National Epilepsy Week 19th May 23rd May 2013 What Treatment Do You Prefer?

National Epilepsy Week this week and there is a reason to celebrate, because this month Epilepsy Action magazine published an article about an epilepsy research project titled; ‘Which treatment would you prefer?’.

A very sensible question, its always nice to be asked what you want!

🙂

you can take part by following the information in this link;
http://www.epilepsy.org.uk/research/take-part/projects-you-can-take-part-in/patient-preferences-treatment-options

BIG THUMBS UP TO THIS PORJECT!

*Actually its full title is ‘People’s Preferences and Priorities for Treatment Options and Outcomes in Epilepsy’ but I like to get to the point.

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DSM-5 – Doesn’t Seem to Make sense?

Now here’s something you don’t see every day!

For anyone that has ever thought that DSM was just a manual for prescription pharmaceuticals;

The British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology have been busy formulating a less than politically correct opinion about DSM-5!

‘Dr Lucy Johnstone, a consultant clinical psychologist who helped draw up the DCP’s statement, said it was unhelpful to see mental health issues as illnesses with biological causes.

“On the contrary, there is now overwhelming evidence that people break down as a result of a complex mix of social and psychological circumstances – bereavement and loss, poverty and discrimination, trauma and abuse,” Johnstone said. The provocative statement by the DCP has been timed to come out shortly before the release of DSM-5, the fifth edition of the American Psychiatry Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/may/12/psychiatrists-under-fire-mental-health

Who knows?

NEXT they may suggest that ‘a complex mix of social and psychological circumstances – bereavement and loss, poverty and discrimination, trauma and abuse’ can’t be fixed by pills! But that would be REALLY far out.

DSM – 5, Does it Make Sense to you?

addendum

also see posts:

http://wellcallmecrazy.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/breaking-news-this-just-in/ VERY PROMISING

http://ahmritanaturalmentalhealth.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/natural-therapies-holistic-vs-conformist/ very good points about holistic treatment

I would also add that the human body made up of its billions of cells, and billions of neurons is not something that can be put into the latest version of ‘windows’. Trying to put the body and mind into boxes or categories is only useful if you look at the relationships between the categories (ie anatomy and physiology, psychology and physiology etc in a similar way to Chinese Medicine).

Until we look at the whole picture healthcare will continue to perform like a broken record, which is tragic because so many lives would not be needlessly wasted, all because of our failure as human beings to look outside of the box of an outdated, mechanistic model of the mind, body and spirit.

Looks like lots of people are beginning to step out of the box and ask questions about our health care and beliefs.

Dr Oliver Sacks “The Inbetween Part Is Missing”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22301843

The quote relates to gaps in our knowledge about consciousness. It is taken from this short 3 minute film from the BBC which is a lovely introduction to the work of Dr Oliver Sacks, by himself, and his thoughts on the study of consciousness.

Singing for Alzheimer’s and Mysicophilia by Oliver Sacks

 

I recently had cause to dig out my copy of Oliver Sacks book Musicophilia and lend it to a friend, because she has started to volunteer for an organisation that is using singing to help people with Alzheimer’s. This improves memory, health and wellbeing.

For those of you that are interested the Alzheimer’s society project link is very interesting.

http://alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=760 and shows a video of the project and has links explaining what it is.

I know a lot of people who have said sound effects their epilepsy, I found this  newspaper review that explains what Musicophilia has to say about Alzheimers and epilepsy.

If anyone wants to borrow my copy just let me now and I can lend it to you when it gets back to me!

‘Sacks tells some very moving stories about those with terrifyingly profound amnesia, or Alzheimer’s disease, for whom music can “restore them to themselves”. People with aphasia can be taught to speak again through singing. On the other hand, previously healthy people begin to have “musical hallucinations”, blasted by intrusive ghostly music during every waking second; and others have seizures in response to music, or “musicogenic epilepsy” – which, intriguingly, can be selective. One woman Sacks cites “had seizures only in response to ‘modern, dissonant music,’ never in response to classical or romantic music” – and her husband was a composer of the type of music that gave her seizures, which one suspects may be a hint. But such a violent response to certain music might be more common than suspected: “Many people, [one researcher thought], might start to get a queer feeling – disturbing, perhaps frightening – when they heard certain music, but then would immediately retreat from the music, turn it off, or block their ears, so that they did not progress to a full-blown seizure.” Indeed, certain styles of free jazz have always made me physically nauseous.’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/nov/03/scienceandnature.music review Stephen Poole The Guardian Newspaper

I have been following Margaret’s Natural Health for some time, the last post of hers i re-blogged was on amino acids, but this one on amino acids as building blocks for neurotransmitters is particularly interesting, and relevent to me. Margaret has a great deal of knowledge about food and I never tire of reading about her experience in this area. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did!

Margaret's Natural Health Blog

Taurine, tryptophan and tyrosine are three amino acids that begin with the letter ‘T’. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They are classified as essential if they cannot be made by the body on its own and must be acquired through the diet. They are classified as non-essential if the body can make them. However, we can become deficient in the non-essential amino acids if we do not take in the nutrients necessary to make them.
Taurine is a non-essential amino acid. Zinc and vitamin B6 are some of the building blocks for taurine and both zinc and vitamin B6 are common deficiencies. Taurine is known to help stabilize cell membranes in electrically active tissues such as the brain and heart. It is also a component of the bile produced by the liver and is important in preventing gallstones and for keeping cholesterol soluble.
Stress, alcohol consumption and…

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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

really interesting advanced cognitive neuroscience and application of gaming, mobile technology etc. Really cutting edge brain training!

Psyche's Circuitry

I just attended the second annual Entertainment Software and Cognitive Neurotherapeutics Society (ESCoNS) conference. Say that five times fast.  This conference brought together people in the gaming world with cognitive neuroscientists. I went because I’m developing (and testing) an app that I believe can help people reduce stress, worry, and anxiety in their lives. In addition to more deeply exploring how to make mental health truly fun, I felt that I was seeing the future of mental health unfolding before my eyes.

Gamifying mental health

Here are four ideas I think will change how the field of mental health will look in a decade (or less):

1. Mental health care WILL BE gamified. The mobile revolution and app zeitgeist have changed how we get things done. We want an app for everything because we want our life mobile and streamlined, and the minute we think we want to do something, we want…

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Guest Post – Autism And Epilepsy Combined

I would like to thank http://rosewinelover.com/ epilepsy action advocate once again for taking the time to write a guest post.

This month epilepsy me and neurology  has asked me to write a brief (or not-so brief) piece on what it’s like to live with both epilepsy and autism; I shall endeavour to do my best. Continue reading

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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And Now For Something a Little Bit Different … Epilepsy and the Electromagnetic Spectrum – What’s the frequency Kenneth?

This post started out as something else. I wanted to talk about my relationship with the electric light box and was looking for information on television and computers and epilepsy. BUT, like many of my searches this one turned into an EPIC surf.

Way back in the days when there was such a thing as black and white televisions, I had my first seizure in front of one. It was the first of many, but since then my relationship between TV, strip lights, computers, patterned carpets and mobile phones has been ‘complicated’.

One of my friends told me that her friend with epilepsy couldn’t put a mobile phone within 3 inches of her head without having a seizure. I am not quite that bad, BUT I always wanted to know why?

Photosensitive (1) epilepsy according to Epilepsy Action is experienced by about 3 in every 100 people with epilepsy. ‘Most people with photosensitive epilepsy are sensitive to 16-25 Hz. Some people may be sensitive to rates as low as 3 Hz and as high as 60 Hz.’

For people with photosensitive epilepsy the number of times a computer screen or television ‘refreshes’ or flickers may case a seizure.

With the dawn of a digital age things have changed slightly (a lot!) since I had my first seizure and so liquid crystal screens have replaced the old cathode ray tubes in televisions that used to be such a bother to people with the wrong seizure threshold. This is obviously for the better in my case! (2) However the risk has not been completely removed because the newer screens are brighter and have more contrasting colors.

Is it me or does anybody else find the electric light box just a teensy, weensy bit hypnotic??

Obviously new technology has brought many benefits to the epileptic brain, for example MRI scanning, EEG, FMRI scanning, TMS, CAT scans and of course for anyone with broken bones there is the X-ray.

Now there is even have electric stuff they can attach to your head for seizures see Epilepsy Talk post (3)

Where would we be without the magnetic resonance image? And just what is an FMRI? Online research studies are so plentiful that you’d think in China FMRI is the new ‘digital camera’ of brain research, and everyone else is ditching Polaroid fast to follow not far behind. The American Military find photographing the brain with FMRI quite fascinating as well. Has to make you wonder –WHY? There are some quite interesting studies about ELF and the brain coming from China as well (4) and there are some detailed studies of radio-frequency and Electromagnetic fields online (5)

(6)Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging is described by wiki as;

‘The fMRI concept builds on the earlier MRI scanning technology and the discovery of properties of oxygen-rich blood. MRI brain scans use a strong, permanent, static magnetic field to align nuclei in the brain region being studied. Another magnetic field, the gradient field, is then applied to kick the nuclei to higher magnetization levels, with the effect depending on where they are located. When the gradient field is removed, the nuclei go slowly back to their original states, and the energy they emit is measured with a coil to recreate the positions of the nuclei. MRI thus provides a static structural view of brain matter. The central thrust behind fMRI was to extend MRI to capture functional changes in the brain caused by neuronal activity. Differences in magnetic properties between arterial (oxygen-rich) and venous (oxygen-poor) blood provided this link.[7]’

So obviously for brain imaging this is a very useful piece of technology.

Then there is TMS or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. (7) TMS has some seriously interesting effects on the epileptic brain.

‘Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive method to cause depolarization or hyperpolarization in the neurons of the brain. TMS uses electromagnetic induction to induce weak electric currents using a rapidly changing magnetic field; this can cause activity in specific or general parts of the brain with minimal discomfort, allowing the functioning and interconnections of the brain to be studied. A variant of TMS, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), has been tested as a treatment tool for various neurological and psychiatric disorders including migraines, strokes, Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, tinnitus, depression and auditory hallucinations.’

Could this explain why a mobile phone could cause a seizure? What are the risks of TMS?

‘Although TMS is often regarded as safe, the greatest acute risk of TMS is the rare occurrence of induced seizures and syncope.[4] More than 16 cases of TMS-related seizure have been reported in the literature, with at least seven reported before the publication of safety guidelines in 1998,[5] and more than nine reported afterwards. The seizures have been associated with single-pulse and rTMS. Reports have stated that in at least some cases, predisposing factors (medication, brain lesions or genetic susceptibility) may have contributed to the seizure. A review of nine seizures associated with rTMS that had been reported after 1998 stated that four seizures were within the safety parameters, four were outside of those parameters, and one had occurred in a healthy volunteer with no predisposing factors. A 2009 international consensus statement on TMS that contained this review concluded that based on the number of studies, subjects and patients involved with TMS research, the risk of seizure with rTMS is considered very low.[4]

Besides seizures, other risks include fainting, minor pains such as headache or local discomfort, minor cognitive changes and psychiatric symptoms (particularly a low risk of mania in depressed patients).[4] Though other side effects are thought to be possibly associated with TMS (alterations to the endocrine system, altered neurotransmitter and immune system activity) they are considered investigational and lacking substantive proof.[4]’

All very interesting studies that relate to the use of electromagnetic technology and brain science.

So what other studies have been carried out?

Solar Power

Perhaps the most unusual studies I have read about are those carried out by scientists in Calcutta. (8)

Correlation between convulsive seizure and geomagnetic activity.

Rajaram M, Mitra S.

Abstract

‘The annual percentage of patients with convulsive seizure in the Neurological Department of the Bangur Institute of Neurology, Calcutta, is found to be significantly correlated with the annual values of sunspot numbers and geomagnetic activity indices for the period 1955–1971. For a particular geomagnetic activity index the correlation coefficient is significant at a 99% confidence level. The study shows that a proper choice of elements in the series is important in studies undertaken to establish the biological effects of solar activity.’

One blogger has even explored his wife’s relationship with solar flares (9) and in February 2011 the epilepsy.com forum (10) became host to a really interesting conversation and debate about the effects of solar and geomagnetic stress on epilepsy. If you like me think that lunar events effect your seizures then check out the solar activity!

At Aaron’s reality blogspot (11) he writes the hypothesis on solar flares –‘With this compression of the earth’s magnetosphere pushes the electrical fields in the neural network from their neurons. This shuts down the brain. The body reacts by sending signals back to the medulla oblongata. This low level neural network is more robust. With every autonomic contraction the body is trying to send low level input data back to the brain. This slow recovery is necessary.’

I thought that a report on how vitamin D deficiency has been found to improve seizure control was interesting because of the vitamin D production in the skin when exposed to sunlight. (12)

This you tube video sums up nicely some of the unusual results of solar research and the brain. (see abouve).

In relation to geomagnetism one study appears to be making comparisons to human EEG measurement and earthquake measurement.

For me this begs the question; ‘During a seizure is your body having an earthquake?’ (13)(14)

Apparently scientists in Regional Epilepsy Centre, Department of Neurology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98104, USA, asked patients with epilepsy this very question in a survey following the earthquake in February 28, 2001 Nisqually. 23% of the epileptic patients volunteered that they initially thought they were having a seizure during the earthquake. (15)

The Epilepsy Therapy Project(16) recently reported on a study in Japan showing an increase in epileptic seizures in the 8 weeks following the tsunami in japan in 2011. The theory behind this is that higher stress triggered the increase in seizures. The study does not mention any increase in seizures on the day or in the days preceding the earthquake.

For me epilepsy is an ideal area to begin to look at the complex relationship we have with the electromagnetic spectrum, physics and biology or biophysics (17).

1) http://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/photosensitive-epilepsy

2) http://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/photosensitive-epilepsy/computer-television-screens

3) http://epilepsytalk.com/2013/03/04/predicting-seizures-7-amazing-new-breakthroughs-3/

4) http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0054376China Study

5) http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1317133827077Health effects from radiofrequency electromagnetic fields full report – Report of the independent advisory group on non-ionising radiation 348 pages

6)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_magnetic_resonance_imaging

7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcranial_magnetic_stimulation

8) ) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7254715 Correlation between convulsive seizure and geomagnetic activity.

Rajaram M, Mitra S.

9) )http://johndavidpowell.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/6-open-blog-friday-japan-earthquake-solar-flares-gas-boycott-and-more/

10) http://www.coping-with-epilepsy.com/forums/f23/seizures-solar-geomagnetic-activity-11768/

11) http://aaronsreality.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/certain-types-of-epilepsy-and-solar.html  solar flares

12) http://blog.vitamindcouncil.org/2012/04/18/correction-of-vitamin-d-deficiency-improves-seizure-control-in-epilepsy/

13) http://arxiv.org/pdf/1209.3803v1.pdf Earthquakes

14) Dynamical analogy between epileptic seizures and seismogenic electromagnetic emissions by means of nonextensive statistical mechanics

Authors:Konstantinos Eftaxias, George Minadakis, Stelios. M. Potirakis, George Balasis

(Submitted on 17 Sep 2012)

15)http://www.coping-with-epilepsy.com/forums/f23/seizures-solar-geomagnetic-activity-11768/index6.html  Earthquake and seizures

16) http://www.epilepsy.com/newsletter/feb13/japan_earthquake

17) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biophysics