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Saturday, 4 January 2014

Scientists discover hormone that blocks marijuana buzz

A naturally occurring hormone acts as spontaneous defense in the brain against the high caused by marijuana and could be useful in preventing addiction, researchers said Thursday.

French researchers studied lab rats and found that the steroid hormone pregnenolone reduced the activity of a particular brain molecule called the type-1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1).
The hormone, which was not previously believed to have any biological effect of its own, actually cancels out the "high" caused by THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, according to lead author Pier Vincenzo Piazza of the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM).
"These researchers weren't trying to be buzzkills," said the journal Science, in which the study appears.
"Their discovery could lead to new approaches to treating marijuana intoxication and addiction -- and it may allow researchers to isolate the medicinal properties of cannabis while blocking its behavioral and somatic effects."
About 147 million people globally -- or about 2.5 percent of the population -- use cannabis, according to the World Health Organization.
While cannabis products can alleviate symptoms of depression, glaucoma, spasms, and nausea associated with cancer and AIDS, they are also known to impair brain development, memory and lung function, and some say they can lead to addiction.
Researchers discovered the previously unknown role of pregnenolone when they administered high doses of cannabis to lab rats, on the order of three to 10 times more than the typical human marijuana smoker might be exposed to, Piazza told AFP.
The high doses of cannabis raised the brain's level of pregnenolone, which blocked the harmful effects of THC on the brain.
They also did tests in the lab on human cell lines -- not human patients -- that showed a similar blocking effect.
"We hope to be able to start clinical trials in people in a year to a year and a half," Piazza told AFP.
If pregnenolone's effect can be confirmed, it would mark "the first pharmacological therapy for cannabis dependence," he added.
 Source:Relax News

High good and low bad cholesterol levels are healthy for the brain, too

High levels of "good" cholesterol and low levels of "bad" cholesterol are correlated with lower levels of the amyloid plaque deposition in the brain that is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, in a pattern that mirrors the relationship between good and bad cholesterol in cardiovascular disease, UC Davis researchers have found.
"Our study shows that both higher levels of HDL — good — and lower levels of LDL — bad — cholesterol in the bloodstream are associated with lower levels of amyloid plaque deposits in the brain," said Bruce Reed, lead study author and associate director of the UC Davis Alzheimer's Disease Center.
The relationship between elevated cholesterol and increased risk of Alzheimer's disease has been known for some time, but the current study is the first to specifically link cholesterol to amyloid deposits in living human study participants, Reed said.
"Unhealthy patterns of cholesterol could be directly causing the higher levels of amyloid known to contribute to Alzheimer's, in the same way that such patterns promote heart disease," he said.
The study, "Associations Between Serum Cholesterol Levels and Cerebral Amyloidosis," is published online today in JAMA Neurology.
In the United States, cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter (dL) of blood. For HDL cholesterol, a level of 60 mg/dl or higher is best. For LDL cholesterol, a level of 70 mg/dL or lower is recommended for people at very high risk of heart disease.
Charles DeCarli, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Center and an author of the study, said it is a wake-up call that, just as people can influence their late-life brain health by limiting vascular brain injury through controlling their blood pressure, the same is true of getting a handle on their serum cholesterol levels.
"If you have an LDL above 100 or an HDL that is less than 40, even if you're taking a statin drug, you want to make sure that you are getting those numbers into alignment," DeCarli said. "You have to get the HDL up and the LDL down."
The study was conducted in 74 diverse male and female individuals 70 years and older who were recruited from California stroke clinics, support groups, senior facilities and the Alzheimer's Disease Center. They included three individuals with mild dementia, 33 who were cognitively normal and 38 who had mild cognitive impairment.
The participants' amyloid levels were obtained using a tracer that binds with amyloid plaques and imaging their brains using PET scans. Higher fasting levels of LDL and lower levels of HDL both were associated with greater brain amyloid — a first-time finding linking cholesterol fractions in the blood and amyloid deposition in the brain. The researchers did not study the mechanism for how cholesterol promotes amyloid deposits.
Recent guidelines instituted by the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute have suggested abandoning guidelines for LDL targets. Reed said that recommendation may be an instance in which the adage that "what's good for the heart is good for the brain" does not apply.
"This study provides a reason to certainly continue cholesterol treatment in people who are developing memory loss regardless of concerns regarding their cardiovascular health," said Reed, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Neurology.
"It also suggests a method of lowering amyloid levels in people who are middle aged, when such build-up is just starting," he said. "If modifying cholesterol levels in the brain early in life turns out to reduce amyloid deposits late in life, we could potentially make a significant difference in reducing the prevalence of Alzheimer's, a goal of an enormous amount of research and drug development effort."
Source: University of California - Davis Health System

Chemotherapy Better for Pancreatic Cancer Patients

An effective strategy has now been introduced to make chemotherapy better and more effective for pancreatic cancer patients.

The research found pancreatic cancer cells may have their own specialised energy supply that maintains calcium levels and keeps cancer cells alive.
Maintaining a low concentration of calcium within cells is vital to their survival and this is achieved by calcium pumps on the plasma membrane.

This calcium pump, known as PMCA, is fuelled using ATP - the key energy currency for many cellular processes.

Scientists used cells taken from human tumours and looked at the effect of blocking each of these two energy sources in turn.

Their study showed that blocking mitochondrial metabolism had no effect. However, when they blocked glycolysis, they saw a reduced supply of ATP which inhibited the calcium pump, resulting in a toxic calcium overload and ultimately cell death.

Source:The research has been published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.


Three Herbs to Naturally Boost Your Testosterone Levels

You may associate testosterone with aggressive behavior, but the fact is, this very hormone plays an essential role when it comes to healthy functioning of the body and its different processes. Let's take a closer look into the basics and discover some cool facts about testosterone, and finally, understand how 3 simple herbs can boost testosterone levels naturally. Read on…

 What is Testosterone?

Simply put, testosterone is a hormone that is produced by the ovaries and testes, and also the adrenal glands of the body. It is an essential hormone that is needed for the proper functioning of different processes of the body, particularly the reproductive system and is derived from the parent compound cholesterol.

Generally referred to as a "male" hormone, testosterone is a hormone produced in men by the testicles and is responsible for the proper development of male sexual characteristics. Additionally, testosterone is important for maintaining muscle bulk, sufficient levels of red blood cells, bone growth, sexual function and an overall sense of wellbeing.

A deficiency of this hormone could have harmful effects on the body, and using replacement therapy to combat this deficiency, can sometimes, prove insufficient.

Some Cool Facts about Testosterone

Here we've put down some surprising facts about the hormone testosterone-

Testosterone can help shrink your belly- Yes, you read that right! Researcher Adrian Dobs from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has revealed how there was a decrease in the abdominal obesity in men, when they were given testosterone.

Women in love have a higher testosterone level- Yet another shocker; women who have just started with a relationship tend to have higher testosterone levels in the initial months than women who are single or are in a long-term relationship.

Too much testosterone can shrink the testicles- Men who take performance boosters and synthetic testosterone have a risk of suffering from shrunken testicles and growing breasts, not to mention aggression, mood swings and acne.

Money-making affects testosterone levels- According to British researchers, young men experience a spike in their testosterone levels on days where they make an above-average profit.

Fat can reduce testosterone levels- Experts believe that obese men are more likely to suffer from lower testosterone levels than thin men; and this is because of the presence of inflammatory factors along with fat cells, which suppress the synthesis of testosterone.

Three Herbs that Boost Testosterone Levels Naturally

Here we've listed down the three best natural herbs that improve testosterone levels naturally.

Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium)- This Chinese herb is believed to be efficient in boosting testosterone levels for both men and women. It contains a compound known as 'icariin', which is believed to be responsible for the testosterone boost.

A study has also revealed how horny goat weed could mimic the effects of testosterone, causing the boost; perhaps this explains why the herb is often prescribed as a natural treatment for low libido- which is in fact, an effect of low testosterone levels.

Around 3 to 9 gms of this herb, when taken with tea, is believed to be the best solution to boost testosterone naturally.

Bulbine Natalensis

Originating in South Africa, this herb has been found to be wonderfully effective in naturally boosting testosterone levels. A human study also found that between 25-50mg/kg doses of this herb, when taken, could have a prominent testosterone-boosting effect.

Tribulus Terrestris

This herb also called puncture vine, has been in use since centuries, especially in China and India, and is believed to boost testosterone levels. Intake of this herb is also believed to help boost sexual desire, improve sports function and manage erectile dysfunction.

The Placebo Effect: Transforming Biology With Belief

placebo Did you know that we can change our biology simply by what we believe to be true? The placebo effect is defined as the measurable, observable, or felt improvement in health or behaviour not attributable to a medication or invasive treatment that has been administered. It suggests that one can treat various ailments by using the mind to heal. For example, if two people have a head ache and one takes tylenol while the other is given a pill that contains nothing (sugar), both could report that the pill was successful and the headache is gone. The difference is, the one that was given the pill which contained nothing still believed that they were given a tylenol that would alleviate their headache. In doing so,  their headache was cured because of what they believed to be true. This has happened on numerous occasions, many studies have shown that the placebo effect is real and highly effective.
The placebo practice is known, but widely dismissed in medicine. The placebo effect should be a major topic of study in medical schools. Unfortunately drug companies study patients who respond to the placebo effect with the goal of eliminating them from early clinical trials. It bothers pharmaceutical manufacturers that in most of their clinical trials the placebos prove to be just as effective as their chemical ridden drugs. Examining the placebo effect would give rise to a whole new category under science, which would probably be consciousness. This is why it’s not examined thoroughly, the power of our perception and its ability to create our reality and even change our biology would open the door to a multitude of other questions, possibilities and potentialities for the human race. These potentialities would most likely wipe out many industries on the planet, from health all the way down to energy. These concepts are also heavily examined and illustrated by quantum physics.
The placebo effect should be the subject of major, funded research efforts. If medical researchers could figure out how to leverage the placebo effect, they would hand doctors an efficient,energy-based, side effect-free tool to treat disease. Energy healers say they already have such tools, but I am a scientist, and I believe the more we know about sceince of the placebo, the better we’ll be able to use it in clinical settings – Bruce Lipton, Ph.D (3)
A Baylor School of Medicine study, published in 2002 in the New England Journal of Medicine, (1) looked at surgery for patients with severe and debilitating knee pain. Many surgeons know there is no placebo effect in surgery, or so most of them believe. The patients were divided into three groups. The surgeons shaved the damaged cartilage in the knee of one group. For the second group they flushed out the knee joint, removing all of the material believed to be causing inflammation. Both of these processes are the standard surgeries people go through who have severe arthritic knees. The third group received a “fake” surgery, the patients were only sedated and tricked that they actually had the knee surgery. For the patients not really receiving the surgery, the doctors made the incisions and splashed salt water on the knee as they would in normal surgery. They then sewed up the incisions like the real thing and the process was complete. All three groups went through the same rehab process, and the results were astonishing. The placebo group improved just as much as the other two groups who had surgery.
My skill as a surgeon had no benefit on these patients. The entire benefit of surgery for osteoarthritis of the kneww was the placebo effect – Dr. Moseley (Surgeon involved in the study)(3)
Another great example of the placebo effect came from the United States Department of Health and Human Services in 1999. The report discovered that half of severely depressed patients taking drugs improve compared to the thirty-two percent taking a placebo. Don’t forget about all of the side effects and dangers that have been associated with antidepressants every year. Don’t forget that the ‘depression industry’ alone is a multi billion dollar one(3).
A 2002 article published in the American Psychological Association’s prevention & treatment, by University of Connecticut psychology professor Irving Kirsch titled, “The Emperor’s New Drugs,” made some more shocking discoveries(5)(4). He found that 80 perecent of the effect of antidepressants, as measured in clinical trials, could be attributed to the placebo effect. This professor even had to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to get information on the clinical trials of the top antidepressants.
The difference between the response of the drugs and the response of the placebo was less than two points on average on this clinical scale that goes from fifty to sixty points. That’s a very small difference, that difference is clinically meaningless – Professor Kirsch
Researchers all over the world have found that placebo treatments can stimulate real biological and physiological responses. Everything from changes in heart rate to blood pressure and even chemical activity in the brain. It’s been effective with a number of different ailments from arthritis, depression, fatigue, anxiety, Parkinson’s and more (2)
So what does this mean?
It means that through the power of belief, your biological body can react in a necessary way to target whatever ailment you are experiencing. Thoughts, feelings, and emotions are directly responsible for changing  your biology. If we look at depression for example, we are told the main cause of it is a chemical deficit in the brain. But if thoughts, feelings and emotions can release different chemicals in the brain, why not just work on the patients feelings to induce a different chemical state? If our feelings, emotions and thoughts are directly correlated with our biology, why aren’t we putting more resources into this research? Why is this not practiced by the medical industry? Why do we completely turn a blind eye to it?
The human race has been trained, and programmed to believe that external medicines are necessary for all ailments. I’m not saying that some medical applications are not valid, I’m just saying the human race completely ignores the power of non-physical phenomenon. We continue to believe that we need something outside of ourselves to heal, when everything points to the fact that this is not entirely true. Our own biological system and the human being is very capable of healing itself. We just don’t know how, we don’t believe it, we are not exposed to it.
Changing your biology with belief is not an easy process, because most of us don’t truly believe we can. We are going up against years of perceptual manipulation that have formed our thoughts and beliefs. Your beliefs shape your perception, and your perception is what creates real phenomenon. If you change the way you perceive things, the things you perceive change. We are powerful beings,  and have abilities that have yet to be unlocked.  I believe that these types of realities will continue to  emerge  and will be implemented in the future. The placebo effect demonstrates, from a biological standpoint, that what you believe indeed becomes your reality. For one to be able to use this, they must believe it. One must perceive it as real as the perceive their own hand real, the sun real, the stars real. It’s not about believing, it’s about knowing.
The true nature of reality has yet to be discovered, but we continue to progress in our understanding. As we progress we realize how obsolete our current way of functioning really is. It’s time to evolve past our archaic ideas and false beliefs, and step into a new understanding of reality. We are capable of so much more, or potential is limitless.
(3)Lipton, Bruce. The Biology of Belief. Hay House, Inc, 2005
 Source:Collective Evolution

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