A Top Hospital Opens Up to Chinese Herbs as Medicines

Evidence is lacking that herbs are effective Continue reading

Gene Distinguishes Early Birds from Night Owls and Helps Predict Time of Death

Common gene variant helps determine the time you will wake up each day — and the time of day you are likely to die

Many of the body’s processes follow a natural daily rhythm or so-called circadian clock. Continue reading

Why Puzzles Aren’t the Best Thing to Prevent Dementia

While it’s well-known that mental activities, like crossword puzzles, can be an excellent way to help prevent dementia, a new study published in the journal Neurology has actually found an even better way to keep your mind fresh.

According to the study, older adults who exercise regularly may better protect against brain shrinkage than if they were to engage in mental (or even social) activities. Going for a walk, riding a bicycle, or enjoying a swim will help protect your mind from dementia better Continue reading

Can Eating Tomatoes Lower the Risk of Stroke?

tomaEating tomatoes and tomato-based foods is associated with a lower risk of stroke, according to new research published in the October 9, 2012, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Tomatoes are high in the antioxidant lycopene.

The study found that people with the highest amounts of lycopene in Continue reading

The Unhealthiest Fish You Can Eat

It may be a Southern staple, but fried fish could be a major reason why the United States has a “stroke belt.”

Research presented in the “Neurology” journal says that people who live in stroke belt states have a greater risk of dying than those from other states — and fried fish may be one big culprit. Continue reading

Ancient Incan Super Food: Sacha Inchi Nuts A Potent Anti-Inflammatory

For more than 3,000 years, the Plukenetia Volubilis – also known as the Sacha Inchi or Inca Peanut – has been used by inhabitants of the Amazon Rainforest for better total body health and increased endurance.

Found in the highlands of the Andes Mountains in Peru, the plants are durable, Continue reading

Dangerous Side Effects of This Specific Type of Drug Revealed

A morsel of health news says that there is a high risk of fractures, falls, and osteoporosis among epilepsy patients using antiepileptic drugs. And most patients are unaware of the risks associated with taking the drugs. For that reason, we discuss it here, because staying knowledgeable is the best defense against injury or ill health. Continue reading

New Device Removes Stroke-Causing Blood Clots Better than Standard Treatment

An experimental device for removing blood clots in stroke patients dramatically outperformed the standard mechanical treatment, according to research presented by UCLA Stroke Center director Dr. Jeffrey L. Saver at the American Stroke Association’s 2012 international conference in New Orleans on Feb. 3.

The SOLITAIRE Flow Restoration Device is among an entirely new generation of devices designed to remove blood clots from blocked brain arteries in patients experiencing stroke. It has a self-expanding, stent-like design and, once inserted into a clot using a thin catheter tube, it compresses and traps the clot. The clot is then removed by withdrawing the device, thus reopening the blocked blood vessel.

In the first U.S. clinical trial of SOLITAIRE, Continue reading

Proof That Vitamins Make You Smarter

A new study has found that elderly people with higher levels of several vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids were, overall, smarter. They did better on mental acuity tests and actually had less of the brain shrinkage typical of Alzheimer’s disease. Meanwhile, junk food led to the opposite result. Score another one for nutrition.

This was the first specific measure of a wide range of nutrients in the blood and how they corresponded to mental health and cognitive function. It uncovered positive effects of high levels of vitamins B, C, D, E and the healthy oils most commonly found in fish. The study was published last week in “Neurology.”

The study included 104 people (average age of 87) who were not at risk for memory problems or poor mental acuity. Continue reading

Researchers Have Found Evidence for the Existence of a Hypnotic State

The key was in the glazed staring eyes

Researchers have found evidence for the existence of a hypnotic state — the key was in the glazed staring eyes

A multidisciplinary group of researchers from Finland (University of Turku and Aalto University) and Sweden (University of Skövde) has found that strange stare may be a key that can eventually lead to a solution to this long debate about the existence of a hypnotic state.

One of the most widely known features of a hypnotized person in the popular culture is a glazed, wide-open look in the eyes. Paradoxically, this sign has not been considered to have any major importance among researchers and has never been studied in any detail, probably due to the fact that it can be seen in only some hypnotized people. Continue reading

One Step at a Time can keep your Brain Sharp

Step by step by step by step. Walking, as it turns out, just might keep your brain sharp well into retirement age. So slip on those sneakers and read this.

New research shows that walking about six miles per week may protect brain size and, in turn, preserve memory in old age. The study was published in the latest online issue of “Neurology.” And what jumps out about that finding is that six miles a week is not an awfully significant distance!

The size of your brain shrinks in late adulthood. This can trigger problems with memory. Age-related memory loss is a common problem in society, but one misconception is that it’s something we all have to live with, because it happens naturally. In fact, this isn’t correct at all. There are many ways to help protect your memory as you age. And this study focuses on one: the exercise option. Continue reading

How a Physician Cured Her Son’s Autism…

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride has a full-time medical practice in the United Kingdom where she treats children and adults with autism, learning disabilities, neurological disorders, psychiatric disorders, immune disorders, and digestive problems.

Here, she shares her insights about Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), which can make a child particularly prone to vaccine damage, and the GAPS Nutritional program; a natural treatment for autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression and schizophrenia.

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Natasha Campbell-McBride Interview Video Transcript

I’m thrilled to share this interview with you as Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride presents a truly fascinating and elegant description of the foundational conditions that contribute to autism, along with a pragmatic approach to help circumvent and stem the autism epidemic, which has been a perplexing puzzle for most of us.

Dr. Campbell is a medical doctor with a postgraduate degree in neurology. She worked as a neurologist and a neurosurgeon for several years before starting a family. When her first-born son was diagnosed autistic at the age of three, she was surprised to realize that her own profession had no answers… Continue reading

Improve Your Health by Eating Olive Oil

Another new study has confirmed what we’ve known for quite some time – Olive oil contributes to better health.

According to researchers who followed about 7,000 people aged 65 and older in three French cities for five years, olive oil can help greatly reduce the incidence of stroke.

Scientists conducting the study said they found that people who used a lot of olive oil either in their cooking or as a dip for bread and other foods had lower rates of stroke than people who never use it.

The scientists, who published their results in the medical journal Neurology, say people should be given new advice about their diets to include wider use of olive oil, based on the study’s results. Continue reading

Revisited Human-Worm Relationships Shed Light on Brain Evolution

“Man is but a worm” was the title of a famous caricature of Darwin’s ideas in Victorian England. Now, 120 years later, a molecular analysis of mysterious marine creatures unexpectedly reveals our cousins as worms, indeed.

An international team of researchers, including a neuroscientist from the University of Florida, has produced more evidence that people have a close evolutionary connection with tiny, flatworm-like organisms scientifically known as “Acoelomorphs.”

The research in the Thursday (Feb. 10) issue of Nature offers insights into brain development and human diseases, possibly shedding light on animal models used to study development of nerve cells and complex neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

“It was like looking under a rock and finding something unexpected,” said Leonid L. Moroz, Ph.D., a professor in the department of neuroscience with the UF College of Medicine. “We’ve known there were very unusual twists in the evolution of the complex brains, but this suggests the independent evolution of complex brains in our lineage versus invertebrates, for example, in lineages leading to the octopus or the honeybee.”

The latest research indicates that of the five animal phyla, the highest classification in our evolutionary neighborhood, four contain worms. But none are anatomically simpler than “acoels,” which have no brains or centralized nervous systems. Less than a few millimeters in size, acoels are little more than tiny bags of cells that breathe through their skin and digest food by surrounding it.

Comparing extensive genome-wide data, mitochondrial genes and tiny signaling nucleic acids called microRNAs, the researchers hailing from six countries determined a strong possibility that acoels and their kin are “sisters” to another peculiar type of marine worm from northern seas, called Xenoturbella.

From there, like playing “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” the branches continue to humans.

“If you looked at one of these creatures you would say, ‘what is all of this excitement about a worm?'” said Richard G. Northcutt, Ph.D., a professor of neurosciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who was not involved in the study. “These are tiny animals that have almost no anatomy, which presents very little for scientists to compare them with. But through genetics, if the analysis is correct – and time will tell if it is – the study has taken a very bothersome group that scientists are not sure what to do with and says it is related to vertebrates, ourselves and echinoderms (such as starfish).

“The significance of the research is it gives us a better understanding of how animals are related and, by inference, a better understanding of the history of the animals leading to humans,” Northcutt said.

Scientists used high-throughput computational tools to reconstruct deep evolutionary relationships, apparently confirming suspicions that three lineages of marine worms and vertebrates are part of a common evolutionary line called “deuterostomes,” which share a common ancestor.

“The early evolution of lineages leading to vertebrates, sea stars and acorn worms is much more complex than most people expect because it involves not just gene gain, but enormous gene loss,” said Moroz, who is affiliated with the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience and UF’s McKnight Brain Institute. “An alternative, yet unlikely, scenario would be that our common ancestor had a central nervous system, and then just lost it, still remaining a free living organism.

Understanding the complex cellular rearrangements and the origin of animal innovations, such as the brain, is critically important for understanding human development and disease, Moroz said.

“We need to be able to interpret molecular events in the medical field,” he said. “Is what’s happening in different lineages of neuronal and stem cells, for example, completely new, or is it reflecting something that is in the arrays of ancestral toolkits preserved over more than 550 million years of our evolutionary history? Working with models of human disease, you really need to be sure.”

Low Vitamin D Levels During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding May Not Be Associated With Multiple Sclerosis Relapse

A small study suggests women with multiple sclerosis have lower vitamin D levels during pregnancy and breastfeeding, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the March 2011 print issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. However, these vitamin D levels were not associated with a greater risk of multiple sclerosis relapse after childbirth.

“During the last decade, low level of vitamin D, a potent immunomodulator, has emerged as an important risk factor for multiple sclerosis (MS) as well as other autoimmune diseases and certain cancers,” the authors write as background information in the article. “The observation that healthy pregnant and lactating women are at particularly high risk of vitamin D insufficiency, regardless of race, suggests that pregnant and nursing mothers with MS may have a higher risk of relapses. However, it has already been well established that the risk of MS relapse decreases during pregnancy and increases in the postpartum period and that breastfeeding does not increase the risk of relapses.”

Annette Langer-Gould, M.D., Ph.D., then of Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif., and now of Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s Department of Research and Evaluation, Pasadena, and colleagues studied 28 pregnant women with MS from Kaiser Permanente Northern California and the Stanford University outpatient neurology clinics. Participants donated blood and completed questionnaires at the beginning of the study, during their remaining trimesters of pregnancy and regularly during the first year after birth.

Of the 28 women, half (14) breastfed exclusively and 43 percent (12) relapsed within six months after giving birth. During pregnancy, average blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin (25[OH]D, a common measure of vitamin D) were 25.4 nanograms per milliliter, and were associated with the season. After birth, levels remained low among women who were exclusively breastfeeding. By four and six months after childbirth, 25(OH)D levels were an average of 5 nanograms per milliliter lower among women who breastfed exclusively than among women who did not.

However, these low postpartum vitamin D levels were not associated with risk of MS relapse. “If anything, by three to six months after childbirth, 25(OH)D levels were marginally higher among the women who relapsed within the first six months after childbirth compared with women who were relapse-free during the corresponding period,” the authors write. “We do not believe that higher vitamin D levels increase the risk of postpartum relapses, as the rise we observed did not appear to occur prior to the onset of symptoms and the findings were of marginal statistical significance after accounting for season. Instead, we think this apparent inverse association is a reflection of the fact that most of the women who relapsed in the study also did not breastfeed or did so only briefly.”

The findings imply that the recommended dose of vitamin D supplementation for women with MS during pregnancy and breastfeeding should be the same as for women who do not have MS, the authors conclude. “Our results suggest that future studies aimed at identifying and unraveling the relationship between vitamin D, pregnancy/lactation-related hormones and regulation of MS inflammation may reveal novel insights into MS path physiology,” they write.