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Sun, 24 Jul 2016
The World for People who Think

Health & Wellness


Living near the ocean leads to better mental health

There's a reason why humanity has an almost universal affinity for water: It's good for the soul, and even better for the brain. Researchers from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand found that people who live near blue spaces, meaning lakes, oceans and beaches, fare better in the mental health department than people who are landlocked, probably because being near vast expanses of water makes a person feel like he's immersed in an environment untouched by human development.

The research team surveyed folks living in the urbanized New Zealand capital of Wellington, which despite its density, is nestled nicely between the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean, with plenty of spectacular views of both positioned around the city. Some of those surveyed live within eye-shot of one of these bodies of water, while others don't, and a comparative analysis of both groups was formed from this data.


Itching and scratching? Natural remedies for hives

A friend of mine, Steve, recently asked me, "What is the best way to deal with rashes from poison ivy?" I told him that the best way is to stay out of the poison ivy. Not only was he not satisfied with my answer, but also he asked me to do an article on skin rashes and such. Readers, this one goes out as a dedication to Steve, and if you guys and gals can't take the initial advice I gave to him, perhaps this information will help you in your hiking and backpacking adventures!

The topic of discussion for this article is hives, and we will present some facts about hives and some measures that may help those afflicted by them. Hives are known in medical terminology as urticaria. Defined as such, urticaria consists of multiple, swollen, raised areas of the skin that itch for up to 24 hours, caused by allergens and the body's immunoglobulin response to those actions. Hives can strike anyone, for multiple causes and reasons. To really understand how hives work, we have to understand the body's histamine response.

Comment: A new way of looking at allergies: Histamine intolerance


64 Japanese women sue over health woes from cervical cancer vaccines

Women who suffered side effects from vaccines against cervical cancer are seen in March, when they announced their suit. The initial group of 12 plaintiffs has now grown to 64.
A group of lawyers for 64 women who are suffering health problems from cervical cancer vaccines said Tuesday the victims will file damages lawsuits against the government and two drugmakers that produced the vaccines through four district courts on July 27.

Of the 64 women, 28 will lodge their suit with the Tokyo District Court, six with the Nagoya District Court, 16 with the Osaka District Court and 14 with the Fukuoka District Court, according to the lawyers.

Initially, the victims, mainly teenagers, will demand ¥15 million in damages each, for a total of ¥960 million, and increase the amount later depending on their symptoms. The victims' health problems include pain all over the body.

The average age of the 28 planning to file their suit with the Tokyo court is 18. They received the vaccination when they were between 11 and 16 years old.

Comment: There is one health organization in Japan that does not recommend active use of vaccines:
Japanese Officials Speak Out

Japan has been criticized for being behind the times when it comes to vaccination. Vaccine advocates claim that Japan has not kept pace with other developed countries regarding the use of vaccines. Despite listing 110 infectious diseases in a government registry, Japan offers vaccines for only 22 of those.

Some Japanese health experts disagree, however. Hiroko Mori, a vaccine researcher, is one of those experts. He was the former head of the infectious disease division at Japan's National Institute of Public Health.

He has noted that Japan has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world and has advocated for fewer vaccines, stating that the country's excellent sanitation and nutrition has boosted children's health.

He observed,
"Medicine is supposed to be about healing, but babies who cannot speak are being given unnecessary shots because parents are scared. Children are losing their ability to heal naturally.

There are so many people who have suffered side effects. All we are asking is to establish the right to say 'no.' The right to choose should be recognized as a fundamental human right."
Masako Koga, a former representative of the Consumers Union of Japan, has shared his concerns about the ulterior motives behind mass vaccination programs:
"Vaccines should only be given to those who need them but that is not happening. The global industry is being driven by a strategy that promotes VPD [vaccine preventable diseases].
We must put a stop to it. Vaccines have close ties to money. From development to circulation to research on side effects, there are a lot of vested interests involved.
"He also summarized what motivates many parents' decisions not to vaccinate their children:"There is no knowing who will suffer side effects as a result of vaccination.

[Proponents of vaccination] say the chance of suffering a side effect is 1 in a million. For parents, however, that one is everything."

Better Earth

Italian farmers are planting hemp to suck up heavy metal toxins in polluted soil

© Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Can hemp crops revitalize Italian farmland tainted by heavy metals?

Farmers in Taranto, a town in the Italian region of Puglia once known for its dairy farms and traditional cheeses, are now planting cannabis crops in an effort to counteract devastating environmental pollution from a nearby massive steel plant, as reported by Slate.
The Ilva steel plant covers 15 million square meters—nearly three times the size of the city itself. It opened in 1965 and doubled in size by the 1970s. It once churned out almost one-third of Italy's steel. The plant helped turn Taranto into a grimy industrial city. Smoking chimneys, blast furnaces, and aggregates yards now dominate the once-pastoral town. Even today a giant oil refinery and a huge cement factory welcome visitors.

Comment: See also: Industrial hemp extremely useful in removing radiation and other toxins from soils
  • Industrial hemp sure to become NC's newest legal crop


Can your gut microbes influence your food cravings?

© Orewa
Do you experience cravings for particular foods? Recent research on the gut-brain axis suggests that the microbes in your gut could strongly influence your food choices. Read on to learn how your gut microbes can manipulate your behavior and, in turn, how you might manipulate your gut microbes to curb food cravings.

A whopping 97 percent of women and 68 percent of men report experiencing cravings for certain foods (1). Cravings are thought to be a combination of social, cultural, psychological, and physiological factors and are a major barrier to weight loss and optimal health for many individuals (2).

A recent body of evidence suggests that gut microbes might play a significant role in influencing cravings. Given that microbes co-evolved with us and constantly depend on the incoming dietary substrates that we provide for their own sustenance, it's really no surprise that they are able to preferentially shape our eating preferences to improve their own chances of survival. In this article, I'll discuss our current understanding of how microbes shape eating behavior and how you might use this information to combat cravings.

Comment: Our minds and how we think are deeply connected to our microbiota and the two may even be entirely inseparable. Considering this, pathogenic microbiota of various types could even influence our thinking to serve them against our own best interests. Focusing on fostering a healthy and diverse micriobiota by working to increase health-promoting gut flora and eliminating pathogenic microbiota can go a long way to improving one's health and well-being, as well as one's mental and emotional state.


Natural treatments for three common types of headaches

One major downside to having these big prominent heads stuffed with consciousness-spawning brain matter is that they sometimes ache. Nobody likes a headache. You can find fetishists who enjoy pinching, slapping, biting, burning and any matter of objectively painful stimuli. But there aren't "headache fetishists." No one's chugging a 32 ounce Slurpee in search of brain freeze, or getting drunk for the hangover.

The difficult thing about headaches is figuring out why they're occurring. Pain in other areas is different. You can look at your hand if it's hurting and figure out why. You can see the cut on your knee and know what's going on. But you are your head, and the headache is inside. Your consciousness sits behind your eyes observing reality and directing your role in it. It's all a big mystery. Or so it feels.

That doesn't mean we're helpless. There are many effective ways to manage, treat, and even blunt the painful effects of headaches.

There are different types of headaches. To fix them, you'll need to first understand which type of headache currently affects you.

The three main ones are migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches.

Bacon n Eggs

The Ketogenic diet: What are the effects of Ketosis on the brain?

Although mainstream sources still mistake "the brain needs glucose" for "the brain can only run on glucose," regular MDA readers know the truth: given sufficient adaptation, the brain can derive up to 75% of its fuel from ketone bodies, which the liver constructs using fatty acids. If we could only use glucose, we wouldn't make it longer than a few days without food. If our brains couldn't utilize fat-derived ketones, we'd drop dead as soon as our liver had exhausted its capacity to churn out glucose. We'd waste away, our lean tissue dissolving into amino acids for hepatic conversion into glucose to feed our rapacious brains. You'd end up a skeletal wraith with little else but your brain and a hypertrophied liver remaining until, eventually, the latter cannibalized itself in a last ditch search for glucose precursors for the tyrant upstairs. It would get ugly.

That's adaptation. But is there an actual cognitive advantage to running on ketones?

Comment: For more information on the health benefits of a Ketogenic diet:

Arrow Up

California slaps health warning label on popular weed killer - Atrazine

The most commonly found pesticide in U.S. ground and surface water - a toxic weed killer called atrazine - will now have to carry a warning label in the most populated state in the country.

Agribusiness giant Syngenta - Monsanto's biggest competitor - was dealt a major blow on Friday, when the state of California added atrazine, the company's top-selling weed killer, to the state's list of toxic chemicals.

The move by California health officials could drastically cut the use of the hormone-disrupting chemical in the state. Atrazine is the second most commonly used herbicide in the U.S., and is found in the drinking water supply of more than 27 million Americans.

Comment: More Stark Evidence of the Hazards of Atrazine
According to Open Secrets, Syngenta spends well over a million dollars a year on reported lobbying of Congress and federal agencies to limit the regulation of the chemicals it markets to American businesses and consumers, in addition to an untold sum on public relations in the US.


Component of mother's milk doesn't feed the baby, it feeds the baby's gut flora

© Rachel Levit Ruiz
This is an edited excerpt from "I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life," which will be published on August 9th by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

The Foods for Health Institute, at the University of California, Davis, has the appearance of a Tuscan villa, its terra-cotta-walled buildings overlooking a large vineyard and a garden that bursts with summer vegetables. It is led by a chemist named Bruce German, and if there were a world title in extolling the virtues of milk he would surely hold it. At our first meeting, he spent half an hour monologuing on the subject, bouncing on an exercise ball and kneading a tattered shred of bubble wrap as he spoke. Milk, he said, is a perfect source of nutrition, a superfood that is actually worthy of the label.

This isn't a common view. The number of scientific publications about milk is tiny, compared with the number devoted to other bodily fluids—blood, saliva, even urine. The dairy industry has spent a fortune on extracting more and more milk from cows, but very little on understanding just what this white liquid is or how it works. Medical-funding agencies have generally dismissed it as irrelevant, German said, because "it doesn't have anything to do with the diseases of middle-aged white men." And nutritionists have looked at it as a simple cocktail of fats and sugars, one that can be easily duplicated and replaced by formulas. "People said it's just a bag of chemicals," German told me. "It's anything but that."

Comment: Further reading:


Cancer-fighting gene-editing tool Crispr to begin human trials in China

© Michael Kooren / Reuters
It may be banned in the UK, but DNA editing technology will begin trials on humans in China next month in the hope of curing lung cancer. The technique known as 'Crispr' acts like a scissors, cutting out unwanted sections of DNA.

A team of scientists at Sichuan University's West China hospital in Chengdu will be the first to use the technique on humans after successful trials with monkeys.

"If this technology has good safety and shows certain efficacy, it has wide applications," Lu You, an oncologist leading the trials, told Bloomberg.