Category Archives: Alternative Health

CES Ultra is a drug-free treatment

Great Neuroscience Discoveries of 2018

2018 was when neuroscience made the impossible possible. Here are four neuroscience findings from 2018 that still blow our minds as we kick off the New Year.

Electrical implant restores walking in paralyzed patients

2018 was, without doubt, a breakthrough year for restoring mobility in paralyzed patients.

The technology is several years in the making, with initial positive results in monkeys. It works by implanting a neuroprosthesis into the spinal cord to bypass the site of injury by artificially stimulating remaining nerves.

In September, the Mayo Clinic reported the extraordinary case of Jered Chinnock, who was paralyzed at the waist in 2013. After getting the implant, he walked half the length of a football field. Another report showed that electrical stimulation in four cases was able to help some paralyzed patients go home and get around with only a walker.

Less than a month later, yet another team reported that electrical stimulation using a wireless implant helped three paralyzed patients walk with the aid of crutches or a walker. After a few months of training, the patients could more easily move around even when the stimulation was off, suggesting that the regime had helped remaining healthy nerves rework their connections to adapt and heal.

Electrical stimulation isn’t the only treatment in the works. Another study found that human stem cells, when implanted into monkeys, could synapse with the recipient’s own neurons and restore natural movement after spinal cord injury. These therapies—although expensive and in their infancy—lay a promising road ahead for returning mobility to paralyzed patients.

CRISPR barcodes map brain development in exquisite detail

The developing mammalian brain consists of an intricately-choreographed dance of newborn neurons, with each adopting its specific identity and migrating to its home base in the brain. Scientists have long hoped to examine the process in detail, which could help uncover secrets of brain development—and how it goes wrong.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, tracing the history of every single one of the billions of developing cells in the brain has been impossible—until CRISPR came along.

Last August, a team used CRISPR to generate a unique genetic barcode for every single cell in the mouse brain. By reading the barcodes, scientists were able to retrace a cell’s entire history in the developing brain. Like genetic sleuths, the scientists reconstructed entire cellular family trees to show how cells relate to one another.

A new type of neuron in the cortex that’s potentially uniquely human

Perhaps shockingly, even today neuroscientists are still uncovering new cellular components that make up our mighty brains. Last year saw the discovery of giant neurons within the claustrum, a thin sheet of cells that some believe is the seat of consciousness.

This year, the Allen Institute in Seattle is back at it with another finding: rosehip neurons, each containing dense bundles of processes around the cell’s center that make it look like a rose after shedding its petals.

These neurons make up nearly 15 percent of neurons in the outermost layer of the brain that supports high-level cognitive functions. Remarkably, rosehip neurons have never before been seen in mice or other well-studied lab animals. Although the team can’t yet fully conclude that they’re specific to humans, their scarcity within the animal kingdom is intriguing.

The next step is figuring out the functions of these rose-like neurons—in particular, are they partly why our brains are special?—and whether they are linked to neuropsychiatric disorders.

Gut-brain connection grows stronger with direct anatomical link

One of the hottest research trends in neuroscience is the link between the brain and the gut—often dubbed the “little brain.”

The human gut is lined with over 100 million nerve cells that allow it to talk to the brain, letting us know when we’re hungry or when we’ve over-indulged. But it’s not all digestion: scientists are increasingly realizing that the gut could contribute to anxiety, depression, or more controversially, cognition.

Last year scientists found a new set of informational highways that directly link the gut to the brain. Within the gut, enteroendocrine cells pump out hormones that kick off digestion and suppress hunger. These cells have little foot-like protrusions that look remarkably like synapses—the structure that neurons use to talk to each other using chemicals.

With the help of a glow-in-the-dark rabies virus, which can jump from synapse to synapse, the team found that enteroendocrine cells directly link to neurons in the vagus nerve—a giant nerve that runs from the brain to vital organs such as the heart and lungs. What’s more, they chat with their partners using classical neurotransmitters including glutamate and serotonin, which work much faster than hormones.

Another study found that the gut directly links to the brain’s reward centers through the vagus nerve. Using lasers to zap sensory neurons in the gut of mice, the scientists found increased levels of mood-boosting dopamine in their brains.

These new connections could explain why vagus nerve stimulation is potentially helpful for those with severe depression. More relevant to the holiday season, it also could explain why eating makes us feel warm and fuzzy.

Uncovering the gut-brain connection is gaining steam as a research field. Eventually, the findings could lead to new treatments for disorders linked to a malfunctioning gut—for example, obesity, eating disorders, depression, or even autism.

ref:. singularityhub.com | discoverieshub.com

The Science of Stress

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Long before scientists began shedding light on how our minds and bodies actually affect one another, an intuitive understanding of this dialogue between the body and the emotions, or feelings, emerged and permeated our very language: We use “ sick” as a grab-bag term for both the sensory symptoms — fever, fatigue, nausea — and the psychological malaise, woven of emotions like sadness and apathy.

Pre-modern medicine, in fact, has recognized this link between disease and emotion for millennia. Ancient Greek, Roman, and Indian Ayurvedic physicians all enlisted the theory of the four humors — blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm — in their healing practices, believing that imbalances in these four visible secretions of the body caused disease and were themselves often caused by the emotions. These beliefs are fossilized in our present language — melancholy comes from the Latin words for “black” (melan) and “bitter bile” (choler), and we think of a melancholic person as gloomy or embittered; a phlegmatic person is languid and impassive, for phlegm makes one lethargic.

For nearly three centuries, the idea that our emotions could impact our physical health remained scientific taboo — setting out to fight one type of dogma, Descartes had inadvertently created another, which we’re only just beginning to shake off. It was only in the 1950s that Austrian-Canadian physician and physiologist Hans Selye pioneered the notion of stress as we now know it today, drawing the scientific community’s attention to the effects of stress on physical health and popularizing the concept around the world.

Modern medicine’s advances in cellular and molecular biology, which have made it possible to measure how our nervous system and our hormones affect our susceptibility to diseases as varied as depression, arthritis, AIDS, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

The same parts of the brain that control the stress response … play an important role in susceptibility and resistance to inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. And since it is these parts of the brain that also play a role in depression, we can begin to understand why it is that many patients with inflammatory diseases may also experience depression at different times in their lives… Rather than seeing the psyche as the source of such illnesses, we are discovering that while feelings don’t directly cause or cure disease, the biological mechanisms underlying them may cause or contribute to disease. Thus, many of the nerve pathways and molecules underlying both psychological responses and inflammatory disease are the same, making predisposition to one set of illnesses likely to go along with predisposition to the other.

Mood is not homogeneous like cream soup. It is more like Swiss cheese, filled with holes. The triggers are highly specific, tripped by sudden trails of memory: a faint fragrance, a few bars of a tune, a vague silhouette that tapped into a sad memory buried deep, but not completely erased. These sensory inputs from the moment float through layers of time in the parts of the brain that control memory, and they pull out with them not only reminders of sense but also trails of the emotions that were first connected to the memory. The same sensory input can trigger a negative emotion or a positive one, depending on the memories associated with it.

This is where stress comes in — much like memory mediates how we interpret and respond to various experiences, a complex set of biological and psychological factors determine how we respond to stress. Some types of stress can be stimulating and invigorating, mobilizing us into action and creative potency; others can be draining and incapacitating, leaving us frustrated and hopeless. This dichotomy of good vs. bad stress is determined by the dose and duration of the stress hormones secreted by the body in response to the stressful stimulus.

Extended exposure to stress, especially to a variety of stressors at the same time — any combination from the vast existential menu of life-events like moving, divorce, a demanding job, the loss of a loved one, and even ongoing childcare — adds up a state of extreme exhaustion that leads to what we call burnout.

Among the major stressors — which include life-events expected to be on the list, such as divorce and the death of a loved one — is also one somewhat unexpected situation. An unfamiliar environment is a universal stressor to nearly all species, no matter how developed or undeveloped.

ref:> https://experiencelife.com | https://www.sciencedaily.com | https://www.edutopia.org | https://getpocket.com/explore

Laughter is the best medicine

Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Here are our favorite Xmas cartoons. Enjoy!

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Weird and wonderful world of sleep technology

These gadgets aren’t just tracking your sleep — although many of them do that, too. Some are designed to help you fall asleep more quickly by calming your brain or making your environment more conducive to rest.

sleep-technology

Somnox Sleep Robot

This bean-shaped Somnox Sleep Robot is about the size of a small cushion, and pulses as it mimics soft breathing and emits soft music to help you get to sleep. “It’s a sleep robot that helps you get to sleep faster, but also sleep longer,” says Julian Jagtenburg, a robotics engineer and Founder of Somnox.

The sensation of feeling with one hand the falling and rising of a breathing robot is odd indeed, but the soft sounds of falling rain/ambient music/the purring of a cat give the robot an unquestionably calming influence, while its sensors enable it to switch off the moment you fall asleep.

Beddit

This is a great sleep sensor (a small strip that goes under your sheets) that uses a highly accurate method (cardioballistic sensors- very sensitive cardiac monitoring) to identify sleep parameters (you have different heart rate, breathing etc while in each sleep stage). In addition, it can communicate with other sensors in your home to help guide your environment for better sleep (e.g., Nest). One of its many great features is the set-it-and-forget-it mode, where you do not have to turn it on each evening. Beddit gives advice based on sleep, noticing needs for exercise, or if your nutrition is effecting your sleep ( these are all self-reported by the customer and then linked to their sleep variables). There is a smart alarm feature, that will wake you up from a lighter stage of sleep, and the app allows you to review your data easily.

Recovery Sleepwear

Brady UnderArmour has developed sleepwear where printed on the inside of the textile is a ceramic reflective technology using Far Infrared. According to their literature: “The soft bioceramic print on the inside of the garment absorbs the body’s natural heat and reflects Far Infrared back to the skin. This helps your body recover faster, promotes better sleep, reduces inflammation, and regulates cell metabolism.” An independent study was done on this technology where sleep was improved in animals and one insomniac. It feels like a cool idea.

SmartSleep headband

Why wear a Fitbit when you could sleep in some ridiculous-looking headgear? Designed partly in response to research showing that 40% of people between the ages of 25 and 54 have less than the recommended seven hours sleep per night, SmartSleep is a soft-touch, lightweight headband with two sensors. The sensors collect delta waves of the deep sleep phase, with Smart Sleep then amplifying them to intensify deep sleep, and also minutely recording sleep phases. Unlike other sleep trackers that only monitor a user’s sleep pattern, SmartSleep can actively help people sleep more restoratively. The headgear is charged via USB, and links to a SleepMapper app via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

HUMU Augmented Audio Cushion

We’ve seen pillows with built-in speakers before, as we have gaming chairs that vibrate, but this Audio Cushion combines the two. A reasonably firm pillow-cum-neck support that contains two vibrating sound boards, it takes any source of audio and produces a rippling, resonating effect that accentuates bass and low frequencies. Connecting to a tablet, laptop or phone via Bluetooth or a 3.5mm jack, HUMU is able to produce a wider range of frequencies than any speakers or headphones, although it nevertheless seems most likely to be destined for strapping to a gaming chair.

BedJet, a climate control system for beds

The BedJet smart comforter is a one-of-a-kind system that uses forced air and a smartphone app to help you regulate your temperatures while sleeping. The BedJet’s blower sends hot or cool air, depending on your preference, through a hose that is connected to the provided comforter. The comforter, which is more like a dual-layer flat sheet, fills with air that keeps you comfortable. The “smart” label comes into play because you can pair the BedJet with your phone using the app. This allows you to program different temperature settings throughout the night. The BedJet V2 Climate Comfort System is an expensive item but it can fill the role of other appliances, such as fans, space heaters, and more.

Glo to Sleep Mask

This is no simple eye mask—in fact, it almost looks like a pair of goggles. Once you put on the mask, you see a blue glowing light on the inside of it. As the light fades away, you are supposed to drift along with it into dreamland. A bonus is that the thick foam surrounding the mask claims to block out any extra light that could impact your sleep.

Courtesy of CES 2018 https://www.tomsguide.com/t/ces/

Brain Stimulation Therapies for Mental Health

Alternatives to Drugs in the Treatment of Depression

It’s estimated that around 30 percent of people with depression don’t respond to typical antidepressants. This is known as treatment-resistant depression. An important alternative which can be life-changing is brain stimulation therapy.

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Brain stimulation therapy involves the application of [electric] energy over specific brain regions to modulate the function of neural circuits. This can help alleviate symptoms of depression or other mental illnesses that aren’t responding to typical treatments, such as bipolar disorder. There are five main types of brain stimulation therapies used to treat mental illness: electroconvulsive therapy, vagus nerve stimulation, deep brain stimulation, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, and magnetic seizure therapy. Let’s explore vagus nerve stimulation(VNS) and Deep brain stimulation (DBS).

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)

Vagus nerve stimulation was initially developed as a treatment for the seizure disorder epilepsy, and in a happy accident, scientists discovered that it could help with depression as well. The FDA approved VNS for treatment-resistant depression in 2005.

If you’re getting this kind of therapy, doctors will surgically implant a tool called a pulse generator into the upper left portion of your chest. An electrical wire connects the pulse generator to your vagus nerve, which runs from your brain through your neck and into your chest and abdomen. From its command center in your chest, the pulse generator will send bursts of electric currents to your brain every couple of minutes. Pulse generators typically work for around 10 years before they need to be replaced.

It appears as though VNS can improve issues like severe depression by changing levels of neurotransmitters in your brain including serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, and glutamate. A 2018 study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry analyzed quality of life reports from 599 people with treatment-resistant depression, finding that those who combined VNS with other antidepressant treatments experienced significant improvements in their quality of life, even if their symptoms didn’t disappear completely. That points to an important fact about VNS: anyone receiving it will need to continue their other treatments (like taking antidepressants). Even so, it can take months to see a difference when using VNS, and the device could shift or malfunction, which may require more surgery.

VNS is not a surefire fix. Some people’s conditions get worse after they try it, not better.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS)

This started as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Then doctors realized it shows promise for easing depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, too. FDA approved deep brain stimulation for obsessive compulsive disorder, but not yet for depression.

Like VNS, deep brain stimulation uses pulse generators in the chest to send electrical pulses to the brain. Unlike VNS, which delivers stimulation in bursts, DBS involves more continuous stimulation but you should be able to customize the exact frequency with your doctor’s help.

The Problem: Both Deep brain stimulation and Vagus nerve stimulation describe costly and intrusive procedure involving an implant.

The Solution:

There is another non –intrusive, non-invasive and  way to target the vague nerve: cranial electrotherapy stimulation using CES devices. CES devices can achieve good result at fraction of the cost; and there is no need for an implant.CES therapy is simple and easy. Pre-gelled electrodes are placed in such a manner as to directly The compact size and ear clip electrodes makes it easy to use just about anywhere and under a variety of circumstances. You can your portable CES unit  at home while watching TV, doing the dishes, walking, studying, at the office while poring over a report, etc. You can do so safely, with no serious negative side-effects and at a fraction of the cost and none of the risks of a major operation.

re: > https://www.self.com/story/brain-stimulation-therapies