All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga
A Pilgrim's Medical Guide
February 4th, 2009
For the Devotees of our Beloved Srila Gurudev Sria Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev Goswami Maharaj and Sri Caitanya Saraswat Math
Dandabat Prabhus and Didis,
Many ailments commonly experienced while in India can quite easily be prevented or stopped in their tracks. I sincerely that these few tips might make it easier for everyone to stay well:
Echinecia tincture: Really try to bring this along to take at the onset of any flu symptoms. Take fifteen drops at a time, every hour or half hour, until the symptoms clear up. As in all medicines, best to take as soon as you notice you're not feeling well, to stop the infection from taking hold. When lots of people are getting sick, take as a preventative; Echinecia boosts the immune system. (Best to get the alcohol-based tincture, unless there is a sensitivity to alcohol, as glycerine is best refrigerated. )
Vitamin C is good to keep up the immune system and give it a boost when an infection tries to attack. 'Emergen-c' packets are popular as they also contain electrolytes, but they are a bit expensive.
Wormwood Tincture: for stomach trouble, diarrhea, vomiting, etc. This is a good remedy for parasites. You would take 5 mls twice a day just before meals. Not to be taken with stomach ulcer, or when pregnant or while nursing.
*Grapefruit Seed Extract: will kill many a small invader of the intestinal tract. Take when you begin to feel something going wrong in the stomach/intestinal area, to stave off the problem. It's also a great gargle, mixed with hot water. And if you are in any doubt about your water, add some drops of this to it. You can also mix a few drops in a small spray or dropper bottle of water (bring one or two from home) for general sanitizing, and for washing your hands, especially when traveling.
Notes: NEVER use this undiluted on the skin; it can cause quite a serious burn. Follow the directions on the bottle. Always mix with juice and/or plenty of water. It is amazingly bitter and can be a bit strong on a sensitive stomach, otherwise.
Cramp Bark: This is a good general pain killer, and especially for any kind of cramping or headache.
Rescue Remedy: for all trauma on any level. Nice to have along.
Acidophillis- There are some brands on the market that do not require refrigeration. Keeps the flora balance in the intestine. Very good if you get diarrhea or for avoiding it. Actually, fresh yoghurt is best, and available here, but yoghurt is generally too cooling in the winter or if you have a cold.
Calendula ointment- much cheaper here than in the west. It is very healing for skin conditions, including cuts, chafing, and irritations of all kinds. It both prevents infection and clears it up. Good to have on hand.
Ginger: Fresh ginger is amply available in India, of course, but for convenience, both ginger tea and dried ginger are very good. It warms the system, fights off cramping and colds, and helps with motion sickness. Dried ginger in caps is another option.
Think about bringing along your own mosquito repellant if you are concerned about using something natural. Repellants found in India, like 'odomos' and 'good-night', definitely work, but are quite strong. A few drops of Citronella oil can be mixed with your lotion and applied as a very good repellant.
Lavender oil- stops the itching of bites and stings. Its really great. It is one of the only essential oils that can be safely applied to the skin undiluted.
There are other products available in the west, like "sting stop", for bites and stings, that will help a lot with the itching. And, of course, unscratched bites go away the fastest.
"Wipies" or some other kind of moistened tissue packets (some are antiseptic) are very handy, especially when traveling.
Swedish Bitters- This is a wonderful cure-all. It does not work with homeopathic remedies, as it contains camphor. (homeopathic remedies are not compatible with coffee, camphor, eucalyptus, and menthol.) But this remedy covers so many complaints, that I must include it in the list. It is a wonderful medicine for diarrhea, bites and stings, ear infections, constipation, sore throat and a host of other complaints. For a full list of uses, look on the web, or find the book, "Health Through God's Pharmacy" by Maria Treben for reference.
*Its really ideal to avoid eating out in India unless necessary
*Lassi will usually contain ice cubes made with tap water- not good!
*Stay well hydrated, especially in warm weather. Heat stroke is caused by dehydration.
*Best to wear shoes whenever possible
*Protect yourself from strong heat and sun- use an umbrella or at least a hat
*Wash hands before taking prasadam.
*Take care of cuts and scrapes right away
*Peel your fruits and vegetables
*Use your own plate, cup and spoon, and keep them clean (laundry soap works)
*Buy a new toothbrush after you have been sick.
*Until you have been in the Math for some time, it is best to buy your water. Otherwise, boiling is highly recommended.
*If you can, pack a (small) pillow for yourself.
Note: Regarding Homeopathic Remedies, (listed with a number after them) they are available locally in Calcutta and Navadwip. Arnica, Belladonna, Chamomilla, and Aconite are for conditions that tend to come up suddenly and strongly, so its kind of nice to have them handy. Choose the remedy from below that BEST fits your case. Generally take three pills every one to two hours, or more often in severe cases, until symptoms subside. Then only as needed. They are harmless.
Bites and Stings
Note: In Navadwip be a little aware of the ants with the red abdomen (middle part). They can sting. If you see one on your body or cloth, give him the chance to exit unmolested. In case of sting: once you stop jumping up and down, the sting will start itching. Really try not to scratch. Put something on it- see above- and look at the remedies below.
Homeopathic remedies for a strong reaction to bites:
Ledum pal 30. Part will tend to feel cold, and is definitely better for cold applications
Apis 30C. for stings and bites that are red, hot, swollen, itching, and stinging.
Calad 30C: A valuable remedy for insect bites which itch and burn intensely.
Cold and Flu
Avoid getting wet in the rain in India, especially when the weather is chilly. Try to keep young children indoors until clear; the rain can contain bacteria that we are not used to. If you do get wet, bathe in hot water and stay warm. Take some echinecia and vitamin C. If you start noticing cold symptoms, take Aconite. (see below)
When the weather is hot, keep some light cloth over the chest, and perhaps around the ears and throat, while sleeping under a fan. Sweating under a fan can give you a wopper of a cold.
Aconite 30C is for onset of sore throat, earache, fever and/or cough, even when the symptoms are very strong and sudden. But it must be taken at the first sign of such conditions. For example, don't wait until morning if you wake up in the night with a croupy cough, etc; get up and take aconite. If taken right away, it will stop such illnesses in their tracks. Keep it handy!
Belladonna 30: Unlike Aconite, Bell can be given in any stage on an illness. Its symptoms also come on quite quickly, and there is pounding of pulse, of head, and of pain. The pupils are dilated and face red. Dryness with no thirst. There can be delirium. Head hot, feet cold.
Chamomilla 30: The patient is very sensitive to pain. They feel very irritable. For example, the child will ask for something and then throw it, and he wants to be carried constantly.
Gelsemium 30C is the #1 flu remedy. There is general aching of the body, sluggishness, heaviness of the eyes and limbs, and mental slowness. The patient passes urine often. Take every hour until symptoms clear.
Merc sol. 30: Think of it first if the glands are swollen, especially if the tongue is quite dirty and you can see the imprints of the teeth on the sides. There is often a bad taste in the mouth, and sensitivity to both heat and cold.
Eupatorium- influenza with pain in bones.
General: Avoid going out in strong sun without a hat or umbrella; you can become very very ill. Make sure to drink a lot of water when out in the heat; heat and sun stroke are caused by dehydration. Electrolytes are easily available here, and are an important in dehydration. Otherwise mix water with a bit of salt and sugar.
Glonoine 30 is for a terrible beating headache due to too much sun. Two pills every half hour.
Belladonna 30 is for heat/sun stroke with fever, dilated pupils, racing pounding pulse, and hot red face. There can also be delirium. Two pills every half hour until symptoms clear.(or 200 C given every hour )
Stomach and Bowels
General: Much illness can be avoided in India by following a few rules of cleanliness.
Though it's so easy to just take a little prasadam without washing first, we can pay dearly here for such a little indiscretion. Wash well with soap if you have been out.
-Keep nails cut short.
-OK-awkward subject- We have left and right hand usage, and it takes a bit of practice to make this a habit. The right hand is for taking prasadam, for giving and receiving, and especially for, after passing stool, pouring water from the lotta, while we wash our bum with the left. There, I said it... Whew! Now, until we thoroughly clean our left hand, we cannot touch ANYTHING with it. Not the flush, not the tap, not the bucket. Grab the soap with the right hand, wash hands, then finish up by bathing. This habit is important for the health of both ourselves, and our room mates.
Again, keep a little spray bottle with grapefruit seed extract or some disinfectant and water in it for disinfecting your hands while traveling. You can use this to spray your toothbrush, especially if you are sick.
Hand rails, taps and door handles are often very dirty. Better to use your cloth to turn off a public tap.
This might all seem a little fastidious, but it is normal hygiene here.
If you do get diarrhea, eat flat rice mixed with fresh yogurt, available sometimes at the Math, and otherwise from a nearby market. This can be mixed with lime juice and salt, as well as unripe banana. This is very nourishing and comforting to the stomach. In general, try to stay hydrated if possible, and avoid green leafy vegetables, and spicy or oily prasadam, until better.
An Ayurvedic medicine called Bael Giri and another called Ishabael are both very safe and effective remedies for simple diarrhea. Fresh bael fruit is also excellent, though a bit time consuming to prepare. Many also find that charcoal pills work. Again, Swedish Bitters is a great remedy if you have it. Also see wormwood and grapefruit seed extract above.
Here is a list of homeopathic diarrhea remedies. Sorry; you have to LOOK (!) as the prescription is based on specific symptoms. You will quickly get over any shyness with regard to this subject! This is not a complete list, but will cure many of the cases.
OK here goes:
Arsenicum 30c. -When there is vomiting with diarrhea, even simultaneously. There is usually quite a bit of restlessness and anxiety with this remedy, but with deep exhaustion from any movement. There can also be burning and/or cutting pain in the abdomen or right side. Can be vomiting of green bile or mucous.
Veratrum album 30- similar to Ars. but there will be great prostration and cold sweat. Painful cramping.
Aloe 30c- A feeling that stool may escape involuntarily- and sometimes it does- due to rectal weakness. Gurgling and pain before stool. Passing a lot of air, often hot, which gives relief. May be lumps of jelly-like mucous in stool. Stool can be hot and sputtery, followed by weakness. Often you have to run to toilet after eating anything, or first thing in the morning. There can be a heavy, full feeling in abdomen, and congestion in head. There can be pain in the liver region.
Phosphoric Acid 30- An interesting remedy because there is neither pain nor exhaustion. Like Aloe, there can be accidental passing of stool when passing air or moving.
Podophyllum 30- Diarrhea can be painful (preceded by painful griping and colic) or painless. Stool follows abdominal gurgling , and is very sputtery, splattering all over the whole toilet. There is a feeling of emptiness after passing, but stool soon returns. It is watery and can be quite offensive. Stool can be mixed with mucous.
Merc-sol 30- Tenesmus, (constant or frequent urging or straining, even when bowels are quite empty.) which is worse at night. There can be sweating, but it does not give any relief.
Nux-V 30 - another remedy with frequent ineffectual urge to pass stool, even though he passes very little. Patient can feel quite irritable. Diarrhea is often caused by over eating or other dietary indiscretion.
China 30- Patient can feel very sensitive to people, emotions, and sound. In diarrhea, there is a lot of gas, with distention of the abdomen. Diarrhea is usually profuse, often painless, with deep exhaustion. This is an important remedy for recovery after losing a lot of fluids.
Colocynthus 30- has very painful cramping. The patient will bend double and push hard on his abdomen. He feels better for applied heat. Stool might be saffron colored.
Ipecacua- This remedy has NAUSEA as the chief symptom. Often it isn't relieved even by vomiting. Patient feels nauseous from the strain of passing diarrhea.
Chamomilla- Again there is usually some mental irritation involved, especially in children, who will want to be carried all the time. There is often a lot of perspiration and can be dizziness. Stool is frequent and can be green or look like spinach mixed with chopped egg. (!) It can be hot, watery, and there can be quite a bit of gas.
Take care of cuts and scrapes right away. Clean the part well and apply calendula ointment, or ointment of choice. Keep it clean!
Hypericum 30- for injuries to nerve endings like finger tips, and also for injuries to the coxyx ( the end of the spine)
Arnica 30- for all bruises and sprains. It helps with the shock and clears up a bruise very quickly. Keep in on hand.
Bellis Perennis 30- for internal bruising if Arnica doesn't help
Rhus tox 30- for injuries that feel better for continued motion. The part is hard to move a first, but loosens up with motion. (Arnica is usually worse with motion)
Ruta 30- for a black eye, or bruises of the bone. Also for repeated stress injuries.
With obeisances Srilekha d.d.