What It Means To Love Someone With Depression And Anxiety

Lasting love has no boundaries or limitations. It seeks no reward for thriving in the imperfect nature of humanity, that which makes all of our personal connections so vastly unique. Real love triumphs over the most dangerous of evils; those that exist inside each and every one of us.

The intricacies of who are intertwine with those we pull deeply into our lives. Our strengths and weaknesses lie naked and vulnerable to the people we love enough to show them to. Falling in love is letting go. It’s understanding that you’re worthy of being loved for the totality of who you are and capable of loving another in that same way.

Mental illness is unique. It manifests itself in a multitude of ways. It plays no favorites, chooses no sides and runs from no one. It lives inside some of the people we all love. Throughout their lives, they’ve attacked it, tried to reason with it and searched tirelessly for freedom from the moments it has plagued. They’ve sought out love and found that some pieces of who they are cannot be understood or accepted. They’ve had moments of invigorating, phenomenal joy and also moments of dark and unexplainable despair. They’ve endured fear invisible to those around them. They’ve learned to cope, control and live. They’ve climbed mountains no one knew existed. And most importantly, they’ve discovered love in you, even with a mind that so relentlessly tries to convince them otherwise.

What does it mean to love someone with depression, anxiety or another mental illness?
1. It’s experiencing raw humility and friendship, as you face both of your deepest weaknesses and most exhilarating capabilities with one another.
2. It’s the ability to value human beings for their complexities, strengths and beautiful differences.

3. It’s a change that happens inside of you. This transcends past your intimate relationships and moves into your overall interactions and understandings of others. It makes you see people with your heart, not your eyes.

4. It’s giving someone’s feelings validity, even if you don’t understand them.

5. It’s a complete and utter release of social stigma. It’s realizing just how real mental illness is from a first-hand perspective, and choosing to respect that in every way.

6. It’s knowing when someone is so lost and irrational that they aren’t the person you care about at that moment. It’s forgiving them for that confusing and scary reality.

7. It’s understanding how small actions can so deeply impact those you love in a positive or negative way. It’s having those effects magnified and exasperated in a way that illuminates your power to do good and evil.

8. It’s being able to tell the difference between speaking to an episode and speaking to someone you love.

9. It’s understanding the trials of an illness. Illnesses involve medicine, lifestyle adjustments and a responsibility to take care of yourself in a way that others don’t understand. Loving someone with mental illness means honoring it the same you would another health issue.

10. It’s exercising patience, compassion and perspective.

11. It’s learning difficult lessons, like knowing when to give someone space and when to hold on with all you have.

12. It’s being conscious of your own well-being too. It’s being able to know your limitations, and when someone you love requires help from someone else too.

13. It’s realizing that mental illness comes in all forms and degrees. It’s respecting all levels of it.

14. It’s overcoming frustrating and painful roadblocks. It’s identifying solutions and having difficult conversations that can also teach you about yourself.

15. It’s knowing that the person you love is remarkable and irreplaceable, despite the pieces of themselves they fight the most. It’s embracing and adoring another human being the way they deserve to be loved. It’s strength, kindness, maturity, fearlessness and passion.

Loving someone with depression and anxiety just means loving the only way any of us ever should- with listening hearts, open minds and a willingness to look into the many branches of each other’s souls.

9 things that can make you less attractive, according to science.

In 2015, Business Insider published a list of ways to make yourself more attractive.


We learned that walking a dog and playing good music are easy ways to give yourself a boost.

But lately we’ve been wondering: Aren’t there things we’re all guilty of doing that can decrease our attractiveness?

The answer is almost definitely yes. What follows is a list of common traits and behaviors that can make it harder to impress the object of your affection.

Read on and find out how you might be sabotaging your own sex appeal.

Sleep deprivation


We generally look a lot less attractive after skimping on sleep.

In 2010, researchers took photos of people who’d slept for at least eight hours the night before and people who hadn’t slept in 31 hours. Other participants rated the people in the photos on different criteria.

Not only were the sleep-deprived people perceived as more tired (obviously), but they were also perceived as less attractive, less healthy, and sadder.

Being mean

Do nice guys really finish last?

For a 2014 Chinese study, researchers had men and women look at photos of other people, all displaying neutral expressions.

Some of those photos were accompanied by the Chinese words for “decent” and honest“; the others were accompanied by the Chinese words for ”evil“ and ”mean“; still others weren’t accompanied by any information.

Participants ended up rating people least attractive when they were described as evil and mean.

Contractive body language

If you’ve heard about the “power pose,” you know that expanding your body can make you feel more powerful and confident, while curling inward can make you feel less so.

According to 2016 research, that contractive body language can also make you seem less attractive. In one study, researchers created profiles for men and women on a GPS-based dating app. In one set of profiles, the men and women were pictured in contractive positions — for example, by crossing their arms or hunching their shoulders.

In the other set of profiles, the same men and women were pictured in expansive positions, like holding their arms upward in a “V” or reaching out to grab something.

Results showed that people in expansive postures were selected more often than those in contractive postures. And men pictured in contractive postures seemed to be at a special disadvantage.



Chill out — you might look hotter.

A 2013 study found that women with high levels of the stress hormone cortisol were perceived by heterosexual men as less attractive.

The researchers say that’s possibly because high cortisol (and lower stress) levels indicate health and fertility.

Looking too happy or too proud

While happiness is generally attractive on women, girls don’t like guys who are too smiley.

By contrast, while pride is typically attractive on men, guys don’t like girls who look too proud.

In 2011, researchers conducted experiments on more than 1,000 people, showing them photographs of members of the opposite sex and asking them how attractive the people in the photos were.

Results showed that men rated women most attractive when they looked happy and least attractive when they displayed pride. Women, on the other hand, rated men most attractive when they displayed pride and least attractive when they looked happy.

Not having a sense of humor


A guy walks into a bar … fumbles a joke and leaves alone.

A 2009 study found that not being funny at all — and even having an average sense of humor — is less attractive than having a great sense of humor.

The study also found that gender didn’t play a role — a poor sense of humor was equally unattractive in men and women.


A clever series of experiments published in 2004 found that perceived attractiveness depends a lot on traits like helpfulness.

In one experiment, researchers asked students in a six-week archaeology course to rate each other on different personality traits as well as attractiveness, at the start and the end of the course.

When they analyzed the results, the researchers found that even students who’d been rated average at the beginning of the course were rated less attractive than average later on if they’d proven to be lazy.

If you smell too similar or too different

Science suggests humans seek out mates who are neither too similar nor different genetically — and we make these judgments partly based on body odor.

In a 2006 study, for example, researchers recruited heterosexual couples to answer questions like how much they were turned on by their partners and how many other people they’d had sex with during the course of the relationship.

Meanwhile, the researchers took DNA from the participants’ mouths as well as their partners’ and brought it to the lab for testing. Specifically, they wanted to compare their major histocompatibility complexes, which are immune-system genes.

The researchers found that the more similar their MHCs were, the less attracted the participants were to their partners and the more likely they were to have had sex outside the relationship.

At the same time, studies have also found that we avoid partners who smell too different from us.

If you’re tempted to lie about your age or your income to make yourself seem hotter, don’t.

Research suggests that dishonesty is a major turn-off for both men and women. For the 2006 study, participants read blurbs about men and women, who were described as either intelligent or unintelligent, dependent or independent, and honest or dishonest.

Then they were asked to rate the people on a number of criteria, including how much they liked the people and how attractive those people were.

As it turns out, honesty was the only trait out of the three to have a substantial effect on attractiveness and liking.

People with diabetes could be spared pain as scientists develop an insulin PILL.

  • Around 422 million people worldwide suffered from diabetes in 2014
  • Everyone with type 1 diabetes and some with type 2 have to inject insulin
  • Experts are developing an insulin pill to spare them the pain of injections
  • Pill is coated in fat so it isn’t broken down in the gut and get into blood 

An insulin pill that will save millions of people with diabetes having to administer daily jabs is a major step closer to reality.

Around 420 million people worldwide have diabetes and 3.7 million deaths are attributed to the disease each year, World Health Organisation figures show.

There are two types of the disease, which is caused by high levels of sugar circulating in the blood, causing organ damage which can be fatal.

Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder normally diagnosed in childhood, while type 2 normally diagnosed later in life – and largely associated with being overweight and inactive.

An insulin pill that will spare millions of people with diabetes the pain of insulin injections is being developed by Niagara University scientists (file photo)

An insulin pill that will spare millions of people with diabetes the pain of insulin injections is being developed by Niagara University scientists .

Everyone with type 1 diabetes has to inject themselves with insulin daily.

For those with type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes and drugs may initially help lower blood sugar levels, but if the disease progresses some patients also have to inject themselves with insulin.

The daily injections can be invasive – but now, scientists believe they may have discovered a less painful way of administering the hormone.

They are developing a new way of delivering the medicine orally using tiny vesicles that can deliver insulin where it needs to go, without a jab.

These new vesicles are made of naturally occurring lipid molecules, which are normal building blocks of fats.

The lead author, Professor Mary McCourt, of Niagara University, New York state, said: ‘We have developed a new technology called a Cholestosome.

‘A Cholestosome is a neutral, lipid-based particle that is capable of doing some very interesting things.’

She said the the biggest hurdle to delivering insulin orally is ushering it through the stomach intact.

Proteins such as insulin are no match for the highly acidic environment of the stomach.


Giving babies and toddlers antibiotics may dramatically increase their odds of becoming diabetic, doctors fear.

The warning follows a ‘compelling’ study which linked the commonly-prescribed drug with type 1 diabetes, the form that usually develops in childhood.

With antibiotics prescription rates rising, scientists decided to see if the drugs were helping to fuel the increase in type 1 diabetes.

Researchers from New York University compared the health of mice given several ‘courses’ of antibiotics when young with creatures not given any drugs.

Those given three antibiotic treatments by the age of six weeks – roughly two and a half years old in human terms – were twice as likely to develop diabetes as those not given antibiotics.

Males may be particularly vulnerable, the journal Nature Microbiology reports.

They degrade before they get a chance to move into the intestines and the bloodstream – where they are needed to lower blood glucose levels.

One approach to overcoming the problem is to package insulin inside a protective coating to shield the protein from stomach acids.

It is currently being tested in clinical trials.

Another company developed and marketed inhalable insulin, but despite positive reviews from some patients, it did not take off.

Professor McCourt’s team have developed a new approach.

Using the patented Cholestosomes developed in the lab, the researchers have successfully encapsulated insulin in a coating made of fat, which protects it so it can get through the digestive system into the bloodstream.

The new vesicles are made of naturally occurring lipid molecules, which are normal building blocks of fats.

They are unlike other lipid-based drug carriers, called liposomes, researchers said.

Dr Lawrence Mielnicki, of Niagara University, said: ‘Most liposomes need to be packaged in a polymer coating for protection.

‘Here, we’re just using simple lipid esters to make vesicles with the drug molecules inside.’

Computer modelling showed that once the lipids are assembled into spheres, they form neutral particles resistant to attack from stomach acids.

Drugs can be loaded inside, and the tiny packages can pass through the stomach without degrading.

When Cholestosomes reach the intestines, the body recognises them as something to be absorbed.

Scientists have developed a way to coat an insulin pill in fat so it is able to travel through the digestive system and enter into the blood, without the need for a jab (file photo)

Scientists have developed a way to coat an insulin pill in fat so it is able to travel through the digestive system and enter into the blood, without the need for a jab (file photo)

The vesicles pass through the intestines, into the bloodstream, and then cells take them in and break them apart, releasing insulin.

The researchers also determined the optimal aciditity of the solution inside the vesicles so they could pack the largest amount of insulin into the Cholestosomes.

They then tested the most promising vesicles on to animal testing.

Studies with rats showed that certain formulations of Cholestosomes loaded with insulin have high ‘bioavailability’ – which means the vesicles travel into the bloodstream where the insulin needs to be.

Now the researchers plan to further optimise the formulations, conduct more animal testing and develop new partnerships to move into human trials.

The researchers are due to present their findings at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia.



Why You Should Stop Eating Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Meals are good, and snacking is bad. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and if you eat dinner with your family, you will keep your girlish figure and your kids willbe healthier. Taking a lunch break will make you succeed at your job.

Okay, now forget all that. Because as it turns out, the concept of three square meals a day has practically zero to do with your actual metabolic needs. And our dogmatic adherence to breakfast, lunch, and dinner might actually be making us sick.

So fascinated were Europeans with tribes’ eating patterns that they actually watched Native Americans eat “as a form of entertainment.”

Historian Abigail Carroll, author of the book Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal, explained to me that the the thrice-daily eating schedule goes back at least as far as the Middle Ages in Europe. When European settlers got to America, they also imported their meal habits: a light meal—maybe cold mush and radishes—in the morning, a heavier, cooked one midday, and a third meal similar to the first one later in the day. They observed that the eating schedule of the native tribes was less rigid—the volume and timing of their eating varied with the seasons. Sometimes, when food was scarce, they fasted. The Europeans took this as “evidence that natives were uncivilized,” Carroll explained to me in an email. “Civilized people ate properly and boundaried their eating, thus differentiating themselves from the animal kingdom, where grazing is the norm.” (So fascinated were Europeans with tribes’ eating patterns, notes Carroll, that they actually watched Native Americans eat “as a form of entertainment.”)


The three daily meals that the settlers brought evolved with Americans’ lifestyles. As people became more prosperous, they added meat to breakfast and dinner. After the Industrial Revolution, when people began to work away from home, the midday meal became a more casual affair, and the cooked meal shifted to the end of the day, when workers came home. The one thing that did not change was the overall amount of food that people ate—despite the fact that they had largely abandoned the active lifestyles of the farm in favor of sedentary ones in cities and suburbs. “People were still eating these giant country breakfasts,” says Carroll. Soon, doctors reported that more of their patients were suffering from indigestion.

In an effort to rein in caloric intake, nutritionists began advising people to eat a lighter breakfast—and marketers pounced on the opportunity. In 1897, brothers Will Keith Kellogg and John Harvey Kellogg introduced corn flakes as healthy alternative to heavy breakfasts. (The pair had an ulterior motive: They wanted to spread the gospel of the vegetarian diet because it was part of their Seventh Day Adventist faith.)

Corn flakes took off, and in the years that followed, breakfast became known as a meal for health food. Fruit-grower associations seized the opportunity to market juices, which, the ad campaigns announced, were chock full of a newly discovered thing called vitamins. The makers of breakfast foods warned of the dangers of skipping “the most important meal of the day.”

Science shows that when it comes to maintaining your metabolism, it doesn’t make a whit of difference whether you eat breakfast or not.

That line of reasoning persists today—check out Kellogg’s modern-day treatise on the health benefits of breakfast. But there’s just one problem: Science shows that when it comes to maintaining your metabolism—the bodily system that helps us turn food into energy and, when out of whack, can lead to diabetes and other disorders—it doesn’t make a whit of difference whether you eat breakfast or not. A 2014 study by the University of Bath showed that breakfast had practically zero effect on its subjects’ metabolism. (Breakfast eaters did burn more calories than breakfast skippers, but net calorie consumption was the same, since the breakfast eaters burned off the extra calories they ate at breakfast.) A similar University of Alabama study of people who were trying to diet found that breakfast made no difference, either way, on weight loss.

And breakfast isn’t the only metabolically unimportant meal. In fact, it doesn’t seem to matter much at all how and when you get your calories. In a 2010 study published in theBritish Journal of Nutrition, one group ate three meals a day while another ate six. (Total daily calorie counts were identical.) Researchers found no weight or hormonal differences between the groups. In 2014, University of Warwick researchers found no difference in metabolism between a group of women that ate two meals a day and another group that ate five.

The one thing that might actually improve your metabolism is periodic fasting—that’s right, the very same eating pattern that the early European settlers deemed uncivilized.Mark Mattson, a neuroscientist at the National Institute on Aging, has observed in a series of mice experiments over the past two decades that mice who skip feedings are leaner and live longer than their nonskipping counterparts. The fasting mice also have more robust brain cells than those who consume regular meals. Mattson, who skips breakfast and lunch most days, theorizes that caloric deprivation acts as a mild stress that helps cells build up their defenses—warding off damage from aging, environmental toxins, and other threats. Other research has shown that periodic fasting may also prevent heart disease.

Biologist Satchidananda Panda of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, meanwhile, observed in a 2012 study that mice consuming all of their calories within an eight-hour window were less likely to develop metabolic diseases like diabetes than those who ate whenever they pleased. A follow-up study last year confirmed the results—though no one has conducted similar studies in humans.

So should you quit meals and fast intermittently instead? You could try it. Christopher Ochner, a weight loss and nutrition expert at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, notes that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution: Some people do well eating all their calories at once; others prefer to split them into snack-size portions.

Instead of obsessing about meal size and frequency, Ochner recommends something simpler: Don’t eat when it’s time for a meal; eat when you feel hungry. That, he says, is a lost art: In industrialized societies, where food is abundant, we eat because of social cues “or just because something smells good.” If we can teach ourselves to pay attention to our own bodies instead of our environment, he says, “that might be the best diet of all.”

Martin Shkreli backs Mylan CEO Heather Bresch after she got huge pay rise while life-saving EpiPens prices were hiked 


  • Mylan bought the EpiPen rights in 2007, when it cost $56.64 per pen
  • In 2015, the allergy-curing device cost $317.82 per pen – 461 per cent up
  • Shrekli argued $300 is less than an iPhone, and cheaper than hospital
  • He also argued that the company wasn’t making much money
  • But it makes $1billion from EpiPens now, compared to $200,000 in 2007
  • And from 2007 Mylan’s CEO’s pay went from $2,453,456 to $18,931,068 
  • Mylan stock increased from $13.29 in 2007 to a peak of $47.59 in 2016
  • Congress is now asking why the life-saving items cost so much

Martin Shkreli – the ‘Pharma Bro’ who hiked the price of HIV medication Daraprim by 5,000 per cent – has defended Mylan for increasing the price of its EpiPens by 461 per cent.

Mylan is facing Congress scrutiny after it emerged the price of one of its pens – which are used to stop potentially fatal allergic reactions – had increased from $56.64 in 2007 to $317.82 in 2015.

‘Mylan is the good guy,’ Shkreli told CBS Tuesday. ‘They had one product where they finally started making a little bit of money and everyone is going crazy over it.’

'Good guys': Martin Shkreli defended Mylan for increasing EpiPen prices by 461 per cent over nine years, saying they're the 'good guys' and that the $317.82 cost per pen isn't high

‘Good guys’: Martin Shkreli defended Mylan for increasing EpiPen prices by 461 per cent over nine years, saying they’re the ‘good guys’ and that the $317.82 cost per pen isn’t high

CEO: Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan, which produces EpiPens, had her salary increase from $2m in 2007 to $19m in 2015 - the pens went from $56.64 to $317.82 in that period

CEO: Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan, which produces EpiPens, had her salary increase from $2m in 2007 to $19m in 2015 – the pens went from $56.64 to $317.82 in that period

When challenged on whether it was acceptable to charge over $300 for a life-saving medical tool, the ex-Turing Pharmaceuticals head shrugged it off.

‘Like I said, it’s $300 a pack – $300,’ said Shkreli, who was called in to comment and is not employed by Mylan. ‘My iPhone is $700, okay?’

When CBS countered that nobody ‘needs an iPhone to exist,’ he dismissed the remark.

‘That doesn’t matter, okay?’ he said. ‘It’s $300 and 90 per cent of Americans are insured.’

Cost-effective: Skhreli said EpiPens were more cost-effective than being hospitalized. He also said that Mylan didn't make much money - though it makes more than $1b in EpiPens

Cost-effective: Skhreli said EpiPens were more cost-effective than being hospitalized. He also said that Mylan didn’t make much money – though it makes more than $1b in EpiPens

In another interview with CBS, he argued that the $317.82 price tag was more cost-effective than spending thousands being hospitalized with an allergic reaction.

And he blamed insurance companies for not being more willing to spend on EpiPens, arguing it would save them money in the long run.

Shkreli also said that Mylan wasn’t making much money by business standards, and that it suffered because it was mostly focused on selling cheap generic drugs.

But that remark came the same day that the salary of Mylan’s CEO was revealed to have increased by 671 per cent since the company bought the rights to the EpiPen in 2007.

In that year CEO Heather Bresch was earning $2,453,456. In 2015 she earned $18,931,068, NBC reported.

Congresswoman calls for investigation into Epipen prices
Live-savers: EpiPens are used to deliver potentially life-saving doses of epinephrine to people suffering dangerous allergies. Mylan bought the rights to the product in 2007

Live-savers: EpiPens are used to deliver potentially life-saving doses of epinephrine to people suffering dangerous allergies. Mylan bought the rights to the product in 2007

Pay hike: Mylar CCO Anthony Mauro had a pay increase of 13.6 per cent in 2015. But the increasing price of the product has upset Congress, who are calling for explanations

Pay hike: Mylar CCO Anthony Mauro had a pay increase of 13.6 per cent in 2015. But the increasing price of the product has upset Congress, who are calling for explanations

Other Mylan execs also benefited from much-increased pay. In 2015 president Rajiv Malik’s pay increased 11.1 per cent to $1million.

And chief commercial officer Anthony Mauro began taking him $625,000 that year – an increase of 13.6 per cent.

This came after nine years spent gradually increasing the price of the EpiPen, which gives lifesaving shots of epinephrine to those suffering dangerous allergic reactions.

Prices were hiked as frequently as every second quarter, and now cost 461 per cent more than they did in 2007.

The price and pay hikes aren’t the only big figures in Mylan’s recent past. The company also increased its lobbying from $270,000 to $1.2million in 2008.

It would appear that move paid off, as in 2010 the FDA changed a recommendation that the company ship the pens two-to-a-box to just one per box.

It also said they should be prescribed to at-risk patients as well as those whose allergies have been confirmed.


Mylan has increased the price of the EpiPen dramatically since it bought the rights in 2007 – sometimes multiple times a year.

In 2008 and 2009, the price of the EpiPen increased by five per cent.

At the end of 2009, the price was increased by a further 19 per cent.

It was then increased by 10 per cent several times between 2010 and 2013.

But at the end of 2013, Mylan really got to work.

From the last quarter of 2013 to the second quarter of 2016, the company has increased the price of the EpiPen by 15 per cent every other quarter.

The EpiPen now makes up 40 per cent of the company’s operating profits, according to Bloomberg.

And sales have increased from $200million in 2007 to more than $1billion today.

These plan certainly worked out well for the company: its shares shot up from $13.29 per share in 2007 to a peak of $47.59 in 2016.

But the price increases have brought with them anger from Congress, which is demanding to know why those prices increased so dramatically – especially as no generic equivalent of the EpiPen exists.

Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) have already written the company to complain about the cost to parents and schools.

On Monday Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) called on the Federal Trade Commission to begin a probe.

And on Tuesday Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) asked the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to hold a hearing on the issue.

In a statement, Mylan said most customers have insurance that limits their copayments, or they can use a copay discount card to save $100. It recommended people review their coverage.

It also said that since 2012, Mylan’s EpiPen4Schools program had given schools more than 700,000 free EpiPens.



5 houseplants for removing indoor air pollution.

Jade plant

New research finds that certain houseplants are best for removing specific harmful compounds.

It’s not new news that houseplants are beautiful little workhorses when it comes to human health. Among their many benefits is one decidedly impressive one – they remove toxins from the air. And this isn’t just woowoo mumbo-jumbo. NASA, given their interest in improving air-quality in sealed environments, has researched this extensively and concluded: “Both plant leaves and roots are utilized in removing trace levels of toxic vapors from inside tightly sealed buildings. Low levels of chemicals such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde can be removed from indoor environments by plant leaves alone.”

Meanwhile, indoor air pollution is a constant problem and a threat to human health. So looking further into the idea of how houseplants can fend off the potentially harmful effects of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a main category of air pollutants, a team of researchers have made some new discoveries. They found that certain plants are better at removing specific compounds from the air – this is especially meaningful for indoor air, as studies have shown that interior air can have three to five times more pollutants than outside.

“Buildings, whether new or old, can have high levels of VOCs in them, sometimes so high that you can smell them,” says Vadoud Niri, Ph.D., leader of the study.

VOCs include things like acetone, benzene and formaldehyde – they are emitted as gases and can cause short- and long-term health effects. They are invisible to the eye and come from common things many of us have around the house, things as innocent-seeming as furniture, copiers and printers, cleaning supplies and even dry-cleaned clothes.

“Inhaling large amounts of VOCs can lead some people to develop sick building syndrome, which reduces productivity and can even cause dizziness, asthma or allergies,” Niri says. “We must do something about VOCs in indoor air.”

Since the NASA research in the 1980s, a number of studies have looked into how plants work their magic on air quality, but most of the research has looked at the removal of single VOCs by individual plants from the air; Niri wanted to compare the efficiency of simultaneous removal of several VOCs by a number plants. You can see more on how the research was conducted in the video below, but basically he and his team from the State University of New York at Oswego used a sealed chamber in which they monitored the VOC concentrations over several hours with and without a different type of plant. For each plant they measured the VOCs the plants took up, how quickly they removed these VOCs from the air, and how much of the VOCs were removed altogether. They employed five plants and eight VOCs.

1. Jade plant

Jade plant

2. Spider plant

spider plant

3. Bromeliad


4. Caribbean tree cactus

Caribbean tree cactus

5. Dracaena

DracaenaThey found that all of the plants were good at removing acetone, but the dracaena plant took up the most, around 94 percent of the chemical. The bromeliad plant was great at removing six of the eight VOCs, taking up more than 80 percent of each over a 12-hour sampling period. Likewise, the jade plant was very good for toluene.

During a press conference for the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, which is where the research has been presented, a reporter asked if this made the plants sick. Niri replied that his 11-year old daughter had wondered the same, asking if this wasn’t abusing the plants. While Niri assured that low-levels of VOCs wouldn’t harm the plant, it’s a great reminder to respect these green leafy organisms who work so tirelessly on our behalf.

Will Keeping A Smartphone in Your Pocket Affect Sperm Count? 

With the rise of smartphones and mobile technology, it was natural that people began to wonder what sorts of long-term effects these devices might be having on the body. Pressing a radio frequency receiver against the side of your head for hours every day seemed like it might be a bit of a risk, and most attention has focused on potential brain tumors and cancer caused by excessive cell phone use.


However, for all the gentlemen out there, a much larger problem could be brewing in your pants – but only if you tend to keep your cell phone in the pocket of your trousers. Smartphones vs. Sperm As we all know, smartphones do have a certain elevated temperature to them, and they’re constantly receiving information and social media updates in the form of electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiation, and that sort of energy doesn’t just disappear. It seems like common sense to keep your phone in your pocket for easy access, but it also makes sense to do a bit of research and find out what interactions are happening below your belt. A number of studies have been conducted across the world, and the results have been published in Environment International to the Journal of Andrology, and everywhere in between.


As it turns out, researchers have found conclusive evidence that cell phone proximity to male testicles can have a negative impact on a man’s sperm count and motility. One of the more prestigious studies found an 8% decrease in sperm motility and an approximate 9% decrease in sperm viability. Those two words – motility and viability – may be new to some of you. Essentially, motility means the ability of the sperm to swim, which is important if fertilization of the egg is meant to happen. Viability, on the other hand, describes a man’s fertility, essentially measuring the number of living vs. non-living sperm. An 8% drop in speed may not seem like a huge percentage, but when you realize that cell phones are not only slowing your sperm down, but also killing them, it may be cause for alarm.

What’s Actually Happening Down There? Cell phone radiation is nearly unavoidable in today’s plugged-in world, but keeping it close to such vital organs (like the head or genitals) isn’t the best idea. There are a number of restrictions and regulations on the amount of EMR that a cell phone can emit (typically below 2.0 W/kg), but that is still a measurable amount of radiation, which could be damaging DNA by increasing the amount of free radicals present in the testicles. This can lead to infertility and inviable sperm, as these studies have shown, and may increase your risks of testicular cancer, although conclusive research for that prediction is still ongoing. Too Close for Comfort Furthermore, when you keep a cell phone in your pocket, pressed against your skin, it tends to raise the base skin temperature by more than 2 degrees Celsius. The male testicles have carefully adapted to maintain an ideal temperature for the growth and health of sperm, and this small increase in temperature next to the testicles may be enough to incapacitate or kill sperm. Other studies have identified significant drops in sperm count, and heightened levels of oxidative stress in the testicles and changes in sperm morphology. Some of these changes were seen in lab-dish experiments where sperm were exposed to EMF radiation for one hour. A percentage of the sperm changed to an abnormal shape or lost the ability to attach to an egg – thereby making it impossible for fertilization to occur.


Furthermore, when you keep a cell phone in your pocket, pressed against your skin, it tends to raise the base skin temperature by more than 2 degrees Celsius. The male testicles have carefully adapted to maintain an ideal temperature for the growth and health of sperm, and this small increase in temperature next to the testicles may be enough to incapacitate or kill sperm. Other studies have identified significant drops in sperm count, and heightened levels of oxidative stress in the testicles and changes in sperm morphology. Some of these changes were seen in lab-dish experiments where sperm were exposed to EMF radiation for one hour. A percentage of the sperm changed to an abnormal shape or lost the ability to attach to an egg – thereby making it impossible for fertilization to occur.


None of this is good news for prospective parents who are also on-the-go tech lovers that hardly ever leave their smartphone behind. Infertility already affects more than 10% of men 25 and over, and it is hardly a surprise that infertility rates are rising. While many people blame environmental pollutants, stress levels, changing cultural norms, and natural infertility, increasing the amount of male cell phone users by about 1.5 billion in the past decade could also have an effect on those rising numbers. How to Keep the Swimmers Safe The amount of time being exposed to cell phone EMF radiation was cited as a major factor, as was proximity to the “affected area”. The best solution for this problem would obviously be to keep your cell phone somewhere besides your belt or pocket – perhaps in a bag or a shirt pocket, on your desk at work, or even left at home entirely! Certain phone brands also emit higher levels of EMF radiation, and therefore have more of an impact on sperm production and function. Smartphones and Blackberries, for example, emit more EMF than traditional phones.

The amount of radiation absorbed by the body decreases by 15% with every millimeter of distance, so even adding a case to your smartphone, or keeping the phone in a coat pocket, could make a major difference to your sperm count, motility, and viability.

Or, you could just do this…. It has become second nature to slip our phones into our pocket when we’re done using them, but for any men who are interested in fathering a child (next week, next year, next decade…), avoiding excessive “pocket exposure” to EMF radiation is extremely important!


The Mozart Effect Myth: Listening to Classical Music Won’t Make You Smarter

In 1993, a paper published in the journal Nature found that college students had improved test scores if they listened to Mozart. When the media caught wind of this, they ran with it and announced that listening to Mozart makes you smarter. Unfortunately, that’s not what the paper said. For one thing, the college students were only tested on spatial intelligence—the kind required for folding paper or solving a maze—and improvements to one type of intelligence aren’t generally thought to extend to other types. Also, the improvements only lasted around 15 minutes. Ten years later, a team of researchers gathered nearly 40 studies that had been conducted on the so-called Mozart Effect in the most comprehensive meta-analysis performed to date. Titled “Mozart Effect-Shmozart Effect,” the meta-analysis found little evidence that classical music improves performance on specific tasks and zero evidence that it actually improves your intelligence. Of course, this hasn’t stopped manufacturers from marketing books, CDs, DVDs, and other materials claiming to make you or your children smarter through the power of classical music. To learn more about why the Mozart Effect doesn’t hold water, check out the videos below.

The Mozart Effect Doesn’t Exist

Here’s why classical music won’t make you smarter.

Does Classical Music In The Womb Make Babies Smarter?

Find out whether it’s worthwhile to put headphones on a pregnant belly.

Can We Trust Science?

With so many studies proving to be false, who can we trust?

First Child to Undergo a Bilateral Hand Transplant Marks One Year since Surgery at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

CHOP, Penn Medicine and Shriners Hospitals for Children Celebrate Their Collaboration on Groundbreaking Surgery



Zion with his Mom

Today, nine-year-old Zion Harvey can throw a baseball over home plate. He can write in his journal, prepare himself lunch and manage zippers on his clothes. However, for most of his life, these and many other ordinary actions were impossible for this little boy.

Then, in the summer of 2015, surgeons at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Penn Medicine joined with colleagues from Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia, to complete the world’s first bilateral hand transplant on a child. The surgical team successfully transplanted donor hands and forearms onto then eight-year-old Zion Harvey who, several years earlier, had undergone amputation of his hands and feet and a kidney transplant following a serious infection. Read more about this historic transplant surgery.

In the days and weeks after surgery, Zion had to start small: wriggling a thumb and flexing his fingers required intense concentration. He spent more than a month at CHOP, recovering from surgery and participating in rigorous occupational and physical therapy, before returning to his home near Baltimore.

Today, Zion is able to swing a bat and throw a football. He can take medicine and get dressed by himself. He can pick up important objects: a pencil, a fork, a piece of pizza.

“He’s gaining independence and that is the whole reason why we do this,” said L. Scott Levin, MD, FACS., Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and a Professor of Plastic Surgery in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Director of the Hand Transplantation Program at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Zion’s remarkable progress would not have been possible without a large team of multidisciplinary specialists, and the foundational work our hand transplant team at Penn Medicine has built, starting with our first adult hand transplant in 2011.”

“After the transplant healed, it was very important for Zion to be in therapy full-time,” said surgeon Benjamin Chang, MD, co-director of the Hand Transplantation Program at CHOP and associate chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery at Penn Medicine. “This is when we can make the most progress in terms of getting his function to come back, helping the tendons to glide, the muscles to grow stronger, actually re-teaching his brain how to fire those muscles again, and then teaching him how to do things like writing. He and his family have managed this so well, beyond our expectations.”

Over the past year, Zion has spent up to eight hours a day in rehabilitation at Kennedy Krieger Institute, near his home in Baltimore. Occupational therapy is essential as Zion’s brain relearns how to communicate with limbs that were missing for six years, and his muscles and tendons gain strength and flexibility.

“We needed to balance the functional side of therapy with the more biomechanical and neurological side to maintain supple joint motion positioning, and encourage development and strengthening of active motion, all while making it fun and exciting for him,” said Lindsey Harris and Gayle Gross, Zion’s occupational therapists at Kennedy Krieger Institute. “We quickly learned Zion’s interest in sports and tapped into that. As a result we started with basketball and progressed to baseball, culminating in his recent accomplishment of throwing out the first pitch at an Orioles baseball game.”

Additionally, a team of CHOP neuroscientists assembled to conduct brain imaging and analysis to track and aid Zion’s mental and physical rehabilitation. For the first time, the team is calibrating functional MRI scans of Zion’s brain and directly correlating his therapy to the brain mapping. This approach is being implemented with the goal that the primary motor cortex, the part of the brain that controls his hands, will catch up to the other fully developed areas.

As Zion grows, so will his hands. Zion continues to receive daily immunosuppressant medications to prevent his body from rejecting the new limbs, as well as his transplanted kidney. Dr. Levin and his team will continue to follow Zion throughout his lifetime.

“Double hand transplantation is a complex procedure involving many surgical and non-surgical components. Zion’s success is a testament to the skill, dedication, innovation and passion of Dr. Levin, Dr. Chang and the rest of their team,” said N. Scott Adzick, MD, CHOP’s Surgeon-in-Chief. “As for the future, our CHOP and Penn teams are carefully reviewing and evaluating all aspects of Zion’s progress and when the time is right hope to offer this same surgery to other children.”

“Zion is a pioneer. With each week since his surgery, our team has learned more that will inform their efforts to perform future bilateral hand transplants and afford more children and adults a better quality of life,” said Abraham Shaked, MD, PhD, the Eldridge L. Eliason professor of Surgery in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine and director of the Penn Transplant Institute.

“Zion’s progress has been spectacular, highlighting what can be accomplished by the committed and coordinated collaborative effort amongst multi-disciplinary teams at CHOP, Penn Medicine and Shriners Hospitals for Children. The dedication to Zion’s hand functionality and rehabilitation has expanded to the Kennedy Krieger Institute, as well the amazing community that has rallied behind Zion and his family. Their support has been instrumental to Zion’s success. Zion’s remarkable improvement, and his newly found ability to perform tasks previously unobtainable, is inspiring.  Shriners Hospitals for Children is committed to continuing to advance this field and hopefully providing future children with the opportunity of this life-changing surgery,” said Scott Kozin, MD, chief of staff, Shriners Hospitals for Children—Philadelphia.

When asked how his life has changed now that he has hands, Zion said, “I’m still the same kid everybody knew without hands. But I can do everything now. I can do the same things even better.” “I believe he could have done anything without hands,” said Zion’s mother, Pattie Ray. “But now his light will shine even brighter. Whatever he is destined to do, it’s going to make it that much better. I know those hands are going to be used in great ways.”

“In the past year, Zion’s accomplishments have inspired pride and joy in his family, his medical team and people around the world,” said Madeline Bell, president and chief executive officer of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “I could not be more proud of Zion and our team’s commitment to continued innovation and breakthroughs to help children everywhere.”

“Zion’s story has been made possible through a unique collaboration between Penn and CHOP that illuminates what’s possible when we bridge pediatric and adult medicine in new ways,” said Ralph Muller, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. “No matter the age of our patients, we’re focused on mapping the future of medicine.”

Before the surgery could be conducted, it was first necessary to locate a suitable donor, a function coordinated by Gift of Life Donor Program, the nonprofit organ and tissue donor program which serves the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. Thanks to the generosity of a family in the midst of terrible loss, donor hands became available for Zion.

“For 42 years, Gift of Life Donor Program has partnered with transplant centers throughout this region to bring innovative transplant procedures to patients in need,” stated Richard Hasz, vice president of clinical services for Gift of Life.  “As with all types of transplant, surgeries such as this one could not take place without the generosity of a donor and a donor family. We thank them for their selflessness and for their gift that made this surgery possible.”

“People say I’m strong, but you really have to be strong to give the gift they gave,” said Pattie Ray. “I think about them and I thank them every day.”

Philadelphia Adult Congenital Heart Program Reports Excellent Outcomes in Heart Transplants in ACHD Patients

A research team from the Philadelphia Adult Congenital Heart Program reported excellent outcomes in performing heart transplants in patients who had adult congenital heart disease (ACHD). Seventeen consecutive adult heart transplant patients, including seven in the highest-risk category, had a 100 percent survival rate. The researchers, members of a joint program between The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, presented their findings were recently at the American College of Cardiology 65th Annual Scientific Session in Chicago.

Philadelphia Adult Congenital Heart Program

“The Philadelphia Adult Congenital Heart Program is multidisciplinary. All patients with complex CHD being evaluated for transplant automatically see both a cardiologist and a cardiac surgeon,” said Yuli Kim, MD, medical director of the Program. “Most of the patients originate from the ACHD Program, which is the destination at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) for adult patients who transition from a CHOP pediatric cardiologist, and need adult care that might necessitate a heart transplant.”

“We are a stepping stone and a bridge for some of these adults at CHOP, for example from the Single Ventricle Survivorship Program to the Adult Congenital Heart Program team to transplant,” said Dr. Kim. Patients might also have a heart rhythm problem or be a sudden cardiac arrest survivor who transition to the Adult Congenital Heart Program and then to transplant,” added Dr. Kim.

About the study

The research team examined data from 17 consecutive patients with ACHD who underwent heart transplantation between March 2010 and July 2015. Patients were evaluated by a multidisciplinary team of adult and pediatric subspecialists, including experts in heart failure and transplant, ACHD cardiology, cardiac surgery, and in some cases, hepatology and pulmonary medicine.

The transplanted patients ranged in age from 23 to 57. Of the 17 patients, eight underwent a heart and liver transplant, one underwent a heart and lung transplant, and none of the patients required post-operative mechanical support. Of the eight heart and liver transplants, seven were in patients with single ventricles — as opposed to two ventricles in normal hearts — who previously underwent a Fontan, a pediatric surgical procedure used to reconfigure the heart’s circulation to maximize the efficiency of the single ventricle without overworking it. These patients are among the highest risk transplants undertaken. Researchers found that with an average follow-up of 35 months, as of September 2015, there was 100 percent survival at both 30 days and one year.

While there is little data to inform best practices in treating patients with ACHD, the researchers conclude that their integrated, team-based approach presents a promising start in treating patients with this unique physiology and anatomy.