Health & Wellness


Study: Vitamin D supplementation in asthmatic children reduces risk of asthma exacerbation

The effect of vitamin D is strongest among people with asthma and other lung diseases who are predisposed to respiratory infections. Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, a review found in children previously diagnosed with asthma, vitamin D supplementation resulted in a 74% reduction in the risk of asthma exacerbation.

According to previous research published in the journal Allergy, people with a vitamin D deficiency were 25% more likely than other asthmatics to have had at least one flare-up in the recent past. "Vitamin D has significant immunomodulatory effects and, as such, was believed to have an effect on asthma -- an immunologically mediated disease," said Confino-Cohen. "But most of the existing data regarding vitamin D and asthma came from the pediatric population and was inconsistent. Our present study is unique because the study population of young adults is very large and 'uncontaminated' by other diseases," stated Dr Ronit Confino-Cohen.

People with the worst vitamin D deficiency were 36 percent more likely to suffer respiratory infections than those with sufficient levels, according to the research in this week's Archives of Internal Medicine. Among asthmatics, those who were vitamin D deficient were five times more likely to get sick than their counterparts with healthy levels. And the risk of respiratory infection was twice as high among vitamin D-deficient patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than in lung patients with normal levels of the vitamin.

Comment: Research has shown that over a billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D3 deficiency can lead to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, osteoporosis, and neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. Be aware the government guidelines for supplemental Vitamin D intake may be underestimated by at least 10 times what is necessary to optimize your levels. While sunshine is helpful, it is not always possible to get enough, so supplemental Vitamin D3 may be necessary. It is also important to know that if you have a low vitamin D level in spite of taking vitamin D supplements, a magnesium deficiency can be one of the reasons you can't correct it. Be aware that it is quite difficult to obtain enough magnesium from food sources as our soils have been deficient in magnesium for decades, so supplementation may be necessary.


Anti-psychotics inappropriately prescribed to people with intellectual disabilities, yet no history of mental illness

© Reuters / Srdjan Zivulovic
Large numbers of people with intellectual disabilities in the UK are being inappropriately prescribed antipsychotic drugs, finds a new UCL study.

Intellectual disability is a lifelong condition that begins before the age of 18 and is characterised by limitations in intellectual functioning (generally indicated by an IQ under 70) and difficulties with one or more life skills. Around 1% of the population has an intellectual disability.

The new study, published in The BMJ, looked at anonymised GP records of 33,016 UK adults with intellectual disabilities between 1999 and 2013. It found that over one-quarter had been prescribed antipsychotic drugs, of whom 71% had no record of severe mental illness.

Comment: Antipsychotic drugs cause brain shrinkage. The use of antipsychotic drugs long has been referred to as a "chemical lobotomy" because they actually can disable normal brain function. Along with brain shrinkage, antipsychotics also can cause obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Of course, considerations such as these have never stopped the pharmaceutical industry from promoting such off-label uses of dangerous drugs.

Big Pharma alert: America's most popular drug is an antipsychotic and no one really knows how it works


Study finds extract of wild blueberry can inhibit bacteria associated with gum disease

"Wild Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.) Polyphenols Target Fusobacterium nucleatum and the Host Inflammatory Response: Potential Innovative Molecules for Treating Periodontal Diseases"
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Gum disease is a common condition among adults that occurs when bacteria form biofilms or plaques on teeth, and consequently the gums become inflamed. Some severe cases, called periodontitis, call for antibiotics. But now scientists have discovered that wild blueberry extract could help prevent dental plaque formation. Their report in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry could lead to a new therapy for periodontitis and a reduced need for antibiotics.


Joel Salatin's secrets to reconnecting with your food

© Jason Hoekema/AP/File
A farmer plows his recently harvested field as the hot summer sun beats down on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015.
Joel Salatin is the owner and Farmer of Polyface Farms in Swoope, Virginia. In 1961, the Salatins bought and restored an old farm in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. Mr. Salatin is a third generation farmer whose farm helps to support three thousand families, fifty restaurants, and ten retail outlets through various programs and buying clubs. He is the author of several books about sustainable farming including Folks, this Ain't Normal and is featured on documentaries such as Food Inc.

FT: Joel, can you tell me more about permaculture and some examples of how you use it on your farm?

JS: I use the concept of stacking enterprises such as the grazers followed by the egg mobiles. The grazers and the egg mobiles run on the same acre during a single season. We allow the animals to do the work here and do what they do best. The "pig-ness "of the pig, the "cow-ness" of the cow and the "chicken-ness" of the chicken. Because the animals do the work, I have no need for herbicides, fungicides, pesticides or antibiotics. The chickens are my pasture sanitizers - they eat all the worms and flies in the cow pats and disperse it, so the pasture is ready to grow more grass. Everything is based on grass. We also use a water system that is highly integrated. We have ponds up in the hills that capture snow melt and rain water and then we use gravity to water our animals and grow our crops. This is all based on permaculture.

Comment: The following is a much more extensive interview with the lunatic farmer Joel Salatin. Also check out this great article: Joel Salatin: How to eat animals and respect them, too


Study finds obesity related to neural changes similar to substance addiction

© David Gray / Reuters
The popular assumption that obesity is simply the result of a lack of willpower could be contested by new international research. It posits that obese people's brains are predisposed to food addiction in much the same way a drug addict's are to substance abuse.

It all has to do with different brain networks being activated in those suffering the condition and those who don't.

Scientists with the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) believe new doors to obesity treatment could be open as humanity gains a better understanding of the cause of the problem.

It's no wonder, say the researchers, that repeated attempts to manage the problem or cure it have been fruitless - apart from bariatric surgery. They believe treatment should address the addiction mechanisms that play a key role.


New wasp study finds sting in the tail for cancer cells

Brazilian Wasp
Research has found a Brazilian wasp's venom could destroy tumours of leukaemia, prostate and bladder cancer without harming healthy tissue. The venom of the Brazilian wasp Polybia paulista contains a powerful "smart" drug that selectively targets and destroys tumour cells without harming normal cells, a study has shown. In laboratory tests, the poison has been shown to suppress the growth of prostate and bladder cancer cells, as well as leukaemia cells resistant to a range of drugs.
New research has now revealed the secret of the venom toxin, known as MP1. Scientists found that it blows gaping holes in the protective membranes surrounding tumour cells by interacting with fatty molecules called lipids.
Dr Paul Beales, a researcher from Leeds University, said: "Cancer therapies that attack the lipid composition of the cell membrane would be an entirely new class of anti-cancer drugs. This could be useful in developing new combination therapies, where multiple drugs are used simultaneously to treat a cancer by attacking different parts of the cancer cells at the same time."

Comment: Once again, humans look to other creatures to solve their avoidable health problems. Complementary nature always pays a price. With cancer being a top money maker, how long will They let this research unfold before hauling out the bug spray?


Can Egyptian mummies tell us something about heart disease?

Egyptian mummies showed clear signs of fatty buildup in their arteries.
A study of the arteries of ancient Egyptians has challenged the received wisdom that the illness is simply down to unhealthy modern lifestyles.

In 2008, Greg Thomas, a cardiologist from California, was in Cairo for work. While there, he visited the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities with another cardiologist, Adel Allam of Al Azhar University in Cairo. They came across the mummy of King Merneptah, a pharaoh who lived 3,200 years ago. The description on Merneptah's case said he had suffered from atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque on artery walls. Both men were sure this must be wrong. How could an ancient Egyptian have had heart disease, when most of the risk factors for the disease - obesity, unhealthy diet, smoking and lack of exercise - did not then exist? But could they prove it?

Thomas, medical director of the MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute in Long Beach, California and Allam discussed how they could find out more about Merneptah's arteries. They theorised that any arterial plaques might still be visible on a CT scan, a computerised x-ray technology that produces 3D images. Plaques contain calcium, which degrades slowly - a key reason that bones endure for so long.

After months of negotiation with officials, the pair began scanning the museum's mummies (ironically, Merneptah was excluded, as Egyptian archaeological officials ruled that royal mummies could not be part of the project). What they found surprised them: many showed clear signs of fatty buildup in their arteries. When the results are adjusted for age (pre-modern people had shorter life-spans, so most of the remains are of people who died in their 40s or younger), the rate of atherosclerosis was about the same as it is for people in modern society, around 40%.

Until then, most researchers had believed that atherosclerosis was largely caused by modern lifestyles. The solution had seemed clear: if we moved more, ate more vegetables and fewer doughnuts, and quit smoking, we would significantly reduce the buildup of the plaques that are a key cause of heart disease.

Comment: Chronic infection is the most likely explanation for "modern" chronic diseases. We all are infected by a host of germs (bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses). Mainstream medicine hasn't caught up with that train of thought much yet. Remember how long it took to accept that stomach ulcers were caused by the infectious agent Helicobacter pylori?

For an in depth review of the current state of science, coupled with evolutionary thoughts, see this excellent book by Paul Ewald:
Plague Time: The New Germ Theory of Disease.


Why you should stop slouching: The posture-mood connection

Want to feel more confident and energetic? Stand up straight and strut your stuff because there's a connection between posture and mood.

The Posture-Mood Connection: Moment To Moment

Vivian Eisenstadt is an orthopedic and sports physical therapist, postural specialist, and spiritual psychologist. She believes our physical, mental and emotional states interact and affect each other on a moment-to-moment basis.

"Poor posture carries an energy with it," she told Care2. "Depression, fatigue, and insecurity are just some of the feelings that are associated with shoulders forward and forward head posture."

Eisenstadt said expressions like "keep your chin up" and "hold your head high" exist for a reason. "Standing straight exudes a sense of pride, confidence, and promotes happiness. By standing straight, you actually feel better. Try it right now. I'll bet you feel sexier."

Comment: Lost Posture: Why some indigenous cultures may not have back pain

Cupcake Pink

Experts report rise in patients suffering from 'severe vomiting syndrome' in heavy cannabis users

© Steve Dipaola/Reuters
Doctors in Britain have noticed a significant rise in patients suffering from cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS), a widely "unrecognized" condition that makes heavy cannabis users severely ill.

Alarming symptoms of the illness include severe stomach pains, vomiting and nausea.

Those diagnosed with the rare syndrome have to bath nearly five times a day in hot water just to ease their pain.

There have been two known occurrences of the condition in the UK involving patients who visited accident and emergency services multiple times, while cases worldwide are "increasing acutely."

Professor of gastroenterology at Birmingham City University, Dr Sauid Ishaq, warned the condition must be taken more seriously.

"This is a highly unrecognized condition, resulting in numerous unnecessary admissions. There is an urgent need to highlight this," he told the Mail Online.

Ishaq referred to a 42-year-old man from the East Midlands who was treated eight times for CHS last year.

The man, who had smoked marijuana since the age of 14, complained of abdominal pains, feeling feverish, vomiting and dehydration.

After a series of investigations, it was found that all symptoms ended when he stopped smoking the drug.

Comment: Marijuana for the Masses: Legalized cannabis and why the government wants us to go to pot


Acupuncture hits same biologic pathways in rats that pain drugs target in humans


This point is part of the Stomach meridian system, also denoted by the code ST 36.
In animal models, acupuncture appears to impact the same biologic pathways ramped up by pain and stress, analogous to what drugs do in humans. Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) researchers say their animal study, published online in Endocrinology, provides the strongest evidence to date on the mechanism of this ancient Chinese therapy in chronic stress.

"The benefits of acupuncture are well known by those who use it, but such proof is anecdotal. This research, the culmination of a number of studies, demonstrates how acupuncture might work in the human body to reduce stress and pain, and, potentially, depression," says the study's senor investigator, Ladan Eshkevari, associate professor in the department of nursing and the department of pharmacology and physiology at GUMC.

"We have now found a potential mechanism, and at this point in our research, we need to test human participants in a blinded, placebo controlled clinical study — the same technique we used to study the behavioral effects of acupuncture in rats," says Eshkevari, a nurse anesthetist and licensed acupuncturist. She is assistant program director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program at Georgetown's School of Nursing & Health Studies.

Eshkevari and her team found that applying the technique with electroacupuncture to a single but powerful acupuncture point — stomach meridian point 36 (St36) — blunts activity in the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, the chronic stress pathway that is also associated with chronic pain, the immune system, mood and emotions. Tuning HPA down via acupuncture reduced production of stress hormones, secreted by the pathway, that are involved in the chronic stress response.

Comment: See also Acupuncture Relieves Pain in Largest Study of Treatment