Monday, January 14, 2013

Folk Wisdom for Kids: Sleep Paralysis - wiggle your toes, move your fingers – don’t give up! (Eleventh of a Series)

Folk Wisdom for Kids: Sleep Paralysis - wiggle your toes, move your fingers – don’t give up! (Eleventh of a Series)
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) 
with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 Evening Class, Monday to Friday

1.  Sleep paralysis - wiggle your toes, move your fingers – don’t give up!
People who have experienced sleep paralysis mistake it as bangongot.  It is because of its very nature as a near death experience and it is indeed very scary. I have experienced it myself in a number of times at least in two ways. The most common is when you are dreaming, say of running but you can’t run, box someone but you can’t raise your arm. Imagine you are being chased by a wild animal and you are glued in your place! There’s one thing you can do: panic and talk incoherently or 

Nightmarish dream  

shout. You wake up tired, panting, perspiring, trying to decipher whether the experience is true or just a dream. It is so vivid that when you are back to your senses you can relate perhaps the whole story. 

The other kind of sleep paralysis is more frightening.  It is one that may or may not be preceded by a dream.  On waking up, you can’t move. You feel totally paralyzed with perhaps only your brain is functioning. Panic seizes you, as you attempt to move but cannot.  Frantically you try to move any part of your body. In my experience the first to respond are the fingers and toes, then the limbs, and as blood begins to circulate perked by adrenaline, you find yourself finally “back to the living.”   

Sleep paralysis is nature’s way of protecting us during our unconscious moments.  Otherwise we become another Hercules who killed his wife and children in his sleep.  This safeguard is not absolutely foul proof though.  Take the case of sleepwalking and some cases of violence that occur during sleeping.  Well, whatever way there is to assuage you, sleep paralysis really scares you to death. Just don’t give up. 

2. Beware of food coloring, the case of jubos in tamarind sweet.
All of a sudden when answering the call of nature, I was alarmed to see the color of my urine bright red. I cried, Blood! I tried to compose myself to be able to reach the hospital in the earliest possible time.  But what surprised me at the same time  was that my fingers were also stained red.  I examined the “tamarind sweet” I had just eaten. I found the culprit - jubos, the dye used in dying shoes.  Jubos is used to color the local confectionery. How many food preparations are artificially colored for better presentation? Since that time on I have been very careful with colored foods.  Ube cake, anyone? 

These are things to remember about food dyes, especially if you suspect of a food or drink to be colored artificially.
·         Be familiar with the natural colors of fruits and other food products. There are rare ones though. For example, purple rice cake (puto) comes from a variety pirurutong or purple rice. Ordinary rice flour and ube flour produce the same color. This can be imitated with the use of purple dye.    
·         Processed foods like smoked fish and ham are colored, usually golden yellow, to be attractive.
·         Confectionery products are made to appear like cocoa, coffee, orange, strawberry, grapes and the like, when in fact the ingredients are mainly sugar artificial flavors and food dyes.
·         Fruit juices carry dyes to enhance their natural colors. Example, calamansi juice is made to appear like lemon or orange. Softdrinks would look dull and unattractive without artificial colors.
·         Cakes and other bakery products may deceive the eye and even the palate.  Cake decors are definitely made of food dyes of many colors and different color combinations.
·         Artificial colors are filtered by our excretory system so that they appear in the urine. This is not the case of natural colors such as achuete or anatto (Bixa orellana), pandan (Pandanus odoratissimus), ube (Dioscorea alata), and mango (Mangifera indica).

3. Folks at home warn us never to wade in floodwaters where rats abound.  
Rat are carriers of of the disease called leptospirosis. The first time I heard the word leptospirosis was ten years ago when Manila virtually remained underwater for days as a result of monsoon rains intensified by a series of typhoons. The disease is also called infectious jaundice because one of the advance symptoms is yellow coloration of the skin. The causal organism is a spiral bacterium, hence the name, and is endemic where public 

Flash flood in Manila

sanitation and personal hygiene are neglected.  One can contact the disease through infected urine of rats and mice, and also other animals including dogs and cats. According to reports most of the victims acquired the disease from polluted drinking water and by wading in floodwater. The suspected carrier is the Rattus rattus norvigicus or city rat, counterpart of the field rat, Rattus rattus mindanensis.

How do we know if a person has contacted the disease?  At first the symptoms are like those of an ordinary flu, which may last for a few days or weeks as the pathogen incubates in the body.  If not treated the infection may lead to hemorrhages of the skin and mucus lining and eye inflammation.  Extreme cases may lead to irreversible damage of the liver and kidney.

As floodwater drives the rats out of their subterranean abode - canals, culverts, sewers and the like  - they take refuge in homes, market stalls, restaurants, even high rise buildings and malls,

4. You get Ascaris (bulate) if you eat uncooked rice (du-om Ilk).
During threshing and pounding or milling, particularly in the village where sanitation is poor, rice may become contaminated with this intestinal parasite.  Rice on display in rice boxes may also pick the eggs, what with the common practice of sampling rice by putting a grain or two into the mouth. Ascaris eggs are tough and resistant, they can remain dormant in the rice until such time that they are ingested.  In the intestines, the eggs hatch and grow into maturity. Children are most vulnerable but adults are not spared.  The usual signs of the disease are bulging stomach and skinny condition. Ascaris is prevalent where conditions are unsanitary so that periodic deworming  of children in such areas is recommended

5. Oxalic acid in kamias weakens the bones.
Sinigang with kamias (Averrhoa balimbi) is a favorite dish no Filipino kitchen is without. But too much intake of kamias is not good for the health because of the oxalic acid it contains which doctors and nutritionists found to be a cause of osteoporosis.  The principle is that, acids react with calcium compounds forming a neutral product – salt. In the process, the bone gets thinner and thinner predisposing it to break especially in old age. Thus, we should caution ourselves from taking too much acidic food, and in particular, kamias and balimbing (A. carambola)  which belong to Family Oxalidaceae.


Avoid using skin whiteners; they are laced with mercury.
Cases of mercury poisoning among whitener users were reported in Hongkong.  Mercury is injurious to the kidney and liver, and may cause deformity in children as in the case of the Minamata disease.

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