Health & Wellness

Music brings back memory

By Jerry Brownstein

Music has always been an important part of human culture, and new research is uncovering the reasons why it has such a profound impact on our brains and bodies. These studies show that music produces many beneficial effects including reduced stress, lower blood pressure and boosting the immune system. But perhaps its greatest medical use will be in the treatment of dementia. We have all had the experience of certain songs bringing back memories from the past, and these musical recollections often remain intact for people with dementia. Many Alzheimer’s patients can sing the [...]

Take the ‘Nature Pill’

By Jerry Brownstein

More and more doctors are prescribing nature experiences for the health benefits that come from reduced stress. The power of this ‘nature pill’ is well proven, and it can be a low-cost, low-risk way to curb the negative health effects of urbanisation and indoor lifestyles. New research is revealing just how much time we actually need to spend in nature to get the benefits. Researchers from the University of Michigan (US) wanted to identify the most effective dose of nature that was practical within the context of normal daily life. They gave people who lived in busy cities nature experiences ranging [...]

Yoga can ease depression

By Jerry Brownstein

New research is showing that the practice of yoga can be of great benefit for people who suffer with depression. Most of these patients are given antidepressant medications that come with a long list of negative side effects. On top of that they are only about 50% effective, and most of that is due to the placebo effect. A regular yoga practice could be a solution that not only works on depression, but that also brings other physical benefits. In a recent study at Boston University (US), participants who suffered from clinical depression took a 90 minute yoga class three times a week, and [...]

Covid drug comes from Balearic waters

By Jerry Brownstein

The Spanish pharmaceutical company PharmaMar is testing a powerful antiviral called plitidepsin that could be a major tool in combating the symptoms of Covid-19. This chemical compound has been extracted from a sea squirt (marine invertebrate) called Aplidium albicans that comes from the seas near Ibiza – particularly in the waters of es Vedrà and Tagomago. By lowering the viral load it greatly reduces the symptoms of Covid-19, thus making recovery faster and easier. Researchers from the University of California (US) found that plitidepsin is 30 times more potent than remdesivir – the most [...]

Using mRNA technology to cure cancer

By Jerry Brownstein

The co-creator of one of the Covid-19 vaccines says that the same technology could be used to fight cancer. Ozlem Tureci and her husband Ugur Sahin are the co-founders of the German company BioNTech. In early 2020 they were working on a way to use the body's immune system to cure cancerous tumours. But when they heard about Covid-19, the couple quickly switched the focus of their research to combating that virus. In just eleven months, in partnership with U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, they developed a vaccine which was approved for use around the world.The vaccines created by BioNTech [...]

6,000 km bike trail in US

By Jerry Brownstein

Biking enthusiasts will eventually be able to cycle across the entire US on one spectacular trail. The Great American Rail-Trail (GART) is being built along the routes of out-of-use train tracks and existing country roads. When finished it will cover about 6,000 km from Washington D.C. on the east coast to Washington State on the west coast. One of the main ideas behind this project is to alleviate the stress and danger of cyclists sharing the road with cars. The GART will be a multi-use trail open to pedestrians and joggers who will also benefit from the peace and quiet of having no motor vehicles [...]

Breakthrough in cancer research

By Jerry Brownstein

Researchers at Cardiff University (UK) have discovered a new type of killer immune cell (T-cell) that has the potential to be an effective therapy against numerous types of cancer. T-cell therapies are a growing field in cancer treatment. The way it works is that immune cells are removed to be modified, and then they are returned to the patient's blood to seek and destroy cancer cells. However, up to now this process could only target a limited number of cancers, and was not successful against solid tumours - which make up the majority of cancers. These newly discovered T-cells are equipped [...]

Honey for coughs and colds

By Jerry Brownstein

Scientists from Oxford University Medical School say that good quality honey may be better than conventional treatments for coughs, blocked noses and sore throats. They recommend it as a better alternative to antibiotics, which are often prescribed for such infections, even though they are not effective. Their research looked at the results for treating upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) with honey as compared to other usual treatments: antihistamines, expectorants, cough suppressants and painkillers. The analysis of several studies indicated that honey was more effective for improving [...]

Training your Brain with Meditation

By Jerry Brownstein

It is well known that meditation is generally good for you, and now we are learning that it can be tailored to produce specific beneficial results. Previous studies have shown that meditation increases the size of your brain in areas associated with focused attention and compassion. The newest research suggests that the type of meditation that you practice will influence which parts of your brain are most affected. This is analogous to physical training, where if you want to build up one particular muscle group there are special exercises that concentrate on developing that area. Similarly, [...]

New tests for Covid-19

By Jerry Brownstein

One of the ways that we can get more control over the spread of Covid-19 is to have simple tests that give rapid results. The most common test is the PCR, but it is very intrusive and takes days to get a result. Many new tests are being developed and Yale University (US) created SalivaDirect which is simpler, faster, cheaper, and less invasive than the PCR. To take the test you merely spit a small amount of saliva into a cup, and you can get the results within 24 hours. It has been used by sports teams and schools in the US since September 2020. Ben-Gurion University in Israel has developed [...]

Changing all blood to Type ‘O’

By Jerry Brownstein

Researchers from the University of British Columbia (Canada) have figured out how to convert blood types A, B and AB into the universal donor Type O, which all patients can receive in a transfusion regardless of their own blood type. It had been previously known that enzymes can convert A and B type red blood cells into O type, but the enzymes available had not worked well. That was until scientists considered looking inside the human gut. “The human gut is covered with large glycoproteins that have blood group antigens on their surface,” said Peter Rahfeld, head of the research [...]

Loving Yourself

By Jerry Brownstein

Knowing how to love yourself is at the very heart of your ability to create and enjoy the wonderful life that you desire. It is the foundation of the most important relationship that you will ever have – the one with yourself. The benefits of self love touch every part of your being – physical, mental and emotional. It gives you a sense of inner peace and self-assurance… a quiet confidence that keeps you centered so that you are not easily swayed by outside events and the opinions of others. It also creates a beautiful energy around you which attracts people and circumstances that mirror and enhance [...]

A “Pen” that rapidly detects cancer

By Jerry Brownstein

A team of scientists and engineers from the University of Texas (US) have developed a fast and accurate way to diagnose tumours during surgery using a pen-sized device. The MasSpec Pen was able to detect cancer of the breast, thyroid, lung, ovaries and brain with 96% accuracy in tests of over 250 tissue samples. Professor Livia Eberlin is the study’s designer, and she explains the procedure: “We developed a handheld device that can extract molecules from the tumour just by touching it. We then analyze these molecules using a high-performance mass spectrometer that gives a predictive diagnosis [...]

Restoring memory with electric pulses

By Jinny Throup

Scientists have found that a decline in memory as a result of ageing can be temporarily reversed using a harmless form of electrical brain stimulation. The study focused on a part of cognition called “working memory” which is crucial for a wide variety of tasks such as recognising faces, mathematics and navigating a new environment. This is known to steadily decline with age, and is thought to be due to a disconnection between two brain networks known as the prefrontal and temporal regions. In young people, the electrical brain activity in these two regions tends to be rhythmically synchronised [...]

Love your body

By Jerry Brownstein

Conscious Living is the process of bringing mindful awareness to all areas of your being – Mind, Spirit…and Body. Your body is the temple that houses your spirit, so it is important to keep it healthy, strong and vibrant. Everyone knows that the keys to good health are regular exercise and eating right… but knowing this and actually doing it are two very different things. The good news is that blending healthy habits into your daily life can be a simple and easy process. The first step is to bring consciousness to how we eat by learning which foods are healthy and which are not.  Most [...]

Meditation instantly eases tension

By Jerry Brownstein

Just one session of meditation can lower your anxiety levels according to a study presented at the American Physiological Society. Professor John Durocher of Michigan Technological University (US) was the head researcher and he summed up the conclusions by saying: “Our results show a clear reduction in anxiety in the first hour after a meditation session, and that anxiety remained significantly lower even one week later.” All of the participants in the study had a history of high levels of anxiety. Their heart rate, blood pressure, aortic blood pressure and arterial stiffness were measured before [...]

Finding your Essence

By Jerry Brownstein

Many people are seeking guidance to help them find their true path in life... their passion... their purpose. The Buddha taught that your purpose in life is to re-discover your true nature... your essence. When this true nature is realized your path becomes clear, and the divine states of loving-kindness, compassion, empathy and joy emerge. What is your true nature? Do you know who you really are? If you could look behind and beyond your surface personality what would you see? This is the great journey of our lives – a journey of remembering who we are and why we are here. It is through this remembering [...]

A better test for tuberculosis

By Michelle Robertson

With the potential to give results in just 12 hours, a team of scientists have developed a highly accurate urine test for tuberculosis (TB) that could make it much easier to identify the disease in potentially life-threatening situations. Doctors currently diagnose the condition by other means including a skin reaction test. This takes a few days to give results which can mean that urgent assistance is delayed when it’s needed quickly. Using the current slow methods around 40% of cases are not identified until the symptoms have become obvious, and by that time the infection can be much harder [...]

Brain tumour vanishes

By Michelle Robertson

Here’s proof that having faith, hope and a positive attitude can create what doctors can only call a ‘miracle’. Paul Wood from Lodi, California left the medical experts baffled when his life-threatening tumour suddenly disappeared without any medical intervention. A neurosurgeon initially diagnosed that Paul was suffering from a brain bleed, but subsequent CAT scans revealed a brain tumour. He was scheduled for immediate surgery, and at that point he turned to his strong faith, and the people around him were right behind him. On the day before the planned surgery his doctors realised that the [...]

A better nursing home

By Jerry Brownstein

Dr Bill Thomas is a Harvard-trained physician who is on a radical crusade to change how we think about aging. The message that he wants to share with the world is simple: Growing older can be a good thing. His mission is to change prevailing attitudes about aging, and encourage people to think of “post-adulthood” as a time of enrichment. He believes that our society has brainwashed us to believe that aging is something to be feared. This is so pervasive that it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy leading to isolation, loneliness and lack of autonomy. When Dr Thomas first [...]

Paraplegic man recovers mobility

By Carmen Loren

A team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic (US) in collaboration with the University of California have developed a device that used electrical impulses to allow a paralyzed patient to get up and move by himself. The patient was a 26-year-old man with a spinal cord injury that he had suffered in a snowmobile accident. According to the researchers, these early results provide evidence that a combination of this device with intense physical therapy and rehabilitation can help patients with spinal cord injuries regain control of their bodies. The patient was first given physical therapy for [...]

The Law of Attraction

By Jerry Brownstein

Many people have heard about the Law of Attraction, but few have a real grasp of what it actually is and how it works. The basic principles underlying this phenomenon are: 1) Everything in the universe is a form of vibrating energy – including your thoughts, words and feelings. 2) The laws of physics tell us that like attracts like, meaning that all things which vibrate at the same level are attracted to each other. The way that this applies to you and me is that whatever we think and feel will be attracted into our lives according to the basic mantra that “energy flows where attention goes”. [...]

Healing cuts with ZipStitch

By Michelle Robertson

ZipStitch is an ingenious new first aid tool that can close up a serious cut when it’s not possible to get to a doctor. It consists of four zip-ties that are connected by two 4 cm super-adhesive bandages. The zip-ties are made of medical-grade polymer, and they connect the two adhesives with a locking mechanism. The adhesive bandages anchor each side of the wound, and when the zip-ties are closed they pull the skin from both sides to close the cut and then lock it in place. The ZipStitch Wound Closure Device could be the answer when you have a nasty cut and butterfly bandages just won’t [...]

Be the Change You Wish to See

By Jerry Brownstein

How incredibly lucky we are to be living at such an important time in the history of humanity - a time when the world is awakening to a new level of consciousness. People from every corner of the globe are becoming increasingly aware that our traditional systems of economy, ecology, government, and spirituality are outdated and unsustainable. More and more of us are realizing that there must be a better way, and we are searching for alternative ways of living and being. Taking the next step in the evolution of humanity will require us to make a great shift away from the current worldview [...]

Gene therapy restores sight

By Michelle Robertson

An amazing breakthrough in medical science uses gene therapy to give sight back to people who suffer from genetic blindness. The Oxford Eye Hospital used injections of altered genes to reverse a rare genetic disease that causes progressive loss of vision. They had an almost 100% success rate as all those who took part either “gained or maintained vision”. Professor Robert MacLaren, the ophthalmologist who led the trial, explained, “The early results of vision improvement we saw have been sustained for as long as we have been following up these patients, and in several the gene therapy injection [...]

Man loses 230 kgs and runs a marathon

By Michelle Robertson

Showing the world that it’s never too late to take your life in a completely new direction, a man from Detroit (US) who was grossly overweight recently completed a full marathon after losing a staggering 230 kgs. Carlos Orosco, 43, took three years to achieve this goal, after being told by his doctor that his prospects for living much longer would be very bleak if he didn’t do something drastic. At that point Carlos was having to go to a clinic twice a week for wound care, because his obesity had caused his legs to swell so much. The skin had cracked and it refused to heal, plus he had painful [...]

Doctors in Scotland prescribe Nature

By Jinny Throup

In what is believed to be the first programme of its kind in the UK, doctors in Shetland, Scotland can now prescribe a walk in nature to their patients. Launched in October 2018, the programme seeks to reduce blood pressure and anxiety, while increasing happiness for those with diabetes, heart disease, stress and more. As part of the therapy patients are given a comprehensive leaflet that contains uplifting and fun nature prescription suggestions. These include making beach art from natural materials, borrowing a dog to take for a walk, talking to a pony, feeding the birds and appreciating a cloud. [...]

World's first meditation flight

By Jerry Brownstein

Virgin Airways flight 9900 recently departed from Sydney, Australia with a special group of passengers that included its founder Sir Richard Branson, members of the media and a team from the Smiling Mind meditation group. All guests were treated to a hot towel service and hand massages before Smiling Mind led them in a guided meditation at 10,000 metres. According to Branson, “We want to encourage more passengers to use their time flying with Virgin to exercise their minds through the meditations on our inflight entertainment system. What better way to make this known than by holding the world’s [...]

A new way to fight bacteria

By Jerry Brownstein

The challenge of treating deadly bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics is being met by a new drug that activates your own immune system to do the job. This new ‘immunobiotic’ hunts down and eliminates these deadly bacteria by activating the body’s natural defences. Researchers at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania (US) fused part of an existing antibiotic with a molecule that sticks to the bacteria. This molecule also attracts immune system antibodies that fight bacteria. Sticking to the bacteria allows the drug to inflict direct damage on it, while at the same time the molecule is acting [...]

Mindful meditation in schools

By Jerry Brownstein

An increasing number of children in the UK are showing signs of early onset depression and anxiety. Many schools in England are responding to this challenge in a new way by teaching mindfulness and meditation in the classrooms. In 370 schools across the country, children will be taught how to meditate with breathing exercises and other techniques to achieve mindfulness. The older students will also have regular classes to learn about awareness, and how to increase it in their everyday lives. This program is part of a comprehensive mental health program by the British government. England [...]

Studies of psychedelic mushrooms

By Jerry Brownstein

New studies suggest that psilocybin – the active compound in magic mushrooms – makes people feel more connected to nature, and opens their minds to a more liberal view of the world. This is not news to people who are familiar with the effects of taking magic mushrooms. But it is both interesting and important that science is finally being allowed to carefully research the true nature of these types of drugs. This latest study was undertaken by the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London. Psychedelic drugs have been associated with anti-authoritarian countercultures ever since [...]

Mobile meditation vans

By Jerry Brownstein

On a busy street, amid the hustle and bustle of New York City sits an unobtrusive van. Inside is a soundproof space where soft lights bathe the interior in ever-changing colours, as soothing music plays in the background. You have entered one of the mobile meditation vans that are popping up in cities throughout the US including Detroit, New York, Chicago and San Francisco. They offer a few minutes of calm and relaxation to people who are stressed by city life and their jobs. Meditation is generally becoming more and more popular, but this mobile version brings a new level of convenience. Anyone [...]

British doctors prescribe art & music

By Michelle Robertson

Doctors in Britain are being urged to use more creative ways to improve their patients’ health by prescribing art, music and dance in place of pills. The focus is on preventing ailments before they get out of hand by promoting therapeutic art or hobby-based treatments. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock says, “We’ve been fostering a culture that’s popping pills and Prozac, when what we should be promoting is more prevention.” This new form of treatment is called “social prescribing”, and it is part of a project to ensure that doctors across the country learn how to guide patients to an array [...]

Spain adopts Nutri-Score food labelling

By Jinny Throup

The Spanish Minister of Health & Social Welfare has announced the implementation of a five-colour code to be applied to all packaged foods and beverages. Known as “Nutri-Score”, this labelling is designed to provide consumers with information on the nutritional quality of the product. The front-of-pack label classifies foods and beverages according to five categories of nutritional value and quality. This is indicated by a color scale ranging from dark green (grade A) to dark red (grade E). Products designated grade A (dark green) have the best nutritional quality while products graded E (dark [...]

Laser hearing aid

By Jinny Throup

Those with serious hearing problems may benefit from a new implantable device which uses pulses of laser light to stimulate the auditory nerves. Its developers say that it is a vast improvement over traditional cochlear implants. The science behind this invention builds on the recent discovery of the “optoacoustic effect” which proves that cells can be stimulated by pulses of infrared light. A research team in Germany was able to use laser pulses to rapidly heat water molecules in the inner ear. This caused mini shockwaves that vibrated the tiny hairs (cilia) in the ears. This process of vibrating [...]

Meditation can make your cells younger

By Jerry Brownstein

Steven Cole, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), has spent several decades investigating the connection between our emotions and our biology. He and his team of researchers have found proof that our level of happiness directly affects the function of our DNA and helps our cells to remain younger. Their studies show that stressful (unhappy) experiences increase the inflammation in your immune cells and weaken your ability to make healthy new cells. In other words, when you are stressed and unhappy your cells feel those emotions, and this [...]

3D printed corneas

By Jerry Brownstein

Scientists from Newcastle University (UK) have developed a “bio-ink” that allows them to successfully 3D print human corneas. The cornea is the outermost layer of the eye, and if it’s damaged by disease or injury a person can suffer vision problems, or even lose their sight. The only treatment for this is a cornea transplant, but there are not nearly enough donor corneas to meet the demand. This new discovery uses stem cells to create new corneas with 3D printing. The first step was to create a printable bio-ink that was able to hold the stem cells. This was a challenge because the material had [...]

The Power of Crystals

By Jinny Throup

It’s often a hotly debated topic: do crystals contain special healing powers, or is all the “evidence” of such merely pseudoscience and nothing more than examples of the good old-fashioned placebo effect? IbiCASA decided to investigate… and we discovered some pretty fascinating stuff.What exactly are crystals?So, first things first. What exactly are crystals? The first image the mind conjures is likely to be sparkling amethyst or rose quartz displayed in an incense-scented new age shop. But, in fact, a crystal is the scientific name for any solid with a regular, repeating arrangement [...]

Dancing can reverse ageing

By Michelle Robertson

According to a new study, getting your groove on may keep your brain younger. Previous studies have shown that older people who routinely do physical exercise can turn back the signs of aging in their brains. This new research hints that dancing might be the most powerful form of exercise for making this happen. A series of volunteers with the average age of 68 were given different exercise routines. While the traditional fitness program included mainly repetitive exercises such as cycling or Nordic walking, the dance group were challenged with something new each week. It was these extra [...]

Can fasting boost brain power?

By Jerry Brownstein

A stomach hormone that stimulates appetite seems to also promote the growth of new brain cells. This may explain why some people say that fasting makes them feel mentally sharper. The hormone is called ghrelin, and it is known as the ‘hunger hormone’ because whenever we go a few hours without food its levels rise in our blood to remind us to eat. But now there is strong evidence that ghrelin can also enhance your ability to think. Animals that have reduced-calorie diets have better mental abilities, and ghrelin might be part of the reason why. A higher level [...]

SkinGun for burns

By Michelle Robertson

A revolutionary new treatment for serious burns could replace the need for lengthy stays in hospital and invasive procedures. The ‘SkinGun’ lightly sprays the skin and prompts the patient’s own stem cells to regenerate and grow organically. This eliminates the need for intrusive techniques like skin needling, laser therapy and radiotherapy. The entire SkinGun process takes just 90 minutes, and there is no scarring as in present procedures. Renovacare, based in New York, are developing this discovery and they say the key to the treatment is using skin stem cells to [...]

Happiness Keeps you Healthy

By Jerry Brownstein

All of us feel better when we are happy, and now medical science is finding proof for the health benefits of positive emotions. The evidence shows that people who are happy are less impacted by everyday stressors, and this ability to deflect stress is responsible for many of the gains in their health. A review of more than 200 studies has found that positive psychological well-being is linked to less risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, healthier body weight and overall physical fitness. The studies also showed that among those over 60, feelings of happiness and enjoyment were associated [...]

Meditations for different parts of the brain

By Jerry Brownstein

It is well known that meditation is generally good for you, and now we are learning that it can be tailored to produce specific beneficial results. Previous studies have shown that meditation increases the size of your brain in areas associated with focused attention and compassion. This new research suggests that the type of meditation that you practice will influence which parts of your brain are most affected. This is analogous to physical training, where if you want to build up one particular muscle group there are special exercises that concentrate on developing that area. Similarly, it appears [...]

Singing is good for health and happiness

By Jerry Brownstein

Scientific studies are proving that singing is good for us on many different levels, and singing in a group is even better. It does not matter if you are singing on a stage or in the shower - Wherever and however you sing, it will stimulate your brain to release endorphins and oxytocin. These are the ‘happy hormones’ that make you feel smarter, healthier, more creative and happier. They also relieve anxiety and stress, which is why singing helps to ease depression and loneliness. In addition, singing boosts our creativity by connecting us to the right side of the brain where intuition and imagination [...]

Cannabis could boost memory in older people

By Jerry Brownstein

Researchers have found evidence that small, daily doses of cannabis extract could possibly slow, or even reverse, the cognitive decline that comes with old age. The idea emerged from tests on mice which found that regular, low doses of THC – the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – impaired memory and learning in young animals, but boosted the performance of older ones. The scientists plan to launch a clinical trial later this year to investigate whether this works in humans. Previous research on cannabis use in humans has found evidence that regular heavy use by adolescents can impair [...]

Traditional medicine revived in Argentina

By María V. R.

The indigenous peoples who lived in South America before the Spanish conquests, used natural medicines that work in harmony with our immune systems to prevent and cure diseases. The Mapuche are one of the original tribes that populated the areas that are now Argentina and Chile. In order to preserve their traditional healing methods they have opened a hospital where doctors, scientists and traditional healers all work together. This venture is the culmination of a 15 year study to find the optimal ways of combining modern medicine with traditional Mapuche healing. Each one has its own values, [...]

Music eases pain and stress

By Jerry Brownstein

For those who struggle with chronic pain, reaching for their music playlist may be just as effective as reaching for a bottle of pain pills... and much less invasive. Music has been used since ancient times as a form of healing; even the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras wrote that he used stringed instruments to practice “musical medicine”. Modern science is now finding proof of the power of music for relaxation, stress relief and pain reduction. Researchers pooled the data from 73 randomized clinical trials focusing on the role of music among surgery patients and the results strongly point [...]

A lover’s touch

By Jerry Brownstein

New research shows that when an empathetic lover holds the hand of his or her partner who is suffering pain, their heart and respiratory rates become synchronized and the pain dissipates. “The more empathic the partner, the higher the synchronization between the two when they are touching, and the stronger the relief of pain,” said lead researcher Pavel Goldstein of the University of Colorado (US). This study is the latest in a growing body of research on “interpersonal synchronization” - the phenomenon in which individuals begin to physiologically mirror the people they are with. Previous [...]

Freedom from stress

By Jerry Brownstein

The emotional stress of modern life is taking an enormous toll on our health, wellness and happiness. Research has shown that stress is a major factor in heart disease, digestive problems, autoimmune disorders, chronic pain, and many forms of cancer. When you feel stressful it raises your blood pressure, weakens your immune system, and speeds up the aging process. It’s easy to tell yourself to “calm down, relax and take things as they come”, but actually doing this is not so simple. In order to effectively deal with stress we first need to know where it comes from, and why it is so prevalent in [...]

Exercise keeps the brain young

By Jerry Brownstein

We all know that physical exercise strengthens your body, but recent studies have shown that it also strengthens and renews your brain - particularly the areas associated with memory and learning. The converse is also true - a sedentary lifestyle correlates to brain shrinkage, which increases your risk of memory loss and other cognitive disabilities. According to Dr John J. Ratey, “Our research has shown that those who exercise maintain a greater volume of gray matter specifically in the hippocampal region; an area of your brain associated with memory.” He concludes that exercise actually produces [...]

MDMA approved for medical trials

By Jerry Brownstein

The US Food and Drug Administration has given the green light for phase three trials of MDMA (ecstasy) for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This will be the final phase of validation required to turn the party drug into a legal medicine. Previous studies have shown it to be very effective for treating patients with PTSD – a debilitating mental condition that can be caused by witnessing or experiencing life-threatening events. The scientists are careful to distinguish between the pure MDMA that they are using in these trails, and what is called ‘ecstasy’ in the club scene. They [...]

The Bionic Eye

By Michelle Robertson

Total blindness may become a thing of the past thanks to a major scientific breakthrough that is being called ‘the bionic eye’. The key to this revolutionary system is the process of ‘optogenetics’ which bypasses the normal way that the brain creates vision. Normally your eye absorbs light from the outside, and photoreceptors in the eye convert that light into electrical impulses that are sent to the brain. The brain then matches this signal with what it has in memory and creates the image that you ’see’.  The ‘Bionic Eye’ works for people who do not have [...]

Meditation Restructures the Brain

By Jerry Brownstein

It seems like every other week a new scientific study comes out showing how mindful meditation can change your life by reducing stress and increasing your ability to focus. There is much practical experience that supports this, but now we have scientific proof that regular meditation actually changes the structure of your brain in a very beneficial way. The results of a recent mindfulness meditation study astonished even the most experienced neuroscientists at Harvard University. For the first time ever these experiments used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to see if meditation actually changes [...]

Walkable cities bring good health

By Michelle Robertson

Well-designed cities with neighbourhoods that are pleasant to walk in lead to lower blood pressure and reduced hypertension risk among their residents. This is according to the findings of a study that included 22 UK cities and around 430,000 people aged between 38 and 73. It was found that “the intangible value of urban design” could dramatically improve long term health outcomes, and designing cities to promote active lifestyles could have “significant repercussions for the health of urban populations”. According to Dr Chinmoy Sarkar, the lead author of the [...]

The Benefits of Yoga

By Sabina Brownstein

Yoga was introduced to the West many decades ago, but it is only during the past 15 years that it has exploded in popularity. This ancient Vedic practice of mind, body and spirit provides benefits on many levels for those who do it regularly. On a physical level it brings us balance and strength. Your body grows stronger, more toned, and more flexible as you move from one asana (pose) to another. Yoga also balances your metabolism, which helps to regulate weight. As you can see, yoga is a great way to achieve fitness, but it is not just about working out. There are deep breathing [...]

Magic mushrooms to treat depression

By Jerry Brownstein

New studies are showing that psychedelic ‘magic mushrooms’ can effectively relieve depression by resetting key brain circuits. Researchers at the Imperial College London used psilocybin – the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms – to treat patients with depression, and the results were incredibly positive. Images of the patients’ brains revealed changes in the areas associated with depressive symptoms, and the participants all reported significant benefits that lasted up to five weeks after treatment.Dr Robin Carhart-Harris who led the study said: “We have shown for the first time [...]

Healing with Sound

By Jinny Throup

Some of the oldest surviving traditions of antiquity tell us that sound has been used as a tool for healing in many cultures throughout thousands of years. From the shamanic songs of the Amazonian Icaro, to the mantras of the original Hindis, to the vowel sound chants of the ancient Egyptians, sound as therapy has a long and rich history. Sound healing is rapidly gaining popularity in today’s world, and even modern science is getting on board with numerous studies about the power of sound waves. Geneticists have decoded the musical expression of DNA, and NASA has captured the sounds of all the [...]

Progress in Alzheimer’s research

By Jerry Brownstein

Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine (US) have discovered a protein that they hope is the missing link in the search to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Their study was reported in the respected journal ‘Neuron’, and it showed that blocking this protein with an existing drug can restore memory in mice that had brain damage similar to Alzheimer’s. Vincent Coates, Professor of Neurology and senior author of the study, says: “This gives us strong hope that we can find a drug that will work to lessen the burden of Alzheimer’s.”Previous research had already provided [...]

France to ban eggs from caged chickens

By Carmen Loren

The French government has announced that the sale of fresh eggs from caged chickens will be completely banned by 2022, and only eggs from chickens that are free to move about will be allowed. Environmental and animal rights organizations have always protested the treatment of chickens that are raised in cages. It is extremely cruel and harmful to the animals, as they live crammed together in closed spaces without natural light - an environment totally foreign to their natural habitat that causes stress and diseases. For these reasons it is also highly likely that the eggs from caged chickens [...]

The smart diagnostic T-shirt

By Jinny Throup

Researchers at the Université Laval in Quebec, Canada have developed a T-shirt that monitors the wearer’s breathing through a tiny antenna at the centre of the design. The shirt detects motion, records breathing patterns and sends that data to a smart phone or computer. The technology can be used to diagnose or monitor anyone struggling with asthma, chronic pulmonary disease or sleep apnea. Developers say that the shirt is comfortable and does not inhibit the wearer’s natural movements. Tests have shown that the data captured is reliable whether the subject is moving around, sitting, standing [...]

Simple physical activity extends your life

By Jerry Brownstein

Just 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week reduces the risk of death from any cause by 28%, and the risk of heart disease by 20%. Those are the conclusions of the world’s largest study of physical activity, which analysed data from more than 130,000 people across 17 countries. At the start of the study, participants provided information about their lifestyle, medical history, and the physical activity they complete over a typical week. They were regularly followed-up for over seven years to record information about cardiovascular disease and death.The [...]

Can science reverse ageing?

By Jerry Brownstein

A new study has shown that it is possible to reverse ageing in animals with a technique that may be applicable to humans as well. Researchers at the Salk Institute in California were able to reverse ageing in mice so that they not only looked younger, but lived 30% longer. "Our study shows that ageing may not have to proceed in only one direction," said Dr Juan Carlos Belmonte, the head of the study. The technique that was used takes adult cells back to their embryonic form by stimulating four genes which are particularly active during development in the womb.Scientists have known for [...]

Pacemakers for the brain improve memory

By Jerry Brownstein

New research has discovered that well-timed pulses from electrodes implanted in the brain can enhance memory in some people. This is potentially a huge breakthrough in the treatment of dementia, head injuries and other memory-related maladies. Previous attempts to stimulate human memory with implanted electrodes had produced mixed results: some experiments seemed to sharpen memory, but others muddled it. This new study shows that it is the timing of the stimulation which is crucial to its success. Stimulating memory areas when they are functioning poorly improves the brain’s encoding of new [...]

Stem cell therapy for paralysis

By Carmen Loren

Kristopher Boesen of California (USA) has regained the use of his arms and hands after an experimental stem cell treatment. He had been involved in a car crash that left him paralyzed from the neck down, and he was told that there was no possibility of recovering the mobility of his body for the rest of his life. With nothing to lose, he agreed to take part in a groundbreaking trial involving stem cells. Professor Charles Liu, of the University of Southern California injected 10 million stem cells directly into Kristopher’s cervical spinal cord. It was hoped that these embryonic cells would turn [...]

Sunlight boosts your immune system

By Jerry Brownstein

It is already proven that sunlight helps the body to produce vitamin D which is very important for good health, and now recent studies have revealed another powerful benefit of getting enough sun. Researchers at Georgetown University (US), have found that sunlight energizes the T-cells that play a central role in human immunity. "We all know that sunlight provides vitamin D, which has an impact on immunity among other things. But what we found is a completely separate role of sunlight on immunity," says the study's senior investigator, professor Gerard Ahern.They specifically [...]

Fitness trackers

By Michelle Robertson

In a world where more and more people are becoming increasingly health conscious, wearable smart technology that tracks your fitness data has become an essential piece of equipment for many. Recent figures reveal a dramatic uptake of this type of fitness tracking technology since 2013 with a projected growth rate of a further 65% by the year 2020. This reflects a positive shift in society, with more people taking the state of their health seriously.By monitoring a whole host of factors – your movement, level of activity, heart rate, distance run/cycled, sleep patterns and even behavioural [...]

Treating Alzheimer’s with ultrasound

By Jerry Brownstein

Researchers at Australia’s Queensland Brain Institute have developed an innovative new approach for the treatment of Alzheimer’s using non-invasive ultrasound technology. There are currently at least 50 million people worldwide who suffer from the serious form of dementia known as Alzheimer’s Syndrome, and this startling figure is projected to rise to over 135 million by 2050. About eight million new cases are reported globally each year, and with no vaccine or specific preventative measures proven effective against it, the search to find a successful treatment has become increasingly compelling.Many [...]

Rare berries could possibly cure some cancers

By Jerry Brownstein

The rare blushwood berry that grows only in the rainforests of Queensland, Australia, has been found to contain powerful cancer-fighting compounds. The active molecule is called EBC-46, and it is so potent that it can dissolve cancerous tumours within seven days, and other types of cancers in only 48 hours. Numerous clinical trials have shown great promise for treating cancer in laboratory animals, and the first human trials on a drug made from blushwood berries may have kept one woman from having her arm amputated.Denise Powell, a cancer patient who is part of the trial, said the treatment [...]

Acupuncture used for anaesthesia

By Jane Charilaou

Patients in the US are increasingly being offered acupuncture as an alternative or compliment to chemical anaesthesia for some types of surgery. It is said that the use of acupuncture means less use of potentially dangerous anaesthetic drugs, whilst also minimising side effects and helping to speed recovery. The way it works is that very fine needles are inserted into the patient at specific points that induce a deep meditative state. It’s especially useful for pregnant or nursing mothers who need surgery but want to minimise the transmission of drugs to their babies.Recent studies have [...]

Drumming more effective than Prozac

By Jane Charilaou

The drummers at Benirràs would certainly agree with a recent study which found that participating in group drumming sessions is a powerful and effective treatment for depression. In fact, it proved to be considerably more effective than the widely prescribed and infamous anti-depressant pill Prozac. This academically rigorous study was conducted by a team of UK researchers and supported by a collection of prestigious academic institutions. It compared two groups of participants who had been previously identified as suffering from depression. Over a 10-week period, one group was put on Prozac [...]

Stem cell dental implants

By Michelle Robertson

Professors at Columbia University in New York may have found the answer to re-growing missing teeth thanks to a revolutionary technology that uses the body’s own stem cells. This new process could potentially replace the need for artificial false teeth or dental implants. It involves extracting stem cells from the patient and planting them in the gums. A ‘scaffold’ or framework of natural body material is placed in the area where the old tooth was. The stem cells are then inserted within this scaffold where they merge with the surrounding tissue and begin to form a completely natural tooth.Recovery [...]

Proof that happiness is healthy

By Jerry Brownstein

All of us feel better when we are happy, and now medical science is exploring the health benefits of positive emotions. A recent review of more than 200 studies has found that positive psychological well-being is linked to less risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, normal body weight, and overall good health. The studies also showed that among those 60 and over, feelings of happiness and enjoyment were associated with improved mobility and a lower risk of developing a disability. It's even been scientifically proven that happiness can alter your genes. A team of researchers at the University [...]

Amazing cataract surgery in five minutes!

By Jerry Brownstein

A remarkable Nepalese doctor has restored the vision of over 100,000 of the world’s poorest blind people with a simple yet revolutionary five minute procedure. Millions of people in poor countries have impaired vision due to cataracts, and traditionally there was no hope for them to ever recover their sight. But Dr Ruit Sanduk has pioneered a simple cataract microsurgery technique that costs only €22 per patient and is virtually always successful. Indeed, his “Nepal method” is now taught in US and European medical schools. Dr Ruit was raised in a remote Himalayan village, which inspired him to [...]

Solving iron deficiency

By Michelle Robertson

A metal ingot that can release 75% of the recommended daily amount of the iron is literally cooking up a storm in Cambodia. Despite often being mistaken for a doorstop or paperweight, the Lucky Iron Fish (LIF) is probably the easiest way to ensure that everyone gets the sufficient amount of iron in their diet – and all you have to do is drop the LIF into the pot while cooking. This incredibly simple invention releases controlled quantities of the mineral into whatever’s on the boil. It has already been effective in helping over 90,000 people in Cambodia fight against iron deficiency – an issue [...]

An inspiring yogi in her 90’s

By Jane Charilaou

“Love what you do and love yourself.” That’s the advice given by New Yorker Phyllis Sues on how to live a long and happy life. This is a woman who doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk, by busily enjoying over ninety years on the planet. Phyllis insists that advancing age is no obstacle to leading a full and exciting life. She greets every day with 45 minutes of yoga, and on top of that she skips rope for 6 minutes and dances the Tango every single day. “I learned to Tango at 83,” she announces proudly, and her love for Tango led her to play and compose her own music. She produced her [...]

The success of decriminalization in Portugal

By Jerry Brownstein

In 2001, the Portuguese government gave up trying to fight a ‘war’ against drugs and decided instead to decriminalize them. The results have been remarkably positive. The background of this story began in 1974, when the dictatorship that had isolated Portugal for nearly half a century came to an end. Drug use became part of the culture of liberation, and eventually it got out of hand and became a crisis.At first the government responded with a conservative backlash that set harsh penalties for even minor drug use. For 20 years Portugal tried this repressive approach, [...]

Training in kindness changes your brain... in a good way!

By Jerry Brownstein

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have discovered that human kindness is teachable; in other words, we can learn to feel compassion for others just like we learn many other skills. This is one of the first studies of its kind to prove that training given to adults in compassionate behaviour actually changes the way our brains work, so that we become “wired” to naturally be more kind and caring. In this study young adults were trained to engage in compassion meditation, an ancient Buddhist technique that increases feelings of empathy and compassion for [...]

Exercise protects against depression

By Jerry Brownstein

According to a new study regular exercise may help to safeguard the mind against depression through previously unknown effects on working muscles. Mental health experts have long been aware that exercise somehow makes people and animals emotionally more positive, but precisely how physical activity can enhance someone’s mental state has been a mystery.Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm knew from earlier research that aerobic exercise, in both mice and people, increases the production within muscles of an enzyme called PGC-1alpha1 (PGC). In studies using mice they found [...]