How To Relieve Pain Without Medicine

For some people, pain can be relieved without using medicine. They use relaxation, imagery, distraction, and skin stimulation. You may need the help of health professionals to learn to do these for yourself. Friends or family members can help with some of them. The techniques are also useful along with pain medicines. Information about nondrug treatments for pain also may be available at a local hospice, cancer treatment center, or hospital pain clinic.

How Does Relaxation Work?

Relaxation relieves pain or keeps it from getting worse by reducing tension in the muscles. It can help you fall asleep, give you more energy, make you less tired, reduce your anxiety, and make other pain relief methods work better. Some people, for instance, find that taking a pain medicine or using a cold or hot pack works faster and better when they relax at the same time.

Are There Any Basic Guidelines for Using Relaxation Techniques?

    * Understand that your ability to relax may vary from time to time and that relaxation cannot be forced.

    * Remember that it may take up to 2 weeks of practice to feel the first results of relaxation.

    * Try several relaxation methods until you find one that works for you.

    * Stick with the same method so that it becomes easy and routine for you. Use it regularly for at least 5 to 10 minutes twice a day.

    * Check for tension throughout the day by noticing tightness in each part of your body from head to foot. Relax any tense muscles. You may use a quick technique such as inhale/tense, exhale/relax, described below.

    * If you have any lung problems, check with your doctor before using any relaxation technique that requires deep breathing.

Is There Any Special Position I Should Be in When I Am Doing Relaxation Exercises?

Relaxation may be done sitting up or lying down. Choose a quiet place whenever possible. Close your eyes. Do not cross your arms and legs because that may cut off circulation and cause numbness or tingling. If you are lying down, be sure you are comfortable. Put a small pillow under your neck and under your knees or use a low stool to support your lower legs.

How Do I Use Relaxation?

There are many methods. Here are some for you to try:

Visual concentration and rhythmic massage:

    * Open your eyes and stare at an object, or close your eyes and think of a peaceful, calm scene. With the palm of your hand, massage near the area of pain in a circular, firm manner. Avoid red, raw, swollen, or tender areas. You may wish to ask a family member or friend to do this for you.

Inhale/tense, exhale/relax:

    * Breathe in (inhale) deeply. At the same time, tense your muscles or a group of muscles. For example, you can squeeze your eyes shut, frown, clench your teeth, make a fist, stiffen your arms and legs, or draw up your arms and legs as tightly as you can.

    * Hold your breath and keep your muscles tense for a second or two.

    * Let go! Breathe out (exhale) and let your body go limp.

Slow rhythmic breathing:

    * Stare at an object or close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing or on a peaceful scene.

    * Take a slow, deep breath and, as you breathe in, tense your muscles (such as your arms).

    * As you breathe out, relax your muscles and feel the tension draining.

    * Now remain relaxed and begin breathing slowly and comfortably, concentrating on your breathing, taking about 9 to 12 breaths a minute. Do not breathe too deeply.

    * To maintain a slow, even rhythm as you breathe out, you can say silently to yourself, “In, one, two; out, one, two.” It may be helpful at first if someone counts out loud for you. If you ever feel out of breath, take a deep breath and then continue the slow breathing exercise. Each time you breathe out, feel yourself relaxing and going limp. If some muscles are not relaxed such as your shoulders, tense them as you breathe in and relax them as you breathe out. You need to do this only once or twice for each specific muscle group.

    * Continue slow, rhythmic breathing for a few seconds up to 10 minutes, depending on your need.

    * To end your slow rhythmic breathing, count silently and slowly from one to three. Open your eyes. Say silently to yourself: “I feel alert and relaxed.” Begin moving about slowly.

Other methods you can add to slow rhythmic breathing:

    * Imagery.

    * Listen to slow, familiar music through an earphone or headset.

    * Progressive relaxation of body parts. Once you are breathing slowly and comfortably, you may relax different body parts, starting with your feet and working up to your head. Think of words such as limp, heavy, light, warm, or floating. Each time you breathe out, you can focus on a particular area of the body and feel it relaxing. Try to imagine that the tension is draining from that area. For example, as you breathe out, feel your feet and ankles relaxing; the next time you breathe out, feel your calves and knees relaxing, and so on up your body.

Relaxation tapes:  We recommend Barry Eisen’s C/D’s (www.barryeisen.com).  These recordings provide step-by-step instructions in relaxation techniques.

Will I Have Any Problems With Using Relaxation Techniques

Some people who have used relaxation for pain relief have reported the following problems and solutions to them:

    * Relaxation may be difficult to use with severe pain. If you have this problem, use a quick and easy relaxation method such as visual concentration with rhythmic massage or breathe in/tense, breathe out/relax.

    * You may have a feeling of “suffocation.” If so, take a deep breath.

    * Sometimes breathing too deeply for a while can cause shortness of breath. If this is your problem, take shallow breaths and/or breathe more slowly.

    * You may fall asleep. If you do not wish to fall asleep, sit in a hard chair while doing the relaxation exercise or set a timer or alarm.

    * You might get feelings of depression or withdrawal. Sometimes being relaxed makes you aware of problems you have been worrying about subconsciously. If this happens, talk to someone who can help you sort out your feelings.

If you have trouble using these methods, ask your doctor or nurse to refer you to a therapist who is experienced in relaxation techniques. Do not continue any relaxation technique that increases your pain, makes you feel uneasy, or causes any unpleasant effects.

What Is Biofeedback?

With the help of special machines, people can learn to control certain body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension. Biofeedback is sometimes used to help people learn to relax. Cancer patients can use biofeedback techniques to reduce anxiety and help them cope with their pain. Biofeedback usually is used with other pain-relief methods.

What Is Imagery, and How Does It Work?

Imagery is using your imagination to create mental pictures or situations. The way imagery relieves pain is not completely understood. Imagery can be thought of as a deliberate daydream that uses all of your senses – sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste. Some people believe that imagery is a form of self-hypnosis. Certain images may reduce your pain both during imagery and for hours afterward. If you must stay in bed or can’t go out of the house, you may find that imagery helps reduce the closed-in feeling; you can imagine and revisit favorite spots in your mind. Imagery can help you relax, relieve boredom, decrease anxiety, and help you sleep.

How Do I Use the Technique of Imagery?

Usually, imagery for pain relief is done with the eyes closed. A relaxation technique may be used first. The image can be something such as a ball of healing energy or a picture drawn in your mind of yourself as a person without pain (for example, imagine that you are cutting wires that transmit pain signals from each part of your body to your brain). Here is an exercise with the first image – the ball of energy. It is a variation of the technique credited to Dr. David Bresler at the Pain Control Unit, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

    * Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and feel yourself relax.

    * Concentrate on your breathing. Breathe slowly and comfortably from your abdomen.

    * As you breathe in, say silently and slowly to yourself:

      “In, one, two.” As you breathe out, say: “Out, one, two.” Breathe in this slow rhythm for a few minutes.

    * Imagine a ball of healing energy forming in your lungs or on your chest. It may be like a white light. It can be vague. It does not have to be vivid. Imagine this ball forming, taking shape.

    * When you are ready, imagine that the air you breathe in blows this healing ball of energy to the area of your pain. Once there, the ball heals and relaxes you.

    * When you breathe out, imagine the air blows the ball away from your body. As it goes, the ball takes your pain with it. (Be careful: Do not blow as you breathe out; breathe out naturally.)

    * Repeat the last two steps each time you breathe in and out.

    * You may imagine that the ball gets bigger and bigger as it takes more and more discomfort away from your body.

    * To end the imagery, count slowly to three, breathe in deeply, open your eyes, and say silently to yourself: “I feel alert and relaxed.” Begin moving about slowly.

Are There Any Problems With Using Imagery?

The problems are similar to the ones that may occur with relaxation techniques.

What Is Distraction, and How Does It Work?

Distraction means turning your attention to something other than the pain. Many people use this method without realizing it when they watch television or listen to the radio to “take their minds off” the pain. Distraction may work better than medicine if pain is sudden and intense or if it is brief, lasting only 5 to 45 minutes. Distraction is useful when you are waiting for pain medicine to start working. If pain is mild, you may be able to distract yourself for hours. Some people think that a person who can be distracted from pain does not have severe pain. This is not necessarily true. Distraction can be a powerful way of temporarily relieving even the most intense pain.

How Can I Use Distraction?

Any activity that occupies your attention can be used for distraction. If you enjoy working with your hands, crafts such as needlework, model building, or painting may be useful. Losing yourself in a good book might divert your mind from the pain. Going to a movie or watching television are also good distraction methods. Slow, rhythmic breathing can be used for distraction as well as relaxation. You may find it helpful to listen to rather fast music through a headset or earphones. To help keep your attention on the music, tap out the rhythm. You can adjust the volume to match the intensity of pain, making it louder for very severe pain. This technique does not require much energy, so it may be very useful when you are tired.

Are There Any Drawbacks To Using Distraction for Pain Relief?

After using a distraction technique, some people report that they are tired, irritable, and feel more pain. Some also find that other people do not believe they are in pain if distraction provides pain relief. If these are problems for you, you may not wish to use distraction or you may simply be careful about which distraction methods you use and when you use them.

What Is Skin Stimulation, and How Does It Work To Relieve Pain?

Skin stimulation is the use of pressure, friction, temperature change, or chemical substances to excite the nerve endings in the skin. Scientists believe that the same nerve pathways transmit the sensations of pain, heat, cold, and pressure to the brain. When the skin is stimulated so that pressure, warmth, or cold is felt, pain sensation is lessened or blocked. Skin stimulation also alters the flow of blood to the affected area. Sometimes skin stimulation will get rid of the pain, or the pain will be less during the stimulation and for hours after it is finished. Note: If you are having radiation therapy, check with your doctor or nurse before using skin stimulation. You should not apply ointments, salves, or liniments to the treatment area, and you should not use heat or extreme cold on treated areas.

Where Is Skin Stimulation Done?

Skin stimulation is done either on or near the area of pain. You also can use skin stimulation on the side of the body opposite to the pain. For example, you might stimulate the left knee to decrease pain in the right knee. Stimulating the skin in areas away from the pain can be used to increase relaxation and may relieve pain.

What Is Used To Stimulate the Skin?

Massage, pressure, vibration, heat, cold, and menthol preparations are used for skin stimulation.

How Do I Use Massage for Pain Relief?

For pain relief, massage is most effective when using slow, steady, circular motions. You can massage over or near the area of pain with just your bare hand or with any substance that feels good such as talcum powder, warm oil, or hand lotion. Depending upon where your pain is located, you may do it yourself or ask a family member or friend to give you a massage. Remember, having someone give you a foot rub, back rub, or hand rub can be very relaxing and may relieve pain. Some people find brushing or stroking lightly more comforting than deep massage. Use whatever works best for you. Note: If you are having radiation therapy, avoid massage in the treatment area.

How Do I Use Pressure?

Pressure can be applied with the entire hand, the heel of the hand, the fingertip or the knuckle, the ball of the thumb, or by using one or both hands to encircle your arm or leg. You can experiment by applying pressure for about 10 seconds to various areas over or near your pain to see if it helps. You can also feel around your pain and outward to see if you can find “trigger points,” small areas under the skin that are especially sensitive or that trigger pain. Pressure is usually most effective if it is applied as firmly as possible without causing pain. You can use pressure for up to about 1 minute. This often will relieve pain for several minutes to several hours after the pressure is released.

How Do I Use Vibration?

Vibration over or near the area of pain may bring temporary relief. For example, the scalp attachment of a handheld vibrator often relieves a headache. For low back pain, a long, slender battery operated vibrator placed at the small of the back may be helpful. You may use a vibrating device such as a small battery operated vibrator, a handheld electric vibrator, a large heat-massage electric pad, or a bed vibrator.

Which Is Better for Relieving Pain – Cold Or Heat?

As for any of the techniques described, you should use what works best for you. Heat often relieves sore muscles; cold lessens pain sensations by numbing the affected area. Many people with prolonged pain use only heat and have never given cold a try. Some people find that cold relieves pain faster, and relief may last longer.

What Are Some Comfortable and Convenient Ways To Use Cold or Heat?

For cold, try gel packs that are sealed in plastic and remain soft and flexible even at freezing temperatures. Gel packs are available at drugstores and medical supply stores. They are reusable and can be kept in the freezer when not in use. Wrap the pack with a layer of towels so that it is comfortable for you. An ice pack or ice cubes wrapped in a towel can be just as effective. To use heat for pain relief, a heating pad that generates its own moisture (Hydrocolater) is convenient. Gel packs heated in hot water, hot water bottles, a hot, moist towel, a regular heating pad, or a hot bath or shower can also be used to apply heat. For aching joints such as elbows and knees, you can wrap the joint in lightweight plastic wrap (tape the plastic to itself). This retains body heat and moisture. Note: Do not use heat or cold over any area receiving radiation therapy.

What Are Menthol Preparations?

Many menthol preparations are available for pain relief. There are creams, lotions, liniments, or gels that contain menthol. Brands include Ben Gay, Icy Hot, Mineral Ice, and Heet. When they are rubbed into the skin, they increase blood circulation to the affected area and produce a warm (sometimes cool) soothing feeling that lasts for several hours.

How Do I Use Menthol Preparations?

First, test your skin by rubbing a small amount of the menthol preparation in a circle about 1 inch in diameter in the area of pain (or the area to be stimulated). This will let you know whether the menthol is uncomfortable to you or irritates your skin. If the menthol does not create a problem, rub some more into the area. The sensation caused by the menthol gradually increases and remains up to several hours. To increase the intensity and duration of the menthol sensation you can open your skin pores with heat (e.g., shower, sun) or wrap a plastic sheet over the area after the menthol application. (Don’t use a heating pad because it may cause a burn.) If you’re afraid others will find the odor offensive, you can use the menthol product when you are alone, or perhaps in the evening or through the night. Note: Many menthol preparations contain an ingredient similar to aspirin. A small amount of this aspirin-like substance is absorbed through the skin. If you have been told not to take aspirin, do not use these preparations until you check with your doctor.

What Precautions Should I Take if I Use Skin Stimulation?

Heat and cold can easily damage your skin. It is easy to burn the skin with hot water from the tap or with settings too high on the heating pad. Extreme cold can also burn your skin.

    * Never use a heating pad on bare skin.

    * Never go to sleep for the night with the heating pad on.

    * Be very careful while using a heating pad if you are taking drugs or medicines that make you sleepy or if you do not have much feeling in the area.

    * Limit heat or cold application to 5 to 10 minutes.

    * Do not use heat or cold over any area where your circulation or sensation is poor.

    * If you start to shiver when using cold, stop using it right away.

    * Do not use cold so intense or for so long that the cold itself causes pain.

    * Do not use heat over a new injury because heat can increase bleeding. Wait at least 24 hours.

    * Do not rub menthol preparations over broken skin, a skin rash, or mucous membranes (such as inside your mouth or around your rectum). Make sure you do not get the menthol in your eyes.

    * Avoid massage and vibration over red, raw, tender, or swollen areas.

    * If skin stimulation increases your pain, stop using it.

    * As noted earlier, if you are undergoing (or have undergone) radiation treatments, do not use any skin stimulation method without first checking with your doctor or nurse.

Introducing – Bilberry

Bilberry fruit is a close relative to the American blueberry. It’s a common ingredient in pies, cakes and jams. The active constituents are thought to be antioxidants called anthocyanins.

Why Do People Use Bilberry

Bilberry is primarily used for eye conditions and to strengthen blood vessels. During World War II, British Royal Air Force pilots reportedly found that eating bilberry jam just before a mission improved their night vision which prompted researchers to investigate bilberry’s properties.

Bilberry is also used for glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts.

The anthocyanins in bilberry may strengthen the walls of blood vessels, reduce inflammation and stabilize tissues containing collagen, such as cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Grape seed contains similar substances, however, bilberry’s anthocyanins are thought to have particular benefits for the eye.

Because bilberry is thought to strengthen blood vessels, it’s sometimes taken orally for varicose veins and hemorrhoids.

Introducing – Policosanol – The Natural Statin

Policosanol, a dietary supplement, is a mixture of alcohols isolated from Cuban sugarcane wax. It contains about 60% octacosanol.

Because patent issue and the US trade embargo against Cuba, sugarcane policosanol is not widely available in the United States. Instead, policosanol products sold in the US are generally derived from beeswax and wheat germ.

Why People Use Policosanol

    * To Lower Total and LDL Cholesterol

    * To Raise HDL Cholesterol

What is the Evidence for Policosanol?

Policosanol has been touted as a dietary supplement that can lower cholesterol as well as statin drugs, without the side effects. Studies indicate that it works by inhibiting cholesterol formation in the liver.

However, almost all of the 80+ double-blind studies on sugarcane policosanol were conducted by a single research group in Cuba that owns the policosanol patent.

An independent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2006 did not find any benefit of policosanol, even at high doses, on cholesterol profile. This finding has casted some doubt on the reliability of the Cuban research on policosanol.

Dosage Information

A typical dosage of policosanol used in studies has been 5 to 10 mg two times a day. Studies generally found that it can take up to two months to notice benefits.

Side Effects of Policosanol

Although the reliability of the Cuban studies has been questioned, side effects of policosanol reported in the trials have generally been mild and short-term. They have included indigestion, skin rash, headache, insomnia, and weight loss.

Possible Drug Interactions

Policosanol may increase the effect of medications that interfere with blood clotting or anti-platelet drugs, such as aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), heparin, clopidogrel (Plavix), ticlopidine (Ticlid), or pentoxifylline (Trental), or supplements such as garlic, ginkgo, or high-dose vitamin E.

Policosanol may increase the effects and side effects of levodopa, a medication used for Parkinson’s disease.

Home Remedies Series – Intestinal Worms

Symptoms

Diarrhea, foul breath, dark circles under the eyes

The usual symptoms of intestinal worms are diarrhea, foul breath, dark circles under the eyes, constant desire for food, restlessness at night with bad dreams, anemia, and headaches

Inflammation of the intestine and lungs, nausea, vomiting

Round-worms may give rise to inflammation of the intestine and lungs, nausea, vomiting, loss of weight, fever, nervousness, and irritability.

Anemia and nutritional disorders, constipation, loss of weight

Threadworms may cause intense itching in the area around the rectum. They may also cause periodic bouts of diarrhea alternating with constipation, loss of weight, cough, and fever. Hookworms may give rise to anemia and nutritional disorders. The eggs of these parasites are introduced into the human system through the medium of food or water.

Intestinal worms causes

Contaminated food, dirty fingers and food

Roundworms are caused by eating contaminated food. Threadworms may enter the body from dirty fingers and food.

Enter the human body through bare foot

Hookworms enter the human body through bare foot walking on infected earth. Tapeworms are transmitted to the body through undercooked flesh foods or foods contaminated by dogs.

Faulty living

The real cause of intestinal worms, however, is faulty living. The eggs of these worms, taken into the human body through food, and water, can breed in the intestines only if they find there a suitable medium for their propagation. This medium is an intestinal tract clogged with morbid matter.

 

Home Remedies for Intestinal Worms

Intestinal Worms treatment using Coconut

Among the numerous home remedies found beneficial in the treatment of intestinal worms, the use of coconut is most effective. It is an ancient remedy for expelling all kinds of intestinal worms. A tablespoon of freshly ground coconut should be taken at breakfast, followed by 30 to 60 ml of castor oil mixed with 250 to 375 ml of lukewarm milk after three hours. This process may be repeated till the cure is complete.

Intestinal Worms treatment using Garlic

Garlic has been used from ancient times by the Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Indians, and Babylonians for expelling intestinal worms. It is still used by modern medical practitioners for the same purpose. Both fresh garlic and its oil are effective. An ancient method of its administration was to place a couple of cloves fresh garlic in each shoe. As the person walked, the cloves got crushed, and the worm-killing garlic oil was absorbed by the skin and carried by the blood into the intestines easily, as it possessed a powerful penetrative force. This ancient method is worth a trial by those who do no not like the taste of garlic and cannot eat it. Those who can eat raw garlic, however, should chew three cloves of garlic every morning.

Intestinal Worms treatment using Carrot

Carrots are valuable in the elimination of threadworms among children as they are offensive to all parasites. A small cup of grated carrot taken every morning, with no other food added to the meal, can clear these worms quickly.

Intestinal Worms treatment using Papaya

The digestive enzyme papain in the milky juice of the unripe papaya is a powerful agent for destroying roundworms. A tablespoon of the fresh juice of an unripe papaya, and an equal quantity of honey should be mixed with three to four tablespoons of hot water and taken as a dose by an adult. This should be followed two hours later by a dose of 30 to 60 ml of castor oil mixed in 250-375 ml of lukewarm milk. This treatment should be repeated for two days if necessary. For children between seven to ten years of age, half the above doses should be given. For children under three years, a tablespoon is sufficient. Papaya seeds are also useful for this purpose. They are rich in a substance called caricin which is a very effective medicine for expelling roundworms. The seeds should be powdered and taken in doses of one teaspoon with one cup of milk or water daily in the morning on an empty stomach. The alkaloid carpaine found in papaya leaves also has the power to destroy or expel intestinal worms. An infusion can be made by pouring 250 ml of boiling water over 15 gm of dry leaves. This can be taken with honey.

Intestinal Worms treatment using Pomegranate

The bark, both of the root and the stems of the pomegranate tree, is well known for its anthelmintic properties of destroying parasitic worms. The bark of the root is, however, preffered as it contains a greater quantity of the alkaloid punicine than the bark of the stem. This alkaloid is highly toxic to tapeworms. A cold decoction of the bark, preferably fresh bark, should be given in quantities of 90 to 180 ml three times, at intervals of one hour, to an adult. A purgative should be given after the last dose. The dose for children is 30 to 60 ml. The decoction is also used for expelling tapeworms.

Intestinal Worms treatment using Pumpkin

The seeds of ripe pumpkin are useful in intestinal worms, especially tapeworms. One tablespoon of the seeds should be peeled and crushed, and then infused in 250 ml of boiling water and drunk. This will kill the parasites and help in expelling the tapeworms. It will be necessary to fast for a day and empty the intestines by taking the juice of boiled dry prunes. The next day, three or four tumblers of the pumpkin seed infusion should be taken.

Intestinal Worms treatment using Wormwood

The herb wormwood is an ancient cure for expelling intestinal worms. It was extensively used by the Greeks and Romans for this purpose. The flowering tops have been and are, to this day, largely used in the Tibbi (Unani) system of medicine in India as a drug to kill intestinal worms. They are usually powdered and given in eight to sixteen gram doses daily for roundworms and tapeworms. The oil distilled from this plant also possesses the property to kill worms.It should be mixed with olive oil, the latter being eight times the weight of the former.This mixture can be given in doses of 50 to 100 ml for this purpose. An infusion of the herb can also be prepared by mixing 2 ml of wormwood oil in 120 ml of water, and be given as an enema for killing worms in the rectum.

Intestinal Worms treatment using Belleric Myroblan

The herb belleric myroblan, mixed with the seeds of the herb butea ( palas ) on a 50:50 basis is an excellent anthelmintic. It should be given in doses of one teaspoon thrice a day. It helps remove all intestinal parasites. The seeds of butea can also be administered alone with beneficial results in expelling intestinal worms. One teaspoon of seeds may be given either in the form of powder or paste with one teaspoon of honey, thrice daily. They are specially beneficial in the treatment of roundworms and tapeworms.

Intestinal Worms treatment using Vasaka

The leaves, bark, rout-bark, fruit, and the flowers of vasaka tree also help in removing intestinal parasites. A decoction of the root and bark can be prepared by boiling 30 gm of the root and bark in 500 ml of water, till it is reduced by one-third. This decoction may be given in doses of 30ml twice or thrice daily for two or three days. The juice of the fresh leaves can also be used in doses of a teaspoon thrice a day for three days.

Intestinal Worms treatment using Calamus

Another valuable remedy for expelling intestinal worms is the herb calamus. The bitter element in this herb, acorin, is an anthelmintic.

Intestinal Worms diet

Fresh-fruit diet

The treatment for intestinal worms should begin with diet. The patient should be kept on an exclusive fresh-fruit diet for four or five days.

Well-balanced diet

Thereafter, he may adopt a well-balanced light diet consisting mainly of fruits, vegetables, milk, and wholemeal bread.

Exclude fatty foods such as cream, oil, butter

The diet should exclude fatty foods such as butter, cream, and oil, and all flesh foods.

Short fast of raw fruit and vegetable juices

In some cases, the all-fruit diet may have to he repeated at intervals and in obstinate cases, the patient should resort to a short fast of raw fruit and vegetable juices.

Other intestinal worms treatment

Warm-water enema – During the all-fruit or fasting period, the bowel should be cleansed daily with a warm-water enema.

Brain’s Face Processing Ability does Reduce with Age

GLASGOW A British study suggests that the ability to identify a face, when it is shown for only a fraction of a second, reduces as people age.

Lead researcher Guillaume Rousselet, from the University of Glasgow, came to this conclusion after analysing electric activity from the brains of young and old people as they watched pictures of faces with cloud-like noise.

He said: “Very few studies have attempted to measure the effect of ageing on the time-course of visual processing in response to complex stimuli like faces. We found that, as well as a general reduction in speed in the elderly, one particular component of the response to a face, the N170, is less sensitive to faces in the elderly.”

The N170 occurs 170 milliseconds after a stimulus is presented.

The researchers revealed that it was more closely associated with the appearance of a face among the young subjects.

However, in older subjects, the researcher said that it occurred also in response to noise, perhaps implying reduced ability to differentiate faces from noise.

Revealing the findings of the study, Rousselet said: “Our data support the common belief that as we get older we get slower. Beyond this general conclusion, our research provides new tools to quantify by how much the brain slows down in the particular context of face perception. Now, we need to identify the reasons for the speed reduction and for the heterogeneity of the effects – indeed, why the brains of some older subjects seem to tick as fast as the brains of some young subjects is, at this point, a complete mystery.”

The study has been published in the journal BMC Neuroscience.

Researchers Find a Way to Block Fat Consumption

ST. LOUIS – Researchers have discovered a way to block fatty diet consumption by deactivating a part of the brain that regulates emotion. But the blockade will not affect people who are hungry.

“It appears that two different brain circuits control the motivation to seek and consume,” said Matthew Will, assistant psychological science professor at the University of Missouri (U-M) College of Arts and Science.

“Understanding how this circuit in the brain works may provide insight into the exact networks and chemicals in our brain that determine the factors influencing our feeding habits,” he said.

The release of opioids, pleasure chemicals that can lead to euphoria, into the brain produces binge eating in non-hungry people. Will and his team of researchers determined that deactivating the basolateral amygdala – the brain region that regulates emotion – blocked this type of binge eating.

“A key to curbing the obesity epidemic in America is controlling the desire to binge eat,” Will said.

“Humans have more programming to start and continue eating than to stop eating, especially when they have a bowl of ice cream in front of them. Most of us would finish it even if we weren’t hungry.”

Researchers said deactivating the basolateral amygdala had no effect on feeding in rats that were simply deprived of food for 24 hours, said an U-M release.

This suggests that the basolateral amygdala is specifically involved in the overconsumption of food based on its palatability or pleasure driven by opioids rather than the level of hunger.

The study was published in Behavioural Neuroscience.

Scientists Identify Another Step in Memory Formation

HAIFA –  Scientists at the University of Haifa have identified another component in the chain of actions that take place in the neurons, when the brain is in the process of forming memories.

The researchers say that, together with the results of previous studies, the new findings provide a better understanding of the process of memory formation and storage in the human brain.

In their study report, the researchers point out that the formation of memory to sensory information on the world-new sounds, tastes, sights, and smells-is vital for animal survival.

They say that very little of this information becomes short-term memory, and that only a small part of the information that becomes short-term memory ultimately becomes long-term and stabilized memory.

Previous studies led by Prof. Kobi Rosenblum found an elevation in the expression of the protein PSD-95 to be necessary for the formation of long-term memory.

The present study aimed to find out whether another molecular process – the addition of a phosphor molecule to the NMDA receptor protein (phosphorylation) – is necessary too.

Earlier studies have proven that changes in the NMDA receptor can adjust the neuronal network in the brain, and that during a learning process this receptor undergoes increased phosphorylation.

Before the present research, none of the studies had proved that the increase in phosphorylation of the NMDA is necessary for the process, and that the process would not occur without it.

During the current study, the scientists chose to focus on the formation of new taste memory in rats as a model for sensory memory because it could enable them to track when the process begins, its specific location is in the brain, and the molecular processes that occur during the process.

Verifying the findings of the previous studies, the first stage of the study showed that the new taste learning does indeed involve a process of increased phosphorylation in the NMDA receptors in the area specific to learning taste in the brain.

 

In order to do so, mature rats were trained to drink water at set times and after a few days some were given saccharine-sweetened water. The saccharine has no caloric value and therefore has no metabolic impact on the body and cannot affect the body’s processes. As expected, the rats that received the newly sweet-tasting water and that began a process of learning, showed an increase in phosphorylation in comparison to those rats that continued drinking regular water.

The second stage of the study showed that obstruction of the phosphorylation process brought about a change in the location of the receptor in relation to the NMDA, and thus was likely to be responsible for inhibiting the formation of long-term memory.

“Our goal is to identify piece after piece of the complex puzzle that is the formation of long-term memory. Once we know how to describe the chain of actions that take place in the brain, we may be able to know where and how to interfere,” said Dr. Dr. Liza Barki-Harrington, a member of the research team.

“The glutamate neural synapses – via the receptors of the NMDA – and dophamin, play a central role in a number of neural pathologies, including processes of addiction and of schizophrenia.

There is good reason to assume that one afflicted with schizophrenia has a sub- or over-functioning of this system, and its loss of balance is one of the causes of the illness. A better understanding of this balance – or loss of balance – in the normal processes will enable future discovery of new objectives for developing medications, which we hope will improve patients’ lives significantly,” added Prof. Rosenblum.

The study has been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Home Remedies Series – Arthritis

Arthritis treatment using Potato Juice

The raw potato juice therapy is considered one of the most successful biological treatments for rheumatic and arthritic conditions. It has been used in folk medicine for centuries. The traditional method of preparing potato juice is to cut a medium-sized potato into thin slices, without peeling the skin, and place the slices overnight in a large glass filled with cold water. The water should be drunk in the morning on an empty stomach. Fresh juice can also be extracted from potatoes. A medium-sized potato should be diluted with a cup of water and drunk first thing in the morning.

Arthritis treatment using Other Raw Juices

One cup of green juice, extracted from any green leafy vegetable, mixed in equal proportions with carrot, celery, and red beet juices is good for arthritis. The alkaline action of raw juices dissolves the accumulation of deposits around the joints and in other tissues. A cup of fresh pineapple juice is also valuable, as the enzyme bromelain in fresh pineapple juice reduces swelling and inflammation in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthritis treatment using Sesame Seeds

A teaspoon of black sesame seeds, soaked in a quarter cup of water and kept overnight, has been found to be effective in preventing frequent joint pains. The water in which the seeds are soaked should also be taken along with the seeds first thing in the morning.

Arthritis treatment using Copper

Drinking water kept overnight in a copper container accumulates traces of copper, which is said to strengthen the muscular system. A copper ring or bracelet is worn for the same reason.

Arthritis treatment using Calcium

Studies have shown that calcium can help arthritis. Several patients have discovered that joint pains have either been relieved or have disappeared entirely after taking calcium. This mineral should be taken in the form of calcium lactate. Two teaspoons of calcium lactate, each teaspoon providing 400 mg of absorbable calcium, may be taken three times daily in water, before meals for at least four months.

Arthritis treatment using Garlic

Garlic is another effective remedy for arthritis. It contains an anti-inflammatory property which accounts for its effectiveness in the treatment of this disease. Garlic may be taken raw or cooked according to individual preference.

Arthritis treatment using Bananas

Bananas, being a rich source of vitamin B6, have proved useful in the treatment of arthritis. A diet of only bananas for three or four days is advised in treating this condition. The patient may eat eight or nine bananas daily during this period and nothing else.

Arthritis treatment using Lime

Lime has also been found beneficial as a home remedy for arthritis. The citric acid found in lime is a solvent of uric acid which is the primary cause of some types of arthritis. The juice of one lime, diluted with water, may be taken once a day, preferably first thing in the morning.

Arthritis treatment using Alfalfa

A tea made from the herb alfalfa, especially from its seeds, has shown beneficial results in the treatment of arthritis. One teaspoon of alfalfa seeds may be added to one cup of water. Three to four cups of this tea should be taken daily by arthritics for at least two weeks.

Arthritis treatment using Green Gram Soup

Another home remedy found useful in relieving pains in the joints is the use of green gram soup. This soup should be prepared by mixing a tablespoon of green gram in a cup of water, with two crushed garlic cloves. It should be taken twice a day.

Arthritis treatment using Castor Oil

Treatment with castor oil has been found beneficial in arthritis. The procedure, as prescribed by a Spanish doctor, is to boil two tablespoons of castor oil over a stove burner. The oil should then be poured into a glass of fresh orange juice and taken before breakfast daily till the disease is cured. It was advised to patients to take it for three weeks, wait for another three weeks and then repeat it again for another three weeks. It is, however, essential that the patient must take an alkaline diet while adopting this mode of treatment otherwise the value of the treatment will be lost.

Arthritis treatment using Coconut or Mustard Oil

Warm coconut oil or mustard oil, mixed with two or three pieces of camphor should be massaged on stiff and aching joints. It will increase blood supply, and reduce inflammation and stiffness with the gentle warmth produced while massaging. Camphorated oil is an ancient rubefacient used for the purpose.

Arthritis diet

Take fruits and vegetables in the form of salads

The diet of an arthritis patient should be planned so as to produce alkalinity in the blood. It should include fruits and vegetables in the form of salads, and, at least, two cooked vegetables. In severe cases, it would be advisable to put the patient on raw vegetable juice therapy three times a day, for about a week. Repeated juice fasts are recommended at intervals of every two months.

Other Arthritis treatments

Keep body warm, don’t bandage joints

The body should be kept warm at all times . Joints should not be bandaged tightly as this limits movement and interferes with the free circulation of blood.

Take rest, should have plenty of indirect ventilation

There should be plenty of indirect ventilation in the bedroom. Rest is advised when there is acute inflammation in the joints.

Sea bathing has been found valuable in arthritis. The natural iodine in sea water is said to relieve arthritis pain. As is well known, Iodine regulates the acid-alkaline balance in the blood and tissues, helps to repair and regenerate worn out tissues and nourishes the skeletal structure. It enters into the thyroid gland’s secretion. The hormone uses the iodine to cleanse the internal toxins. If sea bathing is not possible, the patient should relax for thirty minutes every night in a tub of warm water, in which a cup of common salt has been mixed. The minerals in the salt,especially Iodine, will be absorbed through the pores of the skin. This will help correct an internal imbalance.

 

Introducing – White Willow Bark

White willow bark is a tree native to Europe and Asia. The name “white willow” comes from the color of the leaves, which are covered with fine white hairs.

The use of white willow bark medicinally goes far back. Ancient Egyptians used white willow for inflammation. The Greek physician Hippocrates wrote about white willow’s medicinal uses in 5th century B.C.

In 1829, scientists in Europe identified what was believed to be the active ingredient in white willow bark—a compound called salicin. Public demand grew rapidly.

Extracting salicin from herbs was considered to be expensive and time-consuming, so a synthetic salicylic acid version was developed in Germany in 1852 and quickly became the treatment of choice (salicin is converted in the body to salicylic acid).

The problem was that it was harder on the stomach. At therapeutic doses, people using the synthetic salicyclic acid developed stomach ulcers and bleeding.

The German company Bayer eventually created a synthetic, less harsh derivative of salicylic acid, called acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), and mass-produced it under the name aspirin. Despite this, aspirin is still known for irritating the stomach lining.

Why do people use white willow bark?

White willow bark is used for conditions that cause pain, inflammation, or fever, such as:

    * Acute back pain

    * Fever

    * Flu

    * Joint pain

    * Osteoarthritis

    * Pain

People take white willow bark instead of aspirin because it does not appear to be as irritating to the stomach lining. It may be because the salicin found naturally in white willow bark is only converted to the acid form after it is absorbed by the stomach.

Researchers have also suggested that white willow bark is more effective than aspirin because of other active compounds that are found in the bark but not the drug. Animal research at Cairo University compared a willow bark extract to ASA and found that a willow bark extract was as effective as aspirin in reducing inflammation, even though the salicin content was lower than an equivalent dose of ASA.

What research has been done on white willow bark?

    * In a German study, the effectiveness of a willow bark extract providing 240 mg of salicin a day was compared to placebo in a 2-week randomized controlled trial in 78 people with osteoarthritis. After two weeks, the willow bark patients’ pain scores were reduced by 14% compared to the placebo group, which had a 2% increase in pain scores.

    * A randomized controlled trial published in the American Journal of Medicine examined the use of 120 mg or 240 mg salicin or placebo in 210 patients with an low back pain. In the fourth and final week of the study, 39% of the group taking 240 mg salicin were pain-free for at least 5 days, compared to 21% in the 120 mg group and only 6% in the placebo group.

    * Two randomized controlled 6-week trials investigated the effectiveness and safety of willow bark in 127 patients with hip and/or knee osteoarthritis and 26 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In the osteoarthritis trial, patients received either willow bark providing 240 mg of salicin a day, 100 mg a day of the drug diclofenac, or a placebo. Patients in the rheumatoid arthritis trial received either willow bark or a placebo. The results found that the drug diclofenac was more effective than placebo in osteoarthritis patients but white willow bark was not. In rheumatoid arthritis patients, willow bark wasn’t found to be more effective than placebo.

Common Doses

Studies have used white willow bark extracts that provide 120 mg to 240 mg of salicin per day.

Safety

Because white willow bark contains salicylates, the same precautions as aspirin should be taken until research has shown otherwise. The following people should not take white willow bark:

    * People with an aspirin allergy or sensitivity. There has been a published report of a 25 year old woman who was admitted to emergency with anaphylaxis after taking 2 capsules of a weight loss supplement that contained willow bark. The patient had a history of allergy to acetylsalicylic acid. No other possible causes for anaphylaxis were identified in that patient.

    * People with peptic ulcer disease or kidney disease.

    * The herbs ginkgo, vitamin E, and garlic may increase the risk of bleeding if combined with white willow.

    * People with hyperuricemia, gout, and asthma.

    * Children and teenagers, especially with flu-like symptoms, chicken pox, or Reye’s syndrome.

    * Pregnant or nursing women.

White willow bark should be avoided two weeks before or after surgery.

Side effects

There have been few reported side effects. However, the same side effects as aspirin may theoretically occur, especially at higher doses: ringing in the ears, ulcers, stomach burning, pain, cramping, nausea, gastrointestinal bleeding and liver toxicity, rash, dizziness, and kidney impairment.

Introducing – Bee Propolis

Propolis is resinous substance bees collect from tree buds. Bee propolis contains antioxidants called flavonoids, which are thought to be the active ingredients.

Propolis is available many forms, including tablet, capsule, ointment, powder, extract, cream, lotion and other cosmetics. It’s available as a nutritional supplement in health food stores and online. It is also found in small quantities in honey.

Why Do People Use Bee Propolis?

Propolis has a long history of use as a natural remedy for wound infection and other illnesses. Preliminary studies suggest it may be active against bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms when applied topically.

Side Effects

Propolis shouldn’t be applied to the eye area. Repeated use of propolis may make people more prone to developing allergies..

Teddy Bear-Shaped Nurse Robot Developed

TOKYO – Japanese scientists have come up with a robot resembling a huge, happy teddy bear to help look after hospital patients.

RIBA, Robot for Interactive Body Assistance, which can lift a weight of 61 kg on its foam padded arms, is the work of the government-run Riken research institute.

Dr. Toshiharu Mukai, the lead researcher, said the device was developed to lift hospital patients in and out of their wheelchairs and beds.

“We have developed RIBA because we want to help caregivers when they are required to transfer patients between hospital beds and wheelchairs,” said Mukai.

The robot, that can also recognise faces and voices and respond to up to 30 spoken commands, may be seen in hospitals and retirement homes within three years.

Mukai said battery-powered RIBA was based on a teddy bear because humanoid versions could leave people uncomfortable

Brain Function of Earthquake Survivors Acutely Affected

BEIJING –  The earthquake that jolted Wenchuan, China, in 2008 has had an acute impact on the brain function of physically healthy survivors, and even poses a risk to their mental health, according a new research.

Working with collaborators from universities in China, the US and Liverpool, researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry focused on the survivors of the earthquake that occurred on May 12 last year.

The researchers wanted to gain a better understanding of how functional brain systems adapt to severe emotional stress.

Previous animal studies have demonstrated the importance of limbic, paralimbic, striatal, and prefrontal structures of the brain in stress and fear responses.

Human studies, which have focused primarily on patients with clinically established posttraumatic stress disorders, have reported abnormalities in similar brain structures.

But not much is known about potential alterations of brain function in trauma survivors shortly after traumatic events such as an earthquake.

The epicenter of the devastating earthquake was in Wenchuan, in the Sichuan Province of China.

The tremor measured 8.0 on the Richter scale and severely affected many geographical regions including Yingxiu, Wenchuan, Dujiangyan, and Shifang, where 45 million people were directly affected.

The researchers found that a significant proportion of the survivors (around 20 per cent) are likely to develop stress-related disorders, such as acute stress disorder (ASD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Given the serious and persistent impact of these highly prevalent psychiatric disorders, it is vital to develop a better understanding of the alterations of cerebral function evident in the early stages of adaptation to trauma. Such knowledge may lead to a better understanding of posttraumatic responses and the development of more effective early interventions,” said Dr Andrea Mechelli from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London.

The researchers used a method known as ‘resting-state fMRI’ to examine 44 healthy survivors and 32 controls shortly after the massive psychological trauma.

They found that significant alterations in brain function similar to those observed in posttraumatic stress disorders could be seen shortly after major traumatic experiences, highlighting the need for early evaluation and intervention for the survivors.

The results of the study show that individuals experiencing severe emotional trauma showed hyperactivity in certain areas of the brain, and decreased functional connectivity in others, shortly after the massively traumatic Wenchuan earthquake.

Particularly, the findings indicated that traumatic experiences affect not only regional function but also dynamic interactions within brain networks.

It is not clear if this pattern of brain alteration remains the same or evolves further over the following weeks or months after the traumatic experiences.

“A better understanding of the impact of traumatic events on brain function may help us identify those in need of early treatment and reduce the long-term psychological impact in trauma survivors of national disasters, military conflict, and other causes of severe emotional distress,” said Mechelli.

The results of the study have been published in PNAS online.

Natural Compounds in Vegetables Make Chemotherapy More Effective

PORTLAND- Natural compounds present in plants and some vegetables may help treat cancer even more effectively, when used side-by-side with chemotherapy drugs, according to new research.

A study published in the International Journal of Cancer has found that chlorophyllin-a water-soluble derivative of chlorophyll that makes possible the process of photosynthesis and plant growth from the sun’s energy-is, on a dose-by-dose basis, 10 times more potent at causing death of colon cancer cells than the chemotherapeutic drug hydroxyurea.

Experts in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University say that the study has also shown that chlorophyllin kills cancer cells by blocking the same phase of cellular division that hydroxyurea does, but by a different mechanism.

Based on that finding, the researchers suggest that it may be possible to developed to have a synergistic effect with conventional cancer drugs, helping them to work better or require less toxic dosages.

“We conclude that chlorophyllin has the potential to be effective in the clinical setting, when used alone or in combination with currently available cancer therapeutic agents,” the researchers wrote in their study report.

They, however, stressed the need for both in laboratory and animal studies, with combinations of chlorophyllin and existing cancer drugs, before it would be appropriate for human trials.

Other studies published in the journals Carcinogenesis and Cancer Prevention Research have explored the role of organic selenium compounds in killing human prostate and colon cancer cells.

During the studies, a form of organic selenium found naturally in garlic and Brazil nuts was converted in cancer cells to metabolites that acted as “HDAC inhibitors” – a promising field of research in which silenced tumor suppressor genes are re-activated, triggering cancer cell death.

Rod Dashwood, professor and director of the Cancer Chemoprotection Program in the Linus Pauling Institute, says that the concept of combining conventional or new cancer drugs with natural compounds, which have been shown to have anti-cancer properties, is very promising.

“Most chemotherapeutic approaches to cancer try to target cancer cells specifically and do something that slows or stops their cell growth process. We’re now identifying such mechanisms of action for natural compounds, including dietary agents. With further research we may be able to make the two approaches work together to enhance the effectiveness of cancer therapies,” Dashwood said.

Resynchronization Cuts Down Risk of Heart Failures

CHICAGO A therapy called cardiac ‘resynchronization’ reduced risk of heart failures by 41 percent, says an international study.

“This shows, for the first time, that the onset of heart failure symptoms and hospitalization for heart failure can be delayed with pacing therapy,” said David Wilber, director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Loyola University (Chicago) Stritch School of Medicine.

Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) is an innovative new therapy that can relieve congestive heart failure (CHF) symptoms, by improving the coordination of its contractions.

It is done with the help of electrical impulses delivered by a device implanted in the upper chest, that help synchronize contractions of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber.

The study included 1,820 patients from 110 centers in the US, Canada and Europe. All patients in the trial had been diagnosed with early stage, mild heart failure (Class 1 and Class 2 on the New York Heart Association classification system), according to a Loyola release.

For instance, Loyola heart failure patient Rosemary Jakubowski of Elmwood Park said before she received cardiac resynchronization, she had experienced significant fatigue. “I always had that dragging feeling,” she said.

Since receiving resynchronization, Jakubowski has been taking kickboxing and swim aerobics classes, without fatigue. “I’m 100 percent better — complete satisfaction,” she said. “It’s like I’m a new person.”

The Food and Drug Administration has approved cardiac resynchronization for patients with Class 3 (moderate) and Class 4 (severe) heart failure. Such patients experience marked limitations in physical activity or are unable to do any physical activity at all without discomfort.

“With this study, we have shown that certain patients with early-stage, mild heart failure also can benefit from cardiac resynchronization,” Wilber said.

These findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Obese Kids Aged 12 Early Signs of Heart Disease

BARCELONA — Overweight and obese kids as young as 12 are showing early signs of heart disease, warn Spanish researchers.

During a study, scientists in Barcelona analysed 80 obese and overweight kids with an average age of 12 and compared them with 60 lean youngsters.

They found that larger kids had higher cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as more signs of pre-diabetes.

The researchers are now looking into “endothelial dysfunction” – a thickening of the arteries associated with heart problems.

By studying how easily the forearm relaxes, scientists are able to monitor the degree of the dysfunction.

They discovered the overweight and obese children had a similar level of the condition to adults with chronic heart disease.

“Endothelium-dependent relaxation of forearm arteries is already impaired by the same as in adults with chronic heart failure, and this in our 12-year old obese children,” the Scotsman quoted the researchers as saying.

“Primary or secondary prevention strategies starting early in childhood should aim at reversing current increase in childhood obesity.

“These strategies can be initiated at home and in preschool institutions, schools or after-school care services to influence diet and physical activity in the entire children population. However, further research needs to explore the most effective strategies to prevent and treat obesity.

“Already in early childhood, overweight and obesity are associated with the risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels,” they added.

The findings were presented at European Society of Cardiology. (ANI)