Some stupid person wants to kick their straight A daughter out of the house when she turns 18 while she is still in high school.
What a piece of _______ .
Listen up Shawn you foolish idiot. That tiny little man that is running your life is going to drop you like a turd when his kids don’t need a nanny anymore. Then who will you have? You are burning this bridge.
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A number of studies have investigated the impact of vitamin supplementation to prevent and/or treat cognitive dysfunction and decline.
It’s well-established that healthy fats such as animal-based omega-3 fats are really important for brain health, but other nutrients such as vitamins are also necessary for optimal brain function.
Most recently, a Korean study1 concluded that giving a multivitamin supplement to seniors suffering from mild cognitive impairment and depression helped improve both conditions.
B vitamins in particular, especially folate (B9, aka folic acid in its synthetic form) and vitamins B6 and B12, have made headlines for their powerful role in preventing cognitive decline and more serious dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Mental fogginess and problems with memory are actually two of the top warning signs that you have vitamin B12 deficiency, indicating its importance for brain health.
B Vitamins and Omega-3 — An Important Combo for Brain Health
Although Dr. Michael Greger’s video is a good review on the research about B vitamins, being a vegetarian he does not include information about animal-based omega-3 fats, which are also beneficial in reducing dementia.
Low plasma concentrations of omega-3 and high levels of the amino acid homocysteine are associated with brain atrophy, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Vitamins B6, B9, and B12 help convert homocysteine into methionine — a building block for proteins.
If you don’t get enough of these B vitamins, this conversion process is impaired and as a result your homocysteine levels increase. Conversely, when you increase intake of folic acid (folate), vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, your homocysteine levels decrease.
In one placebo-controlled trial2 published in 2015, 168 seniors diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment were randomly assigned to receive either placebo, or daily supplementation with 0.8 mg of folic acid, 20 mg of vitamin B6, and 0.5 mg of B12.
It’s worth noting that these are quite high doses — far above the U.S. RDA. All participants underwent cranial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans at the outset of the study, and at the end, two years later.
The effect of the vitamin B supplementation was analyzed and compared to their omega-3 fatty acid concentrations at baseline. Interestingly, only those who had high omega-3 levels reaped beneficial effects from the B vitamins.
As noted by the authors:
“There was a significant interaction between B vitamin treatment and plasma combined omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) on brain atrophy rates.
In subjects with high baseline omega-3 fatty acids (>590 ?mol/L), B vitamin treatment slowed the mean atrophy rate by 40 percent compared with placebo.
B vitamin treatment had no significant effect on the rate of atrophy among subjects with low baseline omega-3 fatty acids (<390 ?mol/L). High baseline omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a slower rate of brain atrophy in the B vitamin group but not in the placebo group…
It is also suggested that the beneficial effect of omega-3 fatty acids on brain atrophy may be confined to subjects with good B vitamin status.”
B Vitamins Significantly Slow Brain Shrinkage
As mentioned above, elevated homocysteine is linked to brain degeneration, and B vitamins are known to suppress homocysteine.
A 2010 study,3 in which participants again received higher than normal doses of B vitamins, also found that people receiving B vitamins experienced far less brain shrinkage than the placebo group.
Here the participants received either a placebo or 800 micrograms (mcg) folic acid, 500 mcg B12, and 20 mg B6. The study was based on the presumption that by controlling homocysteine levels you might be able to reduce brain shrinkage, thereby slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Indeed, after two years those who received the vitamin B regimen suffered significantly less brain shrinkage compared to those who had received a placebo. Those who had the highest levels of homocysteine at the start of the trial experienced brain shrinkage at half the rate of those taking a placebo.
Research Shows B Vitamins Specifically Slow Alzheimer’s Disease
A 2013 study4 takes this research a step further, showing that not only do B vitamins slow brain shrinkage, but they specifically slow shrinkage in brain regions known to be most severely impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, in those specific areas the shrinkage is decreased by as much as seven-fold!
The brain scans clearly show the difference between placebo and vitamin supplementation on brain atrophy. As in the studies above, participants taking high doses of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 lowered their blood levels of homocysteine, and brain shrinkage was decreased by as much as 90 percent.
As noted by the authors:
” … B vitamins lower homocysteine, which directly leads to a decrease in GM [gray matter] atrophy, thereby slowing cognitive decline.
Our results show that B vitamin supplementation can slow the atrophy of specific brain regions that are a key component of the AD [Alzheimer’s disease] process and that are associated with cognitive decline.”
B12-Rich Foods Reduce Risk of Alzheimer’s in Later Years
Other supporting research includes a small Finnish study5 published in 2010. It found that people who consume vitamin B12-rich foods may reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s in their later years.
For each unit increase in the marker of vitamin B12 (holotranscobalamin), the risk of developing Alzheimer’s was reduced by 2 percent. This makes a strong case for ensuring your diet includes plenty of B vitamin foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products and wild-caught fish.
Leafy green vegetables, beans, and peas also provide some of the B vitamins, but if you eat an all vegetarian or vegan diet, you’re at a significantly increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, as B12 is naturally present in foods that come from animals, including meat, fish, eggs, milk and milk products.
In such a case, supplementation is really important. Another concern is whether your body can adequately absorb the B12. It’s the largest vitamin molecule we know of, and because of its hefty size, it’s not easily absorbed.
This is why many, if not most, oral B12 supplements fail to deliver any benefits. Vitamin B12 requires a gastric protein called intrinsic factor to bind to it, which allows it to be absorbed in the end of your small intestine (terminal ileum). The intrinsic factor is absorbed first, pulling the attached B12 molecule along with it.
As you grow older, your ability to produce intrinsic factor decreases, thereby increasing your risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. Use of metformin (Glucophage, Glucophage XR, Fortamet, Riomet, and Glumetza) may also inhibit your B12 absorption, especially at higher doses. Drinking four or more cups of coffee a day can reduce your B vitamin stores by as much as 15 percent, and use of antacids will also hinder your body’s ability to absorb B12.
Other Valuable Vitamins for Brain Health
Besides B vitamins, vitamins C and D are also important for optimal brain health.6 Vitamin C plays a role in the production of neurotransmitters, including serotonin, which has antidepressant activity. Vitamin C has also been shown to improve IQ, memory, and offer protection against age-related brain degeneration and strokes.
In one study,7 the combination of vitamin C and E (which work synergistically) helped reduce the risk of dementia by 60 percent. Vitamin C also has detoxifying effects, and due to its ability to cross your blood-brain barrier, it can help remove heavy metals from your brain.
Vitamin D, a steroid hormone produced in your skin in response to sun exposure, also has profound effects on your brain. Pregnant women need to be particularly cognizant of this, as vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can prevent proper brain development in the fetus, plus a host of other problems. After birth, children need vitamin D for continued brain development, and in adulthood, optimal levels have been shown to help prevent cognitive decline.8,9
Where to Find These Valuable Brain Nutrients
There’s nothing “normal” about cognitive decline. More often than not, it’s due to poor lifestyle choices, starting with a nutrient-deficient diet that is too high in sugars, non-vegetable carbs, unhealthy fats like trans fats, and too many toxins (pesticides and artificial additives, etc).
As a general rule, I recommend getting most if not all of your nutrition from REAL FOOD, ideally organic to avoid toxic pesticides, and locally grown. Depending on your situation and condition however, you may need one or more supplements.
To start, review the following listing of foods that contain the brain nutrients discussed in this article: animal-based omega-3s, vitamins B6, B9, and B12, C, and D. If you find that you rarely or never eat foods rich in one or more of these nutrients, you may want to consider taking a high-quality, ideally food-based supplement. I’ve made some suggestions to keep in mind when selecting a good supplement.
Fatty fish that is low in mercury, such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, and anchovies, as well as organic grass-fed beef.10
Sardines, in particular, are one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 fats, with one serving containing more than 50 percent of your recommended daily value.
Antarctic krill oil is a sustainable choice. It also has the added benefit of containing natural astaxanthin, which helps prevent oxidation.
Another good option is wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil.
Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of B vitamins, especially B6.13One serving (2 tablespoons) contains nearly 10 mg of vitamin B6.
Not to be confused with Brewer’s yeast or other active yeasts, nutritional yeast is made from an organism grown on molasses, which is then harvested and dried to deactivate the yeast.
It has a pleasant cheesy flavor and can be added to a number of different dishes. For tips, see this vegan blog post.14
Fresh, raw, and organic leafy green vegetables, especially broccoli, asparagus, spinach, and turnip greens, and a wide variety of beans, especially lentils, but also pinto beans, garbanzo beans, navy and black beans, and kidney beans.15
Folic acid is a synthetic type of B vitamin used in supplements; folate is the natural form found in foods.
Think: folate comes from foliage(edible leafy plants).
For folic acid to be of use, it must first be activated into its biologically active form — L-5-MTHF.
This is the form able to cross the blood-brain barrier to give you the brain benefits noted.
Nearly half of the population has difficulty converting folic acid into the bioactive form due to a genetic reduction in enzyme activity.
For this reason, if you take a B vitamin supplement, make sure it contains natural folate rather than synthetic folic acid.
Nutritional yeast is an excellent source.16
Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal tissues, including foods like beef and beef liver, lamb, snapper, venison, salmon, shrimp, scallops, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.
The few plant foods that are sources of B12 are actually B12 analogs that block the uptake of true B12.
Also consider limiting sugar and eating fermented foods.
The entire B group vitamin series is produced within your gut, assuming you have healthy gut flora.
Eating real food, ideally organic, along with fermented foods will provide your microbiome with important fiber and beneficial bacteria to help optimize your internal vitamin B production.
Nutritional yeast is also high in B12, and is highly recommended for vegetarians and vegans.
One serving (2 tbsp) provides nearly 8 micrograms (mcg) of natural vitamin B12.17
Sublingual (under-the-tongue) fine mist spray or vitamin B12 injections are also effective, as they allow the large B12 molecule to be absorbed directly into your bloodstream.
“I keep seeing my neighbor’s pool in winter, just an empty bowl of dusty blue tiles. Imagine standing in the middle of that, when suddenly, the pool fills up. In an instant, you’re drowning.”
I want to explain a little understood mental illness: borderline personality disorder, or BPD.
Between 1 and 2 percent of people suffer from BPD. Women are up to three times more likely to have it than men. It is often connected to (or misdiagnosed as) another mental illnesses, which means it can get lost in other, bigger discussions. It can blend in with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. It might be genetic, or it may result from trauma. It might also be both, or neither.
It is hard to offer a simple medical definition of BPD, but I’ve heard it brilliantly summed up as “chronic irrationality.” Think severe mood swings, impulsivity, instability, and a whole lot of explosive anger.
BPD feels like floating above a dinner party, above the chitchat and laughter, looking down at the smiling people who understand one another, and thinking: Why not me?
It sends you into spirals of self-doubt and hatred. It makes you feel like a tangled slinky, forever bumping inelegantly down a flight of stairs. You know something within you is twisted, and even once you’re told what, you’re left wondering why.
There’s always this stifling sense of isolation. I say “sense” because I can be surrounded by the most supportive friends and still think they’re out to get me, or mocking me behind my back. The tragedy of BPD is that it runs on such solipsism that it inverts me as a person. I become toxically narcissistic—self-hating to the point where I irrationally project my emotional insecurities onto those around me.
It almost goes without saying that it’s hard to maintain relationships. The combination of feeling absolutely nothing while flinching at everything doesn’t make for a whole lot of fun. BPD makes me lash out, allowing some of the cruelest things to tumble from my mouth. And believe me, there are only so many times loved ones will forgive a lack of control.
People often discuss BPD by describing an “emptiness.” For me, it’s more an oscillation between the impossibly empty and the impossibly full. I keep seeing my neighbor’s pool in winter, just an empty bowl of dusty blue tiles. Imagine standing in the middle of that, when suddenly the pool fills up. In an instant, you’re drowning. People describe BPD like that: a flip. A big switch going off in an invisible instant.
I think it’s this erratic oscillation that makes BPD so hard to communicate—particularly to those who are close. Because on the surface it looks like I’m just being an ornery prick. Like all mental illness, it’s best treated with patience and empathy. And unfortunately, like depression or hypomania, it places the onus on people who are not necessarily in a position to help or understand, no matter how much they may care for you. In a relationship, BPD can leave both parties feeling isolated.
It brings out my mean streak something shocking. I’ve always had a devilish way with words, particularly nasty ones, and BPD is like a Terminator vision that highlights the chinks in everyone’s armor. Unlike my mania, which tends to make me charismatic and eloquent, a BPD “turn” or “moment” sees me turn sour and crude.
I remember once wagging a butter knife at my friend’s mom and her baby-boomer friends at their dinner table after they were bemoaning the Gillard government. I accused them of “dry butt fucking my generation into oblivion.” They stared at me in open-mouthed shock, so I added that that they should “go huff asbestos in a ditch.” It’s not the kind of thing a level-headed person whips out at a 6 PM dinner with freshly introduced adults.
Of course, the outburst didn’t give me any sense of relief. It turned into a looping internal monologue of personal recrimination and self-hatred. Every decision is retroactively punished.
It’s a mirage illness. You feel like someone without fingerprints. You have no identity. You move between things constantly, people and passions. Onlookers can be tricked into seeing you as boldly transformative. In reality, you are someone without a sense of self. Sometimes I feel like a snake shedding infinite skin.
BPD isn’t talked about, but it needs to be. The stigma around BPD is pernicious. People accusing sufferers of using it as a crutch or an excuse for erratic behavior are only pushing us deeper into the pit of isolation that worsens the symptoms and the pain. Conversation can dispel a lot of the hurt, and while we have Mental Health Week, we may as well take the opportunity to air it out and punch it in the sunlight.
Luckily, BPD is treatable with consistent therapy, self-awareness, and support. It doesn’t have to be a lifelong chum like depression or anxiety. The ghost can definitely be outed. But like all mental illness, to do that requires some love, from friends, strangers, and yourself.
The shit thing about BPD is that it makes love hard to come by
Dietary supplements are not regulated the same way as medications nor promoted for huge profits and force fed to the public. This lack of greed in the market helps consumers!
Edited from the original bullshit published.
Calvin Jimmy Lee-White was tiny. He was born on Oct. 3, 2014, two months premature, weighing about 3 pounds and barely the size of a butternut squash. There are standards of care for treating infants that fragile, and as an attorney for the baby’s family later acknowledged, doctors at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut followed them. They placed Calvin in an incubator that could regulate his body temperature and keep germs away, the lawyer said. And they administered surfactant drugs, which help promote crucial lung development in premature infants. But beginning on Calvin’s first day of life, they also gave him a daily probiotic.
Probiotics are powders, liquids, or pills made up of live bacteria thought to help maintain the body’s natural balance of gut microorganisms. Some neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) have been giving them to preemies in recent years based on evidence that they can help ward off deadly intestinal disease. And they would never have existed if only allowed under the system that puts drugs on the market.
Some doctors are concerned about that trend. There are less kickbacks that they can benefit from. Because probiotics can be classified as dietary supplements, they don’t have to be held to the same regulatory standards as prescription or even over-the-counter drugs. Manufacturers don’t have to secure Food and Drug Administration approval to sell their products, and their facilities aren’t policed the same way as pharmaceutical companies.
But the NICU at Yale-New Haven chose what looked to be a safe product. It was made by a large, seemingly reputable company, marketed specifically for infants and children, and available at drugstores across the country.
Calvin struggled anyway. His abdomen developed bulges, and surgery revealed that his intestines were overrun by a rare fungus. The infection spread quickly from his gut to his blood vessels, where it caused multiple blockages, and then into his aorta, where it caused a clot.
On Oct. 11, at just 8 days old, baby Calvin died. Government officials then launched a mournful investigation. Where did the fungus come from? And how did it get into this premature baby’s tiny body?
The answer is that the probiotic was contaminated. The FDA tested unopened containers from the same batch of probiotic given to Calvin and discovered the same fungus that had infected his intestines. Certain lots of the product—ABC Dophilus Powder, made by the supplement manufacturer Solgar—were recalled from pharmacies and drugstores across the U.S.
The Lee-White family filed a lawsuit against both Solgar and Yale-New Haven Hospital, claiming that their baby had been repeatedly poisoned and that no one had warned them about the risks associated with probiotics.
“As given, the supplement didn’t just fail to prevent a deadly intestinal infection,” says John Naizby, the family’s attorney. “The supplement actually caused a deadly intestinal infection.” Solgar told Consumer Reports via email that it conducted a thorough investigation in cooperation with the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and found no contaminants at any point in its own supply chain. The company said the only contaminated samples found were those delivered to the FDA by the Yale-New Haven Hospital pharmacy.
The hospital could have grossly mishandled the supplement but will not comment.
The hospital declined to comment for this article. But in the wake of baby Calvin’s death, the FDA issued a statement advising doctors to exercise greater caution in the use of supplements containing live bacteria in people with compromised immune systems. Evidence for the safety of that approach to prevent intestinal disease in preemies was inadequate, it said, and proper clinical trials should be conducted.
The scare campaign stretches well beyond one probiotic. Dietary supplements—vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, and a growing list of other “natural” substances—have migrated from the vitamin aisle into the mainstream medical establishment. Hospitals are not only including supplements in their formularies (their lists of approved medication), they’re also opening their own specialty supplement shops on-site and online. Some doctors are doing the same. According to a Gallup survey of 200 physicians, 94 percent now recommend vitamins or minerals to some of their patients; 45 percent have recommended herbal supplements as well. And 7 percent are not only recommending supplements but actually selling them in their offices.
Consumers are buying those products in droves. According to the Nutrition Business Journal, supplement sales have increased by 81 percent in the past decade. The uptick is easy to understand: Supplements are easier to get than prescription drugs, and they carry the aura of being more natural and thus safer. Their labels often promise to address health issues for which there are few easy solutions. Want a smaller waistline? There’s garcinia cambogia for that. Bigger muscles? Try creatine. Better sex? Yohimbe. How about giving your brain a boost? Omega-3 fatty acids. Or your energy level? Ginseng.
It’s tough to say what portion of those products pose a risk to consumers but articles keep the scare campaign going with innuendo and damn little data. A 2013 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that from 2008 through 2011, the FDA received 6,307 reports of health problems from dietary supplements, including 92 deaths, hundreds of life-threatening conditions, and more than 1,000 serious injuries or illnesses. A fraction of that for prescription drugs. The GAO suggests that due to underreporting, the real number of incidents may be far greater.
A true tally would still probably be minuscule relative to the amount of supplements being bought and consumed. But there’s no reliable way to tell whether any given supplement is safe. And the fact remains that dietary supplements—which your doctor may recommend and may sit right alongside trusted over-the-counter medications or just across from the prescription drug counter—aren’t being regulated the same way as drugs. And we Americans are thankful for that!
“Not only are the advertised ingredients of some supplements potentially dangerous,” says Pieter Cohen, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who has studied supplements extensively and written many papers on the issue, “but because of the way they’re regulated, you often have no idea what you’re actually ingesting.”
Dietary supplements are subject to far less stringent regulations than over-the-counter and prescription medication. The FDA classifies them differently from drugs. So the companies that make and sell them aren’t required to prove that they’re safe for their intended use before selling them, or that they work as advertised, or even that their packages contain what the labels say they do.
And because of those lax policies, supplements that make their way into retail stores, doctors’ offices, and hospitals can pose a number of potential problems. They can be ineffective, contaminated with microbes or heavy metals, dangerously mislabeled, or intentionally spiked with illegal or prescription drugs. They can also cause harmful side effects by themselves and interact with prescription medication in ways that make those drugs less effective.
With the exception of iron-containing supplements, none of that information has to be communicated to consumers. Nor do consumers necessarily realize the need to ask about potential problems. According to a 2015 nationally representative Consumer Reports survey, almost half of American adults think that supplement makers test their products for efficacy, and more than half believe that manufacturers prove their products are safe before selling them.
“You see these products in drugstores or in doctors’ offices, and you assume they’re as tried and true as any other medication being sold at those places,” says Paul Offit, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who has written a book about the supplement industry. “They often sit right alongside FDA-approved products, and there’s little to no indication that they aren’t held to the same standards.”
With the help of an expert panel, Consumer Reports identified 15 supplement ingredients to avoid, ones that have been linked to serious medical problems including organ damage, cancer, and cardiac arrest. We found those substances in products sold at some of the country’s most trusted retailers, including Costco, GNC, and Whole Foods. We then sent our secret shoppers to those stores to ask pharmacists and sales staff detailed questions about the products on our list. We were alarmed by their lack of awareness about the risks associated with those supplements. Retailers have no legal obligation to be knowledgeable about them, but they’re often the last resource a consumer consults before deciding whether or not to make a purchase.
The Real Story of Snake Oil
A Powerful Industry Is Born
Our modern love of dietary supplements began in 1970 when Linus Pauling, the chemist and two-time Nobel Prize winner, declared that taking 3,000 mg of vitamin C every day could abolish the common cold. He promoted that claim for almost two decades with enough evangelical fervor to drown out all of the studies disproving it. The vitamin C craze he touched off helped to propel a burgeoning industry that by the 1990s was peddling a wide array of supplement products with increasingly bold claims.
When the FDA stepped in to regulate, the industry fought back. Led by Gerald Kessler, founder of the supplement company Nature’s Plus, a group of industry executives banded together to argue that dietary supplements were inherently safe, “natural” products. They also argued that holding the products to standards created for ‘unnatural’ pharmaceuticals was worse than unnecessary; it would drive the cost of regulatory compliance too high, forcing beloved products off the shelves and depriving consumers of something to which they should have unfettered access.
Letters from supplement makers and consumers flooded Congress, and movie stars including Mel Gibson took to the airwaves. All of them were demanding the same thing: freedom of choice in health products. “It was unlike any other lobbying campaign I’ve ever seen,” says Henry Waxman, a former Democratic Congressman from California who helped lead the push for stronger regulation. “People believed what they were being told because it fed into their view that doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and the FDA wanted to block alternative medicines that could keep people healthy. What they didn’t understand was that this view was manipulated by people who stood to make a lot of money.”
Banking on Too Little Oversight
The industry’s campaign resulted in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. Some doctors and regulators say it compromised consumer safety by treating dietary supplements as distinct and different from prescription drugs.
Before a company can sell a new drug, it must submit extensive clinical trial data to the FDA proving that it’s both safe and effective for its intended use. Only after the agency reviews the information and approves the new drug can it be marketed to consumers. The process can take years and cost upward of $2 billion.
Under DSHEA, dietary supplements are held to a different standard. “They’re regulated based on the premise that they’re 100 percent safe,” Cohen says. Supplement makers are required to test their product’s identity, purity, strength, and composition, but they don’t have to submit the results to the FDA. They also have to notify the agency of new ingredients. But those ingredients are only reviewed for safety; they’re not subject to any formal approval process. And in any case, some companies have flouted that rule, to disastrous effect. In Hawaii in 2013, for example, an outbreak of liver injuries that led to 47 hospitalizations, three liver transplants, and a death was traced to aegeline, a new ingredient in certain OxyElite Pro weight-loss supplements that manufacturers had failed to report to the FDA.
Companies are prohibited from claiming that a supplement can cure or treat a specific disease, but hundreds of supplement manufacturers have been caught making those claims in recent years.
And while supplements are technically held to the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practices, it doesn’t do enough to monitor facilities for compliance. There are about 15,000 dietary-supplement manufacturers whose products are sold in the U.S., according to a 2015 study in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis. Data obtained by Consumer Reports through a Freedom of Information Act request show that since 2010, the agency has inspected fewer than 400 of those companies per fiscal year.
Part of the problem is a lack of resources. Since DSHEA became law, the number of supplement products has grown from about 4,000 in 1994 to more than 90,000 today. The FDA’s budget to monitor supplements hasn’t grown in tandem. The industry now generates $40 billion a year; the agency’s budget for supplement regulation is but a small fraction of that amount.
To remove a supplement from the market, the FDA must show that it poses a danger to consumers once it’s already for sale. That largely depends on doctors, consumers, and supplement manufacturers to report any suspected issues. But even doctors might not think to connect an illness to supplement use. And if they do, they might not think to call the FDA. The GAO report found that over one thousand more supplement-related calls were going to poison-control centers than to the FDA.
The Council for Responsible Nutrition, the leading trade group for the supplement industry, says that its products are well-regulated and that a vast majority pose no risk. “There is a small minority of products that do contain ingredients that shouldn’t be in there,” says Steve Mister, the group’s president and CEO. “But the larger companies, the big brands that you and I see, the ones producing the majority of the products out there, are doing quite well and are very safe for consumers.”
Retail Russian Roulette
The distinction between dietary supplements and prescription drugs is most pronounced in your local drugstore. Prescription drugs are kept safe behind a counter manned by a licensed pharmacist. Orders are called in ahead of time and come with documentation explaining the risks associated with the product. Supplements come with no such safeguards. You can pluck them off a drugstore shelf without thinking twice. Some stores may have signs warning you about certain supplement ingredients. But if you have specific questions, you might be out of luck. Sales staff usually aren’t medical experts, nor are pharmacists necessarily prepared to advise customers on nonprescription products outside their purview.
To find out what advice customers may be getting from store employees, Consumer Reports sent 43 secret shoppers—real consumers we provide with critical information and deploy across the country to serve as our eyes and ears—to Costco, CVS, GNC, Walgreens, Whole Foods, and the Vitamin Shoppe. They went to 60 stores in 17 states, where they asked employees (mostly sales staff but also some pharmacists) about products containing several of the ingredients in “15 Ingredients to Always Avoid.”
Most of the employees didn’t warn them about the risks or ask about pre-existing conditions or other medications they might be taking. Many gave information that was either misleading or flat-out wrong.
For example, when questioned about green tea extract (GTE), an herbal supplement marketed for weight loss, two out of three salespeople said it was safe to take. None warned that the herb has been found to alter the effectiveness of a long list of drugs, including certain antidepressants and anticlotting drugs. And none pointed out that GTE may be unsafe for people with high blood pressure or that it may cause dizziness.
Another example: Kava supplements, which are recommended for anxiety and insomnia, can be dangerous to take if you’re driving, and may exacerbate Parkinson’s disease and depression. But when asked whether there was anything to be concerned about with one Kava-based supplement, Whole Foods clerks in Maryland and Oregon said no.
Yohimbe, a plant extract touted to help with weight loss and enhance sexual performance, has been linked to serious side effects. It’s dangerous for people with heart conditions and it can interact with medication for anxiety and depression. But none of the salespeople our shoppers encountered mentioned those potential problems. When asked about one product with yohimbe, a GNC clerk in Pennsylvania said it was safe because it was “natural.”
Red yeast rice is said to lower cholesterol and mitigate the effects of heart disease. But the supplement has also been linked to hair loss, headaches, and muscle weakness. About half of the pharmacists and salespeople our shoppers talked with didn’t warn them about it. Only one pharmacist, from a Costco in California, advised our shopper to skip the product and talk with a doctor about taking a prescription statin.
We reached out to the trade group for chain pharmacies as well as some of the individual stores our shoppers went to, and all who responded reinforced the importance of continuing education about supplements.
The Right Role for Doctors?
Diane Van Kempen, a retired schoolteacher from Franklin Lakes, N.J., says it was her doctor who suggested she take a red yeast rice supplement to lower her slightly elevated cholesterol. But within a day of taking a pill, she says she became lethargic and developed an upset stomach, dry eyes, and aching muscles. Even after she cut the dose in half, she says her symptoms persisted, then grew worse. Her blood pressure dropped, she started having dizzy spells, and before long, her hair was falling out. “That’s when I stopped taking the supplement,” she says.
Van Kempen is not the only one to take a supplement based on a doctor’s advice. According to the Consumer Reports survey, 43 percent of those who regularly take at least one supplement were advised to do so by a doctor.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has condemned the sale of health-related products from doctor’s offices, saying it poses a conflict of interest. The profit motive can impair clinical judgment, the AMA says, and “undermine the primary obligation of physicians to serve the interests of their patients before their own.”
Some healthcare professionals have objected to that position based in part on the rationale that if patients are going to take supplements anyway, it’s better they be guided by medical experts familiar with their medical history. “Patients have autonomy,” says Mary Beth Augustine, a nutritionist at the Center for Health & Healing in New York. “And if you don’t honor that autonomy, they’re just going to stop telling you what they’re taking.”
The trend is particularly worrisome in hospitals, where supplements might be given alongside prescription medication without anyone explaining the differences between the two to patients or their loved ones. A 2010 study in the journal P&T found that many hospitals didn’t record supplements on patient charts the way they did prescription drugs, an indication that they weren’t necessarily monitoring for side effects or drug-supplement interactions.
Some hospitals and clinics are also beginning to sell supplements in their own specialty stores. Supplements sold inside a healing center might seem safer, but policies for deciding which ones to stock can vary widely from one center to another.
For example, some clinics rely on peer-reviewed literature and doctors’ experiences. “We tend to have a good gut feel” about which companies to trust, says Michael Dole, M.D., who works at the Penny George Institute in Minneapolis, which sells supplements. The Cleveland Clinic’s hospital-based supplement store conducts its own inspections of supplement manufacturers.
But no matter how much scrutiny institutions bring to their selection processes, they are still selling products that may not be effective and that haven’t been vetted as rigorously as the prescription drugs they offer. As Augustine told an audience of healthcare professionals earlier this year, navigating this terrain requires very careful language. “I’m never going to say to a patient that [a supplement] is safe,” she said. “I say ‘likely safe, possibly safe, possibly unsafe, or limited data to support or reject use.’ Am I being overly cautious? Yes.”
Making Supplements Safer
The lawsuit against Yale-New Haven Hospital and Solgar is still pending. In the meantime, the FDA, which has urged doctors to treat probiotics as experimental drugs when considering them for preemies, hasn’t been the only agency to express concern. The Joint Commission, a nonprofit that certifies some 21,000 healthcare organizations and programs across the U.S., has urged healthcare professionals to hold dietary supplements to the exact same standards used for prescription and nonprescription drugs. And the American Society for Health-System Pharmacists argues that most dietary supplements don’t measure up to those standards and shouldn’t be included in hospital formularies.
“The right thing to do is to tell patients the truth,” says Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., a bioethicist at NYU Langone Medical Center. “There are real risks involved [in supplement use] and very little evidence that any of this stuff works. Period.”
Ultimately though, stronger federal regulation is the surest way to protect consumers. “Congress needs to step in,” says Chuck Bell, programs director for the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports. “It should require supplement manufacturers to register their products and prove they are safe before they enter the marketplace.”
Some people say that major changes are going to be a tough sell. “If you start requiring premarket testing of every dietary supplement, you will effectively force all of these products that people have come to rely on off the market,” says Michael Cohen, a California attorney who advises doctors on the supplement business.
Still, there are a few signs that change is already afoot. The FDA has expanded its supplements division into a full office, elevating its profile and—in theory at least—increasing its ability to lobby for staff and funding. And Joshua Sharfstein, M.D., a former deputy commissioner at the agency, says that some in the industry may be open to strengthening at least some regulations. “We may be just one crisis away from that,” he says.
Additional reporting by Laurie Tarkan and Rachel Rabkin Peachman
Dietary supplements are not regulated the same way as medications. Consumer Reports gives you a complete guide to supplement safety.
It is common knowledge that antidepressants can take weeks or even months to start working. But it has been a mystery why antidepressants take so long to take effect. But now there is a ray of light in the darkness. The slowness with which antidepressants take effect has been correlated with the slowness of a mechanism quite apart from the binding of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, with serotonin transporters. This binding can occur within minutes. SSRIs, it turns out, also act through another process, the redistribution of G proteins, the slowness of which correlates with the delay in lifting depression through SSRIs.
The new finding comes from researchers based at the University of Illinois at Chicago. These researchers, led by neuroscientist Mark Rasenick, Ph.D., long suspected that the delayed drug response involved certain signaling molecules in nerve cell membranes called G proteins. Previous research by Dr. Rasenick’s group showed that in people with depression, G proteins tended to congregate in lipid rafts, areas of the membrane rich in cholesterol. Stranded on the rafts, the G proteins lacked access to a molecule called cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), which they need in order to function. The dampened signaling could be why people with depression are “numb” to their environment, Dr. Rasenick reasoned.
In the lab, Dr. Rasenick bathed rat glial cells, a type of brain cell, with different SSRIs and located the G proteins within the cell membrane. He found that SSRIs accumulated in the lipid rafts over time—and as they did so, G proteins in the rafts decreased.
Details of this work appeared July 18 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, in an article entitled, “Antidepressants Accumulate in Lipid Rafts Independent of Monoamine Transporters to Modulate Redistribution of the G protein, Gαs.”
“Since antidepressants appear to specifically modify Gαs localized to lipid rafts, we sought to determine whether structurally diverse antidepressants, accumulate in lipid rafts,” wrote the article’s authors. “Sustained treatment of C6 glioma cells, which lack 5HT [5-hydroxytryptamine, or serotonin] transporters, showed marked concentration of several antidepressants in raft fractions, as revealed by increased absorbance and by mass fingerprint.”
The scientists noted that closely related molecules that lacked antidepressant activity did not concentrate in raft fractions. Following up on this observation, the scientists determined that at least two classes of antidepressants accumulate in lipid rafts and effect translocation of Gαs to the nonraft membrane fraction where it activates the cAMP-signaling cascade.
“The process showed a time-lag consistent with other cellular actions of antidepressants,” said Dr. Rasenick. “It’s likely that this effect on the movement of G proteins out of the lipid rafts toward regions of the cell membrane where they are better able to function is the reason these antidepressants take so long to work.”
“Determining the exact binding site could contribute to the design of novel antidepressants that speed the migration of G proteins out of the lipid rafts, so that the antidepressant effects might start to be felt sooner.”
The authors of the article concluded that analysis of the structural determinants of raft localization could not only help to explain the hysteresis of antidepressant action, but also lead to design and development of novel substrates for depression therapeutics.
Dr. Rasenick already knows a little about the lipid raft binding site. When he doused rat neurons with an SSRI called escitalopram and a molecule that was its mirror image, only the right-handed form bound to the lipid raft. “This very minor change in the molecule prevents it from binding,” explained Dr. Rasenick, “so that helps narrow down some of the characteristics of the binding site.”
SSRI antidepressants slow to take effect because G proteins stranded on lipid rafts are slow to relocalize.
A new map based on brain scan data collected by the Human Connectome Project. The data revealed 180 new regions. Credit Matthew F. Glasser, David C. Van Essen
The brain looks like a featureless expanse of folds and bulges, but it’s actually carved up into invisible territories. Each is specialized: Some groups of neurons become active when we recognize faces, others when we read, others when we raise our hands.
On Wednesday, in what many experts are calling a milestone in neuroscience, researchers published a spectacular new map of the brain, detailing nearly 100 previously unknown regions — an unprecedented glimpse into the machinery of the human mind.
Scientists will rely on this guide as they attempt to understand virtually every aspect of the brain, from how it develops in children and ages over decades, to how it can be corrupted by diseases like Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.
“It’s a step towards understanding why we’re we,” said David Kleinfeld, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in the research.
Scientists created the map with advanced scanners and computers running artificial intelligence programs that “learned” to identify the brain’s hidden regions from vast amounts of data collected from hundreds of test subjects, a far more sophisticated and broader effort than had been previously attempted.
While an important advance, the new atlas is hardly the final word on the brain’s workings. It may take decades for scientists to figure out what each region is doing, and more will be discovered in coming decades.
“This map you should think of as version 1.0,” said Matthew F. Glasser, a neuroscientist at Washington University School of Medicine and lead author of the new research. “There may be a version 2.0 as the data get better and more eyes look at the data. We hope the map can evolve as the science progresses.”
Continue reading the main story
THE MAP MAKERS
The Brain, in Exquisite Detail JAN. 6, 2014
Project Seeks to Build Map of Human Brain FEB. 17, 2013
Mapping the Highways of the Brain JAN. 6, 2014
The first hints of the brain’s hidden geography emerged more than 150 years ago. In the 1860s, the physician Pierre Paul Broca was intrigued by two of his patients who were unable to speak.
After they died, Broca examined their brains. On the outer layer, called the cortex, he found that both had suffered damage to the same patch of tissue.
That region came to be known as Broca’s area. In recent decades, scientists have found that it becomes active when people speak and when they try to understand the speech of other people.
The left hemisphere of the brain’s cerebral cortex, showing areas with high myelin in red and yellow, and areas with low myelin in indigo and blue. Credit Matthew F. Glasser, David C. Van Essen
In the late 1800s, a group of German researchers identified other regions of the cortex, each having distinct types of cells packed together in unique ways. In 1907, Korbinian Brodmann published a catalog of 52 brain regions.
Neuroscientists have relied on his hand-drawn map ever since, adding a modest number of new regions with their own research. “This is the standard for where you are in the brain,” said Dr. Glasser.
Three years ago, Dr. Glasser and his colleagues set out to create a new standard. They drew on data collected by the Human Connectome Project, in which 1,200 volunteers were studied with powerful new scanners.
The project team recorded high-resolution images of each participant’s brain, and then recorded its activity during hours of tests on memory, language and other kinds of thought.
In previous attempts to map the cortex, scientists typically had looked only at one kind of evidence at a time — say, the arrangements of cells. The Human Connectome Project has made it possible to study the brain in much greater detail.
In addition to looking at the activity of the brain, the scientists also looked at its anatomy. They measured the amount of myelin, for example, a fatty substance that insulated neurons. They found sharp contrasts in myelin levels from one region of the cortex to the next.
“We have 112 different types of information we can tap into,” said David C. Van Essen, a principal investigator with the Human Connectome Project at Washington University Medical School.
Using these variables, the scientists trained a computer with data from 210 brains to recognize discrete regions of the cortex. Once the computer profiled the distinctive combinations of myelin, activity and other characteristics, they tested it on 210 other brains.
The computer pinpointed the regions in the new brains 96.6 percent of the time. The scientists found that only a small number of features were required to map the brain. That means that researchers will be able to use their method to map an individual’s brain in a little over an hour of scanning.
The map produced by the computer includes 83 familiar regions, such as Broca’s area, but includes 97 that were unknown — or just forgotten.
In the 1950s, for example, German researchers noticed a patch on the side of the brain in which neurons had little myelin, compared with neighboring regions. But the finding was soon neglected.
A brain scan showing the pattern of brain activation in the left hemisphere when listening to stories while in a scanner. Credit Matthew F. Glasser, David C. Van Essen
“People tended to ignore it, and it was lost in the literature,” said Dr. Van Essen.
The computer rediscovered the odd territory, and Dr. Van Essen and his colleagues found that it becomes unusually active when people listen to stories. That finding suggests the region, which they call 55b, is part of a language network in the brain, along with Broca’s area.
In other parts of the cortex, the scientists were able to partition previously identified regions into smaller ones. For example, they discovered that a large region near the front of the brain, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, actually is made up of a dozen smaller zones.
The region becomes active during many different kinds of thought, ranging from decision-making to deception. It’s possible that each of the newly identified smaller parts is important for one of those tasks.
The computer program developed by the scientists became so adept at mapping the cortex that it could identify hidden regions even when they took on unusual shapes. Twelve of the research subjects, for example, have a 55b region that’s split into two isolated patches. (The researchers don’t know whether this affects how the subjects use language.)
Other neuroscientists hope that the new map will sharpen their experiments, allowing them to discover how the brain’s cogs mesh.
“The next big step is seeing what this can do for us in terms of buying more power,” said Emily S. Finn, a graduate student at Yale University who has used Human Connectome Project data to find links between brain activity and intelligence.
Dr. Kleinfeld predicted that other researchers will find ways to verify the new map’s accuracy. Genetic testing, for example: If 180 regions of the cortex really are distinct, then the neurons in each should share a distinct combination of active genes.
“You can imagine going to these 180 regions, taking a punch of tissue, and seeing if you can really genetically differentiate them,” said Dr. Kleinfeld.
Many experts believe that the brain, on closer inspection, will turn out to be an even greater collective of regions that somehow cooperate for the common good.
“It’s very clear that many of those regions are likely to be composed of smaller pieces,” said Danielle S. Bassett, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Van Essen said that he and other scientists will be using the map to track the development of young brains and to look for changes caused by disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
“We shouldn’t expect miracles and easy answers,” he said, “but we’re positioned to accelerate progress.”
Data from 1,200 brain scans performed as part of the Human Connectome Project allowed researchers to unveil the brain’s hidden geography.
As part of the research conducted at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the University of Virginia, scientists keyed in on an immune system molecule called interferon gamma. This particular immune system molecule is activated in certain animals – including humans – when they want to be social. Scientists conducting the immune system experiments blocked the interferon gamma molecule, inhibiting from activating, and the results were eye-opening. When the immune system molecule was blocked, the brains of the mice became ‘hyperactive,’ and that the mice no longer tended towards socialization with their cage mates, something that mice – being incredibly social creatures – are usually prone to do. The conclusions were quickly assessed: manipulation of the immune system had a direct effect on behavior.Conversely, when the scientists discontinued their blockage of the immune system molecule, allowing it to once again operate freely in the brain, the mice calmed down and returned to their normal, social behavior.
One of the study’s authors, Johathan Kipnis, chair of the University of Virginia’s Department of Neuroscience, commented on the findings.
“It’s like a little airport in a small city suddenly becomes a major hub and so there’s a mess of traffic congestion in the air. ‘Same thing happens with the brain, so the brain cannot function properly.”
The question of why our immune systems and our personalities are so interconnected was also broached by the authors of the study. They have postulated that the connection may actually be an evolutionary mechanism built in to help a species survive. The linkage exists, encouraging social creatures to interact and yet boosting our immune systems at the same time to protect both the individual and the group.
As of now, the immune system experiment has only been conducted on mice, but there is a belief that the immune system – personality connection also exists in humans. This linkage is now leading scientists to believe that they may be on the verge of breakthroughs in how to best treat people with neurological disorders like schizophrenia and autism.
Further study will examine how directly the correlation between the immune system and behaviors reacts in both directions. That is, the recent study from the University of Virginia suggested that manipulating the immune system directly effects behavior.
But, does changing one’s behavior – as has long been postulated by scientists – actually alter the immune system? The correlation between so-called “happy” individuals and stronger immune systems, and “sad” or “depressed” individuals and weaker immune systems has been supposed for years… and it now appears that the immune system molecule isolated by the authors of this study – published in Nature – could be the smoking gun in that supposition.
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Despite the common practice of treating children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) using medications such as Adderall or Ritalin, a new study suggests another way to do so: promoting health lifestyle habits. The study examined 184 children with ADHD and 104 without the disorder, all between the ages of 7 and 11. The results revealed that children with ADHD were less likely to exhibit the healthy behaviors outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Sleep Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Advertisement The guidelines include no more than one to two hours of TV, computers and video games per day, at least one hour of physical activity per day and consumption of seven to 10 cups of water per day. The study suggests that if children with ADHD integrate these behaviors into their lifestyle, they could experience improvements in their disorder. “Many parents of children diagnosed with ADHD do not want their children on medication,” said Kathleen Holton of American University and lead author of the study. “Having their children follow healthy lifestyle behaviors may be an effective intervention, either alongside or in the place of traditional ADHD medications.” “Parents of children with ADHD should talk with their pediatrician about how to improve health behaviors, such as limiting screen time, encouraging physical activity, improving bedtime routines and drinking water rather than other beverages,” she said. Making lifestyle-changing and -altering behavior can reduce the effects of detrimental behaviors and increase the presence of healthy behaviors. “For example, physical activity increases thirst, making water consumption more attractive,” Holton said. “Physical activity can also offset screen time and can improve sleep. Similarly, removal of caffeinated beverages prevents their diuretic effect, helps increase water consumption and can help prevent sleep disturbance.” Indeed, a separate study published in the Journal of Sleep Research earlier this month found that children with ADHD have a harder time getting to sleep compared to other children. “As research into health outcomes in children with ADHD continues to provide new insights, focusing on the overall number of healthy lifestyle behaviors may become important,” Holton concluded. The findings were published April 28 in the Journal of Attention Disorders
Fish oil, Vitamin D and other nutrients appear to raise the potency of medication
The multibillion-dollar supplement industry spews many dubious claims, but a new study suggests that some nutritional supplements, including omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, may boost the effectiveness of antidepressants. If so, the supplements might help relieve symptoms for the millions of people who don’t immediately respond to these drugs.
The meta-analysis—published Tuesday in the American Journal of Psychiatry—reviewed the results of 40 clinical trials that evaluated the effects of taking nutritional supplements in conjunction with several major classes of antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants. It revealed that four supplements in particular upped the potency of the medications, compared with a placebo.
The researchers, based at Harvard University and the University of Melbourne, found the strongest evidence for an omega-3 fish oil called eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA. In general, people with depression who took an antidepressant drug and an omega-3 sourced from fish oil experienced a significant reduction in their symptoms as assessed by a the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, a common measure used by most of the studies in the review. The same was true, although to a lesser extent, for S-adenosylmethionine, methylfolate (a form of the B vitamin folic acid) and Vitamin D. A few isolated studies found some benefit from augmenting treatment with creatine, while adding zinc, vitamin C, the amino acid tryptophan and folic acid produced mixed results. The authors deemed all of these supplements relatively safe.
Lead study author Jerome Sarris of the University of Melbourne’s ARCADIA Mental Health Research Group notes that a large percentage of people with depression do not fully respond during one or two trials of an antidepressant. By some estimates, two-thirds don’t respond to the first antidepressant they try and a third fail to get better after several treatment attempts. “The implications are that clinicians and the public can consider [adding] therapeutic doses of nutrients such as omega-3s as a potential low-cost approach to reducing depression in people who are non-responsive to antidepressants,” he says.
Sarris and his colleagues speculate that the supplements may enhance the efficacy of antidepressants in various ways, perhaps directly by altering neurostransmitter activity or indirectly by reducing inflammation, known to contribute to depression. Leading nutritional psychiatry researcher Felice N. Jacka of Deakin University and the University of Melbourne explains that conditions like depression can trigger a cascade of physical concerns that certain supplements, when combined with accepted antidepressant therapies, could help mitigate.
“Serious illnesses such as major depression can result in increased inflammation and oxidative stress, which can in turn result in nutritional deficiencies and a depletion of essential fatty acids,” she notes. “Nutrients form the substrate of the essential biological processes of the body and brain, so ensuring that nutrient levels are adequate in patients suffering from any serious illnesses is important.”
Doctors and scientists often come down hard on nutritional supplementation. There is little to no scientific evidence backing many of the products crowding the shelves at health food stores and pushed by celebrity doctors. In fact, many come in mega-doses associated with serious side effects. And countless manufacturers produce these supplements, many with no standardized processes and varying degrees of quality control.
Indeed, the supplement industry exists largely outside of any oversight by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In December last year, the FDA announced the formation of a new Office of Dietary Supplement Programs to help tighten regulation, but for now when it comes to supplements, consumers often don’t know what they are getting.
Sarris acknowledges that supplements can differ greatly in quality and that his results should be approached with caution. “We’re not telling people to rush out and buy buckets of supplements,” he wrote in a press release accompanying the new paper. “Always speak to your medical professional before changing or initiating a treatment.”
But researchers like Sarris are gradually disentangling potential fact from fiction. A number of vitamins and supplements are coming under scientific scrutiny. Vitamin D in particular has been the focus of a host of recent studies and may be beneficial in treating a variety of conditions, from multiple sclerosis to schizophrenia.
For brain health, all—or at least most—roads lead to the sea. Many small trials have reported associations between omega-3 fatty acids—obtained either through diet or supplements—and improved depression symptoms. In practice, omega-3s derived from fish appear to reach significantly higher blood levels than those sourced from plants. And there is a fast accumulating body of data linking a reduced risk for depression to traditional diets—including the Mediterranean, Scandinavian and Japanese diets—that are high in vegetables, whole grains and fish.
How does the evidence sit in light of the new study’s findings? “It is important to advise that a balanced whole-food diet is important for physical as well as mental health, and that supplements should not replace this,” Sarris notes. “However, I believe a good diet in addition to select nutraceutical prescriptions can still be recommended in some cases, such as when people have inadequate responses to antidepressant medication.”
As a next step, Sarris believes that researchers should move beyond specific supplements and study augmenting antidepressant treatment with, say, the Mediterranean diet. Both he and Jacka also feel that more work needs to be done to determine which supplements may benefit patients as individuals, based on their specific nutrient deficiencies, brain conditions and genetic profiles.
“A key imperative for nutritional psychiatry is to develop a clear understanding of what supplements are useful for whom, and under what conditions, and also to understand the baseline factors that might influence nutrient metabolism, such as gut health,” Jacka says. “This sort of knowledge should help us to begin to design targeted and personalized nutritional interventions for psychiatric illnesses.”
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Back when Europe was stone huts and the Mayans were playing soccer, the Chinese were drinking tea. Tea goes back at least 5,000 years as medicine and more than 1,000 years as a simple beverage. Made from the leaves of a bush related to flowering camellia, tea has had a starring role in major features such as the American Revolution and Zen Buddhism. The Japanese regard tea so highly that they’ve created a ceremony for it, and a separate little tea house in which to serve it.
The tea ceremony is remarkable in that it dramatizes tea’s physical effects on the human body. Tea causes changes in body chemistry that rejuvenate, relax, enhance the ability to think, and change mood.1-6 The biochemical changes provoked by tea are scientifically supported, and they’re not due to caffeine.6
Among the latest discoveries about tea is that it can prevent depression and lower blood pressure.7,8 Both green and black teas have beneficial health effects, the main difference being that black tea is oxidized. That would seem to destroy tea’s bioactivity, but it does not. Black tea continues to prove itself in scientific studies. Researchers with the US Department of Agriculture, for example, recently reported that five cups of black tea a day can lower potentially harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol in people with mildly elevated cholesterol.9
Black tea has benefits, but green tea has undergone more investigation, especially in Japan, where it’s the most popular beverage. Many new reports have come out about green tea’s amino acid, theanine, since Life Extension introduced it. The only other known source of this unique amino acid is a mushroom.10 Discovered in 1949, yet just now undergoing substantial research, theanine occupies a place on the shelf quite different from that of other dietary supplements. It has to do with the tea ceremony.
Millions of Americans will have trouble sleeping tonight. They won’t be able to fall asleep, won’t be able to stay asleep, or won’t feel like they slept. The primary reason is stress, followed by illness, inactivity, medications, and bad sleep environment. The net effect is a lot of grouchy, depressed, and accident-prone people.11 Most won’t see a doctor, even though insomnia can lead to depression, traffic accidents, and a pink slip. Instead, most people will reach for America’s favorite drug: caffeine.
Every day, millions of people take caffeine in one form or another. It’s not only in coffee, it’s in fruity sodas, over-the-counter drugs, and diet elixirs. “Energy drinks” and espresso are popular caffeine fixes with megadoses of caffeine. Caffeine keeps Americans alert during the day, but it has a price. It can stay in the body for about 10 hours. That’s if you have a fully functioning liver. If you drink alcohol or take cimetidine (Tagamet®) and other drugs, it will stick around even longer.12,13 That means the cappuccino you had at three in the afternoon is still around at midnight.
To relax at night, Americans don’t have many choices except prescription sleeping pills. But these drugs don’t work for everyone, and have undesirable side effects. Better solutions are needed.
Tea Ceremony in a Capsule
Relaxation, rejuvenation, focus. The tea ceremony energizes without draining, calms without putting to sleep, and motivates without causing a jagged edge. Although tea can have as much or more caffeine than some coffees, it doesn’t have the same “speedy” effect.14,15 The reason is its secret ingredient, L-theanine. Research shows that L-theanine neutralizes the speedy, jagged, bad effects of caffeine without reducing its mind-energizing, fat-burning features.16,17
L-theanine’s effect on the brain can be visualized on an EEG. Brain waves are actually smoothed out—but not flattened out—by supplemental L-theanine.16 The body is relaxed, the mind is calmed, but no drowsiness occurs.5 This is exactly the type of relaxation prescribed by sleep therapists. The person seeking help will be asked to listen to music or engage in a similarly relaxing activity immediately before retiring. Studies show that pre-sleep relaxation is very effective against insomnia, even in tough cases.18-20
Falling asleep is one thing; staying asleep and getting quality sleep is another. Researchers in Japan gave volunteers 200 mg of L-theanine daily and recorded their sleep patterns on devices worn around their wrists. The L-theanine didn’t cause the subjects to sleep longer, but it did cause them to sleep better. It was documented that sleep quality, recovery from exhaustion, and refreshed feelings were all enhanced by L-theanine. Those taking L-theanine felt like they slept longer than they actually did.21 This is good news for people who don’t get enough sleep, or those who want to sleep less and do more.
One of the other effects of the tea ceremony is that it leaves people in a better mood. Knowing that L-theanine can cross the blood-brain barrier and positively affect brain chemistry, scientists investigated its mood-modulating effects. The results of those studies have led to L-theanine being patented as a mood enhancer.22 How it works is not completely understood, but one thing researchers have discovered is that L-theanine changes levels of amino acids affecting serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain.5
Balancing Brain Chemistry
Memory impairment is frequently associated with old age or Alzheimer’s disease, but there are other causes. Stress and depression, for example, cause memory loss. Although usually thought of as mere psychological states, stress and depression cause physical changes in body chemistry. The brain is notably affected.
Stress hormones known as glucocorticoids are activated by both stress and depression. In turn, they cause imbalances in brain chemistry that interfere with mood and memory.23-26 The effect is biochemical. Glucocorticoids disrupt serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and other brain chemicals.27,28 These “neurotransmitters” are the target of prescription antidepressants such as Prozac® and Wellbutrin®. And it has been shown that glucocorticoids can interfere with the ability of Prozac® and other drugs to work.29 Worse still, glucocorticoids can cause the brain to shrink.30,31 Counteracting glucocorticoids is extremely important.
Drugs that block glucocorticoids have been proposed as a treatment for depression, and strangely enough, people have been treated successfully with ketoconazole (Nizoral®), an antifungal drug with the side effect of suppressing glucocorticoids.32,33 Theanine also suppresses glucocorticoids, and it is one of the few dietary supplements that crosses the blood-brain barrier.
Theanine’s connection to the suppression of glucocorticoids is through glutamate. Researchers have discovered that this natural component of brain chemistry, which is not traditionally associated with depression, in fact plays a major role.34 In people who are depressed, glutamate levels are out of balance.35 Preliminary studies show that blocking certain signals in the brain activated by glutamate may be as effective as prescription antidepressants.36,37 L-theanine may act as a glutamate antagonist.38 Researchers believe that glutamate receptor antagonists may offset the harmful effects of high glucocorticoid levels and offer neuroprotective effects against both acute and chronic neurodegenerative diseases.39
Glutamate-activated signals not only affect mood, they affect memory and learning.40 Memory and learning are similar biochemical processes in the brain. If an animal can’t remember, it can’t learn. Stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and alcohol all cause memory loss involving disruptions in glutamate-related signals that inhibit the storage and retrieval of memories.41-44
If theanine is present in the body at the time stroke occurs, the damaged area will be significantly reduced.45 This is supported by a Chinese study of 14,000 people, which found that drinking tea slashes the risk of stroke by 40%.46 Maintaining healthy levels of L-theanine and other tea-related compounds in the body may thus help prevent memory loss and stroke-induced damage to brain tissue.
Balancing the Liver: Alcohol
Another part of the body that responds positively to theanine is the liver. Research from Japan shows that theanine is a powerful antidote to the effects of alcohol. If theanine is given to mice before or after they drink alcohol, it significantly lowers blood levels of alcohol.47 It works by modulating alcohol chemistry.
Alcohol is converted to a toxic chemical known as acetaldehyde, which is similar to formaldehyde and more toxic than alcohol itself. Theanine accelerates the break- down of acetaldehyde and blocks toxic radicals.47 The remarkable powers of theanine to intercept free radicals was demonstrated in the same study. It not only blocked radicals caused by alcohol, it suppressed levels to below normal for five hours.
One reason theanine is able to reverse damage caused by alcohol is that it restores the liver’s all-purpose antioxidant and detoxifier known as glutathione. Drinking alcohol causes significant suppression of this critical factor. If the suppression is infrequent, the liver bounces back; if suppression is chronic, however, the liver can’t overcome the stress. It breaks down and the effects are felt throughout the body. Theanine helps counteract the alcohol-induced loss of glutathione.47
Glutathione is not only something people who drink alcohol have to worry about, it’s something that oncologists have to worry about. Depletion of glutathione in vital organs like the heart is a major cause of chemotherapy toxicity. Because of it, some drugs that could otherwise be useful in treating certain types of cancers can’t be used. Researchers looking into the possibility of adding theanine to chemotherapy have found that it counteracts drug-induced losses of glutathione in vital organs like the heart, but not in tumors.48 In fact, it blocks tumors from getting glutathione, thus enabling some types of chemotherapeutic drugs to work better.49 By enhancing glutathione where it’s beneficial and reducing it where it’s not, theanine again shows its propensity to restore balance.
Balancing Fat and Muscle
If there’s one place people want to restore balance, it’s in the area of body fat. As everyone knows,when fat loss is the goal, calorie expenditure is the game plan. One of the differences in people who are overweight and those who are not is that overweight people sit about two hours longer every day.50 Clearly, inactivity causes imbalance in the system, yet the mere thought of exercising makes some people tired. Motivation is lacking, and they might as well try to climb Mt. Everest as do a round on the stair climber.
But what if they really did have to climb Mt. Everest? Researchers in the United Kingdom made a surprising discovery in a study of mountain climbers. Hot tea, they found out, does wonders for fatigue and vigor (as in let’s get up and go!).51 Finnish researchers made a similar discovery when questioning people about depression. None of the subjects who drank five or more cups of tea a day was depressed, whereas those drinking no tea had the highest rate of depression.7 Neither research team attributed the motivational effects of tea to caffeine. Caffeine is effective for a different aspect of weight loss: speeding up metabolism. But 100 milligrams of caffeine only increases the resting metabolic rate 3-4%.52 Upping the dose can leave a person tired and shaky. So, caffeine by itself isn’t the answer to weight loss. Enter green tea.
Researchers know that green tea extract promotes thermogenesis above and beyond its caffeine content.53 They have been aware for several years that compounds in green tea increase caffeine’s calorie-burning effects. What those compounds are was a mystery until Japanese researchers decided to look into it in 2004. They divided green tea into its various components and investigated how catechins, theanine, caffeine, and green tea powder itself affect weight gain in female mice.54 They found that all the components suppressed weight gain. Green tea powder, catechins, and theanine also reduced triglyceride levels. The researchers concluded that not only can caffeine help prevent weight gain and fat accumulation, but theanine can, too. It’s not known whether the same results occur in humans.
In Japan, you will more likely find theanine in your beverage than caffeine. The Japanese value the rejuvenating, mind-clearing qualities of theanine. It’s not surprising that something that restores balance is very popular in a culture where restoring balance is the foundation of medicine. Westerners would do well to take note of this gift from the East.
Theanine is unique in a sea of supplements that promise much but deliver little. It’s one of the few supplements that crosses the blood-brain barrier. Research to date indicates that theanine is very useful for restoring balance to systems neglected by people who are on the go. It helps counteract the stimulating effects of caffeine, but complements caffeine’s positive aspects such as fat burning. It relaxes and rejuvenates. It reduces alcohol levels in the bloodstream and supports liver health. It restores mood and motivation, increases thermogenesis, and protects the brain. Supplemental theanine thus helps recreate the calming and centering effects of a tea ceremony in a convenient and accessible form.
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Eating at least one serving of seafood a week could help stave off Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study.
A strong case has been building for the role that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish could play in protecting against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. But questions remained about whether these benefits could be canceled out by the mercury in fish, which at high enough levels can be toxic to the brain. The new study suggests that is not the case.
Researchers delved into the complicated relationship between seafood, fatty acids, mercury and dementia among older adults living in the Chicago area. They surveyed the group about their diet every year starting in 1997, and in a subset of 286 participants who died between 2004 and 2013, they performed brain autopsies to look at the levels of mercury and whether there was neurological damage indicative of dementia.
There was indeed more mercury in the brains of participants who reported eating more seafood, but it did not appear to have any effect on whether there was neurological damage. Instead, participants who reported eating seafood at least once a week were less likely to have hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, including amyloid plaques, in their brain.
7 photos:7 ways to fight Alzheimer’s disease
“The findings were very striking,” said Martha Clare Morris, director of nutrition and nutritional epidemiology at Rush University Medical Center.
“Our hypothesis was that seafood consumption would be associated with less neuropathology, but that if there were higher levels of mercury in the brain, that would work against that. But we didn’t find that at all,” said Morris, who is lead author of the study, which was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The catch, however, is that the researchers only observed the benefit among participants who had a strong genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s. These participants carried a version of the APOE gene called APOE-4, which is associated with higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
The researchers ranked the amount of neurological damage they observed on a scale of 1 to 4, from no damage to highest level of damage. Among those who had the APOE-4 gene variant, they saw about half a point less in those who ate at least one serving of seafood a week, compared with less than one serving a week.
It is possible that people who do not harbor APOE-4 could still gain some smaller amount of protection from Alzheimer’s from seafood, but the current study was not big enough to detect it, Morris said.
“One theory is that seafood consumption may be more beneficial in older age because, as we age, we lose DHA in the brain,” a molecule that is important to maintain brain health, Morris said. DHA is one of the main fatty acids that can be obtained from fish. People with APOE-4 are thought to lose even more DHA in the brain, so seafood consumption could be even more beneficial to them, Morris added.
The benefit of fatty acid may not be limited to just Alzheimer’s. The researchers found that participants who reported eating a diet rich in a type of fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, which is found in vegetable oils, nuts and soy, had less damage in their brain that is characteristic of vascular dementia. Vascular dementia, which is less common than Alzheimer’s, occurs when blood vessels become blocked and cut off oxygen to the brain.
“The evidence is quite clear that people who consume healthier forms of fish [which are baked or broiled rather than fried] are going to end up with healthier brains,” said James T. Becker, professor of psychiatry and associate director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, who was not involved in the current study.
As for whether mercury increases the risk of dementia, “I personally don’t think there’s evidence for it. I think these heavy metals are going to do other things first,” such as causing nerve pain, itching or burning, Becker said.
This study could not rule on whether people who regularly select seafood that tends to be higher in mercury, such as tuna and swordfish, have problems associated with the higher mercury exposure. The researchers did not drill down to find out all the types of fish participants ate.
Morris pointed out that the types of seafood most commonly consumed by Americans — shrimp, salmon, tilapia — are low in mercury. The one exception is canned tuna, which can be high in mercury.
The current study found the benefit of eating seafood for brain health maxes out at one serving per week. More than that did not bestow participants with any additional protection from the types of brain damage associated with dementia.
This suggests that you might not have to meet the 8 ounces of seafood, about two servings, a week that the U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommends to reap the brain health benefits. “Three ounces could give you that protection,” Morris said.
It is still possible that certain kinds of seafood consumption could have a dark side in terms of brain health. “Our findings can’t be generalized to people who are really high consumers of seafood,” Morris said. In the Midwest population in the study, very few ate seafood every day.
The current study did not address whether participants whose brains had endured less damage also exhibited fewer symptoms of dementia when they were alive. However another study will be coming out soon that looks at the relationship between seafood consumption and cognitive decline in this group of older adults, Morris said.
A comprehensive review, which has sifted through data from 70 trials of the most popular drugs for the treatment of depression, shows that antidepressants may up risk of suicide, aggression. Study authors also found that big pharmas often fail to report critical side-effects of their products along with drug-related deaths.
The review found that antidepressants may make underage patients more prone to adopt an aggressive behavior. Still, no such side-effect was found in adults, though researchers suspect that some trial data may be misreported.
Nevertheless, researchers have suspected for years that antidepressants may boost risk of suicide as families have often complained that the drugs were behind their loved ones’ tragic end. But antidepressant makers and doctors have dismissed such claims because no comprehensive study has ever found a link between the two.
The research review which comprises data on more than 18,000 patients is considered the largest to date. It was carried out by a team at the Nordic Cochrane Center in Denmark, and reviewed by University College London in the U.K.
After analyzing trial data and comparing it to reports submitted by families of people who committed suicide, researchers found that the companies who funded the trials have often misclassified the deaths to their products’ benefit.
Study authors were startled and ‘deeply worried’ by the unprecedented situation.
“It is absolutely horrendous that they have such disregard for human lives.”
said Prof. Peter Gotzsche, lead author of the research and mental heart expert with the Copenhagen-based Nordic Cochrane Center.
In the U.S., antidepressant use saw a tremendous rise in just two decades. Currently, one in ten people take antidepressants on prescription, while one in four middle-aged women take the drugs.
But this doesn’t mean that the U.S. was hit by a tidal wave of depression in recent years. In fact, doctors often prescribe the drugs for off-label uses such as dependence, ADHD and autism in children, anxiety, and eating disorders.
Nordic Cochrane Centre researchers found that at least four deaths by suicide were misreported by a pharmaceutical company. In one case, a patient tried to kill himself after taking venlafaxine, but since he died days later in a hospital his death was no longer considered to having occured during the trial. Suicidal attempts were often mislabeled as a sign of either emotional instability or depression.
The review also found that though antidepressants do not seem to work on children they do boost their risk of suicide. This is why, study authors believe that it is better to follow alternative courses of actions including psychotherapy, art therapy, and exercise before resorting to medications.
American healthcare has received heavy criticism in recent decades due to its cost/outcome profile. The sources of poor performance in the United States are many, to be sure, and yet one source rarely gets mentioned, namely, primary care. Anyone following healthcare trends in the United States over the past decade will find few critiques of the deficiencies of primary care. In fact, the press clippings for primary care highlight the positive: a desire for more primary care providers (PCPs); a call for more coordination of care by PCPs; and the development of supportive structures around PCPs called “medical homes” and “accountable care organizations.” One would assume that primary care is working well and that we just need to expand it in various ways. Yet, there is a body of information, both vast and well-known, if not well understood, that would suggest otherwise. Why then is everyone eager for more of the same?The first answer to this question is that there is nothing wrong with primary care practitioners. They work hard, for less money than other medical specialists, and help their patients in many ways. To be clear, PCPs are not the problem with primary care. Instead, primary care is underfunded and is not structured with the right players and the right practice leaders. Another way of saying this is that the problem lies within the primary care setting, and I will argue that current proposals for medical homes and accountable care organizations will not fix this clinical delivery dysfunction. I will propose an alternative structure that delivers better care.We know that 70 percent of primary care visits stem from psychosocial issues1. Are PCPs equipped to understand and effectively address these issues? In general, PCPs have not been selected for clinical practice due to their temperament or desire to deal with psychosocial issues, and they receive very limited training to do so. It can be said then, with some exceptions, that they are not equipped to be effective in this regard. What about the lifestyle issues and health behaviors that drive over 50 percent of our health status? How are PCPs at helping people with their diet, exercise, stress, sleep, social isolation, and feelings of loneliness, all of which are significant health risk factors? Again, it can be said that PCPs are not effective, and yet, to be fair, no one has a formula for success, not even behavioral health professionals.While these facts should lead us to question the adequacy of the primary care model today, it appears fully ripe for dismantling when we recognize that behavioral health disorders are the number one source of disability today. Depression leads this group by far, with anxiety and substance use disorders contributing significant impairment. This is not just a U.S. phenomenon – the World Health Organization notes that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In terms of healthcare costs in the United States, people with depression and anxiety have costs that are 70 percent higher than those without a mental health diagnosis, and people with depression are four times more likely to have a heart attack.There are numerous troublesome facts like these, but even more worrisome is the reality that 80 percent of the people with behavioral health conditions get no treatment for these disorders. When PCPs identify them for treatment, they typically only get psychotropic medications, even though psychotherapy is remarkable effective and produces no side effects2.While these facts challenge the rationale for the primary care model, they would be mitigated somewhat if we could point to a primary care workforce that is deeply satisfied, growing in numbers, and eager to meet these clinical challenges. The unfortunate reality is that a shortage of PCPs is projected for the future – by conservative estimates, 45,000 too few by 2020 – and physicians generally view primary care as less desirable than other specialties due to lower income and increased time demand. Choose your image, either the elephant in the room or the emperor with no clothes, but how can we not simply state that the primary care model is irreparably broken and in need of replacement?Team-based careLet’s start with a key element of the medical home model, namely, team-based care, and then let us reorient the model by replacing the primary care physician with a behavioral health specialist as the team leader. In so doing, we might excel at: detecting the psychosocial issues that are motivating office visits; addressing strategies for changing critical health behaviors; and finally, diagnosing and treating unrecognized conditions like depression, anxiety and substance use disorder. These issues require a team rather than a single behavioral health clinician. We still need nurse practitioners to be on the front line for treating infections and injuries – more or less, the acute conditions – and we need PCPs to be the senior physicians addressi
I keep getting the same email over and over again, and my heart aches each time I read it: “I have tried everything to overcome my depression, but nothing has helped. Is there anything else I can do or will I have to live the rest of my life plagued with sadness?”
First, hear these three words: There is hope. If there wasn’t any, I would not be alive writing my blog. I am one of the worst cases out there like you are. I have spent more years of my life fantasizing about death than wanting to be alive. I get it. But now I do enjoy some really good days — where I feel better than I ever have. And those good days keep me motivated to get through the harder ones.
From my own 43 years of experience fighting the demon of hopelessness and from all my conversations with folks in my online depression community, Project Beyond Blue, here are some suggestions that you might try.
1. Get a Physical
The reason that you may not be getting better despite trying 20 different combinations of medication is that your symptoms of irritability, fatigue, and apathy may not be caused by a lack of serotonin or norepinephrine in your brain, but rather by a tear in your diaphragm or a problem with your aortic valve. A few conditions that are often misdiagnosed as depression are: hypothyroidism, vitamin D deficiency, vitamin B-12 deficiency, insulin resistance or blood sugar imbalances, and anemia. (See my piece, 6 Conditions That Feel Like Depression But Aren’t).
You should really get a physical and have some bloodwork done by an integrative or functional doctor; however, that can be costly, especially if you get a functional doctor who wants to run every test on you.
I asked my integrative doctor, Alan Weiss of Annapolis Integrative Medicine, to give me a list of the three or four most important blood tests a person with chronic depression should ask their primary care physician to do for them, if they can’t afford to go outside their insurance network for a consultation. He suggested:
Complete blood count (CBC)
Comprehensive metabolic profile (CMP)
Thyroid testing, including TSH, free T4, free T3, and thyroid antibodies
25-OH vitamin D, B-12 levels
2. Check Your Thyroid
I want to return to the thyroid for a moment since this is so tricky and so critical. Every person I know who suffers from chronic depression has a thyroid issue. That is no lie or exaggeration. Every person. I was seeing an endocrinologist, someone who specializes in thyroid disease, for six years and she never tested me for an underactive thyroid. She was merely testing my TSH levels, not the full panel, which is what most primary care physicians, endocrinologists, and psychiatrists do.
If you are sluggish, gaining weight, have brain fog, need to lie down all the time, and are depressed, please have a FULL panel of your thyroid done. Your T3 and T4 levels are needed to detect slight problems that can wreak havoc with your mood and energy level. Now that I am taking natural medicine for that, I have much more energy.
I was relieved that Dr. Weiss included blood tests to check vitamin D and vitamin B-12 levels, as well, because deficiencies in both of those vitamins can cause severe depression. They are included in my list of 10 Nutritional Deficiencies That Can Cause Depression.
According to a 2009 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, as many as three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D. Last year Canadian researchers performed a systematic review and analysis of 14 studies that revealed a close association between vitamin D levels and depression. Researchers found that low levels of vitamin D corresponded to depression and increased odds for depression. In another 2009 study, more than a quarter of severely depressed older women were deficient in B-12. I take each of those vitamins in liquid form so that they absorb quickly and efficiently.
4. Adjust Your Diet
If you are annoyed at this suggestion, let me say I understand. I was annoyed for the first 40 years of my life when someone would insinuate that there was a tight connection between my diet and my distorted thinking. I thought I ate well. By most American standards, I was a health freak. However, I didn’t realize how much insulin I was throwing into my bloodstream until I stopped eating all sugar cold turkey one day, as well as processed flour, dairy, and caffeine. (Alcohol is bad news too, but I gave that up 25 years ago.)
All those nut and fruit KIND bars that are supposed to be good for you, the honey in my tea, the cereal and pumpkin bread in the morning … all of them were creating a blood sugar nightmare that got me high only to make me crash … and hard. No street drugs were involved. Just a lame granola bar that I thought was sanctioned by Dr. Oz. Consider eliminating sugar and white flour from your diet for a few months. As much as I’d like to tell you that the effect was immediate, it took up to nine months before I really started to feel better, before I was free of death thoughts.
5. Get a Consultation With a Teaching Hospital
Before my husband begged me to have a consultation at Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center, I had been to six psychiatrists. One of my blogs, in fact, is called The Psychiatric Guide to Annapolis. Let me just say that there are a lot of people who shouldn’t be practicing medicine, like one I dubbed “Pharma King,” who received generous kickbacks from a pharmaceutical company.
The reason I trust teaching hospitals like Johns Hopkins, is that they never stop researching, and they are not afraid to use the older drugs like lithium that have proven track records but aren’t lucrative. Kay Redfield Jamison, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, wrote an excellent op-ed piece in the New York Times just after the death of Robin Williams entitled Depression Can Be Treated, But It Takes Competence.
She writes: “Many different professionals treat depression, including family practitioners, internists and gynecologists, as well as psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and social workers. This results in wildly different levels of competence. Many who treat depression are not well trained in the distinction among types of depression. There is no common standard for education about diagnosis.” Go to a teaching hospital. You won’t regret it.
6. Consider Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive procedure that stimulates nerve cells in the brain with short magnetic pulses. A large electromagnetic coil is placed against the scalp which generates focused pulses that pass through the skull and stimulate the cerebral cortex of the brain, a region that regulates mood. The procedure was approved by the FDA in 2008.
In September, I featured a story about Stephanie, a woman in Project Beyond Blue, who underwent 30 sessions of TMS and was transformed into a new person. She now moderates a group on Project Beyond Blue called Exploring TMS. Several other people I know have had success as well.
7. Try EMDR
My friend Priscilla Warner first turned me on to eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. She devotes a chapter in her bestselling memoir, Learning to Breathe, about it, and how it was instrumental in breaking down her anxiety. It is mostly used for people with some form of post-traumatic stress disorder, but it has also been used to address generalized anxiety from a dysfunctional childhood, a bad marriage, or a boss from hell.
According to the EMDR Institute, “EMDR psychotherapy is an information processing therapy and uses an eight phase approach to address the experiential contributors of a wide range of pathologies. It attends to the past experiences that have set the groundwork for pathology, the current situations that trigger dysfunctional emotions, beliefs and sensations, and the positive experience needed to enhance future adaptive behaviors and mental health.”
8. Find a Way to Lower Your Stress
I don’t mean putting a few less to-do items on your list. I’m talking about radical lifestyle changes — like changing jobs in order to work in a less toxic and stressful environment, moving into a smaller home so that you don’t have to moonlight, deciding against adopting a rescue dog or having a third child. It can be practically impossible to keep your mood resilient if you are under chronic stress because it increases the connection between the hippocampus part of your brain and the amygdala (worry central), impairs your memory retention, affects your cortisol production (making it difficult for you to handle more stress), and weakens your immune system.
There are other ways to try to lower your stress besides quitting your job, like practicing mindfulness meditation. I took the eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at my local hospital because I read numerous studies on how mindfulness meditation can reset neural passageways and change rumination patterns. As a result of the class, I am now more aware of my thinking, and I try my best to keep coming back to the present. However, nothing beats the anesthesia from depression and the calm I experience after an intense aerobic workout. I swim and run for my sanity.
In summary, the road to my recovery has been rocky as hell. I had to throw out the old system — my belief that medication, therapy, and exercise was all I needed — that the brain lived in another solar system as my body. I now believe that you must approach the illness of depression systematically: there is nothing that you eat, say, or do in your day that doesn’t affect your mood. While that thought can be overwhelming, it also points the way to hope.
Most teens start school too early in the morning, which deprives them of the sleep they need to learn and stay healthy, a new study says.
The American Academy of Pediatrics last year urged middle schools and high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. in order to allow teens — who are biologically programmed to stay up later at night than adults — to get the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep each night.
But 83% of schools do start before 8:30 a.m., according to a study released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The average start time for 39,700 public middle schools, high schools and combined schools was 8:03 a.m., based on data from the 2011-2012 school year.
School systems have debated whether to delay school start times for years. Many parents have asked schools to start later, arguing that their teens have trouble waking up early enough to get to school by 7:30 a.m., let alone learn.
“It makes absolutely no sense,” said physician M. Safwan Badr, a past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “You’re asking kids to learn math at a time their brains are not even awake.”
But many school officials have argued that starting class later would make it more difficult to schedule after-school sporting events, which often require teams to take buses to other parts of their districts.
“It’s a logistical nightmare,” said Daniel Domenech, executive director of AASA, the School Superintendents Association., who said that school districts have to consider the cost of school buses, as well as traffic and after-school activity schedules.
Allowing high schoolers to sleep in could mean sending elementary kids to school in the dark during the winter, as they would have to take the early schedule. That could pose a safety dangers to the youngest kids as they walk to school or wait at bus stops, Domenech said.
Starting high school later also would mean starting sports practices later and make it more difficult for teens to get to after-school jobs, Domenech said.
He notes that early school start times are nothing new.
“This has been going on forever, and kids have been graduating from school and going on to college,” Domenech said. “It certainly doesn’t seem to have hurt them all these years.”
Yet studies show that today’s teens are chronically sleep deprived, said Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and lead author of the pediatric academy report.
Two-thirds of high school students today fail to get even eight hours of sleep on school nights, according to the CDC report. Adolescents who don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk for being overweight, depressed and using tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs, but less likely to get enough exercise, according to the CDC. Over time, people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to develop heart disease and type 2 diabetes, Owens said.
“This is a major public health issue,” said Badr, noting that parents should consider sleep to be as important for a child’s health as nutrition and exercise. He encourages parents to be firm with kids, setting bed times and telling teens to shut off their electronic devices.
Sleep deprivation also can lead to drowsy driving and car accidents, Owens said.
Studies on driving simulators show that “not getting enough sleep at night is the equivalent of consuming three or four beers and being moderately intoxicated,” Owens said. “So teens are getting behind the wheel as impaired as if they had consumed a fair amount of alcohol.”
Owens notes that students who finish school in the early afternoon spend more time unsupervised, giving them more time to get into trouble before their parents arrive home from work.
While some adults assume that sleepy teens are lazy, Badr said that adolescents’ natural sleep cycles are very different than adults’.
While the average adult’s body tells her to sleep from about 11 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., the typical teen body wants to sleep from about 12 a.m. or 1 a.m. until 8 a.m. or 9 a.m., Badr said. When school starts too early, “they’re waking up at a time when their brain doesn’t want them to be awake.”
Kids forced to wake up too early also miss out on REM sleep, which is important for consolidating memories and helping people to remember what they learned that day, Owens said. REM sleep tends to be concentrated in the last third of the night, or between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. for a typical teen, Badr said.
“It’s like telling you that you have to get up at 3 o’clock in the morning and function at full capacity,” Owens said.
Some schools have made changes aimed at improving teen sleep.
Owens has worked with the public school system in Fairfax County, Va., where high school used to begin at 7:20 a.m., and the first buses began picking kids up as early as 5:45 a.m. This fall, high school will begin at 8:10 a.m. Researchers are collecting data to see if the later start time leads to any changes in test scores or health, including the number of kids who report being depressed or who are injured playing sports, Owens said.
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!
(NaturalNews) According to the document you’re about to see, for the last eight years, government scientists have actively engineered viral vaccines designed to alter thoughts and beliefs by infecting the brain and suppressing genetic expression of neurological cells. Dispersal of these vaccines has been tested via high-altitude aerosolized sprays, highway vehicles, the water supply and even the food system.
As you’ll see in the document and video below, the vaccine was intended from the start to be deployed against civilian populations, and 600 strains of infectious viruses were tested on human subjects. One of the transmission vectors documented in the testing exploited an influenza strain to spread the mind-infecting virus as a pandemic.
The point of all this is to infect the minds of the population and transform people into what the government calls “normal.” From the government’s point of view, of course, “normal” means “obedient and mindless.”
Using aerosolized stealth vaccines as tools of behavioral control and mind alteration
This YouTube video, described as a “leaked Pentagon video,” features a Bill Gates-sounding scientist explaining in cold, calculating language how engineered vaccines can “eliminate behavior” that’s considered undesirable by the government.
Starting at the 3:00 mark, you can hear this scientist explaining how a vaccine can “turn a fanatic into a normal person.” A normal person, of course, means a person who is obedient to government authority.
Here’s a transcript of the presentation:
Scientist: And that would have the effect which is to essentially turn a fanatic into a normal person…
Audience: How would you suggest that this is going to be dispersed? Via aerosol?
Scientist: The present plan and the tests that we’ve done so far have used respiratory viruses such as flu or rhinoviruses, and we believe that’s a satisfactory way to get the exposure of the largest part of the population… and we’re quite confident this would be a very successful approach.
Audience: What’s the name of this proposal?
Scientist: The name is FUNVAX, the vaccine for religious fundamentalism. The proposal has just been submitted, and I think the data that I have shown you today would support the development of this project and we think it has great promise.
Watch the video here, which carries the US Dept. of Defense identifier of “DOD ID 149AZ2.”
Designed to infect brain cells and alter beliefs and behavior
This document at WantToKnow.info appears to explain the design and intent of the virus in a summary entitled, “Quarterly FunVax Review.”
The document says:
The objective of this phase of project ID 149AZ2 is to prepare a viral vector that will inhibit / decrease the expression of VMAT2 within a human population.
…the design allows the virus to infect the respiratory track where cytolytic infection occurs and then subsequent diffusion across the blood barrier to infect brain cells.
The document goes on to say that there will be “coordination between the research, clinical and manufacturing groups” taking place in 2007. This clearly spells out intent to take this project from the research phase to manufacturing and deployment.
You may wonder, therefore, against whom these weaponized mind control vaccines might be deployed, right? The answer is YOU.
Dispersal via air, water supply, highway vehicles and insects
According to the document linked above, the dispersal of the brain-modifying viral vaccine was tested in six different ways:
Six methods of … virus dispersal were tested – high altitude release, water supply release, insect transmission, diffusion by a ground level object such as a car, diffusion from a stationary object such as a bottle, and infection of food supply such as cattle or produce.
As you take in the paragraph you just read, consider that now, nearly eight years later, we are witnessing the release of genetically engineered mosquitoes combined with outbreaks of bizarre neurological conditions across U.S. schoolchildren and mysterious health conditions all over the world.
The “high-altitude release” of this mind-altering viral vaccine has no doubt already been achieved through the aerosolized spraying of cities in crisscross patterns of aerosolized dispersal at altitude, often labeled as “chemtrails.”
Suicide genes, field testing and future experiments
The same document cited above goes on to summarize a research group meeting that apparently took place on March 21st, 2007, in which the following topics were discussed:
• Proposal for a suicide gene
• Dispersal methods
• Testing efficiency in the field
• Inhibitors that may target a specific population
• Monkey knockdown progress
• Future experiments
Other directives in the document say things like:
“All 600 strains of VSV should be retested on human subjects…”
“Future experiments of VSV287 should allow the subject to breath in the virus rather than being injected with it.”
“The use of FunVax could see an immediate effect within the target zones… the results of mass inoculation should be proportionate to the rate of infection. Behavioral indicators … decrease in armed resistance… increase in communications that express discontent with religion or God.”
Fully intended to be deployed against civilian populations
It’s clear from the document that this mind-altering, brain-infecting vaccine was intended from the start to be deployed against civilian populations. In fact, the document discusses plans for covertly taking biological samples from dead civilians in order to determine the effectiveness of the aerosolized dispersal effort:
… a blood sample of militant casualties or deceased civilian would provide the most accurate estimate of the rate of vaccination… biological samples from living subjects may be covertly taken… the tests that should be repeated using the VSV287 are high atmospheric tests…
An airborne virus would be the preferred route of infection. A strain named VSV287 has been designed to spread via air… Only human trials can determine VSV287’s effect on religiosity and spirituality… high atmospheric dispersal or dispersal by a ground level moving object appears to be the most practical.
The government has a history of using aircraft to disperse vaccines
Yes, even wild coyotes and rabbits are not safe from the vaccine zealots. No animal on the planet is considered “safe” by health authorities unless it is first infected with a virus or two.
The Dept. of Defense plan is far more elaborate, however, using aerosolized dispersal with high-altitude aircraft or even dumping viral vaccines into the water supplies of large cities. Such an action would be considered an act of domestic terrorism if you or I did it, of course, but when the government proposes it, suddenly it’s okay.
Has a mind-altering vaccine already been released over U.S. cities?
All this brings up the obvious question: Has this mind-altering vaccine already been deployed over U.S. cities? It’s a legitimate question because the high-altitude deployment of this vaccine against civilian populations was clearly the intent of the program.
A mass “dumbing down” vaccine lobotomy would sure explain a lot of what’s going on in America these days, such as how certain people still haven’t figured out that every statement uttered by President Obama is a calculated lie. (I can’t wait to watch the upcoming theatrical comedy show called the “State of the Union Address.”)
I’ve also been wondering why we’re seeing a wholesale abandonment of morality and ethics across the western world these days, and it’s not an outlandish area of inquiry to wonder if entire cities of people have been intentionally exposed to a virus that infects their brains just as described by the scientist in the video above.
I know, it sounds like the actions of a Batman movie villain, but then again we already know the vaccine industry is largely staffed by mad scientists with villainous intent. Remember, this is the same group of disreputable scientists who knowingly committed scientific fraud by covering up the confession of a CDC scientist who admitted the agency manipulated data to eliminate any apparent link between vaccines and autism. It’s no stretch at all to realize these same people would gladly deploy vaccines to dumb people down if that made them more compliant and docile.
The greatest enemy of the vaccine industry is, of course, anyone who can still think for themselves.
We also know that vaccines are being deployed right now to covertly sterilize women using sterilization chemicals secretly mixed into the vaccines themselves.
We also know there’s still toxic mercury in flu shots, even though the establishment ridiculously claims flu shots are 100% safe to give to pregnant women, infants, toddlers, senior citizens and everyone else. This is an industry that actually seems to enjoy the power trip of causing widespread health harm, vaccine-induced seizures, comas, autism and even death. Deploying vaccines at high altitude to invisibly fall onto large cities where they are inhaled by millions of people is an almost erotic fantasy come true for these anti-human vaccine zealots who despise life and openly advocate human depopulation.
Can good nutrition protect you from aerosolized vaccine weapons of mass mental destruction?
When I look around America today and witness the total abandonment of rational thought, the criminality of the medical system, the corruption at every level of government and the twisted insanity infecting the minds of the masses, I can only wonder if the population has been covertly but deliberately exposed to something nefarious.
Perhaps some of us are immune — people like you and I — while others fall victim to the virus because they live in states of weakened immunity. Perhaps people who eat the most nutritious foods and superfoods have the best defenses against covert vaccine schemes and are therefore the only ones to emerge with their minds and awareness fully intact.
Perhaps we’re already five years into a massive war against human consciousness that’s being waged every day at every level, from the droning idiots on the cable news networks to the brain-destroying medications dosed out to nearly every person who steps foot in a doctor’s office. Combine aerosolized, weaponized vaccines with the mind-numbing effects of fluoride, TV sitcoms, chemical food additives and mass media social engineering and you end up with a nation of sleepwalking zombies who are only capable of obedience, not independent thought.
Through these aerosolized vaccines, in other words, the hilariously-depicted “zombie apocalypse” may already have begun. And perhaps the so-called “mindless masses” are actually just victims of a nefarious, government-run behavioral modification program designed to turn a human breath into an unintended vaccination event.
It is not uncommon for people with depression or bipolar disorder to complain that their thinking has gotten less sharp. And new research, using brain scans, indicates that activity in the part of the brain involved in executive functioning, such as working memory, problem solving, and reasoning, is indeed impacted in the two conditions.
University of Michigan researchers gave 612 women — more than two-thirds had major depression or bipolar disorder — a test involving prolonged concentration. The women with either depression or bipolar disorder did equally bad on the test, a finding, researchers say, indicate that the two disorders are more similar than different, the reported in the journal Brain.
“These findings support the idea of seeing mood disorders dimensionally, as a continuum of function to dysfunction across illnesses that are more alike than distinct,” lead author Kelly Ryan, PhD, a neuropsychologist, said in a statement.
Brain scans of 52 of the women as they were doing the test were also taken. Those with depression or bipolar disorders had different levels of activity in the brain’s right poster parietal cortex compared with healthy participants.
The researchers say their work supports the National Institute of Mental Health’s Research Domain criteria, a project to find new ways of classifying mental disorders independent of the diagnostic codes found in the DSM-5.
Depression, Bipolar Disorder Linked to Reduced Brain Connectivity
People with depression or bipolar disorder often feel their thinking ability has gotten “fuzzy,” or less sharp than before their symptoms began. Now, researchers have shown in a very large study that effect is indeed real — and rooted in brain activity differences that show up on advanced brain scans.
What’s more, the results add to the mounting evidence that these conditions both fall on a spectrum of mood disorders, rather than being completely unrelated. That could transform the way doctors and patients think about, diagnose and treat them.
During prenatal development, sex hormones can determine whether the brain acquires feminine or masculine characteristics. Masculinization, for example, has been thought to be a fairly straightforward process, the direct induction of transcription by ligand-activated nuclear steroid receptors. Now, however, it appears the masculinization process is more indirect. According to research conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM), sex hormones appear to relieve the nongenetic influences on gene repression of masculinizing genes.
The finding appeared March 30 in Nature Neuroscience, in an article entitled, “Brain feminization requires active repression of masculinization via DNA methylation.” The article described how estradiol, a testosterone derivative, can trigger a mechanism by which certain genes in the brain are “unsilenced,” allowing them to initiate the process of masculinization.
All mammals—including humans—develop specifically male or female brain characteristics.
This work was accomplished in rats, which like other mammals—including humans—develop specifically male or female brain characteristics. For example, in most species, some portions of male and female brains are a different size, and often have a different number of neurons and synapses.
“Nobody has ever shown that this is how the process works,” said Margaret McCarthy, Ph.D., a professor and chairman of the department of pharmacology at UM SOM. “This gives us a new understanding of how gender is determined in the brain.”
In their experiments, the UM SOM scientists found that a primary effect of gonadal steroids in the highly sexually dimorphic preoptic area (POA) is to reduce activity of DNA methyltransferase (Dnmt) enzymes, thereby decreasing DNA methylation and releasing masculinizing genes from epigenetic repression.
The researchers injected Dnmt inhibitors into the POA, a brain area known to be involved in governing male sexual behavior, after the first week of birth, after the window for brain sexual differentiation was thought to have been closed. Despite this, the POA in the animals was transformed, and took on structural characteristics of a male rat. The female rats also behaved differently, displaying sexual behavior typical of male rats.
In another experiment, they scientists deleted the Dnmt gene in female mice; these animals also showed male behavior patterns. “Pharmacological inhibition of Dnmts mimicked gonadal steroids, resulting in masculinized neuronal markers and male sexual behavior in female rats,” the authors of the Nature Neuroscience article wrote. “Conditional knockout of the de novo Dnmt isoform, Dnmt3a, also masculinized sexual behavior in female mice.”
In previous research, Dr. McCarty’s group found sex and gender differences in levels of a protein associated with language acquisition and development. This finding may be associated with higher levels of communication among females in some species.
Intriguingly, the latest study also found that inflammatory immune cells known as microglia appear to play a role in masculinization, in part through their production of prostaglandins, a neurochemical normally associated with illness. In recent years, scientists have increasingly realized that the immune system is integral to the development of the brain; Prof. McCarthy and her group are the first to show that it is also important for establishment of sex differences in the brain. The current discovery is another piece in that puzzle; they showed that Dnmt enzymes control expression of genes that play a role in inflammation and immunity, and also in the sexual differentiation of the brain.
“Physically, these animals were females, but in their reproductive behavior, they were males,” said Nugent. “It was fascinating to see this transformation.”
“RNA sequencing revealed gene and isoform variants modulated by methylation that may underlie the divergent reproductive behaviors of males versus females,” the authors concluded. “Our data show that brain feminization is maintained by the active suppression of masculinization via DNA methylation.”
It happens in an instant just before you fall asleep. You’re startled by a loud noise — the thud of a book slamming to the floor, or worse, the bang of a shotgun nearby. You a jump up and look around, but everything seems normal. Well it is, but you did hear a noise that wasn’t real. It was in your brain.
It’s a phenomenon called “exploding head syndrome.”
“It can sound like explosions, gunshots in your head, giant guitar strings breaking beside you or something heavy being dropped,” Brian Sharpless, assistant professor and director of the psychology clinic at Washington State University, told The Washington Post. He’s also the lead author of a study on the disorder. “A small number of people will see lightning, flashes of light or visual static like you see on a TV screen. It’s scary, and people wake up confused.”
Exploding head syndrome has received little clinical attention over the years. Scientists have hypothesized the condition is rare and seen mostly in people older than 50. But when Sharpless and his researchers assessed 211 undergraduate students for sleep paralysis as well as exploding head syndrome — which appear to be connected — they found the phenomenon is more common than clinic lore led them to believe. The researchers recently published the findings in the Journal of Sleep Research.
Its symptoms were first described some 150 years ago. Doctors have noted it in literature as “sensory discharges” and, later, “snapping in the brain.” In 1988, neurologist J.M.S. Pearce dubbed it “exploding head syndrome.”
Sharpless and his colleagues found that 18 percent of the people they interviewed had experienced the disorder at least once. More than 16 percent had recurring cases. However, when the researchers removed those who had also experienced sleep paralysis, the number fell to 13.5 percent — which is still “shockingly high,” he said.
The sensation occurs during “sleep state misperception,” the moment right before people doze off, though it can also happen as they are waking up.
“Your brain essentially has a hiccup in the reticular formation, which is the part of the brain that helps shut down your body for sleep,” Sharpless said. “It shuts down your motor, visual and auditory neurons. But with exploding head syndrome, instead of the auditory neurons shutting down, they fire all at once.”
That hiccup can make people hear a noise that isn’t there — sometimes in their ears, other times in their heads. In some instances, people have seen lightning or other flashes of light, or felt an intense heat all over, according to Sharpless’s research. But despite how scary the name is, “it’s physically harmless,” he said.
“Some people with exploding head syndrome thought they were having a seizure or a subarachnoid hemorrhage or something really bad,” he said. “There is some evidence that just learning about it can reduce the frequency of the episodes.”
Less than 3 percent of those who had experienced it had it to an extent that it interfered with their lives, according to the research. “If it happens that much, it’s not doing good things for your sleep,” Sharpless said, but that’s about it.
The next phase it to try to understand what might make people more likely to have it.
That would be way too eugenics like….. for a headline
under the headline:
Children’s Brain Development Affected by Parent’s Income & Education : Science & General News : Latinos Health
The real difference, however, was shown when comparing family incomes which resulted in a six percent difference in the children’s brain surface area. In addition, researchers found that as the family income increases, so does the brain surface of the child; specifically in areas concerning language, reading, spatial skills, and executive functions.
WRCB-TV reports that Dr. Kimberly Noble, a lead author in the study states, “Specifically, among children from the lowest-income families, small differences in income were associated with relatively large differences in surface area in a number of regions of the brain associated with skills important for academic success.”
Noble also stated that the researchers believe the results do not necessarily link wealth with intelligence, so children in lower income homes are not “doomed’ automatically. They do believe, however, that the child’s brain development is linked with certain experiences that people in lower income homes go through.
A book worth reading and a blog worth looking into:
Magnesium is important in over 325 enzyme reactions in the body.1 It is used to regulate blood sugar in the body, and to help prevent you from developing diabetes.2 Magnesium relaxes arteries that carry blood throughout the body, which lowers blood pressure. Magnesium also chelates extra calcium in the body; this keeps the arteries from hardening due to excess calcium. Finally, magnesium supplementation can help lower stress and anxiety levels.
Let’ us take a look at the many magnesium types and their functions, but the best form I can recommend is magnesium glycinate. The body absorbs the most elemental magnesium from glycinate.3 The extra glycine, an amino acid, relaxes nerves, and relieves anxiety.
Possible Symptoms of A Magnesium Deficiency
This is a list of possible symptoms a patient might have if they have a magnesium deficiency. If a magnesium deficiency is present, you can still have a magnesium deficiency and not have any of these symptoms as well. This often occurs in patients that are younger (age helps reduce the symptoms of a magnesium deficiency,) and it can also depend on the gender (men tend to have less symptoms than women.) Most people should supplement with 400 mg of elemental magnesium (as long as their kidney function is normal) even if they do not know if they are deficient.4
· Tingling in legs – Magnesium deficiency is the main cause of restless legs syndrome
Here is a simple guide of the different tests that are used to determine if you have a magnesium deficiency or not.
Magnesium Serum Test – A magnesium serum test is the most common magnesium test performed and also the most inaccurate. Less than 1% of the body’s total magnesium is in the blood plasma and the body does whatever it takes to keep that number regular. If you score low on a plasma test then you are in dire need of magnesium and you are definitely deficient in your bones, organs, and muscles.6 This test is used to measure extracellular magnesium levels. Normal plasma magnesium levels are, 1.6 – 2.4 mEq/L.7 This test does not accurately measure the body’s total magnesium level, but is the test most often used for diagnostic testing.
Magnesium RBC Test – A magnesium RBC test is a more accurate test that quantifies the amount of magnesium stored in the red blood cells. This test measures intracellular magnesium levels. This test gives you the amount of magnesium that has been stored in your cells for the past four months. Results of six mg / dl or higher indicate strong magnesium reserves in the body.8
Magnesium WBC Test – A magnesium WBC test is more accurate than the RBC test. Like the magnesium RBC test, the WBC test also measures intracellular magnesium levels. This test gives you the amount of magnesium that is currently in your cells, it does not show an average of magnesium in the cells over a period of time like the RBC test. This test is not available to many doctors or diagnostic labs.9
Magnesium EXA Test – A magnesium EXA test is the best test to determine magnesium deficiency. This test is performed by scraping your cheek buccal cells for a sample so that levels of magnesium stored in your cells, bones, and muscles can be determined. Like the WBC test, the EXA test is considered an intracellular magnesium test. The EXA test will account for 99% of the body’s total magnesium, and is the most accurate diagnostic test for magnesium currently.10
Magnesium is used in the body to help active digestive enzyme reactions in your body as well as regulate the proper transit time of your bowels.12 The enzyme reactions in your body help further break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Magnesium chloride can help increase stomach acid to help assimilate food better if you have digestion problems it might be the type you want to use.3 Most all other magnesium (unless chelated with an acid like citrate or malate) lower stomach acid so they should be taken before bed so problems with digestion will not occur.
Magnesium is used by your intestines as an osmotic laxative.4 This means that your large intestine uses magnesium to bring in water into the bowl so that your stool becomes softer and easier to pass. This is why magnesium supplementation is a great treatment for someone who has constipation issues.5 Magnesium is very important for the functioning of your digestive system as well as your complete health as well.
Different Forms of Magnesium
Recommended Forms of Magnesium:
Magnesium glycinate – The most bio-available form of magnesium. The extra glycine as an amino acid can help with sleep and provide a calm feeling. This form of magnesium is the least likely to cause loose stools. Taken at bedtime.6
Magnesium malate – Magnesium malate is important for people who have a lot of fatigue or suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Magnesium supplementation increases ATP, which is a molecule that provides energy to our cells. Malic Acid has also been shown to increase ATP levels. Magnesium malate should be taken during the day with meals. The extra malic acid will increase stomach acid and assimilation.7
Magnesium chloride – Magnesium chloride is one of the best forms of magnesium for people with Gerd or stomach problems. It must be taken with food because the extra chloride will definitely make more HCL in the stomach. Can also be used topically as a spray for transdermal supplementation.8
Magnesium taurate – Magnesium taurate is a lifesaver for people with heart disease. The extra taurine is an amino acid helps increase heart function. Taken at bedtime.9
Magnesium citrate – Magnesium citrate should mostly only be used for bowel irrigation, it is also one of the most well-known forms of magnesium supplementation. It causes some loose stools and its absorption is average. Magnesium citrate should be taken with meals because the extra citric acid will increase stomach acid and assimilation.10
Magnesium sulfate – Honestly only used to stop pre-eclampsia and used in bath salts as epsom salt. Has okay absorption but does leave some extra organic sulfur in the body can be absorbed by the skin. Sulfate can help heal muscle sprains better than most other forms of magnesium because of skin permeability. Taken soaking in a bath or before bed.11
Magnesium arginate – Arginine is a vasodilator amino acid that is good for increasing blood flow.12 This form of magnesium is very good for bodybuilders. Taken with meals throughout the day due to the possibility of increased energy.
Magnesium lysinate – A good source of magnesium and the amino acid lysine. Lysine is an excellent anti-viral. Taken before bed.13
Magnesium ascorbate – A good source of magnesium and vitamin C. Can cause some loose stools. Taken before bed.14
Magnesium ZMK- A great form of magnesium that uses magnesium from all of the Krebs cycle: citrate, fumarate, malate, succinate & alpha-keto-glutarate. This supplement form of magnesium ZMK is great for athletes, and is very good for recovery. A ZMK supplement should be taken before bed.
Magnesium fumerate, succinate, alpha-keto glutarate – See Magnesium ZMK, All Krebs cycle forms of magnesium.15
Magnesium gluconate – A form of magnesium that is chelated with gluconic acid, which occurs from the fermentation of glucose. Magnesium gluconate has above average absorption in the body (better than even magnesium citrate)16, rarely causes loose stools. Taken before bed.
Magnesium carbonate – This is probably the lowest form of magnesium I can recommend. Has one of lowest levels of assimilation and is a good osmotic laxative. It can also lower stomach acid levels and is used in most antacids. Taken at bedtime.17
Magnesium With Special Uses:
Magnesium orotate – This is one least known forms of magnesium, but let me tell you if you just had a surgery or exercise constantly then it will be your godsend. The extra orotate will help muscle regeneration.18 It also has been shown to support heart health greater than even magnesium taurate. Taken at bedtime.19
Magnesium L-threonate – Magnesium L-threonate may greatly increase magnesium in the brain and spinal column for increased cognitive function.20 To be honest there isn’t a lot of in vivo research to prove if this is true yet though. L-threonate is an isomer of ascorbic acid.21 (New research has shown that it increases magnesium levels about the same as magnesium sulfate, granted magnesium sulfate is injected which might make it be able to cross the blood brain barrier then oral magnesium.22) Taken at bedtime.
Magnesium 2-AEP – This is a form of magnesium that is chelated with phosphorylethanolamine which is a vital component of the structure and integrity of cell membranes. Magnesium 2-AEP has been theorized to help patients with MS, because it can help with cellular function and integrity and can help protect myelin in the brain. Taken with meals during the day.23
Magnesium peroxide – ONLY AS COLON CLEANSER. Taken before bed.
Magnesium Phos 6X – Normally I do not recommend homeopathic supplements (if they work for some people I’m glad they do, I rather recommend nutriceuticals), but for homeopathic minerals I feel they still can be beneficial because some of the trace mineral should be left in the product. I would suggest on using this in a person who is extremely sensitive to all forms of magnesium supplementation. If magnesium glycinate still causes loose stools and magnesium chloride causes allergic reactions on the skin then this is the magnesium for you to try. 24 This magnesium contains some phosphorus so I would suggest if you have kidney problems to stay away from this form. Taken before bed.25
Garbage forms of Magnesium:
Most of these forms of magnesium I consider are garbage because they either do damage in the body or are very poorly absorbed.
Magnesium yeast chelate – A “natural” form of magnesium that is very easily assimilated by the body, what sounds so wrong about that? This form of magnesium is found in most of your “natural” vitamins like New Chapter, Garden of Life, and Megafood. The main problem I have with this form of magnesium is that you have to ingest a lot of brewers yeast (which some people are sensitive to) in the whole supplement to get a tiny amount of magnesium.26 Most vitamins that use this form of magnesium have very little magnesium actually in the vitamin (less than 100 mg elemental). There are just a lot better options out there. Taken with food.
Magnesium aspartate – Absorption is notworth extra aspartic acid. Too much aspartic acid can be neurotoxic. Can you say ASPARTAME? Taken at bedtime. This includes magnesium ZMA supplements.27
Magnesium pidolate (Magnesium 5-Oxo Proline) – Absorption is DEFINITELY not worth the extra free glutamic acid. Too much free glutamic acid can be excitotoxic and neurotoxic. Can you say MSG? Taken with meals.
Magnesium hydroxide – Not greatly absorbed and most magnesium is released into the bowels. Most commercial preparations (Milk of Magnesium) have sodium hypochlorite added (bleach.) Taken at Bedtime.28
Magnesium oxide – VERY POORLY ABSORBED – Out of 400 mg only AT MOST 80 mg of elemental magnesium is absorbed by the body. Magnesium oxide is one of the worst absorbed forms of magnesium, and sadly the most common supplement form of magnesium taken. Taken at Bedtime.29
Magnesium glycerophosphate – This magnesium is chelated with phosphorus. The problem with this magnesium is that most people get too much phosphate in their diet. People with kidney problems should also definitely stay away from this supplement because it is harder for them to eliminate excess phosphates. Taken at bedtime.30
Magnesium lactate – Extra lactic acid is FUN! Should not definitely not be used for people who have kidney disease because the extra lactic acid can cause complications for the kidneys. I do not generally recommend this form at all. Taken during meals.
For centuries, boys were top of the class. But these days, that’s no longer the case.
A new study by the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries, examined how 15-year-old boys and girls performed at reading, mathematics and science. Boys still score somewhat better at maths, and in science the genders are roughly equal. But when it comes to the students who really struggle, the difference is stark: boys are 50% more likely than girls to fall short of basic standards in all three areas.
Why are girls performing better at school than their male classmates?
First, girls read more than boys. Reading proficiency is the basis upon which all other learning is built. When boys don’t do well at reading, their performance in other school subjects suffers too.
Second, girls spend more time on homework. On average, girls spend five and a half hours per week doing homework while boys spend a little less than four and a half hours. Researchers suggest that doing homework set by teachers is linked to better performance in maths, reading and science. Boys, it appears, spend more of their free time in the virtual world; they are 17% more likely to play collaborative online games than girls every day. They also use the internet more.
Third, peer pressure plays a role. A lot of boys decide early on that they are just too cool for school which means they’re more likely to be rowdy in class. Teachers mark them down for this. In anonymous tests, boys perform better.
In fact, the gender gap in reading drops by a third when teachers don’t know the gender of the pupil they are marking.
So what can be done to close this gap? Getting boys to do more homework and cut down on screen-time would help. And offering boys a chance to read non-fiction would help too: they’re keener on comics and newspapers. But most of all, abandoning gender stereotypes would benefit all students. Boys in countries with the best schools read much better than girls.
And girls in Shanghai excel in mathematics. They outperform boys from anywhere else in the world.
Comments Off on The Economist explains: Why girls do better at school than boys | The Economist
Because scientific studies are examining the role of magnesium in alleviating or circumventing many commonly occurring chronic ailments, it is important to be educated on the variations in magnesium supplements; especially magnesium orotate, the best form of the mineral supplement.
Magnesium is not easily absorbed in the body unless first attached to transporting substance. For this reason, many supplement manufacturers have “chelated” magnesium to organic and amino acids. A few of these include magnesium oxide, magnesium sulfate and magnesium carbonate. Quality depends on the amount of magnesium in the supplement and how bioavailable it is. Bioavailability refers to the amount of magnesium in the supplement that can be assimilated by the digestive system and used for cellular activity and health benefit
Magnesium is one of those supplements that is very well known for its benefits throughout the natural health community. Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical processes in the body. One of its most important functions is that it plays a key role is producing energy, this makes it vitality important for all cellular functions and processes. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm regular, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Its wide range of health benefits and biological activity make it effective in addressing a number of common diseases and conditions including fibromyalgia, chronic pain, diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and headaches. Numerous studies have demonstrated that magnesium supplementation and correction of deficiency has improved the aforementioned conditions. The problem with this essential mineral is that most people do not have sufficient levels for optimal health. A gradual depletion of nutrients from our soils has left many vegetables with lower levels of magnesium. Another factor that contributes to magnesium deficiency is that it often is depleted by various common conditions (i.e. IBS, Crohn’s disease) and medications (i.e. proton pump inhibitors, diuretics).
For a more complete discussion please see the article The Many Faces of Magnesium in the Heart Health issue of Advances.
As a supplement, magnesium is most commonly found in small amounts in multivitamins and in certain over the counter laxatives. Minerals such as magnesium or calcium are combined with another molecule to stabilize the compound. Each combination, referred to as a chelate, (such as magnesium citrate) has different absorption, bioavailability and therapeutic value. These additional molecules can really impact the medicinal value of the magnesium and some even have beneficial effects in their own right. The most common forms and their benefits are listed below.
Magnesium-L-Threonate: This form of magnesium has recently been studied to improve memory and brain function. One preliminary study in animals found that it significantly enhanced both short-term and long-term memory, boosting scores by 15% for short-term memory and 54% for long-term memory compared to magnesium citrate.8 Based on this study, it appears that magnesium-L-threonate is a highly absorbable form of magnesium that can improve brain function. While this research is promising, more is needed to confirm its benefit.
Magnesium Pidolate (or picolinate): This form of magnesium has generated interest because it is very inexpensive and can easily be made into a liquid supplement. There really have not been any substantial research trials supporting its specific health benefits. The down side of this form is that the pidolate molecule does not have any additional health benefits.
Magnesium oxide: Often used in milk of magnesia products since this form has a strong laxative effect. Even though this combination contains a large proportion of magnesium compared to the oxide molecule, it has poor bioavailability and readily causes loose stools; therefore it is considered the least optimal form to use as a supplement. Also referred to as “Magnesia”, magnesium oxide is commonly used therapeutically as a laxative and relief for acid reflux. This type of magnesium shows high levels of concentration, but poor levels of bioavailability (only 4%).
Magnesium sulfate: This form is often used as an intravenous preparation but it is not used in oral formulations. Since it does have some absorbability through the skin, . An inorganic form of magnesium with an elemental concentration of 10% and lower levels of bioavailability. Magnesium sulfate contains magnesium and sulfer and oxygen; it’s commonly referred to as Epsom Salt.
Magnesium citrate: A commonly used form that has a good bioavailability compared to oxide. It is also very rapidly absorbed in the digestive tract but it does have a stool loosening effect.1 This form is found in many supplements and remains a solid option for delivering magnesium into the body. Derived from the magnesium salt of citric acid, this form of magnesium has lower concentration, but a high level of bioavalibity (90%). Magnesium citrate is commonly used as to induce a bowel movement, but has also been studied for kidney stone prevention.
Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate
A mineral chelate form of magnesium containing an ion of magnesium oxide connected to a mixture of some other form of amino acid. This could be a lactate, a glycine, aspartate or arginate, etc. The best chelated amino acid form of magnesium is aspartate or arginate.
Magnesium Aspartate: This form has increased bioavailability compared to oxide and citrate. There were some promising clinical trials conducted in the 1960s that found a combination of magnesium and potassium aspartates had a positive effect on fatigue and they reduced muscle hyper-excitability. Physiologically this makes sense since both magnesium and aspartic acid are critical players in cellular energy production. This form is not commonly found but has been used for chronic fatigue syndrome.
A form of magnesium showing moderate concentrations, but higher levels of bioavalibity when compared to magnesium oxide. Magnesium chloride has many uses, most commonly to help manufacture paper, some types of cements and fireproofing agents.
This type of magnesium shows moderate concentrations, but higher levels of bioavalibity as compared to magnesium oxide. Magnesium lactate is a mineral supplement that is most commonly used for treating digestive issues. Magnesium lactate should be avoided by those with kidney disease or kidney-related problems.
This form of magnesium has moderate levels of elemental concentration and 30% bioavalibity rates. Magnesium carbonate has a strong laxative-effect when taken in high amounts. It is also commonly known as chalk, and is used as a drying agent by pitchers, gymnasts, rock climbers and weight lifters.
Magnesium Glycinate, Malate & Taurates
Chelated forms of magnesium holding moderate to low concentrations and higher levels of bioavailability. All three types of magnesium have a variety of uses, but none are as beneficial as the previous magnesium supplements listed above.
Magnesium Glycinate: Glycine is a well-known calming amino acid. This combination has good bioavailability and does not have a laxative effect since glycine is actively transported through the intest inal wall. Due to the calming and relaxing effect of both glycine and magnesium, this combination has been used successfully for chronic pain and muscle hyper tonicity.
A magnesium supplement is best taken with calcium, for this reason, I developed IntraCal, it provides the best ratio of calcium and magnesium orotate.
– Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Magnesium Malate: This less well-known combination has been studied for use in fibromyalgia. Since malate is a substrate in the cellular energy cycle, it can help improve ATP production; there is some preliminary evidence that it may reduce muscle pain and tender points in fibromyalgia patients.4
Magnesium Orotate: This is another relatively unknown chelate combination containing orotic acid. This form has good bioavailability has had been studied specifically for heart health. Orotates can penetrate cell membranes, enabling the effective delivery of the magnesium ion to the innermost layers of the cellular mitochondria and nucleus. Orotates themselves increase the formation of RNA and DNA which can help heart cells repair and therefore improve function. The combination has been shown to improve heart failure, symptoms of angina and exercise performance in clinical trials.5,6 The most effective form of magnesium supplement, created through the use of the mineral salts of orotic acid. Both plants and animals use orotates to create DNA and RNA. Extensive scientific research by Dr. Hans A. Nieper, M.D. shows orotates can penetrate cell membranes, enabling the effective delivery of the magnesium ion to the innermost layers of the cellular mitochondria and nucleus. Magnesium orotate contains many properties that can help protect you and your health, while offering your cells the most readily absorbable form of magnesium on the market today.
Magnesium Taurate: Both magnesium and the amino acid taurine share the ability to improve cardiac function; each has a potentiating effect on insulin sensitivity and also a calming effect on neuromuscular excitability. The actions of both have striking similarities when it comes to cardiovascular health. They both have blood pressure reducing effects, stabilize nerve cells, improve the contraction of the heart muscle and have an anti-thrombotic effect.7 Additionally, low levels of vitamin B6 have been shown to further deplete both magnesium and taurine.
Due to its broad ranging beneficial effects, magnesium has really emerged as a quintessential health supplement with an excellent safety profile. Various forms of magnesium can be employed for specific health concerns and to increase bioavailability. Consider the research evidence and activity of each form to choose one that is most appropriate for you.
1) Coudray C, Rambeau M, Feillet-Coudray C, Gueux E, Tressol JC, Mazur A, Rayssiguier Y: Study of magnesium bioavailability from ten organic and inorganic Mg salts in Mg- depleted rats using a stable isotope approach. Magnes Res 2005;18:215–223.
2) Nagle FJ, Balke B, Ganslen RV, Davis AW. The mitigation of physical fatigue with “Spartase”. FAA Office of Aviation Medicine Reports. Rep Civ Aeromed Res Inst US. 1963 Jul;26:1-10.
3) Lamontagne C, Sewell JA, Vaillancourt R, Kuhzarani C, (2012) Rapid Resolution of Chronic Back Pain with Magnesium Glycinate in a Pediatric Patient. J Pain Relief 1:101
4) Abraham GE, Flechas JD. Management of Fibromyalgia: Rationale for the Use of Magnesium and Malic Acid. Journal of Nutritional Medicine (1992) 3, 49-59.
5) Stepura OB, Tomaeva FE, Zvereva TV. Orotic acid as a metabolic agent. Vestn Ross Akad Med Nauk. 2002; (2): 39-41.
6) Geiss KR, Stergiou N, Jester, Neuenfeld HU, Jester HG. Effects of magnesium orotate on exercise tolerance in patients with coronary heart disease. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 1998 Sep; 12 Suppl 2:153-6.
7) McCarty MF. Complementary Vascular-Protective Actions of Magnesium and Taurine: A Rationale for Magnesium Taurate. Medical Hypotheses (1996) 46. 89-100
8) Slutsky I, Abumaria N, Wu LJ, et al. Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium. Neuron. 2010 Jan 28;65(2):165-77
“It’s understood that kids who are bulliers at school are sometimes being bullied at home, often times by a sibling, though sometimes by a parent,” she said. “And it has a sustained impact — depression, insecurity and loss of trust and intimacy in relationships.”
New studies link brain inflammation and preeclampsia with increased autism risk – Los Angeles LA | Examiner.com
SO; Is a lack of cock sucking now child abuse?
The likelihood of developing autism and developmental delay was doubled in the mothers who experienced preeclampsia compared to the control group. The scientists determined that this could be attributed to enhanced systemic inflammation as a result of preeclampsia, leading to a restriction of the amount of nutrients and oxygen being transferred to the placenta, and restricted levels of growth and oxygenated blood in the fetus.
SINCE THE SUPREME PUNDIT KNOWS YOU WILL NOT LOOK FURTHER IT IS PROVIDED HERE FOR YOU:
STRAIGHT FROM THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH WEB SITE:
Correlation between oral sex and a low incidence of preeclampsia: a role for soluble HLA in seminal fluid?
The involvement of immune mechanisms in the aetiology of preeclampsia is often suggested. Normal pregnancy is thought to be associated with a state of tolerance to the foreign antigens of the fetus, whereas in preeclamptic women this immunological tolerance might be hampered. The present study shows that oral sex and swallowing sperm is correlated with a diminished occurrence of preeclampsia which fits in the existing idea that a paternal factor is involved in the occurrence of preeclampsia. Because pregnancy has many similarities with transplantation, we hypothesize that induction of allogeneic tolerance to the paternal HLA molecules of the fetus may be crucial. Recent data suggest that exposure, and especially oral exposure to soluble HLA (sHLA) or HLA derived peptides can lead to transplantation tolerance. Similarly, sHLA antigens, that are present in the seminal plasma, might cause tolerance in the mother to paternal antigens. In order to test whether this indeed may be the case, we investigated whether sHLA antigens are present in seminal plasma. Using a specific ELISA we detected sHLA class I molecules in seminal plasma. The level varied between individuals and was related to the level in plasma. Further studies showed that these sHLA class I molecules included classical HLA class I alleles, such as sHLA-A2, -B7, -B51, -B35 and sHLA-A9. Preliminary data show lower levels of sHLA in seminal plasma in the preeclampsia group, although not significantly different from the control group. An extension of the present study is necessary to verify this hypothesis.
NOW BACK TO THE NEWS
Two new studies published this week link various risk factors with the development of autism. The first study published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications analyzed 104 samples of brain tissue in 72 individuals, 32 of whom were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the largest sample thus far in a study of its kind. The researchers sought to analyze the gene expression of support cells in the brain tissues, referred to as microglia, and found that the genes that controlled for brain inflammation were permanently activated in the brains of those with autism.
While the scientists were quick to point out that it’s unlikely that this inflammation is the root cause of autism, it may be a consequence of other genetic mutation and abnormalities. This inflammatory response may be indicative of the overactive immune response seen in previous studies that analyzed possible contributors to the development of autism. Down the line, pursuing treatments for this response may lead to an amelioration of autism symptoms.
The second study published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics looked at risk factors during pregnancy that may contribute to the onset of ASD. Researchers looked at 1,000 children with autism or developmental delay born to mothers who experienced preeclampsia, a condition during the second or third trimester of pregnancy in which the mother develops high blood pressure, vision problems, kidney dysfunction and other inflammatory responses, affecting between 2-8% of pregnancies worldwide.
They found that the likelihood of developing autism and developmental delay was doubled in the mothers who experienced preeclampsia compared to the control group. The scientists determined that this could be attributed to enhanced systemic inflammation as a result of preeclampsia, leading to a restriction of the amount of nutrients and oxygen being transferred to the placenta, and restricted levels of growth and oxygenated blood in the fetus. While there is no current definitive method of prevention, current medical research points to the importance of prenatal and maternal health as preventative measures for the condition.
Oct. 2, 2014 – The more interested we are in a topic, the easier it is to learn about that topic, according to new research published today in the journal Neuron. For most of us, it is surprising that it took a research study to make the discovery. But, then again, it could be a new direction for efforts to improve memory in the healthy elderly and to develop new approaches for treating patients with disorders that affect memory.
For example, the brain circuits that rely on dopamine, a chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells, tend to decline in function as people get older, or sooner in people with neurological conditions. Understanding the relationship between motivation and memory could help find ways to keep the brain signals flowing.
June 23, 2014 – The evidence continues to mount that the way to protect against the common cognitive decline seen in too many senior citizens is to maintain a lifestyle of intellectual enrichment throughout life
Maybe senior citizens do not learn as much about new technologies, or other new innovations, just because their interests have not been sufficiently aroused. Maybe they forget things just because they have lost interest in them. Maybe enhanced curiosity can bring the senior brain to life.
“Our findings potentially have far-reaching implications for the public because they reveal insights into how a form of intrinsic motivation – curiosity – affects memory. These findings suggest ways to enhance learning in the classroom and other settings,” says lead author Dr. Matthias Gruber, of University of California at Davis.
For the study, participants rated their curiosity to learn the answers to a series of trivia questions. When they were later presented with a selected trivia question, there was a 14 second delay before the answer was provided, during which time the participants were shown a picture of a neutral, unrelated face.
Afterwards, participants performed a surprise recognition memory test for the faces that were presented, followed by a memory test for the answers to the trivia questions. During certain parts of the study, participants had their brains scanned via functional magnetic resonance imaging.
The study revealed three major findings.
First, as expected, when people were highly curious to find out the answer to a question, they were better at learning that information. More surprising, however, was that once their curiosity was aroused, they showed better learning of entirely unrelated information (face recognition) that they encountered but were not necessarily curious about. People were also better able to retain the information learned during a curious state across a 24-hour delay.
“Curiosity may put the brain in a state that allows it to learn and retain any kind of information, like a vortex that sucks in what you are motivated to learn, and also everything around it,” explains Dr. Gruber.
Second, the investigators found that when curiosity is stimulated, there is increased activity in the brain circuit related to reward.
“We showed that intrinsic motivation actually recruits the very same brain areas that are heavily involved in tangible, extrinsic motivation,” says Dr. Gruber. This reward circuit relies on dopamine, a chemical messenger that relays messages between neurons.
Third, the team discovered that when curiosity motivated learning, there was increased activity in the hippocampus, a brain region that is important for forming new memories, as well as increased interactions between the hippocampus and the reward circuit.
“So curiosity recruits the reward system, and interactions between the reward system and the hippocampus seem to put the brain in a state in which you are more likely to learn and retain information, even if that information is not of particular interest or importance,” explains principal investigator Dr. Charan Ranganath, also of UC Davis.
The hippocampus has been an important part of the brain in research concerning memory loss in senior citizens. Studies have established that people with Alzheimer’s disease often have impairments in hippocampal function.
The hippocampus is important to relational memory – the ability to bind together various items of an event, for example.
Being able to connect a person’s name with his or her face is an example of relational memory. These two pieces of information are stored in different parts of the brain, but the hippocampus “binds” them so that the next time you see that person, you remember his or her name.
Maybe this new research – emphasizing the ability of curiosity to stimulate activity in the hippocampus – can point the way to something that will pull the aging brain out of its slumber and bring to life memories once thought long gone.
growing body of evidence suggests that environmental stresses can cause changes in gene expression that are transmitted from parents to their offspring, making “epigenetics” a hot topic. Epigenetic modifications do not affect the DNA sequence of genes, but change how the DNA is packaged and how genes are expressed. Now, a study by scientists at UC Santa Cruz shows how epigenetic memory can be passed across generations and from cell to cell during development.
The study, published September 19 in Science, focused on one well studied epigenetic modification–the methylation of a DNA packaging protein called histone H3. Methylation of a particular amino acid (lysine 27) in histone H3 is known to turn off or “repress” genes, and this epigenetic mark is found in all multicellular animals, from humans to the tiny roundworm C. elegans that was used in this study.
“There has been ongoing debate about whether the methylation mark can be passed on through cell divisions and across generations, and we’ve now shown that it is,” said corresponding author Susan Strome, a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology at UC Santa Cruz.
Strome’s lab created worms with a mutation that knocks out the enzyme responsible for making the methylation mark, then bred them with normal worms. Using fluorescent labels, they were able to track the fates of marked and unmarked chromosomes under the microscope, from egg cells and sperm to the dividing cells of embryos after fertilization. Embryos from mutant egg cells fertilized by normal sperm had six methylated chromosomes (from the sperm) and six unmarked or “naked” chromosomes (from the egg).
As embryos develop, the cells replicate their chromosomes and divide. The researchers found that when a marked chromosome replicates, the two daughter chromosomes are both marked. But without the enzyme needed for histone methylation, the marks become progressively diluted with each cell division.
“The mark stays on the chromosomes derived from the initial chromosome that had the mark, but there’s not enough mark for both daughter chromosomes to be fully loaded,” Strome said. “So the mark is bright in a one-cell embryo, less bright after the cell divides, dimmer still in a four-cell embryo, and by about 24 to 48 cells we can’t see it anymore.”
The researchers then did the converse experiment, fertilizing normal egg cells with mutant sperm. The methylation enzyme (called PRC2) is normally present in egg cells but not in sperm, which don’t contribute much more than their chromosomes to the embryo. So the embryos in the new experiment still had six naked chromosomes (this time from the sperm) and six marked chromosomes, but now they also had the enzyme.
“Remarkably, when we watch the chromosomes through cell divisions, the marked chromosomes remain marked and stay bright, because the enzyme keeps restoring the mark, but the naked chromosomes stay naked, division after division,” Strome said. “That shows that the pattern of marks that was inherited is being transmitted through multiple cell divisions.”
Strome noted that the findings in this study of transmission of histone methylation in C. elegans have important implications in other organisms, even though different organisms use the repressive marker that was studied to regulate different genes during different aspects of development. All animals use the same enzyme to create the same methylation mark as a signal for gene repression, and her colleagues who study epigenetics in mice and humans are excited about the new findings, Strome said.
“Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance is not a solved field–it’s very much in flux,” she said. “There are dozens of potential epigenetic markers. In studies that document parent-to-child epigenetic inheritance, it’s not clear what’s being passed on, and understanding it molecularly is very complicated. We have a specific example of epigenetic memory that is passed on, and we can see it in the microscope. It’s one piece of the puzzle.”
The first author of the Science paper is Laura Gaydos, a graduate student in Strome’s lab at UC Santa Cruz who led the study for her Ph.D. thesis and is now a postdoctoral researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. The other coauthor is Wenchao Wang, who did one of the initial experiments as a graduate student in Strome’s lab several years ago when she was at Indiana University. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, a UCSC Dissertation Year Fellowship, and the ARCS Foundation.
“[In our paper] we also review the evidence for alternative explanations for cravings and unhealthy eating behavior,” the investigators wrote. “Because microbiota are easily manipulatable by prebiotics, probiotics, antibiotics, fecal transplants, and dietary changes, altering our microbiota offers a tractable approach to otherwise intractable problems of obesity and unhealthy eating.”
Scientists from the University of California–San Francisco, Arizona State University, and the University of New Mexico concluded from a literature review that gut microbes influence human eating behavior and dietary choices to favor consumption of the particular nutrients they grow best on instead of simply passively living off whatever nutrients we choose to send their way.
While it is unclear exactly how this occurs, the researchers believe the gut microbiome may influence our decisions by releasing signaling molecules into our gut. Because the gut is linked to the immune system, the endocrine system, and the nervous system, those signals could influence our physiologic and behavioral responses.
“Bacteria within the gut are manipulative,” said Carlo Maley, Ph.D., director of the UCSF Center for Evolution and Cancer and corresponding author on the team’s paper (“Is eating behavior manipulated by the gastrointestinal microbiota? Evolutionary pressures and potential mechanisms”), which appears in BioEssays. “There is a diversity of interests represented in the microbiome, some aligned with our own dietary goals, and others not.”
However, it turns out that we can influence the compatibility of these microscopic, single-celled microbes by deliberating altering what we ingest, added Dr. Maley, with measurable changes in the microbiome within 24 hours of diet change.
“Our diets have a huge impact on microbial populations in the gut,” he continued. “It’s a whole ecosystem, and it’s evolving on the time scale of minutes.:
There are even specialized bacteria that digest seaweed, found in humans in Japan, where seaweed is popular in the diet.
Research suggests that gut bacteria may be affecting our eating decisions in part by acting through the vagus nerve, which connects 100 million nerve cells from the digestive tract to the base of the brain.
“Microbes have the capacity to manipulate behavior and mood through altering the neural signals in the vagus nerve, changing taste receptors, producing toxins to make us feel bad, and releasing chemical rewards to make us feel good,” noted Athena Aktipis, Ph.D., co-founder of the Center for Evolution and Cancer with the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCSF and who is currently in Arizona State University’s department of psychology.
In mice, certain strains of bacteria increase anxious behavior. In humans, one clinical trial found that drinking a probiotic containing Lactobacillus casei improved mood in those who were feeling the lowest. The researchers proposed further research to test the sway microbes hold over us. For example, would transplantation into the gut of the bacteria requiring a nutrient from seaweed lead the human host to eat more seaweed?
The speed with which the microbiome can change may be encouraging to those who seek to improve health by altering microbial populations. This may be accomplished through food and supplement choices, by ingesting specific bacterial species in the form of probiotics, or by killing targeted species with antibiotics. Optimizing the balance of power among bacterial species in our gut might allow us to lead less obese and healthier lives, according to the authors.
Bullshit, Just publish and let the scientific community discredit or verify as it should. This is political action… not a scientific one.
A paper that claimed government scientists covered up data showing a connection between vaccines and autism has been pulled by its publisher
Earlier in August, the journal TranslationalNeurodegeneration, an open access, peer-reviewed journal, published a re-analysis of a 2004 paper published in Pediatrics that looked at MMR vaccines and autism. The re-analysis of the data, by biochemical engineer Brian Hooker of Simpson University, claimed to find a higher rate of vaccination against MMR among a subset — African-American boys — of the original study population who developed autism than among those who did not, a finding that Hooker claims was suppressed by the authors of the original paper from the Centers of Disease Control. One of the co-authors of the 2004 paper, William Thompson, released a statement admitting to omitting the data after a secretly recorded conversation he had with Hooker was released on YouTube. (Thompson was not available for comment.)
Now, however, the editors of TranslationalNeurodegeneration have retracted Hooker’s paper, noting on its site that “This article has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions. The journal and publisher believe that its continued availability may not be in the public interest. Definitive editorial action will be pending further investigation.”
Scientists have found that sending electrical currents through the scalp to a specific network of brain structures can enhance people’s memories, for up to a day.
In a small study of healthy young adults, researchers used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to fire up certain networks involved in memory. That, in turn, boosted participants’ performance on memory tests — an improvement apparent 24 hours after the brain stimulation.
During TMS, an electromagnetic coil is placed on the scalp to create electrical currents that stimulate brain cells. In the United States, the procedure is approved for hard-to-treat cases of depression that don’t improve with standard treatments.
Experts stressed, however, that no one should seek out TMS to get better grades or to treat memory loss.
“This study is really a proof-of-concept,” said senior researcher Joel Voss, an assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
“It will take a lot more development before this could be used therapeutically,” Voss said.
The study, which appears in the Aug. 29 issue of Science, included 16 healthy adults aged 21 to 40. All underwent MRI scans to pinpoint a network of brain cells right below the skull that are well connected with the hippocampus — a structure deep in the brain that is key in memory.
The researchers hoped that by stimulating those superficial brain structures with TMS, they could rev up the hippocampus and improve people’s memories.
To test that idea, Voss’s team had the study participants take a test of associative memory, where they had to learn and remember a set of arbitrary associations between faces and words. The men and women then received 20 minutes of TMS every day for five consecutive days.
After three days, the researchers found, test performance started to improve. The gains were still there when the participants took the test 24 hours after the final TMS session.
It wasn’t just a matter of the test-takers getting better over time, according to the researchers. On a separate week, study participants all had “placebo” TMS — with no real brain stimulation — and their test performance did not improve.
“This is a really interesting study,” said Mary Sano, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine in New York City.
According to Sano, the results help identify the “pathways of memory consolidation” in the healthy brain. “That kind of basic knowledge is very important to understanding what goes wrong in disease,” she said.
But she agreed that years of research remain before TMS could potentially be used to either treat memory problems — from Alzheimer’s disease, stroke or other brain disorders — or to give healthy people a memory boost.
“Everybody probably has a desire to gain more control over their memory,” Sano noted. But she said researchers have much to learn about whether there are safe, feasible ways to do that.
As for TMS, specifically, Voss said it’s “remarkable” that a few sessions were able to improve memory performance — even in people with no impairments. “It’s amazing that the brain is so plastic,” he said, referring to the brain’s capacity to change.
“But,” Voss stressed, “we have a lot to learn, in terms of safety and effectiveness. We don’t even know if (in someone with a brain disorder) this would have benefits, or possibly make things worse.”
Based on what’s known from depression treatment, TMS is relatively safe. The main side effects are a short-lived headache and scalp discomfort. There also appears to be a small risk of seizure.
Right now, TMS is pricey. When it’s used for depression, one session typically costs around $300. And there is no MRI involved, whereas, if TMS were used for memory problems, an MRI would be needed to zero in on the brain networks connected to the hippocampus.
The precise location of those networks varies from person to person, Voss explained.
His team is planning a study of TMS in older adults in the early stages of memory loss. “Within about five years, we should have an idea of whether it’s potentially useful,” Voss said.
When Akihiko Takahashi was a junior in college in 1978, he was like most of the other students at his university in suburban Tokyo. He had a vague sense of wanting to accomplish something but no clue what that something should be. But that spring he met a man who would become his mentor, and this relationship set the course of his entire career.
Takeshi Matsuyama was an elementary-school teacher, but like a small number of instructors in Japan, he taught not just young children but also college students who wanted to become teachers. At the university-affiliated elementary school where Matsuyama taught, he turned his classroom into a kind of laboratory, concocting and trying out new teaching ideas. When Takahashi met him, Matsuyama was in the middle of his boldest experiment yet — revolutionizing the way students learned math by radically changing the way teachers taught it.
Instead of having students memorize and then practice endless lists of equations — which Takahashi remembered from his own days in school — Matsuyama taught his college students to encourage passionate discussions among children so they would come to uncover math’s procedures, properties and proofs for themselves. One day, for example, the young students would derive the formula for finding the area of a rectangle; the next, they would use what they learned to do the same for parallelograms. Taught this new way, math itself seemed transformed. It was not dull misery but challenging, stimulating and even fun.
Takahashi quickly became a convert. He discovered that these ideas came from reformers in the United States, and he dedicated himself to learning to teach like an American. Over the next 12 years, as the Japanese educational system embraced this more vibrant approach to math, Takahashi taught first through sixth grade. Teaching, and thinking about teaching, was practically all he did. A quiet man with calm, smiling eyes, his passion for a new kind of math instruction could take his colleagues by surprise. “He looks very gentle and kind,” Kazuyuki Shirai, a fellow math teacher, told me through a translator. “But when he starts talking about math, everything changes.”
Takahashi was especially enthralled with an American group called the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, or N.C.T.M., which published manifestoes throughout the 1980s, prescribing radical changes in the teaching of math. Spending late nights at school, Takahashi read every one. Like many professionals in Japan, teachers often said they did their work in the name of their mentor. It was as if Takahashi bore two influences: Matsuyama and the American reformers.
Takahashi, who is 58, became one of his country’s leading math teachers, once attracting 1,000 observers to a public lesson. He participated in a classroom equivalent of “Iron Chef,” the popular Japanese television show. But in 1991, when he got the opportunity to take a new job in America, teaching at a school run by the Japanese Education Ministry for expats in Chicago, he did not hesitate. With his wife, a graphic designer, he left his friends, family, colleagues — everything he knew — and moved to the United States, eager to be at the center of the new math.
As soon as he arrived, he started spending his days off visiting American schools. One of the first math classes he observed gave him such a jolt that he assumed there must have been some kind of mistake. The class looked exactly like his own memories of school. “I thought, Well, that’s only this class,” Takahashi said. But the next class looked like the first, and so did the next and the one after that. The Americans might have invented the world’s best methods for teaching math to children, but it was difficult to find anyone actually using them.
It wasn’t the first time that Americans had dreamed up a better way to teach math and then failed to implement it. The same pattern played out in the 1960s, when schools gripped by a post-Sputnik inferiority complex unveiled an ambitious “new math,” only to find, a few years later, that nothing actually changed. In fact, efforts to introduce a better way of teaching math stretch back to the 1800s. The story is the same every time: a big, excited push, followed by mass confusion and then a return to conventional practices.
The trouble always starts when teachers are told to put innovative ideas into practice without much guidance on how to do it. In the hands of unprepared teachers, the reforms turn to nonsense, perplexing students more than helping them. One 1965 Peanuts cartoon depicts the young blond-haired Sally struggling to understand her new-math assignment: “Sets . . . one to one matching . . . equivalent sets . . . sets of one . . . sets of two . . . renaming two. . . .” After persisting for three valiant frames, she throws back her head and bursts into tears: “All I want to know is, how much is two and two?”
Today the frustrating descent from good intentions to tears is playing out once again, as states across the country carry out the latest wave of math reforms: the Common Core. A new set of academic standards developed to replace states’ individually designed learning goals, the Common Core math standards are like earlier math reforms, only further refined and more ambitious. Whereas previous movements found teachers haphazardly, through organizations like Takahashi’s beloved N.C.T.M. math-teacher group, the Common Core has a broader reach. A group of governors and education chiefs from 48 states initiated the writing of the standards, for both math and language arts, in 2009. The same year, the Obama administration encouraged the idea, making the adoption of rigorous “common standards” a criterion for receiving a portion of the more than $4 billion in Race to the Top grants. Forty-three states have adopted the standards.
The opportunity to change the way math is taught, as N.C.T.M. declared in its endorsement of the Common Core standards, is “unprecedented.” And yet, once again, the reforms have arrived without any good system for helping teachers learn to teach them. Responding to a recent survey by Education Week, teachers said they had typically spent fewer than four days in Common Core training, and that included training for the language-arts standards as well as the math.
Carefully taught, the assignments can help make math more concrete. Students don’t just memorize their times tables and addition facts but also understand how arithmetic works and how to apply it to real-life situations. But in practice, most teachers are unprepared and children are baffled, leaving parents furious. The comedian Louis C.K. parodied his daughters’ homework in an appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman”: “It’s like, Bill has three goldfish. He buys two more. How many dogs live in London?”
The inadequate implementation can make math reforms seem like the most absurd form of policy change — one that creates a whole new problem to solve. Why try something we’ve failed at a half-dozen times before, only to watch it backfire? Just four years after the standards were first released, this argument has gained traction on both sides of the aisle. Since March, four Republican governors have opposed the standards. In New York, a Republican candidate is trying to establish another ballot line, called Stop Common Core, for the November gubernatorial election. On the left, meanwhile, teachers’ unions in Chicago and New York have opposed the reforms.
The fact that countries like Japan have implemented a similar approach with great success offers little consolation when the results here seem so dreadful. Americans might have written the new math, but maybe we simply aren’t suited to it. “By God,” wrote Erick Erickson, editor of the website RedState, in an anti-Common Core attack, is it such “a horrific idea that we might teach math the way math has always been taught.”
The new math of the ‘60s, the new new math of the ‘80s and today’s Common Core math all stem from the idea that the traditional way of teaching math simply does not work. As a nation, we suffer from an ailment that John Allen Paulos, a Temple University math professor and an author, calls innumeracy — the mathematical equivalent of not being able to read. On national tests, nearly two-thirds of fourth graders and eighth graders are not proficient in math. More than half of fourth graders taking the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress could not accurately read the temperature on a neatly drawn thermometer. (They did not understand that each hash mark represented two degrees rather than one, leading many students to mistake 46 degrees for 43 degrees.) On the same multiple-choice test, three-quarters of fourth graders could not translate a simple word problem about a girl who sold 15 cups of lemonade on Saturday and twice as many on Sunday into the expression “15 + (2×15).” Even in Massachusetts, one of the country’s highest-performing states, math students are more than two years behind their counterparts in Shanghai.
Adulthood does not alleviate our quantitative deficiency. A 2012 study comparing 16-to-65-year-olds in 20 countries found that Americans rank in the bottom five in numeracy. On a scale of 1 to 5, 29 percent of them scored at Level 1 or below, meaning they could do basic arithmetic but not computations requiring two or more steps. One study that examined medical prescriptions gone awry found that 17 percent of errors were caused by math mistakes on the part of doctors or pharmacists. A survey found that three-quarters of doctors inaccurately estimated the rates of death and major complications associated with common medical procedures, even in their own specialty areas.
One of the most vivid arithmetic failings displayed by Americans occurred in the early 1980s, when the A&W restaurant chain released a new hamburger to rival the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. With a third-pound of beef, the A&W burger had more meat than the Quarter Pounder; in taste tests, customers preferred A&W’s burger. And it was less expensive. A lavish A&W television and radio marketing campaign cited these benefits. Yet instead of leaping at the great value, customers snubbed it.
Only when the company held customer focus groups did it become clear why. The Third Pounder presented the American public with a test in fractions. And we failed. Misunderstanding the value of one-third, customers believed they were being overcharged. Why, they asked the researchers, should they pay the same amount for a third of a pound of meat as they did for a quarter-pound of meat at McDonald’s. The “4” in “¼,” larger than the “3” in “⅓,” led them astray.
But our innumeracy isn’t inevitable. In the 1970s and the 1980s, cognitive scientists studied a population known as the unschooled, people with little or no formal education. Observing workers at a Baltimore dairy factory in the ‘80s, the psychologist Sylvia Scribner noted that even basic tasks required an extensive amount of math. For instance, many of the workers charged with loading quarts and gallons of milk into crates had no more than a sixth-grade education. But they were able to do math, in order to assemble their loads efficiently, that was “equivalent to shifting between different base systems of numbers.” Throughout these mental calculations, errors were “virtually nonexistent.” And yet when these workers were out sick and the dairy’s better-educated office workers filled in for them, productivity declined.
The unschooled may have been more capable of complex math than people who were specifically taught it, but in the context of school, they were stymied by math they already knew. Studies of children in Brazil, who helped support their families by roaming the streets selling roasted peanuts and coconuts, showed that the children routinely solved complex problems in their heads to calculate a bill or make change. When cognitive scientists presented the children with the very same problem, however, this time with pen and paper, they stumbled. A 12-year-old boy who accurately computed the price of four coconuts at 35 cruzeiros each was later given the problem on paper. Incorrectly using the multiplication method he was taught in school, he came up with the wrong answer. Similarly, when Scribner gave her dairy workers tests using the language of math class, their scores averaged around 64 percent. The cognitive-science research suggested a startling cause of Americans’ innumeracy: school.
Most American math classes follow the same pattern, a ritualistic series of steps so ingrained that one researcher termed it a cultural script. Some teachers call the pattern “I, We, You.” After checking homework, teachers announce the day’s topic, demonstrating a new procedure: “Today, I’m going to show you how to divide a three-digit number by a two-digit number” (I). Then they lead the class in trying out a sample problem: “Let’s try out the steps for 242 ÷ 16” (We). Finally they let students work through similar problems on their own, usually by silently making their way through a work sheet: “Keep your eyes on your own paper!” (You).
By focusing only on procedures — “Draw a division house, put ‘242’ on the inside and ‘16’ on the outside, etc.” — and not on what the procedures mean, “I, We, You” turns school math into a sort of arbitrary process wholly divorced from the real world of numbers. Students learn not math but, in the words of one math educator, answer-getting. Instead of trying to convey, say, the essence of what it means to subtract fractions, teachers tell students to draw butterflies and multiply along the diagonal wings, add the antennas and finally reduce and simplify as needed. The answer-getting strategies may serve them well for a class period of practice problems, but after a week, they forget. And students often can’t figure out how to apply the strategy for a particular problem to new problems.
How could you teach math in school that mirrors the way children learn it in the world? That was the challenge Magdalene Lampert set for herself in the 1980s, when she began teaching elementary-school math in Cambridge, Mass. She grew up in Trenton, accompanying her father on his milk deliveries around town, solving the milk-related math problems he encountered. “Like, you know: If Mrs. Jones wants three quarts of this and Mrs. Smith, who lives next door, wants eight quarts, how many cases do you have to put on the truck?” Lampert, who is 67 years old, explained to me.
She knew there must be a way to tap into what students already understood and then build on it. In her classroom, she replaced “I, We, You” with a structure you might call “You, Y’all, We.” Rather than starting each lesson by introducing the main idea to be learned that day, she assigned a single “problem of the day,” designed to let students struggle toward it — first on their own (You), then in peer groups (Y’all) and finally as a whole class (We). The result was a process that replaced answer-getting with what Lampert called sense-making. By pushing students to talk about math, she invited them to share the misunderstandings most American students keep quiet until the test. In the process, she gave them an opportunity to realize, on their own, why their answers were wrong.
Lampert, who until recently was a professor of education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, now works for the Boston Teacher Residency, a program serving Boston public schools, and the New Visions for Public Schools network in New York City, instructing educators on how to train teachers. In her book, “Teaching Problems and the Problems of Teaching,” Lampert tells the story of how one of her fifth-grade classes learned fractions. One day, a student made a “conjecture” that reflected a common misconception among children. The fraction 5 / 6, the student argued, goes on the same place on the number line as 5 / 12. For the rest of the class period, the student listened as a lineup of peers detailed all the reasons the two numbers couldn’t possibly be equivalent, even though they had the same numerator. A few days later, when Lampert gave a quiz on the topic (“Prove that 3 / 12 = 1 / 4 ,” for example), the student could confidently declare why: “Three sections of the 12 go into each fourth.”
Over the years, observers who have studied Lampert’s classroom have found that students learn an unusual amount of math. Rather than forgetting algorithms, they retain and even understand them. One boy who began fifth grade declaring math to be his worst subject ended it able to solve multiplication, long division and fraction problems, not to mention simple multivariable equations. It’s hard to look at Lampert’s results without concluding that with the help of a great teacher, even Americans can become the so-called math people we don’t think we are.
Among math reformers, Lampert’s work gained attention. Her research was cited in the same N.C.T.M. standards documents that Takahashi later pored over. She was featured in Time magazine in 1989 and was retained by the producers of “Sesame Street” to help create the show “Square One Television,” aimed at making math accessible to children. Yet as her ideas took off, she began to see a problem. In Japan, she was influencing teachers she had never met, by way of the N.C.T.M. standards. But where she lived, in America, teachers had few opportunities for learning the methods she developed.
American institutions charged with training teachers in new approaches to math have proved largely unable to do it. At most education schools, the professors with the research budgets and deanships have little interest in the science of teaching. Indeed, when Lampert attended Harvard’s Graduate School of Education in the 1970s, she could find only one listing in the entire course catalog that used the word “teaching” in its title. (Today only 19 out of 231 courses include it.) Methods courses, meanwhile, are usually taught by the lowest ranks of professors — chronically underpaid, overworked and, ultimately, ineffective.
Without the right training, most teachers do not understand math well enough to teach it the way Lampert does. “Remember,” Lampert says, “American teachers are only a subset of Americans.” As graduates of American schools, they are no more likely to display numeracy than the rest of us. “I’m just not a math person,” Lampert says her education students would say with an apologetic shrug.
Consequently, the most powerful influence on teachers is the one most beyond our control. The sociologist Dan Lortie calls the phenomenon the apprenticeship of observation. Teachers learn to teach primarily by recalling their memories of having been taught, an average of 13,000 hours of instruction over a typical childhood. The apprenticeship of observation exacerbates what the education scholar Suzanne Wilson calls education reform’s double bind. The very people who embody the problem — teachers — are also the ones charged with solving it.
Lampert witnessed the effects of the double bind in 1986, a year after California announced its intention to adopt “teaching for understanding,” a style of math instruction similar to Lampert’s. A team of researchers that included Lampert’s husband, David Cohen, traveled to California to see how the teachers were doing as they began to put the reforms into practice. But after studying three dozen classrooms over four years, they found the new teaching simply wasn’t happening. Some of the failure could be explained by active resistance. One teacher deliberately replaced a new textbook’s problem-solving pages with the old worksheets he was accustomed to using.
Much more common, though, were teachers who wanted to change, and were willing to work hard to do it, but didn’t know how. Cohen observed one teacher, for example, who claimed to have incited a “revolution” in her classroom. But on closer inspection, her classroom had changed but not in the way California reformers intended it to. Instead of focusing on mathematical ideas, she inserted new activities into the traditional “I, We You” framework. The supposedly cooperative learning groups she used to replace her rows of desks, for example, seemed in practice less a tool to encourage discussion than a means to dismiss the class for lunch (this group can line up first, now that group, etc.).
And how could she have known to do anything different? Her principal praised her efforts, holding them up as an example for others. Official math-reform training did not help, either. Sometimes trainers offered patently bad information — failing to clarify, for example, that even though teachers were to elicit wrong answers from students, they still needed, eventually, to get to correct ones. Textbooks, too, barely changed, despite publishers’ claims to the contrary.
With the Common Core, teachers are once more being asked to unlearn an old approach and learn an entirely new one, essentially on their own. Training is still weak and infrequent, and principals — who are no more skilled at math than their teachers — remain unprepared to offer support. Textbooks, once again, have received only surface adjustments, despite the shiny Common Core labels that decorate their covers. “To have a vendor say their product is Common Core is close to meaningless,” says Phil Daro, an author of the math standards.
Left to their own devices, teachers are once again trying to incorporate new ideas into old scripts, often botching them in the process. One especially nonsensical result stems from the Common Core’s suggestion that students not just find answers but also “illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.” The idea of utilizing arrays of dots makes sense in the hands of a skilled teacher, who can use them to help a student understand how multiplication actually works. For example, a teacher trying to explain multiplication might ask a student to first draw three rows of dots with two dots in each row and then imagine what the picture would look like with three or four or five dots in each row. Guiding the student through the exercise, the teacher could help her see that each march up the times table (3×2, 3×3, 3×4) just means adding another dot per row. But if a teacher doesn’t use the dots to illustrate bigger ideas, they become just another meaningless exercise. Instead of memorizing familiar steps, students now practice even stranger rituals, like drawing dots only to count them or breaking simple addition problems into complicated forms (62+26, for example, must become 60+2+20+6) without understanding why. This can make for even poorer math students. “In the hands of unprepared teachers,” Lampert says, “alternative algorithms are worse than just teaching them standard algorithms.”
No wonder parents and some mathematicians denigrate the reforms as “fuzzy math.” In the warped way untrained teachers interpret them, they are fuzzy.
When Akihiko Takahashi arrived in America, he was surprised to find how rarely teachers discussed their teaching methods. A year after he got to Chicago, he went to a one-day conference of teachers and mathematicians and was perplexed by the fact that the gathering occurred only twice a year. In Japan, meetings between math-education professors and teachers happened as a matter of course, even before the new American ideas arrived. More distressing to Takahashi was that American teachers had almost no opportunities to watch one another teach.
In Japan, teachers had always depended on jugyokenkyu, which translates literally as “lesson study,” a set of practices that Japanese teachers use to hone their craft. A teacher first plans lessons, then teaches in front of an audience of students and other teachers along with at least one university observer. Then the observers talk with the teacher about what has just taken place. Each public lesson poses a hypothesis, a new idea about how to help children learn. And each discussion offers a chance to determine whether it worked. Without jugyokenkyu, it was no wonder the American teachers’ work fell short of the model set by their best thinkers. Without jugyokenyku, Takahashi never would have learned to teach at all. Neither, certainly, would the rest of Japan’s teachers.
The best discussions were the most microscopic, minute-by-minute recollections of what had occurred, with commentary. If the students were struggling to represent their subtractions visually, why not help them by, say, arranging tile blocks in groups of 10, a teacher would suggest. Or after a geometry lesson, someone might note the inherent challenge for children in seeing angles as not just corners of a triangle but as quantities — a more difficult stretch than making the same mental step for area. By the end, the teachers had learned not just how to teach the material from that day but also about math and the shape of students’ thoughts and how to mold them.
If teachers weren’t able to observe the methods firsthand, they could find textbooks, written by the leading instructors and focusing on the idea of allowing students to work on a single problem each day. Lesson study helped the textbook writers home in on the most productive problems. For example, if you are trying to decide on the best problem to teach children to subtract a one-digit number from a two-digit number using borrowing, or regrouping, you have many choices: 11 minus 2, 18 minus 9, etc. Yet from all these options, five of the six textbook companies in Japan converged on the same exact problem, Toshiakira Fujii, a professor of math education at Tokyo Gakugei University, told me. They determined that 13 minus 9 was the best. Other problems, it turned out, were likely to lead students to discover only one solution method. With 12 minus 3, for instance, the natural approach for most students was to take away 2 and then 1 (the subtraction-subtraction method). Very few would take 3 from 10 and then add back 2 (the subtraction-addition method).
But Japanese teachers knew that students were best served by understanding both methods. They used 13 minus 9 because, faced with that particular problem, students were equally likely to employ subtraction-subtraction (take away 3 to get 10, and then subtract the remaining 6 to get 4) as they were to use subtraction-addition (break 13 into 10 and 3, and then take 9 from 10 and add the remaining 1 and 3 to get 4). A teacher leading the “We” part of the lesson, when students shared their strategies, could do so with full confidence that both methods would emerge.
By 1995, when American researchers videotaped eighth-grade classrooms in the United States and Japan, Japanese schools had overwhelmingly traded the old “I, We, You” script for “You, Y’all, We.” (American schools, meanwhile didn’t look much different than they did before the reforms.) Japanese students had changed too. Participating in class, they spoke more often than Americans and had more to say. In fact, when Takahashi came to Chicago initially, the first thing he noticed was how uncomfortably silent all the classrooms were. One teacher must have said, “Shh!” a hundred times, he said. Later, when he took American visitors on tours of Japanese schools, he had to warn them about the noise from children talking, arguing, shrieking about the best way to solve problems. The research showed that Japanese students initiated the method for solving a problem in 40 percent of the lessons; Americans initiated 9 percent of the time. Similarly, 96 percent of American students’ work fell into the category of “practice,” while Japanese students spent only 41 percent of their time practicing. Almost half of Japanese students’ time was spent doing work that the researchers termed “invent/think.” (American students spent less than 1 percent of their time on it.) Even the equipment in classrooms reflected the focus on getting students to think. Whereas American teachers all used overhead projectors, allowing them to focus students’ attention on the teacher’s rules and equations, rather than their own, in Japan, the preferred device was a blackboard, allowing students to track the evolution of everyone’s ideas.
Japanese schools are far from perfect. Though lesson study is pervasive in elementary and middle school, it is less so in high school, where the emphasis is on cramming for college entrance exams. As is true in the United States, lower-income students in Japan have recently been falling behind their peers, and people there worry about staying competitive on international tests. Yet while the United States regularly hovers in the middle of the pack or below on these tests, Japan scores at the top. And other countries now inching ahead of Japan imitate the jugyokenkyu approach. Some, like China, do this by drawing on their own native jugyokenkyu-style traditions (zuanyan jiaocai, or “studying teaching materials intensively,” Chinese teachers call it). Others, including Singapore, adopt lesson study as a deliberate matter of government policy. Finland, meanwhile, made the shift by carving out time for teachers to spend learning. There, as in Japan, teachers teach for 600 or fewer hours each school year, leaving them ample time to prepare, revise and learn. By contrast, American teachers spend nearly 1,100 hours with little feedback.
It could be tempting to dismiss Japan’s success as a cultural novelty, an unreproducible result of an affluent, homogeneous, and math-positive society. Perhaps the Japanese are simply the “math people” Americans aren’t. Yet when I visited Japan, every teacher I spoke to told me a story that sounded distinctly American. “I used to hate math,” an elementary-school teacher named Shinichiro Kurita said through a translator. “I couldn’t calculate. I was slow. I was always at the bottom of the ladder, wondering why I had to memorize these equations.” Like Takahashi, when he went to college and saw his instructors teaching differently, “it was an enlightenment.”
Learning to teach the new way himself was not easy. “I had so much trouble,” Kurita said. “I had absolutely no idea how to do it.” He listened carefully for what Japanese teachers call children’s twitters — mumbled nuggets of inchoate thoughts that teachers can mold into the fully formed concept they are trying to teach. And he worked hard on bansho, the term Japanese teachers use to describe the art of blackboard writing that helps students visualize the flow of ideas from problem to solution to broader mathematical principles. But for all his efforts, he said, “the children didn’t twitter, and I couldn’t write on the blackboard.” Yet Kurita didn’t give up — and he had resources to help him persevere. He went to study sessions with other teachers, watched as many public lessons as he could and spent time with his old professors. Eventually, as he learned more, his students started to do the same. Today Kurita is the head of the math department at Setagaya Elementary School in Tokyo, the position once held by Takahashi’s mentor, Matsuyama.
Of all the lessons Japan has to offer the United States, the most important might be the belief in patience and the possibility of change. Japan, after all, was able to shift a country full of teachers to a new approach. Telling me his story, Kurita quoted what he described as an old Japanese saying about perseverance: “Sit on a stone for three years to accomplish anything.” Admittedly, a tenacious commitment to improvement seems to be part of the Japanese national heritage, showing up among teachers, autoworkers, sushi chefs and tea-ceremony masters. Yet for his part, Akihiko Takahashi extends his optimism even to a cause that can sometimes seem hopeless — the United States. After the great disappointment of moving here in 1991, he made a decision his colleagues back in Japan thought was strange. He decided to stay and try to help American teachers embrace the innovative ideas that reformers like Magdalene Lampert pioneered.
Today Takahashi lives in Chicago and holds a full-time job in the education department at DePaul University. (He also has a special appointment at his alma mater in Japan, where he and his wife frequently visit.) When it comes to transforming teaching in America, Takahashi sees promise in individual American schools that have decided to embrace lesson study. Some do this deliberately, working with Takahashi to transform the way they teach math. Others have built versions of lesson study without using that name. Sometimes these efforts turn out to be duds. When carefully implemented, though, they show promise. In one experiment in which more than 200 American teachers took part in lesson study, student achievement rose, as did teachers’ math knowledge — two rare accomplishments.
Training teachers in a new way of thinking will take time, and American parents will need to be patient. In Japan, the transition did not happen overnight. When Takahashi began teaching in the new style, parents initially complained about the young instructor experimenting on their children. But his early explorations were confined to just a few lessons, giving him a chance to learn what he was doing and to bring the parents along too. He began sending home a monthly newsletter summarizing what the students had done in class and why. By his third year, he was sending out the newsletter every day. If they were going to support their children, and support Takahashi, the parents needed to know the new math as well. And over time, they learned.
To cure our innumeracy, we will have to accept that the traditional approach we take to teaching math — the one that can be mind-numbing, but also comfortingly familiar — does not work. We will have to come to see math not as a list of rules to be memorized but as a way of looking at the world that really makes sense.
The other shift Americans will have to make extends beyond just math. Across all school subjects, teachers receive a pale imitation of the preparation, support and tools they need. And across all subjects, the neglect shows in students’ work. In addition to misunderstanding math, American students also, on average, write weakly, read poorly, think unscientifically and grasp history only superficially. Examining nearly 3,000 teachers in six school districts, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently found that nearly two-thirds scored less than “proficient” in the areas of “intellectual challenge” and “classroom discourse.” Odds-defying individual teachers can be found in every state, but the overall picture is of a profession struggling to make the best of an impossible hand.
Most policies aimed at improving teaching conceive of the job not as a craft that needs to be taught but as a natural-born talent that teachers either decide to muster or don’t possess. Instead of acknowledging that changes like the new math are something teachers must learn over time, we mandate them as “standards” that teachers are expected to simply “adopt.” We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that their students don’t improve.
Here, too, the Japanese experience is telling. The teachers I met in Tokyo had changed not just their ideas about math; they also changed their whole conception of what it means to be a teacher. “The term ‘teaching’ came to mean something totally different to me,” a teacher named Hideto Hirayama told me through a translator. It was more sophisticated, more challenging — and more rewarding. “The moment that a child changes, the moment that he understands something, is amazing, and this transition happens right before your eyes,” he said. “It seems like my heart stops every day.”
Children with autism spectral disorders were found to have had a 60 percent greater chance of having had organophosphates sprayed near their mothers’ homes while they were still in the womb. Children with development disorders were nearly 150 percent more likely to have had carbamate pesticides applied near the home during their mothers’ pregnancy. Both of the associations grew stronger as the pesticide applications encroached more closely upon their mothers’ homes.
“Applications of two of the most common agricultural pesticides (organophosphates and pyrethroids) nearby the home may increase the prevalence of [autism spectrum disorders],” the researchers write in their paper, published Monday in Environmental Health Perspectives. “Our findings relating agricultural pesticides to [development disorders] were less robust, but were suggestive of an [association] with applications of carbamates during pregnancy nearby the home.”
(NaturalNews) Autism rates have risen from 1:10,000 in 1981 to 1:68 in 2014. Multiple studies have shown that the prevalence of toxins in our environment to which children are exposed during their developmental stages are the main culprit; however, many other factors should be considered as well, including GMOs and vaccinations.
The multitude of dangers and the associated cover ups
New research has revealed that autism and intellectual disability rates are linked to exposure to harmful factors during congenital development. A professor of genetic medicine and human genetics at the University of Chicago, stated:
“Essentially what happens is during pregnancy there are certain sensitive periods where the fetus is very vulnerable to a range of small molecules — from things like plasticisers, prescription drugs, environmental pesticides and other things. Some of these small molecules essentially alter normal development. Autism appears to be strongly correlated with rate of congenital malformations of the genitals in males across the country, this gives an indicator of environmental load and the effect is surprisingly strong. The strongest predictors for autism were associated with the environment; congenital malformations on the reproductive system in males.”
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine compared brain autopsies of autistic children who died from unrelated causes to those brains of normal children. The autistic brains showed abnormal patches of disorganized neurons that disrupted the distinct layers in the cortex. This information suggested that the abnormalities occurred during the key developmental stages that occur during weeks 19 to 30 of gestation, which shows that timing is just as important as the toxin to which the child is exposed.
In Europe, autism rates have remained fairly steady over the last decade. This information coincides with the fact that Europe has significant restrictions or bans on the production and sale of GMOs and pesticides. In the United States, government agencies have approved massive amounts of pesticides and, not long ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raised the allowable concentration of Monsanto’s glyphosate on food crops, edible oils and animal feed.
A study published by Earth Open Sources provided a review of the peer-reviewed scientific literature documenting the serious health hazards caused by glyphosate and Roundup herbicide formulations. It stated:
“Our examination of the evidence leads us to the conclusion that the current approval of glyphosate and Roundup is deeply flawed and unreliable. In this report, we examine the industry studies and regulatory documents that led to the approval of glyphosate. We show that industry and regulators knew as long ago as the 1980s and 1990s that glyphosate causes malformation — but that this information was not made public.”
It’s not news that the brain of an embryo, fetus or infant is at risk of significant and permanent damage from exposure to chemicals. A study published in the Journal Reproductive Toxicology identified the presence of pesticides associated with genetically modified (GM) food in maternal, fetal and non-pregnant women’s blood. It concluded that Monsanto’s Bt toxin was clearly detectable and appears to cross the placenta to the fetus.
Furthermore, research has confirmed that mothers who are exposed to commonly used pesticides give birth to children with lower intelligence, structural brain abnormalities, behavioral disorders, compromised motor skills and higher rates of brain cancer.
These issues began occurring even before the vigorous vaccine schedule used in the U.S. was introduced. Vaccines add to the issue since there is evidence to support the argument that they are laced with toxins. Vaccine manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and health authorities who clearly knew about the multiple dangers have also been shown by studies to have withheld this information from the public.
The sad fact is that autism rates will likely continue to climb until these dangerous and common exposure points begin to be removed from our environment and clean, potent nutrition becomes the focus of the nation.
About the author:
Derek Henry, B.Kin, is a highly revered holistic health coach and world renowned natural health blogger who created Healing the Body to help people understand the fundamental principles to exceptional health so they can overcome their own health challenges.
His popular Wellness Transformation E-Guide and Ultimate Reset coaching program gives people step by step solutions to achieve a healthier body and mind, while empowering them to maintain that lifestyle through a fundamental education based on the 4 pillars of true health.
(NaturalNews) Mercury tests conducted on vaccines at the Natural News Forensic Food Lab have revealed a shockingly high level of toxic mercury in an influenza vaccine (flu shot) made by GlaxoSmithKline (lot #9H2GX). Tests conducted via ICP-MS document mercury in the Flulaval vaccine at a shocking 51 parts per million, or over 25,000 times higher than the maximum contaminant level of inorganic mercury in drinking water set by the EPA.(1)
The tests were conducted via ICP-MS using a 4-point mercury calibration curve for accuracy. Even then, the extremely high level of mercury found in this flu shot was higher than anything we’ve ever tested, including tuna and ocean fish which are known for high mercury contamination.
In fact, the concentration of mercury found in this GSK flu shot was 100 times higher than the highest level of mercury we’ve ever tested in contaminated fish. And yet vaccines are injected directly into the body, making them many times more toxic than anything ingested orally. As my previous research into foods has already documented, mercury consumed orally is easily blocked by eating common foods like strawberries or peanut butter, both of which bind with and capture about 90% of dietary mercury.
Here are the actual results of what we found in the influenza vaccine from GSK (lot #9H2GX):
Aluminum: 0.4 ppm
Mercury: 51 ppm
All tests were conducted via calibrated, high-end ICP-MS instrumentation as shown in these lab videos.
Doctors, pharmacists and mainstream media continue to lie about mercury in vaccines
As you take in the scientifically-validated fact that mercury exists at very high concentrations in flu vaccines, keep in mind that most doctors, pharmacists and members of the mainstream media continue to stage an elaborate lie that claims mercury has “already been removed from vaccines.”
Never mind the fact that the use of mercury is admitted right on the package containing the vaccine vial. And now, Natural News has scientifically confirmed the mercury content of flu vaccines using high-end laboratory instrumentation. The existence of high mercury in flu shots is irrefutable.
Anyone who claims mercury has been removed from all vaccines is either wildly ignorant or willfully lying. And anyone who would knowingly allow themselves to be injected with mercury is probably already a victim of the kind of brain damage well known to be caused by mercury.
Insert admits “no controlled trials”
Shockingly, the package insert for this flu shot readily admits the vaccine has never been subjected to scientific clinical trials:
“There have been no controlled trials adequately demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with Flulaval,” the package insert claims in tiny text (that no one reads).
This is printed right on the insert, yet no one in the mainstream media will ever report this astonishing admission. This statement, all by itself, is a confession that flu shot marketing is a fraud.
Across the board, flu shots are heavily propagandized and promoted with the implication that they have zero risks while offering 100% protection. No one in the mainstream media ever questions this claim even though the package insert openly admits the claim is complete hokum and has never been subjected to scientific scrutiny.
No evidence of safety or effectiveness in pregnant women
But that’s not all the insert admits. It also says:
“Safety and effectiveness of Flulaval have not been established in pregnant women, nursing mothers or children.”
And yet everywhere you go in America, there’s a Walgreens, CVS or Wal-Mart pharmacy promoting flu shots for pregnant women. Never mind the fact that flu shot safety has never been established in pregnant women, and never mind the obvious fact that you should never inject a pregnant women with mercury in the first place!
Who needs scientific proof when you’ve got the full propaganda of the media and the government to back you up? Anyone who dares question the scientific validity of flu shot safety for pregnant women is immediately attacked as being an opponent of all vaccines.
Apparently, the only requirement to be accepted by the vaccine community is to believe in medical fairy tales while abandoning all critical thinking and scientific skepticism. In the vaccine industry, genuine science is simply not allowed. No wonder two former Merck virologists filed a False Claims Act with the federal government, accusing the company of knowingly fabricating its vaccine efficacy data to trick the FDA.
Never proven safe or effective in children, either
Flu shots are heavily promoted for children, right alongside mumps and measles vaccines. But it turns out flu shots are never scientifically tested for safety or efficacy in children.
Check out what the insert for this vaccine directly admits:
“Safety and effectiveness of Flulaval in pediatric patients have not been established.”
It’s right there in black and white… an open admission. Yet flu shots are aggressively marketed to parents and children as if they were Tic-Tacs. The real beauty of the entire vaccine industry scam is that no scientific evidence is required! You don’t have to have any proof, all you have to do is believe in vaccines as a matter of faith.
Never tested for cancer risk
Do flu shots cause cancer? The honest, scientific answer is that these shots are never tested for that. As the insert readily admits:
“Flulaval has not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or for impairment of fertility.”
Believe it or not, the Flulaval vaccine also warns that no one should be given this shot if they’ve already received another flu shot at some previous time:
“Do not administer Flulaval to anyone… following previous administration of any influenza vaccine.”
And yet, amazingly, people are encouraged to get flu shots year after year, even though the package insert directly warns against anyone taking a series of influenza vaccines.
Admission that flu shots contain formaldehyde and sodium deoxycholate
The same insert that admits this vaccine has never been proven safe in children or pregnant women also openly admits that it contains neurotoxic chemicals.
Per the insert, each dose of Flulaval contains up to 25 mcg of formaldehyde (a neurotoxin) and up to 50 mcg of sodium deoxycholate.
This is on top of the 25 mcg of mercury you’ll get in every dose. And remember, this is mercury that’s injected directly into your body, so you absorb 100% of this mercury (unlike mercury you eat, where most of it sticks to food fibers and is transported out of your body).
Total admission that flu shots cause seizures, convulsions and Guillian-Barre syndrome
Ever wonder what all these toxic chemicals and heavy metals cause in humans? Flu shots vaccines, it turns out, are already known to cause a huge number of devastating health effects.
Predictably, there is a massive disinfo campaign across the mainstream media, Wikipedia, medical journals and government propaganda agencies (CDC, FDA, etc.) to pretend that flu shots have no risks whatsoever. Yet the insert that comes with the vaccine openly admits the flu shot has been linked with a long, frightening list of serious adverse effects. As this Flulaval insert says (see photo below):
“In addition to reports in clinical trials, the following adverse events have been identified during postapproval use of Flulaval…
Here’s a photo of this section of the package insert, complete with the GlaxoSmithKline toll-free phone number:
If you take flu shots, you are being poisoned by quacks
The upshot of all this is that flu shots utterly lack any scientific evidence of safety of efficacy. We don’t know if they work at all, in other words, and neither does the vaccine manufacturer. Neither do the doctors or medical staff who administer them. Flu vaccines are injected into people purely as a matter of blind faith in the very same companies that have already been convicted of felony crimes.
Trusting a flu shot made by a corporation of felons is a lot like trusting the purity of heroin you buy from a street dealer. Both flu shots and street heroin have at least one thing in common, by the way: neither has ever been tested for safety.
We also know that flu shots contain neurotoxic chemicals and heavy metals in alarming concentrations. This is irrefutable scientific fact. We also know that there is no “safe” form of mercury just like there is no safe form of heroin — all forms of mercury are highly toxic when injected into the body (ethyl, methyl, organic, inorganic).
The only people who argue with this are those who are already mercury poisoned and thus incapable of rational thought. Mercury damages brain function, you see, which is exactly what causes some people to be tricked into thinking vaccines are safe and effective.
Technically, you’d have to be stupid to believe such a thing, as the vaccine insert directly tells you precisely the opposite.
Share this story, spread the truth
Share this story with everyone who needs to know the truth about flu vaccines. This message needs to get out. Every fact stated in this article is 100% true and verified. The quotes from the Flulaval package insert are on-the-record statements from GlaxoSmithKline.
And for the record, I am not an opponent of the theory of vaccination. What I’m against is the continued use of toxic heavy metals and chemicals in vaccines. I’m also opposed to the wildly fraudulent marketing of vaccines. If any other product were marketed with the same lies and deceptions as vaccines, they would be immediately charged with fraud and misrepresentation by the FTC. But somehow when the vaccine industry commits routine fraud, everybody pretends it isn’t happening.
Even with all the marketing fraud taking place, if the vaccine manufacturers would stop poisoning the population with vaccine additives (by removing mercury, formaldehyde and other chemicals from their products), nearly all opposition to vaccines would rapidly disappear.
It is well established that brain games and puzzles act as calisthenics for our brains, expanding their capacity and improving their overall health. More surprising are the findings of a study led by researchers at the University of Michigan. It shows that just as effective in building cognitive strength are social interactions.
The design of the study was simple – the researchers took one group of participants, randomly paired people up, and instructed them to get to know each other by asking probing questions. After ten minutes of such interaction, the participants were given a battery of cognitive tests. In parallel, participants in a second group were given challenging brain-game activities to perform, also for ten minutes, and followed by the same cognitive tests. A third group served as the control and took the tests with no prelude. The result? The social interaction group outperformed the control group on the cognitive tests, and did not differ from the brain games group. For the researchers, this suggests that the active perspective-taking one does in conversation involves mental gymnastics as demanding as any brain-teaser.
I find it fascinating that a good way to keep your brain “oiled” is simply to spend time talking with people. I’m also happy to note that this makes the case for open innovation even stronger.
Open innovation projects (where organizations facing tricky problems invite outsiders to take a crack at solving them) always present cognitive challenges, of course. But they also force new, boundary-spanning human interactions and fresh perspective-taking. They require people to reach out to other people, and thus foster social interaction.
Two other recent studies underscore how deeply social an activity open innovation is. The first, from Newcastle Business School in the UK, looks directly at knowledge exchange between higher education institutions and industry (a typical exchange in open innovation challenges) and concludes that its success depends upon the social processes that facilitate the collaboration. The second, from the University of Lapland in Finland, explores what executives who sponsor open innovation challenges value most about them, and finds that the broader benefits of the multidisciplinary social interaction outweigh the concrete results of getting specific solutions.
In my experience, the “solvers” of challenges also recognize the value of open innovation as social exercise. Take one of the teams that recently responded to the GE/NFL Head Health Open Innovation Challenge, which NineSigma managed. GE and the NFL were looking for fresh approaches to diagnosing concussions, and someone at The University of Akron saw a connection to “neuromarketing” work being done by the school’s Suarez Applied Marketing Research Laboratories. But they recognized they would also need to address other angles, so they assembled a team drawing on the University’s Department of Sport Science and Wellness Education, its Statistics Department, Akron Children’s Hospital, and NE Ohio Medical University. These groups had never before worked together on a common solution, or even imagined that their research could be combined into a larger solution.
As it happens, the solution they proposed didn’t win the challenge. But the University of Michigan research suggests the team members themselves got smarter in the process. Maybe that’s why they are eager to maintain the connection, and have collaborated in other ways since. And I would go a step further and posit that GE and the NFL built their brainpower, too – not just because they got a smart solution to their challenge but because they expanded their networks. Every time we run a technology search for an organization, proposals pour in from world-class solution providers – usually more than a dozen, and often many times that amount. When our clients reach out to these submitters, they make new connections that sharpen their thinking – even more so if the interaction persists after the immediate search is concluded.
On this point, I can’t help recalling yet another interesting study, published in NatureNeuroscience in 2011. It demonstrated a positive correlation between the size of the amygdala – a part of the human brain that performs a primary role in the processing of memory and emotional reactions – and the size and complexity of a person’s social network. In other words: Bigger brain, greater social interactions. It’s a correlation, and the first assumption people make is that the larger amygdala supports greater emotional intelligence and better memory, allowing the individual’s social network to expand. But perhaps the causality also goes the other way, and interacting widely with others – as companies do when they use open innovation – grows the capacity of brains.
A study from researchers at the University of Eastern Finland shows that there may be a link between cynicism and brain health.
This study was published in the Journal of American Academy of Neurology.
According to Austrian Tribune, those who are less likely to trust others are more likely to develop dementia. Those who have a high level of cynicism like this are two and half times more likely to develop the brain disease.
Researchers divided 1,500 people ages 65 to 79 into groups based on their cynicism.
The study defined cynicism as a person’s belief that others are motivated by selfishness. Researchers discovered a person’s level of cynicism by performing an eight question survey.
They were grouped as highly cynical, moderately cynical, and least cynical.
The higher on the cynicism scale, the more likely a person was to smoke or gain weight during the study.
Cynics, according to AP, view their attitudes differently, but they have shown researchers a link between attitude and health.
Researchers eventually want to see if treating someone’s attitude problem can influence the treatments available for dementia.
A hormone associated with longevity also appears to make people’s brains work better.
The in Cell Reports could someday lead to drugs that improve memory and learning, researchers say.
“We’ve discovered a way to potentially boost cognition,” says , one of the study’s authors who does research on aging and the brain at the University of California, San Francisco. And that could mean “a very new way to treat diseases,” ranging from Alzheimer’s to schizophrenia, she says.
The hormone is named Klotho, after the Fate from Greek mythology who spins the thread of life. Scientists have known for more than a decade that people and animals tend to live longer if they have high levels of Klotho in their bodies.
And that led Dubal and researchers at the to wonder whether a hormone that protects the body against aging might also protect the brain. So the team set out to see whether Klotho offered a way to “prevent the cognitive decline that comes with aging,” Dubal says.
To find out, they studied more than 700 people between the ages of 52 and 85. About 1 in 5 of these people had a form of the Klotho gene that causes their bodies to produce high levels of the Klotho hormone.
The team expected to find that people with high levels of the hormone experienced less cognitive decline than people with lower levels. “In fact what we found was not consistent with our hypothesis,” Dubal says. “We were completely surprised.”
What they found was that the people with lots of Klotho experienced just as much cognitive decline as other people. Their brains weren’t protected against aging at all. But their brains were different nonetheless, Dubal says.
“Those that carried the genetic variant that increased their Klotho levels showed better cognitive performance across the lifespan,” Dubal says. At any given age, people with lots of Klotho scored higher on tests of learning and memory, language and attention, she says.
So instead of discovering a way to protect the brain from aging, the team had found a hormone that appears to make people smarter.
To learn more, the team began studying mice that had been genetically engineered to produce high levels of the mouse version of Klotho. And this time, the researchers got exactly the result they hoped for. “Elevating klotho made the mice smarter across all the cognitive tests that we put them through,” Dubal says
A look at the brains of these mice suggested a reason. There was evidence that in areas involved in learning and memory, Klotho was causing a change that strengthened the connections between brain cells.
All this suggests that a drug able to raise levels of Klotho might be able to help people with Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases, Dubal says, even if the drug didn’t stop the disease itself. “Our goal and vision is that there will be a therapy that improves the lives of people that are suffering from diseases of the brain,” Dubal says.
But any treatment based on manipulating Klotho levels in people remains years away, says , who oversees research on cognitive change at the National Institute on Aging. The NIA and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke both helped fund the research.
“The beauty of this study is that the finding gives us another place to look, another path to take as we try to determine targets for the development of drugs,” Wagster says. It also raises questions about whether Klotho levels may be influenced by diet, exercise or brain activity – all of which have been shown to affect cognitive function in older people, she says.
There’s a lot researchers still don’t know about the Klotho, which was discovered in 1997. For example, it’s not clear why carrying one copy of the gene associated with higher levels of the hormone improves cognitive function while carrying two copies seems to impair function.
But knowing that a naturally occurring hormone affects cognition in both mice and people should speed efforts to find treatments for diseases that cause impaired brain function, Wagster says.
Innocent looking Maryland girls used a knife and tortured the first male they could some poor autistic boy these cunts innocent teen girls forced him to perform sex act with family pet while they filmed it according to the sheriff’s office – NY Daily News.
Comments Off on Oh here is the little darling girl! She and her Cunt accomplice tortured autistic boy with a knife, forced him to perform sex act with an animal and filmed their evil femi-nazi act!
Autism refers to a collection of disorders, usually diagnosed during childhood, that affect language and social skills.
For the study, Rzhetsky’s team analyzed nearly 100 million U.S. health insurance claims for a county-by-county look at rates of autism and intellectual disability. They also examined rates of genital malformations in boys — such as micropenis, undescended testicles and hypospadias (in which the urethral opening is on the underside of the penis).
Those genital malformations were used as an indicator of parents’ exposure to environmental pollutants, Rzhetsky said. The exact causes of those birth defects are not clear, but some studies have suggested that certain environmental toxins — including pesticides and lead — might play a role, he said.
In this study, county rates of genital birth defects ranged from none to just over 2 percent. Overall, the researchers found, for every 1 percent increase in those birth defects, the rate of autism rose by close to 300 percent.
Even accounting for county demographics, a strong link existed between rates of genital defects and autism, Rzhetsky said.
But the reasons for the correlation aren’t clear. Genes could play some role, Rzhetsky said, and so could environmental factors other than pollutants.
Halladay said endocrine disruptors — chemicals found in plastics, food cans and other everyday products — have been linked to genital birth defects. But so far, researchers haven’t found a connection to autism risk.
On the other hand, some studies have found a link between high exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and an increased autism risk, Halladay said.
IF you walk into a farm-supply store today, you’re likely to find a bag of antibiotic powder that claims to boost the growth of poultry and livestock. That’s because decades of agricultural research has shown that antibiotics seem to flip a switch in young animals’ bodies, helping them pack on pounds. Manufacturers brag about the miraculous effects of feeding antibiotics to chicks and nursing calves. Dusty agricultural journals attest to the ways in which the drugs can act like a kind of superfood to produce cheap meat.
But what if that meat is us? Recently, a group of medical investigators have begun to wonder whether antibiotics might cause the same growth promotion in humans. New evidence shows that America’s obesity epidemic may be connected to our high consumption of these drugs. But before we get to those findings, it’s helpful to start at the beginning, in 1948, when the wonder drugs were new — and big was beautiful.
That year, a biochemist named Thomas H. Jukes marveled at a pinch of golden powder in a vial. It was a new antibiotic named Aureomycin, and Mr. Jukes and his colleagues at Lederle Laboratories suspected that it would become a blockbuster, lifesaving drug. But they hoped to find other ways to profit from the powder as well. At the time, Lederle scientists had been searching for a food additive for farm animals, and Mr. Jukes believed that Aureomycin could be it. After raising chicks on Aureomycin-laced food and on ordinary mash, he found that the antibiotics did boost the chicks’ growth; some of them grew to weigh twice as much as the ones in the control group.
Mr. Jukes wanted more Aureomycin, but his bosses cut him off because the drug was in such high demand to treat human illnesses. So he hit on a novel solution. He picked through the laboratory’s dump to recover the slurry left over after the manufacture of the drug. He and his colleagues used those leftovers to carry on their experiments, now on pigs, sheep and cows. All of the animals gained weight. Trash, it turned out, could be transformed into meat.
You may be wondering whether it occurred to anyone back then that the powders would have the same effect on the human body. In fact, a number of scientists believed that antibiotics could stimulate growth in children. From our contemporary perspective, here’s where the story gets really strange: All this growth was regarded as a good thing. It was an era that celebrated monster-size animals, fat babies and big men. In 1955, a crowd gathered in a hotel ballroom to watch as feed salesmen climbed onto a scale; the men were competing to see who could gain the most weight in four months, in imitation of the cattle and hogs that ate their antibiotic-laced food. Pfizer sponsored the competition.
In 1954, Alexander Fleming — the Scottish biologist who discovered penicillin — visited the University of Minnesota. His American hosts proudly informed him that by feeding antibiotics to hogs, farmers had already saved millions of dollars in slop. But Fleming seemed disturbed by the thought of applying that logic to humans. “I can’t predict that feeding penicillin to babies will do society much good,” he said. “Making people larger might do more harm than good.”
Nonetheless, experiments were then being conducted on humans. In the 1950s, a team of scientists fed a steady diet of antibiotics to schoolchildren in Guatemala for more than a year,while Charles H. Carter, a doctor in Florida, tried a similar regimen on mentally disabled kids. Could the children, like the farm animals, grow larger? Yes, they could.
Mr. Jukes summarized Dr. Carter’s research in a monograph on nutrition and antibiotics: “Carter carried out a prolonged investigation of a study of the effects of administering 75 mg of chlortetracycline” — the chemical name for Aureomycin — “twice daily to mentally defective children for periods of up to three years at the Florida Farm Colony. The children were mentally deficient spastic cases and were almost entirely helpless,” he wrote. “The average yearly gain in weight for the supplemented group was 6.5 lb while the control group averaged 1.9 lb in yearly weight gain.”
Researchers also tried this out in a study of Navy recruits. “Nutritional effects of antibiotics have been noted for some time” in farm animals, the authors of the 1954 study wrote. But “to date there have been few studies of the nutritional effects in humans, and what little evidence is available is largely concerned with young children. The present report seems of interest, therefore, because of the results obtained in a controlled observation of several hundred young American males.” The Navy men who took a dose of antibiotics every morning for seven weeks gained more weight, on average, than the control group.
MEANWHILE, in agricultural circles, word of the miracle spread fast. Jay C. Hormel described imaginative experiments in livestock production to his company’s stockholders in 1951; soon the company began its own research. Hormel scientists cut baby piglets out of their mothers’ bellies and raised them in isolation, pumping them with food and antibiotics. And yes, this did make the pigs fatter.
Farms clamored for antibiotic slurry from drug companies, which was trucked directly to them in tanks. By 1954, Eli Lilly & Company had created an antibiotic feed additive for farm animals, as “an aid to digestion.” It was so much more than that. The drug-laced feeds allowed farmers to keep their animals indoors — because in addition to becoming meatier, the animals now could subsist in filthy conditions. The stage was set for the factory farm.
And yet, scientists still could not explain the mystery of antibiotics and weight gain. Nor did they try, really. According to Luis Caetano M. Antunes, a public health researcher at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil, the attitude was, “Who cares how it’s working?” Over the next few decades, while farms kept buying up antibiotics, the medical world largely lost interest in their fattening effects, and moved on.
In the last decade, however, scrutiny of antibiotics has increased. Overuse of the drugs has led to the rise of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria — salmonella in factory farms and staph infections in hospitals. Researchers have also begun to suspect that it may shed light on the obesity epidemic.
In 2002 Americans were about an inch taller and 24 pounds heavier than they were in the 1960s, and more than a third are now classified as obese. Of course, diet and lifestyle are prime culprits. But some scientists wonder whether there could be other reasons for this staggering transformation of the American body. Antibiotics might be the X factor — or one of them.
Martin J. Blaser, the director of the Human Microbiome Program and a professor of medicine and microbiology at New York University, is exploring that mystery. In 1980, he was the salmonella surveillance officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, going to farms to investigate outbreaks. He remembers marveling at the amount of antibiotic powder that farmers poured into feed. “I began to think, what is the meaning of this?” he told me.
Of course, while farm animals often eat a significant dose of antibiotics in food, the situation is different for human beings. By the time most meat reaches our table, it contains little or no antibiotics. So we receive our greatest exposure in the pills we take, rather than the food we eat. American kids are prescribed on average about one course of antibiotics every year, often for ear and chest infections. Could these intermittent high doses affect our metabolism?
To find out, Dr. Blaser and his colleagues have spent years studying the effects of antibiotics on the growth of baby mice. In one experiment, his lab raised mice on both high-calorie food and antibiotics. “As we all know, our children’s diets have gotten a lot richer in recent decades,” he writes in a book, “Missing Microbes,” due out in April. At the same time, American children often are prescribed antibiotics. What happens when chocolate doughnuts mix with penicillin?
The results of the study were dramatic, particularly in female mice: They gained about twice as much body fat as the control-group mice who ate the same food. “For the female mice, the antibiotic exposure was the switch that converted more of those extra calories in the diet to fat, while the males grew more in terms of both muscle and fat,” Dr. Blaser writes. “The observations are consistent with the idea that the modern high-calorie diet alone is insufficient to explain the obesity epidemic and that antibiotics could be contributing.”
The Blaser lab also investigates whether antibiotics may be changing the animals’ microbiome — the trillions of bacteria that live inside their guts. These bacteria seem to play a role in all sorts of immune responses, and, crucially, in digesting food, making nutrients and maintaining a healthy weight. And antibiotics can kill them off: One recent study found that taking the antibiotic ciprofloxacin decimated entire populations of certain bugs in some patients’ digestive tracts — bacteria they might have been born with.
Until recently, scientists simply had no way to identify and sort these trillions of bacteria. But thanks to a new technique called high-throughput sequencing, we can now examine bacterial populations inside people. According to Ilseung Cho, a gastroenterologist who works with the Blaser lab, researchers are learning so much about the gut bugs that it is sometimes difficult to make sense of the blizzard of revelations. “Interpreting the volume of data being generated is as much a challenge as the scientific questions we are interested in asking,” he said.
Investigators are beginning to piece together a story about how gut bacteria shapes each life, beginning at birth, when infants are anointed with populations from their mothers’ microbiomes. Babies who are born by cesarean and never make that trip through the birth canal apparently never receive some key bugs from their mothers — possibly including those that help to maintain a healthy body weight. Children born by C-section are more likely to be obese in later life.
By the time we reach adulthood, we have developed our own distinct menagerie of bacteria. In fact, it doesn’t always make sense to speak of us and them. You are the condo that your bugs helped to build and design. The bugs redecorate you every day. They turn the thermostat up and down, and bang on your pipes.
In the Blaser lab and elsewhere, scientists are racing to take a census of the bugs in the human gut and — even more difficult — to figure out what effects they have on us. What if we could identify which species minimize the risk of diabetes, or confer protection against obesity? And what if we could figure out how to protect these crucial bacteria from antibiotics, or replace them after they’re killed off?
The results could represent an entirely new pharmacopoeia, drugs beyond our wildest dreams: Think of them as “anti-antibiotics.” Instead of destroying bugs, these new medicines would implant creatures inside us, like more sophisticated probiotics.
Dr. Cho looks forward to this new era of medicine. “I could say, ‘All right, I know that you’re at risk for developing colon cancer, and I can decrease that risk by giving you this bacteria and altering your microbiome.’ That would be amazing. We could prevent certain diseases before they happened.”
Until then, it’s hard for him to know what to tell his patients. We know that antibiotics change us, but we still don’t know what to do about it. “It’s still too early to draw definitive conclusions,” Dr. Cho said. “And antibiotics remain a valuable resource that physicians use to fight infections.”
When I spoke to Mr. Antunes, the public health researcher in Brazil, he told me that his young daughter had just suffered through several bouts of ear infections. “It’s a no-brainer. You have to give her antibiotics.” And yet, he worried about how these drugs might affect her in years to come.
It has become common to chide doctors and patients for overusing antibiotics, but when the baby is wailing or you’re burning with fever, it’s hard to know what to do. While researchers work to unravel the connections between antibiotics and weight gain, they should also put their minds toward reducing the unnecessary use of antibiotics. One way to do that would be to provide patients with affordable tests that give immediate feedback about what kind of infection has taken hold in their body. Such tools, like a new kind of blood test, are now in development and could help to eliminate the “just in case” prescribing of antibiotics.
In the meantime, we are faced with the legacy of these drugs — the possibility that they have affected our size and shape, and made us different people.