Are spices good for your health?

Spices have been revered for their health benefits throughout history. But can they cure a hangover or help shift those extra Christmas pounds?
Whether you're grating nutmeg into your  speculaas  (Dutch spiced shortcrust biscuits) or sprinkling some cinnamon into your  Glögg  (a Norwegian version of mulled wine), adding a touch of spice is an easy way to make food and drink more appetising.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient belief system in Hinduism, spices can be warming or cooling and are used to affect the balance of the digestive system.
"They act as a stimulus to the digestive system, relieve digestive disorders and some spices are of antiseptic value," explains Dr Krishnapura Srinivasan, a scientist at the Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysore, India.

Source  - BBC

Prince Charles calls for health services to treat "mind, body and spirit"

The Prince Of Wales called today for a health service that recognises “the core human elements of mind, body and spirit” as well as treating disease.

Charles said health professionals should develop a "healing empathy" to "listen and honour what is being said and not said by patients" so they can find their own way towards better health.
Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, he set out a vision of healthcare that includes "the physical and social environment, education, agriculture and architecture". The Prince emphasised that he did not want to confront accepted medical wisdom, but suggested reasons for encouraging a wider perspective on healthcare. He said symptoms "may often be a metaphor for underlying disease and unhappiness", and called for a scientific and therapeutic approach that "understands, values and uses patient perspective and belief rather than seeking to exclude them".
Charles drew on the work of several of his charities in Burnley, where inequalities have lowered life expectancy to one of the worst levels in the country, according to the article.
The Prince argued that improvements to the built and natural environment, the arts, education and business would lead to improvements "not only in health, but also in the overall cost-efficiency and effectiveness of local services".

Source  - Independent

Stand up with no hands to live longer

If getting up from a game of Scrabble on the floor this Christmas requires both hands, a lot of sighing and a helpful tug from a grandchild, beware.
For the gloomy message from scientists is that you may not live as long as your flexible counterparts. Those who can sit down and get up using only one hand – or no hands at all – are likely to live for longer, a study found.
But those needing extra assistance, such as getting up on their knees or using two hands, are up to six times more likely to die prematurely. The study found a simple two-minute test could predict the level of overall fitness in middle age that earmarks those likely to enjoy a longer life.
Researchers said the ease with which someone could stand up from a sitting position on the floor – and vice versa – was linked to a reduced risk of dying early.

Source  - Daily Mail

Dr Dog: How beagle Cliff can sniff C. Diff

He is the hound of the hospital ward. Cliff, a two year old beagle with trademark floppy ears, has been trained to sniff out patients infected with a superbug and could potentially save hundreds of lives.

Instead of tracking hares, rabbits and other small game, Cliff puts his nostrils to work on the wards chasing down patients suffering from Clostridium Difficile, the hospital infection that can spread rapidly among the elderly causing lethal outbreaks.
Existing laboratory tests to diagnose the condition are expensive and slow and can delay the start of treatment by up to a week. Using a dog with a sensitive nose to patrol the wards and pick out infected patients is fast, efficient - and popular.
As a scent hound the Beagle has few equals – it can find a mouse in a one acre field in less than a minute. In tests, Cliff correctly identified 25 out of 30 patients with C Difficile – an 83 per cent success rate – and 265 out of 270 negative controls, after just two months training. Unlike the lab technicians, he could screen a complete hospital ward in less than 10 minutes, strolling past each patient’s bed until he came to one with an infected occupant. Then he promptly sat down.

Source  - Independent

Cheap vitamin D 'would boost health'

Greater access to cheap vitamin D supplements would improve the health of at-risk groups, experts say.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) says up to 25% of UK children are vitamin D deficient, leading to a rise in rickets cases.
In the BBC's Scrubbing Up column, the college's Prof Mitch Blair called for concerted action to tackle the problem. The government said those with the greatest need already received free supplements.
The RCPCH said other options to increase vitamin D levels, such as fortifying a wider range of foods, should be considered.
Half of the UK's white population, and up to 90% of the black and Asian people in the country are thought to be affected by vitamin D deficiency. The first signs of deficiency include muscle and bone pain as well as swelling around the wrists and ribs.
A lack of the nutrient is linked to a higher incidence of diabetes, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis as well as rickets - a disease that causes bones to become soft and deformed. The number of cases of rickets has been rising, from 183 in 1996 to 762 in 2011.

Source   - BBC

Chocolate can help you beat persistent coughs

Chocolate may be a remedy for the common cough, according to new research, writes Roger Dobson.
A compound in cocoa has been shown to reduce symptoms of both acute and chronic coughs.
About 300 people with a persistent cough are taking part in a clinical trial at 13 NHS hospitals where they are being given the naturally occurring chemical theobromine, derived from the raw ingredient of chocolate, twice a day for 14 days. Early indicators are that 60 per cent of patients experience some measure of relief.
Researchers say a daily bar of dark chocolate may contain enough of the active compound to have an effect on a chronic cough.  

Source  - Daily Mail

Drinking coffee halves the risk of mouth cancer

Drinking four cups of coffee a day almost halves the risk of deadly mouth cancer, according to new research.
The latest study shows downing the beverage every day has a powerful protective effect against tumours that form in the mouth and throat. The association held true regardless of how often the person drank alcohol or smoked. Scientists found decaffeinated coffee also reduced the risk, although to a lesser extent, while drinking tea did nothing to prevent the disease.
The latest findings, by a team of researchers from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Georgia, suggest it may not be caffeine that protects against the formation of malignant growths in and around the mouth.
Instead, they said, it's likely to be due to some of the hundreds of other naturally-occurring antioxidant chemicals found in coffee. The results back up a similar study published two years ago by a different team of researchers, who found four cups a day slashed cancer risk by 39 per cent.

Source  - Daily Mail

Greg Rutherford won gold thanks to a diving chamber cure

Long-jumper Greg Rutherford’s Olympic triumph, on ‘Super Saturday’, alongside his team-mates Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis, will come to define one of the greatest years in British sporting history.
‘This is what I’ve dreamt of my entire life,’ he told the BBC afterwards, voice cracking, as the sound of 80,000 cheers echoed around the stadium.
The 25-year-old, dubbed the ‘ginger ninja’, perhaps had more reason than most to feel emotional. Britain’s first long-jump gold medallist since 1964 suffered years of agony as a result of repeated hamstring tears, which came close to ending his career. His recovery and remarkable return to form is thanks to a controversial treatment – first developed in the Thirties to combat decompression sickness suffered by deep-sea divers.
Called Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT), the principle behind it is simple: deliver higher levels of oxygen to the body at double the normal atmospheric pressure and injuries heal faster. The effects can be felt within days and, as Greg discovered, are transformative – yet, astonishingly, while it is often offered to elite athletes, the NHS refuses to offer it as a treatment for everyday injuries.

Source  - Daily Mail

The new EU rules that say additives are healthier for us than broccoli

We are bombarded with information about healthy eating. Fruit, vegetables, oily fish, grains, eggs, nuts and poultry all come to mind as examples of a ‘healthy diet’. Yet new European rules this month will turn all that on its head.
The Nutrition and Health Claims regulations were brought in to ban misleading or unproven claims on food and drink products, such as weight-loss promises or claims about mental function or heart health. In their place will be a list of health claims authorised by the European Commission.
It means that websites, labels and even brand names will be affected. Gone will be Slimfast, for instance, as there is not enough scientific proof that it helps people slim. 

Source  - Daily Mail

Interstitial cystitis and CAM

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) offers new approaches to managing chronic pain conditions like interstitial cystitis (IC). However, there is a lack of published findings on the use of CAM for controlling IC symptoms, including pelvic pain with associated urinary frequency and urgency.
To glean new insights, the Interstitial Cystitis Association (ICA) surveyed IC patients on their use of CAM therapies. Data collected from 2,101 individuals, including 1,982 with a confirmed IC diagnosis, was analyzed by The Pelvic and Sexual Health Institute of Philadelphia.
The survey turned out to be the largest ever of patients with IC in a scientific study. The article “Interstitial Cystitis Patients’ Use and Rating of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies,” published in the November 2012 issue of the International Urogynecology Journal, summarizes the findings.
“A great number of respondents had tried CAM—84 percent. Of much interest is the finding that over half, 55 percent, of physicians recommended CAM to their IC patients,” said Barbara Gordon, executive director of the Interstitial Cystitis Association and one of the authors of the article. “Sixty-three percent of patients reported discussing the safety and effectiveness of a CAM therapy with their doctor, nurse or pharmacist.”

Source  - Interstitial Cystitis Association

How to improve your sleep

Sleep surroundings A lot of people struggle with sleep issues, often due to a stressful lifestyle or too many stimulants. But the health benefits of getting good-quality sleep are immense, so do put some effort into it. One of the ways is to sort out what I call 'sleep hygiene’. This means that, pre-bedtime, you should make sure your bedroom is really quiet, the temperature is comfortable and all light is minimised. Even little things like the light from a digital alarm clock have been shown to keep certain parts of the mind active, so use some eyeshades. You should be getting eight hours of sleep, and the earlier you go to sleep the better.

Source  - Telegraph

Sleeping for an extra hour a night 'helps beat pain'

Sleeping for an hour or more extra a night can dramatically improve an individual’s alertness and reduce their sensitivity to pain, say scientists.

In fact, say the researchers, getting nearly ten hours a night – rather than the recommended eight – is more effective at reducing pain than taking the drug codeine. The study used 18 healthy, pain-free volunteers who were randomly assigned either four nights of their normal sleep pattern or four nights of ten hours in bed.

The American researchers measured daytime sleepiness using the multiple sleep latency test – a standard method used by doctors to diagnose sleep problems in which brain waves, eye movement, heart rate and muscle tone are measured. Pain sensitivity was assessed using a heat source.

Source - Daily Mail

Taking Vitamin D 'may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease'

Women should take Vitamin D supplements to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to new research.

Two new studies show that women who don't have enough Vitamin D as they hit middle age are at greater risk of going into mental decline and developing Alzheimer's. The first of the studies found that women who developed Alzheimer's disease had lower vitamin D intakes than those who did not develop the illness.

Dr Cedric Annweiler, of Angers University Hospital in France, looked at data from nearly 500 women who participated in the Toulouse cohort of the Epidemiology of Osteoporosis study. He found that women who developed Alzheimer's had an average vitamin D intake of 50.3 micrograms a week, whereas those who developed other forms of dementia had an average of 63.6 micrograms per week, and those who didn't develop dementia at all averaged 59 micrograms.

Source  - Daily Mail

Going to bed an hour earlier each night 'lowers blood pressure

Going to bed an hour earlier than usual could help to ward off high blood pressure, according to a new study.

Researchers found people who were showing the early signs of high blood pressure were able to restore readings to healthy levels in just six weeks if they had an extra hour in bed every night. The study, carried out at Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA, looked at men and women who regularly slept for only seven hours or less a night and were beginning to have borderline high blood pressure readings.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects one in five adults in the UK and is thought to be responsible for half of all heart attacks and strokes. But despite an array of different drugs available on the NHS, it’s estimated more than half of all patients have ‘poorly controlled’ blood pressure, which means they still have readings in the danger zone above 140mmHg/90mmHg, a measure of the amount of force inside arteries when the heart is forcing blood through them and the force when it relaxes.

Source  - Daily Mail

The health foods doctors say don't work

Dr Aseem Malhotra, lead cardiologist of the National Obesity Forum, says:

I don’t go near Benecol or any other margarine-type products that claim to lower cholesterol and I advise my patients to stay clear of them, too.  First, they are expensive; second, these products are artificial, packed with unnatural products that really can’t do you any good; and third, I don’t believe there is any demonstrable health benefit.

They may have a very marginal effect on cholesterol, but — and this is critical — this hasn’t been established as having any clinical benefit in reducing the risk of a heart attack. In short, the whole saturated fat argument has been ridiculously overhyped.

A review of studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010, which analysed almost 350,000 people for up to 23 years, revealed no consistent evidence linking saturated fat and cardiovascular disease.

Source  - Daily Mail

Grapefruit and pills mix warning

Doctors have warned of a "lack of knowledge" about the dangers of mixing some medications with grapefruit.
The fruit can cause overdoses of some drugs by stopping the medicines being broken down in the intestines and the liver. The researchers who first identified the link said the number of drugs that became dangerous with grapefruit was increasing rapidly. They were writing in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The team at the Lawson Health Research Institute in Canada said the number of drugs which had serious side effects with grapefruit had gone from 17 in 2008 to 43 in 2012.
They include some drugs for a range of conditions including blood pressure, cancer and cholesterol-lowering statins and those taken to suppress the immune system after an organ transplant. Chemicals in grapefruit, furanocoumarins, wipe out an enzyme which breaks the drugs down. It means much more of the drug escapes the digestive system than the body can handle.

Source  - BBC

Forget coffee - green tea holds the key for men

Looking for a quick brain pick me up before work? Forget coffee - it seems green tea has the key.

A new study has found that the tea - already credited with providing a host of health benefits  - can help improve memory and cognition in men.

Researchers recruited 12 healthy men and divided them into two groups. One group was given a drink containing a green tea extract, while a second group was given a placebo drink without the extract.

Then, using an MRI machine, scientists studied the effects of the two drinks on the men's brains while they performed a memory test.

Compared to the placebo group, the green tea drinkers experienced an increase in the activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with working memory, which you need for problem solving and focus.

Source  - Daily Mail

The mother with crippling arthritis... and copper insoles.

A mother-of-three is training for a half marathon after beating excruciating arthritis - thanks to a pair of £30 copper insoles.

Garden designer Helen Basson, 39, feared she would end up in a wheelchair after she was diagnosed with arthritis in every joint of her body after the birth of her third child. Her condition was so bad she was unable to lift her baby out of his cot or get into the bath unaided. But within three months of inserting the copper insoles, recommended to her by her mother-in-law, Mrs Basson astounded her doctors by beginning to walk freely. She is now planning to take part in a half marathon in February.

She said: 'I couldn't do anything. I had to be helped off the toilet and getting in and out of the bath was extremely difficult. It was terrifying - I was a young woman and I feared I would end up in a wheelchair. The low point was a check-up at the hospital when they inserted a fluid into me and discovered I had arthritis in every joint. There was a time when I thought I wouldn't be able to walk again, so running a half marathon will be incredible.

The apparent healing powers of copper were first pioneered by the ancient Greeks who used copper bracelets to ease aches and pains (the insoles claim to contain 14 times more copper than bracelets).
Copper is an essential mineral in the body and is thought to keep blood vessels, the immune system and bones healthy.

The Arthritis Foundation reports there is no scientific research to prove the effectiveness from copper bracelets. However it also says there is scant research to prove there are no benefits.

Source  - Daily Mail

Some cheeses are saltier than a bag of crisps

According to a report by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), Alarming levels of salt in cheese are contributing to an epidemic of high blood pressure responsible for strokes, heart attacks and thousands of early deaths a year


Really? Breathing Exercises Can Relieve Asthma

Breathing exercises are among the most popular alternative therapies for asthmatics. But do they work?
According to a recent report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the answer depends on the technique. Some appear effective in reducing asthma severity, but there is little evidence to support others.
In the exhaustive, 219-page report, researchers examined 22 randomized studies of breathing techniques. Among the most common are hyperventilation-reduction techniques like the Buteyko method, which instructs asthmatics to breathe shallowly and slowly through the nose when short of breath. The report also looked at  yoga  breathing exercises and so-called inspiratory-muscle training, which involves exercises and devices that make inhaling more difficult in order to strengthen muscles.
The researchers found the most robust body of evidence supported hyperventilation-reduction breathing techniques, which achieved “medium to large improvements in asthma symptoms and reductions in reliever medication use of approximately 1.5 to 2.5 puffs per day.”

Source  - New York Times

Exercise can be more effective at cutting deaths than statins

Researchers compared fitness levels in 10,000 middle aged people who were taking statins against those not taking statins.
The fittest people who were not taking statins were 50 per cent less likely to die over the next ten years than the unfittest who were on the drugs, the study found. The findings highlight the importance of moderate exercise and the scale of the health benefits achievable through staying active, the researchers said. Exercising is cheaper and has fewer side effects than taking drugs, experts said.
Brisk walking or cycling for 150 minutes a week was enough to class someone as highly fit in this study of people with high cholesterol levels, the authors said.

Source  - Telegraph

One fizzy drink a day linked to higher prostate cancer risk

Men who consumed 300ml of a sugary soft drink a day appeared to raise their odds of succumbing to faster growing forms of the disease, according to a 15-year study. The sugar in the drinks is believed to release insulin, which feeds tumours.
The study, carried out by Swedish scientists and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tracked the health of more than 8,000 men aged 45 to 73 for an average of 15 years. All were in good health when the study began, and were asked about what they liked to eat and drink.
Those who drank more sugary drinks were more likely to have been diagnosed with prostate cancer by the end of the study.

Source  - Telegraph

Health alert over energy 'shot' drinks

Health authorities in the United States have launched an investigation into concentrated energy drinks after the deaths of 13 people have raised questions about their safety. And yesterday two MPs called for urgent action in Britain; one of whom wants a temporary ban on their sale to under-16s until all risks have been assessed.

The US public health regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is looking into a highly potent over-the-counter product called 5-Hour Energy, which is available in Britain. A recent US government survey suggested that energy drinks could be behind as many as 13,000 Emergency Room visits a year.
Since 2009, the FDA has received 90 complaints which refer specifically to 5-Hour Energy. More than 30 of them involved life-threatening injuries, such as heart attacks and convulsions. In one case, a consumer allegedly suffered a spontaneous miscarriage. "The FDA is continuing to investigate reports of illness, injury or death of people who took products marketed under the label 5-Hour Energy," a spokesman told the news agency AFP, promising swift action if the drink is proven to have caused any deaths.

Source  - Independent

Hooked on fish-oil pills? You're wasting your money

Britain has fallen out of love with vitamin supplements — just 35 per cent of us regularly take them, down from 41 per cent in 2008.  Yet fish oil sales seem to be holding their ground. But we’re wrong to place so much faith in them, says TOM SANDERS, professor of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College, London.
Fish-oil supplements are now so popular that as many as one in five people take them regularly, according to the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey.
You can see why, with claims that the pills can prevent a multitude of disorders, from Alzheimer’s to Zellweger syndrome, a rare hereditary disorder.  However, the idea that a single dietary component taken in such small doses should have such widespread effects is, in my opinion, laughable.  Rather than a passport to good health, fish-oil pills are more like snake oil.
I’ve been researching the health benefits of fish and fish-oil supplements, which contain long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, for more than 30 years.  What I have found is that, although fish-oil supplements have a role to play for some people, they have been over-hyped and over-sold. Although they won’t actually harm you in the vast majority of cases (though if you eat too many you’ll get fat), there is little evidence of any health benefit.

Source  - Daily Mail

Meditation could slash the risk of heart attack and stroke

Meditation helps reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke, according to a new study.
Researchers found that Transcendental Meditation, made popular by the Beatles during the flower power era of the 1960s, could cut heart attack rates by half. This type of meditation, which involves making a sound repeatedly, lowers death rates from heart attack and strokes.
In the new study, researchers found that people with heart disease who practised transcendental meditation for 20 minutes twice a day were 48 per cent less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or die from all causes compared with those who attended a health education class over more than five years.  Those practicing meditation also lowered their blood pressure and reported less stress and anger. And the more regularly patients meditated, the greater their survival, said researchers who conducted the study at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Lead researcher Dr Robert Schneider, director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention in Iowa, said: 'We hypothesised that reducing stress by managing the mind-body connection would help improve rates of this epidemic disease.

 Source  - Daily Mail

Are we falling out of love with vitamins?

Sales of vitamins and health supplements have fallen as health conscious Britons opt for fruit and vegetables, new industry figures reveal.
Thirty-five per cent of us regularly pop a supplement of some kind - down from 41 per cent on 2008, according to market analyst Mintel. It believes that products ranging from multivitamin pills to cod liver oil capsules have come to be seen as an unnecessary luxury to those cutting their budgets. Furthermore, many food and drink products now claim to contain the same kind of health-giving ingredients, from omega-3 to various vitamins.
The latest report found the UK market for vitamins and supplements will be worth £385 million this year, up just 2.7 per cent on last year.

Source - Daily Mail 

Green tea may lower the risk of colon, stomach and throat cancers in women

Older women who regularly drink green tea may have slightly lower risks of colon, stomach and throat cancers than women who don't, according to a Canadian study that followed thousands of Chinese women over a decade.
The researchers, whose report appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that of the more than 69,000 women, those who drank green tea at least three times a week were 14 per cent less likely to develop a cancer of the digestive system.
The study adds to debate over the impact of green tea on cancer risks. Past studies have so far come to conflicting findings on whether green tea drinkers really do have lower cancer risks.
'In this large study, tea consumption was associated with reduced risk of colorectal and stomach/esophageal cancers in Chinese women,' wrote study leader Wei Zheng, who heads epidemiology at Vanderbilt University school of Medicine in Nashville, and his colleagues.
Nobody can say whether green tea itself is the reason, since green tea lovers are often more health-conscious in general.

Source  - Daily Mail

Acupuncture can relieve the extreme tiredness suffered by 40% of breast cancer patients

The 40 per cent of breast cancer patients who suffer from extreme fatigue may benefit from acupuncture, new research suggests.
This was the first clinical trial using acupuncture to treat this particular symptom of the disease.  Hundreds of thousands of patients overcoming the disease battle with fatigue.
But the three-year British trial showed acupuncture had across-the-board benefits, alleviating both mental and physical fatigue and improving overall quality of life.
Previously, few treatments were recognised for the up-to-40 per cent of patients needing help for fatigue, devastating their quality of life.
Professor Alex Molassiotis, from the University of Manchester, which led the trial said: 'Fatigue is a blight on the lives of thousands of former cancer patients and this trial proves acupuncture can help them.'

Source  - Daily Mail 

It's certainly a new branch of medicine!

A grandmother claims to have healed herself of a painful bowel condition by eating tree bark. 
Marlene Barnes, 72, started chewing chippings after 48 years with the bowel condition Crohn’s disease.
The inflammatory bowel condition, which affects 60,000 Britons, causes symptoms including pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, weight loss and fatigue. Now, a decade on, her doctor has confirmed she no longer has an active trace of the illness in her system. 
Ms Barnes was diagnosed with Crohn’s when she was just 14. 'I’d tried everything to stop it but nothing worked,' said the mother-of-two who had part of her colon removed when she was younger.
The inflammation caused by Chron's destroys the tissue of the bowel so badly that surgeons must cut out sections of the intestine. She told The Sun: 'Then I read of bark’s medicinal properties and felt it was worth a go.'
She began cutting bark off trees in a park, then dried and ground it up at home. 
She said: 'I ate hazel bark first and it felt like a dozen ferrets fighting in my stomach. I thought I’d die, but I began to feel better than I’d done in ages.  I then tried lots of trees to work out which were the real miracle cures.'

Source  - Daily Mail

Dangerous herbal pills used to treat menopausal symptoms

Health watchdogs have warned of the potential danger of a herbal remedy used to  treat menopausal symptoms – after one woman became so ill that she needed a liver transplant.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is concerned about products containing black cohosh, a native American plant. It is understood the woman, who has not been named, developed liver failure after starting to use it. It has not been confirmed how much she consumed before becoming ill.
Black cohosh is the second most popular herbal ingredient in the UK and is used to treat symptoms of the menopause such as hot flushes, night sweats, poor sleep, mood changes and irritability.
It is also often recommended as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy – and is available in capsules in most high street chemists, health food shops and supermarkets.
Richard Woodfield, the MHRA’s head of herbal policy, said: ‘It is important people with a history of liver problems do not use black cohosh herbal products.’

Source  - Daily Mail 

Brain scans reveal French monk has 'abnormally large capacity' for joy

A French genetic scientist may seem like an unusual person to hold the title - but Matthieu Ricard is the world's happiest man, according to researchers.
The 66-year-old turned his back on Parisian intellectual life 40 years ago and moved to India to study Buddhism. He is now a close confidante of the Dalai Lama and respected western scholar of religion. Now it seems daily meditation has had other benefits - enhancing Mr Ricard's capacity for joy.
Neuroscientist Richard Davidson wired up the monk's skull with 256 sensors at the University of Wisconsin as part of research on hundreds of advanced practitioners of meditation.
The scans showed that when meditating on compassion, Ricard's brain produces a level of gamma waves - those linked to consciousness, attention, learning and memory - 'never reported before in the neuroscience literature', Davidson said. The scans also showed excessive activity in his brain's left prefrontal cortex compared to its right counterpart, giving him an abnormally large capacity for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity, researchers believe.
Research into the phenomenon, known as "neuroplasticity", is in its infancy and Ricard has been at the forefront of ground-breaking experiments along with other leading scientists across the world.

Source  - Daily Mail

Fish oil supplements won't keep the doctor away

Eating two portions of oily fish a week could help ward off a stroke, research suggests.

Scientists have found that eating two helpings of oily fish - such as salmon, trout or mackerel - every week could moderately reduce risk of a stroke. However, fish oil supplements do not have the same beneficial effect as oily fish such as kippers, sardines, fresh tuna or whitebait, the study found.
An international team of researchers, including Cambridge-based academic Dr Rajiv Chowdhury, examined the association between oily fish, which are a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids, and the risk of strokes or mini-strokes.
They looked at 38 studies involving almost 800,000 people across 15 countries, and examined participants' fish and long chain omega 3 fatty acid consumption. During the studies, a total of 34,817 strokes and mini strokes were recorded. After adjusting for several risk factors, participants eating two to four servings a week had a 6% lower risk of stroke compared with those who consumed one portion or less every week, the study found.

Source  - Independent

How magnets could halt Alzheimer’s

Magnets that boost the brain could be used to ease the pain of Alzheimer’s, researchers believe.
Small-scale studies have shown that using a magnetic coil to stimulate the parts of the brain involved in memory and learning can improve symptoms. It is hoped that used early in the course of the disease, it would give patients precious extra months of independent living, as well as time with their loved ones before their physical and mental health deteriorates.
The technology had already been tried on Alzheimer’s patients, with promising results, and is now being tested in Manchester. Six patients in the early stages of the disease will be have a magnetic coil held over their scalp while they answer questions, identify shapes and solve puzzles. It is hoped that as the magnetic field passes into key brain areas it will strengthen vital connections between cells.
In tests on mice, the technique, known as trans-cranial magnetic stimulation, also boosted the growth of cells in the hippocampus, the brain’s memory hub and one of the first areas to be destroyed by Alzheimer’s.
Brain scans at Manchester University will aim to find out more about how it works. In a small-scale trial in Israel, it proved to be both safe and effective, with significant improvements in some, but not all, tests of memory.

Source  - Daily Mail

How being hypnotised can reduce menopausal symptoms by 75%

From cooling pillows to a dazzling array of supplements, there are many treatments purporting to help relieve hot flushes.
Now U.S scientists say hypnosis could also be remarkably effective, reducing the number of episodes by as much as 75 per cent.
The study, published in the journal Menopause, was the first proper trial to look at hypnosis as a method of helping control hot flushes.
In the study, undertaken by researchers at University of Texas and Baylor University, in the U.S,  the women who were treated with hypnosis had five sessions a week.  During each session they were given suggestions for mental images of coolness, a safe place or relaxation, depending on their preference.  They also received an audio recording of a hypnotic induction and were asked to listen to it each day.

Source  - Daily Mail

Herbal supplements such as echinacea and St John's Wort could make medication dangerous

Taking herbal or dietary supplements like echinacea , calcium or iron alongside prescription drugs could cause adverse side effects, as study warned.
Other remedies such as St John's Wort, flaxseed, magnesium or ginkgo could also be bad for you when mixed with these medicines, it is believed.
The research suggest combining the popular alternative remedies may cause mild-to-severe heart problems, chest pain, abdominal pain and headache, particularly among people receiving medication for problems with their central nervous or cardiovascular systems.
Those taking Warfarin, insulin, aspirin, digoxin and ticlopidine had the greatest number of reported adverse interactions with the remedies or supplements. Combining the two affects the process by which some types of drugs are absorbed, distributed, metabolised and eliminated by the body, the study warned . Yet scientists said the findings may just be the tip of the iceberg and said people needed to be aware of the health risks involved.
But it pointed out herbal and botanical remedies were more likely to have adverse effects than the other dietary supplements, such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Source  - Daily Mail

Placebo effect may be 'down to genes'

Why some people respond to treatments that have no active ingredients in them may be down to their genes, a study in the journal PLoS ONE suggests.
The so-called "placebo effect" was examined in 104 patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in the
US. Those with a particular version of the COMT gene saw an improvement in their health after placebo acupuncture.
The scientists warn that while they hope their findings will be seen in other conditions, more work is needed.
Edzard Ernst, a professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, said: "This is a fascinating but very preliminary result. It could solve the age-old question of why some individuals respond to placebo, while others do not. And if so, it could impact importantly on clinical practice. But we should be cautious - the study was small, we need independent replications, and we need to know whether the phenomenon applies just to IBS or to all diseases."

Source  - BBC

Breathe easy to combat anxiety

More than 870,000 Britons suffer from anxiety, a condition that triggers unnecessary feelings of uneasiness  and worry.
Increasingly, mindfulness – a psychological therapy with roots in Buddhist meditation – is being used by the NHS to help alleviate the symptoms.
Here, in the final extract from his book The Mindful Manifesto,Dr Jonty Heversedge explains how it can help.
  • Before directing your mind towards the anxiety you are experiencing, focus on your breathing – the sensation of air slowly flowing into your nostrils, streaming down the back of your throat and into your lungs. Feel the beating of your heart and imagine how it pumps oxygenated blood around your body. Continue until you’re ready to meditate.
  • Now, shift your attention to your anxious thoughts. What thoughts are present in your mind right now? Are there many moving quickly or does each one remain for a while? Consider the thoughts objectively rather than reacting to them emotionally.  
  •  Source:  Daily Mail

    Eat, meditate and be merry

    Gwyneth Paltrow, Richard Gere and Orlando Bloom are already devotees – and now it seems an altogether less worldly figure has joined the ranks of those who swear by the joys of meditation.
    Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, last week called for more people to try this centuries-old practice as an antidote to our “insane” consumerist society and the “chaotic” emotions it causes. He was speaking in a religious context but nevertheless, his basic premise – that meditation can protect against the pressures of modern life – is one many secular experts would happily endorse.
    Meditation may have its roots in the world’s great religions but nowadays it is increasingly used to treat distinctly modern ills. Research from the University of Exeter from 2008 has shown it works as well as drugs for chronic depression. It lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, while a US study, published in 2011, suggested that meditating for just over an hour could relieve chronic pain. MRI scans of Buddhist monks indicate it may even alter the brain’s structure (its neuroplasticity).
    So what exactly does meditation involve? Buttoned up types will be reassured to learn it has little to do with hippies or chakras. Essentially, meditation – or “mindfulness practice”, as psychologists call it – is a way of “being in the moment”, which enables people to let go of the brain’s “busyness”. The result is a state of deep relaxation and a tranquil mind.

    Source  - Telegraph

    Mobile phones can cause brain tumours, court rules.

    Innocente Marcolini, 60, an Italian businessman, fell ill after using a handset at work for up to six hours every day for 12 years.
    Now Italy's Supreme Court in Rome has blamed his phone saying there is a "causal link" between his illness and phone use, the Sun has reported.
    Mr Marcolini said: "This is significant for very many people. I wanted this problem to become public because many people still do not know the risks. I was on the phone, usually the mobile, for at least five or six hours every day at work. I wanted it recognised that there was a link between my illness and the use of mobile and cordless phones. Parents need to know their children are at risk of this illness."
    British scientists have claimed there is insufficient evidence to prove any link to mobiles. But the respected oncologist and professor of environmental mutagenesis Angelo Gino Levis gave evidence for Mr Marcolini — along with neurosurgeon Dr Giuseppe Grasso.
    They said electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile and cordless phones can damage cells, making tumours more likely.
    Prof Levis told The Sun: "The court decision is extremely important. It finally officially recognises the link. It'll open not a road but a motorway to legal actions by victims. We're considering a class action."
    Mr Marcolini's tumour was discovered in the trigeminal nerve — close to where the phone touched his head.

    Source  - Telegraph

    Low calcium thyroid disorder link

    Having too little calcium in the diet increases women's risk of a hormone condition that can cause bone fractures and kidney stones, scientists suggest.
    Primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) affects around one in 800 people during their lifetime and is most common in post-menopausal women.
    Writing in the British Medical Journal, the team suggest increasing calcium intake cuts the risk of the disease.
    Adults need around 700g of calcium a day. Milk and other dairy foods, nuts and fish such as sardines and pilchards (where the bones are eaten) are some dietary sources of calcium. Taking too much could cause stomach pains and diarrhoea.
    PHPT is caused by overactive parathyroid glands secreting too much parathyroid hormone. As well as bone and kidney problems, there have also been suggestions it is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.

    Source  - BBC

    Cranberry juice is not effective against cystitis, say scientists

    Cranberry juice provides no meaningful protection against cystitis, contrary to the belief of large numbers of women, say scientists.

    A review of findings from 24 studies involving 4,473 participants found no evidence that cranberry juice, or supplements, can be used to prevent bladder and kidney infections.
    Cystitis is a stinging inflammation of the bladder usually caused by a urinary tract infection (UTI). It can also be triggered by irritation during sexual intercourse, leading to its nickname the "honeymoon disease". For decades countless women have used cranberry juice to treat mild cystitis or prevent recurring infection.
    Experts have suggested that compounds in cranberries may stop bacteria sticking to cells lining the walls of the urinary tract.
    Numerous websites and many GPs encourage women troubled by cystitis to try the cranberry treatment on the basis that it might help and will do them no harm. In 2008, a review of 10 trials found that women who drank the juice or took cranberry supplements had fewer UTIs that those who did not.

    Source  - Independent

    Vitamins may reduce cancer risk in men, study finds

    Taking a daily multivitamin pill may lower the risk of developing cancer in men, US researchers have claimed.
    Their study followed nearly 15,000 men, aged over 50, for more than a decade.
    The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported a small reduction in cancer cases in men taking vitamin pills. But experts warned that other studies had found the opposite effect and that eating a diet packed with fruit and vegetables was a safer bet.
    Vitamin supplements are  recommended for some groups of people, such as vitamin D in the over 65s.
    However, the benefits of multivitamins cause more harm than good when taken by healthy people while others have shown no benefit in cancer.
    Doctors at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School analysed data from men who were given either a multivitamin or a sugar pill every day.

    Source  - BBC

    Is chronic back pain all in the mind?

    No one, it seems, is immune from back pain.
    It was reported last week that the Queen had to pull out of an investiture ceremony because of the problem.
    She has apparently suffered from excruciating back pain for years — in 2006, she was laid up for several weeks with sciatica (pain caused by pressure on the nerve that runs from the lower back down the legs). The miserable fact is that 80 per cent of us will suffer from back pain at some point, and for many it becomes a long-term problem.
    Most will see their GP, then take painkillers and anti-inflammatories, and somehow get on with their lives. Some eventually get an X-ray or MRI scan that may confirm structural damage or wear and tear, and surgery may be offered as an option. However, despite huge advances in diagnostics and surgical techniques, many people with back pain are never completely free of pain.
    An estimated 1.6 million Britons develop chronic back pain each year and, for around half of them, studies show the pain is disabling.
    There is a wide acceptance among pain specialists that when pain drifts from an acute, short-term problem into a chronic one, psychological factors come into play — often making the pain much worse.
    In fact, under guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), physiotherapists treating long-term back pain are meant to incorporate some of the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy into their treatment plan, educating patients about the role the mind can play in exacerbating their problem — for instance, using relaxation and breathing exercises.

    Source  - Daily Mail

    Sitting for long periods 'is bad for your health'

    Sitting for long periods increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and death, researchers suggest.
    The scientists from Leicester and Loughborough Universities say harm is done even if people also exercise.
    The study, published in Diabetologia, analysed 18 existing studies involving almost 800,000 people.  Diabetes UK said anyone who spent a lot of time sitting or lying down would "obviously benefit" from moving more.
    The researchers say the opportunities for sedentary behaviour in modern society such as watching TV, sitting in a car or using a computer are "ubiquitous".
    Of course, in modern society many people head to the gym for a burst of exercise to redress the balance.
    But the research team, led by Dr Emma Wilmot from the Diabetes Group at the University of Leicester, says while going to the gym or pool after work is better than heading straight for the sofa, spending a long time sitting down remains bad for you.

    Source  - BBC

    Cure or no cure, we’ll keep taking the tablets

    Is there anyone who has never overheard the complaint on a bus or train that “they can cure a lot of things, but they can’t cure the common cold”?
    The slightly reproachful tone with which the complaint is uttered suggests that “they” are not really trying very hard, that “they” could find a cure for it if “they” really wanted to. But there is also just a hint of satisfaction, too, because we don’t want “them” to know everything and get swollen heads thereby. We do not want “them” to pluck out the heart of every mystery. We want our illnesses, provided they are not too serious, to elude their understanding.
    The incurability of the common cold is our secret weapon against the pretensions to omniscience of the medical profession. The common cold humbles the doctor. But all that might now change.
    A study by the Common Cold Centre in Cardiff has found that the popular cold remedy echinacea can not only prevent colds but also shorten them once they start. If you take three daily doses for four months, your chances of catching a cold and the length of time you spend with it declines by 26 per cent, or 60 per cent if you are particularly susceptible to colds. Whether the benefit is large enough for people to take echinacea three times a day for four months is something for each person to decide: no answer is right for everyone.

    Powerful magnets that cause cancer cells to 'self-destruct' could offer targeted treatment for tumours

    Magnets that cause tumours to 'self-destruct' could be a revolutionary new weapon in the fight against cancer.
    Scientists in South Korea have developed the method, which uses a magnetic field to trigger the cells to effectively kill themselves. The researchers have demonstrated that the process works in bowel cancer cells and living laboratory fish.  They now plan to test the technique on a range of cancers to see if it can destroy other tumours.
    Programmed cell death, or apoptosis, as it is known, is one of the body's ways of getting rid of old, faulty or infected cells. In response to certain signals, the doomed cell shrinks and breaks into fragments. These are then engulfed and consumed by amoeba-like immune cells. But with cancer, this cell-death process often fails, so cells are allowed to keep dividing uncontrollably.
    The new magnetic therapy involves creating tiny iron nanoparticles attached to antibodies - proteins produced by the body's immune system when it detects harmful substances.  These iron nanoparticles then bind to the molecules on tumour cells. When the magnetic field is applied, the molecules cluster together, automatically triggering the 'death signal'.
    The process raises the hope of new targeted treatments that could kill tumour cells resistant to the usual process of cell death.


    Largest ever clinical study into echinacea finds herbal remedy CAN protect against colds

    The herbal remedy echinacea can prevent colds and is of most benefit to people who are prone to them, according to the largest ever clinical study of the herbal medicine.
    Researchers found that taking three daily doses of the common remedy for four months reduced the number of colds. The duration of the illness suffered by patients also went down by an average of 26 per cent.
    According to the results of tests on 750 people, the treatment also cut the number of recurrent colds suffered by those with weak immune systems or a history of catching several bouts each year by 60 per cent.
    Several previous studies, including an overview of evidence by the highly respected Cochrane Library, had suggested that echinacea could soothe symptoms and cut colds short, but there was only limited evidence it could prevent the illness from ever taking hold.
    The most recent major paper into the therapy, by the American College of Physicians, had found that it did not prevent colds or significantly reduce the length or severity symptoms.

    Source  - Daily Mail

    Women's hearts 'get twice the benefit from fish oil than men's

    Eating oily fish may boost women’s heart health more than men’s, claim researchers.
    The oils - found in fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna - are known to improve chances of surviving a repeat heart attack. But a new study suggests women could benefit more from their effect on the heart.
    Researchers at the University of Reading found fish oils have a direct impact on the muscle cells that control the elasticity of our blood vessels. In tests, women got double the benefit compared with men as elasticity improved four-fold in women compared with two-fold in men.
    In fact the beneficial effect of the fish oil in women was as potent as that of drugs that are prescribed to people with poor blood vessel elasticity, such as those with diabetes. At least 39,000 women a year in the UK suffer heart attacks and their chances of dying are higher than a man’s.

    Source  - Daily Mail

    Drinking a litre of mineral water every day 'can prevent Alzheimer's memory loss'

    Drinking a litre of mineral water every day can prevent cognitive decline in Alzheimer's sufferers by removing aluminium from their bodies, a study found yesterday.
    British researchers found drinking silicon-rich mineral water 'significantly reduced' the levels of neurotoxin aluminium in the body. Aluminium has long been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s but no scientific relationship has yet been proved.
    Drinking a litre of mineral water every day can prevent cognitive decline in Alzheimer's sufferers by removing aluminium from their bodies, a study found yesterday. British researchers found drinking silicon-rich mineral water 'significantly reduced' the levels of neurotoxin aluminium in the body.

    Source  - Daily Mail

    Tomatoes are 'stroke preventers'

    A diet rich in tomatoes may reduce the risk of having a stroke, according to researchers in Finland.
    They were investigating the impact of lycopene - a bright red chemical found in tomatoes, peppers and water-melons.
    A study of 1,031 men, published in the journal Neurology, showed those with the most lycopene in their bloodstream were the least likely to have a stroke. The Stroke Association called for more research into why lycopene seemed to have this effect. The levels of lycopene in the blood were assessed at the beginning of the study, which then followed the men for the next 12 years.
    They were split into four groups based on the amount of lycopene in their blood. There were 25 strokes in the 258 men in the low lycopene group and 11 strokes out of the 259 men in the high lycopene group. The study said the risk of stroke was cut by 55% by having a diet rich in lycopene.

    Source  - BBC

    A spiritual approach to health

    Spirituality is the key to staying healthy. Are you envisaging a group of crystal-gazing New Age revellers? Well, don’t: spirituality embraces all religions and none, and has everything to do with how you approach life, stay fit and keep well.
    Stress, inner anger and frustration trigger illness. Expectation is usually the key to disappointment. If you have your heart set on a new house and it goes to someone else or your job interview is a disaster - what happens? You feel angry or unhappy. You may drown your sorrows in a bottle of wine but unhappiness gnaws away at you inside.
    Imagine instead that you have no expectation; that you accept there is a reason for everything you experience in life. Every moment becomes an opportunity. My niece had her heart set on buying a little house with a tiny garden for her and her two boys. The sale fell through three times and she was desperately disappointed. But that was someone else’s house. Soon afterwards, she found a small flat that opened onto a huge communal garden-- a fabulous and safe space for her sons to play in. If you don’t receive the job offer you thought you wanted, think about what you learnt from the experience, and who you met along the way.

    Source  - Telegraph

    How an apple a day could keep the cardiologist away

    A new study suggests that eating apples each day could significantly improve the heart health of middle-aged adults in just one month.
    Those who ate a daily apple over four weeks lowered 'bad' cholesterol in the blood by 40 per cent - a substance linked to hardening of the arteries. Taking capsules containing polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in apples, had a similar, but not as large, effect.  'Bad' cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) can interact with free radicals to become oxidized, which can trigger inflammation and can cause tissue damage. 
    Research leader, Professor Robert DiSilvestro, from Ohio State University, said: 'When LDL becomes oxidized, it takes on a form that begins atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
    'We got a tremendous effect against LDL being oxidized with just one apple a day for four weeks. The difference was similar to that found between people with normal coronary arteries versus those with coronary artery disease, he said.
    The study, funded by an apple industry group, is published online in the Journal of Functional Foods and will appear in a future print edition.

    Source  - Daily Mail

    Black mamba venom is 'better painkiller' than morphine

    A painkiller as powerful as morphine, but without most of the side-effects, has been found in the deadly venom of the black mamba, say French scientists.
    The predator, which uses neurotoxins to paralyse and kill small animals, is one of the fastest and most dangerous snakes in Africa. However, tests on mice, reported in the journal Nature, showed its venom also contained a potent painkiller. They admit to being completely baffled about why the mamba would produce it.
    The researchers looked at venom from 50 species before they found the black mamba's pain-killing proteins - called mambalgins. Dr Eric Lingueglia, from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology near Nice, told the BBC: "When it was tested in mice, the analgesia was as strong as morphine, but you don't have most of the side-effects."

    Source  - BBC

    How an apple a day could keep the cardiologist away

    A new study suggests that eating apples each day could significantly improve the heart health of middle-aged adults in just one month.
    Those who ate a daily apple over four weeks lowered 'bad' cholesterol in the blood by 40 per cent - a substance linked to hardening of the arteries. Taking capsules containing polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in apples, had a similar, but not as large, effect. 
    'Bad' cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) can interact with free radicals to become oxidized, which can trigger inflammation and can cause tissue damage. 
    Research leader, Professor Robert DiSilvestro, from Ohio State University, said: 'When LDL becomes oxidized, it takes on a form that begins atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. We got a tremendous effect against LDL being oxidized with just one apple a day for four weeks.'
    The difference was similar to that found between people with normal coronary arteries versus those with coronary artery disease, he said. The study, funded by an apple industry group, is published online in the Journal of Functional Foods and will appear in a future print edition.

    Source  - Daily Mail

    'No proof' vitamin D stops colds

    Scientists say they can find no convincing evidence to show that taking vitamin D supplements will fend off a cold.
    A New Zealand team did the "gold standard" of tests - a randomised placebo-controlled trial - to see what impact the supplements would have. The 161 people who took daily vitamin D for 18 months caught as many colds as the 161 who took fake pills. The study was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
    But a leading UK cold expert said vitamin D was useful. Prof Ronald Eccles, of the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University, said it can give the immune system a much-needed boost during winter when vitamin D reserves may be low.

    Source  - BBC

    Eating cherries 'could cut gout'

    US researchers found patients with gout who ate cherries over a two-day period had a 35% lower risk of attacks compared to those who did not.
    The study in Arthritis & Rheumatism said cherries contain anthocyanins, antioxidants which contain anti-inflammatory properties.
    UK experts said the research offered "good evidence" of the benefits of eating cherries for people with gout.
    Gout is a common type of arthritis that can cause sudden and very severe attacks of pain and swelling in the joints, particularly in the feet. It is caused by too much uric acid in the bloodstream, which causes urate crystals to start to form in and around the joints and under the skin.

    Source  - BBC

    Effects of mistletoe on cancer patients

    Scientific trials are to test whether mistletoe can help boost the immune system of cancer patients.
    The Aberdeen University pilot study will be overseen by cancer specialist Professor Steven Heys, from the university's medical school. The study will be run jointly with Camphill Medical Practice in Aberdeen, which regularly offers cancer patients mistletoe therapy. It will involve women with breast cancer.
    Dr Stefan Geider, a GP at the Camphill practice, said some patients who have had mistletoe injections had noticed an impact on their wellbeing.
    "We see an increase in energy levels, less fatigue, good appetite, better sleeping, high motivation, from my clinical experience," he said. "From seeing patients on a regular basis, my experience is that mistletoe has, with some people - although not with all - an impact on tumour reduction."
    However, he said it was important people realised that it was not a miracle cure.
    "Mistletoe has to my experience helped a lot of patients tremendously, both in terms of quality of life as well as life expectancy," he said.

    Source  - BBC

    Doctors are 'excited' by drug-free migraine therapy

    A drug-free treatment for migraine which, it is claimed, alleviates pain in sufferers plagued by the chronic condition was described by doctors yesterday as an "exciting innovation".

    The hand-held device, which delivers a brief magnetic pulse to the back of the head, reduced the frequency of headaches in more than half of patients prescribed it in a clinical trial.
    The findings were presented at the European Headache and Migraine Trust International Congress in London yesterday. They have not been peer reviewed or published in a medical journal.
    Migraine affects an estimated eight million people in Britain. It is caused by an "oversensitive" brain which reacts to triggers such as fatigue, hunger, stress or the weather with a throbbing, headache, often accompanied by nausea and visual disturbances.
    Specialists at migraine clinics in London, Bath, Hull, Exeter, Liverpool and Aberdeen prescribed the device to patients, of whom almost three-quarters (73 per cent) reported a reduction in pain. Almost two-thirds said associated symptoms such as nausea were improved. No figures for the number of patients involved in the trial, the source of funding or the cost of the device were available.

    Source  - Independent

    Cannabis plant extract 'could stop aggressive cancers from spreading'

    A compound found in cannabis could halt the spread of many forms of aggressive cancer, scientists say.
    Researchers found that the compound, called cannabidiol, had the ability to 'switch off' the gene responsible for metastasis in an aggressive form of breast cancer. Importantly, this substance does not produce the psychoactive properties of the cannabis plant.
    The team from the California Pacific Medical Center, in San Francisco, first spotted its potential five years ago, after it stopped the proliferation of human breast cancer cells in the lab. Last year they published a study that found a similar effect in mice. Now they say they are on the verge of publishing further animal study results that expand these results further.
    Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle, study co-leader Dr Sean McAllister, said: 'The preclinical trial data is very strong, and there's no toxicity. There's really a lot or research to move ahead with and to get people excited.'

    Chocolate can create same high as opium

    It’s certainly a good excuse to have when you’re slumped on the sofa and feel like you're simply obliged to finish off that shiny tin of Quality Street.
    Chocolate has an effect on the brain similar to opium, according to a study that found amazing comparisons between obese people and drug addicts.
    In the study, a natural brain chemical called enkephalin - an endorphin with similar properties to opium - surged as rats began to eat M&M chocolates. When a drug was used to stimulate the dorsal neostriatum - the brain area releasing the chemical - the number of M&Ms eaten more than doubled. In the brain, enkephalin binds to molecular ‘receptors’ sensitive to opiate chemicals to reduce pain and produce pleasurable feelings.

    Source  - Daily Mail

    Painkillers 'are the cause' of millions of headaches

    They said some were trapped in a "vicious cycle" of taking pain relief, which then caused even more headaches.
    The warning came as part of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's (NICE) first guidelines for treating headaches. It is also recommending acupuncture in some circumstances.
    "Medication overuse headaches" feel the same as other common headaches or migraines.
    There is no definitive UK data on the incidence of the condition, but studies in other countries suggest 1-2% of people are affected, while the World Health Organization says  figures closer to 5% have been reported.
    While painkillers would be many people's instant response, they could be making sufferers feel even worse.
    Prof Martin Underwood, from Warwick Medical School, who led the NICE panel, said: "This can end up getting into a vicious cycle where your headache gets worse, so you take more painkillers, so your headache gets worse and this just becomes worse and worse and worse. It is such an easy thing to prevent."

    Source  - BBC

    Did this grandfather, 78, really beat 'incurable' cancer just by changing his diet?

    A grandfather, who was told by doctors that his cancer was 'incurable', has been given the all-clear less than four months later - after trying a different diet.

    Allan Taylor could have been forgiven for fearing the worst when doctors told him they could do nothing to treat his condition. But the 78-year-old would not give up, and instead searched the internet for an alternative method to fight his cancer.
    After studying websites, he decided to radically change his diet - and found his condition improved dramatically. Mr Taylor, a retired oil rig engineer from Middlesbrough, replaced red meat and dairy products with 10 portions of raw fruit and veg each day.

    Source  - Daily Mail

    Spinach could help fight off dementia

    Spinach could help beat help beat dementia, according to a study.
    Researchers have discovered a link between low vitamin C, beta-carotene levels and dementia. So antioxidant rich fruit and vegetables - such as spinach, carrots and apricots - could help fight the disease’s devastating symptoms, their findings suggest.
    German scientists from the University of Ulm looked at the differences between 74 people with mild Alzheimer’s disease and 158 healthy subjects. The participants, aged between 65 and 90, underwent neuropsychological testing, answered questions about their lifestyle and had their blood examined and their body mass index calculated.
    The team, led by epidemiologist Professor Gabriele Nagel and neurologist Professor Christine von Arnim, found the serum-concentration of the antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene were significantly lower in patients with mild dementia than in control group.

    Source  - Daily Mail

    Acupuncture Provides True Pain Relief in Study

    A new study of acupuncture — the most rigorous and detailed analysis of the treatment to date — found that it can ease migraines and arthritis and other forms of chronic pain.
    The findings provide strong scientific support for an age-old therapy used by an estimated three million Americans each year. Though acupuncture has been studied for decades, the body of medical research on it has been mixed and mired to some extent by small and poor-quality studies. Financed by the National Institutes of Health and carried out over about half a decade, the new research was a detailed analysis of earlier research that involved data on nearly 18,000 patients.
    The researchers, who published their results in Archives of Internal Medicine, found that acupuncture outperformed sham treatments and standard care when used by people suffering from osteoarthritis, migraines and chronic back, neck and shoulder pain.

    Source  - New York Times

    Fish oil supplements 'do NOT cut risk of heart attacks and strokes'

    Scientists claim fish oil supplements do not cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes despite being widely used and even prescribed for prevention.

    A review of 20 studies involving almost 70,000 patients concluded that taking omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oil had no significant effect on rates of heart attacks, strokes and heart-related deaths.

    Previous trials have had conflicting results about whether supplements may protect the heart. But fish oil supplements are approved on the NHS to prevent heart attack survivors from having a second attack and recommended in official guidelines.

    Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (Pufas) are known to fight inflammation, one of the key processes that contribute to narrowing of the arteries. Researchers conducting the new study analysed data on 7,044 deaths, 3,993 heart-related deaths, 1,150 sudden deaths, 1,837 heart attacks and 1,490 strokes.

    The results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed no evidence of risk reduction associated with omega-3.

    Source  - Daily Mail

    Alzheimer's could be the most catastrophic impact of junk food

    When you raise the subject of over-eating and obesity, you often see people at their worst. The comment threads discussing these issues reveal a legion of bullies who appear to delight in other people's problems.
    When alcoholism and drug addiction are discussed, the tone tends to be sympathetic. When obesity is discussed, the conversation is dominated by mockery and blame, though the evidence suggests that it may be driven by similar forms of addiction.
    I suspect that much of this mockery is a coded form of snobbery: the strong association between poor diets and poverty allows people to use this issue as a cipher for something else they want to say, which is less socially acceptable.
    But this problem belongs to all of us. Even if you can detach yourself from the suffering caused by diseases arising from bad diets, you will carry the cost, as a growing proportion of the health budget will be used to address them. The cost – measured in both human suffering and money – could be far greater than we imagined. A large body of evidence now suggests that Alzheimer's is primarily a metabolic disease. Some scientists have gone so far as to rename it: they call it  type 3 diabetes.

    Source  - Guardian

    Subconscious cues can trigger the placebo effect, say researchers

    Subliminal information can trigger the placebo effect and its opposite, the nocebo effect, researchers say.
    The finding suggests that patients with certain ailments may feel better or worse depending on subtle cues their brains pick up from the environment, but which they are not consciously aware of.
    Karin Jensen, who led the study at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said the work had implications for how doctors interact with their patients and how healthcare is delivered.
    The placebo effect is the curious biological mechanism whereby patients' symptoms improve when they take fake medicines with no active ingredient, such as sugar pills or saline injections. It also boosts the effectiveness of genuine medicines.
    Though placebo is the better known effect, there is an opposite reaction, called the nocebo response, where people can feel worse after an intervention that should have no ill effects. While both are usually linked to a tangible intervention the patient is aware of, Jensen's team wondered whether subconscious cues might be enough to trigger the same effects.

    Source  - Guardian

    Marijuana linked to testicular cancer in US study

    Researchers whose findings appeared in the journal Cancer said the link appeared to be specific to a type of tumour known as nonseminoma.
    "This is the third study consistently demonstrating a greater than doubling of risk of this particularly undesirable subtype of testicular cancer among young men with marijuana use," said Victoria Cortessis of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, who led the study.
    "I myself feel like we need to take this seriously now," she added, noting that the rates of testicular cancer have been rising inexplicably over the past century.
    The research is not ironclad proof that the marijuana is to blame, and even if it is, the danger is not overwhelming. According to the American Cancer Society, a man's lifetime risk of getting testicular cancer is about one in 270 – and because effective treatment is available, the risk of dying from the disease is just one in 5,000.
    So far, little is known about what causes it. Cortessis said undescended testicles, in which the testes remain in the abdomen beyond the age of a year, are a risk factor. Both pesticide and hormone exposure have also been associated with the tumours.

    Source  - Telegraph

    So what IS the truth about acupuncture?

    For critics of acupuncture, last week’s headlines provided ready ammunition.
    News reports revealed that hundreds of NHS patients undergoing the treatment have suffered complications including fainting and dizziness.
    A study said there were 325 reports of patients coming to harm after having acupuncture on the NHS in just two years.  These included 100 cases of needles being left inside the body, and five patients who suffered collapsed lungs after a needle accidentally penetrated their chests.
    Proof, according to acupuncture’s critics, that its claims to be an effective form of pain relief are not just mumbo-jumbo, but dangerous mumbo-jumbo. But is that the whole story?
    Many would argue that all treatments have side-effects — especially if mistakes are made — and that the number of problems reported was relatively small.
    Now a major analysis, published yesterday, suggests the sceptics are also wrong about acupuncture’s benefits: it really does control pain. Practitioners claim that by inserting fine needles at 400 specific points on the skin, they can affect the ‘meridians’ — channels of energy that run up and down the body, blocking pain. Critics claim any relief comes purely from the placebo effect.

    Source  - Daily Mail