6 Ways to Bring More Compassion into Your Life.


“We can reject everything else: religion, ideology, all received wisdom. But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion…. This, then, is my true religion, my simple faith. In this sense, there is no need for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine or dogma. Our own heart, our own mind, is the temple. The doctrine is compassion. Love for others and respect for their rights and dignity, no matter who or what they are: ultimately these are all we need. So long as we practice these in our daily lives, then no matter if we are learned or unlearned, whether we believe in Buddha or God, or follow some other religion or none at all, as long as we have compassion for others and conduct ourselves with restraint out of a sense of responsibility, there is no doubt we will be happy.” ~ Dalai Lama XIV

I think we can agree the universal thread among all religions and spirituality is compassion and currently the world is in need of more compassion.  What if we haven’t mastered compassion because our definition of it is all wrong?

Looking at the very definition of the word suggests we don’t understand the full dynamic of emotions involved with compassion:  sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

Compassionate individuals like Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa, went beyond the mere recognition of pain of others and found ways to ease others pain. They were motivated to help through selfless service and kindness without expectation or an ulterior motive other than genuine love and concern.

Here is a step by step approach to becoming more compassionate we can all implement.

1. Self-Compassion Practice Comes First

Care and love towards others has its origins in care and love for oneself. You can only give to others what you have already cultivated within yourself. If you aren’t loving towards yourself, you will certainly criticize and expect the worst in others. Learning to have more compassion requires us to make the radical shift to assume the best in ourselves and others. Develop self-compassion by asking yourself this when you feel pain “This is a difficult for me right now, how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?” Recognize all of us suffer, make mistakes and are imperfect, it’s part of the shared human experience. Who said the goal was for us to be perfect anyway?

2. Be Aware of the Suffering of Others

To be compassionate toward others, we need to notice the suffering around us. If we overlook our friends pain, ignore the homeless person on the street or think someone else will help those affected by atrocities around the world, we can’t feel compassionate for others. To be aware, we have to practice being present and opening our eyes and hearts to connect to people around us. Once we care for others suffering, rather than mere pity, we will shift towards being more compassionate.

3. Feel the pain; but don’t get consumed

When we see someone in distress and our heart responds by feeling moved to lessen their pain, that is the essence of feeling another’s pain.  This comes from a place of empathy and desire to help without expectation. This differs from listening to someone vent about their challenges and absorbing their negativity. When you get sucked into their drama and feel their anger, you deplete your own energy and are of no benefit or positivity to the person you seek to help.

4. Build Genuine Human Connections

We lead private lives, choose what we share with others and numb our emotions to avoid feeling discomfort. No wonder we have no feelings of empathy towards strangers or people in our life. Building genuine connections requires us to find the common thread between all of us: pain. Our painful life experiences are different, but the underlying pain we feel is the same. By being vulnerable and sharing our story with those who deserve to hear it, we feel connected to others. Feeling the pain of others requires us to recognize that our similarities far outweigh our differences.

5. Accept Other’s Life Experiences

We aren’t here to fight the battles of others, change their life situation or lecture them about how they should live their life. Sometimes people share their story to be heard, not for our advice.  In some situations the best thing to say is “ I may not understand exactly how you feel, but I want you to know you don’t have to go through this alone.” We have to recognize that people are exactly where they need to be in this moment. We are here to bring relief to their situation and respect each of our individual journeys.

6. Be Kind to All

Having compassion means you offer kindness regardless of others attitudes or mistakes. The best way to practice this is by the loving kindness meditation.  As you go about your day, silently bless the people you meet in your mind. “I send you love, happiness and peace in all areas of your life.” Kindness isn’t made up of grand gestures; it is a compilation of small acts of warmth. It’s a genuine smile, listening without judgment, a warm embrace or touch on a shoulder that can make another person feel your kindness and positive vibrations.

Our world is in dire need for compassionate souls who are willing to selflessly help others. Lack of compassion in our world is a shared human reality. We can make the world a more compassionate place, if we do our part to make ourselves more compassionate.

“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.” ~ Dalai Lama

Advertisements

How L’Oreal committed to the ultimate makeover.


The world’s largest beauty and cosmetics company, L’Oreal, has made a landmark promise to remove forest destruction from the products they sell.

“Because I’m Worth It” is a catchy slogan coined 40 years ago by the French cosmetics company. It spoke about female empowerment and was in fact created by one of the few female copywriters in the industry.

But now we feel the slogan has taken on a whole new meaning.

Their commitment to cut forest destruction from their supply chains is a win for consumers and forests around the world.

We urge l’Oreal to guarantee their products are forest-friendly sooner rather than later and not wait till the 2020 deadline the company has set. If Ferrero can set a deadline for 2015, then so can other companies, L’Oreal included.

Deforestation for Palm Oil by Bumitama in Indonesia Excavators clear intact peatland forests and build drainage canals in an oil palm concession owned by PT Andalan Sukses Makmur, a subsidiary of Bumitama Agri Ltd.

There’s a good chance that you use palm oil everyday, without even knowing about it. It’s an ingredient in products as diverse as shampoo, toothpaste, chocolate, and detergent. It’s virtually everywhere. Plantations for palm oil sell their palm oil fruit to traders. And from these companies it’s sold to huge corporations that make products we find on our supermarket shelves.

To get this far has not been easy. And though you may not know it, it was certainly not possible without you.

This story starts nearly a year ago, when we began to investigate how Wilmar International, the world’s largest palm oil trader, was laundering dirty palm oil and selling it to major brands, like Gillette, Ferrero, Cadbury, L’Oreal and Clearasil.

We revealed how companies’ weak policies expose consumers to forest destruction, confronted companies at their offices, and contacted corporations the world over.

Then something interesting happened.

First Ferrero announced a detailed, ambitious policy to only buy forest-friendly palm oil. Then Mondelez (which makes Cadbury) followed with an announcement to start working on a similar policy.

And then we threw the spotlight on companies’ sourcing practices in the Tiger Challenge, showing how weak policies allow forest destruction to get into your products.

On 5 December, Wilmar announced that it would stop clearing forests and stop buying oil from companies that it knew were engaged forest destruction.

And now L’Oreal.

While you may not have sent an email to L’Oreal about their palm oil use, being part of Greenpeace meant that you didn’t need to. Just the possibility that you and millions of others around the world might take action was enough to persuade these companies to act now.

Backed by global people power, we were able to convince L’Oreal to hammer out a commitment that will, if implemented, protect forests.

That’s the kind of power you hold.

L’Oreal now joins Nestle, Unilever and Ferrero, which have committed to No Deforestation policies, and applies to all their brands such as Maybelline, Garnier and Kielh’s, to name a few.

We look forward to the day when L’Oreal can finally guarantee its products are totally free from forest destruction. In the meantime, we’ll keep pushing L’Oreal to guarantee forest-friendly products earlier than 2020. The forests can’t wait six more years.

L’Oreal’s commitment puts the heat on those who continue to drag their feet. Companies that produce brands such as Heads & Shoulders, Colgate and Clearasil must step up and commit keep up to date with how we intend to ramp up the pressure on companies that continue to drag their feet.

The boy who can’t go near pregnant women: Teenager has contagious virus that can cause disabilities in unborn babies.


Bryant (pictured with his mother, Leanne) has cytomegalovirus which is usually harmless in adults but can cause deafness and learning disabilities in unborn babies
  • Bryant Hackett, 14, has cytomegalovirus (CMV) which is usually harmless to adults but can cause deafness and learning disabilities in unborn babies
  • He goes to an all-boys school to prevent him coming into contact with pregnant women and he is not allowed near his sister who is expecting
  • He has been told he will have to stay clear of women who could be pregnant for the foreseeable future

A teenager is being forced to attend an all-boys school because he is dangerous to women – at least if they’re pregnant.

Bryant Hackett, 14, has been diagnosed with cytomegalovirus (CMV) and has been told by medics he is to avoid close contact with expectant women for the foreseeable future.

Although the virus is not causing Bryant to suffer any symptoms, it could be harmful if contracted by a pregnant woman.

Bryant Hackett, 14, is not allowed near women who could be pregnant because he has a virus which is dangerous for unborn babies
Bryant Hackett, 14, is not allowed near women who could be pregnant because he has a virus which is dangerous for unborn babies

He is even unable to have any contact with his sister Terri Wooton, 20, who is expecting a baby in a few weeks’ time.

Bryant, of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, said: ‘I miss my sister a lot and can’t wait until she gives birth. She is due in a few weeks.’

Bryant was diagnosed with the virus in July of last year after a rare strain of hepatitis he believes he picked up while on holiday in Majorca left him with a catalogue of health problems.

It caused him to develop liver failure and end up a with a blood platelet count of just four – the normal level is between 150 and 400.

He suffered bone marrow failure and had to have two bone marrow transplants which first required him to have chemotherapy to clear his existing bone marrow.

He was left with a weakened immune system, which caused him to contract pneumonia which his mother says almost killed him.

Bryant (pictured with his mother, Leanne) has cytomegalovirus which is usually harmless in adults but can cause deafness and learning disabilities in unborn babies
Bryant (pictured with his mother, Leanne) has cytomegalovirus which is usually harmless in adults but can cause deafness and learning disabilities in unborn babies

Leanne, 36, said: ‘At one point I honestly thought he was going to die.

‘He had to have chemotherapy to get rid of all of his own blood platelets, otherwise they would have clashed with the transplants.

‘Bryant lost all his hair, he was very sick. He is a teenager, and teenage boys usually like to be around girls.

WHAT IS CYTOMEGALOVIRUS?

CMV is a common virus that is part of the herpes family of viruses.

Most people develop few, if any symptoms, when they contract it and many are infected during childhood without knowing it.

Once a person has been infected with CMV it stays in their body for life but usually does not cause any problems.

It can occasionally reoccur if a person’s immune system is weakened, for example, by chemotherapy.

If this happens, it can cause problems with vision, ulcers and pneumonia.

CMV can also cause serious problems if a woman has her first CMV infection during pregnancy as it can spread to the unborn baby.

It is estimated that about one per cent of babies in the UK are born with CMV.

Of these, about 10 per cent will have problems such as hearing loss and learning difficulties.

The virus is spread through bodily fluids and can be passed on through changing nappies, kissing and sex.

Source: NHS Choices

‘It is a shame he can’t spend time with girls, but I am just so glad he is out of hospital.’

Bryant has been unable to attend school for the past 15 months after he was diagnosed with liver failure in October 2012.

After undergoing the bone marrow transplants last year, he spent five months in isolation in the Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle, receiving chemotherapy.

Following his recovery, he had been due to start at a co-ed school.

However, after doctors told him he was suffering from CMV, which is harmful to unborn babies, he has been forced to attend a boys-only school instead.

CMV is a common virus that is part of the herpes family of viruses.

It causes few symptoms in most people and so most do not know they are infected.

Once someone has been infected, the virus stays in their body for the rest of their life without usually causing problems.

However, it can sometimes cause symptoms if a person has a weakened immune system, for example, if they are having chemotherapy.

CMV can also cause serious problems if a woman becomes infecting during pregnancy as this can lead to hearing loss and learning difficulties in the baby.

Bryant will start at St Aidan’s Catholic Academy this week, but says he is looking forward to getting out of the house, despite the lack of girls.

He added: ‘It was so boring when I was in hospital. I couldn’t have many visitors, in case I caught an infection.

Bryant contracted the virus because he had to have chemotherapy which lowered his immune system. He had the treatment after suffering bone marrow failure. He is pictured when his immune system was weakened
Bryant contracted the virus because he had to have chemotherapy which lowered his immune system. He had the treatment after suffering bone marrow failure. He is pictured when his immune system was weakened
Bryant currently has to avoid his sister, Terri, 20, because she is expecting a baby. He says he really misses her and cannot wait for the baby to be born so he can see her again
Bryant currently has to avoid his sister, Terri, 20, because she is expecting a baby. He says he really misses her and cannot wait for the baby to be born so he can see her again

‘It is not great being dangerous to girls, but at least I will be able to spend time with people my own age again.’

A spokeswoman for St Aidan’s Catholic Academy said: ‘We are going to admit Bryant to the school this week.

‘We are happy to support Bryant and his family as he integrates back into full-time education.’

Defeat | Paulo Coelho’s Blog


 

bruce-lee-quote-defeat-e1355325094182

Does a leaf, when it falls from the tree in winter, feel defeated by the cold?

The tree says to the leaf:
‘That’s the cycle of life. You may think you’re going to die, but you live on in me. It’s thanks to you that I’m alive, because I can breathe. It’s also thanks to you that I have felt loved, because I was able to give shade to the weary traveller. Your sap is in my sap, we are one thing.’

Does a man who spent years preparing to climb the highest mountain in the world feel defeated on reaching that mountain and discovering that nature has cloaked the summit in storm clouds?
The man says to the mountain: ‘You don’t want me this time, but the weather will change and, one day, I will make it to the top. Meanwhile, you’ll still be here waiting for me.’

Does a young man, rejected by his first love, declare that love does not exist?
The young man says to himself: ‘I’ll find someone better able to understand what I feel. And then I will be happy for the rest of my days.’

Losing a battle or losing everything we thought we possessed will bring us moments of sadness, but when those moments pass, we will discover the hidden strength that exists in each of us, a strength that will surprise us and increase our self-respect.

Wait patiently for the right moment to act.
Do not let the next opportunity slip.

Take pride in your scars.
Scars are medals branded on the flesh, and your enemies will be frightened by them because they are proof of your long experience of battle. Often this will lead them to seek dialogue and avoid conflict.

Scars speak more loudly than the sword that caused them.

taken from MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN ACCRA

Sensory Deprivation Chamber.


First introduced by Neuro-psychiatrist John C. Lilly in 1954, a Sensory Deprivation Chamber is a light-less, soundproof enclosure, filled with salt water that is kept at skin temperature.

In this chamber a person will float weightless on the water with their senses deprived (hence the name Sensory Deprivation Chamber). They are unable to see or hear anything, all while because of the water being the same heat as your body, subjects have been noted to have said “it all just fades away” and all that’s left is the mind.

Sensory Deprivation Chamber - Would You Get Into One

In this pitch black pod, you float on the surface of a pool of water set at body temperature.

Sight, sound and eventually touch are all muted so only your thoughts remain. It is an experience that makes the user feel weightless.

Its first use was in Neuro-physiology, to answer a question as to what keeps the brain going and the origin of its energy sources. One hypothesis was that the energy sources are biological and internal and do not depend upon the outside environment.

It was argued that if all stimuli are cut off to the brain then the brain would go to sleep. Lilly decided to test this hypothesis and, with this in mind, created an environment which totally isolated an individual from external stimulation.

From here, he studied the origin of consciousness and its relation to the brain. From then on it has been used for various treatments such as Stress TherapyAlternative Medicine, and Meditation.

Research at the Human Performance Laboratory at Karlstad University concludes that regular flotation tank sessions can provide significant relief for chronic stress-related ailments. Studies involving 140 people with long-term conditions such as anxiety, stress, depression and fibromyalgia found that more than three quarters experienced noticeable improvements.

Official data shows longest fall in living standards for 50 years


Wage growth chart

Living standards in Britain have suffered their most prolonged decline for at least half a century, according to official data that has been seized on by Labour as further proof of a cost of living crisis under the coalition.

A report from the Office for National Statistics found that real wages have been falling consistently since 2010, the longest such period since at least 1964, when comparable records began. Statisticians put the deterioration down to several factors such as a change in the number of hours people work as well as a fall in productivity.

The analysis further undermines claims made by the government last week that average take-home pay was rising for most workers.

Chris Leslie, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, took the figures as proof “working people are worse off under David Cameron”. “The Tories are so out of touch they deny there’s a cost of living crisis,” Leslie said.

The government circulated a Treasury analysis last week that claimed take-home pay had risen faster than prices between April 2012 and April 2013. Labour said that analysis used highly selective statistics, failed to take account of benefits changes and was at odds with recent pay patterns.

The main finding in the ONS report was based on different wage data from the Treasury’s analysis. But statisticians were still clear that real wages – which take into account the impact of inflation – had been falling on almost all measures.

The OFT also noted the data used by the Treasury was older than other readings on wages and that it had been distorted by unusual timing of bonus payments. Referring to the period after the Treasury’s analysis, the ONS report said:

“All series which reported in the third quarter of 2013 showed wages falling by more than 1.5% on the same quarter a year ago, making it difficult to conclude that there has yet been a break from the trend of falling real wage growth.”

Labour was given further ammunition in its campaign over the cost of living this week when the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned that living standards were unlikely to reach their pre-recession levels before the next election.

The general secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, said the ONS figures raised concerns that the squeeze could continue for many years.

“Worryingly, average pay rises have been getter weaker in every decade since the 1980s, despite increases in productivity, growth and profits. Unless things change, the 2010s could be the first ever decade of falling wages,” she said.

The ONS said this latest period of falling real wages appeared to be the latest stage in a series of “step-changes in annual real wage growth, usually taking place in response to an economic downturn” – from an average growth of 2.9% in the 1970s and 1980s, to growth of 1.5% in the 1990s, 1.2% in the 2000s, and then -2.2% since the start of 2010.

“A number of factors may have contributed to this, although it seems likely that a key driver is the response to the fall in productivity in 2008 and 2009, and its subsequent weakness,” the report added.

The ONS also highlighted different inflation rates between what is produced in Britain and what is consumed, helping to explain the divergence between productivity and real wage growth since 2010. In other words, the rate of inflation experienced by workers spending their pay was not the same as the rate of inflation in the goods their employers were selling.

The effect from hours worked in the labour market was to put downward pressure on real wage growth during the downturn but upward pressure more recently. Real wages may also have been affected by rises in non-wage costs of hiring, such as national insurance contributions, which can prompt firms to tweak workers’ pay to manage their overall costs.

Worryingly for an economy still struggling to rebalance towards more manufacturing and away from reliance on consumer demand, there was some effect on real wages from the changing composition of Britain’s workforce. That came particularly from the shift from higher paid workers in the manufacturing sector towards lower paid services industries.

Business surveys suggest many companies are more optimistic about hiring this year but economists say with many people working fewer hours than they would like, there is still plenty of slack in the labour market and so limited potential for wages growth to accelerate.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of the jobs website Adzuna, said the recovery in the jobs market was far from over.

“Wages are still stuck in a post-recession hangover – while the backlog of employees waiting for the right time to change jobs is clearing, salary levels are yet to catch up. Compared with this time last year, there are fewer people fighting it out for each position, but the chances of securing a decent salary have become slimmer,” he said.

January was England’s wettest winter month in almost 250 years


Last month’s seasonal total was higher than any since 1767 and three times the average level
Flooding beside the River Avon in Bristol.

The deluge that has engulfed southern and central England in recent weeks is the worst winter downpour in almost 250 years, according to figures from the world’s longest-running weather station.

The rainfall measured at the historic Radcliffe Meteorological Station at Oxford University in January was greater than for any winter month since daily recording began there in 1767, and three times the average amount.

The latest Met Office data shows that the region from Devon to Kent and up into the Midlands suffered its wettest January since its records began in 1910.

But Ian Ashpole, the Radcliffe Meteorological Observer, said: “The Radcliffe measurements more than double the length of the Met Office record and give us a better grip on how things are changing.”

Flooding has been identified as the most dangerous impact of climate change for the UK and is hitting harder and faster than expected, according to scientists. Thousands of homes have been flooded since December, and much of the low-lying Somerset Levels remains under water.

Ashpole said: “The figures here are pretty representative of the broader area as all the weather stations in the region have been recording very high rainfall and the rain fronts have been coming in over broad areas.”

Oxford’s Radcliffe Observatory was founded to assist astronomers, but while the telescopes have now gone, the weather station has continued its work and now has one of the longest-running series of daily measurements in the world.

A total of 146.9mm of rain fell in January, smashing the previous record of 138.7mm in 1852. The new record is three times the average recorded for the month over the last two and a half centuries. It was also the wettest winter month – December, January or February – ever recorded, beating December 1914, when 143.3mm fell.

In addition, the 45-day period from 18 December saw more rain at Radcliffe than for any such period in the observatory record. The total of 231.28mm demolished the previous high of 209.4mm, which fell from 1 December 1914.

But Met Office forecaster Callum MacColl said the relentless series of brutal storms showed no sign of letting up: “There will be more wet and windy weather from the Atlantic this week. And the 15-day outlook sees the unsettled theme very much continuing.”

Andrew Barrett, a storm expert at the University of Reading, said: “The conditions are exactly right to bring wet weather across Britain. There’s effectively a storm factory over the Atlantic, caused by cold polar air pressing up against warm, tropical air, causing weather systems to form. These have then been steered across Britain by a strong jet stream.” Scientists are examining whether the melting of the Arctic ice cap, due to global warming, has led the jet stream to track further south, meaning more storms are channeled across the UK.

On Saturday, the Environment Agency had five severe flood warnings in place, indicating a danger to life, in parts of the south-west and the Midlands. There were also 156 standard flood warnings, meaning flooding was expected and that immediate action was required, with only the north-east region unaffected. The Met Office was also warning of severe weather along the entire west coast of England and Wales, where very strong winds were expected on Sunday, with the additional risk of large waves over-topping sea walls.

Alcohol linked to skin cancer risk


drinking in the sun
Sunburn can lead to melanoma

Scientists believe drinking too much alcohol could set off a chain of reactions in the body that makes the skin more vulnerable to cancer.

Ethanol is converted to acetaldehyde soon after ingestion and this compound may render the skin more sensitive to harmful UV light, they say.

The authors of the work in the British Journal of Dermatology admit that other forces may also be to blame.

Drinkers may lounge in the sun without enough protective clothing or suncream.

“Start Quote

Research has clearly shown that most cases of melanoma are caused by overexposure to UV rays – you can reduce the risk by avoiding sunburn”

Sarah Williams of Cancer Research UK

According to their work, which looked at 16 different studies involving thousands of participants, consuming an alcoholic drink or more a day increases skin cancer risk by a fifth.

Risk increased proportionately with alcohol intake – those who drank 50g of ethanol daily (the equivalent of a few strong beers) were up to 55% more likely to develop the deadliest form of skin cancer called melanoma compared with non or occasional drinkers.

Dr Eva Negri, one of the study authors who is from the University of Milan, said: “We know that in the presence of UV radiation, drinking alcohol can alter the body’s immunocompetence, the ability to produce a normal immune response.

“This can lead to far greater cellular damage and subsequently cause skin cancers to form. This study aimed to quantify the extent to which the melanoma risk is increased with alcohol intake, and we hope that armed with this knowledge people can better protect themselves in the sun.”

melanoma
Melanoma usually starts in the skin and sometimes within a mole

Prof Chris Bunker, President of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: “Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK and melanoma is its deadliest form. Any research into this area is very welcome.

“Brits haven’t always been known for their moderation when it comes to either alcohol or the sun, but this research is important as it provides people with further information to make informed choices about their health.

Melanoma

  • The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole
  • This can happen anywhere on the body, but most often the back, legs, arms and face are affected
  • In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and more than one colour
  • They may also be larger than normal moles and can sometimes be itchy or bleed

Source: NHS Choices

“We would always urge people to be careful in the sun and try to enjoy it responsibly. It is not uncommon to have a few drinks whilst on holiday or at a barbeque, we would just encourage people to be careful and make sure they are protecting their skin, this research provides an extra incentive to do so. Many of us have seen holiday-makers who have been caught unawares the day before, fuzzy-headed and lobster red – an unwelcome combination.”

Sarah Williams of Cancer Research UK, said: “This study doesn’t tell us for sure whether alcohol is a risk factor for melanoma. As the researchers themselves point out, the results could be due to sunlight exposure rather than alcohol. Research has clearly shown that most cases of melanoma are caused by overexposure to UV rays – you can reduce the risk by avoiding sunburn.”

She said that in winter, the UK sun isn’t normally strong enough to cause sunburn, but added: “Remember to protect yourself if you’re skiing or going away for some winter sun.”

“And whether or not alcohol is linked to skin cancers, it’s still a good idea to limit the amount you drink. Alcohol is linked to seven different types of cancer, and cutting down can cut the risk.”

Multiple sclerosis link to food bug


clostridium
Some strains of clostridium secrete toxins.

A food poisoning bacterium may be implicated in MS, say US researchers.

Lab tests in mice by the team from Weill Cornell Medical College revealed a toxin made by a rare strain of Clostridium perfringens caused MS-like damage in the brain.

And earlier work by the same team, published in PLoS ONE, identified the toxin-producing strain of C. perfringens in a young woman with MS.

But experts urge caution, saying more work is needed to explore the link.

“Start Quote

Discovering potential causes or triggers for MS could enable us to develop better treatments or even, one day, prevent the condition”

Dr Susan KohlhaasHead of Biomedical Research at the MS Society

No-one knows the exact cause of Multiple sclerosis (MS), but it is likely that a mixture of genetic and environmental factors play a role. It’s a neurological condition which affects around 100,000 people in the UK.

Bacteria

C. perfringens, found in soil and contaminated undercooked meat, comes in different strains.

Most cases of human infection occur as food poisoning – diarrhoea and stomach cramps that usually resolve within a day or so. More rarely, the bacterium can cause gas gangrene.

And a particular strain of C. perfringens, Type B, which the Weill team says it identified in a human for the first time, makes a toxin that can travel through blood to the brain.

In their lab studies on rodents the researchers found that the toxin, called epsilon, crossed the blood-brain barrier and killed myelin-producing cells – the typical damage seen in MS.

Lead investigator Jennifer Linden said the findings are important because if it can be confirmed that epsilon toxin is a trigger of MS, a vaccine or antibody against the toxin might be able to halt or prevent this debilitating disease.

She presented the group’s latest findings at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Dr Susan Kohlhaas, Head of Biomedical Research at the MS Society, said: “Discovering potential causes or triggers for MS could enable us to develop better treatments or even, one day, prevent the condition. This is interesting research but the findings now need to be validated in larger studies to establish if this toxin really is a potential trigger for MS.”

Vitamins ‘effective in helping ADHD’


Vitamin pills
Could micronutrients such as zinc, calcium and vitamins improve brain functioning?

Vitamins and minerals could be useful for treating ADHD, research suggests.

Adults with ADHD given supplements for eight weeks had a “modest” improvement in concentration span, hyperactivity, and other symptoms, a small-scale study found.

A wide range of nutrients, including vitamin D, iron and calcium, may improve brain functioning, said psychologists in New Zealand.

Another study found medication reduced road accidents in men with ADHD.

As many as one in 20 adults has ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), marked by symptoms such as lack of attention, concentration difficulties and impulsiveness.

ADHD can be treated with medications, such as central nervous system stimulants, which affect the brain and improve symptoms.

“Start Quote

The risk of transport accidents in adult men with ADHD decreases markedly if their condition is treated with medication”

Prof Henrik LarssonKarolinska Institute

According to the research, published in The British Journal of Psychiatry, taking a broad range of vitamins and minerals may also help reduce ADHD symptoms.

In the study, 80 adults with ADHD were given either supplements containing vitamin D, vitamin B12, folate, magnesium, ferritin, iron, calcium, zinc and copper, or a dummy pill.

After eight weeks of treatment those on supplements reported greater improvements in both their inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity compared with those taking the placebo.

Psychologists from the University of Canterbury, in Christchurch, say the effects of vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) are more modest than medication but may be useful for some people, particularly those seeking alternative treatments.

“Our study provides preliminary evidence of the effectiveness for micronutrients in the treatment of ADHD symptoms in adults,” said Prof Julia Rucklidge, who led the study.

“This could open up treatment options for people with ADHD who may not tolerate medications, or do not respond to first-line treatments.”

Philip Asherson, professor in molecular psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, said the suggestion that vitamins and minerals improved brain metabolism was intriguing but needed further investigation.

“It’s a good study, which is very interesting, but really needs replicating,” he told the BBC. “The mechanisms behind it remain unclear.”

Road accidents

Meanwhile, a separate study on ADHD in Sweden suggests medication could save lives on the road.

Research indicated almost half of transport accidents involving men with ADHD could be avoided if they were taking medication for their condition.

Scientists from the Karolinska Institute studied 17,000 individuals with ADHD over a period of four years using data from health registers.

They found individuals with ADHD had a higher risk of being involved in serious transport accidents, such as car or motorcycle crashes, compared with those without ADHD.

Transport accidents were lower among men with ADHD who were on medication than among men with ADHD who did not take medication.

Calculations showed 41% of transport accidents involving men with ADHD could have been avoided if they had received medication and carried on taking it during the course of the study.

A similar effect was not found in women.

“Even though many people with ADHD are doing well, our results indicate that the disorder may have very serious consequences,” said Henrik Larsson, associate professor at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

“Our study also demonstrates in several different ways that the risk of transport accidents in adult men with ADHD decreases markedly if their condition is treated with medication.”

%d bloggers like this: