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Saturday, 6 July 2013

Finding a Center in Prison

The ancient art of yoga, a physical, spiritual and mental practice whose benefits have been touted as improving relaxation, has found an unlikely home: prisons. When many states have cut their wellness and education programs for inmates, citing cost and political pressures, some wardens looking for a low-cost, low-risk way for inmates to reflect on their crimes, improve their fitness and cope with the stress of overcrowded prison life are turning to yoga.Three times a week, Robbie Norris, a 50-year-old yoga teacher, barely glances at the barbed wire as he strides through the metal detector at the Richmond City Jail in Virginia. He exchanges his driver’s license for a visitor’s pass, navigates a labyrinth of hallways, security guards and the buzzing and clanking of gates, and makes his way to a windowless room to teach yoga to inmates.In minutes, the women in Mr. Norris’s class, whose crimes include embezzlement and parole violations, were inhaling, exhaling and deep into a series of vinyasa and warrior poses, with only the clank of the guard’s keys outside to disturb them.The number of yoga programs is not officially tracked, but many wardens said they were interested in pursuing them. Typically programs start informally, a hodgepodge of volunteer efforts by instructors and correctional facilities.The Rev. Dr. Alonzo C. Pruitt, the chief of chaplains at the Richmond City Jail and an addiction recovery officer, said the mental health program at the jail had reduced recidivism by 18 percent, and he partly credited yoga with that success. Mr. Norris began teaching the male prisoners at the jail, which holds around 1,450 men and women, four and a half years ago.Even though states’ spending on corrections has quadrupled during the past two decades, to $52 billion, the rate of recidivism has remained stubbornly high, with roughly four in 10 adult American offenders returning to prison within three years of their release, according to a report from Pew Charitable Trusts. Verdoux Adam, an inmate in California, attended a yoga class.“Any program that gives an inmate a chance to reflect is going to have positive benefits,” said Bill Sessa, a spokesman for the Corrections Department in California, which has expanded yoga offerings to most of its 33 adult facilities.At least 20 prisons now offer yoga through the Prison Yoga Project, a program that began in California 12 years ago when its founder, James Fox, center, began teaching yoga to at-risk youth. Mr. Fox holds trainings for yoga teachers and said he has sent more than 7,000 copies of his manual to inmates to practice yoga on their own.Typically, yoga teachers volunteer their time and mats are donated, resulting in little or no cost to taxpayers. Many instructors drawn to teaching in prisons said they had grown disillusioned with instructing some of the Lycra-clad urbanites seeking to channel their inner Gumbys and lose weight rather than connect with the more spiritual aspects of the practice.
 Inmates participate in the yoga program at San Quentin State Prison in California.“This seems like a relatively inexpensive technique that could be made available to inmates and doesn’t take a lot of space,” said Steven Belenko, a professor with the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University. 
James Fox, left,  patted inmate Tariq Shabazz on the shoulder. Mr. Shabazz has been behind bars seven years on a domestic violence charge he says he has been practicing yoga for six months.
Source:NewYork Times

Altered protein shapes may explain differences in some brain diseases

It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch, and the same may be true of certain proteins in the brain. Studies have suggested that just one rogue protein (in this case, a protein that is misfolded or shaped the wrong way) can act as a seed, leading to the misfolding of nearby proteins. According to an NIH-funded study, various forms of these seeds — originating from the same protein — may lead to different patterns of misfolding that result in neurological disorders with unique sets of symptoms.
"This study has important implications for Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders," said National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Director Story Landis, Ph.D. "We know that among patients with Parkinson's disease, there are variations in the way that the disorder affects the brains. This exciting new research provides a potential explanation for why those differences occur."
An example of such a protein is alpha-synuclein, which can accumulate in brain cells, causing synucleinopathies, multiple system atrophy, Parkinson's disease, Parkinson's disease with dementia (PDD), and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). In addition, misfolded proteins other than alpha-synuclein sometimes aggregate, or accumulate, in the same brains. For example, tau protein collects into aggregates called tangles, which are the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease and are often found in PDD and DLB brains. Findings from this study raise the possibility that different structural shapes, or strains, of alpha-synuclein may contribute to the co-occurrence of synuclein and tau accumulations in PDD or DLB.
In the new study, published in Cell, Jing L. Guo, Ph.D., and her colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, wanted to see if different preparations of synthetic alpha-synuclein fibrils would behave differently in neurons that were in a petri dish as well as in mouse brains. They discovered two strains of alpha-synuclein with distinct seeding activity in neurons: while one strain (strain A) resulted in accumulation of alpha-synuclein alone, the other strain (strain B) resulted in accumulations of both alpha-synuclein and tau.
The researchers also injected strain A or strain B into the brains of mice engineered to make large amounts of human tau, and then monitored the formation of alpha-synuclein and tau aggregates at various time points. Mice that received injections of synuclein strain B showed more accumulation of tau — earlier and across more brain regions — compared to mice that received strain A.
The researchers also examined the brains of five patients who had PDD, some of whom also had Alzheimer's. In this small sample, there was evidence of two different structural forms of alpha-synuclein, one in PDD brains and a distinctly different one in PDD/Alzheimer's brains, supporting the existence of disease-specific strains of the protein in human diseases.
"We are just starting to do work with human tissues," said Virginia M.Y. Lee, Ph.D., senior author of the study. "We are planning to look at the brains of patients who had Parkinson's disease, PDD, or DLB to see if there are differences in the distribution of alpha-synuclein strains."
Although the two strains used in this study were created in test tubes, the authors noted that in human brains, where the environment is much more complicated, the chances of forming additional disease-related alpha-synuclein strains may be greater.
"These different strains not only can convert normal alpha-synuclein into pathological alpha-synuclein within one cell, they also can morph into new strains as they pass from cell to cell, acquiring the ability to serve as a template to damage both normal alpha-synuclein and other proteins," said Dr. Lee. "So certain strains, but not all strains, can act as templates to influence the development of other pathologies, such as tau tangles."
She commented, "We are just beginning to understand some of these strains and there may be many others. We hope to find a way to identify strains that are relevant to human disease."

High Demand for Human Breast Milk Sees Firms Offering Wet Nurses for Adults

 High Demand for Human Breast Milk Sees Firms Offering Wet Nurses for AdultsThe rising demand for human breast milk among the China's rich has led to some firms offering wet nurse services even for adult clients, sparking outrage among web users.Xinxinyu, a domestic staff agency in the booming city of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, provided wet nurses for newborns, the sick and other adults who pay high prices for the milk's fine nutrition, the Southern Metropolis Daily said. 
"Adult (clients) can drink it directly through breastfeeding, or they can always drink it from a breast pump if they feel embarrassed," the report quoted company owner Lin Jun as saying. 
Wet nurses serving adults are paid around 16,000 yuan ($2,600) a month -- more than four times the Chinese average -- and those who were "healthy and good looking" could earn even more, the report said. 
Traditional beliefs in some parts of China hold that human breast milk has the best and most easily digestible nutrition for people who are ill. 
But the report sparked heated debate in the media and on Chinese social media, with most users condemning the service as unethical. 
"This adds to China's problem of treating women as consumer goods and the moral degradation of China's rich," said Cao Baoyin, a writer and regular commentator in various Chinese media, on his blog. 
Xinxinyu has been ordered to suspend its operations and had its business licence revoked for multiple reasons including missing three years of annual checks, regulators in Shenzhen told AFP on Thursday, although the wet nurse service was not among the factors they cited. 
Company officials could not be reached for comment by AFP. 
There were nearly 140,000 postings on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, on the topic by Thursday afternoon. 
In an online poll, almost 90 percent of participants voted against the service, saying it "violated ethical values", a fraction over 10 percent deemed it a "normal business practice". 
"People become perverts when they are too rich and tired of other forms of entertainment. This is disguised pornography," said a user with the online handle ricky_gao. 
White Lotus, another weibo writer, said: "Please do not force motherhood to lose its grace and become ridiculous." 
Other postings voiced cynical approval. 
"It's just a business, nothing to blame it for," said A Xiao Shuai. "People are insensitive about ethics when there is money on the table." 
Among the general population in China breastfeeding rates are low -- just 28 percent according to a 2012 UNICEF report -- due to time limits on maternity leave and aggressive marketing of formula.

White Blood Cells may Play a Role in Activating Cancer Cells

 White Blood Cells may Play a Role in Activating Cancer CellsThe body system that helps prevent cancer may itself be the traitor. These new findings of a study, led by investigators at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), reveal that infection-fighting white blood cells play a role in activating cancer cells and facilitating their spread to secondary tumours. This research, published today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation has significant implications for both the diagnosis and treatment of cancer."We are the first to identify this entirely new way that cancer spreads," says senior author Dr. Lorenzo Ferri, MUHC director of the Division of Thoracic Surgery and the Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer Program. "What's equally exciting is medications already exist that are being used for other non-cancer diseases, which may prevent this mechanism of cancer spread or metastasis." According to Dr. Ferri, the next steps are to validate if these medicines will work for the prevention and treatment of cancer metastasis, and then to determine the optimal timing and dosing. 
Source: Journal of Clinical Investigation 

Understanding the Impact of Aerobic Exercise on Diabetics

 Understanding the Impact of Aerobic Exercise on Diabetics
A study has revealed that pre-training glycemic level has considerable effect on exercise-induced improvements.According to a research letter by Thomas P. J. Solomon, Ph.D. of the Centre of Inflammation and Metabolism, Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues, although moderate-intensity aerobic exercise can improve glycemic control, individuals with ambient hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) are more likely to be nonresponders. A total of 105 overweight people with an average age of 61, who suffered from impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), participated in a 12-to 16-week period of aerobic exercise training.Researchers measured the participants' body composition, aerobic fitness, and glycemic control, and assessed the relationships between pre-intervention variables and intervention-induced changes. Average change in body weight, whole-body fat, fasting plasma glucose and 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) were significantly improved following exercise training. However, researchers found that aerobic exercise-induced improvements in glycemic control were reduced by ambient hyperglycemia, particularly inparticipants with T2DM.


Bacteria Communicate to Help Each Other Resist Antibiotics: Research

 A novel means of communication that allows bacteria such as Burkholderia cenocepacia (B.enocepacia) to resist antibiotic treatment was unraveled by new research from Western University. B. cenocepacia is an environmental bacterium that causes devastating infections in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) or with compromised immune systems.Dr. Miguel Valvano and first author Omar El-Halfawy, PhD candidate, show that the more antibiotic resistant cells within a bacterial population produce and share small molecules with less resistant cells, making them more resistant to antibiotic killing. These small molecules, which are derived from modified amino acids (the building blocks used to make proteins), protect not only the more sensitive cells of B. cenocepacia but also other bacteria including a highly prevalent CF pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E. coli. The research is published in PLOS ONE. "These findings reveal a new mechanism of antimicrobial resistance based on chemical communication among bacterial cells by small molecules that protect against the effect of antibiotics," says Dr. Valvano, adjunct professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, currently a Professor and Chair at Queen's University Belfast. "This paves the way to design novel drugs to block the effects of these chemicals, thus effectively reducing the burden of antimicrobial resistance." "These small molecules can be utilized and produced by almost all bacteria with limited exceptions, so we can regard these small molecules as a universal language that can be understood by most bacteria," says El-Halfawy, who called the findings exciting. "The other way that Burkholderia communicates its high level of resistance is by releasing small proteins to mop up, and bind to lethal antibiotics, thus reducing their effectiveness." The next step is to find ways to inhibit this phenomenon. The research, conducted at Western, was funded by a grant from Cystic Fibrosis Canada and also through a Marie Curie Career Integration grant.
Source:PLOS ONE.

Patanjali Yogapeeth to launch cow urine-based drugs to cure diabetes & cancer

Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogapeeth based in Haridwar would soon come out with medicines to cure major chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer out of distilled cow urine. An ultra modern hi tech distillation plant of 8000 litres capacity to purify cow urine for the purpose has been set up at a remote nondescript village of Uttarakshi known as Jangori.
And the man behind setting up the unit is Haridas, a graduate from IIM, Ahmedabad and coordinator of an NGO Manav Seva Mission Haridas with the help of villagers and financial support from Patanjali Yogapeeth. Haridas hails from Maharashtra and came to Uttarakhand for the uplift of the downtrodden and poor people. The cost of the plant is around Rs.40 lakh.
Speaking on the feasibility of the plant, Haridas says, “The distillation unit can generate 8000 litres of distilled cow urine daily. The unit has become a commercially viable proposition as it is helping a villager earn his livelihood as the distilled cow urine is sold at a rate of Rs.25 to 35 per litre in the local market as a product of religious importance and is also used as a medicine."
“Based on the demand, we are planning to achieve a target of 10,000 litres on a daily basis, which would materialize into setting up of a big cow urine dairy in the near future to cater to other agencies,” he explains.
“Acharya Balakrishna from Patanjali Yogapeeth approached me with this idea. The idea seemed interesting to me as I have adopted a school for educating children from poor families and especially for those who are school drop outs. The idea of setting up the hi tech plant started with the setting up of seven distillation units initially which were self funded and the loans have successfully been paid off by virtue of the business done by the villagers. Each distillation unit costed us between Rs.30, 000 to Rs.50, 000. The cost of the unit did not deter me as I had full support of the villagers, who owe the success of making the distilled cow urine a sustainable business model,” avers Haridas.
“The medicinal value of the cow urine has been scientifically proven and has great anti-cholesterol properties”, informs Dehradun based senior scientist Dr Gulshan Kumar Dhingra, who is also Technical Advisor to Manav Seva Mission.
Manufactured by Haridwar based Divya Pharmacy, distilled purified cow urine is being sold in the market at Rs.40 per 100 milli litre with the brand name of Divya Godhan Ark prescribed for indications like general debility, obesity, abdominal diseases, skin diseases, diabetes, cough and asthma. It is recommended in doses of 10 to 20 ml based on the indication and as prescribed by the physician. The efficacy of cow urine as an ingredient to produce ayurvedic drugs for treating cancer and diabetes is currently undergoing clinical trials at Patanjanjali Yogapeeth, Haridwar and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.


Friday, 5 July 2013

Tweak lifestyle to prevent thyroid problems

In recent times, the prevalence of thyroid disorders in urban women in their early 30s, has increased and is on the rise. 
Earlier, it was unusual for young women to have a thyroid affliction; it was an ailment that scourged older women mostly. "  "Almost 30% to 35% of women belonging to this age group are affected." This  is now a  global health problem.
 A healthy diet that has all the necessary nutrition and stress reduction in your daily life, may minimize the chance of developing thyroid problems. An under-active thyroid can respond to natural remedies such asacupuncture, yoga, panchakarma, ayurveda etc. And the following can help in hypothyroid states — sea-kelp, selenium, flaxseed oil, zinc and multi-vitamins. 
What is Thyroid Gland:-

 The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that control the speed of your metabolism -- the system that helps the body use energy. Thyroid disorders can slow down or rev up your metabolism by disrupting the production of thyroid hormones. When hormone levels become too low or too high, you may experience a wide range of symptoms.


Weight Gain or Loss:-

An unexplained change in weight is one of the most common signs of a thyroid disorder. Weight gain may signal low levels of thyroid hormones, a condition called hypothyroidism. In contrast, if the thyroid produces more hormones than the body needs, you may lose weight unexpectedly. This is known as hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is far more common.

Swelling in the Neck:-

A swelling or enlargement in the neck is a visible clue that something may be wrong with the thyroid. A goiter may occur with either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Sometimes swelling in the neck can result from thyroid cancer or nodules, lumps that grow inside the thyroid. It can also be due to a cause unrelated to the thyroid.

Changes in Heart Rate:-

Thyroid hormones affect nearly every organ in the body and can influence how quickly the heart beats. People with hypothyroidism may notice their heart rate is slower than usual. Hyperthyroidism may cause the heart to speed up. It can also trigger increased blood pressure and the sensation of a pounding heart, known as heart palpitations.

Changes in Energy or Mood:-

Thyroid disorders can have a noticeable impact on your energy level and mood. Hypothyroidism tends to make people feel tired, sluggish, and depressed. Hyperthyroidism can cause anxiety, problems sleeping, restlessness, and irritability.

Hair Loss:-

Hair loss is another sign that your thyroid hormones may be out of balance. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause hair to fall out. In most cases, the hair will grow back once the thyroid disorder is treated.

 Feeling Too Cold or Hot:-

Thyroid disorders can disrupt the ability to regulate body temperature. People with hypothyroidism may feel cold more often than usual. Hyperthyroidism tends to have the opposite effect, causing excessive sweating and an aversion to heat

Other Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:-

  • Dry skin and brittle nails
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands
  • Constipation
  • Abnormal menstrual periods

 Hyperthyroidism can also cause additional symptoms, such as:-

  • Muscle weakness or trembling hands
  • Vision problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Irregular menstrual periods

Thyroid Disorder or Menopause?

Because thyroid disorders can cause changes in your menstrual cycle and mood, the symptoms are sometimes mistaken for menopause. If a thyroid problem is suspected, a simple blood test can determine whether the true culprit is menopause or a thyroid disorder -- or a combination of the two.

Who Should Be Tested?:-

Everyone should be screened for thyroid dysfunction every five years, beginning at age 35, according to the American Thyroid Association. People with symptoms or risk factors may need tests more often. Hypothyroidism more frequently affects women over age 60. Hyperthyroidism is also more common in women and in people over 60. A family history raises your risk of either disorder.

Thyroid Neck Check:-

A careful look in the mirror may help you spot an enlarged thyroid that needs a doctor's attention. Tip your head back, take a drink of water, and as you swallow, examine your neck below the Adam's apple and above the collarbone. Look for bulges or protrusions, then repeat the process a few times. See a doctor promptly if you see a bulge or lump.

Diagnosing Thyroid Disorders:-

If your doctor suspects a thyroid disorder, a blood test can help provide an answer.  This test measures the level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), a kind of master hormone that regulates the work of the thyroid gland. If TSH is high, it typically means that your thyroid function is too low (hypothyroid).  If TSH is low, then it generally means the thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroid.) Your doctor may also check levels of other thyroid hormones in your blood. 

Hashimoto's Disease:-

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's disease. This is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the thyroid gland. The result is damage to the thyroid, preventing it from producing enough hormones. Hashimoto's disease tends to run in families.
How to identify the problem:

Other Causes of Hypothyroidism:-

In some cases, hypothyroidism results from a problem with the pituitary gland, which is at the base of the brain. This gland produces thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which tells the thyroid to do its job. If your pituitary gland does not produce enough TSH, your levels of thyroid hormones will fall. Other causes of hypothyroidism include temporary inflammation of the thyroid or medications that affect thyroid function.

Graves' Disease:-

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves' disease. This is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid gland and triggers the release of high levels of thyroid hormones. One of the hallmarks of Graves' disease is a visible and uncomfortable swelling behind the eyes.

Thyroid Disorder Complications:-

When left untreated, hypothyroidism can raise your cholesterol levels and make you more likely to have a stroke or heart attack. In severe cases, very low levels of thyroid hormones can trigger a loss of consciousness and life-threatening drop in body temperature. Untreated hyperthyroidism can cause serious heart problems and brittle bones.
Hyperthyroidism can also result from thyroid nodules. These are lumps that develop inside the thyroid and sometimes begin producing thyroid hormones. Large lumps may create a noticeable goiter. Smaller lumps can be detected with ultrasound.
Treating Hypothyroidism:-
*If you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, your doctor will most likely prescribe thyroid hormones in the form of a pill. This usually leads to noticeable improvements within a couple of weeks. Long-term treatment can result in more energy, lower cholesterol levels, and gradual weight loss. Most people with hypothyroidism will need to take thyroid hormones for the rest of their lives.

 *The most common treatment for hyperthyroidism is antithyroid medication, which aims to lower the amount of hormones produced by the thyroid. The condition may eventually go away, but many people need to remain on medication for the long term. Other drugs may be given to reduce symptoms such as rapid pulse and tremors. Another option is radioactive iodine, which destroys the thyroid gland over the course of 6 to 18 weeks. 

Surgery for Thyroid Disorders:-

*Removing the thyroid gland can cure hyperthyroidism, but the procedure is only recommended if antithyroid drugs don't work, or if there is a large goiter. Surgery may also be recommended for patients with thyroid nodules. Once the thyroid is removed, most patients require daily supplements of thyroid hormones to avoid developing hypothyroidism.

What About Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer is uncommon and is among the least deadly. The main symptom is a lump or swelling in the neck, and only about 5% of thyroid nodules turn out to be cancerous. When thyroid cancer is diagnosed, it is most often treated with surgery followed by radioactive iodine therapy or, in some cases, external radiation therapy. 
 Some more tips that should be followed to deal with thyroid problems, along with your doctor's prescription...
Following a low glycemic index diet (a diet which doesn't enable the immediate pouring of sugar in blood) helps. Cut out energy-sapping foods such as those with high sugar and fat content.
-Also, regular exercise is crucial. Exercise not only enables weight-loss benefits but also releases 'happy hormones' in the body, thereby reducing the stress levels, and helping you deal with low moods and depression.
-Strong tea, coffee and tobacco should be avoided when suffering from hyperthyroidism. Supplements having vitamins and nutrients such as riboflavin, lecithin and thiamin may help.

Change your lifestyle to deal with thyroid problems

GOOD NEWS FOR FOLLOWERS OF YOGA IN US: Yoga passes secularism test in US Court of Law

 Yoga enthusiasts in the US got a big boost this week when a California judge ruled that the practice which originated in India is now a ''distinctly American cultural phenomenon,'' while dismissing complaints from some parents that teaching it to school children amounted to ''an unconstitutional promotion of Eastern religions.''Weeks of testimony from yoga practitioners and opponents, including live demonstration in courtroom of poses taught to children, came to a convoluted finale on Monday when Judge John Mayer agreed that yoga ''at its roots is religious,'' but pronounced that the kind introduced by a school district near San Diego, which was the subject of the litigation, passed the test of secularism. "A reasonable student would not objectively perceive that Encinitas School District yoga does advance or promote religion," he said.
Parents of some children had sued to stop the school district from teaching yoga maintaining it is a religious practice that surreptitiously promoted Hinduism. Funded with $533,000 from the K.Pattabhi Jois Foundation, which is backed by Jois acolytes, hedge-fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones II and his wife Sonia, the school district introduced a three-year pilot yoga program in 2011, with twice a week classes in addition to regular physical education.While some 30 families pulled their children out of the classes, saying teaching of yoga in schools blurred the line between church and state and "represents a serious breach of the public trust," many parents backed the program, which the school said was also aimed at curbing aggressive behavior and bullying. School authorities said in court that they had removed all religious elements from what was taught to the students, including the use of the word Namaste and substituting Sanskrit name of asanas with English ones. For instance, Padmasana, usually called lotus pose in English, became ''criss cross apple sauce'' in Americanese to appeal to children.In fact, Judge Meyer, who had told the court early in the case that he himself had takenBikram yoga classes, went so far as to observe that the yoga taught in Encinitas schools was no different from exercise programs like dodgeball. He was also irritated that some of the plaintiffs were not really informed about yoga as taught in the Encinitas schools and had simply got their information from dubious sources on the internet. ''It's almost like a trial by Wikipedia, which isn't what this court does,'' he observed.The petitioners have said they will appeal against the court's ruling, but for now, yoga enthusiasts are celebrating the victory because it sets an important legal precedent for expanding yoga in school programs. In fact, some observers seemed pleased at the judge's seeming cultural appropriation of yoga while observing that it was as American as apple pie, noting that yoga came to the US more than a century ago with the arrival of the first Indian mystics and spiritual figures.Paramahamsa Yogananda lived in the US in the 1920s, and is in fact, thought to be the first Indian pubic figure to be entertained at the White House in 1927 - by President Calvin Coolidge.

Scientists Develop Nanofiber Mesh to Treat Cancer

 Scientists Develop Nanofiber Mesh to Treat CancerA nanofiber mesh developed by scientists can efficiently induce natural death of epithelial cancer cells.
Developed by the researchers at International Centre of Material Nanoarchitectonics (MANA), Japan, the nanofiber mesh is capable of simultaneously realising thermotherapy (hyperthermia) and chemotherapy (treatment with anti-cancer drugs) of tumours, which until now was difficult to achieve, reports online bulletin of journal Advanced Functional Materials. 
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is an epithelial malignant tumour which is found in many tissues. SCC is thought to account for more than 90 percent of esophageal cancers, more than 80 percent of the cervical cancers, and more than 30 percent of lung cancers. 
Although surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are three main therapeutic methods according to the stages of cancers, in addition to these methods, thermotherapy has also attracted great attention in recent years, according to researchers. 
The nonofiber mesh developed by the MANA researchers is applied directly to the affected part. Its hybrid material combines a temperature-responsive polymer, magnetic nanoparticles, and anti-cancer drugs.


New Research Suggests Tips to Encourage Kids to Eat Vegetables

New Research Suggests Tips to Encourage Kids to Eat VegetablesTeaching kids about food and its nutrients is the best way to encourage children to understand why eating a variety of foods is ideal and also drives them to eat more vegetables by choice, a new research has suggested.Psychological scientists Sarah Gripshover and Ellen Markman of Stanford University hypothesized that preschoolers would be capable of understanding a more conceptual approach to nutrition, despite their young age. 
They explained that kids have natural curiosity - they want to understand why and how things work. 
The scientists said that they need to simplify materials for kids, but oversimplification robs them of the opportunity to learn and advance their thinking. 
Gripshover and Markman developed five storybooks aimed at revising and elaborating on what children already know about different nutrition-related themes, including dietary variety, digestion, food categories, microscopic nutrients, and nutrients as fuel for biological functions. 
The researchers assigned some preschool classrooms to read nutrition books during snack time for about 3 months, while other classrooms were assigned to conduct snack time as usual. Later, the preschoolers were asked questions about nutrition. 
The children who had been read the nutrition books were more likely to understand that food had nutrients, and that different kinds of nutrients were important for various bodily functions. They were also more knowledgeable about digestive processes, understanding, for example, that the stomach breaks down food and blood carries nutrients. 
These children also more than doubled their voluntary intake of vegetables during snack time after the three-month intervention, whereas the amount that the control group ate stayed about the same. 
The new findings have been published in Psychological Science.

Chronic Inflammation Links Social Adversity and Diabetes Risk

A new research has set out to find the reason why socioeconomic status (SES): low income, low education, and low occupational status are all linked to a higher risk for diabetes.Trying to understand the mechanisms underlying the association, Silvia Stringhini from the Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine in Lausanne, Switzerland and colleagues report in this week's PLOS Medicine that a substantial part of it appears to be attributable to chronic inflammation. 
"Taking together the evidence linking socioeconomic adversity to inflammation and inflammation to type 2 diabetes" the authors write, "it seems reasonable to postulate that chronically increased inflammatory activity in individuals exposed to socioeconomic adversity over the entire lifecourse may, at least partially, mediate the association between socioeconomic status over the lifecourse and future type 2 diabetes risk." 
To test their hypothesis, they analyzed data from the Whitehall II study. Following the famous original Whitehall study that pioneered the study of social determinants of health, Whitehall II has followed over 10,000 participants, all British civil servants working in London, since the mid 1980s. The study is ongoing, and participants undergo regular health check-ups and also provide extensive information about their social situation every few years. 
For their study, the researchers focused on 6387 participants who had provided information on their education level and current occupation (reflective of early adulthood and present socio-economic status, respectively) as well as their father's occupation (a proxy for childhood socio-economic status). In addition, it was known which of the participants had developed diabetes and when, and whether and when their blood work had shown signs of chronic inflammation. 
They found that cumulative exposure to low SES over the lifecourse and a downward trajectory from high SES in childhood to low SES in adulthood were associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes over the study period. In addition, inflammatory processes, measured repeatedly through biomarkers in the blood, explained as much as one third of this association. 
"Assuming that our findings reflect a causal association", the authors say, "our results suggest that tackling socioeconomic differences in inflammation, especially among the most disadvantaged groups, might reduce social inequalities in type 2 diabetes." 
They suggest that future studies should test interventions that reduce chronic inflammation, as "(such studies) will be necessary to determine the extent to which social inequalities attributable to chronic inflammation are reversible."

Source: PLOS Medicine 



Thank Fish for Human Hand Gestures: Scientists

 Thank Fish for Human Hand Gestures: ScientistsTo get your point across do you rely on your hand gestures? Well, thank fish for that.Scientists have found that the evolution of the control of speech and hand movements can be traced back to the same place in the brain, which could explain why we use hand gestures when we are speaking. 
"We have traced the evolutionary origins of the behavioural coupling between speech and hand movement back to a developmental compartment in the brain of fishes," Professor Andrew Bass of Cornell University said. 
"Pectoral appendages (fins and forelimbs) are mainly used for locomotion. However, pectoral appendages also function in social communication for the purposes of making sounds that we simply refer to as non-vocal sonic signals, and for gestural signalling." 
Studies of early development in fishes show that neural networks in the brain controlling the more complex vocal and pectoral mechanisms of social signalling among birds and mammals have their ancestral origins in a single compartment of the hindbrain in fishes. 
This begins to explain the ancestral origins of the neural basis for the close coupling between vocal and pectoral/gestural signalling that is observed among many vertebrate groups, including humans.



How the brain creates the 'buzz' that helps ideas spread

How do ideas spread? What messages will go viral on social media, and can this be predicted?
UCLA psychologists have taken a significant step toward answering these questions, identifying for the first time the brain regions associated with the successful spread of ideas, often called "buzz."
The research has a broad range of implications, the study authors say, and could lead to more effective public health campaigns, more persuasive advertisements and better ways for teachers to communicate with students.
"Our study suggests that people are regularly attuned to how the things they're seeing will be useful and interesting, not just to themselves but to other people," said the study's senior author, Matthew Lieberman, a UCLA professor of psychology and of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences and author of the forthcoming book "Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect." "We always seem to be on the lookout for who else will find this helpful, amusing or interesting, and our brain data are showing evidence of that. At the first encounter with information, people are already using the brain network involved in thinking about how this can be interesting to other people. We're wired to want to share information with other people. I think that is a profound statement about the social nature of our minds."
The study findings are published in the online edition of the journalPsychological Science, with print publication to follow later this summer.
"Before this study, we didn't know what brain regions were associated with ideas that become contagious, and we didn't know what regions were associated with being an effective communicator of ideas," said lead author Emily Falk, who conducted the research as a UCLA doctoral student in Lieberman's lab and is currently a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication. "Now we have mapped the brain regions associated with ideas that are likely to be contagious and are associated with being a good 'idea salesperson.' In the future, we would like to be able to use these brain maps to forecast what ideas are likely to be successful and who is likely to be effective at spreading them."
In the first part of the study, 19 UCLA students (average age 21), underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans at UCLA's Ahmanson–Lovelace Brain Mapping Center as they saw and heard information about 24 potential television pilot ideas. Among the fictitious pilots — which were presented by a separate group of students — were a show about former beauty-queen mothers who want their daughters to follow in their footsteps; a Spanish soap opera about a young woman and her relationships; a reality show in which contestants travel to countries with harsh environments; a program about teenage vampires and werewolves; and a show about best friends and rivals in a crime family.
The students exposed to these TV pilot ideas were asked to envision themselves as television studio interns who would decide whether or not they would recommend each idea to their "producers." These students made videotaped assessments of each pilot.
Another group of 79 UCLA undergraduates (average age 21) was asked to act as the "producers." These students watched the interns' videos assessments of the pilots and then made their own ratings about the pilot ideas based on those assessments.
Lieberman and Falk wanted to learn which brain regions were activated when the interns were first exposed to information they would later pass on to others.
"We're constantly being exposed to information on Facebook, Twitter and so on," said Lieberman. "Some of it we pass on, and a lot of it we don't. Is there something that happens in the moment we first see it — maybe before we even realize we might pass it on — that is different for those things that we will pass on successfully versus those that we won't?"
It turns out, there is. The psychologists found that the interns who were especially good at persuading the producers showed significantly more activation in a brain region known as the temporoparietal junction, or TPJ, at the time they were first exposed to the pilot ideas they would later recommend. They had more activation in this region than the interns who were less persuasive and more activation than they themselves had when exposed to pilot ideas they didn't like. The psychologists call this the "salesperson effect."
"It was the only region in the brain that showed this effect," Lieberman said. One might have thought brain regions associated with memory would show more activation, but that was not the case, he said.
"We wanted to explore what differentiates ideas that bomb from ideas that go viral," Falk said. "We found that increased activity in the TPJ was associated with an increased ability to convince others to get on board with their favorite ideas. Nobody had looked before at which brain regions are associated with the successful spread of ideas. You might expect people to be most enthusiastic and opinionated about ideas that they themselves are excited about, but our research suggests that's not the whole story. Thinking about what appeals to others may be even more important."
The TPJ, located on the outer surface of the brain, is part of what is known as the brain's "mentalizing network," which is involved in thinking about what other people think and feel. The network also includes the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, located in the middle of the brain.
"When we read fiction or watch a movie, we're entering the minds of the characters — that's mentalizing," Lieberman said. "As soon as you hear a good joke, you think, 'Who can I tell this to and who can't I tell?' Making this judgment will activate these two brain regions. If we're playing poker and I'm trying to figure out if you're bluffing, that's going to invoke this network. And when I see someone on Capitol Hill testifying and I'm thinking whether they are lying or telling the truth, that's going to invoke these two brain regions.
"Good ideas turn on the mentalizing system," he said. "They make us want to tell other people."
The interns who showed more activity in their mentalizing system when they saw the pilots they intended to recommend were then more successful in convincing the producers to also recommend those pilots, the psychologists found.
"As I'm looking at an idea, I might be thinking about what other people are likely to value, and that might make me a better idea salesperson later," Falk said.
By further studying the neural activity in these brain regions to see what information and ideas activate these regions more, psychologists potentially could predict which advertisements are most likely to spread and go viral and which will be most effective, Lieberman and Falk said.
Such knowledge could also benefit public health campaigns aimed at everything from reducing risky behaviors among teenagers to combating cancer, smoking and obesity.
"The explosion of new communication technologies, combined with novel analytic tools, promises to dramatically expand our understanding of how ideas spread," Falk said. "We're laying basic science foundations to addressimportant public health questions that are difficult to answer otherwise — about what makes campaigns successful and how we can improve their impact."
As we may like particular radio DJs who play music we enjoy, the Internet has led us to act as "information DJs" who share things that we think will be of interest to people in our networks, Lieberman said.
"What is new about our study is the finding that the mentalizing network is involved when I read something and decide who else might be interested in it," he said. "This is similar to what an advertiser has to do. It's not enough to have a product that people should like."
source:Psychological Science

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Govt plans to include more cosmetic items under Schedule S of D&C Rules

The Government is contemplating to include more cosmetic items under the purview of the Drugs and Cosmetics (D&C) Act with a view to further streamlining the sector and containing the side effects of cosmetic goods on health of the people.
The proposal is to include six more items under the Schedule S of the D&C Rules and the process for the same is in the final stages, it is learnt. With the inclusion, the total number of regulated cosmetic items would go to 35.
The items to be included are (IS 14318:1996) Liquid foundation make-up, (IS 15152:2002) Cold Wax-Hair remover, (IS 15153:2002) face pack, (IS 15154:2002) Kajal, (IS15205:2005) Oxidation Hair Dyes (Emulsion type) and (IS 15608:2005) cream bleach.
The standards for cosmetics to be included under the Schedule S are prepared by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and such items covered under the Schedule need to confirm to the specifications under the D&C Rules.
The BIS has recommended the inclusion of six items and the recent meeting of the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) is learnt to have given the approval for the same. The draft notification of rules for the inclusion of the same is expected to come any time, sources said.
At present there are 29 cosmetic items under the Schedule S, making them mandatory to go by the rules. The Government has already published draft notification of one item - Sindoor (IS:14649:1999) in January this year for comments, after getting the nod from the DTAB.
With six more items under the Schedule, the total number of regulated cosmetic items will be 35. The government has been taking several steps to improve quality of cosmetics as there were frequent concerns about the health impacts of many cosmetic goods in the country.
The matter was first considered by the DTAB in February and the panel that Schedule S to the D&C Rules may be amended to include the said cosmetics along with the their sta
ndards for the purpose of regulating their quality under the D&C Rules, 1945. Now, the recent DTAB meeting has given the final approval.

Mother Theresa Institute in Pondicherry to start 2-year D pharm courses in Ayurveda, Siddha, Homoeopathy

The Mother Theresa Post Graduate and Research Institute of Health Sciences in Pondicherry will start two-year diploma courses in Ayurveda Pharmacy, Siddha Pharmacy and Homoeopathy Pharmacy from this academic year onwards, said Dr R Murali, dean of the Institute.
This is the first time a health educational institution in Pondicherry is starting D Pharm course in Ayush subjects. Gujarat Ayurveda University in Ahmedabad and Aringar Anna Hospital of ISM in Chennai are the other two institutes in India conducting D Pharm course in Ayurveda and in Siddha.
The dean said the department of ISM in the college is conducting the course in collaboration with the Ayush department of Pondicherry government.  Message about the commencement of the course has been sent to the Ayush department in New Delhi. On completion of the course, the students will have one month internship in the ISM PHCs and private clinics in Pondicherry.
“We got the approval from the government for starting the course. Now we are waiting for affiliation from Board of Medical Education, government of Pondicherry. The course will be started from this academic year,” he added.
The syllabus of the course will include basic anatomy, physiology, properties of medicine, manufacturing process, pharmacology, pharmacognozy and dispensing practice. Besides, there will be special papers on drugs store management, computer application in pharmacy and health education, the dean said.
Dr K Gopal, principal of the College of Pharmacy at the Institute said the first three batches will be absorbed by the Pondicherry government as there are a lot of vacancies for Ayush pharmacists in the hospitals and PHCs in the union territory at present. He said three of the twelve laboratories in the college are set aside for practical purpose of the students joining the course. The basic qualification of the applicant is 10+2.
Dr T Thirunarayanan, secretary of the Centre for Traditional Medicines and Research said, previously there was a proposal to start the diploma course in Siddha in Pondicherry, subsequently discussion was held with Ayush secretary. But later it was found that the job opportunity for the course was very less there, and the same situation is continuing still now. He said after three years all the Siddha D Pharm certificate holders will become jobless.
However, he suggested that the Pondicherry government could send a minimum of ten students each to the government Siddha colleges at Palayamkottai in Thirunelveli and at Arumbakom in Chennai for the same course and on completion of the course they could be appointed as ISM Pharmacists at the PHCs in Pondicherry. Else, after five years, Pondicherry will become a state of jobless Siddha pharmacists, he added.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Having breathing difficulties? Try singing

In a third-floor room of a London hospital with orange and white walls draped with Tibetan prayer flags, roughly a dozen people gathered recently to perform vocal exercises and sing songs, including folk music from Ghana and Polynesia.While the participants were drawn to the session by a fondness for music, they also had an ulterior motive for singing: to cope better with lung disease. The weekly group is led by a professional musician and is offered to people with respiratory problems including asthma, emphysema, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder, or COPD.Doctors at London's Royal Brompton Hospital started the program after reasoning that the kind of breathing used by singers might also help lung patients."Since many people enjoy singing, we thought it would help them associate controlling their breathing with something pleasant and positive rather than a standard physiotherapy technique," said Dr. Nicholas Hopkinson, the hospital's top chest physician. "It's almost accidental that they learn something about their breathing through singing," he said.People with COPD have damaged lungs, which limits how much air they can breathe in and out. "Some people start to breathe very rapidly, which aggravates the problem," Hopkinson said. "They take many rapid, shallow breaths and that makes it even harder for them," he said. Hopkinson said learning to sing gives patients better posture and teaches them to breathe at a more manageable rate.
Still, two trials on the singing therapy conducted by Hopkinson and colleagues haven't found much improvement in patients' performance on breathing tests. "The lung function test doesn't change because the underlying disease hasn't changed," he explained. Hopkinson said that in a study comparing patients who went to the singing class versus those who attended a film discussion group, only the patients who sang reported feeling physically better afterwards, even if it couldn't be measured objectively.
Other experts agreed the singing therapy was an unusual but worthy approach. "There's a sound physiological rationale for this," said Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. "Controlled breathing, like the kind you might learn in singing, is very important because people with COPD should try to take deep breaths and slowly synchronize each breath when they're doing something like walking up stairs," he said.Some experts said singing would probably only appeal to a minority of patients and emphasized it could not replace traditional treatments. "Not everybody wants to sing but everybody can learn exercises to help them," said Julia Bott, a spokeswoman for Britain's Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. She said other activities like yoga and tai chi had breathing techniques similar to the types of physio exercises respiratory patients are usually taught.Bott also said the breathing techniques used for singing would probably only be helpful for people with mild problems. "If you've got severe disease, it will be pretty hard to sing if you're panting and out of breath," she said. Bott said the songs used would also have to be pretty basic. "No one is going to be singing any Wagnerian operas after this," she said.John Cameron Turner, 77, is convinced the singing classes have helped him breathe easier. Diagnosed with severe emphysema in 2002, Turner has tried various medicines but said none have really helped. "I have damaged lungs, but singing helps me use as much of them as possible," he said.
Since he started coming to the singing classes five years ago, Bott says he is able to do more things like gardening and walking. Turner said he used to have to stop repeatedly during the half-mile walk from his home to the subway station to catch his breath. "Now I don't do that because I'm breathing better," he said.
Turner said it was hard to know if he was breathing easier just because of the singing but thought more people with lung difficulties should sing. "It's turned me into a social animal and the songs are great fun," he said. "It's such an easy thing to do that you might as well give it a try."
Source:AP News

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