Stay Positive

"In the midst of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." - Alert Camus

Friday, August 31, 2012


photo credit: <a href=''>Bert Kommerij</a> via <a href=''>photo pin</a> <a href=''>cc</a>
photo credit: Bert Kommerij via photo pin cc

Research seems to indicate that we're genetically inclined to optimism. But what if we're too optimistic to deal with social problems? A Calgary forum mulls the implications. Produced in association with the Calgary Institute for the Humanities at the University of Calgary.

Home | Ideas with Paul Kennedy | CBC Radio


Documentary chronicles football player's recovery through intensive muscle retraining / UCLA Newsroom

Blogger:  Scarification of the spinal column is one my m.s. symptoms on the M.R.I.  so others are perhaps affected similarly.  This article might contain some words of help and hope...

Documentary chronicles football player's recovery through intensive muscle retraining

Professor V. Reggie Edgerton

UCLA scientist V. Reggie Edgerton has devoted four decades to exploring how the nervous system and muscles interact to produce the motion of walking. Findings from his Neuromuscular Research Laboratory have steadily pushed the limits for recovery by the millions of people who have lost the ability to walk due to severe spinal cord injury.
An intensive muscle retraining protocol called locomotor developed by Edgerton, the distinguished professor of integrative biology and physiology and of neurobiology, provides the foundation for the remarkable progress of former college football player Janne Kouri, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident. A new documentary about Kouri, "Janne’s Next Step," which was premiered recently on the UCLA campus, will air Sunday, July 29, at 12:30 p.m. in Los Angeles on KTTV-Channel 11. The video, which was directed and produced by Liz Hodge of the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) with support from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, is part of FBR’s "Bench to Bedside" television series showcasing life-saving biomedical research. The series has earned 12 Telly Awards and two Emmy nominations.
"Janne’s Next Step" focuses on Kouri's progress from a wheelchair to being on his feet again through locomotor training. His rehabilitation took place at the University of Louisville in a program headed by Susan Harkema, a professor of neurological surgery who began her career as a postgraduate student in Edgerton's UCLA laboratory. The two have been close collaborators ever since.
At the UCLA screening, Edgerton talked about his early discoveries about the spinal cord’s surprising "plasticity," refuting long-held assumptions that that spinal cord injury is complete and permanent. The spinal cord could, it was found, create new neural networks using signals from repetitive muscle movement.
The treatment breakthroughs were made possible in part by research involving rodents. "Our early research had to involve animal models, which led us to explore if this existed in humans," Edgerton said. "We couldn’t have accomplished this by looking at cells in a petri dish, and certainly not through computer modeling."
Kouri, who was present at the screening of "Janne’s Next Step," said there are millions of people worldwide who are suffering due to spinal cord injuries. He said that Edgerton and Harkema "saved my life and are saving the lives of people across the country."
"It’s really quite encouraging the kind of support that we are getting," said Edgerton, citing the documentary as well as a growing network of rehabilitation centers that make the highly specialized locomotor training available on a national scale. The centers, which receive support from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation's NeuroRecovery Network, include two Next Step centers in Los Angeles and Chicago established by Kouri and his wife, Susan.
Edgerton continues to push into new areas and to develop new interventions.
"I try to focus on the basic science and say, ‘What’s possible?’ These ideas — that when you have a spinal cord injury, the [neuronal] circuits are still there, they’re just not getting the message — can be applied in lots of ways," he said.
In a study published last year, Edgerton and his colleagues described their success in using a form of electric-pulse therapy to help a man walk again after a paralyzing auto accident. For this work, Edgerton was selected as one of 11 "brilliant innovators" to receive the 2011 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award.
Currently, Edgerton is exploring the potential for recovery in the arms and upper body after spinal cord injury. He said that he and his research colleagues are also finding that the interventions that improve muscle function after spinal cord injury hold promise for people who have had a stroke or suffer from Parkinson's disease or other neuromotor disorders.

Watch a two-minute preview of the documentary:

Documentary chronicles football player's recovery through intensive muscle retraining / UCLA Newsroom

Yoga reduces stress; now it’s known why

Blogger Comment: Yoga is one of the gentle forms of exercise that might be tolerated by a person with m.s. and it benefits things like balance, strength and flexibility.


Yoga reduces stress; now it’s known why

UCLA study helps caregivers of people with dementia

Six months ago, researchers at UCLA published a study that showed using a specific type of yoga to engage in a brief, simple daily meditation reduced the stress levels of people who care for those stricken by Alzheimer’s and dementia. Now they know why.
As previously reported, practicing a certain form of chanting yogic meditation for just 12 minutes daily for eight weeks led to a reduction in the biological mechanisms responsible for an increase in the immune system’s inflammation response. Inflammation, if constantly activated, can contribute to a multitude of chronic health problems.
Reporting in the current online edition of the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, Dr. Helen Lavretsky, senior author and a professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and colleagues found in their work with 45 family dementia caregivers that 68 of their genes responded differently after Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KKM), resulting in reduced inflammation.
Caregivers are the unsung heroes for their yeoman’s work in taking care of loved ones that have been stricken with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, said Lavretsky, who also directs UCLA’s Late-Life Depression, Stress and Wellness Research Program. But caring for a frail or demented family member can be a significant life stressor. Older adult caregivers report higher levels of stress and depression and lower levels of satisfaction, vigor and life in general. Moreover, caregivers show higher levels of the biological markers of inflammation. Family members in particular are often considered to be at risk of stress-related disease and general health decline.
As the U.S. population continues to age over the next two decades, Lavretsky noted, the prevalence of dementia and the number of family caregivers who provide support to these loved ones will increase dramatically. Currently, at least five million Americans provide care for someone with dementia.
"We know that chronic stress places caregivers at a higher risk for developing depression," she said "On average, the incidence and prevalence of clinical depression in family dementia caregivers approaches 50 percent. Caregivers are also twice as likely to report high levels of emotional distress." What's more, many caregivers tend to be older themselves, leading to what Lavretsky calls an "impaired resilience" to stress and an increased rate of cardiovascular disease and mortality.
Research has suggested for some time that psychosocial interventions like meditation reduce the adverse effects of caregiver stress on physical and mental health. However, the pathways by which such psychosocial interventions impact biological processes are poorly understood.
In the study, the participants were randomized into two groups. The meditation group was taught the 12-minute yogic practice that included Kirtan Kriya, which was performed every day at the same time for eight weeks. The other group was asked to relax in a quiet place with their eyes closed while listening to instrumental music on a relaxation CD, also for 12 minutes daily for eight weeks. Blood samples were taken at the beginning of the study and again at the end of the eight weeks.
"The goal of the study was to determine if meditation might alter the activity of inflammatory and antiviral proteins that shape immune cell gene expression," said Lavretsky. "Our analysis showed a reduced activity of those proteins linked directly to increased inflammation.
"This is encouraging news. Caregivers often don’t have the time, energy, or contacts that could bring them a little relief from the stress of taking care of a loved one with dementia, so practicing a brief form of yogic meditation, which is easy to learn, is a useful too."
Lavretsky is a member of UCLA’s recently launched Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Program, which provides comprehensive, coordinated care as well as resources and support to patients and their caregivers. Lavretsky has incorporated yoga practice into the caregiver program.
Funding for the study was provided by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation in Tucson, Ariz.. Other authors of the study included David S. Black, Steve Cole, Michael R. Irwin, Elizabeth Breen, Natalie M. St. Cyr, Nora Nazarian, all of UCLA, and Dharma S. Khalsa, medical director for the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation in Tucson. The authors report no conflict of interest.
The UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences is the home within the David Geffen School of Medicine for faculty who are expert in the origins of and treatments for disorders of complex human behavior. It is part of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, a world leading, interdisciplinary research and education institute devoted to the understanding of complex human behavior and the causes and consequences of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Mark Wheeler,


Yoga reduces stress; now it’s known why / UCLA Newsroom

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Prozac - UCLA researchers discover that fluoxetine (a.k.a. Prozac) is effective as an anti-viral

 Blogger comment: Many people with m.s. take anti-depressant medications and Prozac is one of them.  Some people report that Prozac gives a little energy boost as well.  This seems to be the same thing that is said about Amantadine which is an antiviral, as well.  Is there a connection???

UCLA researchers discover that fluoxetine (a.k.a. Prozac) is effective as an anti-viral

UCLA researchers have come across an unexpected potential use for fluoxetine – commonly known as Prozac – which shows promise as an antiviral agent. The discovery could provide another tool in treating human enteroviruses that sicken and kill people in the U.S. and around the world.
Human enteroviruses are members of a genus containing more than 100 distinct RNA viruses responsible for various life threatening infections, such as poliomyelitis and encephalitis. While immunization has all but eliminated the poliovirus, the archetype for the genus, no antiviral drugs currently exist for the treatment of enterovirus infections, which are often severe and potentially fatal. In view of its favorable pharmacokinetics and safety profile of fluoxetine — which is in a class of compounds typically used in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders and some personality disorders — the research team found that it warrants additional study as a potential antiviral agent for enterovirus infections.
Using molecular screening, the UCLA research team from the Department of Pediatrics, the California NanoSystems Institute and the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology found that fluoxetine was a potent inhibitor of coxsackievirus replication. This is one of the viruses that include polio and echovirus that is found in the gastrointestinal tract. Exposure to the virus causes other opportunistic infections and diseases.
"The discovery of unexpected antiviral activity of fluoxetine is scientifically very significant and draws our attention to previously overlooked potential targets of fluoxetine and other psychogenic drugs," said Robert Damoiseaux, scientific director of the Molecular Screening Shared Resource at the California NanoSystems Institute. "Part of our follow-up work will be the discovery of these unconventional targets for fluoxetine and other drugs of the same class and how these targets intersect with the known targets of this drug class."
Paul Krogstad, professor of pediatrics and molecular and medical pharmacology, added that understanding the mechanisms of action of fluoxetine and norfloxetine against coxsackieviruses "will add to our understanding of enterovirus replication and lead to assessment of their potential clinical utility for the future treatment of serious enterovirus infections."
The research team found that fluoxetine did not interfere with either viral entry or translation of the viral genome. Instead, fluoxetine and norfluoxetine markedly reduced the production of viral RNA and protein.
The study was published on July 2 in the journal of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. Study authors also include Jun Zuo, Kevin K. Quinn, Steve Kye, and Paige Cooper from the Department of Pediatrics. The study was supported by grants from the Today’s and Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund and the UCLA Department of Pediatrics Nanopediatrics Program.

For more news, visit the UCLA Newsroom and follow us on Twitter.

Jennifer Marcus,

UCLA researchers discover that fluoxetine (a.k.a. Prozac) is effective as an anti-viral / UCLA Newsroom

This Small Insole Helps People Walk Normally Again

Blogger Comment:  Many people with m.s. suffer from a loss of feeling in their feet.  It looks like this device could be helpful to walking without "scuffing" for instance which would help prevent  stumbling and falling.

 This is part of a 30-part series called "Game Changers." This special series investigates the most remarkable advancements in science, energy and health — and how they will impact the way we live. This series is brought to you by Samsung's Galaxy S3.

Sensastep is a breakthrough assisted walking device that helps individuals who have lost feeling in their legs or feet walk normally again.

Inventor Jon Christiansen devised the technology after he was involved in a freak boating accident.  He says that diabetes sufferers, Parkinson's disease patients and even stroke victims stand to benefit.

How It Works  

Photo courtesy of Jon Christiansen
Insole with sensors.
The first element, an insole with sensors, tracks your gait. When pressure is applied, a transmitter wrapped around the ankle and attached to the insole picks up special tones.  
Photo courtesy of Jon Christiansen
An earpiece that receives signals from the ankle transmitter.
The transmitter sends signals  to a device that goes over the ear. The earpiece can distinguish tones used for the heel and toe because they are transmitted at different frequencies.
The tones vibrate a cochlear nerve which, over time, the brain learns to interpret as walking signals.
Christiansen says he is still shopping deals with prosthetic manufacturers but that commercial production is almost certainly imminent.

The company has also approached the military, although Lt. Gen. Paul K. Carlton, Jr., M.D.,
who serves as Director of the Texas A&M Health Science Center, Office of Homeland Security, said that for the time being, most leg-related injuries in combat are too severe for a Sensastep-based therapy.

Watch a demonstration video below:

This Small Insole Helps People Walk Again - Business Insider


"You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be
tomorrow where your thoughts take you."
- James Allen

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
- Niels Bohr

"And in the end it's not the years in your
life that count. It's the life in your years."
- Abraham Lincoln

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.
- Pericles

 He who fights monsters should see to it that in the process, he does not become a monster. And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.
- Nietzche

"One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation."
- Arthur Ashe

Exacerbations : National MS Society

An exacerbation of MS (also known as a relapse, attack, or flare-up) causes new symptoms or the worsening of old symptoms. It can be very mild or severe enough to interfere with a person’s ability to function at home and at work. No two exacerbations are alike, and symptoms vary from person to person and from one exacerbation to another. For example, the exacerbation might be an episode of optic neuritis (caused by inflammation of the optic nerve that impairs vision) or problems with balance or severe fatigue. Some relapses produce only one symptom (related to inflammation in a single area of the central nervous system) while other relapses causes two or symptoms at the same time (related to inflammation in more than one area of the central nervous system).

To be a true exacerbation, the attack must last at least 24 hours and be separated from the previous attack by at least 30 days. Most exacerbations last from a few days to several weeks or even months.

What Causes MS Exacerbations?

Exacerbations are caused by inflammation in the central nervous system. The inflammation damages the myelin, which slows or disrupts the transmission of nerve impulses and causes the symptoms of MS.

In the most common disease course in MS—called relapsing-remitting MS—clearly defined acute exacerbations (relapses) are followed by remissions as the inflammatory process gradually comes to an end. Going into remission doesn’t necessarily mean that the symptoms disappear totally—some people will return to feeling exactly as they did before the exacerbation began while others may find themselves left with some ongoing symptoms.

 Read More:
Exacerbations : National MS Society


Exercise can be your medicine

Exercise is a struggle when you have been dealing with the progression of m.s. for a number of years.  Pain is one  problem and inertia is another.  Whatever the barriers exercise of some kind needs to be made a part of our routine.    .

Comfy chairs are killing us very softly

It's time we did something about the dangers of sitting

By Andrew Coyne, July 21, 2012

This week the British medical journal The Lancet published a new series of studies on the health consequences of physical inactivity. The figures are staggering. They show physical inactivity is responsible for as much as 10 per cent of the "burden of disease" (years of life lost to mortality or disability) from illnesses as diverse as colon cancer, Type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.

All told, physical inactivity is now the fourth-leading cause of death around the world. More than 5.3 million people die of it every year, accounting for nearly one death in 10. That's more than die from smoking. It's more than die from all injuries combined (traffic accidents claim 1.2 million lives annually). 

We should be clear what we are really talking about here. It isn't some vague condition called inactivity that is killing people. It is the specific activity of sitting, which is how most of us spend most of our days. 

The usual prescription for inactivity is more exercise, which certainly can't hurt.

But a 15-to-30 minute daily walk, as The Lancet advises, is of little benefit if you are sitting for six to eight hours a day at work, plus another three to four hours outside it - with a half-hour commute each way in between.

That's not just my opinion. A growing body of evidence shows the cumulative effects of all that sitting are not easily remediable by exercise. 

For example, a 2010 study of more than 100,000 adults in the American Journal of Epidemiology found those who sat for more than six hours a day were more likely to die than those who sat for less than three, even if the former exercised regularly and the latter did no exercise at all.

An earlier study of 17,000 Canadians ("Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer") found much the same.

In short, sitting kills. 

The chair you're in is a machine for producing human fat. Sitting slows the metabolism, inhibiting the creation of lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme the body uses to break down fats.
In the same way, sugars are less easily processed. Moreover, slower blood flows increase the risks of clots forming, especially in the legs.

Like smoking, sitting demonstrably increases your risks, not only of death, but of serious illness, and like smoking, the risks compound over time.

We were not meant to work like this. Primitive man was more or less constantly on the move, hunting and foraging. Even as late as the 20th century, most people worked in jobs that required substantial amounts of physical labour.

If we were serious about public health, what should we do? 

Read More @ The Edmonton Journal

Op Ed: Comfy chairs are killing us very softly

How did Vioxx debacle happen?

Vioxx was a very popular drug for a few years and then turned out to have some terrible side affects.  The story is printed here as a caution about early adopting of the flatest new miracle drug. Or running of to a foreign country for surgery like the rush for  balloon angioplasty for m.s. invented by  Dr. Zamboni.

How did Vioxx debacle happen?
By Rita Rubin, USA TODAY

As drugmakers scramble to grab Vioxx's multi-billion-dollar share of the arthritis and pain-relief market, patients might find themselves wondering whether the competing medications are much safer.

The fact that no one can answer that question conclusively, and the fact that Vioxx remained on the market as long as it did, point to serious deficiencies in how the Food and Drug Administration regulates prescription drugs, critics say.

Merck yanked Vioxx on Sept. 30, 2004 because a new study had found a higher rate of heart attacks and strokes in patients taking the drug than in those on a placebo. 

The move was a stunning denouement for a blockbuster drug that had been marketed in more than 80 countries with worldwide sales totaling $2.5 billion in 2003. 

Vioxx, hawked by the likes of Olympic gold medalists Dorothy Hamill and Bruce Jenner, had been sold in the USA for more than five years.

But the new Vioxx study was not the first to raise concerns about heart attack and stroke risk.

 "We have been concerned and aware of the potential for cardiovascular effects for the last few years," Steven Galson, acting director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said the day Merck announced the withdrawal. 

"This is not a total surprise."

In fact, in April 2000 the FDA required Merck to add labeling information about a possible link to such problems.  

Yet 2 million Americans were taking Vioxx when it was pulled.

Critics describe the rise and fall of Vioxx as a cautionary tale of masterful public relations, aggressive marketing and ineffective regulation. 

"The FDA didn't do anything," says Eric Topol, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. "They were passive here."

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says the FDA was worse than passive.  

Investigators for the Senate Finance Committee, which Grassley chairs, met Thursday with FDA researcher David Graham, lead scientist on a study presented in August at a medical meeting in France.


Vioxx timeline

May 1999: FDA approves Vioxx.

March 2000: Merck reveals that a new study found Vioxx patients had double the rate of serious cardiovascular problems than those on naproxen, an older nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID.

November 2000: The New
England Journal of Medicine publishes the study, called VIGOR.

February 2001: An advisory panel recommends the FDA require a label warning of the possible link to cardiovascular problems.

September 2001: The FDA warns Merck to stop misleading doctors about Vioxx's effect on the cardiovascular system.

April 2002: The FDA tells Merck to add information about cardiovascular risk to Vioxx's label.

Aug. 25, 2004: An FDA researcher presents results of a database analysis of 1.4 million patients; it concludes that Vioxx users are more likely to suffer a heart attack or sudden cardiac death than those taking Celebrex or an older NSAID.

Sept. 23, 2004: Merck says it learned this day that patients taking Vioxx in a study were twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke as those on placebo.

Sept. 30, 2004: Merck withdraws Vioxx from the U.S. and the more than 80 other countries in which it was marketed.


The study, an analysis of a database of 1.4 million Kaiser Permanente members, found that those who took Vioxx were more likely to suffer a heart attack or sudden cardiac death than those who took Celebrex, Vioxx's main rival.

Based on their findings, Graham and his collaborators 
 linked Vioxx to more than 27,000 heart attacks or sudden cardiac deaths  

nationwide from the time it came on the market in 1999 through 2003.
Graham told the finance committee investigators that the FDA was trying to block publication of his findings, Grassley said in a statement. 

"Dr. Graham described an environment where he was 'ostracized,' 'subjected to veiled threats' and 'intimidation,' " Grassley said. Graham gave Grassley copies of e-mail that appear to support his claims that his superiors suggested watering down his conclusions. 

"In light of Merck's withdrawal of Vioxx ... and other recent news stories examining FDA's review of the safety and efficacy of antidepressant drug use by children, I am concerned whether FDA has been sufficiently aggressive in monitoring drug safety," Davis wrote.

Topol, in a column posted last week on The New England Journal of Medicine's Web site, called for a congressional review of the Vioxx "catastrophe." 

"The senior executives at Merck and the leadership at the FDA share responsibility for not having taken appropriate action and not recognizing that they are accountable for the public health." 

Source: - How did Vioxx debacle happen?

Global physical activity levels: surveillance progress, pitfalls, and prospects : The Lancet

Dr Pedro C Hallal PhD a Corresponding AuthorEmail Address, Prof Lars Bo Andersen PhD b g, Prof Fiona C Bull PhD c, Regina Guthold PhD d, Prof William Haskell PhD e, Prof Ulf Ekelund PhD f g, for the Lancet Physical Activity Series Working Group


To implement effective non-communicable disease prevention programmes, policy makers need data for physical activity levels and trends. In this report, we describe physical activity levels worldwide with data for adults (15 years or older) from 122 countries and for adolescents (13—15-years-old) from 105 countries.

Worldwide, 31·1% (95% CI 30·9—31·2) of adults are physically inactive, with proportions ranging from 17·0% (16·8—17·2) in southeast Asia to about 43% in the Americas and the eastern Mediterranean. Inactivity rises with age, is higher in women than in men, and is increased in high-income countries. The proportion of 13—15-year-olds doing fewer than 60 min of physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity per day is 80·3% (80·1—80·5); boys are more active than are girls.

Continued improvement in monitoring of physical activity would help to guide development of policies and programmes to increase activity levels and to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases.

Global physical activity levels: surveillance progress, pitfalls, and prospects : The Lancet

Medical News: FDA Revises Seizure Warning for MS Drug - in Neurology, Multiple Sclerosis from MedPage Today

FDA Revises Seizure Warning for MS Drug

The multiple sclerosis drug dalfampridine (Ampyra) can cause seizures in patients who are starting the medicine at normal doses, the FDA warned Monday.

Postmarketing adverse event reporting indicated that most seizures happened in patients with no history of seizures and occurred within days or weeks of starting the drug at its recommended dosage.

When dalfampridine was approved in 2010 to improve walking ability in MS, the FDA had noted the risk of seizures in patients who go over the approved 10 mg twice daily dosage and those with moderate to severe kidney disease.

The safety alert issued by the agency pointed out that the drug is excreted renally, so kidney impairment may lead to higher blood levels that raise seizure risk.

Patients' creatinine clearance should be measured before starting dalfampridine and at least annually while on the drug, even when serum creatinine appears normal, the FDA recommended.

Renal impairment is common after age 50 regardless of normal serum creatinine levels, the agency explained.

The drug is contraindicated in patients with a history of seizures or moderate to severe renal impairment with a creatinine clearance under 50 mL/min; the risk of seizures should be carefully weighed in those with mild renal impairment.

A seizure while taking dalfampridine is cause for permanent discontinuation of the drug.
Patients should be warned not to double up on doses if they miss one, the safety alert suggested.

The drug label is being updated to clarify these recommendations.

Dalfampridine is manufactured by Elan of Dublin, Ireland, and distributed by Acorda Therapeutics of Hawthorne, N.Y.

Medical News: FDA Revises Seizure Warning for MS Drug - in Neurology, Multiple Sclerosis from MedPage Today

Combating The Impact Of Stress On Your Body And Your Health


Stress is a killer even when you are not sick with m.s.  But stress is especially damaging to you when you have m.s. and every strategy to reduce stress should be explored, if you are to avoid exacerbation or flare-ups of your disease.


Combating The Impact Of Stress On Your Body And Your Health

We live in a very stressful world. It doesn’t surprise anyone to find out that researchers have shown that the impact of stress is a major contributor to development and progression of many health conditions (e.g. heart disease, dementia, cancer etc.) as well as having a negative impact on aging, immune function, as well as breakdown of muscle and bone mass.

It’s unlikely that stress is going to disappear anytime soon, so you have to incorporate stress-combating strategies into your daily game plan to help reduce its impact on your health and your body. Regular exercise is a significant stress-reducing practice, as exercise releases endorphins, lowers baseline adrenaline levels, reduces the impact of stress on your heart and vascular system, supports lean mass and bone mass and improves your overall sense of wellbeing and coping ability. In addition, things like yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises and other mind-body practices are also beneficial in helping to lower stress hormones and calm hyperactivity within the brain and nervous system.

Hormones And Stress

One of the main features of chronic stress is the over secretion of a hormone called ACTH from the pituitary gland in the brain. ACTH stimulates the adrenal glands to synthesize and secrete cortisol into the bloodstream. It is the high levels of cortisol that produce many of the negative effects of stress on our health. The high levels of cortisol that result from the body’s adaptation to stress contribute to the following negative health outcomes:
  • Increases inflammation in arthritic condition and all other inflammatory problems
  • Weakens the immune system making us more prone to infections and cancer
  • Blocks the effects of thyroid hormone at the cell level and may inhibit release of thyroid hormone from the thyroid gland – this slows metabolism leading to weight gain and unhealthy changes to your hair and skin, and can increase feelings of depression and hopelessness
  • Causes resistance to insulin, which raises blood sugar, and may trigger or worsen diabetic or pre-diabetic states
  • Produces cloudy thinking, lack of concentration, and mental fatigue
  • Encourages a breakdown of muscle tissue and bone mass, which contribute to osteoporosis, muscle weakness, frailty and slower metabolic rate

Supplements Can Help
Fortunately, there a natural agents known as adaptogens that can decrease the over secretion of cortisol and protect the adrenal glands against injury and enlargement from the constant stimulation of ACTH. The best and safest adaptogens to use are Rodiola, Schisandra, and Ashwaghanda. Some B-vitamins, such as pantothenic acid and B6, as well as vitamin C and zinc have also been shown to keep the adrenal glands functioning normally under periods of stress.

If you have any of the health problems mentioned above and you feel that stress may be a contributing factor then you should consider taking a supplement each day that contains meaningful dosages of:
  • Rodiola
  • Shisandra
  • Ashwaghanda
  • Pantothenic Acid
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc

Other Considerations

Signs and symptoms that result from stress (due to too much circulating cortisol) can also be caused by other factors. If you are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms mentioned above then you should ask your doctor to include the following tests on your next appointment:
  • Thyroid Function (TSH. Free T4, Free T3)
  • Adrenal Function (DHEA and Cortisol levels, as well as diurnal salivary cortisol levels)
  • Serum Ferritin Levels
  • Tests for antibodies – in some cases a chronic, low-grade infection can produce many symptoms that are similar to those caused by stress (chronic mono, Epstein-bar, candida, hepatitis etc).
I have seen in some cases more that more than one test may show an abnormality. To feel really good again and rediscover your vitality, each abnormal finding must be individually addressed through targeted nutrition, exercise, supplementation, and sometimes medication practices.

In this month’s feature article I explain more details about this comprehensive work up that should be done on individuals who have any of the symptoms outlined above. I also explain how to interpret each test, and what are the best strategies to apply to correct any abnormality. Many doctors over look this important clinical work up, and may even misinterpret the test results (thinking a finding is normal when in fact it is not). So, I would encourage you to read the feature article, get a copy of your blood test and salivary cortisol results and compare your findings to the ideal ranges I outline in this month’s feature article.

This is the only way I can be certain that you are on the right road to get your energy and zest for life back on track, if it has been waning of late.

Combating The Impact Of Stress On Your Body And Your Health

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Biography from

Gale Encyclopedia of Biography:
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Psychologist and educator Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (born 1934) has gained wide recognition and even best-selling author status for his investigations into the nature of happiness and creativity.

He is best known for the concept of "flow" - the state of "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake," he told John Geirland of "Wired".

"The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost."

Psychology as a discipline is more often concerned with human dysfunction than with situations or activities that result in deep satisfaction. When Csikszentmihalyi published Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience in 1990, readers found in it a set of blueprints for the pursuit of happiness. The book affected world leaders (United States President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair both numbered among Csikszentmihalyi's admirers), business management theorists, a leading National Football League figure (Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson used Flow in preparing for the 1993 Super Bowl), and others, on down to ordinary readers who had occasionally lost themselves in challenging tasks and wondered why they found the experience so enjoyable. Csikszentmihalyi was a research psychologist, not a self-help writer, and his books were based on academic methodologies. In the 1990s and 2000s, though, they were read far beyond the academic discipline of psychology.

Played Chess as Escape

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced me-HIGH chick-sent-me-HIGH-ee) was born in Fiume, Italy (now Rijeka, Croatia), on September 29, 1934. His family was Hungarian, and his father Alfred, a member of the Hungarian diplomatic corps, had been posted to Italy. Csikszentmihalyi grew up in Fiume, Florence, and Rome, speaking Hungarian, Italian, and German fluently. World War II disrupted Csikszentmihalyi's life completely. Though still a child, he was held for a time in an Italian prison camp. He fared better than many people he knew, however. By 1944, he told Dava Sobel of Omni, "Many relatives and friends in Budapest had been killed. One of my brothers died in combat, and another had been taken prisoner by the Russians and sent to a forced labor camp in Siberia. I discovered chess was a miraculous way of entering into a different world where all those things didn't matter. For hours I'd just focus within a reality that had clear rules and goals. If you knew what to do, you could survive there."

Csikszentmihalyi's father was named Hungarian ambassador to Italy after the war, but was fired after Communists took over the Hungarian government in 1948. The family decided to stay in Rome as refugees, opening a restaurant there. After finishing school, Csikszentmihalyi worked as a travel agent and news photographer. He did paintings on the side and began to realize how addictive creative work could be. Traveling in Switzerland when he was about 16, he heard a lecture by the early psychoanalyst Carl Jung about the mass delusion that had seized the European mind and resulted in the destruction of the war. "That struck me," he told Sobel, "because as a child in the war I'd seen something drastically wrong with how adults - the grown-ups I trusted - organized their thinking. I was trying to find a better system to order my life. Jung seemed to be trying to cope with some of the more positive aspects of human experience."

Fascinated by psychology, Csikszentmihalyi began reading Jung's books and those of Sigmund Freud. He decided to study psychology at the university level, but he found that few European universities offered courses in the still-young discipline. Learning that psychology was better entrenched in American universities, Csikszentmihalyi applied to the prestigious University of Chicago. His interest in the idea of happiness as something humans could make for themselves was deepened when he met Hungarians who had spent time in the gulag prison system in the Soviet Union. Why, he wondered, did some of them seem serene rather than psychologically destroyed?

Csikszentmihalyi was accepted at Chicago, but several obstacles remained in his path. He spoke little English, but he partially remedied that situation by studying "Pogo" comic books owned by U.S. armed forces members he met. A bigger problem was the loss of his parents' life savings to a scam artist they had employed at their restaurant in Rome. Csikszentmihalyi landed in Chicago in 1956 with a total of $1.25 in his pocket.

Worked as Hotel Auditor

Csikszentmihalyi solved the immediate financial crisis by getting a job as a night auditor at a downtown Chicago hotel. He was discouraged at first by the curriculum at Chicago, which focused on issues of conditioning by means of techniques such as rat experiments rather than on the studies of human psychology that had attracted him to the field. There were precedents in the U.S. for what Csikszentmihalyi was trying to accomplish, however - the writings of psychologist Abraham Maslow on self-actualization focused on optimum life paths.

Csikszentmihalyi did well enough in his coursework, in his fourth language, that he was given a scholarship at the beginning of his junior year. As he got to know the faculty at Chicago better, he met one who was interested in the phenomenon of creativity and agreed to serve as his advisor. Csikszentmihalyi graduated from the University of Chicago in 1959 and was accepted into the psychology Ph.D. program there. He married writer Isabella Selega in 1960, and the couple raised two sons.

After receiving his Ph.D. in 1965, Csikszentmihalyi was hired at Lake Forest College in suburban Chicago as an instructor. He was elevated to assistant professor (in 1967) and associate professor (in 1968), serving as chair of the sociology and anthropology department from 1967 to 1969. In 1968 he became a U.S. citizen. The following year he returned to Chicago as an associate professor, and became professor of human development in 1980 and remained there until 2000. Chicago offered Csikszentmihalyi the chance to pursue the large-scale, survey-based, multi-year projects that would be necessary to the development of his ideas.

Csikszentmihalyi, who has written over 120 articles and book chapters on a variety of subjects, came to his formulation of the idea of "flow" from a variety of different approaches, contributing to studies of creativity and focusing at first on young people in his own research.

One key to human satisfaction, he realized, was that it was never passive, and was never simply the result of a set of external conditions. Csikszentmihalyi had moved from the hell of Europe during World War II to the wealthiest country in the world, materially speaking, but he found that young people were especially disaffected and alienated.

Csikszentmihalyi's first book was Beyond Boredom and Anxiety, published in 1975.

One of his best-known works prior to the publication of Flow was Being Adolescent: Conflict and Growth in the Teenage Years (1985), which he co-authored with Reed Larson.

That work relied on a unique research method: Csikszentmihalyi gave beepers to 75 high school students and had teams of graduate students contact them at random points during the day and ask them about their feelings at that moment.

The high schoolers were unhappy most of the time, unsurprisingly, but Csikszentmihalyi observed patterns in their lives and found that they turned around when they directed their energies toward challenging tasks.

He continued to write about adolescence throughout his career, coining the term "autotelic" for an activity that is done for its own sake, and arguing that teenagers who engaged in such activities benefited from avoiding passive experiences such as television viewing.

Csikszentmihalyi first used the term "flow" in a 1988 collection of essays, Optimal Experience: Studies of Flow in Consciousness, that he co-edited with his wife, Isabella.

He was occasionally conflicted about the use of the term because of its potential association with the passive "go with the flow" ethos espoused by adherents of some forms of New Age spirituality, but "flow" seemed to capture the suspension of time that people experienced when engrossed in a task that stretched their abilities.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience was published by the nonacademic Harper house in 1990, during a period in which few high-profile academics addressed general audiences.

Even so, Csikszentmihalyi had no ambitions to become famous and was surprised when the book, which was based partly on observations of artists, appeared on bestseller lists. By late 1991 it had sold more than 300,000 copies.

Presented Eight Characteristics of Flow

Some critics took Csikszentmihalyi to task for what they saw as a simplistic quality in his reasoning. "It's just tautology," British psychologist Oliver James told Maurice Chittenden of the Times of London, England.

 "If people are very absorbed in something it stands to reason that they are going to be happier - a drug addict would be absorbed with pursuing cocaine."

Csikszentmihalyi, however, developed the idea of "flow" in detail that went beyond simple characterizations of enjoyment or job satisfaction.

"Flow" was not just a feeling of well-being, but had eight separate components.

First, it is the result of a challenging task. 

Second, the person experiencing "flow" becomes part of the task rather than standing outside it.

 "Flow" is involved with the pursuit of definite goals (third) and depends on immediate feedback (fourth). 

It requires a high level of concentration (fifth). 

Sixth, it gives the user a sense of control without a striving for control, something Csikszentmihalyi called the paradox of control. 

Seventh, a sense of self disappears. 

And finally, the sense of time is altered. 

Various parts of this scheme had shown up in other classifications of psychological states, but Csikszentmihalyi's combination of them was unique. "Flow" was not the same as fun, or as joy. It did not depend, as did Maslow's idea of self-actualization, on the meeting of a basic need for security, and indeed it sometimes arose in highly negative situations.

Csikszentmihalyi extended the idea of "flow" in several more books: Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention (1996, based on interviews with more than 90 creative figures from all over the world), Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life (1997), and Flow in Sports (2000, written with Susan A. Jackson).

An enthusiastic mountain climber, he often used that activity as an example of the sort of structured, demanding task that could produce the "flow" experience. Csikszentmihalyi took one criticism to heart, however: "flow" as he first formulated it could apply to socially undesirable tasks as well as desirable ones. A bank robber executing a complex heist might well experience "flow" in Csikszentmihalyi's terms. Csikszentmihalyi tried to join the idea of "flow" with that of evolutionary progress in his book The Evolving Self: A Psychology for the Third Millennium (1993). "Flow" resulted not just from surmounting complexity, he argued, but, as he put it to Sobel, from the realization of "future-oriented goals." "Individual enjoyment seems an evolutionary potential in humans, responsible in large part for technical and social advances," he told Sobel.

New York Times writer Richard Flaste called Csikszentmihalyi "a man obsessed by happiness," and in a society likewise obsessed, Csikszentmihalyi became known as something of a guru. Followers held meeting devoted to "flow" theory, in Europe as well as the U.S., and government officials wondered how to translate the idea of "flow" into public policy.

Csikszentmihalyi's greatest appeal, perhaps, was to the business community, which tried to apply his ideas toward the goal of maximizing employee productivity. In 2000,

Csikszentmihalyi left Chicago for the position of professor of psychology and management and director of the Quality of Life Research Center at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management in Claremont, California. A 2002 Scientific American article he co-authored with Robert Kubey argued that habitual television watching bore scientifically demonstrable resemblances to physical addition; the article received wide publicity.

Csikszentmihalyi made his own contribution to the discussion of business applications of "flow" in his 2003 book Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning, and, past retirement age, he remained a vital voice in the modern dialogue over how to make a well-lived life.


Independent (London, England), October 30, 1991.

New York Times, October 8, 1989; March 18, 1990.

Omni, January 1995.

Psychology Today, January-February 1994; July 1999.

Sunday Times (London, England), December 21, 1997.

USA Today, April 21, 2003.

Washington Times, July 14, 1996.

Wired, September 1996.

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales, England), January 26, 2002.


"The Man Who Found the Flow," Shambhala Sun Online, (January 13, 2006).

"Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow Theory," Brain Channels, (January 13, 2006).

Read more:

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - Enter into the Flow Now |

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dr. Oz: Why I follow a vegetarian diet - National Celebrity Fitness and Health |

Surgeon and TV host Dr. Mehmet Oz has been a vegetarian for many years, saying eating whole, real plant foods gives him the energy to keep up with his hectic lifestyle.

Dr. Oz, 52, converted to a mostly-vegetarian diet because of his wife Lisa, who has been a vegetarian since age 15. While Oz occasionally eats fish and meat, he extols the health benefits of vegetarianism.
Recently, Oz challenged his viewers to follow a vegan diet for 28 days to see for themselves how eating healthier foods can dramatically improve their health.

“If you’re a meat-and-potatoes kind of person who also has problems with portion sizes, than chances are you’re getting more fat and protein in your diet than your body needs," says Oz, who exercises an hour daily, combining a 4-mile run with 10 minutes of yoga.

"Take this 28-day challenge to go vegan and do something that’s good for your cholesterol level, your overall health – and the environment (since you’ll be creating less animal waste)."

While Oz and his family aren't vegan, they try to follow a vegan eating plan as much as possible.

“The foods that we eat right now tend to be foods that come out of the ground looking just the way they look when I eat them," he says. "They’re unadulterated, they’re real foods. I try to eat them raw if I can. Figure out what gives you energy and what saps your energy.”


Dr. Oz: Why I follow a vegetarian diet - National Celebrity Fitness and Health |

Several therapies rolled into one for neurological diseases like MS - Lima multiple sclerosis |

 A neurologist is a medical doctor trained to diagnose and treat adult nervous system disorders and diseases like spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer's disease, MS and head injuries

The Journal of Neuroscience published findings by a team of scientists at Feinberg School of Medicine about what is being called a “one-size-fits-all” medication. It can, possibly, help those with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis (MS) and those with traumatic brain injury.

Jennifer Park of Lima, Ohio has an aunt who has MS and a grandfather who died of Alzheimer's so this news is of particular interest to her. “My husband and I walk every year in our Walk MS and donate money to the Alzheimer's Foundation every year too so, yes, this is incredible news, “ she said.

“My sister and I have talked before about how these diseases have run in our family and have wondered if we were going to have to worry about it for ourselves and we'll be keeping an eye out, of course.”

A professor at Feinberg, Dr. Martin Watterson, had talked with FoxNews.Com saying they had to face a couple of challenges, saying they had to “come up with something to tone down the inflammatory response and do it with some selectivity [so that the immune response would not be toned down as well]” and they “wanted to have a small molecule taken by mouth once or twice a day that would be relatively safe and get into the brain.”

He's talking about lowering a type of inflammation known as neuroinflammation and how this drug, labeled MW151 and MW189, binds to and decreases cytokine. Cytokine(s) is a cell-signaling molecule that is also referred to as immune modulated agents like interferons.

The team had worked with mice that had been genetically engineered to develop Alzheimer's finding, 11 months later, the mice functioning well with their inflammation having decreased.

The Journal of Neuroscience publication doesn't show human studies but the article does mention it is safe for human consumption as Watterson was saying they are waiting for funding to start human clinical trials.

The timing couldn't have been any better as well considering how long it can take to develop and test a drug. Watterson is quoted, “The design, the synthesis and testing [of the drug] took less than a year. In drug development, that’s called a hit. It’s like a bite when you’re fishing, it’s significant, but you still have to reel in the fish… You have to take the hit and improve on it to get a lead compound which has better activity in vivo and does not have bad activity.”

Apparently there is what they are calling a 'target window' for the use of this therapy and that it isn't going to do much for those who are in later stages, so it appears as if the earlier a disease is diagnosed the better.

Which is what is different between the MS community and the Alzheimer's community: most therapies for those with MS focus on those with the earlier stages and worry is now for those with later stages; whereas with Alzheimer's, the focus has been on later-staged therapies with worry now being the need for the earlier stages of progression.

Most shot therapies for many MS patients have been working rather well through the years, but the article raises Watterson's thought of this drug not being used as a replacement but used with a patient's current therapy. It could “stop these conditions in their tracks”.

Sources:, Loren Grush;;;

For more info: for those who live in Lima, Ohio, the Northwestern Ohio MS Chapter can be reached at: Tomahawk Drive at (419) 897-7263. They are located approximately an hour and a half from Lima, Ohio and 45 minutes from Findlay, Ohio. For directions please click here at Google Maps.

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Several therapies rolled into one for neurological diseases like MS - Lima multiple sclerosis |

Apple cider vinegar


Apple cider vinegar is one of those products that have received a great deal of attention as possibly having hidden medicinal properties. Many times a bottle is purchased to be mixed in my water to drink daily.  Good intentions but no real evidence of changes in my health.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has generated a great deal of discussion and ensuing research in recent years due to its presumed ability to act as a natural home remedy to a long list of ailments.

How it all started

ACV is produced when apple juice is fermented first to alcohol (making wine) and then to acetic acid (making vinegar). And ever since the Babylonians first converted wine into vinegar in 5,000 BCE, many have revered vinegar for its presumed healing qualities. Even today's avid supporters claim that ACV can cure arthritis, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, prevent cancer, and assist in digestion and weight management.

Although first documented for its medicinal purposes by Hippocrates, vinegar did not receive considerable focus from the medical community until the publication of a book entitled Folk Medicine in 1958 by a notable Vermont doctor, DC Jarvis. While his claims that Vermonters used ACV to treat migraine headaches, diabetes, chronic fatigue, arthritis, and a variety of other ailments drew some applause, most within the scientific community were skeptical and cautious about Dr. Jarvis' claims.

Dr. Jarvis' supporters claim that ACV contains minerals and trace amounts of potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, chlorine, sodium, sulfur, copper, iron, silicon, fluorine. They also suggest that ACV can attribute its healing qualities to its vitamin content of vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, and the provitamin beta-carotene.

These claims cannot be further from the truth. In fact, a nutritional analysis of one tablespoon reveals that ACV contains minuscule amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium, copper, manganese, and phosphorus, a mere 15 mg of potassium, and absolutely no fiber or vitamins.
ACV supporters rebut this analysis with claims that ACV loses its nutritional value when it is pasteurized. They suggest consuming only the organic and unpasteurized version, in which no chemicals or preservatives have been added and, as such, maintains what is called the "mother" - the cobweb-like floating substance that contains all the nutritional health value.

Apart from these initial nutritional analyses, a limited number of crucial studies have been more recently published that focused specifically on the efficacy of ACV as a healing agent. And what has acquired the most attention with the most promising results are studies on ACV and the role it may play in regulating blood glucose levels and limiting weight gain.

Does it lower cholesterol?

Results from a 2006 study conducted using rat models showed that vinegar may potentially lower cholesterol levels. This reduction in "bad" cholesterol is thought to be attributed to the way in which the soluble fiber, pectin, found in ACV, binds cholesterol and removes it from the body as it passes through the digestion system. It is yet to be proven that these reductions are also seen in humans.

Does it regulate blood glucose levels?

Several studies have shown that taking vinegar before a meal may help lower post-meal glucose levels by delaying gastric emptying. Specifically, two 2007 studies concluded that two tablespoons of AVC supplementation can lower blood glucose levels in people with Type 2 and Type 1 diabetes.

These results, although showing potential, have raised some concerns that ACV supplementation may prove to be disadvantageous to people with diabetes because they may have less control over their blood sugar levels. Where the advantage of ACV supplementation may be realized is in healthy individuals who are looking to control their weight.

Does it limit weight gain?

Results of a 2005 study may provide the first scientific evidence to substantiate the thousand-years-old belief that ACV may be an effective weight loss supplement. The 12-person study found that the participants who consumed vinegar diluted in water with a piece of white bread containing 50 g of available carbohydrate had a "significantly lowered" blood glucose response, and these participants felt fuller and more satisfied than those who ate the bread alone.

Beyond touting the potential benefits of ACV, it is necessary to mention possible side effects associated with using ACV as a supplement. Due to its acidity, ACV can be caustic and may even burn the esophagus if not properly diluted, and long-term risks may include decreased potassium levels or diminished bone mineral density.

With its recent comeback in popularity, ACV is once again the focus of both natural health practitioners and clinical researchers. At this point, however, there is little scientific evidence to support its medicinal qualities, and further studies are needed to support claims of its therapeutic benefits.

Until there is conclusive evidence about the health benefits of ACV, it is better to stick with proven treatment methods for your medical conditions.

Apple cider vinegar - Health - redOrbit

The Awe Effect: How Visions of Awe Can Improve Your Health

 Preface: The Awe Effect sounds a little like the feeling of being in 'FLOW'; without an engrossing activity producing the effect.  Nature has the power to create this psychological state merely be 'being'...being splendid and all.  There is an expression something like, twenty minutes in nature is worth several hours on the psychiatrist's couch and you needn't say a word.....

The Awe Effect

Shafts of light pass over the Bright Angel Fault inside the Grand Canyon, June 10, 2009.

 John Moore / Getty Images
Shafts of light pass over the Bright Angel Fault inside the Grand Canyon, June 10, 2009.

Ever feel like time is standing still? If so, perhaps these moments happen when you are immersed in a state of astonishment. According to new research, awe-inspiring moments really do make things seem like they’re moving a little slower. Scientists also say that the effect could be a positive addition to your typical mile-a-minute day.

The Awe Moment can be sparked by pretty much anything that takes your breath away and reminds you about the vastness of the universe. Examples include seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, looking up to find the Northern Lights, or any stars at all – especially if the only stars you usually see are skyscraper lights glittering through fog.

The research suggests that those images fix your mind to the moment in a way that many working people don’t experience anymore. The mind stops thinking about what’s next and “wows” in the right now.

The study had volunteers watch videos of “awesome” things like waterfalls, whales, and space or “happy” things like bright confetti, parades, and brightly-dressed happy people. Those volunteers reported feeling like they had more time to spare after seeing awe-images, as opposed to counterparts who did not witness anything awesome. They also felt more patient, less materialistic, and more willing to help others. ”People increasingly report feeling time-starved, which exacts a toll on health and wellbeing,” said Stanford’s Melanie Rudd, the study’s leader.

Previous studies have shown a correlation among “lack of time” and headaches, stomach pains, poor sleep, unhealthy diet choices, depression, and high blood pressure.

“A small dose of awe even gave participants a momentary boost in life satisfaction. Thus, these results also have implications for how people spend their time, and underscore the importance and promise of cultivating awe in everyday life,” said Rudd.

MORE: Change Your Neighborhood, Improve Your Health

The Awe Effect: How Visions of Awe Can Improve Your Health | NewsFeed |

MS Society of Canada - Living with MS - MS Updates

This is something we can only hope visits all of us m.s. sufferers ... a respite.

UBC study observes natural improvement in MS-related disability

MS Update

July 25, 2012


A UBC research team collected on all MS patients with definite MS registered with an MS clinic in British Columbia between 1980 and 2004 (follow up to 2009) from the British Columbian MS database to examine naturally occurring improvements in disability scores (EDSS).

The team observed improvements and sustained improvements in EDSS scores at one and two year intervals in people who were not treated with disease-modifying therapies. 

This finding suggests that more work is required to understand the underlying pathophysiology of MS, and the potential for therapeutic options geared at enhancing and prolonging this natural improvement.

[Helen Tremlett, Feng Zhu, John Petkau, Joel Oger, Yinshan Zhao and the BC MS Clinic Neurologists. Mult Scler published online 26 June 2012. DOI: 10.1177/1352458512439119]


UBC researchers collected a total of 16,132 EDSS scores (7653 yearly and 5845 biennial scores). Of the 7653 yearly EDSS intervals examined from 2961 patients, 14.9% showed an improvement (≥0.5 change in EDSS), 8.3% a ≥1 point and 2.2% a ≥2 point improvement. Corresponding declining scores were 32.9%, 20.5% and 7.9%, respectively. In fifty-three per cent of the intervals there was no observed change from one year to the next.

Certain characteristics were found to increase the likelihood of improvement in EDSS score including: female sex, younger age, shorter disease duration, relapsing–remitting disease at onset, the presence of moderate disability (compared with mild or advanced) and a previous episode of worsening (not associated with a relapse).

However, a wide range of participants experienced periods of improvement including those who were previously stable and those with primary-progressive MS.

Those who were older and had longer disease duration had less likelihood of improvement, and primary-progressive MS was associated with a lower odds of improvement as compared with a relapsing-onset disease course.

These findings have clinical implications where the objective of a clinical trial is to assess improvements in disability specifically related to an investigational drug treatment.

Without a placebo or ‘untreated’ control group, researchers need to be aware that improvements can occur naturally, and may differ based on participant characteristics.

National Research and Programs


The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada is an independent, voluntary health agency and does not approve, endorse or recommend any specific product or therapy, but provides information to assist individuals in making their own decisions.

Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

MS Society of Canada - Living with MS - MS Updates

Inactivity May Kill as Many Worldwide as Smoking: Report

Inactivity May Kill as Many Worldwide as Smoking: Report

Lack of exercise linked to cancer, diabetes and heart disease, which cause about 10% of deaths worldwide

WEDNESDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) --  
Inactivity is a major cause of death worldwide, with new research suggesting that a sedentary lifestyle is on par with both smoking and obesity when it comes to raising the risk for disease and mortality.

In four research papers published online July 18 in a special physical activity-themed series in The Lancet, a number of investigating teams peg the number of inactivity-related deaths at 5.3 million worldwide as recently as 2008.

This figure attributed to an inactivity-related risk for major killers such as breast and colon cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease amounts to roughly one out of every 10 deaths globally, a tally more or less equivalent to the number of people who die as a result of smoking.

Although the report cites the inactivity-mortality association as most critical in low- and middle-income nations, researchers depict the situation as a problem with global dimensions.

One-third of all adults -- globally amounting to about 1.5 billion people -- face a 20 percent to 30 percent greater risk for disease due to failing to engage in the kind of routine physical activity (150 minutes of moderate exercise per week) typically recommended by public health authorities.

That figure rises dramatically among adolescents, among whom four in five engage in a risky sedentary lifestyle.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston noted that, globally, about 6 percent of coronary heart disease cases stem from a lack of adequate exercise, which they also linked to an average of about 7 percent of type 2 diabetes cases. Physical inactivity also accounts for an average of about 10 percent of breast and colon cancer cases worldwide, they added.

Not all parts of the world are affected equally, however, as inactivity patterns vary widely region-by-region.

For example, while about 43 percent of North Americans are deemed to be inactive, that figure is just 17 percent among southeast Asians. In Europe, inactivity figures run the gamut, ranging from a high of roughly 70 percent in Malta and Serbia to a low of 17 percent to 18 percent in Estonia and the Netherlands.

Accordingly, inactivity-related disease incidence differs by region as well. Heart disease deaths brought on by a sedentary lifestyle appears to be most problematic in Europe, the researchers noted, where 121,000 fatalities were linked to inactivity in 2008. By comparison, there were 60,000 such deaths in North America and 44,000 in the eastern Mediterranean area.

Yet, amidst a generally pessimistic overview, the research team strikes a hopeful note, suggesting that if physical inactivity rates were to be cut by as little as 10 percent globally, as many as 533,000 lives could be saved. That figure would rise to as high as 1.3 million if inactivity were to be sliced by as much as 25 percent.

A group of researchers from the University of Tennessee point to a number of public health measures that could be taken to do just that.

Walking and cycling can have substantial health benefits, understanding strategies that can increase these behaviors in different regions and cultures has become a public health priority," Gregory Heath, of the University of Tennessee, said in a journal news release.

Heath and his colleagues highlight the potential benefits of mass media campaigns designed to promote activity, alongside the promotion of social support networks in the form of activity clubs and free community-based exercise classes. Efforts to create safe public spaces for biking and walking are also touted as helpful in the effort to get people moving.

Meanwhile, a team led by Michael Pratt of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed to the promise of cellphones, and in particular text-messaging, as a way to deliver a pro-exercise message to the general public.

"With the high prevalence of both physical inactivity and the rapid growth of the mobile phone sector in low-income and middle-income countries, there is the potential for population-level effects that could truly affect global health," Pratt noted in the news release.

More information
For more on physical activity recommendations, visit the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
-- Alan Mozes
SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, July 17, 2012
Last Updated: July 18, 2012
Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Inactivity May Kill as Many Worldwide as Smoking: Report