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Tuesday
Jul222014

New Study: Holistic exercise benefits dementia patients. 

Holistic exercise found to benefit those suffering from dementia.Many studies in the last 2 years have found a link in between physical activity and mental fortitude, even going so far as to show that many of those suffering from diseases of mental degredation can stave off many symptoms by adopting a physically and mentally active regimen. Now, in a new study findings show that patients with dementia can benefit from a holistic exercise program. 

From Psychology Central 

Dementia is a persistent syndrome that tends to get worse over time — affecting memory, thinking, and behavior. It is distinct from Alzheimer’s in that Alzheimer’s is a specific disease, but general dementia can stem from a variety of unrelated brain illnesses.

Natural and holistic remedies are gaining in popularity as they continue to prove themselves capable of offering relief to sufferers of mental ailments. The knowledge that the body is a whole system (not just a group of unrelated parts) is growing in popularity, and people are noticing that when one part of the body becomes ill, it affects all the rest. And when the whole body is strong, the parts don’t break down as easily or as often. 

In fact, a new study, published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, suggests that patients with dementia can benefit from a holistic exercise program. By combining the elements of yoga, tai chi, qigong and meditation, researchers from Teesside University in the U.K. helped dementia patients improve memory recall in certain areas and enjoy themselves as well.

For the study, fifteen dementia patients (ages 52 to 86), five caregivers, and two volunteers participated in the ‘Happy Antics’ program — a holistic exercise class that targets the whole patient: emotionally, intellectually, socially, and spiritually. The classes began with mental activities followed by a holistic exercise program with elements of tai chi, yoga, qigong, and dance. The class ended with a guided meditation that focused on breathing and mindful awareness.

All participants reported that they enjoyed the classes and looked forward to them. They also felt like the sessions offered social benefits. Some patients reported feeling greater relaxation and pain relief. For some participants, the exercises felt “empowering.”

By the sixth session, even though dementia patients could not remember what had occurred during the previous class, six participants were able to anticipate the physical movements that went along with specific music. Three patients remembered the whole sequence, said researcher Yvonne J-Lyn Khoo, BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, of the Health and Social Care Institute at Teesside University.

This suggests that a holistic exercise program has the potential to help maintain procedural memory — a type of automatic memory created through repetition.

Monday
Jul212014

Meta Study: Acupuncture found effective at reducing menopause symptoms. 

Acupuncture found to help reduce the symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes. A new meta analysis in Menopause indicates that acupuncture can affect the severity and frequency of hot flashes for women in natural menopause.  

From Science20.com

A search of previous studies uncovered 12 studies with 869 participants that met the specified inclusion criteria to be included in this current study. While the studies provided inconsistent findings on the effects of acupuncture on other menopause-related symptoms such as sleep problems, mood disturbances and sexual problems, they did conclude that acupuncture positively impacted both the frequency and severity of hot flashes.

Women experiencing natural menopause and aged between 40 and 60 years were included in the analysis, which evaluated the effects of various forms of acupuncture, including traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture (TCMA), acupressure, electroacupuncture, laser acupuncture and ear acupuncture.

Interestingly, neither the effect on hot flash frequency or severity appeared to be linked to the number of treatment doses, number of sessions or duration of treatment. However, the findings showed that sham acupuncture could induce a treatment effect comparable with that of true acupuncture for the reduction of hot flash frequency. The effects on hot flashes were shown to be maintained for as long as three months.

Although the study stopped short of explaining the exact mechanism underlying the effects of acupuncture on hot flashes, a theory was proposed to suggest that acupuncture caused a reduction in the concentration of β-endorphin in the hypothalamus, resulting from low concentrations of estrogen. These lower levels could trigger the release of CGRP, which affects thermoregulation.

"More than anything, this review indicates that there is still much to be learned relative to the causes and treatments of menopausal hot flashes," says NAMS executive director Margery Gass, MD. "The review suggests that acupuncture may be an effective alternative for reducing hot flashes, especially for those women seeking non- pharmacologic therapies."

A recent review indicated that approximately half of women experiencing menopause-associated symptoms use complementary and alternative medicine therapy, instead of pharmacologic therapies, for managing their menopausal symptoms.

Wednesday
Jul092014

How dirt our food is grown in affects our micro biome, and can be key to our health. 

A recent article found HERE outlines how the dirt our food is grown in affects more that just our food's nutrients.

Using DNA sequencing technology, agronomists at Washington State University haverecently established that soil teeming with a wide diversity of life (especially bacteria, fungi, and nematodes) is more likely to produce nutrient-dense food. Of course, this makes sense when you understand that it is the cooperation between bacteria, fungi, and plants’ roots (collectively referred to as the rhizosphere) that is responsible for transferring carbon and nutrients from the soil to the plant—and eventually to our plates.

Given this nutrient flow from soil microbes to us, how can we boost and diversify life in the soil? Studies consistently show that ecological farming consistently produces a greater microbial biomass and diversity than conventional farming. Ecological farming (or eco-farming, as my farmer friends call it) includes many systems (biodynamic, regenerative, permaculture, full-cycle, etc.) that share core holistic tenets: protecting topsoil with cover crops and minimal plowing, rotating crops, conserving water, limiting the use of chemicals (synthetic or natural), and recycling all animal and vegetable waste back into the land. Much of this research supports what traditional farmers around the world have long known to be true: the more ecologically we farm, the more nutrients we harvest.

Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford who studies how our environment influences our microbiome, told me that the findings from this nori study are, most likely, just the tip of the iceberg. He believes that we’ll continue to discover ways that the microbes in soil and oceans are interacting with our microbiome and playing a huge role in our health.

 

Read the full article here: http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/how-to-eat-like-our-lives-depend-on-it/how-dirt-heals-us

 

Friday
Jul042014

New Study: Tai Chi shows link to slowing down the aging process. 

A new study finds that Tai Chi can literally help raise the numbers of stem cells in the body, the cells important to your body's natural process of longevity. 

from the Huffington Post

A new study published in Cell Transplantation found that Tai Chi can help raise the numbers of a stem cell -- CD34 cells -- important to a number of the body's functions and structures.

To evaluate the potential life-lengthening effect of Tai Chi, researchers conducted a year-long study comparing the rejuvenating and anti-aging effects among three groups of volunteers under age 25 who engaged in either Tai Chi, brisk walking or no exercise at all.

"We used young volunteers because they have better cell-renewing abilities than the old population and we also wanted to avoid having chronic diseases and medications as interfering factors," said study author Dr. Shinn-Zong Lin of the China Medical University Hospital, Taiwan, in a release.

According to the study's authors, Tai Chi "has been confirmed to benefit" patients with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease and fibromyalgia. In addition, Tai Chi also appears to help with balance, blood pressure and stress reduction.

The new study found that those who practiced Tai Chi enjoyed a significantly higher number of CD34 cells than those in the other groups.

"This study provides the first step into providing scientific evidence for the possible health benefits of Tai Chi." said Dr. Paul R. Sanberg of the University of South Florida, Tampa, in a release. "Further study of how Tai Chi can elicit benefit in different populations and on different parameters of aging are necessary to determine its full impact."

Yet over the years, many studies have linked Tai Chi with various health benefits.

For example, one study from 2012 found that Tai Chi can give your memory a boost. Indeed scientists found that elderly Chinese people who practiced Tai Chi just three times a week for eight months performed better on memory tests than those who didn't do Tai Chi.

Still another study from 2012 -- this one involving people with Parkinson's -- found that Tai Chi improved balance and lowered the risk of falls.

Tai Chi, which originated over 2,000 years ago in China, emphasizes breathingand involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner.

Thursday
Jul032014

Scientists getting closer to discovering development path for obesity prevention drugs. 

Scientists are closing in on the specific paths of the body and chemicals that cause the onset of obesity, with hopes to develop new drugs to combat it.

From API:  

The scientists are working with a special protein called FFA4, which is found in the cell membranes in intestines, immune cells and fat, and can stimulate different physiological activities such as the production of appetite controlling hormones and hormones that control the intestinal uptake of food.

The protein is activated by long-chain free fatty acids released from the food such as omega-3 fatty acids. When this happens, it releases hormones that inhibit our appetite and increase sugar uptake from the blood.

Bharat Shimpukade from the University of Southern Denmark explained that in some people this protein is not activated and they have a much higher risk of becoming obese, as the protein is involved in hormone secretion and regulation of inflammation and insulin sensitivity.

Shimpukade said that they want to find a way to activate this protein, as that may help them to develop a drug against obesity or diabetes, but there is almost an infinite number of possible molecules that we can synthesize, and it is extremely time consuming to test molecules randomly for their possible ability to activate this particular protein.

He had been looking for a couple of months now, and hopes to be able to continue till he finds the perfect molecule that can lead to a new cure, added Shimpukade, who had been working with Professor Trond Ulven from the same University and colleagues from University of Glasgow on the study.

The research paper is published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Wednesday
Jul022014

Kids on Mediterranean Diet found to be 15% less likely to become obese. 

A new study has shown that children consuming a diet more in line with the rules of the Mediterranean one are 15 percent less likely to be overweight or obese than those children who do not.

The research, presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO)in Sofia, Bulgaria, is by DrGianluca Tognon, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden, and colleagues across the 8 countries: Sweden, Germany, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Belgium, Estonia and Hungary.

The researchers used data from the IDEFICS study (Identification and Prevention of Dietary - and lifestyle - induced health effects in Children and infantS), funded by the European Commission. Weight, height, waist circumference, and percent body fat mass were measured in children from these eight countries.

The parents of these children were interviewed by means of a questionnaire specifically designed for the IDEFICS study and enquiring about the consumption frequency of 43 foods. Additional dietary data have been complemented by a telephone interview performed on a sub-sample of parents.

The adherence to a Mediterranean-like diet was assessed by a score calculating by giving one point for high intakes of each food group which was considered typical of the Mediterranean diet (vegetables, fruit and nuts, fish and cereal grains), as well as one point for low intakes of foods untypical of the Mediterranean diet (such as dairy and meat products). High scoring children were then considered high-adherent and compared to the others.

 

Interestingly, the prevalence of high adherence to a Mediterranean-like diet was found to be independent of the geographical distribution, with the Swedish children scoring the highest (followed by the Italians) and the children from Cyprus scoring the lowest.

Tuesday
Jul012014

New Study: Acupuncture shown to help treat depression

 A flood of studies have been coming to light with results that find Acupuncture as an effective treatment for depression. With the anti-depression drugs shown to have so many negative side effects, many are turning to this as a safer initial alternative to gauge effectiveness. 

From the Scientific American

A study published last fall in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicinefound that electroacupuncture—in which a mild electric current is transmitted through the needles—was just as effective as fluoxetine (the generic name of Prozac) in reducing symptoms of depression. For six weeks, patients underwent either electroacupuncture five times weekly or a standard daily dose of fluoxetine. The researchers, the majority of whom specialize in traditional Chinese medicine, assessed participants' symptoms every two weeks and tracked their levels of glial cell line–derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), a neuroprotective protein. Previous studies have found lower amounts of GDNF among patients with major depressive disorder, and in other research levels of the protein rose after treatment with antidepressant medication.

After six weeks, both groups showed a similar improvement in symptoms, and both treatments restored GDNF to a normal concentration. But the acupuncture began to work faster, reducing symptoms more dramatically at weeks two and four than the drug did. Among the patients who got better, a higher percentage of the acupuncture recipients showed “great improvement.”

Another study suggests that acupuncture may help with one particularly difficult aspect of depression treatment: the sexual side effects of some medications. Twelve weeks of acupuncture helped both men and women with several aspects of sexual functioning, according to the work, also in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. These findings add to a growing body of research suggesting acupuncture may be useful for a variety of ailments, including chronic pain, anxiety and nausea.

Read the full article here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-acupuncture-treat-depression/

Monday
Jun302014

Alternative Medicine: Bee venom acupuncture may show promise in helping ease Parkinson's Disease symptoms. 

 A bit of news in alternative medicine and acupuncture just crossed our desk. Recent study into the effect of bee venom on inflammation in nerve cells has shown some promise in improving symptoms in those with Parkinson's disease. This is a fresh, small study but we will be looking for more information as time goes on and it is available. 

From Web MD

Both acupuncture and bee-venom acupuncture improved symptoms in people with Parkinson’s disease, a small study shows.

Acupuncture has been used for years in Asia to relieve Parkinson’s symptoms. Early studies show it may help protect nerve cells like the ones the disease destroys. Researchers have also been looking into bee venom’s ability to ease inflammation in nerve cells. This is one of the first studies to test whether acupuncture and bee-venom acupuncture can help Parkinson’s.

Many of the symptoms from Parkinson’s develop when brain cells that make the brain chemical dopamine are destroyed. Why this happens isn’t clear.

Researcher Seong-Uk Park, MD, says acupuncture may help by increasing dopamine levels. Acupuncture may also enhance the effects of the Parkinson’s drug L-dopa and lessen the drug’s side effects, he says. Park is with the Stroke and Neurological Disorders Center, Kyung Hee University Hospital, Gangdong, Seoul, Korea.

The study's results are important, as 70% of people in some countries use complementary therapies to help treat Parkinson’s disease, says Louis Tan, MD. Tan is with the National Neuroscience Institute in Singapore and was not involved in the study.

Read the full article here: http://www.webmd.com/parkinsons-disease/news/20140618/bee-venom-acupunture-parkinsons