Ants Can Count

This post is a divergence of our normal Alternative Health stories, but the wonder of this is just too good to pass up.  It seems that ants can count.  Normally ants find their way to their nest or food source, by secreting a scent along the track, and when it’s time to return, they sniff their way back. Much like leaving bread crumbs to find your way back to some location.  However ants in deserts have a problem.  Smells are blown away by winds.  So how do they find their way back? 

German scientists conducted experiments which show that ants “count” their footsteps.  236 foot steps to a food source and 236 steps back to the nest.  Here is a link to an entertaining NPR radio story describing the experiment.  This Blog’s fascination of lifestyle health encompasses the world around us, and all its inhabitants.    

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120587095

Group Training can Boost Happiness

OXFORD –  Science has proved it: People do better as a team. Researchers from Oxford University have found that team players can tolerate twice as much pain as those who work alone.

The study, which carried out tests on 12 rowers after a vigorous workout in a virtual boat, suggests that exercising together appears to increase the level of the feel-good endorphin hormones naturally released during physical exertion.

Writing in Biology Letters, the authors speculate these hormones may underpin an array of communal activities.

Physical exertion releases endorphins and that these are responsible for the sometimes euphoric sensations experienced after exercising are facts already known.

However, in the new study, researchers from Oxford University’s Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology found this response was heightened by the synergistic effect of rowing together.

After 45 minutes of either rowing separately or in a team of six, the researchers measured their pain threshold by how long they could tolerate an inflated blood pressure cuff on the arm, reports The BBC.xercise increased both groups’ ability to tolerate pain, but the difference was significantly more pronounced among the team rowers.

This, they said, was a measure of an increased endorphin release.

“The results suggest that endorphin release is significantly greater in group training than in individual training even when power output, or physical exertion, remains constant,” said lead author Emma Cohen.

“The exact features of group activity that generate this effect are unknown, but this study contributes to a growing body of evidence suggesting that synchronized, coordinated physical activity may be responsible,” the expert added.

8 Million Americans Seriously Consider Suicide Annually

WASHINGTON — More than 8 million Americans seriously consider suicide each year, according to a new government study.

About 32,000 suicides occur in the United States each year, but a new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicates that many more give the idea serious thought.

The new SAMHSA report is based on a survey of 46,190 people aged 18 and older. In the past, the question about suicide had only been asked of people who reported major depression but in 2008 it was added to all questionnaires.

Other findings:

— People 18 to 25 years old were far more likely to have seriously considered suicide in the previous year (6.7 percent) than those 26 to 49 (3.9 percent).

— Just 2.3 percent seriously considered suicide among those 50 or older.

— Among people with a substance abuse disorder, 11 percent had considered suicide, compared to 3 percent for people without such disorders.

On the Net:  SAMHSA: www.samhsa.gov

Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone imbalances can cause hot flashes, weight gain, night sweats, etc. Many hormone creams, pills, and potions on the market are purchased and used indiscriminately. A more scientific way to deal with the regulation of hormones, however, is to measure their levels in the urine with a 24-hour lab test and then design a nutrition and hormone replacement program to bring the levels to normal.

The hormones measured include all the ovarian, adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary hormones, including growth hormone. Those needing hormone replacement are given bioidentical, non-drug formulations that can be filled at a compounding pharmacy. Both women and men can be tested and treated.

Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy can replace the hormones your body loses – the estrogens, progesterone, and other hormones – with hormones bioidentical in nature to those you lose.

Bioidentical hormones exactly mimic the structure and function of the hormones inside your body. Bioidentical hormones come from plant sources, and help women rebalance hormone levels in their bodies in a natural way.

Bioidentical hormones are hormones that are identical to what the human body makes. Why do drug companies seldom make and sell bioidentical hormones?

The reason is – since the late 1800’s, U.S. laws allowed medicines to be patented ONLY if they were NOT naturally occurring substances. If a drug company discovered a natural substance that could be used medically, anyone else could also use/make/sell that substance.

So what the drug companies do is to create synthetic hormones that are intentionally different. Examples are Premarin, Prempro and Provera – these synthetic drugs are different in their molecular structure from the estrogens and progesterone found in the human body.

And the problem with synthetic drugs is – since they are different from what occurs naturally in the human body, the body treats them differently and the result is often harmful side effects.

Even though bioidentical hormones have been around for a long time, the majority of doctors are not familiar with them. Today’s doctors are ordinarily schooled and trained in synthetic drug therapy, not natural medicine.

 Are there doctors who use bioidentical hormones?

YES! A holistic doctors and naturopathic doctors are regular medical doctors with additional training and experience in using bioidentical hormones.

A holistic medical doctor uses a combination of conventional Western medicine and alternative medicine. A holistic doctor incorporates one or more types of complementary medicine into their medical practice.

This complementary medicine could be acupuncture, herbal therapy or homeopathy. For instance, while undergoing treatment for cancer using radiation, the patient might receive herbal therapy to strengthen the immune system.

Naturopathic physicians are medical doctors that work to restore and support the body’s systems by using medicines and techniques that are in harmony with natural processes.

A naturopathic physician will prefer treatments which keep the risks of harmful side effects at a minimum. Naturopathic doctors will use bioidentical hormones when appropriate, which are safer and with few or no side effects when used correctly.

They are trained to know which persons they can treat – they also know which patients should be referred to other health care practitioners. Since every illness has an underlying cause, a naturopathic physician is trained to find and remove the underlying causes of a disease.

That may include adjusting the diet or lifestyle of the patient, for example. A naturopathic physician will treat the whole person, taking all the factors into account.

Brit Men Having Boob Jobs on the Rise

LONDON – It has emerged that more and more Brit men are having cosmetic surgery to get rid of their “moobs”.

According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), there has been a 44 per cent year-on-year rise in the number of men wanting to get rid of their ‘man boobs’.

The AGM of BAAPS in Cardiff heard that the procedure is now the fifth most popular cosmetic op for men, with more than 1,000 men forking out more than 2,000 pounds to get rid of their flabby breasts in the last 12 months.

Delegates were told over the past five years the numbers of men losing their moobs have shot up by an amazing 1,000 per cent.

“We are seeing men of all ages coming in to have their breasts made smaller,” the Sun quoted plastic surgeon Douglas McGeorge as saying.

“They are losing their inhibitions about the operation and deciding to undergo an operation which previously was a women’s operation,” he said.

McGeorge, who is based in Chester, revealed that a recent patient, who had never taken his shirt off, was typical of the men queuing up for the op.

“It was a grandfather who had never taken off his T-shirt in his life because he was so embarrassed about the size of his breasts,” he said.

“He had never been able to strip to the waist on the beach in front of his own children – but was determined not to be in the same position with his grandchildren,” he stated.

The moob jobs pushed out facelifts to become the fifth most popular plastic surgery for British men after nose jobs, eyelifts, ear corrections, and liposuction.

“Reasons for the upsurge include men being more open now about their physique than years ago,” plastic surgeon Fazel Fatah said.

“And they can get more and more information about it from internet sites which encourage them to have the op,”

MDs Could Learn From African Healers

CLEVELAND, – Traditional African healing techniques can complement western medical practice, according to a study in the current issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Traditional healers tend to focus on the psychological, social, and spiritual factors contributing to illness, writes Dr. Mariana G. Hewson, a medical anthropologist with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio. This focus can be very effective, she states.

I suggest that re-emphasizing these principles of healing in western medicine may broaden the scope and increase the satisfaction of modern healers, concludes Hewson, who studied the techniques used by six traditional African healers.

 At first glance, traditional African healing techniques seem to bear little relation to modern medical practice, she notes. To determine the cause of an illness, for instance, many traditional healers throw divining bones — ritual bones, shells and other objects — and look for diagnostic clues in the patterns the bones create.

But traditional healers also tend to focus on helping patients cope with emotional, social and other problems that can contribute to illness, she explains. They delve deeply into patients’ social and psychological lives, with questions such as, Do you want something you do not, or cannot, have? Do you have enemies?

In this respect, traditional African healers have something to teach western physicians, Hewson writes.

By placing greater emphasis on the emotional factors contributing to disease — as traditional healers do — modern doctors can better treat illness, she argues. Growing research suggests that stress, depression, and other psychological problems often contribute to physical illness, she points out.

The growing interest in alternative medical practice attests to a substantial interest in regaining humanistic medical perspectives, notes Hewson. Traditional medical approaches can be useful in engaging patients on interpersonal, psychological, and spiritual levels.