Monthly Archives: April 2008

Mystics and Medicine

Are we being hoodwinked by alternative medicine? ……Two leading scientists examine the evidence. The first of a two-part extract from Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst

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MIRACLE CURE? Alexander Technique,……… aromatherapy and magnet therapy


Which therapies work and which ones are useless? Which therapies are safe and which ones are dangerous? These are questions that doctors have asked themselves for millennia in relation to all forms of medicine.

And yet it is only comparatively recently that they have developed an approach that allows them to separate the effective from the ineffective, and the safe from the dangerous.

This approach, known as evidence-based medicine, has revolutionised medical practice, transforming it from an industry of charlatans and incompetents into a system of healthcare that can deliver such miracles as transplanting kidneys, removing cataracts, combating childhood diseases, eradicating smallpox and saving millions of lives each year.

Evidence-based medicine is about using the current best evidence — gathered through clinical trials and other scientific investigations — to make medical decisions. Alternative medicine claims to be able to treat the same illnesses and diseases that conventional medicine tries to tackle.

We set out to establish the truth of these claims by using the principles of evidence-based medicine.

Some people will be suspicious of this, perceiving evidence-based medicine as a strategy for allowing the medical establishment to defend its own members and treatment, while excluding outsiders who offer alternative treatments.

In fact, the opposite is often true — evidence-based medicine actually allows outsiders to be heard; it endorses any treatment that turns out to be effective, however strange it may seem.

In the 18th century, for instance, lemon juice as a treatment for scurvy was regarded as implausible but the establishment had to accept it because it was backed up by evidence from trials.

We had no axe to grind — indeed Professor Ernst even practised as a homeopath for many years (as well as receiving treatment as a patient) — and we came to our conclusions based on a fair, thorough and scientific assessment of the evidence.

So what did we find? While some therapies do provide some health benefits (e.g. osteopathy), most have nothing to offer.

Many popular therapies are “effective” only because they are good at eliciting a placebo response; making the patient feel better simply because they believe the treatment will help.

You might feel that as placebos help patients, this alone justifies the use of the therapy. But any treatment that relies on the placebo effect is essentially a bogus treatment. And it’s far from cheap.

If alternative practitioners are making unproven, disproven or vastly exaggerated claims, and if their treatments carry risks, then we are being swindled at the expense of our own good health.

Too many alternative therapists remain uninterested in determining the safety and efficacy of their interventions. These practitioners also fail to see the importance of rigorous clinical trials in establishing proper evidence for or against their treatments — where evidence already exists that treatments are ineffective or unsafe, alternative therapists carry on regardless.

Despite this disturbing situation, the market for alternative treatments is booming, and the public is being misled over and over again, often by misguided therapists; sometimes by exploitative charlatans.

It is time for the tricks to stop, and for the real treatments to take priority. The same scientific standards, evaluation and regulation should be applied to all types of medicine.

If this doesn’t happen, then homeopaths, acupuncturists, chiropractors, herbalists and many other alternative therapists will continue to prey on the most vulnerable — raiding their wallets, offering false hope and even endangering their health.

ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE:-

WHAT IS IT? A technique for relearning correct posture and body movements. Alexander teachers guide their clients through exercise sessions using a gentle, hands-on approach. As plenty of repetition is needed, 30 to 100 such sessions are usually required to master the technique, demanding a considerable level of commitment from the client, in terms of both time and money.

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DOES IT WORK? Very little research so far has been conducted on the technique. Some promising findings have emerged in terms of improvement of respiratory function, reduction of anxiety, reduction of disability in Parkinson’s disease and improvement of chronic back pain.

However, for none of these conditions is the evidence sufficient to claim that the Alexander technique is effective.

AROMATHERAPY:-

WHAT IS IT?
Plant essences (known as “essential oils”) are used to treat or prevent illnesses or enhance wellbeing. Most commonly, the diluted oil is applied to the skin via a gentle massage, but it can also be added to a bath or diffused in the air.

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Aromatherapists believe that different essential oils have different specific effects. Aromatherapy is advocated for chronic conditions such as anxiety, tension headache and musculoskeletal pain.

DOES IT WORK? Some clinical trials confirm the relaxing effects of aromatherapy massage. However, this is usually short-lived and therefore of debatable therapeutic value. Some essential oils do seem to have specific effects. For instance, tea tree has anti-microbial properties. However, these effects are far less reliable than those of conventional antibiotics. There is no evidence that aromatherapy can treat specific diseases.


CHIROPRACTIC THERAPY:-

WHAT IS IT? Chiropractors use spinal manipulation to realign the spine to restore mobility. Spinal manipulation can be a fairly aggressive technique, which pushes the spinal joint slightly beyond what it is ordinarily capable of achieving, using a technique called high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust — exerting a relatively strong force in order to move the joint at speed, but the extent of the motion needs to be limited to prevent damage to the joint and its surrounding structures.

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Some chiropractors claim to treat everything from digestive disorders to ear infections, others will treat only back problems.

DOES IT WORK?
There is no evidence to suggest that spinal manipulation is effective for anything but back pain and even then conventional approaches (such as regular exercise and ibuprofen) are just as likely to be effective and are cheaper. Neck manipulation has been linked to neurological complications such as strokes — in 1998, a 20-year-old Canadian woman died after neck manipulation caused a blood clot which led to stroke. We would strongly recommend physiotherapy exercises and osteopathy ahead of chiropractic therapy because they are at least effective and much safer. The dangers of chiropractic therapy to children are particularly worrying because a chiropractor would be manipulating an immature spine.


HYPNOTHERAPY:-

WHAT IS IT? The use of hypnosis, a trance-like state, for therapeutic purposes. Hypnotherapists treat a range of chronic conditions, including pain, anxiety, addictions and phobias.

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DOES IT WORK?
Dozens of clinical trials show that hypnotherapy is effective in reducing pain, anxiety and the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. However, the evidence is that it’s not effective to help you stop smoking, even though it is frequently promoted in this context.


MAGNET THERAPY:-

WHAT IS IT? The use of magnetic fields from static magnets, which are usually worn on the body, to treat various conditions, most frequently pain. These days rapidly fluctuating magnetic fields are used in conventional medicine in high-tech imaging machines (such as MRI scanners) and for promoting the healing of bone fractures. However, alternative medicine tends to use static magnets, which create a permanent magnetic field, to treat many conditions, mostly to alleviate chronic pain.

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DOES IT WORK? There is no evidence that static magnets offer any medical benefit for pain relief. As they are usually self-administered, there is a danger of missing serious diagnoses and losing valuable time for early treatment of serious diseases.

OSTEOPATHY:-

WHAT IS IT? A manual therapy which focuses on the musculoskeletal system to treat disease. Osteopaths use a range of techniques to mobilise soft tissues, bones and joints. Osteopathy and chiropractic therapy have much in common, but there are also important differences.

Osteopaths tend to use gentler techniques and often employ massage-like treatments. They also place less emphasis on the spine than chiropractors, and they rarely move the vertebral joints beyond their physical range of motion, unlike chiropractors. Therefore osteopathic interventions are less likely to injure.

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In general they treat mainly musculoskeletal problems, but many also claim to treat other conditions such as asthma, ear infection and colic.

DOES IT WORK? There is reasonably good evidence that the osteopathic approach is as effective as conventional treatments for back pain, but there is no good evidence to support the use of osteopathy in nonmusculoskeletal conditions.

People with severe osteoporosis, bone cancer, infections of the bone or bleeding problems should confirm with the osteopath that they will not receive forceful manual treatments.

LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP:-


*Advice for anyone considering alternative medicine:

*Consult and inform your GP — the treatment might interfere with any ongoing conventional therapies.

*Do not stop your conventional treatment unless your doctor advises that this is sensible.

*Alternative therapies can be expensive, so make sure there is evidence to support the efficacy of a therapy before spending huge sums of money.

*very treatment carries risks, so make sure the risks are outweighed by the benefits.

Sources: THe Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

Bionic Eye ‘Blindness Cure Hope’

A ‘bionic eye’ may hold the key to returning sight to people left blind by a hereditary disease, experts believe.

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………………………………The treatment is being tested in clinical trials

A team at London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital have carried out the treatment on the UK’s first patients as part of a clinical study into the therapy.

The artificial eye, connected to a camera on a pair of glasses, has been developed by US firm Second Sight.

It said the technique may be able to restore a basic level of vision, but experts warned it was still early days.

The trial aims to help people who have been made blind through retinitis pigmentosa, a group of inherited eye diseases that affects the retina.

The disease progresses over a number of years, normally after people have been diagnosed when they are children.

It is estimated between 20,000 to 25,000 are affected in the UK.

It is not known whether the treatment has helped the two patients to see and any success is only likely to be in the form of light and dark outlines, but doctors are optimistic.

Lyndon da Cruz, the eye surgeon who carried out the operations last week, said the treatment was “exciting”.

“The devices were implanted successfully in both patients and they are recovering well from the operations.”

Other patients across Europe and the US have also been involved in the trial.

Electronic

The bionic eye, known as Argus II, works via the camera which transmits a wireless signal to an ultra-thin electronic receiver and electrode panel that are implanted in the eye and attached to the retina.

The electrodes stimulate the remaining retinal nerves allowing a signal to be passed along the optic nerve to the brain.

David Head, chief executive of the British Retinitis Pigmentosa Society, said: “This treatment is very exciting, but it is still early days.

“There is currently no treatment for patients so this device and research into stem cells therapies offers the best hope.”

“This treatment is very exciting, but it is still early days” …. says David Head, of the British Retinitis Pigmentosa Society

CLICK TO SEE ALSO :->
Sight-saving injection approved

Woman ‘denied sight-save drugs’

NHS criticised on blindness cure

Man in NHS battle ‘to save sight’

Second Sight

British Retinis Pigmentosa Society

Sources:BBC NEWS:21st. April,’08

Acrocyanosis

Definition
Acrocyanosis is a decrease in the amount of oxygen delivered to the extremities. The hands and feet turn blue because of the lack of oxygen. Decreased blood supply to the affected areas is caused by constriction or spasm of small blood vessels.

Description
Acrocyanosis is a painless disorder caused by constriction or narrowing of small blood vessels in the skin of affected patients. The spasm of the blood vessels decreases the amount of blood that passes through them, resulting in less blood being delivered to the hands and feet. The hands may be the main area affected. The affected areas turn blue and become cold and sweaty. Localized swelling may also occur. Emotion and cold temperatures can worsen the symptoms, while warmth can decrease symptoms. The disease is seen mainly in women and the effect of the disorder is mainly cosmetic. People with the disease tend to be uncomfortable, with sweaty, cold, bluish colored hands and feet.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Causes and symptoms
The sympathetic nerves cause constriction or spasms in the peripheral blood vessels that supply blood to the extremities. The spasms are a contraction of the muscles in the walls of the blood vessels. The contraction decreases the internal diameter of the blood vessels, thereby decreasing the amount of blood flow through the affected area. The spasms occur on a persistent basis, resulting in long term reduction of blood supply to the hands and feet. Sufficient blood still passes through the blood vessels so that the tissue in the affected areas does not starve for oxygen or die. Mainly, blood vessels near the surface of the skin are affected.

Diagnosis
Diagnosis is made by observation of the main clinical symptoms, including persistently blue and sweaty hands and/or feet and a lack of pain. Cooling the hands increases the blueness, while warming the hands decreases the blue color. The acrocyanosis patient’s pulse is normal, which rules out obstructive diseases. Raynaud’s disease differs from acrocyanosis in that it causes white and red skin coloration phases, not just bluish discoloration.

Treatment

There is no standard medical or surgical treatment for acrocyanosis, and treatment, other than reassurance and avoidance of cold, is usually unnecessary. The patient is reassured that no serious illness is present. A sympathectomy would alleviate the cyanosis by disrupting the fibers of the sympathetic nervous system to the area.owever, such an extreme procedure would rarely be appropriate. The same effect could be accomplished with a-adrenergic blocking agents or caclium channel blockers

Acrocyanosis usually isn’t treated. Drugs that block the uptake of calcium (calcium channel blockers) and alpha-one antagonists reduce the symptoms in most cases. Drugs that dilate blood vessels are only effective some of the time. Sweating from the affected areas can be profuse and require treatment. Surgery to cut the sympathetic nerves is performed rarely.

Incidence, Prevalence, and Epidemiology
Although there is no definitive reporting on its incidence, acrocyanosis shows prevalence in children and young adults than in patients thirty years of age or older. Epidemiological data suggests that cold climate, outdoor occupation, and low body mass index are significant risk factors for developing acrocyanosis. As expected, acrocyanosis would be more prevalent in women than in men due to differences in BMI. However, the incidence rate of acrocyanosis often decreases with increasing age, regardless of regional climate. Case reports have found acrocyanosis to be more prevalent in patients with autistic disorders such as Asperger’s Syndrome.

Prognosis
Acrocyanosis is a benign and persistent disease. The main concern of patients is cosmetic. Left untreated, the disease does not worsen.

Newborn Considerations
Acrocyanosis is common initially after delivery in the preterm and full term newborn Intervention normally is not required, although hospitals opt to provide supplemental oxygen for precautionary measures.

 

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:

http://www.healthline.com/galecontent/acrocyanosis

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acrocyanosis_%28benign%29

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These Germs Eat Antibiotics for Breakfast


Harvard researchers have discovered hundreds of germs in soil that literally devour antibiotics, and thrive with the drugs as their sole source of nutrition.

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That bacteria can survive on strange “foods” is no surprise; some bacteria can break down oil spills, for instance. And it’s already known that soil bacteria can withstand some antibiotics.

However, what surprised researchers was that so many bacteria were able to not only survive, but flourish, when fed 18 different, common, antibiotics, some at levels 50 to 100 times higher than would be given to a human patient.

Now scientists are racing to figure out just how the bacteria devour antibiotics, since more dangerous germs that sicken people could potentially develop the same ability, and increase the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bugs.

One silver lining to the discovery, however, is that the germs help to prevent big antibiotic buildups in the soil, despite the widespread use of the drugs for livestock and humans.
Sources:
ABC News April 3, 2008
Science April 4, 2008

The Miracle Berry

Imagine an extract from a berry that would make sour things taste sweet and help you lose weight. Then imagine not being allowed to take it.

The berry makes sour things taste sweet

The world is getting fatter. One billion people are overweight, and 300 million of those are clinically obese.

The search is always on for replacements for those things that, eaten in excess, make us obese – fatty and sugary foods. There is no miracle pill that can replace either. Nearly four decades ago one man came close to providing a tablet that could reduce our love of sugar. In the 1960s, Robert Harvey, a biomedical postgraduate student, encountered the miracle berry, an African fruit which turns sour tastes to sweet.

“You can eat a berry and then bite into a lemon,” says Harvey. “It becomes not only sweeter, but it will be the best lemon you’ve tasted in your life.”

FIND OUT MORE…
The Miracle Berry, presented by Tom Mangold, is on Radio 4 at 2100 BST on 28 April
Or listen again on the BBC iPlayer

More importantly, this “miracle” can be used to manufacture sweet tasting foods without sugar or sweeteners, which have always been plagued by an after-taste.

Spotting the potential health benefits, and the healthy profits, that the miracle berry promised, Harvey founded the Miralin Company to grow the berry in Jamaica and Puerto Rico, extract its active ingredient in laboratories in Hudson, Massachusetts, and market it across the United States. At first, Harvey aimed his products at diabetics.

“In market testing, diabetics thought our product, as the name implies, was a miracle.”

But Harvey’s sweet dream of making the world healthier came to an abrupt end. On the eve of the launch in 1974, the US Food and Drugs Administration unexpectedly turned against the product.

Legal advice and contact with the FDA had led Harvey to believe that the extract from the berry would be allowed under the classification “generally recognised as safe”. Having been eaten for centuries in Africa, without anecdotal reports of problems, it could be assumed not to be harmful.

But the FDA decided it would be considered as an additive which required several years more testing. In the poor economic climate of 1974, this could not be funded and the company folded.

“I was in shock,” says Harvey. “We were on very good terms with the FDA and enjoyed their full support. There was no sign of any problem. Without any opportunity to know what the concern was and who raised it, and to respond to it – they just banned the product.”

He remembers a number of strange events leading up to the FDA’s decision, beginning immediately after one particular market research test.

His investors, including Reynolds Metals, Barclays and Prudential, had put up big money. They were looking for big returns.

“From the beginning my interest was in the diabetic market but my backers wanted to put double zeros after the numbers we were projecting.”

So, in the summer of 1974, miracle berry ice lollies, in four different flavours, were compared to similar, sugar-sweetened versions by schoolchildren in Boston. The berry won every time.

Don Emery, then vice president of the Miralin company, recalls the excitement.

“If we had got beyond the diabetic market we could have been a multi-billion dollar company. We’d have displaced maybe millions of tons of sugar and lots of artificial sweeteners as well.”

A few weeks later, things turned sour. A car was spotted driving back and forwards past Miralin’s offices, slowing down as someone took photographs of the building. Then, late one night, Harvey was followed as he drove home.

“I sped up, then he sped up. I pulled into this dirt access road and turned off my lights and the other car went past the end of the road at a very high speed. Clearly I was being monitored.”

Sugar denial

Finally, at the end of that summer, Harvey and Emery arrived back at the office after dinner to find they were being burgled. The burglars escaped and were never found, but the main FDA file was left lying open on the floor.

A few weeks later the FDA, which had previously been very supportive, wrote to Miralin, effectively banning its product. No co-incidence, according to Don Emery.

Obesity is a massive problem in the West

“I honestly believe that we were done in by some industrial interest that did not want to see us survive because we were a threat. Somebody influenced somebody in the FDA to cause the regulatory action that was taken against us.”

The Sugar Association, the trade body representing “Big Sugar” in the US, declined to be interviewed on the subject but flatly denied that the industry had exerted any influence over the FDA.

The Calorie Control Council, which represents artificial sweetener manufacturers in the US, has failed to respond to questions on the issue.

The Food and Drugs Administration also refused to be interviewed and has indicated that a Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation request to look at the relevant FDA files will not be considered for a year. Robert Harvey had requested the same files over 30 years ago.

“We got back the most redacted information I’ve ever seen from FOI. Everything was blacked out. There would have been material in the file that would have embarrassed the FDA, I believe.”

Faced with this silence, it’s virtually impossible to assess what actually happened to prevent the miracle berry’s progress to a sugar-free market.

But one thing is certain, it never got the chance to prove whether it really would have provided a miracle in our ever fattening world. And for Robert Harvey, that’s the biggest shame of all.

“It was a big loss not only for my employees and shareholders but, even more importantly, for diabetics and other people with special dietary needs. It was tragic.”

CLICK TO KNOW MORE ABOUT : MIRACLE BERRY:
*Also known as “miracle fruit” or Synsepalum dulcificum
*Grown in Africa, first documented in 18th Century
*Acts on the sour receptors of the tongue, turning sour tastes sweet
*Effect lasts 30 mins – two hours
*Effect is destroyed in hot foods – eg coffee and baked foods
*Renders an accompanying dry white wine sickly sweet
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Sources: BBC NEWS:28Th. Aptil ’08

Down With a Cold ?

At some time or another, everyone — even a robust fitness freak — gets felled by the common cold, developing sniffles, sneezing, puffy eyes, fever, body ache and malaise. Children start to develop colds during their first year, the frequency of which may increase to up to six times a year. This leaves the mothers with the feeling that the child is “always ill”. The average adult gets three to four colds a year.

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Almost 40 per cent of outpatient medical consultations in a general practice deals with colds and their complications. This is not surprising, as colds are unavoidable infections. They are caused by viruses, 80 per cent of which belong to the rhinovirus family. Not only are there more than a hundred members in this group alone, but the types also mutate at a rapid rate. This makes immunity practically non-existent, or at best short lived. To make matters worse, there is no vaccine available, except for flu or influenza.

Colds are highly contagious. The spread is rapid as the virus, contained in nasal secretions, can be propelled forcefully into the environment by coughing and sneezing. It can also be transferred from the nose to the hands of infected people. Patients can then transfer the virus to door knobs, telephones, banisters, switches and other such objects. The virus can remain dormant but viable for 18 hours or more until it finds a susceptible host. Any person touching the contaminated surface has a 50 per cent chance of picking up the infection.

Infection increases during the rainy season and winter months. People tend to huddle together under umbrellas or shelters. Windows may be kept closed. The close contact and lack of ventilation provide ideal conditions for the spread of the cold virus. Contrary to popular myths, colds are not aggravated by washing the hair at night, eating ice cream or using air-conditioning.

The infection incubates for a day or two before symptoms appear. It may then last a variable period of time, usually 5-14 days. If there is no recovery within two weeks, there may be secondary bacterial infection and complications like sinusitis, ear infection, bronchitis and pneumonia may have set in.

Smokers develop colds more frequently than non-smokers do. Their colds are more severe, take longer to subside and are more likely to be complicated by secondary infection. This is because the cilia — fine protective hairs that line the respiratory passages — are paralysed by nicotine. They, therefore, clear accumulated mucous sluggishly and inefficiently. Also, smokers’ lungs are likely to be scarred, distorted, have a reduced blood supply and function sub-optimally, making elimination of the infection difficult.

Man has reached the moon but a cure for the common cold remains elusive. We still rely on “grandma’s recommendations” of hot drinks like ginger tea, lime juice with honey, rice gruel and chicken soup. These do soothe the irritated throat. Also, resting helps. It reduces the pain in the muscles and bones. Steam inhalations liquefy the secretions and help them to drain, providing relief.

Stuffed and blocked nasal passages can be cleared with saline (not chemical) nose drops. Aspirin and paracetamol reduce fever and pain. Anti histamines reduce itching in the nose and throat and dry up dripping nasal secretions. The older first-generation anti histamines (Avil, Benadryl) are very effective but they cause sedation. The second-generation non-sedating products (loratidine, cetrizine) are less effective.

Many health supplements are advocated to boost immunity and reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. Many are of doubtful efficacy and have not been studied scientifically. Zinc supplements, however, have been proven to be useful. They can be used as lozenges, syrups or tablets. Not more than 10-15 mg a day of elemental zinc should be taken.

Antibiotics do not work and administering them is futile and inappropriate. They do not shorten the course of the infection. Nor do they prevent complications. Antiviral medications used against the influenza and herpes viruses are ineffective against the rhinovirus. If the cold just refuses to go away and there are no bacterial complications, it may not be a cold at all. It may be an idiosyncratic allergic reaction to something inhaled or ingested from the environment. Mosquito coils, liquid repellents, room fresheners and incense sticks are particularly notorious.

The best advice for someone with a cold — “wait it out”.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Disarm Your Anxiety

Don’t let stress keep you down.

Like most illnesses, stress is defined by its symptoms: Relieve the fatigue, headaches, tight muscles, and the rest of the physical fallout and you’ll find it exponentially easier to take the tension in stride.

Fatigue
The stress hormone cortisol may sap your serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that regulate mood and sleep.

Beat it: Try the herbal supplement Rhodiola rosea (rhodiolarosea.com). It stimulates serotonin and dopamine production, says Keith DeOrio, M.D., the Men’s Health alternative-medicine advisor

Muscle tension:
A continuous infusion of adrenaline can make your upper-back muscles painfully tight, according to research by Swedish scientists.

Beat it:
Start untying the knots with 12 repetitions of wide-grip barbell rows. Two sets will leave your muscles fatigued enough to relax and recover from the tension.


Weight gain:

Italian researchers have shown that cortisol can increase your cravings for foods high in fat and carbohydrates.

Beat it: Swallow more omega-3 fatty acids; they can cut cortisol, say French researchers. Take two Ultimate Omega pills (nordicnaturals.com) twice a day, which is a similar amount to what was used in the study.

Headaches
Low serotonin levels may cause the blood vessels in your brain to become dilated and inflamed.

Beat it: Fill up on pumpkin seeds, bananas, and tuna. A study in Clinical Neuroscience found that magnesium, a nutrient that helps regulate blood-vessel dilation, may reduce the frequency of headaches.

Stomach upset:
Blood is shunted from your stomach to your muscles so they can fight or take flight, say Johns Hopkins researchers.

Beat it: Heat up a meal. Capsaicin, the chemical that gives chili peppers their fire, was found to increase gastric bloodflow in animal studies.

Click to see also:->Strip Away The Stress

Overcome Your Anxiety

Sources: MSN Health.

Mother’s Diet Linked to Baby’s Sex

Oysters may excite the libido, but there is nothing like a hearty breakfast laced with sugar to boost a woman’s chances of conceiving a son, according to a study released on Wednesday. Likewise, a low-energy diet that skimps on calories, minerals and nutrients is more likely to yield a female of the human species, says the study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Britain’s de facto academy of sciences. Fiona Mathews of the University of Exeter in Britain and colleagues wanted to find out if a woman’s diet has an impact on the sex of her offspring. So they asked 740 first-time mothers who did not know if their unborn foetuses were male or female to provide detailed records of eating habits before and after they became pregnant. The women were split into three groups according to the number calories they consumed per day around the time of conception. Fifty-six per cent of the women in the group with the highest energy intake had sons, compared to 45 per cent in the least-well fed cohort. Besides racking up a higher calorie count, the group who produced more males were also more likely to have eaten a wider range of nutrients, including potassium, calcium and vitamins C, E and B12. The odds of an XY, or male outcome to a pregnancy also went up sharply “for women who consumed at least one bowl of breakfast cereal daily compared with those who ate less than or equal to one bowl of week,” the study reported.

These surprising findings are consistent with a very gradual shift in favour of girls over the last four decades in the sex ratio of newborns, according to the researchers. Previous research has shown — despite the rising epidemic in obesity — a reduction in the average energy uptake in advanced economies. The number of adults who skip breakfast has also increased substantially. “This research may help to explain why in developed countries, where many young women choose low calorie diets, the proportion of boys is falling,” Mathews said.

The study’s findings, she added, could point to a “natural mechanism” for gender selection. The link between a rich diet and male children may have an evolutionary explanation. For most species, the number of offspring a male can father exceeds the number a female can give birth to. But only if conditions are favourable — poor quality male specimens may fail to breed at all, whereas females reproduce more consistently. “If a mother has plentiful resources, then it can make sense to invest in producing a son because he is likely to produce more grandchildren than would a daughter,” thus contributing to the survival of the species, explains Mathews. “However, in leaner times having a daughter is a safer bet.” While the mechanism is not yet understood, it is known from in vitro fertilisation research that higher levels of glucose, or sugar, encourage the growth and development of male embryos while inhibiting female embryos.

Click to see also:->

Low-fat dairy infertility warning

Beef diet ‘damages sons’ sperm’

High-calorie diet linked to boys

. Sources: The Times Of India

Masturbation Checks Prostate Cancer?

Frequent masturbation may help men cut their risk of contracting prostate cancer, Australian researchers have found. It is believed that carcinogens may build up in the prostate if men do not ejaculate regularly, BBC News reported.

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The researchers surveyed more than 1,000 men who had developed prostate cancer, and 1,250 men who had not. They found that men who had ejaculated the most between the ages of 20 and 50 were the least likely to get cancer. Men who ejaculated more than five times each week were a third less likely to develop prostate cancer.

Sexual intercourse may not have the same effect because of the higher risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, which could in turn raise the risk of cancer. “Had we been able to remove ejaculations associated with sexual intercourse, there should have been an even stronger protective effect of ejaculations,” Graham Giles of the Cancer Council Victoria, who led the researchers, said in the article.

The prostate produces a fluid that is incorporated into ejaculation, which activates sperm and prevents them from sticking together. Studies on animals have shown that carcinogens

like 3-methylchloranthrene can be harboured in the prostate. Frequent ejaculation encourages the cancer-inducing fluids to “flush out.”

Click to learn more about Prostrate Cancer…………………………...(1)…...(2)……(3)..(4)……(5)

Sources: The Times Of India

Hypnosis

Introduction:
Your mind is incredible. The brain has been compared to a computer in a sort of bio-computer analogy. The analogy has power–but it is an understatement. Science has discovered many of the hard wired connections that appear to give the brain/mind so much control over the body (health, wellness, longevity, youthfulness) and our destinies in terms of success, learning, wealth and prosperity.
There are many estimates by experts regarding the brain/mind. Most agree that at least three relevant observations are true:

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1. Somehow the mind can alter and control even things formerly thought to be a matter of DNA. (Example: multiple personality studies have shown eye color changes as sudden as the personality switch).

2. Only approximately 10% of the brain’s ability is tapped by normal people. The remaining 90% can be likened to an unused muscle–atrophied.

3. There is no law of limitation except that which is self imposed. Most have literally been programmed, like a computer, with what computer people term GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). That is, they have been subjected to repeated messages teaching self doubt, fear, anxiety, etc. This programmed language of limitation has become their life script, their expectation, and therefore most of their reality.

The mind is the ultimate frontier. Your potential is probably yet unrealized. Our business exists to facilitate you in realizing your personal best. That’s why we say, “InnerTalk®, when believing in yourself matters!”

Definition:
Hypnosis (from the Greek hypnos, “sleep”) is “a trance-like state that resembles sleep but is induced by a person whose suggestions are readily accepted by the subject.”

The technique is used for medical purposes to relieve anxiety or otherwise improve or alter behavior. It is also used in popular stage acts in which subjects are persuaded to perform bizarre feats.

Other variations include mass-hypnosis, in which crowds are simultaneously influenced, and autosuggestion in which a subject persuades themself.

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How can Hypnosis Help?

Hypnosis is simply a state of complete relaxation, somewhere between being fully awake and being asleep. In fact, all of us pass through brief periods of hypnosis every day: once when falling asleep and once again when waking up. When we are in hypnosis, we are able to get in touch with our inner resources and our subconscious minds.

Most of us these days have heard of the ‘conscious’ and ‘subconscious’ parts of our minds. These are like the ‘thinking’ and ‘unthinking’ parts of our consciousness. When we are puzzling things out, learning, using logic and being scientific about things we are using our conscious minds. The subconscious deals with automatic actions, such as habits and instinctive reactions.

Can Anyone be Hypnotized?
There are large individual differences in response to hypnosis. Hypnosis has little to do with the hypnotist‘s technique, and very much to do with the individual’s capacity, or talent, for experiencing hypnosis. Most people are at least moderately hypnotizable. However, while relatively few people absolutely cannot be hypnotized, by the same token, relatively few people fall within the highest level of responsiveness (so-called hypnotic virtuosos).

There is some controversy over whether hypnotizability can be modified. Some clinical practitioners believe that virtually everyone can be hypnotized, if only the hypnotist takes the right approach. However, there is little evidence favoring this point of view. Similarly, some researchers believe that developing positive attitudes, motivations, and expectancies concerning hypnosis can enhance hypnotizability. However, there is also evidence that such interventions may only affect behavioral compliance with suggestions, not the subjective experiences that lie at the core of hypnosis. As with any other skilled performance, hypnosis is probably a matter of both aptitude and attitude: negative attitudes, motivations, and expectancies can interfere with performance, but positive ones are not by themselves sufficient to create hypnotic

How is Hypnotizability Measured?

Hypnotizability is measured by standardized psychological tests such as the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale or the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility (click on to the figure to see an enlarged view). These instruments are work-samples that are similar to other performance tests. Hypnotizability, so measured, yields a roughly normal (i.e., bell-shaped) distribution of scores.

What Happens During Hypnosis?
A typical hypnosis session begins with an induction procedure in which the person is asked to focus his or her eyes on a fixation point, relax, and concentrate on the voice of the hypnotist. Although suggestions for relaxation are generally part of the hypnotic induction procedure, people can respond positively to hypnotic suggestions while engaged in vigorous physical activity. The hypnotist then gives suggestions for further relaxation, focused attention, and eye closure. After the person’s eyes are closed, further suggestions for various imaginative experiences are given. For example, individuals might be asked to extend their arms and imagine a heavy object pushing their hands and arms down or to hear a voice asking questions over a loudspeaker. Or, the hypnotist might suggest that when they open their eyes, they would not be able to see some object that has been placed in front of them. Posthypnotic suggestions may also be given for responses to occur after hypnosis has been terminated, including posthypnotic amnesia, the inability to remember events and experiences that took place during hypnosis. Response to each of these suggestions is scored in terms of objective behavioral criteria – did the arm drop a specified distance over a period of time, did the person answer questions realistically, did the person deny seeing the object, etc.?
Does the Ability to be Hypnotized Vary with Age?
Cross-sectional studies of different age groups show a developmental curve, with very young children relatively unresponsive to hypnosis. Hypnotizability reaches a peak at about the onset of adolescence but then scores generally drop off among middle-aged and elderly individuals. Longitudinal studies indicate that hypnotizability assessed in college students remains about as stable as IQ over a period of 25 years.

Can one Hypnotize oneselfself?

The role of individual differences makes it clear that, in an important sense, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. The hypnotist does not hypnotize the individual. Rather, the hypnotist serves as a sort of coach or tutor whose job is to help the person become hypnotized. While it takes considerable training and expertise to use hypnosis appropriately in clinical practice, it takes very little skill to be a hypnotist. Beyond the hypnotist’s ability to develop rapport with the person, the most important factor determining hypnotic response is the hypnotizability of the individual.Click to see :->Self hypnosis for personal development

Is the Ability to be Hypnotized Related to Personality?

Hypnotizability is not substantially related to other individual differences in ability or personality, such as intelligence or adjustment. Interestingly, it does not appear to be related to individual differences in conformity, persuasibility, or response to other forms of social influence. However, research has found that hypnotizability is related to an individual’s disposition to have hypnosis-like experiences outside of formal hypnotic settings. Similarly, an extensive interview study by Josephine Hilgard showed that hypnotizable individuals tend to display a high level of imaginative involvement in domains such as reading and drama.

What Happens to the Brain during Hypnosis?
Researchers have been interested in biological correlates of hypnotizability as well as in those that can be measured by paper-and-pencil tests. Although hypnosis is commonly induced with suggestions for relaxation and even sleep, brain activity in hypnosis more closely resembles that of a person who is awake. The discovery of hemispheric specialization, with the left hemisphere geared to analytic and the right hemisphere to nonanalytic tasks, led to the speculation that hypnotic response is somehow influenced by right-hemisphere activity. Studies employing both behavioral and electrophysiological mechanisms have been interpreted as indicating increased activation of the right hemisphere of the brain among highly hypnotizable individuals, but positive results have proved difficult to replicate and interpretation of these findings remains controversial.

Hypnosis is influenced by verbal suggestions, which must be interpreted by the individual in the course of responding. Therefore, the role of the left hemisphere of the brain should not be minimized. One proposal is that hypnotizable individuals show greater flexibility in using the left and right hemispheres in a task-appropriate manner, especially when they are actually hypnotized. Because involuntariness is so central to the experience of hypnosis, it has also been suggested that the frontal lobes (which organize intentional action) may play a special role. A better understanding of the neural substrates of hypnosis awaits studies of neurological patients with focalized brain lesions, as well as brain-imaging studies (e.g., PET, fMRI) of normal individuals.


Health Applications of Hypnosis:-

Can Hypnosis Improve the Quality of Life for Individuals with Chronic Illnesses? Hypnosis has been used as a psychological treatment for a variety of illnesses with apparent success. While it is unlikely that hypnotic suggestions are capable of curing physical disease, they can be used to enhance relaxation and alleviate pain and other physical discomforts, and therefore they may make a positive contribution to the overall quality of care and of life. For example, several controlled studies have shown that hypnotic suggestions administered to patients who suffer from asthma can reduce both bronchodilator use and attacks of “wheezing”, as well as increase peak expiratory flow rates. Hypnosis has also been used effectively in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, hyperemesis gravidarum (persistent nausea and vomiting) in pregnant women, and anticipatory nausea experienced by cancer patients who receive chemotherapy. Hypnotic suggestions have been observed to stimulate and inhibit allergic responses, and may also speed the healing of burns and wounds, but these issues require further carefully controlled study.

Even though the use of hypnosis may be associated with positive therapeutic outcomes, it is not clear that hypnosis itself is responsible for the effects observed. The active ingredient in some treatments labeled “hypnosis” might be mere relaxation, or a kind of placebo effect attributable to the use of a hypnotic ritual. It is well known, for example, that the “relaxation response” meditation technique introduced by Benson can alter blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen consumption, and the levels of certain neurotransmitters. The relaxation response is not the same as hypnosis, but hypnotic techniques may achieve some of their effects by virtue of the high levels of relaxation commonly associated with them. In the case of asthma, however, hypnosis seems to have a specific effect over and above relaxation.

The professional and popular literature contains occasional reports of clinical improvements and even cures of cancer in patients who have been treated with hypnosis or related techniques, such a relaxation and imagery. However, these apparent successes are typically poorly documented, and in the final analysis it is difficult to distinguish such “miracle cures” from spontaneous remissions which sometimes occur in these conditions. The most appropriate use of hypnosis in cancer treatment is as a complement to traditional medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, with the goal of enhancing the patient’s quality of life while treatment is in progress.

Can Hypnosis be used in Pain Reduction?
Hypnosis has been employed in the clinic for both medical and psychotherapeutic purposes. By far the most successful and best documented of these has been hypnotic analgesia for the relief of pain. Clinical studies indicate that hypnosis can effectively relieve pain in patients suffering pain from burns, cancer and leukemia (e.g., bone marrow aspirations), childbirth, and dental procedures. In such circumstances, as many as half of an unselected patient population can obtain significant, if not total, pain relief from hypnosis. Hypnosis may be especially useful in cases of chronic pain, where chemical analgesics such as morphine pose risks of tolerance and addiction. Hypnosis has also been used, somewhat heroically perhaps, as the sole analgesic agent in abdominal, breast, cardiac, and genitourinary surgery, and in orthopedic situations, although it seems unlikely that more than about 10% of patients can tolerate major medical procedures with hypnosis alone.

A comparative study of experimental pain found that, among hypnotizable people, hypnotic analgesia was superior to morphine, diazepam, aspirin, acupuncture, and biofeedback (Click on to the figure at the right to see an enlarged view). Hypnotic analgesia relieves both sensory pain and suffering. It is not a matter of simple relaxation or self-distraction. It does not appear to be mediated by endorphins or other endogenous opiates. There is a placebo component to all active analgesic agents, and hypnosis is no exception; however, hypnotizable people receive benefits from hypnotic suggestion that outweigh those of plausible placebos.

Does Hypnosis Increase Physical Performance?

From the beginning of the modern era, a great deal of research effort has been devoted to claims that hypnotic suggestions enable individuals to transcend their normal voluntary capacities — to be stronger, see better, learn faster, and remember more. However, research has largely failed to find evidence that hypnosis can enhance human performance. Many early studies, which seemed to yield positive results for hypnosis, possessed serious methodological flaws such as the failure to collect adequate baseline information. In general, it appears that hypnotic suggestions for increased muscular strength, endurance, sensory acuity, or learning do not exceed what can be accomplished by motivated individuals outside hypnosis.

Can Hypnosis Improve Recall?

A special case of performance enhancement has to do with hypnotic suggestions for improvements in memory — what is known as hypnotic hypermnesia. Hypermnesia suggestions are sometimes employed in forensic situations, with forgetful witnesses and victims, or in therapeutic situations, to help patients remember traumatic personal experiences or the events of early childhood. While field studies have sometimes claimed that hypnosis can powerfully enhance memory, these anecdotal reports have not been duplicated under laboratory conditions.

A 1994 report by the Committee on Techniques for the Enhancement of Human Performance, a unit of the U.S. National Research Council, concluded that gains in recall produced by hypnotic suggestion were rarely dramatic, and were matched by gains observed even when individuals are not hypnotized. In fact, there is some evidence that hypnotic suggestion can interfere with normal hypermnesic processes. To make things worse, any increases obtained in valid recollection are met or exceeded by increases in false recollections. Hypnotized individuals (especially those who are highly hypnotizable) may be especially vulnerable to distortions in memory produced by leading questions and other subtle, suggestive influences.

Hypnosis is sometimes used therapeutically to recover forgotten incidents, as for example in cases of child sexual abuse. Although the literature contains a number of dramatic reports of the successful use of this technique, most of these reports are anecdotal in nature and fail to obtain independent corroboration of the memories that emerge. Given what we know about the unreliability of hypnotic hypermnesia, and the risk of increased responsiveness to leading questions and other sources of bias and distortion, such clinical practices are not recommended. Similar considerations obtain in forensic situations. In fact, many legal jurisdictions severely limit the introduction of memories recovered through hypnosis, out of a concern that such evidence might be tainted. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has published a set of guidelines for those who wish to use hypnosis forensically, and similar precautions should be employed in the clinic.

Similar conclusions apply to hypnotic age regression, in which individuals receive suggestions that they are returning to a previous period in their lives (this is also a technique that is used clinically to foster the retrieval of forgotten memories of child abuse). Although age-regressed individuals may experience themselves as children, and may behave in a childlike manner, there is no evidence that they actually lose adult modes of mental functioning, or return to childlike modes of mental functioning. Nor do age-regressed individuals retrieve forgotten memories of childhood.
Does Hypnosis have an Effect on Psychosomatic Disorders?
Hypnotic suggestion can have psychosomatic effects, a matter that should be of some interest to psychophysiologists and psychoneuroimmunologists. A famous case study convincingly documented the positive effects of hypnotic suggestion on an intractable case of congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma, a particularly aggressive skin disorder. Carefully controlled studies have shown that hypnotic suggestions can have a specific effect on the remission of warts. However, the same effects can be achieved by suggestions administered nonhypnotically. The mechanisms by which these “psychosomatic” effects are produced are theoretically interesting, and possibly clinically significant, but it is not yet clear that they have anything to do with hypnosis.

Can Hypnosis be used in Psychotherapy?
Hypnosis has been used in psychotherapy—both in psychodynamic or cognitive-behavioral oriented therapy. In the former case, hypnosis is used to promote relaxation, enhance imagery, and generally loosen the flow of free associations (some psychodynamic theorists consider hypnosis to be a form of adaptive regression or regression in the service of the ego). However, there is little evidence from controlled outcome studies that hypnoanalysis or hypnotherapy are more effective than nonhypnotic forms of the same treatment. By contrast, a 1995 meta-analysis by Kirsch and colleagues showed a significant advantage when hypnosis is used to complement cognitive-behavioral therapy for a number of problems, including anxiety and hypertension. In an era of evidence-based mental health care, it will be increasingly important for practitioners who use hypnosis to document, quantitatively, the clinical benefits of doing so.

Can Hypnosis help with Weight Control?
In the Kirsch study (mentioned above in the Psychotherapy section), the prospects for hypnosis appeared to be especially favorable in the treatment of obesity, where individuals in the hypnosis group continued to lose weight even after formal treatment had ended. In one study, for example, women who received personally tailored hypnotic suggestions for specific food aversions, in the context of a traditional self-monitoring and goal-setting treatment, lost approximately twice as much weight as a comparison group. This comparison group received the behavioral treatment alone (no hypnotic suggestion). However, the actual weight lost by the hypnosis group was only about 14 lb. on average. Given that the patients were approximately 50% overweight at the outset, it is not clear that the treatment actually improved their clinical status. Studies that document the clinical efficacy of hypnosis should pay careful attention to the terms in which outcome is assessed. While hypnosis may seem to offer an advantage over some other treatments, it is not clear that the statistical significance or experimental results translates into meaningful clinical significance or real results for individuals.

Can Hypnosis Help People Stop Smoking?
There have been many attempts to use hypnosis for habit control, however, hypnosis has no coercive power. That is, one cannot be hypnotized against his or her will, and even deeply hypnotized individuals cannot be made, by virtue of hypnotic suggestions, to do things that run against their own or others’ interests. You cannot cajole a smoker to the local hypnotist and expect him or her to stop smoking. However, where the patient is appropriately motivated, as in the obesity study described earlier, hypnosis may offer a boost to treatment.

One popular hypnotic treatment for smoking involves a single session in which patients are taught to repeat a simple persuasive message during self-hypnosis. In one large-scale study of this technique, about 50% of patients stopped smoking immediately after treatment; at follow-up one and two years later, however, this figure had dropped to about 25%. Although this study did not include a nonhypnotic control group, this is about the same success rate as achieved with other cognitive-behavioral interventions. However, these other treatments are typically more intensive, so that the single-session hypnotic treatment may have some advantage in terms of efficiency. Interestingly, long-term abstinence was not related to traditional measures of hypnotizability, suggesting that the success of the treatment may have had more to do with the persuasive message than with hypnosis per se.

Caveats for Health Practitioners in the Use Hypnosis with Patients An important but unresolved issue is the role played by individual differences in the clinical effectiveness of hypnosis. As in the laboratory, so in the clinic: a genuine effect of hypnosis should be correlated with hypnotizability.

It is possible that many clinical benefits of hypnosis are mediated by placebo-like motivational and expectational processes — that is, with the “ceremony” surrounding hypnosis, rather than hypnosis per se. An analogy is to hypnotic analgesia, which appears to have a placebo component available to insusceptible and hypnotizable individuals alike, and a dissociative component available only to those who are highly hypnotizable. Unfortunately, clinical practitioners are often reluctant to assess hypnotizability in their patients and clients, out of a concern that low scores might reduce motivation for treatment. This danger is probably exaggerated. On the contrary, assessment of hypnotizability by clinicians contemplating the therapeutic use of hypnosis would seem to be no different, in principle, than assessing allergic responses before prescribing an antibiotic. In both cases, the legitimate goal is to determine what treatment is appropriate for what patient.

It should be noted that clinicians sometimes use hypnosis in non-hypnotic ways — practices which tend to support the hypothesis that whatever effects they achieve through hypnosis are related to its placebo component. There is nothing particularly “hypnotic”, for example, about having a patient in a smoking-cessation treatment rehearse therapeutic injunctions not to smoke and other coping strategies while hypnotized. It is likely that more successful use of hypnosis as an adjunct to the cognitive-behavioral treatment of smoking, overweight, and similar habit disorders would be to use hypnotic suggestions in order to control the patient’s awareness of cravings for nicotine, sweets, and the like. Given the ability of hypnotic suggestions to control conscious perception and memory, such strategies might well have therapeutic advantage — but only, of course, for those patients who are hypnotizable enough to respond positively to such suggestions.

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Resources:

http://www.innertalk.com/index_read_more.html

http://www.institute-shot.com/hypnosis_and_health.htm

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