9 Learnings from 9 Years of Brain Pickings

Reflections on the rewards of seeking out what magnifies your spirit.

On October 23, 2006, Brain Pickings was born as an email to my seven colleagues at one of the four jobs I held while paying my way through college. Over the years that followed, the short weekly email became a tiny website updated every Friday, which became a tiny daily publication, which slowly grew, until this homegrown labor of love somehow ended up in the Library of Congress digital archive of “materials of historical importance” and Continue reading

Documentary Discusses Challenges in the Legalization of Marijuana

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CNN’s Sanjay Gupta makes the case for across the board legalization of medical marijuana in “Weed 3: The Marijuana Revolution” Continue reading

Starwood Hotels Signs Up with Private Health Insurance Exchange

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. has signed up with Towers Watson & Co. to offer health insurance plans to its 26,000 U.S. employees and dependents through Towers Watson’s private exchange, OneExchange.

Offering “OneExchange allows us to offer more choice in health care plans and carriers, Continue reading

A High-Fiber Diet Helps Boost Weight Loss


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Many do not get enough fiber, which may be another key component for effective weight loss. Ideally, you’ll want to get around 30 grams of fiber per day Continue reading

Eating Organic Exposes You to Fewer Pesticides


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The largest study of its kind found that people who “often or always” ate organic food had about 65 percent lower levels of pesticide residues compared to those who ate the least amount of organic produce Continue reading

Addiction to Junk Food: More than Meets the Eye

When it comes to processed food, excessive amounts of sugar and hydrogenated fats is the rule rather than the exception. It is no secret anymore that there is a very distinct thread linking the increased consumption of such foods, coupled with relentless advertising campaigns and the epidemic proportions of diabetes and obesity in all age groups on a global scale. Continue reading

Is Colon Cleansing Right For You?

We have all heard the cry “Cleanse Your Colon!” But do we really need to do this as much as certain people recommend? The reader will have to decide this for themselves. There are so many different colon cleanse program options out there that range from the simple to the complex and challenging. With all this information ot can be difficult to decide what to do and if this is really the right process for you. So what do you do about this?

There are many different ways to use a colon cleanse program. One of the simplest is simply to regulate your diet and get more fruits and vegetables into it and cut out the sugar, salt, white flour, processed foods and change to a more natural way of eating natural foods. It is just that simple. You will be surprised at the results from just a sensible diet change and not going through all these ridiculous programs that may do more harm than good for your body. While having a clean colon is vital, you do not need to go overboard with it.

You have to have at least one bowel movement per day in order to keep your system clean and that is the basis of many different types of colon cleanse program options that are available to you on the market. But can you honestly believe the hype about each type of program? Advertising and hype can make you believe that a program will do what it says, but there are some things to watch out for when taking this sort of thing for a clean colon.

Not all colon cleanse program ideas are safe or even viable for many people. Granted now and again your system may need a little help, but some of the program claims are just totally imaginative to say the very least and unfortunately some contain ingredients that can sacrifice your health if you do not know that they are there. Why pay someone for a program to cleanse your colon when you can do it yourself by using the diet described above? That is the true question here to deal with. Are these programs even safe to use?

It will depend on the colon cleanse program that you are taking a look at. One thing to do would be to consult your doctor or physician about these before taking them. They can better advise you on what would be the best to take or if just a simple thing as a dietary change would be the better idea for you. Many of these programs do have the right goal in mind, just go about it the wrong way and with herbs that really are not the safest in the world to use for all people. The old adage “when in doubt, check it out” still applies especially to something that you may be taking for colon cleaning.

Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure

People today want results quickly in all walks of life, and certainly that’s one reason why they are searching for fast ways to lower blood pressure. It’s also an important health issue and the sooner you can make progress then the less risk there is that you’re facing. Don’t worry though, because you won’t need medication or surgery to get the job done. The best fast ways to lower blood pressure usually just incorporate natural improvements to your lifestyle.

First of all, many people today have been seeking alternative health clinics for lower high blood pressure goals and results. This is because people are fed up with the general medical guidelines and taking drugs and all of that. Many people have seen great success by seeking out this kind of help once they have decided to go down that path, while many others never really make that leap into alternative care.

Many others have turned to various herbs or supplements to try to see results. From fish oil capsules to resveratrol supplements, there are many different solutions aimed at improving heart health and blood pressure. Some people swear by them but others don’t see the kind of results that they’d like. Whether or not you want to look into all of these solutions may depend on the kind of success or progress you see first by maintaining a healthy lifestyle in general.

For example, one of the best fast ways to lower blood pressure is simply by monitoring the foods that you eat. Blood pressure is a very quickly changed problem when approached properly, which makes it different from many other health problems or illnesses. You can make huge strides in just two weeks in some cases when you follow the right program.

You should learn how to construct a diet that’s healthy and contains the right kinds of foods. For one thing you will need to avoid junk foods, processed foods and anything fried. The main goal is to completely remove trans fats from your diet, reduce saturated fats as much as possible and also moderate sodium.

So that means you will want to eat lots of whole grains, fruits and veggies, legumes, nuts and beans. Easy changes can be made such as switching whole fat dairy foods into 1% or skim dairy products. Use lean cuts of meat and limit your meat intake in general to maybe once per week. Eat more fish such as salmon which contains healthy unsaturated fats, and also chicken which is lean and packed with protein.

There is not one single idea that works for everybody in terms of the fast ways to lower blood pressure. Changing diet is the most effective and the easiest for most people, but others prefer alternative health and treatment plans. Other people focus on exercise and basically getting into better shape which can also be very effective. Whatever it is that you do, learn how to do it and dive in and hopefully you see results sooner than later.


Treat A Yeast Infection The Natural Way

It’s difficult sometimes to find natural treatments that work. Especially when you need to find it fast. If you’re in need for a yeast infection treatment you’ll come across a lot of contradictory advice posted on the internet. No wonder when people get confused as to what really works. Also your doctor may reject natural treatments like many doctors do in general because they often only believe in conventional medication.

They will hide the actual fact that medication companies usually are liable to earn money. The things they tend to be not liable to would be to create pharmaceutical therapies which certainly tackle persons health issues. Most people are not alert to this. Nevertheless the moment they realize that they’re dismayed and as a result a lot more individuals will definitely give preference to healthful natural treatment plans.

The Benefits of Using Natural Treatments

Just one of the main positive aspects of organic candida treatment options is simply their risk-free application and the absence of unintended side effects influencing your body in any damaging way – contrary to standard prescriptions that may bring about undesirable secondary results that will grow the complications whilst covering up the real trigger. Right when you discontinue consuming the medication the yeast infection develops again.

The eradication of candida is complete practicable. All you may need is the right holistic medication. That nonetheless does not imply that all pure treatments are the suitable cure. That it is “natural” does not articulate anything with regards to usefulness. Besides, numerous supposed “biological” solutions are merely pledging to be natural and in fact they’re not. It has brought on lots of detrimental publicity to natural items recently. Yet highly effective and secure holistic candida albicans remedies are readily available. They are able to help to make Candida fade away definitely.

Anticipate every one of the tormenting signs and symptoms completely disappeared once and for all! Never again pain and itching that separates from living an unburdened life. Your own vitality will return once again and also will your healthy slumber. A good holistic remedy of the problem will improve your living straight away and there is nothing healthier you are able to do.

The Way Natural Treatments Will Help You

One advantage of healthy cures is the fact they not simply get rid of the particular symptoms but in addition the origins. Only combating the signs or symptoms like traditional prescriptions are employed to do may permit you to believe ease for that instant. The root of the dilemma nonetheless won’t be removed. If you don’t start using a cure which combats the true trigger of the fungus infection you by no means can not remove candidiasis.

Look at the importance of your eating habits in preventing your body from health difficulties. Most well being complications that will occur throughout your lifetime will be in some way triggered by your current eating habits as well as style of living. Thrush isn’t any exclusion. Thus changes which you come up with within your eating habits could be part of thein the natural cure. Some meals are usually extremely helpful within the procedure of treatment while others require to be prevented.

Yeast infection is going to affect your actual life in a really frustrating way. But yet you will have to refuse getting used to this irritation. In the end you will find a holistic medication which eliminates the yeast infection for good.

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.


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.

Bacteria With Tiny Projections Can Make Efficient Fuel Cells

BOSTON – A team of scientists has isolated bacteria with large numbers of tiny projections called pili, which were more efficient at transferring electrons to generate power in fuel cells than bacteria with a smooth surface.

The team was led by Professor Derek Lovley from the University of Massachusetts, US.

The researchers isolated a strain of Geobacter sulfurreducens, which they called KN400 that grew prolifically on the graphite anodes of fuel cells.

The bacteria formed a thick biofilm on the anode surface, which conducted electricity.

The researchers found large quantities of pilin, a protein that makes the tiny fibres that conduct electricity through the sticky biofilm.

“The filaments form microscopic projections called pili that act as microbial nanowires,” said Professor Lovley.

“Using this bacterial strain in a fuel cell to generate electricity would greatly increase the cell’s power output,” he added.

The pili on the bacteria’s surface seemed to be primarily for electrical conduction rather than to help them to attach to the anode. Mutant forms without pili were still able to stay attached.

Microbial fuel cells can be used in monitoring devices in environments where it is difficult to replace batteries if they fail, but to be successful, they need to have an efficient and long-lasting source of power.

According to Professor Lovley, G. sulfurreducens strain KN400 might be used in sensors placed on the ocean floor to monitor migration of turtles.

Seaweed Extract Hold Promise For Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

BERKELY – Seaweed extract may eventually emerge as a lymphoma treatment, according to laboratory research presented at the second AACR Dead Sea International Conference on Advances in Cancer Research.

Lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system and is classified into Hodgkin‘s and non-Hodgkin’s types, which are then further classified into B-cell and T-cell groups.

“Some forms of B-cell lymphoma are especially resistant to standard treatment and thus new therapies are needed,” said Mohammad Irhimeh, Ph.D., assistant professor of hematoncology and stem cells at the Hashemite University in Jordan. “In this study, we looked at a new treatment strategy using novel active compounds derived from a natural source seaweed.”

Seaweeds containing fucoidan, a sulfated polysaccharide similar to heparin in chemical structure, have been reported to have anti-tumor activity in mice and some cell lines.

For the current study, Irhimeh and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, and Royal Hobart Hospital in Australia treated lymphoma cell lines with a commercially available seaweed extract.

They found that the extract had an inhibitory effect on the growth of lymphoma cell lines, while leaving the control healthy cells intact. The researchers also noted a significant pattern of activity in the genes known to be linked with apoptosis, or cell death, in lymphoma.

Irhimeh said they would continue to study the mechanism of action for these biological effects and had a goal of conducting phase II or III clinical trials.