Septic shock is characterized by dysregulation of the host response to infection, with circulatory, cellular, and metabolic abnormalities. We hypothesized that therapy with hydrocortisone plus fludrocortisone or with drotrecogin alfa (activated), which can modulate the host response, would improve the clinical outcomes of patients with septic shock.
In this multicenter, double-blind, randomized trial with a 2-by-2 factorial design, we evaluated the effect of hydrocortisone-plus-fludrocortisone therapy, drotrecogin alfa (activated), the combination of the three drugs, or their respective placebos. The primary outcome was 90-day all-cause mortality. Secondary outcomes included mortality at intensive care unit (ICU) discharge and hospital discharge and at day 28 and day 180 and the number of days alive and free of vasopressors, mechanical ventilation, or organ failure. After drotrecogin alfa (activated) was withdrawn from the market, the trial continued with a two-group parallel design. The analysis compared patients who received hydrocortisone plus fludrocortisone with those who did not (placebo group).
Among the 1241 patients included in the trial, the 90-day mortality was 43.0% (264 of 614 patients) in the hydrocortisone-plus-fludrocortisone group and 49.1% (308 of 627 patients) in the placebo group (P=0.03). The relative risk of death in the hydrocortisone-plus-fludrocortisone group was 0.88 (95% confidence interval, 0.78 to 0.99). Mortality was significantly lower in the hydrocortisone-plus-fludrocortisone group than in the placebo group at ICU discharge (35.4% vs. 41.0%, P=0.04), hospital discharge (39.0% vs. 45.3%, P=0.02), and day 180 (46.6% vs. 52.5%, P=0.04) but not at day 28 (33.7% and 38.9%, respectively; P=0.06). The number of vasopressor-free days to day 28 was significantly higher in the hydrocortisone-plus-fludrocortisone group than in the placebo group (17 vs. 15 days, P<0.001), as was the number of organ-failure–free days (14 vs. 12 days, P=0.003). The number of ventilator-free days was similar in the two groups (11 days in the hydrocortisone-plus-fludrocortisone group and 10 in the placebo group, P=0.07). The rate of serious adverse events did not differ significantly between the two groups, but hyperglycemia was more common in hydrocortisone-plus-fludrocortisone group.
In this trial involving patients with septic shock, 90-day all-cause mortality was lower among those who received hydrocortisone plus fludrocortisone than among those who received placebo.
One of the most striking features of unorthodox medicine—variously described as quackery, irregular medicine, fringe medicine, or complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)—has been its ability to survive for centuries in a very wide variety of forms. Although it has changed enormously with the passage of time, unorthodox medicine has always has been a rich source of disputes, claims and counter-claims, and accusations of fraud.1,2 One might expect that unorthodox medicine as a whole would have diminished as a result of the spectacular advances in regular medicine during the second half of the twentieth century, but that does not seem to be the case. In fact we will never really know how many people in the past consulted unorthodox practitioners instead of, or in addition to, consulting the orthodox; we don’t even know today. But we do know that before the mid-nineteenth century the irregular practitioners for whom the derogatory term ‘quacks’ is appropriate, were used by a large proportion of the population.3
Most of these pre-1850 quacks tended to specialize. Some were bone-setters, others claimed to cure venereal disease without the use of mercury. A ‘Dr’ Taylor of Beverley in Gloucester arranged to attend regularly at three public houses to which patients only had to send their urine and he would tell at once whether they were curable or not. There were self-styled oculists who specialized in the treatment of cataract and curers of ‘cancer without operation’. One of the latter, calling himself the ‘High German Dr Symon’, invited you to visit his house and see for yourself ‘a cancer of the armpit of five pieces of 12 and one half ozs weight’ which he claimed to have removed.
Most of these irregulars were uneducated or even illiterate and only a minority were full-time healers. They usually had regular jobs, such as blacksmith, farrier, grocer, butcher, cheese-monger, cobbler, cutter and mechanic. They often claimed the patronage of the ‘great and the good.’ Dr Scott’s Bilious and Liver Pills were used by ‘the Dukes of Devonshire, Northumberland and Wellington, Angelsea [sic], and Hastings, and the Earls of Pembroke, Essex and Oxford’ while ‘Dr’ Lambert at 36 High Street, Borough, London, claimed to ‘visit the well-to-do in the West Indies, the Isles of Scilly, London, Nottingham, Derby, Norwich, Lincoln, Boston, Gloucester, Wolver hampton, Lichfield, Stourbridge’ and, for good measure, ‘almost every other town in the Kingdom.’4 These irregulars had one thing in common: they had little, if any, interest in or understanding of orthodox medicine in their time. Their sole aim was to make money. They were empirics for whom the derogatory term ‘quackery’ is appropriate.5
But a major change in irregular practice occurred in the first half of the nineteenth century when, as an orthodox practitioner remarked: ‘the old-fashioned quack with his farrago of receipts who seldom visited the same neighbourhood but at very long intervals in order to avoid recognition… this class of practitioner is fast coming to a close.’ It was being replaced by ‘literate and educated empirics who read books.’6 This remark signalled the emergence of a new form of unorthodox medicine, which formed the basis of what is today called CAM.
THE BIRTH OF COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
The essence of the change was a rebellion against orthodox medical science as taught and practised in the teaching hospitals, and the introduction of a series of radically different but all-embracing beliefs on the nature and treatment of disease. The empirical quack continued in the background and still exists today, although in an attenuated form. But the new irregulars—the literate ‘book-reading’ practitioners—were usually educated men and often medically qualified.
They were therefore not so much quacks (although frequently derided as such) as practitioners for whom the terms ‘alternative’ or ‘complementary’ is more appropriate. Indeed, supporters of CAM have good reason to object to the term ‘quackery’ being linked in any way with such practices as homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture and herbalism. It would be impossible to review the history of all the current forms of alternative medicine, so I am confining this paper to one of the earliest and still the most frequently used unorthodox system: homeopathy.
While it can scarcely compare in antiquity with Chinese or Indian medicine, homeopathy is the longest established CAM to have arisen in Europe.7 It was founded by Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), who grew up in Meissen in Germany, received his medical degree in Erlangen in 1779, and died a millionaire in Paris in 1843. During his first fifteen years as a physician Hahnemann struggled desperately to make a living. One day, however, he made a discovery. He started to take regular doses of cinchona or ‘the bark’ (i.e. quinine). This, he said, produced all the symptoms of intermittent fever (malaria) but to a mild degree and without the characteristic rigors of that disease. This led Hahnemann to an idea which was published in 1796 as Essay on a New Principle for Ascertaining the Curative Power of Drugs, which was followed in 1810 by his famous work The Organon of the Healing Art.1
Hahnemann believed that if a patient had an illness, it could be cured by giving a medicine which, if given to a healthy person, would produce similar symptoms of that same illness but to a slighter degree. Thus, if a patient was suffering from severe nausea, he was given a medicine which in a healthy person would provoke mild nausea. By a process he called ‘proving’, Hahnemann claimed to be able to compile a selection of appropriate remedies. This led to his famous aphorism, ‘like cures like’, which is often called the ‘principle of similars’; and he cited Jenner’s use of cowpox vaccination to prevent smallpox as an example.
The differences between orthodox medicine and homeopathy could hardly be more vivid. From its beginning homeopathy always began with a long consultation, lasting at least an hour, in which all aspects of the patient’s illness and life were discussed—homeopaths like to stress that they practise ‘holistic medicine’—and the appropriate treatment chosen. In contrast, during the first half of the nineteenth century, when homeopathy was becoming established, orthodox medicine was immersed in the belief that advances in understanding disease could only come from a detailed correlation of symptoms and signs of the sick patient on the ward, and the findings at autopsy: clinico-pathological correlation. As Bichat famously put it put it at the very end of the eighteenth century:
‘For twenty years from morning to night you have taken notes at patients’ bedsides… which, refusing to yield up their meaning, offer you a succession of incoherent phenomena. Open up a few corpses: you will dissipate at once the darkness that observation alone could not dispel.’8
Clinico-pathological correlation demanded the understanding of a very long and complex collection of diseases accompanied by heated debates between the contagionists and the anti-contagionists. This was way beyond the comprehension of the general public. Moreover, medical treatment was to a large extent crude and ineffective, consisting largely of potentially dangerous polypharmacy, purging, and profuse blood-letting.
Hahnemann showed no interest in detailed pathology, and none in conventional diagnosis and treatment. He was only interested in the principles of homeopathic medicine which he used to name the illness.2 Classical homeopathy was therefore seen by its supporters as an attractively safe system, simple, easy to understand, and centred on the patient as a whole and not on pathological lesions. This goes a long way to explain why homeopathy was popular.9
But there was one aspect of homeopathy which, from the time it was first announced in about 1814, led to open warfare between orthodox medicine and homeopathy. This was the result of Hahnemann’s belief that drugs should be given in a dose which only just produced the slightest symptoms of the disease which was being treated. To achieve this aim, Hahnemann diluted his medical preparations to such an astonishing extent that if one assumes that that the substance he employed was completely soluble, by only the fourth dilution the ratio of the medicine to the solution would be 1:100 000 000. The physician and poet Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) in the USA, always a master of ridicule, said that Hahnemann’s dilution would take ‘the waters of ten thousand Adriatic seas.’1 But Hahnemann insisted that homeopathic medicines retained their therapeutic power provided you shook the preparation violently during the process of dilution—a process Hahnemann named as ‘potentization’ by which every homeopathic medicine not only retained or even increased its therapeutic power, but persisted as a ‘dematerialized spiritual force’. To orthodox practitioners this was sheer nonsense.10 Hahnemann claimed that by his methods he could cure all or nearly all acute diseases. To make matters worse, he announced in 1828 that all, or nearly all, chronic diseases were caused by ‘the itch’ (scabies).
Whereas Hahnemann claimed that homeopathy could cure all or virtually all diseases, his followers modified these claims in the hope of becoming accepted by orthodox medical practitioners. One of the first institutions devoted to homeopathy was the American Institute of Homeopathy, founded at the end of the nineteenth century, when it seems that ‘a rapprochement between homeopaths and conventional physicians gradually unfolded. Homeopaths adopted new orthodox treatments… while allopaths [regular orthodox physicians] borrowed homeopathic remedies… In 1903, after long antagonism, the American Medical Association… invited homeopaths to join [the Association].’9 The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1939 in the USA allowed homeopathic medicines to be sold openly on the market. Five homeopathic hospitals were founded in Britain, the two largest (in London and Glasgow) having in-patient units. Today the ten most common diseases treated by homeopaths are (in order of frequency) asthma, depression, otitis media, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), headache and migraine, neurotic disorders, non-specific allergy, dermatitis, arthritis and hypertension.
There seems little doubt there has been a remarkable revival of homeopathy since the 1960s and 1970s in many countries, but especially the USA where, in 2002, it was estimated that the number of patients using homeopathic remedies had risen by 500% in the previous seven years, mostly by purchasing over-the-counter remedies. In the USA patients seen by homeopaths tended to be more affluent, more frequently white, present more subjective symptoms, and to be younger than patients seen by conventional physicians.9 In Britain a survey by the BBC in 1999 found that 17% of 1204 randomly selected adults had used homeopathy within the past year (this includes homeopathic remedies bought over the counter) and another survey in 1998 estimated that there were 470 000 recent users of homeopathy in the UK. It is likely that most patients in the UK who use complementary medicine are largely middle class and middle aged.11 One of the well known features of homeopathy is that from the nineteenth century to today it has been firmly supported by royalty and the aristocracy. Edward, Prince of Wales was the patron of the London Homeopathic Hospital, while the Duke of York, later King George VI, gave the title ‘Royal’ to the hospital. He also named one of his race-horses ‘Hypericum’ after a homeopathic remedy. He entered it for the Thousand Guinea Stakes at Newmarket in 1946 and it won.12
If you rely on the personal experience of patients, there are a large number of people who will claim, usually with great certainty, that they had been cured or at least helped by homeopathy when orthodox medicine had failed. One can see why. The system is easy to understand and seems safe. The long consultation is, per se, therapeutic, although it is seldom realized that a succession of shorter consultations with an orthodox and sympathetic general practitioner can soon add up to an hour, with the added advantage that the series of consultations allows observation of the development or disappearance of a disease over time. This is especially important since many of the diseases treated by homeopaths are either transient and disappear spontaneously, or they are cyclical, consisting of a series of attacks followed by spontaneous remissions. If a visit to a homeopath happens to be followed by a remission or the total disappearance of a disease, homeopathic medicine gets the credit.
If there was ever a medical system which cried out for a careful scientific trial it is homeopathy. One of the early trials, carried out in 1835, is astonishing because it was very close to a double-blind, randomized controlled trial, undertaken with great care long before the mid-twentieth century when most of us believed that such randomized trials were first devised and carried out. It showed, incidentally, that homeopathy was ineffective.13 This was followed by such a long series of clinical trials and systematic reviews, stretching up to the present time, that to review all of them would take up more space than the whole of this paper; but a useful account of clinical trials of homeopathy in the nineteenth century was published very recently.14
Some homeopathic practitioners argue that carrying out randomized controlled trials is an appropriate activity for orthodox medicine but inappropriate for homeopathy, where effectiveness should only be judged by patient satisfaction. Where clinical trials and systematic reviews have been carried out, however, the results remain uncertain. A few seemed to show that homeopathy was effective, but only slightly; a majority showed that homeopathy had no therapeutic effect. Unfortunately many of the trials included in systematic reviews were less than perfect in design, application or sample size.
A recent authoritative paper concluded that ‘the evidence of the effectiveness of homeopathy for specific clinical conditions is scant, is of uneven quality, and is generally of poorer quality than research done in allopathic (mainstream) medicine.’ Nevertheless ‘when only high quality studies have been selected… a surprising number show positive results’ although ‘even the best systematic reviews cannot disentangle components of bias in small trials.’ These authors conclude that ‘more and better research is needed, unobstructed by belief or disbelief in the system.’9
When one recalls the underlying beliefs of the homeopathic system, such as the process of extreme dilution with the transformation of a drug into a ‘dematerialized spiritual force’, a totally neutral and ‘unobstructed’ attitude may be impossible. We can, however, be reasonably certain that in the context of the total provision of medical care, homeopathy has played and still plays a large part, judged by the number of patients who believe, rightly or wrongly, that homeopathy has helped them.
The late Sir Douglas Black should have the last word. In a very balanced article on complementary medicine, he wrote:
‘Although mainstream medical intervention is critical in only a minority of episodes of illness, in those particular episodes it is critical indeed; and I would plead that at least in acute illness, and possibly in any illness, “complementary” medicine should also be subsequent to an assessment of the clinical situation by competent “orthodox” means.’7
That video might be one the gentlest criticisms of homeopathic medicine I have ever seen.
But the conclusion is very true. Most of the alternative systems of medicine, including homeopathy, are ineffective, and their popularity reflects a lack of confidence in valid, scientifically proven medicine, rather than efficacy of alternative therapies.
There is a reason why alternative systems of medicine are questioned again and again. We live in an era of evidence based medicine. More and more doctors are being sued everyday. They are expected (rightly) to justify every investigation they demand of their patients, every procedure they do and every drug they prescribe. That is why doctors have to undergo rigorous training and life-long continuous professional development. In contrast, even in countries where regulatory frameworks for alternative therapies are in place, there is no (or minimal) structure of training, certification and accreditation, and practice is effectively open to all.
Coming back specifically to homeopathy.
Here is rough idea about how evidence-based medicine works:
When we see a disease, we try to understand its pathophysiology – which part of the body is involved (anatomy), what is the cause (infectious, non-infectious, autoimmune etc), what is the mechanism underlying the disease (pathology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics etc), and how these correlate with the manifestations of the disease (symptoms and signs).
We confirm/substantiate our impressions by appropriate investigations.
We try to see how our understanding applies to the population in general. This is where the disciplines of epidemiology and statistics come to our aid.
We design therapies on the basis of data we have so far gathered. This is in itself a protracted task and the therapies are again tested in clinical trials. And note this – majority of the therapies are rejected in the trials. According to a conservative estimate, “it takes an average of 12 years for an experimental drug to travel from the laboratory to your medicine cabinet. That is, if it makes it. Only 5 in 5,000 drugs that enter pre-clinical testing progress to human testing. One of these 5 drugs that are tested in people is approved.”
Then there is the matter of applying the evidence to the individual patient.
None of these steps is an end in itself. Often, researchers have to go back to step 1. Trials are stopped. Drugs are withdrawn from the market. Procedures become obsolete. Protocols are redefined, and newer and more stringent laws are imposed.
Homeopathy follows none of these steps with a scientific rigor. I repeat, none. I know that it sounds unduly harsh, but a homeopathic practitioner barely knows the natural course of the disease. An apt analogy would be a person calling himself theoretical physicist without knowing anything about basic calculus, manifolds, topology etc.
Not to mention, the purported science behind designing the homeopathic drugs is absurd, and fanciful to the point of invoking magic.
Consider this. A 30X dilution means that the original substance has been diluted 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 times. Assuming that a cubic centimeter of water contains 15 drops, this number is greater than the number of drops of water that would fill a container more than 50 times the size of the Earth. (My head hurts on seeing that number, I would rather have mathematicians give their insights on this, if it is worth their time. I am sure it isn’t.)
As an aside, how is it possible to potentiate a chemical when it is diluted. (Yes, I know it is called potentization. Potato, potahto … whatever.)
Furthermore, let us have a look at the result of some studies.
Cochrane reviews of studies of homeopathy do not show that homeopathic medicines have effects beyond placebo.
One of the reviewers graciously notes that “memory of water and PPR entanglement are not competing but most likely complementary hypotheses, and that both are probably required in order to provide a complete description of the homeopathic process.” In other words, the mechanism by which homeopathic drugs are supposed to act is bullshit.
A 10 year study conducted by FDA concluded that homeopathic medicines have harmed hundreds of babies between 2006–2016.
Homeopathic therapy is also ineffective in multiple diseases it claims to treat, such as allergic rhinitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
And these are just a fraction of the studies conducted. Multiple independent studies as well as meta-analyses have found that effect of homeopathic medicine is ambiguous, nil or frankly injurious.
No wonder OTC homeopathic remedies sold in the US will now have to come with a warning that they are based on outdated theories ‘not accepted by most modern medical experts’ and that ‘there is no scientific evidence the product works’
Beets have always been and remain one of the world’s most underutilized ‘super foods’ with a number of powerful, evidence-based health benefits.
In an era where clever marketing has transformed exotic berries, tubers and plant extracts from geographically distant regions into “super foods,” ostensibly better (and that much more expensive!) than culinary standards found at your local supermarket, e.g. garlic, onion, and kale, we should be reminded that the true nutritional super heroes are too busy performing anonymous feats of healing to garnish that kind of attention.
Which leads us to beets. Anything we can eat that bleeds as red and readily as the beet deserves our immediate respect. In fact, this vegetable often leaves a veritable crime scene behind it, converting a spotless kitchen counter into a nutrient-dense blood bath in a matter of minutes. There is ancient wisdom buried in the ‘doctrine of signatures’ that reveals itself so bloodily in the beet: it nourishes our blood and circulatory system. Indeed, thanks to the burgeoning growth of food science on the topic, we now know that beets are one of Nature’s finest cardiovascular tonics…
Beet’s Blood Vessel Dilating Properties
A 2008 study published in the journal Hypertension found that beets contain pharmacologically significant quantities of blood vessel dilating nitrate. Three hours after ingesting 500 ml of beet juice study subjects experience a significant drop in blood pressure that could be directly correlated with increased plasma nitrate concentrations.[i] As endothelial dysfunction, or the inability of the blood vessels to dilate fully, is considered the ‘canary in the trousers,’ beets’ legendary ability in ancient times to enhance virility and act as an aphrodisiac now makes perfect scientific sense.
Beet Back Muscle Fatigue
But beets don’t just increase cardiovascular and ‘bedroom’ performance but athletic performance as well. In 2009, a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that dietary nitrate supplementation in the form of beetroot juice reduced the oxygen cost of submaximal exercise and enhanced the tolerance to high-intensity exercise.[ii]
A follow up study published in the same journal in 2010 found that nitrate-rich beetroot juice also enhances muscle contractile efficiency during knee-extensor exercise in humans.[iii] The researchers hypothesized that the observed beneficial effect may be due to a reduced ATP cost of muscle force production.
Beet Back Infections
Consider that beets ‘live’ in the dirt, a place full of microbes which love a free meal. This means that nature has equipped the plant with natural defenses. No wonder that beet has been found to fight off the following infectious organisms:
Beet pectin has been found to inhibit the synthesis of types A and B staphylococcal enterotoxins.[iv]
Beet extract has been found to reduce influenza A infectivity and lethality.[v]
Beet root has been found capable of inhibiting Epstein-Barr virus associated tumor formation.[vi]
Undoubtedly, future research will find beet to have a wider range of antimicrobial applications. But beet’s powers don’t end there. Other already researched properties include:
Liver Damage: A 2006 study found that beet root has significant dose-dependent liver-protective properties against the chemical carbontetrachloride.[vii] More recently, research has found that it also protects against N-nitrosodiethylamine associated liver damage.[viii]
Cardiovascular Disease: While the “LDL cholesterol is bad” myth is almost imbecilic in its simplicity, those looking for ways to modulate the lipid ratio naturally in favor of the medical establishment’s largely drug-company drafted lipid guidelines can rest assured that beet can help. A 2000 study found beet fiber was capable of simultaneously increasing HDL and lowering LDL levels; perhaps far more impressive, the study also found close to a 30% reduction in cholesterol plaque accumulation in the aorta of those animals fed beet fiber.[ix]
Radiation Exposure: Compounds found in beets known as betalains have been found to reduce toxicity associated with gamma radiation exposure.[x]
Cancer: Beetroot juice has been found to reduce adverse effects caused by DMBA, a chemical associated with mammary cancer risk.[xi] Beetroot has also been found to exhibit anti-cancer properties in prostate cancer cell lines at toxicity levels far lower than chemo-agents such as doxorubicin.[xii]
Beets, of course, have basic nutritional gifts to offer in addition to their aforementioned medicinal properties. They contain exceptionally high levels of folate at 148 mcg or 37% the Daily Value in just a one cup serving. They also sport an impressive 6.7 mg or 11% Daily Value of vitamin C, keeping in mind that vitamin C activity expressed through food its very different that isolate, semi-synthetic ascorbic acid; in other words, that 6.7 mg is worth far more than the story of molecular weight alone can tell. Another way to understand this is if you take a nutrient out of its natural context as a whole food, it behaves less like a nutrient and more like a chemical. For more information consult contributing writer Dr. Vic Shayne’s excellent book: Whole Food Nutrition: The Missing Link in Vitamin Therapy.
For a full list of beet’s nutritional components visit Nutritiondata.com’s page on beets here. For a full list of beet’s therapeutic properties on GreenMedinfo.com visit our Beet Health Benefits page. Finally, for those looking for beet recipes visit the FoodNetwork’s page on the topic, remembering to substitute organic versions of the ingredients listed whenever possible.
Imagine a better life for yourself. Imagine your dream life. What does it look like? Where are you? What does it feel like?
Most of us want to improve our lives—laugh more, stress less, follow our bliss—but the *how* of transformation can feel overwhelming. Here are 11 practices you can start doing *now* to live a deeper, happier, more meaningful and better life.
11 Practices for a Better Life
1. Let your imagination run wild
Close your eyes and imagine a better life for yourself. Imagine your dream life. What does it look like? Where are you? What does it feel like?
You can’t live your dream if you haven’t given yourself the space to create it. You have this one life and you get to choose how to live it. Dream big.
There’s a chance you’re driving through life on cruise control. Start paying more attention to your daily routine. Listen to the birds chirping, enjoy the smell of your freshly brewed coffee, and feel the cozy, softness of your pajamas. Relish the sights, smells, sounds, and feelings of your daily life.
4. Be real
We all wear masks—pretending and posturing our way through dinner parties and interviews and cocktail hours. But releasing all that phoniness and asserting your authentic self will feel like a breath of fresh air. And watch out, it’s infectious: when you’re real, you’ll notice those around you get real, too.
You may have heard that you’re a product of the people with which you spend the most time. So pick the right crowd. Stick with the upbeat, optimistic people in your life; their company will nourish you. Avoid those that drain your energy, leaving you exhausted and unhappy.
6. Embrace change
Change is the only constant, so it’s time to start welcoming it. Stop dreading it, avoiding it, denying it, or fearing it. Start seeing change for the possibility, fun, inspiration, and growth it can bring.
7. Trust your gut
Your intuition knows what’s best for you and it will encourage you to live your right life. Your job is to honor that inner voice—you’ll be happier for it.
8. Enjoy joy
What do you love to do? What makes you laugh? What makes your heart swell with happiness? Give yourself permission to do that, often.
Whether we have sleep problems or not, it’s so important to empty our minds before we go to sleep. To release all our thoughts, plans, worries and concerns so that we can have a deep and restful sleep. And today’s guided meditation is meant to help you achieve just that.
Whether you have any insomnia or sleep problems or not, this magical guided meditation will help you experience the beauty and wonder of the sea, as you drift off to sleep, so that you can have a restful, relaxing and refreshing sleep.
“Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Before you begin, remember to first, find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Second, lay down and when you’re ready, press play. And in the morning when you wake up, you can share your experience with all of us by commenting below.
Introducing Li-Fi technology, where people can seamlessly access internet in their smart devices using light to transmit data.
Deepak Solanki, the co-founder of start-up venture Velmenni Research and Development Private Limited, is one of the pioneering figures in the ever-evolving space of Light Fidelity (Li-Fi) technology in India today.
What is Li-FI? In simple terms, Li-Fi is a technology for seamless wireless communication between devices using a light source like LED bulbs to transmit data. It is widely believed that Li-Fi technology can deliver internet speeds that are 100 times faster than conventional Wi-Fi. Solanki, however, argues that this isn’t necessarily accurate. “Li-Fi has the potential to achieve speeds in the range of 10s of Gbps (gigabits per second),” says Solanki.
From dial-up to broadband and finally Wi-Fi, the internet has dramatically evolved in terms of the volume of information available online and the speed at which one can access it. “Traffic from wireless and mobile devices will account for more than 63% of total IP traffic by 2021,” says this Cisco study.
Each of our devices will be connected to the internet, as we move into the Internet of Everything era. From vehicles sending out traffic-related information to sensors on a field delivering real-time information about soil quality, the internet is further extending its influence on humanity.
Is Wi-Fi up to the task of handling all that internet traffic? The short answer is no. What Wi-Fi essentially does is use radio frequencies to transmit wireless data. With the number of wireless devices (laptops, smartphones, or different kinds of sensors) increasing exponentially, the limited amount of spectrum is a real concern. There are security-related concerns as well, but the biggest challenge is limited bandwidth. Hence, the need for an alternative mode of communication.
This is where Deepak Solanki and his venture come into the picture.
Twenty seven-year-old Solanki was born and brought up in the city of Jind, Haryana. As the son of a government school teacher and housewife, Solanki grew up with a real passion for science and technology, especially robotics. After finishing school in Jind, Solanki went onto pursue engineering at Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar, Punjab.
What cemented Solanki’s interest in technology was an internship in the Robotics Research Lab at IIIT-Hyderabad. He worked there as a research intern, and in his words, “motivated me to continue to work in the domain of scientific research.”
How did Solanki first encounter Li-Fi?
After working in a robotics start-up at IIT-Bombay in 2011, he moved to Delhi in March 2012. By September 2012, however, he had formally registered Velmenni Research Development as a sole-proprietorship business.
“I wanted to start my own venture because I figured out that it takes a lot of time to develop and make anything in product form. I wanted to make real products. I had a keen interest in wireless communications. I have worked on radio frequencies, and am a HAM Operator (he holds an amateur radio license). So, after starting the company, my first area of interest was wireless technology. It was then when I came across Li-Fi/Visible Light Communication and found it rather fascinating,” says Solanki.
Despite this country’s collective obsession with engineers and technology, Solanki didn’t have many takers for Li-Fi. Everyone was tuned into the e-commerce boom, and many investors suggested that he should do the same.
“The first two years of Velmenni were the hardest. It was difficult to raise funds,” he tells The Better India. To sustain himself, however, he took up consulting gigs for various companies dealing in electronics until his start-up was accepted into the three-month Buildit Hardware Accelerator Program in Estonia. “They offered us seed funding and asked us to set up shop there,” Solanki adds. In October 2014, he moved to Tartu, a small town of just 104,000 people in the eastern European country. To the uninitiated, Estonia is a recognised global leader in digital technology with a robust pro-business environment.
“By 2015, Velmenni secured a deal with an Estonian entrepreneur in the lighting domain to integrate Li-Fi in their LED lights. We created a system that proved that the product worked beyond the laboratory,” Solanki told the Economic Times. He soon decided to enrol Velmenni into one of the biggest global start-up events called Slush in Helsinki, Finland, where prominent firms look for potential investment opportunities in start-ups. Despite not winning the competition in November 2015, Velmenni’s presentation was enough to impress a team from aviation giant Airbus.
His firm was soon invited to join the aviation giant’s corporate accelerator in Germany for a six-month programme. Velmenni was part of only five start-ups invited for the programme in January 2016. “This programme was beneficial and it gave us a direction for our work, especially for the aviation industry. We created a proof of concept for wireless in-flight entertainment system using Li-Fi and presented on the Demo day in July 2016. We tested it on an A-350 flight mockup, and it was a huge learning experience for a company like us,” Solanki told Economic Times.
With validation from Airbus, investments into his Li-Fi venture began to flow in. After completing the programme in July 2016, Solanki came back to India and set up an R&D lab in Delhi. Today, the start-up has 18 employees.
How does Li-Fi tech work?
It requires two different sets of hardware devices (Li-Fi Access Point and Li-Fi Dongle) to set up a Li-Fi network–one that can be used indoors (inside a building) and the other for outdoors. The Li-Fi access point is very similar to what you have in Wi-Fi, which is essentially a router. “We plug the Li-Fi access point to a light source, which is LED in this case. The router is plugged in between the LED and the LED driver, and we have a USB dongle that can be used to connect with a laptop, desktop or smart devices,” Solanki tells The Better India.
Delving into further detail, he speaks of the tech dynamic at play. “Li-Fi Access Point needs to be connected to a LED light source. It can take data using ethernet cable from ISP provider and then modulate the light source on specific frequencies. LiFi Dongle has a photo-detector which converts light signal to electrical signal, and then it sends data to the Laptop using USB/Ethernet,” he says.
For outdoors, Velmenni has a separate set of devices, which replaces the optical cable infrastructure. “If I need to have connectivity between two points, I can have device A at one point, and Device B at the other point and both these devices can communicate through light. These devices can be plugged into street lamps, poles, and pretty much anything with a light source,” says Solanki.
Unlike Wi-Fi, where telecom companies have to run optical cables to set up the infrastructural backbone for internet connectivity, we already have light-based infrastructure in our cities, and Li-Fi can utilise that.
Challenges facing Li-Fi
In the past three years, Li-Fi technology has evolved significantly. It is set to become an integral part of the country’s 5G infrastructure, alongside Wi-Fi. “At the moment, however, a major challenge is to receive data in low light conditions at higher speeds. Currently, we are working on solving those challenges by developing very high-sensitive receivers,” Solanki tells The Better India.
Another challenge is the price. Since the technology has not been adopted on a large scale, and mass production of Li-Fi enabled devices isn’t a reality yet, it is more expensive than Wi-Fi. Once this technology is adopted on a mass scale, the price points will be similar. It is imperative to note that Li-Fi isn’t out there to replace Wi-Fi, but compliment it, Solanki says.
“Think of a scenario where we have street lamps around the whole city, and they are connected to each other wirelessly through light, and thus providing you with high-speed internet.” — Deepak Solanki, during a TED Talk last year
Li-Fi can be used in areas where Wi-Fi is either prohibited or doesn’t work efficiently such as aviation, healthcare, environment etc. In the aviation industry, for example, Li-Fi technology brings a lot of value. One can use it in the cockpit securely without any requirement for cables. In fact, the primary advantage of Li-Fi is that it works in electromagnetic sensitive areas.
“It can be used where we need high-speed connectivity with more security,” says Solanki. Security is one of the biggest concerns with radio frequencies because if you’re sitting in a particular room, data can travel beyond it. Wi-Fi signals inherently cross walls and are thus susceptible to hacking.
Li-FI, however, is a lot more secure. “If the light source is in your room, the data will always remain in this room. If someone wants to hack into your system, that person will have to physically be in that room. In other words, Li-Fi works where Wi-Fi is prohibited,” Solanki adds. In a country, where internet infrastructure isn’t great, it becomes imperative for policymakers to address Li-Fi tech.
“There are areas in India where we cannot have optical cables, which means we cannot have high-speed internet connectivity. Such an outdoor light-based communication system can be used to reach such places. We are working with Indian companies where the proof-of-concept has been tested. We are now figuring out the way forward,” said Solanki at a recent lecture. Li-Fi is the future, and Velmenni is at the forefront of this technological revolution in India.