Saturday, January 30, 2010

Quote of the Day


"At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political ideas." - Aldous Huxley

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What To Do If You Contract Influenza

Most popular health articles about the flu tell us how to prevent or avoid an infection, but there is very little information on what to do when we actually get infected. Common sense tells us that we ought to see a doctor and most of us heard about Tamiflu®. This article describes the flu symptoms and suggests a few simple steps to ease the discomfort of infection.

Every year tens of thousands of people die from the influenza infection. Most victims are either very young, or very old. People with compromised immune system also succumb to the disease. Currently two strains of influenza are circulating in the United States - the seasonal flu and the H1N1 also called the swine flu. A third, highly lethal H5N1 influenza, also known as the bird flu, is being closely monitored in Asia.

Flu symptoms

Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a highly contagious viral infection affecting the respiratory tract - the nose, throat, and the bronchial tubes. The symptoms can range from mild to deadly and include:
  • fever
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • nasal congestion or running nose
  • headache
  • overall body ache
  • chills
  • fatigue
  • in some cases diarrhea and vomiting - symptoms that may be severe if it is a swine flu virus infection
These symptoms may also occur with the common cold which, although as uncomfortable as the flu, is much less threatening. A person infected with the flu virus may experience a combination of these symptoms. Not everyone who has the flu will develop fever. The flu symptoms may get worse at night and disrupt the normal sleep pattern. The symptoms usually persist for about two weeks and most people recover without complications.Some people, however, may develop very serious and life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia.

The incubation period takes two to five days. It spreads very fast in the body of an infected person until the person starts to experience the symptoms. An infected person can pass the flu to others as early as one day before he or she developed the symptoms and up to seven days after the outbreak of disease. Children and people with suppressed immune function remain contagious for a much longer period of time. Because influenza is highly contagious, an infected person has to take special measures to prevent infection of others. 

When you start experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, stay home and do not get tempted to go to work. On the one hand, your coworkers will be very grateful for not infecting them as well, on the other, you will have time to rest and recuperate. Get as much rest as you possibly can. Your immune system has been weakened by the infection and needs all your support right now.

  • To eradicate the virus from your body you have to act immediately as soon as you experience your symptoms. This is the time when it is still possible to stop the virus from spreading in your body. Antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu® and Relenza® are usually very effective within 24-48 hours from contracting the infection and must be taken in high doses. Tamiflu® helps reduce the severity and the duration of your infection. The advised dose of Tamiflu® is 75 mg twice a day for five consecutive days. In cases of the swine flu infection, the dose should be doubled. In many cases these medications may remain ineffective.
Natural remedies
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) a popular herb, sometimes underestimated, can bring a great relief to an infected person. The blossoms contain high amounts of healing essential oils and have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-spasmodic properties. Chamomile can be drunk as an infusion or used for inhalations to ease respiratory problems during the infection. The chamomile infusion may also help with the gastrointestinal problems during the infection.
  • Olive leaf extract (Olea europaea) or Oleuropein, contains a compound called calcium elenolate which is a natural antibiotic. In vitro and in vivo studies demonstrated that this compound is lethal to all viruses, including the influenza virus, as well as other microbes it was tested against. Olive leaf extract inhibits the replication of viruses and helps to shorten the duration of flu. It also enhances the activity of the immune system. The suggested dose is 500 mg twice daily at the onset of flu symptoms.
  • Andrographis (Andrographis pinaculata), a herb native to Asia, helps to reduce the severity of flu symptoms and the duration of illness. Studies have shown that this herb has antiviral, antipyretic, and analgesic properties. Moreover, it is a powerful immune system stimulator. The suggested dosage is 400-500 mg of dried extract containing 6-10 percent andrographolides, three times a day to be taken within 48 hours after the first sign of the flu symptoms. Andrographis can be taken alone or in combination with Eleuthero root (Siberian ginseng).
  • Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has a long tradition as a remedy for cough and the common cold. Recent research demonstrated that an active compound called Antivirin has the capacity to prevent the flu virus from invading the membranes of healthy cells. The elderberry extract was clinically proven to reduce the flu symptoms and to speed recovery. It also stimulates the immune system. Suggested dose is 500 mg a day. Elderberry can be also drunk as a syrup.
  • Linden flower tea also known as Lime flower tea (Tilia americana) is an effective herbal remedy. The blossoms are used as infusion to reduce fever and induce sweating. Pour a cup of boiling water over a table spoon of dried blossoms. Cover your cup and steep it for 10 minutes. You may want to use raw manuka honey to sweeten your tea. Because the tea induces sweating, it is suggested to dress warmly and stay in bed.
  • Oscillococcinum is a time-tested homeopathic remedy that helps reduce the severity of the flu symptoms and the duration of disease. It works very fast and does not cause any side effects. For best efficacy, Oscillococcinum should be taken as soon as symptoms of infection are experienced. It comes in prepared doses. The suggested dose is to take the entire dose every six hours between the meals.
  • Zinc is a mineral that assists the body in the formation of a strong immune system. When taken right at the onset of symptoms it can shorten the duration of infection and minimize the severity of the symptoms. Zinc should be taken in a form of Zinc gluconate or glycinate together with its co-factors Vitamin C and amino acid Histidine. The suggested dose is 15 mg twice a day with up to 1000 mg Vitamin C and 500 mg Histidin.
  • Acerola berry extract is a natural source of vitamin C that your body needs to fight off the infection. Unlike synthetic vitamin C, acerola contains the full spectrum vitamin C with its co-factors the bioflavonoids.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms you will have to take a break from your daily routine. Get enough rest, drink plenty of water, and change your diet to a lighter, easily digestible fare. To support your immune system cut sugar from your diet as soon as you experience any flue symptoms. Sugar consumption is very taxing to the immune system.

As mentioned before, the flu symptoms may disturb your sleep pattern. Sleep is essential as during the night our immune system restores itself. A calming infusion made with chamomile, passion flower, and valerian root, drunk about 30 minutes before bed may help you unwind to a restful night sleep. Use nasal spray and sore throat lozenges made of Icelandic moss to ease your symptoms before you retire for the day. You may want to use a humidifier in your bedroom. 

Contact your health care provider when:
  • your fever lasts longer than three days
  • your symptoms persist for more than ten days in spite of all the medication and rest your are taking
  • when you develop new symptoms such as pain in your chest, disorientation, high fever, difficult breathing
Your physician will have to conduct tests to determine the virus that is causing the symptoms and make sure that you did not develop a pneumonia.
A strong immune system is the best way to avoid infections. There are some very effective immune system boosting strategies you may want to apply in the future. A healthy diet, moderate exercise, stress control, and adequate sleep are necessary if you want to stay infection free during the next flu season. Right now, I can only wish you a quick recovery.

by Dominique Allmon

* Information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or cure any disease.

~ Lemon Ginger Honey Tea Recipe ~

1 inch of ginger root, sliced
1 freshly squeezed organic lemon
2 tbs Honey


1. Simmer ginger in a quart of water for 20 minutes, covered.
2. Strain and discard the ginger slices.
3. Add lemon juice and honey. Drink hot.

Creative Commons License
What to Do if You Contract Influenza by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Quote of the Day

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I... 
I took the one less traveled by, 
and that has made all the difference. 

 Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pandora's Box

 James Cameron

Or How James Cameron Managed To Stir A Controversy Over The Pandora Moon

I’ve heard people say this film is un-American, while part of being an American is having the freedom to have dissenting ideas - James Cameron
James Cameron envisioned his Avatar movie some ten years ago and waited patiently for the technology to be developed. Our sensitivities did not changed much over the last ten years, with the exception that the climate change and the devastation of our environment became more apparent and that the American military is currently being engaged in two conflicts abroad with the third dangerously appearing on the horizon.

It is an irony of sorts that a story about a fictional civilization on Pandora moon opened a Pandora's box here on Earth. Independently of Cameron's intentions, the movie stirred controversy on both ends of the political spectrum in the USA. The movie is accused of being racist. Interestingly, it is not just the biased, one-dimensional view of the people of color that brings the cries of outrage, but the view of the white man and his corporate structure. Some people feel that the status and ethics of a white, corporate male is being questioned here. Other critics see not only the racial controversy but also the gender models in the movie as completely prejudiced and outdated. For the viewers on the Right this movie is a thinly disguised, simplistic, liberal agenda. Yet others see absolutely nothing behind "nice" images and embarrassingly oversimplified plot that isn't original in any possible way. They accuse Cameron of theft.

While the environmentalist movement praises Cameron for so overtly voicing their concerns, the Vatican joined the discussion only to warn audiences about the dangers of turning the Earth into a new divinity and criticized the movie for sparkling a new neo-pagan movement. Who would think that the concern for our planet could be potentially dangerous to the souls of the Catholics or anyone else for that matter. And while some critics are praising the technology used to create Avatar, others are accusing him of being anti-technology and anti-progress. I even came across an attempt to see Avatar as a movie with a satanist agenda - a disguised propaganda for the "New World Order". The critic accused Cameron of being anti-human and pushing the alien agenda.

James Cameron is not very shy about the Avatar's political message and admits that he wanted to say something about the US foreign policy and the environmental politics in America. He asserts that his work is not intended to be anti-American. As any director, he produced a movie that is opened to interpretation. Avatar touches different sensitivities. A thorough reading of the many reviews that were published since the first screening of the movie, clearly shows not only how divided the minds of the critics are, but also how diverse the viewer spectrum is in the context of their political tendencies and the intellectual, spiritual, or emotional development. Some people simply went to see and enjoy the science-fiction fantasy and its spectacular three-dimensional images.

A question comes to mind: "Why, in a country with a long tradition of free speech, was James Cameron expected to employ self-censorship of any kind?" A sequel to the movie will probably clear some of the issues that Avatar is facing right now, but its director has all the right to present his vision no matter how flowed it seems to be.

By Dominique Allmon

Creative Commons License
Pandora's Box Or How James Cameron Managed To Stir A Controversy Over The Pandora Moon by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Quote of the Day

We are not here to be rich or beautiful or cool or right. We are here simply to love and care for one another. As more and more people discover this, the world will change in ways we have not even imagine. - Ron Atchison


Image credit here

Monday, January 11, 2010


Nelson Mandela in his former prison cell on Robben Island

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

By William Ernest Henley

This is the poem that gave Nelson Mandela emotional support and strength during his imprisonment on Robben Island. This is also the title of Clint Eastwood's recent feature film.Morgan Freeman plays the part of the president of the Rainbow Nation, Nelson Mandela. In his first term as the South African President, Mandela initiated a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn country. He enlisted the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup which they did. Matt Damon gives a good performance as the rugby team captain Francois Pienaar. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Snowy Night

Last night, an owl
in the blue dark
an indeterminate number

of carefully shaped sounds into
the world, in which,
a quarter of a mile away, I happened
to be standing.

I couldn’t tell
which one it was –
the barred or the great-horned
ship of the air –

it was that distant. But, anyway,
aren’t there moments
that are better than knowing something,
and sweeter? Snow was falling,

so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more

than prettiness. I suppose
if this were someone else’s story
they would have insisted on knowing
whatever is knowable – would have hurried

over the fields
to name it – the owl, I mean.
But it’s mine, this poem of the night,
and I just stood there, listening and holding out

my hands to the soft glitter
falling through the air. I love this world,
but not for its answers.
And I wish good luck to the owl,

whatever its name –
and I wish great welcome to the snow,
whatever its severe and comfortless
and beautiful meaning.

by Mary Oliver

Monday, January 4, 2010

Vegan? Vegetarian? Omnivore?

Many people love to describe themselves and others in familiar terms: They are either men or women. They are either republicans or democrats; activists, environmentalists, or simply tree huggers. They are either Christians, atheists, spiritual-but-not-religious beings, or simply do yoga and love nature. They are either vegan, vegetarian, or omnivorous.

But are things always that clear? What do you make out of such a statement: I am vegetarian and I love fish and chicken, but never eat red meat? Since when was fish a vegetable? You are either vegetarian, or you are not.

Here is a fragment of an interview that is quite enlightening.

“I think that people have framed this conversation in absolutes. Either you are or you aren’t. The word vegetarian, I think, does a disservice because there are a lot of people who care but maybe don’t care, or can’t care in an ultimate way. If you think about environmentalism, nobody would ask, “Are you an environmentalist or not?” The question doesn’t make any sense. And the notion that the first time you drive in a car or fly in a plane that you should throw your hands up in the air and say, “Okay, well I give up. I’m not going to try at all anymore,” is crazy. If people thought about food more like how we think about the environment, a lot of people would be eating differently and the whole system would look a lot different.” - Jonathan Safran Foer, from an interview about his book Eating Animals, with Kiera Butler for

Image credit here