Medical Hotline: October 2006



Soya beans are probably the most nutritionally valuable vegetable. They are very high in plant protein, and phyto-oestogens. This is claimed to provide good building material for the body, can reduce cholesterol levels and is fat free. However, the beans have a bland flavour. But it is not hard to cook them up with onion, tomato, celery, mix them with other beans and lentils—also highly nutritious—and make a tantalising dish.

Back injection

Doctors sometimes inject a sore spot in the back with local anaesthetic. It numbs the area, which relaxes the spasming muscle fibres. Often the effect lasts for a long time, and the pain may even vanish.

Cement burn

Be very careful when using concrete. Cement contains lime which can burn the skin quite badly. Never let it contact the skin. Always use protective gear on the hands and feet. Protect the eyes when pouring. Flicks onto the surface may cause serious burning also. Any burn must be treated promptly, usually by immersion in cold water.
Wrap with light cotton bandages. Applications are usually not recommended, but some say aloe vera gel is helpful. Medical intervention may be needed.


Many become confused about their cholesterol readings. A simple cholesterol blood test quickly tells total cholesterol, plus HDL (the good one) and LDL (the bad guy). Generally, total cholesterol should be 5.0 or less (some doctors say 4.5 or less), with HDL above 2 and LDL below 2, as a rough guide. Getting more exercise each day, eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, cereals and natural fibres, and low animal-fat intake help keep good cholesterol up and bad cholesterol down.

Thumb sucking

Thumb sucking in infants is not a serious issue. Bubs love sucking something. It gives reassurance and peace of mind. They were born to suck mum’s natural milk supply, which they equate with happiness and peace. If that’s not available, the thumb is not a bad substitute. Oral pressure can build up, and some say may cause “buck teeth,” but this is doubtful, as the first teeth are gradually shed. Gently withdraw the thumb, fingers or fist during sleep, and gradually the habit vanishes in most cases.

Step on a crack

Many kids are compulsive about not stepping on cracks in the footpath.
They commonly develop these little obsessions, a mild version of obsessive compulsive disorder. They may also do things such as lying pencils in precise rows or arrange playthings with precision. In some it may worsen, but usually it is all accepted as part of growing up and most people settle down. If the disorder becomes a serious disability in adulthood, such as continual hand washing, medication may be given, but not in childhood.

ESR test

The ESR is a blood test commonly ordered by the doctor, this is short for erythrocyte (red blood cell) sedimentation rate. It measures the rate at which the cells fall when stood upright in a glass tube. If elevated, it may indicate an underlying inflammatory process, such as arthritis. It is also used as a monitor to the efficacy of treatment.

Vitamin B12

Vegetarians may suffer from a deficiency of vitamin B12, which is vital for normal blood production, an intact nervous system and prevention of pernicious anaemia. The level can be measured in the blood. If below normal, a regular injection of B12 (Neo-cytamen) may be given every three months by the doctor.

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