Alzheimer’s breakthrough hailed as ‘turning point’


Professor Giovanna Mallucci says the hope is to arrest the process of brain cell death

The discovery of the first chemical to prevent the death of brain tissue in a neurodegenerative disease has been hailed as the “turning point” in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

More work is needed to develop a drug that could be taken by patients.

But scientists say a resulting medicine could treat Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and other diseases.

In tests on mice, the Medical Research Council showed all brain cell death from prion disease could be prevented.

Prof Roger Morris, from King’s College London, said: “This finding, I suspect, will be judged by history as a turning point in the search for medicines to control and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.”

He told the BBC a cure for Alzheimer’s was not imminent but: “I’m very excited, it’s the first proof in any living animal that you can delay neurodegeneration.

“The world won’t change tomorrow, but this is a landmark study.”

Cells starve

The research team at the Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit, based at the University of Leicester, focused on the natural defence mechanisms built into brain cells.

Neurodegeneration

  • A neurodegenerative disease is one in which the cells of the brain and spinal cord are lost
  • The functions of these cells include decision making and control of movements
  • These cells are not easily regenerated, so the effects of diseases can be devastating
  • Neurodegenerative diseases include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and Huntington’s

When a virus hijacks a brain cell it leads to a build-up of viral proteins. Cells respond by shutting down nearly all protein production in order to halt the virus’s spread.

However, many neurodegenerative diseases involve the production of faulty or “misfolded” proteins. These activate the same defences, but with more severe consequences.

The misfolded proteins linger and the brain cells shut down protein production for so long that they eventually starve themselves to death.

This process, repeated in neurons throughout the brain, can destroy movement or memory or even kill, depending on the disease.

This process is thought to take place in many forms of neurodegeneration, so safely disrupting it could treat a wide range of diseases.

The researchers used a compound which prevented those defence mechanisms kicking in and in turn halted neurodegeneration.

Analysis.

Human brain

It is rare to get cautious scientists keen to describe a study in mice as a turning point in treating Alzheimer’s.

It is early science, a lot can go wrong between a drug for mice and a drug for humans and the only published data is for prion disease, not even Alzheimer’s.

So why the excitement?

It is the first time that any form of neurodegeneration has been completely halted, so it is a significant landmark. It shows that the process being targeted has serious potential.

If this can be successfully developed, which is not guaranteed, the prize would be huge.

In Parkinson’s the alpha-synuclein protein goes wrong, in Alzheimer’s it’s amyloid and tau, in Huntington’s it’s the Huntingtin protein.

But the errant protein is irrelevant here as the researchers are targeting the way a cell deals with any misfolded protein.

It means one drug could cure many diseases and that really would be something to get excited about.

The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, showed mice with prion disease developed severe memory and movement problems. They died within 12 weeks.

However, those given the compound showed no sign of brain tissue wasting away.

Lead researcher Prof Giovanna Mallucci told the BBC news website: “They were absolutely fine, it was extraordinary.

“What’s really exciting is a compound has completely prevented neurodegeneration and that’s a first.

“This isn’t the compound you would use in people, but it means we can do it and it’s a start.”

She said the compound offered a “new pathway that may well give protective drugs” and the next step was for drug companies to develop a medicine for use in humans.

‘Very dramatic’

Prof Mallucci’s lab is also testing the compound on other forms of neurodegeneration in mice but the results have not yet been published.

Side effects are an issue. The compound also acted on the pancreas, meaning the mice developed a mild form of diabetes and lost weight.

Any human drug would need to act only on the brain. However, this gives scientists and drug companies a starting point.

David Allsop, professor of neuroscience at Lancaster University described the results as “very dramatic and highly encouraging” but cautioned that more research was needed to see how the findings would apply to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Dr Eric Karran, the director of research at the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Targeting a mechanism relevant to a number of neurodegenerative diseases could yield a single drug with wide-reaching benefits, but this compound is still at an early stage.

“It will be important for these findings to be repeated and tested in models of other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.”

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Team develops compact, high-power terahertz source at room temperature


Terahertz (THz) radiation—radiation in the wavelength range of 30 to 300 microns—is gaining attention due to its applications in security screening, medical and industrial imaging, agricultural inspection, astronomical research, and other areas. Traditional methods of generating terahertz radiation, however, usually involve large and expensive instruments, some of which also require cryogenic cooling. A compact terahertz source—similar to the laser diode found in a DVD player —operating at room temperature with high power has been a dream device in the terahertz community for decades.

Manijeh Razeghi, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Northwestern University‘s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and her group has brought this dream device closer to reality by developing a compact, room-temperature source with an of 215 microwatts.

Razeghi presented the research October 7 at the International Conference and Exhibition on Lasers, Optics & Photonics in San Antonio, and will also present at the European Cooperation in Science and Technology conference in Sheffield, England on October 10. The findings were published July 1 in the journal Applied Physics Letters and was presented at the SPIE Optics + Photonics conference in August in San Diego.

Razeghi’s group is a world leader in developing quantum cascade lasers (QCL), compact semiconductor lasers typically emitting in the mid-infrared spectrum ( of 3 to 16 microns).

Terahertz radiation is generated through nonlinear mixing of two mid-infrared wavelengths at 9.3 microns and 10.4 microns inside a single quantum cascade laser. By stacking two different QCL emitters in a single laser, the researchers created a monolithic nonlinear mixer to convert the mid-infrared signals into , using a process called difference frequency generation. The size is similar to standard , and a wide spectral range has already been demonstrated (1 to 4.6 THz).

“Using a room-temperature mid-infrared laser to generate terahertz light bypasses the temperature barrier, and all we need to do is to make the output power high enough for practical applications,” said Razeghi, who leads Northwestern’s Center for Quantum Devices (CQD). “Most applications require a minimum of microwatt power levels, but, of course, the higher the better.”

The achieved output power, 215 microwatts, is more than three times higher than earlier demonstrations. This dramatic boost is due to a number of novelties, including Cherenkov phase matching, epilayer down mounting, symmetric current injection, and anti-reflection coating.

Ford car wrests control of steering.


Ford obstacle avoidance system
Ford uses a range of sensors to detect the danger of a collision

A car that takes control of the steering wheel when it detects the risk of a collision is being tested at a research facility in Germany.

Ford said the Obstacle Avoidance system first warned the driver of danger and then took charge if they did not react. The firm said the equipment had been fitted to one of its vehicles as part of a project involving other carmakers and suppliers. One analyst said it was a staging post on the route to “driverless cars”. The system scans up to 200m (650ft) ahead by using three radars, a number of ultrasonic sensors and a camera, which are all installed in the vehicle. An additional built-in display shows a warning sign and sounds a chime. Then, if necessary, it applies the brakes, scans for a gap in the road ahead, and steers to avoid a crash.

Collision alert monitor
Equipment in the car warns the driver that the vehicle is about to take control of steering

“You’re driving down the road and a pedestrian or something comes out from either side of your vehicle from your peripheral vision where you don’t have a good look at it,” said Barb Samardzich, vice-president of product development at Ford’s European division. “Obstacle Avoidance can sense that the pedestrian or that object is coming across the front of your vehicle. If it doesn’t sense you responding accordingly in your vehicle by braking or manoeuvring, it will take over.” The firm showed off the tech at a facility in Lommel, Belgium, earlier this week. Safety race The new technology builds on safety features already offered by Ford. Last year it introduced Lane Keeping Alert, a feature that vibrates the wheel – but does not take control – if it detects the driver is drifting out of a lane without using an indicator.

Ford graphic
Ford aims for the facility to work at speeds of more than 60km/h

Ford’s existing Active City Stop facility also aims to reduce the severity of collisions by applying the brakes if it detects an object in front of the vehicle. But it works only if the object is static or travelling less than 30km/h (19mph) faster than the car. By contrast, the company said the new tech was being tested at speeds of over 60 km/h (38mph). Other manufacturers involved in the project at Aachen include BMW, Fiat, Daimler, Volvo and Volkswagen. They will share data from the tests to develop systems of their own. Volvo – which is owned by China’s Geely – has already introduced its own pedestrian and cyclist alert system, which sounds an alarm and applies the brakes. The firm told the BBC in March that it was now adapting the system so it would soon be able to recognise animals. ‘Significant step’ There may be resistance from some to the idea of a car taking control from its driver. But Ford points out that fewer than one-third of all drivers involved in rear-end collisions had attempted to steer clear of the accident, according to data collected by Germany’s Federal Statistical Office. With that in mind, one independent analyst said it should not be too hard for manufacturers to convince motorists of the innovation’s benefit.

Ford test car
Ford showed off the technology to the press at a track in Lommel, Belgium

“The logic behind the technology is impeccable – anything that can avoid a potentially dangerous situation that can cause injury or death sounds like a good piece of equipment,” said Tim Urquhart, senior analyst at consultants IHS Automotive. “Obviously it will come at a price. But there will be less resistance to a piece of technology like this than there will be to the concept of totally driverless cars. “But autonomous vehicles are already being tested by Google, Daimler and others, and taking steering control in an emergency situation is obviously a pretty significant step along the road.” Ford said more tests were needed and it was not yet ready to announce a launch date for its Obstacle Avoidance system.

Is Sprite the cure for your hangover woes?


Hungover? New research suggests you may want to reach for a can of Sprite.
A study published in the September 2013 issue of Food and Function showed that chemicals in the non-caffeinated beverage can halt that awful next-day feeling.
6 Photos “Hangover Heaven” bus rolls out in Las Vegas View the Full Gallery » While drinking too much alcohol could certainly lead to a hangover, the booze itself isn’t the culprit — it’s how it’s broken down. The authors point out that when the liver processes alcohol (also known as ethanol) it creates several chemical byproducts. One is called acetaldehyde,which causes the feelings of a hangover. Acetaldehyde eventually turns into acetate, which does not cause hangover symptoms and can provide some benefits like extra energy.
The Mayo Clinic cites additional reasons that alcohol can cause hangovers, including the beverage’s ability to cause your body to produce more urine — which in turn makes you dehydrated — and to trigger an inflammatory response from your immune system. Alcohol is also known to irritate the lining of your stomach, cause blood sugar to fall and expand blood vessels, leading to headaches. It also makes people sleepy and reduces their quality of sleep. There’s also the possibility that ingredients in alcohol that give it flavor called congeners, also add to that hangover.
The researchers focused on how to stop acetaldehyde from lingering in the body for too long. They believed that if they manipulated alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), an enzyme that turns ethanol into acetaldehyde, and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH, which turns acetaldehyde into acetate), they could shorten the time it took acetaldehyde to turn into acetate, essentially cutting the time the person was hungover.
5 Photos Hangover “cures” View the Full Gallery » The researchers tested 57 different beverages including Huo ma ren(a hemp-seed based beverage), various teas and different carbonated drinks.
Herbal teas were observed to slow down the process. However, Sprite and soda water were shown to speed up ALDH activity, which would theoretically curb the hangover.
Edzard Ernst, a medical expert at the University of Exeter in the U.K., told Chemistry World that the study was intriguing, but cautioned that people shouldn’t start stocking up on Sprite if they are going out on the town.
“These results are a reminder that herbal and other supplements can have pharmacological activities that can both harm and benefit our health,” Ernst said.
This isn’t the first scientific analysis of a hangover cure reported this year. Dr. Alyson E. Mitchell, a food chemist at the University of California at Davis, looked closely at the New Orleans-based hangover cure, Yak-a-mein soup. She found, for example, eggs in the soup help clear acetaldehyde from the body.

Top Children’s Vitamin Brand Contains Aspartame, GMOs and Other Hazardous Ingredients


The #1 Children’s Vitamin Brand in the US contains ingredients that most parents would never intentionally expose their children to, so why aren’t more opting for healthier alternatives?
Image: rawforbeauty.com

Kids vitamins are supposed to be healthy, right? Well then, what’s going on with Flintstones Vitamins, which proudly claims to be “Pediatricians’ #1 Choice”? Produced by the global pharmaceutical corporation Bayer, this wildly successful brand features a shocking list of unhealthy ingredients, including:

Aspartame

Cupric Oxide

Coal tar artificial coloring agents (FD&C Blue #2, Red #40, Yellow #6)

Zinc Oxide

Sorbitol

Ferrous Fumarate

Hydrogenated Oil (Soybean)

GMO Corn starch

On Bayer Health Science’s Flintstones product page designed for healthcare professionals they lead into the product description with the following tidbit of information:

82% of kids aren’t eating all of their veggies1. Without enough vegetables, kids may not be getting all of the nutrients they need.

References: 1. Lorson BA, Melgar-Quinonez HR, Taylor CA. Correlates of fruit and vegetable intakes in US children. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009;109(3):474-478.

The implication? That Flintstones vitamins somehow fill this nutritional void. But let’s look a little closer at some of these presumably healthy ingredients….

ASPARTAME

Aspartame is a synthetic combination of the amino acids aspartic acid and l-phenylalanine, and is known to convert into highly toxic methanol and formaldehyde in the body. Aspartame has been linked to over 40 adverse health effects in the biomedical literature, and has been shown to exhibit both neurotoxicity and carcinogenicity [1] What business does a chemical like this have doing in a children’s vitamin, especially when non-toxic, non-synthetic non-nutritive sweeteners like stevia already exist?

CUPRIC OXIDE 

Next, let’s look closer at Cupric Oxide, 2mg of which is included in each serving of Flinstone’s Complete chewable vitamins as a presumably ‘nutritional’ source of ‘copper,’ supplying “100% of the Daily Value (Ages 4+), according to Flintstones Vitamins Web site’s Nutritional Info.[2]
But what is Cupric Oxide? A nutrient or a chemical?

According to the European Union’s Dangerous Substance Directive, one of the main EU laws concerning chemical safety, Cupric Oxide is listed as a Hazardous substance, classified as both “Harmful (XN)” and “Dangerous for the environment” (N). Consider that it has industrial applications as a pigment in ceramics, and as a chemical in the production of rayon fabric and dry cell batteries. In may be technically correct to call it a mineral, but should it be listed as a nutrient in a children’s vitamin? We think not.

COAL TAR ARTIFICIAL COLORING AGENTS

Image: rawforbeauty.com


A well-known side effect of using synthetic dyes is attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. For direct access to study abstracts on this topic view our Food Coloring research page.  There is also indication that the neurotoxicity of artificial food coloring agents increase when combined with aspartame, making the combination of ingredients in Flintstones even more concerning.

ZINC OXIDE

Each serving of Flinstones Complete Chewable vitamins contain 12 mg of zinc oxide, which the manufacturer claims delivers 75% of the Daily Value to children 2  & 3 years of age.  Widely used as a sun protection factor (SPF) in sunscreens, The EU’s Dangerous Substance Directive classifies it as an environmental Hazard, “Dangerous for the environment (N).”  How it can be dangerous to the environment, but not for humans ingesting it, escapes me.  One thing is for sure, if one is to ingest supplemental zinc, or market it for use by children, it makes much more sense using a form that is organically bound (i.e. ‘chelated’) to an amino acid like glycine, as it will be more bioavailable and less toxic.

Sources:  GREENMEDINFO.COM

Gene Activity In Thousands Of Cells Visualized For The First Time, Important For Understanding Cancer Tumors.


For the first time, scientists will be able to visualize gene activity in thousands of cells all at once.

Biologists at the University of Zurich developed a new method using robots, an automated fluorescence microscope and a supercomputer where 1,000 human genes can be studied in 10,000 single cells. Details surrounding the new technique, published in the journal Nature Methods, may impact how cancer is treated.

“Our method will be of importance to basic research and the understanding of cancer tumors because it allows us to map the activity of genes within single tumor cells,” Professor Lucas Pelkmans from the University of Zurich, said in a statement.

The technique revolves around transcript molecules — particles that are created whenever cells activate genes. Transcript molecules in effect make the function of the gene available to the cell. While present methods allow scientists to determine gene activity by measuring the amount of transcript molecules, they are not able to measure thousands of them simultaneously.  

“When genes become active, specific transcript molecules are produced. We can stain them with the help of a robot,” Thomas Stoeger of the University of Zurich said. Once stained, fluorescence microscope images of glowing transcript molecules are generated and then analyzed by the supercomputer. Not only can 1,000 human genes be studied in 10,000 single cells but, for the first time, the spatial organization of the transcript molecules of many genes can be observed.

The technique yielded a few surprises. It showed that individual cells distinguish themselves from the activity in their genes. Plus, scientists were shocked to discover inconsistences in the spatial organization of transcript molecules within single cells and between multiple single cells.

“We realized that genes with a similar function also have a similar variability in the transcript patterns,” Nico Battich said. “This similarity exceeds the variability in the amount of transcript molecules, and allows us to predict the function of individual genes.”

How to Treat Back Pain Without Dangerous Drugs.


Story at-a-glance

  • Back pain is a prevalent problem in the United States, with at least 31 million Americans experiencing low back pain at any given time.
  • Sports injuries are common causes of back pain. But there are other factors that increase your risk of this condition, such as poor posture, obesity, poor physical conditioning and inactivity, psychological and emotional stress, and silent diseases like osteoporosis.
  • Prolonged sitting and poor posture put you at risk of not only chronic back pain, but other health issues as well, such as weight gain, obesity, joint problems, and other diseases.
  • Prescription drugs for back pain are saddled with severe, even life threatening side effects. NSAIDs, one of the most commonly prescribed painkillers in the market, put you at a two- to four-fold higher risk of heart attack, stroke, as well as a variety of other health problems.
  • There are many safe and effective alternatives to prescription and over-the-counter painkillers, and while they may require some patience for them to work, the improvements they generate are often longer lasting. Some of the effective strategies I recommend include chiropractic care, yoga, massage, exercises for back pain, and Neuro-Structural Integration Technique (NST).

Back Pain

Back pain is a common health issue today that affects at least eight out of 10 people. It is a prevalent problem among Americans. In fact, statistics from the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) reveal that at least 31 million Americans experience lower back pain at any given time.

The ACA report also says that:

  • One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.
  • Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, it is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office (next to upper-respiratory infections).
  • As many as 75 to 85 percent of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives. In most cases, this pain is mechanical in nature – it is NOT caused by a serious medical condition, such as inflammatory arthritis or fracture.

Chronic back pain has become such a debilitating problem – and it’s costly, too. According to the ACA, Americans spend at least 50 billion dollars each year on back pain—and that’s just for the more easily identified costs!

I cannot stress enough that preventing or treating disease is possible without the intervention of medications. The same is true for back pain. You only need to address the root cause of the problem by changing your lifestyle and the way you eat and move.

Below is a discussion of the potential causes of back pain, my recommendations for back pain treatment, and how you can alleviate this problem without putting any additional burden on your health.

What Are the Common Causes of Back Pain?

Accidents and sports injuries are the most common causes of chronic back pain. But sometimes, even simple activities or movements – like bending over to pick up an object from the floor – can trigger pain.

There are also a number of other factors that can increase your risk of back pain, such as:

Poor posture Poor physical conditioning facilitated by inactivity Internal disease, such as kidney stones, infections, blood clots
Obesity – According to a study posted in the Journal of American Epidemiology, overweight and obese people had a higher prevalence of low back pain than non-overweight individuals.1 Psychological/emotional stress Osteoporosis or bone loss (as measured by the Z-score and not the young adult-based T-score)

Sedentary Lifestyle Puts You at Risk of Back Pain – and Much More

There is one common denominator among most patients who suffer from severe cases of chronic pain: sedentary lifestyle. A majority of back, neck, and other muscle pains are related to imbalanced distribution of force throughout your body, which is created by working or staying in unnatural positions for extended periods. Prolonged sitting and poor posture are major risk factors of not only back pain, but also of weight gain, obesity, joint problems, nerve problems like carpal tunnel syndrome, and other debilitating diseases. In fact, prolonged sitting – along with smoking and obesity – is now an important risk factor for chronic disease!

An analysis of 18 studies showed the value of reduced sitting. It was found that people who sat for the longest periods of time were twice as likely to develop heart disease or diabetes, compared to those who sat the least. This proves that being physically active is great not only for your back, but also for your overall health. In fact, reducing your sitting time may even prolong your life. One study published in the British Medical Journal found that reducing the average time you spend sitting to less than three hours per day may increase your life expectancy by two years (the average American today spends 4.5 to five hours per day on a chair or sofa).2 So if you have chronic back pain, it is critical that you evaluate your lifestyle and whether or not you’re getting enough exercise. Failing to exercise, and moving your body enough in general, may be the main reason why you’re suffering from this condition.

The Price You Pay for Poor Emotional Health

There’s increasing evidence that back pain and other types of pain may be exacerbated by psychological or emotional issues. It is my experience that emotional health and your ability to effectively address your stress is an essential component for optimal health, and can have a major influence on whether or not you’re effectively eliminating your pain.

If you have any underlying emotional issues and unresolved trauma, it can profoundly influence your health, particularly in terms of physical pain. A 2004 study on back pain supports this theory. Its researchers followed 100 patients over the course of four years. All of the patients, who were back pain-free at the start of the study underwent psychological tests. Afterwards, the researchers compared which of the participants remained pain-free and which ones developed back pain.

According to the results, the people who scored poorly on the psychological tests were three times more likely to report having experienced back pain by the end of the study.

Many health experts from various fields of medicine agree that emotional and psychological trauma has severe effects on a person’s risk of acquiring chronic pain. One example is Dr. John Sarno, a psychiatrist who uses mind-body techniques to treat patients with severe low back pain. He specializes in helping individuals who already had surgery for low back pain but did not get any relief.

This is one tough group of patients – yet Dr. Sarno has a greater than 80 percent success rate! He uses techniques like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), an acupuncture-like technique that stimulates meridian points throughout your body. Read more about EFT. Sadly, many people dismiss these types of treatment strategies simply because they seem “too simple to be effective.” Unfortunately, they believe that in order to get back pain relief, they need to undergo radical treatment or take medications.

The Dangers of Drugs for Back Pain Treatment

Back Pain MedicationsConventional health care practitioners are quick to prescribe medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, and even opioids for chronic pain. But even if these medications can provide immediate back pain relief, their effect is only temporary – the pain will come back sooner or later and in some cases will cause hyperalgesia, or increased sensitivity to pain!

What’s more, medications touted to provide back pain relief are saddled with severe side effects. For example, NSAIDs, one of the most commonly prescribed drugs on the market, not only put you at a two- to four-fold higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems, but may also cause:

  • Severe gastrointestinal problems, like digestive tract bleeding
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Kidney problems

Be mindful that these life-threatening side effects of painkillers are not restricted to prescription NSAIDs like Celebrex, but may also come from over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, Advil, and Motrin.

Opioid painkillers like OxyContin, which are also commonly prescribed for back pain relief, also have a highly addictive nature. In fact, opioids are among the most commonly abused prescription drugs today, and are a leading contributor to the increasing rates of fatal prescription drug overdoses. This is why back pain is now one of the primary reasons why so many American adults get addicted to painkillers.

The bottom line is that painkillers always come with risks. Unfortunately, if you consult your conventional physician about your chronic back pain, he will often prescribe a long-term treatment plan that may include anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants and possibly other types of pain medication or even anti-seizure drugs – a poisonous chemical cocktail that will put your health at severe risk!

Is Your Physician Prescribing This Expensive But Dangerous Drug for Back Pain?

Big Pharma recently began promoting Humira, an expensive drug with a price tag of nearly 20,000 dollars a year. Humira is touted to help treat ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory disease of the axial skeleton, which includes the spine. It is outrageous how drug companies promote this dangerous drug for an exceedingly rare cause of low back pain – one that is only responsible for less than a tenth of a tenth of one percent of low back pain! What’s more, Humira may cause severe side effects, such as:

    • Tuberculosis

Back Pain X-Ray

  • Serious infections
  • Increased risk of lymphoma and other cancers
  • Hepatitis B infection
  • Allergic reactions
  • Liver, nervous system, and blood problems
  • Heart failure
  • Immune reactions, such as lupus-like syndrome
  • Psoriasis

This is just the short list; Humira may have even more damaging effects on your health only to emerge later through post-marketing surveillance in exposed populations who are being forced to act as living guinea pigs.

Cut Your Risk of Back Pain Right from the Start!

As with any health condition or disease, preventing back pain is better than trying to cure it after it has set in, and may be too late. So even if you’re not experiencing back pain symptoms, I would recommend you follow these simple tips:

  1. Always stretch before any strenuous physical activity. In fact, I strongly advise you to engage in a regular stretching program. My favorite is active isolated stretching (AIS), developed by Aaron Mattes. It’s completely different from the traditional type of stretching, and is a great way to get flexibility back into your system.
  2. Do not slouch when standing or sitting.
  3. If you spend most of your time sitting, pay careful attention to consciously sucking in your belly and rotating your pelvis slightly up. At the same time, you should keep your head back, with your ears over your shoulders and your shoulder blades pinched. This posture will keep your spine in proper alignment. Do this every hour you’re sitting, holding the muscles tight for several minutes.
  4. Sit in chairs or car seats with good lumbar support.
  5. Switch your sitting positions often. I would also recommend periodically walking around or gently stretching your muscles to relieve tension.
  6. Avoid bending over without supporting your back.
  7. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. Women should also refrain from wearing heels all the time.
  8. Sleep on your side to reduce any curve in your spine. You should also sleep on a firm surface.
  9. When weight-lifting using your legs, always keep your back straight.
  10. Maintain an optimal weight.
  11. Quit smoking. Smoking reduces blood flow to your lower spine, causing the spinal discs to degenerate.
  12. Get enough vitamin D from sun exposure daily, as vitamin D helps keep your bones, including your spine, strong.
  13. Drink plenty of water to enhance the height of your intervertebral disks. Since your body is composed mostly of water, staying hydrated will keep you fluid and reduce stiffness.

How to Relieve Back Pain Naturally

If you are already suffering from chronic back pain or pain of any kind, you should understand that there are many safe and effective alternatives to prescription and over-the-counter painkillers, though they may require some patience. Here are some strategies I highly recommend:

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic Care for Back PainOne of the best tactics to help treat back pain is to see a qualified chiropractor. I am an avid supporter of the chiropractic philosophy, which puts great emphasis on your body’s innate healing wisdom and does not rely on “Band-Aids” like drugs and surgery.

The problem is that a lot of people ignore chiropractic care, thinking that it’s just “pushing bones into place.” However, there’s a whole lot more to chiropractic care. In fact, one of the basic foundations of this health system is “vitalism” – recognizing that the human body has an innate healing intelligence or ‘life force’ that guides and directs your body’s healing process.

Qualified chiropractic, osteopathic, and naturopathic physicians are reliable, as they have received extensive training in the management of musculoskeletal disorders during their course of graduate healthcare training, which lasts between four to six years. These health experts have comprehensive training in musculoskeletal management.

Many studies have confirmed that chiropractic management is much safer and less expensive than allopathic medical treatments, especially when used for low-back pain treatment.

What’s more, researchers have also found that chiropractic adjustments may affect the chemistry of biological processes on a cellular level. Chiropractic care can affect the basic physiological processes that profoundly influence oxidative stress, immune function and DNA repair. This means that aside from addressing any immediate spinal misalignment that might cause back pain, chiropractic care can also help address, prevent and treat deeper dysfunctions in your body.

Exercises for Back Pain

Adapting an exercise program can help compensate for long hours of being sedentary, a risk factor of back pain. Exercise and being physically active help strengthen the muscles of your spine. One of the best back pain exercises I recommend isFoundation Training, created by chiropractor Dr. Eric Goodman. He developed it to address his own chronic back pain.

Foundation Training exercises are simple but powerful structural movements that help strengthen and realign your body posture and address the root cause of lower back pain, which is related to weakness and imbalance among your posterior chain of muscles that are caused by a sedentary lifestyle and too much sitting.

Foundation Training focuses on your core – the part of your body connected to your pelvis, whether above or below it. These include your hamstrings, glutes, and adductor muscles. Foundation Training teaches all these muscles to work together through integrated chains of movement, which is how you’re structurally designed to move, as opposed to compartmentalized movements like crunches.

Every exercise included in Foundation Training lengthens the front of your body, which is over-tightened, and strengthens the back of your body, helping you stand tall and move with grace and flexibility.

Anyone who wants to do Foundation Training must learn “The Founder,” the key basic exercise. The Founder disperses your weight through the posterior chains, helping to reinforce proper movement while strengthening the entire back of your body. This excellent exercise can help reverse the effects of frequent and prolonged sitting that may lead to back pain. To learn how to do the Founder, watch this video:

To help address back pain caused by excessive sitting, I also recommend Egoscue Exercises, a series of stretches and special exercises that help restore your muscular balance and skeletal alignment. I often spend at least one hour or more doing an Egoscue exercise called “The Tower.” It’s simple – you only need to lie on the floor and allow your pelvis and thoracic spine to relax. I found this exercise tremendously helpful for treating my chronic low back pain, which is now gone.

You should also include high-intensity sessions in your exercise routine, although you only need to do these once or twice a week at the most. You should also include exercises that not only challenge your body intensely, but also promote muscle strength, balance, and flexibility. Remember to build up your abdominals to avoid back pain. And, as mentioned above, always do some stretching and warm-ups before engaging in strenuous physical activity.

Remember, though, that just because you exercise regularly doesn’t mean that you can justify your long hours spent sitting. In fact, even if you’re fairly physically active, you may still succumb to back pain and other health problems if you spend most of your day behind a desk or on the couch. This phenomenon is called the “active couch potato effect.” In order to avoid this, you must make it a habit to break the pattern of sitting as frequently as possible. Dr. Goodman says:

“Stand up throughout the day to stretch your body appropriately, the way it is meant to be stretched. The simple act of standing as tall as possible for a minute or two will help break the pattern of sitting, as long as you repeat it frequently. Be sure that while standing you take full deep breaths to expand your torso as well. We often have very shallow breath while we sit, counter that with big deep breaths as often as you can throughout the day.

My opinion is that people should not go longer than 30 minutes in a chair without standing, deep breathing, walking and stretching. If you think I am crazy for asking that much of you, then I suggest you not go longer than 20 minutes.”

Yoga

Yoga for Back PainYoga may be an effective strategy for alleviating back pain by making people more aware of how they move their bodies. The benefits of yoga were proven in a study of more than 100 adults with lower back pain. After taking weekly yoga classes for 12 weeks, the participants, who were between ages 20 to 64, experienced improvement in their body function and a reduced need for pain medication. At the end of the study, only 21 percent of the patients who take the yoga class were taking pain medication, down from almost 60 percent at the start.

Massage

Back MassageGetting a massage is another simple strategy I recommend to help ease not only your back pain (and other types of pain), but anxiety as well. Massage offers real health benefits that are being recognized even by conventional hospitals, making it a standard therapy for surgery patients. Massage releases endorphins that help induce relaxation, relieve pain, and reduce levels of stress chemicals, such as cortisol and noradrenaline. It also reverses the damaging effects of stress by slowing your heart rate, respiration, and metabolism and lowering raised blood pressure. Massage can:

Ease your tense and knotted muscles and stiff joints, improving mobility and flexibility Relieve pain caused by migraines, labor, fibromyalgia, and even cancer
Relax and soften your injured and overused muscles, reducing spasms and cramping Stimulate your lymph system, which is your body’s natural defense against toxic invaders
Reduce recovery time for strenuous workouts and eliminate subsequent pains of the athlete at any level Provide arthritis pain relief by increasing joint flexibility
Reduce and realign scar tissue after healing has occurred Reduce post-surgery adhesions and edema
Boost your level of alertness and attention Contribute to shorter labor and reduce tearing for expectant mothers
Decrease symptoms of PMS Reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and ease insomnia

Neuro-Structural Integration Technique (NST)

If you’ve never heard of neuro-structural integration technique (NST), then you may be missing out on a simple but effective treatment for your back pain. NST is a gentle and non-invasive technique that stimulates your body’s reflexes. Simple movements are done across your muscles, nerves, and connective tissue. These help your neuromuscular system to reset all related tension levels and promote natural healing. It is different from massage and other manipulations that try to “force” a change – it simply resets your body to heal itself. It gives profound and lasting results that you may feel as soon as the second or third session.

NST is safe for everyone. Highly trained athletes, newborns, pregnant women, elderly, and sick individuals who suffer from back pain can find relief using this technology. Get a more in-depth explanation of NST through this article by Michael Nixon Levy, who developed this amazing technique.

Other Strategies to Eliminate Chronic Back Pain (and Other Types of Pain)

In addition to the tips above, I also recommend these simple and natural ways to prevent and relieve back pain:

  • Get sufficient high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. One of the best sources of omega-3s is krill oil supplement. The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA contained in krill oil have been found in many animal and clinical studies to have anti-inflammatory properties. Unlike fish oil, krill oil does not pose any toxicity and rancidity to your body, which may only damage your health. It is also far lower on the food chain, making it far less likely to accumulate environmental chemicals and toxins.
  • Eliminate or radically reduce your intake of grains and sugars, especially fructose. Excessive intake of grains and sugars will elevate your insulin and leptin levels primarily through causing your body to be resistant to them, resulting in the increase of inflammatory prostaglandin production.
  • Optimize your vitamin D (through regular and appropriate sun exposure) and vitamin K2 levels. These nutrients will help prevent the softening of your bones that can often lead to lower back pain.

As for back pain management, I suggest trying these natural solutions that provide excellent pain relief without any of the health hazards that pain medications often carry:

  • Astaxanthin – This is one of the most effective oil-soluble antioxidants known to man today. Astaxanthin has very potent anti-inflammatory properties. In some cases, it may even be more effective than NSAIDs. You may need to take high doses of this antioxidant (as much as eight milligrams a day), though, to achieve this benefit.
  • Ginger – This anti-inflammatory herb has pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Steep fresh ginger in boiling water to make a delicious and fragrant tea. Grating and adding it to your vegetable juice is a good idea as well.
  • Curcumin – This is the primary therapeutic compound found in the spice turmeric. A study of osteoarthritis patients revealed curcumin’s pain relief effects: individuals who added 200 milligrams of curcumin a day to their treatment plan were found to have reduced pain and increased mobility. In fact, over 50 clinical studies have proven curcumin’s potent anti-inflammatory activity. There are also four studies that demonstrated its ability to reduce Tylenol-associated adverse health effects.
  • Cayenne cream – Also known as capsaicin cream, this is a spice made from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain.
  • Boswellia – Also called boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this herb has been prized for thousands of years for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. This is one of my personal favorites, as I have seen it work well with many of my rheumatoid arthritis patients.
  • Bromelain – Found in pineapples, this protein-digesting enzyme is a natural anti-inflammatory. Bromelain can be used in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful. Most of the bromelain is found within the pineapple’s core, so make sure you leave a little of the pulpy core intact when you eat the fruit.
  • Cetyl myristoleate (CMO) – An oil found typically in fish and dairy butter, CMO acts as a “joint lubricant” and an anti-inflammatory. I use a topical preparation for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and alleviate mild annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that flares up when I type too much on non-ergonomic keyboards.
  • Evening Primrose, Black Currant, and Borage Oils – The fatty acid gamma linoleic acid (GLA) found in these oils is useful for treating arthritic pain.

I strongly advise you to try these simple but successful back pain relief alternatives. Not only will they treat the underlying causes of back pain, but they can also spare you from additional harm, unlike pharmaceutical or surgical “Band-Aids.”

References:

WHO prequalifies JE vaccine, clears way to reach children in poor countries.


The World Health Organization (WHO) today granted its seal of approval to a vaccine that protects children from a deadly brain infection. The live, attenuated Japanese encephalitis (JE) vaccine, known as SA 14-14-2 and manufactured in China through a unique partnership with PATH, has the potential to protect millions of children in Asia against the devastating infection.

“With WHO prequalification, we can accelerate the availability of a safe, affordable vaccine to children who need it most,” said Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, director of PATH’s Vaccine Access and Delivery program. “It’s a landmark moment that signals the power of collaboration in tackling this devastating disease and bringing lifesaving solutions to vulnerable communities.”

 

A historic moment

From negotiating an affordable public-sector price for the vaccine to constructing a new manufacturing facility, PATH and the Chengdu Institute of Biological Products (CDIBP) have worked toward this tremendous milestone for more than ten years with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

WHO’s prequalification clears the way for international financing to help bring greater access to the vaccine in low-resource, JE-endemic countries where 4 billion people live in areas at risk for the disease.

JE kills as many as 15,000 people, mostly children, each year and causes lifelong disabilities for tens of thousands more. The disease, transmitted by mosquitoes, is untreatable, which makes prevention even more critical.

 

Tapping into China’s capacity to improve health

The vaccine is the first-ever Chinese vaccine to receive WHO prequalification, marking China’s debut as a manufacturer of high-quality vaccines for the global health marketplace. The model has the potential to have a long-term effect on the availability and affordability of more vaccines for the people who need them most.

PATH harnessed our technical expertise and forged effective partnerships to help distribute the vaccine beyond China, where it has been used successfully for more than two decades, to reach millions more people in poor countries with affordable and sustainable protection. Outside of China, more than 200 million people in India, Cambodia, Nepal, and eight other countries have already received SA 14-14-2—the first JE vaccine prequalified for use in children—with stellar results.

Source:PATH

 

 

Scientists take a quieter step closer to first practical quantum computer


Scientists working to produce the world’s fastest, most powerful computers have moved a step closer to creating a practical prototype using microwaves – by shielding the atoms driving this new generation of computers from the harmful effects of noise.

Microwaves are already used in smart phone technology, but scientists are now looking at how they can harness so that atomic particles can be used to store and process data on a new type of computer called a quantum computer.

The ability to store and process huge amounts of data in a quantum way (on an atomic scale) would revolutionise computing, making it possible to carry out massive calculations and enabling computers to understand chemical reactions, create new medicines and carry out seemingly impossible simulations, such as the creation of our universe.

To build a quantum computer, scientists trap electrically charged atoms (ions) and control them so that they can be harnessed to form the “atomic highways” that would build the computer network.

The first small-scale ion trap quantum computers have already been built using lasers to carry out calculations within the ‘quantum processor’, but the number of lasers needed to make a large-scale quantum computer would make this a substantial engineering challenge.

A new generation of quantum computers is now being devised utilising microwaves instead, which are easier to use and which should bring the construction of a large-scale ion-trap quantum-information processor much closer.

But there is a problem.

The quantum effects that give a quantum computer its tremendous power (such as quantum superposition, where a single object can be at two different places simultaneously) are easily destroyed by any external noise.

Now, Dr Winfried Hensinger, along with postdoctoral fellow Simon Webster and PhD students Seb Weidt, Kim Lake and James McLoughlin, who form part of Dr Hensinger’s Sussex Ion Quantum Technology Group, have come up with an extremely efficient and easy way to shield the quantum computer from external noise, effectively enabling large-scale operation of a microwave quantum computer. Their paper is published in the journal, Physical Review Letters (04 October 2013).

By applying a special combination of microwaves and radio frequency fields, the team were able to modify the atoms so that they became more resilient to external noise.

Dr Hensinger says: “While large scale quantum computers might be still 10-30 years away, we have now managed to clear another big hurdle and we are highly excited about the opportunities that arise from this discovery.

“The most groundbreaking applications of quantum computers are not even known yet. When classical computers were first invented, nobody anticipated the way they would transform society. In the same way, because of the unbelievable power of quantum computers, predictions are difficult to make and we can only begin to imagine how they will change our lives.”