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Oprah Talks to Thich Nhat Hanh Transcript


Thich Nhat Hanh and Oprah Winfrey
Photo: Rob Howard



Oprah Talks to Thich Nhat Hanh

Oprah.com | From the March 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine



The O Exclusive Interview

He's been a Buddhist monk for more than 60 years, as well as a teacher,writer, and vocal opponent of war—a stance that left him exiled from his native Vietnam for four decades. Now the man Martin Luther King Jr. called "an apostle of peace and nonviolence" reflects on the beauty of the present moment, being grateful for every breath, and the freedom and happiness to be found in a simple cup of tea. The moment I meet Thich Nhat Hanh at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan, I feel his sense of calm. A deeply tranquil presence seems to surround the Zen Buddhist master.

But beneath Nhat Hanh's serene demeanor is a courageous warrior. The 83-year-old native of Vietnam, who joined the monastery when he was 16, valiantly opposed his own government during the Vietnam War. Even as he embraced the contemplative life of a monk, the war confronted him with a choice: Should he remain hidden away in the monastery tending to matters of the spirit, or go out and help the villagers who were suffering? Nhat Hanh's decision to do both is what gave birth to "Engaged Buddhism"—a movement that involves peaceful activism for the purpose of social reform. It's also what led Martin Luther King Jr. to nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1967.

As part of his denunciation of the violence inflicted on his countrymen, Nhat Hanh founded a relief organization that rebuilt bombed Vietnamese villages, set up schools and medical centers, and resettled homeless families. Nhat Hanh also created a Buddhist university, a publishing house, and a peace activist magazine—all of which led the Vietnamese government to forbid him, in 1966, to return home after he'd left the country on a peace mission. He remained in exile for 39 years.

Before his exile, Nhat Hanh had spent time in the West (studying at Princeton and teaching at Columbia University in the early 1960s), and it was to the West that he now returned. Seeing an opportunity to spread Buddhist thought and encourage peaceful activism, he led the Buddhist Peace Delegation to the Paris Peace Talks in 1969, established the Unified Buddhist Church in France, and went on to write more than 100 books, including the 1995 best-seller Living Buddha, Living Christ—a volume that never leaves my nightstand.

Nhat Hanh eventually settled in Southern France and founded Plum Village, the Buddhist meditation practice center and monastery where he still lives. Thousands of people travel there each year to join him in exploring the tenets of Buddhism—including mindfulness (intentionally tuning in to the present moment), the development of a practice (a regular activity, such as mindful walking, that redirects you toward right thinking), and enlightenment (the liberation from suffering that comes when you wake up to the true nature of reality). These principles were introduced to the world more than 2,000 years ago by Siddhartha Gautama, or the Buddha, the Indian-born prince who left a life of ease and indulgence in order to seek enlightenment—and founded a religion along the way.

Thich Nhat Hanh—or, as his students call him, Thây, the Vietnamese word for "teacher"—brings along a group of Plum Village monks and nuns to listen in on our conversation. In some spiritual traditions, there is a concept called "holding the space"—or showing up as a compassionate listener. Thây's friends are the space holders who have traveled with him from France, and as we take a photograph together just before our chat, they usher in a peaceful mood by collectively singing a Buddhist song: "We are all the leaves of one tree; we are all the waves of one sea; the time has come for all to live as one."

Start reading Oprah's interview with Thich Nhat Hanh


Oprah: Thank you for the honor of talking to you. Just being in your presence, I feel less stressed than when the day started. You have such a peaceful aura. Are you always this content?

Nhat Hanh: This is my training, this is my practice. And I try to live every moment like that, to keep the peace in myself.

Oprah: Because you can't give it to others if you don't have it in yourself.

Nhat Hanh: Right.

Oprah: I see. I know that you were born in Vietnam in 1926. Is there any wonderful memory of your childhood that you can share?

Nhat Hanh: The day I saw a picture of the Buddha in a magazine.

Oprah: How old were you?

Nhat Hanh: I was 7, 8. He was sitting on the grass, very peaceful, smiling. I was impressed. Around me, people were not like that, so I had the desire to be like him. And I nourished that desire until the age of 16, when I had the permission of my parents to go and ordain as a monk.

Oprah: Did your parents encourage you?

Nhat Hanh: In the beginning, they were reluctant because they thought that the life of a monk is difficult.

Oprah: At 16, did you understand what the life would be?

Nhat Hanh: Not a lot. There was only the very strong desire. The feeling that I would not be happy if I could not become a monk. They call it the beginner's mind—the deep intention, the deepest desire that a person may have. And I can say that until this day, this beginner's mind is still alive in me.

Oprah: That's what a lot of people refer to as passion. It's the way I feel about my work most days. When you're passionate about your work, it feels like you would do it even if no one were paying you.

Nhat Hanh: And you enjoy it.

Oprah: You enjoy it. Let's talk about when you first arrived in America. You were a student at Princeton. Was it challenging as a Buddhist monk to form friendships with other students? Were you lonely?

Nhat Hanh: Well, Princeton University was like a monastery. There were only male students at that time. And there were not many Vietnamese living in the United States. During the first six months, I did not speak Vietnamese. But the campus was very beautiful. And everything was new—the trees and the birds and the food. My first snow was in Princeton, and the first time I used a radiator. The first fall was in Princeton.

Oprah: When the leaves are changing.

Nhat Hanh: In Vietnam we did not see things like that.

Oprah: At the time, were you wearing your monk robes?

Nhat Hanh: Yes.

Oprah: Never have to worry about buying clothes, do you? Always just the robe.

Nhat Hanh: Yes.

Oprah: Do you have different robes for different occasions?

Nhat Hanh: You have a ceremonial robe, saffron color. That's all. I feel comfortable wearing this kind of robe. And it happily reminds us that we are monks.

Oprah: What does it mean to be a monk?

Nhat Hanh: To be a monk is to have time to practice for your transformation and healing. And after that to help with the transformation and healing of other people.

Oprah: Are most monks enlightened, or seeking enlightenment?

Nhat Hanh: Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive—that you can touch the miracle of being alive—then that is a kind of enlightenment. Many people are alive but don't touch the miracle of being alive.

Oprah: I'm sure you see all around you—I'm guilty of it myself—that we're just trying to get through the next thing. In our country, people are so busy. Even the children are busy. I get the impression very few of us are doing what you just said—touching the miracle that you are alive.

Nhat Hanh: That is the environment people live in. But with a practice, we can always remain alive in the present moment. With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment. It is possible to live happily in the here and the now. So many conditions of happiness are available—more than enough for you to be happy right now. You don't have to run into the future in order to get more.

Thich Nhat Hanh defines happiness and reveals how to achieve it


Oprah: What is happiness?

Nhat Hanh: Happiness is the cessation of suffering. Well-being. For instance, when I practice this exercise of breathing in, I'm aware of my eyes; breathing out, I smile to my eyes and realize that they are still in good condition. There is a paradise of form and colors in the world. And because you have eyes still in good condition, you can get in touch with the paradise. So when I become aware of my eyes, I touch one of the conditions of happiness. And when I touch it, happiness comes.

Oprah: And you could do that with every part of your body.

Nhat Hanh: Yes. Breathing in, I am aware of my heart. Breathing out, I smile to my heart and know that my heart still functions normally. I feel grateful for my heart.

Oprah: So it's about being aware of and grateful for what we have.

Nhat Hanh: Yes.

Oprah: And not just the material things, but the fact that we have our breath.

Nhat Hanh: Yes. You need the practice of mindfulness to bring your mind back to the body and establish yourself in the moment. If you are fully present, you need only make a step or take a breath in order to enter the kingdom of God. And once you have the kingdom, you don't need to run after objects of your craving, like power, fame, sensual pleasure, and so on. Peace is possible. Happiness is possible. And this practice is simple enough for everyone to do.

Oprah: Tell me how we do it.

Nhat Hanh: Suppose you are drinking a cup of tea. When you hold your cup, you may like to breathe in, to bring your mind back to your body, and you become fully present. And when you are truly there, something else is also there—life, represented by the cup of tea. In that moment you are real, and the cup of tea is real. You are not lost in the past, in the future, in your projects, in your worries. You are free from all of these afflictions. And in that state of being free, you enjoy your tea. That is the moment of happiness, and of peace. When you brush your teeth, you may have just two minutes, but according to this practice, it is possible to produce freedom and joy during that time, because you are established in the here and now. If you are capable of brushing your teeth in mindfulness, then you will be able to enjoy the time when you take a shower, cook your breakfast, sip your tea.
Oprah: So from this point of view, there are endless conditions of happiness.

Nhat Hanh: Yes. Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.

Oprah: With you, the tea is real.

Nhat Hanh: I am real, and the tea is real. I am in the present. I don't think of the past. I don't think of the future. There is a real encounter between me and the tea, and peace, happiness and joy are possible during the time I drink.

Oprah: I never had that much thought about a cup of tea.

Nhat Hanh: We have the practice of tea meditation. We sit down, enjoy a cup of tea and our brotherhood, sisterhood. It takes one hour to just enjoy a cup of tea.

Oprah: A cup of tea, like this? [Holds up her cup.]

Nhat Hanh: Yes.

Oprah: One hour.

Nhat Hanh: Every moment is a moment of happiness. And during the hour of tea meditation, you cultivate joy, brotherhood, sisterhood, dwelling in the here and the now.

On how community played a crucial role during his 39-year exile

Oprah: Do you do the same thing with all food?

Nhat Hanh: Yes. We have silent meals eaten in such a way that we get in touch with the cosmos, with every morsel of food.

Oprah: How long does it take you to get through a meal? All day?

Nhat Hanh: One hour is enough. We sit as a community, and enjoy our meal together. So whether you are eating, drinking your tea, or doing your dishes, you do it in such a way that freedom, joy, happiness are possible. Many people come to our center and learn this art of mindful living. And go back to their hometowns and set up a sangha, a community, to do the same. We have helped set up sanghas all over the world.

Oprah: A sangha is a beloved community.

Nhat Hanh: Yes.

Oprah: How important is that in our lives? People have it with their own families, and then you expand your beloved community to include others. So the larger your beloved community, the more you can accomplish in the world.

Nhat Hanh: Right.

Oprah: On the subject of community, let's go back to 1966. You were invited to come and speak at Cornell University, and shortly after that, you weren't allowed back into your country. You were exiled for 39 years. How did you deal with those feelings?

Nhat Hanh: Well, I was like a bee taken out of the beehive. But because I was carrying the beloved community in my heart, I sought elements of the sangha around me in America and in Europe. And I began to build a community working for peace.

Oprah: Did you feel angry at first? Hurt?

Nhat Hanh: Angry, worried, sad, hurt. The practice of mindfulness helped me recognize that. In the first year, I dreamed almost every night of going home. I was climbing a beautiful hill, very green, very happily, and suddenly I woke up and found that I was in exile. So my practice was to get in touch with the trees, the birds, the flowers, the children, the people in the West—and make them my community. And because of that practice, I found home outside of home. One year later, the dreams stopped.

Oprah: What was the reason you weren't allowed back in the country?

Nhat Hanh: During the war, the warring parties all declared that they wanted to fight until the end. And those of us who tried to speak about reconciliation between brothers and brothers—they didn't allow us.

Oprah: So when you were a man without a country, you made a home in other countries.

Nhat Hanh: Yes.

Oprah: And the United States was one.

Nhat Hanh: Yes.

Oprah: How did you meet Martin Luther King?

Nhat Hanh: In June 1965, I wrote him a letter explaining why the monks in Vietnam immolated themselves. I said that this is not a suicide. I said that in situations like the one in Vietnam, to make your voice heard is difficult. Sometimes we have to burn ourselves in order to be heard. It is out of compassion that you do that. It is the act of love and not of despair. And exactly one year after I wrote that letter, I met him in Chicago. We had a discussion about peace, freedom, and community. And we agreed that without a community, we cannot go very far.

Oprah: How long was the discussion?

Nhat Hanh: Probably five minutes or so. And after that, there was a press conference, and he came out very strongly against the war in Vietnam.

Oprah: Do you think that was a result of your conversation?

Nhat Hanh: I believe so. We continued our work, and the last time I met him was in Geneva during the peace conference.

Thich Nhat Hanh describes the best and only way to eliminate terrorism


Oprah: Did the two of you speak then?

Nhat Hanh: Yes. He invited me up for breakfast, to talk about these issues again. I got caught in a press conference downstairs and came late, but he kept the breakfast warm for me. And I told him that the people in Vietnam call him a bodhisattva—enlightened being—because of what he was doing for his people, his country, and the world.

Oprah: And the fact that he was doing it nonviolently.

Nhat Hanh: Yes. That is the work of a bodhisattva, a buddha, always with compassion and nonviolence. When I heard of his assassination, I couldn't believe it. I thought, "The American people have produced King but are not capable of preserving him." I was a little bit angry. I did not eat, I did not sleep. But my determination to continue building the beloved community continues always. And I think that I felt his support always.

Oprah: Always.

Nhat Hanh: Yes.

Oprah: Okay. We've been talking about mindfulness, and you've mentioned mindful walking. How does that work?

Nhat Hanh: As you walk, you touch the ground mindfully, and every step can bring you solidity and joy and freedom. Freedom from your regret concerning the past, and freedom from your fear about the future.

Oprah: Most people when they're walking are thinking about where they have to go and what they have to do. But you would say that removes us from happiness.

Nhat Hanh: People sacrifice the present for the future. But life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.

Oprah: What if my bills need to be paid? I'm walking, but I'm thinking about the bills.

Nhat Hanh: There is a time for everything. There is a time when I sit down, I concentrate myself on the problem of my bills, but I would not worry before that. One thing at a time. We practice mindful walking in order to heal ourselves, because walking like that really relieves our worries, the pressure, the tension in our body and in our mind.

Oprah: The case is the same for deep listening, which I've heard you refer to.

Nhat Hanh: Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart. Even if he says things that are full of wrong perceptions, full of bitterness, you are still capable of continuing to listen with compassion. Because you know that listening like that, you give that person a chance to suffer less. If you want to help him to correct his perception, you wait for another time. For now, you don't interrupt. You don't argue. If you do, he loses his chance. You just listen with compassion and help him to suffer less. One hour like that can bring transformation and healing.

Oprah: I love this idea of deep listening, because often when someone comes to you and wants to vent, it's so tempting to start giving advice. But if you allow the person just to let the feelings out, and then at another time come back with advice or comments, that person would experience a deeper healing. That's what you're saying.

Nhat Hanh: Yes. Deep listening helps us to recognize the existence of wrong perceptions in the other person and wrong perceptions in us. The other person has wrong perceptions about himself and about us. And we have wrong perceptions about ourselves and the other person. And that is the foundation for violence and conflict and war. The terrorists, they have the wrong perception. They believe that the other group is trying to destroy them as a religion, as a civilization. So they want to abolish us, to kill us before we can kill them. And the antiterrorist may think very much the same way—that these are terrorists and they are trying to eliminate us, so we have to eliminate them first. Both sides are motivated by fear, by anger, and by wrong perception. But wrong perceptions cannot be removed by guns and bombs. They should be removed by deep listening, compassionate listening, and loving space.

Why suffering is important, and how to heal it


Oprah: The only way to end war is communication between people.

Nhat Hanh: Yes. We should be able to say this: "Dear friends, dear people, I know that you suffer. I have not understood enough of your difficulties and suffering. It's not our intention to make you suffer more. It is the opposite. We don't want you to suffer. But we don't know what to do and we might do the wrong thing if you don't help us to understand. So please tell us about your difficulties. I'm eager to learn, to understand." We have to have loving speech. And if we are honest, if we are true, they will open their hearts. Then we practice compassionate listening, and we can learn so much about our own perception and their perception. Only after that can we help remove wrong perception. That is the best way, the only way, to remove terrorism.

Oprah: But what you're saying also applies to difficulties between yourself and family members or friends. The principle is the same, no matter the conflict.

Nhat Hanh: Right. And peace negotiations should be conducted in that manner. When we come to the table, we shouldn't negotiate right away. We should spend time walking together, eating together, making acquaintance, telling each other about our own suffering, without blame or condemnation. It takes maybe one, two, three weeks to do that. And if communication and understanding are possible, negotiation will be easier. So if I am to organize a peace negotiation, I will organize it in that way.

Oprah: You'd start with tea?

Nhat Hanh: With tea and walking meditation.

Oprah: Mindful tea.

Nhat Hanh: And sharing our happiness and our suffering. And deep listening and loving speech.

Oprah: Is there ever a place for anger?

Nhat Hanh: Anger is the energy that people use in order to act. But when you are angry, you are not lucid, and you might do wrong things. That is why compassion is a better energy. And the energy of compassion is very strong. We suffer. That is real. But we have learned not to get angry and not to allow ourselves to be carried by anger. We realize right away that that is fear. That is corruption.

Oprah: What if in a moment of mindfulness you are being challenged? For instance, the other day someone presented me with a lawsuit, and it's hard to feel happy when somebody is going to be taking you to court.

Nhat Hanh: The practice is to go to the anxiety, the worry—

Oprah: The fear. First thing that happens is that fear sets in, like, What am I going to do?

Nhat Hanh: So you recognize that fear. You embrace it tenderly and look deeply into it. And as you embrace your pain, you get relief and you find out how to handle that emotion. And if you know how to handle the fear, then you have enough insight in order to solve the problem. The problem is to not allow that anxiety to take over. When these feelings arise, you have to practice in order to use the energy of mindfulness to recognize them, embrace them, look deeply into them. It's like a mother when the baby is crying. Your anxiety is your baby. You have to take care of it. You have to go back to yourself, recognize the suffering in you, embrace the suffering, and you get relief. And if you continue with your practice of mindfulness, you understand the roots, the nature of the suffering, and you know the way to transform it.

Oprah: You use the word suffering a lot. I think many people think suffering is dire starvation or poverty. But when you speak of suffering, you mean what?

Nhat Hanh: I mean the fear, the anger, the despair, the anxiety in us. If you know how to deal with that, then you'll be able to handle problems of war and poverty and conflicts. If we have fear and despair in us, we cannot remove the suffering in society.

Oprah: The nature of Buddhism, as I understand it, is to believe that we are all pure and radiant at our core. And yet we see around us so much evidence that people are not acting from a place of purity and radiance. How do we reconcile that?

Nhat Hanh: Well, happiness and suffering support each other. To be is to inter-be. It's like the left and the right. If the left is not there, the right cannot be there. The same is true with suffering and happiness, good and evil. In every one of us there are good seeds and bad. We have the seed of brotherhood, love, compassion, insight. But we have also the seed of anger, hate, dissent.

Oprah: That's the nature of being human.

Nhat Hanh: Yes. There is the mud, and there is the lotus that grows out of the mud. We need the mud in order to make the lotus.

Oprah: Can't have one without the other.

Nhat Hanh: Yes. You can only recognize your happiness against the background of suffering. If you have not suffered hunger, you do not appreciate having something to eat. If you have not gone through a war, you don't know the value of peace. That is why we should not try to run away from one thing after another thing. Holding our suffering, looking deeply into it, we find a way to happiness.

Learn about the 4 mantras Thich Nhat Hanh uses during meditation


Oprah: Do you meditate every single day?

Nhat Hanh: We try to do it not only every day but every moment. While drinking, while talking, while writing, while watering our garden, it's always possible to practice living in the here and the now.

Oprah: But do you ever sit silently with yourself or recite a mantra—or not recite a mantra?

Nhat Hanh: Yes. We sit alone, we sit together.

Oprah: The more people you sit with, the better.

Nhat Hanh: Yes, the collective energy is very helpful. I'd like to talk about the mantras you just mentioned. The first one is "Darling, I'm here for you." When you love someone, the best you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?

Oprah: That's a lovely mantra.

Nhat Hanh: You look into their eyes and you say, "Darling, you know something? I'm here for you." You offer him or her your presence. You are not preoccupied with the past or the future; you are there for your beloved. The second mantra is, "Darling, I know you are there and I am so happy." Because you are fully there, you recognize the presence of your beloved as something very precious. You embrace your beloved with mindfulness. And he or she will bloom like a flower. To be loved means to be recognized as existing. And these two mantras can bring happiness right away, even if your beloved one is not there. You can use your telephone and practice the mantra.

Oprah: Or e-mail.

Nhat Hanh: E-mail. You don't have to practice it in Sanskrit or Tibetan—you can practice in English.

Oprah: Darling, I'm here for you.

Nhat Hanh: And I'm very happy. The third mantra is what you practice when your beloved one is suffering. "Darling, I know you're suffering. That is why I am here for you." Before you do something to help, your presence already can bring some relief.

Oprah: The acknowledgment of the suffering or the hurting.

Nhat Hanh: Yes. And the fourth mantra is a little bit more difficult. It is when you suffer and you believe that your suffering has been caused by your beloved. If someone else had done the same wrong to you, you would have suffered less. But this is the person you love the most, so you suffer deeply. You prefer to go to your room and close the door and suffer alone.

Oprah: Yes.

Nhat Hanh: You are hurt. And you want to punish him or her for having made you suffer. The mantra is to overcome that: "Darling, I suffer. I am trying my best to practice. Please help me." You go to him, you go to her, and practice that. And if you can bring yourself to say that mantra, you suffer less right away. Because you do not have that obstacle standing between you and the other person.

Oprah: "Darling, I suffer. Please help me."

Nhat Hanh: "Please help me."

Oprah: What if he or she is not willing to help you?

Nhat Hanh: First of all, when you love someone, you want to share everything with him or her. So it is your duty to say, "I suffer and I want you to know"—and he will, she will, appreciate it.

Oprah: If he or she loves you.

Nhat Hanh: Yes. This is the case of two people who love each other. Your beloved one.

Oprah: All right.

Nhat Hanh: "And when I have been trying my best to look deeply, to see whether this suffering comes from my wrong perception and I might be able to transform it, but in this case I cannot transform it, you should help me, darling. You should tell me why you have done such a thing to me, said such a thing to me." In that way, you have expressed your trust, your confidence. You don't want to punish anymore. And that is why you suffer less right away.

Thich Nhat Hanh shares what he knows for sure


Oprah: Beautiful. Now I'm going to ask just a few questions about monkdom. Do you exercise to stay in shape?

Nhat Hanh: Yes. We have the ten mindful movements. We do walking meditation every day. We practice mindful eating.

Oprah: Are you vegetarian?

Nhat Hanh: Yes. Vegetarian. Complete. We do not use animal products anymore.

Oprah: So you wouldn't eat an egg.

Nhat Hanh: No egg, no milk, no cheese. Because we know that mindful eating can help save our planet.

Oprah: Do you watch television?

Nhat Hanh: No. But I'm in touch with the world. If anything really important happens, someone will tell me.

Oprah: That's the way I feel!

Nhat Hanh: You don't have to listen to the news three times a day or read one newspaper after another.

Oprah: That's right. Now, the life of a monk is a celibate life, correct?

Nhat Hanh: Yes.

Oprah: You never had trouble with the idea of giving up marriage or children?

Nhat Hanh: One day when I was in my 30s, I was practicing meditation in a park in France. I saw a young mother with a beautiful baby. And in a flash I thought that if I was not a monk, I would have a wife and a child like that. The idea lasted only for one second. I overcame it very quickly.

Oprah: That was not the life for you. And speaking of life, what about death? What happens when we die, do you believe?

Nhat Hanh: The question can be answered when you can answer this: What happens in the present moment? In the present moment, you are producing thought, speech, and action. And they continue in the world. Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature. Action is called karma. And that's your continuation. When this body disintegrates, you continue on with your actions. It's like the cloud in the sky. When the cloud is no longer in the sky, it hasn't died. The cloud is continued in other forms like rain or snow or ice. Our nature is the nature of no birth and no death. It is impossible for a cloud to pass from being into nonbeing. And that is true with a beloved person. They have not died. They have continued in many new forms and you can look deeply and recognize them in you and around you.

Oprah: Is that what you meant when you wrote one of my favorite poems, "Call Me By My True Name"?

Nhat Hanh: Yes. When you call me European, I say yes. When you call me Arab, I say yes. When you call me black, I say yes. When you call me white, I say yes. Because I am in you and you are in me. We have to inter-be with everything in the cosmos.

Oprah: [Reading from the poem] "I am a mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river. And I am the bird that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.... I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks. And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda. I am the 12-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate. And I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.... Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one. Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up and the door of my heart could be left open, the door of compassion." What does that poem mean?

Nhat Hanh: It means compassion is our most important practice. Understanding brings compassion. Understanding the suffering that living beings undergo helps liberate the energy of compassion. And with that energy you know what to do.

Oprah: Okay. At the end of this magazine, I have a column called "What I Know for Sure." What do you know for sure?

Nhat Hanh: I know that we do not know enough. We have to continue to learn. We have to be open. And we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality. When you climb a ladder and arrive on the sixth step and you think that is the highest, then you cannot come to the seventh. So the technique is to abandon the sixth in order for the seventh step to be possible. And this is our practice, to release our views. The practice of nonattachment to views is at the heart of the Buddhist practice of meditation. People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don't suffer anymore.

Oprah: Isn't the true quest to be free?

Nhat Hanh: Yes. To be free, first of all, is to be free from wrong views that are the foundation of all kinds of suffering and fear and violence.

Oprah: It has been my honor to talk to you today.

Nhat Hanh: Thank you. A moment of happiness that might help people.

Oprah: I think it will.



Source:
Oprah Talks to Thich Nhat Hanh - Oprah.com
http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Oprah-Talks-to-Thich-Nhat-Hanh/#ixzz21ksV0FVN

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Oprah-Talks-to-Thich-Nhat-Hanh/#ixzz2M3QIUl1n


Opra Interviews Thich Nhat Hanh Living Mindfully and Meditation inside Prison



Published on Jul 26, 2012

He's been a Buddhist monk for more than 60 years, as well as a teacher, writer, and vocal opponent of war—a stance that left him exiled from his native Vietnam for four decades. Now the man Martin Luther King Jr. called "an apostle of peace and nonviolence" reflects on the beauty of the present moment, being grateful for every breath, and the freedom and happiness to be found in a simple cup of tea.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Oprah-Tal...



Source:
Thich Nhat Hanh Living Mindfully - YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PCXeHNL3s8


Note:  Beginning a meditation practice does not require adopting Buddhist beliefs or doing difficult Yoga poses.  It is perfectly adaptable to the limited movement and energy that is part of multiple sclerosis. It promotes a calm mind to take up meditation  which will reduce the stress of living with a chronic illness.




Google Custom Search - Create a Custom Search Engine


The simplicity, speed, and power of Google Search within your site.

Powerful features are automatic:

  • Autocomplete typing, result sorting, & thumbnail previews
  • Flexible control over results layout, & mobile compatible.
  • Takes minutes to get going.

Create a search engine for your site


List one URL per line.
Learn more about URL formatting.

The name of the CSE will be autofilled based on sites that you enter.
Terms of Service.





Source:
Google Custom Search - Create a Custom Search Engine

 http://www.google.com/cse/manage/create?





Monday, February 25, 2013

The Mindful Way through Depression

Note: M.S. OFTEN CAUSES DEPRESSION IN PEOPLE AFFLICTED WITH THIS INCURABLE DISEASE.... 



..............................................



Winner of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) Self-Help Seal of Merit!
Over 160,000 in print! 

The Mindful Way through Depressiondraws on the collective wisdom of four internationally renowned mindfulness experts, including bestselling author Jon Kabat-Zinn, to provide effective relief from the most prevalent psychological disorder. 

This authoritative, easy-to-use self-help program is based on methods clinically proven to reduce the recurrence of depression. 

Revealing the hidden psychological mechanisms that cause chronic unhappiness, the authors gently guide readers through a series of exercises designed to break the mental habits that lead to despair. 

Kabat-Zinn lends his calm, familiar voice to the accompanying CD of guided meditations, making this a complete package for anyone looking to regain a sense of balance and contentment. 




Jon Kabat-Zinn- The Mindful Way Through Depression (Guided Meditations)


Published on Mar 2, 2012


If you've ever struggled with depression, like I have, this may surely help. Mindfulness Meditation is a simple yet powerful technique that taught me that I no longer had to run from unpleasant emotions. I could experience more joy in life simply by learning to pay attention!
  • Category - Education

  • License  - Standard YouTube License


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Study Using Cells Forged From Human Skin Shows Promise In Treating MS, Myelin Disorders

A study out today in the journal Cell Stem Cell shows that human brain cells created by reprogramming skin cells are highly effective in treating myelin disorders, a family of diseases that includes multiple sclerosis and rare childhood disorders called pediatric leukodystrophies.

The study is the first successful attempt to employ human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) to produce a population of cells that are critical to neural signaling in the brain. In this instance, the researchers utilized cells crafted from human skin and transplanted them into animal models of myelin disease.

"This study strongly supports the utility of hiPSCs as a feasible and effective source of cells to treat myelin disorders," said University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) neurologist Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study. "In fact, it appears that cells derived from this source are at least as effective as those created using embryonic or tissue-specific stem cells."

The discovery opens the door to potential new treatments using hiPSC-derived cells for a range of neurological diseases characterized by the loss of a specific cell population in the central nervous system called myelin. Like the insulation found on electrical wires, myelin is a fatty tissue that ensheathes the connections between nerve cells and ensures the crisp transmission of signals from one cell to another. When myelin tissue is damaged, communication between cells can be disrupted or even lost.

The most common myelin disorder is multiple sclerosis, a condition in which the body's own immune system attacks and destroys myelin. The loss of myelin is also the hallmark of a family of serious and often fatal diseases known as pediatric leukodystrophies. While individually very rare, collectively several thousand children are born in the U.S. with some form of leukodystrophy every year.

The source of the myelin cells in the brain and spinal cord is cell type called the oligodendrocyte. Oligodendrocytes are, in turn, the offspring of another cell called the oligodendrocyte progenitor cell, or OPC. Myelin disorders have long been considered a potential target for cell-based therapies. Scientists have theorized that if healthy OPCs could be successfully transplanted into the diseased or injured brain, then these cells might be able to produce new oligodendrocytes capable of restoring lost myelin, thereby reversing the damage caused by these diseases.

However, several obstacles have thwarted scientists. One of the key challenges is that OPCs are a mature cell in the central nervous system and appear late in development.

"Compared to neurons, which are among the first cells formed in human development, there are more stages and many more steps required to create glial cells such as OPCs," said Goldman. "This process requires that we understand the basic biology and the normal development of these cells and then reproduce this precise sequence in the lab."

Another challenge has been identifying the ideal source of these cells. Much of the research in the field has focused on cells derived from tissue-specific and embryonic stem cells. While research using these cells has yielded critical insight into the biology of stem cells, these sources are not considered ideal to meet demand once stem cell-based therapies become more common.

The discovery in 2007 that human skin cells could be "reprogrammed" to the point where they returned to a biological state equivalent of an embryonic stem cell, called induced pluripotent stem cells, represented a new path forward for scientists. Because these cells - created by using the recipient's own skin - would be a genetic match, the likelihood of rejection upon transplantation is significantly diminished. These cells also promised an abundant source of material from which to fashion the cells necessary for therapies.

Goldman's team was the first to successfully master the complex process of using hiPSCs to create OPCs. This process proved time consuming. It took Goldman's lab four years to establish the exact chemical signaling required to reprogram, produce, and ultimately purify OPCs in sufficient quantities for transplantation and each preparation required almost six months to go from skin cell to a transplantable population of myelin-producing cells.

Once they succeeded in identifying and purifying OPCs from hiPSCs, they then assessed the ability of the cells to make new myelin when transplanted into mice with a hereditary leukodystrophy that rendered them genetically incapable of producing myelin.

They found that the OPCs spread throughout the brain and began to produce myelin. They observed that hiPSC-derived cells did this even more quickly, efficiently, and effectively than cells created using tissue-derived OPCs. The animals were also free of any tumors, a dangerous potential side effect of some stem cell therapies, and survived significantly longer than untreated mice.

"The new population of OPCs and oligodendrocytes was dense, abundant, and complete," said Goldman. "In fact, the re-myelination process appeared more rapid and efficient than with other cell sources."

The next stage in evaluating these cells - clinical studies - may not be long in the offing. Goldman, along with a team of researchers and clinicians from Rochester, Syracuse, and Buffalo, are preparing to launch a clinical trial using OPCs to treat multiple sclerosis. This group, titled the Upstate MS Consortium, has been approved for funding by New York State Stem Cell Science (NYSTEM). While the consortia's initial study - the early stages of which are scheduled to begin in 2015 - will focus cells derived from tissue sources, Goldman anticipates that hiPSC-derived OPCs will eventually be included in this project.


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

Visit our multiple sclerosis section for the latest news on this subject.




Source:

Study Using Cells Forged From Human Skin Shows Promise In Treating MS, Myelin Disorders


 http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/256072.php

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What can I do to reduce my stroke risk? - Stroke Risk Reduction - Body & Health

 Note:  Strokes affect us all, m.s. aside, we need to maintain our health while we pray for a cure to m.s..  You want to be in the best shape possible to face down m.s. and to ensure a reasonable quality of life.
 .............

What can I do to reduce my stroke risk?

About 300,000 Canadians are living with the after-effects of a stroke, such as paralysis, vision problems, and difficulties with memory and thinking. But this doesn't have to be your story.

Learn how you can reduce your stroke risk:

Live a healthy lifestyle

A few simple lifestyle changes can cut your stroke risk:

Eat healthy (good nutrition) as directed by your doctor

What to aim for:

Each day, try to eat:
  • 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables
  • 6-8 servings of grains (with at least half of these from whole grain products)
  • 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy products
  • 2-3 servings of lean meat or meat alternatives (such as tofu)
Don't eat too much sodium. 

Aim for:
  • age under 50: 1500 mg/day
  • age 50-70: 1300 mg/day
  • age over 70: 1200 mg/day
How to make it happen:
  • Buy whole-grain bread instead of white.
  • Add berries to your morning cereal, carrot sticks to lunch, or a salad to dinner.
  • Whenever you would usually drink pop or juice, drink water instead.
  • Use healthy snacks such as precut fruit and veggies and salad in a bag.
  • Cook up a large batch of healthy food on the weekend, then freeze it in meal-sized portions for the week.
  • Consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.

Exercise as directed by your doctor

What to aim for:

Ask your doctor how much activity and what types of exercise are safe for you.
How to make it happen:
Check with your doctor before starting to exercise.
If your doctor gives you approval to exercise, start slowly – even 10 minutes of activity is enough to get started. Then gradually work your way up to longer exercise times:
  • Today, after dinner, put on some comfortable shoes and walk around the neighborhood.
  • Park a bit further from work or shopping.
  • Do more gardening and physical household chores (such as vacuuming).
If you have medical conditions, check with your doctor before starting to exercise.

Reach a healthy weight as directed by your doctor

What to aim for:
or
  • waist size of less than 80 cm (31.5 inches) for women or less than 94 cm (37 inches) for men
How to make it happen:
  • Try eating healthy and exercising (see above) to lose weight safely.
Consult your doctor before making any changes to your physical activity or diet.

Use alcohol in moderation as directed by your doctor

What to aim for:

Limit yourself to no more than 2 drinks a day, to a maximum of 10 drinks per week for women, and no more than 3 drinks a day, to a maximum of 15 drinks per week for men.
(If you have liver disease, check with your doctor to find out your maximum recommended alcohol consumption.)
How to make it happen:
  • Keep track of your drinking for a week to see if you're over the limit. One drink is:
  • 341 mL (12 ounces) beer
  • 142 mL (5 ounces) wine
  • 43 mL (1.5 ounces) spirits
Cut back if you are over the limit. If you are having trouble, talk to your doctor.

Quit smoking as directed by your doctor

What to aim for:
Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke. If you are a non-smoker, do not start smoking.
How to make it happen:
When you're ready to quit, ask your friends and family to help, and speak to your doctor or pharmacist about options to help you quit.

Tame your stress as directed by your doctor

What to aim for:

Understand and control the sources of stress in your life.
How to make it happen:
  • Make a list of things that make you feel stressed.
  • Focus on the things that cause you the most stress, and think of ways to avoid or manage them. Try exercising (helps relieve stress), talking to a friend, taking breaks, using humour, delegating to someone else, or just saying "no."
Consult your doctor for assistance with stress management.

*These lifestyle suggestions may not be appropriate for everyone. Check with your doctor to find out which lifestyle changes you should make to reduce your risk of stroke.

Get medical conditions under control

How do medical conditions increase stroke risk?

The connection is simple - strokes can happen one of two ways:
  • when a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain (this causes 80% of strokes)
  • when blood vessels burst in the brain
Medical conditions that increase the risk of blood clots or bursting blood vessels will also increase your stroke risk.


Which medical conditions could increase my stroke risk?

Atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation, also called AFib, affects about 350,000 Canadians. For people with AFib, the risk of a stroke caused by a blood clot is 3 to 5 times what it would be otherwise. AFib causes up to 15% of all strokes, and one-third of all strokes in people over 60.

AFib causes the heart to beat abnormally. Blood pools in the heart, and when blood stands still it is more likely to clot. A clot from the heart could then travel through the bloodstream into the brain, where it could block a blood vessel, causing a stroke.

To learn more, see atrial fibrillation and stroke risk reduction.


Diabetes

Diabetes affected over 3 million Canadians in 2009, and this number is projected to rise to over 3.7 million by 2020. People with diabetes have a much higher death rate from stroke and heart attack than people without diabetes. The death rate from a stroke or heart attack is 3 times higher for men and 5 times higher for women if they have diabetes.

Diabetes makes it harder for the body to break down sugar for energy. Sugar stays in the blood, where it damages the blood vessels, making them more likely to become narrow or blocked. Diabetes also increases the risk of high blood pressure, which increases stroke risk on it own.

To learn more, see diabetes and stroke risk reduction.

High blood pressure:

High blood pressure affects 20% of Canadians. Controlling high blood pressure can reduce your stroke risk by up to 40%.
High blood pressure increases stroke risk by damaging blood vessels so they are more likely to clog or burst.
To learn more, see high blood pressure and stroke risk reduction.

High cholesterol

About 40% of Canadians have high cholesterol.
High cholesterol causes fatty deposits to build up in your blood vessels. This could block blood vessels in the brain and cause a stroke.

To learn more, see high cholesterol and stroke risk reduction .

Some people have other medical conditions that put them at risk of stroke. Talk to your doctor to learn more about your stroke risk and how to reduce the risk of a stroke.

What should I do to get these conditions under control?

Follow the treatment plan your doctor recommends, take your medications as directed, and have regular medical check-ups.

Talk to your doctor about how to control your medical conditions.

Use medications as directed

Depending on your individual situation and medical conditions, your doctor may recommend that you take a variety of medication(s).
Such medications include:
Click on the links above to learn more about the medications. Keep in mind that all medications may cause side effects. Some side effects are mild while others are more severe. Your doctor or pharmacist can help you understand what side effects to expect and how to manage them. Medications work best when they're taken regularly as recommended by your doctor. If you're having trouble with your medication, see your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Use the Medication Check-Up tool to make sure you're getting the most out of your medication and see whether it's time to talk to your doctor about your medication options.









 Source:
What can I do to reduce my stroke risk? - Stroke Risk Reduction - Body & Health

 http://bodyandhealth.canada.com/srr_details.asp?channel_id=2172&table_id=2&item_id=6508&relation_id=112973&icn=strokerisk&ici=banner-edito_cutrisk


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Annette Funicello: Her life with multiple sclerosis

Being the first celebrity to come out publicly with news of her disease, m.s., Annette Funicello became the face of this terrible disease for millions of her fans.  Her story of living with m.s. is not an uplifting one.  She has the thing most ms'ers dread - " the most severe form of the disease and over the years lost her ability to walk, relying first on a cane, then on a wheelchair."  And it only got worse.  

Watching her struggle verges on being sensationalistic although it sheds light on the need for a cure and there is a research fund in her name to raise money.

This blog has no affiliation with the research fund or A. Funicello and merely reports on developments in the M. S. world.  We try to keep a positive tone and to offer ways of coping with the symptoms of m.s. in the most effective way.The use of Ms. Funicello's name is fine by me.  On the other hand, the images are far too graphic and intrusive for my sensibilities and will probably offend some people. But the people closest to her have made the judgement that this  harsh realism will help raise funds to aid in finding a cure.

Annette Funicello Interviewed On Television Program


                                                           From A 1980's TV Program


 http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ze5dWOwSsoY/UHFO6xHqpKI/AAAAAAAAzD4/nkJ6c3A1RB8/s1600/Screen+shot+2012-10-07+at+5.42.58+AM.png
                                        screen shot

Watch the video here.

Annette Funicello



When Annette Funicello debuted on a new children’s variety TV show called the Mickey Mouse Club, she was a shy 12-year-old girl -- an unknown with big brown eyes and a sweet smile.

But the Mickey Mouse Club quickly became a television megahit and the girl known simply as “Annette” became the most popular “Mouseketeer” on the show, attracting fans all around the world.

She developed into a stunning young woman, starring in several iconic, beach movies with teen heartthrob Frankie Avalon.


 Annette Funicello: Her life with multiple sclerosis


But in 1992 at age 50, Annette went public with devastating news -- she had multiple sclerosis, a debilitating neurological disorder.  
She had the most severe form of the disease and over the years lost her ability to walk, relying first on a cane, then on a wheelchair.  
The singer and actress eventually lost her ability to talk and Annette faded from public view.


Now in a world exclusive Annette is back in the public eye. Glen Holt, her husband, invited W5 into their home to show the devastating effects of chronic progressive multiple sclerosis and to talk about his 25-year quest to find a treatment to help his wife.
 
 
Her long-term friend Shelley Fabares says seeing Annette today will be shocking to some but necessary to truly understand the effects of her illness.

“There are some people who will think she must be preserved in people’s minds exactly as she was. But exactly who she was is not who she is now,” she explains. “In order to get people to understand the ravages of this disease and what happens…there is no better way.”

Despite her condition Glen never gave up hope that Annette would improve one day.

He spent 25 years trying various experimental treatments -- a surgery to implant electrodes in her brain to control her tremors, even an experimental drug that sent Annette into ICU for eight days. But nothing helped.

Glen figured if CCSVI could make one small bit of difference it was worth a shot. 

Glen took Annette to Dr. Donald Ponec, an interventional radiologist at Tri City Hospital in Oceanside, Calif., who had some experience with the new therapy.

Dr. Ponec conducted a study published in August in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology that followed 259 patients with MS. The researchers used balloons to open up their narrowed veins. After six months, 53.6 per cent of the patients reported improvements in MS symptoms.

In September 2011 at a private clinic, Dr. Ponec tested Annette and found her results fit the new theory. She had a blocked right jugular vein with only 30 per cent blood flow. Her left vein was completely blocked. The blood was flowing back into her brain.

There was no proof that the treatment would even improve her condition but Glen asked doctors to try.

“I saw in front of my eyes things changed -- the glow of her face came in,” he says.
But Glen says there was another noticeable improvement. Patients with MS often have problems swallowing because of damage to parts of their brain, causing them to sometimes choke on their own saliva.

Before the treatment Glen says he would be awake several hours through the night to suction saliva from Annette’s mouth so she would not suffocate. Now she can get through the night without his help.

But Annette’s doctor Dr. Jeffrey Salberg says Annette’s improvements may be in the eye of the beholder.

“ ... remember she has had this damage for a long, long time and it has done terrible things to her nervous system and that damage cannot be undone," said Dr. Salberg.

"You have a scarred, injured brain, how much does venous flow change the function of what is left? I don`t see tremendous changes, said Dr. Salzberg.



"But Glen sees little changes and I`m hoping that`s real for him and for her and gives them some sense that it was worth doing." said Salzberg.


Glen  decided to go public with their story. 

Glen believes Annette`s loyal fans will send money to the Annette Funicello Foundation for Neurological Disease for new CCSVI research and how blood flow impacts other brain diseases. 

"He wants to use her fame and popularity to move things in a new direction,” said Dr. David Hubbard, a neurologist who sits on the board of Annette`s foundation.

CCSVI Research slowed to a crawl after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration FDA issued a warning about the treatment in May, stating "there is no reliable evidence ....this procedure is effective in treating MS" and the procedure using balloons to open up veins  "poses a risk to patients"  and researchers who want to study CCSVI must get FDA approval.

But Dr. Ponec believes the CCSVI theory raises important questions and says funding more research is the only way to find out if CCSVI treatment can help MS patients.  

Until there is a proper clinical trial that answers the question once and for all -- the debate will rage on, he insists.
  



For more information on the Annette Funicello Foundation, visit:

http://www.annetteconnection.com/About-the-Research-Fund.php

http://www.facebook.com/AnnetteFund

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/w5/annette-funicello-her-life-with-multiple-sclerosis-1.984202#ixzz2KogR3Omw


Source:
Annette Funicello: Her life with multiple sclerosis

 http://www.ctvnews.ca/w5/annette-funicello-her-life-with-multiple-sclerosis-1.984202



Monday, February 11, 2013

Change Your Life


10 quotes from Stephen Covey that have the power to completely change the direction of one’s life.


1) The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.

2) The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

3) Live out of your imagination, not your history.

4) Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.

5) Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.

6) I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

7) You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”

8) I teach people how to treat me by what I will allow.

9) Love is a verb. Love – the feeling – is the fruit of love the verb or our loving actions. So love her.

10) Live, love, laugh, leave a legacy.

_________________________








Source:

Stephen Covey: 10 Quotes That Can Change Your Life - Forbes

 http://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2012/07/16/the-7-habits/


List to create change in the right direction:


1. - Study less, more.  Specific knowledge is valuable. Being a wandering generality pays no bills.

2. -Get organized.  Know what comes first: Vision, Goals,  Priorities, To Do Lists

3. -Remember space is the new luxury; minimalism

4. - Keep your life simple and sane

5. - Smart goals:  specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound

6. - Use practice and repetition

7. - Remember to seek progress over perfection

8. -  Do a little every day to achieve your goals.

9. - Learn success habits (stating with R. Ringer)

10. -  Practice these simple habits, day in and day out, to create momentum in the direction of your vision.

11. - Focus. Stay on topic when reading and researching on the web.

12. - Balance 

13. - Differentiate between the Clock and the Compass

14. - S. Covey Effective Habits:

Habit 1: Be Proactive
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand
Habit 6: Synergize
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw






Quotes



According to the saying of an ancient philosopher, one should eat to live, and not live to eat.
-  Moliere


Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be food.
- Hippocrates


The doctor of the future will give little medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.
- Thomas a. Edison




Nerve Fibers Continue To Survive In Multiple Sclerosis



Scientists found that the axons in rats with multiple sclerosis (MS) can survive for a long time, even after the myelin sheath that insulates the nerves is gone. This challenges the accepted view on MS.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a brain disease caused by nerves losing their electrical insulation and the degeneration of nerve fibers called axons.

It was previously thought by most scientists that once axons lose their insulation they are unable to function. So it was a surprise for a team of researchers who found that axons in rats with MS could survive for long periods even after losing myelin (the electrical insulation).

This is a ground-breaking discovery that challenges the accepted view of MS. The study, led by graduate student Chelsey Smith and former undergraduate Elizabeth Cooksey, will be published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The axons in the rats continued to survive for months after myelin deterioration.

Senior author, Ian Duncan, professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said:


"This was the first study to demonstrate long-term axon survival after myelin deterioration. Nine months is a relatively long period in a rat's lifetime, and there wasn't a loss of axons, so the assumption that axons must automatically die without myelin seems incorrect."


The insulating myelin is normally created by oligodendrocytes which are cells that are found near the axons. The researchers discovered that these cells produce growth factors essential for the survival of neurons.

Duncan added:

"That is just speculation, but in our study, the oligodendrocytes were found in much greater numbers, probably in an attempt to produce more myelin, and we saw an overall increase in growth factor production."


The study is the first of its kind to reveal the true extent of oligodendrocytes expressing growth factors. It's known that these cells produce growth factors early on in life, however, they found three different neural growth factors that these cells produce in older animals.

Duncan said: "This paper was the first to show that oligodendrocytes continue to express growth factors in mature animals, and that could be important."

The absence of growth factors - proteins that are necessary for growth and development - is associated with a series of neurological diseases.

Duncan stresses the need to carry out further studies of growth factors, as it might be crucial in preventing myelin loss in MS.

Although scientists have known about the degeneration and gradual disappearance of axons in MS, until now it hasn't been certain whether degeneration occurs at the same time as demyelination.

Duncan concluded:

"Much in vogue is the idea that you have to protect axons above and beyond everything else, that MS is not primarily a demyelinating disease, it's primarily an axonal disease. Our finding shows that it is not absolutely certain that axons will degenerate when they are demyelinated. If we are correct in our speculation, we could potentially protect the axon if we can increase the amount of growth factor being produced by the helper cells."


German scientists recently identified an inhibitor of myelin formation in the central nervous system. They say their finding may help provide a molecular explanation for myelination failures in MS, which may help eventually devise treatment to prevent this failure.

Written by Joseph Nordqvist




 References

 

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

MLA
n.p. "Nerve Fibers Continue To Survive In Multiple Sclerosis." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 7 Feb. 2013. Web.
11 Feb. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/255989.php>

APA
n.p. (2013, February 7). "Nerve Fibers Continue To Survive In Multiple Sclerosis." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/255989.php.

Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.

 Source:
Nerve Fibers Continue To Survive In Multiple Sclerosis

 http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/255989.php



Latest News  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/sections/multiple_sclerosis/

Key Protein Revealed As Trigger For Stem Cell Development
11 February 2013
A natural trigger that enables stem cells to become any cell-type in the body has been discovered by scientists. Researchers have identified a protein that kick-starts the process by which stem cells can develop into... [read article]

Study Using Cells Forged From Human Skin Shows Promise In Treating MS, Myelin Disorders
11 February 2013
A study out today in the journal Cell Stem Cell shows that human brain cells created by reprogramming skin cells are highly effective in treating myelin disorders, a family of diseases that includes multiple sclerosis and... [read article]

Nerve Fibers Continue To Survive In Multiple Sclerosis
07 February 2013
Scientists found that the axons in rats with multiple sclerosis (MS) can survive for a long time, even after the myelin sheath that insulates the nerves is gone. This challenges the accepted view on MS... [read article]

Dr. Terry Wahls - Minding Your Mitochondria - TED - Documentary, Lecture, Talk NUTRITION - YouTube




 loaded on Feb 15, 2012
http://www.healthandsuperfoods.com/
http://www.sporf.net/
Minding Your Mitochondria
Dr. Terry Wahls - Minding Your Mitochondria - TED - Documentary, Lecture, Talk (Health Food)

Dr. Terry Wahls explains how through nutrition she cured herself of Multiple Sclerosis, which she had suffered with for over a decade. She discusses the raw food diet that she designed for herself tailored to replenish nutrient and vitamin deficiencies.

http://www.ted.com
TED shares the best ideas from the TED Conference with the world for free, licensed under Creative Commons.





Dr. Terry Wahls - Minding Your Mitochondria - TED - Documentary, Lecture, Talk NUTRITION - YouTube

Reversing Chronic Disease: A Journey Back to Health - Patricia Stephens, Glenda H. Davis, M.D. - Google Books


Reversing Chronic Disease: A Journey Back to Health

 By Patricia Stephens, Glenda H. Davis,


Reversing Chronic Disease: A Journey Back to Health - Patricia Stephens, Glenda H. Davis, M.D. - Google Books