Stay Positive

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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Multiple Sclerosis and Fatigue – Why Are You So Tired?


Fatigue as defined by Webster’s medical dictionary is as follows:

- weariness or exhaustion from labor, exertion, or stress, and the temporary loss of power to respond induced in a sensory receptor or motor end organ by continued stimulation.  Essentially, fatigue is the lack/loss of energy needed to maintain normal function – whether it is temporary or chronic. 

According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control approximately 25,000 million Americans suffer from severe fatigue (lasting longer than one month). We all experience fatigue from time to time, but the devastating problem of persistent fatigue is the inability to carry on normal daily activities essential for health, family and livelihood.

Fatigue is a significant problem in Multiple Sclerosis (MS). 

What are the reasons for fatigue in MS? 

Is fatigue in MS different than someone with classic Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or a person with another disease condition? 

What can be done to help with fatigue in MS?

The list of medical problems that can lead to fatigue is quite lengthy. When a patient presents to a physician with complaint of fatigue the doctor will look for clinical signs of recent illness such as a virus. They may ask questions about sleep habits, diet, issues related to potential depression, unexpected loss of weight, and other associated complaints, such as weakness, headaches, etc. The doctor will usually perform some blood testing for thyroid function (a good reason everyone with MS should have their thyroid assessed via Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, Free T3 and Free T4 levels), anemia (either iron and/or vitamin B12 and folate), metabolic panel looking at electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and chloride, blood sugar (to rule out hypoglycemia or diabetes), and a complete blood count (to evaluate immune function).

However, in MS a person’s fatigue is often not caused by anemia or blood sugar problems (although it is important to check).  

The fatigue manifests at a much deeper level, in part from the cellular machinery called the mitochondria, as well as the associated immune dysfunction that defines the disease.

Mitochondria are our cells energy factories. They produce a tremendous amount of energy currency needed by the body, i.e. brain, heart, muscles to function properly. 

Mitochondria receive nutrients from our diet, as well as oxygen from the air we breathe to burn fuel (proteins and fats) for energy production. 

Deficits in certain nutrients like CoQ10 can leave the mitochondria vulnerable to malfunction. 

Certain nutrients have been shown to help some people with fatigue such as L-Carnitine (helps to transport fat into the cell as a fuel source – 500mg to 1000mg daily), CoQ10 (supports the inner workings of the mitochondria – 200mg to 300mg daily), NADH (necessary for mitochondria activity – 5mg to 10mg daily), and Ribose (needed for energy production – 5g to 10 g daily).

Another possible link for fatigue in MS has to do with a deficiency of cyclic AMP (cAMP). cAMP is a cellular messenger responsible for a variety of functions such as stimulating myelin production (protective coating around nerve cells that is damaged in MS) and helping to maintain the blood brain barrier (damaged in MS which can lead to brain inflammation). 

One brain structure responsible for cAMP production is the Pineal Gland. The pineal gland is best known for its role in sleep regulation through the production of melatonin. The pineal receives input from a chemical called Histamine 2 which has been found to be deficient in MS. Without adequate H2 people suffer many of the common problems seen in MS including fatigue, heat intolerance, digestive problems, symptoms of allergy, hormone imbalances, i.e. thyroid, poor sleep. 

A therapy called Prokarin has shown benefit for many individuals with MS. Prokarin positively influences the histamine 2 system in the body with improvements in symptoms such as fatigue and weakness.

There is much to discuss with respects to these important biochemical systems and how they related to MS. I will discuss Prokarin therapy and other related topics seen in MS in future writings.

Dr. Kurt N. Woeller About the author: Dr. Kurt N. Woeller, D.O. is the medical director for Sunrise Complementary Medical Center in California, as well as two online patient-physician access websites – and He has been a complementary and integrative medical specialist since 1998 helping individuals with chronic illness including Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, Chronic Fatigue, Autoimmune Disorders, etc. who are interested in integrative (traditional and natural medicine) medical options for their condition. Dr. Woeller is available for Q&A’s regarding natural and complementary medicine options for Multiple Sclerosis at AskTheDoctor-MS. You can also learn more about Dr. Woeller’s consultation services, books, websites, etc. at


All health and health-related information contained within this website are intended to be general in nature and does not reflect any and/or all treatment options. The web site is an educational tool and should not be used as a substitute for a visit with a health care professional.  

Bo Lozoff

“Like a child standing in a beautiful park with his eyes shut tight, there's no need to imagine trees, flowers, deer, birds, and sky; we merely need to open our eyes and realize what is already here, who we already are - as soon as we stop pretending we're small or unholy.”
― Bo Lozoff

The cause of all our personal problems and nearly all the problems of the world can be summed up in a single sentence:
Human life is very deep, and our modern dominant lifestyle is not.” 
― Bo Lozoff

Without loving and caring for others, most of us stand little chance of communing with God/the Divine Wisdom, no matter how many years we may spend in silent prayer.”
― Bo Lozoff

"In the midst of global crises such as pollution, wars and famine, kindness may too easily be dismissed as a soft issue or a luxury to be addressed after more urgent problems are solved.  But kindness is in the greatest need in all those areas, kindness toward the environment, toward other nations, and toward the needs of people suffering.  Simple kindness may be the most vital key to the riddle of how human beings can live with each other and care properly for this planet we all share."
- Bo Lozoff, founder of the Human Kindness Foundation.

MS Links


Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words. - G Eliot

Your own soul is nourished when you are kind; it is destroyed when you are cruel. - King Solomon

Never make fun of someone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language. - H. Jackson Brown Jr.

One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody. - Mother Teresa  

Life is about laughing & living, in good & bad times. Getting through whatever comes our way & looking back & smiling. - Unknown

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. - CS Lewis

I've decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

The number one reason most people don't get what they want is that they don't know what they want. - T. Harv Eker  

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong. - Voltaire  

Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you - Unknown  

Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you - Unknown

No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful. - Eleanor Roosevelt  


Humans should believe in the power of living for just one day, those who want to live for tomorrow are not living. - Santosh Kalwar

When you cannot get a compliment any other way pay yourself one. - Mark Twain

Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles. - Steve Jobs

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why we call it 'The Present'. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of travelling. - Margaret B. Runbeck

You just can't beat the person who won't give up. - Babe Ruth

It takes a long time to grow an old friend. - John Leonard

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

THC and MS Progession


No improvement in MS progression offered by cannabis constituent
Main Category: Multiple Sclerosis

Also Included In: Alcohol / Addiction / Illegal Drugs

Article Date: 25 Jul 2013 - 1:00 PDT

Current ratings for:

No improvement in MS progression offered by cannabis constituent

The first large non-commercial clinical study to investigate whether the main active constituent of cannabis (tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) is effective in slowing the course of progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), shows that there is no evidence to suggest this;
although benefits were noted for those at the lower end of the disability scale.

The study is published in The Lancet Neurology.

The CUPID (Cannabinoid Use in Progressive Inflammatory brain Disease) study was carried out by researchers from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry. The study was funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Multiple Sclerosis Trust, and managed by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) on behalf of the MRC-NIHR partnership.

CUPID enrolled nearly 500 people with MS from 27 centres around the UK, and has taken eight years to complete. 

People with progressive MS were randomised to receive either THC capsules or identical placebo capsules for three years, and were carefully followed to see how their MS changed over this period. 

The two main outcomes of the trial were 
1. - a disability scale administered by neurologists (the Expanded Disability Status Scale), and 

2. - a patient report scale of the impact of MS on people with the condition (the Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale 29).

 the study found no evidence to support an effect of THC on MS progression in either of the main outcomes. 

However, there was some evidence to suggest a beneficial effect in participants who were at the lower end of the disability scale at the time of enrolment but, as the benefit was only found in a small group of people rather than the whole population, further studies will be needed to assess the robustness of this finding.

One of the other findings of the trial was that 
MS in the study population as a whole progressed slowly, more slowly than expected. (Is this a contradiction?)

This makes it more challenging to find a treatment effect when the aim of the treatment is to slow progression.

As well as evaluating the potential neuroprotective effects and safety of THC over the long-term,(ANOTHER OBJECTIVE) one of the aims of the CUPID study was to improve the way that clinical trial research is done, by exploring newer methods of measuring MS and using the latest statistical methods to make the most of every piece of information collected. This analysis continued for several months and has provided important information about conducting further large scale clinical trials in MS.

Professor John Zajicek, Professor of Clinical Neuroscience at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, said: 

"To put this study into context: current treatments for MS are limited: 

i) either being targeted at the immune system in the early stages of the disease or

ii) aimed at easing specific symptoms such as muscle spasms, fatigue or bladder problems. 

At present there is no treatment available to slow MS when it becomes progressive. Progression of MS is thought to be due to death of nerve cells, and researchers around the world are desperately searching for treatments that may be 'neuroprotective'. 

Laboratory experiments have suggested that certain cannabis derivatives may be neuroprotective."

He added: 

"Overall our research has not supported laboratory based findings and shown that, although there is a suggestion of benefit to those at the lower end of the disability scale when they joined CUPID, 

there is little evidence to suggest that THC has a long term impact on the slowing of progressive MS."


Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click 'references' tab above for source.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

More Than an Apple a Day: Preventing Our Most Common Diseases

Dr. Greger builds a strong case for switching to a plant-based diet for the health of it.  He talks about the benefits to people suffering from autoimmune diseases like m.s.

This would help the planet by reducing cattle production.


on Jul 15, 2013
Subscribe for free to Dr. Greger's videos at:

DESCRIPTION: Dr. Greger has scoured the world's scholarly literature on clinical nutrition and developed this brand-new live presentation on the latest in cutting-edge research on how a healthy diet can affect some of our most common medical conditions.

In my annual nutrition review last year, Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death (, I explored the role diet may play in preventing, arresting, and even reversing our top 15 killers. Actually, if you recall, the top 16. Since side effects from prescription drugs kill an estimated 100,000 Americans a year, the sixth leading cause of death may actually be doctors.
And that's just from adverse drug reactions. Add in medical mistakes (which the Institute of Medicine estimates kills at least 44,000 Americans) and that brings "health"care up to our country's third leading cause of death. Throw in hospital-acquired infections, and we're talking maybe 187,000 Americans dead every year (and millions injured) by medical care.

The best way to avoid the adverse effects of medical and surgical tests and treatments is not to avoid doctors, but to avoid getting sick in the first place. This year I thought I'd run through the top dozen reasons people visit their doctors to highlight some of the latest research in hopes of moving my colleagues and me lower down the list of common killers.

So you can more easily navigate through the menu of diseases I cover, this presentation is also available on DVD through my website ( or Amazon ( If you want to share copies with others I have a five for $40 ( special. All proceeds from the sales of all my books, DVDs, and presentations all go to charity.

Have a question for Dr. Greger about this video? Leave it in the comment section at and he'll try to answer it!
Science & Technology
Standard YouTube License


Monday, July 22, 2013

Catherine Kerr - Mindfulness Starts With the Body: A V...

Director of Translational Neuroscience, Contemplative Studies Initiative Assistant Professor (Research), Department of Family Medicine.

Why does mindfulness meditation begin by focusing on the breath? Does mindfulness-based somatic awareness (cultivated through attention to breath, body sensations) change the brain?

Catherine Kerr received a B.A. from Amherst College, and a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University. Before arriving at Brown, she was at Harvard Medical School where her original focus was on developing innovative approaches for investigating placebo effects.

Currently, her work focuses on using Magnetoencephalography (MEG) and other tools to investigate brain mechanisms underlying body-based attention and healing in mindfulness and other mind-body practices such as Tai Chi.


Meditation as medicine: Vanessa Kettering at TEDxClaremontColleges

Vanessa is a PhD student studying positive developmental psychology. In her talk, she espouses on the value of meditation in a world that is becoming increasingly distracted and noisy.


To savor the flavor, perform a short ritual first (Mindful Eating)

July 22, 2013 — Birthday celebrations often follow a formula, including off-key singing, making a birthday wish while blowing out candles, and the ceremonial cutting of the birthday cake. New research suggests that this ritual not only makes the experience more memorable, but might also improve the taste of the cake.

The new collection of studies, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reveals that the rituals we perform before eating -- even the seemingly insignificant ones -- can actually change our perception of the food we eat.

Psychological scientist Kathleen Vohs of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota wondered about the power of rituals after noticing the funny routines that people -- including Vohs herself -- often perform before eating and drinking:

"Whenever I order an espresso, I take a sugar packet and shake it, open the packet and pour a teeny bit of sugar in, and then taste," Vohs observes. "It's never enough sugar, so I then pour about half of the packet in. The thing is, this isn't a functional ritual, I should just skip right to pouring in half the packet."

Vohs and colleagues conducted four experiments to investigate how these kinds of ritualistic behaviors might influence our perception and consumption of various foods.

In the first experiment, some participants were asked to eat a piece of chocolate following a detailed set of instructions: "Without unwrapping the chocolate bar, break it in half. Unwrap half of the bar and eat it. Then, unwrap the other half and eat it."

The other participants were simply instructed to relax for a short amount of time and then eat the chocolate bar in whatever fashion they wished.

The results showed that those who had performed the "ritual" rated the chocolate more highly, savored it more, and were willing to pay more for the chocolate than the other group.

The findings suggest that a short, fabricated ritual can produce real effects.

A second experiment reinforced these findings, showing that random movements don't produce a more enjoyable eating experience. Only repeated, episodic, and fixed behaviors seem to change our perception of the food.

The data also revealed that a longer delay between ritual and consumption bolstered these effects, even with a neutral food like carrots; the anticipation of eating carrots following a ritual actually improved their subjective taste.

In the final two studies, Vohs and colleagues showed that personal involvement in the ritual is paramount -- watching someone else methodically mix lemonade doesn't make it taste any better. Additionally, they found that "intrinsic interest" -- the fact that rituals draw people into what they are doing -- fully accounted for the positive effects that rituals have on our eating experiences.

While these rituals may seem small or mundane, the researchers note that the effects they produce are quite tangible. And while rituals are common before mealtimes, they could play a role in other situations, too:

"We are thinking of getting patients to perform rituals before a surgery and then measuring their pain post-operatively and how fast they heal," Vohs says.

To savor the flavor, perform a short ritual first

Sunday, July 21, 2013



MS medications can be divided into several categories. 

The first group of medications (disease modifying therapies) are drugs that impact the underlying disease. These drugs are also called immunomodulatory therapies and generally work by targeting some aspect of the inflammatory process of MS, with an aim of preventing inflammation which causes relapses.

Second, there are medications (steroids)
that help to decrease the severity and duration of MS relapses. A relapse is caused by an area of acute inflammation in the central nervous system and steroids work to actively suppress inflammation. Steroids are powerful medications with a variety of side effects if taken long term and so they are used over the short term to improve relapse symptoms and speed healing.

Finally, there are medications that help ease many MS related symptoms.
Many medications come into this category. There are medications to help fatigue, spasticity, and pain, to name a few.

The availability of new treatments is increasing steadily thanks to continuing research in Canada and throughout the world. See the Research section for more information.

In addition to medications, living a healthy lifestyle will help to maximize your sense of well being. A balanced diet, adequate rest, and some form of regular exercise are all ways of equipping your body with what it needs to help you feel your best. And healthy living benefits more than your physical well being - it may just help your emotional health as well!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

TEDxMaribor - NNeel Burton - The Anatomy of Melancholy: Can depression be good for you?

Published on Mar 2, 2012

Dr Neel Burton is a psychiatrist, philosopher, and writer who lives and teaches in Oxford, England, where he also runs the Oxford Wine Academy and the Meaning of Madness Course. He is the recipient of the Society of Authors' Richard Asher Prize, the British Medical Association's Young Authors' Award, and the Medical Journalists' Association Open Book Award.

Category - Education
License - Standard YouTube License


Plant Based Nutrition: Julieanna Hever at TEDxConejo 2012

Published on Jul 1, 2012

Julieanna Hever, also known as The Plant-Based Dietitian, is a passionate advocate of the miracles associated with following a whole food, plant-based diet-the established effects of which provide positive healthful benefits.

Julieanna is the author of the best-selling book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, and the nutrition columnist for VegNews Magazine. She is the co-author of the brand new book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking, which she wrote with Chef Beverly Lynn Bennett.

Julieanna counsels a variety of clients throughout the world from her Los Angeles, California-based private practice including elite athletes, adults, and children with various nutritional and/or medical concerns.

Julieanna was recently featured on The Dr. Oz Show and Reluctantly Healthy, co-stars on The Chef and The Dietitian, on numerous radio shows, and has lectured extensively throughout the United States. She is published in prominent journals, magazines, blogs, and newsletters. As co-producer and star of the "infotainment" documentary To Your Health, Julieanna interviewed a host of the plant-based world's most respected doctors and researchers to bring this important information to film and television audiences.

Her work as the Executive Director of EarthSave, International, has also provided an opportunity for Julieanna to bring whole food, plant-based nutrition to the forefront of efforts to improve the current global health crisis.

Julieanna received her Bachelors degree from UCLA and Masters of Science in Nutrition at California State University, Northridge, where she also completed her Dietetic Internship. She has taught as part of Dr. T. Colin Campbell's eCornell Plant-Based Nutrition Certification Program, worked as a clinical dietitian at Century City Doctors Hospital, and has consulted for numerous businesses.

To learn more, visit Julieanna at her website: 

and her blog:

Category - Howto & Style
License - Standard YouTube License


Debunking the paleo diet: Christina Warinner at TEDxOU

In the spirit of looking at all aspects of physical health to combat m.s. symptoms, diet is one of the building blocks of maintaining healthy bodies.


Published on Feb 12, 2013

TED Fellow Christina Warinner is an expert on ancient diets. So how much of the diet phad the "Paleo Diet" is based on an actual Paleolithic diet? The answer is not really any of it.

Dr. Christina Warinner has excavated around the world, from the Maya jungles of Belize to the Himalayan mountains of Nepal, and she is pioneering the biomolecular investigation of archaeological dental calculus (tartar) to study long-term trends in human health and diet. 

She is a 2012 TED Fellow, and her work has been featured in Wired UK, the Observer,, Der Freitag, and Sveriges TV. She obtained her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2010, specializing in ancient DNA analysis and paleodietary reconstruction.

Category - Education
License - Standard YouTube License


Diana Winston - The Practice of Mindfulness

Published on Jul 4, 2012

Former Buddhist nun Diana Winston is the director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA Mindful Awareness Center, and the author of several books on mindfulness and meditation. With more than 20 years in the study and practice of mindfulness, Diana explains how routinely taking the time to be in the moment can have a profound impact on our everyday lives and relationships.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

Category - Education
License - Standard YouTube License


Transform Your Mind, Change the World: Sharon Salzberg

 Published on Apr 21, 2012

Sharon Salzberg is cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts. 
She has been a student of meditation since 1971, guiding meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. 
Sharon's latest book is the New York Times Best Seller, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program, published by Workman Publishing. 
She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and is also the author of several other books including The Force of Kindness (2005), Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience (2002), and Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (1995).

Compulsive no more

Compulsive no more

MIT study sheds light on what causes compulsive behavior, could improve OCD treatments.
by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office

MIT neuroscientists used light to control the activity of neurons involved in compulsive behavior.
June 6, 2013

By activating a brain circuit that controls compulsive behavior, MIT neuroscientists have shown that they can block a compulsive behavior in mice — a result that could help researchers develop new treatments for diseases such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette’s syndrome.

About 1 percent of U.S. adults suffer from OCD, and patients usually receive antianxiety drugs or antidepressants, behavioral therapy, or a combination of therapy and medication. For those who do not respond to those treatments, a new alternative is deep brain stimulation, which delivers electrical impulses via a pacemaker implanted in the brain.

For this study, the MIT team used optogenetics to control neuron activity with light. This technique is not yet ready for use in human patients, but studies such as this one could help researchers identify brain activity patterns that signal the onset of compulsive behavior, allowing them to more precisely time the delivery of deep brain stimulation.

“You don’t have to stimulate all the time. You can do it in a very nuanced way,” says Ann Graybiel, an Institute Professor at MIT, a member of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research and the senior author of a Science paper describing the study.

The paper’s lead author is Eric Burguière, a former postdoc in Graybiel’s lab who is now at the Brain and Spine Institute in Paris. Other authors are Patricia Monteiro, a research affiliate at the McGovern Institute, and Guoping Feng, the James W. and Patricia T. Poitras Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and a member of the McGovern Institute.

Controlling compulsion

In earlier studies, Graybiel has focused on how to break normal habits; in the current work, she turned to a mouse model developed by Feng to try to block a compulsive behavior. The model mice lack a particular gene, known as Sapap3, that codes for a protein found in the synapses of neurons in the striatum — a part of the brain related to addiction and repetitive behavioral problems, as well as normal functions such as decision-making, planning and response to reward.

For this study, the researchers trained mice whose Sapap3 gene was knocked out to groom compulsively at a specific time, allowing the researchers to try to interrupt the compulsion. To do this, they used a Pavlovian conditioning strategy in which a neutral event (a tone) is paired with a stimulus that provokes the desired behavior — in this case, a drop of water on the mouse’s nose, which triggers the mouse to groom. This strategy was based on therapeutic work with OCD patients, which uses this kind of conditioning.

After several hundred trials, both normal and knockout mice became conditioned to groom upon hearing the tone, which always occurred just over a second before the water drop fell. However, after a certain point their behaviors diverged: The normal mice began waiting until just before the water drop fell to begin grooming. This type of behavior is known as optimization, because it prevents the mice from wasting unnecessary effort.

This behavior optimization never appeared in the knockout mice, which continued to groom as soon as they heard the tone, suggesting that their ability to suppress compulsive behavior was impaired.

The researchers suspected that failed communication between the striatum, which is related to habits, and the neocortex, the seat of higher functions that can override simpler behaviors, might be to blame for the mice’s compulsive behavior. To test this idea, they used optogenetics, which allows them to control cell activity with light by engineering cells to express light-sensitive proteins.

When the researchers stimulated light-sensitive cortical cells that send messages to the striatum at the same time that the tone went off, the knockout mice stopped their compulsive grooming almost totally, yet they could still groom when the water drop came. The researchers suggest that this cure resulted from signals sent from the cortical neurons to a very small group of inhibitory neurons in the striatum, which silence the activity of neighboring striatal cells and cut off the compulsive behavior.

“Through the activation of this pathway, we could elicit behavior inhibition, which appears to be dysfunctional in our animals,” Burguière says.

The researchers also tested the optogenetic intervention in mice as they groomed in their cages, with no conditioning cues. During three-minute periods of light stimulation, the knockout mice groomed much less than they did without the stimulation.

Scott Rauch, president and psychiatrist-in-chief of McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., says
the MIT study “opens the door to a universe of new possibilities by identifying a cellular and circuitry target for future interventions.”

“This represents a major leap forward, both in terms of delineating the brain basis of pathological compulsive behavior and in offering potential avenues for new treatment approaches,” adds Rauch, who was not involved in this study.

Graybiel and Burguière are now seeking markers of brain activity that could reveal when a compulsive behavior is about to start, to help guide the further development of deep brain stimulation treatments for OCD patients.

The research was funded by the Simons Initiative on Autism and the Brain at MIT, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative.

Daniel Amen - Change Your Brain, Change Your Life

Uploaded on Jun 7, 2011

Change your Brain, Change your Life. Revelations based on studying 63,000 brain images across 90 countries over 20 years. How Brain imaging can change paradigms and our understanding of healthy life, no matter where we live.

Physician, psychiatrist, and teacher, Daniel Amen, MD, is one of the world's foremost experts on applying brain imaging science to clinical psychiatric practice. He is widely regarded as a gifted teacher, taking complex brain science concepts to make them easily accessible to other professionals and the general public. 
Daniel is the author of 42 professional articles and 28 books, including four New York Times bestsellers. He is the producer and star of five highly popular shows about the brain, which have raised more than 34 million dollars for public television. 

Daniel is the medical director of Amen Clinics, Inc., that has the world's largest database of functional brain scans totaling more than 64,000. The clinics have seen patients from 90 countries.

Willoughby Britton - Why A Neuroscientist Would St...

Uploaded on Jul 26, 2011

Willoughby Britton - Why A Neuroscientist Would Study Meditation

In this TEDxTalk, Professor Willoughby Britton tells us that happiness is not about getting what you want. 

She discusses our mental qualities as habits we practice and she sheds light on an important link between neuroscience and contemplative studies. 

Britton received a B.A. in Neuroscience from Colgate University in 1996 and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Arizona in 2007.

Broadly speaking, she is interested in the role of variations in conscious states in the intersection between affective neuroscience, clinical science and religion. 

See her full bio and learn more about this event at the TEDxBrownUniversity

website (

Category - Nonprofits & Activism
License - Standard YouTube License


Risk Factor For Cognitive Impairment

Low Education A Risk Factor For Cognitive Impairment In Multiple Sclerosis

05 Jul 2013   

Multiple sclerosis (MS) can lead to severe cognitive impairment as the disease progresses. Researchers in Italy have found that patients with high educational levels show less impairment on a neuropsychological evaluation compared with those with low educational levels. 

Their results are published in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience. 

MS is a progressive immunologic brain disorder with
neuropsychological deficits including selective attention, working memory, executive functioning, information processing speed, and long term memory. 

These deficits often impact daily life (ability to do household tasks, interpersonal relationships, employment, and overall quality of life). 

In this study, investigators first assessed the role of cognitive reserve, the brain's active attempt to focus on how tasks are processed, in compensating for the challenge represented by brain damage. 

Earlier studies had reported that higher cognitive reserve protects MS subjects from disease-related cognitive inefficiency but in these studies cognitive reserve was mainly estimated through a vocabulary test. 

Here, investigators considered educational level and occupational attainment instead of vocabulary. They also evaluated both educational and occupational experience, hypothesizing that an individual's lifetime occupational attainment could also be considered a good proxy of CR, similar to the way in which higher occupational attainment reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease. 

The second aim of the study was to investigate the possible role of perceived fatigue. Fatigue can have a great negative influence on daily life, so that higher perceived fatigue might result in lower cognitive performance. 

Fifty consecutive clinically diagnosed MS patients took part in the study. A control group included 157 clinically healthy subjects, with no psychiatric or neurological diagnosis. Individuals in both groups were, on average, of the same age, education level and gender. The mean age was 40.41 (± 9.67) years, with 12.37 (± 4.42) years of education. 

Cognitive performance was evaluated using the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT), in which a series of single digit numbers are presented and the two most recent digits must be summed. 

This test has high sensitivity in detecting MS-related cognitive deficits as it relies strongly on working memory and information processing speed abilities. 

Fatigue was evaluated through the Modified Fatigue Impact Scale (MFIS), which assesses the effects of fatigue in terms of physical, cognitive, and psychosocial functioning. 

Of the 50 clinically diagnosed patients, 17 had less than 13 years of schooling, without obtaining any secondary level diploma, and 33 had received more than 13 years of schooling, leading to a diploma at university level. Both groups were administered a short neuropsychological battery including standardized tests for vigilance, alertness and divided attention. None of the tasks showed differences between the groups. 

Patients were also classified using the US census categories into low occupations (student, housewife, unskilled/semiskilled, skilled trade or craft, clerical/office worker) and high occupations (manager business/government and professional/technical), where the occupational attainment categories are based on the cognitive complexity and cognitive effort needed to carry out the job efficiently. They were then further divided into three groups: low occupation and low education, low occupation and high education, and high occupation and high education. 

The researchers found that high speed PASAT versions were more suitable for identifying compensatory capacities compared to low speed PASAT versions. MS patients with low education performed worse than matched healthy controls at faster PASAT speeds. By contrast, no difference was observed between MS patients with high education and matched healthy controls, regardless of PASAT speed. On the other hand, neither occupational attainment nor fatigue had any impact on cognitive deficits in MS. 

"These results indicate that low education is a risk factor for cognitive impairment in people with neurological disease such as MS, whereas a high educational level could be considered a protective factor from disease-associated cognitive impairment," observes lead investigator Elisabetta Làdavas, PhD, Director of the Center for Studies and Research in Cognitive Neuroscience, Cesena and Professor of Neuropsychology at the Department of Psychology of the University of Bologna, Italy. 

She concludes that:

"The protective effects of education on the cognitive profile of MS patients should be considered in longitudinal studies of cognitive functions, and in therapeutic attempts to improve cognition in these patients."

IOS Press

Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

IOS Press. "Low Education A Risk Factor For Cognitive Impairment In Multiple Sclerosis." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 5 Jul. 2013. Web.
6 Jul. 2013.
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Friday, July 19, 2013

TEDxDU Ramona Pierson #1 -- Learning to learn

This is an inspiring story about determination and the neuroplasticity talked about by  neurologists.  

Uploaded on May 20, 2011

Ramona Pierson -- Learning to learn.

In her first of two Talks at TEDxDU, Ramona tells of her remarkable recovery from an accident that put her in an 18-month coma, unable to see, walk, or speak. Senior citizens came to her rescue and slowly re-taught all of her life skills. Several masters and PhD's later, Ramona credits their personalized care as driving her passion for customized education in our schools.

Ramona Pierson: Education innovator

Ramona Pierson develops tools to revolutionize learning management and assessment systems -- her fourth career after aviation, neuropsychology and software development.
  • c 2011

Ramona Pierson on the Web

Ramona Pierson first built careers in aviation, neuropsychology and software development. While studying and examining and learning the details of such diverse disciplines, she became interested in the act of learning itself. She volunteered in a San Francisco school while working full-time in Silicon Valley and, just like that, a fourth career was born.

Pierson completed a master’s degree in education in California, then headed north to take the reins of the education technology department for Seattle Public Schools. She combined her passions and expertise to create software that, in a nutshell, helps teachers teach better. In 2007, Ramona launched a private company with the same goal. SynapticMash Inc. was launched to revolutionize the learning management and assessment systems in education.

A self-described “data geek,” Pierson contemplated ways to push education and technology through a paradigm shift — to move from web 2.0 to web 3.0. Now the chief science officer at Promethean, Ramona continues to study the act of learning and to explore ways to make our education system work better for students.

See complete bio and all TEDxDU Talks at 

Startup Founder Ramona Pierson Has Survived Worse Things Than Most People Can Imagine

JULIE BORT  APR. 14, 2013,

Pierson Labs
Ramona Pierson

Everybody has a story but few are as painful and triumphant as Ramona Pierson's.
Pierson is the CEO of a stealth startup, Pierson Labs.

She is also, quite possibly, the most inspiring tech founder in the Valley today. And that's saying something.

Business Insider recently met with her and her cofounder Nelson González at the startup's Palo Alto headquarters.

Pierson is lucky to be alive. She's also lucky to be walking, talking and thinking, much less be leading her second startup, developing big-data education software.

In 1984, when she was 22 years old, she went out jogging with her dog and was hit by a drunk driver. The car crushed her face, throat, heart lungs and legs. At the hospital, she fell into an 18-month coma. And then she had a heart attack.

Instead of killing her, the heart attack woke her up. She came to weighing 64 pounds, blind and unable to walk, talk, eat.

Doctors rebuilt her through more than 50 surgeries: a plastic nose, a new eye, lots of titanium used as bones and some bones taken from cadavers, too.

"Eventually, I started to look human," she says in her stirring 2011 Ted Talk about the ordeal.

Today, she looks more than human. She looks like the attractive, fit, ex-Marine that she is. But it was a long road to recovery involving having to relearn everything.

In the marines, Pierson learned to code. Her experience lead to an interest in neuroscience so during her military service she wrote algorithms to diagnose brain injuries from the battlefield.

Business Insider/Julie Bort

Nelson González, Ramona Pierson, and Tanqueray PiersonThat lead to an interest in how people learn and a job as director of technology for Seattle Public Schools. There she created a social network for students and teachers called "The Source."

And that lead to her first startup, SynapticMash, an education software company sold to Promethean World for $10 million in 2010.

But her injuries still plagued her. The cadaver bone in her leg randomly broke while she was running and needed to be replaced. Just last year, her toes needed to be fixed.

She became so good at living through surgeries that she actually negotiated the sale of SynapticMash from the hospital recovery room 15 minutes after an operation. She refused the pain medicine and instead popped open her laptop, hopped onto Skype and sold her company, she told Business Insider.

Despite her history, Pierson is a cheerful, hopeful, driven person with a big sense of humor and an enormous amount of charisma. A screenwriter for Moneyball is even writing screenplay about her life.

Her new company is likely to be more successful than the last one. Pierson Labs will exit stealth next month and the company already has some big customers, we've heard, and a partner at venture capital firm Khosla is her personal advisor.

The company is home to about 20 employees who are building a big-data platform called Declara. It's a combo analytics/social networking platform to help teachers create more personalized lessons for students. It can also be used by enterprises for training, González told us.

Plus the company is working on other interesting projects. For instance, Hall of Famer 49er's football player Ronnie Lott is an investor, Pierson says. He wants to make football safer and is looking at Pierson's tech for that. By attaching sensors to player's bodies, the platform can analyze bio-mechanic data and assess injuries.

Pierson is also half of a Valley power couple. Her partner Debra Chrapaty, Zynga's former CIO, just became CEO for Khosla-backed cloud-storage startup Nirvanix.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Latest in MS research presented at the 65th American Academy of Neurology Meeting

M. S. Update
July 2, 2013

Signs mark the 2013 AAN Conference along the exterior walls of the San Diego Convention Centre this past April the world’s largest and most important annual event in the field of neuroscience took place in San Diego, California. Over 10,000 practicing neurologists, medical students and research scientists convened for the 65th American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting.

The week long conference featured educational seminars, scientific presentations, and innovative workshops which enabled attendees to learn about the latest in research while networking with other neurology professionals.

Movement disorders, aging, Alzheimer’s disease, behavioural science, and, importantly, basic research and therapeutic advancements in multiple sclerosis (MS) were among the topics that were discussed during the meeting.

Information was presented via poster presentations, in which researchers display their data visually on a poster, often standing by to answer questions from visitors, or in scientific sessions, where presentations are grouped together by subject.

Of notable interest were the sessions on MS clinical trials, the reported outcomes of which are described in more detail below.

Determining therapeutic advantage of using two MS drugs vs. one

Dr. Fred Lublin from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and Dr. Jerry Wolinsky from University of Texas Health Science Center presented progress on the CombiRx phase III trial extension. The original clinical trial, which began in 2005 with an enrollment of 1,018 patients, was designed to evaluate the potential clinical benefit of combination therapy with interferon beta-1a (Avonex®, Biogen) and glatiramer acetate (Copaxone®, Teva Pharmaceutical) versus administration of either drug alone.  

Results from the extension, a long-term follow up, reveal that combination therapy was not superior to either drug alone in terms of reducing relapses.  

Combination therapy also provided less benefit than individual drugs for other factors such as disability progression and length of time to first relapse. However, MRI results presented by Dr. Wolinsky showed that patients who received combination therapy had fewer lesions as seen on MRI scans than patients who were treated with either agent alone.

This research provides important insight into the cost-benefit analysis of treatment with combined medications.

Dr. Lublin noted that more research in this area, as well as more accurate measures of disability in MS clinical trials generally is being actively pursued.

Read More:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New information on "remyelination"

MS Society supported study yields new information on "remyelination"

MS Update

July 9, 2013

Background: Remyelination and MS

Multiple sclerosis symptoms are the result of damage to myelin, a substance which wraps around and protects the wire-like structures known as axons which are found in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. Myelin also serves as an insulator for axons, allowing them to send nerve impulses required by the body to see, walk, write, speak, and other basic functions. When myelin is damaged, the speed with which axons deliver nerve impulses is either slowed dramatically or lost completely.

During normal development, a group of cells called oligodendrocytes are responsible for producing myelin. Because of their critical role in myelin production, oligodendrocytes have been intensively investigated by researchers to see if they are able to reform damaged myelin after an immune attack in MS, through a process known as ‘remyelination’. Previous evidence has demonstrated that remyelination can and has occurred in the central nervous system of people with MS. Now they are trying to determine which cells are responsible for creating new myelin, and if the level of remyelination is sufficient to repair what has been lost in MS.
MS Society of Canada funded scientist and clinician Dr. Jack Antel has been leading a lab of MS researchers from McGill University who actively explore remyelination through a series of elaborate cell, animal and human experiments. Their latest research, published in the American Journal of Pathology, suggests that oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) - the younger version of oligodendrocytes - may actually be the source of new, healthy myelin in MS following immune-mediated damage.

Study Methods and Results:

Dr. Antel and colleagues conducted a series of laboratory experiments comparing the presence and remyelination capabilities of oligodendrocytes versus their younger counterparts, the OPCs. These experiments used tissue samples taken from people with MS as well as healthy volunteers.
Summary of results:
  1. When they compared tissue samples from people with MS versus samples from healthy volunteers, researchers noticed that OPCs took a harder hit than oligodendrocytes when under attack.
    • This was reflected by a greater reduction in numbers of OPCs versus oligodendrocytes and suggests that OPCs may be more vulnerable to the destructive activity of immune cells in MS
  2. OPCs were able to travel to sites of damage to begin repairing injured tissue
    • This further implies the role of OPCs in promoting remyelination in MS
  3. When oligodendrocytes were added to the MS cell cultures, the oligodendrocytes failed to produce myelin.
    • This suggests that oligodendrocytes are not the main source of repair
  4. When OPCs were removed from the MS cell cultures, remyelination failed to occur.
    • This suggests that OPCs are required for repair of MS lesions


This new data demonstrates that the younger oligodendrocytes - the oligodendrocyte precursor cells or OPCs - may be more important in tissue repair following an MS relapse. In fact, this MS Society funded study proposes that damage to or loss of OPCs greatly contributes to the limited remyelination observed in MS, which in turn may lead to progression of disease. If research confirms these findings, there is strong potential for the development of MS therapies to stimulate activity or promote survival of OPCs with the goal of boosting their capacity for remyelination.

Cui Q et al. Oligodendrocyte progenitor cell susceptibility to injury in multiple sclerosis. American Journal of Pathology 2013 7 June 

Disponible en français.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
Toll free to reach the nearest regional office: 1 800 268-7582

To locate the MS Society office near you, please select your region:

E-mail: provide your town and province in your e-mail)


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Nutrition in a Bottle: Vitamins Minerals and Supplements

Because multiple sclerosis has no cure and no effective treatments, it is important to educate yourself about nutrition.  We need to maintain the mental and physical health to live as best we can with this autoimmune disease.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

― Hippocrates


Dr. Ellen Hughes, internist and integrative medicine specialist at UCSFs Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, explores the value of vitamins, minerals and supplements. Series: UCSF Mini Medical School for the Public [9/2009] [Health and Medicine] [Show ID: 16719]