How to Make a Microscope Out of Paper in 10 Minutes.


A new microscope can be printed on a flat piece of paper and assembled with a few extra components in less than 10 minutes. All the parts to make it cost less than a dollar, according to Stanford bioengineer Manu Prakash and colleagues, who describe their origami optics this week in a paper published on arxiv.org.

The goal, as Prakash explains in a TED talk posted today, is to provide a cheap medical screening tool that could be widely used in the developing world. Because the microscopes can be printed by the thousands, they could also be used for education and field research.

Giardia (left) and Leishmania (right) as seen through the folding microscope. Image: Cybulski et al., arxiv.org

Two disease-causing microbes, Giardia lamblia (left) andLeishmania donovani (right), as seen through the folding microscope.

An outline of the parts that make up the body of the microscope can be printed on card stock and then punched out. The additional parts include a lens, an LED for illumination and a button battery like the ones used to power a digital watch.

credit tk

The principles of origami allow all the optical parts to line up properly when the scope is folded together (see more about how they’re made in the video below). Samples can be mounted to a sticky piece of tape, which takes the place of a glass microscope slide. Depending on the lens, the scope can provide up to 2,000X magnification, enough to see the parasites that cause malaria and other diseases. An individual scope can be made in different configurations for different purposes. Using certain colored LEDs for example, turns it into a fluorescent microscope capable of visualizing specific proteins or other biomolecules labeled with fluorescent dyes.

The microscopes can run for up to 50 hours on a single battery. They’re tough too. They can withstand being dropped or even stepped on. Eventually, of course, people are going to find ways to break their clever microscopes. But at a dollar apiece for the most expensive, high magnification version, it’s not the end of the world. Print out another sheet, fold it up, and you’re back in business.

Gadgets Like Fitbit Are Remaking How Doctors Treat You.


Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego, knows when his patients’ hearts are racing or their blood pressure is on the rise, even if they’re sitting at home.

With high-risk patients hooked up to “personal data trackers” — a portable electrocardiogram built into a smartphone case, for instance — he and his researchers can track the ups and downs of patients’ conditions as they go about their lives. “It’s the real deal of what’s going on in their world from a medical standpoint,” says Topol, whose work is part of a clinical trial. “The integration of that with the classical medical record is vital.”

Similar efforts are underway around the country, as physicians and other providers seek to monitor patients remotely through new technologies, aiming to identify problems early and cut costs and inefficiencies in the healthcare system. The approach is a key focus of the nation’s Affordable Care Act, and the influx of data from internet-connected devices could be a valuable tool for health systems, helping them to maximize resources and target interventions toward patients who will benefit most. It’s also a huge potential boon for companies that manufacture these technologies and have the know-how to store and wring value from the data they generate.

Similar efforts are underway around the country, as physicians and other providers seek to monitor patients remotely through new technologies, aiming to identify problems early and cut costs and inefficiencies in the healthcare system.

Already, mobile apps, scales, and activity trackers that beam data they collect to the cloud are helping some doctors and hospitals keep tabs on their patients and inform treatments. Insurance and electronic medical records companies are investing in and partnering with tech outfits like RedBrick Health and Audax Health, which encourage consumers to use activity and health tracking tools and upload the data to their platforms.

Apple, Adidas, Samsung, GPS maker Garmin, audio tech company Jawbone, and gaming hardware manufacturer Razer are developing products that measure biological functions at ever faster clips. Startups across the country are creating gadgets such as pill boxes that can monitor whether patients are taking their meds and under-the-mattress sensors that measure heart rate, breathing and movement. Microsoft HealthVault — Microsoft’s web-based electronic health records platform — lets doctors access data from fitness trackers like Fitbit or Nike+ Fuel Band and glucose and heart monitors that patients have uploaded themselves. It’s an attempt to create a one-stop shop for health information.

Many medical professionals have been slow to embrace the concept of patient-generated data — partly because many are skeptical of information they don’t collect themselves and because many consumer-grade apps and gadgets aren’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency that regulates medical devices. In addition, some doctors and other patient advocates are concerned that internet-based systems aren’t secure and that patient privacy might be breached, intentionally or not. But there are signs that resistance to patient-generated data systems is eroding as the healthcare system shifts to focusing on outcomes, and institutions look to web-based solutions to expand their reach and save money.

Thinking Outside the Silo

Last week, Practice Fusion — the fourth largest vendor of electronic medical records in the country, according to Bloomberg Businessweek — announced a partnership with AliveCor, Inc., maker of a smartphone heart monitor, and Diasend, an online diabetes management system. When patients approve sharing data from these FDA-approved services, their information will start flowing into their Practice Fusion medical records. The company plans to integrate more devices that help consumers track their health, according to Matt Douglass, the company’s co-founder and vice president of platform.

Scripps’ Topol called the announcement an important but “baby” step toward making data-powered medicine a reality. “It’s the future,” he said. “But we’ve got a long way for this to become routine.” Integrating data into medical records can be clunky. Topol’s patients, after all, must still email him screenshots of their information before it can be put into their records.

Companies like AliveCor and Diasend require FDA clearance for medical use because they provide diagnostic services. But others — like Nike+ FuelBand and Fitbit, which work essentially like pedometers, or Wellframe, an app that guides patients through a cardiac rehabilitation program — are meant to foster healthful habits. For now, that distinction saves companies from the drawn-out and expensive process of applying for FDA approval.

Integrating data into medical records can be clunky. Topol’s patients, after all, must still email him screenshots of their information before it can be put into their records.

“Right now, there’s a void in the industry in terms of what do you do with this information,” says Tapan Mehta, the chief of global healthcare marketing for networking giant Cisco. “How do you take this data and synthesize it and make it into knowledge, which can then be used at the point of care?”

Another roadblock to making all this patient-generated information medically relevant is that it’s in silos controlled by the companies that collect it. Plus, analyzing it can be pricey. What’s needed, some experts say, is a system that aggregates and distills data into easily digestible nuggets of information for both patients and their doctors. For consumers to buy in, the interface needs to be as simple as signing into services with your Facebook account, says Guido Jouret, Cisco’s Internet of Things general manager.

Google Health was an early attempt at integration that failed because uploading the data was a hassle, he says. Now Practice Fusion is making a go of it. The company already brands itself as a “physician-patient community,” allowing patients to directly manage their health and find providers. Integrating consumer-grade health products was a logical next step. For now, patients must come into their doctors offices to upload data to the platform wirelessly through the cloud, but there are plans to let patients upload their own data from home in the future. The idea is to leverage the power of the internet to increase social interactions and productivity and provide users seamless, on demand data access from any device.

“If you look to 2020, there’s no way electronic medical records are not running primarily in the cloud,” Douglass recalls Ryan Howard, his co-founder, saying when he approached him in 2005 and sold him on the idea of starting a web-based electronic health records company. “All medical information had to be instantly accessible.”

The Privacy Problem

In the long-term, Douglass says, the company could develop “fairly complex algorithms that are looking at trends across patient populations — who’s healthy or who can be healthier and whether recommendations are actually making them better.” Like Google and Facebook, the San Francisco-based startup acts as a marketplace for information. Its services are free to the more than 100,000 medical professionals who use its product. The company makes money by partnering with diagnostic labs, imaging centers and drug companies and through targeted advertising.

Photo: Jon Snyder/WIRED

Practice Fusion has to play by federal rules governing patient privacy under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It says all its data is aggregated and stripped of anything that would identify patients. Privacy advocates are concerned, however, the federal privacy law doesn’t apply to the growing volume of data produced by many health consumer apps and devices. Even outside a medical context, web titans like Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook have faced criticism when using their customers’ activities to target them with ads for products and services. Using health data to target patients makes the stakes even higher, some privacy advocates argue.

Privacy advocates are concerned, however, the federal privacy law doesn’t apply to the growing volume of data produced by many health consumer apps and devices.

“The big concern with services that collect or aggregate health data from multiple sources is that many of them will not be covered by health privacy laws,” says Deven McGraw, the director of the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Health Privacy Project. “Consequently, how they collect and use health data is going to be governed by the companies’ internal privacy policies, which they write.”

Bob Kocher, a partner at venture capital firm Venrock and a former special assistant to the President for healthcare on the National Economic Council, says medical data today is more secure than ever. “We lost paper charts all the time,” he says. “Now we actually know which servers they’re on, and we can even document if there was a breach.”

Plus, he says, health data hasn’t yet proven all that valuable for hucksters. The bad guys don’t care about your health: They want your identity, and they can piece that together from your birthday, social security, e-mail and address — information they can get from variety of sources including bank statements, he says.

For physicians, on the other hand, the information can be invaluable. “We’re getting data that we’ve never had before,” Topol says. “It’s quite extraordinary.”

Testosterone Decline: How to Address This Challenge to ‘Manhood’.


Story at-a-glance

  • Testosterone is an androgenic sex hormone produced by the testicles (and in smaller amounts in the ovaries of women), and is often associated with “manhood.” Testosterone levels in men naturally decline with age – beginning at age 30 – and continue to do so as men advance in years. Unfortunately, widespread chemical exposure is causing this decline to occur in men as early as childhood.
  • Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) such as phthalates, BPA, PFOA, and metalloestrogens lurk inside your house, leaching from human products such as personal hygiene products, chemical cleansers, or contraceptive drugs. They may also end up in your food and drinking water.
  • To reduce your exposure to EDCs, replace chemical sources such as pots and pans, commercial cleansers, and processed foods with natural products and organic foods.
  • There are numerous options to deal with age-related testosterone decline. Hormone replacement therapy, saw palmetto and other supplements, weight management through diet, exercise, and stress management are some recommended strategies.
  • Running Exercise

Testosterone is an androgenic sex hormone produced by the testicles (and in smaller amounts in women’s ovaries), and is often associated with “manhood.” Primarily, this hormone plays a great role in men’s sexual and reproductive function. It also contributes to their muscle mass, hair growth, maintaining bone density, red blood cell production, and emotional health.

Although testosterone is considered a male sex hormone, women, while having it at relatively low levels, are more sensitive to its effects.

Prostate GlandsWhile conventional medical thought stresses that testosterone is a catalyst for prostate cancer,1 even employing castration (orchiectomy) as a form of treatment, recent findings have shown otherwise.

The prostate gland requires testosterone for it to remain at optimal condition

Testosterone levels in men naturally decline with age – beginning at age 30 – and continue to do so as men advance in years.

Aging-induced testosterone decline is associated with the overactivity of an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase, which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This process simultaneously decreases the amount of testosterone in men, putting them at risk for prostate enlargement, androgenic alopecia (hair loss) and cancer.

Unfortunately, widespread chemical exposure is also causing this decline to occur in men as early as childhood, and is completely impacting their biology. Recently, for instance, both statin drugs and the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide were found to interfere with the testicle’s ability to produce testosterone.2

How Do Environmental Toxins Affect Your Testosterone Production?

Chemical CleansersThe escalating amount of chemicals being released into the environment can no longer be ignored, as these toxins are disrupting animal and human endocrine systems.

What’s even more alarming is that many of these endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have “gender-bending” qualities.

EDCs are everywhere. They lurk inside your house, leaching from human products such as personal hygiene products, chemical cleansers, or contraceptive drugs. They also end up in your food and drinking water, causing you to unknowingly ingest them.

EDCs pose a threat to men’s health as they interfere with testosterone production, causing men to take on more feminine characteristics.

Here’s one proof: in a number of British rivers, 50 percent of male fish were found to produce eggs in their testes. According to EurekAlert,3 EDCs have been entering rivers and other waterways through sewage systems for years, altering the biology of male fish. It was also found that fish species affected by EDCs had 76 percent reduction in their reproductive function.

EDCs Can Affect Men’s Health as Early as Infancy

Sexual development in both girls and boys are occurring earlier than expected. In a study published in the journal Pediatrics,4boys are experiencing sexual development six months to two years earlier than the medically-accepted norm, due to exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals.

Some boys even develop enlarged testicles and penis, armpit or pubic hair, as well as facial hair as early as age nine! Early puberty is not something to be taken lightly because it can significantly influence physical and psychological health, including an increased risk of hormone-related cancers. Precocious sexual development may also lead to emotional and behavioral issues, such as:

Depression Low Self-Esteem

  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Earlier loss of virginity and multiple sexual partners
  • Increased risk of sexually-transmitted diseases

Pregnant or nursing women who are exposed to EDCs can transfer these chemicals to their child. Exposure to EDCs during pregnancy affects the development of male fetuses. Fewer boys have been born in the United States and Japan in the last three decades. The more women are exposed to these hormone-disrupting substances, the greater the chance that their sons will have smaller genitals and incomplete testicular descent, leading to poor reproductive health in the long term. EDCs are also a threat to male fertility, as they contribute to testicular cancer and lower sperm count. All of these birth defects and abnormalities, collectively referred to as Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome (TDS), are linked to the impaired production of testosterone.5

Phthalates and Other EDCs: A Pernicious Mix

Pregnant WomanPhthalates are another class of gender-bending chemicals that can “feminize” men. A chemical often added to plastics, these endocrine-disrupting chemicals have a disastrous effect on male hormones and reproductive health. They are linked to birth defects in male infants and appear to alter the genital tracts of boys to be more femalelike.

Phthalates are found to cause poor testosterone synthesis by disrupting an enzyme required to create the male hormone. Women with high levels of DEHP and DBP (two types of phthalates) in their system during pregnancy were found to have sons that had feminine characteristics Phthalates are found in vinyl flooring, detergents, automotive plastics, soaps and shampoos, deodorants, perfumes, hair sprays, plastic bags and food packaging, among a long list of common products. Aside from phthalates, other chemicals that possess gender-bending traits are:

  1. Bisphenol-A (BPA) – Common in plastic products such as reusable water bottles, food cans, and dental sealants. BPA can alter fetal development and heighten breast cancer risk in women.
  2. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) – A potential carcinogen commonly used in water- and grease-resistant food coatings.
  3. Methoxychlor (insecticide) and Vinclozin (fungicide) – Shown in studies to induce changes in four subsequent generations of male mice after initial exposure.
  4. Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) – Potent endocrine-disruptors that can interfere with your gene expression and glandular system. They are also referred to as estrogen-mimicking chemicals that have been implicated in unnatural sex changes in male marine species.
  5. Bovine growth hormones – Estrogen-mimicking and growth-promoting chemicals that are added to commercial dairy products.
  6. Unfermented soy products – Contain antinutrients and hormone-like substances, and are NOT health foods (contrary to popular belief). Visit this page to learn more about the dangers of soy.
  7. MSG – A food additive that can impact reproductive health and fertility.
  8. Fluoride – A potent neurotoxin found in certain US water supplies and is linked to endocrine disruption, decreased fertility rates, and lower sperm counts.
  9. Pharmaceuticals that provide synthetic hormones – Pharmaceuticals like contraceptives and provide you with synthetic hormones that your body isn’t designed to respond to and detoxify properly. Chronic illnesses may result from long-term use of these drugs.
  10. Metalloestrogens – A class of cancer-causing estrogen-mimicking compounds that can be found in thousands of consumer products. Included in the list of potent metalloestrogens are aluminum, antimony, copper, lead, mercury, cadmium, and tin.

How to Limit Your Exposure to Gender-Bending Chemicals

Teflon CookwareIt may be unlikely to completely eliminate products with EDCs, but there are a number of practical strategies that you can try to limit your exposure to these gender-bending substances. The first step would be to stop using Teflon cookware, as EDCs can leach out from contaminated cookware. Replace them with ceramic ones. Stop eating out of cans, as the sealant used for the can liner is almost always made from powerful endocrine-disrupting petrochemicals known as bisphenols, e.g. Bisphenol A,
Bisphenol S.

You should also get rid of cleaning products loaded with chemicals, artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, vinyl shower curtains, chemical-laden shampoos, and personal hygiene products. Replace them all with natural, toxin-free alternatives. Adjusting your diet can also help, since many processed foods contain gender-bending toxins. Switch to organic foods, which are cultivated without chemical interventions.

How to Address Aging-Related Testosterone Decline

As mentioned above, your testosterone stores also decline naturally as you age. However, there are methods that can help boost your levels. Below are some options you can consider:

The Hormone Replacement Method

Memory ProblemIf you suspect that you have insufficient testosterone stores, you should have your levels tested. Issues linked to testosterone decline include:

  • Decreased sex drive
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Depressed mood
  • Memory problems
  • Impaired concentration

A blood test may not be enough to determine your levels, because testosterone levels can fluctuate during the day. Once you determine that you do have low levels, there are a number of options to take. There are synthetic and bioidentical testosterone products out on the market, but I advise using bioidentical hormones like DHEA. DHEA is a hormone secreted by your adrenal glands in your brain. This substance is the most abundant precursor hormone in the human body. It is crucial for the creation of vital hormones, including testosterone and other sex hormones.

The natural production of DHEA is also age-dependent. Prior to puberty, the body produces very little DHEA. Production of this prohormone peaks during your late 20’s or early 30’s. With age, DHEA production begins to decline. The adrenal glands also manufacture the stress hormone cortisol, which is in direct competition with DHEA for production because they use the same hormonal substrate known as pregnenolone. Chronic stress basically causes excessive cortisol levels and impairs DHEA production, which is why stress is another factor for low testosterone levels.

It is important not to use any DHEA product without the supervision of a professional. Find a qualified health care provider who will monitor your hormone levels and determine if you require supplementation. Rather than using an oral hormone supplementation, I recommend trans-mucosal (vagina or rectum) application. Skin application may not be wise, as it makes it difficult to measure the dosage you receive. This may cause you to end up receiving more than what your body requires.

I recommend using a trans-mucosal DHEA cream. Applying it to the rectum or if you are a a woman, your vagina, will allow the mucous epithelial membranes that line your mucosa to perform effective absorption. These membranes regulate absorption and inhibit the production of unwanted metabolites of DHEA. I personally apply 50 milligrams of trans-rectal DHEA cream twice a day – this has improved my own testosterone levels significantly. However, please note that I do NOT recommend prolonged supplementation of hormones. Doing so can trick your body into halting its own DHEA production and may cause your adrenals to become seriously impaired down.

Saw Palmetto and the Testosterone-Prostate Cancer Myth

Prostate hyperplasia (BPH), or simply an enlarged prostate, is a serious problem among men, especially those over age 60. As I’ve pointed out, high testosterone levels are not a precursor to an enlarged prostate or cancer; rather, excessive DHT and estrogen levels formed as metabolites of testosterone are. Conventional medicine uses two classes of drugs to treat BPH, each having a number of serious side effects. These are:

  1. Alpha-blockers, such as Flomax, Hytrin, Cardura, and Rapaflo – These relax smooth muscles, including your bladder and prostate. They work to improve urine flow, but do NOT do anything to reduce the size of an enlarged prostate.
  2. 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, like Avodart and Proscar – The enzyme 5-alpha reductase converts testosterone to DHT, which stimulates the prostate. Although this class of drugs does limit the production of DHT and shrinks an enlarged prostate, it comes with a number of significant risks, including a higher chance of developing prostate cancer.

According to Dr. Rudi Moerck, an expert in chemistry and drug industry insider, men who have low levels of testosterone may experience the following problems:

  • Weight gain
  • Breast enlargement
  • Problems with urinating

Saw PalmettoInstead of turning to some drug that can only ameliorate symptoms and cause additional complications, I recommend using a natural saw palmetto supplement. Dr. Moerck says that there are about 100 clinical studies on the benefits of saw palmetto, one of them being a contributed to decreased prostate cancer risk. When choosing a saw palmetto supplement, you should be wary of the brand, as there are those that use an inactive form of the plant.

Saw palmetto is a very potent supplement, but only if a high-quality source is used. Dr. Moerck recommends using an organic supercritical CO2 extract of saw palmetto oil, which is dark green in color. Since saw palmetto is a fat-soluble supplement, taking it with eggs will enhance the absorption of its nutrients.
There is also solid research indicating that if you take astaxanthin in combination with saw palmetto, you may experience significant synergistic benefits. A 2009 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that an optimal dose of saw palmetto and astaxanthin decreased both DHT and estrogen while simultaneously increasingtestosterone.6 Also, in order to block the synthesis of excess estrogen (estradiol) from testosterone there are excellent foods and plant extracts that may help to block the enzyme known as aromatase which is responsible producing estrogen. Some of these include white button mushrooms, grape seed extract and nettles.7

Nutrients That Can Help Boost Testosterone Levels

In addition to using bioidentical hormones or saw palmetto, there are two nutrients that have been found to be beneficial to testicular health and testosterone production.

Zinc

OystersZinc is an important mineral in testosterone production.8 Yet, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that about 45 percent of adults over 60 have low zinc levels due to insufficient intake. Regardless of supplementation, 20 to 25 percent of older adults still had inadequate levels.9

It was found that supplementing with zinc for as little as six weeks has been shown to improve testosterone in men with low levels. On the other hand, restricting zinc dietary sources yielded to a drop in the production of the male hormone.10 Excellent sources of zinc include:

  • Oysters
  • Protein-rich foods like meats and fish
  • Raw milk and raw cheese
  • Beans
  • Fermented foods, like yogurt and kefir

You may also take a zinc supplement to raise your levels. Just stick to a dosage of less than 40 milligrams a day. Overdosing on zinc may cause nausea or inhibit the absorption of essential minerals in your body, like copper.

Vitamin D

Sun Exposure Vitamin DVitamin D deficiency is a growing epidemic in the US, and is profoundly affecting men’s health. The cholesterol-derived steroid hormone vitamin D is crucial for men’s health. It plays a role in the development of the sperm cell nucleus, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count. Vitamin D can also increase your testosterone level, helping improve your libido. Have your vitamin D levels tested using a 25(OH)D or a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. The optimal level of vitamin D is around 50 to 70 ng/ml for adults. There are three effective sources of vitamin D:

  • Healthy sun exposure
  • Safe-tanning beds
  • Vitamin D3 supplementation

Learn more about how to optimize your vitamin D levels by watching my 1-hour lecture on vitamin D.

The Connection Between Weight and Low Testosterone Levels

Belly Fat OverweightResearch presented at the Endocrine Society’s 2012 conference discussed the link between weight and testosterone levels. Overweight men were more prone to having low testosterone levels, and shedding excess pounds may alleviate this problem. Managing your weight means you have to manage your diet. Below are some ways to jumpstart a healthy diet:

    • Limit processed sugar in your diet, as excessive sugar consumption (mainly fructose) is the driving force of obesity. But this isn’t a license to useartificial sweeteners, because these also have their share of negative effects.

It is ideal to keep your total fructose consumption, including fructose from fruits, below 25 grams a day. If you have a chronic condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, it is wise to keep it below 15 grams per day.

    • Eliminate refined carbohydrates from processed foods, like cereals and soda, because they contribute to insulin resistance.
    • Consume vegetable carbohydrates and healthy fats. Your body requires the carbohydrates from fresh vegetables rather than grains and sugars. In addition to mono- or polyunsaturated fats found in avocados and raw nuts, saturated fats are also essential to building your testosterone production. According to research, there was a decrease in testosterone stores in people who consumed a diet low in animal-based fat.11 Aside from avocados and raw nuts, ideal sources of healthy fat that can boost your testosterone levels include:
Olives and olive oil Coconuts and coconut oil Butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk
Raw nuts, such as almonds or pecans Organic pastured egg yolks Avocados
Grass-fed meats Palm oil Unheated organic nut oils
  • Consume organic dairy products, like high-quality cheeses and whey protein, to boost your branch chain amino acids (BCAA). According to research, BCAAs were found to raise testosterone levels, particularly when taken with strength training.12 While there are supplements that provide BCAAs, I believe that leucine, found in dairy products, carries the highest concentrations of this beneficial amino acid.

For a more comprehensive look at what you should or shouldn’t eat, refer to my nutrition plan.

Exercise as a Testosterone Booster

Unlike aerobics or prolonged moderate exercise, short, intense exercise was found to be beneficial in increasing testosterone levels. The results are enhanced with the help of intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting helps boost testosterone by improving the expression of satiety hormones, like insulin, leptin, adiponectin, glucacgon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), cholecystokinin (CKK), and melanocortins, which are linked to healthy testosterone function, increased libido, and the prevention of age-induced testosterone decline. When it comes to an exercise plan that will complement testosterone function and production (along with overall health), I recommend including not just aerobics in your routine, but also:

  • High-intensity interval training – Work out all your muscle fibers in under 20 to 30 minutes. Learn more about my Peak Fitness regimen.
  • Strength training – When you use strength training to raise your testosterone, you’ll want to increase the weight and lower your number of reps. Focus on doing exercises that work a wider number of muscles, such as squats or dead lifts. Take your workout to the next level by learning the principles of Super-Slow Weight Training.

For more information on how exercise can be used as a natural testosterone booster, read my article “Testosterone Surge After Exercise May Help Remodel the Mind.”

Address Your Chronic Stress, Too

MeditationThe production of the stress hormone cortisol blocks the production and effects of testosterone. From a biological perspective, cortisol increases your “fight or flight” response, thereby lowering testosterone-associated functions such as mating, competing, and aggression. Chronic stress can take a toll on testosterone production, as well as your overall health. Therefore, stress management is equally important to a healthy diet and regular exercise. Tools you can use to stay stress-free include prayer, meditation, laughter, and yoga. Relaxation skills, such as deep breathing and visualization, can also promote your emotional health.

Among my favorite stress management tools is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), a method similar to acupuncture but without the use of needles. EFT is known to eliminate negative behavior and instill a positive mentality. Always bear in mind that your emotional health is strongly linked to your physical health, and you have to pay attention to your negative feelings as much as you do to the foods you eat.

References:

    LSD May Help Treat Anxiety For Terminal Patients: Are The Psychedelic’s Benefits Worth Revisiting?


     

    acid

    Before research on LSD, or acid, was banned in the 1960s, it was widely used to help psychiatric patients. Now, a small study found that it reduced anxiety in terminally ill patients.

    MarijuanaMDMA (ecstasy), magic mushrooms, and LSD (acid), are still considered Schedule I drugs under former President Richard Nixon’s Controlled Substances Act of 1970, labeling them as having a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. But every one of them is beginning to enjoy a renaissance, as health care providers begin to see their therapeutic effects. Most recently, a group of Swiss psychiatrists found that the psychedelic LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) may ease the mental suffering of someone diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

    Their findings, published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, is the “first in more than 40 years to evaluate safety and efficacy of LSD as an adjunct to psychotherapy,” the researchers wrote. That is, 12 patients nearing the end of their life — most had terminal cancer — spoke with psychiatrist Dr. Peter Gasser while tripping on the psychedelic drug, which brings about various mental, physical, and sensory effects.

    “I told them that each session would be right here, in a safe environment,” he told The New York Times. With the drug’s effects lasting up to 10 hours, each patient would sit on a couch in Gasser’s office for two or more sessions, while talking to Gasser or an assistant. “I said, ‘I can’t guarantee you won’t have intense distress, but I can tell you that if you do, it will pass.’”

    Many of the patients experienced the feelings they had already been suffering through, albeit with more intensity. “I had what you call a mystical experience, I guess, lasting for some time, and the major part was pure distress at all these memories I had successfully forgotten for decades,” one patient, who only went by the name Peter, told the Times. “These painful feelings, regrets, this fear of death. I remember feeling very cold for a long time. I was shivering, even though I was sweating. It was a mental coldness, I think, a memory of neglect.”

    After two sessions, anxiety measures among the eight participants who had gotten full doses of the drug (200 micrograms) increased by 20 percent. Conversely, patients who took an active placebo (20 micrograms) got worse. None of the patients experienced drug-related adverse events, like a panic reaction, suicidal crisis, or psychotic state.

    Acid’s History 

    LSD was first made in 1938 by the chemist Albert Hoffman. Its effects, however, weren’t discovered until 1943, when he accidentally absorbed some of it through his fingertips. He described the effect as a “not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition,” according to Popular Science. He subsequently tested the drug on animals, finding that it could have some benefits for psychotherapy. For one, it could help some psychiatrists understand what it’s like to be a mentally ill patient. He also saw it as a good way of freeing patients’ minds, and allowing them to speak more candidly.

    The next 30 years saw multiple trials showing how LSD helped mental health — between 1950 and 1963, there were an estimated 40,000 people tested around the world. One study, from 1953, tested high doses of LSD on alcoholics, expecting them to be scared into sobriety. Instead, many of them reported mystical experiences that convinced them they had to stop. A 1964 paper published in the Canadian Medical Association Journaldescribes four years’ worth of research, finding that about two-thirds of the 150 patients who underwent treatment with the drug were helped by it. These patients had a range of psychiatric disorders, from depression to schizophrenia to personality disorders.

    While the use of LSD in psychotherapy is still far from available, and the results of Gasser’s study were too small to be conclusive, psychiatrists in the U.S. and abroad are starting to see that the drug may be worth revisiting — the patients certainly think so. “It’s a proof of concept,” Dr. Rick Doblin, executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, told the Times. “It shows that this kind of trial can be done safely, and that it’s very much worth doing.

     

    Three Easy Steps to Change Your Life Today.


    “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ~ Rumi

    Everyone talks about want to change or improve their lives, but how often do you actually see people taking immediate steps to do that? Oftentimes people just want other people or their situations to change, but aren’t ready to take steps towards doing things differently themselves.  The thought of making changes often ends up scaring people because they fear what they don’t know and are worried that things may end up worse instead of better. People who are be able to start making positive changes in their lives are able to experience more fun and freedom.

    Here are 3 easy steps to take so that you can bring positive changes into your lives.

    1. Assess your support system.

    Think about who you spend the most time with.  Are they people who you feel comfortable around?  Do you laugh and have fun with them? Do they encourage you and help you achieve your goals?  If the answer to these questions is no, then it is time to find some new people to hang out with.  We cannot make others change and be more positive or supportive of us, so we need to pay attention to who makes us feel good in our lives and start spending more time with those people and decrease the time we spend with negative people.

    2. Add self-care into your schedule.

    So many time we treat self-care like it’s a chore and only do it when it is absolutely necessary. Self-care needs to be scheduled so that it becomes a regular habit for us.   You will feel better when you are doing things that are good for yourself, and as a result you will treat others better too.  Think about what self-care habits you really enjoy and make them a priority.   Also make it a point to experiment with new self-care techniques and activities so that you can learn what makes you feel best.  Some self-care activities to try out and prioritize include: naps, exercise, meditation, dancing to your favorite music, reading a book or magazine, and enjoying time in nature.

    3. Practice mindfulness regularly.

    Practicing mindfulness regularly means making sure that you are living in the present moment, and not overthinking the past or future.  If you find your mind wandering, then just bring yourself back to the present in a non-judgmental manner.  You can do this by focusing on your breath and paying attention to the sensations and feelings you are experiencing in your body.  Being mindful in your daily life will bring about positive change by allowing you to see new things about the people around you and to come up with new solutions for the situations that you are dealing with in your life.

    These three steps can be the start of really great changes in your life.  They are things that you can and should on a regular basis and it will be helpful if you dedicate a few minutes to these tasks every day until the become a natural part of your routine.   I’d love to know what you think of these steps.  Please feel free to share any steps that you feel are helpful to making positive changes in your life in the comments below!