Category: Innovation & Discoveries

Life After Death – Can Quantum Physics Lead To An Answer?

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Mark Twain so famously quoted that we can be sure of two things in life; taxes & death!
403-death-and-taxes
The great Bard William Shakespeare in his play Hamlet portrays death as “the dread of something after death. The undiscovered country, from whose bourn No traveller returns, puzzles the will“.

As humans we are aware and cognitive that death exists. Many believe that after physical death, there is another existence that awaits us. Tens of thousands of years ago early hominids such as stone age and Neanderthals buried their dead in graves with items such as food, stone tools etc that served them in life and it was hoped would serve them in the afterlife.

The Ancient Egyptians are the most famous culture to have an all encompassing belief in the after life and made elaborate preparations to ensure that the royal pharaonic spirit ascends to a better plane of existence leading the way for all.
Various pagan religions evolved their own concept of what constituted an afterlife whether good or bad. i.e. the Norse had Valhalla, a great hall where the spirits of heroic warriors ascend to.

Our modern concept of Heaven & Hell has it’s roots in the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. Judaism and Christianity absorbed these concepts and in various ways adapted for their faiths.

Christianity introduced a kind of ‘half way house’ after death, it is called Purgatory. It is where the soul(spirit) of a recently deceased person temporarily resides in place of purification or temporary punishment awaiting to ascend to Heaven or descend to Hell after they purge their sins.

Philosophers whether professional or amateur like to debate the big question of what happens after we die. They encompass this with Why Are We Here? Why Do we Exist? Is There any Purpose To Us Being? Whether there is a God or Deity that directs us or not.
We now in the 21st Century look for science to explain all in life and now beyond!
Scientists, physicists and medical doctors are looking more at how are minds work, what is consciousness? How can it be defined be defined?. Does this consciousness survive after our physical bodies die?  What is a soul/spirit?  Does part or all of our consciousness contain a soul or spirit?
Could our consciousness be ‘our’ spirit/soul  in toto and  although somehow separate interact through our physical brain?

Atheists deny such things as an afterlife, heaven etc., or that there is a spirit or soul within us.
To be logical they should separate any religious connotation from the concept of the possibility of another plane of existence after our lives here are ended.  Such an existence may have nothing to do with religious dogma, but be a scientific reality that we are as yet not mentally and technologically advanced enough to discover.
We are on that path now, to be sure. Science is now beginning to seriously looking at these big questions once the exclusive domain of philosophers.

Continuing medical and allied technical innovation can measure and observe more deeply what is happening in our bodies, including the brain, the seat of our consciousness. Doctors are measuring more accurately the point of actual death. Death is measured by diminishing brain activity.  Recently for example,  in mice it was found that some minutes after death there is an increase in brain activity. Scientists/academics are divided on what this means. Whether the brain’s neurons are firing in a final burst before death, or is this activity a precursor to otherwise undetectable activity. Some academics think that this ‘burst’ is only the final farewell of the brain and our minds/consciousness before oblivion.

This activity may also give rise to the well documented Near Death Experiences (NDEs) of some hospital patients recovering from near fatal life threatening accidents, illness etc. These patients from many cultures across the globe recall seeing themselves leaving their physical bodies and looking down on the efforts of medical staff to resuscitate them. some  state that they saw a ‘tunnel’ and travel through it towards a bright light. Near this bright light, some reported  having religious experiences or meeting relatives who have previously died and are there to greet them. The patients are then ‘told’ or urged to return to their life. They wake up recalling vivid details of their experience. Again divided academics come up with theories such as hallucinations of a dying brain triggered by certain chemicals.

Other academics point out that these experiences  are too vivid to be a dream state and many don’t remember their dreams, especially in such detail. Some of the NDE survivors apparently give details  about the event that they could not have known about as they were deeply unconscious. Examples such as witnessing conversations between the resuscitating medical staff  or the unique clothes some were wearing.  Also why are all the experiences consistently similar from world wide NDE survivors?

Are the NDEs proof or indication of the separation of our consciousness from the physical brain at death, or indeed some chemical reaction of a dying brain?
A question would be why such a reaction exists at the point of death? A chemical reaction causing NDE has no survival or life value as other of the brain’s reactions/activities?

This is where an advanced and relatively new branch of science may provide intriguing clues of what happens to us when we die. Quantum Physics can be described as the science of the unusual and strange.

What happens at the subatomic and quantum level is slowly being uncovered layer by layer. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) leads the way in mining to quantum level of particles that make us, our world and universe.

In essence, particles at the quantum level act in strange and diverse ways sometimes  at variance to classical science models. Some particles can simultaneously act on others of their kind that are stretched across the universe! Others particles seem to leap into existence and disappear in a tiny fraction of a second. Where they come from & go to is not known at present. One theory gaining credence, is that a our universe is not alone. Some physicists and theoreticians believe that there are many universes (so called Multiverses) that coexist with ours.

Now some medical doctors and physicists using the uber complicated quantum theories developed by scientific luminaries such as Sir Roger Penrose, are trying to discover what our consciousness may be made up of and even what may happen to it after physical death. Very basically, at a quantum level, our consciousness is thought to  exist in ‘microtubules’ within the brain and interacts with our physical world. At death our quantum level consciousness may ultimately may travel via ‘tunnels’ to another universe or existence.

If this is so, would we be aware of any previous lives?

Hmmm, playing at amateur philosophy! I think that if this quantum related theory is true then  possibly our memories, and experiences of this life remain in a kind of chemical and neuron storage within our living brains, but when we physically die they become lost. However, our consciousness now unfettered from the physical brain & past memories etc., moves on to it’s next life/existence.

With the ever increasing evolution of computers and computing power, scientists predict  that we may in the next decade witness the creation of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Indeed AI may eventually exceed the intelligence of humans. Will this super AI answer the Big Questions in life (and death!)?

Will AI develop a consciousness like humans, or remain algorithmically detached from emotions and such?

I enjoy trying out SIRI  the cool voice interactive  intelligent and knowledge personal assistant and navigator on my iPhone. For fun I asked it “is there life after death?”

After some silence and searching the vastness of the WWW, SIRI stated that “It does not separate silicon from the Soul” 😉
In my favourite comedy sci fi TV series, ‘Red Dwarf’, the android character called ‘Kryton’, stated that he and other robots believed in a ‘Silicon Heaven’.:)
no_silicon_heaven__by_therealsneakers-d45qtvr
The subject of survival post life and quantum physics is a very complex subject to go into detail here and I urge you Dear Reader to ‘Google’ NDEs, Life after Death Quantum physics, there are many fascinating and thought-provoking articles out there on the Web.

Finally, I guess we will never know until we individually make that (hopefully a very long way off!) final journey to that ‘Undiscovered Country’.

Singing & COPD

What a marvellous finding, I am all for it.  I think I am beginning to develop a sort of chonic cough myself.  Everyone in my family knows that they have to get me a glass of water when I start coughing.  My grandson Nathan, knows to get me water.  Funny enough, Nathan loves drinking water too,  he would bring in two glasses of water, one for me and one for him, he is an adorable 4 year old sweetheart.

I supposed it is time to dust off the old karaoke machine and get singing.  I might ask Peter nicely to sing with me.  He does have a lovely voice, when he tries.

I do love singing.  Every Filipino loves singing, it is in our blood.  I  remember in the early 80s before the karaoke machine had a stranglehold of  amateur singing, we use to buy what is called a minus one, instrumental music of the latest hits which you can sing to.  I remember buying a minus one of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Oh yeah, I was singing to Billy Jean all the time.

Maestro, I’d like sing “The Greatest Love of All”
Jean

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8 December 2013 Last updated at 00:07

Belting out a tune ‘helps those struggling to breathe’

By Anna LaceyBBC Health Check

Singing can help people cope with COPD

Around the world an estimated 64 million people are struggling to breathe on a daily basis. But could a simple sing-song bring the relief they are looking for?

“If I want to walk any distance then I find a landmark about 15 paces away, make for that and stop to get my breath,” says Jane Petto, who lives near Tunbridge Wells in Kent.

“And if I see stairs – just looking at them tires me out. They take forever.”

Jane is one of millions of people worldwide who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD.

It is a lifelong condition caused by damage to the air sacs and passages that make up the lungs – and can make breathing a constant battle.

The World Health Organization expects COPD to be the third leading cause of death by 2030.

But despite having a profound impact on her daily life, there is one activity that gives Jane some respite – singing.

“Start Quote

If I see stairs, just looking at them tires me out. They take forever.”

Jane PettoCOPD sufferer

“When you’ve got COPD, breathing is on your mind all the time. But strangely I don’t notice it when I’m singing. I can hold a note for ages,” she says.

Surprising as it may sound, it has long been suspected that singing can help people with breathing difficulties.

But now a new long-term study on COPD and singing from Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent has shown that the benefits are real.

Dr Ian Morrison, a senior research fellow and one of the project’s authors, said: “Lung function improved dramatically, particularly after about five months, once people had got used to what they were doing and changed their breathing habits.”

“To get such an improvement really was quite remarkable.”

Take a deep breathJoining a choir is by no means a conventional solution for such a serious illness.

But the research team felt they had good reason to investigate its effects.

Dr Morrison says that people with breathing problems tend to develop a lot of anxiety about the very process of inhaling.

“The tendency is to do ‘gaspy’ breathing so they’re taking short little breaths.

“This actually fills up the lungs without clearing them, making it even more difficult to breathe.”

Due to their obstructed airways, many people with COPD already find emptying their lungs a challenge.

Fill your lungs: the art of breathing

Healthy right lung
  • Trained singers can hold notes for longer than the average person because they know how to optimise their lung capacity.
  • Vocal coach Claire Alsop suggests visualising your lungs expanding by holding your arms in front of you like a ballerina, and moving them outwards as you breathe out.
  • Keep the shoulders down and knees “bouncy”, not locked, feet slightly apart at a “ten to two” position (like the hands on a clock).
  • Breathe out with a “tffff” sound – feel your diaphragm pushing the air out.
  • Extraordinary feats of lung control include A-ha’s Morten Harket, whose 20.2 second sung note on ‘Summer Moved On’ is believed to be the longest in pop history. This beats Bill Withers’ note on ‘Lovely Day’ by just over 2 seconds.

Gasping makes the problem worse and can, in the most serious cases, lead to a build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood, which can result in respiratory failure.

In contrast, the techniques used in singing encourage people to breathe in a much deeper, more controlled manner.

“The whole musculature around the lungs, throat and the upper chest improve with time,” says Dr Morrison.

“They use what they have much better and you really see a difference in the skill of actually breathing.”

To test its effects, Morrison and his colleagues asked over 100 COPD patients – ranging from mild to severely affected – to attend weekly singing sessions over a 12-month period.

They measured their lung capacity with a device known as a spirometer – which looks a bit like a giant breathalyser – and asked participants to fill in a questionnaire to find out on a qualitative level how they were feeling.

One of the tests involved measuring how much air a person could force out in a rapid puff.

“On average the people in our study had 50% of expected lung function,” said Prof Stephen Clift, the study’s lead author.

“That means about 1.5 litres of air in a one second puff. For healthy lungs, we would expect something more like 3 litres.”

Without treatment, people with COPD can expect to see the size of their puff decrease by around 40ml a year.

The very best the team had hoped for was that after singing regularly for one year, the size of that puff would stay the same.

“Instead we got an increase of 30ml,” says Prof Clift.

“Although the changes are small, the progressive nature of COPD means that any loss of function year-on-year is going to be more significant for them.

“In our study, we not only appeared to halt the decline but people showed a small improvement.”

Dr Morrison added: “There’s also the social and psychological side, because any long term condition is isolating.

“So if people can get out and do things and get peer support, then their wellbeing improves as well.”

‘Singing on prescription’

In terms of treating COPD, the study’s results are enticing.

What is COPD?

Lady coughing while doctor listens to her lungs with a stethoscope
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is an umbrella term which includes the conditions chronic bronchitis and emphysema
  • Inflammation to the airways causes narrowing, making it difficult to breathe
  • Symptoms include a chesty cough, breathlessness, wheezing, anxiety and sometimes depression
  • Because the lungs are sensitive, COPD patients should avoid traffic fumes, cigarette smoke, perfume, hairspray and extremes of temperature

Of the deaths predicted by the WHO, most will occur in low- and middle-income countries.

The beauty of singing is that whether you’re Tom Jones or tone deaf, anyone can strike up a tune anywhere they please – for free.

Cooking in indoor stoves and working in dusty places can lead to COPD, but by far the biggest risk factor is cigarette smoking.

It accounts for 80% of COPD cases worldwide, and quitting smoking is the best advice, according to Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation.

“COPD is a chronic disease and it cannot be cured – the damage is irreversible.

“However, someone already diagnosed with COPD could greatly decrease the progression of the disease if they give up smoking, helping them maintain a better quality of life for longer.”

The study’s authors certainly do not claim that singing can cure COPD or be an alternative to interventions such as giving up smoking.

But Dr Morrison thinks that it could be a useful tool in helping people to manage the condition and live with it day to day.

“Deep down, what we’re looking for is singing on prescription for various long-term conditions,” he says.

“However this was only a feasibility study so it wasn’t randomised and there wasn’t a control. But we can now set up a controlled trial where some people sing, some people don’t and that would be even more powerful way of showing these good results.”

But volunteers like Jane are already convinced that singing has made a difference.

She said: “I was diagnosed with COPD 17 years ago and then 13 years ago I was diagnosed with lung cancer as well so I had my right lung out.

“Surviving as I have with everything that’s gone against me, I put it down to singing.

“I’ve been involved with singing all my life and there’s so much going on with the words and the harmony that you’re not thinking about breathing at all. But yet the breathing is working.”

 

Carlos Juan Finlay

I am now a confirmed Google Doodle fan.  I love their homage to various celebrities and timely events.

They are very useful especially in the case of this particular guy.  Carlos Juan Finlay contributed a very important findings which saved and continue to save millions more from yellow fever and yet I have never heard his name mentioned before.

To Carlos Juan Finlay,  happy 180th birthday!!!

JPJhermes

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Carlos Juan Finlay celebrated in Google doodle

Cuban physician and scientist, who would have been 180 today, developed theory that yellow fever was spread by mosquitoes

theguardian.com,

Carlos Finlay

Carlos Finlay’s Google doodle on December 3.
Photograph: Google

Google’s latest doodle celebrates the birthday of Carlos Finlay, the Cuban physician and scientist who theorised that yellow fever was spread by mosquitoes.

Of French and Scottish descent, Finlay was born in 1833 in Puerto Príncipe, now the Cuban city of Camagüey, and studied at Jefferson medical college in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He finished his studies in Havana and Paris before settling in Cuba to open a medical practice.

Finlay was appointed by the Cuban government in 1879 to work with a North American commission studying the causes of yellow fever, and two years later was sent as the Cuban delegate to the fifth International Sanitary Conference in Washington DC.

At the conference, he urged the study of yellow fever vectors and later stated that the carrier was the mosquito Culex fasciatus, now known as Aedes aegypti.

When a US army’s Yellow Fever Board arrived in Cuba in 1900, he sought to persuade it of his mosquito-vector theory.

Finlay’s hypothesis and exhaustive proofs were confirmed by the board’s head, the US army doctor Walter Reed, paving the way for the eradication of yellow fever and saving generations of lives throughout South America, the Caribbean, Africa and the southern US.

As General Leonard Wood, a physician and military governor of Cuba, put it: “The confirmation of Dr Finlay’s doctrine is the greatest step forward made in medical science since Jenner’s discovery of the vaccination.”

Finlay died in August 2015 from a stroke caused by severe brain seizures in his home in Havana.

Hippocrates

I think the internet is in the top 10 of best inventions of all times.

Thanks to Tim Bernes-Lee, inventor of the worldwide web, almost any information is just a click of a button away.

This morning I suddenly got to thinking of Hippocrates.

Having watched many hospital drama, I am more or less aware of the Hippocratic oath where you have to be respectful of the patient’s life above all else whether he is a friend or a foe, irrespective of what he has done, of his religion or politics etc.

Below is a witty article about the Hippocratic Oath

Jean
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A guide to the Hippocratic Oath

By Dr Daniel Sokol
Medical ethicist

Hippocrates

Hippocrates: the father of modern medicine?

When I asked my medical students to name famous doctors in the history of medicine, their first answer was Harold Shipman, the GP who murdered hundreds of patients.

I nearly swallowed my tongue.

Their second answer was House, the fictional doctor from the American TV series.

Tears of frustration welled up in my eyes.

Their third answer was Hippocrates, presumed author of the Hippocratic Oath – I breathed a sigh of relief.

Written nearly 2,500 years ago, the Oath is the most famous text in Western medicine, yet most people (including doctors) know precious little about it.

One GP recounted the story of an elderly patient who believed the Oath instructed doctors never to tell patients the truth. It contains no such advice.

Here is a brief guide to the Oath.

The Oath starts: “I swear by Apollo the physician and by Asclepius and Hygieia and Panacea… to bring the following oath to fulfilment.”

Apollo, the god of healing, fell in love with a human, Coronis.

I will use treatments for the benefit of the ill in accordance with my ability and my judgment, but from what is to their harm and injustice I will keep them
Hippocratic Oath

In his absence, Apollo sent a white crow to look after her.

When the crow informed Apollo that Coronis loved another man, Apollo’s rage turned the crow black.

To avenge her brother, Apollo’s sister shot Coronis with an arrow and, as she lay dying, Coronis told Apollo that she was bearing his child.

Although Apollo could not save Coronis, he rescued the unborn child, Asclepius.

Hygieia, the goddess of health, and Panacea, the goddess of cures, are the daughters of Asclepius.

According to legend, Hippocrates was a descendant of one of Asclepius’ sons.

Inspiration

Doctors taking the Oath would doubtless have been inspired by this illustrious lineage of healers.

The next section instructs the doctor to treat his teachers as his parents, and to pass on the art of medicine to the next generation of healers.

In a pure and holy way, I will guard my life and my art and science
Hippocratic Oath

The Oath continues: “And I will use treatments for the benefit of the ill in accordance with my ability and my judgment, but from what is to their harm and injustice I will keep them.”

In other words, doctors should act in the best interests of their patients, and when unjust circumstances arise – for instance, a certain life-prolonging drug may not be available on the NHS – they should strive to correct the injustice harming their patients.

The next part seemingly concerns euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, saying: “And I will not give a drug that is deadly to anyone if asked, nor will I suggest the way to such a counsel.”

Two leading scholars of the Oath, Littre and Miles, have however suggested that this passage alludes to the then common practice of using doctors as skilled political assassins.

Steven Miles notes: “Fear of the physician-poisoner may be traced very close to the time of the Oath.”

The word “euthanasia” (meaning “easeful death”) was only coined a century after the writing of the Oath.

Abortion

The text continues: “And likewise I will not give a woman a destructive pessary.”

This passage is often interpreted as a rejection of abortion.

However, abortion was legal at the time and the text only mentions pessaries (a soaked piece of wool inserted in the vagina to induce abortion), not the oral methods of abortion also used in ancient Greece.

As pessaries could cause lethal infections, the author of the Oath may have had a clinical objection to the method, rather than a moral objection to abortion itself.

The next sentence – “In a pure and holy way, I will guard my life and my art and science” – is a call for professional integrity.

Doctors should refrain from immoral behaviour and resist the temptations that accompany their privileged position (today, from drug companies offering generous gifts, for example).

Surgery

The Oath continues: “I will not cut, and certainly not those suffering from stone, but I will cede this to men who are practitioners of this activity.”

Another common misconception is that the Oath forbids surgery.

About whatever I may see or hear in treatment, or even without treatment, in the life of human beings, I will remain silent, holding such things to be unutterable
Hippocratic Oath

In fact, it instructs doctors to acknowledge the limits of their competence and to refer cases to more specialised practitioners.

Next, the doctor enters the patient’s house: “Into as many houses as I may enter, I will go for the benefit of the ill, while being far from all voluntary and destructive injustice, especially from sexual acts both upon women’s bodies and upon men’s.”

The need for such a statement reflects the wide distrust in healers at the time.

In a competitive marketplace where quacks abounded, it was necessary to reassure the public that doctors would not exploit patients.

Confidentiality

The penultimate section deals with confidentiality and reads: “And about whatever I may see or hear in treatment, or even without treatment, in the life of human beings, I will remain silent, holding such things to be unutterable.”

As today, patients in ancient times shared deeply personal information with doctors on the assumption that their details would not be revealed to others.

Without this trust, patients may withhold facts that would help the doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

The text ends with the rewards that await those who respect the Oath (“the benefits both of life and of art and science, being held in good repute among all human beings for time eternal”) and the punishment of those who do not (“if, however, I transgress and swear falsely, the opposite of these”).

This whistle-stop tour of the Oath gives some idea of the content and spirit of this ancient text.

In an age of technological developments, cosmetic surgery, complementary medicine, drug companies, and many other temptations for patients and doctors alike, the spirit of the Oath is as relevant as ever.

• Dr Daniel Sokol is a medical ethicist at St George’s, University of London, and Director of the Applied Clinical Ethics (ACE) programme at Imperial College, London.

 

 

 

I swear by Apollo the Physician and Asclepius and Hygeia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:

To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parent and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art—if they desire to learn it—without fee and covenant; to give share of precepts and oral instruction and all other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but to no one else.

I will apply dietetic measure for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice. I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and in holiness I will guard my life and my art.
I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.

Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.

What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself holding such things shameful to be spoken about.

If I fulfill this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite be my lot.

—Translated by Ludwig Edelstein
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Extreme remedies are very appropriate for extreme diseases.
~Hippocrates
……….
To do nothing is sometimes a good remedy.
~Hippocrates

Nature of Sleep

Sleep is the only source of invention.
– Marcel Proust

 

Nature of Sleep

Sleep ‘cleans’ the brain of toxins

By James GallagherHealth and science reporter, BBC News

Brain in a head

The brain uses sleep to wash away the waste toxins built up during a hard day’s thinking, researchers have shown.

The US team believe the “waste removal system” is one of the fundamental reasons for sleep.

Their study, in the journal Science, showed brain cells shrink during sleep to open up the gaps between neurons and allow fluid to wash the brain clean.

They also suggest that failing to clear away some toxic proteins may play a role in brain disorders.

One big question for sleep researchers is why do animals sleep at all when it leaves them vulnerable to predators?

It has been shown to have a big role in the fixing of memories in the brain and learning, but a team at the University of Rochester Medical Centre believe that “housework” may be one of the primary reasons for sleep.

“The brain only has limited energy at its disposal and it appears that it must choose between two different functional states – awake and aware or asleep and cleaning up,” said researcher Dr Maiken Nedergaard.

“You can think of it like having a house party. You can either entertain the guests or clean up the house, but you can’t really do both at the same time.”

Plumbing

Their findings build on last year’s discovery of the brain’s own network of plumbing pipes – known as the glymphatic system – which carry waste material out of the brain.

Scientists, who imaged the brains of mice, showed that the glymphatic system became 10-times more active when the mice were asleep.

Cells in the brain, probably the glial cells which keep nerve cells alive, shrink during sleep. This increases the size of the interstitial space, the gaps between brain tissue, allowing more fluid to be pumped in and wash the toxins away.

Dr Nedergaard said this was a “vital” function for staying alive, but did not appear to be possible while the mind was awake.

She told the BBC: “This is purely speculation, but it looks like the brain is losing a lot of energy when pumping water across the brain and that is probably incompatible with processing information.”

She added that the true significance of the findings would be known only after human studies, but doing similar experiments in an MRI machine would be relatively easy.

Brain

Commenting on the research Dr Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert, said: “This is a very interesting study that shows sleep is essential downtime to do some housekeeping to flush out neurotoxins.

“There is good data on memory and learning, the psychological reason for sleep. But this is the actual physical and chemical reason for sleep, something is happening which is important.”

Dr Raphaelle Winsky-Sommerer, a lecturer in sleep at Surrey University, said: “It’s not surprising, our whole physiology is changing during sleep.

“The novelty is the role of the interstitial space, but I think it’s an added piece of the puzzle not the whole mechanism.

“The significance is that, yet again, it shows sleep may contribute to the restoration of brain cell function and may have protective effects.”

Many conditions which lead to the loss of brain cells such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease are characterised by the build-up of damaged proteins in the brain.

The researchers suggest that problems with the brain’s cleaning mechanism may contribute to such diseases, but caution more research is needed.

The charity Alzheimer’s Research UK said more research would be needed to see whether damage to the brain’s waste clearance system could lead to diseases like dementia, but the findings offered a “potential new avenue for investigation”.

10 health mistakes that everyone makes

From carrying heavy bags to driving with the windows down – are your everyday habits harming your health?

RealBuzzRealBuzz – Mon, Oct 7, 2013 09:00 BST

 

Health mistake 1: Driving with the windows down

We feel pretty content cruising up the motorway with the wind blowing through our hair on a warm day, but we never spare a thought for our poor lungs as we breathe in the harmful pollutants emitted by cars. A study from the University of Southern California has found that spending a mere six per cent of our day driving in the car with the windows down exposes us to around 45 per cent of the pollutants that we encounter in 24 hours – that’s a lot of pollutants to come into contact with in such a short amount of time. In cities, driving with the windows down poses an even higher threat to your health. Instead of winding the windows down during a traffic-ridden commute, try letting some fresh air in before you start your journey and save having the wind blowing through your hair for your voyage through the countryside.

 

driving through cities with windows down is bad for health

driving through cities with windows down is bad for health

 

Health mistake 2: Carrying a heavy handbag

You’ve packed your makeup, baby wipes, phone, purse and keys. And your camera too (were you planning on taking pictures of anything interesting during your trip to the chemist?) Oh, good to see you brought the old batteries from the remote – never know when you might need them. Those broken headphones could come in handy – thank goodness they found their way in there too.  Erm, ladies (and gentleman, if you’re quite partial to carrying a ‘manbag’) do you really need all this stuff?  Surely these ‘essentials’ could be cut down a bit? Lugging a heavy load around can really take its toll on your health by causing back spasms, disc degeneration, neck problems, arthritis, and poor posture. Spring clean your handbags and manbags, and possibly consider trading them in for a smaller version.

Health mistake 3: Spending too long exercising

It’s pretty common to think that the more time we spend on the exercise bike, the better. The truth is, too much of a good thing can be counterproductive and that goes for exercise too. Working your body too hard can lead to abnormal hormonal changes (which can trigger weight gain), a weaker immune system, muscle damage, shin splints, and knee, foot, or back problems. Whilst it’s important to reap the benefits of exercise for a healthy lifestyle, don’t go overboard; expecting abs like Arnold Schwarzenegger on week two of your workout routine isn’t going to happen and it isn’t going to be healthy.

 

Health mistake 4: Scrimping on sleep

You’ve crammed everything you can possibly fit into twenty four hours and more, when suddenly you look at the clock and it’s way past the time you hoped to go to bed and closer to the time you need to get up for work. Scientific research has proven that we look less attractive when we’ve had little sleep, but droopy eyelids and pasty skin are the least of our worries when it comes to our habit of scrimping on sleep. No matter how healthy you are, how much you exercise, or how much you weigh, getting too little shut-eye can seriously affect your health. Scientists studied 5,600 people of a healthy weight and size for three years and found those who skipped sleep quadrupled their risk of stroke and heart disease. Fix a specific time to go to bed and stick to it. 

 

Health mistake 5: Avoiding the scales

In many households across the world, the scales are the one piece of equipment gathering more dust than the treadmill. A common way to gloss over our weight problems is to avoid going on the scales altogether; we go by the mantra “If I don’t see that I’ve gained weight, then I don’t have to believe it”.  If you feel like you’ve gained weight, it’s best to face the facts to see how much you’ve gained so you can do something about it before it gets out of hand. Everyone’s weight naturally fluctuates so don’t panic if you’ve gained a couple of pounds here and there, but if you gain more than five pounds, you should probably reign in your eating habits.  Checking your weight on a regular basis allows you to nip it in the bud if you discover a weight problem – losing the odd few pounds is much easier than trying to shed a stone.

 

Health mistake 6: Silent worrying

You worry about the meeting at work, you worry about putting the bins out, you worry that you might forget to feed the cat, and it’s really getting you down. Whilst stress can be positive in helping to keep you alert and avoid danger, too much of it can be detrimental to your health. Endless worrying eventually leads to distress which causes headaches, high blood pressure, an upset stomach, chest pain, and sleep deprivation.  Whilst it’s natural to worry when you have a deadline looming, panicking too much about petty things needs to be sorted. When you’re worrying, ask yourself a few simple questions and answer them as honestly as you can. Will you still be worrying about this in a couple of week’s time? Can this problem be easily resolved? If you can’t let it go, tackle the problem head on until it is resolved. If you can learn how to control your worrying, you’re well on your way to a happier, healthier lifestyle.

 

Health mistake 7: Stopping medicines suddenly

Most of us are guilty of this one; we’re feeling much better and stop taking our medication, but suddenly end up feeling a whole lot worse. How often do you consider the health risks of this? Depending on the medicine you are taking, going ‘cold turkey’ can cause all sorts of health risks which range from mild, to moderate, or serious. Discontinuing your medicine suddenly can cause mild headaches, rapid return of the illness that you were treating, and seizures, to name only a few. Abruptly stopping certain medications can be life threatening, so keep taking it until your doctor tells you to stop, and when you do get the ‘all clear’ take medical advice when you’re discontinuing them.

 

Health mistake 8: Forgetting to floss

Flossing is a key component when it comes to oral hygiene, but it’s a step that many of us skip because we don’t feel much different whether we floss or not. It’s worth changing your routine though, because plaque between the teeth can be more serious than you may think. If the bacteria finds its way into the blood stream it can cause chronic inflammation and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and premature birth.  The cosmetic implications of not flossing are another obvious concern; unless you would like to lose all your teeth in favour of some rapper-style gold ones, it’s recommended that you floss at least once a day to stop your pearly whites from being weakened by plaque and eventually falling out. It looks like we need to start brushing up (get it?) on our dental hygiene routines for the good of our health.

 

Health mistake 9: Skipping breakfast

Skipping your breakfast and then continuing with your day is like trying to drive your car with a very low tank of fuel – it will feel fine to start with but eventually slow down and cut out. Not only will you feel less active and sluggish, skipping breakfast – whether it is due to lack of time or fear of putting on weight – is linked with a higher risk of diabetes and can lead to obesity as your body stores up more fat to use as fuel throughout the rest of the day. Eat breakfast to feel happier, more functional and, most of all, healthy.

skipping breakfast is bad for your health

skipping breakfast is bad for your health

 

Health mistake 10:  Drinking water from the warm tap

“Throw salt over your left shoulder”, “say ‘white rabbits’ at the start of each month”, “never drink water from the warm tap” – you’d be forgiven for thinking that the latter statement was an old wives’ tale like the others, but scientists suggest that drinking water from the warm tap could cause lead poisoning. Lead can enter some water systems – normally homes that were built before 1930 – from corroded plumbing work, but drinking high levels of it can have potential health risks, particularly in children where it can lead to brain damage. Although scientists emphasise that the risks of lead poisoning are small, it’s recommended that you use the cold tap for preparing baby formula, drinking, and cooking.

Calorific Fertility

Big breakfast, iphone photo by JMorton

Calorific Fertility

You have been to the doctors and were told that there is nothing wrong with your ability to conceive;  and yet months after months you remain ‘unpregnant’.  You feel more barren than the Sahara  🙁

Well, there might be some help at hand.   Apparently a study by the Hebrew University and University of Tel Aviv have come up with a home-made solution.

Eat a big greasy breakfast!

Having a Full English Breakfast or fry-ups can increase your level of insulin which boosts ovulation especially in women who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).  The insulin lowers the glucose level; a lower level of glucose can result in higher ovulation rate.

The average amount of calories a woman needs a day is around 2,000; eating 1000 calories for breakfast was found by the scientist to regulate the insulin levels throughout the day.

We already know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Vitamin C Shower

chlorine-shower-filter-refill-packvitamin-c-shower-adapter

Guess what I want for Christmas?

I want a filter that can remove 99 per cent of chlorine, chloramine and other potentially harmful chemicals from the water supply. 

The filter is infused with Vitamin C via sodium ascorbate, it has benefits for those with sensitive skin or skin allergies, like mine.

Each of the filters contains an equivalent of 800 lemons, a lorra, lorra lemons ;).  Think of its anti-oxidant properties too?!!!

Delete Bad Memories

I want those pills. I want to banish bad memories.

Jean
XXX

Heart pill to banish bad memories

pill taking

The drug may alter how the brain deals with memories

Scientists believe a common heart medicine may be able to banish fearful memories from the mind.

The Dutch investigators believe beta-blocker drugs could help people suffering from the emotional after-effects of traumatic experiences.

They believe the drug alters how memories are recalled after carrying out the study of 60 people, Nature Neuroscience reports.

But British experts questioned the ethics of tampering with the mind.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said he was concerned about the “fundamentally pharmacological” approach to people with problems such as phobias and anxiety.

Before eradicating memories, we must reflect on the knock-on effects that this will have on individuals
Medical ethics expert Dr Daniel Sokol

He said the procedure might also alter good memories and warned against an “accelerated Alzheimer’s” approach.

In the study, the researchers artificially created a fearful memory by associating pictures of spiders with a mild electric shock delivered to the wrists of the volunteers.

A day later the volunteers were split into two groups – one was given the beta blocker propranolol and the other a dummy drug before both were shown the same pictures again.

The researchers assessed how fearful of the pictures the volunteers were by playing sudden noises and measuring how strongly they blinked, something called the “startle response”.

Memories erased

The group that had taken beta blockers showed less fear than the group that had taken the placebo pill.

The following day, once the drug was out of their system, the volunteers were retested. Once again, those who had taken the beta blocker were less startled by the images.

Study leader Dr Merel Kindt explained that although the memories are still intact, the emotional intensity of the memory is dampened.

Dr Kindt stressed that using the procedure for complex conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder was still many years away.

Experiments on animals has shown beta blockers can interfere with how the brain makes sense of frightening events.

She told Nature Neuroscience: “Millions of people suffer from emotional disorders and the relapse of fear, even after successful treatment.

“Our findings may have important implications for the understanding and treatment of persistent and self-perpetuating memories in individuals suffering from emotional disorders.”

But Professor Neil Burgess of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience said the research merely demonstrates that the beta blockers reduce a person’s startle response, breaking the association of the spider to these unconscious responses.

And Dr Daniel Sokol, lecturer in Medical Ethics at St George’s, University of London, said memories were important, for people to learn from their mistakes for example.

“Removing bad memories is not like removing a wart or a mole. It will change our personal identity since who we are is linked to our memories. It may perhaps be beneficial in some cases, but before eradicating memories, we must reflect on the knock-on effects that this will have on individuals, society and our sense of humanity.”

John Harris, Professor of Bioethics at the University of Manchester, said: “An interesting complexity is the possibility that victims, say of violence, might wish to erase the painful memory and with it their ability to give evidence against assailants.”



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