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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

Party Those Sniffles Away

Stay-at-homes may be more likely to catch a cold


ALMOST EVERYONE HAS A personal method of fighting common colds. High-dose vitamins, peculiar-sounding herbs, sweat-inducing beverages and trusty neck-scarves are among them. But there may be a pleasant and unexpected way to boost immunity to the aches and sniffles that hit a few times a year: have more friends.

According to this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, people with plenty of social ties are less susceptible than most others to common colds. They produce less mucus, are able to clear nasal passages more effectively and do not replicate as many viruses.

In the study, conducted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, volunteers had cold viruses swabbed into their nostrils. Those people with multiple social ties to family, friends, work and the community were not only better able to fend off the illness, they experienced less anxiety, depression and psychological distress. No one knows why this was so, but the researchers suggest that as taking part in social activities requires responsibility and motivation and encourages self-worth, these feelings may cause people to take better care of themselves.

The authors surmise that what works for colds may also work for other illnesses. So the next time a new product boasts that it "boosts immunity," remember that a full social calendar may work just as well.


IN BRIEF

IN THE FIRING LINE More and more women are becoming familiar with the term osteoporosis. And so are Asian health authorities. Small-boned women are at greater risk from the bone-density-loss disorder than those with large frames -- putting many of the region's women right in the firing line.

The condition, which causes bones to become brittle and break easily, is estimated to cost millions of dollars in hospital fees across the region. Although the disease typically attacks post-menopausal women, it is important that young women learn how to reduce the risk of developing it. Plenty of exercise in youth is helpful. But the real key is making sure you get the right amount of calcium.

The U.S. Food & Nutrition Board has increased the recommended dietary allowance of calcium for women from 800 mg to 1,000 mg per day. For women who enjoy milk, meeting that target is not particularly challenging, as one liter provides 1,000 mg. But not everyone can stomach dairy products. Happily, there are plenty of alternative sources. Among them: spinach, dried figs, tofu and okra.

Rooting out sickness Ginger is the new vogue herb. It recently found its way into an anti-arthritis medication and has always been regarded as a digestion stimulant. But gingerphiles are now going one step further and claiming that taking the root before a long trip will prevent motion sickness. Travelers are advised to take 500 mg of powdered ginger every 15 minutes, starting one hour before departure. Pregnant women may also use it to alleviate morning sickness, but should limit their daily intake to 1 g per day.

Good enough to eat? Many commercial insect repellents are not healthy for your skin. Instead, combine in a spray bottle one cup of witch hazel, half a teaspoon each of citronella and eucalyptus essential oil and an eighth of a teaspoon of cedar oil. It smells so good you'll want to put it on fried chicken. Don't. And don't get it in your eyes, nose or mouth either.

-- By Catherine Shepherd


This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home

AsiaNow


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