Cannabidiol (CBD) found to alleviate seizures in those with neurodevelopmental conditions: Study

Cannabidiol (CBD) found to alleviate seizures in those with neurodevelopmental conditions: Study

( Natural News ) Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the 113 organic compounds in the Cannabis sativa plant, commonly known as hemp. Previous studies on CBD have focused on its medicinal uses for pain relief, epileptic seizures, insomnia and Parkinson’s disease.

But a recent study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) found that CBD could also benefit children and adults suffering from Angelman syndrome (AS).

First author Bin Gu and his colleagues tested the effects of CBD on seizures, motor deficits and brain abnormalities in a mouse model of the said neurogenetic disorder.

Their experiments demonstrated that CBD treatment can reduce the severity of seizures in mice with AS . In addition, CBD also caused mild sedation and restored the mice’s normal brain rhythms.

Gu is hopeful that their findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation , could inspire further research into the use of CBD as a treatment for seizures caused by AS and other neurological disorders. CBD reduces seizures and causes mild sedation

AS is a rare neurogenetic disorder that occurs in one in 15,000 live births, or about 500,000 people around the globe. It tends to cause developmental problems that become noticeable when an infant reaches six to 12 months of age.

AS can also cause other abnormalities, such as seizures, balance disorders and speech problems. Because of the rare nature of AS, there is scant research on possible treatments and therapies.

Benjamin Philpot, the associate director of the UNC Neuroscience Center and the study’s senior author, said that there is an unmet need for better treatments for children suffering from the disorder. In response to this need, he and his colleagues created genetically modified mouse models of AS that they could use to find a possible treatment.

The researchers chose to test CBD because of its anti-epileptic properties. In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of CBD as a treatment for seizures caused by two rare forms of epilepsy. (Related: Treating neurological disorders in children with oriental herbal medicine .)

To assess the effects of CBD on AS symptoms, the researchers injected the genetically-modified mice they created with various doses of CBD an hour prior to behavioral testing. Regardless of dose, CBD did not have a major impact on motor coordination or balance.

However, injection of a standard anti-convulsant dose of CBD caused mild sedation in the mice and reduced the severity of their experimentally triggered seizures. CBD also helped stabilize brain pulses linked to neural deficits and abnormalities.

These results expand the therapeutic spectrum of the anti-epileptic effects of CBD . The researchers also believe that their study could help address the need for better treatments for children with AS. CBD reduces seizures and autism-like behaviors in a mouse model of another childhood brain disorder

This isn’t the first time that scientists attempted to assess the therapeutic effects of CBD on rare and less-studied neurological disorders.

In 2017, researchers from the University of Washington (UW) used CBD to treat mice with Dravet syndrome (DS), a severe type of epilepsy characterized by prolonged seizures that begin in the first year of life.

But unlike AS patients whose symptoms tend to improve with age, DS patients tend to suffer from worse intellectual impairments, autism-like behaviors and other debilitating neurological problems over time.

DS is also a rare and life-long condition that affects one in 20,000 to 40,000 people worldwide. Its drug-resistant nature has further complicated the development of treatments and therapies for it.

The UW researchers assessed the effects of CBD treatment on a mouse model of DS. Their experiments showed that high doses of CBD could reduce the severity, frequency and duration of DS-induced seizures.

In addition, mice treated with low doses of CBD spent more time interacting with other mice compared with the untreated mice, indicating an improvement of autism-like behaviors. However, this effect was lost at the higher doses needed to reduce seizures .

Nephi Stella, the founder of the UW Center for Cannabis Research and a member of the research team, said that their findings highlight the need for a treatment that could confer both benefits at once.

Nevertheless, the researchers noted that their findings contribute to the emerging data supporting the use of CBD in the treatment of drug-resistant and debilitating neurological conditions.

Read more about the medicinal uses of CBD at CBDs.news .

Sources include:

ScienceDaily.com 1

ScienceDaily.com 2

JCI.org

Read more at www.naturalnews.com

51 Fibre-Rich Foods Which May Help Lose Weight Easily

51 Fibre-Rich Foods Which May Help Lose Weight Easily

Fibre is an important plant-based nutrition that primarily helps promote weight loss along with maintaining digestive and bowel health, reducing unwanted cravings, lowering blood sugar levels, fighting constipation and reducing the risk of stroke. Fibre-rich foods help bulk up the stomach and make the digestion slow to prevent sudden glucose and cholesterol spike in the body. [1]

Overweight is a major issue as many of the health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity are due to increased body fat. Reducing the quantity of food or starving is not the solution for losing weight as it may cause a deficiency of many essential nutrients in the body.

The best way to lose weight while maintaining the nutrient balance in the body is by eating fibre-rich foods. They not only help in weight management but also provide vital nutrients for the proper functioning of the body. Take a look at essential foods that help lose weight easily. Also remember, it is always good to combine both exercise and fibre-rich foods for a healthy weight loss journey. Fruits

1. Pears

Pears are among the top fruits which are densely packed with dietary fibre. They are also enriched with antioxidants and phenolic compounds. [1]

Dietary fibre in pears (100 g): 3.1 g

How to use: Eat pears directly with the skin. You can add them to your fruit bowl or consume after roasting them. 2. Avocado

Avocado contains healthy fats and other essential nutrients such as vitamins, magnesium, fatty acids and potassium. It is also an excellent source of phytochemicals that may help in weight management and prevent heart-related diseases. [2]

Dietary fibre in avocado (100 g): 6.7 g

How to use: Add avocados in a fruit salad. You can also simply slice the fruit, sprinkle some black pepper and consume. 3. Blackberry

A low-fibre diet can cause digestive problems such as constipation and bloating while high-fibre foods primarily help in weight loss as well as in controlling blood sugar and reducing cholesterol. This is why blackberries are mostly consumed for healthily losing weight.

Dietary fibre in blackberry (100 g): 5.3 g

How to use: Consume blackberries with Greek yoghurt, oats or porridge. You can also include them in your fruit bowl. 4. Fresh Figs

Figs are packed with dietary fibre. Including fresh figs in the diet helps lower blood cholesterol that may further help maintain body weight and proper blood flow in the body. Fresh figs also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. [3]

Dietary fibre in fresh figs (100 g): 2.9 g

How to use: Either eat fresh figs or soak them in water for overnight and consume. You can add them to your cakes and puddings as they act as a natural sweetener. 5. Raspberry

Raspberry helps prevent fatty liver and obesity. It is best known to decrease body weight and hepatic triacylglycerol due to the presence of essential nutrients along with dietary fibre. [4]

Dietary fibre in raspberry (100 g): 6.5 g

How to use: Eat raspberries as a snack with Greek yoghurt, oatmeal or make smoothies out of them.

The Longevity Diet: What To Eat And How Does It Work? Know More About This Diet Plan 6. Coconut

Both raw and dried coconut have multiple health benefits. The fruit helps stabilise glucose level and has antidiabetic effects.

Dietary fibre in coconut (100 g): 9 g

How to use: Add coconut pulp in a fruit bowl or roast them and consume. 7. Guava

This seasonal fruit is an excellent source of fibre and low in calories. Studies say that the fruits can help maintain proper weight by regulating cholesterol and sugar levels in the body.

Dietary fibre in guava (100 g): 5.4 g

How to use: Consume guava without peeling. You can also sprinkle some salt on the fruit and eat. 8. Kiwi Kiwi contains both soluble and insoluble fibre. When consumed, the fruit gives us a feeling of fullness and prevents us from eating unhealthy foods that increase weight. Dietary fibre in kiwi (100 g): 3 g How to use: Eat kiwi after peeling them. You can add them to oats, porridge or a fruit bowl. 9. Pomegranate The essential nutrients in pomegranate such as antioxidants, anthocyanins and tannins may help reduce obesity and cholesterol levels. The fruit also prevents the growth of cancerous cells. Dietary fibre in pomegranate (100 g): 4 g How to use: Consume a glass of pomegranate juice every day. You can also add pomegranate seeds to oats or porridge. 10. Banana Bananas can help maintain a perfect waistline. It is rich in carbohydrates and contains low calories. Besides, eating a single banana gives a feeling of fullness and reduces hunger. Consumption of banana not only promotes weight loss but also helps replenish the lost energy from the body during physical activities. [5] Dietary fibre in banana (100 g): 2.6 g How to use: Toss a few slices of banana in a fruit bowl. You can also prepare banana smoothies or add them to your oats.Diet And Depression: Healthy Foods That May Help Fight Depression 11. Grapefruit Grapefruit is low in calories and rich in vital nutrients. It helps reduce weight with the help of an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase. The enzyme boosts metabolism and utilises stored fat and sugar for producing energy in the body. [6] Dietary fibre in grapefruit (100 g): 1.1 g How to use: You can consume half grapefruit a day. 12. Apple Apple is a major source of dietary fibre and polyphenols. It significantly helps reduce belly fat in people who are obese. Polyphenols in the fruits also help with digestion. [7] Dietary fibre in apple (100 g): 2.4 g How to use: Add apples to your breakfast by including them in a fruit salad, oats or porridge.7 Ways To Include Apple In Your Diet 13. Mango Mango makes for healthy snacks that promote satiety. It contains beta-carotene, which helps reduce the risk of cancer. Mangoes are also a rich source of vitamins C, B and […]

Read more at in.news.yahoo.com

Which herbal remedy is best for you?

Which herbal remedy is best for you?

DANDELION: May combat water retention and treat urinary tract infections. CREDIT: Pixabay The market is awash with natural and herbal remedies which can help treat almost every condition from anxiety to high blood pressure.

But with so many remedies to choose from, how do we know what we should take?

Herbal medicines are those with active ingredients made from plant parts, such as leaves, roots or flowers.

But being ‘natural’ doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe to take.

Just like conventional medicines, herbal medicines will have an effect on the body, and can be potentially harmful if not used correctly.

They should therefore be used with the same care and respect as conventional medicines, warns NHS.UK , which recommends if you’re consulting your doctor or pharmacist about health matters, or are about to undergo surgery, always tell them about any herbal medicines you’re taking.

People with serious health conditions, such as liver or kidney disease, should avoid herbal medicines, as should people who are on other medication, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.

While herbs are generally less potent than drugs and have fewer side effects, this does not mean you can simply take them without caution, they need to be used responsibly.
So how do you choose which rememdy is best?

The herbs listed below are believed to have the following properties:

Aloe Vera – reduces inflammation, can help soothe suburn, has anti-bacterial and moisturising properties

Bilberry – anti-oxidant, could improve circulation and repair veins. Considered effective in aiding vision, reducing inflammation, lowering blood sugar levels and may help prevent hardening of the arteries.

Chamomile – often used to treat insomnia, anxiety and digestive disorders.

Dandelion root – may combat water retention and treat urinary tract infections such as cystitis, bladder inflammation or kidney infections.

Echinacea – anti-inflammatory and immune-booster. Not recommended for people with autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or ME.

Feverfew – can treat fevers, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, stomach and tooth aches as well as menstrual pain.

Garlic – as well as lowering cholesterol levels, it may help prevent cancer, hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure.

Ginseng – may boost energy levels, reduce inflammation, benefir brain function, improve erectile dysfunction and boost the immune system.

Gingko biloba – an antioxidant which may improve circulation and memory and help prevent tinnitus and macular degeneration

Green tea – antioxidant and tonic (a herb which works on the whole body or organ)

Milk thistle – may repair liver cells and protect against damage from alcohol, hepatitis and chemical toxins.

St John’s Wort – could help relieve mild to moderate depression and anxiety, along with menopause symptoms.

Tea tree oil – a natural antiseptic used for treating skin infections as well as cuts, burns, bites and stings.

Turmeric – an antioxidant

Valerian – a natural sedative used to treat insomnia, anxidety and headaches brought on by stress and tension.

Wild yamcan – may relieve stomach problems like PMT, and menopause symptoms such as hot flushes and vaginal dryness.
Zinc – vital for immune function, metabolism, wound healing, blood clotting and thyroid function. It may reduce inflammation, help prevent muscle cramps and the risk of some age-related disease.

Read more at www.euroweeklynews.com

Exercise found to rapidly trigger nootropic effect in younger adults

Exercise found to rapidly trigger nootropic effect in younger adults

Using supplements, dieting protocols, special sleeping schedules and more in an effort to boost one’s cognitive abilities is a major trend at the moment. These efforts largely revolve around taking various substances, some lesser-known than others, but that may be overkill for some people — at least if they’re still under the age of 36. According to a new study, exercise in younger adults can rapidly boost one’s ability to learn.

‘Nootropics’ refer to a variety of supplements and other compounds and chemicals that may help improve cognitive abilities, including enhancing memory and learning, through a variety of mechanisms. Some substances, such as CBD, may work by decreasing inflammation and increasing blood flow in key regions of the brain, for example, while other substances have less research to back up claims made about them.

Regardless, supplements and other nootropics are often quite expensive, leading those who are interested in a brain boost to other, cheaper alternatives. Adjusting and refining one’s diet remains a popular method, but perhaps under-appreciated is one that is entirely free: getting exercise on a regular basis.

According to a new analysis of existing studies recently published in Translational Sports Medicine , adults ages 18 to 35 may experience increases in memory and learning ability after a single workout, the varieties of which included things like riding a bicycle, walking, and running.

Based on 13 studies on the topic that were reviewed as part of this latest study, increases in these two aspects of cognition, as well as attention and concentration, were found to improve for up to two hours after 1 hour or less of exercise. The ‘catch?’ This exercise had to be high intensity, meaning a casual stroll or gentle trot won’t help.

Read more at www.slashgear.com

How even a short walk can boost your brain: Exercising for just two MINUTES each day can improve concentration, memory and problem-solving skills, study finds

How even a short walk can boost your brain: Exercising for just two MINUTES each day can improve concentration, memory and problem-solving skills, study finds

Even two minutes of exercise per day could be enough to improve your brain health and memory, a study has found.

Researchers looking at past studies saw that any amount of exercise, even if it was only a short walk, was good for the brains of people between the ages of 18 and 35.

The NHS recommends that all adults should do at least two hours of moderate activity per week but science suggests a lot less than that could still be worthwhile.

PLAY Top Articles by Daily Mail Coronavirus kills off BRAIN cells About Connatix V54548 Read More Read More Read More Read More Visit Advertiser website GO TO PAGE 1/1 SPONSORED / Coming Next Skip Ad

Exercise was found to be good for the brain because it made nerve cells more active and it increased dopamine levels, helping to sharpen people’s focus and memory.

The effects after short periods of exercise were found to last for at least two hours in the tests, while the researchers added that intense exercise brought long-term improvement.

As well as boosting brain health, exercise at any level is proven to bring a wealth of health benefits including strengthened heart and lungs, and a lowered risk of long-term illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

The Swedish researchers who did the study suggested their findings, which were specific to young people, could help them to learn better in studies or at work. EXERCISE ‘CAN MAKE YOUR BRAIN YOUNGER’

Going for a daily walk or bike ride can shave 10 years off your ‘brain age’, according to a study published in January 2019.

Researchers found that regular aerobic exercise – known more commonly as cardio – boosted essential gray matter in all adults, even those as young as 20 years old.

Even climbing the stairs improve the thinking skills of the students they examined, scientists said.

The positive effect of physical activity increased with age: people aged 40 had the brainpower to match someone 10 years younger, while 60-year-olds seemed 20 years younger, said scientists at Columbia University in New York.

The study of 132 people, published in the journal Neurology, found exercise specifically improved the health of nerves in areas that control executive function.

These relate to a person’s ability to regulate their own behavior, pay attention, organize and achieve goals.

Professor Yaakov Stern said: ‘We found all participants who exercised not only showed improvements in executive function but also increased the thickness in an area of the outer layer of their brain.’

Advertisement

The scientific review looked at people aged between 18 to 35 who exercised by walking, running or cycling at moderate to high intensity.

After exercising they then took tests to analyse their brain power, such as remembering a list of 15 words.

The participants, who exercised in bursts of two minutes, or 15 minutes, half an hour or an hour, all improved on tests and showed better concentration and problem-solving skills.

Findings were pooled together from 13 other studies that were then analysed by researchers from the Jonkoping and Linkoping universities in Sweden.

The authors wrote: ‘This systematic review strongly suggests that aerobic, physical exercise followed by a brief recovery… improves attention, concentration, and learning and memory functions in young adults.

‘The results of this review may have important education‐related implications.

‘Identifying optimal exercise strategies may help students to enhance their learning and memory.’

Exercise is believed to increase levels of a protein called ‘brain-derived neurotrophic factor’ which is thought to be important for memory, the scientists said.

They also suggested that brainpower improvements might come from a ‘sustained’ boost to nerve connectivity in the organ.

And exercising is also known to increase levels of the the feel-good hormone, which works as a neurotransmitter, helping signals to flit quickly around the brain.Higher levels of dopamine, the researchers said, ‘may enhance attention and memory’.But not everyone is a natural athlete or has hours to work out.The review wanted to see if a single bout of exercise could have an effect, so looked at studies exploring this with young adults over ten years.The review, published in the journal Translational Sports Medicine, found any exercise from two minutes to an hour improved memory and thinking skills for up to two hours. HOW MUCH EXERCISE DO YOU NEED TO DO? To stay healthy, adults aged 19 to 64 should try to be active daily and should do: at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking every week and strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) Or: 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week and strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) Or: a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week – for example, 2 x 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of brisk walking equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) A good rule is that 1 minute of vigorous activity provides the same health benefits as 2 minutes of moderate activity.One way to do your recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity is to do 30 minutes on 5 days every week.All adults should also break up long periods of sitting with light activity.Source: NHS Advertisement

Read more at www.dailymail.co.uk

First ‘plug and play’ brain prosthesis demonstrated in paralyzed person

First ‘plug and play’ brain prosthesis demonstrated in paralyzed person

Karunesh Ganguly (right), M.D., Ph.D., discusses ECoG brain recording data with student Stefan Lemke in 2016. In a significant advance, researchers working toward a brain-controlled prosthetic limb at the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences have shown that machine learning techniques helped a paralyzed individual learn to control a computer cursor using their brain activity without requiring extensive daily retraining, which has been a requirement of all past brain-computer interface (BCI) efforts. An ECoG array comprises a pad of electrodes that is surgically placed on the surface of the brain. “The BCI field has made great progress in recent years, but because existing systems have had to be reset and recalibrated each day, they haven’t been able to tap into the brain’s natural learning processes. It’s like asking someone to learn to ride a bike over and over again from scratch,” said study senior author Karunesh Ganguly , M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of in the UC San Francisco Department of Neurology. “Adapting an artificial learning system to work smoothly with the brain’s sophisticated long-term learning schemas is something that’s never been shown before in a paralyzed person.”

The achievement of “plug and play” performance demonstrates the value of so-called ECoG electrode arrays for BCI applicartions. An ECoG array comprises a pad of electrodes about the size of a Post-it note that is surgically placed on the surface of the brain. They allow long-term, stable recordings of neural activity and have been approved for seizure monitoring in epilepsy patients. In contrast, past BCI efforts have used “pin-cushion” style arrays of sharp electrodes that penetrate the brain tissue for more sensitive recordings but tend to shift or lose signal over time. In this case, the authors obtained investigational device approval for long-term chronic implantation of ECoG arrays in paralyzed subjects to test their safety and efficacy as long-term, stable BCI implants.

In their new paper, published Sept. 7 in Nature Biotechnology , Ganguly’s team documents the use of an ECoG electrode array in an individual with paralysis of all four limbs (tetraplegia). The participant is also enrolled in a clinical trial designed to test the use of ECoG arrays to allow paralyzed patients to control a prosthetic arm and hand, but in the new paper, the participant used the implant to control a computer cursor on a screen.

The researchers developed a BCI algorithm that uses machine learning to match brain activity recorded by the ECoG electrodes to the user’s desired cursor movements. Initially, the researchers followed the standard practice of resetting the algorithm each day. The participant would begin by imagining specific neck and wrist movements while watching the cursor move across the screen. Gradually the computer algorithm would update itself to match the cursor’s movements to the brain activity this generated, effective passing control of the cursor over to the user. However, starting this process over every day put a severe limit on the level of control that could be achieved. It could take hours to master control of the device, and some days the participant had to give up altogether.

The researchers then switched to allow the algorithm to continue updating to match the participant’s brain activity without resetting it each day. They found that the continued interplay between brain signals and the machine learning-enhanced algorithm resulted in continuous improvements in performance over many days. Initially there was a little lost ground to make up each day, but soon the participant was able to immediately achieve top level performance.

“We found that we could further improve learning by making sure that the algorithm wasn’t updating faster than the brain could follow — a rate of about once every 10 seconds,” said Ganguly, a practicing neurologist with UCSF Health and the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center’s Neurology & Rehabilitation Service. “We see this as trying to build a partnership between two learning systems — brain and computer — that ultimately lets the artificial interface become an extension of the user, like their own hand or arm.”

Over time, the participant’s brain was able to amplify patterns of neural activity it could use to most effectively drive the artificial interface via the ECoG array, while eliminating less effective signals – a pruning process much like how the brain is thought to learn any complex task, the researcher say. They observed that the participant’s brain activity seemed to develop an ingrained and consistent mental “model” for controlling the BCI interface, something that had never occurred with daily resetting and recalibration. When the interface was reset after several weeks of continuous learning, the participant rapidly re-established the same patterns of neural activity for controlling the device – effectively retraining the algorithm to its former state.

“Once the user has established an enduring memory of the solution for controlling the interface, there’s no need for resetting,” Ganguly said. “The brain just rapidly convergences back to the same solution.”

Eventually, once expertise was established, the researchers showed they could turn off the algorithm’s need to update itself altogether, and the participant could simply begin using the interface each day without any need for retraining or recalibration. Performance did not decline over 44 days in the absence of retraining, and the participant could even go days without practicing and see little decline in performance. The establishment of stable expertise in one form of BCI control (moving the cursor) also allowed researchers to begin “stacking” additional learned skills — such as “clicking” a virtual button — without loss of performance.

Such immediate “plug and play” BCI performance has long been a goal in the field, but has been out of reach because the “pincushion-style” electrodes used by most researchers tend to move over time, changing the signals seen by each electrode. Also, because these electrodes penetrate brain tissue, the immune system tends to reject them, gradually impairing their signal. ECoG arrays are less sensitive than these traditional implants, but their long-term stability appears to compensate for this shortcoming. The stability of ECoG recordings may be even more important for long-term control of more complex […]

Read more at www.universityofcalifornia.edu

Minimizing the impact of touch starvation in long-term care residents

Minimizing the impact of touch starvation in long-term care residents

Jennifer Birdsall, Ph.D. What is touch starvation?

Also known as “touch deprivation,” “skin hunger” or “hug deprivation,” touch starvation is what occurs when a person’s exposure to physical contact has been significantly reduced or eliminated, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated social distancing.

I began researching this phenomenon and discovered there was a name for it after a number of psychologists in my organization sought consultation on ways to reduce the added psychological impacts they were seeing in their skilled nursing home patients from the lack of positive human touch. Further, the psychologists were expressing how difficult it was for themselves not being able to offer a needed hug or brief hand holding during their psychotherapy sessions with patients struggling with significant grief, depression and fears.

While most residents in long-term care communities understand the reasons we cannot hug or hold a hand with those we care about, the effects of long-standing touch starvation are nonetheless significant.

Why is physical contact so important?

Positive human touch is an integral part of human interaction and a legitimate physical and emotional need. It is hardwired and begins at birth, starting with the physical contact between a mother and newborn that facilitates bonding.

Positive physical touch in turn leads to a positive physiological experience at the neurochemical level. This not only occur through physical contact between parents and children or between romantic partners, but includes all positive physical touch — even platonic contact among friends and colleagues, and between patients and their formal caregivers. Examples are a hug or warm embrace, one arm linked through another, holding hands, a reassuring hand on a shoulder, high fives, handshakes, a pat on the back, etc. Unfortunately, apart from the immediate family one lives with, most of these experiences are off limits due to COVID-19 infection control protocols and social distancing guidelines.

Losing this part of the human experience and not knowing when it will safely return is yet another devastating consequence of the pandemic. Over time, the mental health consequences of touch starvation can include increases in stress, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance and trauma-related symptoms.

How does human touch impact our emotional well-being?

When we feel a friendly touch on our skin, for example a pat on the back, our brains release oxytocin, a neuropeptide involved in increasing positive, feel-good emotions. It does this by promoting a sense of positive social connection, trust, empathy, and bonding in relationships. At the same time, it works to decrease fear and anxiety responses in the brain. Hence why oxytocin is affectionately known as the “cuddle hormone” or “love hormone.” Without physical contact, a person loses the positive emotional boost from this mood lifting hormone.

What can we do to reduce the negative impacts of touch starvation?

Oxytocin is not the only “feel good” hormone. Therefore, during a time of social distancing, it is important to focus on ways to increase the natural release of our other mood lifting neurochemicals including dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is important in the brain’s reward system. We get a boost of dopamine when we experience something pleasurable, including praise or when we complete a task.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. This is why certain antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), target serotonin by increasing the availability of serotonin in the brain. Activities that increase serotonin can improve our mood.

Endorphins are your body’s natural pain reliever, which your body produces in response to discomfort or stress. Endorphin levels also increase when you engage in reward-producing activities, such as eating and exercising.

What are activities we can provide our residents to support the release of these three feel good neurochemicals? (Tip: these strategies will work for you too!)

1. Connecting with others virtually . Help residents have virtual meetings with their family and friends. Engaging in pleasant events in general helps release serotonin and dopamine. Plus, while not the same impact as in-person encounters and physical contact, having shared positive encounters with people you care about, even remotely, can release oxytocin through the bonding experience.

2. Moving and exercising . Encourage residents to move safely (e.g., stretching and chair exercises). Exercise can release endorphins. Regular exercise routines increase dopamine and serotonin production.

3. Getting outside . Enable safe, social-distanced opportunities for residents to spend time in outdoor areas. Sunlight increases the production of serotonin and endorphins. Plus, change of scenery can improve mood.

4. Giving praise and compliments. Find opportunities to give genuine praise and compliments to your residents. Compliments and praise are a form or reward and lift a person’s mood by releasing dopamine.

5. Smiling and Laughing . Find ways to make your residents laugh. All three “feel good” neurochemicals — dopamine, serotonin and endorphins — get released when we smile and laugh. Play funny movies, television shows or YouTube videos. Prepare a joke of the day that CNAs can share with their residents during care activities. Encourage CNAs and nursing staff to ask residents to share a funny memory from their past that will get everyone laughing. And finally, make sure staff are still smiling, as smiles are contagious — even from behind a mask, which can still be “seen” in the eyes.

Jennifer Birdsall, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, is clinical director of CHE Behavioral Health Services in Los Angeles.

Read more at www.mcknights.com

Essential oils to relax, heal & rejuvenate you for summer

Essential oils to relax, heal & rejuvenate you for summer

Essential oils help people heal and relax, diminish feelings of fatigue and anxiety. Many of them work stimulate certain areas of the body and alleviate symptoms of distress. They can affect parts of the brain that control emotions, behaviour, motivation, long-term memory, and assist in lowering depression, anxiety, and self-doubt. Which oils?

Basil

The reason basil is effective is because it helps to remove stress and calm the nervous system. It stimulates the adrenal glands giving you more motivation and more energy. Having more energy helps you become more productive and this increases your mood and level of satisfaction. Basil oil lowering your stress makes you feel stronger and more resilient. It is also rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. This oil however, should not be used when pregnant as it may cause early contractions. Lemon

Lemon helps to boost your dopamine and serotonin levels. These two hormones directly affect your overall wellbeing. An increase of dopamine makes you feel more mentally alert. It helps to improve your concentration and general mood. This makes it easier to perform your work, as well as to interact better with others. Serotonin increase balances your mood and prevents depression. Lavender

Although it is popularly used for relaxation, lavender oil also has a clear uplifting effect that lifts your mood. It reduces anxiety so you are calmer. It also helps you sleep better which will help you feel better the next day. Lavender is good for your immune system so it can help you kick that cold, or prevent you from actually getting one. Lavender oil can be used in your bath, a diffuser or even a quick whiff out of the bottle will help. Bergamot

Bergamot oil has been shown to decrease work-related stress. Bergamot reduces the amount of cortisol in the body helping to reduce the feelings of anxiety. Using Bergamot helps lower your blood pressure and heart rate putting you in a more relaxed state. Bergamot also helps reduce the feeling of mental and physical fatigue. Jasmine

Jasmine produces a calming and romantic effect so it can help with anxiety, stress and aggression which promotes a feeling of well-being. It can also make you feel more energetic. This essential oil is another one to avoid when pregnant as it may cause early labour. Rose

Rose oil is great for alleviating depression as well as anxiety. The scent of roses boosts your self-esteem, makes you more confident and appealing and helps boost libido. Often people have fond memories associated with roses which in itself helps to lift your mood.

If you feel your mood, energy or wellbeing could do with a lift then look at some aromatherapy blends and energy elixirs. These can be specifically designed for your needs. Always use completely natural oils and mix them in a carrier oil if you are going to wear them on your skin. Best to consult a therapist to do it for you so you know the right quantities have been mixed together. Now that spring is coming it’s a great way to rejuvenate, relax and prepare to enjoy the summer sunshine.

For more information on how to look after your hair in the summer sun check out my article at https://www.wellbeing.com.au/body/beauty/hair-care-nurturing-and-revitalising-your-hair.html

Read more at www.wellbeing.com.au

Why should drink ginger tea regularly?

Ginger has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for many ailments. It’s also a familiar, easy-to-find condiment and can be a great substitute for coffee or other harmful drinks!

Ginger has long been not only a spice to taste better, but also a medicinal herb. The benefits of ginger tea not only improve health and prevent diseases, but also help you maintain your figure in a completely natural way.

Ginger tea has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for many ailments. However, their use as a morning drink is not common. This can be an energetic way to start your day. Benefits of ginger tea for health

Ginger tea is good for pregnant women

In fact, two-thirds of pregnant people suffer from irritability, nausea, or morning sickness. Ginger has been used to treat nausea caused by motion sickness and motion sickness. It is also used to reduce nausea in chemotherapy patients.

According to nutritionist Katie Boyd, if you are not pregnant but have discomfort during your period, ginger tea can help. “It helps to alleviate flatulence, especially around the” red light “period in women, she revealed. Ginger tea enhances immunity

Nutritionist Hayley Cimring advises: If you’re looking for a natural way to boost your immune system, you might consider using ginger tea. Ginger has antiviral, antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, not to mention a rich source of vitamin C. “This is a great natural remedy that helps support a healthy immune system. Ginger root contains compounds called gingerols, shogaol and paradols. These compounds have the ability to aid the body in fighting inflammation and free radicals. Although drinking ginger tea is not a cure, “prevention is better than cure”. Ginger tea improves oral health

“Its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties kill harmful bacteria and thus prevent tooth decay,” said Henry Hackney, a dentist. Furthermore, daily consumption of ginger aids in plaque reduction and strengthens your gums.

Raffinose, the main active ingredient in ginger, helps soothe various toothache. However this is only a temporary solution, you need to see your dentist when the problem worsens.

Watch next: 7 Health Benefits of Green Tea & How to Drink it Ginger tea reduces indigestion

Most people know how uncomfortable it feels to eat a large meal. But if you find yourself having heartburn more than twice a week, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If that is the case, you can drink ginger tea every day to help fight reflux disease. One of the benefits of ginger tea is that it will help speed digestion, help empty the stomach and alleviate indigestion and heartburn. Ginger tea restricts chronic inflammation

With a cut on your hand or ankle sprain, you may find that your body responds by getting inflamed to facilitate the healing process. And that is a normal response, but not all inflammation is beneficial for the body. Specifically, chronic inflammation can lead to an increased risk of diseases like diabetes and depression.

Nutritionist Katie Boyd recommends sipping ginger tea every day. “The biggest effect I get from drinking ginger tea is that it supports the natural inflammatory response.” Ginger tea reduces the risk of cancer

Drinking ginger tea every day can help prevent cancer. Ginger contains many antioxidants (such as vitamin C) and nutrients (such as potassium) to fight inflammation and overall disease, typically cancer. There is a lot of additional science on this topic. As PLOS One revealed in 2015, researchers conclude that ginger may help prevent pancreatic cancer. Plus, a study in the journal Nutrients shows that ginger can suppress colorectal cancer cells. Ginger tea supports weight loss

According to Time magazine, 49% of all Americans are trying to lose weight – in fact, one in two people has an overweight problem.

Ginger root contains properties called gingerols and shogaols that help support the biological activities of the body. In other words, they increase your metabolism and lower your cholesterol levels. “Although drinking ginger tea alone won’t help you lose weight, it can help if you combine it with another healthy lifestyle,” Hickey said. Ginger tea helps with mental focus

Drinking ginger tea has been linked to supporting brain health. Studies using ginger extract have shown that it can improve cognitive function and enhance working memory. Of course, ginger tea is not a cure-all, but it’s incredibly helpful!

Drinking ginger tea every day is good for the heart

According to a 2017 study in the Journal of Nutrition, which surveyed 4,628 people – 2,805 women and 1,823 men between the ages of 18 and 77, consuming ginger was shown to reduce the risk of high blood pressure. In addition, the researchers concluded that ginger consumption reduced the risk of heart attack and blood clot formation as well as decreased cholesterol levels and improved blood circulation.

Watch next: What Happens To Your Body If You Drink Green Tea Daily For 30 Days ginger tea

Read more at break.com

First ‘plug and play’ brain prosthesis demoed in paralyzed person

First 'plug and play' brain prosthesis demoed in paralyzed person

Credit: CC0 Public Domain In a significant advance, UC San Francisco Weill Institute for Neurosciences researchers working towards a brain-controlled prosthetic limb have shown that machine learning techniques helped an individual with paralysis learn to control a computer cursor using their brain activity without requiring extensive daily retraining, which has been a requirement of all past brain-computer interface (BCI) efforts.

“The BCI field has made great progress in recent years, but because existing systems have had to be reset and recalibrated each day, they haven’t been able to tap into the brain ‘s natural learning processes. It’s like asking someone to learn to ride a bike over and over again from scratch,” said study senior author Karunesh Ganguly, MD, Ph.D., an associate professor in the UCSF Department of Neurology. “Adapting an artificial learning system to work smoothly with the brain’s sophisticated long-term learning schemas is something that’s never been shown before in a person with paralysis.”

The achievement of “plug and play” performance demonstrates the value of so-called ECoG electrode arrays for BCI applicartions. An ECoG array comprises a pad of electrodes about the size of a post-it note that is surgically placed on the surface of the brain. They allow long-term, stable recordings of neural activity and have been approved for seizure monitoring in epilepsy patients. In contrast, past BCI efforts have used “pin-cushion” style arrays of sharp electrodes that penetrate the brain tissue for more sensitive recordings but tend to shift or lose signal over time. In this case, the authors obtained investigational device approval for long-term chronic implantation of ECoG arrays in paralyzed subjects to test their safety and efficacy as long-term, stable BCI implants.

In their new paper, published September 7, 2020 in Nature Biotechnology , Ganguly’s team documents the use of an ECoG electrode array in an individual with paralysis of all four limbs (tetraplegia). The participant is also enrolled in a clinical trial designed to test the use of ECoG arrays to allow paralyzed patients to control a prosthetic arm and hand, but in the new paper, the participant used the implant to control a computer cursor on a screen.

The researchers developed a BCI algorithm that uses machine learning to match brain activity recorded by the ECoG electrodes to the user’s desired cursor movements. Initially, the researchers followed the standard practice of resetting the algorithm each day. The participant would begin by imagining specific neck and wrist movements while watching the cursor move across the screen. Gradually the computer algorithm would update itself to match the cursor’s movements to the brain activity this generated, effective passing control of the cursor over to the user. However, starting this process over every day put a severe limit on the level of control that could be achieved. It could take hours to master control of the device, and some days the participant had to give up altogether.

The researchers then switched to allow the algorithm to continue updating to match the participant’s brain activity without resetting it each day. They found that the continued interplay between brain signals and the machine learning-enhanced algorithm resulted in continuous improvements in performance over many days. Initially there was a little lost ground to make up each day, but soon the participant was able to immediately achieve top level performance.

“We found that we could further improve learning by making sure that the algorithm wasn’t updating faster than the brain could follow—a rate of about once every 10 seconds,” said Ganguly, a practicing neurologist with UCSF Health and the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center’s Neurology & Rehabilitation Service. “We see this as trying to build a partnership between two learning systems—brain and computer—that ultimately lets the artificial interface become an extension of the user, like their own hand or arm.”

Over time, the participant’s brain was able to amplify patterns of neural activity it could use to most effectively drive the artificial interface via the ECoG array, while eliminating less effective signals—a pruning process much like how the brain is thought to learn any complex task, the researcher say. They observed that the participant’s brain activity seemed to develop an ingrained and consistent mental “model” for controlling the BCI interface, something that had never occurred with daily resetting and recalibration. When the interface was reset after several weeks of continuous learning, the participant rapidly re-established the same patterns of neural activity for controlling the device—effectively retraining the algorithm to its former state.

“Once the user has established an enduring memory of the solution for controlling the interface, there’s no need for resetting,” Ganguly said. “The brain just rapidly convergences back to the same solution.”

Eventually, once expertise was established, the researchers showed they could turn off the algorithm’s need to update itself altogether, and the participant could simply begin using the interface each day without any need for retraining or recalibration. Performance did not decline over 44 days in the absence of retraining, and the participant could even go days without practicing and see little decline in performance. The establishment of stable expertise in one form of BCI control (moving the cursor) also allowed researchers to begin “stacking” additional learned skills—such as “clicking” a virtual button—without loss of performance.

Such immediate “plug and play” BCI performance has long been a goal in the field, but has been out of reach because the “pincushion-style” electrodes used by most researchers tend to move over time, changing the signals seen by each electrode. Also, because these electrodes penetrate brain tissue, the immune system tends to reject them, gradually impairing their signal. ECoG arrays are less sensitive than these traditional implants, but their long-term stability appears to compensate for this shortcoming. The stability of ECoG recordings may be even more important for long-term control of more complex robotic systems such as artificial limbs, a key goal of the next phase of Ganguly’s research.

“We’ve always been mindful of the need to design technology that doesn’t end up in a drawer, so to speak, but which will actually improve the day-to-day lives of paralyzed […]

Read more at medicalxpress.com