Johns Hopkins opening a new psychedelic research center, studying use of ‘magic mushrooms’ and more

Johns Hopkins Medicine is launching a new psychedelic research center where scientists will test the potential of so-called magic mushrooms and other drugs to treat some of the toughest mental health and addiction challenges. Continue reading

Family Meals Help Keep Teens Healthy

The secret to raising healthy kids who grow into adults who make positive lifestyle choices may be having regular family meals. Recent research shows that sitting down to eat as a family can help with eating disorders, obesity and inadequate nutrition.

Study results showed that teens that eat at least five meals a week with their families are less likely to engage in behaviors such as binging and purging, using laxatives, skipping meals or smoking cigarettes to lose weight.

“For children and adolescents with disordered eating, mealtime provides a setting in which parents can recognize early signs and take steps to prevent detrimental patterns from turning into full-blowing eating disorders,” said researcher Barbara Fiese. Continue reading

4 Things Yoga Cures

There’s a good reason you feel like a goddess when you walk out of yoga class, and it’s not because you finally got your money’s worth out of your gym. It’s because yoga has the potential to work as well as many medications at treating what ails you. “We now have compelling scientific proof that the mind can heal the body,” says Herbert Benson, M.D., director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of Relaxation Revolution. If you suffer from any of these health concerns, consider giving Downward Dogs and Sun Salutations a try today:

Back pain
People who attended only one 90-minute yoga class a week for 16 weeks reduced their back pain by two thirds and their pain medication usage by 88 percent, according to one study in the aptly named journal Pain. One of many theories on how it works: Pressing into the floor activates your pressure receptors, blocking the neural pathways that signal pain, suggests Tiffany Field, Ph.D., director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami. To get the benefits, skip the hard-core yoga and emphasize meditation and stretching. “Tight muscles can be a factor in pain, and calming your nervous system will help relax them,” says Timothy McCall, M.D., author of Yoga as Medicine.

Migraines
Still more proof of yoga’s power to alleviate ouches: Migraine sufferers who took up the habit for three months reported fewer and less intense headaches, a 2007 study in the journal Headache shows. It goes to work on head throbbing on a few fronts. For starters, yoga reduces cortisol by relaxing you. “Nasty stress hormones only aggravate pain,” Field says. Yoga also promotes better sleep, and the more soundly you snooze, the fewer pain chemicals your brain secretes. As with treating back pain, pick a calming practice, Dr. McCall advises. Zenning out in a long Savasana (Corpse pose) at the end of class will help. So will focusing on exhalations. If it feels good, make each twice as long as your inhalations.

Depression
People on antidepressants who added thrice-weekly yoga for two months said they felt less depressed, anxious and angry, University of California Los Angeles research notes. In 65 percent, their depression went into remission. “Yoga helps your body produce serotonin, a natural antidepressant, and helps lower cortisol levels, which are elevated in people with depression,” Field says. If you’re in a slump (but still fairly fit), energizing poses such as Sun Salutations may lift you out of it. “There’s a misconception that yoga is only about relaxation,” Dr. McCall says. “Some practices can stimulate you.”

Eating disorders
Could a yogi heal your eating issues? In a recent study of 50 adolescent girls with eating disorders, scientists found that an hour of yoga a week for eight weeks reduced subjects’ symptoms and their overall preoccupation with food. Anxiety and depression pop up more often in people with eating problems, says study coauthor Amber Frye-Johnson, a research scientist at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. Yoga fans have lower rates of both. “All yoga makes people more accepting and loving toward themselves and their body,” Dr. McCall says. You may need a relaxing or energizing class, depending on your symptoms. Consult your doctor and YogaAlliance.org to find the right one.