Experimental Ebola vaccine to be injected into humans en masse beginning this January.

The United Nations isn’t letting a good crisis go to waste, having recently endorsed the use of untested, experimental Ebola vaccines being rushed to market as this is typed. Agence France-Presse reports that the vaccines, which are bypassing the normal testing and approval process, should be ready in bulk by early 2015 for use in West Africa.

Two vaccines in particular, one manufactured by British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the other by U.S.-based NewLink Genetics, are being accelerated through clinical trials, according to World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director General Marie-Paule Kieny. If all goes as planned, the jabs will be available to health workers as early as November.

“If everything goes well, we may be able to begin using some of these vaccines in some of the affected countries at the very beginning of next year,” stated Kieny to the media.

10,000 doses of GSK Ebola vaccine to be ready before Christmas

GSK has already initiated human clinical trials on its vaccine in both the U.S. and Great Britain, and trials of NewLink’s variety are set to begin in the U.S. and Germany in the coming weeks, according to Kieny. During these trials, patients will be monitored for adverse events and to see if the shots produce an adequate immune response.

“They have given very promising results in monkeys, but monkeys are not humans,” stressed Kieny, warning that Ebola vaccines have not yet been shown to work. “We could still face a situation where these vaccines would be unsafe in humans or where they would do nothing in terms of protection. So we need to be very prudent.”

The pro-vaccine group Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which was started with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is also on board with the effort. The group pledged in a recent statement to do whatever it can to help speed up the availability of Ebola vaccines determined to be effective.

GSK is already planning to have 10,000 of its vaccines available before years’ end, even though human trials have yet to be completed. NewLink is also preemptively declaring the safety of its Ebola vaccines, having recently donated 800 vials, which represent 1,500 doses, to WHO for distribution in the coming months.

West Africans to be used as guinea pigs in experimental drug trials

Several other drug companies are planning to unveil their own experimental Ebola drugs as well, which they plan to test directly on West Africans in the heat of the crisis. Reuters reports that Mapp Biopharmaceutical, Sarepta and Tekmira will all initiate trials in the affected countries as part of a fast-track approval scheme to get the drugs released as quickly as possible.

“We are starting to discuss with African sites to see which would be the most suitable to test these new drugs and establish as soon as possible which one gives an advantage for survival to patients,” stated Kieny, emphasizing WHO’s support of the effort.

In the meantime, WHO says blood transfusions of human serum taken from Ebola survivors may be helpful in preventing the spread of infection. The treatment was shown to be effective in American physician Richard Sacra, who was given a blood infusion from fellow doctor Kent Brantly. Both men contracted Ebola while working in West Africa.

“This is something where the African population doesn’t have to wait for anybody else to develop it for them,” glowed Kieny about the experimental treatment. “This is why there is a lot of enthusiasm.”

Learn all these details and more at the FREE online Pandemic Preparedness course at www.BioDefense.com






Beer may be good for your brain

An element in beer may help you think better.
An element in beer may help you think better.

  • A flavonoid found in beer improved memory function in mice
  • The greater majority of heart attacks in men are preventable
  • Peanut allergies may come from the dry roasting process

Here’s a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health. Remember, correlation is not causation — so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn’t mean that one causes the other.

Beer may be good for your brain

You may not guess it stopping by your average neighborhood fraternity party, but an element in beer may be good for your brain.

Scientists discovered that xanthohumol, a type of flavonoid found in beer, seems to help cognitive function, at least in young mice. They tested this hypothesis in a study that ran in Behavioral Brain Research this week. Xanthohumol did not have the same impact on older mice.

The dose they gave the mice was quite high — so high that if you were in this study, you’d actually have to drink 2,000 liters of beer a day to equal what the mice consumed. So scientists don’t suggest you run out and buy a six-pack before work.

The research does suggest that this flavonoid and others should be studied closer. The researchers believe it and others, like the ones found in red wine, blueberries and dark chocolate, may play a role in helping you form memories.

So what’s in those e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes, the pros and cons

WHO calls for limits on e-cigarettes

Switching to e-cigarettes may not be the answer

There’s a big debate over whether doctors should recommend that people try e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, but they don’t have all the cancer-causing additives that a regular cigarette has. Studies earlier this year showed they are more effective than the patch or gum in helping quit.

A new study, published in the journal Cancer, disagrees. Researchers concluded that e-cigarette users were no more likely to quit smoking successfully than regular cigarette smokers.

Of regular cigarette smokers enrolled in the study, 44.4% resisted the temptation to smoke for seven days, compared to 43.1% of e-cigarette users.

The study looked at 1,074 patients who had cancer and who were enrolled in a smoking cessation program in a cancer treatment center. Mirroring their growing popularity, there was a threefold increase in the number of participants who switched to e-cigarettes between 2012 and 2013.

The study found that the e-cigarette users actually were more dependent on nicotine than regular smokers. The e-cigarette users tried to quit more times than the regular smokers.

The scientists who did the study said they would like to try it with the general population to see if they found the same results.

Peanut allergies made worse by dry roasting

Scientists trying to understand what makes people so highly allergic to peanuts may now have an idea.

The research is in early stages, but a study that ran in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology this week found that dry-roasted peanuts caused a stronger allergic reaction in mice than raw peanuts.

Scientists theorize that the dry roasting causes chemical changes in the nuts. If a person’s immune system is picking up on that change, it may be getting the body ready for an allergic response.

Scientists suggest this may explain why so many people in the West, where peanuts are often dry roasted, show signs for peanut allergies when people who live in Asia don’t. In Asian countries, peanuts are often served raw or boiled.

Next researchers will try to figure out what chemical changes are happening in the dry roasting process that trigger the attacks, particularly in humans.

You drink more alcohol on days you exercise

Scientists say you are lifting more than weights on the days you hit the gym — you’re throwing back a few cocktails, too.

In a study that ran in the latest edition of Health Psychology, theAmerican Psychologial Association’s journal, researchers found that people typically exercise more on Thursdays and Sundays, when they’re also drinking more.

The study looked at 150 people between the age of 18 and 89. Participants recorded their fitness activities, as well as their alcohol use at the end of the day using their smartphones. They did this for a period of 21 days at a time, at three different times of the year.

Scientists next want to study what the link is between exercise and drinking. Maybe they should focus on the link between drinking and the weekend…

Most heart attacks in men are avoidable

Most heart attacks in men are preventable. A new study suggests there are five behaviors that can help you lower your risk: Eat a better diet, exercise more, stay fit, avoid smoking and drink moderately.

The study ran in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

For the study, scientists monitored 20,000 healthy men in Sweden who were between the ages of 45 and 79 in 1997. They followed the men’s health through 2009. Only 1% of the men followed all five recommended healthy behaviors. Of those 1%, only three had heart attacks. Some 8% didn’t do any of the five, and 166 had heart attacks.

Scientists concluded that clean living can prevent 80% of heart attacks.

US Military Creating Brain Chips To Regulate Emotion

The Pentagon is developing an innovative brain chip that would help to treat PTSD in soldiers and veterans that could eventually help to bring sweeping changes to the way depression and anxiety is treated for millions of Americans. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, wants to reach deep into your brain’s soft tissue in order to record, predict, and treat anxiety, depression, and other maladies of mood and mind. Together, teams from the University of California at San Francisco, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, and Medtronic, will use the money to create a cybernetic implant that will have electrodes extending into the brain.

The military is optimistic in having the prototype completed within just 5 years, and it then plans to seek FDA approval for the device. DARPA’s “Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies” program has seen more than a decade of research in treating disorders such as Parkinson’s disease via a technique called deep brain stimulation. With this treatment, low doses of electricity are sent deep into the brain much in the same way that a defibrillator is used to send electricity win order to jump-start a heart following cardiac arrest.

“DARPA is looking for ways to characterize which regions come into play for different conditions – measured from brain networks down to the single neuron level – and develop therapeutic devices that can record activity, deliver targeted stimulation, and most importantly, automatically adjust therapy as the brain itself changes,” stated the DARPA program manager Justin Sanchez.

The Air Force has also been interested in studying the brain using electricity, and they’ve been conducting studies that examine the effects of low amounts of electricity on the brain by using a non-invasive interface. More specifically, they’ve been using a cap that doesn’t penetrate into the skull. The objective is to deliver a surge or boost with the cap, so that it helps to keep soldiers awake and stay alert through long stretches of piloting or screen interaction.

z“With existing technology, we can’t really record anxiety level inside the brain. We can potentially record adrenaline and cortisol levels in the bloodstream to measure anxiety. However, if a deep brain implant is to be used (as proposed in this project), it might be possible to monitor activity in the amygdala, and this would be a direct way of monitoring anxiety,” states University of Arizona neuroscientist Charles Higgins.

If the program is successful, it will yield new brain-monitoring capabilities that have the potential to collect data about when the patient is most likely to encounter traumatic stimuli. The device would record what happens when a subject transitions into a state of depression or anxiousness. Today, such a task can only be accomplished using a brain-monitoring system, like the EEG or MEG. The new technology could promote similar technology which is smaller, more cost-effective, and useful.

It is currently predicted that around 1 in 3 soldiers suffer from PTSD after serving. With the increase in prevalence, it’s understandable why so many are vested into researching this technology. However, affording the government with the technology and the ability to implant a chip into soldiers that will promote a stable mood, making them happy regardless of their environment and actions, seems like a scary benefit to the government and military.

This may also be applied in conjunction with a similar DARPA project which was recently able to allow human movements to be regulated through a non-invasive machine interface: mind control. Whether these projects are of strategic value may be primary in the military, but attention must be paid to the ethical implications of these technologies. It is unclear what exactly will come out of all this, but the direction these projects appear to be taking is worrying.


29-Year-Old Man with Diarrhea, Nausea, and Weight Loss.

A 29-year-old man was seen in the walk-in clinic because of diarrhea of 1 year’s duration and weight loss. Initial laboratory values included elevated hepatic aminotransferase levels and a ferritin level of 1716 ng per milliliter. A diagnostic procedure was performed.

Common causes of cirrhosis include chronic alcohol use, viral hepatitis (either HBV or HCV), nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and    hereditary hemochromatosis.

Clinical Pearls

What are clinical features associated with autoimmune hepatitis?   

Patients with autoimmune hepatitis may present with fatigue, lethargy, anorexia, nausea, abdominal pain, itching, and arthralgia of small joints. Diarrhea is not a common symptom of this illness. The International Autoimmune Hepatitis Group proposed a scoring system intended to help estimate the probability of this illness. Elements that make autoimmune hepatitis more likely include: female sex, a low ratio of alkaline phosphatase to aspartate aminotransferase, an elevated IgG level, presence of antinuclear antibody, negative viral tests, no history of drug use, and no history of substantial alcohol use. The presence of eosinophilia has been associated with autoimmune hepatitis, and an elevated ferritin level may occur with autoimmune hepatitis. Autoimmune hepatitis often occurs in Italian and Chinese populations. Autoimmune disorders are common among first-degree relatives of children with autoimmune hepatitis.

Table 2. Scoring Systems to Differentiate Autoimmune Hepatitis from Wilson’s Disease.

How does Wilson’s disease typically present, and what tests are useful in making a diagnosis?

Patients with Wilson’s disease present with a range of hepatic manifestations, including persistently elevated serum aminotransferase levels, chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, or fulminant hepatic failure. Wilson’s disease is considered in the differential diagnosis when there is coexisting liver disease and a neuropsychiatric disorder. A 2008 guideline for the diagnosis and management of Wilson’s disease suggests that a diagnosis of Wilson’s disease can be established by the presence of Kayser-Fleischer rings, a ceruloplasmin level of less than 20 mg per deciliter, and a 24-hour urinary copper level of greater than 40 micrograms. A liver biopsy is the next study that should be performed in patients in whom the diagnosis is being considered.

Morning Report Questions

Q: What is the most reliable diagnostic test for Wilson’s disease?

A: The most reliable diagnostic test for Wilson’s disease is copper quantitation in tissue. Values greater than 250 micrograms per gram of dry weight have 83.3% sensitivity and 98.6% specificity for Wilson’s disease; this diagnostic threshold is incorporated into practice guidelines of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. A value greater than 1000 micrograms per gram of dry weight is considered virtually diagnostic of Wilson’s disease. It is important to note that hepatocytic copper deposition in Wilson’s disease may be uneven, and needle biopsies are often associated with sampling error; therefore, histochemical staining may be unreliable and yield false negative results. In addition, the most commonly used stains (rhodanine and rubeanic acid) mainly detect copper concentrated in lysosomes, a finding that is seen in the late stages of the disease. In the early stages, excess copper is diffusely distributed in the cytoplasm and is not detected by these stains. Thus, a negative histochemical stain for copper does not rule out the diagnosis of Wilson’s disease.

Q: How is Wilson’s disease treated?

A: Management of Wilson’s disease is determined by the clinical presentation of the patient. Asymptomatic patients, without signs of  hepatic or neurologic disease, can be treated with zinc. Zinc acts in the enterocyte to induce metallothionein, an endogenous metal chelator. For patients with evidence of neurologic or hepatic involvement, chelation therapy with penicillamine or trientine is indicated. The choice of chelator is influenced by the presence of neurologic disease. Patients with neurologic manifestations who are initially treated with trientine have higher rates of neurologic deterioration than patients with neurologic manifestations who are initially treated with penicillamine; thus, penicillamine may be preferred in this group. However, penicillamine is associated with high rates of adverse events leading to discontinuation of therapy, as compared with trientine. Therefore, in patients without neurologic involvement, trientine is a reasonable initial therapy. For patients with decompensated liver disease that is unresponsive to chelation therapy or for patients with fulminant hepatic failure, referral for evaluation for liver transplantation is warranted.


Ten Weird and Terrifying Medical Instruments from the Past


From the desk of Zedie.

Strange New Type of Brain Cell Discovered

The discovery of a new shape of brain cell has neuroscientists scratching their heads over what the function of these neurons might be.
Though neurons come in different shapes and sizes, the basic blueprint consists of a cell body, from which protrudes spindly appendages called dendrites and axons. Dendrites are branchlike structures that receive signals from other nerve cells and deliver them to the cell body. The neuron then processes the signals and zaps along information to the next cell via a long projection called the axon.
At least, that’s how it normally works. The newly discovered cells have a different, and until now, unknown process. In these cells, the signals skip the cell body altogether, instead traveling along an axon that projects directly from one of the dendrites.

“We found that in more than half of the cells, the axon does not emerge from the cell body, but arises from a lower dendrite,” study researcher Christian Thome, a neuroscientist at Heidelberg University and the Bernstein Center Heidelberg-Mannheim, said in a statement. [10 Totally Fascinating Brain Discoveries]
Unexpected finding
The new cells were discovered in the mouse brain. Specifically, they are found in the hippocampus, a deep-brain structure involved in memory and navigation. Humans have the same general brain structure and types of hippocampus cells as mice.
The hippocampus is home to extensively branched neurons called pyramidal cells, so dubbed because of their triangular cell bodies. To map out the connections between these cells, researchers used a fluorescent red protein that stuck to the origin of each axon protruding from a cell.
The team expected the axons to extend from the cell bodies. Instead, they saw that in many cases, the axons emerged from the branching dendrites instead. The base of the hippocampus is divided into areas labeled CA1, CA2, CA3 and CA4. The most common site for strangely shaped cells was in the CA1 region, where about 50 percent of cells had dendrite-originating axons. About 28 percent of cells in the CA3 region were the newly discovered shape.
Exciting input
To find out how these oddly placed axons functioned, the researchers used light pulses to activate a neurotransmitter called glutamate. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals released by nerve cells to transmit messages from cell to cell.
They found that dendrites directly connected to an axon responded strongly to even the smallest influx of neurotransmitter, activating the nerve cell, said study researcher Tony Kelly, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Bonn.
“That way, information transmitted by this special dendrite influences the behavior of the nerve cell more than input from any other dendrite,” Kelly said in the statement. The researchers reported their findings Sept. 17 in the journal Neuron.
The question remaining is why these hippocampus cells should need these special bypasses that skip over the cell body. The unique shape seems to make the cells stronger signalers, less prone to having their responses inhibited than neurons that operate on the traditional pathway, the researchers wrote. However, it’s not yet clear which signals use this “privileged” channel and why.

Researchers identify early sign of pancreatic cancer

Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and other institutions have discovered a sign of the early development of pancreatic cancer – an upsurge in certain amino acids that occurs before the disease is diagnosed and symptoms appear. The research is being published online today by the journal Nature Medicine.

Although the increase isn’t large enough to be the basis of a new test for early detection of the disease, the findings will help researchers better understand how pancreatic cancer affects the rest of the body, particularly how it can trigger the sometimes deadly muscle-wasting disease known as cachexia.

“Most people with (PDAC) [by far the most common form of cancreatic cancer] are diagnosed after the disease has reached an advanced stage, and many die within a year of diagnosis,” said Brian Wolpin, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber, co-senior author of the new study with Matthew Vander Heiden, MD, PhD, of MIT and Dana-Farber. “Detecting the disease earlier in its development may improve our ability to treat it successfully. In this study, we asked whether PDAC produces metabolic changes – changes in the way the body uses energy and nutrients – that can be detected before the disease is diagnosed.”

The researchers utilized blood samples collected years earlier from 1,500 people participating in large health-tracking studies. They analyzed the samples for more than 100 different metabolites – substances produced by the metabolic process – and compared the results from participants who had gone on to develop pancreatic cancer and those who had not.

“We found that higher levels of branched chain were present in people who went on to develop pancreatic cancer compared to those who did not develop the disease,” Wolpin said. (Branched chain amino acids are one family of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.) The amount of time that would elapse before those individuals were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer ranged from two to 25 years, although the highest risk was in the several years before diagnosis, the researchers found.

“These findings led us to hypothesize that the increase in branched chain amino acids is due to the presence of an early ,” Wolpin remarked. This theory was confirmed in laboratory experiments performed by Vander Heiden’s group at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. Their experiments showed that mice with newly formed pancreatic tumors had above-normal blood levels of these amino acids.

The researchers found the increase was due to a breakdown of muscle tissue, which caused branched amino acids to be released into the bloodstream. This process is similar to what occurs in patients with cancer cachexia. “What was surprising about our results was that it appears the breakdown of muscle protein begins much earlier in the disease process than previously appreciated,” noted Vander Heiden.

The findings provide an important lead to scientists studying how pancreatic tumors interact with patients’ normal tissues, the authors say. According to Vander Heiden, this work provides a glimpse into how changes the way the rest of the body handles nutrients. “This work has the potential to spur progress in detecting pancreatic tumors earlier and identifying new treatment strategies for those with the disease,” he remarks.

The Woman’s Heart Attack .

IN medical circles, they call it the Hollywood Heart Attack. You’ve seen it: grimace of agony, clutching of chest, sudden collapse, the whole purple-prose panoply.

For my husband, Harold Lear, a doctor who became a patient just that suddenly, it was the first stop in a five-year medical odyssey, one cardiac crisis after another, ending with the ultimate stop in 1978.

Through all the years that followed, it remained my assumption that the Hollywood Heart Attack was it: the paradigm, the norm, the way heart attacks are supposed to happen.

I was relieved of this assumption two years ago, when I had one of my own.


Mine went like this: altogether well one moment, vaguely unwell the next; fluttery sensation at the sternum, rising into the throat; mild chest pressure; then chills, sudden nausea, vomiting, some diarrhea. No high drama, just a mixed bag of somethings that added up to nothing you could name. Maybe flu, maybe a bad mussel, maybe too much wine, but the chest pressure caused me to say to my second husband, “Could this be a heart attack?” “Of course not,” he said. “It’s a stomach bug.”

Still, that pressure, slight but there, nagged at me. I called my doctor and reported my symptoms. The mention of diarrhea, almost never a presenting symptom in heart attacks, skewed the picture. He said, “It doesn’t sound like your heart. I can’t say a thousand percent that it’s not, but it doesn’t seem necessary to go racing to the emergency room with the way you feel now. Just see it through and come in for an EKG in the morning.”

The pressure eased. I slept, and woke the next morning feeling well. I went for the test mainly because I had said that I would, fully expecting to be told that I was healthy. First the EKG and then the echocardiogram told a different story: a substantial heart attack, “less than massive,” my doctor said, “but more than mild.” We were both stunned.

Suddenly I found myself living in a sequel: same hospital where Hal had worked and died, same coronary unit, same cardiologist, same everything; different husband wheeling me in my wheelchair through the corridors where I had wheeled Hal in his. Ghosts in every corner.

With a stent implanted in an occluded artery, I recovered fast and was cleared to leave in four days, but a bad hospital-acquired infection kept me there four weeks — time enough for a revelatory education about women and hearts.

Surprise No. 1: The biggest killer of American women is not breast cancer, as many people believe. It is heart disease. Should I have been surprised? Of course not. The American Heart Association keeps telling us about our hearts and we keep not listening, possibly because we are so fearful of cancer that we have no fear to spare, as we lie on our beds dutifully palpating ourselves for the lumps that we pray not to find.

Our hearts kill more of us than all kinds of cancer combined.

Surprise No. 2: I learn that Hal’s attack and mine are textbook illustrations of how vivid the gender differences can be. I learn that men more typically have “crushing” pain; women, nausea. That women are likelier to have early warning signs, such as unaccustomed fatigue or insomnia (unaccustomed: That’s the key word here). That we are likelier — this spooked me and kept me, for months, glued to calendars — to die within a year of a heart attack. That our symptoms can be so varied and nuanced that we feel no fear, seek no help, and possibly die — which may be why, although more men have heart attacks, a greater percentage of women die of them.

All these gender distinctions strike me as marvelously curious. I begin, as I did during Hal’s many emergency admissions, interviewing doctors and nurses and keeping a journal.

A nurse practitioner offers a graphic tutorial. Big, broad, a Valkyrie, she plants herself at the foot of my bed, puts one hand beneath her nose, as though in salute, and the other at her pelvis, and says, “In women, from here to here, anything could be a symptom.” Thus encompassing jaw, neck, throat, back, shoulders, chest, arms, diaphragm, abdomen.

“That’s terrifying,” I say.

“It’s just information,” she says. “It’s good to be informed, not terrified.”

The question looms: Why should such differences be?

Answer: Nobody knows for sure.

There are theories. Many. It may be because a woman’s arteries are narrower than a man’s, or because her microvascular system functions less efficiently, or because her heart beats faster (verging, this, on metaphor), or because it takes longer to relax between beats, or…

But if it is not well understood, we do have one good — bad — reason it is not well understood. The reason is gender bias.

Until shockingly recently — in fact, until this millennium — there was minimal research on women’s heart attacks because of widespread belief in the medical community that women did not have heart attacks. (When the American Heart Association introduced its Prudent Diet in the 1950s, it issued a pamphlet titled “The Way to a Man’s Heart.”

Research studies commonly used all-male subjects. Men with abnormal test results were treated far more aggressively than women with the same results. Women reporting the same symptoms as men were at least twice as likely to receive — no surprise here — a psychiatric diagnosis.

In a 1996 national survey of doctors, two-thirds were unaware of gender differences in symptoms and warning signs of heart attacks.

Medicine did not begin cleaning up its act until 2001, when a study from the United States Institute of Medicine analyzed masses of data, confirmed a prevalent gender bias in all areas of medical research, and urged reform. So now there is improvement, though women still make up only 24 percent of all participants in heart-related studies. Just a few days ago, the National Institutes of Health announced that it will distribute $10.1 million in grants for scientists to include more women in clinical trials, which should give us more information.

What we already know is that nearly a half-million women are stricken annually by heart disease. That it is crucial to get help fast. That symptoms may include neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, belly pain, et al. But what we are still not told is how to know when back pain, that endemic American complaint, is a possible warning sign, and when a cigar is just a cigar?

Here my own doctor supplies a missing nugget of common sense: “Don’t be reporting every little kvetch. Use discretion. But if it is a symptom unlike any you have experienced before, make the call. Get a reality check.”

I think of my Valkyrie: It’s good to be informed, not terrified. It sounds like something cross-stitched on a sampler. In my mind’s eye, it is a sampler, hanging sweetly, safely, on the wall by my bed.

i heart intelligence How Long To Nap For The Biggest Brain Benefits

Napping can be great! But sometimes when you wake up after a nap, you feel groggy and almost as if you are more tired now than you were before taking the nap. Why does this happen? According to Dr. Michael Breus “If you take it longer than 30 minutes, you end up in deep sleep. Have you ever taken a nap and felt worse when you woke up? That’s what’s happening — you’re sleeping too long and you’re going into a stage of sleep that’s very difficult to get out of.”


Benefits of naps

So what are the most ideal ways to nap? Napping can be seen as a quick reboot or boost for the brain. Think of when your computer is starting to perform slowly and things aren’t responding up to par, after you shut everything down and do a reboot, things are back up to speed. The brain is quite similar in that, as you nap, even for very short periods of time, benefits can be seen in a number of areas.

Sleep experts suggest  that taking a 10-to-20-minute power nap can give you a quick burst of alterness and mental clarity when you don’t have much time. This can be used throughout the day, late at night, before something important or right before you are trying to beat the final boss of a video game you’ve been playing all night right and you know you need the extra quickness.

When I was interested in trying to maximize my time awake (which I still am, but haven’t tried much lately) I did some research into sleeping cycles and how to minimize the amount of sleep you need while still being able to function well. I ended up choosing a cycle that gave me a core sleep and then several naps throughout the day that lasted about 20 minutes. I found that after the 20 minutes naps, I felt great. Very alert, mental clarity was high and I was ready to go for the next 3 or 4 hours easily.[2]

I found though, that near the beginning of my experiment with cycles, I would start to lose cognitive clarity as I got closer to the end of the day. While this was part of the transition portion of the cycle, I got to feel what its like when the brain just isn’t getting enough deep sleep. According to Dr. Mednick, this is where longer naps of 60 minutes or so are said to be good for increasing that cognitive power again. [1] Mednick also states that the 90-minute nap will likely involve a full cycle of sleep, which aids creativity, emotional and procedural memory, such as learning how to ride a bike. Waking up after REM sleep usually means a minimal amount of sleep inertia.

Naps summarized

A study evaluating the recuperative effects of short and ultra short naps found that napping for 5-10 minutes can create a heightened sense of alertness and increased cognitive ability when comparing to not taking a nap at all.

If you are looking for a quick recharge: nap for 5 – 20 minutes.

If you are looking for deeper sleep rejuvenation: nap for 60 – 90 minutes.

Final tip: When you take your shorter naps, sit up slightly as it will allow you to avoid falling into a deeper sleep. If you dream during these power naps, it could be a sign that you are sleep deprived.

Signs You Have Healthy Semen .

If you exercise, eat fish, and properly pack your leftovers, your sperm is already in great shape

Are your swimmers paddling up to par? There’s no easy way to gauge the quality of your semen just by looking at it, so you’ll need to schedule an appointment with your doc to find out for sure. But while you wait, here are scientific signs that suggest you’ve got strong sperm. How many can you cross off?

1. You Sculpt a Lean Midsection

Actually, you don’t even have to boast a six-pack—as long as you don’t have a gut, your semen is probably in tip-top shape. Researchers from the Netherlands found that men with a waist circumference of 40 inches or greater had lower sperm concentrations and counts of normal-moving sperm than guys with a more whittled waist.

The researchers aren’t exactly sure why a spare tire is bad for your swimmers. But they believe carrying too much weight—especially around your midsection—may interfere with the release of sex hormones, as well as the production and development of sperm.

2. You Don’t Look Like Don Draper

Good news, average-looking guys! Having a masculine mug might actually hurt you down below the belt, according to a new study. Spanish and Finnish researchers recently discovered that men who had faces that were rated as manly—i.e. wider and broader—tended to have poorer semen quality than more feminine-faced guys.

One possible reason: a theoretical explanation called the “tradeoff hypothesis.” Simply put, men have a fixed amount of energy available to devote to reproductive resources. And that energy must be distributed to a number of different components. “So, if a male consumes more resources on semen production, he may have fewer resources available for developing attractive secondary sexual traits, like facial masculinity,” says study author Jukka Kekäläinen, Ph.D.

3. You’re a Fish Man

Quick, think of your favorite go-to protein: is it red, salty, and processed? If so, your semen might be paying the price.

Harvard University researchers found that men who ate the most processed meat had significantly lower counts of normal-shaped sperm compared to those who consumed the lowest. Fish, on the other hand, seemed to have a protective effect. Guys who ate the most fish—especially dark-meat kinds like salmon and tuna—had a 65 percent greater sperm concentration than those who ate the least.

Credit fish’s omega-3s, since long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids play a part in sperm production, the researchers say. So if you’re looking to strengthen your swimmers, sub out your pepperoni topping for some anchovies.

4. You Scorn the Tighty Whities 

Here’s another reason briefs might feel a bit on the constricting side: they could be suffocating your sperm, too. A 2012 study from the U.K. found that men who wore boxer shorts instead of tight-fitting underwear were 24 percent less likely to have a low-motile sperm count. Motility, or how sperm swims, is important, because sluggish sperm can have difficulty reaching the egg to successfully fertilize it.

“Loose-fitting underwear may result in lower scrotal temperatures compared to tight-fitting underwear, hence an improvement in semen quality,” says study author Andrew Povey, Ph.D. There’s also evidence that elevated testicular temperatures may hinder sperm production, he says. So if you want to be on the safe side, let your junk breathe.