should also avoid green tea.

People who drink excessive amounts of caffeine (including caffeine from green tea) for prolonged periods of time may experience irritability, insomnia, heart palpitation, and dizziness. Caffeine overdose can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and loss of appetite. If you are drinking a lot of tea and start to vomit or have abdominal spasms, you may have caffeine poisoning. Lower your caffeine intake and see your health care provider if your symptoms are severe

Source: MSN

Monday, March 16, 2009


Have you ever experienced having a runny nose and cough that refuses to go away? When anything you eat seems tasteless and your sense of smell doesn’t seem to work? When you cannot do anything due to severe headache? If so, it is possible that you are suffering from sinusitis.


Sinuses are paired air cavities/spaces (pockets) found in the cranial (head) bones. Sinuses are also referred to as "paranasal sinuses". They are connected to the nose on the facial part of the skull where air passes and mucus drains. We have four paired sinus cavities. Each sinus cavity has an opening (ostium), which opens into the nasal passages for free exchange of air and mucus. The mucus linings have ciliated epithelium (cells with fines hairs) that moves dirty mucus from the sinus cavities which drains into the nasal passages.

Sinuses are often confused with sinusitis. Sinusitis is a condition that occurs when your sinuses become inflamed and infected.  Ninety percent of all cases of sinusitis are caused by bacteria? When you have a common cold, your nasal passages become tender and inflamed. The passage of mucus is blocked, trapping mucus in the sinus cavity. The mucus accumulates in the sinuses, making it an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.


Bacteria that normally cause acute sinusitis are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis. These microorganisms, along with Staphylococcus aureus and some anaerobes (bacteria that live without oxygen), are involved in chronic sinusitis.

There are also a number of other factors that can make the sinuses more open to infection. These factors include smoking, allergic rhinitis, asthma, cystic fibrosis, a weak immune system, infected tooth.


•    Nasal congestion, with green or yellow discharge

•    Persistent cough

•    Fever and fatigue

•    Pain in the teeth, especially when bending over

•    Severe headache and facial pain

•    In some cases, temporary vision loss or having double/blurred vision

•    Sneezing, sore throat and muscle ache


As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. There are several ways to prevent sinus infection. Here are some tips that you can include in your daily routine:

1. Clean your nose properly to prevent infection.

2. Cut down on your smoking, or better yet stop the nasty habit.

3. Eat healthy, drink lots of fluids and avoid taking in too much caffeine or alcohol.

4. Apply hot compress to your face to loosen mucus in the nasal passages. 

5. Use of humidifier is also advisable to keep the air moist.

6. Wash your hands frequently to prevent spread of bacteria or germs.

7. If you are prone to allergy, take medication as soon as the allergy occurs.

8.  When struck with a cold, treat it promptly to prevent infection.

9. Blow your nose gently and frequently to avoid mucus build-up.

10. Steam treatment and nasal irrigation are also recommended.


1. Use decongestants in cases with common colds to minimize  congestion of the 


2. Take antibiotics like amoxicillin, and a variety of cephalosporins  to control

   bacterial infection.

3. Use pain killers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, for pain and headache relief.

    Oral steroids can also be prescribed to cure bacterial sinus infection.  

4. Surgery is an option if you want to take care of the problem completely.

Never ignore bacterial sinus infection. If you suspect that you have the condition, seek medical help at the first sign of the symptoms to avoid complications.

Monday, March 9, 2009

10 superfoods that help fight cancer

Blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries

The rich, dark colors of blueberries, raspberries and cranberries come from photochemical that protect against numerous types of cancer.

Berries Most recently, researchers at the University of Florida found that the active ingredient in a├žai berries destroyed cancer cells when tested in cell cultures. And blueberries and muscadine grapes contain compounds that recent research shows cause cancer cells in the liver to self-destruct. In studies particularly important to women, cranberries have recently been discovered to be an important weapon in the fight against deadly ovarian cancer.

The anti-cancer properties of all these berries are so strong that researchers have developing concentrated supplements and other products such as purees and concentrates.

Green tea

One of the first plant-based chemicals to be studied for its anti-cancer properties, catechins-the chemicals in green tea-have been known for some time to prevent and reduce recurrence of breast and other cancers. With this particular chemical, experts even know why: a chemical known as EGCG inhibits breast tumor growth, a University of Mississippi study shows. Just two cups a day is enough to do the trick.


The strongest evidence so far has focused on digestive cancers, but garlic appears to protect against all types of cancer, including breast and prostate.


According to the National Cancer Institute, an analysis of seven different large-scale population studies showed that the more raw and cooked garlic a person consumed, the lower the risk of stomach and colorectal cancer.

Scientists have isolated two active ingredients in garlic, allicin and allyl sulfur, and demonstrated that they prevent and fight cancer in both animals and humans; you can take garlic in supplement form but the capsules must be enteric-coated to protect these active ingredients. Add crushed, fresh garlic to your meals whenever possible; some experts also recommend waiting 15 minutes between peeling and chopping the garlic to get the full effects of the active compounds.

Broccoli and cabbage

Men with early signs of developing prostate cancer prevented tumor growth by eating broccoli four times a week. Other studies have shown anti-cancer benefits from eating cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and other cruciferous vegetables.

Onions and leeks

According to the National Institutes of Health, studies of people from southern Europe who eat a diet high in garlic and onions show a direct relationship between high consumption of "allium" vegetables (all types of garlic, onions, and leeks) and reduced risk of many common cancers



Lycopene, the active chemical in tomatoes, lowered the risk of many different cancers, particularly prostate, breast, lung and colon cancer.

Subsequently, the FDA conducted a review of its own and disagreed, refusing food companies' request to label tomato products with an anti-cancer health promotion message. However, many experts believe the FDA's process was flawed and that tomatoes will be vindicated by further studies. The good news: cooking tomatoes seems to enhance the effects of lycopene, qualifying tomato-based spaghetti sauce as a nutritional powerhouse. Bring on the pasta.


The hype about red wine centers on an antioxidant called resveratrol that's present in grapes and grape juice, but is most concentrated in red wine. Numerous studies show that resveratrol possesses powerful anti-cancer activity. Breast cancer is fueled by estrogen, and resveratrol acts to block the action of the estrogen, preventing it from feeding tumor growth.



The active ingredient in soy is genistein, which is a phytoestrogen that protects against hormone-dependent cancers. It's also a powerful inhibitor of several proteins that are implicated in the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells. To get the anti-cancer benefits of soy, you need to consume about 50 grams per day of the whole food, such as raw fresh soybeans, known as edamame, dry roasted soybeans, or tofu. The research to date shows that supplements containing isoflavones don't work with the same action as soybeans themselves and in fact can be bad for you rather than good.


The orange-yellow spice turmeric, best known for its role in Indian curries and other Asian dishes, fights cancer because of an active ingredient, curcumin, that's a powerful antioxidant. The great news about turmeric is how easy it is to work into the diet, because you don't need very much. Add a teaspoon of the spice to soups, salad dressings, meat and pasta dishes and you'll reap the preventative effects.

Watercress and spinach


Eating watercress everyday can prevent the DNA damage that leads to cancer. People are more comfortable eating watercress—found that antioxidants in the nutrient-rich greens prevented free radicals from damaging healthy cells. Spinach, which we're all more familiar with, is also a cancer fighter; research conducted by the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas showed spinach to protect against bladder cancer. The chemical that gives spinach its dark green color, chlorophyll in, proved to reduce the risk of liver cancer.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hot Chili Peppers

Hot Chili Peppers Help Unravel The Mechanism Of Pain

Capsaicin, the active ingredient in spicy hot chili peppers such as the jalapeno, is most often experienced as an irritant, but it may also be used to reduce pain. A new work published by Drs. Feng Qin and Jing Yao in this week's PLoS Biology uses capsaicin to uncover novel insight into how pain-receptor systems can adapt to painful stimuli.

Sensory systems are well known to adapt to prevailing stimuli. For example, adaptation happens when your eyes adjust from a dark movie theater during a matinee to the bright sunlight outside. Whether pain receptors truly adapt or rescale their responses (versus simply desensitizing) has been an open question.

Capsaicin acts by binding to a receptor in the cell wall of nerve endings and triggering an influx of calcium ions into the neuron. Eventually, the nervous system interprets this cascade of events as pain or heat, depending on which nerves are stimulated. Scientists had previously linked the pain-relieving effects of capsaicin to a lipid called PIP2, found in cell membranes. When capsaicin is applied to the skin it induces a strong depletion of PIP2 in the cell membrane.


"The receptor acts like a gate to the neurons," said Qin. "When stimulated it opens, letting outside calcium enter the cells until the receptor shuts down, a process called desensitization. The analgesic action of capsaicin is believed to involve this desensitization process. However, how the entry of calcium leads to the loss of sensitivity of the neurons was not clear."

Capsaicin creams are commonly sold over the counter as effective treatment for a variety of pain syndromes, from minor muscle or joint aches to those that are very difficult to treat, such as arthritis and neuropathic pain.

By combining electrical and optical measurements, the authors now have been able to link directly the depletion of PIP2 and the desensitization of the receptor. The authors also showed that the receptor is fully functional after desensitization – i.e. although you stop feeling pain – are desensitized – if another event occurs that would normally trigger a 'pain' response – such as an increased concentration of capsaicin - the desensitization does not affect that feeling.

"What changed was the responsiveness threshold," said Qin. "In other words, the receptor had not desensitized, but its responsiveness range was shifted. This property, called adaptation, would allow the receptor to continuously respond to varying stimuli over a large capsaicin concentration range."

The findings have implications for pain sensation mechanisms as well as clinical applications. With an adaptive response, the receptors are essentially auto regulated without a fixed threshold, thus the intensity of the pain you experience is dependent on the recent history of pain.


Monday, March 2, 2009


Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by Vibrio cholerae, a facultative anaerobic, Gram-negative, crescent-shaped, motile rod. In severe cases it produces violent diarrhoea within only a few days. The dangerous aspect of cholera is the vast loss of fluid that can occur in a short space of time.


Cholera is caused by a specific bacterium, Vibrio cholerae. When an adequate quantity of the bacteria has passed into the stomach in food they accumulate and begin to produce poisonous substances (toxins). It is the toxin that causes the symptoms of the disease.
The cholera toxin has the unpleasant ability to affect the cells of the gastrointestinal tract so that the affected person doesn't just get ordinary diarrhea, but also starts to lose very large quantities of fluid. It is this fluid loss that can be very serious.

Vibrio cholrea


  • Sudden onset of watery diarrhea
    • Stool looks like water with flecks of rice
    • Diarrhea has a "fishy" odor
  • Rapid dehydration
  • Rapid pulse (heart rate)
  • Dry skin
  • Dry mucous membranes or dry mouth
  • Excessive thirst
  • Glassy eyes or sunken eyes
  • Lack of tears
  • Lethargy
  • Unusual sleepiness or tiredness
  • Low urine output
  • Sunken "soft spots" (fontanelles) in infants
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


Bacteria are excreted in faeces and if this comes into contact with drinking water, the bacteria can infect people. Bacteria can also spread to food if people don't wash their hands thoroughly after using the toilet.

The disease can be spread through fish and shellfish from contaminated water. Shellfish filter large quantities of water and concentrate the bacteria.

Direct infection by contact with another person via their faeces or vomit may occur, but is unusual. A certain amount of bacteria is needed before people with normal quantities of stomach acid become ill (stomach acid is able to kill small quantities of bacteria). So the bacteria need an opportunity to multiply in water or food before it actually constitutes a risk.


Many diseases cause diarrhoea, but if it is violent with watery stools, the doctor will treat you immediately. To make a definite diagnosis, the stools have to be examined to detect the cholera bacteria.


Severe cases of the disease must be treated in hospital. The first and most vital measure is to replace the fluid lost. If speed is important, fluid may be administered directly into the bloodstream by a drip.

The course of the disease can be shortened and the excretion of bacteria stopped quicker by giving antibiotics, such as doxycycline (eg Vibramycin).

Home remedy:

The most important thing you can do yourself in any case of violent diarrhoea is to consume large quantities of fluid with salt and sugar (alternatives include flat cola drinks), even if you are vomiting in between. There are powders with salt, bicarbonate and sugar in the correct ratio mixture that can be dissolved in water and taken, such as Dioralyte, WHO Rehydration satchets or Rehidrat.
You can also produce this fluid yourself from the following ingredients. The liquid should be about as salty as tears.

  • 1 litre of boiled water.
  • 8 level or 4 heaped teaspoons of sugar (white, brown or honey).
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  • The juice of a lemon or orange.


  1. Only drink boiled water or water that has been sterilised or treated in another way. Hot coffee and tea, fizzy water and other uncontaminated bottled drinks are usually safe enough to drink.

  2. Boil unpasteurised milk before you drink it.

  3. Avoid ice cubes in drinks, unless you can be sure they were made from 'safe water'! Ice cream from doubtful sources may also be contaminated.

  4. Food must be properly prepared and still hot when it is served. If it is allowed to stand at room temperature for several hours other bacteria such as Escherichia coli may develop.

  5. Avoid raw fish and shellfish. Avoid raw fruit and vegetables, unless you peel it yourself.

  6. Be careful eating food from street stalls. If you have to eat this type of food, think carefully about its preparation. Make sure it doesn't contain anything that hasn't been properly prepared.

This advice will protect you, not just against cholera, but also against a whole range of bacteria that can cause unpleasant diarrhoea. Some bacteria, however, produce toxins that are not destroyed by boiling. This is why correct food storage is also important.

Vaccination against cholera is now possible with the oral vaccine Dukoral. However, this vaccine does not provide 100 per cent protection against the disease and people who have had the vaccine will still need to follow the measures outlined above to avoid illness. This vaccine is most likely to be suitable for backpackers and those travelling to situations where the risk of cholera is greatest (eg, refugee camps).

Source: TOI

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Vibrio Bacteria Found In Norwegian Seafood And Seawater

Are you crazy about Seafood? Be Careful and Cautious!!!

In cold place like Norway presence of bacteria vibrio cholerae has drawn its attention in Seafood resulting in spread of disease called Cholera. Bacteria is significantly seen in Oysters, Mussels and Seafish.

While working on her doctorate, Anette Bauer Ellingsen discovered potentially disease-causing vibrios (Vibrio cholerae, V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus) in Norwegian seafood and inshore seawater.

Anette Bauer Ellingsen studied the occurrence of potentially pathogenic vibrios in Norway. These species include the cholera bacterium (V. cholerae) and the lesser-known species V.parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus. All of these species may cause disease in people who eat raw or lightly-cooked seafood, and they can also cause extremely serious wound infection.

In Japan, V.parahaemolyticus is one of the most common causes of food poisoning, due to the Japanese predilection for sushi. In the USA, food poisoning caused by this bacterium is primarily associated with eating oysters.

Vibrio Cholera                                             oysters musels

Mixed culture of Vibrio species from a mussel sample                 Seafood like Oysters and Mussels

Vibrio vulnificus is also associated with oyster eating, and this bacterium causes the greatest number of deaths from seafood poisoning in the USA.

That these bacteria also occur in Norway was previously unknown, and this is the first time that V.cholerae and V. vulnificus have been isolated from the Norwegian environment. All of the three vibrios were demonstrated in Norwegian mussels (at fewer than 100 bacteria /gram) and in Norwegian seawater (up to 30,000/litre) during the course of the study. They were first and foremost demonstrable when the water temperature rose above 20°C.

"Dangerous" and "not so dangerous" forms

It's important to emphasise that there can be big differences in pathogenicity within a species. Both V.cholerae and V.parahaemolyticus have their "dangerous" and "benign" variants, based on the toxins they produce. All V.vulnificus are assumed to be more or less equally dangerous, primarily in people with predisposing illnesses such as diabetes or hepatitis, and for people with weakened immunity.

Part of Anette Bauer Ellingsen's work was to investigate whether the "dangerous" variants of V.cholerae and V.parahaemolyticus occur in Norway. None of the cholera toxin-producing variants of V.cholerae were found among the Norwegian samples. However, it was discovered that some of the V.parahaemolyticus bacteria produce a toxin liable to cause diarrhoea.

The study showed that the danger of food poisoning posed by vibrios in Norwegian food products is extremely small. Nonetheless, toxin-producing V.parahaemolyticus was demonstrated, so one should be careful when eating raw or lightly-cooked seafood, for example, oysters.

Recreational activities and sore infection

In fact, the greatest risk of infection from vibrios is not food. There is possibly a greater chance of being infected in connection with recreational activities such as swimming or handling marine fish and shellfish in periods with high water temperature. All of the bacteria that were discovered during this study are liable to produce serious wound infection, especially in people with reduced immunity.