Wellness Warrior meets Wellness Warrior – Jess Ainscough interviews Lissa Rankin

http://www.thewellnesswarrior.com.au/2013/05/mind-over-medicine-my-interview-with-dr-lissa-rankin/

Two of my favourite wellness warriors get together to discuss Lissa Rankin’s new book ‘Mind over Medicine’.

Both of these ladies are very much on my page when it comes to health.

This interview is well worth listening to.

Important points raised during the interview are;
What does your body need to heal? What prescription does your body need you to prescribe for yourself? What would you do if you could do anything you wanted, to make yourself better?

– Leave your abusive relationship?
– Leave your horrible job?
– Go to college?
– Move countries?
– Get married?
– Do something you always wanted to do?
– Get a new job with a better employer? 🙂

Lissa’s idea about letting the patient write the prescription for themselves is really liberating.

In the context of epilepsy research I think it is relevant to the epilepsy research project what treatment would you prefer?:

http://www.epilepsy.org.uk/research/take-part/projects-you-can-take-part-in/patient-preferences-treatment-options

https://epilepsymeandneurology.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/national-epilepsy-week-19th-may-23rd-may-2013-what-treatment-do-you-prefer/

Nobody is the same, so everyone will need different treatment.

Healing is not neceserraly curing.

The moral of the story – Turn off your stress response, it could save your life.

I love epigenetics!

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Breatharianism – Doctors are baffled and monitoring medical miracle

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8652837.stm
Sanjoy Majumder reports from Delhi
Extreme Meditation and Fasting have come to the fore in this news item from India a man ‘survives without food or water for decades’.
The Doctors in this Sterling hospital are baffled by a holy man who claims to have survived on no food and water for 70 years.
The Holy man is now under military and medical surveillance in hospital.
He claims that meditation and the power of his mind keep him alive. Doctors are already impressed because he has been in hospital without food for 108 hours already.
This is NOT one I would recommend you try at home, but it makes you wonder doesn’t it?

Neurological Rock Stars 5 – Richard J Davidson Getting to the Heart of Neuroplasticity

Essentially this is the story of Compassion, Monks and an FMRI Scanner.

The heart is seen as primary in relation to emotional regulation in Chinese Medicine. One of the obstacles faced by western science is understanding why this might be. I have written posts before on ‘Towards a spirit of Peace’ (1) which references a text on ‘Shen disorder’, and so I will not go into the more poetic and integrated body mind model from Chinese medicine here. Instead I will write about the work that is putting the ‘heart mind’ into a context that can be referenced and understood by western science and medicine.

Richard J Davidson is professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison as well as Founder and Chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center. (2)

I recently saw him talk about his work in ‘Transform your mind, Change your Brain – Google talk’ on youtube.(3)

In it he states “Epigenetics – referrers to the fact that genes are regulated by the environments in which they reside”

“The idea that our genetic structure provide an unalterable blueprint that effects our behaviour in an unalterable way is an antiquated, wrong- headed, Newtonian conception of genetics, it’s not the way things work.”

He emphasises that “the brain is the organ, which is built to change in response to experience more than any other organ in our body.”

Essentially what he is talking about is how behavioural and mental changes can produce more specific neurological changes than biological intervention, for example medication.

One of the books that changed my perspective on the brain was ‘The Plastic Mind – by Sharon Begley’(4).

This book talked about the results of studies involving the Dalai Lama and monks who were being studied under an MRI scanner by Richard J Davidson at the University of Wisconsin. During the scans they were meditating on compassion. The results showed what many Buddhist meditation practitioners already knew, Mediation changes your mind, crucially it showed that it was making neurological changes to the brain and proved neuroplasticity in meditation.

Richard J Davidson works at the cutting edge of Neuroplasticity. He also is also an expert in Affective Neuroscience (study of emotions).

During his talk he describes how when he and his team went to a monastery to explain to the monks what the process for recording data was, his team attached electrodes to the head of Fransisco Varela (5) who would perform the meditation. The response from the monks was that they started laughing. At first he thought it was because the electrodes looked silly on the head of Fransisco, but it emerged that it was because the electrodes were not placed around the heart. He said it took some years to get back to this.

During compassion meditation the Insula is one of the most active areas of the brain.

The Insula (anterior insula) houses a viscera topic map of the body (19min into google talk), visceral organs are mapped in the insula. This part of the brain has descending pathways to these organs and can modulate activity in those organs (there are also pathways to other parts of the brain). The Insula can modulate activity in the visceral organs. Meditation can also affect the amygdala and the TPJ or Temporal Parietal Junction which is associated with empathy.

Research like this into meditation is useful, for example, in understanding regulation of the vagus nerve because ‘many sensory signals conveyed by the vagus nerve terminate here’ – in the insula(6). In relation to the heart this will have big implications because of the relationship between the vagus nerve and heart.(7)

One of the problems with the idea of neuroplasticity is that it isn’t a mainstream idea yet.

Research like this begins to shed light onto the heart mind body brain relationship and forms a bridge in understanding the important relationship between meditation, emotional regulation and the heart and other organs of the body.

This research has far reaching implications not just for medicine but for education as well.(8)

1) https://epilepsymeandneurology.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/epilepsy-in-chinese-medicine-towards-a-spirit-of-peace/

2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Davidson

3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tRdDqXgsJ0 google talks

4)http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Plastic-Mind-Sharon-Begley/dp/1845296745

5)http://enc.tfode.com/Francisco_Varela

6)http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=32Ucobqp97EC&pg=PA68&lpg=PA68&dq=insula+and+vagus+nerve&source=bl&ots=gwH0yCLiwy&sig=1S9n1L98UZ7DEfMSQjbfcmE7axI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=yV5PUaCCJYWuPOnggNgL&ved=0CEcQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=insula%20and%20vagus%20nerve&f=false

7) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21367742

8)http://www.edutopia.org/richard-davidson-sel-brain-video

GREAT parkinson’s neuro recovery blog!

Kaitlyn Roland

This week kicked off brain awareness week… and the people over at sharpbrains.com debunked 10 myths around brain fitness… here are my 5 favourites!

Myth 1. Genes deter­mine the fate of our brains.

Fact: Life­long brain plas­tic­ity means that our lifestyles and behav­iors play a sig­nif­i­cant role in how our brains (and there­fore our minds) phys­i­cally evolve.

(we have some aspect of control and can create new neural pathways – say with exercise for brain change!)


Myth 3. Med­ica­tion is the main hope for cog­ni­tive health and enhance­ment.
Fact: Non-invasive inter­ven­tions can have com­pa­ra­ble and more durable ben­e­fits, and are also free of side effects.

(drug side effects are not necessary, but side effects – like endorphins – from exercise are encouraged!)

Myth 4. There’s noth­ing we can do to beat Alzheimer’s dis­ease and cog­ni­tive decline.
Fact: While noth­ing has been shown to pre­vent the pathol­ogy of Alzheimer ’s…

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very interesting and relavent findings on gene expression and mental health.

deemagclinic

The biggest study yet into genetics and mental health has come up with a stunning result: The five most common mental illnesses — autism, attention deficit disorder, bipolar disease, schizophrenia and major depression — all have a common genetic root.

The finding, published in the journal Lancet on Wednesday, may eventually lead to a complete rewrite of the medical understanding of the causes of mental illness.

“We have been able to discover specific genetic variants that seem to overlap among disorders that we think of as very clinically different,” Dr. Jordan Smoller of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who led the study, said in a telephone interview.

The study does not explain every case of psychiatric disease, the researchers stress.

“We think this is one tiny fraction of the genetic component of these disorders. They involve hundreds and possibly thousands of genes,” Smoller said.

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Neurological Rock Stars 2 – Parkinson’s Nautrally blog by Fred Phillips

http://fredphillips.wordpress.com/articles/healing-parkinsons-disease-naturally/#comment-615

Please follow the link to Fred Phillips Blog, and inspiring story of treating parkinson’s nautrally. Fred has taken the time and care to write about how he is using diet, yoga, meditation and emotional healing to treat his Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

His diet advice in particular in relation to inflammation and the relationship between gut and immune system function are really useful (to me especially! 🙂 ).

Fred has a very good understanding of the physiology of the body and how it all inter-relates.

Fred has also written a book about healing.

Fred is also a KARATE TEACHER!!! 🙂

 

Neurological Rock Stars – Robert Sarpolsky

Some time ago YouTube started spitting lectures about human behaviour at me by this bloke called ‘Robert Sarpolsky’. (1)

Robert Sarplosky is a lecturer at Stanford University in the US.

In the interests of science I decided to investigate and watch.

Initially, I was really stuck by the ‘Slash’ hairdo (of Gun’s N’ Roses fame) with a beard for intellectual credibility. What really struck me was this curly chimp lover’s quirky teaching style.

Neurology and behaviour shouldn’t be so interesting, but he manages to make what could be a series of lectures that make as much sense as ‘Lost’ and go way over Kiefer Sutherland’s ‘24’ hours of viewing REALLY interesting and valuable time spent.

The lectures that are available to watch are Stanford’s Human Behavioural Biology Module from 2010.(2)

Personally, I find them gripping and if you are also interested in this kind of thing then all 25 lectures are available to watch online.

One of the benefits of this course is that if like me you do not have the kind of background and finances that can get you a place at Stanford, the online lectures are the closest you or I will ever get to this world class course.

Sarpolsky cover’s human behavioural biology in a way that is really broad. The first lecture mentions some of the reading list recommendations such as ‘Chaos: Making A New Science’ the best-selling book by James Gleick that first introduced the principles and early development of chaos theory to the public.(4) Apparently reading this could be so life transforming ‘you may never need to meditate again’ I quote.

What I like about the way the subject is presented is that as the introduction of chaos theory suggests, the course content is diverse. The subjects may be viewed separately, but once they are woven together this is the first time I have seen a full western science course try to piece together human behavior and neurology in a way that acknowledges everything is interconnected.

I have to warn you that although the course is a GREAT deal more interesting and makes more sense than ‘Lost’ I still haven’t finished watching all of the lectures and need to go away and do a PHD on every single one, but for those fortunate to have PHD in genetics, or biology, neuroscience or even if you like me went to the university of ‘life’ this is a really challenging and rewarding series. Don’t be put off by the titles just get stuck in.

It covers topics like, evolutionary behavior, molecular genetics, area’s of the brain, schizophrenia and neuroscience. Perhaps just grazing through them will give you an idea of their flavour.

Anyone who wants to have a look at Sarpolsky’s work in a more accessible way, check out ‘Stress, Portrait of a killer’ documentary 2008. (4)

Human behaviour can be baffling, but you may never need to get lost in ‘Lost’ again.

 

1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Sapolsky#Books

2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNnIGh9g6fA

3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwp&v=_KVWidu_sWo&NR=1

4) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYG0ZuTv5rs&feature=endscreen&NR=1

interesting blog on brain injury – the post is relavent to neurology on lots of levels. Good links to sites.

Traumatic Brain Injury: Centre for Neuro Skills

Examining the influence of polymorphisms on TBI outcome has the potential to contribute to an understanding of variations in TBI outcome, aid in the triaging and treatment of TBI patients, and ultimately lead to targeted interventions based on genetic profiles.

Read article

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One Moment At A Time – What Is MBSR And Who Is Jon Kabat-Zinn?

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Jon Kabat-Zinn(1) (2)

In search of mindfulness I have been following the progress of mindfulness teaching locally and have been pleasantly surprised recently with the numbers of classes advertised.

A couple of weeks ago I saw one that was titled ‘Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction’ and was intrigued.

Another article in January/February Scientific American Mind 2013 related to mindfulness; it is titled ‘Focus on Your-self to Alleviate Social Pain’. The article discusses the benefits of mindfulness for pain, stress, anxiety and depression, but also how a new study recently that has shown it reduces feelings of loneliness or social isolation. Mindfulness was also shown to reduce inflammation and the risk of heart attacks.

So where did all this research start and why is there so much interest in mindfulness for health?

Taking to you-tube (as you do) I came across this one titled ‘The Healing Power of Mindfulness’.(1)

It has sparked my interest in Jon Kabat-Zinn who talks about his life and how at college he was one of 5 students who went to see a monk lecture on this topic. During the lecture he describes how he had one of those ‘Ah-ha!’ moments as he realised that what he had just been taught to do should be something that everyone gets to learn in kindergarten.

‘Being in the moment’ sounds like something we all could benefit from, but how many of us are actually present without our mobile phone, computer, television or radio?

I am sitting here with the computer and a phone so I am clearly not a shining example of being present within myself just right now.

When do we ever switch off?

Something else I am interested in is the research into ‘neuroplasticity’.  Jon Kabat-Zinn studied molecular biology in 1971 at MIT.

In the film he talks about how studies have now gone on to show that not only is the mind plastic but so are genes, and he describes how the corrosive acid of stress wears down our DNA causing problems within the body. Mindfulness meditation research is showing that this can be stopped and reversed.

He has been teaching and studying the effects of mindfulness since 1979 and is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Although watching you-tube isn’t always a mindfulness practice, I was really relaxed and centered when I had finished watching, and participating at one point(audience participation!), spending time with this innovative out of the box thinker talking about his life’s work with mindfulness.

I hope you feel that you can take the time to watch him as well, and perhaps take away some of his mindful thoughts and experiences on the benefits of being present in the mind and body.

You come from nothing, you go back to nothing, it’s what you do in between that matters. Don’t you want to always be present?

(For people in the area there are some good classes advertised at the Treehouse if you are looking for a teacher http://www.treehousewales.co.uk/ )

1)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_If4a-gHg_I

2)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Kabat-Zinn

Epilepsy and Migraine Could Have A Shared Genetic Link BBC News

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20908903

Some of you may have seen this already but the BBC have reported on Epilepsy and Migraine may have a shared genetic link.

The study was done by Colombia University New York and show a higher incidence of Migraine in relatives of people closely related with epilepsy.

To some the idea that epilepsy and migraine are related is not new, but this is an interesting study.

Thanks for passing it on mum!