Archive for the ‘probiotics’ Category


Doctor, no

May 27, 2007

No, this is not a post about the James Bond movie.

Doctor, no is the title of an article in the June 2007 issue of Men’s Health magazine about yours truly — about how and why I have not seen a doctor for the past 22 years. I thought it was a nice title 😉

Now Men’s Health is not the sort of magazine that I normally identify with. I just don’t fit into the image of the cover photo, which usually shows a muscled, macho guy.

But because I had been making some noise recently about trans fats and other health issues, I caught the editor’s attention and he asked if I would write some articles for the magazine. I agreed.

The article is quite long, so here are just brief excerpts:

I was born half dead. According to my mother, I was a “blue baby” – not breathing and blue all over. And a doctor massaged me to life, using brandy! At five, I developed tuberculosis, along with two of my older sisters. Once again, my life was saved by a doctor.

But while doctors gave me life, they did not give me health. I grew up weak and sickly. At one stage, I was visiting the doctors and taking their medicines every two or three weeks. Thus, it was only natural that I started to look for ways to improve my health.

I had not deliberately sought to stop seeing doctors. Like most people, I took for granted that doctors and the drugs they prescribed were absolutely necessary.

A few things had changed, however. First, I’ve learnt how to take care of myself such that, for minor ailments, all I now need to do is rest and, perhaps, take some simple home remedies.

Second, I’ve discovered that complementary and alternative healthcare often work better – faster, more effectively and without unpleasant side-effects – than chemical-based medicine.

Third, as I read and researched more about health, I also discovered that doctors often do not truly understand what is going on. For example, I once read medical literature that said: “The third leading cause of end stage kidney disease in the US is glomerulonephritis, a disease that damages the kidneys’ filtering units. In many cases, the cause of this disease is not known.”

Essentially, this tells me that kidney disease is caused by a disease that damages the kidneys! I have lost faith in people who consider such statements enlightening…..

The article goes on to talk about how plenty of carrot juice, plus a diet of mainly salads and raw fruits, helped solve the severe sinus problem that plagued me since childhood — but brought on other problems instead.

First, I developed a skin rash that would not go away for months, until my open-minded doctor recommended me to consult a Chinese sinseh. That was my introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine and I began to respect it a lot.

Then, one cold rainy night, after having a salad for dinner, I woke up with a mild asthma attack. I switched back to eating mainly cooked food after learning macrobiotics and yin and yang.

Meanwhile, I discovered the power of natural remedies… Once, I had a high fever. By that time, I no longer had any Panadol at home. I flipped through my book of natural remedies but I had none of the various herbs and other remedies recommended – except for a cold, wet towel. I applied the towel over my head and the fever subsided in half an hour.

Of course, it is not always that simple. When I fell badly ill in 2003 (it turned out I had chicken pox) no amount of home remedies, not even my trusted Chinese sinseh’s herbal brews, could provide quick relief. I had to let the illness run its course and just do my best to control the symptoms.

In such cases, perhaps a strong dose of antibiotics and other chemical medicines might have been more efficient. But by then, I also knew that such a course of action, while possibly beneficial in the short term, would weaken me in the long term.

I learnt recently that the intestines of a normal, healthy person has about 100 trillion (100,000,000,000,000) “friendly” bacteria in the intestines. They enhance immunity, help digestion and bring many other benefits. Even when a person falls ill, the good bacteria still far out number the bad.

No way am I going to destroy all of that goodness with antibiotics – and create an environment for harmful bacteria to reproduce more easily. Not when doctors are scientists are themselves finally acknowledging that antibiotics had been over-used and abused, resulting in more and more strains of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. For example, tuberculosis used to be easily treated with antibiotics, but is now more difficult to treat than ever.

The article ends off with an emphasis on the importance of research and self study, and some food for thought about the safety of modern, chemical-based medicine:

I had been gradually restoring my health since 1985 and learnt much during the process. This learning is absolutely necessary for anyone wishing to reduce his or her dependance on the medical system. It is serious learning, not from hearsay or, worse still, from the promotional literature of multi-level marketing companies touting health products.

Today, much of that learning can be done via the Internet. It’s a place of much information but, unfortunately, also misinformation, some intended, some simply misguided. You need discernment, which comes from experience as well as from making mistakes.

Fortunately, any mistakes associated with natural health and alternative medicine are usually mild. Yes, once in a very long while, someone might die from alternative medical treatment or from taking some natural food products like royal jelly. Because such incidents are exceedingly rare (like “man bites dog”), they make sensational news.

In contrast, medical treament kill hundreds of thousands of people each year. It is routine (like “dog bites man”), not news, so you seldom read about it in the newspapers.

But there is even a medical term for this – iatrogenic illness, meaning illness caused by medical treatment. These may be due to errors such as misdiagnosis, wrong treatment and wrong prescription or overdose of drugs. They may also be due to legitimate reasons such as acceptable side effects of drugs, or “normal” complications arising from surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and other routine medical treatment.

In the US, medical studies have found iatrogenic illness to be the third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer. One 1994 study found a death rate from iarogenic illness of “only” 0.56 percent. This seemed a low and acceptable figure. But it translated to 180,000 people dying in the US each year, equivalent to three jumbo jet crashes every two days!

Comparing with other industry standards, the author of the study, Dr Lucian Leape, pointed out that a mere 0.1 percent error rate would produce:

• in aviation, two unsafe planes landing at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport every day;

• in postal services, 16,000 pieces of lost mail every hour;

• in banking, 32,000 cheques deducted from the wrong bank account every hour!

When I read reports such as this, I become more determined than ever to keep myself drug-free and doctor-free.


The Chendol piles remedy

May 24, 2007

Some friends in a discussion group were recently talking about piles or haemorrhoids. And one of them wrote that piles is normally a problem faced by older people.

This was not true in my case and I shared my experiences with piles with the group. Since I am back to blogging, thought I share them with you too. I may have discovered a delicious piles remedy…

 Piles. I grew up with them, had them ever since young. Everybody else in my family seemed to have it and to me it was “normal” to have piles.

 During national service, one day after training, I sat on the bed, got up and found a big patch of blood on my bedsheet. Next day went to see army doc, got scolded like hell for not reporting piles, said “Can die if not treated”.

How was I to know? To me it was normal. And I thought I would be scolded or charged for trying to skive by reporting a “normal” condition.

Thus I had my first operation, for piles, around age 18, shortly after entering NS. BTW my operation was bloody painful. No GA, I was awake throughout, just local anaesthetic. It was not the pain of the cut but I felt as if my intestines were being pushed and pulled, feeling was one of tremendous stomach ache. And recovery took long time.

Most others I know had relatively painless piles operation. To this day I wonder if it was because my op was done in a government hospital by “ordinary” doctors rather than by specialists?


Few years after the op, piles returned. Bleeding again.

Then in my 30s I started path of natural health and began to eat healthy diet with little meat, more fibre (from brown rice, more veggies, etc) and generally the bleeding stopped.


More recently, started bleeding again and it was quite bad, a lot more blood than ever before. I was worried for a while.

I asked my nutritionist friend, amd he said the bleeding was probably due to infection / inflammation. He recommended PROBIOTICS ie friendly bacteria.

He gave me some very high potency probiotics, 250 billion live bacteria per gram. The recommended dosage is just a fraction of a gram. I use the back of Chinese porcelain spoon to scoop a little, maybe about 100 billion bacteria, 2 times a day, early morning and late night.

In contrast, most probiotics sold in health stores has only 2 to 5 billion live bacteria. Yakult etc has about 2 billion, plus plenty sugar, coloring etc.

 It seems a lot, but our guts have 100 trillion of them. That’s 100,000,000,000,000 or 1 followed by 14 zeros. So taking 2 to 5 billion actually has negligible effects. And there are no problems with overdose. Probiotics have no known side or harmful effects.

My nutritionist friend said to check back with him after two weeks.

Almost to the day, in 2 weeks, bleeding stopped. I thought it was too good to be true. Then the bleeding came back again, then stopped again.

But I got lazy and stopped taking the probiotics. Bleeding returned. Whenever I took probiotics again, the bleeding would stop again after 3 or 4 days.


Then in past 3 months or so, suddenly I had no more bleeding even though I stopped taking probiotics — because I not in the habit of taking supplements, only taken when in trouble.

I was wondering how come?!?

Then I realised, the one major change in my food intake these past few months is that I discovered this wonderful chendol at Tekka market and had been taking it several times a week. Just had another two cups tonight.

(This is the stall that, as you enter the hawker centre from Serangoon Road, it is on the LEFT side of the block of stalls, about 6 or 7 stalls from the end. It is more or less directly back-to-back with the famous brayani and chapati stalls.)

I remember coconut oil being helpful for many conditions, including problems in the intestines. Among other things, coconut oil contains lauric acid, which is a potent destroyer of virus, bacteria, yeast and parasites. Click here to read more about benefits of coconut oil.

Is it really the chendol that solved the problem? I don’t really know and I don’t really care.

The chendol is delicious anyway 😉