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Blog: On Health. On Writing. On Life. On Everything.

The Problem with Hand-dryers

May 6, 2017

Tags: order, air-dry, antibiotic, automated, bacteria, bathroom, cleaning personnel, cloth towel, dangerous, expensive, faucet, Gargantua and Pantagruel, germ, hand-dryers, hidden costs, infection, lungs, microbe, paper towel, Rabelais – François (ca. 1495-1553), resistant bacteria, renewable source, restroom, sanitary, sinus, skin, tree, The Problem with Hand-Dryers, unnecessary

Many good ideas start in the bathroom – at least mine.

I am talking about my present favorite personal dislike, hand-dryers – those bacteria slingers. Cutting down trees for paper towels is, of course, horrible. But every time, I hear one of those germ circulators start up, I jump and try to leave AFAP. Those machines are mushrooming in public bathrooms – is nobody aware that we are living in times of increasing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics?

Hand-dryers are efficient microbe-distributors, with good potential to infect everybody who happens to be near: The user, the bystander, the cleaning folks. We have studies to prove it; paper towels are more sanitary by a mile: After being whirled into the air effectively, bacteria then settle on surfaces, where you don’t want them - the restroom doorknob, the faucet handle, your skin, lungs or sinuses. Questions is: Why have the hand-dryers multiplied anyway – like, just in spite? Of course, it is because they are out to get me. But apart of that: Why really?? Turns out they are cheaper than paper towels. Paper towels make a mess in restrooms. Or, better: Patrons are making a mess in restrooms with paper towels.

Seems we have not a lot of good alternatives. Paper towels have the advantage of being a renewable source, easily degradable. In Germany, I see a lot of cloth roles that automatically roll up after use, preventing the same use repeated times – and can’t be thrown about in the corners. They probably are Old-World-expensive, needing cheap maintenance crews and laundry services. To carry your own cloth towel comes to mind as a possibility. Admittedly, most of the time rather impractical. Rabelais, in his Gargantua and Pantagruel suggest a fluffy baby rabbit, unforgettably, for use as what he calls an arse-wipe. That would work for hand-wipe, too. A bit unrealistic, again, because where are the rabbits if you need them?? But Rabelais’ prose convinced me that a rabbit is the most ingratiating solution. Better than hand-dryers that are, to me, just another thing they sell us that is automated, expensive in hidden costs, unnecessary and dangerous.

My personal way out of the conundrum: Just don’t wipe your hands dry; let them air-dry.

When Things Are Falling Down

November 19, 2015

Tags: order, herbs, movement, water, abdomen, aging, amalaki, antibiotic, antibiotic resistance, anus, ayurvedic, bacteria, balance, bastard myrobalan, bathroom, bibhitaki, bladder infection, bladder wall, birthing, bloating, bowel movement, child birth, comfort, complications, constipation, corn silk, cramps, cranberry, curse, diarrhea, death, diabetes, discomfort, Emblica officinalis, essential oil, eye, fatigue, female affliction, fluids, gastro-intestinal tract, germ, haritaki, India, Indian gooseberry infection, intercourse, internal organs, invasive procedure, Kegel exercises, kidney infection, medical advance, mesh, microbiome, olive oil outcome, pelvic muscles, perineum, pessary, plumbing, preventing falls, private parts, probiotic, prolapse, prophylaxis, rosemary, sepsis, sexual muscles, standing on one leg, surgery, susceptibility to infections, Terminalia bellirica, Terminalia chebula, thyme, toilet, triphala, urinary tract infection - recurrent, usnea, UTI, uva ursi, vulva, water - running, sanitation, side-effects, vagina, vaginal probiotics, washing hands, weight gain, When Things Are Falling Down, wiping, World Toilet Day, worst case scenario, yellow myrobalan

Today is World Toilet Day, and most writers today will talk about the importance of hygiene – which is indeed more valuable than all the other medical advances combined, in my opinion. Every person in the world deserves running water and good plumbing, and so many don’t have it: 2.4 billion people worldwide lack access to decent sanitation!

But the things I am want to talk about are internal organs, and when they fall, or droop, physicians call it prolapse. It is, of course, a female affliction (curse?). Often it results from child births (and I wonder if modern medicine that wants to speed up the birthing process, has given us more prolapses – we never will be seeing a study about this, I fear). Prolapse can be uncomfortable when you walk, and even hurt outright. But the worst part is that they might cause recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). There’s the connection to toilets, when you are running to the bathroom twenty times a day, and the whole middle of your being hurts like hell.

Recurrent UTIs are dangerous because a simple bladder infection can rise into the kidneys and eventually even leading to sepsis (an infection of the whole body), and at its worst, death. And death doesn’t seem to be the worst outcome: The many courses of antibiotics – often the doctor tells the patient that they have to be on antibiotics for the rest of their lives to prevent the worst case scenario – damage the precious bacteria in the intestines, and lead to all sorts of complications: weight gain, susceptibility to other infections, fatigue, bloating, cramps, constipation, diarrhea, and so on. The last few years has brought us so many studies about the microbiome (the beneficial bacteria in our bowels) that it is hard to exaggerate its importance to your health. And every course of antibiotics will damage that healthy balance in your belly. - Hear that I am not altogether against antibiotics; they have saved lives (mine, for instance). But they can have grave side-effects, notably now antibiotic resistance.

Conventional medicine recommends, besides Kegel exercises, surgery. Particularly, the insertion a special mesh down there to keep organs up, has not been very successful; women are suing the manufacturer in droves, and the mesh has been abandoned. But since every surgery carries a risk of infection and death with it – and repairing prolapse might make symptoms worse – surgery should be your last resort. You could also insert a pessary into your vagina to provide structural support. It works for some women.

Here are the natural alternatives to invasive procedures; combined – can make a huge difference in the discomfort or comfort you feel in your most private area:

1. Standing on one leg whenever you think of it – while brushing your teeth, waiting for the bus, chopping an onion. This will strengthen your pelvic (and sexual) muscles – and is not as boring as Kegel exercises. It is also good exercise for your legs and good for balance – very important to prevent falls when you get older.
2. Inserting vaginal probiotics every evening into your vagina.
3. Oral probiotics. They heal your bowels after a course of antibiotics, and have shown to decrease the number of recurrent urinary tract infections prophylactically.
4. Washing your hands after each bowel movement religiously and then pampering your private parts (wipe from the front to the back - vulva to perineum to anus; never the other direction!) with a mixture of olive oil and a few drops of an essential oil like rosemary or thyme; they are antibacterial. Make sure you always wash your hands and use essential oil before you, for instance, insert the nightly vaginal probiotic capsule. It is tiny, and no, it won’t interfere with intercourse.
5. Taking triphala, the ayurvedic herb, which will prevent constipation. Naturally, if your problem is diarrhea, don’t take triphala on top of it. Triphala is an ancient combination of three Indian herbs: Amalaki or Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis), Bibhitaki or bastard myrobalan (Terminalia bellirica), and Haritaki or yellow myrobalan (Terminalia chebula). Triphala is actually a balm for the gastro-intestinal tract, and is also good for your eyes. Besides it works against diabetes.
6. Take a zinc supplement to boost your immune system.
7. Prophylaxis with cranberry, uva ursi, usnea, corn silk, and so on, if needed every day. Especially after sex. Cranberry prevents bacteria to latch onto your bladder wall, so they are flushed out easier.

Women and their doctors often think that prolapse is an inevitable part of aging. It shouldn’t be! - Happy Toilet Day!

Cleaning house

January 20, 2014

Tags: order, movement, absurdity, advice, attic, bacteria, balance, bartering, bathroom, book, broom, business plan, castile soap, cleaning aversion, cleaning lady, cleaning service, cloth, culture, doctor, duster, environment, exercise, friend, garage, German, germs, gym workout, habits, hall, hiring, house-cleaning, Internet, math, microfiber cloths, mindless exercises, mop, New Year, physical exertion, resolutions, responsibility, resource, room, Simple Green, sink, smut, soap, spraying, swiffers, toxic chemical, tutoring

These times, I am finding myself often thinking about why people change their habits. Because I am offering ideas for better health – but if people will adopt my ideas, is really up to them. Nothing I can do about it – beyond making a convincing argument.

It is not a good idea to make resolutions when you kick-off the New Year. Resolutions, when they work, are more like pimples coming to a head: They solidify because something convinces you that it is true, or overdue.

If you make a resolution because the New Year starts: What has the New Year got to do with it?? If you can’t stand anymore how you feel, or how somebody makes you feel, or how the days of your life fly by unused – that resolution has a chance to stick.

A resolution I recently decided on was to clean my house myself. After finishing my last book. I was out of shape, exercise-wise, and yearning for moving more, desperate to get out of my chair and move my limbs: Writing health books wasn’t healthy for ME! In the end, my need for more physical exertion more was stronger than my cleaning aversion.

Which is an enormous change for me: Even as a student, without a penny, I hired a cleaning lady, bartering for her services by tutoring her son in math. Everything for not cleaning!!

Start with a business plan, I told myself. I divided the bathrooms and the rooms and the hall and the garage and the attic evenly on the days of the week. Online, one can find marvelous advice about how to clean this and that and everything – if not always true to reality: “Wiping the sink: 30 seconds”. Now – this advisor must never have seen a German addressing a sink with soap and cloth, not to mention a German doctor well-versed in the hazards of bacteria and other germs (my next book is exactly about those little critters)! So, yes, it takes me longer. But afterwards, as we say, one can EAT from it!

Besides the Internet, my friends are great resources for advice. Swiffers, mops, microfiber cloths – a whole new world is out there. I use only castile soap and Simple Green. Spraying them on (in a diluted form) and letting them soak for a while will get rid of the hardiest smut, without harsh, environmentally toxic chemicals. And without scrubbing.

An absurd culture: We hire out cleaning responsibilities, but then go to a gym workout to do some mechanical, mindless exercises. For so many years, I had so bought into the idea of a cleaning crew that I never realized the absurdity. It was a knee-jerk habit – one just hires somebody. I have friends who told me that cleaning is beneath me, and that I should rather write more books. Don’t worry: I will. But for writing well, I need the balance of moving my body: And I will do it with broom, mop and duster.

The Long Goodbye

December 16, 2012

Tags: food, bathroom, book, Chandler - Raymond (1888-1959), cooking, cosmetics, deodorant, diabetes, feminism, kitchen, laxative, Marlowe, meal, mystery, private eye, sleeping pill, The Long Goodbye, zeitgeist

Trying to finish my diabetes book, I still want to share a citation I came across.

In "The Long Goodbye" Raymond Chandler wrote:

We have the whitest kitchens and the most shining bathrooms in the world. But the average American housewife can’t produce a meal fit to eat, and the lovely shining bathroom is mostly a receptacle for deodorants, laxatives, sleeping pills, and the products of this confidence racket called the cosmetic industry, Mr. Marlowe. The stuff inside is mostly junk.

Chandler wrote this in 1953. Philip Marlowe is still one of the best private eyes - if you can get over that Chandler was not yet enlightened by modern feminism. Chandler's Los Angeles story is more than a mystery - it is a bitter zeitgeist critique.
Aspen eyes, by Peggy Peters

Iguazu Falls, by Xin Liu

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. 2012, by Lolita Parker jr.

Tags - see also the non-captalized entries below!