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Fri, 29 Jul 2016
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Why I get my brain zapped

Conventional therapies haven't done much good for my anxiety disorder

© Image by Eric Wassermann, M.D. Public Domain
Diagram of transcranial magnetic stimulation
Almost seven percent of U.S. adults—about 15.7 million people—are diagnosed with major depression disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that depression causes 200 million lost workdays each year at a cost to employers of between $17 billion and $44 billion. The statistics for anxiety disorders are not great either. The most common mental illnesses in the U.S., they affect 40 million adults age 18 and older, costing the economy more than $42 billion a year.

In my twenties, I developed panic disorder. I failed to get better on most medications and therapy. As I reported in an article earlier this year, it took me years to find a medication that worked. Because it took me so long to be diagnosed and treated properly, I have always been interested in alternative treatments for depression and anxiety.

Two years ago I attended two sessions at the World Science Festival on the use of electrical therapy to treat depression and anxiety. The first event was Spark of Genius? Awakening a Better Brain, a panel discussion moderated by ABC News Chief Health & Medical Editor Richard Besser. The panel discussed what is known about treating the brain and the ethical and legal complications of brain enhancement. (You can watch it online at the World Science Festival website.)

Comment: We have many articles here on SOTT pointing out the risks of antidepressant use. Here are just some of them:


Info

Florida's massive algae bloom is toxic to people, pets and the environment




In the middle of summer vacation — what should be the busiest tourist season for many parts of Florida — popular beaches are being shut down and people told to stay out of the water. It's not a shark; it's toxic green algae stretching for miles along Florida's coastline.

"Enjoy your vacation on Playa Guacamole," the Miami Herald quipped,1 as in some areas the algae is more than thick enough to dip a chip — not that you'd want to. "It smells like death on a cracker," one Florida resident told the Tampa Bay Times.2 And it's not only the smell that's a problem.

Blue-Green Algae Is Dangerous to People, Pets and the Environment

The algae, also known as cyanobacteria, is so prolific it can now be seen from space.3 Further, it can produce toxins that are harmful to humans and marine life. Skin rashes and respiratory issues can result from exposure to the algae, and should it get into an open wound, it can lead to a staph infection.4

Some experts believe the cyanobacteria may be a type called microcystis, which are nerve toxins that may lead to nausea, vomiting, headaches, seizures and long-term liver disease if ingested in drinking water.5

Researchers are also looking into whether another toxin, BMAA (Beta-N-Methylamino-L-alanine), in blue-green algae may be linked to neurological diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease).6

Manatees, fish and other marine life, as well as sea grass and other plant life, are also endangered by the algae blooms, which alter the food chain and deplete oxygen, leading to sometimes-massive dead zones. Not to mention, exposure to blue-green algae can also be deadly to your pets.

Comment: These algae blooms are also affecting lakes throughout the U.S. and pose a risk to drinking water supplies.


Coffee

Coffee confusion: Is coffee good or bad for you?

"Dr. Hyman, I'm so confused about coffee," writes this week's house call. "One day I read that it's so bad for me and the next it's good for me. Why all the conflicting information?"

Let's face it: Americans love their coffee, which is the number one source of antioxidants in our diet - which actually makes me kind of sad!

In a recent animal study, researchers saw improvements in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and cholesterol when mice consumed coffee and fat together. (More on that combo in a minute.) They also found coffee can help reduce gut permeability or leaky gut.

Among its other benefits, studies show coffee decreases your risk for type 2 diabetes, lowers cancer risk and improves mood and memory. Coffee can also boost metabolism and sports performance.

On the other hand, coffee can become highly addictive, altering stress hormones while making you feel simultaneously wired and tired.

So I understand the confusion. It feels like one day we see studies that support coffee and the next day we see 10 reasons why coffee is bad. So let's uncover the truth about this aromatic beverage that most of us love.

Attention

Antibiotic resistance raising the specter of 'untreatable gonorrhea'

© Unknown
The CDC say the growing threat of untreatable gonorrhea, together with rising rates of disease, means preventing new infections is more important than ever.
A new federal health surveillance study says gonorrhea is becoming resistant to azithromycin - one of the duo of antibiotics recommended for treating the sexually transmitted disease in the United States.

The study, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is published in the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae that infects the genitals, rectum, and throat.

Gonorrhea occurs in both men and women, and is one of the most common STDs in the U.S. It is especially common among young people of 15-24 years of age.

The CDC estimate that every year, around 800,000 gonorrhea infections occur in the U.S., although more than half are undiagnosed. The number of American men diagnosed with gonorrhea has gone up in recent years.

Comment: Related articles:


Attention

Zika virus mystery: New Utah case stumps researchers

© CDC/ Cynthia Goldsmith
This digitally-colorized image shows particles of Zika virus, which is a member of the family Flaviviridae. The virus particles are colored red in the picture. They are 40 nanometers (0.00004 millimeters) in diameter.
In a puzzling case, a person in Utah became infected with the Zika virus, but health officials can't figure out how the person contracted it.

The infected person was a caregiver for an elderly man who had Zika. But the case is mysterious: As far as health officials can tell, the caregiver wasn't exposed to Zika in a way that would transmit the virus, at least from what's currently known about Zika. So far, the only way Zika was thought to spread from person to person is through sexual contact, and the caregiver did not have sexual contact with anyone who had Zika.

"Zika continues to surprise us," and there's still a lot we don't know about the virus, Dr. Satish Pillai, incident manager for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Zika response, said at a news conference today (July 18).

Comment: For the real story of the Zika virus, be sure to listen to our show on the topic: The Health & Wellness Show: The Zika Virus: Hype vs. Reality


Health

Fracking associated with increased risk of asthma attacks

© Reuters / Shannon Stapleton / Reuters
People with asthma who live near bigger or larger numbers of active unconventional natural gas wells operated by the fracking industry in Pennsylvania are 1.5 to four times likelier to have asthma attacks than those who live farther away, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research suggests.

The findings, published July 18 in JAMA Internal Medicine, add to a growing body of evidence tying the fracking industry to health concerns. Health officials have been concerned about the effect of this type of drilling on air and water quality, as well as the stress of living near a well where just developing the site of the well can require more than 1,000 truck trips on once-quiet roads. The fracking industry has developed more than 9,000 wells in Pennsylvania in just the past decade.

Comment: See the following articles for more information


Magnify

22 ways that soda can negatively affect your health and shorten your life

Numerous studies have shown the negative health effects of drinking soda on your waistline and your teeth. Drinking soda however, has far more serious health risks than many of us may realize.

According to Euromonitor, the average person in the United States consumes more than 126 grams of sugar per day. That's equal to 25.2 teaspoons, or the equivalent of drinking a little over three 12 ounce colas.

Numerous studies have shown the negative health effects of drinking soda on your waistline and your teeth. Drinking soda however, has far more health risks than many of us may realize. Regular consumption of sugary drinks is linked to numerous health problems including diabetes, heart disease, asthma, COPD and obesity.

So what are the risks and how much soda is too much? Let's take a look:

1. Soda can cause a decline in kidney function. In an 11-year-long Harvard Medical School study, including 3,318 women, researchers found that diet cola is linked with a two-fold increased risk for kidney decline.

2. Soda increases diabetes risk. High levels of sugar in soda places a lot of stress on your pancreas, potentially leaving it unable to keep up with the body's need for insulin. Drinking one or two sugary drinks per day increases your risk for type 2 diabetes by 25%.

Compass

Is full-time work making you stupid?

© Getty Images
Don't do an IQ test after a full week's work if you are 40 years or older. You could be disappointed.

If you're over 40, working more than 25 hours of work a week could be impairing your intelligence, according to a study released in February by researchers for the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research in Australia. The team conducted reading, pattern and memory tests in more than 6,000 workers aged over 40, to see how the number of hours worked each week affects a person's cognitive ability.

Working 25 hours a week (part time or three days a week) was the optimum amount of time spent working a week for cognitive functioning, while working less than that was detrimental to the agility of the brain for both men and women, the study found.

"Work can stimulate brain activity and can help maintain cognitive functions for elderly workers, the 'lose it or use it hypothesis'," said lead researcher Colin McKenzie, a professor of economics at Keio University in Tokyo.

Comment: See also:
Keep the slaves entertained: Workplace flexibility associated with reduced absences and improved job commitment Starting work before 10am is akin to torture, says scientist


Health

All natural cleaners that won't make you toxic

It can seem like an exercise in futility to go to great lengths to seek out organic fruits and vegetables for your family, only to prepare and serve them in a kitchen where everything has been cleaned with harsh, toxin-filled chemicals. While focusing on feeding your family healthy foods is vital, you should also keep in mind that commercial cleaning products contain a host of unsavory ingredients that can cause adverse health reactions.

For example, a European study found that people who use a spray cleaner just once a week had a 50 percent higher chance of developing asthma! Glass and furniture cleaners, as well as air fresheners, were all found to be guilty of upping the risk.

Cleanliness is a valid concern in the home, and in food prep areas in particular. Many people fail to realize, however, that some natural methods are just as effective as those harsh chemicals - without any of the dangers. Here is a look at some top choices for natural cleaning.

Question

Does the gut-brain axis play a part in neuro-developmental disorders?

© starrybrook.com
In recent years, scientists have learned more about the microbes residing in the human gut and how they affect health and wellbeing. We have learned that microbes outnumber human cells in the body - roughly 90% microbes to 10% human cells. We know the microbes in our gut help digest our food and in the process help create vitamins, neurotransmitters, and hormones. We know 80% of our immunity begins in the gut. We are beginning to understand the link between the gut, autoimmune diseases, and neurological syndromes.

Earlier studies confirmed that bacteria in the gut of obese people is different than normal intestinal flora. Thin people have a diverse and plentiful microbial ecosystem in their gut, whereas obese individuals do not. Some particular strains in obese people even differ from those who are lean. Transplanting these microbes can cause obesity in mice studies. Further studies will tell us if the reverse is true, if transplanting healthy microbes can reverse obesity.

Comment: Evidence that our health is dependent on our gut microbiome keeps growing: