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Tue, 21 Feb 2017
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Health & Wellness


Healthy gut, happy child: A disrupted gut microbiome could be responsible for the 'terrible twos'

Kids out of control? New evidence suggests that a disrupted gut microbiome could be partly responsible for unruly behavior in children. Read on to learn how the brain develops, the role of the gut in this process, and how bad temperament in early childhood might be associated with gut dysbiosis.

Parents often complain about the "terrible twos," which more often than not turn into the "terrible threes and fours." Ritalin is one of the most prescribed drugs to children, and the number of prescriptions doled out for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is increasing each year.

Beyond just attention and ability to focus, temperament also includes characteristics like introversion and extraversion, self-control, adaptability, intensity, and mood. Ratings of temperament in early childhood are good predictors of personality, behavior, and risk for psychopathology in later childhood, adolescence, and adulthood (1).

Previous articles on my blog have covered the basics of the gut - brain axis and how microbes can control food cravings. In this article, I will focus on how microbes might influence temperament in children, though much of what I will cover applies to adult behavior as well.

The developing brain

The development of a child's brain lays the foundation for all future behavior and learning. In the first few years of life, an estimated 700 to 1,000 new synapses (connections between neurons) form every second (2). After this period of rapid growth and proliferation, the number of synapses is reduced via a process called pruning. During pruning, specialized immune cells of the brain called microglia break down synaptic material. This allows other connections to be strengthened and become more efficient. Studies have shown that pruning by microglia is essential for normal postnatal brain development (3).



We Used Terrible Science to Justify Smoking Bans

Will we look at the new evidence for long enough to at least consider whether we've gone too far?
© bureaucrash.com
Helena, Montana, does not often make global headlines, but in 2003 the small capital city became known for briefly achieving one of the most astounding public health triumphs ever recorded. In June of the previous year, Helena had implemented a comprehensive smoking ban in its workplaces, bars, restaurants, and casinos. In the first six months of the ban, the rate of heart attacks in the city plummeted by nearly 60 percent. Just as remarkably, when a judge struck down the smoking ban in November of that year, the rate of heart attacks shot right back up to its previous level.

For three anti-smoking advocates—local physicians Richard Sargent and Robert Shepard, and activist and researcher Stanton Glantz from the University of California at San Francisco—this sudden drop in heart attacks was proof that smoking bans usher in extraordinary benefits for public health. "This striking finding suggests that protecting people from the toxins in secondhand smoke not only makes life more pleasant; it immediately starts saving lives," said Glantz in a press release sent out by UCSF.

Comment: Don't miss The Health & Wellness Show: The Truth about Tobacco and the Benefits of Nicotineand The Health & Wellness Show: The Truth about Tobacco and the Benefits of Nicotine - Part 2


Common weed found to disarm MRSA superbug

Brazilian peppertree
Superbugs are without a doubt a major threat affecting all health care systems. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is caused by a type of staph bacteria that's become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections. Despite attempts by new antibiotics to neutralize the effects of MRSA, none have succeeded. But nature did.

The red berries of the Brazilian peppertree-- a weedy, invasive species common in Florida -- contain an extract with the power to disarm dangerous antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria, scientists at Emory University have discovered.

The journal Scientific Reports is publishing the finding, made in the lab of Cassandra Quave, an assistant professor in Emory's Center for the Study of Human Health and in the School of Medicine's Department of Dermatology.

"Traditional healers in the Amazon have used the Brazilian peppertree for hundreds of years to treat infections of the skin and soft tissues," Quave says. "We pulled apart the chemical ingredients of the berries and systematically tested them against disease-causing bacteria to uncover a medicinal mechanism of this plant."

Comment: The Health & Wellness Show: What have we done? Antibiotic resistance in the age of superbugs


Thyme the powerful herb that destroys Strep, Herpes, Candida, and the Flu Virus

Another member of the labiatae, or mint, family, thyme is an herb native to the Mediterranean basin and comes in many varieties. There is only one plant, thymus vulgaris, but the composition of the oil distilled from the plant shows variations in chemical components based on the location or region the plant grows in, despite being botanically identical.

The microbial power of thyme is so powerful that some oils are safe to use in all situations, and some are not.

Thymus vularis ct. linalol is the best oil for beginners to use and it is the safest to use on the skin, in baths, and on children and the elderly. Other chemotypes (ct) such as thymus vulgaris ct. thujanol, thymus vulgaris ct. thymol, and thymus vulgaris c.t carvacrol should be left to qualified aromatherapists. Thyme is one of the most used and most useful oils in aromatherapy, but always use thyme oil with care, in moderation.

Thyme has remarkable antiviral, bactericidal, fungicidal, antibiotic, diuretic, antispasmodic, expectorant, and antiseptic properties that make it wonderful to have around during cold and flu season. In addition to killing microbes, thyme helps the body to eliminate toxins and boosts the immune system by supporting the formation of white blood cells, increasing resistance to invading organisms. Its familiar, warm, herbaceous aroma is powerful and penetrating, and the origin of its name, which comes from the Greek word 'thymos' meaning 'to perfume.'


Monsanto's 'alternative facts' about glyphosate are on trial

© Global Justice Now
Bottles of Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller relabeled by Global Justice Now activists, April 2016. Roundup contains glyphosate, a chemical that the WHO classifies as 'probably carcinogenic'.
Reeling from California's decision to ban glyphosate, fearful of 're-evaluation' by EU and US regulators, and facing ruinous cancer claims in federal courts, the US chemical industry are fighting back, writes Carey Gillam. Their key argument: don't trust independent doctors and scientists - trust us! And as they just told a California court, profit must come before people.

Alternative facts, indeed!

Less than two weeks into the presidency of Donald Trump it appears we are seeing the ushering in of a new era of twisted truths, fake news, and selective science.

That should be good news to the corporate spin doctors who are deep into a campaign now to try to combat global concerns about the world's favorite weed killer.

Corporate spin is nothing new. Whether it's cigarettes or sugar-laden sodas, the companies that make billions from such products employ a variety of strategies to promote the good and bury the bad. Some even outright lie while doing so.

But the tactics being unveiled by Monsanto and surrogates over glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide and the lynchpin for the success of genetically engineered crops, are noteworthy for the depths of their deception.

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New study quantifies fluoride's potential to lower IQ in children

Some children may be consuming enough fluoridated water in the USA to reach doses of fluoride that have the potential to lower their IQ, according to a research team headed by William Hirzy, PhD, a former US EPA senior scientist who specialized in risk assessment and published in the journal Fluoride (October-December 2016), reports the Fluoride Action Network (FAN).

Current federal guidelines encourage the addition of fluoride chemicals into water supplies to reach 0.7 milligrams per liter ostensibly to reduce tooth decay. Hirzy followed EPA risk assessment guidelines to report:

"The effect of fluoride on IQ is quite large, with a predicted mean 5 IQ point loss when going from a dose of 0.5 mg/F/day to 2.0 mg F/day."
Many children in the U.S. commonly consume levels of fluoride within this range from all sources (i.e. water, food, dental products, medicines, air pollution).

Comment: See also: Fluoride's neurotoxicity: Drinking fluoridation chemicals now linked to brain harm & cognitive deficits


Ayurveda's sacred herb: The health benefits of Holy Basil

Tulsi or Holy Basil is amongst the most highly revered of the known therapeutic shrubbery for its ability to elevate the mind, heal the body, and uplift the soul. This enchanting herb, also known as Ocimum sanctum, is an important part of the repertoire of India's traditional system of medicine, known as Ayurveda.

Holy Basil boasts cherished status as one of the world's most sacred herbs because it possesses what many consider to be near-miraculous healing potential − hence why it's earned esteemed titles including "The Elixir of Life" and "Mother Medicine of Nature."

In Ayurveda specifically, Tulsi is classified as a "rasayana," delineating its MVP (most valuable player) status in the realm of adaptogenic herbs. Similarly, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Tulsi is regarded as a "Shen tonic," a designation that suggests it possesses an almost inherently divine essence. A healing gift straight from the heart God, so to speak. What seems to set Holy Basil apart is the fact that it encapsulates each of the three elements that embody holistic health − mind, body, and soul.

Comment: A Panacea Called Tulsi


An unrecognized disorder: Electronic screen syndrome

Technology's influence on the nervous system is multifactorial..
"He's revved up all the time."

"He can't focus at all and is totally defiant. Getting ready for school or bedtime is a daily nightmare."

"She's exhausted and has meltdowns even when she's slept enough."

"He flies into a rage over the slightest thing. The other kids don't want to play with him anymore."

"Her grades have gone downhill this year and we don't know why."

The above symptoms or complaints are so common nearly every parent will relate to one or more of them. Psychiatric symptoms from various disorders can have a lot of overlap, and this is especially true when it comes to children. This overlapping nature coupled with today's overstimulating high-tech environment has led to an epidemic of misdiagnosed mental disorders, which in turn lends itself to inappropriate psychotropic medication prescribing and misuse of precious resources.

Comment: For a more in depth explanation of Electronic Screen Syndrome listen to The Health & Wellness Show: Digital 'pharmakeia': Glow kids, screen addiction, gaming and the hijacking of children's brains


Old medicine, new inflated price: Pharma company sells muscular dystrophy drug at a 7,000% markup

© Jerry Lampen / Reuters
A recently FDA-approved drug used in steroid treatments, which has been on the international market for years, will be introduced in the US at the inflated price of $89,000 a year.

In a Thursday press release, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval for a drug by Marathon Pharmaceuticals, a US company focused solely on the development of new treatments for rare diseases. They may now begin selling the corticosteroid drug Deflazacort, under the brand name Emflaza.

With FDA approval, Marathon now has exclusive rights to sell the drug in the US for the next seven years, even though it has been available as a generic in other countries.

With exclusive rights, the company can increase the price from the $1,200 average that families were importing the drug from overseas to $89,000, an increase of more than 7,000 percent.

Deflazacort is used to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a rare genetic disease that causes heart and respiratory conditions, usually in younger men. As the disease progresses, patients lose muscle strength, and usually end up confined to a wheelchair by the time they reach their early teens.

Patients with DMD typically do not live past their 20s or 30s, according to the FDA.


Can iodine affect mental health? A therapist describes how iodine saved her life

In compiling iodine case studies for my research, a therapist from Alaska emailed me about how iodine had changed her life. --L.F.

Comment: See also: The Health & Wellness Show: The Iodine Crisis - Interview with Lynne Farrow and Lynne Farrow's book The Iodine Crisis