Mind Over Body: Can Meditation Help Cure Cancer?

Cancer is no stranger to the list of common health concerns present in today’s society.  With 1 in 3 people in the UK alone developing some form of cancer during their lifetime, it has become a challenge that most of us may have to face. However, how we choose to treat this disease is changing for many around the globe, as the rise in alternative therapies shed new hope for a natural approach to curing the dreaded C.

There are more than 200 types of cancer in the world and many different treatments for each. The most common medical therapies are Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy and Targeted Therapies. Although conventional methods have proved to be relatively successful, they do come at a price. Symptoms such as fatigue, hair loss and breathlessness are just some of the unpleasant manifestations that follow after treatment.

In recent years, alternative therapies such as yoga and meditation have taken off. As more positive research unfolds, so does ones openness to embrace another way of healing the body: through the mind itself.

 

From Where Does Meditation Derive and How Can its Benefits Help Us Today?

buddha health quote

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This ancient practice was first formed thousands of years ago in the Far East. There is recorded evidence to suggest that meditation dates back as far as 500 B.C, where Indian artifacts known as “Tantras” speak of such meditative practices. It is speculated by researchers that the first discovery of an “altered state of conciseness” was made by primitive hunter-gathers whilst staring into the flames of their fires.

Across the Asian continent Gautama the monk, as the Buddha, made his mark as the meditative icon we still see today.  His teachings spread through the East. As neighboring countries caught wind of the spiritual practice, they adopted their own forms of mediation by practicing it in different ways.

Thousands of years passed until meditation finally made headway into Western society around the 20th century. In the 1960’s and 1970’s researchers began to look into the various effects of the practice. It quickly became apparent that there was far more to gain from meditation than just a sense of spirituality. Studies show that the physical and mental effects of mediation can be extremely beneficial.

A five year study conducted by Harvard scientists revealed that meditation affects DNA and brain activity. According to John Denninger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School who was leading the study,

There is a true biological effect. The kinds of things that happen when you meditate do have effects throughout the body, not just in the brain.

His research concluded that these mind and body techniques could have such power to switch on and off genes linked to stress and immune function.

 

But What is the Link to Cancer?

Some believe that one’s mental process or state of mind could be a contributing factor or even the cause of the disease itself. By applying alternative practices such as meditation, in theory, the mind could be cured along with the cancer.

Stories are popping up all over the web of real life testimonials from individuals claiming they cured their cancer through meditative practices. There are websites dedicated to such theories with an abundance of articles discussing the subject. One reader of the website AnmolMehta.com wrote in with her story, saying:

I reduced my stress level by at least 80% naturally.  I listened and stopped talking – becoming aware of surroundings. I knew that my organs had a voice, and I was to listen. I started to go to my room to meditate every day, and recharging my body.

Websites such as Cancerreaserch.org are jumping on the bandwagon and embracing alternative therapies too. Their website has a whole section dedicated to the subject including research conducted in many different countries on meditative benefits. Most of the recent research has been based around mindfulness mediation that can help reduce anxiety, tiredness, stress, chronic pain and sleep problems as well as lower blood pressure.

A controlled study published in 2000 looked at 90 cancer patients who did mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) meditation for 7 weeks. They found that people who meditated had 31% lower stress symptoms and 67% less mood disturbance than people who did not meditate.

 

The Results

Alternative therapies have been proven over thousands of years to reduce anxiety and stress by calming the body, and helping the individual to feel more relaxed. As of yet there is no scientific research to prove that meditation alone cures cancer but there is no doubt that the practise can significantly improve one’s sense of well being during such a traumatic time.

Although the practice derives from a religious background, you do not need to be religious to learn meditation. Whether you are seeking spirituality, clarity, or simply relaxation, with a little practice, anyone can learn and benefit from it.

There is no denying that cancer sufferers through the world are feeling the incredible benefits that the practise has to offer. If at the very least it can help patients feel more positive and optimistic, than that in itself is something to be celebrated.

 

 

References:

http://www.breakthenorms.com/blog/the-power-of-meditation-how-it-cured-my-fathers-cancer/

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/keyfacts/Allcancerscombined/

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/world/incidence

http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Aboutcancer/AboutcancerHome.aspx

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/about-cancer/treatment/complementary-alternative/therapies/meditation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation

http://www.project-meditation.org/wim/history_of_meditation.html

http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=L4fGAgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=meditation+and+science&ots=ff63OAGaj8&sig=6cqFiEuENInovByouvmUveop–Y#v=onepage&q=meditation%20and%20science&f=false

http://meditation-research.org.uk/

http://www.rigpa.org/en/teachings/extracts-of-articles-and-publications/35-scientific-research-on-meditation.html

http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/causes/cancer-patients

http://projectreporter.nih.gov/project_info_details.cfm?aid=8541701&icde=18114901

http://projectreporter.nih.gov/project_info_description.cfm?aid=8541701&icde=18114901

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/stress

http://www.zendoctor.com/Home/frameindex.html

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/treatment/types-of-treatment

http://anmolmehta.com/blog/2011/03/10/meditation-natural-treatment-for-cancer/

My Beautiful Western Face: The Rise in De-racialisation Surgery

 

The pressure to look beautiful has become increasingly present in today’s society. With TV shows, movies and magazines flaunting some of the best looking people in the world, it’s no wonder most of us feel like we don’t hit the mark.

The longing to appear more attractive has always existed for men and women alike, but the very definition of what is attractive and what is beautiful has changed drastically over the years. The Victorians depicted the epitome of beauty in their paintings as curvaceous, busty women, whilst long ago the Japanese celebrated the elegance and perfection of the Geisha. However, an increasing number of the population are feeling the burden of a new, modern-day beauty ideal: having a Western look. In a desperate attempt to fit into this image, some are choosing to go under the knife to achieve this new ‘look’.

This growing trend is already the norm in places like Seoul, South Korea, where one in five women have had some type of  surgery to help them look more Western.  In fact, there are now a multitude of procedures one can undergo with the aim to “westernise” non-Caucasian features. It has become so popular that these procedures now have a name: de-racialisation surgery.

Plastic surgery is sweeping across Asian countries in particular. With over 4,000 clinics across the country, South Korea takes the prize for plastic surgery capital of the world. Here the most popular cosmetic surgery is double eyelid surgery; making the eyes appear bigger and rounder. In close second is refining the nose using rhinoplasty to make the tip of the nose more prominent. Following that, jaw bone surgery to make the jaw appear softer.

An Australian SBS Documentary called ‘Change My Race’ highlighted some of these extreme procedures such as facial contouring, skin whitening, calf reduction and double eyelid surgery. In the documentary, Chinese-Australian presenter Anna Choy explores the hidden truth behind our obsession with looking Western and reveals her own inner battles with accepting her Chinese origins.

But why are so many young women in particular ashamed of their inherited ethnic features? Is it really worth erasing your identity to fit into a predominantly white society?

 

The Power of White

As much as we all think this is a new phenomenon, the truth is that this racial divide has been around for hundreds of years, and still some reminiscence remains. We may have moved on from slave labour and the Nazi revolution, but in turn we have moved into a new era filled with incredible technology and far reaching media influence. There is power in the colour white, and with power comes beauty and respect.

Magazines are becoming culprits in ‘lightening’ their models and even adverts are being slated for not casting a variety of races other than Caucasian. Even such music legends as Beyonce and Michael Jackson have been accused of “Westernising” themselves. Adorned with a blonde wig and using clever studio lighting, in a recent picture to promote her new album Beyonce looked much lighter than her natural skin tone.

Let’s not forget Michael Jackson’s radical transformation over the years. Could his rise to stardom have affected the way he viewed himself? His bodily changes were shrouded in secrecy and the reasons as to how and why his skin turned white became a controversial subject for years.

These celebrities may have outraged many by “betraying” their Ethnic heritage, but sadly, for a rising number of young people, this depiction of a “white, western global beauty ideal” has been accepted as a valid reason to go under the knife.

 

Outnumbered and Out-casted

Australia is an ever-growing multicultural society and houses a large number of citizens of many ethnic origins. According to Arthur Kemp in The Immigration Invasion,

In mid-2006 there were 4,956,863 residents who were born outside Australia, representing 24% of the total population. The Australian-resident population consists of people who were born in these countries:

China (Excluding Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau), 279,447; Vietnam, 180,352; India, 153,579; Philippines, 135,619; Malaysia, 103,947; Lebanon, 86,599; Sri Lanka, 70,908; Indonesia, 67,952; Fiji, 58,815; Pakistan, 19,768; and Bangladesh, 13,751.

Although these people make up a good quarter of the population they remain a minority for now. Discrimination against colour and race is still very much prominent in Western society. Children go to school with their Australian peers and are teased for looking different, despite being born and raised there.

But it’s not just their peers who make them feel like they do not fit in. In the SBS documentary they follow a 16 year old girl called Kathy. Kathy was born and raised in Australia by her Vietnamese parents. She is a sweet girl who seems carefree and content with the way she looks. However her parents feel adamant that if she were to look more Western she would have better success in her life and future career.

Her parents felt so strongly that they pressured Kathy into having cosmetic surgery to change her face. To please her parents she had fillers injected in her nose, eyelid surgery and a chin reduction procedure. Whilst her parents gushed over her new look, Kathy seemed emotionless.

At the young age of 16, having just undergone drastic surgery that could change her life forever, her only apparent feeling seemed that of relief. Maybe she hoped that the surgery would make her parents happy and get them off her back as any teenager would feel. But, is such an extreme measure worth it? I can only wonder how this girl might feel in 20 years time.

 

The Asian Culture

In Korean culture women are judged more on their looks than any other women in the world. As stated on seoultouchup.com,

Generally in Asia, good looks and having a good face are like stepping stones- for they do open up doors to many of life’s advantages.

Clearly this is the foundation for the reason that has lead to a high rate of cosmetic surgery in Asia. Its rise in popularity has made plastic surgery all the more affordable and accessible for the average person, and with the opportunity there to become more beautiful and successful, more and more young people are choosing the ‘easy’ path of surgery.

What was once seen as an extreme step in a bid for perfection is now seen as an everyday normality in countries like Korea.  You could almost go as far as to say it is expected of women in such a society. If they do not conform to this ideal, they may be out-casted from what was once a network of friends. Non-conformity could even bring shame to their family.

The question still remains: what is perfection and beauty in their eyes? Are they just aspiring to a model of beauty that is completely unrealistic?

 

There’s Still Hope for the Future

We can only hope that in the coming years the world will open up and accept all races for what they are. After all, diversity is real beauty. I believe that having heritage is part of one’s identity. Your birth origin and ethnic background is an important part of who you are. All cultures should be celebrated and each of us should be proud of what is in our blood, not reject or suppress it.

If the victims of de-racialisation surgery keep growing we are at risk of losing not only our personal identities, but the world’s. The decisions, views, values and choices that we make today will shape the future of our offspring. Let’s strive to make the right ones.

 

Sources:

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/12/03/cosmetic-surgery-change-race-rise

http://www.seoultouchup.com/plastic-surgery-in-korea/

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/04/world/asia/in-south-korea-plastic-surgery-comes-out-of-the-closet.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2087388/Beyonc-white-skin-row-Controversial-photo-shows-singer-looking-shades-lighter-usual-tone.html

The Immigration Invasion

 

Testosterone Therapy: Is It Worth The Risk?

We have all seen the ads. The commercials that come on in between your favorite Breaking Bad episodes, your adrenaline rushing and bravado showing. How about during your online browsing sessions, where your side banners tell you that you are not man enough but there is hope through testosterone treatments. I know for certain that when you step foot into your gym at least a couple of TVs are advertising “low testosterone” remedies. It has even been advertised as a catalyst for treating erectile dysfunction. With all this hype, you better believe that the number of testosterone treatments and participants have been increasing over the years.

Related Article: Quit Cumming, Save Mankind

But why do men experience a loss of testosterone? Why does a man seek therapy to boost testosterone? According to WebMD:

As a man ages, the amount of testosterone in his body gradually declines. This natural decline starts after age 30 and continues throughout life

Of course it makes sense then that a man aged 40 and up would look for a means of staying young by increasing testosterone, even if it may be detrimental to his health in other ways. A study on testosterone therapy focusing precisely on those health risks has been creating quite the buzz in the news recently. The study found that with testosterone treatments you are also increasing your risk of a heart attack. With that in mind, different testosterone treatments have been getting backlash from both media and activists alike, as it has been disputed whether the risks outweigh the supposed benefits of the treatments. 

Androgel is one such product currently dealing with lawsuits from 4 plaintiffs who claim their cardiovascular injuries came from the use of the gel product. The product was originally approved by the FDA to be used by those experiencing hypogonadism, where the patient’s body doesn’t produce enough testosterone to continue masculine functions such as muscle growth or sperm production. Now, however, Androgel is more commercially advertised as a means to boosting performance and testosterone levels in middle aged (40+) and older men (65+). It does have its benefits, but unfortunately Androgel does not yet acknowledge the risk of cardiovascular health, nor does it label it in its safety information.

Due to the curiosity and miracles that testosterone therapies are proclaiming, groups like the Endocrine Society are rallying their cry to label testosterone therapies and treatments with proper warnings. The Endocrine Society is also calling for a larger scale study in order to properly examine how risky testosterone therapies can be. Even the FDA is currently investigating the link between increased heart risk and testosterone therapy. Like other miracle drug claims, one would do well to practice caution and research before using anything that claims to improve your health in any way. 

Related Article: Power Posing Can Change Your World

I can't even achieve this at the age of 26! Makes me sad... http://laweekly.blogs.com/.a/6a00d83451afa369e20134877262f7970c-popup

I can’t even achieve THIS at the age of 26! Makes me sad…
http://laweekly.blogs.com/.a/6a00d83451afa369e20134877262f7970c-popup

What can a man do then? Is there no solution? Of course the obvious answer is to consult your doctor, because although some testosterone therapies are posing a threat to one’s health, others may be causing more promise than problems. Either that, or force yourself to go to the gym, not to necessarily get your testosterone back, but rather your confidence and energy! Or disregard everything and jump on the Cenegenics train and look like Dr. Life (on the right) in your 70s… Cheers to immortality!

 

Research:

PLOS One: Increased Risk of Non-Fatal Myocardial Infraction Following Testosterone Therapy Prescription in Men

WebMD: Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Endocrine Society Statement on Testosterone

Endocrine Society Calls for Large Scale Studies to Evaluate Testosterone Therapy Risks

Mayo Clinic – Male Hypogonadism

 AndroGel

FDA evaluating risks associated with FDA-approved testosterone products

 

Wondergressive: Quit Cumming, Save Mankind: The Detrimental Effects of Porn

Wondergressive: Power Posing Can Change Your World

Your First Real Heartbreak, Can it be Fatal?

heartbreak heart break

Heartbreak: my ache-y, brake-y, heart…
mobavatar.com

Heartbreak, happens, all the time. We have all been there before. We have all bled our hearts out, hurt until we couldn’t bear it anymore, and cried ourselves to sleep over lost love. Some of us even restort to alcohal, using it to battle against the emotional surge that accompanies heartbreak. As we binge we try to forget that person that hurt us…

No matter how bad your heart is broken, the world doesn’t stop for your grief” – Faraaz Kazi.

What about the heartbreak we experience after the loss of a loved one? Is it possible to get so stressed and emotionally disheveled that our lives are at risk?

New research has surfaced showing that the grief of losing a loved one doubles heart attack risks within 30 days of the loved one’s passing. Contrary to popular belief, our physical health is in fact at risk right after heartbreak or loss.

Dr. Sunil Shah, co-author of study, says

We think it is important that doctors, friends and family are aware of this increase risk of heart attacks and strokes so they can ensure care and support is as good as possible at a time of increased vulnerability before and after loss of a loved one.

The study concerns mostly individuals aged 60 to 89, but what if there is some underlying increase in health problems after each heartbreak starting from a young age? What if those three long term relationships that ended in heartbreak will lead to a string of health problems in the future? More importantly, what about everyone else going through relationship problems and experiencing anxiety over a heartbreak?

“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation” – Kahlil Gibran.

Of course, there is a way to help your situation even before heartbreak occurs.

Related ArticleNo Heart? No Pulse? No Problem!

Researchers at the University of Rochester found that having a romantic movie date night could be more helpful then attending couples therapy! Are you dating someone who is not emotionally open to you? Watch the funny comedy Date Night, have some laughs, and talk about the movie afterwords. Or watch something more serious like Gone With The Wind, where one of you is bound to cry and pour out all of your emotions.  This could potentially be the key to avoiding future heartbreak.

The idea is that the time spent together and the discussions that ensue after watching a movie about a relationship will likely lead to healing and mending in your own relationship. If not, hopefully it leads to some romantic time together. (Giggity)

A movie is a nonthreatening way to get the conversation started,

says Ronald D. Rogge, associate professor of psychology at the University of Rochester.

It’s really exciting because it makes it so much easier to reach out to couples and help them strengthen their relationships on a wide scale.

The University of Rochester website provides interactive tools for couples as well as surveys and studies to participate in to help with their heartbreak woes!

If all else fails maybe it is time to move on….

“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option” – Mark Twain.  

Cheers to heartbreak!

 

 

Research:

JAMA Network: Increased Risk of Acute Cardiovascular Events After Partner Bereavement

University of Rochester

Good Reads: Kahlil Gibran

Good Reads: Faraaz Kazi

Good Reads: Mark Twain

University of Rochester: Divorce Rate Cut in Half for Couples Who Discussed Relationship Movies

University of Rochester: Couples Research

IMDB: Gone with the Wind (1939)

IMDB: Date Night

University of Rochester Faculty: Ronald D. Rogge

University of London: Dr. Sunil Shah

Youtube: Giggity Giggity, Giggity Goo

 

Wondergressive: No Heart? No Pulse? No Problem!

Electronic Cigarette Controversy: Safe to Inhale?

The electronic cigarette. A godsend for some, a tragedy for others. Most recently invented by Hon Lik in 2003, (supposedly invented first in 1963 but it was lost to the world since the idea never took flight) the electronic cigarette has risen in both popularity and use over the years as a great alternative for daily smokers.

The electronic cigarette is a battery operated product that creates a water vapor resulting from heating nicotine, bypassing the harmful smoke we get from regular cigarettes.  However, what do we actually know about electronic cigarettes? Especially with all of the recent activity on banning the use of electronic cigarettes by minors, it makes one wonder: what is it about electronic cigarettes that creates such a controversy?

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One side claims they are a healthy alternative to smoking and easing out of regular cigarette smoking. The other side claims that electronic cigarettes are associated with worse poisons and an impressive list of harmful chemicals. But what are the arguments and do they make sense?

The most important thing to know about the electronic cigarette is that it is not yet regulated by the FDA. It is a product that is in its trial period per-say, and not enough concrete studies have been conducted for the FDA to regulate the electronic cigarette. With this in mind, there are constant studies being conducted for and against the use of the electronic cigarette. Some with less of a bias than the others of course, but most point to clear findings supporting or bashing electronic cigarettes. Let us explore the different sides of the controversy.

 

The Good

For all of you that like to inhale your liquor quicker instead of enjoying it, zing! http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2014/02/electronic_cigarettes_e-cigare.html

For all of you that like to inhale your liquor quicker instead of enjoying it, zing!
http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2014/02/electronic_cigarettes_e-cigare.html

Supporters rejoice, for there are many, many, many different types of flavored vapors for the electronic cigarette, which is already a huge step up from the same old cigarette smoke smell. You can now inhale anything from a banana cream pie vapor to a Jack Daniels and coke vapor. What’s more, the are numerous varieties of styles and trends electronic cigarettes take on! I have seen electronic cigarettes that look like their basic predecessor, while others have very unique looks. There is even an electronic cigarette that looks identical to a USB drive. Imagine being that trend setter, having access to a whole new world of trendy e-cigs, and using a neon glowing electronic cigarette. Cool.

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From the scientific perspective, numerous studies shed a positive light on the electronic cigarette. A study found that the amount of nicotine inhaled through a electronic cigarette is lower compared with conventional cigarette smoking. With nicotine addiction in mind, this is a breakthrough and hopefully leads to less abuse of cigarettes. On that note, a study conducted in New Zealand found that the electronic cigarette can help smokers quit regular cigarette habits while another found that secondhand exposure to the vapor from electronic cigarettes exposes people to nicotine and not any harmful tobacco specific combustion products. Another leg up on the competition, cigarettes eat your heart out. 

 

The Bad 

While most studies focus on comparisons between tobacco smoke and vapor smoke, not many focus on the electronic cigarette itself. Glamour aside, you are still inhaling nicotine, you are still mimicking the habit of smoking a real cigarette, and you are still inhaling and exhaling a hot vapor which could itself be harmful. Apart from the idea that the electronic cigarette can help ease people off regular cigarettes, there are still a lot of arguments against their use.

Related ArticleCannabis Cures Cancer and More: A Thorough History and Review of the Evidence

At the University of California Riverside researchers found that cartridges leak at times exposing user to dangerously high levels of nicotine. A pre-existing nicotine addiction could thrive with such a hazard present. Another study found that there is an increase in airway resistance when using an electronic cigarette, possibly causing damage to the lungs in the future. Heart risk is also being explored as far as the nicotine levels go, with a study linking the increase in heart disease to the level of exposure to nicotine from electronic cigarettes. All of this doesn’t even take into account the long term harm caused by a hot vapor containing  various metals, propylene glycol, and glycerin.

I would love to say one side is clearly in the right, but there is unfortunately still a great deal of inconclusive data with regards to electronic cigarettes and the health risks they may pose.

 

My Ugly

There is a lot of information on the inter-web to sort through these days, mostly because of our constant yearn for knowledge, but when taking into consideration all the studies that were conducted on the electronic cigarette, it would be best to just avoid the use of electronic cigarettes all together. It is an unregulated product, and like most products that have yet to yield concrete long term side effects, it should be approached with caution. Not to mention a lot of the studies that have found results are all based on short term effects, there is yet unknown data to be observed and analysed before we can claim the electronic cigarette to be completely safe for daily use.

Related Article: Smoking Pot Without Getting High: But Why?

However, if you are intrigued but on the fence about switching over to the electronic cigarette, consider the financial aspect. If you currently smoke a pack of cigarettes each day, you could be paying roughly 600$ a year vs. the over 1000$ a year it costs for you to smoke regular cigarettes. Plus, electronic cigarettes are styling and trendy! Just look at those cool cats pictured above!

Cheers!

 

Research:

FDA: Electronic Cigarettes

Mayor Bloomberg signs indoor e-cigarette ban

Top 9 ABC: Despite Opposition, House Approves E-Cigarette Ban

Wikipedia: Electronic Cigarette

ABC News: 5 Facts about E-Cigarettes

Oxford Journals: Nicotine Levels in Electronic Cigarettes

Oxford Journals: Secondhand Exposure to Vapors from Electronic Cigarettes

The Lancet: Electronic Cigarettes for Smoking Cessation: A Randomized Controlled Trial

My Freedom Smokes: MFS Custom Liquids

The different Types of E-Cigarettes

Aliexpress: USB e-cigarette

UCR Newsroom: Electronic Cigarettes are Unsafe and Pose Health Risks

Medical News Today: Electronic Cigarettes Can Harm the Lungs

NYU to e-cigarette users: Cigarettes are Healthier

News Channel 5: E-cigarettes pose serious health risks, new study links usage and heart disease

Public Health: Peering through the mist

 

IMDB: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 

 

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Wondergressive: Cannabis Cures Cancer and More: A Thorough History and Review of the Evidence

Wondergressive: Smoking: A Pre-Existing Condition Under ObamaCare

Wondergressive: Smoking Pot Without Getting High: But Why?

Sloth Hair Fungus is an Incredibly Potent and Effective Medicine

sloth smile

Three-toed sloths are giving us a reason to smile. http://www.factzoo.com/

Sloths have quickly become the center of a great deal of excitement in the medical world. Researchers from Panama and the United States have discovered that multiple species of fungi growing on sloth hair may be the answer to a large list of medical maladies. The discovery is examined in a recent peer reviewed study published on January 15th.

In the study, researchers examined a total of 84 fungal samples found on the coarse outer hair of nine live three-toed sloths. The fungus filled sloths are native to the Soberanía National Park, in the Republic of Panama.  A large number of these fungal samples were found to be beneficial in a number of different ways. Anti-cancer, anti-parasitic, and anti-bacterial properties were all exhibited by at least one species of fungus found on the three-toed sloths. More specifically, fungus found growing on sloth hair proved to exhibit bioactivity against

Trypanosoma cruzi, the causal agent of Chagas disease; Plasmodium falciparum, the causal agent of malaria; the human breast cancer cell line MCF-7; and a range of Gram-negative and Gram-positive human pathogenic bacteria.

sloth hair malaria cdc

The global distribution of malaria.

This is great news since Chagas disease is listed by the CDC as one of the top five most neglected parasitic infections in the US based on its severity, the number of people infected, and the ability to prevent and treat it. This is largely due to a lack of awareness regarding the disease. Over 8 million people in Mexico, Central America, and South America have Chagas disease. It has made its way to the United States with nearly 300,000 US citizens currently diagnosed with the illness. Sloths to the rescue.

Related Article: Fungi Fun: Mushrooms and How to Harness their Power

As for malaria and cancer, the need to find an expedient cure or effective preventative mechanism is clear. Over 3 billion people live in a malaria-risk zone. 655,000 people (86% were children) died in 2010 of malaria. Everyone is at risk for cancer. 8.2 million people died from cancer in 2012. There’s no need to elaborate on the need to find a cure for these illnesses.

Not surprisingly, this is the first time fungal samples found on sloth hair have been tested and reported to be at least minimally effective in treating human disease. Who would have thought that something so slow and easy to catch would prove to be so extremely beneficial to us?

The researchers originally chose the three-toed sloth as a viable candidate for harboring natural medicinal substances due to the vast amount of fungus and algae that grows on the sloths’ hair. Since the discovery of penicillin more than 80 years ago, fungi began and continue to be widely used for their medicinal benefits. This applies to both raw fungus, and fungus as a base for chemical derivatives used in various types of medicine around the world.

Related Article: Amazon Rainforest Holds Many Surprises

Unfortunately, the success rate of finding a fungus that exhibits bioactivity against human sources of diseases has dramatically slowed. This led some scientists to believe that we had already discovered the easy to find bioactive fungi. As the authors state in the study, many scientists believed that the slowed rate of discovery could be an indication of,

the impending exhaustion of ‘low hanging fruit’ – the easily and frequently accessed fungi such as soil microfungi – as sources of new bioactive metabolites.

Simply put, with the exhaustion of “low hanging fruit,” discovering and creating effective medicine becomes increasingly difficult. However, just because the “low hanging fruit” is exhausted doesn’t mean the whole tree has been uprooted. We have discovered less than 100,000 different fungal species out of the conservative estimate of five million species of fungus that calls Earth its home. This is why scientists are starting to get creative in the places they look for new, bioactive fungi. Cue the the three-toed sloth, and wait a few hours for it to make its grand appearance.

The researchers suggest that their results illustrate that sloth hair may be a potential source of even more bioactive fungi. They note that there are five other sloth species on the planet with fungi-filled hair ready for examination.

It takes a great deal of time and luck to find a new, effective medicinal constituent. Let’s hope father time and lady luck are on our side. As for sloths; thanks for hanging around.

sloth hair slow soon

It’s a good thing for this sloth that time is relative.

 

Sources:

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0084549

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/dm28pe.html

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00253-011-3270-y

http://www.amjbot.org/content/98/3/426

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?cmd=Search&doptcmdl=Citation&defaultField=Title%20Word&term=Hawksworth%5Bauthor%5D%20AND%20Where%20are%20all%20the%20undescribed%20fungi%3F

http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/chagas/gen_info/detailed.html

http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/resources/pdf/npi_chagas.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/npi.html

http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2013/pdfs/pr223_E.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/malaria_worldwide/impact.html

 

Believing You Get Enough Sleep Works as Well as Getting Enough Sleep

According to a recent study, getting enough sleep each night may be as easy as believing you got enough. Although the biological effects of believing in having enough sleep were not discussed in the study, the results clearly illustrate a marked improvement in cognitive functioning due solely to a placebo effect.

 

Sleeping is Believing 

The authors of the study make it clear that the placebo effect can be found working its magic in all aspects of life and health, including getting enough sleep.  This study, however, is the first that shows a clear placebo effect influencing the cognition of participants in a sleep experiment.

The overall study was split into two studies involving 164 participants. The participants were required to report their previous night’s sleep quality. Researchers then secretly and randomly assigned an additional sleep quality to each person. Each participant was told their sleep was of “above average,” or “below average,” quality. Some participants were placed into a control group instead.

Related Article: Man in Coma for 7 Years Given Sleeping Pill and Wakes Up

Those in the “above average” group were told they received more than enough sleep with 28.7% of their sleep time spent in the regenerative state of REM sleep. The “below average” group was told they did not receive enough regenerative sleep with only 16.2% of their time in REM sleep. Interestingly, the assigned sleep quality, rather than the perceived sleep quality, had a major influence on the cognitive functions of participants, even after accounting  for experimental variables and the control group.

According to the researchers,

Assigned sleep quality but not self-reported sleep quality significantly predicted participants’ scores on the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test and Controlled Oral Word Association Task. Assigned sleep quality did not predict participants’ scores on the Digit Span task, as expected, nor did it predict scores on the Symbol Digit Modalities Test, which was unexpected. The control conditions showed that the findings were not due to demand characteristics from the experimental protocol.

This study is a clear example of how incredibly powerful of an effect our mindsets have on our lives. The placebo effect is well documented in humans. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, 1 out of 3 people are greatly affected by placebo. The opposite of the placebo effect is the nocebo effect.  Instead of feeling better, the nocebo effect makes people experience negative symptoms despite no biological or psychological changes taking place within them.

Related Article: Prevent Type 2 Diabetes By What You Love to Do Most: Sleep

News that the placebo effect can be used to impact whether we get enough sleep or not is especially welcome in light of another recent study linking sleep and cancer.  According to the study, a fragmented and/or inadequate amount of sleep accelerates cancer growth.

 

When Sleeping is Cancerous 

Although the results were seen in mice, the observed effects of fragmented sleep on cancer growth were so strong as to be alarming.

enough sleep health

Sleep your way to better health! http://www.age-well.org

According to the study published in the journal Cancer Research on January 21, 2014, fragmented sleep negatively impacts the immune system, leading to alterations in the way it deal with cancerous tumors. The director of the study David Gozal, MD, chairman of pediatrics at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital explained that,

It’s not the tumor, it’s the immune system. Fragmented sleep changes how the immune system deals with cancer in ways that make the disease more aggressive.

Multiple types of tumors in mice with fragmented sleep were found to be more than twice as large as tumors in mice sleeping without interruption. Not only were the tumors larger, they were also more aggressive.

Related Article: How Sleep Aids the Body in Growth and Regeneration

It’s of the utmost importance that we get enough sleep. I know the first study might sound like a loophole to sleeping, but unless you are a 19 year old athlete, convincing ourselves we’ve had enough sleep the previous night can only work for so long. At some point we need to give our bodies and minds the sleep coma they deserve.

 

How Much Sleep is Enough Sleep?

The answer to “are we getting enough sleep” varies with age, health, genes, and a whole other assortment of differences. However, a simple answer is provided by the National Sleep Foundation.

enough sleep chart

The key to getting enough sleep is to experiment and figure out how many hours you actually need. So many of us sleep too little, or too much, without being aware of how we feel when we wake up. Keep a sleep diary. Record when you lay down to go to sleep and when you wake up. Try to vary the amounts to get a better idea of what works best for you. Record how you feel as well, including emotions, wakefulness, and mood. After a month, look back at your sleep diary and figure out the magic number that will give you just enough sleep.

Related Article: Engineering the Perfect Morning in 8 Easy Steps

enough sleep rem cycle

This picture pretty much sums up whether you will wake up grumpy or not. http://sleepdisorders.dolyan.com/

It would also be a good idea to try to time your sleep in 90 minute to 120 minute intervals. The reason for this is that sleep consists of 4 major stages that repeat every 90 -120 minutes. There is a natural rhythm to our sleep, and the key to getting enough sleep while still feeling revitalized is mastering that rhythm. Ever notice how sometimes you wake up feeling like Tyler Durden ready to seize the day, while other mornings you feel like torching existence for forcing you out of your slumber? On the bad days it’s likely you were woken up in the middle of deep sleep (stage 3), and on the good days you likely woke up after REM (stage 4) and at the beginning of stage 1.

I’ve been experimenting with sleep for over a decade. Most of the time my optimal amount of sleep is between 7 hours and 38 minutes and 7 hours and 44 minutes. Any more or any less and I’m at least a bit grumpy. My girlfriend on the other hand needs at least 9 hours to feel refreshed and ready for the day. Keep in mind that everyone is different.

Experiment with yourself, and remember to be always growing.

 

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24417326

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-01/uocm-fsa012714.php

Rapid Eye Movement Sleep: Regulation and Function

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/01/study-believing-you-ve-slept-well-even-if-you-haven-t-improves-performance/283305/

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/treatmenttypes/placebo-effect

http://priory.com/medicine/Nocebo.htm

http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/what/sleep-patterns-rem-nrem

New Devices Grant Mind Control Over Your World: The Force is With You

mind control emotiv

The Emotiv headband grants mind control of the user’s environment. http://www.singularityworld.com/

Mind control is the central focus of a TED talk presented in July of 2010 by Tan Le, founder & CEO of Emotiv Lifescience, a bioinformatics company which uses electroencephalography (EEG) to identify biomarkers for various disorders and conditions.

Tan begins the talk by discussing how communication between people takes into account far more information than what is explicitly expressed, like body movement, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Communicating with a machine on the other hand involves a single, unambiguous command.  This leads to a roadblock within the industries of robotics, computer programming, cybernetics, and more:  How can a machine communicate more like a human being if it is unable to take into account all of the information outside the literal meaning of the words we use? To get around this dilemma scientists began merging both realms of interactions so that computers could respond to all forms of communicative interactions. This in turn has led to the power of mind control being granted to us mere mortals. But how?

Related Article: Merge Biology with Electronics: First True Cybernetic Tissue Created

One of the major difficulties behind creating a computer that can take into account all of the information exchanged during a human to human interaction is the very act of detection. The algorithms required to detect all of the information being exchanged must be extremely complex. Additionally, much of the information exchanged during human interaction can be perceived in wildly different ways due to variations in culture, humor, and other societal norms.  According to Tan, this is why researchers are skipping all of the vague information and going right to the source: the brain.

According to Tan,

Our brain is made up of billions of active neurons; around 170,000 kilometers of combined axon links. When these neurons interact, the chemical reaction emits an electrical impulse which can be measured.

So, we measure the electrical impulses emitted by the brain and create a universal map, or language, of the brain’s neuronal activity. Seems pretty straightforward, but fortunately for us critically thinking apes, the brain is not that simple. Tan goes onto explain that,

The majority of our functional brain is distributed over the outer surface area of the brain, and to increase the area that’s available for mental capacity the brain’s surface is highly folded. Now this cortical folding presents a significant challenge for interpreting surface electrical impulses. Each individual’s cortex is folded differently, very much like a fingerprint. So even though a signal may come from the same functional part of the brain, by the time the structure has been folded its physical location is very different between individuals, even identical twins.

So the language of normal human interaction is too vague, and the language of the brain is too complex. What was Tan and her team to do? Tan describes the breakthrough, explaining that,

our breakthrough was to crate an algorithm that unfolds the cortex so that we can map the signal closer to its source and therefore make it capable of working across a mass population.

mind control sensor array

Before mind control devices traditional sensory arrays like this one scanned the brain. http://www.wired.com

And this is where mind control begins to enter the scene. The creation of the algorithm gave Tan the necessary code to accurately map the brain’s signals, but the hardware presented a new challenge. Live brain scans traditionally use an array of sensors attached to every square inch of a person’s head using a conductive gel.  This method is extremely uncomfortable, and very expensive. To address this issue Tan and her team created a lightweight headset which uses no conductive gel, is wireless, and only takes a few minutes to attach to the head. The best part is that the device only costs a few hundred dollars, compared to around $10,000 for traditional sensor array helmets.  Combine the new device with Tan’s complex cortical algorithm and we are left with a relatively cheap headset that can read your brainwaves in real time. The brainwave signature can be used to influence objects, granting users mind control over the object as long as it is configured to read the brainwave signal.

Related Article: Electronic Brain Implants Increase Intelligence

Tan invites a person from the audience and demonstrates the miraculous mind control abilities afforded by her mind reading headset. The device takes a neutral scan of the user’s brain, and from there it’s all Jedi mind control training.  Select the action ‘pull’ on a computer, and imagine that the object on the computer screen is moving toward you for 10 seconds. After a 10 second scan is completed, every time you imagine the object moving toward you, it does exactly that. The same applies to more mentally complex actions like disappearing, multiplying, or growing larger.  After getting to know the device, you are systematically granted greater and greater mind control powers.

Tan completes her TED talk by showing some of the other capabilities of her device. For example, she showed that it could be used to turn lights on and off or close the drapes at home without moving a muscle. It can even be used to fly a toy helicopter or make online video games more realistic by having colors in the game change relative to your ongoing emotions. This all sounds amazing, but this was in 2010. Let’s fast forward nearly four years into the future to 2014.

Related Article: Awareness and Dealing with Rejection

The man you see is playing a game called Mindflex which scans his brain's awareness. www.cnn.com

The man you see is playing a game called Mindflex which scans his brain’s awareness. http://www.cnn.com

Although mind control technology is still in its infancy incredible progress has been made since Tan’s TED talk debuted. A great example of the leaps and bounds that have been made in the industry is presented in a recent NPR article. The article describes how Johnny Liu, a manager for the San Jose-based company NeuroSky, came into the KQED studio to show off his own unique pairing of mind control devices: NeuroSky’s MindWave Mobile headset, and the Orbit brain-controlled helicopter. Using these devices in conjunction with one another, Liu reveals how his level of awareness is the greatest influence on the effectiveness and stability of the helicopter’s flight. It is for this reason that this type of technology can be used to improve our mind control, not just to influence the outside world, but also ourselves.

These type of brain games allow users to practice being more calm, aware, and focused, while actually seeing the progress they have made in real-time.  Richard Warp, designer of NeuroDisco, a program which allows users to make music with their thoughts, explains that,

You’re doing the same thing as a meditator, a Buddhist monk might do. But maybe we, in the West, need a device to do it.

These types of mind control activities can be seen as games, but the practical application is clear. Mind control devices allow us to hone our control over our own minds by receiving direct feedback on our progress in the form of how strongly we are influencing the world around us. This type of increase in awareness has the incredible potential to allow users to explore their own internal capabilities and begin excising their brain in the same direct manner that we exercise our bodies today.

Related Article: Oculus Rift and Omni Treadmill, Gaming of the Future!

mind control video games

Video games and mind control serve as a release from the struggles of living in a difficult body. http://www.wired.com

Speaking of games, let’s explore an industry that will likely be one of the most heavily influenced by this technology: video games. Video games aren’t just awesome for their fun factor. Playing video games actually alters the brain, and provides myriad physical and psychological health benefits. Most of these benefits directly relate to the use of highly concentrated awareness. Awareness can be cultivated into greater control and efficiency using biosensors and mind control technology.

Still within the realm of video games, one of the most brilliant ways this technology can be used is by giving physically disabled people the opportunity to participate in and be a part of the world at large without such extreme physical difficulty and embarrassment (unfortunate, but that’s the society we live in). 15% of the entire world population, or 1 billion people, live with disabilities. This makes disabled people the world’s largest minority.

For a large number of those billion people, video games are the only form of societal interaction available. In a game it doesn’t matter if you have no legs, are paralyzed, or are psychologically impaired. Everyone starts out on equal footing in a video game. Mind control devices allow for even greater realism and control in the only world where disabled people won’t feel alone, hopeless, and stuck in a broken body. Consider as well that some disabled people are fully paralyzed but still retain complete lucidity and control of their brain. Fort the first time in the history of our planet, these people can be freed from their bodily imprisonment by being granted a new body which they can control with their mind alone.

Related Article: Starcraft as a Model for Future Interstellar Warfare

Another technological avenue to consider is that of cybernetics, where mind control technology has been used for years. Don’t have legs? No problem, here’s some robotic legs controlled by your brain. Lost your arm in a freak accident at Grandma’s house? No big deal, here’s a new mind controlled arm.

This is all just the tip of the iceberg. The technology is extremely young and yet new mind control gadgets are being released every day. The combinations are limitless as well. While mind control sounds exciting and fun, for fully paralyzed people that are basically brains in a useless body, a whole new life can be granted to them. I’m sure one day they will be able to control a fully mobile robot via mind control with all of their senses returned to them, even touch. The more we learn about our own minds, the more limitless our horizon’s become.

Who knows, maybe over time the use of these mind control devices will grant us actual force powers. Only time will tell. May the force be with you.

 

Sources:

http://www.ted.com/talks/tan_le_a_headset_that_reads_your_brainwaves.html

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/01/21/263078049/brain-games-move-objects-with-your-mind-to-find-inner-calm

http://neurosky.com/products-markets/eeg-biosensors/hardware/

http://orbit.puzzlebox.info/

http://ericawarp.com/?projects=neurodisco

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120426114341.htm

http://theweek.com/article/index/241121/7-health-benefits-of-playing-video-games

http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=18

Suicide Understood: Test Detects if You are Suicidal With 97% Accuracy

suicide art

Suicide can be prevented. saralinwilde.wordpress.com

Having a friend or family member commit suicide can be one of the most heart wrenching experiences of our lives. While suicide is a serious problem, it is usually impossible to know whether a person is suicidal or not. All that is about to change.

The astonishing accuracy of a new test designed by a German and Swedish team is poised to revolutionize suicide prevention around the globe. The test involves the analyzation of blood pressure, blood circulation, and sweat gland activity in depressed patients. The study was published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research and so far the method used has achieved a success rate of 97% in recognizing whether a person is likely to commit suicide or not. Lars-Håkan Thorell is an associate professor in experimental psychiatry at Linköping University, and one of the researchers behind the study. Even he was surprised by the results.

The results are so strong that I’m astonished.

suicide jump

Some of us are closer to the edge than others. http://www.bacweb.org/

783 depressed in-patients in Germany were tested for hyporeactivity, which is a reduction in reactions to various stimuli. The study found that 97 percent of depressed patients who later committed suicide were hyporeactive. It should be noted however that hyporeactivity can be present in people that are not depressed. Thorell explains that,

Everyone who has it is not suicidal – but almost all suicidal, depressed patients have it.

Related Article: Psychiatrists Cannot Distinguish the Sane From Insane

Bipolar patients showed the greatest amount of hyporeactivity compared to all other types of mental illness. Additionally, Thorell points out that those with recurrent depression are at a higher risk of becoming hyporeactive, likely because,

certain nerve cells in the hippocampus are damaged by depressions and negative stress.

To know if a person might commit suicide and is in fact exhibiting hyporeactivity the team played a pattern of tones while examining the body’s reaction to the sounds. A sensor is placed on the finger which analyzes blood pressure, blood circulation, and sweat gland activity. As the tones continue to be played the body of a person with hyporeactivity quickly stops reacting. That is all it takes to know if a person is considering suicide or not. Thorell sums up the difference between normal reactivity and hyporeactivity, stating that,

A depressed person has a biological inability to care about the surroundings, while a healthy person continues to react.

suicide us

With awareness and proper measures, these numbers can all be reduced to 0. http://cw.ua.edu/

Thorell plans to conduct this study in 15 other countries in a continued effort to understand and prevent suicide. This could not have come at a better time since global suicide rates have increased by 60% in the last 45 years. According to the World Health Organization nearly 1 million people die every year from suicide. This equates to a death every 40 seconds. Keep in mind that these statistics don’t take into account unsuccessful attempts, which according to the WHO may account for 10, 20, or even 30 times more than the stated numbers.

Related Article: Mystery of Death Solved: DMT is the Key

Suicide is currently the leading cause of injury mortality in the United States with more people killing themselves than dying from car accidents. Despite this, the suicide rate in the United States doesn’t even come close to that of other countries. Suicide rates are soaring all around the globe. Interestingly, Greenland has the highest rate, with nearly 25% of the population claiming to have attempted suicide. By the way, Greenland only has a population of 56,000, so the potential loss of 25% of its population would be devastating. After Greenland the countries with the highest suicide rates are Lithuania and South Korea.

suicide rate world

By just being there, you are helping. http://www.bu.edu/

As long as suicidal intention is recognized in a person it can usually be prevented with professional help. Although getting help can make a difference, most people are not receiving the aid they need. WHO points out the major obstacle of suicide prevention, explaining that,

Worldwide, the prevention of suicide has not been adequately addressed due to basically a lack of awareness of suicide as a major problem and the taboo in many societies to discuss openly about it. In fact, only a few countries have included prevention of suicide among their priorities.

Related Article: Suicide the Leading Cause of Injury Mortality in the United States

If you think someone is suicidal, don’t keep it a secret. I am a strong proponent for the right to die, but a mentally ill person is a sick person – they should be allowed to make the choice with a clear head, not a clouded mind or hopeless outlook. Suicide Awareness Voice of Education (SAVE) explains that the first step to take if you think a person is suicidal is to start a dialogue.

Suicidal thoughts are common with some mental illnesses and your willingness to talk about it in a non-judgmental, non-confrontational way can be the help a person needs to seeking professional help. Questions okay to ask:

  • “Do you ever feel so badly that you think about suicide?”

  • “Do you have a plan to commit suicide or take your life?”

  • “Have you thought about when you would do it (today, tomorrow, next week)?”

  • “Have you thought about what method you would use?”

This allows you to gauge how serious a person is about suicide. Your next step should either be calling 911 (if it is very serious), or calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This is a service available to suicidal people as well as friends and family.

Related Article: Death is a Privilege, Not a Right

suicide rate world

The other recommended tips include recognizing and accepting a person’s problems. Don’t try to convince them that their problems are irrelevant, as this usually intensifies the desire to commit suicide. Simply reassure them that the state they’re in is temporary, that life can always get better, and that help is available at all hours of the day. Finally, if a person is in immediate danger, offer to help them. Follow through with your offer and aid them in finding a mental health professional. You can even make the call with them. As SAVE poignantly reminds us,

If you’re in a position to help, don’t assume that your persistence is unwanted or intrusive. Risking your feelings to help save a life is a risk worth taking.

Remember, always take a conversation about suicide seriously. It could be the last conversation a person has.

suicide help reach out

Everyone needs help at some point in life. http://allianceforsuicideprevention.org/

 Source:

http://www.liu.se/forskning/forskningsnyheter/1.509002/1.509016?l=en

International Statistics

Prevention

List of Countries

Leading Cause of Injury Mortality in the United States

Suicidal Greenland

https://wondergressive.com/death-is-a-privilege-not-a-right/

Prevention Lifeline

http://www.save.org/index.cfm?page_id=705E1907-C4DD-5D32-2C7087CE5924CCA4

Detecting Communicable Disease: Can Humans Smell Sickness?

communicable disease smell

Can our sense of smell stop the spread of communicable disease? motherboard.vice.com

Prior to the 19th century, a commonly held belief was that communicable diseases spread through the air via an ill-defined substance called miasma, which originated from the rotting of diseased matter. According to the theory, miasma, also known as “bad air” or “night air,” is what caused the spread of communicable diseases. Modern germ theory has completely dispelled the notion of miasma, but was there some truth to our ancestor’s logic? Is there such a thing as “bad air?”

Related Article: The Natural, Three-Plant Fresh Air System

According to modern day research, bad air is a reality, but not in the same way that the science of pre-19th century envisioned. Bad air comes in the form of stinky smells, a well documented but only recently focused on aspect of non-communicable and communicable disease. Myriad studies and current practices state that smelling sickness isn’t only possible, it is being achieved.

According to a study published in the journal Psychological Science, humans can more often than not successfully smell the difference between a sick and healthy person. In the study, the difference between a healthy and sick person was defined by the level of activity taking place in the immune system.

Related Article: Alcohol in Moderation Strengthens Immune System

Researcher Mats Olsson of Karolinska Institutet in Sweden headed the study. Olsson notes in the study that a copious amount of scientific and anecdotal evidence already exists regarding the detection of non-communicable and communicable disease through smell. After all, being able to detect communicable disease through our noses alone would be an incredible evolutionary advantage.  Olsson hypothesized that some type of biomarker may be present to allow this detection to take place, explaining that,

There may be early, possibly generic, biomarkers for illness in the form of volatile substances coming from the body.

sweat communicable disease

You sir smell distinctly of an over-active immune system. http://readanddigest.com/

He tested his hypothesis by observing the ability of participants to detect a heightened immune response in other participants with only their nose. Eight healthy people were selected to be injected with either a simple saline solution or lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a toxic substance that boosts immune responses in humans. The participants injected with the LPS showed evidence of a heightened immune response in the form of increased body temperatures and a greater number of cytokines, a molecule normally found in the immune system when sick.

For four hours the volunteers sweated into tight fitting t-shirts. 40 new participants were asked to smell the sweat samples gathered from the t-shirts. The authors state that overall the participants rated the LPS group as having a far more intense and unpleasant smell compared to the t-shirts of those injected with saline. Interestingly, the more cytokines present in the blood of people injected with LPS, the more unpleasant their sweat smelled.

Here’s the weird part though: the researchers found no noticeable difference in the amount of odorous compounds between the LPS-filled and LPS-free sweat. This led Olsson to hypothesize that participants were detecting the sickness not through smell, but from detection through an unknown mechanism of the different molecules present in sick and healthy people. Understanding this mechanism would undoubtedly lead to better preventative methods for stopping the spread of communicable diseases.

Related Article: Smelling Calmness: Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

dog smell communicable disease

Dogs are masters of scent. Could their sense of smell be used to detect disease? http://www.dumpaday.com/

It is likely that other mammals such as dogs have the ability to smell illness. Consider what happens when one dog meets another dog. They go right for the butt. Smell is the first and most important sense dogs use to exchange information with other dogs.  Researchers have theorized that this type of stinky exchange of information occurred in human ancestors before they began walking upright. What researchers want to know is specifically what type of information is being exchanged between dogs and human ancestors, and could it lead to the precise detection of communicable diseases?

This type of inquiry is very practical as the earlier we detect a communicable disease the quicker we are able to alert others and stop the seemingly inevitable spread. Luckily for us, this type of super advanced detection is beginning to be widely used for an array of non-communicable and communicable diseases alike.

Many studies note distinctive odors as being a new significant factor contributing to the detection of illness. Although lung cancer can be detected by observing how gold nano particles change in the presence of a person’s breath, it can also be detected simply by the way it makes breath smell. Apparently most of the time a person has lung cancer their breath smells like ammonia and/or fish. In the same vein, urine smells like cheese during a urinary tract infection, while the skin of a person with melanoma usually smells like gasoline. While some people are able to smell the difference, not everyone’s sense of smell is strong enough.

The key to early detection is becoming informed about how different diseases smell, and eventually creating an all-in-one device that can analyze the chemicals and bacteria being emitted from a person’s body and conclude if they have any easily detectable communicable diseases.

communicable disease percentage

Non-communicable vs.communicable disease: There is a major difference in the type of diseases each region of the world dies from. http://ucatlas.ucsc.edu/cause.php

Perfecting the ability to detect disease, especially by using the nose alone, is an admirable objective. Communicable diseases can be stopped in their tracks by simply stopping the mass spread of such diseases. Communicable diseases account for 55% of all deaths in developing regions of the world, compared to 14% in developed regions. Improved medicinal practices are largely responsible for this dramatic difference in death rates, and detection methods are a major part of improved medicine.

Related Article: On the Pulse About Perfume

Millions of lives can be saved through the advanced detection of communicable disease. Early detection is an indispensable tool in the global fight against disease, death, and even poverty. For this reason let us hope that this type of research continues to be funded and supported by the global community.

Who knows, maybe one day there will be an early detection app on our smartphones, or a signpost on each road that changes color in the presence of certain chemicals corresponding to certain communicable diseases. Maybe one day, communicable diseases will become, for all intents and purposes, non-communicable.

 

Sources:

Miasma Theory

http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/01/21/0956797613515681.abstract

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/detecting-sickness-by-smell.html?utm_source=pressrelease&utm_medium=eureka&utm_campaign=sicknessbysmell

http://animal.discovery.com/pets/can-dogs-detect-human-health-problems.htm

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2012/01/15/sick-people-smell-bad-why-dogs-sniff-dogs-humans-sniff-humans-and-dogs-sometimes-sniff-humans/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2496390/

http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/v4/n10/full/nnano.2009.235.html

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/05/st_smellofsick/

http://ucatlas.ucsc.edu/cause.php

http://www.wimp.com/povertymyths/