Monthly Archives: July 2020

5 Daily Habits That May Shorten Your Life Span

The human body is considered as the greatest wonder. You are the person who is responsible for habits that may shorten your life span. No one else is to blame. The body of the humans is believed to be built for living more than a century, but the present situation shows that only the half of that can be taken as an average life span. The life span is shortened mainly due to the habits developed by the humans. Those habits can harm the whole system adversely. Any habit will take a fixed period of time to turn into a regular pattern. Avoiding the habits which are harmful is not such a Herculean task. So it is high time you reclaim the control of your life and live. There are mainly five habits that shorten your life span and that should be avoided.

Unbalanced Diet

You take in food to provide your body with the necessary nutrients which are inevitable for the proper working of the various systems of the human body. But think once more, do your diet has all the essential nutrients? If your body is not getting the vital nutrients it will not function properly. This is sure to shorten your life span considerably.

Drugs

Taking in drugs and toxic substances is another grave problem. Alcohol and such other intoxicating substances are silent killers of your body organs. Alcohol can cause damage to you heart, liver and such other vital organs. The effect of cardiac and liver problems is well known to every one. Thus the intake of intoxicating substances can shorten your life span dramatically. Not just that, these substances can make the living period itself as painful as hell.

Tobacco

Tobacco also comes under the category of toxic substances. It can destroy the cells in the lungs. Smoking is a major cause of cancer around the world. Chewing of tobacco and other like substances can cause mouth cancer. Once you are affected by these diseases, it will be a great distress not only for you but for the people closer to you also. Smoking is a huge factor that shortens your life span.

Stress

The busy life has a very bad level of stress. Stress has a lot to do with the health of a person. The life of a person can be worth living only if his mind and body work in perfect harmony. The mental breakdown is one of the main reasons which leads people to the habits of alcohol consumption, drugs and smoking. Avoiding stress can work wonders in one’s life. Stress is the sure by-product of this ultra modern era, but there are ways to avoid it. It should be avoided. Otherwise you will be the hunt of many diseases and your life span will also be affected.

Lack of Exercise

With the development of technology the human body is having very less workout. The adverse effects of having less or even zero exercise is very disturbing. If your body is not getting enough exercise, the calories taken in will get deposited in different parts of your body. These unwanted fat deposits will eventually cause health problems

Functions of Minerals

When reading of nutrition and health, minerals and trace elements are often mentioned. We respond by eating lots of fruits and veggies, and maybe a vitamin supplement. We never doubt the validity of needing these things with names from the periodic table, but have you ever stopped and wondered what exactly it is they do for us? Or for that matter what are they and where do they naturally occur? Well you can stop lying awake nights, wondering about this!! Processed food cannot provide the services in the following list:

CALCIUM: Critical for many biological functions, including nerve   transmission , fat and protein digestion, muscle contraction, healthy teeth and bones, blood clotting, nerve functions, and more.

SODIUM: Muscle contraction, fluid balance, cell life and potential, and numerous other functions.

POTASIUM: Bone formation, fluid balance, blood pressure, muscle contraction, and many more functions.

PHOSPHORUS: Bone formation, assistance in the breakdown of fats, protein and carbohydrates.

MAGNESIUM: Muscle contraction, nerve  transmission , calcium metabolism, enzyme cofactor–ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL TO ALL KNOWN FORMS OF LIFE.

BORON: Calcium metabolism–an inadequate level of boron is also suspected in negatively influencing the body’s uptake of magnesium and calcium, possibly resulting in bone density loss and elevated blood pressure.

CHLORINE: Digestion, blood pressure.

COBALT: Essential for formation of vitamin B12, metabolism of fatty acids, and synthesis of hemoglobin.

SULPHUR: Protien synthesis, collagen cross linking, and ligament structure.

COPPER: Immune system, artery strength, helps form hemoglobin from iron and assist in metabolizing vitamin C and the oxidation of fatty acids.

CHROMIUM: Insulin action, cardiovascular health, glucose tolerance factor.

IRON: Blood formation, immune function.

SELENIUM: Immune stimulant, certain brain functions, acts as antioxidant. NICKEL: Immune regulation, brain development, and DNA synthesis.

IODINE: Thyroid functions, aids in upkeep of immune system.

MOLYBDEMUM: Enzyme action.

SILICON: Enzyme action, connective tissue.

TIN: Enzyme action

MANGANESE: Bone development and growth, metabolism of fat and energy, reproductive systems.

ZINC: Enzymatic reactions, reproductive health, growth and development, immune functions.

Ham Radio – The Advantage of DStar and DMR Modes

Ham Radio is a fascinating hobby, but what is the advantage of D-star and DMR modes.

There are many different interests within the umbrella name of Ham Radio. People communicate with other like-minded people around the World using the Internal Short Wave bands. Ham Radio Operators equipment include H.F., (High Frequency), transceivers covering several of the Ham Band allocations, and many use Yagi aerials with three, four and sometimes six elements, to not only transmit their power out to the receiving station, but also to receive weak signals form lesser equipped ham radio Operators using simple aerial systems such as dipoles or vertical radiators. These aerial elements can be thirty three feet long when covering the twenty metre Ham Band, if the elements are widely spaced between each other at say point two of a wavelength, the distance between the elements is four point two metres, a very large aerial indeed.

Many Radio Hams who I have spoken to around the World have sixty feet high towers with multi element aerial as described above. You need a lot of space for such an aerial, and planning permission to go along with it.

D-Star and DMR are Ham Radio modes which are gaining in popularity, because the problems associated with having a large aerial do not exist, signals on D-star and DMR do not rely of the ionosphere to propagate signal around the World, they use laser light and data packets used to facilitate the International World wide web.

Many elderly radio Hams who have moved from their long term family homes, into small apartments, where outside aerials are not allowed, are finding that their interest in communication can still continue, using D-star or DMR modes of communication. The digital mode also has a great advantage over traditional propagation. You need propagation to be working in your favour when using High Frequency bands. If there is no propagation on a particular Ham Band, you simply do not hear any signals. D-star and DMR modes rely on the efficiency of the Internet, offering Radio Hams Worldwide communication without the need for natural reflection and refraction of the transmitted signal via the Earth’s Ionosphere.

Handheld transceivers capable of Digital transmission are now freely available from many of the Ham Radio retailers. Their transmissions are converted from standard analogue voice signals via voice encoders built into the hand set, these transmissions are picked up via local repeaters that are connected with each other to form a Worldwide network, if you do not live beside a D-star or DMR repeater you easily can turn your home based computer into a repeater with inexpensive add-on technology, they do the same job as a nearby repeater does.

Interesting Facts about Ringworm

In spite of its popular name, the actual cause of ringworm is infection with fungal organisms. These infectious fungal organisms are called dermatophytes and the medical term for ringworm is dermatophytosis. Sometimes ringworm is also known as tinea. The fungal infectious organisms responsible for causing ringworm are widespread in nature and they commonly populate the soil. The only effective means of preventing the occurrence of ringworm is to maintain a good hygiene. Ringworm is very contagious and it can easily be acquired through direct contact with contaminated people, animals or objects. Regularly wash your hands after entering in contact with stray animals, as many of them are carriers of the fungi responsible for causing ringworms in humans.

Arthrospores are the main cause of ringworm in humans. Although there are lots of animals contaminated with arthrospores, they usually don’t show any signs of the disease. For some reason, most animals appear to be immune to this form of fungal infection. Microsporum canis is a type of fungi that commonly infects cats. This type of fungus can be easily transmitted to other animals and to humans. It is strongly recommended to avoid physical contact with animals that show signs of disease in order to prevent contamination with infectious fungal elements. Also, if you own a dog or a cat, ensure that your pet is not contaminated with dermatophytes by paying regular visits to a veterinary.

Ringworm can affect virtually any region of the body. Hands and feet are very exposed to fungal infection and dermatophytes often infect these body parts. Although it commonly affects skin, ringworm can also affect nails and scalp. Ringworm involves inflammation, rash and swelling of the skin, scalp, soft tissue and nails. Rash is usually the first sign that indicates the presence of fungal infections. Skin lesions may also appear in later stages of the disease. If the infection spreads through the deeper layers of the skin it can cause pustules and painful nodules. A hardened crust often forms on the surface of the affected skin. Common symptoms of ringworm are persistent itching, soreness and irritation.

Ringworm of the scalp appears in the form of pustules or pus-filled reddish bumps. Foot ringworm usually affects the skin regions between the toes. Foot ringworm appears in the form of cracked, hardened skin. The affected skin also tends to exfoliate, causing itching and soreness. Ringworm of the nails is manifested by thickening and discoloration of the nails.

It is very important to see a dermatologist if you have the symptoms of ringworm. Although it may resemble a simple rash or irritation, ringworm can cause serious complications if it is not appropriately treated. The treatment for ringworm can be prescribed in the form of oral tablets or creams and ointments for external use. The medications used in the treatment for ringworm contain antifungal material and they are usually very effective in overcoming the infection. With appropriate medical treatment, ringworm can be completely cured within a week.

Choosing the Right Dental Assistant School

Which School Should You Enroll Yourself?

The dental assistant school you choose to enroll in is one necessary factor in your success as an assistant. You must choose among these schools the one approved and accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association (ADA). Certification for dental assistant is only granted by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) to those who graduated from accredited schools. Such certification is very important as some states require license of assistants in allowing them to work in the field. Most of the employers also have higher regards on those who graduated from accredited programs because they are assured that the assistants they hire would be competent enough and skillful.

Enrollment Prerequisites

Just like other degree programs or courses, a high school diploma or an equivalent is usually required in enrolling to school. Some schools aside from the high school diploma or its equivalent, also requires some subjects or courses in science (biology and chemistry in particular), health, computer and office or management.

Classes and Programs

There are programs available online. However, you must make it sure that its mother school is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the ADA. Aside from the accreditation you must also check if there is a balance between lecture classes and laboratory or hands-on trainings. Practical experiences must always be included in the program. Usually, the assistant programs consist classes on dental anatomy and basic anatomy, dental procedures and theory, nutrition and preventive dentistry, disease   transmission  and pathology, pharmacology and radiology, names of instruments and use of equipment, communication and patient interaction, medical office administration and record keeping.

Evaluating School for Assistants

The student aspiring to be an assistant must consider if the school provides the appropriate training for the different roles of an assistant. The program of the school must provide comprehensive trainings regarding the important roles of a dental assistant. Aside from the trainings the students must also give proper education and preparation for the students for the Dental Assisting National Board’s CDA examination. Reviews must be conducted by the school among their students. Also, the school’s location is very important to consider. The student must have initially planned which state he or she would like to work in so that the standards of the school meet the state’s standards for dental assistants allowed to work in the field. The student-teacher ratio must also be considered. Proper supervisions must be given to each student not just during laboratory or practical experiences but also during the classes on theories. Furthermore, check whether financial aids are available such as student loans, scholarships and grants. The tuition fees for dental courses in different schools are to be noted. Check also the success of the graduates of the school. Take note of how many were granted the certification of being an assistant and how many among those who went into internships got jobs compared to the number of graduates. The percentage has to be relatively high to be able to say that the said dental assistant school will provide you the proper training and lead you to excellence and success in the field.

Dirofilariasis – The Deadly Heartworm in Dogs

When a dog is suffering from heartworm, it means that they are infected with a roundworm commonly known as heart worm. The organism is actually Dirofilaria immitis, a parasite. This worm is transmitted by mosquitoes and will infect your dog’s blood, heart and lungs. Left untreated, the disease is fatal.

Causes

Heartworms are spread through mosquitos that carry the infective heartworm larvae. The larvae enter the dog’s body through the mosquito bite wound and travel through the dog’s body to the heart. This process will take approximately six months.

Once the heartworms are living inside your dog, the adults will release immature heartworms (microfilariae) into the bloodstream of the dog. When a mosquito bites an infected dog, it will become a carrier of these microfilariae and infect the next dog it bites.

If a dog lives in a high risk area for heartworm, without preventative treatment it will almost certainly contract heartworm disease. Although heartworm is mainly endemic in tropical and subtropical areas, it is not limited to these areas. Heartworm has been identified in all 50 US states and is found worldwide.

Symptoms of Heartworm

Heartworm disease can be diagnosed by your veterinarian through a blood test. There are three classes of heartworm, and the symptoms vary from no visible symptoms to extreme ill health. It is difficult for a dog owner to identify heartworm in their pet.

The symptoms of heartworm include but are not limited to an occasional or more regular coughing, reduced canine activity or an intolerance to exercise, anaemia, fainting, chronic heart failure, labored breathing and high blood pressure.

The severity of heartworm disease will depend on the severity of the infestation, the duration of the disease and the response of the dog. All dogs are different in the way their bodies cope with the heartworm infestation.

Diagnosis

If your vet suspects your dog may have heartworm they can conduct a blood test, carry out an electrocardiograph (can reveal heart rhythm disturbances), a urine analysis or x-rays. They are looking for damage to or enlargement of the heart and associated arteries.

Treatment

Initially your dog will be hospitalized, and receive a dose of adulticide which will kill the adult heartworms. Depending on the severity of the infestation your dog may need to be hospitalized for a longer period. In some cases surgery may also be required to remove adult worms from the heart and jugular vein.

After the adult worms have been killed, treatment must be ongoing with a monthly dose of prophylaxis to kill eggs and larvae which have not been killed by adulticide.

You should be aware that the treatment for heartworm can be deadly. Even mild to moderate cases of heartworm will have a considerable impact on your dog. It is not an easy treatment for your dog, and should not be considered light heartedly.

Prevention

Heartworm disease is completely preventable through a regular dose of prophylaxis which is a preventative heartworm medication. Your veterinarian will be able to assist you with the appropriate medication and dosage to suit your dog.

If your dog does contract heartworm and has been successfully treated, you should take care to administer the monthly dose of prophylaxis as advised by your vet – reinfestation can easily occur especially in high risk areas.

What Is an Investment?

One of the reasons many people fail, even very woefully, in the game of investing is that they play it without understanding the rules that regulate it. It is an obvious truth that you cannot win a game if you violate its rules. However, you must know the rules before you will be able to avoid violating them. Another reason people fail in investing is that they play the game without understanding what it is all about. This is why it is important to unmask the meaning of the term, ‘investment’. What is an investment? An investment is an income-generating valuable. It is very important that you take note of every word in the definition because they are important in understanding the real meaning of investment.

From the definition above, there are two key features of an investment. Every possession, belonging or property (of yours) must satisfy both conditions before it can qualify to become (or be called) an investment. Otherwise, it will be something other than an investment. The first feature of an investment is that it is a valuable – something that is very useful or important. Hence, any possession, belonging or property (of yours) that has no value is not, and cannot be, an investment. By the standard of this definition, a worthless, useless or insignificant possession, belonging or property is not an investment. Every investment has value that can be quantified monetarily. In other words, every investment has a monetary worth.

The second feature of an investment is that, in addition to being a valuable, it must be income-generating. This means that it must be able to make money for the owner, or at least, help the owner in the money-making process. Every investment has wealth-creating capacity, obligation, responsibility and function. This is an inalienable feature of an investment. Any possession, belonging or property that cannot generate income for the owner, or at least help the owner in generating income, is not, and cannot be, an investment, irrespective of how valuable or precious it may be. In addition, any belonging that cannot play any of these financial roles is not an investment, irrespective of how expensive or costly it may be.

There is another feature of an investment that is very closely related to the second feature described above which you should be very mindful of. This will also help you realise if a valuable is an investment or not. An investment that does not generate money in the strict sense, or help in generating income, saves money. Such an investment saves the owner from some expenses he would have been making in its absence, though it may lack the capacity to attract some money to the pocket of the investor. By so doing, the investment generates money for the owner, though not in the strict sense. In other words, the investment still performs a wealth-creating function for the owner/investor.

As a rule, every valuable, in addition to being something that is very useful and important, must have the capacity to generate income for the owner, or save money for him, before it can qualify to be called an investment. It is very important to emphasize the second feature of an investment (i.e. an investment as being income-generating). The reason for this claim is that most people consider only the first feature in their judgments on what constitutes an investment. They understand an investment simply as a valuable, even if the valuable is income-devouring. Such a misconception usually has serious long-term financial consequences. Such people often make costly financial mistakes that cost them fortunes in life.

Perhaps, one of the causes of this misconception is that it is acceptable in the academic world. In financial studies in conventional educational institutions and academic publications, investments – otherwise called assets – refer to valuables or properties. This is why business organisations regard all their valuables and properties as their assets, even if they do not generate any income for them. This notion of investment is unacceptable among financially literate people because it is not only incorrect, but also misleading and deceptive. This is why some organisations ignorantly consider their liabilities as their assets. This is also why some people also consider their liabilities as their assets/investments.

It is a pity that many people, especially financially ignorant people, consider valuables that consume their incomes, but do not generate any income for them, as investments. Such people record their income-consuming valuables on the list of their investments. People who do so are financial illiterates. This is why they have no future in their finances. What financially literate people describe as income-consuming valuables are considered as investments by financial illiterates. This shows a difference in perception, reasoning and mindset between financially literate people and financially illiterate and ignorant people. This is why financially literate people have future in their finances while financial illiterates do not.

From the definition above, the first thing you should consider in investing is, “How valuable is what you want to acquire with your money as an investment?” The higher the value, all things being equal, the better the investment (though the higher the cost of the acquisition will likely be). The second factor is, “How much can it generate for you?” If it is a valuable but non income-generating, then it is not (and cannot be) an investment, needless to say that it cannot be income-generating if it is not a valuable. Hence, if you cannot answer both questions in the affirmative, then what you are doing cannot be investing and what you are acquiring cannot be an investment. At best, you may be acquiring a liability.

Flu Virus Research

The critical part in the research is to understand how influenza virus spread and mutate and is the key to preventing pandemics by discovering preventive, diagnostic and treatment methods.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), influenza viruses that occur in animals can infect humans, and later develop to pandemic strains. Several research areas have been outlined by the WHO relating to the animal/human influenza interface that could have a profound impact on protecting human being.

The Working Group of WHO on Influenza Research at the Animal/Human Interface was setup in 2005 to encourage basic studies into animal influenza viruses, with the aim to find out the cause the viruses can infect people.

ON-GOING STUDIES

Studies are on-going on avian influenza viruses, particularly H5N1. Researchers aim to discover the prevalence of avian influenza viruses in domestic animals and birds, understand the molecular basis of   transmission  of viruses from animals to people, assess the role of migratory birds in the  transmission  of the viruses, and evaluate the human immune response to infection with avian influenza viruses.

Studies are also being done on H1N1, a novel strain which is the causative factor of the current influenza A pandemic and researchers succeeded developed a vaccine which approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

PUTTING VACCINES TO THE TEST

The scientists from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) play an important role and work in collaboration with medical research institutions worldwide to find better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat seasonal and pandemic influenzas, including influenza A (H1N1).

The trial is being conducted through the NIAID-funded national network of Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEUs). Safety data will be collected and assessed continuously throughout the trial by an independent safety monitoring committee and investigators.

STUDYING THE NATURE OF THE FLU VIRUS

Other than vaccine research, NIAID scientists are also investigating the basic biology of influenza. The data collected will assist in designing diagnostics that are more accurate and faster, cost-effective and portable. NIAID is also investigating host immune responses to the virus in animal models and people, and studying influenza epidemiology.

For treatment, NIAID supports research being conducted to develop new and effective drug combinations and examine the mechanisms behind emerging drug resistance. This effort is supported by innovative new technologies to design drugs that target specific cellular processes and viral proteins.

Heartburn Can Be Easily Cured

Do you suffer from heartburn, reflux or burping? Perhaps you rely on a medicine to help settle your tummy. I have written on digestive disorders on several occasions previously, but this time I would like to write specifically on a little bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. Helicobacter pylori bacterial infection is recognised as the most prevalent bacteria to infect the human population in the entire world. You may well identify the following problem, and if you do, don’t despair. It actually is possible to free from heartburn, reflux or a low grade queasiness, which affects so many people.

Helicobacter is a clever little bug

In 1982, when Australian Dr. Barry Marshall identified a new bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (HP) as an infectious agent responsible for peptic ulcer disease, it completely transformed medicine’s understanding of the microbiology and disease of the human stomach. Your stomach is protected from its own gastric juice by a thick layer of mucous that covers the stomach lining. HP takes advantage of this protection by actually living in the mucous lining. Once this clever little bug is safe in this mucous, it is able to fight the stomach acid that does reach it with an enzyme it possesses called urease. Urease converts urea, of which there is an abundant supply in the stomach (from saliva and gastric juices), into bicarbonate and ammonia, which are strong (alkaline) bases. This creates a cloud of acid-neutralizing chemicals around the H. pylori, protecting it from the acid in the stomach. This cloud is also part of the reflux and burping process that occurs, which many HP people complain of.

Contributing to the protection of HP is the fact that the body’s natural defenses cannot reach these bugs in this mucous lining of the stomach. The immune system will respond to an HP infection by sending “killer T-cells”, (white blood cells), and other infection-fighting agents. However, these potential H. pylori eradicators cannot reach the infection, because they cannot easily get through stomach lining. They do not go away – the immune response just grows and grows over time. White cells die and spill their destructive compounds onto cells lining the stomach lining. More nutrients are sent to reinforce the white cells, and the H. pylori can feed on this. Within a few days, gastritis and perhaps eventually a peptic ulcer results in the lining of your tummy. And of course, the person who suffers is often blissfully unaware, takes an antacid or an acid-blocking drug long-term, and continues to eat and drink foods which only aggravate the healing process long term. So they go back to the doctor, only to be told to stay on the medicine. After a few years, the person resigns themselves to the fact that they will always require this “medicine” to cure their condition. Yeah right, and Alice lived happily after in Wonderland.

To confirm that HP caused the gastritis and peptic ulceration, Marshall swallowed cultures of the bacteria and contracted gastritis (inflammation of the mucus membrane of the stomach). He then underwent endoscopy (internal examination of the stomach), and provided biopsies from which the suspected bug was re-isolated.

Changing medical belief and practice takes time. For nearly 100 years, scientists and doctors thought that ulcers were caused by lots of stress, spicy foods, and copious alcohol. Treatment involved bed rest and a bland and boring diet. Later, researchers added stomach acid to the list of causes and began treating ulcers with antacids when they became fashionable.Unfortunate for poor Barry, nobody believed him. In fact, he was actually treated with ridicule and disdain when he first proposed the idea that a bacteria actually lived the hostile environment of the stomach. Before 1982, the accepted medical paradigm was “no acid, no ulcer”, and that stomach ulcers only occurred when excess acid damaged the stomach wall and that all treatment should be aimed at reducing or neutralising all that bad acid. Surely you remember the advertisements on TV with the man drawing on his tummy with a felt tipped pen, telling you that the acid has to “stay down there”. These commercials generally came on after dinner, the time when your tummy is most likely to play up, I can’t help but thinking how many of those sufferers possibly have an undetected H.pylori infection. There is still a lot of drug promotion regarding this acid reflux problem. Unfortunately, many such patients today are still seen as having “too much stomach acid”, and treated with antacids or stomach-acid blockers as front-line therapy, when in my clinical experience actually the opposite applies, they don’t have enough or have an infection which needs sorting. Gastric juice is composed of digestive enzymes and concentrated hydrochloric acid, which can readily digest food or kill microorganisms. Low levels of stomach acid increase the chance an organism’s survival. It used to be thought that the stomach contained no bacteria and was actually sterile, and it took an Aussie GP to prove all the world’s experts wrong.

It seems pretty silly to treat the acid problem perpetually, without enquiring into actually why this burping, reflux and upper abdominal discomfort is occurring in the first place. Albert Szent Györgyi, (1937 Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine) said that: “Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” Today it is an established fact that most cases of peptic ulcers and gastritis, diseases that affect millions of humans worldwide, result from this HP infection, and not “too much acid” in the stomach at all.

“Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” Albert Szent Györgyi

HP infection and prevalence

H. pylori is believed to be transmitted orally. Did you wash your hands? Many researchers believe that HP is transmitted orally by means of fecal matter through the ingestion of tainted food or water. In addition, it is possible that H. pylori could be transmitted from the stomach to the mouth through gastro-esophageal reflux or belching, all common symptoms of gastritis. The bacterium could then be transmitted through oral contact.

HP infection remains a huge problem, is extremely common and infecting more than a billion people worldwide. It is estimated that half of the American population older than age 60 has been infected with H. pylori at some stage and the economic effect of ulcer disease in the US (as measured back in a study of 1989 data) showed that the illness cost then nearly $6 billion annually. ($2.66 billion for hospitalisation, not including doctor ‘s fees), outpatient care ($1.62 billion), and loss in work productivity ($1.37 billion).

One in five Aussies and Kiwis have HP, according to Dr. Barry Marshal, infection usually persists for many years, leading to ulcer disease in 10 % to 15% of those infected. H. pylori is found in more than 80% of patients with gastric and duodenal ulcers. You can imagine what this common complaint in NZ and Australia is costing, in terms of medication, doctor’s visits and lost productivity at work. Early research on HP characterised much of the work to come, the data that emerged from the study of all these samples was quite unexpected. It showed that HP is actually a common bacterial agent and that an amazing 30-50% of the world’s population are colonised with it.

How do you know if you have the HP bug?

The infection manifests differently in different individuals. In some people, it produces more acid in the stomach, and ulcers may result. In others, stomach acid suppression or complete lack (which we call achlorhydria) may result, and these people may be at a greater risk of gastric cancer. It is unclear why some people respond one way or the other.

Typical manifestations of a Helicobacter pylori infection:

· Nausea, or a low-grade feeling of being queasy. Could be vomiting.

· Avoidance of chilli, garlic or a specific food which “does not agree” with your tummy.

· Bloating worse after meals. Feeling worse after meals or certain foods.

· Recurring abdominal pain, intestinal cramps.

· Peptic or duodenal ulcers (over 90% of all cases have HP)

· Burping, this can be pretty bad. The person may have developed a reputation!

· Heartburn, and perhaps reliant on Quick-Eze or Gavascon, Losec, etc.

· Diarrhea or constipation after several years of infection.

· Disturbed sleep, perhaps waking up with a hollow feeling or heartburn. I have known some patients to prop up the head of the bed with a few bricks even.

· Symptoms worse at night, or worse lying down.

· Vitamin B12 deficiency. Have your practitioner test for this, you may well be deficient.

· Altered appetite, some times you may feel like eating, other times you don’t.

· After being infected for several years, you may have develop mineral deficiencies which can lead to a myriad of health problems.

· Helicobacter pylori is implicated in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

· Migraine headaches (40% of migraine sufferers are positive, and eradication subsides the headaches).

· Acne rosacea. Helicobacter pylori is suspected of causing rosacea (eradication of HP often results in a significant reduction in rosacea symptoms).

Is it any wonder how an ailing stomach is supposed to do its job, i.e., digesting and absorbing foods efficiently when a bacterial infection is causing such dysfunction? Your doctor may have initially prescribed a medicine such as Losec, Gavascon or Mylanta for your stomach, serving to block acid or dilute it. How is your tummy supposed to work at all now? Then you go back and complain that the symptoms are unchanged. What then? You can see what I mean, after many years of this infection you can feel quite unwell. I see one person or more each week like this, and have done so for many years. When I wrote an article to our local newspaper several years ago regarding HP, I received nearly ten calls. And almost al these patients had a HP infection, all were on either Losec, Quick-Eze, Gavascon or Mylanta.

Conventional HP Therapy

Please note that it is extremely important to obtain an accurate diagnosis before trying to find a cure of your heartburn or reflux. Many stomach or digestive diseases and conditions share common symptoms: if you treat yourself for the wrong illness or a specific symptom of a complex disease, you may delay legitimate treatment of a serious underlying problem, yes even stomach cancer. In other words, the greatest danger in self-treatment may actually be self-diagnosis. Always work with your health-care professional, preferably one who is experienced in gastrointestinal disorders. If you do not know what you really have, you simply can not treat it!

I have always had a great concern regarding the extensive use of antibiotic drugs required to treat HP infected individuals. The conventional medical clearing of HP from the stomach requires therapy from 10 to 14 days with multiple drugs. My concern is that prolonged or recurrent antibiotic treatment alters the normal microbial population of the entire gastrointestinal tract, eliminating many beneficial bacteria as well as HP, allowing the sufferer to develop a gut environment which may contain bugs like Candida albicans, proteus, or a whole host of other undesirables. You get rid of one problem, only to create yet another.

Triple Therapy

The use of only one medication to treatH. pylori was never recommended by Dr. Marshall. At this time, the most conventional treatment is a 2-week course of treatment called “triple therapy”. It involves taking two antibiotics to kill the bacteria and either an acid suppressor or stomach-lining shielding drug. Two-week triple therapy reduces ulcer symptoms, kills the bacteria, and prevents ulcer recurrence in many patients – but the recurrence can be as high as 75%. Complete eradication is difficult, I have had many patients who have come to me after having had triple therapy many years ago with average to poor results, and were placed on an acid blocker for many years after.I do recommend this for some resistant cases, and have been know to send some patients to a GP for triple therapy, then follow-up with natural treatment for 6 weeks. I have found that some patients may find triple therapy complicated because it involves taking 3 kinds of drugs, and as many as 20 pills a day. Also, the antibiotics and bismuth drugs used in triple therapy may cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark stools, metallic taste in the mouth, dizziness, headache, and yeast infections, particularly in women.

HP Testing

The diagnosis of H. pylori infection has traditionally involved endoscopy with biopsies of the stomach’s mucosa. There are three ways to test for HP currently in NZ. To be honest, I only occasionally authorise a HP test these days, and generally have a “gut feeling” a person has this bug once they come into my room and complain of the above mentioned symptoms. Common sense – the patient will soon tell you if they are or are not improving, and it only takes about three to four weeks to really know what is going on. Just because the test results come back negative, you could still have this bug. You know me by now, please don’t get paralysis from analysis! If you feel significantly better after a HP treatment whether it be pharmaceutical or natural – you probably have HP regardless of what the test results say. Remember – up to one in five New Zealanders have this infection, so the odds are reasonably high you have it.

· The Urea Breath Test method of diagnosis relies on the Urea reaction being present, as mentioned earlier. This is a sound test – 90 – 95% successful in picking up the HP bug.

· Blood tests measuring HP antibody levels have been developed. However, these tests have suboptimal sensitivity and specificity (85% and 79%).

· Stool tests for antibodies – again, many factors can affect the outcome of this test, stay with breath testing. Many experts say that the fecal antigen test is bullet proof, but in my experience I have seen many “false negatives” with testing. That is, the results come back all ok, but the patient responds dramatically after HP treatment.

Natural HP Eradication

No clear indications exist for specific treatment of each and every individual case of HP associated gastritis. I have found the following treatments to be effective, and employed many different therapies over the years. Here are some treatments which I have found to work in various HP cases. Remember, recurrence rates are quite high, so you may want to persist with treatment until you feel much better, then hang in there for a few more months (lower grade treatment) to be absolutely sure. I recommend treatment in blocks of 6 weeks, then wait 2 -3 weeks, then another 6 week period of treatment. A good clinical tip for you: always treat this infection by taking something with meals, and also something in-between, or away from foods. This is designed to really drive the “kill” treatment home, and lets the treatment have access to the HP bugs in the gut with as well as away to some extent from foods and gastric juice involvement. I have a saying in my clinic: persistence breaks resistance. Remember Winston Churchill? – never give in, never give in, never give in.

· Manuka honey, which has high levels of hydrogen peroxide and has been shown in studies to be active against H. pylori. Go for the Comvita high UMF factor Manuka honey.

· Propolis works really well for some, but is dismal for others.

· Vitamin B12 – get this checked in your blood! You may well be deficient here.

· After antibiotic treatment is finished, (triple therapy) it makes sense to rebuild the gut flora with lactobacillus species. They won’t cure the condition, however. (A 2002 trial demonstrated that a mixed acidophilus preparation failed to eradicate the H. pylori infection in the patients upon whom it was tried).

· DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) – you can get this in capsules or liquid.

· Aloe Vera helps to heal the mucous lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

· Berberine is found in the herb Goldenseal, and it may be used as a natural herbal antibiotic.

· Eat grapefruit seeds, for some this is very effective long term. The extract is even better.

· Digestive enzymes may also be useful – especially with achlorhydria (low stomach acid)

· Gum mastic is a natural substance from the sap of the Mediterranean evergreen tree, Pistacia lemniscuses. Mastic gum has been shown to be effective in protecting the digestive system, healing peptic and duodenal ulcers, and eradicating H. pylori from the gut. I use this a lot, and give two capsules twice daily in between meals.

· Bismuth. It displays anti-inflammatory action (due to salicylic acid) and also acts as an antacid and mild antibiotic. Don’t freak out – It can also cause a black tongue and black stools in some people who take it, when it combines with trace amounts of sulfur in their saliva and gastrointestinal tract. This discoloration is temporary and absolutely harmless.

My favourite HP treatment regime? I would have to say gum mastica between meals, and with meals a preparation of Bismuth,deglycyrrhizinated licorice, grapefruit seed extract and goldenseal. I often recommend aloe vera and activated charcoal as well.

Do you get that annoying heartburn, and want to try and find a cause and ultimately a cure? Consult your naturopath or nutritional-friendly doctor who can check you out carefully and thoroughly and who will actually treat the cause, not the symptom. They should generally recommend a course of treatment and a specific diet designed for the individual, with promising results for many patients. And what a relief, to be free of heartburn, bloating and that “awful feeling in the tummy” again!

The Top 5 Key Benefits of Purchasing and Owning Investment Real Estate

So… You may ask yourself, why should you buy or invest in real estate in the First Place? Because it’s the IDEAL investment! Let’s take a moment to address the reasons why people should have investment real estate in the first place. The easiest answer is a well-known acronym that addresses the key benefits for all investment real estate. Put simply, Investment Real Estate is an IDEAL investment. The IDEAL stands for:

• I – Income
• D – Depreciation
• E – Expenses
• A – Appreciation
• L – Leverage

Real estate is the IDEAL investment compared to all others. I’ll explain each benefit in depth.

The “I” in IDEAL stands for Income. (a.k.a. positive cash flow) Does it even generate income? Your investment property should be generating income from rents received each month. Of course, there will be months where you may experience a vacancy, but for the most part your investment will be producing an income. Be careful because many times beginning investors exaggerate their assumptions and don’t take into account all potential costs. The investor should know going into the purchase that the property will COST money each month (otherwise known as negative cash flow). This scenario, although not ideal, may be OK, only in specific instances that we will discuss later. It boils down to the risk tolerance and ability for the owner to fund and pay for a negative producing asset. In the boom years of real estate, prices were sky high and the rents didn’t increase proportionately with many residential real estate investment properties. Many naïve investors purchased properties with the assumption that the appreciation in prices would more than compensate for the fact that the high balance mortgage would be a significant negative impact on the funds each month. Be aware of this and do your best to forecast a positive cash flow scenario, so that you can actually realize the INCOME part of the IDEAL equation.

Often times, it may require a higher down payment (therefore lesser amount being mortgaged) so that your cash flow is acceptable each month. Ideally, you eventually pay off the mortgage so there is no question that cash flow will be coming in each month, and substantially so. This ought to be a vital component to one’s retirement plan. Do this a few times and you won’t have to worry about money later on down the road, which is the main goal as well as the reward for taking the risk in purchasing investment property in the first place.

The “D” in IDEAL Stands for Depreciation. With investment real estate, you are able to utilize its depreciation for your own tax benefit. What is depreciation anyway? It’s a non-cost accounting method to take into account the overall financial burden incurred through real estate investment. Look at this another way, when you buy a brand new car, the minute you drive off the lot, that car has depreciated in value. When it comes to your investment real estate property, the IRS allows you to deduct this amount yearly against your taxes. Please note: I am not a tax professional, so this is not meant to be a lesson in taxation policy or to be construed as tax advice.

With that said, the depreciation of a real estate investment property is determined by the overall value of the structure of the property and the length of time (recovery period based on the property type-either residential or commercial). If you have ever gotten a property tax bill, they usually break your property’s assessed value into two categories: one for the value of the land, and the other for the value of the structure. Both of these values added up equals your total “basis” for property taxation. When it comes to depreciation, you can deduct against your taxes on the original base value of the structure only; the IRS doesn’t allow you to depreciate land value (because land is typically only APPRECIATING). Just like your new car driving off the lot, it’s the structure on the property that is getting less and less valuable every year as its effective age gets older and older. And you can use this to your tax advantage.

The best example of the benefit regarding this concept is through depreciation, you can actually turn a property that creates a positive cash flow into one that shows a loss (on paper) when dealing with taxes and the IRS. And by doing so, that (paper) loss is deductible against your income for tax purposes. Therefore, it’s a great benefit for people that are specifically looking for a “tax-shelter” of sorts for their real estate investments.

For example, and without getting too technical, assume that you are able to depreciate $15,000 a year from a $500,000 residential investment property that you own. Let’s say that you are cash-flowing $1,000 a month (meaning that after all expenses, you are net-positive $1000 each month), so you have $12,000 total annual income for the year from this property’s rental income. Although you took in $12,000, you can show through your accountancy with the depreciation of the investment real estate that you actually lost $3,000 on paper, which is used against any income taxes that you may owe. From the standpoint of IRS, this property realized a loss of $3,000 after the “expense” of the $15,000 depreciation amount was taken into account. Not only are there no taxes due on that rental income, you can utilize the paper loss of $3,000 against your other regular taxable income from your day-job. Investment property at higher price points will have proportionally higher tax-shelter qualities. Investors use this to their benefit in being able to deduct as much against their taxable amount owed each year through the benefit of depreciation with their underlying real estate investment.

Although this is a vastly important benefit to owning investment real estate, the subject is not well understood. Because depreciation is a somewhat complicated tax subject, the above explanation was meant to be cursory in nature. When it comes to issues involving taxes and depreciation, make sure you have a tax professional that can advise you appropriately so you know where you stand.

The “E” in IDEAL is for Expenses – Generally, all expenses incurred relating to the property are deductible when it comes to your investment property. The cost for utilities, the cost for insurance, the mortgage, and the interest and property taxes you pay. If you use a property manager or if you’re repairing or improving the property itself, all of this is deductible. Real estate investment comes with a lot of expenses, duties, and responsibilities to ensure the investment property itself performs to its highest capability. Because of this, contemporary tax law generally allows that all of these related expenses are deductible to the benefit of the investment real estate landowner. If you were to ever take a loss, or purposefully took a loss on a business investment or investment property, that loss (expense) can carry over for multiple years against your income taxes. For some people, this is an aggressive and technical strategy. Yet it’s another potential benefit of investment real estate.

The “A” in IDEAL is for Appreciation – Appreciation means the growth of value of the underlying investment. It’s one of the main reasons that we invest in the first place, and it’s a powerful way to grow your net worth. Many homes in the city of San Francisco are several million dollars in today’s market, but back in the 1960s, the same property was worth about the cost of the car you are currently driving (probably even less!). Throughout the years, the area became more popular and the demand that ensued caused the real estate prices in the city to grow exponentially compared to where they were a few decades ago. People that were lucky enough to recognize this, or who were just in the right place at the right time and continued to live in their home have realized an investment return in the 1000’s of percent. Now that’s what appreciation is all about. What other investment can make you this kind of return without drastically increased risk? The best part about investment real estate is that someone is paying you to live in your property, paying off your mortgage, and creating an income (positive cash flow) to you each month along the way throughout your course of ownership.

The “L” in IDEAL stands for Leverage – A lot of people refer to this as “OPM” (other people’s money). This is when you are using a small amount of your money to control a much more expensive asset. You are essentially leveraging your down payment and gaining control of an asset that you would normally not be able to purchase without the loan itself. Leverage is much more acceptable in the real estate world and inherently less risky than leverage in the stock world (where this is done through means of options or buying “on Margin”). Leverage is common in real estate. Otherwise, people would only buy property when they had 100% of the cash to do so. Over a third of all purchase transactions are all-cash transactions as our recovery continues. Still, about 2/3 of all purchases are done with some level of financing, so the majority of buyers in the market enjoy the power that leverage can offer when it comes to investment real estate.

For example, if a real estate investor was to buy a house that costs $100,000 with 10% down payment, they are leveraging the remaining 90% through the use of the associated mortgage. Let’s say the local market improves by 20% over the next year, and therefore the actual property is now worth $120,000. When it comes to leverage, from the standpoint of this property, its value increased by 20%. But compared to the investor’s actual down payment (the “skin in the game”) of $10,000- this increase in property value of 20% really means the investor doubled their return on the investment actually made-also known as the “cash on cash” return. In this case, that is 200%-because the $10,000 is now responsible and entitled to a $20,000 increase in overall value and the overall potential profit.

Although leverage is considered a benefit, like everything else, there can always be too much of a good thing. In 2007, when the real estate market took a turn for the worst, many investors were over-leveraged and fared the worst. They could not weather the storm of a correcting economy. Exercising caution with every investment made will help to ensure that you can purchase, retain, pay-off debt, and grow your wealth from the investment decisions made as opposed to being at the mercy and whim of the overall market fluctuations. Surely there will be future booms and busts as the past would dictate as we continue to move forward. More planning and preparing while building net worth will help prevent getting bruised and battered by the side effects of whatever market we find ourselves in.

Many people think that investment real estate is only about cash flow and appreciation, but it’s so much more than that. As mentioned above, you can realize several benefits through each real estate investment property you purchase. The challenge is to maximize the benefits through every investment.

Furthermore, the IDEAL acronym is not just a reminder of the benefits of investment real estate; it’s also here to serve as a guide for every investment property you will consider purchasing in the future. Any property you purchase should conform to all of the letters that represent the IDEAL acronym. The underlying property should have a good reason for not fitting all the guidelines. And in almost every case, if there is an investment you are considering that doesn’t hit all the guidelines, by most accounts you should probably PASS on it!

Take for example a story of my own, regarding a property that I purchased early on in my real estate career. To this day, it’s the biggest investment mistake that I’ve made, and it’s precisely because I didn’t follow the IDEAL guidelines that you are reading and learning about now. I was naïve and my experience was not yet fully developed. The property I purchased was a vacant lot in a gated community development. The property already had an HOA (a monthly maintenance fee) because of the nice amenity facilities that were built for it, and in anticipation of would-be-built homes. There were high expectations for the future appreciation potential-but then the market turned for the worse as we headed into the great recession that lasted from 2007-2012. Can you see what parts of the IDEAL guidelines I missed on completely?

Let’s start with “I”. The vacant lot made no income! Sometimes this can be acceptable, if the deal is something that cannot be missed. But for the most part this deal was nothing special. In all honesty, I’ve considered selling the trees that are currently on the vacant lot to the local wood mill for some actual income, or putting up a camping spot ad on the local Craigslist; but unfortunately the lumber isn’t worth enough and there are better spots to camp! My expectations and desire for price appreciation blocked the rational and logical questions that needed to be asked. So, when it came to the income aspect of the IDEAL guidelines for a real estate investment, I paid no attention to it. And I paid the price for my hubris. Furthermore, this investment failed to realize the benefit of depreciation as you cannot depreciate land! So, we are zero for two so far, with the IDEAL guideline to real estate investing. All I can do is hope the land appreciates to a point where it can be sold one day. Let’s call it an expensive learning lesson. You too will have these “learning lessons”; just try to have as few of them as possible and you will be better off.

When it comes to making the most of your real estate investments, ALWAYS keep the IDEAL guideline in mind to make certain you are making a good decision and a solid investment.