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Sat, 15 Aug 2020
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Many insomniacs turn to valerian and melatonin to help them sleep

A study published in the July 1st issue of the journal SLEEP finds that large segments of the U.S. population use valerian or melatonin to treat their insomnia.

The study, authored by Donald L. Bliwise, PhD, of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, focused on the data collected from 31,044 individuals from the 2002 Alternative Health/Complementary and Alternative Medicine Supplement to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

Dr. Bliwise discovered that, of the survey sample, 5.9 percent used valerian and 5.2 percent used melatonin. Relatively greater use occurred in individuals under the age of 60. The decision to use such substances was made in consultation with a health care provider less than half of the time.

"Within the United States, usage of alternative and complementary medicine is rising dramatically," said Bliwise. "Within the limitations on the NHIS methodology, the usage of valerian and the usage of melatonin appear to be relatively high. Specific data on valerian usage and on melatonin usage in general populations, however, are relatively scarce."

However, an evaluation of common oral non-prescription treatments for insomnia conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine's (AASM) clinical practice review committee did not find a beneficial effect for many of the herbal supplements, dietary changes and other nutritional supplements popularly used for treating insomnia symptoms, including valerian and melatonin. The AASM does not support the use of such products for treating symptoms of insomnia. The evaluation was published in the April 15th, 2005, issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Health

When the Surgeon Is Infected, How Safe Is the Surgery?

A few years ago, two Long Islanders with hepatitis C met in a support group and soon discovered they had something in common: both had become infected with the virus after open-heart surgery - by the same surgeon.

Magic Wand

Why we learn from our mistakes

Psychologists from the University of Exeter have identified an 'early warning signal' in the brain that helps us avoid repeating previous mistakes. Published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, their research identifies, for the first time, a mechanism in the brain that reacts in just 0.1 seconds to things that have resulted in us making errors in the past.

Previous research has shown that we learn more about things for which we initially make incorrect predictions than for things for which our initial predictions are correct. The element of surprise in discovering we are wrong is conducive to learning, but this research is the first to show how amazingly rapid our brain's response can be. This discovery was made possible through the use of electrophysiological recordings, which allow researchers to detect processes in the brain at the instant they occur.

'It's a bit of a cliché to say that we learn more from our mistakes than our successes,' said psychologist Professor Andy Wills of the University of Exeter, 'but for the first time we've established just how quickly the brain works to help us avoid repeating errors. By monitoring activity in the brain as it occurs, we were able to identify the moment at which this mechanism kicks in.'

Magic Wand

Babies not as innocent as they pretend

Whether lying about raiding the biscuit tin or denying they broke a toy, all children try to mislead their parents at some time. Yet it now appears that babies learn to deceive from a far younger age than anyone previously suspected.

Behavioural experts have found that infants begin to lie from as young as six months. Simple fibs help to train them for more complex deceptions in later life.

Until now, psychologists had thought the developing brains were not capable of the difficult art of lying until four years old.

Bomb

Brain Scans Reveal Why Meditation Works

If you name your emotions, you can tame them, according to new research that suggests why meditation works.

Brain scans show that putting negative emotions into words calms the brain's emotion center. That could explain meditation's purported emotional benefits, because people who meditate often label their negative emotions in an effort to "let them go."

Black Cat

Exposure to cats increases bronchial responsiveness in people without specific cat allergy

Researchers in the United Kingdom have found that increased exposure to cat allergen is associated with greater bronchial responsiveness (BR) in people with certain common allergies, even if they are not specifically allergic to cats. This suggests that reduced exposure to cats may be beneficial for allergic individuals, regardless of their specific allergies.

"This was an unexpected finding," said Susan Chinn, D.Sc., lead author of the study. "We presupposed that we would find increased responsiveness only in those individuals who were exposed to cat allergen and whose blood tests showed that they were allergic to cats. But our study suggests that all allergic individuals have signs of asthmatic responses if exposed to cat allergen, even if blood tests show that they are not allergic to cats."

Dr. Chinn, of the Imperial College in London, and 12 other researchers reported their findings in the first issue for July 2007 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

The study examined cross-sectional data from 1,884 participants in 20 centers in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) follow-up, which included measurements of house dust mite and cat allergen in mattress dust samples, and data on IgE sensitization to four major allergens - cat, house dust mite, Cladosporidium (a common mold) and timothy grass. The researchers used the "objective measure of choice in epidemiological studies on asthma" - BR in response to a methacholine challenge - to analyze the interaction between exposure to house dust mite and cat allergen and prior allergic sensitization. Because the study included complete data on nearly 2,000 individuals across 20 centers in Europe, researchers were able to exclude potentially confounding effects.

Coffee

Top 10 Diet Tips You Can't Lose Weight Without

Eat a diet full of color

Fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and are very low in calories. They help keep you satisfied longer, and are a great snack and can be eaten with every meal.

Eat regular meals

Eating meals throughout the day will help keep your metabolism stable as well as burning calories all day long. When we don't eat for an extended amount of time it actually inhibits calorie burning. Take mom's advice to heart and be sure to have breakfast in the morning! Make sure and eat your 3 meals a day, but also sneak in some healthy snacks to keep your body going!

Cut

Egypt Officials Ban Female Circumcision

CAIRO, Egypt - The death of a 12-year-old Egyptian girl at the hands of a doctor performing female circumcision has sparked a public outcry and prompted health and religious authorities to ban the practice.

Magic Wand

Critical protein prevents DNA damage from persisting through generations

A protein long known to be involved in protecting cells from genetic damage has been found to play an even more important role in protecting the cell's offspring. New research by a team of scientists at Rockefeller University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Cancer Institute shows that the protein, known as ATM, is not only vital for helping repair double-stranded breaks in DNA of immune cells, but is also part of a system that prevents genetic damage from being passed on when the cells divide.

Early in the life of B lymphocytes -- the immune cells responsible for hunting down foreign invaders and labeling them for destruction -- they rearrange their DNA to create various surface receptors that can accurately identify different intruders, a process called V(D)J recombination. Now, in an study published online today in the journal Cell, Rockefeller University Professor Michel Nussenzweig, in collaboration with his brother André Nussenzweig at NCI and their colleagues, shows that when the ATM protein is absent, chromosomal breaks created during V(D)J recombination go unrepaired, and checkpoints that normally prevent the damaged cell from replicating are lost.

Magic Wand

Curriculum Focused on Cognitive Skills May Improve Child Behavior

Children who were taught a curriculum that focused on self-control and awareness of their own and others' emotions were found to exhibit greater social competence and fewer behavioral and emotional problems. According to a recent study in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, when teachers taught a particular curriculum to students for 20-30 minutes-per-day, three times-per-week over a six-month period, lower rates of aggression and anxiety/sadness were seen when evaluated a year later compared to children randomized to normal classroom procedures.

"Several complex cognitive processes, such as the ability to cope in stressful situations, are related to the development of the prefrontal areas of the brain starting in the preschool years," says study author Mark Greenberg. "We know that deficiencies in the function of these lobes are linked to problems like aggression, depression and attention disorders." Therefore, the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) curriculum, which stimulates cognitive and emotional skills, enhances the child's ability to cope with stress and make good choices.