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Wed, 29th July 2015

We spend billions of dollars a year on hair care. With many, it tops the No 1 best buyer list. It may be provocative and sexual, feminine or manly, depending on your attitude. Why so much attention to the detail? Because it is part of "me", the living organic outward expression of personality. It makes a statement. "I care, this is me, I am important, I matter, take a look and vibrate at the knees", or something like that.

100,000 HAIRS

The 100,000 hairs on the average scalp do not care much for their character moulding capacity. It is 90,000 in blondes and redheads, 120,000 in brunettes and blackheads. They grow constantly throughout life (and even after life) to protect the scalp and brain. Tiny organs called sebaceous glands are hooked to each shaft below skin level. Microscopic fat works upwards to cover the shaft which is covered outwardly with minute scales. This gives hair its sheen, also improved by regularly removing dirt (shampooing) and brushing, in preference to combing. Too many fat glands and the skin becomes greasy. It may settle on the scalp and dry out causing the much maligned and hated dandruff. Infections sometimes occur, making it worse.


The greater the mass of hair, the greater its ability to insulate structures underneath. The brain works within a tiny temperature range, and does not like being overheated. In kids this may cause convulsions. Colour is determined by melanocytes, pigment in the hair root called the follicle. This is genetically determined both in colour and amount. It often ends prematurely leading to grey then white hair. Hair also protects the scalp from UV rays from the sun, and risks of skin cancer. For eons hair has been used as a sexual tool.


Long hair in women, short in guys is traditional. The mechanics are a man made phenomenon and a massive marketing project. It earns millions every day. It is amazing that the marketers let the hat slip into oblivion, but this will inevitably do a comeback, for this too is part of the personality. Hair grows at the rate of 0.34 mm a day or roughly one cm a month. Quicker in summer (when scalp blood supply is increased) and slower in winter. Lots of guys like a No 1 cut, many shave the scalp regularly. Some do it to raise funds for charities. Again, it makes a bold statement "Here I am world!" Planet Earth doesn't care, and the hair even less. It is body cooling in summer.


Long hair has its peculiar risks, like getting caught in machinery in industry, even though caps are mandatory. Some ignore regulations. Some adolescents twist a few hairs around a finger and unconsciously pull. This is called trichotillomania and can lead to bald spots! Take loving care of your hair, but even after death, it continues to grow.



If I get cold, I seem to get aches and pains all over.


You probably have mild arthritis or "fibrositis" (as it was once called - achey muscles). Muscle fibres do not like temperature falls, blood flow often cuts back and fibres go into spasm which produces pain. Reverse all this, circulation improves, and often the pain vanishes. For most muscle, and joint pains, simple paracetamol today is first line treatment. Two x 500 mg tablets may be taken up to four times a day, preferably after food and at bedtime. The less medication taken the better. Avoid drafts, the rain and sitting in cold rooms.

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We have a few fig trees in the back yard which produce lovely fruit. However, the birds often get in first, and peck their way into them. Is it OK to eat this fruit?


Birds eat a wide range of food, and who knows what their bills have last been pecking. Certainly bugs will be deposited in the fruit. However, the powerful acids of our stomach kill most, and risks of infection from this source are low. Ideally avoid back yard insecticide sprays, for this is a more serious risk, even though when professionally applied, risks to humans are said to be minimum. Careful washing or peeling of commercial fruit is often advised.

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Today one sees more and more late teenagers with stooped backs, as the computer era marches on.


Disaster lies in waiting for millions of growing adolescents. Bent over a keyboard for endless hours, which today seems the norm, means the spine will inevitably set in this position. Remedy - before it is too late - physical activity. Move from the one fixed position every hour or so. Exercising all upper body muscles and joints is essential. There is a lot going for group activity sports. Cricket, tennis, footy. swimming or at least simple walking have a major place in early life.

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My parents were keen swimmers and so are we. We now wonder at what age should we start teaching our littlies.


Babies, usually develop within the first fourteen or so weeks of conception, swim around in a lovely warm swimming tank for the next six months as they rapidly grow in size. So, for them it is not an unusual phenomenon. Many enthusiastic parents start teaching them in the first year of life. It is amazing how quickly they adapt and become experts. If you are a bit apprehensive, seek the help of a coach.

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My mum has been on psyllium to help her bowel regularity, but wonder of wonders, her cholesterol has come down without medication.


Psyllium, which comes from the psyllium husk, is high in soluble bulking fibre. This means it swells in the gut system, absorbs fluid, which certainly assists regularity. It also sucks up cholesterol, which stops it from being absorbed. Cholesterol levels can often drop dramatically. It is a simple method specially if cholesterol lowering medication causes achey muscles, which is pretty common. Drink lots of water.

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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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