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What can mindfulness really do?
A good friend--I'll call her Tandy here--is a huge fan of meditation. She spends a good hour each day practicing "mindfulness." She credits her practice with a more calm demeanor, a faster-working brain and a healthier body. She's certainly not the first to do so. Advocates of meditation claim myriad health benefits--and I know of more than a few ongoing clinical trials that are looking at the benefits of yoga and other meditative techniques on treatments for cancer and other chronic diseases.
Turns out Tandy--as well as the scores of other people who believe that meditation and mindfulness are having positive impact on their health--may be on to something. A recent study by neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center have found that "mindfulness" may relieve chronic inflammation. The study was published in the Brain, Behavior and Immunity journal.
Melissa Rosenkranz, an assistant scientist at the center and lead author of the sutdy, compared two stress-reducing techniques. The first was focused on health and involved nutritional information, walking, core-strengthening exercises and music therapy. Basically, a lot of the stuff that is involved with common "mindfulness" techniques without actually invoking any of the "mindfulness" itself. The second group got the same kind of information, but with a focus on meditation and "mindfulness." They then measured psychological stress in each participant--as well as immune and endocrine measures. They also induced inflammation on the skin using a capsaicin cream.
What did Rosencrantz and her colleagues find? While both techniques helped to reduce stress, the "mindfulness" approach was better at decreasing the inflammation. It's a result that may have some bearing on people who are suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma.
Of course, "mindfulness" isn't the end-all-be-all. Rosenkranz, in a press release for the study, was quoted as saying, "This is not a cure-all, but our study does show that there are specific ways that mindfulness can be beneficial, and that there are specific people who may be more likely to benefit from this approach than other interventions."
What do you think? Is "mindfulness" a viable treatment for chronic conditions? Should doctors be suggesting it to their patients?
Photo credit: Pikoso.kz/shutterstock.com
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.
- The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
- Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
- Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Is focusing solely on body mass index the best way for doctor to frame obesity?
- New guidelines published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal argue that obesity should be defined as a condition that involves high body mass index along with a corresponding physical or mental health condition.
- The guidelines note that classifying obesity by body mass index alone may lead to fat shaming or non-optimal treatments.
- The guidelines offer five steps for reframing the way doctors treat obesity.