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Wed, 4th June 2014

Exercise will keep you trim and thin. All kinds are fine, but one of the most popular is gardening. People in their thousands revel in their attachment to earth, lovingly rubbing dark clods between the fingers and smelling the aroma of freshly dug soil, but there are a few precautions. Ideally always wear gloves. Soil teems with all kinds of livestock, mostly unseen. Most notorious are microscopic tetanus spores, ready to pounce and come to life.

Rose Thorn

Commonest way is through a finger prick, frequently rose thorns or other sharp objects in the dirt. Buried in the skin, they multiply quickly and may cause severe symptoms. It is totally preventable with regular "tetanus toxoid booster shots" (every decade or so after primary immunisation in childhood). These are often given with a anti-diphtheria injection in adults. Funnel web spiders, Australia's most deadly, love to build nest in dahlia bulbs, so if separating these, they can suddenly grab a finger, and inject their lethal venom. Anti-venom is available at public hospitals. Red Backs commonly nest in dark spots in gardens specially rockeries.

Cuts and Gashes

Cuts and gashes from bits of tin, broken glass, maybe needles or broken wood are common. These may be in any commercial gardening mix, but may cause serious infections. Handle all gardening gear with respect. Forks, spades, hoes, an axe are potentially dangerous if used carelessly. Lawnmowers are still high risk, despite guards to prevent injury. Wear stout boots and always turn off if lifting them, or passing them over the back fence to the neighbour.

Serious Accidents

Don't laugh. Serious accidents have occurred. Lawn Trimmers must be used with caution. Wear goggles to avoid flying debris. Be wary with electrical leads, specially if lawns are wet. Make certain they are well behind you. If bending for extended periods, make sure you move around to avoid straining back, leg muscles and joints.



I take a multi vitamin tablet each day and notice my urine is a very bright yellow for the rest of the day.


Riboflavine, or vitamin B2 is water soluble and notoriously and quickly turns urine a golden colour. It is OK, and does not indicate anything harmful. Ideally, the less colour in urine the better. That is why plenty of water each day is beneficial. It sweeps away unwanted toxins and the by-products of body metabolism. Incidentally one of the richest natural sources of riboflavine is in milk. Most people receive adequate vitamins each day in their daily food intake.

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I often hear the words "placebo effect", but wonder what it means?


It simply means "mind over matter". If the brain expects a certain outcome, it will often occur. For example, if a tablet is prescribed, and a certain effect is anticipated, often it will take place. If a patient is prescribed a sleeping tablet, sleep will be expected. This may happen, even though occasionally, a "placebo" or inert dummy pill has been taken. That is maybe why doctors once wrote prescriptions in Latin so patients were unaware of what they were taking. Maybe also why many "useless" products today are claimed by recipients to have marvellous beneficial effects.

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How is it possible to avoid sexually transmitted diseases?


The more a person sleeps around, and the more sexual partners, the greater are the risks of contracting these common disorders. That also underscores the importance of sexual protection, and the use of condoms. Some claim it increases the value of the concept of a single life partner. At least it dramatically reduces risks. What's more this is not a new idea!

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We are constantly told that including more legumes in the diet is healthful, and lentils are often recommended. I was brought up in Italy where lentils were regarded as the food of the poor and destitute or even the animals.


Lentils are a rich source of protein. Although some countries regard them in a poor light, and fit for the destitute, this does not reduce their food value. Beans - there are over 150 different varieties, are also an excellent source of protein. So are peas, specially the lowly chic pea, also sometimes fed to poultry and cattle!

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I have read in older books of people suffering from scrofula, but today one rarely hears of the illness.


This was a form of tuberculosis, fairly common in the bad old days, and that includes the 1800s and early 1900s. Tuberculosis was rampant, largely due to poor hygiene, crowded and unhealthy living conditions and poor diet. This changed dramatically during the 1900s. However, TB is now re-emerging as a serious health issue, especially as some forms of the germ have become resistant to available antibiotics. It is often associated with HIV infection.

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This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.



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