Monday, March 5, 2018

People who view themselves as healthy are less susceptible to the common cold


Bad news for hypochondriacs - people who believe they are healthy are less susceptible to the common cold.

 If you think you're susceptible to getting the sniffles, chances are you're probably right.

A recent study found that people are better at assessing their own health than doctors might give them credit for.

Researchers asked 360 healthy adults to assess their health as excellent, very good, good, fair or poor.

They were then exposed to the common cold and monitored for five days to see if they got it.

The experiment found about a third of the participants, who had an average age of 33, went on to develop colds.

Those who rated their health as 'excellent' were twice less likely to develop a cold than those who were very good, good, or fair, scientists at investigators at Carnegie Mellon University found.

It suggests people who consider themselves to be very healthy have a stronger immune system than those who have some doubts.

In general, people who are optimistic are more likely to do things to take care of themselves. A positive attitude can cause a chain reaction of positive outcomes, thoughts, and events.


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Friday, February 16, 2018

Is using the power of your MIND the best way to beat chronic pain?


Dr Austin Leach, a consultant anaesthetist at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital who has run a pain clinic for more than 20 years, explains: ‘A lot of chronic pain is to do with what’s going on inside the patients’ heads.

‘Everything is integrated; body and mind. It’s not about just one medical fix for a physical problem — it’s also about the patient gaining a deeper understanding of the causes of their pain.’

Chronic pain is defined as continuous long-term pain that either lasts more than 12 weeks, or persists for an unusual length of time following trauma or surgery.

PAINKILLERS MAY ACTUALLY CAUSE PAIN

The mainstay treatment is normally painkillers.

However, a swathe of new studies shows that our most frequently used strong pain medications are not only ineffective for common conditions, they are also dangerous — and may even themselves cause chronic pain.

Last month, it was reported that opioid painkillers — prescription drugs that include morphine, tramadol and oxycodone — provide only ‘minimal benefit’ for lower back pain.

Prescribed to around 40 per cent of back pain patients, they do reduce pain, but not enough to be effective, according to a review of studies published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The same would be true for codeine — the mildest opioid, which is available over the counter — said the study leader Chris Maher, a professor of muscular disorders at the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney.

He also warned that, taken long-term, the drugs can have severe side-effects, including dizziness and falls, as well as deaths from overdose.

‘We know of no other medication routinely used for a non-fatal condition that kills patients so frequently,’ Professor Maher said.

Perhaps still more disturbingly, new evidence this month suggests that opioid drugs may actually cause chronic pain in patients prescribed them for short-term pain.

A study of rats, by neuroscientists at the University of Colorado Boulder in the U.S., showed that a short course of morphine can spark a chain reaction in the body’s immune system which makes it produce dangerous amounts of inflammatory proteins.

These cause nerve damage that can cause chronic pain.

The researchers warn in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that ‘prolonged pain is an unrealised and clinically concerning consequence of the abundant use of opioids in pain’.

Meanwhile, even paracetamol, which is frequently prescribed by GPs for chronic pain, is also being exposed as ineffective and dangerous.

In March, a study of more than 58,000 patients published in The Lancet concluded that it does little to ease hip and knee pain caused by osteoarthritis — paracetamol has been the main treatment for the joint condition.

Other research has shown that its long-term use is linked to heart, kidney and intestinal problems.

Prompted by such findings, NICE — the clinical guidelines watchdog — has advised doctors to stop prescribing the pills for long-term treatment of osteoarthritis.

And last month the authoritative U.S. body, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, advised doctors to try non-drug therapies for pain first.

Indeed, there is now plenty of research showing that the answer to chronic pain lies not with (ineffective and potentially harmful) drugs, but instead often inside our brains — and changing patients’ expectations about pain.

The potential of changed attitudes to alter pain levels was highlighted last month by a study at Julius-Maximilians University in Germany.

Psychologists subjected a group of male volunteers to heat stimuli via a band on their forearm, then asked them to rate the pain.

The next day, some volunteers were informed that men are more sensitive to pain than women; the others were told women were the more sensitive gender.

The experiment was then repeated. Those who had been told men were less sensitive rated their pain as much less intense than on the previous day.

Those told men were more sensitive now felt more pain, reported the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

As the psychologists explained, the effect of changes in attitude can actually be measured ‘physiologically’.

WORRYING ABOUT IT MAKES PAIN WORSE

‘Our work shows that being anxious or depressed can make pain worse,’ explains Professor Tracey.

‘Your beliefs can override the most powerful painkillers. In one experiment we told chronic pain patients we had stopped giving them a strong opioid, when actually we were still giving it — suddenly they said their pain levels were rising.’

Long-term negative beliefs may create a devastating spiral: the more anxious and depressed you become about your pain, the more you may physically rewire your brain so that it becomes hypersensitive.

As a result, even normal touch can piggyback on to the pain system, firing off widespread pain responses across the brain. ‘Even putting on clothes can cause burning sensations,’ says Professor Tracey.

Dr Leach sees similar cases in his pain clinic. ‘One patient came in who was convinced that his terrible back pain was cancer,’ he recalls.

‘After talking through his problems he realised that a relative’s recent death from cancer had convinced him of this. It was intensifying the pain in his mind.’ Understanding this helped to reduce his pain.

IS IT TIME TO TRY MEDITATION?

This understanding is central to the work of the specialist clinics that help patients trapped in chronic pain.

With psychologists, physiotherapists and doctors often on staff, these take a ‘biopsychosocial’ approach — combining biological, psychological and social factors.

But while treatment may include prescribing pain medication (for instance, stronger forms of pain relief such as nerve blocks) and specialist physiotherapy (to teach patients how to move with their pain), the psychology of pain and coping with it are also key.

Dr Amanda Williams, a reader in clinical health psychology at University College London, has worked in these clinics for 30 years, and much of her work involves changing patients’ attitudes.

‘If a person is under stress, they’re not going to manage their pain well. It is going to make it worse,’ she explains.

The traditional view that pain has only physical causes that require drugs can make patients resistant to psychological therapy.

‘When patients are told the answer is in their mind, too often they think they are being told they are faking or malingering,’ she says.

‘But many are relieved to hear there may be a psychological element to their pain, and are open to talking about their emotions.’

Unfortunately, as an audit of pain clinics sponsored by the British Pain Society concluded recently, provision of these services is patchy and waiting times are often 18 weeks.

This is a problem in itself, says Dr Leach. ‘Often by the time patients finally get seen, their pain syndrome has consolidated in their brains and is significantly harder to treat.’

Given this, Dr Williams believes GPs could be doing more.

‘It would be a help for GPs to teach patients to manage their pain early on by, for example, distracting themselves with something as simple as watching comedy programmes on TV.’

Another option is mindfulness meditation, where patients are taught to become aware of their breathing, thoughts and physical sensations and view them without judgement.

This can help people learn to stop fearful thoughts of pain running amok.

Two recent trials of more than 600 patients, published in the journal JAMA by the University of Pittsburgh and the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, showed that mindfulness meditation can help reduce chronic lower back pain.

LISTEN TO MUSIC AND DON’T SLOUCH

Pain stops people from moving. This sedentary behaviour may explain why people with chronic pain have a much higher level of cardiovascular disease and premature death from all causes.

However, movement also helps patients to reduce their pain by ‘unfreezing’ their bodies, as well as preventing them becoming isolated, another factor that feeds into the negative psychology of chronic pain.

To address this, experts such as Joanne Marley, a clinical specialist in physiotherapy at the University of Ulster, are developing exercise programmes for people with chronic pain.

The aim isn’t to make them athletes, but to make small steps that stop them being frozen by pain.

‘It’s about improving activity levels,’ she explains. ‘For some that may be simply getting out of bed in the morning and sitting down less during the day.

Getting patients to stand up and march on the spot every time the adverts come on the television can actually get them up to 3,000 steps a day.’

Researchers are discovering simple ways to trick pain-prone brains into calming down.

One of these is simply to stand straight: a boldly upright posture rather than weakly slouching actually makes you less pain-sensitive.

Research by the University of Southern California in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2011 shows that adopting more dominant poses makes people feel more able to handle pain.

Changing your language may also help. Brain scans by psychologists at Jena University in Germany found that words such as ‘tormenting’, ‘gruelling’ or ‘plaguing’ fire up the pain-processing areas in your brain.

Using more positive terms may dampen down the responses, suggests the study in the journal Pain in 2010.

You could try listening to classical music.

In 2011, researchers at York University reported in the journal Music and Medicine that listening to the complex melodies of Bach or Mozart is more effective at reducing pain levels than other sorts of music.


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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Feel younger than your age? It may help you live longer


Do you want to live a long and healthy life? Well the secret to doing so might be a lot easier than you think.

We've all heard the expression, "Mind over matter", and we've also likely heard lots of incredible stories about how our brains can trick our bodies into doing incredible things -- like Monks meditating until their hearts nearly stop, or the placebo effect causing people taking a sugar pill to exhibit same effects as people taking the actual medicine.

The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing or ELSA, studied a number of different factors of a huge subject group of almost 6,500 people over an extended period of time. One component of the study compared how old people actually felt versus how long they actually were. 

When the researchers then crunched the numbers, their data showed that people who reported feeling younger actually lived longer. They also found the converse to be true, sadly: Adults who felt older were almost twice as likely to have died in the next eight years. 

So the key to living longer is staying "young at heart".

The research letter is published in JAMA Internal Medicine online.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Jing –Your original life force, and how to nourish it


Jīng 精 is the Chinese word for "essence". Along with qì and shén, it is considered one of the Three Treasures Sanbao of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

According to tradition, Jing is stored in the kidneys and is the most dense physical matter within the body (as opposed to shén which is the most volatile). It is said to be the material basis for the physical body and is yin in nature, which means it nourishes, fuels, and cools the body. As such it is an important concept in the internal martial arts. Jing is also believed by some to be the carrier of our heritage (similar to DNA). Production of semen, in the man, and menstrual blood (or pregnancy), in the woman, are believed to place the biggest strains on jing. Because of this, some even equate jing with semen, but this is inaccurate; the jing circulates through the eight extraordinary vessels and creates marrow and semen, among other functions.

Jing should not be confused with the related concept of jin (勁; power).

The characteristics which constitute signs of good Jing (e.g. facial structure, teeth, hair, strength of adrenals or kidneys) share the embryological origin of neural crest cells. These cells undergo immense and challenging cellular migrations requiring great organisation. As such, Jing may simply represent the strength of embryological self-organisation in the organism. This will be manifestated most strongly in those cells which require most organisation; that is, the neural crest cells.

One is said to be born with a fixed amount of jing (pre-natal jing, also sometimes called yuan qi) and also can acquire jing from food and various forms of stimulation (exercise, study, meditation.)

 The strength of your Jing is based on the age and health of your parents when you were conceived.

Theoretically, jing is consumed continuously in life; by everyday stress, illness, fear, trauma, overwork, substance abuse, sexual intemperance, childbirth, poor diet, excessive fasting, etc

Pre-natal jing is very difficult to be renewed, and it is said it is completely consumed upon dying.

Jing is therefore considered quite important for longevity in Traditional Chinese Medicine; many disciplines related to qìgōng are devoted to the replenishment of "lost" jing by restoration of the post-natal jing. In particular, the internal martial arts (esp. T'ai chi ch'uan) and the Circle Walking of Baguazhang may be used to preserve pre-natal jing and build post-natal jing, if performed correctly. 

Certain herbs are said to contain jing. These include but are not limited to he shou wu, rehmannia, goji berries, eucommia, chaga, deer antler, tongkat ali, dendrobium, schizandra, and many more. Ginseng, particularly Korean and Chinese, is said to bolster the jīng. Consumed for thousands of years as a superior herb, listed as the top major tonic in the herbal classic the Shennong Ben Cao Jing, it is one of the most widely researched of the Chinese tonics. Often referred to as the "king of herbs", it is well-known around the world for its energizing and immune modulating properties.

In the Ayurvedic system, the equivalent of Jing is called Ojas and you’ll find many of their top herbs like ashwaganda and shilajit help with it.

Jing herbs are commonly divided into two categories, yin and yang.

10 foods that nourish jing:


Eggs – Think about jing’s relation to reproduction and it becomes obvious the eggs can be a great food for this purpose. For the most nourishing you’re going to want to highest quality eggs. Factory farmed chickens will not do. Instead find eggs from birds that eat their natural diets. Get eggs from pastured birds or duck eggs and you’ll see a richer orange and much thicker yolk. Sometimes the shells are even tough to break.


Fish Eggs or Roe – But birds aren’t the only egg laying animal. Fish roe are another option. These eggs were highly prized by many indigenous people, and especially fed to young children and pregnant women (sometimes even pre-conception). In fact in the Andes, people would travel sometimes hundreds of miles to collect these eggs to bring them back for eating. Hopefully, you won’t have to travel that far. Instead, the next time you eat sushi make sure to get an order with tobiko or roe.


Nuts and Seeds – These are the reproductive parts of plants. All of them will work to some degree. One of the best is black sesame seeds. In fact, this is regarded as a great jing tonic in Chinese medicine. (One hint is that the color black, and even dark colors, are often associated with jing. Antioxidants contribute to health and aging slowly so they may be associated with jing.)


Algae and Seaweeds – The large amounts of minerals and dark colors contribute to the jing essence of these foods.


Pollens – Once again the reproductive agents in plants. The pollen is likened to the mammalian sperm and thus is highly rich in nutrients. Bee pollen is one option. And due to the strong hormonal component pine pollen is even better.


Royal Jelly – This substance is fed to the queen bee and is responsible for her becoming the queen. The workers are genetically identical to her, but do not get this food. It is what the royal jelly activates (epigenetics) that causes her to become queen.


Beans – Certain beans like kidney, black and azuki beans are thought to contribute to jing. Many argue that beans cause digestive problems so this may be up for debate. The best way to consume them is likely in fermented forms like miso, natto and tempeh.


Black Rice – At one point in time only the Chinese emperor could consume black rice. It was punishable by death for the common people to consume it. This forbidden black rice is now widely available for royalty and common folk alike. While more expensive then its white or brown counterparts, it has significantly more nutrition. Its antioxidant count is said to rival blueberries.


Organs – Jing is stored more in the organs than the muscle. Organs of all types have much higher amounts of minerals and vitamins. For more jing go to the jing organs themselves including the kidneys and brain (recall the jing is tied into the nervous system).


Bones – Jing also governs the marrow. Bone marrow was regarded as highly prized in ancient China because it is mysterious and the most hidden and tucked away in the human body. Various qi gong practices are devoted specifically to the marrow. So eating it will help you build it as well. A good quality bone broth may be one of the best jing foods out there. Some even call it the original stem cell therapy.


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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Nothing is solid and everything is energy


Nobel Prize winning physicists have proven beyond doubt that the physical world is one large sea of energy that flashes into and out of being in milliseconds, over and over again.

Nothing is solid.

Thoughts are what put together and hold together this ever-changing energy field into the ‘objects’ that we see.

So why do we see a person instead of a flashing cluster of energy?

Think of a movie reel.

A movie is a collection of about 24 frames a second. Each frame is separated by a gap. However, because of the speed at which one frame replaces another, our eyes get cheated into thinking that we see a continuous and moving picture.

Think of television.

A TV tube is simply a tube with heaps of electrons hitting the screen in a certain way, creating the illusion of form and motion.

This is what all objects are anyway. You have 5 physical senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste).

Each of these senses has a specific spectrum (for example, a dog hears a different range of sound than you do; a snake sees a different spectrum of light than you do; and so on).

In other words, your set of senses perceives the sea of energy from a certain limited standpoint and makes up an image from that.

It is not complete, nor is it accurate. It is just an interpretation.

All of our interpretations are solely based on the ‘internal map’ of reality that we have, and not the real truth. Our ‘map’ is a result of our personal life’s collective experiences.

Our thoughts are linked to this invisible energy and they determine what the energy forms. Your thoughts literally shift the universe on a particle-by-particle basis to create your physical life.

Look around you.

Everything you see in our physical world started as an idea, an idea that grew as it was shared and expressed, until it grew enough into a physical object through a  number of steps.

You literally become what you think about most.

Your life becomes what you have imagined and believed in most.

The world is literally your mirror, enabling you to experience in the physical plane what you hold as your truth … until you change it.

The world is not the hard and unchangeable thing it may appear to be. Instead, it is a very fluid place continuously built up using our individual and collective thoughts.

What we think is true is really an illusion, almost like a magic trick.

Fortunately we have begun to uncover the illusion and most importantly, how to change it.

What is your body made of?

Nine systems comprise the human body including Circulatory, Digestive, Endocrine, Muscular, Nervous, Reproductive, Respiratory, Skeletal, and Urinary.

What are those made up of?

Tissues and organs.

What are tissues and organs made of?

Cells.

What are cells made of?

Molecules.

What are molecules made of?

Atoms.

What are atoms made of?

Sub-atomic particles.

What are subatomic particles made of?

Energy!

You and I are pure energy-light in its most beautiful and intelligent configuration. Energy that is constantly changing beneath the surface and you control it all with your powerful mind.

You are one big stellar and powerful Human Being.

If you could see yourself under a powerful electron microscope and conduct other experiments on yourself, you would see that you are made up of a cluster of ever-changing energy in the form of electrons, neutrons, photons and so on.

So is everything else around you. 

Your world is made of spirit, mind and body.

Each of those three, spirit, mind and body, has a function that is unique to it and not shared with the other. What you see with your eyes and experience with your body is the physical world, which we shall call Body. Body is an effect, created by a cause.

This cause is Thought.

Body cannot create. It can only experience and be experienced … that is its unique function.

Thought cannot experience … it can only make up, create and interpret. It needs a world of relativity (the physical world, Body) to experience itself.

Spirit is All That Is, that which gives Life to Thought and Body.

Body has no power to create, although it gives the illusion of power to do so. This illusion is the cause of much frustration. Body is purely an effect and has no power to cause or create.

The key with all of this information is how do you learn to see the universe differently than you do now so that you can manifest everything you truly desire.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Psyche: mind, soul, spirit


Psyche, via Latin from Greek psukhē ‘mind, breath, life, spirit, or soul.’

The mind, soul, or spirit, as opposed to the body. In psychology, the psyche is the center of thought, feeling, and motivation, consciously and unconsciously directing the body's reactions to its social and physical environment.

Did You Know?

Psyche in the Underworld
by Paul Alfred Curzon
Sometime back in the 16th century, we borrowed the word psyche directly from Greek into English.

In Greek mythology, Psyche was a beautiful princess who fell in love with Eros (Cupid), god of love, and went through terrible trials before being allowed to marry him. The story is often understood to be about the soul redeeming itself through love. (To the Greeks, psyche also meant "butterfly", which suggests how they imagined the soul.) In English, psyche often sounds less spiritual than soul, less intellectual than mind, and more private than personality..

To the Greeks, psyche also meant "butterfly", which suggests how they imagined the soul.

The butterfly and its association with the soul spans across many cultures and beliefs. 

In the Christian culture, a butterfly is often found on ancient tombs, and Jesus Christ is seen holding a butterfly in Christian art. 

In Japan, white butterflies symbolize the souls of departed loved ones. 

According to a mexican legend, souls fly on the wings of butterflies. While the fall is the season for the Day of the Dead, it’s also when monarch butterflies arrive in Mexico. Legend has it that the butterflies are the souls of the deceased returning to earth. 

In dreams, a butterfly is considered to mean a turning point or transition in life.

“My friend...care for your psyche...know thyself, for once we know ourselves, we may learn how to care for ourselves"  ― Socrates