Archive for July, 2015

Some background: Medicare faces financial problems in future years because of two underlying trends that will affect all health care in coming years, regardless of what happens to Medicare:

The first is that health care costs are rising overall—not as fast as they were rising before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, but still rising too quickly.

The second is that the giant post­war baby boom is heading toward retirement and older age. Which means more elderly people will need more health care, adding to the rising costs.

So how should we deal with these two costly trends? By making Medicare available to all Americans, not just the elderly.

Remember, Medicare is more efficient than private health insurers ­­whose administrative costs and advertising and marketing expenses are eating up billions of dollars each year.

If more Americans were allowed to join Medicare, it could become more efficient by using its growing bargaining power to get lower drug prices, lower hospital bills, and healthier people.

Allowing all Americans to join Medicare is the best way to control future health care costs while also meeting the needs of the baby boomer and other Americans.

Everyone should be able to sign up for Medicare on the health care exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act. This would begin to move America away from its reliance on expensive private health insurance, and toward Medicare for all—a single­ payer system.

Medicare isn’t a problem. It’s part of the solution.

via Robert Reich: Medicare Isn’t the Problem. It’s the Solution.

Why Medicare Should Be Available to All

Patients’ medical records sit on shelves in an office, pictured Nov. 7, 2015. The most expensive aspects of medical care in the United States—administrative costs, and fixing medical errors—can be addressed by expanding Medicare benefits, for which those same administrative costs are lower. Cultura/Alamy

 

Medicare turns 50 this week. It was signed into law July 30, 1965—the crowning achievement of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. It’s more popular than ever.

Yet Medicare continues to be blamed for America’s present and future budget problems. That’s baloney.

A few days ago, Jeb Bush even suggested phasing it out. Seniors already receiving benefits should continue to receive them, he said, but “we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something, because they’re not going to have anything.”

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Bush praised Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to give seniors vouchers instead. What Bush didn’t say was that Ryan’s vouchers wouldn’t keep up with increases in medical costs—leaving seniors with less coverage.

The fact is, Medicare isn’t the problem. It’s the solution.

Its costs are being pushed upward by the rising costs of health care overall—which have slowed somewhat since the Affordable Care Act was introduced but are still rising faster than inflation.

Medicare costs are also rising because of the growing ranks of boomers becoming eligible for Medicare.

Medicare offers a way to reduce these underlying costs—if Washington would let it.

Let me explain.

Americans spend more on health care per person than any other advanced nation and get less for our money. Yearly public and private health care spending is almost two and a half times the average of other advanced nations.

Yet the typical American lives 78.1 years—less than the average 80.1 years in other advanced nations. And we have the highest rate of infant mortality of all advanced nations.

Medical costs continue to rise because doctors and hospitals still spend too much money on unnecessary tests, drugs and procedures.

Consider lower back pain, one of the most common ailments of our sedentary society. Almost 95 percent of it can be relieved through physical therapy.

But doctors and hospitals often do expensive MRIs, and then refer patients to orthopedic surgeons for costly surgery. Why? Physical therapy doesn’t generate much revenue.

Or say your diabetes, asthma or heart condition is acting up. If you seek treatment in a hospital, 20 percent of the time you’re back within a month.

It would be far less costly if a nurse visited you at home to make sure you were taking your medications, a common practice in other advanced nations. But nurses don’t do home visits to Americans with acute conditions because hospitals aren’t paid for them.

America spends about over $19 billion a year fixing medical errors, the worst rate among advanced countries. Such errors are the third major cause of hospital deaths.

One big reason is we keep patient records on computers that can’t share the data. Patient records are continuously re-written and then re-entered into different computers. That leads to lots of mistakes.

Meanwhile, administrative costs account for 15 to 30 percent of all health care spending in the United States, twice the rate of most other advanced nations.

Most of this is to collect money: Doctors collecting from hospitals and insurers, hospitals collecting from insurers, insurers collecting from companies or policyholders. A third of nursing hours are devoted to documenting what’s done so that insurers have proof.

Cutting back Medicare won’t affect any of this. It will just funnel more money into the hands of for-profit insurers while limiting the amount of care seniors receive.

The answer isn’t to shrink Medicare. It’s to grow it—allowing anyone at any age to join.

Medicare’s administrative costs are in the range of 3 percent.

That’s well below the 5 to 10 percent costs borne by large companies that self-insure. It’s even further below the administrative costs of companies in the small-group market (amounting to 25 to 27 percent of premiums).

And it’s way, way lower than the administrative costs of individual insurance (40 percent). It’s even far below the 11 percent costs of private plans under Medicare Advantage, the current private-insurance option under Medicare.

Meanwhile, as for-profit insurance companies merge into giant behemoths that reduce consumer choice still further, it’s doubly important to make Medicare available to all.

Medicare should also be allowed to use its huge bargaining leverage to negotiate lower rates with pharmaceutical companies—which Obamacare barred in order to get Big Insurance to go along with the legislation.

These moves would give more Americans quality health care and slow rising health care costs, help reduce federal budget deficit and keep Medicare going.

Let me say it again: Medicare isn’t the problem. It’s the solution.

Robert B. Reich, chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, was secretary of labor in the Clinton administration. Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He has written 13 books, including the best-sellers Aftershock and The Work of Nations . His latest, Beyond Outrage , is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, Inequality for All , is now available on Netflix, iTunes, DVD and on demand. This article first appeared on RobertReich.org.

Why Medicare Should Be Available to All.

Scientists from Sheffield University say their low-intensity ultrasound device can reduce the healing time of skin ulcers and bedsores by as much as 30%, according to a university news release.

The handheld device was developed by Mark Bass, a PhD in biochemistry at the British university, along with several other colleagues. Bass and his team found that ultrasound technologies transmit a vibration through the skin, waking up the cells inside the wound site which can stimulate and accelerate the healing process. The discovery falls in line with several other efforts over the last few years that look to enhance the healing process, including a study that worked with a nanoparticle platform that researchers found could also accelerate the healing process.

However this technology could set itself apart because it involves a handheld device that could be used to treat patients who suffer from painful skin wounds, particularly diabetic and elderly patients. Skin ulcers occur frequently in patients suffering from diabetes, and can not only be painful, but can escalate to the point of requiring amputation—something that could be avoided with this new handy device that could cut a third of the healing time off.

The key to its development actually sprung from the idea of fooling damaged cells into believing they are at a much earlier stage in the body’s life cycle than they actually are. It’s been known for some time that humans possess much higher regenerative capabilities earlier in life. In fact, the human body actually possesses the capability of perfect scar-free healing while still in the womb—a notion Bass and his team kept in mind when trying to manipulate the damaged cells at the site of a wound.

The group found that when they subjected the wounded area to nano-vibrations, they would cause channels to open within the cellular membrane of the surrounding skin cells, allowing calcium to flow across the membrane. This calcium plays a key role in many of the signalling mechanisms within the cell, which in turn endows the cell with a new front-back orientation. This new orientation causes the cells to move toward the damaged site, effectively pulling the edges of the wound together much like sutures would.

Of course, accelerated wound healing isn’t the only progress being made in the realm of regenerative medicine. Just last year scientists at the University of Edinburgh were able to successfully grow a fully functioning organ from transplanted lab-created cells in a living animal. While growing organs in a controlled environment had been done previously, this marked the first occasion that such a feat was accomplished inside a living mammal.

The common denominator is that regenerative medicine and enhanced healing technologies are quickly rising to the fore, as researchers look to push the boundaries of treatment to new heights.

Bass noted that it is possible to enhance the effects of this ultrasound technology even further with continued refinement of the device and how it is used. Most notably, because ultrasound is relatively risk free, he believes we could see such a device in broad clinical use within the next three or four years.

First Functioning Organ Grown in Living Animal

 

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have successfully grown a fully functioning organ from transplanted laboratory-created cells in a living animal. While researchers have grown organs in controlled lab environments, this marks the first time that an organ has been created within a living mammal.

Researchers created a thymus, an organ located next to the heart that produces important immune cells, known as T cells, which are vital for guarding against disease.

The scientists were able to take cells called fibroblasts, and turn them into thymus cells in lab mice. Thymus cells are completely different kind of cell from fibroblasts, which were created in this experiment using reprogramming. The reprogrammed thymus cells were capable of supporting development of T cells, a specialized function that only thymus cells can perform, according to materials from the university recounted by a press release from the University of Edinburgh.

thymus
On the left, specialized thymus cells were grown after reprogramming fibroblasts. On the right, lab-grown cells were implanted into a mouse kidney to create a functional “mini-thymus” in a living animal. Credit: MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh.

Once researchers mixed these reprogrammed cells with other key thymus cell types and transplanted them into a mouse, the cells formed a replacement organ. The new organ had the same structure, complexity, and functionality as a healthy adult thymus. Researchers hope that with further study, the discovery may lead to new treatments for those with a weakened immune system.

This is the first time researchers have created an entire living organ from cells that were created outside of the body through the process of reprogramming. The technique may also offer a way of making patient-matched T cells in the laboratory that could be used in patient-specific cell therapies.

This discovery could prove to be groundbreaking in the growing exploration of regenerative medicine. Recently engineers at MIT designed a biodegradable implantable tissue that can naturally grow bone in the body. The potential impact of lab-created organs and tissue could be monumental when considering the growing number of patients around the world various awaiting transplants.

Despite the various challenges to mass-producing lab-created organs, recent developments such as the lab-generated thymus could prove to be a major step in the direction of organ development and replacement. It also has opened the door to generating specific cells in a lab, paving the way for new innovative cell therapies.

All of these efforts are done with the end goal being to harness the body’s own repair mechanisms, and learning how to manipulate and control these mechanisms to treat diseases. Once these lab-created cells are introduced to the body, they can serve as a catalyst for the immune system, sparking T cell creation and other natural therapeutic responses.

Using Ultrasound to Boost Wound Healing | Qmed.

Recently, Louisiana became the latest state to attempt a massive ban on cash that would have resulted in making it illegal to use U.S. cash dollars in any secondhand transactions.

The law, called R.S. 37:1866, made it illegal to, say, go to a garage sale and buy a lawn mower with cash dollars. That’s right: It would have prohibited American citizens from using legal U.S. tender.

After an outcry by critics who called the law unconstitutional, Louisiana “amended” the bill to remove the widespread ban.

RELATED: The strange reason America’s ATMs are about to shut down…

However, rather than end the ban completely, the state government chose instead to narrow the focus, making it illegal to exchange cash dollars for gold or any precious metals. This, of course, brings to mind the 1930s when FDR banned the private ownership of gold by U.S. citizens.

And it comes at the tail end of a multiyear push to restrict cash use by American citizens.

Already the states of Florida, Texas, and New York have removed tollbooths from highways. Plenty more have installed cashless parking meters and banned cash at dumps and other local facilities.

In fact, when one man tried to pay his mortgage in cash at a Bank of America, he was arrested. A reporter from the Daily Kos (a liberal blog) was accused of “casing the bank” when he showed up to report on the story.

And these are just the latest examples of an attempt to restrict cash from moving around in the U.S. economy.

SEE ALSO: Scandal Behind Obama’s Digital Dollar?

Critics worry that this is “Big Brother’s” latest effort to monitor its citizens more closely.

However, new revelations – just leaked online – show a radically different cause for this government push… And one much more disturbing.

It would appear that there’s about to be a massive shortage of cash in America.

In fact, according to research just made public, the U.S. may already have less cash on hand than the GDP of Finland (a country with about two-thirds of the population of New York City).

DEVELOPING: Senator: ”Go to the ATM… draw out everything it will let you take”

And it would appear that is all about to end with a scenario that the highest levels of our government and banking system have warned would devastate the country.

Janet Yellen, the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, has gone on record to call it America’s biggest economic risk.

A former official from the Treasury Department has described a scenario like this, saying, “Literally, your ATM wouldn’t work. You type in your code, no money comes out. You get your paycheck, you can’t cash it.”

According to a video – posted online HERE – we’re about to experience that firsthand. And very soon.

It comes from a private news and research network that usually reserves information like this for its private subscribers. How long the video will remain online we don’t know. For the moment, it’s available HERE (for FREE), and we’d strongly recommend you watch it right now.

Government Attempts to Ban Cash? (what’s most disturbing is why they’re doing it) – MoneyWise 411.

 

 

Toddlers who spend a lot of time in front of a TV may be at greater risk of being bullied later in life, a new study suggests.

As the number of hours of TV watching increased, so did the risk of being victimized by classmates in middle school, according to the study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

“Television to me is a pleasant pastime,” said study coauthor Linda Pagani, a psychologist and professor in the school of psycho-education at the University of Montreal and a researcher at the brain health division of the Sainte-Justine’s Children’s Hospital. “But too much of one pastime can come at the detriment of another.”

Boys watching TV Chris Stein / Getty Images

When kids watch too much television, they can “grow up with deficits in their emotional skills,” study coauthor Linda Pagani said.

When you go beyond two hours of TV watching, it takes away from more engaging activities, Pagani said. Most important of those would be direct interactions with parents, where children learn how socialize and develop “emotional intelligence,” she added.

“Emotional intelligence is driven by social experience,” Pagani explained. “I talk, you listen. You talk, I listen. We look each other in the eye. Eye contact is a really powerful mode of communication. It tells a lot about people’s internal states. Kids can grow up with deficits in their emotional skills.”

And that, Pagani said, may leave them more vulnerable to bullying.

Pagani and her colleagues followed 991 girls and 1,006 boys who were taking part in the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development. When the children were 29 months old, the researchers queried parents about the kids’ TV viewing habits, including DVD watching. Parents were also asked about their children’s behavior — how impulsive or aggressive they were, for example.

Then in the sixth grade, the children filled out a survey that asked questions about how frequently other children called them names or said mean things to them; how often they were excluded from play; how often they were pushed, hit or kicked; how often other children made fun of them or laughed at them, and how often they were forced to give up something that belonged to them.

When the researchers analyzed the two sets of data, they found that for each additional hour a child watched TV, there was an increase of 11 percent in the amount of bullying they experienced in middle school.

And that was true even when the researchers took into account factors such as the child’s own behavior and cognitive abilities, as well as family characteristics such as income, family functioning and the mother’s level of education.

While there is no question that the study shows a strong association between TV watching in toddlers and later victimization by classmates, it’s not clear what the exact mechanism of that is, experts said.

“It’s a really nice study,” said Alan Kazdin, Sterling professor of psychology and psychiatry and professor of child psychology at Yale University. “But they are taking a big leap when it comes to causation. Children who sit in front of a TV all day tend not to be gregarious and they are more prone to depression, for example.”

Patrick Tolan, director of the Youth-Nex Center at the University of Virginia and a professor in UVA’s Curry School of Education, put it this way: “It’s impressive that you can see long-term effects of TV watching. But it’s not clear whether TV watching is directly related to victimization, or to a lot of poor performance and poor functioning and victimization is just one aspect of that.”

Tolan pointed out that some of the negative effects of TV can be mitigated by parents watching along with a child and then discussing the content. For example, he said, “If someone is being pushed around, a parent might say, ‘He should get help from the teacher.'”

That way, Tolan said, TV watching is not completely passive and can actually become a learning experience.

Kazdin said he hopes the study doesn’t lead parents to focus solely on limiting TV time as a strategy to protect kids from being bullied.

One of the best ways to protect children against bullying is to encourage them to pursue something they are interested in, be it sports or music or dance or another activity, Kazdin said. “Find out what makes their eyes light up,” he added.

When kids get to be good at something, it builds their confidence, “and that is an enormous protection,” Kazdin said.

For her part, Pagani said she doesn’t want the new findings to make parents feel bad, but rather to alert them to the impact of too much TV. “Knowledge is power,” she said.

Study: TV time for toddlers linked to risk of being bullied – TODAY.com.

A potentially deadly amoeba has been found in the New Orleans water supply for at least the second time in two years.

Water from the St. Bernard Parish neighborhood in New Orleans has tested positive for Naegleria fowleri and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals ordered a 60-day chlorine “burn” starting Thursday to ensure the pathogen would be eradicated from the water supply, officials said.

Teen Dies from Rare Brain-Eating Amoeba After Swimming in Lake

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It remained unclear how prevalent the amoeba was in the water system since the only two positive tests included a sample of untreated water and another sample from a station that may have been contaminated by ground water. The treated water was found to have the recommended amount of chlorine.

Jacob Groby, quality control chief for St. Bernard Parish Water and Sewer Division, said water was being flushed and retested to see if the amoeba was present anywhere else through the 225-mile water system.

The water system serves 44,000 people in the New Orleans area, down from approximately 68,000 before Hurricane Katrina drove out residents in 2005.

The lowered population post-Katrina and increased use of eco-friendly devices have led to less water being treated for the same water system, Groby said. As a result, water is standing in the pipes for longer and possibly losing some of its chlorination, he said.

The Naegleria fowleri is a naturally occurring pathogen in freshwater and can be deadly if it enters the body through the nose and makes its way into the brain. It does not harm people if they drink it or if it gets on their skin.

In 2013, a 4-year-old boy died in the parish after being infected with the amoeba, while playing on a slip-n-slide, health officials said at the time.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical School, said people in the area should take steps to stay safe, including keeping their pool chlorinated, and stopping children from playing with hoses to stay cool.

“You don’t [want] water up into the nose,” Schaffner said. “You can’t get it just by drinking water — that’s a not a problem.”

via ‘Brain-Eating’ Amoeba Reappears in New Orleans Water Supply – ABC News.

The benefits of exercise have been well-established over the years. Now, there may be even more incentive to dust off those sneakers and take a walk or jog around the neighborhood.

Three separate studies presented this week at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in the District of Columbia suggest that regular physical activity may stave off the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, aka MCI, or dementia.

More specifically, the studies examined the effects of aerobic exercise on Alzheimer’s disease, vascular cognitive impairment – weakened thinking abilities due to damaged blood vessels in the brain – and MCI, a stage between normal aging and dementia.

The Danish ADEX study included 200 people ages 50 to 90 with Alzheimer’s disease who were randomly assigned to either a supervised 60-minute exercise session three times per week for 16 weeks, or no exercise. Those assigned to the exercise program had fewer symptoms of anxiety, irritability and depression – common burdens of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to improved physical fitness, a subgroup of the exercise group showed significant improvements in mental speed and attention.

Another study included 65 sedentary adults ages 55 to 89 with MCI, randomly assigned to either a supervised aerobic training regimen of moderate to high intensity or a stretching group for 45 to 60 minutes four times per week for six months. Those assigned to aerobic exercise had significantly lower levels of tau proteins – a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease – compared with the stretching group. This group also exhibited increased blood flow in the memory and processing region of the brain, in addition to improvements in attention, planning and organization abilities.

The third study included 71 adults ages 56 to 96 with vascular cognitive impairment. One-half of the group completed aerobic exercise three times per week for 60 minutes with fitness instructors, while another received no fitness instruction but completed an education seminar on nutrition once monthly. Those who exercised had significant improvements in both memory and attention.

“Based on the results we heard reported [today] at AAIC 2015, exercise or regular physical activity might play a role in both protecting your brain from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and also living better with the disease if you have it,” said Maria Carrillo, the Alzheimer’s Association’s chief science officer, in a press release.

via Exercise Is Good For Your Brain – US News.

 

There are a billion Earths in this galaxy, roughly speaking. Not a million. A billion. We’re talking 1 billion rocky planets that are approximately the size of the Earth and are orbiting familiar-looking yellow-sunshine stars in the orbital “habitable zone” where water could be liquid at the surface.

 

That’s a billion planets where human beings, or their genetically modified descendants, as well as their dogs and cats and tomato plants and crepe myrtle trees and ladybugs and earthworms and whatnot, could plausibly live.

 

[Scientists discover 12 new potential Earth-like planets]

 

The estimate comes from NASA scientist Natalie Batalha. Let’s go through some background information to see how she got to that number.

 

NASA discovers bigger, older Earth-like planet(1:40)
NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. The newly discovered Kepler-452b is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the “habitable zone”—the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. (NASA Ames Research Center)

 

As Rachel Feltman reported Thursday, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has discovered a bunch of new planets, including one, Kepler 452b, that scientists described as the most Earth-like planet ever found outside our solar system. It’s something like 60 percent bigger in radius than the Earth (the exact size is hard to measure because it’s 1,400 light years away and cannot be directly imaged). But it’s probably rocky, and it’s in the habitable zone of its parent star, which is like our own sun, a G-type “yellow dwarf” star. The parent star is 6 billion years old, roughly (everything’s “roughly,” unfortunately).

 

[Why NASA’s top scientist is sure that we’ll find signs of alien life in the next decade]

 

A few important reminders about our cousin Kepler 452b:

 

No one has seen it. Only Kepler has detected it — it’s too far away and dim to be detected with other instruments so far. So there’s a lot we don’t know about it. We don’t know for sure whether it’s rocky. We don’t know whether it has an atmosphere or water at the surface or anything like that. We’ve seen only the dimming of the starlight from the host star. The pattern of that dimming gives us a good measure of its orbital period (385 days) and, less precisely, its size. We’re not even sure of the exact size of the host star. These objects are very far away.

 

 

We also shouldn’t obsess over this one particular planet, nor over any of the intriguing Earth-like planets found by Kepler so far. Kepler is looking at a narrow cone of our galaxy. It’s not an all-sky survey. The main purpose of Kepler was to do a census of a small patch of sky to get an estimate of the abundance of planets. That’s been a huge success: We now know our galaxy is lousy with planets. They’re everywhere. And they come in all sizes.

 

[Gorgeous new photo shows Pluto with jazzed up color]

 

During the NASA newser Thursday, I asked whether the latest Kepler data offered any new insight on the abundance of Earth-like planets around sun-like stars (the shorthand for this formulation is “eta-Earth”), and then followed up with an e-mail to NASA. Batalha, an astrophysicist who is the mission scientist for the Kepler telescope, e-mailed her answer:

 

Previous estimates of eta-Earth suggest that 15-25% of stars host potentially habitable planets.  These estimates are based largely on discoveries of planets orbiting the cooler stars called M dwarfs.  These new discoveries suggest that the statistics for sun-like stars are roughly in-line with estimates from the cooler M-type stars.  So how does that translate to the number of planets in the galaxy?  M, K, and G dwarfs comprise about 90% of the stars in the galaxy.  Conservatively speaking, if 15% of stars have a planet between 1 and 1.6 times the size of Earth in the Habitable Zone, then you’d expect 15% of 90% of 100 billion stars to have such planets.  That’s 14 billion potentially habitable worlds.

M type stars are the most common in the galaxy comprising about 70% of the population of Main Sequence stars.  Here’s how the star types break down for the solar neighborhood within 33 light-years:

357 stars total

248 of those are M dwarfs

44 K dwarfs

20 G dwarfs

That means “only” about a billion of the 14 billion I mentioned above are orbiting G stars. Ha!

 

Thank you, Dr. Batalha! Keep in mind, she is using conservative estimates. So 1 billion may be a little low.

 

[Breathtaking image shows Pluto with an atmospheric halo]

 

Before we make plans for colonizing these other Earths, we should pause for a second to note that there are two “Earth-like” planets orbiting our own sun and much, much closer to home than any of these extrasolar planets. Getting Venus in shape for habitability would be a terraforming challenge of the first order. Mars is potentially more congenial, but still an unpleasant place by our standards. Before we colonize Mars, we’ll probably colonize the bottom of our shallow seas. Your scribbler will avoid going into a full rant about people who think there’s a do-over in space for when we ruin our own planet.

 

Read

 

NASA estimates 1 billion ‘Earths’ in our galaxy alone – The Washington Post.

 

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Anxiety that Social Security benefits will not be available in retirement has inspired plenty of fear among American consumers. Amid the gloom, there is cause for slight optimism: the combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds are not projected to run out until 2034, gaining a year of solvency over last year’s projections, according to the recently released Social Security Board of Trustees annual report on the health of the Social Security Trust Funds.

 

Reports like this, combined with media skepticism, have led many Americans to believe that the safety net of Social Security will not be around to catch them when they fall into retirement.

 

However, some Social Security experts believe that the federal government will not allow Social Security to become insolvent when so many Americans rely in part or in full on Social Security during their retirement years. Rather, they believe that there may be a reduction in pay out or a hike in taxes.

 

“The Social Security system is good shape,” says Louis D. Johnston, professor of economics at Saint John’s University. “Current taxes are funding current benefits. When current taxes start to dip below the amount needed to pay current retirees, the Social Security Administration will begin selling some of its holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds and use the proceeds to pay retirees. At that point, Johnston says it will be necessary to do some combination of increasing taxes slightly, raising or removing the earnings cap on earnings that are subject to Social Security tax or increasing the retirement age.

“I would say that anyone under the age of 55 should adjust downward their expectations for the retirement benefits they will receive,” says Ken Moraif, CFP, senior advisor at Money Matters in Plano, Tex. “Most likely an increase in the eligibility age and some form of means testing would save the system.”

 

Considering and understanding Social Security is of the essence for most consumers: Social Security retirement benefits typically replace 40% of pre-retirement income, according to the Social Security Administration.

Whether retirement is around the corner or years down the road, you should know that Social Security decisions are complex, and making a mistake could cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Here are ten Social Security tips to consider:

1. You may have to pay tax on your Social Security income. About 40% of Americans pay taxes on their Social Security income. If you’re married and file a joint return, you’ll have to pay taxes if your total income is more than $32,000. If you’re single, that number drops down to $25,000.

 

2. You may qualify for Social Security even if you’re divorced. If you were married for at least ten years, you’re eligible to collect Social Security based on your ex-spouse’s record, if you’re not married when you become eligible for Social Security. To top it off, your ex-spouse does not have to know about it. It will not affect his or her Social Security income. Further, if you signed a divorce decree relinquishing your rights to Social Security on your ex-spouse’s record, those clauses will not be enforced. To boot, you may collect a higher rate of Social Security, if your ex-spouse predeceases you.

3. File and suspend for increased income. Married couples can increase their Social Security retirement income by implementing a little-known strategy. When one spouse turns 66 years old, he or she can file for Social Security retirement income and then immediately suspend it. This allows the second spouse to claim spousal benefits (35% of the first spouse’s benefits) at age 62, even if the second spouse never worked. By waiting until age 66 years, the second spouse can collect 50% of her spouse’s benefits. Meanwhile, if the second spouse worked, his or her benefits continue to grow.

4. How old you are when you start to collect Social Security has a big impact on the amount of your monthly benefit. In general, the older you are when you decide to start collecting Social Security, the larger your check. You can start collecting Social Security as early as age 62, but if you want a bigger check, you must wait until your full retirement age, which is 66 years for individuals born between 1943 and 1954 and 67 years for individuals born in 1960 or later. For those born in between 1955 and 1959, there’s a gradual climb in age qualification. Social Security benefits are said to increase 8% for each year you delay collecting pay after your full retirement age.

5. You must work for at least ten years to qualify for Social Security retirement income. However, they don’t have to be consecutive years.

6. You can increase the amount of your Social Security check. By working longer, you can replace low-income years with higher-income years. This is good news for individuals who were unemployed for a period of time and those who got better jobs or promotions. Further, years with no income will not replace years with income, even if they come closer to retirement.

7. There is a maximum benefit that you can receive. This year, individuals who have reached full retirement age can collect as much as $3,501 per month.

8. Teachers and other government workers may not qualify for full Social Security benefits. The Windfall Elimination Provision, or WEP, reduces the amount of Social Security that retired and disabled workers get who receive pensions from employment not covered by Social Security.

9. You can get an idea of how much Social Security retirement income you’ll get by using the Social Security Administration’s Retirement Estimator.

10. You can view your Social Security information online. If you’re 18 years old or older, you can see your earnings record, estimates for how much Social Security income you’ll have at retirement and more at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

 

10 Things You Need to Know About Social Security – TheStreet.

Welcome to Mcity: The Fake Town Built for Testing Driverless Cars.

Everybody knows if you don’t pay to repair your car, you limit its life.

The same is true with people. We need medical care to avoid becoming clunkers.

For a half-century, Medicare has enabled seniors to get that care. But now the Obama administration is pressuring hospitals to skimp.

Last week, the administration announced the largest-ever change in how Medicare pays for care. It’s called “bundled payments,” and it’s the latest trick to squeeze care from seniors.

Bundling will make it financially risky for hospitals in New York and many other areas of the country to do hip and knee replacements. These two procedures have transformed the experience of aging, allowing seniors to stay active.

But President Obama says too many seniors are getting these operations.

When the subject of hip replacements came up in a 2009 town-hall meeting, he said “maybe you’re better off not having the surgery but taking the pain killer.”

Science proves the president is wrong. Seniors with severe arthritis who opt for a knee replacement are 50 percent more likely to still be alive seven years later than seniors who don’t. Pain and immobility are killers.

Medicare is moving from paying doctors and hospitals for each item and service they provide to the new bundling system in January 2016.

It’s being rolled out in New York City, Newark, Buffalo, New Haven and New London, Conn., and many other regions, including Los Angeles. About 100,000 seniors will feel the pain, one quarter of the number expected to get hip and knee replacements each year.

Hospitals in these areas will have to settle for a flat fee for all the care a knee- or hip-replacement patient might need — including surgery, pain killers, hospital stays, rehabilitation and home care — regardless of how things go.

If there are complications, the hospital and doctors lose out. Hospitals will have to cut corners, and avoid the costliest patients altogether. So if you’ve been considering getting a hip or knee replacement, do it before January.

Ezekiel Emanuel, the president’s health-care adviser, applauds the impending change, promising that “savings are immediate and guaranteed.” What savings? Not for you.

Bundled payments will force cuts in care, not necessarily “savings.” The new system will set up a conflict of interest between patients and the very people they need to trust.

Whatever the patient gets will come off the hospital’s bottom line and out of the doctors’ own pockets at the end of the year.

Seniors are guinea pigs in this new scheme. The RAND Corp. says there are no studies to show the impact on patients.

Isn’t that what health care is supposed to be about? RAND says the scheme risks putting “pressure on physicians to spend less time with patients or on hospitals to decrease amenities.”

Health-care analysts at Lewin Group predict hospitals will scrimp by sending patients directly home with only a part-time health aide instead of to full-time rehabilitation at a skilled nursing facility.

Another risk is that hospitals will use low-cost implants instead of allowing surgeons to opt for newer prostheses that give patients more range of movement.

Bundling payments is one of several ploys to shortchange seniors. In October 2012, Medicare began awarding bonus points to the hospitals that spend the least per senior, despite evidence that spending less results in higher death rates.

Americans know Medicare is running out of money.

But it’s better to have an honest conversation about how to extend its solvency, including raising the eligibility age and enlisting competition among private insurers, than to have the hidden incentives to cut care the Obama administration is using.

Rationing is invisible. Patients won’t know about the care they should have gotten or how much less they could have suffered.

Bundled payments, like other perverse incentives buried in ObamaCare, destroy Medicare as we’ve known it.

Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and author of “Beating Obamacare.”

via How Uncle Sam plans to cheat Granny out of health care | New York Post.

Renégat

Living in Switzerland ruined me for America and its lousy work culture

I was halfway through a job interview when I realized I was wrinkling my nose. I couldn’t help myself. A full-time freelance position with a long commute, no benefits, and a quarter of my old pay was the best they could do? I couldn’t hide how I felt about that, and the 25-year-old conducting the interview noticed.

“Are you interested in permanent jobs instead?” she asked.

“I could consider a permanent job if it was part-time,” I said.

She looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language and went right back to her pitch: long commute, full-time, no benefits. No way, I thought. Who would want to do that? And then it hit me: Either I had become a completely privileged jerk or my own country was not as amazing as I had once thought it to be. This wasn’t an unusually bad offer: It was just American Reality.

Now that I’m back, I’m angry that my own country isn’t providing more for its peopleBefore I moved to Switzerland for almost a decade, American Reality was all I knew. I was living in a two-bedroom apartment making $30,000 a year in a job where I worked almost seven days a week with no overtime pay and received 10 days of paid time off a year.

In other words, for the hours worked, I was making minimum wage, if that. The glamour of this job was supposed to make up for the hours, but in reality, working every weekend is a ticket to burnout — not success.

My husband and I were so accustomed to American Reality that when he was offered an opportunity to work in Switzerland, we both thought about travel and adventure — not about improving our quality of life. It hadn’t occurred to us that we could improve our quality of life simply by moving.

But without realizing it, or even asking for it, a better life quality came to us. And this is why, now that I’m back, I’m angry that my own country isn’t providing more for its people. I will never regret living abroad. It taught me to understand another culture. And it taught me to see my own. But it also taught me something else — to lose touch with the American version of reality.

Here are seven ways living abroad made it hard to return to American life.

1) I had work-life balance

The Swiss work hard, but they have a strong work-life balance. According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the average Swiss worker earned the equivalent of $91,574 a year in 2013, while the average American worker earned only $55,708. But the real story is that the average American had to work 219 hours more per year for this lesser salary.

Which brings us to lunch. In Switzerland, you don’t arrive to a meeting late, but you also don’t leave for your lunch break a second past noon. If it’s summer, jumping into the lake to swim with the swans is an acceptable way to spend your lunch hour. If you eat a sandwich at your desk, people will scold you. I learned this the hard way.

“Ugh,” said Tom, a Swiss art director I shared an office with at a Zurich ad agency. “It smells like someone ate their lunch in here.” He threw open the windows and fanned the air.

“They did. I ate a sandwich here,” I said.

Tom looked at me like I was crazy.

“No. Tomorrow you’re having a proper lunch. With me,” he said.

The next day, exactly at noon, we rode the funicular to a restaurant where we dined al fresco above Zurich. After lunch, we strolled down the hill. I felt guilty for being gone for an hour and a half. But no one had missed us at the office.

Lunchtime is sacred time in Switzerland. When I was on maternity leave, my husband came home for lunch to help me care for our daughter. This strengthened our marriage. Many families still reunite during weekdays over the lunch hour.

Weekends in Switzerland encourage leisure time, too. On Sundays, you can’t even shop — most stores are closed. You are semi-required to hike in the Alps with your family. It’s just what you do.

The author and her daughter in Urnaesch, Switzerland, watching the cows come home. (Brian Opyd)

2) I had time and money

 

The Swiss have a culture of professional part-time work, and as a result, part-time jobs include every benefit of a full-time job, including vacation time and payment into two Swiss pension systems. Salaries for part-time work are set as a percentage of a professional full-time salary­ because unlike in the United States, part-time jobs are not viewed as necessarily unskilled jobs with their attendant lower pay.

During my Swiss career, I was employed by various companies from 25 percent to 100 percent. When I worked 60 percent, for example, I worked three days a week. A job that is 50 percent could mean the employee works five mornings a week or, as I once did, two and a half days a week. The freedom to choose the amount of work that was right for me at varying points of my life was wonderful and kept me engaged and happy.

When I took only 10 days for a trip to Spain, my colleagues chastised me for taking so little time offOften, jobs in Switzerland are advertised with the percentage of work that is expected. Other times, you can negotiate what percentage you would like to work or request to go from working five days a week to four days a week, for example. There is normally little risk involved in asking.

One married couple I knew each worked 80 percent, which meant they each spent one day a week at home with their child, limiting the child’s time in day care to three days a week while continuing full professional lives for both of them. According to a recent article in the New York Times, “Why U.S. Women Are Leaving Jobs Behind,” 81 percent of women in Switzerland are in the workforce, versus 69 percent in the US. I believe attitudes toward professional part-time work — for both men and women — have a lot to do with this.

3) I had the support of an amazing unemployment system

 

About three years into my Swiss life, I lost my job. And I discovered that in Switzerland, being on unemployment meant you received 70 to 80 percent of your prior salary for 18 months. The Swiss government also paid for me to take German classes, and when I wasn’t looking for jobs, I could afford to write a book.

In the United States, on the other hand, unemployment benefits generally pay workers between 40 and 50 percent of their previous salary, and these benefits only last for six months on average. However, thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, some unemployed people now receive up to 99 weeks of benefits.

4) I witnessed what happens when countries impose wealth-based taxes

 

Compared with taxes in the United States, Swiss taxes are easy on the average worker. For example, a worker earning the average wage of $91,574 would pay only about 5 percent of that in Swiss federal income tax. Instead of taxing salaries at high percentages — a practice that puts most of the tax burden on the middle class, where most income comes from wages and not from capital gains — Switzerland immediately taxes dividends at a maximum of 35 percent and also has a wealth-based tax.

While the American tax system is supposed to be progressive — so the more you earn, the more taxes you pay — up to 39.6 percent tax for the highest income brackets, the superrich escape paying these kind of taxes because they aren’t making most of their money in wages.

Zurich at night. Beautiful! (Kamil Porembiński)

 

For example, in 2010, Mitt Romney, whose total income was $21.6 million, paid only $3 million in taxes, or a tax rate of about 14 percent, which is amazing when you consider this is the same tax rate American families earning wages from about $16,750 to $68,000 paid in 2010.

The Swiss taxation method leaves money in the pocket of the average worker — and allows them to save accordingly. The average adult in Switzerland has a net worth worth of $513,000 according to the 2013 Credit Suisse Wealth Report. Average net worth among adults in the US is half that.

While I witnessed the benefits of the Swiss tax system for the average person, I did not benefit from them due to my American citizenship. Instead, I paid both Swiss tax and American tax while living in Switzerland. Unfortunately, the US is one of the only nations in the world where tax is citizen-based instead of resident-based. (China, in a new push to enforce tax law for citizens working abroad, is one of the others, along with Eritrea.)

5) I had lots of paid vacation time and was never made to feel guilty about taking it

 

At my former American job, I received 10 days of paid vacation per year, and each of those days came with a sizable portion of guilt if actually used. But in Switzerland, my husband’s company gave employees six weeks of vacation a year. Most of the Swiss companies I worked for gave four — the legal minimum is four. Moreover, everything shut down between Christmas and New Year’s, giving most employees like me another guaranteed week off.

People in Europe took vacation seriously. Once, when I only took 10 days for a trip to Spain, my colleagues chastised me for taking so little time off. I learned to take vacation chunks in two-week intervals. Well rested, I noticed that I felt more productive and creative when I returned to work. Recent American research confirms what I was feeling: Relaxing can make you more productive. So why don’t Americans embrace vacation time?

6) I never had to own a car

 

I’m currently cringing at the idea of being required to buy a car. A Honda dealer here in Chicago recently quoted me $18,000 for a 2012 Accord, and that seems like a lot of money — especially when you still need to pay for insurance, gasoline, and repairs. The price is even more daunting for someone who isn’t used to being required to pay for such a thing.

The freedom to choose the amount of work that was right for me kept me engaged and happyNot owning a car is financially freeing — and it saves the environment, too. In Switzerland, 21 percent of households do not own a car, versus 9.2 percent in the US.

The Swiss train connects to the bus that connects to the cable car to get you on the slopes in the middle of nowhere at the scheduled second. From Zurich, I could also take a high-speed train to Paris in three and a half hours. Now I can barely get from the western suburbs to the north side of Chicago in that amount of time — let alone have the option to do it carless. This means I’m turning down jobs instead of taking them. This isn’t good for the American economy or for me.

And let’s be clear: Living in a city suburb is no excuse for having bad transit options. I lived exactly the same distance from Zurich that I now live from Chicago (15 miles) but shared none of the public transport frustrations.

7) I had excellent health care when I gave birth — and then enjoyed a fully paid 14-week maternity leave

 

When I gave birth in Switzerland, I was encouraged to stay five days in the hospital. So I did. The $3,000 bill for the birth and hospital stay was paid in full by my Swiss insurance. As was the required midwife, who came to my apartment for five days after I came home from the hospital to check on both my health and my baby’s.

Had I been in the US for my delivery, the cost would have been much higher — and the quality of care arguably lower. The average price for a vaginal birth in the US is $30,000 and includes an average of less than a two-day hospital stay.

Swiss law also mandates a 14-week maternity leave at a minimum of 80 percent pay. I was lucky enough to receive 100 percent pay. Compare that with the US, where new mothers aren’t guaranteed any paid time off after giving birth. In Switzerland, it’s also common to choose how much work to return to after having a child. Since my Swiss job at the time had been full time, I chose to return at 60 percent.

Other American friends in Switzerland who gave birth also chose to return to their careers part time: My engineering manager friend chose 70 percent, and my lawyer friend chose 80 percent. We had great careers, we had balance, and we also had a Swiss government that paid a monthly child stipend whether we needed it or not. For Americans like me, Swiss Reality was privilege.

Finally, finally, after almost a decade abroad, my husband and I decided we needed to go home to see what home felt like, or if the United States even felt like home anymore. So we put our Swiss residence permits on hold for two years and went back to Chicago.

While I enjoy being close to family again, returning to the United States made me realize who I’ve become: someone who can’t believe companies aren’t required to pay into a pension fund beyond Social Security. Someone who is offended that most women in America don’t have the maternity benefits she had.

And someone who is mad that she must own a car for lack of efficient public transportation. Someone who, because of all of this, is still debating where she ultimately wants to call home.

Chantal Panozzo is the author of Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d KnownShe has written about Switzerland and expat life for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Living in Switzerland ruined me for America and its lousy work culture – Vox.

The end of capitalism has begun | Books | The Guardian.

How a first crack cocaine offense led to a life sentence | The Washington Post.

These 12 startups died in Q2. Here’s why and how | VentureBeat | Small Biz | by Mark Sullivan.

A new model of the Sun’s solar cycle is producing unprecedentedly accurate predictions of irregularities within the Sun’s 11-year heartbeat. The model draws on dynamo effects in two layers of the Sun, one close to the surface and one deep within its convection zone. Predictions from the model suggest that solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the ‘mini ice age’ that began in 1645.

Results will be presented today by Prof Valentina Zharkova at the National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno.

It is 172 years since a scientist first spotted that the Sun’s activity varies over a cycle lasting around 10 to 12 years. But every cycle is a little different and none of the models of causes to date have fully explained fluctuations. Many solar physicists have put the cause of the solar cycle down to a dynamo caused by convecting fluid deep within the Sun. Now, Zharkova and her colleagues have found that adding a second dynamo, close to the surface, completes the picture with surprising accuracy.

“We found magnetic wave components appearing in pairs, originating in two different layers in the Sun’s interior. They both have a frequency of approximately 11 years, although this frequency is slightly different, and they are offset in time. Over the cycle, the waves fluctuate between the northern and southern hemispheres of the Sun. Combining both waves together and comparing to real data for the current solar cycle, we found that our predictions showed an accuracy of 97%,” said Zharkova.

Zharkova and her colleagues derived their model using a technique called ‘principal component analysis’ of the magnetic field observations from the Wilcox Solar Observatory in California. They examined three solar cycles-worth of magnetic field activity, covering the period from 1976-2008. In addition, they compared their predictions to average sunspot numbers, another strong marker of solar activity. All the predictions and observations were closely matched.

Looking ahead to the next solar cycles, the model predicts that the pair of waves become increasingly offset during Cycle 25, which peaks in 2022. During Cycle 26, which covers the decade from 2030-2040, the two waves will become exactly out of synch and this will cause a significant reduction in solar activity.

“In cycle 26, the two waves exactly mirror each other — peaking at the same time but in opposite hemispheres of the Sun. Their interaction will be disruptive, or they will nearly cancel each other. We predict that this will lead to the properties of a ‘Maunder minimum’,” said Zharkova. “Effectively, when the waves are approximately in phase, they can show strong interaction, or resonance, and we have strong solar activity. When they are out of phase, we have solar minimums. When there is full phase separation, we have the conditions last seen during the Maunder minimum, 370 years ago.”


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

 

Solar activity predicted to fall 60% in 2030s, to ‘mini ice age’ levels: Sun driven by double dynamo — ScienceDaily.

The record temperatures we keep reading about could be a fond memory in just 15 years’ time, which is when a new mini-Ice Age will hit the planet, a group of scientists is warning.

The last “Little Ice Age,” which chilled the northern hemisphere from the year 1300 to 1870, lasted almost 600 years. The U.K. Royal Astronomical Society isn’t postulating how long the new one they predict will persist.

Their prediction has nothing whatsoever to do with the phenomenon of human-driven climate change, about which there is almost-blanket scientific consensus. It has to do with the behavior of the sun, which the team headed by Prof. Valentina Zharkova says it can now model with much greater accuracy than ever before.

The model suggests that “solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the ‘mini ice age’ that began in 1645,” they write in ScienceDaily.

The sun has a natural activity cycle lasting between ten and 12 years, but the cycles are, by nature, not identical. Yet nobody had been able to nail down the causes of fluctuations, until Zharkova and her team postulated that the sun’s activity was driven not by one dynamo, but two – one being moving plasm deep within the Sun, the other closer to the star’s surface.

They found magnetic wave components appearing in pairs, originating in two different layers in the Sun’s interior, Zharkova told Science Daily: Both have a frequency of about 11 years but are offset in time.

“Combining both waves together and comparing to real data for the current solar cycle, we found that our predictions showed an accuracy of 97%,” she told the journal.

And they predict, based on the cycles’ behavior, that a new mini-Ice Age will start in 15 years, when the cycles produce a “Maunder minimum” – a period of low solar activity.

This is not good news. The last “Little Ice Age” – which was no such thing, merely a very long period of colder weather wreaked havoc on Europe and early settlers of North America, though science isn’t clear how it affected the southern hemisphere. In Europe, rivers and canals froze over and so did the usually balmy Bosphorus, for good measure. Frost-afflicted countries suffered widespread crop failure and famine. Some have even linked the travails of the era to the predilection for witch-hunting, which did not, ultimately, solve any problems at all.

 

Mini-ice age to hit Earth in 15 years, scientists warn – Nature & Environment – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.

The properties of marijuana are legend and legion. Now scientists in Israel have added an unexpected feature to the list: a compound in weed can help heal broken bones. In rats at least. Whether it would work for the kids remains to be seen.

The compound – which does nothing to the mind – is cannabinoid cannabidiol, or CBD, say the researchers, who hail from Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Isolated from the other components of cannabis that do monkey with the mind, CBD still markedly enhanced the healing process of broken rattus femurs after just eight weeks, the scientists say in their paper in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Not only did broken bones heal better – in rats, we must stress again: they healed faster because the compound helps bone mineralize. CBD could therefore also help prevent osteoporosis in the elderly, paving the way to new medications.

“We found that CBD alone makes bones stronger during healing, enhancing the maturation of the collagenous matrix, which provides the basis for new mineralization of bone tissue,” stated Dr. Yankel Gabet. “After being treated with CBD, the healed bone will be harder to break in the future.”

To be clear, smoking a joint won’t help you get over breaking your bones, though it might help you, briefly, not care.

As for the rats with the broken legs, the doctors injected one group with CBD and one group with CBD mixed with tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive substance. They found that whatever other effects THC has, healing bones isn’t one of them.

The study was led by Gabet, of the Bone Research Laboratory at Tel Aviv University, and the late professor Itai Bab of the Bone Laboratory at Hebrew University.

In earlier studies the same team found that the cannabinoid receptors within the human body, which recognize the cannabinoid molecules and cause our bodies to respond to them, stimulated bone formation, and inhibited bone loss.

Gabet also points out that according to studies, using CBD is safe. It also bears mention that the body mechanism dealing with our use of cannabinoid drugs is something called the endocannabinoid system – really – which aside from being involved in that inebriated feeling when one tokes, is also involved in a vast number of fundamental physiological processes, yes, including appetite – and mood, memory and pain sensation.

As for medical marijuana, that’s another topic entirely. In theory marijuana therapy involves use of the whole plant with its more entertaining molecules. New claims are constantly being claimed for the plant’s wonders, one being that marijuana has been shown to help prevent post-traumatic stress disorder. Sorry, that study was also on rats.

 

Marijuana helps broken bones heal, says Israeli scientific team – Science & Medicine – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.

When They Won’t See It Your Way: Four Persuasion Approaches That Work

When They Won’t See It Your Way: Four Persuasion Approaches That Work

The recent measles outbreak and re-emergence of whooping cough and pertussis in the United States has shone a spotlight on the anti-vaccine movement. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, 90 to 95 percent of the population must be immunized to achieve “herd immunity” from measles. But in many communities around the country, that number is far lower — especially in states that allow parents to get a personal-belief exemption.

Efforts to convince anti-vaccine parents have had limited success. Methods such as explaining the scientific data that supports immunization and even showing photographs of children suffering from measles and whooping cough don’t seem to be working.

That’s no surprise to Richard Shell, Wharton professor of legal studies, business ethics, and management. Shell, who co-wrote The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas, says when you try to sway a parent to vaccinate their child, you run into a belief barrier. “It’s one of the most difficult examples,” he says. “The mind needs a stable world view to function, one in which all of our beliefs and behaviors work together to create a whole picture that makes sense. Trying to change a core belief in that system can make the whole thing feel unstable.”

Shell has been teaching executives how to persuade others in Strategic Persuasion Workshop: The Art and Science of Selling Ideas for over seven years. He says many come to the program frustrated with the barriers they find themselves up against. “We have had managers in the program who need to convince people to accept and work toward a change initiative, and Navy Seals who are trying to persuade tribal leaders to allow them to work in their communities. These challenges might look very different, but as with the anti-vaccine movement, it comes down to belief barriers.”

What can you do if you’re tasked with persuading the seemingly unpersuadable? Shell has four approaches that can work.

  1. Keep an open mind. “When you hear the reasons why someone believes what they do, your first impulse might be to label them and reject them as crazy. But if you are serious about getting them to see your side, you need to keep an open mind. Listen and try to fully understand their point of view. Your own openness can sometimes trigger a reciprocal willingness to listen by the other person. Their explanation may also give you an opening to show how the new behavior you are asking for is, in fact, consistent with their basic beliefs — not hostile to them.”
  2. Use small experiments. “This won’t work with anti-vaccination parents, but it can be effective when you’re leading an organizational change. Have people experiment on a small scale with a new behavior or task, and let them experience the results for themselves. You’re not asking them to abandon the old way of doing things, but letting them ‘try on’ something new. They may see that it is not nearly as threatening as they feared.”
  3. Use a person of influence. “When Libertarian senator Rand Paul had himself photographed while getting the hepatitis A vaccine, he was sending a message. Although he has said vaccination should be a parent’s decision, he gave a different visual clue. A person of influence can help you overcome belief barriers by showing your target audience that someone who shares their basic beliefs has found a way to reconcile these beliefs with the new behavior being requested.”
  4. Find common ground. “You may have to dig deep, but there are commonalities you can use to show others that your views are not as far apart as they perceive them to be. It might be a desire to do what’s best for the community or the organization, or a shared desire to improve the profitability of your company. Finding something deep in your shared sense of mission or purpose can help you build a bridge to the other person to make the case for change.”

For Shell, persuasion is as much art as science. “Science is involved because you create hypotheses about what might convince the other person, and then you test them. There is a structured process you can learn. But you also need creativity. When you want people to see things your way, the same approach won’t work with everyone. Be flexible, and have a range of methods you can use. One size doesn’t fit all.”

– See more at: http://executiveeducation.wharton.upenn.edu/thought-leadership/wharton-at-work/2015/03/when-they-wont-see-it-your-way?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=perl16ob#sthash.pKnUhZRA.dpuf

 

When They Won’t See It Your Way — Wharton@Work March 2015.

Indiana Declares Public Health Emergency to Battle Worst HIV Outbreak in State History – ABC News.

 

As rates of Alzheimer’s diagnoses continue to rise, researchers are searching for effective ways to detect the disease early in patients. A neuroscience graduate student at the University of Alberta says he’s identified a simple way to screen for early stages of the disease: by analyzing a patient’s saliva. The researcher, Shraddha Sapkota, presented his findings this week at the annual Alzheimer’s Association Conference in Washington, D.C.

For the study, saliva samples were analyzed with a special technology designed to measure protein levels. Results from each sample were then matched with patients’ medical records. Some of the patients had already received a diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment. The analysis showed a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment correlated with higher levels of certain proteins in saliva. It indicates that elevated protein levels may be predictors for the condition, even in its earliest stage.

Currently, doctors screen patients for Alzheimer’s disease through a number of tests. Unfortunately, many of the screening options are unreliable, costly or invasive. Written tests that evaluate executive memory and cognitive function aren’t always effective for distinguishing early-stage forms of the disease. Medical imaging tests such as MRIs—used to identify the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain—are costly. Spinal taps that can detect high levels of certain proteins in cerebrospinal fluid can be risky for elderly and frail patients.

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More research is needed to assess the potential for this test, but it could solve some of the challenges physicians face. Early detection of Alzheimer’s disease is key: Starting medications before the disease has progressed has been known to preserve cognitive function in patients. Some research suggests that patients will have the best outcomes if they start medications before any of symptoms of the disease begin to manifest. But to do so, physicians need an easy and reliable way to identify those patients.

Saliva Test Could Predict Alzheimer’s Disease.

(Repeats without change to widen distribution)

By Leah Schnurr

(Reuters) – Canada’s prim capital is suddenly focused more on the state of people’s affairs than the affairs of the state.

One in five Ottawa residents allegedly subscribed to adulterers’ website Ashley Madison, making one of the world’s coldest capitals among the hottest for extra-marital hookups – and the most vulnerable to a breach of privacy after hackers targeted the site.

Hackers threatened to leak details including the credit card information, nude photos, sexual fantasies and real names of as many as 37 million customers worldwide of Ashley Madison, which uses the slogan: “Life is short. Have an affair.”

The website’s Canadian parent, Avid Life Media, said it had since secured the site and was working with law enforcement agencies to trace those behind the attack.

“Everybody says Ottawa is a sleepy town and here we are with 200,000 people running around on each other,” said municipal employee Jon Weaks, 27, as he took a break at an outdoor cafe near the nation’s Parliament.

“I think a lot of people will be questioned tonight at dinner,” added colleague Ali Cross, 28.

Some 189,810 Ashley Madison users were registered in Ottawa, a city with a population of about 883,000, making the capital No. 1 for philanderers in Canada and potentially the highest globally per capita, according to previously published figures from the Toronto-based company.

The one bright spot for millions of Ashley Madison’s nervous clients is that the hack appears to be an inside job, according to police and intelligence sources. Avid Life has also said it is convinced the hackers were formerly connected to the company.

That means, for now at least, the perpetrators are driven by ideological and not commercial motives.

The hackers, who referred to customers as “cheating dirtbags who deserve no discretion,” appear uninterested in blackmailing individual clients, unlike an organized crime outfit.

“If it had been organized, they wouldn’t have advertised it,” said a law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity. “But there’s going to be a lot of people with lots of explaining to do.”

The hotbed of infidelity was also the seat of power: The top postal code for new members matched that of Parliament Hill, according to Avid Live chief executive Noel Biderman in a newspaper report published earlier this year.

Biderman said capital cities around the world typically top subscription rates, a phenomenon he chalks up to “power, fame and opportunity,” along with the risk-taking personalities that find themselves in political cities.

The Ottawa mayor’s office and city council either declined to comment or did not return emails.

The hackers want Avid Life to shut down the website, as well as a second one it runs, EstablishedMen.com which is widely described as a “sugar daddy site,” but has no issues with CougarLife.com, a site for older women looking for hookups.

“In our buttoned-down city, it may not be acceptable to openly explore outside of a committed relationship,” said Ottawa marriage counselor Nataxja Cini.

In a city full of professionals with demanding careers, many in government, Cini said marriage may come under more strain than usual. But with a stable family life still a badge of success, an Ashley Madison subscription may be preferable to divorce, she said.

To be sure, the subscription data may not be that reliable.

A former employee sued Avid Life, saying she had developed debilitating wrist pain, insomnia and anxiety while writing 1,000 fake profiles for a Brazilian version of Ashley Madison, according to court records. The case was dismissed earlier this year.

Still, one Ottawa resident, who declined to give her last name, said it is unsurprising the small government town is home to so many Ashley Madison clients.

“In a blue collar city, they’re not going to use a website, they’re going to do it at a bar,” said Kary, 38. In Ottawa “you can’t run the risk of someone seeing you at a bar doing that.”

The town is also not famed for its rollicking social scene.

“Why do you think everyone goes to Montreal to have a good time?” she added. “Ottawa is the city fun forgot.” (Additional reporting by Andrea Hopkins and Alastair Sharp in Toronto, Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Alan Crosby)

 

RPT-Ottawa, the city fun forgot, tops on infidelity website | Reuters.

Here’s What the Average American’s Finances Look Like. How do Yours Compare?

via Here’s What the Average American’s Finances Look Like. How do Yours Compare? — The Motley Fool.

Tiger parenting is by now a well-documented phenomenon that has given pundits everywhere an extra column or two, and, for a certain original tiger mother, a New York Times best-seller.

I have something of a strange tie to tiger parenting. I grew up in Silicon Valley, home of Apple, Google, and the new American dream, a place where almost all my friends had Asian immigrant parents. I also go to Harvard, which is coincidentally the same school that Amy Chua’s children attend or attended. I recall Lulu, the younger daughter, walking into a dorm room and introducing herself to me while I struggled mightily to pretend that I had not already pored over her life story as told by her mother.

In my hometown, tiger parenting could be seen as a sort of litmus test to see which culture you were most familiar with. For a long time, Saratoga, my hometown of 20,000, was almost entirely white. And then the tech revolution brought new-money immigrants like my Chinese-born parents into the tech sector. After a stock market boom or two, they could afford a house in Saratoga, in all its suburban glory, with pristine lawns and an allegedly pristine school system.

Around me, I noticed that almost all the parents or students complaining about the policies were Asian.

To say that whites resented Asians or Asians resented whites would be a gross exaggeration of a largely utopian merger. Youth soccer leagues were run by parents of multiple ethnicities: Indian, white, Chinese, Korean. Often, they were co-workers in their fields. Parental involvement was unified in activities spanning from musicals to the Parent-Teacher Association.

But it was in academics where one could smell the distinct coded scent of a split. There’s a nearby high school called Lynbrook, which by now is probably upwards of 90 percent Asian. I had a friend there who used to joke that they called the white people “the few five.” Everyone knew the one black student by name.

The Wall Street Journal came out with an article in 2005 documenting “The New White Flight,” a twist on the term used to describe the phenomena of white people moving out of poor neighborhoods, taking their tax dollars with them, and often leaving largely black schools derelict and underfunded. At Lynbrook and nearby schools, the Journal writes, whites weren’t quitting schools because the schools were bad. And they weren’t harming them academically when they left; more Asians just moved in.

“Quite the contrary,” the article read. “Many white parents say they’re leaving because the schools are too academically driven and too narrowly invested in subjects such as math and science at the expense of liberal arts and extracurricular activities like sports and other personal interests. The two schools, put another way that parents rarely articulate so bluntly, are too Asian.”

Reading that article was a bit like accessing a cipher. It swiped away the coded rhetorical veneer that I had so often heard preached at my school. The administrators at my school, largely white, had spoken for years about limiting competition, decreasing stress, preventing students from skipping math levels. Around me, I noticed that almost all the parents or students complaining about the policies were Asian.

It wasn’t until I read the article that I was able to recognize the code words that the administrators used were, intentionally or unintentionally, aimed at countering an “Asian” school. I don’t mean to suggest any covert or overt racism on the part of my school administrators. They are not racist. But what their words and policies did show was a lack of understanding of Asian academic drive. At my school, we were inoculated against the evils of doing things for college applications, counseled to lessen our workload, reminded that true meaning in life was found not in academic success but in “personal worth.” I heard the phrase “self-esteem” so much that I wanted to throw up every time an inspirational speaker waltzed into our school.

This was all well and good, but at the same time the faculty advocated taking easier classes, avoiding tutors, and participating in fewer extracurricular activities. And not only was there a parent at home to scorn those ideas, our competitive drive immediately found them repulsive, also.

My cousin, who’s from China but studies in the American school system, wanted to skip a level of science. He’s kind of a lazy guy, typical middle school student who wants only to play video games. Getting that kind of self-motivation out of him was unprecedented. But when he met one-on-one with my high school’s vice principal, the administrator strongly advised him not to do so, and warned that he would fall terribly behind, as my cousin speaks English as a second language.

This doesn’t reflect poorly on the school administrator—ironically, it shows how much he cares, deigning to meet a lowly middle school student who isn’t even in high school yet. And he was probably right, too. But judging from the reactions of my parents, and from the cousin himself, the administrator’s advice reveals at the very least a cultural gap between Asian parents and school administrators, both of whom obviously want the best for the student but have vastly differing ideas on what “best” means. “Why would you discourage a child from taking harder classes if he believes he can do it?” my mother asked.

ADVERTISING

Which leads me back to tiger parenting. Because the cultural gap wasn’t just between Asian parents and school administrators. It was also between Asian students and white students; Asian parents and white parents. And tiger parenting was predictably viewed with either amusement (this is new?) or horror. It was as if on solely the issue of tiger parenting one could tease out from a randomly selected student or parent a vast array of demographic details, as specific as what level math are you in.

And you could see it at the school. Walk into an Advanced Placement Calculus BC math course and you’d have a hard time finding a white person, besides the (wonderful) teacher. Walk among the Asian students at lunch, and you’d hear some pretty racist things said about white people. There was a somewhat famous SAT tutor in the region who told a white student, a student known for being extremely intelligent, that he was pretty much Asian.

This didn’t reflect so much on the tutor as on the culture, because people agreed with him—the white student didn’t play football, he didn’t party, and his friends were almost all Asian as well. Especially in the higher grades, as classes began to diversify between difficult and easier, the racial self-segregation based on academic lines began to emerge in even greater clarity. White kids played football, smoked weed, and hooked up on the weekends. Asians studied and took Instagram photos at McDonald’s. (Interestingly, though, the Indians at my school were said to have a pretty raucous party scene. Cannot confirm, as I was never invited.)

By the end of my junior year, the only white friends I had were two girls in my high school newspaper and a girlfriend who was half-Asian, half-white but who was by most accounts even more “Asian” than I was. This was to some extent a form of relief. Being white was no longer cool, as the two cultures had largely split. I no longer worried about appearing “too Asian” to the jocks in my middle school English class. The meanest kids, by and large athletes, were relegated to lower, less difficult classes. The culture had split soundlessly into two separate circles, each involved in its own activities and contemptuous of the other.

I think this was largely why high school was so incredibly boring. Self-segregation made the group of friends I hung out with largely mirror images of myself—high-achieving Asian Americans who weren’t 100 percent socially inept (more like 40 percent). It seemed there was no point in getting to know anyone, because they had the same cultural experiences, which was good for mutual understanding, I suppose, but utterly terrible for any sort of exchange of ideas or backgrounds.

It wasn’t until after high school that I befriended a white girl, who shared my interest in literature. I wish I had met her earlier, but it seemed that while we went the same high school, there had been no way for our paths to cross, socially or academically. We swam in different circles, and it wasn’t until the circles had disintegrated post-graduation that I realized that the other circle existed.

My high school, academically top-of-the-line, illustrates one of the many absurdities of a country populated by different cultures and yet seemingly still possessed by that primordial urge to seek those whose skin color is the same—which goes to show once again that what is natural is not always good. In the end, we self-segregated because it made us feel more comfortable. And we lost out on all sorts of chaotic cultural interactions that might have happened in between.

via Silicon Valley white-Asian divide: Why families self-segregate and what can be done..

Earlier this month a guy named Todd Fassler was bitten by a rattlesnake in San Diego, KGTV San Diego reports. In itself this isn’t terribly unusual—the CDC estimates that roughly 7,000 to 8,000 people a year get bit by a venomous snake in the U.S. And somewhere between five and six people die from these bites each year.

What raised eyebrows, though, was Fassler’s hospital bill—all $153,000 of it. KGTV reporter Dan Haggerty shared it on Twitter. Take a look.

It’s not clear whether Fassler has insurance—and whether these are dollar amounts that he will in fact have to pay out of pocket. But the confusion over health care pricing is common for Americans who receive bills and can’t be sure where the numbers come from. I reached out to Fassler for comment but he wasn’t immediately available.

Here’s what we do know based on that photo: The bulk of his hospital bill—$83,000 of it— is due to pharmacy charges. Specifically, charges for the antivenin used to treat the bite. KGTV reports that Fassler depleted the antivenin supplies at two local hospitals during his five-day visit. Nobody expects antivenin to be cheap. But $83,000?

There’s currently only one commercially-available antivenin for treating venomous snakebites in the U.S. — CroFab, manufactured by U.K.-based BTG plc. And with a stable market of 7,000 to 8,000 snakebite victims per year and no competitors, business is pretty good. BTG’s latest annual report shows CroFab sales topped out at close to $63 million British pounds, or $98 million dollars last fiscal year. The antivenin costs hospitals roughly $2,300 per vial, according to Bloomberg, with a typical dose requiring four to six vials. In some cases multiple doses are needed, according to CroFab’s promotional website.

BTG has fought aggressively to keep competitors off the market. A competing product, Anavip, just received FDA approval this year and likely won’t be on the market until late 2018. This lack of competition is one reason why snakebite treatments rack up such huge hospital bills — $55,000. $89,000. $143,000. In May of this year, a snakebit Missouri man died after refusing to seek medical care, saying he couldn’t afford the bill.

But the other reason why hospitals charge so much is the byzantine negotiating process that happens between hospitals and insurance companies to determine the final payout amount. In the case of the $143,000 snakebite in 2012, for instance, Scripps Hospital in San Diego explained that “it is important to understand that these charges are not reflective of what Scripps will be paid. At this time, the patient’s insurance company has not yet paid the bill, and Scripps is in negotiations with the company for the final amount.”

In many cases a hospital bill isn’t actually a bill, but essentially an instrument in a complex negotiation between insurers and caregivers, with bewildered patients stuck in the middle. It’s difficult to know which charges are real and which ones aren’t, and which bills to pay and which ones to ignore. It’s one reason why medical debt is a huge factor in so many bankruptcies.

Hospital bills that amount to legal fictions certainly don’t help consumers keep themselves out of debt trouble. Todd Fassler’s bill is a perfect example — he left the hospital on July 9, 2015. His bill said his $153,000 payment was due by July 27.

 

This $153,000 rattlesnake bite is everything wrong with American health care – The Washington Post.

People are social beings, we like to gather with like-minded people who are on the same wavelength as we are, and there is nothing wrong with having a small circle of friends for occasional social gatherings. It is a known fact that some people are more outgoing than others, but certain people simply fail to attract and keep friends around them. If you have few friends and you want to do something about that, then here you will find an overview of the top 6 most common reasons why you do not have many friends to rely on:

1. You Are Too Selfish Or Self-Centered

This is actually one of the most common reasons why people generally lack friends. Nobody likes selfish people who put themselves first, the notion of friendship means sharing everything with those dear to your heart, from feelings and memories to material aspects.

In the end, there is a reason why they all say that “sharing is caring”. Do you find it difficult to think outside yourself? Do those that surround you often tell you that you should pay more attention to other people’s needs? If so, then the chances are that you are slightly too self-centered, and this can be very repulsive for most people. Be open to suggestions and accept negative feedback, as it will help you become a better person.

2. You Are Too Shady

If you have split personality, then this may also be the culprit behind your lack of friends. A friend should be reliable, honest, straightforward and trustworthy at the same time. If you are shady and you act differently with your friends, then they will avoid you.

At the same time, avoid discussing problems you have with friends with other friends: keep in mind the saying “if they gossip with you, they will gossip about you”. Learn how to keep a secret and avoid being shady: a split personality will keep all your friends away, not to mention that you will find it difficult to start a romantic relationship as well.

3.You Care Too Less

Friendship can degrade as time passes, if you do not make any effort to keep your friends. Of course, if you struggle too much then you were never friends in the first place, but if you don’t try to socialize and you do not keep up with those who are close to your heart, you will eventually lose them. If you only meet people briefly and you do not make an effort to keep them close to you, they will forget you, sooner or later. Be it pride or shyness, this attitude will not do you much good in the long run!

4. You Complain Too Much

Nobody likes negative people, people who only see the empty side of the glass. If you are bad news and you are always looking for people who are willing to comfort or to pity you, then do not expect to keep any friends close to you in the long haul. Everybody has problems to deal with, and it is perfectly normal to look to your friends for guidance and advice: however, when you overdo it and you whine on a constant basis, this will take its toll on your friendship. Try to keep the drama at a minimum!

5. You Neglect Your Friends When You Start A Relationship

This is also one of the most disappointing attitudes some friends manifest. Keep in mind that the success of your new relationship is not guaranteed, and before you neglect or ignore your friends, don’t forget that you will turn to them if your relationship fails. Many friendships fail when one of the parties enters a temporary love affair.

6. People Change More Often Than They Should

As human beings, it is in our nature to change as the years pass: some of us change in a good way, while others do it in a bad way. Some people become more mature and nicer to have around, just like the wine: it is important to surround yourself with this kind of people, as they are reliable and down-to-earth. On the other hand, money can also change people and turn them into shallow beings who do not have the same moral values as they once did. This can affect a friendship beyond repair!

6 Reasons You Don’t Have Many Friends – Lifezap – Your Life GuideLifezap – Your Life Guide.

“Why do you need to choose love or sex over the other fun things that don’t have the potential for pain and suffering?”

via Middle-aged virgins: Why so many Japanese stay chaste – CNN.com.

Bartonella, A Chronic Lyme Disease Coinfection, is More Causing Chronic Fatigue Problems.

A Conventional Scientific Overview of CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and Fibromyalgia Causatives

Below, is a quick list of idiopathic disease causes — we will give a clinical review and explanation as to what takes place.

  • Brain abnormalities
  • Genetic factors (HPA) axis
  • A hyper-reactive immune system
  • Viral or other infectious agents like (Chronic Lyme disease Complex)
  • Psychiatric or emotional conditions

Are Genetics to Blame?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia have been linked with genes involved in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous system. These genes regulate response to trauma, injury, and other stressful events. Our ten years of clinical experience shows that while such traumas could play a role in the etiology (the trigger to exhibiting symptoms) of the disease, they are unlikely the conditions’ causes.

What is the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis (HPA)? Does Lyme Disease Play a Role?

HPA makes up a multi-set of direct influences and feedback interactions among the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland (a pea-shaped structure located below the hypothalamus), and the adrenal, also called “suprarenal,” glands which are small, conical organs on top of the kidneys.

The interactions among these organs constitute the HPA-axis, a major part of the neuroendocrine system. From here, the body regulates reactions to stress, as well as processes such as digestion, the immune system, mood, emotions, sexuality, as well as energy. Infectious disease, such as chronic Lyme disease complex, impacts the HPA-axis via neurotoxins that compete for the same receptor sites used by the HPA-axis.

In fact, such infections can bring about identical symptoms of some idiopathic diseases listed above and many of the symptoms associated therewith. This should bring our attention to chronic Lyme Disease complex, which is composed of a number of infections and neurotoxins that bring about even more symptoms than those listed earlier in this article.

Does HPA Affect Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Abnormal levels of certain chemicals regulated in the HPA axis area of the brain system have been proposed as a cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and also have some influence in fibromyalgia. This system controls important functions, including sleep, stress response, and depression. Of particular interest to researchers are the chemicals and other factors listed below that are controlled by the HPA-axis.

The HPA-axis is involved in the neurobiology of mood disorders and functional illnesses, including anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, ADHD, major depressive disorder, burnout, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and alcoholism. Antidepressants, which are routinely prescribed for many of these illnesses, serve to regulate HPA-axis function. All of these conditions and their symptoms are commonly seen in chronic Lyme disease patients that contain a host of infections and neurotoxins that block serotonin receptors in the brain.

Can Chronic Lyme Disease Complex or Infectious Disease Affect HPA?

Patients may have contracted an infection at any point in their lifetime. However, the symptoms of chronic Lyme disease complex or its coinfections may remain unseen or dormant until the individual is weakened by a trauma or trigger. This could be anything from childbirth or a car accident to the death of a loved one, a divorce or even a vaccine, as seen among children with weakened immune systems.

In the etiology of chronic infectious disease, the traumatic event is a trigger, but not the cause of autoimmune disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or fibromyalgia. Nevertheless, treating these triggers is critically important to the new patient’s care. What we find is that infection and not genetic defects are at the root of HPA-axis disruption in the brain itself.

The Major Impact of Epigenetic Changes

A number of studies have found that alterations in genes are caused by infections involving immune function, intracellular communication and energy transfer. Researchers have identified many different genes in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that relate to blood disease, immune system function, and infection.

However, despite these identifications, there is no clear pattern to them and it is quite possible that it is the infections alone that are altering these genes and are responsible for impacting mental and emotional health as well. It is very possible that the infections can alter these genes that impact mental and emotional health as well.

Important Neurotransmitters Changed By Neurotoxins Competing For Receptor Sites

Some patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have abnormally high levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger in the brain), and also show deficiencies in dopamine, an important neurotransmitter associated with feelings of reward. In some cases there is also a demonstrable imbalance between norepinephrine and dopamine.

A number of studies on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have shown patients have lower cortisol levels, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It has been suggested that such cortisol deficiencies are responsible for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients having impaired or weakened responses to psychological or physical stresses like worry, infection, or exercise. However, administering replacement cortisol improves symptoms only in some patients. Why? Infection and their toxins (neurotoxins) must be cleared before hormone replacement can begin to be effective in these patients. It is also common for these patients to have thyroid, testosterone and cortisol issues.

Idiopathic Diseases at Root of Myriad Psychological Disorders Including Sleep-Related Ailments

Evidence suggests that certain CFS, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune patients have disturbed circadian rhythms (disorder of the sleep-wake cycle), which is regulated by the so-called circadian clock, a nerve cluster in the HPA-axis. These are commonly seen in chronic Lyme disease complex along with a number of other neurological symptoms.

A mentally or physically stressful event, such as a viral infection, may disrupt natural circadian rhythms. An inability to reset these rhythms results in a perpetual cycle of sleep disturbances. Medications that improve sleep can be very helpful for certain patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases. But, until the infections are cleared and hormones are rebalanced, long-term improvement is unlikely, as the patient is likely to relapse.

Psychological, personality and social factors are strongly associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune disease like lupus. There is a distinct complex relationship between physical and emotional factors.

What Specific Infections are Responsible

Because most of the features of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome resemble those of a lingering viral illness, many researchers have focused on the possibility that a virus or some other infectious agent, in some cases, causes the syndrome.

We have clinically determined that these patients usually have a group of viral, bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections that make up what we call Lyme Disease Complex. Some patients may or may not have actual Lyme disease but may have another type of tick-borne illness along with a host of co-infections that have brought about immunological, hormonal, and neuroendocrine changes.

Still, not all Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients show signs of infection. And although experts have long been divided on whether infections play any role in this disorder at all, it does seem clear that subtypes of both viral and non-viral Chronic Fatigue Syndrome exist. That being said, researchers have seemingly overlooked the complexity of mute-infections, multi-toxins and heavy metal components that complicate these conditions, making them extremely difficult to diagnose on a case-to-case basis. When a complex of infections exists, they can affect the activation and replication of each other via biofilm communities. To be certain, most patients are never tested thoroughly and correctly for all the infections that make up chronic Lyme disease complex.

Infections Looking Like the Cause

The theory for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome having a viral cause is not based on hard evidence, rather, on an ever-growing series of observations. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as well as Fibromyalgia and Autoimmune disease patients, are often found with elevated levels of antibodies to many organisms that cause fatigue and other Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms. Such organisms include those that cause Lyme disease, Candida (“yeast infection”), herpes virus type 6 (HHV-6), human T cell lymph tropic virus (HTLV), Epstein-Barr, measles, coxsackie B, cytomegalovirus, or parvovirus.

Many of these infectious agents are very common; however, none have emerged as a definitive cause of CFS. Well-designed studies of patients who met strict criteria for CFS without any known cause have not found an increased incidence of any specific infection(s).

In up to 80% of cases, CFS starts suddenly with a flu-like condition. In the U.S., there have been reports of cluster outbreaks of CFS occurring within the same household, workplace, and community (but most have not been confirmed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention). However, most cases of CFS occur sporadically in individuals and do not appear to be contagious. These all have the pattern of infections and more importantly, complexes of infections taking over the patient’s immune system, which is clearly seen in the depressed CD57 markers found in almost all of this population.

Infection Complexes Leading to Immune System Abnormalities and Immuno-Compromised States

CFS is sometimes referred to as “Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome.” In many cases, studies have detected many immune system irregularities. Some components appear to be over-reactive, while others appear to be under-reactive, but no consistent picture has emerged to explain CFS as a disease of the immune system in conventional medical practices. Chronic Lyme disease patients almost always have depressed CD57 marker called the striker panel and this is almost never run on chronic fatigue patients when they go to their doctor. Almost 100% of the time we find decreased key immune function in all CFS patients because we are running the correct diagnostics.

Autoimmunity Overlaps with Other Conditions

The risk profile for CFS is similar to the risk profiles for a number of autoimmune diseases. Studies are inconsistent with regards to the presence of auto-antibodies (antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues) in CFS, so the disease is unlikely to be due to auto-immunity, making it more likely connected to infectious disease. In Lyme disease patients, we typically see that the patient was diagnosed at one time or another with several autoimmune diseases, but almost certainly the previous physicians were confused. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about customized treatment options, contact us.

– See more at: http://www.envita.com/lyme-disease/finally-one-link-established-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-cfs-lupus-fibromyalgia-autoimmune-disease-chronic-lyme-disease#sthash.WKZLZdoD.dpuf

A Conventional Scientific Overview of CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and Fibromyalgia Causatives

Below, is a quick list of idiopathic disease causes — we will give a clinical review and explanation as to what takes place.

  • Brain abnormalities
  • Genetic factors (HPA) axis
  • A hyper-reactive immune system
  • Viral or other infectious agents like (Chronic Lyme disease Complex)
  • Psychiatric or emotional conditions

Are Genetics to Blame?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia have been linked with genes involved in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous system. These genes regulate response to trauma, injury, and other stressful events. Our ten years of clinical experience shows that while such traumas could play a role in the etiology (the trigger to exhibiting symptoms) of the disease, they are unlikely the conditions’ causes.

What is the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis (HPA)? Does Lyme Disease Play a Role?

HPA makes up a multi-set of direct influences and feedback interactions among the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland (a pea-shaped structure located below the hypothalamus), and the adrenal, also called “suprarenal,” glands which are small, conical organs on top of the kidneys.

The interactions among these organs constitute the HPA-axis, a major part of the neuroendocrine system. From here, the body regulates reactions to stress, as well as processes such as digestion, the immune system, mood, emotions, sexuality, as well as energy. Infectious disease, such as chronic Lyme disease complex, impacts the HPA-axis via neurotoxins that compete for the same receptor sites used by the HPA-axis.

In fact, such infections can bring about identical symptoms of some idiopathic diseases listed above and many of the symptoms associated therewith. This should bring our attention to chronic Lyme Disease complex, which is composed of a number of infections and neurotoxins that bring about even more symptoms than those listed earlier in this article.

Does HPA Affect Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Abnormal levels of certain chemicals regulated in the HPA axis area of the brain system have been proposed as a cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and also have some influence in fibromyalgia. This system controls important functions, including sleep, stress response, and depression. Of particular interest to researchers are the chemicals and other factors listed below that are controlled by the HPA-axis.

The HPA-axis is involved in the neurobiology of mood disorders and functional illnesses, including anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, ADHD, major depressive disorder, burnout, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and alcoholism. Antidepressants, which are routinely prescribed for many of these illnesses, serve to regulate HPA-axis function. All of these conditions and their symptoms are commonly seen in chronic Lyme disease patients that contain a host of infections and neurotoxins that block serotonin receptors in the brain.

Can Chronic Lyme Disease Complex or Infectious Disease Affect HPA?

Patients may have contracted an infection at any point in their lifetime. However, the symptoms of chronic Lyme disease complex or its coinfections may remain unseen or dormant until the individual is weakened by a trauma or trigger. This could be anything from childbirth or a car accident to the death of a loved one, a divorce or even a vaccine, as seen among children with weakened immune systems.

In the etiology of chronic infectious disease, the traumatic event is a trigger, but not the cause of autoimmune disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or fibromyalgia. Nevertheless, treating these triggers is critically important to the new patient’s care. What we find is that infection and not genetic defects are at the root of HPA-axis disruption in the brain itself.

The Major Impact of Epigenetic Changes

A number of studies have found that alterations in genes are caused by infections involving immune function, intracellular communication and energy transfer. Researchers have identified many different genes in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that relate to blood disease, immune system function, and infection.

However, despite these identifications, there is no clear pattern to them and it is quite possible that it is the infections alone that are altering these genes and are responsible for impacting mental and emotional health as well. It is very possible that the infections can alter these genes that impact mental and emotional health as well.

Important Neurotransmitters Changed By Neurotoxins Competing For Receptor Sites

Some patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have abnormally high levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger in the brain), and also show deficiencies in dopamine, an important neurotransmitter associated with feelings of reward. In some cases there is also a demonstrable imbalance between norepinephrine and dopamine.

A number of studies on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have shown patients have lower cortisol levels, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It has been suggested that such cortisol deficiencies are responsible for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients having impaired or weakened responses to psychological or physical stresses like worry, infection, or exercise. However, administering replacement cortisol improves symptoms only in some patients. Why? Infection and their toxins (neurotoxins) must be cleared before hormone replacement can begin to be effective in these patients. It is also common for these patients to have thyroid, testosterone and cortisol issues.

Idiopathic Diseases at Root of Myriad Psychological Disorders Including Sleep-Related Ailments

Evidence suggests that certain CFS, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune patients have disturbed circadian rhythms (disorder of the sleep-wake cycle), which is regulated by the so-called circadian clock, a nerve cluster in the HPA-axis. These are commonly seen in chronic Lyme disease complex along with a number of other neurological symptoms.

A mentally or physically stressful event, such as a viral infection, may disrupt natural circadian rhythms. An inability to reset these rhythms results in a perpetual cycle of sleep disturbances. Medications that improve sleep can be very helpful for certain patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases. But, until the infections are cleared and hormones are rebalanced, long-term improvement is unlikely, as the patient is likely to relapse.

Psychological, personality and social factors are strongly associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune disease like lupus. There is a distinct complex relationship between physical and emotional factors.

What Specific Infections are Responsible

Because most of the features of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome resemble those of a lingering viral illness, many researchers have focused on the possibility that a virus or some other infectious agent, in some cases, causes the syndrome.

We have clinically determined that these patients usually have a group of viral, bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections that make up what we call Lyme Disease Complex. Some patients may or may not have actual Lyme disease but may have another type of tick-borne illness along with a host of co-infections that have brought about immunological, hormonal, and neuroendocrine changes.

Still, not all Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients show signs of infection. And although experts have long been divided on whether infections play any role in this disorder at all, it does seem clear that subtypes of both viral and non-viral Chronic Fatigue Syndrome exist. That being said, researchers have seemingly overlooked the complexity of mute-infections, multi-toxins and heavy metal components that complicate these conditions, making them extremely difficult to diagnose on a case-to-case basis. When a complex of infections exists, they can affect the activation and replication of each other via biofilm communities. To be certain, most patients are never tested thoroughly and correctly for all the infections that make up chronic Lyme disease complex.

Infections Looking Like the Cause

The theory for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome having a viral cause is not based on hard evidence, rather, on an ever-growing series of observations. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as well as Fibromyalgia and Autoimmune disease patients, are often found with elevated levels of antibodies to many organisms that cause fatigue and other Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms. Such organisms include those that cause Lyme disease, Candida (“yeast infection”), herpes virus type 6 (HHV-6), human T cell lymph tropic virus (HTLV), Epstein-Barr, measles, coxsackie B, cytomegalovirus, or parvovirus.

Many of these infectious agents are very common; however, none have emerged as a definitive cause of CFS. Well-designed studies of patients who met strict criteria for CFS without any known cause have not found an increased incidence of any specific infection(s).

In up to 80% of cases, CFS starts suddenly with a flu-like condition. In the U.S., there have been reports of cluster outbreaks of CFS occurring within the same household, workplace, and community (but most have not been confirmed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention). However, most cases of CFS occur sporadically in individuals and do not appear to be contagious. These all have the pattern of infections and more importantly, complexes of infections taking over the patient’s immune system, which is clearly seen in the depressed CD57 markers found in almost all of this population.

Infection Complexes Leading to Immune System Abnormalities and Immuno-Compromised States

CFS is sometimes referred to as “Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome.” In many cases, studies have detected many immune system irregularities. Some components appear to be over-reactive, while others appear to be under-reactive, but no consistent picture has emerged to explain CFS as a disease of the immune system in conventional medical practices. Chronic Lyme disease patients almost always have depressed CD57 marker called the striker panel and this is almost never run on chronic fatigue patients when they go to their doctor. Almost 100% of the time we find decreased key immune function in all CFS patients because we are running the correct diagnostics.

Autoimmunity Overlaps with Other Conditions

The risk profile for CFS is similar to the risk profiles for a number of autoimmune diseases. Studies are inconsistent with regards to the presence of auto-antibodies (antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues) in CFS, so the disease is unlikely to be due to auto-immunity, making it more likely connected to infectious disease. In Lyme disease patients, we typically see that the patient was diagnosed at one time or another with several autoimmune diseases, but almost certainly the previous physicians were confused. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about customized treatment options, contact us.

– See more at: http://www.envita.com/lyme-disease/finally-one-link-established-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-cfs-lupus-fibromyalgia-autoimmune-disease-chronic-lyme-disease#sthash.WKZLZdoD.dpuf

A Conventional Scientific Overview of CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and Fibromyalgia Causatives

Below, is a quick list of idiopathic disease causes — we will give a clinical review and explanation as to what takes place.

  • Brain abnormalities
  • Genetic factors (HPA) axis
  • A hyper-reactive immune system
  • Viral or other infectious agents like (Chronic Lyme disease Complex)
  • Psychiatric or emotional conditions

Are Genetics to Blame?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia have been linked with genes involved in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous system. These genes regulate response to trauma, injury, and other stressful events. Our ten years of clinical experience shows that while such traumas could play a role in the etiology (the trigger to exhibiting symptoms) of the disease, they are unlikely the conditions’ causes.

What is the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis (HPA)? Does Lyme Disease Play a Role?

HPA makes up a multi-set of direct influences and feedback interactions among the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland (a pea-shaped structure located below the hypothalamus), and the adrenal, also called “suprarenal,” glands which are small, conical organs on top of the kidneys.

The interactions among these organs constitute the HPA-axis, a major part of the neuroendocrine system. From here, the body regulates reactions to stress, as well as processes such as digestion, the immune system, mood, emotions, sexuality, as well as energy. Infectious disease, such as chronic Lyme disease complex, impacts the HPA-axis via neurotoxins that compete for the same receptor sites used by the HPA-axis.

In fact, such infections can bring about identical symptoms of some idiopathic diseases listed above and many of the symptoms associated therewith. This should bring our attention to chronic Lyme Disease complex, which is composed of a number of infections and neurotoxins that bring about even more symptoms than those listed earlier in this article.

Does HPA Affect Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Abnormal levels of certain chemicals regulated in the HPA axis area of the brain system have been proposed as a cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and also have some influence in fibromyalgia. This system controls important functions, including sleep, stress response, and depression. Of particular interest to researchers are the chemicals and other factors listed below that are controlled by the HPA-axis.

The HPA-axis is involved in the neurobiology of mood disorders and functional illnesses, including anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, ADHD, major depressive disorder, burnout, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and alcoholism. Antidepressants, which are routinely prescribed for many of these illnesses, serve to regulate HPA-axis function. All of these conditions and their symptoms are commonly seen in chronic Lyme disease patients that contain a host of infections and neurotoxins that block serotonin receptors in the brain.

Can Chronic Lyme Disease Complex or Infectious Disease Affect HPA?

Patients may have contracted an infection at any point in their lifetime. However, the symptoms of chronic Lyme disease complex or its coinfections may remain unseen or dormant until the individual is weakened by a trauma or trigger. This could be anything from childbirth or a car accident to the death of a loved one, a divorce or even a vaccine, as seen among children with weakened immune systems.

In the etiology of chronic infectious disease, the traumatic event is a trigger, but not the cause of autoimmune disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or fibromyalgia. Nevertheless, treating these triggers is critically important to the new patient’s care. What we find is that infection and not genetic defects are at the root of HPA-axis disruption in the brain itself.

The Major Impact of Epigenetic Changes

A number of studies have found that alterations in genes are caused by infections involving immune function, intracellular communication and energy transfer. Researchers have identified many different genes in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that relate to blood disease, immune system function, and infection.

However, despite these identifications, there is no clear pattern to them and it is quite possible that it is the infections alone that are altering these genes and are responsible for impacting mental and emotional health as well. It is very possible that the infections can alter these genes that impact mental and emotional health as well.

Important Neurotransmitters Changed By Neurotoxins Competing For Receptor Sites

Some patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have abnormally high levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger in the brain), and also show deficiencies in dopamine, an important neurotransmitter associated with feelings of reward. In some cases there is also a demonstrable imbalance between norepinephrine and dopamine.

A number of studies on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have shown patients have lower cortisol levels, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It has been suggested that such cortisol deficiencies are responsible for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients having impaired or weakened responses to psychological or physical stresses like worry, infection, or exercise. However, administering replacement cortisol improves symptoms only in some patients. Why? Infection and their toxins (neurotoxins) must be cleared before hormone replacement can begin to be effective in these patients. It is also common for these patients to have thyroid, testosterone and cortisol issues.

Idiopathic Diseases at Root of Myriad Psychological Disorders Including Sleep-Related Ailments

Evidence suggests that certain CFS, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune patients have disturbed circadian rhythms (disorder of the sleep-wake cycle), which is regulated by the so-called circadian clock, a nerve cluster in the HPA-axis. These are commonly seen in chronic Lyme disease complex along with a number of other neurological symptoms.

A mentally or physically stressful event, such as a viral infection, may disrupt natural circadian rhythms. An inability to reset these rhythms results in a perpetual cycle of sleep disturbances. Medications that improve sleep can be very helpful for certain patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases. But, until the infections are cleared and hormones are rebalanced, long-term improvement is unlikely, as the patient is likely to relapse.

Psychological, personality and social factors are strongly associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune disease like lupus. There is a distinct complex relationship between physical and emotional factors.

What Specific Infections are Responsible

Because most of the features of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome resemble those of a lingering viral illness, many researchers have focused on the possibility that a virus or some other infectious agent, in some cases, causes the syndrome.

We have clinically determined that these patients usually have a group of viral, bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections that make up what we call Lyme Disease Complex. Some patients may or may not have actual Lyme disease but may have another type of tick-borne illness along with a host of co-infections that have brought about immunological, hormonal, and neuroendocrine changes.

Still, not all Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients show signs of infection. And although experts have long been divided on whether infections play any role in this disorder at all, it does seem clear that subtypes of both viral and non-viral Chronic Fatigue Syndrome exist. That being said, researchers have seemingly overlooked the complexity of mute-infections, multi-toxins and heavy metal components that complicate these conditions, making them extremely difficult to diagnose on a case-to-case basis. When a complex of infections exists, they can affect the activation and replication of each other via biofilm communities. To be certain, most patients are never tested thoroughly and correctly for all the infections that make up chronic Lyme disease complex.

Infections Looking Like the Cause

The theory for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome having a viral cause is not based on hard evidence, rather, on an ever-growing series of observations. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as well as Fibromyalgia and Autoimmune disease patients, are often found with elevated levels of antibodies to many organisms that cause fatigue and other Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms. Such organisms include those that cause Lyme disease, Candida (“yeast infection”), herpes virus type 6 (HHV-6), human T cell lymph tropic virus (HTLV), Epstein-Barr, measles, coxsackie B, cytomegalovirus, or parvovirus.

Many of these infectious agents are very common; however, none have emerged as a definitive cause of CFS. Well-designed studies of patients who met strict criteria for CFS without any known cause have not found an increased incidence of any specific infection(s).

In up to 80% of cases, CFS starts suddenly with a flu-like condition. In the U.S., there have been reports of cluster outbreaks of CFS occurring within the same household, workplace, and community (but most have not been confirmed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention). However, most cases of CFS occur sporadically in individuals and do not appear to be contagious. These all have the pattern of infections and more importantly, complexes of infections taking over the patient’s immune system, which is clearly seen in the depressed CD57 markers found in almost all of this population.

Infection Complexes Leading to Immune System Abnormalities and Immuno-Compromised States

CFS is sometimes referred to as “Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome.” In many cases, studies have detected many immune system irregularities. Some components appear to be over-reactive, while others appear to be under-reactive, but no consistent picture has emerged to explain CFS as a disease of the immune system in conventional medical practices. Chronic Lyme disease patients almost always have depressed CD57 marker called the striker panel and this is almost never run on chronic fatigue patients when they go to their doctor. Almost 100% of the time we find decreased key immune function in all CFS patients because we are running the correct diagnostics.

Autoimmunity Overlaps with Other Conditions

The risk profile for CFS is similar to the risk profiles for a number of autoimmune diseases. Studies are inconsistent with regards to the presence of auto-antibodies (antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues) in CFS, so the disease is unlikely to be due to auto-immunity, making it more likely connected to infectious disease. In Lyme disease patients, we typically see that the patient was diagnosed at one time or another with several autoimmune diseases, but almost certainly the previous physicians were confused. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about customized treatment options, contact us.

– See more at: http://www.envita.com/lyme-disease/finally-one-link-established-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-cfs-lupus-fibromyalgia-autoimmune-disease-chronic-lyme-disease#sthash.WKZLZdoD.dpuf

A Conventional Scientific Overview of CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and Fibromyalgia Causatives

Below, is a quick list of idiopathic disease causes — we will give a clinical review and explanation as to what takes place.

  • Brain abnormalities
  • Genetic factors (HPA) axis
  • A hyper-reactive immune system
  • Viral or other infectious agents like (Chronic Lyme disease Complex)
  • Psychiatric or emotional conditions

Are Genetics to Blame?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia have been linked with genes involved in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous system. These genes regulate response to trauma, injury, and other stressful events. Our ten years of clinical experience shows that while such traumas could play a role in the etiology (the trigger to exhibiting symptoms) of the disease, they are unlikely the conditions’ causes.

What is the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis (HPA)? Does Lyme Disease Play a Role?

HPA makes up a multi-set of direct influences and feedback interactions among the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland (a pea-shaped structure located below the hypothalamus), and the adrenal, also called “suprarenal,” glands which are small, conical organs on top of the kidneys.

The interactions among these organs constitute the HPA-axis, a major part of the neuroendocrine system. From here, the body regulates reactions to stress, as well as processes such as digestion, the immune system, mood, emotions, sexuality, as well as energy. Infectious disease, such as chronic Lyme disease complex, impacts the HPA-axis via neurotoxins that compete for the same receptor sites used by the HPA-axis.

In fact, such infections can bring about identical symptoms of some idiopathic diseases listed above and many of the symptoms associated therewith. This should bring our attention to chronic Lyme Disease complex, which is composed of a number of infections and neurotoxins that bring about even more symptoms than those listed earlier in this article.

Does HPA Affect Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Abnormal levels of certain chemicals regulated in the HPA axis area of the brain system have been proposed as a cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and also have some influence in fibromyalgia. This system controls important functions, including sleep, stress response, and depression. Of particular interest to researchers are the chemicals and other factors listed below that are controlled by the HPA-axis.

The HPA-axis is involved in the neurobiology of mood disorders and functional illnesses, including anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, ADHD, major depressive disorder, burnout, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and alcoholism. Antidepressants, which are routinely prescribed for many of these illnesses, serve to regulate HPA-axis function. All of these conditions and their symptoms are commonly seen in chronic Lyme disease patients that contain a host of infections and neurotoxins that block serotonin receptors in the brain.

Can Chronic Lyme Disease Complex or Infectious Disease Affect HPA?

Patients may have contracted an infection at any point in their lifetime. However, the symptoms of chronic Lyme disease complex or its coinfections may remain unseen or dormant until the individual is weakened by a trauma or trigger. This could be anything from childbirth or a car accident to the death of a loved one, a divorce or even a vaccine, as seen among children with weakened immune systems.

In the etiology of chronic infectious disease, the traumatic event is a trigger, but not the cause of autoimmune disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or fibromyalgia. Nevertheless, treating these triggers is critically important to the new patient’s care. What we find is that infection and not genetic defects are at the root of HPA-axis disruption in the brain itself.

The Major Impact of Epigenetic Changes

A number of studies have found that alterations in genes are caused by infections involving immune function, intracellular communication and energy transfer. Researchers have identified many different genes in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that relate to blood disease, immune system function, and infection.

However, despite these identifications, there is no clear pattern to them and it is quite possible that it is the infections alone that are altering these genes and are responsible for impacting mental and emotional health as well. It is very possible that the infections can alter these genes that impact mental and emotional health as well.

Important Neurotransmitters Changed By Neurotoxins Competing For Receptor Sites

Some patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have abnormally high levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger in the brain), and also show deficiencies in dopamine, an important neurotransmitter associated with feelings of reward. In some cases there is also a demonstrable imbalance between norepinephrine and dopamine.

A number of studies on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have shown patients have lower cortisol levels, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It has been suggested that such cortisol deficiencies are responsible for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients having impaired or weakened responses to psychological or physical stresses like worry, infection, or exercise. However, administering replacement cortisol improves symptoms only in some patients. Why? Infection and their toxins (neurotoxins) must be cleared before hormone replacement can begin to be effective in these patients. It is also common for these patients to have thyroid, testosterone and cortisol issues.

Idiopathic Diseases at Root of Myriad Psychological Disorders Including Sleep-Related Ailments

Evidence suggests that certain CFS, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune patients have disturbed circadian rhythms (disorder of the sleep-wake cycle), which is regulated by the so-called circadian clock, a nerve cluster in the HPA-axis. These are commonly seen in chronic Lyme disease complex along with a number of other neurological symptoms.

A mentally or physically stressful event, such as a viral infection, may disrupt natural circadian rhythms. An inability to reset these rhythms results in a perpetual cycle of sleep disturbances. Medications that improve sleep can be very helpful for certain patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases. But, until the infections are cleared and hormones are rebalanced, long-term improvement is unlikely, as the patient is likely to relapse.

Psychological, personality and social factors are strongly associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune disease like lupus. There is a distinct complex relationship between physical and emotional factors.

What Specific Infections are Responsible

Because most of the features of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome resemble those of a lingering viral illness, many researchers have focused on the possibility that a virus or some other infectious agent, in some cases, causes the syndrome.

We have clinically determined that these patients usually have a group of viral, bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections that make up what we call Lyme Disease Complex. Some patients may or may not have actual Lyme disease but may have another type of tick-borne illness along with a host of co-infections that have brought about immunological, hormonal, and neuroendocrine changes.

Still, not all Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients show signs of infection. And although experts have long been divided on whether infections play any role in this disorder at all, it does seem clear that subtypes of both viral and non-viral Chronic Fatigue Syndrome exist. That being said, researchers have seemingly overlooked the complexity of mute-infections, multi-toxins and heavy metal components that complicate these conditions, making them extremely difficult to diagnose on a case-to-case basis. When a complex of infections exists, they can affect the activation and replication of each other via biofilm communities. To be certain, most patients are never tested thoroughly and correctly for all the infections that make up chronic Lyme disease complex.

Infections Looking Like the Cause

The theory for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome having a viral cause is not based on hard evidence, rather, on an ever-growing series of observations. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as well as Fibromyalgia and Autoimmune disease patients, are often found with elevated levels of antibodies to many organisms that cause fatigue and other Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms. Such organisms include those that cause Lyme disease, Candida (“yeast infection”), herpes virus type 6 (HHV-6), human T cell lymph tropic virus (HTLV), Epstein-Barr, measles, coxsackie B, cytomegalovirus, or parvovirus.

Many of these infectious agents are very common; however, none have emerged as a definitive cause of CFS. Well-designed studies of patients who met strict criteria for CFS without any known cause have not found an increased incidence of any specific infection(s).

In up to 80% of cases, CFS starts suddenly with a flu-like condition. In the U.S., there have been reports of cluster outbreaks of CFS occurring within the same household, workplace, and community (but most have not been confirmed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention). However, most cases of CFS occur sporadically in individuals and do not appear to be contagious. These all have the pattern of infections and more importantly, complexes of infections taking over the patient’s immune system, which is clearly seen in the depressed CD57 markers found in almost all of this population.

Infection Complexes Leading to Immune System Abnormalities and Immuno-Compromised States

CFS is sometimes referred to as “Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome.” In many cases, studies have detected many immune system irregularities. Some components appear to be over-reactive, while others appear to be under-reactive, but no consistent picture has emerged to explain CFS as a disease of the immune system in conventional medical practices. Chronic Lyme disease patients almost always have depressed CD57 marker called the striker panel and this is almost never run on chronic fatigue patients when they go to their doctor. Almost 100% of the time we find decreased key immune function in all CFS patients because we are running the correct diagnostics.

Autoimmunity Overlaps with Other Conditions

The risk profile for CFS is similar to the risk profiles for a number of autoimmune diseases. Studies are inconsistent with regards to the presence of auto-antibodies (antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues) in CFS, so the disease is unlikely to be due to auto-immunity, making it more likely connected to infectious disease. In Lyme disease patients, we typically see that the patient was diagnosed at one time or another with several autoimmune diseases, but almost certainly the previous physicians were confused. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about customized treatment options, contact us.

– See more at: http://www.envita.com/lyme-disease/finally-one-link-established-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-cfs-lupus-fibromyalgia-autoimmune-disease-chronic-lyme-disease#sthash.WKZLZdoD.dpuf

A Conventional Scientific Overview of CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and Fibromyalgia Causatives

Below, is a quick list of idiopathic disease causes — we will give a clinical review and explanation as to what takes place.

  • Brain abnormalities
  • Genetic factors (HPA) axis
  • A hyper-reactive immune system
  • Viral or other infectious agents like (Chronic Lyme disease Complex)
  • Psychiatric or emotional conditions

Are Genetics to Blame?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia have been linked with genes involved in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous system. These genes regulate response to trauma, injury, and other stressful events. Our ten years of clinical experience shows that while such traumas could play a role in the etiology (the trigger to exhibiting symptoms) of the disease, they are unlikely the conditions’ causes.

What is the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis (HPA)? Does Lyme Disease Play a Role?

HPA makes up a multi-set of direct influences and feedback interactions among the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland (a pea-shaped structure located below the hypothalamus), and the adrenal, also called “suprarenal,” glands which are small, conical organs on top of the kidneys.

The interactions among these organs constitute the HPA-axis, a major part of the neuroendocrine system. From here, the body regulates reactions to stress, as well as processes such as digestion, the immune system, mood, emotions, sexuality, as well as energy. Infectious disease, such as chronic Lyme disease complex, impacts the HPA-axis via neurotoxins that compete for the same receptor sites used by the HPA-axis.

In fact, such infections can bring about identical symptoms of some idiopathic diseases listed above and many of the symptoms associated therewith. This should bring our attention to chronic Lyme Disease complex, which is composed of a number of infections and neurotoxins that bring about even more symptoms than those listed earlier in this article.

Does HPA Affect Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Abnormal levels of certain chemicals regulated in the HPA axis area of the brain system have been proposed as a cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and also have some influence in fibromyalgia. This system controls important functions, including sleep, stress response, and depression. Of particular interest to researchers are the chemicals and other factors listed below that are controlled by the HPA-axis.

The HPA-axis is involved in the neurobiology of mood disorders and functional illnesses, including anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, ADHD, major depressive disorder, burnout, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and alcoholism. Antidepressants, which are routinely prescribed for many of these illnesses, serve to regulate HPA-axis function. All of these conditions and their symptoms are commonly seen in chronic Lyme disease patients that contain a host of infections and neurotoxins that block serotonin receptors in the brain.

Can Chronic Lyme Disease Complex or Infectious Disease Affect HPA?

Patients may have contracted an infection at any point in their lifetime. However, the symptoms of chronic Lyme disease complex or its coinfections may remain unseen or dormant until the individual is weakened by a trauma or trigger. This could be anything from childbirth or a car accident to the death of a loved one, a divorce or even a vaccine, as seen among children with weakened immune systems.

In the etiology of chronic infectious disease, the traumatic event is a trigger, but not the cause of autoimmune disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or fibromyalgia. Nevertheless, treating these triggers is critically important to the new patient’s care. What we find is that infection and not genetic defects are at the root of HPA-axis disruption in the brain itself.

The Major Impact of Epigenetic Changes

A number of studies have found that alterations in genes are caused by infections involving immune function, intracellular communication and energy transfer. Researchers have identified many different genes in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that relate to blood disease, immune system function, and infection.

However, despite these identifications, there is no clear pattern to them and it is quite possible that it is the infections alone that are altering these genes and are responsible for impacting mental and emotional health as well. It is very possible that the infections can alter these genes that impact mental and emotional health as well.

Important Neurotransmitters Changed By Neurotoxins Competing For Receptor Sites

Some patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have abnormally high levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger in the brain), and also show deficiencies in dopamine, an important neurotransmitter associated with feelings of reward. In some cases there is also a demonstrable imbalance between norepinephrine and dopamine.

A number of studies on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have shown patients have lower cortisol levels, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It has been suggested that such cortisol deficiencies are responsible for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients having impaired or weakened responses to psychological or physical stresses like worry, infection, or exercise. However, administering replacement cortisol improves symptoms only in some patients. Why? Infection and their toxins (neurotoxins) must be cleared before hormone replacement can begin to be effective in these patients. It is also common for these patients to have thyroid, testosterone and cortisol issues.

Idiopathic Diseases at Root of Myriad Psychological Disorders Including Sleep-Related Ailments

Evidence suggests that certain CFS, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune patients have disturbed circadian rhythms (disorder of the sleep-wake cycle), which is regulated by the so-called circadian clock, a nerve cluster in the HPA-axis. These are commonly seen in chronic Lyme disease complex along with a number of other neurological symptoms.

A mentally or physically stressful event, such as a viral infection, may disrupt natural circadian rhythms. An inability to reset these rhythms results in a perpetual cycle of sleep disturbances. Medications that improve sleep can be very helpful for certain patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases. But, until the infections are cleared and hormones are rebalanced, long-term improvement is unlikely, as the patient is likely to relapse.

Psychological, personality and social factors are strongly associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune disease like lupus. There is a distinct complex relationship between physical and emotional factors.

What Specific Infections are Responsible

Because most of the features of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome resemble those of a lingering viral illness, many researchers have focused on the possibility that a virus or some other infectious agent, in some cases, causes the syndrome.

We have clinically determined that these patients usually have a group of viral, bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections that make up what we call Lyme Disease Complex. Some patients may or may not have actual Lyme disease but may have another type of tick-borne illness along with a host of co-infections that have brought about immunological, hormonal, and neuroendocrine changes.

Still, not all Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients show signs of infection. And although experts have long been divided on whether infections play any role in this disorder at all, it does seem clear that subtypes of both viral and non-viral Chronic Fatigue Syndrome exist. That being said, researchers have seemingly overlooked the complexity of mute-infections, multi-toxins and heavy metal components that complicate these conditions, making them extremely difficult to diagnose on a case-to-case basis. When a complex of infections exists, they can affect the activation and replication of each other via biofilm communities. To be certain, most patients are never tested thoroughly and correctly for all the infections that make up chronic Lyme disease complex.

Infections Looking Like the Cause

The theory for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome having a viral cause is not based on hard evidence, rather, on an ever-growing series of observations. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as well as Fibromyalgia and Autoimmune disease patients, are often found with elevated levels of antibodies to many organisms that cause fatigue and other Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms. Such organisms include those that cause Lyme disease, Candida (“yeast infection”), herpes virus type 6 (HHV-6), human T cell lymph tropic virus (HTLV), Epstein-Barr, measles, coxsackie B, cytomegalovirus, or parvovirus.

Many of these infectious agents are very common; however, none have emerged as a definitive cause of CFS. Well-designed studies of patients who met strict criteria for CFS without any known cause have not found an increased incidence of any specific infection(s).

In up to 80% of cases, CFS starts suddenly with a flu-like condition. In the U.S., there have been reports of cluster outbreaks of CFS occurring within the same household, workplace, and community (but most have not been confirmed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention). However, most cases of CFS occur sporadically in individuals and do not appear to be contagious. These all have the pattern of infections and more importantly, complexes of infections taking over the patient’s immune system, which is clearly seen in the depressed CD57 markers found in almost all of this population.

Infection Complexes Leading to Immune System Abnormalities and Immuno-Compromised States

CFS is sometimes referred to as “Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome.” In many cases, studies have detected many immune system irregularities. Some components appear to be over-reactive, while others appear to be under-reactive, but no consistent picture has emerged to explain CFS as a disease of the immune system in conventional medical practices. Chronic Lyme disease patients almost always have depressed CD57 marker called the striker panel and this is almost never run on chronic fatigue patients when they go to their doctor. Almost 100% of the time we find decreased key immune function in all CFS patients because we are running the correct diagnostics.

Autoimmunity Overlaps with Other Conditions

The risk profile for CFS is similar to the risk profiles for a number of autoimmune diseases. Studies are inconsistent with regards to the presence of auto-antibodies (antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues) in CFS, so the disease is unlikely to be due to auto-immunity, making it more likely connected to infectious disease. In Lyme disease patients, we typically see that the patient was diagnosed at one time or another with several autoimmune diseases, but almost certainly the previous physicians were confused. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about customized treatment options, contact us.

– See more at: http://www.envita.com/lyme-disease/finally-one-link-established-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-cfs-lupus-fibromyalgia-autoimmune-disease-chronic-lyme-disease#sthash.WKZLZdoD.dpuf

via Fibromyalgia Breakthrough – Treat The Causes, Not Just The Symptoms.