The Islamic Post Blog

Common Medicines Classified ‘Unsafe’ by Khalida
May 21, 2009, 7:18 am
Filed under: May Volume I - 2009, Science | Tags:

By Asma A. Adl
Islamic Post Staff Writer

(IP) –The counter (OTC) drug called phenylpropanolamine hydrochloride (PPA) has been widely used for many years as a nasal decongestant in OTC products as well as prescription and weight control products.
The FDA states that they started scientific reviews of OTC drug products in the 1970s, wanting to test the safety and effectiveness of products marketed in the United States. In 1976 the use of PPA was deemed safe for nasal decongestants by an expert panel and given the go ahead by a different panel in 1982 for weight control. The FDA, however, makes mention that they had not completed their own safety and effectiveness tests due to the occasional reports of the association of the drugs and with hemorrhagic strokes.
A hemorrhagic stroke is the bleeding inside of the brain and in its surrounding tissue. With the association of PPA and these strokes, pharmaceutical industries were requested by the FDA in 2000 to evaluate the risks of taking drugs containing PPA. The industry study was case controlled and consisted of people 18-49 years old. The subjects had been recently hospitalized with subarachnoid or intercerebral hemorrhages. For women using PPA for weight control, the increased risk occurred after 3 days, and for women using the drug as a nasal decongestant product, it occurred after the first day. The reported exposure was verified by the study investigators.
A few over the counter medications that have contained PPA are as follows: Alka-seltzer plus cold medicine; Alka-seltzer plus cold and flu; Alka-seltzer cold and sinus effervescent; BC Allergy sinus cold powder; Comtrex flu therapy & fever relief; Contac 12 hour tablets; Dimetapp Elixir; Dimetapp Cold & Cough liquid-gels; Robitussin CF; Triaminic Cold and Cough, allergy, and chest and head; Dexatrim products; Triaminic products and Triaminic childrens products.
The FDA, however, does not keep an updated list of products containing PPA as companies continue to reformulate their products. Therefore ingredient lists should be regularly checked.


Remember to Whom Your Heart Belongs by Khalida
March 24, 2009, 11:30 am
Filed under: Hakimah's Corner, Magazine/ Culture, March Volume 2009 | Tags: ,

Hk. Razia A. Mumin
Islamic Post Staff Writer

National Heart Month just passed and we thought we would give a few updates and reminders about the heart. Heart disease is the number one killer in America. The biggest factors that cause or contribute to heart disease are: high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, smoking, sedentary life style, stress, eating too much, and many prescription and over the counter medicines. Scientists now believe that natural therapies are better at healing the heart rather than allopathic medicines. Diet, exercise and stress reduction are very helpful in preventing heart attack and heart disease. Heart disease doesn’t happen suddenly; it begins early in life. Over time, cholesterol is deposited on the walls of the heart’s blood vessels. The longer the cholesterol stays on the walls, the harder it becomes to get rid of it. Your body will naturally try to clear the passageways. However, if your diet and life style (which is high in cholesterol) do not change, the problem remains the same. Heart attacks are caused when the walls of your blood vessels are hardened due to excess cholesterol. Clots then form in the narrow openings of blood vessels, which block the blood flow entirely. Cholesterol isn’t necessarily the enemy. The body uses cholesterol for good. However, the increase of cholesterol-containing foods oversaturates our systems and causes harm. Our diet is very important in protecting our heart.
The heart is a very important part of our physical well being and also our spiritual health. It responds to both positive and negative stimuli. Our hearts respond to what we see and hear. The heart can also be described in terms as being dead or alive. Remember Allah says: “And do not obey anyone whose heart We have made forgetful in remembering Us.” (Holy Qur’an 18:28) Religious duties are very important in maintaining a healthy heart. Whoever is really concerned about the health and life of their hearts must also rid it of poisons both spiritually and physically. In order to be healthy you must think healthy thoughts and practice healthy habits.
Eating less is a very good start at fighting heart disease. Garlic is one of the best heart stimulants, and is also one of the best blood thinners and cholesterol fighters around. It decreases the level of fat in the blood. It is better to eat it raw. The less processing of it the stronger and better it is. It also lowers your blood pressure and calms your nerves to help with stress overload.
Other healthy heart herbs include: Hawthorn Berries (open the blood vessels), Gingko Biloba (increases oxygen to the heart and brain), Butchers Broom (contains two saponins which are similar to corticosteroids), and Witch Hazel (tones and strengthens veins). Herbs and foods that reduce inflammation and help repair membranes inside of the heart include: garlic, onions, red grapes, blackberries, blue berries, and raspberries. Tonic herbs that will boost your immune system are: pomegranate, asparagus roots, burdock, cayenne, and hawthorn. Blood nourishing herbs that will strengthen the heart are hawthorn and borage.
But the benefits of taking these will be defeated by eating processed foods every day. Foods containing preservatives and other chemicals wear down all systems in the body. Your body tries to help you; but most people don’t try to help their bodies and habitually eat bad foods knowingly.  Another bad habit is to re-use cooking oils. Some people save the fish grease for frying more fish. They save the chicken grease to fry everything. This is an unhealthy habit. Once a food is fried, a by-product called free radicals is formed. Free radicals damage cells. They also add fat to your blood stream, and damage the linings of blood vessel walls by adding plaque to them. This type of cooking was done during the great depression in the 1930’s. These types of survival skills we don’t need. Limit your fried foods from the start. Eat foods which are steamed, baked, or curried. Canola oil is not good for you! You can research this for yourself. The better oils to use are cow’s ghee, olive oil, butter, and coconut oil.
We must strive for the best of health so we can practice the best of worship. Eating small amounts of food helps the body to digest small amounts at a time. Al-Miqdam ibn Ma’d Yakrib said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: ‘The son of Adam fills no vessel more displeasing to Allah than his stomach. A few morsels should be enough for him to preserve strength. If he must fill it, then he should allow a third for his food, a third for his drink, and a third empty for easy breathing.” Excessive eating induces many kinds of harms.
Good health and good worship go hand in hand. Your heart is a vessel that should be filled to the brim with the love of Allah Almighty and we sometimes forget that our hearts and our lives belong to Allah.
*A hakimah (m. hakim) is a natural health practitioner who has received certification in traditional Islamic medicine. Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended as medical advice; consult your health practitioner.

Dr. Jemille: Obesity/Overview of a ‘Growing’ Problem by ipinfo2
December 1, 2008, 8:33 am
Filed under: December Volume 1 - 2008, Magazine/ Culture | Tags: , ,

Dr. Jemille: Obesity

Overview of a ‘Growing’ Problem

By Dr. Jemille A. Wasi

Islamic Post Staff Writer

A short while before embarking on my medical relief mission to Pakistan, I was training in a hospital where I made a startling discovery. During rounds, I walked past a scale and decided to weigh myself. I stood there wide-eyed as the numbers continued to climb, and was shocked when they finally stopped. For someone who had weighed around 150 lbs for the previous 18 years of my life—eating anything under the sun—I was surprised to see the final number on the scale read 186 lbs.

I reflected on the fact that over the period of a couple of years I had gained over 30 lbs. I attributed this gain to the fact that during medical training we were often forced to eat what was convenient. This inevitably led to unhealthy dietary choices and periods of inactivity.

As I look around our community, I see the issue of weight becoming more prevalent. The more disturbing fact is that the ages of affected individuals are getting younger every day. In order for this to change, I think it is important to understand the basics.

Understanding Fat

As you take food into your body, it is initially broken down into sugars, proteins, and fat. Whatever energy your body needs energy for all its various processes and activities, it uses the sugars first. If you take in more food than your body’s energy needs, then the sugars, proteins and fats that aren’t used are converted to fat and stored in your body’s energy storage units, commonly known as adipose, or fat, tissue. If, during your life, you continue to take in more food than you use on a daily basis, the amount of fat you have will increase.

One thing that may not be commonly understood is that every individual is born with a certain amount of fat storage “units” —let’s say 10 for example. Each one of these units can hold only so much fat; so as your fat content increases, your body has to “make” another unit to store the excess. The problem with this is that you can only increase the number of units; that is to say, you can go from 10 to 11 but you cannot go back down to 10 because once you have created that extra unit. It remains for life. When a person “loses” fat they only decrease the amount of fat molecules in each storage unit, but the amount of units still remain the same.

Another problem is that as the amount of storage compartments increase, they get squeezed closer together and the individual lipid molecules become tighter and therefore harder to get rid of.

Effects of weight gain

The problems with weight gain are not merely cosmetic. The higher your fat content, the greater the chances that you will develop increased blood cholesterol levels, leading to atherosclerosis. In addition, the more weight a person carries adds stress to joints and bones and also makes a person less able to tolerate exercise. This causes deconditioning (being “out of shape”), which in turn leads to less desire to exercise thus continuing a vicious cycle of inactivity.

Another effect is seen with the heart. As a person increases in size, the heart has to work harder to supply oxygen-rich blood to that extra fat tissue. This increased work load brings about an enlargement in heart size, with no real increase in strength. This can lead to heart attacks, and conditions like high blood pressure and heart failure.

Furthermore, overweight individuals are at an increased risk of developing Type II Diabetes, as the increase in adipose tissue leads to insulin resistance. In pediatric populations this is becoming more of an issue. The old term for Type II Diabetes had to be changed from “Adult Onset Diabetes” to “Non-Insulin Dependant Diabetes” as a result of the amount of children who now have this disease.

The last effect of note is that our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) –which is the rate that our bodies use energy when we are completely at rest—slows down as we gain weight.

Changing the trend

Over 65% of people in the U.S. are overweight or obese. This number has tremendously increased over the years from values of 13% in 1962 and 31% in 1994. In addition, the number of overweight children in America has tripled since 1980. This is mostly due to inactivity (read increased television/internet time) and a higher consumption of food.

Thus, to alter the current trend involves two important keys: making appropriate dietary choices, and exercising.

Most people recognize the word calories, and correlate this word to energy used, or burned, during exercise. However, despite the common misconception that people burn a lot of calories when they do exercise, each pound of fat is roughly 3500 calories. To put this into perspective, consider that the amount of calories burned for every mile a person walks is based on a calculation: (your weight x 2) divided by 3.5. So, for each mile a 125 pound person walks he or she only burns about 71 calories …71!

While exercising is important for weight loss, it is more important to decrease the amount of calories one takes in and this means making appropriate dietary choices.

Because many of us have children, we know that they are a major determinant in the foods we buy. Another issue is that many of us are on a limited budget and many of the foods that are considered healthy cost more money. Due to these two factors we tend to purchase food that is convenient and inexpensive. Unfortunately, most of the foods in this category are not conducive to losing weight. This is even worse for adults because of our lower BMR.

The key is to try to get low calorie foods –like fruits and vegetables, and avoid high calorie, processed foods –like cookies, chips, and sodas. Personally, I have found it helpful to change all of the beverages that I take with meals to water. Consider that if you were to drink a 12 oz soda with each meal, this alone would equal about 400 calories/day. In a period of a week that would almost be enough calories to equal 1 pound.

Although dietary measures are more important in weight loss, exercise still has its merits. Not only does physical activity help with weight reduction, it also assists an increase in BMR, and is beneficial to your heart because it makes it beat faster and stronger. It should be noted that you do not need to have a gym membership to exercise. You can do activities with your children: take walks, play ball or go bike riding. These things will give you all the exercise you need. On a daily basis one only needs about 20-30 minutes of activity to stay fit.


When I came home from Pakistan I weighed 157 lbs. Those 30 lbs that I had added on in medical school were gone! The reason for this was that we had to walk to many of the places we wanted to go and our diet was much improved, almost consisting of only fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats.

Even after saying all this there is a much simpler way to stay in shape. Can you guess? It is called… following the Sunnah, the life pattern of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him! If you don’t eat to your fill, consume the appropriate amount of beverage, and walk your 40 steps after a meal, you may find that all the above-mentioned advice is unnecessary!

As always, only from Allah, the Most High and Glorified, can we be healed!