ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ema, or perhaps something else?

There was a story in today's Kuensel about  a team of American physicians - the "Flying Doctors" - who are helping hundreds of patients in Zhemgang. They are definitely performing a great service! However, one sentence in the story caught my eye:

The doctors also saw a lot of patients with gastritis complications. “This, I believe, has to do with the chili consumption,” said a general medicine specialist, Dr Joshua Seymour.
Now since I'm an ema addict, the moment I finished reading that sentence, I started having this weird feeling in my stomach. I had no idea what gastritis is, although by the name I suspected it is something one prefers not to be diagnosed with! Anyway, by the time I finished reading the article, I was already sure I had gastritis, whatever it is. It is sure going to be hard to abstain from all these delicious chili-chops...!

A few moments later, I regained my conciousness and decided to do some online research. I googled "gastritis", and checked a few of the more reliable medical-information websites - Mayo Clinic, The U.S. National Institutes of Health, WebMD - for information. So first, what's gastriris? It's an inflammation of the lining of the stomach, which causes a variety of symptoms, the most common of which are abdominal pain, indigestion, nausea and vomiting. Indeed, not very pleasant.

Next, I checked to see what the experts are saying about the causes of gastritis. Good news: I couldn't find any mention of chilis, or any other spicy food, as the main cause of gastritis in any of the aforementioned websites. Most experts agree that the most common causes of gastritis are:
  • Alcohol
  • Infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria
  • Smoking
  • Medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Stress
So while spicy food can definitely irritate the stomach, my non-educated guess - given the above list of common causes - is that chilis are not the number one factor in the disease's prevalence in Zhemgang. In fact,  research shows that chilis can actually protect the stomach lining (here's one such paper)!

Thus, until proven otherwise, I'm back to my chili-chops.

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