Monthly Archives: September 2008

Faith in God Can Relieve Pain

Religion is the opiate of the people” – Karl Marx had famously said. But can one’s faith in God really ease pain? “Yes”, say scientists. SPAN>

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A team at Oxford University has based its findings on an experiment in which 12 Roman Catholics and 12 atheists were “tortured” with electric shocks as they studied two paintings – Virgin Mary and Leonardo da Vinci‘s Lady With An Ermine.

The subjects spent half-an-hour inside an MRI scanner, receiving a series of 20 electric shocks in four sessions and each time they had to rate how much it hurt on a scale of 0 to 100 as they looked at the paintings.

The researchers hoped that the face of the Virgin Mary would induce a religious state of mind in the believers, while da Vinci’s painting was chosen because it did not look dissimilar and would be calming.

The scientists found that the Catholics seemed to be able to block out much of the pain.

And, using the latest brain-scanning techniques, they also discovered that the Catholics were able to activate part of the brain associated with conditioning experience of pain, the Daily Mail reported.

However, there was no such brain activity among the atheists whose pain and anxiety levels stayed roughly the same.

The Catholics said that looking at the painting of the Virgin Mary made them feel “safe”, “taken care of” and “calmed down and peaceful”.

More significantly, they reported feeling 12% less pain after viewing the religious image than after looking at the Leonardo.

The Rt Rev Tom Wright, the Anglican Bishop of Durham, welcomed the research, saying: “The practice of faith should, and in many cases does, alter the person you are. It can affect the patterns of your brain and your emotions. So it comes as no surprise to me that this experiment has reached such conclusions.”

Sources: The Times Of India

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Six Food Mistakes Parents Make

Here’s a look at six common mistakes parents make when feeding their children.

1. Sending Children Out of the Kitchen

It is understandable that parents don’t want children close to hot stoves, boiling water and sharp knives. But studies suggest that involving children in meal preparation is an important first step in getting them to try new foods.

2. Pressuring Them to Take a Bite

Demanding that a child eat at least one bite of everything is likely to backfire. Studies show that children react negatively when parents pressure them to eat foods, even if the pressure offers a reward.

3. Keeping “Good Stuff” Out of Reach

Parents worry that children will binge on treats, so they often put them out of sight or on a high shelf. But a large body of research shows that if a parent restricts a food, children just want it more.

4. Dieting in Front of Your Children

Kids are tuned into their parents’ eating preferences and are far more likely to try foods if they see their mother or father eating them. Parents who are trying to lose weight should be aware of how their dieting habits can influence a child’s perceptions about food and healthful eating.

5. Serving Boring Vegetables

Calorie-counting parents often serve plain steamed vegetables, so it’s no wonder children are reluctant to eat them. Nutritionists say parents shouldn’t be afraid to dress up the vegetables.

6. Giving Up Too Soon

Eating preferences often change. Parents should keep preparing a variety of healthful foods and putting them on the table, even if a child refuses to take a bite. In young children, it may take 10 or more attempts over several months to introduce a food.

Sources:
New York Times September 14, 2008

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Tea Healthier Than Water

According to researchers, drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking water. It may even come with extra health benefits.

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Contrary to the common belief that tea dehydrates, tea not only rehydrates as well as water does, but it can also protect against heart disease and some cancers.

Experts believe that flavonoids are the key ingredient in tea that promote health. These polyphenol antioxidants are found in many foods and plants, including tea leaves, and have been shown to help prevent cell damage.

Sources:
BBC News August 24, 2008
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition January 2007; 61(1):3-18

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Dog Yoga Pose

Variation on dog yoga pose adds flexibility:

This exercise takes a classic yoga pose to a new level. If you’re already familiar with downward facing dog and flexible enough to do it correctly, then challenge your body with this variation
click to see
Step 1. Beginning on your hands and knees, place the heels of your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Curl your toes under, lift your hips and press your heels toward the floor as far as you can. Straighten your knees and bring your head and chest toward your thighs. If possible, have your ears between your arms. Take three to four breaths in this position.

 

Step 2. Slowly shift your weight over your left arm, keeping equal weight over both feet. Once you find your balance, reach your right hand toward your left leg. Grasp your left ankle, twisting your upper spine slightly to bring your right shoulder closer to your left thigh. Focus on stretching your toes forward and your heels back. Take three to four slow breaths in this position. Place your right hand on the floor and repeat on the other side.

Sources: Los Angles Times

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Vitamin B12 Keeps Your Brain Young

The structure of Vitamin B12

Image via Wikipedia

Older individuals with low levels of vitamin B12 are at increased risk of having brain atrophy or shrinkage. Brain atrophy is associated with Alzheimer’s disease and impaired cognitive function.

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Vitamin B12 deficiency is a public health problem, especially among older people.

In a study involving more than 100 volunteers aged 61 to 87, all participants underwent annual clinical exams, MRI scans and cognitive tests, and had blood samples taken. Individuals with lower vitamin B12 levels at the start of the study had a greater decrease in brain volume. Those with the lowest B12 levels had a sixfold greater rate of brain volume loss compared with those who had the highest levels.

However, none of the participants were actually deficient in vitamin B12 — they just had low levels within a normal range.

Other risk factors for brain atrophy include high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
You may click to see->Depression-Vitamine B12 may be answer

Vitamin B12 comes from Animals

Sources:
U.S. News & World Report September 8, 2008
Neurology 2008; 71: 826-832

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Tart Cherries

Bing cherry branch

Image via Wikipedia

Botanical Name:Prunus cerasus
Other names: Prunus cerasus, sour cherry, pie cherry, tart cherry juice, montmorency cherry, balaton cherry.

Cherries are the smallest members of the stone fruit family, which include plums, apricots, nectarines, and peaches.

Cherrries are typically classified as either sweet or tart. Sweet cherries include Bing cherries, Lambert cherries, Rainier cherries and are grown mainly in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Tart cherries include the Montmorency and Balaton varieties and are produced primarily in Michigan.

Medicinal Uses:Both sweet and tart cherries and cherry juice have long been used by traditional healers as a folk remedy for gout, because cherries are thought to lower urate levels in the body.

Tart cherries are used for conditions involving inflammation and pain, such as:
arthritis

*Gout

*Muscle pain

*Back pain

*Diabetes

Neurodegenerative diseases
Both sweet and tart cherries contain phenolics, naturally-occurring plant compounds that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effects.

The main type of phenolic in cherries is called anthocyanins. In general, the darker the cherry color, the higher the anthocyanin content.

Anthocyanins have been found to block two enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2, which play a role in the production of inflammatory compounds called prostaglandins. Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen and ibuprofen also work this way.

In test tube studies, cherry anthocyanins have been found to protect neurons from damage by oxidative stress. However, there have been no studies that have looked at whether cherry extracts could prevent or slow the progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease in humans.

Both Balaton and Montmorency tart cherries contain relatively high levels of the antioxidant melatonin compared to other foods. Montmorency cherries contain approximately 6 times more melatonin than do Balaton cherries.

Are tart cherries more effective than sweet cherries?
Generally, tart cherries have been found to have higher concentrations of phenolics and anthocyanins than sweet cherries.

Tart cherries are also slightly lower in sugar. Half a cup of sweet cherries contains 9.3 g of sugar and 46 calories, compared to 6.6 g of sugar and 39 calories in tart cherries.

However, there is no real evidence that these differences are significant-both types of cherries are very high in anthocyanins compared with other foods.

It may be that we are hearing more about the health benefits of tart cherries because of the way they are marketed. In 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration sent warning letters to 29 cherry farmers and distributors for positioning tart cherries on their websites as a medicinal food that could possibly help people with gout, arthritis, diabetes, and prevent cancer.

You may click to see:->Tart cherries may help reduce type 2 diabetes, heart disease risk

Tart Cherries Reduce Inflammation and Improve General Health

Natural Painkillers And Strong Antioxidants Found In Tart Cherries

TART CHERRIES contain antioxidant compounds 10 times more active than aspirin.

What research has been done on tart cherries?
Although anthocyanins, which are also found in blueberries and other purplish-red fruits and vegetables, are known to be powerful antioxidants, no studies have looked at whether cherries–tart or sweet–can relieve symptoms of arthritis, gout, or diabetes outside the lab.

All studies involving cherries have been very small, so we’ll have to wait to see whether tart cherries are beneficial and in what quantities. In the meantime, here are a few of the studies that have been conducted so far:
A small randomized controlled trial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine examined the effectiveness of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage. Fourteen male college students drank 12 fl oz of a cherry juice blend or a placebo, twice per day for eight consecutive days. Strength loss was significantly lower in people taking the cherry juice (4%) compared with the placebo (22%). Pain was also significantly lower in people taking the cherry juice.

Jill M. Tall, Ph.D., research fellow at Johns Hopkins, was the lead researcher of a study that tested the effectiveness of orally administrated anthocyanins from tart cherries on inflammation-induced pain in rats. The results of the study suggested that tart cherry anthocyanins may have a beneficial role in reducing inflammatory pain.

One small study published in the Journal of Nutrition supported the anti-gout effectiveness of cherries. assessed the effects of Bing cherry (a sweet cherry) consumption on healthy women and found that cherry consumption decreased blood urate levels, and there was a marginal decrease in inflammatory markers c-reactive protein and nitric oxide.

Safety
Cherries contain sorbitol, which may exacerbate symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, or fructose malabsorption.

Where to find tart cherries
Tart cherry juice and fresh, frozen or dried tart cherries can be found in grocery stores, health food stores, and online.

Sources:http://altmedicine.about.com/od/completeazindex/a/tart_cherry.htm

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Why Do Leaves Fall Off Trees?

Ever wondered why leaves fall off trees in fall? Well, the secret actually lies in cellular mechanism, says a new study.

………...CLICK & SEE

Researchers have found that trees use an elaborate cellular mechanism to part company from their leaves, which act as “solar cells” in the summer but become superfluous in the darker winter months.

According to them, at the base of each leaf is a special layer called the abscission zone. When the time comes in autumn to shed a leaf, cells in this layer begin to swell, slowing the transport of nutrients between the tree and leaf.

And, once the abscission zone has been blocked, a tear line forms and moves downwards, until eventually the leaf is blown away or falls off – a protective layer seals the wound thereby preventing water evaporating and bugs getting in, ‘The Daily Telegraph‘ reported.

In fact, the discovery into how trees take on their winter aspect follows a study explaining the bright colours of autumn foliage.

And, in their new study, the researchers at Missouri University has revealed that the genetic pathway that controls abscission in the plant species Arabidopsis thaliana, a little weed that’s the favourite experimental subject of scientists.

According to them, a pathway of genes is involved in the process of abscission in Arabidopsis using a combination of molecular genetics and imagine techniques.

“Several different genes are involved in the process. Instead of looking at individual genes or proteins, we looked at an entire network at once to see how the difference genes work together in abscission,” lead researcher Prof John Walker was quoted as saying.

Sources: The findings are published in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences‘ journal.

Candidiasis

Definition: CLICK FOR PICTURE
Candidiasis is an infection caused by a species of the yeast Candida, usually Candida albicans. This is a common cause of vaginal infections in women. Also, Candida may cause mouth infections in people with reduced immune function, or in patients taking certain antibiotics. Candida can be found in virtually all normal people but causes problems in only a fraction. In recent years, however, several serious categories of candidiasis have become more common, due to overuse of antibiotics, the rise of AIDS, the increase in organ transplantations, and the use of invasive devices (catheters, artificial joints and valves)-all of which increase a patient’s susceptibility to infection.

Description:

Vaginal candidiasis..  CLICK FOR PICTURE
Over one million women in the United States develop vaginal yeast infections each year. It is not life-threatening, but it can be uncomfortable and frustrating.

Causes & Symptoms:
Most women with vaginal candidiasis experience severe vaginal itching. They also have a discharge that often looks like cottage cheese and has a sweet or bread-like odor. The vulva and vagina can be red, swollen, and painful. Sexual intercourse can also be painful.

Diagnosis
Often clinical appearance gives a strong suggestion about the diagnosis. Generally, a clinician will take a sample of the vaginal discharge or swab an area of oral plaque, and then inspect this material under a microscope. Under the microscope, it is possible to see characteristic forms of yeasts at various stages in the lifecycle.

Fungal blood cultures should be taken for patients suspected of having deep organ candidiasis. Tissue biopsy may be needed for a definitive diagnosis.

Treatment:
In most cases, vaginal candidiasis can be treated successfully with a variety of over-the-counter antifungal creams or suppositories. These include Monistat, Gyne-Lotrimin, and Mycelex. However, infections often recur. If a women has frequent recurrences, she should consult her doctor about prescription drugs such as Vagistat-1, Diflucan, and others.

Alternative treatment
Home remedies for vaginal candidiasis include vinegar douches or insertion of a paste made from Lactobacillus acidophilus powder into the vagina. In theory, these remedies will make the vagina more acidic and therefore less hospitable to the growth of Candida. Fresh garlic (Allium sativum) is believed to have antifungal action, so incorporating it into the diet or inserting a gauze-wrapped, peeled garlic clove into the vagina may be helpful. The insert should be changed twice daily. Some women report success with these remedies; they should try a conventional treatment if an alternative remedy isn’t effective.

Herbal Treatment:
Coral calcium with trace minerals, maitake mushroom, garlic extract, pau d’arco, una de gato extract, quercetin.

Quik Tip: Una de gato or Cat’s Claw is widely considered to be the world’s most powerful natural medicine, having been used for everything from arthritis and cancer to heart disease, overweight – and zits.

Oral candidiasis: > CLICK FOR PICTURE
Sign & Symptoms:
Whitish patches can appear on the tongue, inside of the cheeks, or the palate. Oral candidiasis typically occurs in people with abnormal immune systems. These can include people undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, people taking immunosuppressive drugs to protect transplanted organs, or people with HIV infection.

Treatment:
This is usually treated with prescription lozenges or mouthwashes. Some of the most-used prescriptions are nystatin mouthwashes (Nilstat or Nitrostat) and clotrimazole lozenges.

Deep organ candidiasis:-  CLICK FOR THE PICTURE
Sign & Symptoms:
Anything that weakens the body’s natural barrier against colonizing organisms-including stomach surgery, burns, nasogastric tubes, and catheters-can predispose a person for deep organ candidiasis. Rising numbers of AIDS patients, organ transplant recipients, and other individuals whose immune systems are compromised help account for the dramatic increase in deep organ candidiasis in recent years. Patients with granulocytopenia (deficiency of white blood cells) are particularly at risk for deep organ candidiasis.

Treatment:
This is usually treated with prescription lozenges or mouthwashes. Some of the most-used prescriptions are nystatin mouthwashes (Nilstat or Nitrostat) and clotrimazole lozenges.

Prognosis:-

Vaginal candidiasis
Although most cases of vaginal candidiasis are cured reliably, these infections can recur. To limit recurrences, women may need to take a prescription anti-fungal drug such as terconazole (sold as Terazol) or take other anti-fungal drugs on a preventive basis.

Oral candidiasis
These infections can also recur, sometimes because the infecting Candida develops resistance to one drug. Therefore, a physician may need to prescribe a different drug.

Deep organ candidiasis
The prognosis depends on the category of disease as well as on the condition of the patient when the infection strikes. Patients who are already suffering from a serious underlying disease are more susceptible to deep organ candidiasis that speads throughout the body.

Prevention
Because Candida is part of the normal group of microorganisms that co-exist with all people, it is impossible to avoid contact with it. Good vaginal hygiene and good oral hygiene might reduce problems, but they are not guarantees against candidiasis.

Because hospital-acquired (nosocomial) deep organ candidiasis is on the rise, people need to be made aware of it. Patients should be sure that catheters are properly maintained and used for the shortest possible time length. The frequency, length, and scope of courses of antibiotic treatment should also be cut back.

Sources:http://www.healthatoz.com/healthatoz/Atoz/clients/haz/general/custom/default.jsp

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Near-Death Experience

Researchers at the University of Southampton are conducting a study of near-death experiences.

Some people who have experienced near-death report seeing a tunnel or bright light, while others recall looking down from the ceiling at medical staff.

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People who experience near-death often see a bright light

BBC News website readers have been sending in their stories.
A few years ago I was knocked of my cycle at a roundabout. The next 15 minutes are missing but I was aware that the light was blindingly pure and a richer blue than I have ever seen. I was surrounded by trees in reality, but the light was astounding and there was no noise whatsoever, there were no thoughts in my head, just wanting to be in the light. Then I realised that there was a person who I believed was my guardian angel. She was so tall that she could literally touch the sky, her body went on forever. She kept repeating “don’t touch your head, don’t touch your head”. I did and suddenly pain and reality returned and I was aware of all that was going on. I was so sad because the light was gone and the guardian angel in reality was a lady who had stopped to help and she was not tall.
Jane, Bracknell, Berkshire, United Kingdom

I was involved in a head-to-head car accident a year ago, which caused me to lose consciousness and black out. I was taken to the hospital and was under cardiac arrest for 14 minutes. I remember vaguely seeing myself walking through a field with my deceased brother James. It felt like only a moment before I “awoke” in which I felt extreme pain shoot up through my entire body. I have now recovered but I still keep that memory with me.
Betsy Cromer, Boston, United States

I had an operation during which I was pumped with antibiotics that I was allergic to. I recall my soul slowly rising to the ceiling in the hospital and out of my body. My sisters were on either side of the bed begging the doctors to do something. As my body continued to rise a doctor gave me an injection. My soul (I believe) then began to lower itself back into my body. The following day I explained this to the doctor and he confirmed I had a near-death experience.
Gary Williams, London, United Kingdom

Several days before my wife died she had a cardiac arrest from which she was recovered. She told me that she was up against the ceiling watching the medical team working to save her. She found herself reflecting that she was leaving me and her daughter and made the tremendous conscious effort to come back to stay with us. But, she said, if it happened again she might not have the strength to return. Three days later it did and she didn’t.
Gerard Mulholland, Paris, France

In the early 1980s I was overcome by carbon monoxide fumes from an electricity generator. I was rushed to Winchester hospital where my life was saved by a blood gas spectrum analyser. Meanwhile, I was going through a dark tunnel with beautiful lights and flowers at the end – with wonderful organ music! I didn’t have a care in the world. Suddenly I stopped going through the tunnel and an American voice was shouting at me saying something like, “you’re not going to die you bastard – it’s not your time’! Apparently, when I woke up the young American doctor was surprised when I asked him, ‘Do all Angels have American accents?’ Rob, Bournemouth, Dorset, United Kingdom

I had a heart attack, considerable pain and discomfort. My wife called 911. They arrived, loaded me into an ambulance and proceeded to the emergency room. My memory is that about a mile from home I went to sleep and began to dream. It was quite pleasant. There was a group of people talking and interacting pleasantly. I recognised no one but there was a purple tint to everything. I “woke up” just before we arrived at the emergency room. I told the EMTs that I had been napping. I was astonished that there were contact pads on me and my shirt had been cut off. They informed me I had flatlined. I can’t describe it but what I experienced left me with a sense of peace and possibly less of a fear of dying.
Larry Huffman, Newton, NC, United States

I fell off a ledge backwards and hit my head and back on a rocky ground, when I was travelling in rural Laos a few years ago. I recall vividly seeing the back of my travelling companion’s head, bending over me. And I remember feeling annoyed at him – because he didn’t seem to be doing much to assist me. Then I opened my eyes, and saw him from the ‘normal’ angle.
Michele Legge, Canberra, Australia

Having worked as a nurse in a Critical Care Unit for 10 years, I have spoken with several patients directly after their near-death experiences. They all describe going down a brightly lit tunnel and experiencing complete peace and tranquillity. This is then followed by being pushed back down the tunnel again back to their bodies. One lady explained how she returned to her body, she then felt terrified for a few minutes because she could see the medical staff and got the impression they thought she was dead.
Shirley Learthart, Hastings, United Kingdom

Sources: BBC NEWS:Sept. 19, ’08

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What Causes Your Eyelids to Sag?

Blinking eye

Image via Wikipedia

Numerous theories have been proposed seeking to explain what causes the baggy lower eyelids that come with aging. Now, researchers have determined that fat expansion in the eye socket is the primary culprit.

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The study is the first to examine the anatomy of multiple subjects to determine what happens to the lower eyelid with age. It is also the first face-aging study that uses high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The study looked at MRIs of 40 subjects (17 males and 23 females) between the ages of 12 and 80. The findings showed that the lower eyelid tissue increased with age, and that the largest contributor to this size increase was fat increase.

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