July 1, 2017
July 1, 2017
June 5, 2017
You’ve probably heard of the damage chronic inflammation can do to your body. In this video, Lise Alschuler, ND, helps you understand what inflammation really is and how it can damage your body. She also has tips on how to find out if that might be an issue for you since it’s often something we can’t feel or tell for ourselves.
April 22, 2017
February 8, 2014
The more we learn about yoga, the more we realize the benefits aren’t all in the minds of the 20 million or so devotees in the U.S. Yoga helps people to relax, making the heart rate go down, which is great for those with high blood pressure. The poses help increase flexibility and strength, bringing relief to back pain sufferers.
Now, in the largest study of yoga that used biological measures to assess results, it seems that those meditative sun salutations and downward dog poses can reduce inflammation, the body’s way of reacting to injury or irritation.
That’s important because inflammation is associated with chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. It’s also one of the reasons that cancer survivors commonly feel fatigue for months, even years, following treatment.
Researchers looked at 200 breast cancer survivors who had not practiced yoga before. Half the group continued to ignore yoga, while the other half received twice-weekly, 90-minute classes for 12 weeks, with take-home DVDs and encouragement to practice at home.
According to the study, which was led by Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State University, and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the group that had practiced yoga reported less fatigue and higher levels of vitality three months after treatment had ended.
But the study didn’t rely only on self-reports. Kiecolt-Glaser’s husband and research partner, Ronald Glaser of the university’s department of molecular virology, immunology, and medical genetics, went for stronger, laboratory proof. He examined three cytokines, proteins in the blood that are markers for inflammation.
Blood tests before and after the trial showed that, after three months of yoga practice, all three markers for inflammation were lower by 10 to 15 percent. That part of the study offered some rare biological evidence of the benefits of yoga in a large trial that went beyond people’s own reports of how they feel.
No one knows exactly how yoga might reduce inflammation in breast cancer survivors, but Kiecolt-Glaser lays out some research-based suggestions. Cancer treatment often leaves patients with high levels of stress and fatigue, and an inability to sleep well. “Poor sleep fuels fatigue, and fatigue fuels inflammation,” she says. Yoga has been shown to reduce stress and help people sleep better.
Other smaller studies have shown, by measuring biological markers, that expert yoga practitioners had lower inflammatory responses to stress than novice yoga practitioners did; that yoga reduces inflammation in heart failure patients; and that yoga can improve crucial levels of glucose and insulin in patients with diabetes.
Yoga for Other Stresses
Cancer is an obvious cause of stress, but recent research has pointed to another contributing factor: living in poverty. Maryanna Klatt, an associate professor of clinical family medicine at Ohio State University, has taken yoga into the classrooms of disadvantaged children. In research that has not yet been published, she found that 160 third graders in low-income areas who practiced yoga with their teacher had self-reported improvements in attention.
“Their teachers liked doing it right before math, because then the kids focused better on the math work,” she says. “Telling a kid to sit down and be quiet doesn’t make sense. Have them get up and move.”
While it would be too complicated and intrusive to measure biological responses to yoga in schoolchildren, Klatt has done similar research on surgical nurses, who are under the daily stress of watching suffering and death. She said she found a 40 percent reduction in their salivary alpha amylase, a measure of the fight-or-flight response to stress.
And she’s about to begin teaching yoga to garbage collectors in the city of Columbus before they head out on their morning shift. At the moment, her arrangement with the city is not part of a study. She just hopes to make their lives less stressful. And she does not plan to check their inflammatory response, though she admits she’d love to.
January 30, 2017
DESCRIPTION: From conjunctivitis, to uveitis, to a low-grade form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, there is something in the spice turmeric with dramatic anti-inflammatory effects.
November 15, 2016
October 24, 2016
Dr. Kelly Brogan M.D.
October 17, 2016
We are wired for community. If we disconnect, our bodies will call us back to the sense of human connection that we are wired for using the unexpected language of inflammation.
I love dancing, so I wasn’t too weirded out when we were asked, in one of my first kundalini classes to dance like no one was watching to some loud bhangra music. What really tweaked me (and likely most newbies in the class) was when the teacher turned the music down and asked us to take a stranger’s hands, face them, and stand close. She asked us to close our eyes and just breathe with this person. Then we were to open them and look into their eyes. Simply look, eyes open, into theirs. After about 30 seconds of panicked awkwardness, something opened and tears began to flow. They flowed from a chamber of the heart that is closed when we live as automatons separated from ourselves and each other. It takes less than two minutes to be reminded that this connection is missing.
The “community wound” is a deep one for me. I remember a therapist once telling me, “you know what your problem is…you don’t let anyone in your life feel needed by you.” I was convicted by this because it was true. Fiercely independent, I made my mission self-sufficiency from an early age. Asking for advice, guidance, support, or counsel was a form of weakness, for “others” to indulge, and for me to remain squarely on the dispensing end of. I didn’t know that I was protecting a need so deep and so intense that to even expose it to the light of day would necessitate I come into contact with a deep wellspring of unmet needs and associated grief. Francis Weller, an expert on the matter, pierced my knowing heart when he wrote, “…when these things are finally granted to us, a wave of recognition rises that we have lived without this love, this acknowledgment, and the support of this village all of our lives.”
These days, I relish the opportunity to bring people together. Introducing friends, creating bigger webs, organizing alliances, and marinating in the womb-like energy of kundalini festivals.
As someone who has even identified as a loner, it shocks me that I can be in a room full of like-minded people and find myself on the verge of tears, unrelated to anything specific, for hours on end. Just simply being in that energy.
…when an individual’s particular kind of soulfulness, which is both an instinctual and a spiritual identity, is surrounded by psychic acknowledgement and acceptance, that person feels life and power as never before. – Clarissa Pinkola Estes
It’s no coincidence that A Mind of Your Own reached NY Times Bestseller status because of grassroots energy. Because of a fabric of those who love the truth. This for-the-people-by-the-people success was a part of my healing as much as an opportunity for others to reclaim their health journey.
We are social animals, and our health and wellness depend on it. We used to wake up to dozens of eyes. Now in our modular homes and digitized worlds, we no longer feel that our tribe is holding us. In fact, missing, often, is the sense that anything is missing. But it is, and our bodyminds know it. According to Jane Leidloff, author of the Continuum Concept, our unmet primal needs may manifest as addiction-like behaviors as we seek to medicate deficiencies like that of the tribe.
In the 70s, Bruce Alexander conducted the famous Rat Park experiments (thanks to Will Hall for sharing this vital science with me!) where he rips the foundation out from under the drug war, the chemical addiction model, and the notion of the addict as mentally and physically disordered. His elegant experiments play on the presumption that rats in an isolated cage with one water and one cocaine dispenser go onto addict and eventually kill themselves. This seemingly demonstrates that chemical nature of the addictive process.
He then went on to conduct subsequent experiments in a “rat park” where the rats had a social network, space, and an enriching environment, in which they no longer chose to consume the cocaine and would even detox themselves voluntarily if they entered the space previously addicted. Watch a short sketch of the data here!
What this tells us is that, even in animals, community is the prevention and the treatment for self-abuse. Many argue this is why and how 12 Step programs enjoy the persistent success that they do. They offer community.
If addiction and associated depression are a sign of what we are missing on a social level, is this all in the mind? Does the body participate in a meaningful way? Do they both work as one?
An important review on the subject by Eisenberger et al says yes: our behavior impacts our immune system and our immune system guides our behavior and inflammation is the common link. Inflammation has many sources, and evidence suggests that perceived stress, intestinal imbalance, medication exposures, and nutrient deficiencies can all contribute to an uptick in inflammatory messengers. In today’s stimulatory soup, inflammation traffics in the body as a result of everything from infection to that email you’re still obsessing about (non-infection-related inflammation is called “sterile” inflammation) and it has become a chronic phenomenon. In this sense, depression may be the final common pathway for the experience of mismatch with lifestyle – body, mind, and spirit.
Are you in the market for a guru? So many of us are looking for that one person who will tell us just what to do and how to do it. Who will hold out that hand with the magic pill. My friend, James Maskell, invoked Thich Nhat Hanh’s genius when he reminded us that community is the guru of the future. By this, he means that the unique alchemy of our togetherness will ultimately serve to empower, heal, and guide us. The guru is not the expert, and it may not even simply be “within”. The guru is the web, the union, the sum greater than the parts. And it may be the case that we cannot heal fully without this sense of connectedness.
It is through this lens that we need to explore the latest theories on depression. Much of the new literature on depression (since we left the serotonin theory behind) has focused on “sickness syndrome” as a model of depression, or the idea that the depressed individual is inflamed and part of the behaviors that come with that are social withdrawal in order to limit contagion and recover. But what if we need each other to recover?Eisenberger reviews a literature that suggests that inflammation in humans actually drives pro-social behavior in many circumstances, in addition to a heightened sensitivity to positive social cues to help identify “allies”. They write:
“To the extent that sensitivity to certain types of social rewards is preserved in inflammatory-related depression, this hypothesis suggests a spared island of motivational significance for these individuals.”
In other words, you can be flat out on the couch, and even suicidal, but there is a part of your behavioral sensing mechanism that is still asking for and receptive to human connection.
They also discuss the literature that suggests that social isolation and rejection lead to inflammation. In this way, an awareness of these feelings of social disconnection may actually be the missing link to depression (not everyone with inflammation gets depressed), ultimately driving a type of enhanced responsiveness to “friendly connection” to bring the depressed person back to a place of connectedness. Perhaps this is why and how a trusting therapeutic relationship with a healer carries significant weight in resolving chronic disease.
They conclude with compelling nuance:
Social behavior influences the immune system – Social isolation leads to inflammation (with some groups 2.5 times more likely to have elevated CRP levels!) and specific effects on the immune system. I explore this in my peer-reviewed, indexed paper on the role of mental health in vaccine response. Additionally, a recent paper on “dyadic coping” demonstrated that couples who have high self-reported communication have less reactive immune systems to interpersonal stress.
The immune system influences social behavior – The immune system directs social behavior leading to specific interpersonal sensitivities, motives, and drives. Baseline inflammation renders people (especially women) more sensitive to further inflammatory responses to social stress. So, once sensitized, chronic inflammation leads to a louder call to respond to positive social cues.
This paper is powerful evidence for the role of perceived social safety and connectedness in healing inflammation. While I advocate for diet as the portal to wellness, I also acknowledge that there are some who may archetypally need to lead with community. In fact, in our online course, Vital Mind Reset, participants claim that community may be the most critical element of the healing journeys they report over the 44 days. The online group is an incredibly powerful healing space, and I am inspired, daily, by the exchanges.
Most surprising in VMR to date posting assignment. It doesn’t have to do with diet, or meditation, or yoga, combined or separately. Instead, it is the individuals I’ve “met” and the community we’ve become. All good – which when I think about it, isn’t surprising at all.
Read More At: GreenMedInfo.com
© [October 17, 2016] GreenMedInfo LLC. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC. Want to learn more from GreenMedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter here http://www.greenmedinfo.com/greenmed/newsletter.
August 15, 2016
You might have heard about the many health benefits of turmeric – or maybe you still think of this popular spice as only belonging in your spice rack. Either way, you may be surprised to find out that a simple combination of turmeric and honey (known as “golden honey”) is an extremely useful natural remedy, as recently reported by Natural News.
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties that make it very good for your health. It is also able to destroy bacteria that cause diseases, aiding your body’s natural defense system. Combine turmeric with honey – which has its own antibacterial properties – and you have a pretty strong natural remedy. In fact, according to Healthy and Natural World, turmeric golden honey is considered to be the strongest natural antibiotic.
Combine 3.5oz of raw organic honey with one tablespoon of turmeric powder and mix well. Store in a sealable glass container.
As soon as you exhibit the first symptoms of cold or flu, start to take the remedy in the following quantities:
Turmeric actually melts away body fat, according to research from Tufts University in Boston. Scientists discovered that curcumin – which is the active ingredient in turmeric – reduced weight gain and total body fat in mice. Study authors explained: “By diminishing the sediment of fat, relaxing the lymphatic return, and refraining the apoptosis of beta cells, the curcumin might significantly decrease the level of insulin resistance and leptin resistance caused by the high fat diet.”
According to Bel Marra Health, turmeric is actually a natural pain reliever – again thanks to its powerful active ingredient, curcumin. Its antioxidant properties help to get rid of free radicals before they can do any damage, and also combat inflammation brought on by osteoarthritis, making turmeric a natural remedy for pain.
Turmeric is competitively effective when compared with a class of steroid medications known as corticosteroids which are used to manage chronic inflammation. Curcumin and resveratrol (also found in turmeric) can be helpful in the fight against tumor cells, by reducing their propensity to spread to other parts of the body, and reducing their ability to inflame local regions.
Various turmeric studies have been carried out using injectable forms of the spice – which is more bioaccessible than turmeric taken orally. According to Natural Health 365, researchers believe that curcumin has chemopreventive properties, helping it to combat cancers of the digestive tract, skin and mouth in animal studies. Curcumin not only triggers the activity of natural carcinogenic-detoxifying enzymes, but it also inhibits cancer calls from growing and spreading.
Since turmeric is one of the best natural anti-inflammatories you can consume, it is worth incorporating it into your diet on a regular basis. Check out the following amazing recipe for a spicy tropical smoothie; simply blend these ingredients together:
June 18, 2016
There is growing evidence to show that meditation can make you healthier and happier. For example, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is sometimes used to treat depression, and brain imaging technology suggests meditation actually changes your brain in a number of beneficial ways.
MRI scans have shown that long-term meditation can alter the structure of your cerebral cortex, the outer layer of your brain. Additionally, brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing have been shown to be thicker in those who meditate.
Previous studies have linked meditation to benefits such as improved attention, memory, processing speed, creativity, and more. Recent research also suggests that meditation helps counteract age-related loss of brain volume.
In short, meditation can be viewed as a form of brain exercise that strengthens it and keeps it “younger” longer. Other studies reveal the benefits of meditation are not limited to your brain; it also has anti-inflammatory effects and affects gene expression—all of which can boost overall physical health and longevity.
Long-Term Meditation Tied to Reduced Loss of Brain Volume
One of the most recent studies1,2 in this field looked at 50 long-term meditators and 50 control subjects between the ages of 24 and 77. Among the controls, advancing age correlated with a loss of brain volume, as expected.
Those who meditated, however, were found to suffer less age-related brain atrophy. As reported by GMA News:3
“People who reported meditating for an average of 20 years had higher brain volumes than the average person…
[T]he study’s senior author told Reuters Health that the team of researchers expected to see more gray matter in certain regions of the brain among long-term meditators. “But we see that this effect is really widespread throughout the brain,” said Dr. Florian Kurth…
[T]he meditators’ brains appeared better preserved than average people of the same age. Moreover, the researchers were surprised to find less age-related gray matter loss throughout the brains of meditators.”
How Meditation Increases Productivity
In the featured Google talk, meditation expert Emily Fletcher explains the differences between two popular styles of meditation, and how they affect your brain.
She also discusses the similarities between meditation and caffeine. Both have the effect of energizing you and boosting your productivity, but meditation accomplishes this without the adverse effects associated with caffeine.
As explained by Fletcher, caffeine is similar to the chemical adenosine, produced by your brain throughout the day. Adenosine makes you sleepy, and caffeine effectively blocks the adenosine receptors in your brain, thereby disallowing your brain from recognizing how tired it is.
While this may not be harmful in and of itself in the short-term, caffeine also stimulates more neural activity in your brain, which triggers your adrenal glands to release the stress chemical adrenaline.
Eventually (whether you’re drinking lots of coffee or not), remaining in a chronic state of “fight or flight” that adrenaline engenders can lead to any number of stress-related disorders.
Meditation, on the other hand, energizes you and makes you more productive without triggering an adrenaline rush. According to Fletcher, meditation provides your body with rest that is two to five times deeper than sleep.
Meditating for 20 minutes also equates to taking a 1.5 hour nap, but you won’t have that “sleep hangover” afterward. Instead, you’ll feel awake and refreshed, and as she says, “more conscious.”
Meditation de-excites your nervous system rather than exciting it further. This makes it more orderly, thereby making it easier for your system to release pent-up stress. It also makes you more productive.
She notes that many are now starting to recognize meditation as a powerful productivity tool. Contrary to popular belief, taking the time to meditate can actually help you gain more time through boosted productivity than what you put into it. In a previous interview,5 Fletcher stated:
“[People say] I’d love to meditate, I know that I need it but I’m so busy right now, my life is just too crazy to meditate. And what they don’t understand is that once you start practicing you actually end up having more time. It’s this weird paradox that happens.
Even though you’re making a pretty significant time contribution to your day to meditation, because it in turn makes your brain function so much better, that you end up accomplishing your tasks much faster and so you end up with more time in your day and your sleep becomes more efficient because you’re using your sleep as a time for sleep because you use the meditation as a time for stress relief.”
Benefits of Meditation Beyond Brain Health
Stress is a well-recognized culprit that can promote ill health across the board, and the ability of meditation to quell stress is an important health benefit. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University recently published a study claiming they’ve found the biological mechanism by which mindfulness affects physical health.
In a nutshell, meditation impacts your biology and physical health via “stress reduction pathways” in your brain. As explained in the press release:6
“When an individual experiences stress, activity in the prefrontal cortex — responsible for conscious thinking and planning — decreases, while activity in the amygdala, hypothalamus and anterior cingulate cortex — regions that quickly activate the body’s stress response — increases.
Studies have suggested that mindfulness reverses these patterns during stress; it increases prefrontal activity, which can regulate and turn down the biological stress response.
Excessive activation of the biological stress response increases the risk of diseases impacted by stress (like depression, HIV and heart disease).
By reducing individuals’ experiences of stress, mindfulness may help regulate the physical stress response and ultimately reduce the risk and severity of stress-related diseases.”
Such effects may explain why meditation can help to relieve stress-related diseases such as:
|High blood pressure||Sleep disturbances and fatigue|
|Chronic pain||Gastrointestinal distress and irritable bowel syndrome|
|Respiratory problems such as emphysema and asthma||Mild depression and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)|
Other research, such as that at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine has sought to quantify the benefits of the relaxation response by assessing gene expression before and after meditation, and have compared effects of short- and long-term meditation routines.
Among their findings, they discovered that meditation has anti-inflammatory effects. In one study,8 participants who participated in an eight-week long meditation program, as well as longer-term meditators saw increases in anti-oxidant production, telomerase activity, and oxidative stress.
Among their findings, the Benson-Henry researchers discovered that meditation has anti-inflammatory effects. In one study, participants in an eight-week long meditation program, as well as longer-term meditators, saw increases in anti-oxidant production, telomerase activity, and oxidative stress.
The researchers noted that benefits appear to be dose related, with changes even after one session7.