The rosary – yoga what’s the link?

Rhythmic prayer, such as saying the rosary, seems to affect the heart rate
in the same way as doing yoga.
Research on the health benefits of prayer has shown decidedly mixed
results. When individuals pray in a ritualistic or rhythmic way, such as
saying the rosary or repeating a mantra, they can lower their heart rate.
In fact, one study showed that the cardiovascular effects of rhythmic
prayer are similar to that of doing yoga. Studies on the effects of
intercessory prayer — that is, prayer for other people — show less
optimistic results. One study even showed that people who received
intercessory prayer from other people were more likely to suffer
post-surgery complications.

“Addiction related to brain wiring”

Scientists pinpoint the brain circuitry linked to making healthy or unhealthy choices

(Medical Xpress) — What drives addicts to repeatedly choose drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, overeating, gambling or kleptomania, despite the risks involved?
Drug Dependence Quiz – Identify substance abuse problems Confidential, free online survey –

Neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have pinpointed the exact locations in the brain where calculations are made that can result in addictive and compulsive behavior.

UC Berkeley researchers have found how neural activity in the brain’s orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortex regulates our choices. These astonishing new findings could pave the way for more targeted treatments for everything from drug and alcohol abuse to obsessive-compulsive disorders.

‘The better we understand our decision-making brain circuitry, the better we can target treatment, whether it’s pharmaceutical, behavioral or deep brain stimulation,” said Jonathan Wallis, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley and the principal investigator of the study to be published in the Oct. 30 online issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Wallis was inspired to look into the brain mechanism behind substance abuse when he observed the lengths to which addicts will go to fulfill their cravings, despite the downside of their habit: He asked, “What has the drug done to their brains that makes it so difficult for them not to make that choice? What is preventing them from making the healthier choice?”

In the new study, he and fellow researchers targeted the orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex –- two areas in the frontal brain — because previous research has shown that patients with damage to these areas of the brain are impaired in the choices they make. While these individuals may appear perfectly normal on the surface, they routinely make decisions that create chaos in their lives. A similar dynamic has been observed in chronic drug addicts, alcoholics and people with obsessive-compulsive tendencies.”

“Life +death- adult brain cell”

Knoth et al. as reported in PLoS One has been able to study the growth and death of adult human brain cells (neurogenesis). He uses the double cortin (DCX), a protein involved in cell movement and the extension of neuronal processes.
His study focused on the hippocampal cells included a large number of subjects between 0 to 100 years of age. It is believed that  neurogenesis declines with age in both man, rodents and other primates.
The hippocampus is part of the limbic system(emotional center) and plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation. Change in the growth rate of these cells can profoundly affect memory, learning, recall of information and emotional well being.

The cell marker DCX found that  DCX+ cells decreased with age and there seems to be about a tenfold decrease from puberty to old age.

Morphology of DCX+ cells observed by Knoth et al.ranging from immature (lt) to mature cell (rt)
The oldest age at which DCX+ cells were still found to be proliferating depended on which endogenous marker of proliferation was used (Ki67 – 38yr, Mcm2 – 65yr, PCNA – oldest age). It is possible that major proliferation of hippocampal cells ends in middle age and that DCX+ cells found in the oldest subjects are the result of a very slow cellular maturation process.

Possibly there is a wide variance in human brain tissue that may or may not be age dependent, but if the research was ex[anded to include more seniors that lead a healthy active life style and were well hydrated these cells may not decrease has rapidly.
Does brain cell proliferation occur in old age more slowly? Much more work is needed.
Could this be a help to changing the aging of the human brain? Time will tell.

What do you think?
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“Want fried glucose in your brain?”

Do you want to serve yourself up some” fried glucose” in your brain? Just use your cell phone for 50 minutes at a time while holding it against your ear. The brain glucose metabolism in the region closest to the phone’s antenna is effected.

What is glucose?   Glucose, blood sugar, the major energy source for brain energy enters the brain from the arterial side and is absorbed by astrocytes, which then transform glucose to lactate. Lactate exchange occurs with neurons, which oxidize it to CO2 and H2O drained by the venous blood. The increase in lactate levels and the uncoupling between oxygen consumption and glucose uptake revealed by PET at the early stages of activation, cause lactate fluxes between astrocytes and neurons.

When you hold a cell phone to your ear in an on position for 50 minutes or more it changes the way glucose moves through the brain cells. The area begins to heat only after 5 minutes and changes the biochemistry as proven by PET scans.
During cell phone use in the on and then off positions and found that although whole-brain metabolism was not affected, metabolism was increased in the orbitofrontal cortex and the temporal pole areas of the brain while the cell phone was on, areas that are close to where phone’s antenna meets the head.(brain energy metabolism).
Blood-borne glucose is the brain’s fuel and is needed to supply the moment-to-moment changes in energy demand during information processing, the local rates of blood flow and glucose utilization are closely linked to the activities of brain cells. Because the blood-brain barrier restricts transfer of material from blood into brain, many compounds that are readily metabolized by cultured brain cells or brain slices, including lactate, cannot be transported into adult brain in vivo in sufficient quantities to compensate for inadequate levels of glucose and support the brain’s high and continuous energy demand.
Nora D. Volkow, MD, from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, Maryland Hands-free devices or speaker-phone mode should be used to avoid direct contact of the telephone with the head. Previous work suggests that if the phone is a foot or more away it is very unlikely to have any effects, she said.
Caution may be particularly necessary for children and adolescents whose neural tissue is still developing, Dr. Volkow noted.

Other studies have shown that the effects of radio frequency-modulated electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs), particularly carcinogenic effects show some relationship between cell phones and the risk of brain tumor development.
Dr. Volkow’s studies over the past 15 years have shown:

  •  the the brain’s function is affected by brain imaging technologies, including PET and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) these magnetic fields affect brain glucose metabolism,
  •  static magnetic field of a 4-T MRI does not affect brain metabolism
  • when magnetic fields were changed rapidly, which produces electrical currents, there was a significant increase in glucose metabolism in the brain. They wondered whether the RF-EMFs produced by cell phones might do the same thing.

 metabolism in the regions closest to the antenna, the orbitofrontal cortex (the thinking and decision-making area of the  brain) and temporal pole (part of the temporal lobe). The temporal lobe is involved in auditory perception and is home to the primary auditory cortex. It is also important for the processing of semantics in both speech and vision. The temporal lobe contains the hippocampus and plays a key role in the formation of long-term memory. was significantly higher when the cell phone was on.
Henry Lai, PhD, from the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Washington, Seattle, and Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD, from the Department of Oncology at University Hospital, Orebro, Sweden, point out that this is the first investigation in humans of glucose metabolism in the brain after cell phone use.
”The results by Volkow et al add to the concern about possible acute and long-term health effects of radiofrequency emissions from wireless phones, including both mobile and cordless desktop phones,” they write.
”Although the biological significance, if any, of increased glucose metabolism from acute cell phone exposure is unknown, the results warrant further investigation.
The effects are unlikely to be mediated by the substantial increase in temperature seen with cell phones given the activation was “quite distant” from where the cell phone made contact, they speculate. Further, since the subjects were only listening rather than talking on the phone, “the effect observed could thus potentially be more pronounced in normal-use situations.”
Another major concern is the effects of unmonitored cell phone towers that spider web across the US each one producing many thousands of times higher EMF’s radiation than a cell phone.
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“Rx for success”

If they walk like a duck
If they quack like a duck
They must be ducks.
Once again hasty generalization is not valid.

What turns a dummy pill into a catalyst for relieving pain, anxiety, depression, sexual dysfunction, or the tremors of Parkinson’s disease? The brain’s own healing mechanisms, unleashed by the belief that a phony medication is the real thing. The most important ingredient in any placebo is the doctor’s bedside manner, but according to research, the color of a tablet can boost the effectiveness even of genuine meds—or help convince a patient that a placebo is a potent remedy.—Steve Silberman

Researchers at the University of California published in the October issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.a review of a 167 placebo-controlled trials published in peer-reviewed medical journals in 2008 and 2009 and found that 92 percent of those trials never even described the ingredients of their placebo pills.

There are no regulations govern placebo composition. The composition of placebos can in randomized, placebo-controlled trials. Reviewers independently abstracted data from the introduction and methods sections of identified articles, recording treatment type (pill, injection, or other) and whether placebo composition was stated. They found that most studies disclosure was less common for pills than for injections and other treatments (8.2% vs. 26.7%; P = 0.002). Placebos were seldom described in randomized, controlled trials of pills or capsules. Because the nature of the placebo can influence trial outcomes, placebo formulation should be disclosed in reports of placebo-controlled trials.
Why is this important. The fact that “modern medical research” claims that their system of drugs is better and safer for patients then homeopathy, herbs, or acupuncture, because they have run double and triple blind studies using placebos to measure the effectiveness of the trial medicine.
What they have not done is standardize what is in the placebos. Why? It was considered unimportant and the less attention given to individuals getting better on something other than the test drug was baffling and down right bad for Big Pharm business.

A placebo may contain sugar or olive oil or salt or some liquid for all the patients know, but they may outperform the trial drug. Why? The placebo or healing response works best when the patient or tester spends quality time with a health professional before the trial begins.

Yes, consistently placebo + human caring + hope +belief = better results with or without the trial drug even over extended periods of time.

So healing of the body begins in the mind of the patient and is accelerated when the practitioner explains and shares his support and expertise with the patient.  People caring for people is the key to success in life, love and healing.

This is very important for another reason too-the patients put their hopes and faith in the test that they will be helped. The mindset of the person can be giving better results than the test drug. The placebo could also potentially harm the individual as well.
Primary Funding Source: University of California Foundation Fund 3929—Medical Reasoning.
University of California Foundation Fund 3929–Medical Reasoning. The manuscript was revised while Dr. Howick was a recipient of a Medical Research Council/Economic and Social Research Council Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellowship (G0800055).
Published their findings in the October issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine

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"Work as a team? = Progress in Alzheimer’s research"

What was that word you used?

My Mother always taught us to share, care and respectfully work together. She said that there is strength in number.

Seems that this is true in medical research as well.  Yes, in the land where no one shared data unless they were close trusted collegues.  Sometimes necessity and the overwhelming enormity of the project creates the perfect opportunity to do as mother taught us so many years ago. Continue reading “"Work as a team? = Progress in Alzheimer’s research"”

“Ashwagandha helps calm nerves and improve brain funtioning”

Ashwaganda, also known as Indian Ginseng, has been used for centuries for anxiety, cognitive and neurological disorders and inflammation. It is high in antioxidants.Ashwaganda is also used therapeutically for patients with nervous exhaustion, and debility due to stress. It is also used as an immune stimulant as it has been shown to prevent brain cell degeneration from chronic stress.
For centuries, Indian and African medicine have used it an anti-inflammatory, for fever relief, and against infectious disease. Many believe ashwagandha to be effective in stimulating the immune system. It also appears to inhibit swelling and aid memory and can act as a general health tonic.

A study done in 1991 at the Department of Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center indicated that extracts of ashwagandha had GABA-like activity. This may account for this herb’s anti-anxiety effects.
Ashwagandha is used in India to treat mental deficits in geriatric patients, including amnesia. Researchers from the University of Leipzig in Germany wanted to find out which neurotransmitters were influenced by ashwagandha. After injecting some of the chemicals in ashwagandha into rats, they later examined slices of their brain and found an increase in acetylcholine receptor activity. The researchers say, The drug-induced increase in acetylcholine receptor capacity might partly explain the cognition-enhancing and memory-improving effects of extracts from Withania somnifera [ashwagandha] observed in animals and humans.

A 2002 laboratory study indicated that ashwagandha stimulates the growth of axons and dendrites. A 2001 animal study showed ashwagandha had memory boosting ability. A 2000 study with rodents showed ashwagandha to have anti-anxiety and anti-depression effects. However, no clinical studies have been carried out to support its efficacy in humans.

Part of the Solanaceae or nightshade family as the tomato, Ashwaganda grows as a stout shrub that reaches a height of 170 cm (5.6 ft). Like the tomato which belongs to the same family, it bears yellow flowers and yellow-Orange to red Berry type fruit, though its fruit is berry-like in size and shape. It grows prolifically in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
In Ayurveda, ashwagandha extract is considered an adaptogen or a substance that helps to normalize physiological function of the body and mind. In Ayurveda, the fresh roots are sometimes boiled in milk, prior to drying, in order to leach out undesirable constituents. The berries are used as a substitute for rennet, to coagulate milk in cheese making.
It has sedating properties, but it has been also used for sexual vitality and as an adaptogen. Some herbalists refer to ashwagandha as Indian ginseng, since it is used in ayurvedic medicine in a way similar to that ginseng is used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Seven American and four Japanese firms have filed for grant of patents on formulations containing extracts of the herb Ashwagandha.


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"Remyelination of the spinal cord after injury may be a step closer"

Brain and spinal cord injuries may soon have a new treatment process that is natural and based on the individual’s own stem cells. Oligodendrocyte, precursor cells (OPCs), are  a type of cell found in the brain and nervous system that forms the coating around the nerve cells. These cells are formed during embryo formation in the ventricular zone of the neural tube (embryonic spinal cord), and the cells migrate outwards along the circumference of the tube, and then along its length. During this migration, OPCs actively seek axons around which they can wrap

their processes once they have differentiated into oligodendrocytes. Myelination, the process by which oligodendrocytes wrap their processes around nerve fibers, begins towards the end of embryonic development, and continues post-natally coating around the nerve cells.

These cells are formed during embryo formation in the ventricular zone of the neural tube (embryonic spinal cord), and the cells migrate outwards along the circumference of the tube, and then along its length. During this migration, OPCs actively seek axons around which they can wrap their processes once they have differentiated into oligodendrocytes. Myelination, the process by which oligodendrocytes wrap their processes around nerve fibers, begins towards the end of embryonic development, and continues postnatally.

Throughout their migration, these cells extend and retract filopodia-like processes to obtain cues from their surroundings. Upon coming into contact with neighboring OPCs. These hair or cilia like projections are withdrawn and then extended in the opposite direction. This seems to be a mutual repulsion mechanism which ensures that OPCs are evenly distributed along the length of the axons they will myelinate (coat). An axon is a long, slender extension of a nerve cell, or neuron, that conducts electrical impulses away from the neuron’s cell body

Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) comprise 5% of the cells in the adult brain, where they are the most proliferative cell present. They can generate both neurons and glial cells, making them an important stem cell population in the adult brain.
The bottom line is that this animal model with the injection of  hESC-OPCs cells has demonstrated that remyelination of the cervical injury site and the restoration of movement to the  limbs of these animals may help restore function in spinal cord injuries victims in the future.

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"Benedryl and its’ cousins maybe bad mojo for long term users"

“Researchers … conducted a six-year observational study, evaluating 1,652 Indianapolis area African-Americans over the age of 70 who had normal cognitive function when the study began … ‘[Taking one anticholinergic significantly increased an individual’s risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and taking two of these drugs doubled this risk.'” Reported in

Why were elderly people allowed to take part in this study?  It disappoints and angers me.

Over the counter (OTC) drugs like Benadryl (or Dimedrol in other countries), Dramamine, Excedrin PM, Nytol, Sominex, Tylenol PM, Midol PM and Advil PM and some Unisom products if used regularly can cause decreased brain function in those over 70 years of age.  Other anticholinergic prescription drugs, such as Paxil, Detrol, Demerol and Elavil are are made with the same antihistamine Diphenhydramine like their OTC cousins.

How do these drugs work?

These drugs, called anticholinergics, block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter. The body uses neurotransmitters to speed or slow the transmission of nerve signals throughout the brain and nervous system.

Despite Benedryl being one of the oldest antihistamines on the market it is more effective than even some of the latest prescription drugs. Consequently, it is frequently used when an allergic reaction requires fast, effective reversal of the often dangerous effects of a massive histamine release. Its active ingredient Diphenhydramine works by blocking the effect of histamine at H1 receptor sites. This results in effects such as the increase of vascular smooth muscle contraction, thus reducing the redness, hyperthermia and edema that occurs during an inflammatory reaction. In addition, by blocking the H1 receptor on peripheral nociceptors (pain receptors), diphenhydramine decreases their sensitization and thus reduces itching from an allergic reaction.

The effects of Diphenhydramine the active ingredient in many antihistamine compounds include:

  • Mouth/throat – dryness
  • Endocrine – change in appetite
  • Heart – increased heart rate (tachycardia or hypertension)
  • Liver – toxicity in very large doses
  • Brain/Memory/Nervous System –  profound drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, short-term memory loss, hallucinations, dizziness, irritability, delirium, motor impairment (ataxia), restlessness, restless leg syndrome, clouded thinking, difficult mood changes, twitching may be delayed until the drowsiness begins to cease, confusion
  • Vision-visual disturbances, abnormal sensitivity to bright light (photophobia), pupil dilation,  blurred vision at nearpoint owing to lack of accommodation (cycloplegia),  redness, dryness and yellowing of eyes
  • Respiration– irregular breathing, decreased respiration
  • Skin – itchy skin, decreased body temperature (generally in the hands and/or feet), flushing
  • Bladder/Bowel function – urinary retention, constipation, nausea, vaginal dryness,
  • Sexual -erectile dysfunction, excitability, decreased libido
  • Atypical sensations – sense of heaviness, hearing imbalances


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