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Wed, 27 Jul 2016
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Health & Wellness


Scary study shows virtual reality games could be used as pain killers

© Eran Fowler
Not so far in the future, your doctor might prescribe playing a few games in virtual reality to ease aches and pains, rather than popping a pill.

That's Matthew Stoudt's hope, anyway. He's the CEO of AppliedVR, a startup that's building a library of virtual-reality content for alleviating pain and anxiety before, during, and after medical procedures. The company is working with hospitals and doctors to get patients using the technology on Samsung's Gear VR headset and to study its effectiveness as well.

So far, the company has created three different virtual-reality pain applications, as well as one for reducing anxiety, Stoudt says, and it's using some third-party content, too. Headsets running AppliedVR's platform are being used in hospitals, doctors' offices, and clinics for things like drawing blood and administering epidurals, as well as for pain management after operations.

Comment: While there are noted benefits to this 'therapy' which include the ability to making surgery less stressful and reduce pain, it's important to remember that video games used in this way are basically facilitating the dissociation from your current reality. It's unclear whether this disconnect from what is happening to you while you are 'in another world' could have serious psychological impacts, especially for children.

And could these findings also suggest why there are now hoards of people engaging in the pokemon go craze, is it to numb the psychological pain that humans are going through at this moment in time?
  • Pokémon Go and mass dissociation: Anchoring the frequency of chaos and destruction
Guided meditation sounds like a healthier and psychologically safer approach, see our Eiriu Eolas website for more information and testimonials on the benefits of meditation


Mind-clearing magic of running explained

© Pearson
It is something of a cliché among runners, how the activity never fails to clear your head. Does some creative block have you feeling stuck? Go for a run. Are you deliberating between one of two potentially life-altering decisions? Go for a run. Are you feeling mildly mad, sad, or even just vaguely meh? Go for a run, go for a run, go for a run.

The author Joyce Carol Oates once wrote in a column for the New York Times that "in running the mind flees with the body ... in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms." Filmmaker Casey Neistat told Runner's World last fall that running is sometimes the only thing that gives him clarity of mind. "Every major decision I've made in the last eight years has been prefaced by a run," he told the magazine. But I maybe like the way a runner named Monte Davis phrased it best, as quoted in the 1976 book The Joy of Running: "It's hard to run and feel sorry for yourself at the same time," he said. "Also, there are those hours of clear-headedness that follow a long run."

Heart - Black

See no evil: EPA ignores synergistic toxic effects of pesticide cocktails in its approval process

© Chafer Machinery/cc/flickr
"It’s alarming to see just how common it’s been for the EPA to ignore how these chemical mixtures might endanger the health of our environment," said Nathan Donley, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity and author of the report.
Despite the EPA's claims, information on dangerous synergistic effects is publicly available. In fact, the agro-giants collected it themselves.

While the use of one toxic chemical—on our foods, lawns, and elsewhere—has its inherent risks, scientists warn that the combination of two or more such ingredients in common pesticides could have an even more noxious impact, one which is commonly overlooked.

In fact, a investigation released Tuesday by the environmental watchdog Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) found that over the past six years the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved nearly 100 pesticide products that contain these so-called "synergistic" compounds, effectively "increasing the dangers to imperiled pollinators and rare plants."

As CBD explains, "[s]ynergy occurs when two or more chemicals interact to enhance their toxic effects," turning "what would normally be considered a safe level of exposure into one that results in considerable harm."

"The EPA is supposed to be the cop on the beat, protecting people and the environment from the dangers of pesticides. With these synergistic pesticides, the EPA has decided to look the other way, and guess who's left paying the price?" asked Nathan Donley, a scientist with the Center and author of the report, Toxic Concoctions: How the EPA Ignores the Dangers of Pesticide Cocktails (pdf).

Comment: EPA favors industry when assessing chemical dangers

Bacon n Eggs

Running on ketones: The cognitive benefits of a fat-burning 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?

Maybe. It depends. It certainly helps people with neurodegeneration.

People whose brains suffer from impaired glucose utilization see cognitive benefits from ketones. In Alzheimer's disease, aging-related cognitive decline, epilepsy, and Parkinson's disease, brain glucose uptake is depressed—even before any actual cognitive decline appears. Despite high glucose availability, the aging, epileptic, Alzheimer's, or Parkinson's brain can't utilize enough of it to handle cognition. Enter ketones. Ketones act as an alternative energy source for the glucose-starved brains. It's no coincidence that ketogenic diets can improve symptoms (and in some cases abolish them) and cognitive function in all four conditions.

Comment: For help in learning how to implement a ketogenic diet, see: A beginner's guide to the Ketogenic diet and Ketogenic diet plan


Crazy? Psychiatrist uses fever machine to treat depression

In Ancient Rome, people suffering from melancholia were sometimes treated with warm baths. Today, Arizona psychiatrist Charles Raison is trying to revive the idea behind the practice by studying the effects of high temperatures on depression.

Even as Americans consume psychiatric medications by the fistful (about one in eight Americans are on an anti-depressant) psychiatry is in a state of disarray. Some studies claim that anti-depressants rely on a placebo effect, pseudo-science pervades addiction treatment, and critics of Big Pharma argue that depression and other mental illnesses have been marketed around the globe in order to create demand for their products.

While the number of people who identify as having a mental illness has grown, so has the proliferation of treatments: mental health professionals praise everything from opioids to psychedelics, to exercise (the New York Times is on it, having re-discovered the therapeutic benefits of exercise year after year: 2000, 2011, 2014, 2016). In Raison's treatment we've apparently got the benefits of hot yoga—without the yoga.

Comment: At least the doc is thinking outside the box and using a bit of creativity. Perhaps the treatment helps detoxify the patients which leads to an improvement in mood?


The U.S. government supports your junk food habit

At a time when almost three-quarters of the country is overweight or obese, it comes as no surprise that junk foods are the largest source of calories in the American diet. Topping the list are grain-based desserts like cookies, doughnuts and granola bars. (Yes, granola bars are dessert.)

That's according to data from the federal government, which says that breads, sugary drinks, pizza, pasta dishes and "dairy desserts" like ice cream are also among Americans' top 10 sources of calories.

What do these foods have in common? They are largely the products of seven crops and farm foods — corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, sorghum, milk and meat — that are heavily subsidized by the federal government, ensuring that junk foods are cheap and plentiful, experts say.

Comment: There is something very broken about the subsidy system, it is set up to benefit Big Ag, Big Food and Big Pharma:


Lap dances, free lunches and other outrageous ways Big Pharma bribes doctors to peddle their drugs

At the 2010 meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in New Orleans, a psychiatrist from the East coast shared her anger with me about the recent clamp down on Pharma financial perks to doctors. "They used to wine us and dine us. An SSRI maker flew my entire office to a Caribbean island... but now nothing," she lamented.

She was right. Before news organizations and the 2010 Physician Financial Transparency Reports (also called the Sunshine Act, part of the Affordable Care Act) reported the outrageous amount of money Pharma was giving doctors to prescribe its new, brand-name drugs, there was almost no limit to what was spent to encourage prescribing.

At another medical conference I attended, soon after, when it was suggested that doctors not accept free meals from Pharma reps because of indebtedness, a doctor asked in all earnestness "but what do we do for lunch?"

He was right. Doctors seldom have to go hungry at lunchtime when Pharma reps are around. Not only do reps reliably bring lunch and free drug samples, until fairly recently they wielded thousand-dollar budgets to send doctors on trips to resorts, golf vacations and to sought after sports events. No wonder the docs saw them.

Comment: See also:
Conflicts of interest in the medical field: New law aims to expose Big Pharma influence on physicians
All in a day's work: Bribery and fraud common in BigPharma cartel

Snakes in Suits

Mark of the beast: Monsanto behind 'independent' report discrediting the organic industry

© El Ciudadano
Organic foods are the antithesis of genetically engineered (GE) foods and, as organic food popularity grows, they're also one of the biotech industry's greatest opponents.

Organic foods are, by their very nature, free of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and this is one of the traits that makes them superior to their conventionally grown (and often GE) counterparts.

Discrediting the organic industry would be one way for the biotech industry to cast their GE crops in a more favorable light, so when a report came out in 2014 bashing organics, industry funding was likely to be found. For years, however, the report got away with claiming to be independent.

Published by Academics Review,1 a non-profit "led by independent academic experts in agriculture and food sciences,"2 the report slammed the organic food industry for causing "false and misleading consumer health and safety perceptions about competing conventional foods."

It implied that the organic industry was trying to deceptively entice people to pay more for organic produce that is no better than conventional produce.

Even a quick review of the research shows that this is not the case — organic food crops have fewer, if any, pesticide residues and also contain up to 69 percent more antioxidants than conventionally grown varieties, for starters.3

What is even more important about this particular report, however, is that it was not even close to the "independent" review it claimed to be. Rather, it was a carefully orchestrated, conflict-of-interest-ridden attack meant to discredit the organic industry in order to directly benefit its opponents.


Asthma flare-ups worsen in proximity to fracking sites

© Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
Asthma patients are 1.5 to four times more likely to suffer an asthma attack if they live in an area with plentiful or large fracking wells, according to a new study which sheds negative light on the already-controversial drilling method.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University studied 35,508 electronic health records from patients who were treated between 2005 and 2012 at the Geisinger Clinic in Pennsylvania - a state which saw 6,200 wells drilled between the mid-2000s and 2012.

Within the electronic records, the researchers identified 20,749 mild asthma flare-ups, with doctors prescribing new drugs to help patients manage symptoms. An additional 1,870 patients suffered cases of moderate worsening, visiting the emergency department. A total of 4,782 patients were hospitalized for severe exacerbations.

Comment: With fracking, asthma flare-ups may be the least of your worries:

No Entry

Lab analysis shows strawberries and many fruits are contaminated with 20 different cancer causing pesticides

We are often told that fruit is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. However, choosing the wrong fruits can actually have a negative impact on your health. While fruits are full of fiber and vitamins, they can also be full of cancer-causing pesticides.

A new report shows an alarming amount of pesticides are making their way into the conventionally grown strawberries sold in Swiss supermarkets. The study entailed testing samples of the fruit sold in supermarkets as well as the fruit and soil from strawberry farms situated in the Seeland region of Bern and Thurgau.

A total of 20 different pesticides were found, with fungicides being the most common. One sample had traces of 11 different pesticides. Twelve out of the 13 samples taken from supermarkets showed the presence of pesticides that are potentially carcinogenic, and eight of them had at least four different types of pesticides.