Mind and body related health news

Major Depressive Disorder: New Research

New research into Major Depressive Disorder indicates that memory loss and concentration problems caused by the condition may stop the growth of nerve connections forming. US researchers analyzed brain tissue from patients who had died and had been diagnosed with the disorder found inactivity in genes known as synapses. These particular genes are known to be necessary for the structure of brain nerve connections. There inactivity is thought to cause a shrinking of the front of the brain.

Man depressed

Image: Depression courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos by Salvatore Vuono FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Professor Ronald Duman of Yale University said:

“We hope by enhancing synaptic connections with medication or behavioural therapy we can develop more effective antidepressant therapies.”

The term “depression” is ambiguous, and may also refer to other mood disorders or mood swings lacking medical intervention. We all at one time or another suffer some form of depression in our daily lives, things improve and its back to work we go (to use a well-known saying).

Major Depressive Disorder is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by the loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. This condition is a disabling disorder that adversely affects a person’s family, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and to their health in general.

The disorder is treated with antidepressant medication and, in many cases receive psychotherapy or counselling. However, the effectiveness of medication for mild or moderate cases is thought to be questionable. Hospitalisation may be necessary in cases where patients show a marked increase of self-neglect or a significant risk of harm to self or others.

The duration of this particular disorder can show as one episode lasting weeks to a lifetime with recurrent major depressive episodes.

Some NHS Trusts In Breach Of The Law

Sir Michael Rawlins speaks out about the NHS (national health service) postcode lottery. Sir Micheal spoke out after the Royal National Institute of the Blind caught 37 hospital trusts restricting or refusing treatment that can save the sight of people.

Sir Michael Rawlins The chief of NICE (The National Institute For Health and Excellence) said:

“Trusts are breaking the law. They don’t want to pay.” He continued ” They want to use their money for other purposes. I understand that but it is a fact of law and you don’t start messing around with the law. The law clearly states that when Nice gives a positive view of a drug patient’s are entitled to if their doctors think it is appropriate.”

He said there were many other examples of delaying tactics. Patients denied costly medicine should threaten legal action because health chiefs do not have a leg to stand on and would surely give in without going to court. Doctors were being urged to take a stand over the issue. He went on to say:

“They should whistle-blow and they should make it abundantly clear to the public that their trust was in breach of the law.”

His remarks come at a time when the N.H.S is being forced to make savings of at least £20 billion as well as imposing Our Governments costly reforms that will open a door in our health service to private firms.

Sadly if Government doesn’t change hands then I can see our health service being scuttled with no survivors. If you think about it, it is rather a clever business tactic. Our government squeezes the N.H.S until it has nowhere else to turn to, beat rising costs within the health service, but the private sector. Of course, this is just what I think as Joe-soap, and as I am not unique about this point there are other Joe-soap’s out there that think the same as me.

Flu Virus: New Research

Back in April 2009 a global flu pandemic saw the outbreak of a new strain of influenza virus labeled H1N1, the term was given by the World Health Organization (WHO) and colloquially called swine flu.



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Influenza virus

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The first report of the outbreak appeared in Mexico, not long afterward it became a World Wide problem. The World Health Organization came into the picture in the June of the same year declaring the outbreak a pandemic.

The vast majority of people experienced mild symptoms of the virus, however, those individuals already with health problems were at greater risk of major health problems, should the virus be contracted by them. The sufferer’s condition declines quickly, often to the point of respiratory failure.

The higher risk groups are people over 65, persons with asthma, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, pregnant women, those with a long-term illness or those who have a weakened immune system. In the rare severe cases, around 3–6 days after symptoms manifest, the sufferer’s condition quickly declines, often to the point of respiratory failure.

The virus came to the UK in April of 2009 being brought into the country by passengers returning from Mexico. First cases of the virus spreading from person to person, in the UK, were confirmed in April 2009. The group predominantly at risk is 5 – 14 years old. Cases of the virus rose to 84,000 by the end of October of the same year.

Come 2010 newspaper groups namely the Independent and the Daily Mail reported there were reasons to suspect that the virus was back. This then gave way to worries of a new epidemic. The newspapers reported on a number of fatalities occurring who had contracted swine flu. The number of people hospitalised with severe flu had also risen, and there had been several outbreaks in schools and on a military base.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) had warned that although the overall number of cases of flu was not unusual for this time of year, the number of severe cases of H1N1 was higher than expected in England.

December 2010 brought an announcement by Professor John Watson, the head of the respiratory diseases department at the Health Protection Agency, said at the time:

“We are seeing a large amount of flu circulating across the country and would urge those people in an at-risk group to have their seasonal flu vaccine as soon as possible as this is the best way to protect themselves from flu this winter.

“Although there were reports of many people during the pandemic only experiencing mild disease we can’t stress enough that flu can be an extremely serious illness for people in ‘at risk’ groups, including pregnant women, the elderly and those with other underlying conditions such as heart problems, diabetes, lung, liver or renal diseases and those who have weakened immune systems.”

Now coming bang up to date (July 2012) I was reading a report by the Daily Mirror science editor Mike Swain, who reported on a new break-through against the flu virus (not the common cold virus). The problem behind the flu vaccine, that at-risk users can get from their GP, is before it can be made to counteract against a new flu virus people are struck down with it first, this means a lot of individuals especially those at risk can become seriously ill with the new strain before an antidote (so to speak) can be made. This often results in loss of life.

Now a group of scientists reckons they have found a way to stop the virus in its tracks. It appears they have made a protein that will start the bodies defenses within a few hours of being given to the sufferer.

This miraculous protein is known as EP67. used primarily as an adjuvant for vaccines, it stimulates the bodies defenses, the knock-on effect would be it helps the vaccine to work. However, Dr. Joy Phillips, Ph.D., and Dr. Sam Sanderson, Ph.D. wondered what effect the synthetic protein might have on its own. Researchers now believe it has the potential to help the body fight off the flu virus and not just a particular virus they believe it could work against any flu virus that may come along as well as the potential to work on other respiratory diseases.

Dr. Joy Phillips of the University of Nebraska medical center said:

“Our research shows that introducing EP67 into the body within 24 hours of exposure to the flu virus causes the immune system to react almost immediately to the threat. Well before your body normally would”

Dr. Phillips went on to say:

“The only treatments available now target the flu directly they are not reliable and often the virus develops a resistance to them. EP67 would be a treatment that would help the body fight off the virus before it takes hold.”

You can use this link if you wish to know more about their research.

Walking Can Help High Blood Pressure

Walking good for Hypertension

Family In Autumn Park author Vlado Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I guess if there were ever a good healthy reason for walking then the latest research from the University of South Carolina has to be up there among the top three.

After a five-year research study of 6,278 adults researchers have found that a brisk walk of around two and a half hours (spread across a week) can cut the risk of high blood pressure by a quarter percent. It doesn’t stop there! The research scientists that ran the study say that the benefits from a brisk walk are also of benefit to those people who have a family history of high blood pressure.

The study was published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Hypertension by study author Robin Shook, a doctoral graduate at the University of South Carolina in the United States. Robin has been reported as saying that

“Understanding the roles that family history and fitness play in chronic diseases is critically important. “The results of this study send a very practical message, which is that even a very realistic, moderate amount of exercise – which we define as brisk walking for 150 minutes per week – can provide a huge health benefit, particularly to people predisposed to high blood pressure (hypertension) because of their family history. “The correlation between fitness levels, parental history and risk are impossible to ignore”.

Sport is one form of physical exercise, but anything from walking 2hr. 30min. a week cycling or gardening would be classed as exercise. Doing some form of exercise keeps your heart and blood pressure in good condition and will go on to serve you for many years to come.

Most diets these days often recommend cutting certain foods from our diet to maximize weight loss. The National Health Service (N.H.S) has a helpful diet program.

It gives you clear helpful advise and keeps you clear of fad diets. If we are honest with ourself the only thing a fad diet is good for is probably how quickly we lose weight. However, it does not take long before we put the weight plus more back on again.

We can still lose weight without cutting certain foods from our diet. The National Health Service (Choices) has an Eatwell food guide that can walk you through eating healthfully.

Be aware that cutting out certain food groups from our diet may well prevent us from getting the vitamins and various nutrients our body needs. Leaving our body open to illness.

Being over-weight is no good to any of us. Learn/read more about walking/exercise and how eating healthily, not smoking, a moderate intake of alcohol, among others can reduce our chances of high blood pressure and an unhealthy heart.

High Caffeine Intake

Coffee Cup and Spoon

Image: Typography Coffee Cup

For Some time now I have posted much on the subject about Alzheimer’s Disease and the research that is being done to combat it. Although it can not help those who suffer like yesterday the promising outcome is still some if not many years away yet, but a light can still be seen at the end of the tunnel.

My last post was about the benefit of high levels of caffeine in coffee helping in the battle to beat Alzheimer’s. I’m all for any form of research that can help in the battle to beat any form of terminal illness. As a matter of fact, I’m all for research in any form that can help in the battle to cure or delay the onset of any and all illness.

I remember posting some time ago now about a Durham University project that gave rise to high levels of caffeine in our system causing us to experience hallucinatory problems such as hearing voices, or imaging seeing another person when there was no one there. So where does that leave Alzheimer’s V Caffeine.

Where do we go from here. On one hand caffeine could slow the dementia process rather than preventing it (good), and on the other hand, you may end up talking to your dead friends if your daily intake of caffeine is too great (bad).

… AH well, that’s life… You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t.

Sleep Behaviour Disorder

Business man napping on top of desk

Man sleeping top of desk

The study was carried out on 93 people aged 65 years old, or there about’s who have this sleep disorder. (yes I know the sleeping man doesn’t look 65yrs old… He’s not meant to)

The study over a five year period discovered that 14 individuals developed Parkinson’s Disease and 12 others went on to develop some form of dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Society commented that they hoped the research would help doctors to diagnose the condition earlier.

Although Parkinson’s Disease only occurs in adults it has been known to affect those individuals under 30 years of age however, this would be very rare indeed.

The disease here in the UK is thought to affect 2 out of a total of 1,000 individuals. Having said that the disease is not contagious and it is not required by any form of law to be reported. So this figure is an educated guess as the true statistics are not known.

Because of the lack of a diagnostic test the disease has to be made clinically.

If you would like to now more about Parkinson’s then this link to Parkinson’s UK has more on the subject.

Parkinson’s And Cannabis Oil (CBD )

Back in November 2018 medical cannabis became available to patients here in the UK on prescription. before then it was considered to have no therapeitic health benefits.

However the low concentrated cannabis oil (CBD short for cannabidiol) is now thought to be of benefit to treat several compliants not only is it of help to control seizures through epilepsy it is believed to be of help to promote sleep, boost the appetite as well as reducing anxiety and stress.

The low-concentrate version of the oil can be bought legally her in the UK (United Kingdom). Products are required to contain less than 0.05% Tetrahydrocannabinol . THC is the psychoactive component in cannabis that makes those that use it high. More information about Parkinson’s and cannabis oil on Drugscience  a wealth of information.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles: Free Digital Photo’s.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles @ Free Digital Photo’s: Stuart Miles