Introducing – L-Carnosine

L-Carnosine is a dipeptide consisting of of ß-alanine linked at its carboxyl terminus to the amino group of L-histidine (ß-alanyl-L-histidine). It is synthesized by the enzyme carnosine synthetase, and broken down by carnosinase. It is widely distributed in tissues, and is present at particularly high concentrations in skeletal muscle and the olfactory lobe of the brain. Carnosine has a number of important properties, including antioxidant activity, ability to chelate divalent cations such as copper, neutralization of acids (such as lactic acid), and the inhibition of nonenzymic glycosylation of proteins. It is found in long-lived tissues in surprisingly high amounts (up to 20 mM in human muscle) and has been shown to delay aging in cultured cells. When added to cultures of human lung and foreskin fibroblasts, the dipeptide extended cell survival and increased maximal cell division potential while also inducing a more juvenile phenotype in senescent human and rodent cells. This suggests that other properties of the dipeptide are involved. There are suggestions that the concentration of tissue-associated L-carnosine declines with age. L-Carnosine and related dipeptides have been shown to prevent peroxidation of model membrane systems, suggesting that they represent water-soluble counterparts to lipid-soluble antioxidants such as a-tocopherol in protecting cell membranes from oxidative damage. Other roles ascribed to this dipeptide include acting as a neurotransmitter in the modulation of enzyme activities.

L-Carnosine significantly reduces the formation of 8-hydroxy deoxyguanosine (8-OH dG) in cultured cells, thus demonstrating protection of DNA. The presumptive anti-senescent effect of L-carnosine may be related to this inhibition. L-Carnosine also inhibits protein carbonyl formation. A common molecular indication of cellular aging is the accumulation of aberrant proteins, especially polypeptides bearing carbonyl (CO) groups.

Introducing – Aceytl-L-Carnitine

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is an ester of the trimethylated amino acid, L-carnitine, and is synthesized in the brain, liver and kidney by a specific enzyme carnitine acetyltransferase, which declines with age in animals. ALC facilitates the uptake of acetyl-groups into the mitochondria during fatty acid oxidation, enhances acetylcholine production and stimulates protein and membrane phospholipid synthesis. ALC is actively transported across the blood-brain barrier. It influences the cholinergic system as a cholinergic receptor agonist (facilitator) and may also promote synthesis and release of acetylcholine. More generally, ALC participates in cellular energy production and in maintenance and repair processes in neurons.

ALC aids in the transport of substances across the membrane of mitochondria, thereby participating in the production of energy within the brain.  ALC reverses the age-related decline in the number of N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptors on the neuron membrane. ALC elevates the levels of neurotrophins such as nerve growth factor (NGF). The neurotrophins are a family of structurally related proteins that function during development to guide the differentiation and growth of neurons. They also participate in the maintenance of adult neurons and are important in the repair of damage.

ALC reduces deficits in brain energy metabolism and phospholipid metabolism in rats by aiding mitochondrial function. ALC improves nerve regeneration in rats and protects neurons from the toxicity of mitochondrial uncouplers or inhibitors. Feeding senescent rats with ALC restores levels of this metabolite to those found in tissues of young rats. Treatment of these rats with ALC restores cardiolipin in mitochondrial membranes to levels which are found in younger rats. Cardiolipin (diphosphatidylglycerol) is a phospholipid which is biosynthesized and concentrated almost exclusively in the inner mitochondrial membrane. It is the only cardiolipid whose levels are found to be reduced in the mitochondria of older rats. Maximal activity of cytochrome c oxidase, necessary for cellular energetics, appears to depend upon cardiolipin levels. Clinical trials with ALC showed some improvements in cognitive function and improvement in memory, visuospatial capacity, vocabulary recall, cooperation, sociability and attention.

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is an ester of the trimethylated amino acid, L-carnitine, and is synthesized in the brain, liver and kidney by a specific enzyme carnitine acetyltransferase, which declines with age in animals. ALC facilitates the uptake of acetyl-groups into the mitochondria during fatty acid oxidation, enhances acetylcholine production and stimulates protein and membrane phospholipid synthesis. ALC is actively transported across the blood-brain barrier. It influences the cholinergic system as a cholinergic receptor agonist (facilitator) and may also promote synthesis and release of acetylcholine. More generally, ALC participates in cellular energy production and in maintenance and repair processes in neurons.

ALC aids in the transport of substances across the membrane of mitochondria, thereby participating in the production of energy within the brain. ALC reverses the age-related decline in the number of N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptors on the neuron membrane. ALC elevates the levels of neurotrophins such as nerve growth factor (NGF). The neurotrophins are a family of structurally related proteins that function during development to guide the differentiation and growth of neurons. They also participate in the maintenance of adult neurons and are important in the repair of damage.ALC reduces deficits in brain energy metabolism and phospholipid metabolism in rats by aiding mitochondrial function. ALC improves nerve regeneration in rats and protects neurons from the toxicity of mitochondrial uncouplers or inhibitors. Feeding senescent rats with ALC restores levels of this metabolite to those found in tissues of young rats. Treatment of these rats with ALC restores cardiolipin in mitochondrial membranes to levels which are found in younger rats. Cardiolipin (diphosphatidylglycerol) is a phospholipid which is biosynthesized and concentrated almost exclusively in the inner mitochondrial membrane. It is the only cardiolipid whose levels are found to be reduced in the mitochondria of older rats. Maximal activity of cytochrome c oxidase, necessary for cellular energetics, appears to depend upon cardiolipin levels. Clinical trials with ALC showed some improvements in cognitive function and improvement in memory, visuospatial capacity, vocabulary recall, cooperation, sociability and attention.

Basic Vitamin & Supplement Glossary

Amino Acids. The building blocks that make up proteins. Humans need 20 different amino acids to function properly. Some are made by the body. Others, called essential amino acids, must be obtained from foods.

Antioxidant. Substances, like vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene, that protect your body from the damage of oxidation caused by free radicals.

Botanicals. Substances obtained from plants and used in food supplements, personal care products, or pharmaceuticals. Other names include “herbal medicine” and “plant medicine.”

Daily Value. Found on food and drink nutrition labels, this number tells you the percentage of the recommended dietary allowance provided by one serving of the food or drink in question.

Fat Soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, D, E, and K, are absorbed by the body with dietary fats. Your body stores excess fat-soluble vitamins in your liver and body fat, then uses them as needed. Ingesting more fat-soluble vitamins than you need can be toxic, causing side-effects like nausea, vomiting, and liver and heart problems.

Fortify. To increase a food or drink’s nutritional value by adding vitamins, minerals, or other substances. For example, milk is fortified with vitamins A and D.

Free Radicals. An atom or molecule with at least one unpaired electron, making it unstable and reactive. When free radicals react with certain chemicals in the body, they may interfere with the ability of cells to function normally. Antioxidants can stabilize free radicals.

Herb. Herbs are plants used as flavorings in cooking, but herbs can also be used as supplements for health or medicinal reasons.

Megadose. Supplements that provide more than 100% of the daily value of the body’s required vitamins and minerals.

Micronutrients. The name given to vitamins and minerals because your body needs them in small amounts. Micronutrients are vital to your body’s ability to process the “macronutrients:” fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Examples are chromium, zinc, and selenium.

Minerals. Nutrients found in the earth or water and absorbed by plants and animals for proper nutrition. Minerals are the main component of teeth and bones, and help build cells and support nerve impulses, among other things. One example is calcium.

Multivitamin. A pill, beverage, or other substance containing more than one vitamin.

Oxidation. A chemical reaction in which oxygen combines with a substance, changing or destroying its normal function. Oxidation can damage cell membranes and interfere with a cell’s regulatory systems, but it is also part of our normal-functioning immune system.

Phytochemicals. Health-protecting compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and other plants. Phytochemicals (sometimes called phytonutrients) include beta-carotene, lycopene, and resveratrol.

Prenatal Vitamins. Specially formulated multivitamins that ensure a pregnant woman gets enough essential micronutrients. Prenatal supplements generally contain more folic acid, iron, and calcium than standard adult supplements.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). The amount of nutrients needed daily to prevent the development of disease in most people. An example is vitamin C; the RDA is 70 milligrams, below which, for most people, there is the risk of developing scurvy.

Supplements. Vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other substances taken orally and meant to correct deficiencies in the diet.

U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP). A nonprofit authority that sets standards and certifies supplements that meet certain quality, strength, and purity standards. Many supplements carry the USP symbol on their label.

Vitamins. Naturally found in plants and animals, vitamins are vital to growth, energy, and nerve function. There are two types of vitamins used by the body to support health: fat-soluble and water-soluble.

Water-Soluble. Water-soluble vitamins like B-6, C, and folic acid are easily absorbed by the body. Your body uses the vitamins it needs, then excretes excess water-soluble vitamins in urine. Because these vitamins are not stored in the body, there is less risk of toxicity than with fat-soluble vitamins, but a greater risk of deficiency.

Stimulate Female Sexual Drive Naturally

An estimated 40 percent of U.S. women suffer sexual dysfunction, according to a 2008 survey in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Losing interest in sex would be unfortunate for most people, but for Linda Poelzl it was a professional hazard.
“I just wasn’t feeling much interest in sex, and this was very disturbing to me,” says Poelzl, who lives and works in San Francisco. “I have to have a certain amount of interest in it because of my work.”
Poelzl’s describes her work as a “sex educator and coach,” helping men, women, and couples work through their sexual problems. She says she usually possesses a great lust for lust, but then her libido started dissipating a few years ago when she was in her late 40s.

Shocked and not quite sure what to do, she turned to medical doctors, and found there wasn’t much they could offer, as there’s no prescription medicine like Viagra to help a woman when her sex life gets stuck. The greatest hope for a so-called “female Viagra” was a drug called flibanserin, but it was nixed by a panel of Food and Drug Administration experts on Friday, who said the drug didn’t seem to really help women with sexual dysfunction.

This was the second time a so-called “female Viagra” failed to make it on the market; in 2004, an FDA panel said no to Intrinsa, a testosterone patch meant to hormonally help women with a lack of desire for sex.

Given these two rejections, it could be a while before another pharmaceutical company decides to sink money into developing a new drug for women with sexual problems. One company, BioSante Pharmaceuticals, hopes to bring a testosterone gel to the market in 2012, but there aren’t many other products on the horizon.

“There hasn’t been much action in this area, and that certainly has to come up when a company is thinking about dumping money into researching a drug for female sexual dysfunction,” says Phyllis Greenberger, president of the Society for Women’s Health Research, which received money from Boehringer Ingelheim, the company that makes flibanserin.

That’s despite a seeming need for such medication. In 2008, a survey of more than 30,000 U.S. women in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that nearly 40 percent reported that they’d had a sexual problem at some point in their lives, most often a lack of desire.

Linda Poelzl, a sexual educator and coach, says Chinese medicine has helped her sex drive.

After seeing medical doctors but getting few results, Poelzl decided to take another route. She visited alternative practitioners and began experimenting with Taoist exercises used in Chinese medicine. She practiced six minutes of exercises every morning, such as sitting quietly in a chair massaging her lower abdomen.

While there’s no hard science that shows that Taoist practices will improve a woman’s sex life, Poelzl says it worked for her.

“I noticed I started feeling more energy in my body, and more libido,” she says. “But it took at least six weeks of almost daily practice. You have to be committed.”
In fact, for nearly all alternative practices there are no large-scale studies saying if they work or not. But in the absence of a drug to help women with sexual problems, here’s what’s recommended by some practitioners.

1. Acupuncture

Jill Blakeway, a licensed acupuncturist who practices in New York City, started out doing acupuncture to help women get pregnant. But then a few years later she started noticing something interesting.
“After having a couple of kids, patients were coming back to me and saying, ‘I just never feel like it anymore,'” Blakeway says.
She then developed a specialty in acupuncture to help women lift their flagging libidos. She says acupuncture, like Viagra, increases blood flow to the genitals, but unlike Viagra, it usually takes four to six weeks to see results.

“If your sexuality has been lying dormant for a while, then it’s going to take a while to wake it up,” Blakeway says. “And when it does wake up, I tell women not to see this as goal-oriented orgasmic sex, but rather as a way of connecting to their partner.”
One of Blakeway’s patients wrote an article for the magazine, Cookie, about her experience with acupuncture for her flagging sex life.
To find an acupuncturist near you, go to the website of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and check off “Chinese Herbology Certification.”

2. Chinese medicine

Blakeway says she often has success combining acupuncture with Chinese medicine. To find a practitioner familiar with Chinese medicine, go to the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Blakeway says between acupuncture and Chinese medicine, she’s able to help about 65 percent of the women who come to her with sexual problems.

3. Maca

Maca is sold in several forms including powder and capsules.

A root vegetable grown in high elevations in the mountains of Peru, animal studies have shown that maca increases sex drive. It’s widely marketed in Peru as an aphrodisiac, where it’s sold in several forms, including capsules and powdered form.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital are studying maca in women with sexual dysfunction.
Here’s more information on the sexual effects of maca from New York University Langone Medical Center.

4. Ginkgo biloba

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that the herb ginkgo biloba was useful in helping women who had sexual dysfunction brought on by antidepressants.
Here’s more information on ginkgo, including its sexual effects, from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.

5. Herbal combinations

Dr. Craig Koniver, a Charleston, South Carolina, family physician who specializes in alternative medicine, says he has success treating women with sexual dysfunction with herbal combinations. Several companies, including one owned by Koniver, make herbal combinations.

You can also visit a practitioner familiar with herbs to make a combination for you. You can find a practitioner through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, or if you prefer a medical doctor, visit the website of the American College for Advancement in Medicine, where you can put in your ZIP code and find a doctor who specializes in integrative medicine.

Whatever you try to get your libido back, remember that your first attempt might not work.
“Different things for different women,” Blakeley says. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation

More Hospitals Offer Reiki

More doctors are now prescribing Reiki and more hospitals are offering it as complementary alternative medicine.

Celebrated heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz is the co-founder of the Complementary Care Centre at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. He is also the host of his own show, aptly named The Dr. Oz Show.

In one of his shows, Dr. Oz focused on alternative medicine. He featured a Reiki therapist and provided the audience with a short demonstration of healing through Reiki. At the end of the show, he gave his audience three recommendations, the first of which was, “Try Reiki.”

Since the late 1990s, Dr. Oz had been a staunch proponent of Reiki and the only doctor who publicly explored Reiki. Much has changed since. Today, more and more doctors are recommending Reiki.

More Doctors Recommend Reiki

In an article entitled “Reiki: Hype or Help” which appeared in “Discovery Health,” Therese Droste writes about Neursosurgeon Clinton Miller, a former skeptic turned believer. After experiencing a Reiki session, Miller said, “I went from high personal excitation to feeling like I was floating in the ether.” Like Dr. Oz, Miller now prescribes Reiki for his patients.

Then there is cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra, who is also the head of the New England Heart Center in Manchester. Sinatra recommends Reiki to patients when he thinks that an energy blockage is preventing a patient from healing.

Says Droste in her article: “Many healthcare professionals and others are beginning to incorporate Reiki in their treatment of illnesses ranging from asthma to cancer to depression. Reiki sessions are being used for pain management, to accelerate recovery from surgery and reduce medication side effects.”

Such acceptance from the medical profession is supported by personal experience, feedback from patients and more importantly, by various research studies.

Pre and Post Surgery Reiki

In April 1999, the Journal of Nursing Care Quality published an article by Patricia and Kristan Alandydy on the effects of Reiki on surgical patients. Eight hundred and seventy patients confined at the Columbia/HCA Portsmouth Regional Hospital in Portsmouth, New Hampshire were asked to participate. All the participants were given 15 minutes pre- and post-surgery Reiki treatments. As a result of the Reiki treatments, there was less use of pain medications, shorter length of hospital confinement and increased patient satisfaction.

The effects of Reiki on Alzheimer’s disease have also been explored. An empirical study was conducted, which aimed at exploring the efficacy of Reiki in improving memory and behavior deficiencies in patients with mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s disease. This quasi-experimental study showed that “Reiki treatments show promise for improving certain behavior and memory problems in patients with mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s disease.”

A paper presented by Mary Ann La Torre, Wardell DW, Engebretson J., at Universtity of Texas Houston Health Science Center in Houston, Texas explored the biological effects of Reiki. The aim of the study was “to test a framework of relaxation or stress reduction as a mechanism of touch therapy (TT).” The study was conducted in 1996 and 23 healthy subjects were asked to participate. It was intended to be a close examination of select physiological and biochemical effects after 30 minutes of Reiki, which was considered a form of touch therapy.

The biological markers that were related to stress-reduction response included: state of anxiety, salivary IgA and cortisol levels, blood pressure, galvanic skin response (GSR), muscle tension and skin temperature. Biological marker levels were measured before and after the 30-minute Reiki sessions. Test results showed that anxiety was significantly reduced. Skin temperature increased and electromygraph decreased during the treatment, although the before and after changes were not significant. It was concluded that the “findings suggest both biochemical and physiological changes in the direction of relaxation.”

Reiki as Biofield Therapy

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), Reiki falls under the category of Energy Medicine. It is considered part of a number of healing modalities categorized as “Biofield Therapies which are intended to affect energy fields that purportedly surround and penetrate the human body.”

Reiki is now proving to be very useful in hospices, nursing homes and hospitals. The number of hospitals offering Reiki is increasing. It is now offered in several other hospitals such as Mercy Hospital in Portland, Maine, Wilcox Memorial Hospital in Hawaii, Center for Integrative Medicine at George Washington University Hospital, Tucson Medical Center in Arizona, California Pacific Medical Center, Portsmouth Regional Hospital in New Hampshire, Marin General Hospital in California, University of Michigan Hospital, Foote Hospital in Michigan.

Indeed, Reiki has come a long way since the time it was first introduced in Japan by Mikao Usui -a Japanese spiritual seeker who called it a “natural method of healing.”

Cognition Improved By Mindfulness Meditation

Some of us need regular amounts of coffee or other chemical enhancers to make us cognitively sharper. A newly published study suggests perhaps a brief bit of meditation would prepare us just as well.

While past research using neuroimaging technology has shown that meditation techniques can promote significant changes in brain areas associated with concentration, it has always been assumed that extensive training was required to achieve this effect. Though many people would like to boost their cognitive abilities, the monk-like discipline required seems like a daunting time commitment and financial cost for this benefit.

Surprisingly, the benefits may be achievable even without all the work. Though it sounds almost like an advertisement for a “miracle” weight-loss product, new research now suggests that the mind may be easier to cognitively train than we previously believed. Psychologists studying the effects of a meditation technique known as “mindfulness ” found that meditation-trained participants showed a significant improvement in their critical cognitive skills (and performed significantly higher in cognitive tests than a control group) after only four days of training for only 20 minutes each day.

“In the behavioral test results, what we are seeing is something that is somewhat comparable to results that have been documented after far more extensive training,” said Fadel Zeidan, a post-doctoral researcher at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, and a former doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where the research was conducted.

“Simply stated, the profound improvements that we found after just 4 days of meditation training are really surprising,” Zeidan noted. “It goes to show that the mind is, in fact, easily changeable and highly influenced, especially by meditation.”

The study appears in the April 2 issue of Consciousness and Cognition. Zeidan’s co-authors are Susan K. Johnson, Zhanna David and Paula Goolkasian from the Department of Psychology at UNC Charlotte, and Bruce J. Diamond from William Patterson University. The research was also part of Zeidan’s doctoral dissertation. The research will also be presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society’s annual meeting in Montreal, April 17-20.

The experiment involved 63 student volunteers, 49 of whom completed the experiment. Participants were randomly assigned in approximately equivalent numbers to one of two groups, one of which received the meditation training while the other group listened for equivalent periods of time to a book (J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit) being read aloud.

Prior to and following the meditation and reading sessions, the participants were subjected to a broad battery of behavioral tests assessing mood, memory, visual attention, attention processing, and vigilance.

Both groups performed equally on all measures at the beginning of the experiment. Both groups also improved following the meditation and reading experiences in measures of mood, but only the group that received the meditation training improved significantly in the cognitive measures. The meditation group scored consistently higher averages than the reading/listening group on all the cognitive tests and as much as ten times better on one challenging test that involved sustaining the ability to focus, while holding other information in mind.

“The meditation group did especially better on all the cognitive tests that were timed,” Zeidan noted. “In tasks where participants had to process information under time constraints causing stress, the group briefly trained in mindfulness performed significantly better.”

Particularly of note were the differing results on a “computer adaptive n-back task,” where participants would have to correctly remember if a stimulus had been shown two steps earlier in a sequence. If the participant got the answer right, the computer would react by increasing the speed of the subsequent stimulus, further increasing the difficulty of the task. The meditation-trained group averaged aproximately10 consecutive correct answers, while the listening group averaged approximately one.

“Findings like these suggest that meditation’s benefits may not require extensive training to be realized, and that meditation’s first benefits may be associated with increasing the ability to sustain attention,” Zeidan said.

“Further study is warranted,” he stressed, noting that brain imaging studies would be helpful in confirming the brain changes that the behavioral tests seem to indicate, “but this seems to be strong evidence for the idea that we may be able to modify our own minds to improve our cognitive processing – most importantly in the ability to sustain attention and vigilance – within a week’s time.”

The meditation training involved in the study was an abbreviated “mindfulness” training regime modeled on basic “Shamatha skills” from a Buddhist meditation tradition, conducted by a trained facilitator. As described in the paper, “participants were instructed to relax, with their eyes closed, and to simply focus on the flow of their breath occurring at the tip of their nose. If a random thought arose, they were told to passively notice and acknowledge the thought and to simply let ‘it’ go, by bringing the attention back to the sensations of the breath.” Subsequent training built on this basic model, teaching physical awareness, focus, and mindfulness with regard to distraction.

Zeidan likens the brief training the participants received to a kind of mental calisthenics that prepared their minds for cognitive activity.

“The simple process of focusing on the breath in a relaxed manner, in a way that teaches you to regulate your emotions by raising one’s awareness of mental processes as they’re happening is like working out a bicep, but you are doing it to your brain. Mindfulness meditation teaches you to release sensory events that would easily distract, whether it is your own thoughts or an external noise, in an emotion-regulating fashion. This can lead to better, more efficient performance on the intended task.”

“This kind of training seems to prepare the mind for activity, but it’s not necessarily permanent,” Zeidan cautions. “This doesn’t mean that you meditate for four days and you’re done – you need to keep practicing.”

Introducing – Passion Flower

The dried aerial parts of passion flower ( Passiflora incarnata ) have historically been used as a sedative and hypnotic (for insomnia) and for “nervous” gastrointestinal complaints. However, clinical evidence supporting any therapeutic use in humans is lacking. Early evidence suggests that passion flower may have a benzodiazepine-like calming action.

Evidence for significant side effects is also unclear, and is complicated by the variety of poorly classified, potentially active constituents in different  Passiflora  species.

Passion fruit ( Passiflora  edulis  Sims), a related species, is used to flavor food.

Apigenin, apricot vine, banana passion fruit ( Passiflora  mollissima ), Calmanervin® (combination product), chrysin, Compoz® (combination product), corona de cristo, coumarin, cyanogenic glycosides, EUP, Euphytose® (combination product), fleischfarbige, fleur de la passion, flor de passion, granadilla, grenadille, harmala alkaloids, harmaline, harmalol, harman, harmine, Jamaican honeysuckle ( Passiflora  laurifolia ), madre selva, maypops, Naturest,  Passiflora  incarnata ,  Passiflora  laurifolia ,  Passiflora  mollissima , pasipay,  Passiflora , passionflower, passion vine, Passionsblume (German), purple passion flower, Sedacalm®, umbeliferone, Valverde® (combination product), vitexin, water lemon, wild passion flower.

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Congestive heart failure

An extract containing passion flower and hawthorn has been studied as a possible treatment for shortness of breath and difficulty exercising in patients with congestive heart failure. Although the results are promising, the effects of passion flower alone are unclear. High quality human research of passion flower alone compared to prescription drugs used for this condition is needed before a strong recommendation can be made. C

Sedation (agitation, anxiety, insomnia)

Passion flower has a long history of use for symptoms of restlessness, anxiety, and agitation. Early evidence from animal studies and weak human trials supports these uses. Better research is needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn. C

Uses based on tradition or theory

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Alcohol withdrawal, antibacterial, anti-seizure, anti-spasm, aphrodisiac, asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), burns (skin), cancer, chronic pain, cough, drug addiction, Epstein-Barr virus, fungal infections, gastrointestinal discomfort (nervous stomach), Helicobacter pylori infection, hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, menopausal symptoms (hot flashes), nerve pain, pain (general), skin inflammation, tension, wrinkle prevention.

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

Safety and effectiveness have not been established for any dose. Standard or well-studied doses of passion flower are currently lacking. Different preparations and doses have been used traditionally. Doses of 0.5-2 grams of dried herb have been taken 3-4 times daily by mouth. Doses of 1-4 milliliters of tincture (1:8) have been taken 3-4 times daily by mouth. Tea made from dried herb (four to eight grams) has been taken daily. A dose of 2.5 grams in an infusion has been used 3-4 times daily.

Children (younger than 18 years)

There is not enough scientific data to recommend passion flower for use in children at any dose.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

Few reports of allergic reactions, asthma, irritated sinuses, skin rashes, and skin blood vessel inflammation (vasculitis) have been reported in the available literature with the use of passion flower products. It is believed that some reactions may have been caused by impurities in combination products, not by passion flower itself.

Side Effects and Warnings

Passion flower is generally considered to be a safe herb with few reported serious side effects. In cases of side effects, the products being used have rarely been tested for contamination, which may have been the cause. Cyanide poisoning has been associated with passiflora fruit, but this has not been proven in human studies.

Rapid heart rhythm, nausea, and vomiting have been reported. Side effects may also include drowsiness/sedation and mental slowing. Patients should use caution if driving or operating heavy machinery.

Passion flower may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding and affect blood tests that measure blood clotting (international normalized ratio or “INR”).

There is a case report of liver failure and death of a patient taking a preparation of passion flower with kava. Use cautiously with any kava-containing products, as kava has been associated with liver damage. It has been suggested that the cause of the liver damage is less likely related to the presence of passion flower.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

There is not enough scientific evidence to recommend the safe use of passion flower in any dose during pregnancy or breastfeeding. During the 1930s, animal studies found uterine stimulant action in components of  Passiflora .

Many tinctures contain high levels of alcohol and should be avoided during pregnancy.

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

Certain substances (harmala alkaloids) with monoamine oxidase inhibitory (MAOI) action have been found in small amounts in some species of  Passiflora . Although levels of these substances may be too low to cause noticeable effects, passion flower may theoretically increase the effects of MAOI drugs, such asisocarboxazid (Marplan®), phenelzine (Nardil®), and tranylcypromine (Parnate®). Increased sedation or low blood pressure could also result from taking passion flower with tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline (Elavil®), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (Prozac®).

Based on animal research, use of passion flower with alcohol or other sedatives may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs. Examples include benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam (Ativan®) or diazepam (Valium®); barbiturates, such as phenobarbital; narcotics, such as codeine; some antidepressants; and alcohol. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.

In theory, passion flower may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).

Many tinctures contain high levels of alcohol and may cause nausea or vomiting when taken with metronidazole (Flagyl®) or disulfiram (Antabuse®).

Passion flower may also interact with anti-anxiety drugs, antibiotics, anticonvulsants, antifungals, antihistamines, anti-cancer drugs, antispasmodics, antitussives, caffeine, CNS depressants, drugs broken down by the liver, flumazenil, naloxone, and other neurologic agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

Certain substances (harmala alkaloids) with monoamine oxidase inhibitory (MAOI) action have been found in small amounts in some species of  Passiflora . Although levels of these substances may be too low to cause noticeable effects, in theory, use of passion flower with herbs or supplements with MAOI activity may cause additive effects. Kava ( Piper methysticum ) is believed to have weak monoamine oxidase inhibitor effects and may thus interact with passion flower. In addition, tricyclic antidepressants or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may lead to increased sedation or low blood pressure when taken with passion flower.

Based on animal research, use of passion flower may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some herbs or supplements, such as valerian and kava.

 

Passion flower may have additive effects when taken with herbs or supplements that increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of ginkgo ( Ginkgo biloba ), and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.

When taken with caffeine or herbs containing caffeine or caffeine-like compounds, passion flower may increase blood pressure.

Passion flower contains lycopene and may have additive effects when taken with lycopene supplements.

Passion flower may also interact with herbs or supplements taken for pain, anxiety, seizures, fungal infections, bacterial infections, or cancer. In addition, interactions with antihistamines, antispasmodics, antitussives, CNS depressants, herbs and supplements broken down by the liver, and other neurologic agents are possible.

Should You Use Tramadol For Pain?

Tramadol – generic name for Ultram and ‘drug hydrochloride. Relieves pain and is’ a good alternative to drugs narcotic painkillers. Nowadays, this drug is’ one of the most ‘commonly prescribed as an alternative to more’ strong analgesic drugs.

Function

Tramadol or Ultram are painkillers very popular used to treat moderate and severe pain. Not ‘a narcotic drug, but despite this’ create addiction and dependence especially in the elderly population, to which this drug is commonly prescribed.

The last increase of dose and ‘between 50 and 100 mg every 4-6 days depending on the needs’, with a maximum daily dose of 400 mg.The manufacturer of Tramadol, recommended doses are very specific for this drug: for adults, the initial dose and ‘25 mg capsules in the morning, this dose may’ be increased by 25 mg every three days , up to a maximum dose of 100 mg per day. Upon reaching this dose, the patient may ‘receive additional requirement in which you increase the dose of 50 mg every three days, up to 200 mg of dose per day. In elderly patients, and ‘important to maintain a mix that does not exceed 300 mg per day. the limitation period should be increased in intervals of every 12 hours to a maximum of 200 mg daily. In patients with cirrhosis (liver disease), the tramadol 50mg capsules should apply every 12 hours.

Considerations

Tramadol can ‘increase levels of liver enzymes and can’ lead to decreased levels of creatinine and hemoglobin, what ‘and’ potentially toxic due to the effect that Tramadol liver. It ‘must therefore monitor these levels regularly. Use caution in patients with inhibited by serotonin (SSRIs) because Tramadol can ‘increase the risk for serotonin syndrome.

Warnings

People allergic to opioids or women pregnant or lactating women should not take this medication. Tramadol in its initial use can ‘create allergic reactions, therefore, patients should be closely followed. People who have reactions anapilattiche from codeine or other opioids are more ‘at risk of suffering an allergic reaction to Tramadol. Also there is’ risk of respiratory complications in patients who have suffered injuries to his head, or have kidney or liver problems, so these people should not use this drug.

Monitoring

The level of pain should be checked every 30 minutes after the use of Tramadol. If the degree breathing down over 12 breaths per minute, the prescription drug should be ’stopped and’ need to consult with your doctor.

In addition, there are cases of constipation due to use of Tramadol in case this situation more than three days, we must consider the use of laxatives. Patients should be followed in order to avoid dependency, but at the same time and ‘important not to stop this drug in a sudden, since you can create withdrawal symptoms in patients. The use of any medicine that does not need ‘recipe with Tramadol and’ to check with your doctor to avoid undesirable interactions.

Some online pharmacy can assist you to buy tramadol online without prescription.you can order no prescription tramadol at your leisure, whenever and wherever you wish.

 

What Makes Human Muscle Age

BEREKLEY – Scientists from University of California, Berkeley, have identified biochemical pathways that can lead to aging of muscles.

By manipulating these pathways, the researchers were able to turn back the clock on old human muscle, restoring its ability to repair and rebuild itself.

“Our study shows that the ability of old human muscle to be maintained and repaired by muscle stem cells can be restored to youthful vigor given the right mix of biochemical signals,” said Professor Irina Conboy, a faculty member in the graduate bioengineering program that is run jointly by UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco, and head of the research team conducting the study.

“This provides promising new targets for forestalling the debilitating muscle atrophy that accompanies aging, and perhaps other tissue degenerative disorders as well,” she added.

Previous studies have shown that ability of adult stem cells to do their job of repairing and replacing damaged tissue is governed by the molecular signals they get from surrounding muscle tissue, and that those signals change with age in ways that preclude productive tissue repair.

The regenerative function in old stem cells can be revived given the appropriate biochemical signals.

During the study, the researchers examined the response of the human muscle to biochemical signals.

They learned from previous studies that adult muscle stem cells have a receptor called Notch, which triggers growth when activated.

Those stem cells also have a receptor for the protein TGF-beta that, when excessively activated, sets off a chain reaction that ultimately inhibits a cell’s ability to divide.

They found that aging in mice is associated in part with the progressive decline of Notch and increased levels of TGF-beta, ultimately blocking the stem cells’ capacity to effectively rebuild the body.

This study revealed that the same pathways are at play in human muscle, but also showed for the first time that mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase was an important Positive regulator of Notch activity essential for human muscle repair, and that it was rendered inactive in old tissue.

When levels of MAPK were experimentally inhibited, young human muscle was no longer able to regenerate. The reverse was true when the researchers cultured old human muscle in a solution where activation of MAPK had been forced.

In that case, the regenerative ability of the old muscle was significantly enhanced.

The study appears in journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.

A Guide To How Much Water, Potassium, Sodium, You Should Take

The Food and Nutrition Board released the sixth in a series of reports presenting dietary reference values for the intake of nutrients by Americans and Canadians. This new report establishes nutrient recommendations on water, salt and potassium to maintain health and reduce chronic disease risk. Highlights of the report include:

    * The vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide. The report did not specify exact requirements for water, but set general recommendations for women at approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water — from all beverages and foods — each day, and men an average of approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water. The panel did not set an upper level for water.

    * About 80 percent of people’s total water intake comes from drinking water and beverages — including caffeinated beverages — and the other 20 percent is derived from food.

    * Prolonged physical activity and heat exposure will increase water losses and therefore may raise daily fluid needs, although it is important to note that excessive amounts can be life-threatening.

    * Healthy 19- to 50-year-old adults should consume 1.5 grams of sodium and 2.3 grams of chloride each day — or 3.8 grams of salt — to replace the amount lost daily on average through sweat and to achieve a diet that provides sufficient amounts of other essential nutrients.

    * The tolerable upper intake level (UL) for salt is set at 5.8 grams per day. More than 95 percent of American men and 90 percent of Canadian men ages 31 to 50, and 75 percent of American women and 50 percent of Canadian women in this age range regularly consume salt in excess of the UL.

    * Older individuals, African Americans, and people with chronic diseases including hypertension, diabetes, and kidney disease are especially sensitive to the blood pressure-raising effects of salt and should consume less than the UL.

    * Adults should consume at least 4.7 grams of potassium per day to lower blood pressure, blunt the effects of salt, and reduce the risk of kidney stones and bone loss. However, most American women 31 to 50 years old consume no more than half of the recommended amount of potassium, and men’s intake is only moderately higher.

    * There was no evidence of chronic excess intakes of potassium in apparently health individuals and thus no UL was established.

 

Home Remedies Series – Pyorrhoea

Pyorrhoea is triggered by bacterial activity. A thin layer of harmful bacteria is continuously building up on our teeth. If it is not removed by tooth-cleansing, especially after meals, it forms an organised mass on the tooth surface in a short time. This is referred to as a ‘bacterial plaque’. When accumulated, bacteria in plaque produce many toxins which irritate the gums, causing them to become inflamed, tender, and prone to bleeding easily. The bacterial activity is, however, facilitated by the lowered vitality of the system

Injury to gums, incorrect brushing and improper use of tooth picks

Other factors contributing to the development of pyorrhoea include injury to the gums and supporting structures by physical and chemical irritants in the mouth, incorrect brushing, stagnation of food particles, and improper use of tooth picks

Pyorrhoea treatment using Guava

Chewing unripe guava is an excellent tonic for the teeth and gums. It stops the bleeding from the gums due to its styptic effect and richness in vitamin C. Chewing the tender leaves of the guava tree also helps in curing bleeding from the gums and keeps the teeth healthy. A decoction of root-bark can also be beneficially used as a mouthwash fur swollen gums

Pyorrhoea treatment using Lemon and Lime

The regular use of lemon and lime is useful in pyorrhoea due to their high vitamin C content. They strengthen the gums and teeth, and are very effective in preventing and curing acute inflammations of the gum margins

Pyorrhoea treatment using Orange

The use of orange has also been found beneficial in the treatment of pyorrhoea. This fruit should be eaten regularly and its skin rubbed over the teeth and gums. This will improve the condition

Pyorrhoea treatment using Pomegranate Rind

Powder of the dry rind of pomegranate, mixed with pepper and common salt, can be applied as a very good dentifrice. Its regular application strengthens the gums, stops bleeding, and prevents pyorrhoea

Pyorrhoea treatment using Spinach Juice

The juice of raw spinach is another valuable remedy for the prevention and treatment of pyorrhoea because of its beneficial effect on the teeth and gums. This effect is greatly enhanced if spinach juice is taken in combination with carrot juice. Both spinach juice and carrot juice should be taken in quantities of 125 ml each daily. A permanent aid for this affliction has been found in the use of natural raw foods, and in drinking an ample quantity of carrot and spinach juice

Pyorrhoea treatment using Lettuce

Lettuce has proved useful in preventing pyorrhoea The leaves of this vegetable should be chewed everyday immediately after meals for this purpose

Pyorrhoea treatment using Wheat

Wheat is especially valuable in the prevention and treatment of pyorrhoea. Wheat wheat tortilla are usually taken with other foods, and hence, the other food also gets chewed properly. This not only provides the needed exercise for the teeth and gum but also aids in digestion

Fruit juice and fruit diet

The patient should begin the treatment with a short juice fast for three to five days. Oranges and carrot should be used for juices. After the juice fast, the patient should spend the next three to five days on an exclusive fresh fruit diet, taking three meals a day of juicy fruits

Balanced diet

Thereafter he may gradually embark upon a balanced diet, with emphasis on fresh fruits, green salads, whole-meal bread, properly cooked vegetables, cheese, nuts, and milk

White bread,refined food, condiments, meat etc should be avoided

White bread, white sugar, and all refined and tinned foods must he completely given up. Condiments, sauces, alcohol, coffee, and strong tea, as well as meat and other fresh foods should also be avoided

Other Pyorrhoea treatment

Warm-water enema and a hip bath

During the juice fast, the bowels should be cleansed daily with a warm-water enema. Daily dry friction and a hip bath should be taken

Breathing exercises and hot Epsom salts bath

Breathing and other exercises, should form a part of the morning routine. A hot Epsom salts bath taken twice weekly will also be beneficial

Introducing – Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is an essential oil obtained by steam distillation of the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a plant native to Australia.

Latin Name: Melaleuca alternifolia

Other Names: Melaleuca oil, Australian tea tree oil

Historically, the leaves were used as a substitute for tea, which is how tea tree oil got its name. The part used medicinally is the oil from the leaves.

Why Do People Use Tea Tree Oil?

Tea tree has a long history of traditional use. Australian aboriginals used tea tree leaves for healing skin cuts, burns, and infections by crushing the leaves and applying them to the affected area.

Tea tree oil contains consituents called terpenoids, which have been found to have antiseptic and antifungal activity. The compound terpinen-4-ol is the most abundant and is thought to be responsible for most of tea tree oil’s antimicrobial activity.

People use tea tree oil for the following conditions:

    * Acne

    * Athlete’s foot

   * Dandruff

Sources of Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is most commonly found as a pure essential oil. It is also an ingredient in creams, ointments, lotions, soaps, and shampoos.

Tea tree oil should not be confused with Chinese tea oil, cajeput oil, kanuka oil, manuka oil, ti tree oil, and niauouli oil.

What is the Evidence for Tea Tree Oil?

There have only been a few, older clinical trials looking at the effectiveness of tea tree oil in humans.

    * Athlete’s Foot

 

      A randomized controlled trial examined the use of 25% tea tree oil solution, 50% tea tree oil solution, or placebo in 158 people with athlete’s foot. After twice daily applications for 4 weeks, the two tea tree oil solutions were found to be significantly more effective than placebo.

      In the 50% tea tree oil group, 64% were cured, compared to 31% in the placebo group. Four people using the tea tree oil withdrew from the study because they developed dermatitis (which improved after discontinuing tea tree oil use). Otherwise, there were no significant side effects.

    * Fungal Infection of the Toenails

      A randomized, controlled trial published in the Journal of Family Practice looked at the twice-daily application of 100% tea tree oil or 1% clotrimazole solution (a topical antifungal medication) in 177 people with toenail fungal infection. After 6 months, the tea tree oil was found to be as effective as the topical antifungal, based on clinical assessment and toenail cultures.

      Another randomized, controlled trial examined the effectiveness and safety of a cream containing 5% tea tree oil and 2% butenafine hydrochloride in 60 people with toenail fungal infection. After 16 weeks, 80% of people using the cream had significant improvement compared to none in the placebo group. Side effects included mild inflammation.

      A third double-blind study looked at 100% tea tree oil compared with a topical antifungal, clotrimazole, in 112 people with fungal infections of the toenails. The tea tree oil was as effective as the antifungal.

    * Acne

      A single-blind randomized trial by the Department of Dermatology at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia compared the effectiveness and tolerance of 5% tea tree oil gel with 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion in 124 people with mild to moderate acne. People in both groups had a significant reduction in inflamed and non-inflammed acne lesions (open and closed comedones) over the three month period, although tea tree oil was less effective than benzoyl peroxide.

      Although the tea tree oil took longer to work initially, there were fewer side effects with tea tree oil. In the benzoyl peroxide group, 79 percent of people had side effects including itching, stinging, burning, and dryness. Researchers noted that there were far less side effects in the tea tree oil group.

    * Dandruff

      A single-blind study examined the use of 5% tea tree oil shampoo or placebo in 126 people with mild to moderate dandruff. After 4 weeks, the tea tree oil shampoo significantly reduced symptoms of dandruff.

Safety Concerns

One study shows that tea tree oil may alter hormone levels. There have been three case reports of topical tea tree oil products causing unexplained breast enlargement in boys. People with hormone-sensitive cancers or pregnant or nursing women should avoid tea tree oil. For more information, read Lavender and Tea Tree Oils Linked to Breast Enlargement in Boys.

Occasionally, people may have allergic reactions to tea tree oil, ranging from mild contact dermatitis to severe blisters and rashes.

Undiluted tea tree oil may cause skin irritation, redness, blistering, and itching.

Tea tree oil should not be taken internally, even in small quantities. It can cause impaired immune function, diarrhea, and potentially fatal central nervous system depression (excessive drowsiness, sleepiness, confusion, coma).

The tea tree oil in commercial toothpastes and mouthwashes is generally considered to be acceptable because it is not swallowed. Avoid homemade tea tree oil mouthwashes.

Seek medical attention if you experience symptoms of overdose: excessive drowsiness, sleepiness, poor coordination, diarrhea, vomiting.

 

Don’t use tea tree oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

 

Keep tea tree oil out of the reach of children and pets.

Scientists Unveil Brain Area Involved In Alert Status Control

JERUSALEM –  Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have gained fresh insights into how anaesthesia and anaesthesia-like states are controlled in the brain, opening the door to possible new future treatments of various states of loss of consciousness, such as reversible coma.

Marshall Devor, the Cecile and Seymour Alpert Professor of Pain Research, graduate student Ruth Abulafia and research associate Dr. Vladimir Zalkind say that they have basically discovered a brain area that participates in the control of “alert status”.

Their findings suggest that a small group of neurons near the base of the brain, in the mesopontine tegmentum, has executive control over the alert status of the entire cerebrum and spinal cord, and can generate loss of pain sensation, postural collapse, and loss of consciousness through specific neural circuitry.hey came to this conclusion after observing that microinjection of tiny quantities of certain anaesthetic drugs into this newly discovered “centre of consciousness” in laboratory rats induced a profound suppressive effect on the activity of the cerebral cortex.

The researchers admit that it is not certain that their findings will translate reliably from rats to man.

They, however, insist that in case their findings do replicate in man, the new knowledge could contribute to the ability of medical science to treat disorders of consciousness and its loss, such as insomnia, excessive sleepiness and even coma.

Perhaps by direct electrical stimulation of the cells in question, it might prove possible to arouse a patient from coma, say the researchers.

They further say that the discovery of a specific cluster of neurons that control the brain’s state of consciousness can be expected to lead to the beginnings of an understanding of the actual wiring diagram that permits a biological machine, the brain, to be conscious.

A research article describing their study has been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Chocolate, Water Can Melt Away Your Pain

WASHINGTON – Eating chocolate or drinking water can relieve aches and pains, a new study has shown.

A team of researchers says the distraction of eating or drinking for pleasure acts as a natural painkiller.

Although the findings come from studies on animals, the scientists believe the same effect takes place in people.

The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience by authors Peggy Mason, PhD, professor of neurobiology, and Hayley Foo, PhD, research associate professor of neurobiology at the University of Chicago, is the first to demonstrate that this powerful painkilling effect occurs while the animals are ingesting food or liquid even in the absence of appetite.

“It’s a strong, strong effect, but it’s not about hunger or appetite,” Mason said.

“If you have all this food in front of you that’s easily available to reach out and get, you’re not going to stop eating, for basically almost any reason,” the expert added.

In the experiments, rats were given either a chocolate chip to eat or had sugar water or regular water infused directly into their mouth. As the rat swallowed the chocolate or fluid, a light-bulb beneath the cage was switched on, providing a heat stimulus that normally caused the animal to lift its paw off the floor.

Mason and Foo found that rats were much slower to raise their paw while eating or drinking, compared to tests conducted while they were awake, but not eating.

Surprisingly, the researchers found no difference in the delayed paw-lift response between when the rat was eating chocolate and when it was drinking water, despite previous research indicating that only sugary substances were protective against pain.

“This really shows it has nothing to do with calories,” Mason said. “Water has no calories, saccharine has no sugar, but both have the same effect as achocolate chip. It’s really shocking.”

Mason and Foo then repeated the heat test as the rats were given quinine, a bitter drink that causes rats to make an expression called a gape that’s akin to a child’s expression of “yuck.” During quinine administration, the rats reacted to heat as quickly as when not eating, suggesting that a non-pleasurable food or drink fails to trigger pain relief.

The context of ingesting was also important to whether eating or drinking blunted pain, the researchers found. When rats were made ill by a drug treatment,eating chocolate no longer delayed their response. However, drinking water still caused a reduced pain response, indicating that drinking water was considered a positive experience while ill.

By selectively inactivating a region in the brainstem called the raphe mangus – an area previously shown to blunt pain during sleep and urination – Mason and Foo were able to remove the effect of drinking water on the rat’s pain response. The brainstem controls subconscious responses such as breathing and perspiration during exercise.

“You’re essentially at the mercy of your brainstem, and the raphe magnus is part of that,” Mason said. “It tells you, ‘you’re going to finish eating this, whether you like it or not,’ just like you sweat while running whether you like it or not.”

 

In the wild, Mason said, rats and other animals would not want to be distracted during the rare but important times that they were able to eat or drink. Therefore, the activation of the raphe magnus during eating or drinking would allow the rat to filter out distractions until their meal was completed. For obvious reasons, this naturalpain relief would be activated when an animal is eating or drinking something pleasurable, but not when it tastes something that could be toxic or harmful.

Alcohol Protects Accident Victims from Distress

SYDNEY – Moderate alcohol consumption is likely to protect accident victims from post-traumatic psychological distress, says a new study.

The study assessed 1,045 patients hospitalised after traumatic injury, for patterns of alcohol consumption before and three months after the accident.

This was compared with the level of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) one week after the accident and at three months.

Researchers from University of Adelaide (U-A) found that moderate alcohol consumption before and after the accident predicted lower levels of psychological distress.

Conversely, both abstinence from alcohol and high levels of drinking produced poorer mental health outcomes.

“Rather than suggesting abstinence following exposure to traumatic events…, the importance of moderate drinking should be emphasised as this behaviour may have some benefit in minimising distress,” says Alexander McFarlane, professor at U-A, who led the study.

A small group of patients showed a link between more severe PSTD and the emergence of alcohol abuse, suggesting “self-medication”, says an U-A release.

These findings have been published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.