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Tuesday
Oct212014

Army not ruling out alternative treatments for PTSD, advises all sufferers to continue therapies.

 Wynn, who is assistant chair, Department of Psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and a scientist at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, spoke today, at the Psychological Health and Resilience Summit at Defense Health Headquarters, Falls Church, Virginia. His topic was "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder."

 A survey of some 400 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans revealed that "by session eight, 70 percent were out the door," he said, adding that treatments typically take about 12 sessions. "They won't see the benefits if they don't stay."

 Staying in treatment is "even more important than what kind of treatment you give them," he added.

 Another word of advice from the doc: therapy "works better when you do it together with a partner." When patients stay in treatment, the healthful benefits have been shown to be longer lasting than those who skip out, and partnering with someone in treatment adds to the effectiveness.

From Army.mil 

Some alternative therapies to try: 

Think herbal remedies, mind and body "hands-on stuff," he said.

Do they work?

Some of them do, "but we're really not sure why," he admitted.

It's hard to get clinical trials with limited research dollars, he said. It's also hard to measure and track.

For instance, some have found Brazilian Jujitsu Therapy to be effective, Wynn said. But, just what types of moves and how many moves are needed for it to work are just two of many variables that would need to be controlled for, he said.

Aroma Therapy is another. It's effective in some "but we're not sure why." Homeopathy can be effective but it too is hard to test, he said.

So far, there have been very few studies on non-traditional treatments, he said.

However, that doesn't mean they should all be rejected out of hand. Again, more will be learned in time, he predicted.

Wynn himself said he advocates some of these non-traditional approaches. "Virtual reality is probably the most robust and very compelling" and as a bonus, more patients stay in treatment.

Besides Virtual Reality Therapy, Wynn said he often suggests yoga. "It definitely does no harm, but we're not sure of its specific mechanisms of helping." It seems to work though.

Acupuncture seems effective as well, he said, as is Art Therapy. 

Friday
Oct172014

New Study: The significance of evolution in the sleep cycle and how our sleep cycle is programmed.

 How did our sleep cycle originate? New study finds corrolation between simple organisms and humans in the way our sleep cycles function. 

From the New York Times: 

Scientists have long wondered how this powerful cycle got its start. A newstudy on melatonin hints that it evolved some 700 million years ago. The authors of the study propose that our nightly slumbers evolved from the rise and fall of our tiny oceangoing ancestors, as they swam up to the surface of the sea at twilight and then sank in a sleepy fall through the night.

Originally, the scientists argue, the day-night cycle was run by all-purpose cells that could catch light and make melatonin. But then the work was spread among specialized cells. The eyes now took care of capturing light, for example, while the pineal gland made melatonin.

The new study may also help explain how sleep cuts us off from the world. When we’re awake, signals from our eyes and other senses pass through the thalamus, a gateway in the brain. Melatonin shuts the thalamus down by causing its neurons to produce a regular rhythm of bursts. “They’re busy doing their own thing, so they can’t relay information to the rest of the brain,” Dr. Tosches said.

Read More: 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/02/science/the-evolution-of-sleep-700-million-years-of-melatonin.html?_r=1

Thursday
Oct162014

Bobbie Thomas: An experience in using Acupuncture, Cupping and more alternative therapies.

The Today Show's Bobbie Thomas has been chronicling her experiences with alternative treatments and IVF in her quest to have children.

At the recommendation of her doctor, Thomas is incorporating Eastern medicine to her routine, including cupping and acupuncture, in the hopes that it will improve her odds of becoming pregnant.

Read More: 

http://www.today.com/parents/acupuncture-cupping-what-bobbie-thomas-trying-help-her-pregnancy-quest-1D80136618

Wednesday
Oct152014

New Study: Loss of sense of basic smell linked to increased mortality rates. 

 You are more likely to die within five years if you cannot recognise common smells than if you have ever been diagnosed with a previous deadly illnesses such as cancer or lung disease according to a study from Martha McClintock and Jayant Pinto of the University of Chicago.

From the Economist: 

 Dr McClintock and Dr Pinto were prompted to conduct their investigation because they knew olfactory problems can forewarn of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. They are also associated with abnormally shortened telomeres (the caps on the ends of chromosomes), and that shortening is, in turn, implicated in the process of ageing. Moreover, a good sense of smell helps keep people healthy by detecting pathogens and toxins in the air, stimulating appetite, and aiding memory, emotions and intimacy. The researchers therefore had good reason to wonder if measuring smell loss might predict mortality.

As part of the National Social Life, Health and Ageing Project, a survey organised by the University of Chicago that measures the health and well-being of older Americans, 3,005 participants aged between 57 and 85 completed a three-minute smell test devised by Drs McClintock and Pinto. The survey’s researchers prepared special felt-tipped pens scented with five common odours—fish, leather, orange, peppermint and rose—and presented them one by one to volunteers. After each presentation, the volunteer was shown pictures and names of four possible answers, and was asked to select the correct one. Getting one answer wrong was considered okay, or “normosmic”, but two or three errors labelled a person as “hyposmic”, or smell-deficient, and four or five counted them as “anosmic”, or unable to smell.

Five years later, 430 of the respondents were dead.

Read More: http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21621702-low-olfactory-acuity-portends-curtailed-lifespan-scent-death

Tuesday
Oct142014

New Study: Positive link between exercise and breast cancer recovery and lower mortality rates. 

Lower mortality rate and higher rate of recover linked with exercise for breast cancer patients with yoga and tai chi high on the list of reccomended therapies for breast cancer patients.

“The largest study to date followed survivors over five years and found that one to two hours of brisk walking per week was associated with 40 percent lower risk of death overall compared with those who were less active,”

-Susan Brown, managing director of health and mission program education at Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Moderate-exercise-found-to-help-breast-cancer-5805452.php

Friday
Oct102014

First Blood Test to diagnose Major Depression in adults has been developed, but will it work?

The first blood test to diagnose major depression in adults has been developed by Northwestern Medicine® scientists, a breakthrough approach that provides the first objective, scientific diagnosis for depression. The test identifies depression by measuring the levels of nine RNA blood markers. RNA molecules are the messengers that interpret the DNA genetic code and carry out its instructions.

From Science News: 

The blood test also predicts who will benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy based on the behavior of some of the markers. This will provide the opportunity for more effective, individualized therapy for people with depression.

In addition, the test showed the biological effects of cognitive behavioral therapy, the first measurable, blood-based evidence of the therapy's success. The levels of markers changed in patients who had the therapy for 18 weeks and were no longer depressed.

The current method of diagnosing depression is subjective and based on non-specific symptoms such as poor mood, fatigue and change in appetite, all of which can apply to a large number of mental or physical problems. A diagnosis also relies on the patient's ability to report his symptoms and the physician's ability to interpret them. But depressed patients frequently underreport or inadequately describe their symptoms.

"Mental health has been where medicine was 100 years ago when physicians diagnosed illnesses or disorders based on symptoms," said co-lead author David Mohr, a professor of preventive medicine and director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Feinberg. "This study brings us much closer to having laboratory tests that can be used in diagnosis and treatment selection."

The new blood test will allow physicians for the first time to use lab tests to determine what treatments will be most useful for individual patients.

Thursday
Oct092014

Why aren't artificial sweeteners effective at weight loss? 

From Life Extension: 

For years, researches have wondered why non-caloric artificial sweeteners don’t help with weight loss. In fact, some studies have suggested that they do the opposite and cause weight gain. Determined to get to the bottom of the issue, researchers used mice to study the role of artificial sweeteners a bit more closely.

The scientists gave mice water laced with the tree most commonly used artificially sweeteners in amounts that were equivalent to those permitted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Surprisingly, they found that these mice developed glucose intolerance in comparison to mice that drink only water or even sugar water. They found the same result, even with different types of mice and different doses of the artificial sweeteners.

Intrigued by this fact, the scientists decided to see whether gut bacteria might be involved. The researchers first treated mice with antibiotics to eradicate many of their gut bacteria. This actually caused a full reversal of the artificial sweeteners’ effects on glucose metabolism. Then, they transferred the microbiota from mice that consumed artificial sweeteners to sterile mice; this resulted in a full transmission of the glucose intolerance.

What was more disturbing was when the researchers analyzed the microbiota in the affected mice a bit more closely. They found profound changes to the bacterial populations, including new microbial functions that are known to infer a propensity to obesity, diabetes and complications of these problems in both mice and humans.

But did this happen in humans, as well? The scientists turned to data collected from their Personalized Nutrition Project, the largest human trial to date to examine the connection between nutrition and microbiota. In the end, they found there was a significant association between self-reported consumption of artificial sweeteners, personal configurations of gut bacteria and the propensity for glucose intolerance.

“Our relationship with our own individual mix of gut bacteria is a huge factor in determining how the food we eat affects us,” said Eran Elinav, one of the researchers, in a news release. “Especially intriguing is the link between use of artificial sweeteners-through the bacteria in our guts-to a tendency to develop the very disorders they were designed to prevent; this calls for reassessment of today’s massive, unsupervised consumption of these substances.”

The findings are published in the journal Nature.

Tuesday
Oct072014

New Research: Artificial sweeteners linked to glucose intolerance, disrupting natural sugar control. 

Researchers say that in a recent study, subject's gut bacteria changed for those that consumed artificial sweeteners, leading to glucose intolerance, which disrupted the body's ability to control sugars. 

From the New York Times: 

Artificial sweeteners may disrupt the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, causing metabolic changes that can be a precursor to diabetes, researchers are reporting.

Previous studies on the health effects of artificial sweeteners have come to conflicting and confusing findings. Some found that they were associated with weight loss; others found the exact opposite, that people who drank diet soda actually weighed more.

Some found a correlation between artificial sweeteners and diabetes, but those findings were not entirely convincing: Those who switch to the products may already be overweight and prone to the disease.

While acknowledging that it is too early for broad or definitive conclusions, Dr. Elinav said he had already changed his own behavior.

“I’ve consumed very large amounts of coffee, and extensively used sweeteners, thinking like many other people that they are at least not harmful to me and perhaps even beneficial,” he said. “Given the surprising results that we got in our study, I made a personal preference to stop using them.

Read More: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/artificial-sweeteners-may-disrupt-bodys-blood-sugar-controls/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0