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Antidepressants and Other Psychotropic Medications Linked to Birth Defects

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Between 1998 and 2007, psychotropic medications were associated with 429 adverse drug reactions in Danish children under the age of 17. More than half of the 429 cases were serious and several involved birth defects, such as birth deformities and severe withdrawal syndromes.
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Professors Lise Aagaard and Ebbe Holme Hansen studied all 4,500 pediatric adverse drug reaction reports submitted during the study period to find those which were linked to psychotropic medications. The two researchers found that 42 percent of adverse reactions were reported for psychostimulants, such as Ritalin, which treats attention deficit disorder (ADD), followed by 31 percent for antidepressants, such as Prozac, and 24 percent for antipsychotics, such as Haldol.

“A range of serious side effects such as birth deformities, low birth weight, premature birth, and development of neonatal withdrawal syndrome were reported in children under two years of age, most likely because of the mother’s intake of psychotropic medication during pregnancy,” says Associate Professor Lisa Aagaard.

The researchers believe that these tendencies should serve as a warning to doctors and health care personnel.

“Psychotropic medication should not be prescribed in ordinary circumstances, because this type of medication has a long half-life. If people take their medicine as prescribed it will be a constantly high dosage, and it could take weeks for one single tablet to exit the body’s system. Three out of four pregnancies are planned, and therefore society must take responsibility for informing women about the serious risks of transferring side effects to their unborn child,” says Aagaard.

There is a clear indication that use of antidepressants is increasing in Denmark, as well as in many other countries, and the tendency is the same when it comes to pregnant women.

“We are constantly reminded about the dangers of alcohol use and smoking during pregnancy, but there is no information offered to women with regards to use of psychotropic medication. There is simply not enough knowledge available in this area,” concludes Aagaard, suggesting that greater control should be required when prescribing psychotropic medications to pregnant women.


Source:
Elements4Health:25 June 2010

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Large Thighs ‘May Protect Heart’

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Men and women with thighs over 60cm (23.6in) in circumference have a lower risk of heart disease and early death, a study of 3,000 people suggests.

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The relationship remains even when body fat, smoking and blood cholesterol are taken into account, a Danish team says.

Those with narrow thighs may not have enough muscle mass to deal with insulin properly, raising the risk of diabetes and, in turn, heart disease, they say.

Experts cautioned that the research needed corroborating.

Some said it was too early to change current advice on eating and exercise for heart health, but the researchers said thigh size could be used as a marker for at-risk patients.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, followed men and women in Denmark for more than 10 years.

They were measured for height, weight and thigh, hip and waist circumference and their overall percentage of body fat was calculated.

The thigh measurement was taken just below the gluteal fold, which is the crease caused by your buttocks.

” It’s a very simple, very crude measure but it seems to have an individual effect. And it may be a way for doctors to assess risk ”  Says Professor Berit Heitmann  of  Copenhagen University Hospital
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Researchers also looked at the activity levels of the participants, whether they smoked, their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

They then monitored incidence of heart disease over 10 years and death rates over 12-and-a-half years.

‘Crude measure’
During this time, 257 men and 155 women died, 263 men and 140 women developed cardiovascular disease and 103 men and 34 women suffered from heart disease.

The team at the Copenhagen University Hospital found that those with the smallest thighs – below 55cm – had twice the risk of early death or serious health problems.

Professor Berit Heitmann, who led the research, said: “The increased risk was independent of abdominal and general obesity and lifestyle and cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure.

“Additionally we found that the risk was more highly related to thigh circumference than to waist circumference.

It’s a very simple, very crude measure but it seems to have an individual effect. And it may be a way for doctors to assess risk.

“The nice thing is that if you have a small thigh you can do something about it through exercise.”

Previous studies have suggested that a waist circumference of over 35in (88.9cm) for a woman and 40in (101.6cm) for a man indicated a high risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.

Professor Heitmann’s team says the risk of narrow thighs could be associated with too little muscle mass.

They say this can lead to the body not responding to insulin properly, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and, in the long-run, heart disease.

Too little fat can also lead to adverse changes in the way the body breaks down food.

‘Great news’
British Heart Foundation senior cardiac nurse Judy O’Sullivan said: “There is insufficient evidence to confirm that a low thigh circumference affects a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

“However, low muscle mass is associated with low levels of physical activity which is an established risk factor for developing heart disease.”

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, agreed that the research needed further corroboration, saying: “This is a very interesting and slightly counter-intuitive piece of work but it has to be respected because of the numbers looked at and the duration of the research.

“This must be great news for people with larger thighs. What I find fascinating is that researchers are now going back to the drawing board and looking for every possible way of mitigating obesity.”

HOW TO INCREASE YOUR THIGHS
*Go to a gym and train three times a week
*Exercise all the muscles in your thighs
*Use a weight you can only just lift 10 times in a row
*Over 3 months you will increase thighs by 6% to 10%
Source: Loughborough University

Source: BBC NEWS:Sept.4.2009

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Herbs & Plants

Asarum Europeaum, European Ginger

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Botanical  Name: Asarum europaeum
Family:Aristolochiaceae
Common Plant Family: Birthwort
Kingdom: Plantae
Genus: Asarum
Species:A. europaeum

Synonym:Hexastylis europaea

Common Name: European Wild Ginger,       Asarabacca,   Hazelwort, and Wild spikenard

Hasbitat:Asarum europaeum has a wide distribution in Europe. It ranges from southern Finland and northern Russia south to southern France, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Macedonia. It is absent from the British Isles and Scandinavia with the exception of southern Finland, and also from northwestern Germany and the Netherlands. Within Europe, the plant is grown outside of its range in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands.The plant grows in open woodland and waterside thickets, especially in beech woodlands.

Description:
.Asarum europaeum (European Ginger)is not a flashy plant, but it always holds its own in the garden.The plant is an evergreen  perennial  one  and has prostrate stems that each bear 2 reniform (i.e. kidney-shaped) leaves with long petioles. The upper surface of the leaves is shiny and they have a pepper-like taste and smell. There are also 2 to 3 stipules present that occur in two rows opposite each other on the stem. the flowers are solitary, terminal and nodding. The flower tube is composed of fused tepals that ends with 3 petal-like projections that are brownish towards their ends and dark purple toward the centre. There are 12 stamens present. The flowers emerge in the late winter and spring.. Unlike American wild ginger, European ginger has glossy, shiny(heart shaped) leaves.Leaves are thick and extra glossy. It grows as a low, slow creeping ground cover that sweeps around other plants, catches the light and reflects it up. The leaves are so shiny, everyone wants to reach down and touch it.
click to see the pictures.>……..(01).......(1).…...(2)……..(3).….……
The stems are 10-15 cm long. The leaves are petiolate and reniform and about 10 cm wide. It occurs mostly in deciduous woodland or coniferous forests, especially in calcareous soils. There are two recognised subspecies other than the type, including A. europaeum ssp. caucasicum, which is confined to the southwestern Alps, and A. europaeum ssp. italicum, which is found in central and northern Italy as well as in the Crna Gora mountains in former Jugoslavia. In former days, it was used in snuff and also medicinally as an emetic and cathartic. It is quite shade-tolerant and is often employed as a ground cover in gardens where little else will grow.
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The newly emerging perennial  leaves are folded tightly in half and are a fresh green colour. The large, flat leaf in front is from last year. About half of the leaves remain on the plant from last season, some in good shape, and some not.

The purplish  brown flowers are usually hidden by the leaves and so are  not considered to be ornamental. Provide a moist soil with a pH in the 5.5 to 6.5 range.

Plant Height: 4-8 inches,
Environment: prefers full shade to partial shade or partial sun; soil should be moist
Bloom Colors: Purple

A handsome groundcover for shaded areas. Prefers rich organic soil that is slightly acidic.
Propagation: Propagation is by division in the spring.

Medicinal Uses:

Asarabacca has a long history of herbal use dating back at least to the time of the ancient Greeks, though it is little used in modern herbalism. The root, leaves and stems are cathartic, diaphoretic, emetic, errhine, sternutatory, stimulant and tonic. The plant has a strong peppery taste and smell. It is used in the treatment of affections of the brain, eyes, throat and mouth. When taken as a snuff, it produces a copious flow of mucous. The root is harvested in the spring and dried for later use. It is to be used with caution considering it’s toxicity. An essential oil in the root contains 50% asarone and is 65% more toxic than peppermint oil. This essential oil is the emetic and expectorant principle of the plant and is of value in the treatment of digestive tract lesions, silicosis, dry pharyngeal and laryngeal catarrh etc.

It has been substituted for Ipecac to produce vomiting. The French use it for this purpose after drinking too much wine. A little sniffed up the nostrils induces violent sneezing and a heavy flow of mucus. This has caused it to be used to remedy headache, drowsiness, giddiness, catarrhs, and other conditions caused by congestion. Asarabacca has been a component in many popular commercial medicinal snuffs.

Asarabacca has been extensively investigated, both chemically and pharmacologically. It is rich in flavonoids. The leaves contain a highly aromatic essential oil that contains constituents that verify the value of extracts as an errhine (for promotion of nasal secretion). Based on human experiments, the expectorant properties of both the roots and the leaves are quite good. In Rumania, human experiments where infusions of asarabacca were administered to people suffering pulmonary insufficiency, the preparations were said to have a beneficial effect on the heart condition, including a diuretic effect. From the types of irritant chemical compound known to be present in this plant, one would expect that catharsis would result from ingestion of extracts prepared from asarabacca. However, it is violent in its action.

Other Uses:....Dye.… A vibrant apple-green dye is obtained from plant. A useful ground cover for a shady position so long as it is not dry, spreading by its roots

Known Hazards: The plant is poisonous in large doses, the toxin is neutralized by drying.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.aboutgardenplants.com/Asarum_europaeum.shtml
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/fp.php?pid=503939
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/showimage/10291/
http://northernshade.ca/2009/05/27/asarum-europaeum-with-glossy-foliage/
http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html
http://web1.msue.msu.edu/imp/modzz/00000156.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asarum_europaeum

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Plastic Bottles Behind Earlier Puberty in Girls?

Girls are beginning to grow breasts at an earlier age, and starting their periods sooner too, and scientists suspect chemicals in plastic   bottles may be behind this trend.

The findings back up recent studies that found earlier breast development in American girls over the past several years,
Lise Aksglaede of Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, the lead researcher on the study, said. “At this point, we don’t know what is happening, and that is also what worries us.”

Aksglaede noted that she and her colleagues have seen an increasing number of girls with precocious puberty, meaning sexual maturation beginning before age eight.

To investigate whether this might represent a trend, or simply greater recognition of the problem by parents, the Denmark-based researchers looked at 1,100 girls who were studied in 1991-1993 and 995 examined between 2006-2008. The study participants ranged in age from 5.6 to 20 years old.

While the average age at which breast growth began was 10.88 years for the 1991 group, it was 9.86 for the 2006 group. Age at first menstruation was 13.42 for the 1991 group, and 13.13 for the 2006 group.

Most experts believe that the obesity epidemic may have something to do with earlier puberty in girls, Aksglaede noted, but she and her colleagues found no difference in the prevalence of overweight and obesity between the 1991 and 2006 groups.
There also were no differences in levels of several reproductive hormones between the two groups, although the 8- to 10-year-olds tested in 2006 actually had lower estrogen levels than girls of the same age tested in 1991.

Chemicals which can produce estrogen-like effects in the body may be responsible, Aksglaede said. However, she pointed out that the effects of such chemicals are extremely difficult to study, given that there are so many different chemicals out there, and that the levels girls are exposed are in constant flux.

Chemicals in plastics like the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates have the potential to interfere with estrogen and other reproductive hormones.

While precocious puberty can have psychological consequences for girls, and may also stunt growth, the girls in the current study were still entering puberty at a relatively normal age.

“It is the first time we are seeing this in Europe,” the researcher said. “It might be happening in other countries, but it hasn’t been reported yet.”

Sources: The Times Of India

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Body’s Natural Painkillers Can Block Phobias

Magnetic resonance image showing a median sagittal cross section through a human head.

Image via Wikipedia

Human body’s own pain-relief system has the ability to block phobias, claims a new study which is likely to soon throw light on the neural mechanisms behind anxiety and stress.

A international team, led by researchers at the University Medical Centre of Hamburg-Eppendorf, has found that the way humans are conditioned by fearful stimuli is to some extent damped down by the body’s own pain-relief system.

For their study, the researchers recruited 30 male volunteers who were asked to watch green triangles and blue pentagons on a screen inside an MRI scanner. One symbol was followed half the time by a moderately painful application of heat to the forearm; the other was never followed by pain.

Half the volunteers were infused with a drug that blocks the effects of opioids, while the others got saline solution as a control. The brain scans showed that in people whose opioid systems had been blocked, the amygdala showed a fear response that did not diminish with exposure. Every time they saw the symbol associated with pain, their amygdalas reacted strongly.

In the control group, however, the activation decreased over the course of the experiment. As the group receiving the drug was reacting fearfully, the researchers speculate, they were learning the association intensively.

At the beginning of each trial, volunteers had to perform a reaction time task – pressing a button to indicate on which half of the screen the symbol had appeared. Overall, the subjects reacted more quickly to the cue signalling pain than the cue signalling nothing – but the opioid-free subjects reacted significantly faster.

The team speculates that opioid deficiency could be a contributing factor to anxiety disorders and exaggerated fear responses.

Sources:The Times Of India