63% of Americans Actively Avoid Drinking Soda

Story at-a-glance

  • Sixty-three percent of Americans actively try to avoid soda, compared to 41 percent in 2002
  • Rates of soda consumption have been dropping for decades, and Americans now consume about the same amount they did back in 1986
  • Coca-Cola is engaging in an intensive marketing ploy to “reintroduce” Coke, using smaller serving sizes and personalized cans to target teens
  • While carbonated soda sales fell 2 percent in 2013, Diet Coke sales dropped 7 percent amidst fears of aspartame’s health risks
  • Adolescent rats fed sugary drinks for one month had both impaired memory and trouble learning

Americans are finally starting to realize the dangers of soda, with nearly two-thirds (63 percent) saying they actively try to avoid soda in their diet, a new Gallup poll revealed.1

This is a significant increase from 2002, when only 41 percent were trying to avoid soda, and a clear sign that, as TIME reported, “the soda craze is going flat.”2

Soda Consumption Falls to Lowest Level in Decades

The soda industry is a $75-billion market,3 an industry that reached its greatest heights in the US during the 1980s and 1990s, when Coca-Cola began pushing larger drink sizes and “upsizing.” Fountain drink sizes grew more than 50 percent by 1990, and in 1994, the 20-ounce plastic bottle was introduced in the US.

As people drank more and more soda, rates of obesity and diabetes soared, and while the soda industry still denies to this day any connection, research suggests otherwise. The “supersized” mentality seems to have backfired for Coca-Cola and other beverage companies, because as the health risks become clear, sales have been on a steady downward spiral.

As Businessweek reported:4

“For decades, soft-drink companies saw consumption rise. During the 1970s, the average person doubled the amount of soda they drank; by the 1980s it had overtaken tap water. In 1998, Americans were downing 56 gallons of the stuff every year—that’s 1.3 oil barrels’ worth of soda for every person in the country.

And then we weren’t as thirsty for soda anymore, and there were so many new drink options that we could easily swap it out for something else. Soft-drink sales stabilized for a few years…

In 2005 they started dropping, and they haven’t stopped. Americans are now drinking about 450 cans of soda a year, according to Beverage Digest, roughly the same amount they did in 1986.”

Coca-Cola Seeks to ‘Reintroduce’ Coke to Teen Market, and in ‘Guilt-Free’ Sizes

Part of Coca-Cola’s plan to bring soda back is, ironically, introducing smaller sizes, a strategy they believe might reposition Coke so “people stop feeling guilty when they drink it, or, ideally come to see a Coke as a treat.”

Smaller, 7.5-ounce minicans and 8-ounce glass bottles have been selling well. Even Sandy Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North America, says he limits himself to one 8-ounce glass bottle of regular Coke in the morning. Any more would be too many calories, he told Businessweek.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola decided to target the teen market directly this summer. Teens, while notorious for their soft-drink consumption, have been quickly bailing ship and opting for energy drinks instead.

So Coca-Cola printed the 250 most common teen names on Coke bottles, hoping to entice teens with the “personalized” drinks. It worked. Sales increased by 1 percent in North America in the last three months.5

Beverage consultant Mike Weinstein, former president of A&W Brands, even noted that he goes right into high schools to find out whether teens can identify soda company slogans.

Yet, there seems to be a growing realization within the industry that, as American attitudes about diet change, and more people seek to reduce added sugar and sugary drinks in their diets, appealing to the “healthier” side of their image is needed.

And, here, too, Coca-Cola is quick to respond. They’ve invested heavily in small “healthy” beverage companies like Fuze tea, Zico coconut water, and organic Honest Tea. Coca-Cola also owns Odwalla and Simply Orange juices, Glaceau Vitaminwater, and Core Power sports drinks.

Coca-Cola Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent has no intention of letting Coca-Cola’s brands, and its namesake product Coke, fall by the wayside.

A $1-billion two-year marketing blitz’s sole goal is to drive its “sparkling” division back to its former glory. And in case you were wondering… its healthy-sounding “sparkling” division includes soda, which is completely delusional.

Your Brain on Soda

When you drink soda, numerous changes happen in your body, including in your brain. A new animal study, presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, found that sugary beverages may be particularly damaging to the brains of adolescents, one of the key age groups soda companies are trying to “court.”

Both adult and adolescent rats were fed sugary beverages for one month. They then were tested for cognitive function and memory.

While the adult rats did okay, the adolescent rats fed sugary drinks had both impaired memory and trouble learning.6 Next, the researchers plan to study whether soda leads to inflammation in the brain’s hippocampus, which is crucial for memory and learning.

Diet Coke Sales Plummet Amidst Aspartame Health Concerns

Diet Coke may not contain sugar, but that certainly doesn’t make it a better choice than regular soda. Here, too, Americans are catching on to the risks involved, especially in regard to the artificial sweetener aspartame. Businessweek, reporting on the decline in Coca-Cola’s sales, noted that while carbonated soda sales fell 2 percent in 2013, Diet Coke sales dropped 7 percent.

This, they said, was “almost entirely the result of the growing unpopularity of aspartame amid persistent rumors that it’s a health risk.”7 Rumors? Far from it. Research continues to pour in revealing proven health dangers to aspartame.

Among them, a recent commentary that reviewed the adequacy of the cancer studies submitted by G.D. Searle in the 1970s to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for market approval.8

Their review of the data found that the studies did not prove aspartame’s safety, while other recent research suggests aspartame has potential carcinogenic effects. The researchers noted:

“Taken together, the studies performed by G.D. Searle in the 1970s and other chronic bioassays do not provide adequate scientific support for APM safety.

In contrast, recent results of life-span carcinogenicity bioassays on rats and mice published in peer-reviewed journals, and a prospective epidemiological study, provide consistent evidence of APM’s carcinogenic potential.

On the basis of the evidence of the potential carcinogenic effects of APM herein reported, a re-evaluation of the current position of international regulatory agencies must be considered an urgent matter of public health.”

You may also be surprised to learn that research has repeatedly shown that artificially sweetened no- or low-calorie drinks and other “diet” foods actually tend to stimulate your appetite, increase cravings for carbs, and stimulate fat storage and weight gain.

A report published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism highlighted the fact that diet soda drinkers suffer the same exact health problems as those who opt for regular soda, such as excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.9 For the record, Coca-Cola maintains aspartame is a “safe, high-quality alternative to sugar.” Clearly they’ve not reviewed the hundreds of studies on this artificial sweetener demonstrating its harmful effects…

What Happens When You Drink Soda?

Soda is on my list of the absolute worst foods and drinks you can consume. Once ingested, your pancreas rapidly begins to create insulin in response to the sugar. A 20-ounce bottle of cola contains the equivalent of 16 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). In addition to contributing to insulin resistance, the rise in blood sugar is quite rapid. Here’s a play-by-play of what happens in your body upon drinking a can of soda:

  • Within 20 minutes, your blood sugar spikes, and your liver responds to the resulting insulin burst by turning massive amounts of sugar into fat.
  • Within 40 minutes, caffeine absorption is complete; your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, and your liver dumps more sugar into your bloodstream.
  • Around 45 minutes, your body increases dopamine production, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain – a physically identical response to that of heroin, by the way.
  • After 60 minutes, you’ll start to have a blood sugar crash, and you may be tempted to reach for another sweet snack or beverage.

As I’ve discussed on numerous occasions, chronically elevated insulin levels (which you would definitely have if you regularly drink soda) and the subsequent insulin resistance is a foundational factor of most chronic disease, from diabetes to cancer. Today, while many Americans are cutting back on sugary drinks, soda remains a dietary mainstay for many. Along with energy drinks and sports drinks, soda is among the top 10 sources of calories in the US diet (number four on the list, to be exact),10 and, in 2012, Gallup found that 48 percent of Americans said they drink at least one glass of soda a day,11 with proven detrimental impacts to their health.

Some Advice for Coca-Cola? Get Ready for a Class-Action Suit

Some advice for Coke, plan your budget to include a class-action lawsuit similar to those filed against the tobacco industry. These products are now well linked to the obesity epidemic and chronic disease. Coca-Cola admits to targeting teens (and has previously targeted children through in-school advertising and product placement). Now, they are making attempts to rebrand Coke with a new, healthier image. Their new “Coke Life,” a low-calorie, low-sugar soda in a green can, no less, was designed to “quiet critics,” as it contains less sugar and no aspartame.12 Yet this new green-washed soda is just basically a cigarette with a filter.

Then there is Coca-Cola’s even more insidious side. Investigative journalist Michael Blanding revealed in his book, The Coke Machine — The Dirty Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink, that Coca-Cola bottling plants in India have dramatically lowered the water supply, drying up wells for local villagers while also dumping cadmium, chromium, and other carcinogens into the local environment. Similar claims have been made in Mexico. In many third-world countries, they already don’t have access to clean water, making soda their only choice for a non-contaminated beverage. As the demand for soda grows, the bottling plants increase, further taxing the water supplies left, in a vicious and dangerous cycle.

Join the Growing Number of People Saying ‘No’ to Soda

In order to break free of your soda habit, first be sure you address the emotional component of your food cravings using tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). More than any traditional or alternative method I have used or researched, EFT works to overcome food cravings and helps you reach dietary success. Be sure to check out Turbo Tapping in particular, which is an extremely effective and simple tool to get rid of your soda addiction in a short amount of time.

If you still have cravings after trying EFT or Turbo Tapping, you may need to make some changes to your diet. My free nutrition plan can help you do this in a step-by-step fashion. Remember, nothing beats pure water when it comes to serving your body’s needs. If you really feel the urge for a carbonated beverage, try sparkling mineral water with a squirt of lime or lemon juice, or sweetened with stevia or Luo Han, both of which are safe natural sweeteners. Remember, if you struggle with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or extra weight, then you have insulin sensitivity issues and would likely benefit from avoiding ALL sweeteners.

Sweetened beverages, whether it’s sweetened with sugar, HFCS, naturally occurring fructose, or artificial sweeteners like aspartame, are among the worst culprits in the fight against obesity and related health problems, including diabetes and heart and liver disease, just to name a few. Ditching ALL of these types of beverages can go a long way toward reducing your risk for chronic health problems and weight gain, not to mention your exposure to potentially cancer-causing additives like caramel coloring and aspartame.


Republican aide says Donald Trump ‘didn’t care or particularly know about healthcare’

Claim comes after President admits ‘we learned a lot about loyalty’ in wake of repeal bill defeat

President Donald Trump “didn’t care or particularly know about health care” despite trying to push a major reform bill through Congress, a senior Republican aide has reportedly claimed.

Mr Trump and top House Republican Paul Ryan tasted defeat on Friday when they were forced to pull the bill, designed to replace Barack Obama’s flagship Affordable Care Act, because they could not get enough votes within their own party to pass it.

The President blamed Democrats for failing to support the plan, but the self-professed dealmaker also said: “We learned a lot about loyalty, we learned a lot about the vote-getting process.” He insisted “Obamacare will explode” eventually and that opposition politicians would see the light and work with him on a new plan.

Vice President Mike Pence and budget director Mick Mulvaney joined Mr Trump in aggressive lobbying for votes with members of the dissenting Republican Freedom Caucus faction, and the President had also tried to court moderates.

However, a Republican congressional aide told CNN: “He didn’t care or particularly know about health care. If you are going to be a great negotiator, you have to know about the subject matter.”

CNN also reported that during a meeting with moderate Republicans, when Pennsylvania congressman Charlie Dent said he did not support the repeal-and-replace bill, Mr Trump said: “Why am I even talking to you?”

In his meeting with the Freedom Caucus the President reportedly urged sceptical legislators to ignore the “little s***” of the policy detail and give him the support he needed.

Among the group’s objections was the “essential health benefits” clause of the bill.

It said that requiring insurance companies to cover a list of items—including, but not limited to, access to mental health services, substance abuse counselling, physical therapy, maternal care and paediatric care like vaccinations—would raise premiums.

The American Health Care Act, Mr Trump and Mr Ryan’s proposed plan, would have left 24 million people uninsured by 2026 according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The CBO also said that while it would have saved the government money, people’s insurance premiums would have risen by between 15 and 20 per cent above the expected increase under Obamacare.

More Than A Primitive Practice: How Smudging Kills Bacteria In The Air


Smudging is one of the most timeless practices in the world. Believe it or not, it actually dates back to prehistoric times! Obviously, it’s still used to this day to clear negative energy — though many people think this is complete woo-woo. But recent scientific discoveries has revealed that it actually has a powerful anti-bacterial effect.

The scientific paper entitled “Medicinal Smokes” and published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology focuses a scientific lens on the practice, which is becoming more and more widely used, despite skepticism.

The study looked into herbal and non-herbal remedies that were administered by the burning of various plant matter. The research included information from 50 countries and found that, predominantly, smoke administered medicinally is mostly used to aid lung, brain and skin function. It was also said that passive fumes doubled as a sort of air purifier.

The purpose of the study was to see whether or not medicinal smoke deliveries could be explored by western medicine, because “The advantages of smoke-based remedies are rapid delivery to the brain, more efficient absorption by the body and lower costs of production.”

A follow-up paper found that the research concluded that, in addition to health benefits, smudging was a powerful antiseptic:

“We have observed that 1 hour treatment of medicinal smoke emanated by burning wood and a mixture of odoriferous and medicinal herbs (havan sámagri=material used in oblation to fire all over India), on aerial bacterial population caused over 94% reduction of bacterial counts by 60 min and the ability of the smoke to purify or disinfect the air and to make the environment cleaner was maintained up to 24 hour in the closed room.

Absence of pathogenic bacteria Corynebacterium urealyticum, Curtobacterium flaccumfaciens, Enterobacter aerogenes (Klebsiella mobilis), Kocuria rosea, Pseudomonas syringae pv. persicae, Staphylococcus lentus, and Xanthomonas campestris pv. tardicrescens in the open room even after 30 days is indicative of the bactericidal potential of the medicinal smoke treatment.

We have demonstrated that using medicinal smoke it is possible to completely eliminate diverse plant and human pathogenic bacteria of the air within confined space.”

Shockingly, burning herbs such as sage cleared bacteria by 94%! That is truly incredible. A day later, the space was still found to be disinfected. A month later, many of the original pathogens were still undetectable.

Think about this. It’s incredible news! Modern air quality is atrocious in many parts of the world. This could be an excellent way to mitigate those effects. Smudging is much better than using a chemical storm to disinfect an area, and even last longer.


Plyometrics: Build Lean Muscle, No Weights Required

Story at-a-glance

  • Plyometrics are a form of bodyweight exercise that requires no equipment and involve quick, explosive types of movement
  • Plyometric exercises help improve leg strength, muscle power, acceleration, balance, agility, and vertical jumps
  • Because plyometric exercises are so intense, you should only do 2-3 sessions a week

Plyometrics are quick, explosive types of movement that can help you burn large amounts of calories in minimal time while also strengthening your muscles.

As a form of body-weight exercise that requires no equipment (other than your own body), plyometric movements have been around virtually forever, although they didn’t start out as “exercise.”

The explosive movements involved in plyometrics, such as vertical jumps, were certainly invaluable to the survival of ancient humans. And such movements were later coveted by athletes at the first Olympics.

As the American Council on Exercise (ACE) put it, plyometric exercise has been in use “since the first Olympians in Greece donned white robes and grape leaf crowns.”1 Later, plyometrics were valued by Eastern European Olympians during the 1970s, who used the moves to build strength and power.2

What Makes Plyometrics Such a Good Workout?

When done properly, plyometric exercises have been shown to improve leg strength, muscle power, acceleration, balance, agility, and vertical jumps.3 There’s also evidence that they may help build bone density, particularly in younger adults, while also helping with weight control and lower the risk of sports-related injuries.4

While once thought of as an exercise strictly for adults, plyometrics can be safely performed by adolescents and children, too. As the American College of Sports Medicine noted, “plyometrics are a natural part of most movements, as evidenced by the jumping, hopping, and skipping seen on any school playground.”5

Many of the benefits of plyometrics come from the muscles’ cycle of lengthening and shortening, which increases muscle power.6 ACE explained:7

“The premise behind using plyometric exercise to improve reactivity and power output comes from what’s called the ‘stretch shortening cycle.’ This term refers to the change a muscle goes through when being eccentrically loaded and then concentrically contracted.

What is actually being trained while doing plyometics is the very short period in between the eccentric (lengthening) and concentric (shortening) phases of this muscle contraction.

This is called the ‘amortization phase’ and it is a very quick moment in time when the muscle goes from being eccentrically contracted, or stretched while under load, to concentrically contracted, which is what we normally think of as flexing a muscle.

When plyometrics are done quickly, as intended, the amortization phase should last less than one-quarter of a second… The shorter the amortization phase, the quicker a muscle goes from a long muscle to short muscle, which allows for increased force production.”

Four Simple Plyometric Moves

Many familiar exercises can become plyometric movements if you add an explosive burst. To do a plyometric push-up, for instance, once your sternum touches the floor hold your position and breathe for about three seconds, then perform an explosivepush upward. You can also try jump squats or jumping on and off a small box.

If you’re looking for something different to try, fitness and nutrition coach Adam Rosante, author of The 30-Second Body, shared four simple plyometric moves with Yahoo Health.8 These are appropriate for most fitness levels.

1.Pile Jumps

“…standing with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out wide, and arms lifted in front of you. Press your knees out over your toes, then explode straight up and land softly.”

2.Squat Push-Ups

“…come into a squat position, drop your hands to the floor, shoot your feet back, and complete one push-up. Hop your feet forward, lift your chest, and repeat.”

3.Deep Mountain-Climbers

“…start at the top of a push-up position and step your right foot to the outside of your right hand. Keeping your core tight, explosively switch feet.”

4.Table Saws

“…starting on your butt with your hands and feet flat on the floor. Press hips up and kick up your left foot as you swing your right hand up and over. Alternate sides.”

Plyometrics for Your Upper Body and Trunk

Plyometrics are often thought of as a lower-body workout, but they can be used for your upper body, and even your trunk, too. Jacque Crockford, MS, CSCS, an ACE certified personal trainer and an ACE exercise physiologist, shared the following plyometric exercises:9

Supine Vertical Chest Toss (Upper Body)

Vertical Chest Toss
Chest Toss Position When Catching the Ball

“Lie supine on a mat with your arms extended upward (shoulders at approximately 90 degrees of flexion). Have a partner stand on top of a box and hold a 2- to 8-lb (1- to 3.5-kg) medicine ball above the exerciser’s arms. When the partner drops the ball, catch the ball using both arms and immediately toss the ball back up to the partner.”

Lateral Med Ball Wall Throw and Catch (Trunk)

“Grasp a medicine ball and stand sideways about 2 to 3 feet away from a wall. Using the hip as a starting point, rotate the body and throw the ball toward the wall, catching it back at the hip while returning to the starting position.”

More Is Not Better with Plyometrics – Be Careful to Avoid Injury

Because plyometric exercises are so intense, you should only do two to three sessions a week to give your body time for adequate rest and recovery. And as you exercise, pay attention to proper form and quality of movement over quantity. Certain plyometric movements, such as depth jumping and drop jumping, can exert a force of up to seven times your own bodyweight.

In short, plyometrics can be dangerous if not correctly, and they may even pose a higher risk of injury than other forms of exercise. For instance, it’s not unusual for ankle or other injuries to occur during plyometric jumps. As ACE reported:10

“If you are considering plyometrics, proceed with caution. A sports medicine physician or therapist can advise you on whether this training technique is suitable for you, and may even help you get started or recommend someone who can. But, if improving athletic performance is not a high priority, the additional risk associated with this activity may not be worth the potential benefits.”

So it’s important to start out gradually and, ideally, under the supervision of a personal trainer, at least for your first few sessions. Listen to your body and do the exercises you feel comfortable with – avoid pushing yourself too much at the start of a plyometrics workout, as it takes time to build coordination and strength. You can lower your risk of injury when performing plyometrics by following some simple ground rules from ACE:11

  • Only do jumps from ground level, ideally onto soft grass or a padded gym mat
  • Use safe-landing techniques, such as from toe to heel when doing vertical jumps
  • Landing on your entire foot (as a rocker) helps dissipate landing forces over a greater surface area
  • Picture yourself landing “light as a feather” and “recoiling like a spring” after impact to help reduce the landing forces
  • Avoid excessive side-to-side motion of the your knees when landing; according to ACE, Landing forces can be absorbed through the muscles that help support and protect the knee joint (quadriceps, hamstrings, and gastrocnemius) more effectively when the knee is bending primarily in only one plane of motion.”

Plyometrics Won’t Produce Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

One reason why exercise is sometimes regarded as a real-life fountain of youth is because, when done intensely, it boosts your body’s natural production of human growth hormone (HGH), a synergistic, foundational biochemical that addresses the serious muscle loss and atrophy that typically occurs with aging. However, not all types of exercise boost its production. Your body has three different types of muscle fibers:

  1. Slow (red, oxygen-rich muscle)
  2. Fast (also red muscle that oxygenates quickly, but is five times faster than the slow fibers)
  3. Super-fast (white muscle fibers that contain far less blood and mitochondria)

The super-fast muscle fibers are the only muscle fibers that have any major impact on your production of HGH. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people, including many athletes such as marathon runners, only train using their slow muscle fibers, which can actually cause the super-fast fibers to decrease or atrophy.

It’s important to understand that neither traditionally performed aerobic cardio nor conventional strength training will work anything but your slow muscles. Power training with plyometrics will engage your fast muscle fibers, but still will not affect HGH production to any great degree.

The super-fast muscles, which are 10 times faster than slow fibers, are what you use when you do high-intensity interval training, such as Peak Fitness, and these are the muscle fibers that will affect HGH production. In fact, your production of vital human growth hormone increases by up to 771 percent during a high-intensity interval workout like Peak Fitness.

Generally, the higher your levels of HGH, the healthier and stronger you will be. So in addition to plyometrics, be sure you are also engaging in high-intensity interval training. This is especially important once you hit the age of 30, which is when you enter what’s called “somatopause.”

At this point your levels of HGH begin to drop off quite dramatically. This decline of HGH is part of what drives your aging process, so maintaining your HGH levels gets increasingly important with age. Whether you seek to optimize your athletic performance or health and longevity, incorporating one to three sessions of high-intensity exercises per week will help you achieve your aims by significantly boosting HGH production. In addition to Peak Fitness, super slow weight training is another form of high-intensity exercise that will significantly boost your HGH production.

Source: http://fitness.mercola.com

How to Burn Body Fat While You Sleep

 Story at-a-glance

  • Studies show the best temperature for sleeping is rather cool, but optimal sleep may be more complicated than simply turning down your thermostat
  • If you can’t “shut your brain off” at night, your brain temperature is likely elevated; cooling down your brain has positive effects on sleep
  • People with more brown fat have faster metabolism, better blood sugar control, and higher insulin sensitivity when exposed to cold temperatures

Studies have shown that in general, the optimal room temperature for sleeping is quite cool, around 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and temperatures much above or below this range can lead to restlessness.

But a new study suggests there are nuances to this phenomenon, and that a restful night’s sleep may be more complicated than simply turning down your thermostat.

Thermoregulation—your body’s heat distribution system—is strongly linked to sleep cycles. Even lying down can induce sleepiness by redistributing your body heat from your core to your periphery.

Sleep deprivation has virtually the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness, which explains in part why lack of sleep is associated with an increased risk of multiple chronic diseases. Therefore, high-quality sleep is critical to your health.

In this article, I’ll be discussing the latest research on sleep temperature, as well as other factors that can ease you into a blissful night’s slumber.

Sleeping in cold temps burns more calories

Cooler Heads Prevail

While you sleep, your body’s internal temperature actually drops to its lowest level of the day, generally about four hours after you fall asleep.

Research has determined that insomniacs typically have a warmer core body temperature just before bed than normal sleepers, which leads to heightened arousal and difficulty drifting off.

Many scientists believe that anything that mimics your body’s natural temperature drop may help promote sleep—such as the abrupt temperature change that occurs shortly after getting out of a hot bath.

Keeping a “cool head”—or more specifically, a cool brain—appears to induce sleepiness. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that a cap worn by insomniacs filled with cool circulating water helped them sleep almost as easily as people without sleep disorders.

Those whose caps were set to the coolest temperatures were able to get more sleep than those whose caps were set slightly warmer.1 The caps’ success can be explained by the fact that heightened brain activity raises your brain’s temperature.

Many insomniacs report that they can’t fall asleep because they “can’t turn their brains off” at night, but the cooling cap helped resolve this. Researchers concluded that their extra brain activity was keeping their brains too hot for sleep.

Cooling off your brain makes sense, as melatonin (your sleep hormone) works in part by lowering your body temperature. Yawning may also serve to cool your brain by drawing a bolus of cool air into your sinuses.

Your brain temperature is higher when you’re sleep deprived, which might explain why exhaustion triggers excessive yawning.

The Secrets to Burning More Fat While You Sleep

New research2,3 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that sleeping in a cool room has significant calorie- and fat-burning health benefits.

According to Dr. Francesco Celi, Chairman of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, even a small reduction in room temperature helps your body “burn calories and dispose of excess blood sugar”—thanks to your body’s brown fat.

Brown fat generates heat by helping you burn calories, which is why it’s being explored as a tool for weight loss, healthy metabolism, and more. The more brown fat you have, the better, as there are direct correlations between your level of activated brown fat and optimal metabolic markers.

People with more brown fat have a faster metabolism, better blood sugar control, and higher insulin sensitivity when exposed to cold temperatures. As you age, the activity of your brown fat decreases, which helps explain why there’s a tendency to gain weight with age. However, exercise may help prevent this.

Unfortunately, other evidence suggests that the optimal temperature for activating brown fat may NOT be the best for a sound sleep.

Shivering Activates Brown Fat—But Hampers Your Sleep

According to Dr. Celi, there is evidence pointing to shivering as the mechanism that triggers brown fat to produce heat and burn calories.4 Like exercise, shivering triggers your muscles to secrete a hormone that stimulates energy use in your brown fat cells.

But shivering is not conducive to sleeping soundly, as evidenced by research from Dr. Eus van Someren and colleagues at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience.

While a dip in core temperature before bedtime flips on your “time for bed” switches, Someren’s research indicates that deep, restful slumber requires you to keep your skin temperature “perfectly comfortable.” So, if you’re thinking about chilling yourself during the night to boost your health and metabolism, it simply won’t work—you’ll end up sleep deprived.

In fact, Someren’s work and that of others suggest that skin temperatures in the range of 90 degrees may be optimal. Typically, all that’s required to get your skin to 90 degrees Fahrenheit are thin pajamas, plus a sheet, and a light blanket—even if your bedroom thermostat is set to 65.

So, if you’re one to turn the heat way down and crawl under a big puffy comforter, you may sleep well, but you’re probably not experiencing much brown fat activity. The other thing that can happen if your bedroom is too chilly is that the blood vessels in your skin will constrict, locking in heat and raising your core temperature to a point at which your sleep can be disturbed.

If you introduce a bed partner into the mix—and it doesn’t matter whether he or she is the two-legged or four-legged variety—then things get even more complicated, especially if you each have different Goldilocks zones for comfort.

Sharing your sleep sanctuary can be tricky business. Finding your “perfect sleep temperature” is a bit of a process and differs for everyone. But body temperature is only one of many factors that control the quality and duration of your sleep.

Sleeping in the Buff May Be Beneficial

Professor Russell Foster of the University of Oxford recommends ditching your pajamas to improve your slumber—which is actually done by one-third of all adults in the US, according to one study.5 If you’re wearing lots of bedclothes, it may be more difficult for your body to regulate its temperature.

With or without pajamas, it’s important to make sure your hands and feet are warm because if they aren’t, the blood vessels near your skin constrict and reduce blood flow in an effort to prevent heat from escaping, and this prevents your core temperature from dropping easily. Conversely, warming your skin causes your peripheral blood vessels to widen, promoting heat loss. To summarize, if you want to fall asleep easily, you’ll need to be warm enough that your blood vessels won’t constrict, but not so hot that your body can’t cool down.

The Health Risks of Poor Quality Sleep

Millions of American adults are sleeping less than six hours per night, which recent studies have linked to chronic inflammation, higher stress, and increased mortality from all causes. Getting just one hour less sleep per night may raise your risk of several chronic diseases. Interrupted or impaired sleep can lead to the following:

Increase your risk of heart disease Harm your brain by causing brain shrinkage, halting new cell production, and interfering with brain detoxification, contributing to the buildup of amyloid-beta plaques (which are found in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s)
Impair your ability to lose excess pounds or maintain your ideal weight. This is likely the effect of altered metabolism, because when you’re sleep deprived, leptin(the hormone that signals satiety) falls, while ghrelin (which signals hunger) rises Contribute to a pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you’ve already eaten, which can wreak havoc on your weight
Accelerate tumor growth, primarily due to disrupted melatonin production. Melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer types, and triggers cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction). The hormone also interferes with the new blood supply tumors require for their rapid growth (angiogenesis) Contribute to premature aging by interfering with your growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep (and during certain types of exercise, such as high-intensity interval training)
Resistant hypertension, the type that does not respond to typical drug-based treatments Increase your risk of dying from any cause

A Simple Trick to Help You Spend More Time in Deep Sleep

Deep sleep is one of the most important sleep phases as this is when your body repairs and regenerates, and your immune system is strengthened. The more time you can spend in this crucial sleep phase during the night, the more refreshed you’ll feel in the morning. Sound stimulation has been shown to be effective for prolonging deep sleep. So, if you’re having trouble staying asleep, this is a simple trick to try.

A study published in the journal Neuron6 found that playing “pink noise” sounds that were synchronized to the subject’s brain waves when the subject approached deep sleep allowed them to remain in deep sleep longer than when the sound was not played. The participants’ memory also showed dramatic improvement after sleeping with “pink noise.”

Participants were shown 120 pairs of words before going to bed and tested the following morning to see how many they could remember. After sound stimulation, the subjects improved their memory retention by nearly 60 percent, recalling an average of 22 sets of words compared to 13 when the sound was not played. The key, according to the authors, is that the frequency of the sound was synched to the subject’s brain waves. This amplified the size of the brain waves during deep sleep, and these slower brain waves are associated with information processing and memory formation. You can find special “pink noise” apps to play in your bedroom, or you can simply turn on a fan to get this benefit.

Additionally, if you don’t already have a fitness tracker that records your sleep, I would encourage you to get one. It’s difficult to change a habit when you’re not monitoring it, and chances are, you’re not getting nearly as much sleep as you think you do. Using a sleep tracker can help motivate you to get to bed earlier so you can get eight hours of sleep. The Apple Watch,8which is set to launch this year, is one example.

Electronic Gadgets and Other Sources of Sleep Disturbance

If your sleep is being interrupted, the first step is to determine the cause. Most sleep disruptions are related to environmental or emotional factors, such as:

  • Eating the worst foods for sleep too close to bedtime, such as a heavy meal, unhealthy fats, spicy foods, coffee, or dark chocolate
  • Pets in your bed or bedroom
  • Pain
  • Drinking alcohol in the evening
  • Use of your computer, tablet, cell phone, or television

The last one is a biggie, as about 95 percent of Americans use an electronic device within one hour of turning in.9 These devices interfere with your sleep-wake cycle by making noises, emitting light that interferes with your body’s natural melatonin production, and emitting low level radiation. One 2008 study10 showed that people exposed to radiation from their mobile phones for three hours before bedtime had more trouble falling asleep and reaching deep sleep.

According to the 2014 Sleep in America Poll,11 53 percent of respondents who turn electronics off while sleeping tend to rate their sleep as excellent, compared to just 27 percent of those who leave their devices on. This is why I recommend avoiding watching TV or using a computer or tablet at least an hour or so before going to bed. If you do keep your devices in your room, make sure they are physically turned off along with your Wi-Fi router. An alternative is trying a free computer program called f.lux (see justgetflux.com), which alters the color temperature of your computer screen as the day goes on, pulling out the blue wavelengths as it gets late.

How to Get Uninterrupted, Restorative Sleep

Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleep sanctuary can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted peaceful slumber. I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines for all of the details, but to start, consider implementing the following changes:

  • Avoid watching TV or using your computer/smartphone or tablet in the evening, at least an hour or so before going to bed.
  • Make sure you get BRIGHT sun exposure during the day. Your pineal gland produces melatonin roughly in approximation to the contrast of bright sun exposure in the day and complete darkness at night. If you are in darkness all day long, it can’t appreciate the difference and will not optimize your melatonin production.
  • Get some sun in the morning. Your circadian system needs bright light to reset itself. Ten to 15 minutes of morning sunlight will send a strong message to your internal clock that day has arrived, making it less likely to be confused by weaker light signals during the night.
  • Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. Even the tiniest glow from your clock radio could be interfering with your sleep, so cover your clock radio up at night or get rid of it altogether. Move all electrical devices at least three feet away from your bed. You may want to cover your windows with drapes or blackout shades, or wear an eye mask when you sleep.
  • Install a low-wattage yellow, orange, or red light bulb if you need a source of light for navigation at night. Light in these bandwidths does not shut down melatonin production in the way that white and blue bandwidth light does. Salt lamps are handy for this purpose.
  • Keep the temperature in your bedroom below 70 degrees F. Many people keep their homes too warm (particularly their upstairs bedrooms). Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60 to 68 degrees F.
  • Take a hot bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime. This increases your core body temperature, and when you get out of the bath it abruptly drops, signaling your body that you are ready to sleep.
  • Be mindful of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in your bedroom. EMFs can disrupt your pineal gland and its melatonin production, and may have other negative biological effects as well. A gauss meter is required if you want to measure EMF levels in various areas of your home. If possible install a kill switch to turn off all electricity to your bedroom. If you need a clock, use a battery-operated one.
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies: Magnesium deficiency can cause insomnia; potassium deficiency can cause difficulty staying asleep; and low vitamin D levels can result in excessive daytime sleepiness.


What Happens in Your Body When You’re Sleep Deprived?

Story at-a-glance
  • Short term, lack of sleep has an immediate effect on your mental and emotional states. Over the long term, poor sleep can contribute to a whole host of chronic health problems, both physical and mental
  • Going just one night without proper sleep starts to impair your physical movements and mental focus, comparable to being drunk
  • Your problem-solving skills dwindle with each passing sleepless night, and paranoia, hallucinations, and sleep deprivation psychosis can set in after as little as 24 hours without sleep, mimicking symptoms of schizophrenia

Lack of sleep has many ramifications, from minor to major, depending on your accumulated sleep debt. Short term, lack of sleep tends to have an immediate effect on your mental and emotional states.

Over the long term, poor sleep can contribute to a whole host of chronic health problems, from obesity and diabetes to immune problems and an increased risk for cancer. Plus it raises your risk of accidents and occupational errors.

Unfortunately, few are those who sleep well on a regular basis. Part of the problem is our propensity for using artificial lighting and electronics at night, in combination with getting insufficient exposure to full, bright, and natural sunlight during the day.

This disconnect from the natural cycles of day and night, activity and sleep, can turn into a chronic problem where you’re constantly struggling to sleep well.

Fortunately the remedy is simple, and if you follow the recommendations at the end of this article, chances are you’ll be able to reestablish a healthy sleep pattern, without which you simply cannot be optimally healthy — even if you do everything else right.

A Single Night Without Sleep Can Have Severe Implications

As shown in the video above,1 going just one night without proper sleep starts to impair your physical movements and mental focus, comparable to having a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent.2

In essence, if you haven’t slept, your level of impairment is on par with someone who’s drunk.

According to researchers, 24 hours’ worth of sleeplessness breaks down cognitive faculties to such a degree that you’ll be 4.5 times more likely to sign a false confession.3

Overall, you become more susceptible to “suggested” memories, and start having trouble discerning the true source of your memories. For example, you might confuse something you read somewhere with a first-hand experience. According to the authors of this study:

“We propose that sleep deprivation sets the stage for a false confession by impairing complex decision making abilities — specifically, the ability to anticipate risks and consequences, inhibit behavioral impulses, and resist suggestive influences.”

Lack of Sleep Linked to Internet Surfing and Poor Grades

Other research4 has linked lack of sleep to more extended internet usage, such as browsing through Facebook rather than studying or working. The reason for this is again related to impaired cognition and the inability to focus, making you more prone to distraction.

Not surprisingly, academic performance also suffers. In one recent study,5 the less sleep high school students reported getting, the lower their average grades were.

How Sleep Influences and Regulates Emotional Perception

Sleeping well is also important for maintaining emotional balance. Fatigue compromises your brain’s ability to regulate emotions, making you more prone to crankiness, anxiety, and unwarranted emotional outbursts.

Recent research also shows that when you haven’t slept well, you’re more apt to overreact to neutral events; you may feel provoked when no provocation actually exists, and you may lose your ability to sort out the unimportant from the important, which can result in bias and poor judgment.

Reporting on this research, in which participants were kept awake for one whole night before taking a series of image tests to gauge emotional reactions and concentration levels, Medical News Today writes:6

“… Eti Ben-Simon, who conducted the experiment, believes that sleep deprivation may universally impair judgment, but it is more likely that a lack of sleep causes neutral images to provoke an emotional response.

The second test examined concentration levels. Participants inside an fMRI scanner had to complete a task that demanded their attention to press a key or button, while ignoring distracting background pictures with emotional or neutral content …

After only one night without sleep, participants were distracted by every single image (neutral and emotional), while well-rested participants only found the emotional images distracting.

The effect was indicated by activity change, or what Prof. Hendler calls ‘a change in the emotional specificity’ of the amygdala … a major limbic node responsible for emotional processing in the brain.”

What Happens in Your Body After Two or More Sleepless Nights?

After 48 hours of no sleep, your oxygen intake is lessened and anaerobic power is impaired, which affects your athletic potential. You may also lose coordination, and start to forget words when speaking. It’s all downhill from there.

After the 72 hour-mark of no sleep, concentration takes a major hit, and emotional agitation and heart rate increases. Your chances of falling asleep during the day increase and along with it, your risk of having an accident.

In 2013, drowsy drivers caused 72,000 car accidents in which 800 Americans were killed, and 44,000 were injured.7 Your problem-solving skills dwindle with each passing sleepless night, and paranoia can become a problem.

In some cases, hallucinations and sleep deprivation psychosis can set in — a condition in which you can no longer interpret reality. Recent research suggests psychosis can occur after as little as 24 hours without sleep, effectively mimicking symptoms observed in those with schizophrenia.

Sleep Deprivation Decreases Your Immune Function

Research published in the journal Sleep reports that sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress.8,9

The researchers measured the white blood cell counts in 15 people who stayed awake for 29 hours straight, and found that blood cell counts increased during the sleep deprivation phase. This is the same type of response you typically see when you’re sick or stressed.

In a nutshell, whether you’re physically stressed, sick, or sleep-deprived, your immune system becomes hyperactive and starts producing white blood cells — your body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders like infectious agents. Elevated levels of white blood cells are typically a sign of disease. So your body reacts to sleep deprivation in much the same way it reacts to illness.

Other study10 findings suggest that deep sleep plays a very special role in strengthening immunological memories of previously encountered pathogens in a way similar to psychological long-term memory retention. When you’re well rested, your immune system is able to mount a much faster and more effective response when an antigen is encountered a second time.

When you’re sleep-deprived, your body loses much of this rapid response ability. Unfortunately, sleep is one of the most overlooked factors of optimal health in general, and immune function in particular.

Sleeping Poorly Raises Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

A number of studies have demonstrated that lack of sleep can play a significant role in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. In earlier research,11 women who slept five hours or less every night were 34 percent more likely to develop diabetes symptoms than women who slept for seven or eight hours each night.

According to research12 published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, after four nights of sleep deprivation (sleep time was only 4.5 hours per night), study participants’ insulin sensitivity was 16 percent lower, while their fat cells’ insulin sensitivity was 30 percent lower, and rivaled levels seen in those with diabetes or obesity.

Senior author Matthew Brady, Ph.D., an associate professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago, noted that:13 “This is the equivalent of metabolically aging someone 10 to 20 years just from four nights of partial sleep restriction. Fat cells need sleep, and when they don’t get enough sleep, they become metabolically groggy.”

Similarly, researchers warn that teenage boys who get too little slow-wave sleep are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Slow-wave sleep is a sleep stage associated with reduced levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and reduced inflammation. As reported by MedicineNet.com:14

“Boys who lost a greater amount of slow-wave sleep between childhood and the teen years had a higher risk of developing insulin resistance than those whose slow-wave sleep totals remained fairly stable over the years …

‘On a night following sleep deprivation, we’ll have significantly more slow-wave sleep to compensate for the loss,’ study author Jordan Gaines … said … ‘We also know that we lose slow-wave sleep most rapidly during early adolescence. Given the restorative role of slow-wave sleep, we weren’t surprised to find that metabolic and cognitive [mental] processes were affected during this developmental period.'”

The Many Health Hazards of Sleep Deprivation

Aside from directly impacting your immune function, another explanation for why poor sleep can have such varied detrimental effects on your health is that your circadian system “drives” the rhythms of biological activity at the cellular level. We’ve really only begun to uncover the biological processes that take place during sleep.

For example, during sleep your brain cells shrink by about 60 percent, which allows for more efficient waste removal. This nightly detoxification of your brain appears to be very important for the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Sleep is also intricately tied to important hormone levels, including melatonin, the production of which is disturbed by lack of sleep.

This is extremely problematic, as melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cell types, as well as triggers cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction).

Lack of sleep also decreases levels of your fat-regulating hormone leptin while increasing the hunger hormone ghrelin. The resulting increase in hunger and appetite can easily lead to overeating and weight gain. In short, the many disruptions provoked by lack of sleep cascade outward throughout your entire body, which is why poor sleep tends to worsen just about any health problem. For example, interrupted or impaired sleep can:

Contribute to a pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you’ve already eaten, which can wreak havoc on your weight Harm your brain by halting new cell production. Sleep deprivation can increase levels of corticosterone (a stress hormone), resulting in fewer new brain cells being created in your hippocampus
Aggravate or make you more susceptible to stomach ulcers Raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease
Promote or further exacerbate chronic diseases such as: Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis (MS), gastrointestinal tract disorders, kidney disease, and cancer Contribute to premature aging by interfering with your growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep (and during certain types of exercise, such as high-intensity interval training)
Worsen constipation Increase your risk of dying from any cause
Worsen behavioral difficulties in children Increase your risk of depression. In one trial, 87 percent of depressed patients who resolved their insomnia had major improvements to their depression, with symptoms disappearing after eight weeks
Alter gene expression. Research has shown that when people cut sleep from 7.5 to 6.5 hours a night, there were increases in the expression of genes associated with inflammation, immune excitability, diabetes, cancer risk, and stress15 Aggravate chronic pain. In one study, poor or insufficient sleep was found to be the strongest predictor for pain in adults over 5016

Tips to Improve Your Sleep Habits

Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way toward ensuring you uninterrupted, restful sleep — and thereby better health. To get you started, check out the suggestions listed in the table below. For even more helpful guidance on how to improve your sleep, please review my “33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep.”

If you’re even slightly sleep deprived, I encourage you to implement some of these tips tonight, as high-quality sleep is one of the most important factors in your health and quality of life. As for how much sleep you need for optimal health, a panel of experts reviewed more than 300 studies to determine the ideal amount of sleep, and found that, as a general rule, most adults need right around eight hours per night.

Optimize your light exposure during the day, and minimize light exposure after sunset Your pineal gland produces melatonin roughly in approximation to the contrast of bright sun exposure in the day and complete darkness at night.If you’re in darkness all day long, your body can’t appreciate the difference and will not optimize melatonin production.

Make sure you get at least 30 to 60 minutes of outdoor light exposure during the daytime in order to “anchor” your master clock rhythm, in the morning if possible. More sunlight exposure is required as you age.

Once the sun sets, minimize artificial light exposure to assist your body in secreting melatonin, which helps you feel sleepy.

It can be helpful to sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. If you need navigation light, install a low-wattage yellow, orange, or red light bulb.

Light in these bandwidths does not shut down melatonin production in the way that white and blue light does. Salt lamps are great for this purpose.

Address mental states that prevent peaceful slumber A sleep disturbance is always caused by something, be it physical, emotional, or both. Anxiety and anger are two mental states that are incompatible with sleep.

Feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities is another common sleep blocker.

To identify the cause of your wakefulness, analyze the thoughts that circle in your mind during the time you lie awake, and look for themes.

Many who have learned the Emotional Freedom Techniques(EFT) find it is incredibly useful in helping them to sleep.

One strategy is to compile a list of your current concerns, and then “tap” on each issue. To learn how to tap, please refer to our free EFT guide.

Keep the temperature in your bedroom below 70 degrees Fahrenheit Many people keep their homes too warm at night.  Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Take a hot bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime This raises your core body temperature, and when you get out of the bath it abruptly drops, signaling your body that you’re ready for sleep.
Avoid watching TV or using electronics in the evening, at least an hour or so before going to bed Electronic devices emit blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Normally, your brain starts secreting melatonin between 9 pm and 10 pm, and these devices may stifle that process.

If you have to use your cellphone or computer at night, downloading a free application called F.lux will automatically dim your computer device screens as the evening wears on.17

Be mindful of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in your bedroom EMFs can disrupt your pineal gland and its melatonin production, and may have other detrimental biological effects.

A gauss meter is required if you want to measure EMF levels in various areas of your home. Ideally, you should turn off any wireless router while you are sleeping — after all, you don’t need the Internet when you sleep.

Develop a relaxing pre-sleep routine Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day helps keep your sleep on track, but having a consistent pre-sleep routine or “sleep ritual” is also important.

For instance, if you read before heading to bed, your body knows that reading at night signals it’s time for sleep.

Sleep specialist Stephanie Silberman, Ph.D. suggests listening to calming music, stretching or doing relaxation exercises.18 Mindfulness therapies have also been found helpful for insomnia.19

Avoid alcohol, caffeine and other drugs, including nicotine Two of the biggest sleep saboteurs are caffeine and alcohol, both of which also increase anxiety. Caffeine’s effects can last four to seven hours. Tea and chocolate also contain caffeine.

Alcohol can help you fall asleep faster, but it makes sleep more fragmented and less restorative.

Nicotine in all its forms (cigarettes, e-cigs, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, and smoking cessation patches) is also a stimulant, so lighting up too close to bedtime can worsen insomnia.

Many other drugs can also interfere with sleep.

Use a fitness tracker to help you get to bed on time, and track which activities boost or hinder deep sleep To optimize sleep you need to go to bed early enough. If you have to get up at 6:30am, you’re just not going to get enough sleep if you go to bed after midnight.

Many fitness trackers can now track both daytime body movement and sleep, allowing you to get a better picture of how much sleep you’re actually getting.

Newer fitness trackers like Jawbone’s UP3 can even tell you which activities led to your best sleep and what factors resulted in poor sleep.

Watch the video. URL:https://youtu.be/qPoZVQvsbW0

source: mercola.com/

Richard Lehman’s journal review.

Stem cells for AMD

For sufferers of age-related macular degeneration who were hoping for a stem cell cure, this week’s New England Journal brings bad news and shocking news. The bad news comes in a case report showing zero improvement after transplanting a sheet of retinal pigment epithelial cells differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells in a patient with neovascular age-related macular degeneration. The 41 authors of this paper took the utmost care to test the material which they then implanted under the retina of one patient, after removing all neovascular membrane. At one year after surgery, the transplanted sheet remained intact, best corrected visual acuity had not improved or worsened, and cystoid macular oedema was present.

That is a great deal better than what happened to patients receiving intravitreal injections of “stem cells” derived from the patients’ own adipose tissue. The American clinics who offer this treatment perform the injections under the auspices of patient-funded, institutional review board–approved research. The research is listed on ClinicalTrials.gov without an investigational new drug application with the FDA. Three case reports describe how the recipients became blind after the procedure.

PCSK9 inhibitorzzzzz

The future of cardiology happened at 13h00 GMT on Friday 17 March 2017. This was when the results of the FOURIER trial of evolocumab for the prevention of cardiovascular events were presented at the American College of Cardiology. The BBC immediately declared a massive breakthrough. All my American commentator friends sprang into action. In this new era, it would take, er, $2million or more to avoid one event in a high risk population over two years. The effect on all cause mortality would be, er, zero or worse. They had seen the future and it was, er, pants. Pants that cost $15,000 per person per year. As ever, I was awe-struck by the mastery of the commentaries and data synthesis produced within hours by Harlan Krumholz, Larry Husten, Gary Schwitzer, James McCormack and Vinay Prasad. By evening the future had become the familiar past. We need longer trials. We need to look at how drugs are priced. We need to look beyond lipid-lowering if we are to reduce cardiovascular disease further.

So before you all go to sleep, what were we actually looking at here? You will all, I imagine, have heard of PCSK9 inhibitors and their remarkable ability to lower low density lipid cholesterol by binding to proprotein convertase subtilisin–kexin type 9 in the liver. Three antibodies were developed to achieve this: evolocumab, alirocumab, and bococizumab. The first two are fully human antibodies and are rarely treated as foreigners by the immune system. But bococizumab is a humanized rather than a human antibody: it contains 3% of mouse material and sadly for its manufacturers, this is sufficient to induce counter-antibodies in most people. This is described in a report of the SPIRE trials, which were duly discontinued.

Evolocumab and alirocumab will continue to stumble on expensively. I imagine their main use will be to treat the severer forms of hereditary hypercholesterolaemia. Expect more hyping of the “statin intolerance” concept too, as this will create another market sector. If you want more detail, look up the superb commentaries I mentioned. And if you want a new lipid-lowering horse to put your money on, there’s now inclisiran. It’s a chemically synthesized small interfering RNA designed to target–you guessed it–PCSK9 messenger RNA. Could be transformational. Needs big phase 3 trials. Might end up costing a lot. May transform preventive cardiology. May bomb. You just never know.

JAMA  14 Mar 2017  Vol 317

Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus

The FOURIER trial was a good example of massive hype and enormous effort followed by an underwhelming result. “A mountain had gone into labour and was groaning terribly. Such rumours excited great expectations all over the country. In the end, however, the mountain gave birth to a mouse,” wrote the Latin poet Phaedrus, though the story is better known from a pithy line by Horace (see heading). A mighty coalition of East Coast American institutions decided to address the mountainous issue of whether a professionally delivered intervention plus education aimed at mouse infestation might reduce asthma symptoms among mouse-sensitized children and adolescents with persistent asthma compared with education alone. The mountain groaned for five years. Mice were sacrificed, or fled in terror. But at the end of the trial, asthma symptoms did not differ between groups.

Testing fails to predict preterm birth

Spontaneous labour is preceded by shortening of the cervix and a rise in vaginal levels of fetal pronectin. So perhaps by measuring these things, one might be able to predict premature labour, ran the hypothesis. But a study of 9410 nulliparous women with singleton pregnancies showed that this combination predicted less than a quarter of preterm onset of labour, and is not fit for clinical use.

Poor anticoagulation in AF precedes stroke

A study of 94 474 North American patients with acute ischemic stroke who had a known history of atrial fibrillation shows the importance of adequate anticoagulation. 84% did not receive guideline-recommended therapeutic anticoagulation preceding the stroke. The 16% who had received adequate treatment with warfarin or DOACs had less severe strokes and lower in-hospital mortality.

JAMA Intern Med  Mar 2017 Vol 177

Kidney outcomes & BP control in non-diabetics

Here’s a meta-analysis of nine randomized clinical trials with 8127 patients and a median follow-up of 3.3 years. It aims to answer the question of whether aiming for a BP of <130/80 mm Hg (intensive control) prevents kidney disease progression better than standard control (<140/90). Every week, I look at about 20 meta-analyses, deliberately leaving aside most technical aspects and concentrating on what might be important for decision-making with patients. High blood pressure is a very common cardiorenal risk factor: end-stage renal failure is a very rare complication of high blood pressure. There is every likelihood that different BP lowering agents confer different levels of protection, and that this will differ among subgroups e.g. by ethnicity, duration, age etc. How will this review help me to reach decisions with real people, using specific drugs? Not a bit, I would suggest. It relies on surrogate end-points and compares one general strategy with another over too short a period. That’s not the fault of the authors. But it is their fault when they go on to stretch even this meagre evidence beyond anything it can support: “Targeting blood pressure below the current standard is not consistently warranted, but may benefit nonblack patients or those with heavy proteinuria.” If something hasn’t reached statistical significance, don’t make a strapline of it. It will only confuse the troops. Bury it in the conclusion, as a suggestion for further research.

The Lancet 18 Mar 2017 Vol 389

Our statin war correspondent writes

I know some people like to watch a good fight, but for me the statin wars between The Lancet and The BMJ, seemed endlessly tiresome and pointless. Even now, the two central lessons don’t seem to have emerged clearly: firstly, taking a statin is an individual choice, not a herd intervention; and secondly, the effect is not a herd effect at all but accrues maximally to a few individuals while leaving most with no benefit at all. But in this overheated argument, the issue has been depicted as a moral crusade to make people take pills for their own good and tell them that any adverse effects they experience must be in their imagination. Many months after The Lancet published a review by Rory Collins, which was to settle the matter, the journal publishes responses from dissenters, including the BMJ authors whose article triggered the war and Fiona Godlee who stood by them. She writes: “So despite Horton and Collins and colleagues wanting to shut down the discussion and award themselves the final word, the debate about statins in primary prevention is alive and kicking. It is a debate that needs to be resolved as thoughtfully, objectively, and openly as possible, and not by eminence-based narrative reviews, however extensive, based on meta-analysis of data that only Collins, his fellow trialists, and industry sponsors have seen. This absence of independence and transparency is not unusual in medicine—indeed it is sadly still very much the norm.” Bravissima! And praise to The Lancet for printing this. Can we look forward to calm and good sense from now on?

Hip screws i’FAITH

The Lancet has published a study comparing two kinds of screw fixation for hip fractures. Hip fractures are common and often presage immobility and death in old people, so a good treatment is of interest to all of us. The FAITH trial concludes that “in terms of reoperation rates the sliding hip screw shows no advantage, but some groups of patients (smokers and those with displaced or base of neck fractures) might do better with a sliding hip screw than with cancellous screws.” Useful knowledge.

BLISTERingly good

If you ever get the chance to hear Hywel Williams talk about his work, don’t miss it. He talks a wonderful talk, but he walks an even more wonderful walk. The BLISTER trial is a classic example from his Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology in Nottingham. Bullous pemphigoid is a distressingly itchy auto-immune skin disease of older people, whose incidence has doubled in the last decade and now stands somewhere between 14 and 42 new patients per million inhabitants of the UK and Europe. Too rare and too cheaply treated to be of any interest to the pharmaceutical industry: but Hywel and his colleagues did a systematic review and found that there was no clear evidence to choose between treatment with oral steroids or tetracyclines. They talked to patients; they collected a group of colleagues from across the UK to conduct a trial, and they found funding from a non-pharma source. This is what they always do. Go thou, dear reader, and do likewise. Oh, and what did they find? That starting patients on doxycycline is non-inferior to standard treatment with oral prednisolone for short-term blister control in bullous pemphigoid and significantly safer in the long-term. Truly useful knowledge. Go forth, dear reader, and discover something of your own that really benefits patients.

The BMJ 18 Mar 2017 Vol 356

Hot fresh microbiome

A single-author review from the USA sets out to describe how our understanding of our microbial communities (microbiota) has developed over recent years. “Perhaps the most radical change is the realization that most of the microbes that inhabit our body supply crucial ecosystem services that benefit the entire host-microbe system. These services include the production of important resources, bioconversion of nutrients, and protection against pathogenic microbes.” I like this analogy between the microbiome and a service industry. It can work both ways. This article, though long and occasionally hard to penetrate, is good reading for a rainy afternoon. It ends on a note of American optimism. “The insights gained through the study of our indigenous microbiota are leading the way to a better understanding of the mechanisms by which microbes can maintain health and trigger disease. With this greater understanding it is hoped that we will be in a position to develop new ways to prevent and treat a wide range of diseases and to foster health by tending to our microbial symbionts.” Little cuties. Now please wash your hands.

Plant of the Week: Forsythia suspensa var sieboldii

I’m all for people growing the plants they enjoy, but I suspect that most of the shouty yellow forsythias that appear at this time of year are not there for pleasure but are just mistakes which nobody has thought to correct. Our neighbour planted one in a prominent spot near our common drive a few years ago. In the interests of internecine tranquillity, I said nothing and raised not an eyebrow in his direction. Fortunately he is a man of order and soon tired of its wild and straggling habit: an inoffensive little barberry now marks the place where once it blazed bad yellow at the March winds.

The forsythias which clash inexcusably with the early cherry and magnolia trees are usually of the intermediagroup, but from time to time I catch sight of paler forsythias which make me want to stop the car and admire them, perhaps also surreptitiously helping myself to a branch while nobody is looking. What stops me doing this is the fact that we don’t have any room for another large straggling shrub. If we had, I would probably go for F suspensa var sieboldii, placed on a bank, though I may be relying too much on book descriptions and Google images. “Introduced c.1857. This unique Forsythia is distinguished by its arching, rambling, lax habit; its pleasing, light yellow flowers are borne all along the vigorous new shoots as well as on the old twigs; it is by far the most desirable for cutting for the house,” wrote Graham Stuart Thomas (1992), who was never wrong.



Fish Factories Are Responsible for Creating Disease

Fish Farm

Story at-a-glance

  • Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI) has been detected in farmed fish in Norway and British Columbia
  • HSMI has been responsible for devastating commercial fish farms in Norway, where it is considered the No. 3 cause of mortality
  • Another disease, piscine reovirus, is associated with HSMI and is found in virtually all farmed fish in British Columbia and may also be affecting wild migrating salmon

Five decades ago, it was reported that humans could essentially catch so many fish that the oceans would become barren. At that time, the annual fish catch had increased from 23 million tons in 1953 to 46 million tons in 1963.1,2

Today fish catches have increased even more, reaching 93 million tons in 2014, according to the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department of the United Nations.3

However, a report published in Nature Communications suggested that such estimates may ignore small-scale fisheries, illegal fisheries and discarded bycatch and thus be an underestimate.

The report suggested fish catches may have peaked at 130 million tons in 2010 and, on a slightly brighter note, may have been on the decline since then.4 What is clear from the numbers, whether they’re an underestimate or not, is that current fishing trends are not sustainable.

Aquaculture or fish farming may therefore seem like the sustainable solution to “farm” fish and protect wild species, but the reality is anything but.

Fish Farms Breed Disease That May Harm Wild Salmon

Fish farms share many similarities with land-based concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and are sometimes referred to as CAFOs of the sea. The fish are crowded in close quarters that allow for the rapid growth of sea lice, bacteria and viruses.

Among them is Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI), which as been detected in farmed fish in Norway and British Columbia.

HSMI has been responsible for devastating commercial fish farms in Norway, where it is considered the No. 3 cause of mortality, according to a 2015 annual report by seafood company Marine Harvest.5

It first emerged in Norwegian fish farms in 1999 but was only recently discovered in British Columbia.

Experts such as biologist Alexandra Morton, who has authored more than two dozen papers on the impact of fish farms, believe this and other viruses linked to the fish farms have been plaguing commercial and wild salmon for years.

Piscine reovirus, which is associated with HSMI, for instance, is found in virtually all farmed fish in British Columbia and may also be affecting wild migrating salmon.

In the video above, Twyla Roscovich, filmmaker of the documentary “Salmon Confidential,” expands on concerns surrounding piscine reovirus, which gives salmon a heart attack and prevents them from swimming upriver.

Despite the concerns that fish farms are spreading disease that could decimate wild salmon, the government continues to extend the corporate fish farm leases for years at a clip. News organization The Tyee reported:6

“About 100 salmon fish farms now dot the southern B.C. coast. The majority of these ocean feedlots, which rear as many as a million fish in an area the size of four football fields, are owned by the Japanese Mitsibushi Corporation or the Norwegian firms Marine Harvest and Greig.

The industry employs approximately 5,000 people and exports about 68,000 tonnes of farmed Atlantic salmon, mainly to China and the United States.”

Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISA) Widespread in Salmon

Wild salmon that died before spawning have tested positive for a number of salmon viruses, including the highly lethal infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus, also known as salmon influenza.

First detected in Norway in 1984, infection spread to other countries via egg imports. In Chile, ISA virus wiped out 70 percent of the country’s salmon industry, at a cost of $2 billion. But Chile has no native salmon to decimate. British Columbia does.

And contrary to Chile, the wild salmon of British Columbia are absolutely critical to the ecosystem and residents of the area. The locals don’t just make money off these fish; it’s a main staple of their diet.

According to Morton, at least 11 species of fish in the Fraser River have been found to be infected with European-strain ISA virus.

Morton tested farmed salmon purchased in various stores and sushi restaurants around British Columbia, and samples tested positive for at least three different salmon viruses, including ISA, piscine reovirus and salmon alphaviruses.

Yet the Canadian food inspection agency has aggressively refuted the findings, and even attacked the credibility of two of the most preeminent experts on ISA testing, who testified that positive results were found to the Cohen Commission.

In fact, everyone who has spoken up about these salmon viruses, which can be traced back to salmon farms, has been shut down in some way or another.

Fish Farm Viruses Could Get Flushed Down Your Drain, Enter Local Waterways

Worse still, Morton and colleagues have also found traces of ISA virus in wild salmon.7 The problem with this, aside from the unknown effects on human health from eating salmon with lethal fish viruses, is that viruses are preserved by cold, and fish are often kept frozen for freshness.

Then, when you wash the fish, the viruses get flushed down the drain and depending on your sewer system, could be introduced into local watersheds. The environmental impact of this viral contamination is unknown, but it’s unlikely to be completely harmless.

“This is why it must become public,” Morton says. She insists that consumers, stores and trading partners must become aware of this problem and be the ones to insist on proper testing and remedial action.

It’s not just about protecting certain species of fish; it’s about the health of the ecosystem as a whole. And, it’s about human health and food safety as well.

Sea Shepherd Society to Raise Awareness About the Environmental Dangers of Fish Farms in British Columbia

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization, is perhaps best known for its aggressive tactics aimed at stopping Japanese whaling boats.

However, the society has also teamed up with Morton to send a research vessel to British Columbia to raise awareness about the damage fish farms are causing to wild salmon.

Among their plans is to collect data on the prevalence of piscine reovirus in shellfish (which can serve as biological markers for the spread of disease).

Morton was initially wary of teaming up with the controversial group, but she now believes it may be necessary since the government has turned a blind eye. As reported by The Tyee:8

“‘I shouldn’t have to get on a Sea Shepherd vessel and make a scene when governments have a problem,’ says Morton. But governments increasingly only heed corporate voices, she says.

In approving long-term leases to fish farms ‘with no consultation whatsoever, the federal Liberal government has failed [to] act in good faith by not obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples,’ adds Morton.

… ‘Four foreign corporations are using our wild Pacific migration routes as their open sewer to raise a foreign species of fish on the territory of First Nations,’ said Morton. ‘It is not a sustainable industry.’

She compares the placement of fish farms on wild fish migration routes to a mother ‘dragging her children through the infectious disease ward of a hospital on their way to school. And the Trudeau government is allowing them to get bigger,’ Morton notes.”

Can Technology Help Save Our Oceans?

Technological advances could increasingly be used to protect and restore wild fish populations. For instance, Morton recommended the British Columbia government use new technology that reads the immune systems of wild fish, which reveals which populations are in need of added support and protections.9

Other advancements are aimed at reducing bycatch, or sea creatures that are mistakenly caught by commercial fishing lines and nets, as well as tracking fish populations in real-time to better target only sustainable fish stocks. This includes the use of:10

Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) that contain echo sounders and sensors that can track and send real-time ocean and fish data back to a central database that can be accessed by fishing fleets

Laser beams to create “virtual nets” that may reduce seabed damage caused by conventional trawling nets (more research is needed on how the lasers may affect marine life)

Autonomous catching devices, which hover above the seabed to reduce seabed damage and harvest live fish

Most Seafood Is Mislabeled

It’s important to know what type of seafood you’re eating, because different varieties vary widely in their level of pollutants and sustainability. Of the seven varieties of tuna sold commercially, for instance, some Bluefin tuna are critically endangered while bigeye and yellowfin tuna are rarely sustainably harvested.

Some tuna are caught using handline or pole-and-line fishing techniques, which are better for the ecosystem. Others are caught using a long line or, even worse, with nets, which may kill other species indiscriminately.

Meanwhile, there’s also the issue of contamination, with many seafood species being too polluted to safely eat, especially for young children and pregnant women. Unfortunately, it can be virtually impossible to know what type of seafood you’re actually eating.

According to a report by oceans advocacy non-profit organization Oceana, 1 in 3 seafood samples tested in the U.S. were mislabeled. Red snapper and tuna were mislabeled most often (87 percent and 59 percent of the time, respectively).11

According to Oceana, more than 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported, yet only one percent of imports are inspected for fraud. In the case of red snapper, it was often actually tilefish, which often has high mercury levels and is on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “do not eat” list for pregnant women.

In addition, another Oceana study found 43 percent of U.S. salmon was also mislabeled, with many samples labeled “wild” in restaurants and grocery stores turning out to be farmed.12

Majority of Americans Deficient in Omega-3 Fats

It’s estimated that 70 percent of Americans are deficient in omega-3 fats, with up to 20 percent having levels so low that none of these essential fats can be detected in their bloodstream.13 Your brain, bones, mental health and even your risk of cancer are all impacted by these beneficial fats.

While a helpful form of omega-3 can be found in flaxseed, chia, hemp and a few other foods, the most beneficial form of omega-3 — DHA and EPA, which are essential to fighting and preventing both physical and mental disease — can only be found in fish and krill.

Because nearly all fish, from most all sources, are severely contaminated with environmental pollutants like toxic mercury, and the fact that labeling fraud is rampant in the seafood industry, you have to be very careful about the types of seafood you consume when trying to increase your omega-3 fats.

A general guideline is that the closer to the bottom of the food chain the fish is, the less contamination it will have accumulated. Sardines, in particular, are one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 fats, with one serving containing more than 50 percent of your recommended daily value.14 Other good options include anchovies, herring and verifiable wild-caught Alaskan salmon.

If you’re looking for a supplement form of animal-based omega-3s, however, consider krill oil over fish oil. The omega-3 in krill is attached to phospholipids that increase its absorption, which means you need less of it, and it won’t cause belching or burping like many other fish oil products.

Additionally, it naturally contains astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant — almost 50 times more than is present in fish oil. This prevents the highly perishable omega-3 fats from oxidizing before you are able to integrate them into your cellular tissue. It’s also the most sustainable form of animal-based omega-3s.

Focus on Finding Sustainable Seafood

No matter what type of fish you’re considering, look for varieties that have received the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. This certification assures that every component of the manufacturing process — from how the raw materials are harvested to how the product is manufactured — has been scrutinized by MSC and has been independently audited to ensure it meets sustainable standards.

All of my krill products, for example, are MSC certified, allowing you to track where the krill oil came from, as each batch of krill is carefully monitored all the way through, from catch to sale. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program can also guide you in the direction of more sustainable seafood choices. They have a searchable database to find more sustainable seafood options, and they even offer a Sustainable Seafood app for your smartphone.

We should never have told people to start taking vitamins.

It seems like simple, obvious advice: Eat your vegetables, get some exercise, and, of course, take your vitamins.

Or not.

Decades of research has failed to find substantial evidence that vitamins and supplements do any significant good.

Nevertheless, several shiny new pills and powders have materialized in recent years that promise to deliver health and wellness in ways no other vitamin has before.


One of them, called Ritual , arrives at your doorstep in a bright white and highlighter-yellow box. Inside, you’ll find a 1-month supply of pills. These aren’t your grandma’s vitamins. Each pill is a clear, glass-like capsule filled with a handful of tiny white beads that float suspended in oil.

Despite the fact that each pill is practically a work of art, Ritual’s pills don’t differ much from your standard vitamin. They contain less of some traditional vitamin ingredients that decades of research have shown we don’t need, but have similar amounts of magnesium, Vitamin K, folate, Vitamin B12, iron, boron, Vitamin E, and Vitamin D as a standard Alive-brand vitamin.

Another one of these newly-designed vitamins is Care/of , whose personalized daily vitamin packets come in a box that looks like a tea-bag dispenser with the words “Hi [your name],” printed on the top right corner. Again, the ingredients don’t differ drastically from those in conventional vitamins.

No matter how colorful their packaging or personal their messaging, all of these vitamin formulations fall prey to the exact same problem: We simply do not need vitamins to be healthy. Instead, we should be getting the nutrients that vitamin-makers peddle from the foods we eat.

“We use vitamins as insurance policies against whatever else we might (or might not) be eating, as if by atoning for our other nutritional sins, vitamins can save us from ourselves,” writes science reporter Catherine Price in the book ” Vitamania.

Here’s the thing: They can’t.

Virtually any registered dietitian, doctor, public health expert , or physician will likely reiterate some version of the advice health professionals have been giving for decades. Eat real food. Eat fruits and veggies. Eat in moderation. Stay away from processed foods and sugary beverages when you can. Or, in the words of the well-known journalist and food writer Michael Pollan , “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

There’s another reason to stay away from most pills and powders: Some can be harmful. Several supplements have been linked with an increase in certain cancers , for example, while others have been associated with arisk of kidney stones .

In her book, Price suggests that this knowledge about vitamins might help us “rediscover something both surprising and empowering: that, while nutrition itself is amazingly complex, the healthiest, most scientific, and most pleasurable way to eat is not that complicated at all.”


Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome

beauty parlor stroke syndrome

Story at-a-glance

  • Vertebral artery dissection from hyperextension of the neck, otherwise known as beauty parlor stroke syndrome, can occur after having your hair washed in a salon
  • When your neck is hyperextended over the edge of a shampoo bowl, the pressure and/or whiplash-like motions on your neck can lead to a tear in the vertebral artery, which supplies blood to your brain
  • Many other common activities, including sneezing, coughing, vomiting, painting a ceiling and practicing yoga, can also cause this condition

In 2013, Elizabeth Williams, a California mother of two, did something you’ve probably done many times yourself: visited a hair salon for a cut and routine wash. Several days later, she began experiencing strange symptoms indicative of stroke, including weakness on her left side.

Doctors ultimately diagnosed her with a relatively rare condition called vertebral artery dissection from hyperextension of the neck,1 otherwise known as beauty parlor stroke syndrome.

The act of extending her neck over the shampoo bowl was deemed to be the culprit, although it’s unclear if the condition resulted solely from a kink in the neck or in combination with a certain head movement caused by the stylist.2

Smith, who subsequently filed a lawsuit against the salon, conducted an informal poll of her friends’ stylists and found 80 percent were familiar with the possibility that you could have a stroke while getting your hair washed.3

What Causes Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome?

When your neck is hyperextended over the edge of a shampoo bowl, the pressure and/or whiplash-like motions on your neck can lead to a tear in the vertebral artery, which supplies blood to your brain. Dr. Steven R. Zeiler, head of stroke research at Johns Hopkins, told BuzzFeed:4

“When one of those cervical arteries is damaged in some sort of way, you can get what’s called a dissection, which is damage of the inside of the blood vessel, leading to abnormal flow and clotting, and then those clots can shoot north into the brain and cause a stroke.”

Having your hair washed is not the only act that can cause this — far from it — although it’s very rare, even when all potential causes are considered.

In a conversation with The Atlantic, Dr. Richard Bernstein, medical director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, explained that the phenomenon can occur due to innocent stretching, sneezing or even getting out of bed wrong in the morning, noting, “It is so rare that it’s a waste of time to worry about it. It’s so unlikely, and there’s really nothing you can do to prevent it.”5

Other Confirmed Cases of Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome

Beauty parlor stroke syndrome is not unheard of in the medical literature, and some studies even dispute the phenomenon’s supposed rarity.

In the International Journal of Stroke, for instance, a 2016 study found that hairdresser-related ischemic cerebrovascular events (HICE) “occur frequently in females without a predilection for the posterior circulation.”6

The researchers noted that while some cases may occur by chance, in other cases hairdresser visits may have a causal role.

A 2006 case study also relates the case of a 63-year-old woman who developed sudden dizziness, nausea and vomiting while having her hair shampooed at a beauty parlor. She was diagnosed with beauty parlor stroke syndrome with the researchers noting:

“Taken together, hyperextension combined with hanging the head backwards in a hair washbasin can be seen as a risk factor for posterior circulation ischemia. It probably occurs more often than assumed …”7

Case in point: In December 2016 a U.K. man was awarded a more than $100,000 settlement from a hair salon after suffering a stroke two days after having his hair washed. The Daily Mail also reported another British woman who suffered a stroke in 2000 after having her hair washed at a salon.8

Cervical Support Reduced Dizziness and Other Symptoms During Hair Washing

Another study, this one published in 2002, examined symptoms of beauty parlor stroke syndrome among 25 volunteers who had previously reported dizziness during salon shampoos.

Among this population, significant dizziness, neck pain and carotid blood flow were reported while extending their necks over a salon sink, but the symptoms were significantly reduced when additional cervical support was used.

“Individuals with a history of such symptoms should probably exercise caution when deciding whether to receive a salon sink shampoo,” the researchers concluded.9

Yet another study in 2000 linked the hyperextended neck position during salon shampoos to cerebellum vascular insufficiency and recommended that “public education should lead to avoidance of this position during hair shampoo treatment at hair dressing salons.”10

While the risk of being injured during a salon shampoo is generally minimal, if you have experienced dizziness or other symptoms while having your hair washed previously, you may want to forgo the risk and wash your hair at home instead.

At the very least, some have suggested that adding a thick layer of towels to support your neck and reduce hyperextension may help.

Are There Risks to Getting Your Nails Done?

Hair washing is not the only potential risk at the beauty salon, particularly if you plan on getting your nails done. Nail salon services are big business in the U.S., amounting to $8.54 billion in spending in 2014.11

The fumes released by nail care products (and other beauty care products) is one concern, particularly for salon workers; however, the nail treatments themselves can also cause damage or infection to your nails.

Writing in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, researchers identified nail disorders that are induced by nail cosmetics via procedures meant to beautify the nail.12 On the contrary, many may lead to poor nail appearance and other risks.

“Known risks of traditional manicures include procedure-related infections (bacterial, fungal, mycobacterial and viral, including human papilloma virus and herpes simplex virus).

Inadequately sterilized instruments, such as clippers, blades, abrasive files, electric drills and footbaths, may harbor and abet the growth of micro-organisms.

Micro and macro-traumas may be induced through the cleaning, filing and trimming of cuticles, thus allowing the infiltration of micro-organisms.

Materials, such as nail polish and nail enhancers, contain certain chemicals that can serve as contact sensitizers when accidentally applied to periungual skin [skin around the nail].

Chemicals, including acrylates, formaldehyde and toluene sulphonamide-formaldehyde resin, may lead to contact dermatitis and chronic paronychia [an inflammatory disorder of the nail folds]. Primers and polish removers, which are largely solvents, can dry nails and contribute to brittleness.”13

Less common disorders that can be caused by a trip to the nail salon include:14

Mycobacterial infection, which can particularly occur from pedicure footbaths using equipment that is not properly sterilized or maintained with regular filter changes.

Peripheral neuropathy, a type of nerve damage that is a rare complication of acrylic nails, possibly due to methacrylates that are sometimes used in artificial nail products.

Nail thinning, weakness, brittleness, pseudo leukonychia (white spots), and onychoschizia lamellina (nail splitting), which may occur due to the removal of gel polish.

Worn down or overfilled nails, which is due to the mechanical trauma that occurs when acrylic nails are removed.

Traumatic onycholysis, the separation of the nail plate from the bed, is very common in people with acrylic nails.

It’s caused by inserting thin sharp objects in order to clean under the nails. According to the study, “These patients usually wear very long nails, and adhesion of the acrylic nail to the nail plate is stronger than adhesion of the nail plate to the nail bed.”

What Else Can Cause Vertebral Artery Dissection From Hyperextension of the Neck?

As mentioned, having your hair washed is only one precipitating factor. Dr. Wouter I. Schievink of the Cedars-Sinai Neurological Institute in Los Angeles suggested that every year 1 to 1.5 per 100,000 people may suffer from spontaneous vertebral artery dissection from hyperextension of the neck and may account for up to one-quarter of nonhemorrhagic strokes in young and middle-aged adults.15

Aside from having your hair washed in a beauty salon, other possible causes include chiropractic spinal manipulation, lifting heavy objects or even drinking a shot of alcohol (which is known as “bottoms-up dissection,” according to The New York Times).16

In the case of chiropractic manipulation, it’s thought that up to one-fourth of people who suffer an arterial dissection may have an underlying disorder or defect that predisposes them to the dissection, and related pain may be what prompts them to seek chiropractic care in the first place. The Times continued:17

“A champion swimmer developed a dissected carotid from doing too much backstroke. Dr. Schievink also lists precipitating events associated with hyperextension of the neck, including ‘’practicing yoga, painting a ceiling, coughing, vomiting and sneezing,’ as well as medical procedures like receiving anesthesia or being resuscitated and traumatic causes like motor vehicle accidents or sports injuries.

… There may also be an infectious factor in some cases, since the occurrence of carotid and vertebral artery dissections with no apparent cause peaks in the fall, when respiratory infections are most common.”

Writing in the Journal of Korean Neurosurgical Society, it’s suggested that many events associated with hyperextension or rotation of the neck may result in artery dissection. “Such neck movements, particularly when they are sudden, may injure the artery as a result of mechanical stretching,” the researchers noted.18 The symptoms of arterial dissection depend on which artery is affected and may include the following:19

Pain on one side of your head, face or neck Paralysis of one eye
Constant headache on one side of your head Pain behind an eye
Impaired ability to taste Tinnitus
Visual loss Temporary loss of awareness

Should You Avoid Having Your Hair Washed at the Salon?

There are many potential causes of arterial dissections, so you shouldn’t single out having your hair washed at a salon as a particularly serious risk. That being said, if you experience any discomfort or dizziness when in a position that requires over-extending your neck or looking upward for an extended period of time, you should take it seriously, change the position and seek medical attention if symptoms persist.

If you are concerned, talk to your hair dresser and ask for extra neck support during washing. Ideally, the chair and neck support should be adjustable so you can avoid hyperextending your neck. You can also forgo the process entirely and wash your hair at home. Ultimately, the risk of suffering from beauty parlor stroke syndrome is rare, but it does happen.