Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The first person ever to fall victim to the so-called "post-antibiotic era" -- a New Zealand man recently died from a novel bacterial strain that is fully resistant to every known antibiotic -- has sparked fresh concerns about what some are now referring to as the real-life zombie apocalypse. Drug-resistant bacteria, warns John Aziz from The Week, is probably humanity's biggest threat for which there are currently no solutions in sight, and this could very soon have devastating consequences unlike anything the world has ever seen.
The advent of drug-resistant bacteria is nothing new, as this phenomenon has been occurring ever since the first man-made antibiotics hit the scene back in the 1940s. But the tendency of pathogens to continually adapt and develop resistance to the very substances originally designed to kill them has reached a major turning point, as there are simply not enough new antibiotics being developed to tackle all these new and virulent "superbugs." In other words, malignant bacteria are outsmarting the best that modern medicine has to offer, which does not bode well for the future of humanity.
Perhaps most responsible for the rapid uptick in antibiotic resistance is the widespread use of antibiotics in factory farm animals, which accounts for some 80 percent or more of antibiotic use. The administration of antibiotics to healthy livestock for the purpose of bulking them up faster, for instance, a practice that has been taking place since the 1950s, represents just one of the ways in which antibiotics have been widely overprescribed. It is also one of the primary drivers behind the superbug epidemic we are facing today.
"It is not difficult to make microbes resistant to penicillin in the laboratory by exposing them to concentrations not sufficient to kill them," warned Alexander Fleming, the creator of the first antibiotic, penicillin, back in 1945 when he received his Nobel Prize for medicine. "There is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant."
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 by Team · 0
BY BELINDA ANDERSON
Our lives are often filled with challenges, which can sometimes make it very difficult to be positive. However, I know that choosing to be positive has helped me turn my life around and become a better me.
I find myself seeing the positive much more than the negative, which is a vast contrast from my earlier years! But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s easy-peasy, because it’s not.
Here are nine steps I’ve taken that have helped me see the positive more than the negative in life:
1. Say affirmations every day until they sink in and resonate within every cell of your being.
Sure, they may sound ridiculous initially, but overcome this and keep saying them until you absolutely believe them to be true! Every day I tell myself that “I am healthy, happy and energized; my mind is peaceful; my heart is full of love. I attract positivity, success, and abundance into my life.” This is a habit worth keeping!
Any time you are sick, even with a small illness such as a cold, it can make you feel horrible. Your energy is sapped, you don't have the strength or enthusiasm to get out and participate in your usual activities.
After a day or two, you begin to feel somewhat helpless, wondering if you'll ever get well and feel back to normal.
Interestingly enough, this is a lot like what someone with depression experiences. Scientists are beginning to believe that it is no coincidence that physical illness and mental illness share many of the same traits.
A number of new research studies focused on mental illnesses from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia and depression have suggested that there is a closer link between physical illness and mental illness than has been previously realized. This also suggests that activating the immune system may play a role in treating both.
Andrew Miller, professor of psychiatry at Emory University, told USA Today that these studies show that an overactive immune system or any other immune disorders may have consequences for the brain.
Immune responses such as inflammation, for example, may explain why certain mental disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's can affect mood, and why many people who are hospitalized with schizophrenia have a urinary tract infection when they are admitted. Children with autism are also more likely to be born to mothers with autoimmune disorders such as lupus.
One study shown at the Society for Neuroscience annual convention showed that people who experience more inflammation are more likely to suffer from depression than those whose immune systems are healthy.
In fact, the changes in the immune system came before the emotional ones did. Researchers believe that this proves mental illness is more than just a disorder of emotional and cognitive functioning; it may have physical implications as well.
These results allow neuroscientists to expand their thinking when searching for possible treatments and causes for mood disorders, mental illness, and neurodevelopmental conditions (such as autism). This may also help scientists understand why mental health treatments don't always work. New treatments targeting the immune system and its responses may prove helpful in these cases.
Beware of false immune system 'treatments'
Unfortunately, this could include taking antibiotics for acute psychotic symptoms in addition to anti-psychotics, or anti-inflammatory medications in cases where it is thought to be applicable.
If Western medicine understood how to boost the immune system naturally, then these findings would be more helpful. Most likely, if doctors ever accept the mental health/immune system relationship, they will continue to bog the mind and body down with toxic solutions that feed the pharmaceutical money machine and only create more health issues in the end.
For natural health enthusiasts, however, these findings represent yet another reason to keep your immune system sharp - organically.
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About the author: Mike Bundrant is author of the book, Achilles Eel, Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage
Watch the free video Process: An End to Self-Sabotage and discover the lost keys to personal transformation and emotional well-being that have been suppressed by mainstream mental health for decades.
“Natural killer cells” sound like cells you don’t want to run into in a dark alley. Well, if you’re a tumor cell or a virus, that’s true. These cells have unique abilities to recognize foreign invaders in the body and eradicate them. Recent research indicates spirulina, an algae found largely in fresh water, is able to activate these cells and use them to target tumors.
Spirulina is an ancient super-food, used for centuries as a natural medicine. It’s good for your eyes, skin, blood sugar, and it’s a cancer-fighter. A recent study from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan indicates spirulina’s tumor fighting abilities may come from its ability to boost “natural killer cells”.
“Oral administration of hot-water extract of Spirulina, cyanobacterium Spirulina platensis, leads to augmentation of NK cytotoxicity in humans. Here, we applied to syngeneic tumor-implant mice (C57BL/6 versus B16 melanoma) Spirulina to elucidate the mechanism of raising antitumor NK activation…Spirulina and BCG-cell wall skeleton synergistically augmented IFN-gamma production and antitumor potential in the B16D8 versus C57BL/6 system. We infer from these results that NK activation by Spirulina has some advantage in combinational use with BCG-cell wall skeleton for developing adjuvant-based antitumor immunotherapy.”
Stevia has lately been experiencing a rapid growth in popularity as a sugar substitute, and for good reason. In its raw and unprocessed state, stevia leaves provide completely natural sweetness, without adding calories or raising blood sugar levels at all. However, many of the stevia brands found on the shelves are not pure stevia.
Stevia rebaudiana is native to South America, and is especially prolific in Brazil and Paraguay. It is part of the Asteraceae family, which also includes daisies and ragweed. The leaves from this bush have been used in these countries for hundreds of years for their sweetening properties, and also for medicinal purposes including lowering blood sugar and blood pressure, relieving digestive distress and treating burns and colic.
Stevia leaves are approximately 30 to 40 times sweeter than sugar, and do not pose any of the health risks that sugar carries with it. Natural stevia extract is about 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. However, this is not to be confused with rebaudioside A, which is the processed stevia extract approved by the FDA for use in commercial stevia products.
The optimal way to ensure that your stevia is the real thing is to grow it yourself. All you need is a small window box, or if you prefer, a small patch of your garden. You can find starter plants at your local nursery, or from a quality online distributer. Transfer these to a 10-by-12 inch container, or to your garden, in rich soil, and do not let the roots of the new plants get too cold.
Make sure not to overwater, and you’ve got easy-to-care-for stevia. These plants also have inherent insect-repelling properties. Harvest leaves from mature plants, then use them fresh or dried, and crush by hand or in a spice grinder, if you wish. Use your stevia in any food or beverage that you want to add natural, delicious sweetness to.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By Kirstie Iona McIntosh
True, we are surrounded by junk foods, packed with sugar, fat and salt and generally processed to the extreme — but which ones are the real worst foods to eat, the foods that you really should avoid?
Now we are not saying that these types of foods should never pass your lips again, they're are certainly not in the toxic foods category, it's just a heads up on the fact that they shouldn't feature too heavily in your diet if you want to maintain healthy nutrition and maybe lose a few pounds.
Worst food 1: Fried desserts
Fried desserts feature high up on the list of worst foods to eat as essentially you are dipping something in batter that is already high in sugar and fat, and then deep frying it. And don't be fooled by pineapple and banana fritters either; they are no better because they are fruit. The layer of batter and the fact they are swimming in sugary syrup make them one of the worst foods too. (Check out some healthy dessert options.)
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 by Team · 0
BY MICHAEL T. MURRAY
Many fruits and vegetables have powerful healing properties for specific illnesses, and for boosting immune function in general. However, supplementing raw fruit and vegetable juices with fresh herbs and spices can provide additional health benefits.
Here are four of the many super-healing herbs and spices that will boost the healing power of the raw vegetable juices you make at home.
Garlic has many health-promoting properties, including antibiotic, immune-enhancing, anticancer, cholesterol-lowering, blood-pressure-reducing, and detoxification-enhancement activities. Fresh garlic is much more potent than cooked, dried, or prepared garlic, and can be easily included in fresh juices.
The use of olive oil and olive leaves has been renowned for nutrition and health benefits for thousands of years. Olive leaf extract was traditionally used throughout the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions to treat wounds and infections. Olive leaf extract is one of the best ways to destroy dangerous pathogenic microbes and improve our microorganism count. This has been shown to be extremely effective in preventing colds and flus and improving immune health.
There are over 30 distinct polyphenols in freshly picked olive fruit and leaves that synergize when used in combination. The unique polyphenols oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, caffeic acid and verbascoside are considered to be the most responsible for giving olive oil and olive leaf extract their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
These antioxidants are what also provide the distinctive tangy, pungent, almost bitter flavor that one experiences with high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. Olive leaf has 400 percent more antioxidants than vitamin C and double the antioxidants found in green tea.
Olive leaf extract and your immune system:
Olive leaf extract is a strong antiviral, because it interferes with the ability to produce amino acids that are essential for viral replication. It also prevents viral shedding, budding or assembly at the cell membrane. This keeps the virus from penetrating the outer surface and mutating the DNA of the cell. Olive leaf extract also has the ability to directly penetrate a virally infected cell and stop the viral replication process.
In vitro studies have found that olive leaf extract is effective against over 50 common pathogenic organisms including viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa. This list includes herpes, influenza, polio, salmonella, candida and coxsackie A21. The famed biochemist Arnold Takemoto said, "I have yet to discover another herbal substance that accomplishes antimicrobially what this substance achieves."
Bottles of Tylenol sold in the U.S. will soon bear red warnings alerting users to the potentially fatal risks of taking too much of the popular pain reliever. The unusual step, disclosed by the company that makes Tylenol, comes amid a growing number of lawsuits and pressure from the federal government that could have widespread ramifications for a medicine taken by millions of people every day.
Johnson & Johnson says the warning will appear on the cap of each new bottle of Extra Strength Tylenol sold in the U.S. in October and on most other Tylenol bottles in coming months. The warning will make it explicitly clear that the over-the-counter drug contains acetaminophen, a pain-relieving ingredient that's the nation's leading cause of sudden liver failure. The new cap is designed to grab the attention of people who don't read warnings that already appear in the fine print on the product's label, according to company executives.
"We're always looking for ways to better communicate information to patients and consumers," says Dr. Edwin Kuffner, vice president of McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the Johnson & Johnson unit that makes Tylenol.
Overdoses from acetaminophen send 55,000 to 80,000 people to the emergency room in the U.S. each year and kill at least 500, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. Acetaminophen can be found in more than 600 common over-the-counter products used by nearly one in four American adults every week, including household brands like Nyquil cold formula, Excedrin pain tablets and Sudafed sinus pills.
Tylenol is the first of these products to include such a warning label on the bottle cap. McNeil says the warning is a result of research into the misuse of Tylenol by consumers. The new cap message will read: "CONTAINS ACETAMINOPHEN" and "ALWAYS READ THE LABEL."
Monday, December 9, 2013
With evidence growing that meditation can have beneficial health effects, scientists have sought to understand how these practices physically affect the body.
A new study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of mindfulness meditation.
The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.
"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice," says study author Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs," says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain (IIBB-CSIC-IDIBAPS), where the molecular analyses were conducted.
The study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.
Mindfulness-based trainings have shown beneficial effects on inflammatory disorders in prior clinical studies and are endorsed by the American Heart Association as a preventative intervention. The new results provide a possible biological mechanism for therapeutic effects.
Monday, December 9, 2013 by Team · 0
It is a fact that, legal or illegal, marijuana will always be around. Those that grow, sell and buy it will always find a way to, well, grow, sell and buy it, no matter how the government feels about the issue. The question is, do the individual states want in on this lucrative industry and the immense economic benefits it can bring for their citizens, or do they want to continue to flounder on the wrong side of history?
According to the latest statistics, cannabis continues to be the nation's most valuable cash crop, even though it is still mindlessly regarded as illegal for recreational use by 48 states and the federal government. A recent "infographic" published by the Floating Sheep blog illustrates how the marijuana industry, both in its legal and underground form, is worth some $120 billion annually or more, a hefty sum that outpaces the entire value of U.S. corn and wheat crops combined.
Obviously, the vast majority of this $120 billion still constitutes black market transactions, which contribute virtually nothing to local economies besides perhaps an increased presence of street gangs and more revenues for local prison systems. As far as legitimate benefits are concerned, however, states that still cling to the outmoded ideals of prohibition are not only losing out on the benefits of marijuana but also stifling their citizens from prospering financially.
"Keeping marijuana illegal is possibly keeping billions of dollars out of the economies in the most rural parts of the United States, preventing these regions from banking on America's 'biggest' cash crop," writes Chris Miles for PolicyMic.com.
The Floating Sheep infographic basically uses varying shades of yellow and green in a "heat" map format to illustrate the price of street cannabis in locales all across the country. Based on these values, the blog came up with an estimate of what the entire national market for marijuana is worth, based on the limited data that is available for this mostly underground industry.
By Colin Todhunter
Our food in their hands: Whose interests does the European Food Safety Authority serve?
According to the website of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), it is the keystone of European Union (EU) risk assessment regarding food and feed safety. The website also states that the EFSA provides independent scientific advice and clear communication on existing and emerging risks and that it is an independent European agency funded by the EU budget. The authority operates separately from the European Commission, European Parliament and EU Member States.
Nice sounding words, but over half of the 209 scientists sitting on the agency’s various panels have direct or indirect ties with the industries they are meant to regulate. Indeed, according to a recent independent screening performed by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and freelance journalist Stéphane Horel, almost 60% of experts sitting on EFSA panels have direct or indirect links with industries regulated by the agency.
If any treat is synonymous with the holiday season it’s the good old candy cane. And while these sweet snacks come in a plethora of flavors, this time of year the peppermint variety reigns supreme. Aside from being a favorite goody among young and old alike, this minty fresh flavor provides more than just a seasonal snack.
Peppermint is actually a hybrid cross between watermint and spearmint. This powerful herb has been held in high esteem for centuries due to its healing effects and aromatic properties.
The herb is an excellent source of manganese, vitamins C, A and B2, folate, iron, calcium and potassium just to name a few of the nutrients these small but mighty leaves bring to the table. The high concentrations of carotenoids also link the herb very closely with colorectal cancer protection.
Throughout history peppermint has been used to treat various digestive ailments, soothing everything from bloating and gas to constipation and diarrhea. Today, many turn to the herbal extract for relief from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms.
Recent studies have found that peppermint oil capsules were effective in treating 50 percent of IBS symptoms in those who tried them. Researchers believe it is the menthol concentration found in peppermint that relaxes the smooth muscle lining of the digestive system. Once the tension is relieved, there is less likelihood of the spasm and contractions that lead to stomach upset.
And menthol does more than quell stomach woes. You’ll find menthol in several products you use every day including mouthwash, toothpaste, chewing gum and lozenges. It stimulates the nerves that sense cold and is responsible for stimulating that rush of coolness which can temporarily aid in pain relief and can quickly calm a nagging cough or sore muscle.
From the looks of an average produce section in a typical American supermarket, it might seem like modern society has access to basically every major type of fruit, vegetable and herb one could want. But a survey conducted by the U.S. National Seed Storage Laboratory back in 1983 found that the diversity of our food supply has been progressively shrinking since 1903 when a previous seed stock inventory was taken, with fewer than one-twelfth the number of unique crop varieties available today compared to 100 years ago.
Known today as the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (NCGRP), the laboratory collected seed data on 10 common produce items: beets, cabbages, sweet corn, lettuces, muskmelons, peas, radishes, squashes, tomatoes and cucumbers. NCGRP compared the availability of seeds for each of these items in 1903 to their availability in 1983, which was still long before the time genetically modified organisms (GMOs) hit the scene.
Based on the data, seed stocks have shrunk dramatically over the course of the past century, with many heirloom varieties of produce disappearing from the commercial seed supply. According to National Geographic, which recently put out an "infographic" illustrating this decline in seed diversity, many heirloom varieties of common fruits and vegetables that were cultivated by generations before us have gone completely extinct.
"As we've come to depend on a handful of commercial varieties of fruits and vegetables, thousands of heirloom varieties have disappeared," explains National Geographic. "It's hard to know exactly how many have been lost over the past century."
Cabbage, for instance, used to have some 544 known varieties available on the commercial market back in 1903. At the time when the survey was conducted in 1983, there were only 28 varieties remaining, with likely even fewer remaining today. The same goes for lettuces, which had about 497 varieties back in 1903. Today, there are only 36 commercially available varieties of lettuce on the market.