Common Cold

It is hard not to believe that the germ ecology of the nose, mouth and throat is the key to colds and many other ailments. A medical research friend once told me that she never gets colds because she keeps her hands away from her nose and mouth. I did see her with a nasty cold some months later. Some time in 2004 I started dowsing my toothbrush with table salt each morning and brushing way back on my tongue... and then continue sloshing the salt solution in my mouth for a couple of minutes before spitting the whole thing out. Since then I have had NO colds - the occasional scratchy throat but no further development.

Blowing one's nose drives cold germs up into air cavities where it is warm and allows them to multiply more than they would if they were not blown up there. (New Scientist, November, 1999). Hence deeper, longer lasting colds. Optimal action?


There is a history of flat feet in my family. Arch supports work wonders but they must be used at all times when one is upright, including in slippers, wellies etc. And all those advertisements for EEEE shoes are not for naught. Any "pinching" across the bridge of my toes is crippling. I am skeptical of expensive custom-made shoe inserts because off-the-shelf arch-supports work well for me but they have to be used at ALL times. My fallen arch problem seems to be separate from the cramping problem associated with narrow shoes. Each requires a distinct "treatment"... And a good thing are flip-flops (rubber slippers?) in public showers and locker rooms for reducing exotic infections.


Those of us who are irregular in this important routine need a substitute. Danny Finkleman (ex CBC Radio) and my former dentist swear by electric toothbrushes with rotary action. Recently drugstores have flossing things mounted on a toothbrush handles. This of course makes flossing easy compared with trying to do it with two fists in one's mounth. In my dentist's waiting room is a poster indicating that the bacteria associated with some gum disease may be associated with heart disease. And in the chair my dentist added that some guru has suggested that one could extend one's life by an average of SIX years if one flossed regularly. Food for mental mastication.

Although almost 500 bacterial strains in the human mouth have been identified, Standford researchers recently came up with 37 new strains in the plaque from a healthy human mouth. Several were very different from known types. None was observed to be in the act of flossing when isolated. (Globe and Mail, December 16, 1999). In 2004, I gave up toothpaste for table salt. Brushing after meals seems to leave a cleaner taste in one's mouth. There is some evidence that this new "toothpaste" may have killed off my small areas of the dreaded gum disease as well. Stay tuned.

Heart Attacks

Hearts give out in many ways. Valves go bad, muscles get flabby, etc. The classic heart attack is associated with a blockage in an artery and one is supposed to eat good food in order to prevent crud building up on the inside of the arterial walls. The new view is that "crud" (plaque) accumulates perniciously from inflammation of the arterial wall and a rupture of the wall, with build-up, is responsible for many heart attacks. The success of low, regular doses of aspirin in preventing heart attacks is attributed to its anti-inflammation quality. Elevated levels of "C-reactive protein" in one's blood is a sign of proneness to heart-attack. Statin drugs are taken to thin the blood when one is heart-attack prone. This all suggests that genes as well as life-style can play a large part in one's proneness to heart attacks. Not exactly news. (Globe and Mail, October 11, 1999, p. A10)

Mental health

Mega vitamins and minerals have traditionally been used to treat weird behavior in pigs on farms. The idea was recently tested in Alberta on kids and adults with bi-polar disorder with some great successes. "The supplement is in large capsules and patients have to take 32 a day. Each has 36 ingredients, including calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, potassium and vitamins A,C,D, E and several B vitamins. The concentrations of the minerals and other nutrients are generally higher than in most other vitamin supplements, but below levels in which they would become toxic." (Globe and Mail, June 30, 2001, p. F7). One argument is that fruits and vegetables have less vitamins and minerals than they did in the 1920s and 30s. Another is that some people may have a genetic endowment that makes them need larger doses of key vitamins and minerals for good brain function. One might also contemplate that people in poor mental health may eat poorly and get trapped in a downward spiral.

Poison Ivy

Mythical view

like a mosquito bite...put some stuff (calomine lotion) on it and it will go away. It is more like chicken pox in the sense that a dose is systemic in your body. It can take many weeks to dilute from your blood stream. Repeated bouts are generally more servere, presumably because it never leaves your body entirely.

True view

The dose spreads to areas of the body that perspire as in elbow joints, knee joints, etc. Avoid perspiring and a higher comfort level is achievable. Rubbing brings it up in new places as with keys in one's pocket rubbing on one's leg, or a belt chaffing on one's waist. If it is bad, as near your eyes, get cortisone pills and I have found it to dry up quickly. Competent physicians are reluctant to prescribe such pills because they are powerful and can have side effects. Hot baths help. The oozing guck gets removed also. If untreated, it seems to peak after two or three weeks and slowly abate. Inexperienced victims will naturally believe that it will only get worse, til expiration. Hence the great psychological downside associated with early doses.

Medical Thoughts and a Pill

PI seems to trigger an auto-immune reaction, as with arthritis. I have had aching joints with PI, aches that lasted for months. By co-incidence I was taking a health prep for aching joints (glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate (250 mg)) and went through a bout of PI that was much less severe. CHONDROITIN seems to be the key active ingredient. I take a tablet a day and increase it to 3 or 4 a day when a PI spot appears. A friend has run into inflamed joints with PI also. Tara Parker-Pope (Wall Street Journal article in Globe and Mail, Aug 22, 2000) reports on controlled tests of the efficacy of Glucosamine-chondroitin for relieving pain from osteoarthritis. Results unclear. Animal studies have shown that glucosamine increases blood sugar levels. Chondroitin is chemically similar to the blood thinning drugs heparin and warfarin. Chondroitin is four times more expensive to produce.

The active agent in the leaves of PI is urushiol, an oil. Lower intensity contact, as in getting it from shoe laces rather than direct contact, seems to be associated with a less severe dose.

Free Radical Control

Green tea. Vitamin E @ 400 units per day, (according to Joe Schwartcz (McGill Univ) who has a book on healthy eating.)

Lonnnnggg Life

Cut caloric intake so that your weight stays at 20% BELOW your normal set-point weight. (NYTimes Sunday, Sept 26, 1999). This sounds like decreasing current happiness in return for a significantly longer dose of same. Recall the recent earthworm experiments in which normal lifespan was dramatically increased but the critters lived fairly comotose lives.


Time spent in deep sleep declines drastically with age...from 100 minutes a night for people 20 to 25 to less than 20 minutes by middle age. Hence the perennial problem of getting a good night's sleep when older. And it seems unanimous that each person needs an average of 7 or 8 hours a day. Doing without a full dose shows up in metabolic and hormonal imbalances. Sleep deprived subjects in controlled experiments showed increased levels of cortisol in their blood during the afternoons and this is used as a measure of stress and has known adverse side-effects. Higher cortisol levels are also associated with older age. (New York Times, Dec 28, 1999, p.F7)

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