Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System

Source: Mercola
Dr. Mercola
January 25, 2017

Dr. Mercola discusses natural ways to support your immune system.

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Top Tips for Better Sleep

Source: DavidPerlmutter
Dr. David Perlmutter
August 14, 2016

Getting a good night’s rest is fundamentally important. Poor sleep hygiene, and sleep interruption, has been found to correlate with risk for coronary artery disease, and even Alzheimer’s. What to do to protect your sleep? Try no coffee after noon, and putting your devices, like laptops, tablets and mobile phones, away earlier. For more tips, watch this latest video from Dr. Perlmutter.

Biological Clock Disruption In Humans May Lead To Cancer, Study Finds

Circadian rhythms
Source: NaturalNews.com
Amy Goodrich
August 3, 2016

Our body is designed to sleep at night and work during the day. A new study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) biologists shows that working night shifts or disrupting the body’s internal clock may lead to cancer growth.

Until now, nobody had a clue why disrupting the biological clock, which drives circadian rhythms, has such an impact on human health. MIT scientists believe they can offer an explanation. They think they have figured out the mystery of the heightened cancer risk.

Circadian rhythms function as tumor suppressors

Circadian rhythms are found in most living organisms. They follow a 24-hour cycle, and influence sleep-wake cycles, mood, alertness, hormone release, body temperature and other vital functions. Abnormal circadian rhythms have been associated with sleeping disorders, obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder. And now cancer can be added to the list.

In mice, the team found that two genes, Bmal1 and Per2, known to control the circadian rhythms of a cell, also suppress tumor growth. According to Thales Papagiannakopoulos, a former postdoc at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and the lead author of the study, disruption of these genes, either through gene deletion or disruption of the normal light/dark cycle, allows tumors to become more aggressive.

How working night shifts may increase cancer risk

Our body and brain are hardwired to relax and unwind after dark and spring back into action in the morning. The circadian clock is located in the brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN can be seen as a local communication center; it receives information about light levels from the retina and passes this information on to the cells.

The information the cell receives will either activate or deactivate a set of genes (including Bmal1 and Per2) known to control circadian activities. Furthermore, Bmal1 and Per2 regulate a cancer-promoting protein known as the c-myc. When their function is interrupted, c-myc is given free rein to accumulate and spin out of control.

“Cells need the light cue, which is like a reset button for the clock. When you lose that cue, you lose the normal rhythms in every cell in your body,” said Papagiannakopoulos.

For the study, they exposed mice, predisposed to develop a particular type of lung cancer, to either a regular day/night or a jet lag type of schedule. The latter mimics the biological clock disruption of people working night shifts. The scientists found that under jet lag conditions, tumors grew faster and more aggressively.

“If you disrupt these genes in every cell of the body, the light cues that you normally receive do not apply,” Papagiannakopoulos said. “It’s a way of taking a molecular hammer and just breaking this clock.”

As reported by the American Psychological Association, no amount of extra sleep in the world can compensate for a messed-up circadian rhythm.

Joseph Takahashi, chair of the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, noted that although the results are very clear and definitive, further research is needed to confirm the results.

Therefore, Papagiannakopoulos is now investigating whether circadian disruptions also affect other cancer types, and whether or not a broken clock can be exploited as a potential drug target or cancer prevention strategy.

Read More At: NaturalNews.com

Sources for this article include:

Cell.com

News.MIT.edu

NIGMS.NIH.gov

APA.org

Breaking Away From Stress With Meditation


TheBreakway
Zy Marquiez
July 5, 2016

“Meditation is not like doing reps at the gym.  It strengthens your attention muscle.”
– David Levy

“Give me silence.  Let me ponder my despair.  Where the trees and the birds know no cruelty.  And where I may learn to breathe again.  Without the harsh views of humanity.  Without judgment or jury.  Just me, the trees, the green.  And my silence.”
– Amelia Dashwood

Meditation is a tool that is as great and powerful as its precision of use.

A still mind helps employ this tool and its effect will be proportional to the drive the individual employs in its application.

Calming the mind can help:

Better sleep
Clearer focus
Greater effectiveness
Anger control
Ability to learn faster
Stress release
Less distraction
Better concentration
Reduced depression
Enhanced physical relaxation[1]

Michael Singer, in his book The Surrender Experiment, covers many experiences that expanded his consciousness when he became ready to allow things in life to happen, rather than forcing things to manifest in his own manner.  In his intriguing and thought provoking book he writes:

“Challenging situations create the force needed to bring about change.  The problem is that we generally use all the stirred-up energy intended to bring about change to resist change.  I was learning to sit quietly in the midst of the howling winds and wait to see what constructive action was being asked of me.”

This resounding passage helped me change the path of stress that was chosen by me to a more consciously calming road.

Another effect of reading the above passage was that it was as if the stress-balloon popped, and it was quite shocking at first.  This was due to the realization that change was being resisted by me, and that was one major factor causing stress in my life at the time.  Synchronistically enough, it was after that very moment subsequent to reading that particular passage and making the choice to change that everything in my life began snowballing into positive circumstances once it was decided by me to become proactive, rather than reactive.

Such resounding change wasn’t able to take place until my eyes and mind were open to it, and willing to act on it.

In Meditation For Warriors – Practical Medication For Cops, Soldiers & Martial Artists, Loren W. Christensen not only shows many anecdotal evidence by those in the martial field of the benefits of meditation, but he also offers various ways that meditation can be employed.

As the author notes, one army veteran told him:

“There was a soldier in Afghanistan into the Zen/hippie stuff.  He was always meditating, doing yoga, whatever.  Thing is, he always seemed so calm no matter what was going on.  So I asked him to show me how to meditate.  After a while, it started to make a huge difference on how I mentally dealt with stress in combat.”[3]

Christensen’s friend, Paul McRedmond, who was a long-time martial artist, retired police officer, and avid meditator for nigh five decades, related:

“The nervous system can only take so much dynamic input before it crashes/needs to sleep, etc.  It’s like filling a cup with water.  The cup can actually take more water than just the cup’s measure.  But one more drop can cause more water to flow from the cup than just that one drop.  Loren, you’ve dealt with many, many ‘last straw’ [last drop of stress] people.  With them, a seemingly random event, a single word or a glance can cause emotional upset, panic, screaming, and, sometimes, really stupid actions…There are three ways to empty the cup: You can get a bigger one.  You can dump or drain the water in the existing one, or you can avoid water.  Training, relationships, good nutrition, and exercise all enlarge the cup.  Sleep allows some of the water to drain and vacations get you away from the water.

But, meditation does all three at once.  It expands the capacity of your nervous system by creating coherence [a synergistic pattern of brain wave frequencies across the main 4 quadrants of the brain], it allows for greater restfulness during sleep [draining the water], and [here comes the woo-woo stuff] to eventually become water.”[4]

Essentially, meditation impacts the health of the individual through what are called “stress reduction pathways” within your brain.  As Researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University elaborated:

“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.”

There are countless other examples that showcase what individuals in high-stress environments thought of the regular use of using meditation as a tool.  That convinced me, as an individual, that there could probably be some merit to what they spoke of.  And there was.

After learning how to employ meditation, issues that used to bother me, melted away.

Empty/inflammatory comments people made, affected me no longer.

Stressful scenarios that used to be obstacles became puzzles to be solved rather than detriments on my path.

Because of the above reason, and more, meditation has always been a staple in my life, and always will be.

There are many ways stress can be conquered, and these techniques are up to the individual to figure out what helps them best.  In my case, reading, working out & meditating have always worked best, with the last one netting the most benefits by far.

Whatever tool/technique one decides to choose to deal with stress, it’s of utmost importance not only to refine this tool, but to hone it as much as possible for when it is needed.  The beauty of whatever technique/tool you choose, is that the more you employ it, the more efficient you will become with it.  But its benefits will only accrue by being regularly proactive.

Ponder about it, a perfectly honed tool sitting in the attic of your life most of the time does nobody any good.

Please keep in mind, when the next obstacle in your life arises, it’s not to bring you down.  It’s to test you.  It’s to show you what you’re made of.

But nothing great will happen unless you unleash the power of your mind in its full potential.

As Eckhart Tolle intimated:

“Your mind is an instrument, a tool, a weapon.”

The mind, your mind, is your greatest asset.

Be cognizant.

Hone it.

Employ it.

To sum up, the following quote is left for your contemplation:

“The mind can be our best friend and advocate in getting what we want in life, or it can pull the breaks on and be a nasty little foe – the choice is yours – choose your attitude.”
– Rachel Bermingham
______
Sources & References

[1] Loren W. Christensen, Meditation For Warriors – Practical Medication For Cops, Soldiers & Martial Artists, pg. 19.
[2]  Dr. Kelly Brogan, M.D., A Mind Of Your Own – The Truth About Depression & How Women Can Heal Their Bodies To Reclaim Their Lives, p. 260.
[3] Loren W. Christensen, Meditation For Warriors – Practical Medication For Cops, Soldiers & Martial Artists, pg. 19.
[4] Ibid., pg. 19-20
[5] [5] EurekAlert!, Carnegie Mellon Researchers Reveal How Mindfulness Training Affects Health, February 12, 2016

The Many Benefits Of Meditation

Source: Mercola.com
Dr. Mercola
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
Headaches Skin disorders
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.

Continue Reading At: Mercola.com

The Continuum Concept: Realigning with Intuition

The Continuum Concept: Realigning with Intuition

Originally published on KellyBroganMD.com.

Source: GreenMedInfo.com
Kelly Brogan M.D.
February 29, 2016

Sleep: Every Modern Parent’s Fantasy

I remember the feeling, the sheer desperation coursing through me as I woke up, as mothers do, anticipating her cry from the co-sleeper next to our bed. I looked at the clock – 3:30am. I had 6 patients booked that day and the demands of my professional life were growing impatient with the myriad excuses for fatigue and forgetfulness brought on by this new addition to our world.

I worked, in both pregnancies, up until the day I birthed my daughters, spoke with an entire day’s worth of patients while I was in early labor during my second. I was back at the hospital for my fellowship after the generous allotment of 6 weeks for my first daughter and back at my desk in my practice 3 weeks after my second. I brought the full force of my masculine, warrior, can-do, get out of my way, energy to the enterprise of early motherhood.

In many ways, this attitude was adaptive for me and my daughters because it compelled me to do things my way, and spared me from conforming to conventional expectations around birthbreastfeeding, and pediatric care. My friends had commented that I’d become like a hippy Nazi. Serious and militant about the rightness of my decisions, I felt that “sleep was important” for me, particularly as a professional.

Hitting the Books

Because modern mothers have to look to books to learn to engage the most primal relationship in the history of living beings, I read every book under the sun about infant sleep, desperate to crack the code of the 12 hour night stretch. It became a strategy of outwitting baby.

While we never did a conventional cry-it-out, the energy put toward achieving independent sleeps and naps was remarkable.

Today my daughters sleep 11-12 hours without a peep.

But at what cost?

The Costs of Professional Parenting

Jean Liedloff attempted, over 40 years ago, to share with us the cost of our modern mothering, in her book The Continuum Concept. On the cover is an endorsement that reads,

If the world could be saved by a book, this just might be the book.”

A bold statement, right? I believe it to be true

Through her time with the South American tribe, the Yequana, Liedloff learned about how we North Americans have gone astray. Our addictions, our compulsions, our sorrow, our stress, our misery, our lives lived in longing for a “better tomorrow”. She asserts the profound driver of our suffering: it’s called the Continuum. And it’s about our several-million-year history as humans on this planet.

We toss this figure around, but pause to really take in what several million means. The yoga I practice has endured some 7-10,000 years by estimates, and I marvel at the meaning of that. Think about the medicine we practice today. Do you think triple bypasses and Prozac will still be the gold standard 8,000 years from now? When a behavior endures, it is for a reason. It is an expression of “rightness”, or adaptation, and of synergy between the human, it’s behavior, and the environment it is meant to commune with.

The Continuum’s Commandments

Liedloff posits that there is a powerful, perhaps the most powerful, force within us that seeks to keep us doing exactly what our bodies, minds, and spirits are expecting us to do based on millions of years of co-evolution with our environment.

It is really another word for instinct and the intuitive knowing that derives from it.

Written in 1975, she laments the reality of the times. That we have, for the first time in sentient history, allowed our intellects to coopt our instincts.

Minds Over Matriarchy

We have allowed ourselves to behave in accordance, not with our native inclinations, but from a space of fear-induced mind-control. From an intellect-based energy that drags us away from our union with each other and with nature. From an energy of dominance over nature and mastery over any perceived challenge, in or outside of our bodies. We must be restrained and constrained by rules, laws, and forced conformity because violation of the Continuum has left us out of touch with our own best intentions.

The thing is, that the Continuum calls. Babies are designed, expectant of, and singularly oriented toward human skin-to-skin contact. In ancestral times and indigenous living, babies are held from the moment they are born until they can crawl (6-8 months) and are not left out of human contact for one minute. Literally. They are dragged through rain and rivers, bounced around, exposed to chaotic noises, sensations, and rhythms.

Helicopter Parenting Makes for Unhappy Adults

These more mobile Yequana babies are then trusted to make their own decisions around self-preservation. They sit next to large holes in the earth, crawl on the edge of wild rivers, and sample their environment. There is no helicopter vigilance instilling in these babies a belief that they do not have what it takes to survive. There is no good babybad baby, no histrionic celebrations when they accomplish something. There is a calm investment in their inner compass manifesting life as it should be.

And it certainly is not a life begun in a sterile, quiet bed, alone in a nursery.

In fact, Liedloff states that immediate skin-to-skin contact is so imbedded in the evolutionary mother-newborn dyad, that in the absence of this imprinting, a mother’s physiology begins to prepare for the grief of a stillborn. Tells us something important about the ever-common “Baby Blues” our mothers have come to expect, doesn’t it?

Continue Reading At: GreenMedInfo.com

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© February 29, 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.”

Dr. Brogan is boarded in Psychiatry/Psychosomatic Medicine/Reproductive Psychiatry and Integrative Holistic Medicine, and practices Functional Medicine, a root-cause approach to illness as a manifestation of multiple-interrelated systems. After studying Cognitive Neuroscience at M.I.T., and receiving her M.D. from Cornell University, she completed her residency and fellowship at Bellevue/NYU. She is one of the nation’s only physicians with perinatal psychiatric training who takes a holistic evidence-based approach in the care of patients with a focus on environmental medicine and nutrition. She is also a mom of two, and an active supporter of women’s birth experience. She is the Medical Director for Fearless Parent, and an advisory board member for GreenMedInfo.com.