Archive for July, 2011

Can’t shed those pounds and inches despite all your best intentions?

Remember that really junk science stuff about how we only use x-y-z percent of our brain. Well, besides being just that – Junk Science – we now have evidence that at least a few parts of our brain are hiding in waiting (or is that weight-ing???) as part of an on-going conspiracy to make some people fat.

Can’t shed those pounds and inches despite all your best intentions? Blame it on your anterior cingulate cortex and the medial orbitofrontal cortex — brain areas that have been implicated in an addict’s urge to use drugs.

Weight loss informationResearcher Ashley Gearhardt, a clinical psychology doctoral student at Yale University and her team studied 48 women with an average age of 21 whose body mass ranged from lean to obese. Subjects completed a research questionnaire that included statements like “I find that when I start eating certain foods, I end up eating much more than I had planned.”  Subjects rated how closely the questionnaire statements, which were based on an established assessment tool for measuring drug addiction, matched their own experience.  Functional magnetic resonant imaging (fMRI) studies were also completed to allow researchers to understand how subjects brains’ responded to the anticipation and consumption of chocolate milkshakes and a tasteless solution

The researchers found that the brains of subjects who scored higher on the food-addiction survey exhibited brain activity similar to that seen in drug addicts, with greater activity in regions of the brain responsible for cravings and less activity in the regions that curb cravings or urges. And, both lean and obese subjects who scored high in the test for food addiction showed the same brain activity indicative of addiction. The researchers reported that simply seeing images of a milkshake triggered brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and the medial orbitofrontal cortex — brain areas that have been implicated in an addict’s urge to use drugs.

And more food, diet and anti-obesity news:

Before the Idaho Potato Commission sues me for defaming their spuds’ collective reputation, let me be the first to declare that extra-large, well-baked Idaho potatoes – with crisp skins and garnished with my homemade pesto sauce – are a culinary delight.

But (Isn’t there always a but!), a new study in the June 23, 2011 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine puts a big part of the blame for American obesity at the feet of extra servings of potatoes – French fried, mashed with butter, boiled, baked or crispy chips. (BTW, I know potatoes have eyes, but can they have feet?)

The Harvard University based researchers tracked the lifestyle choices of more than 120,000 health professionals from around the country for at least 12 years. They found that participants gained an average 0.8 pounds a year – 16 pounds over 20 years.

While potatoes have been certified as “heart healthy” by the American Heart Association and good sources of Vitamin C, several B vitamins, and minerals including iron, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, individuals who ate an extra serving of French fries every day gained an average of 3.4 pounds over a four-year period. An extra serving of potato chips each day added an average of 1.7 pounds every four years.

Problem is that, while taters might be great food if we eat them raw, pack on sour cream or butter or fry ‘em. Ooooooops! Besides, those tubers prompt a quick spike in blood-sugar levels and cause the pancreas to go into overdrive attempting to bring levels back down to normal. While the blood sugar levels spiral down, many individuals experience hunger, resulting in snacking. And this cycle can result in significant weight gain, pancreatic fatigue, and, in the worst cases, the development of Type 2 Diabetes.

And, those taters can hold a lot of calories: 278 in a large backed potato even before you pile on any of the good stuff or 500-600 calories in a serving of French fries

But to be fair to the poor potato, it’s not the only cause of American obesity. Every additional sugary soft drink per day represented an additional one pound per year and extra servinvg of red and processed meats were just under that. And, consuming an extra alcoholic drink equaled close to half a pound more every four years and extra glass of 100 percent fruit juices each day  packed on almost one-third of a pound over four years.

Posted in: Addiction, Health & Exercise

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Drinking or consuming drugs when driving account for many accidents

That line we hear from teens and young adults about being safe drivers when they’ve been smoking marijuana is just that: A line of pure bovine by-product. And there’s good new scientific evidence for calling bull by-product just what it is.

The call came in at O’Dark Thirty and I slept through it. So, I responded as soon as I could see to hit the REDIAL button.

Dad is concerned that Junior is abusing alcohol and marijuana and doesn’t know how to proceed. While I wasn’t sure how he found my name and number, I pretty much knew the answers I would be getting to a few questions. Junior is an especially bright, rising senior at a Top 50 university, preparing for his med school admissions test, 21 years old. No, he hasn’t won the lottery, he’s not independently wealthy, and he’s not a trust-fund baby.

My answer: “Exercise the POWER OF THE PURSE STRINGS. The car is in your name. If he thinks he can get away with drinking, smoking marijuana and driving, he’s putting your and your family’s financial wellbeing at risk – especially if he has an accident and injures or kills someone. Oh, and he just might kill himself.”

Go ahead drink and driveIn the July 2011 edition of the Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs, Eduardo Romano, Ph.D. and Robert B. Voas, Ph.D. of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation analyzed data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and found that approximately 25% of US drivers who died in a crash tested positive for drugs. Marijuana and stimulants, including cocaine and amphetamines, each accounted for about 23% of the positive tests.

While it is unclear whether or not drugs were to blame for the crashes, the 2007 National Roadside Survey found that 16% of nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for illegal drugs and the fact that drug use was almost twice as high among drivers in fatal crashes suggests that drugs do contribute to road deaths.

The researchers examined data from 1998 to 2009 for 44,000 fatally injured drivers involved in single-vehicle crashes and in which drivers were tested for drugs other than alcohol and had a known result. About 25% of drivers tested positive for drugs. Cannabinoids (marijuana and marijuana –related drugs) and stimulants (amphetamines and cocaine) each contributed to about 23% of the drug-positive results (6% among all fatally injured single-vehicle drivers). More than cannabinoids, stimulants were found to be associated with the four types of crashes under the study: speeding, failure to obey/yield, inattention, and seatbelt non-use. Marijuana was strongly linked only to speeding and seatbelt non-use.

Ultimately, however, alcohol is still the biggest roadway danger. Other drugs appear to be key only when drivers have not been drinking and drugging. That is, when someone drinks and uses drugs, the alcohol is the main reason for impaired – sometimes fatal – driving.

“Alcohol is still the largest contributor to fatal crashes,” reports Romano.

“The suspicion is there, because when you look at drivers who’ve been in fatal crashes, the percentage using drugs is a good deal higher,” said co-author Voas, For parents, teens and young adults, the answer is simple: “Don’t drink or don’t consume drugs when you’re going to drive,” said Romano, the lead author on the study.

And I remind parents whose kids don’t believe scientific research applies to them “You have the Power of the Purse Strings. Exercise it. It’s one helluvalot cheaper that losing home and everything you’ve ever worked for if Junior kills someone in your car. And is a infinitely better than spending a lifetime of grief and self-recrimination because you didn’t and he killed himself.”

Posted in: Addiction, Featured

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Finding Relief from Chronic Pain

It costs more than heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

It may be the most pervasive epidemic in American history – affecting at least 116 million US adults – almost four in 10 – and costing as much as $635 billion a year, an estimate that may be extremely low because it does not include children and members of the US military.

Finding relief from chronic painChronic pain is defined as pain that lasts more than several months. It is a hard-to-diagnose-and-treat but highly common condition that demands a much more comprehensive strategy for dealing with lost productivity and skyrocketing healthcare costs, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) release in late June 2011. For many patients, the condition is complicated by the fact that many physicians see it as a less than legitimate condition.

Chronic pain commonly sets in after other illnesses, injuries and medical treatments; remains difficult for physicians to diagnose; is often self-treated and is too often greeted with skepticism (and ridicule) by patients’ physicians and family members.

“Many health care professionals are not adequately prepared to provide the full range of pain care or to guide patients in self-managing chronic pain,” IOM researchers wrote in the report mandated by Congress through the 2010 US healthcare overhaul.

The IOM researchers also excluded costs associated with pain in children and members of the US military – making the estimate conservative; and the federal Medicare program bears approximately one-quarter of the expense, the report said. Lower back pain is the most commonly reported pain in the US, followed by knee pain, severe headaches (migraines) and neck pain. As a result, many sufferers resort to painkillers, including morphine and oxycodone and other opioids. In 2007 more than 33 million people abused opioids, resulting in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined, according to the latest government data.

“It’s a conundrum of opioids,” according to Noreen Clark, vice chair of the IOM committee that organized the study. “There are people who really need access to pharmaceuticals to manage their pain and there are some who abuse the pharmaceutics, but the abusers are a very, very small proportion of those who need but don’t have access to the treatment.”

According to one study cited in the IOM report, only five of 133 US medical schools have course on pain and 17 have elective courses.

“Chronic pain is real pain and too often can be indescribably debilitating,” notes Francis J. Flynn, Psy.D., clinical director of the Brain Training Centers of Florida. “Ultimately, there are almost as many underlying causes as there are individuals living and dealing with chronic pain. And there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, we encourage many individuals with chronic pain– especially after significant physical trauma.”

Flynn has special empathy for chronic pain sufferers. An automobile accident resulted in bilateral temporal mandibular joint dislocations, two years of debilitating pain and headaches, and three surgeries before final relief. “I consulted more than a dozen physicians and was repeatedly told it was all in my head.  And the problem was all in my head – actually all in my jaw. In my case, the problem was genuinely mechanical – my jaw joints were dislocated. However, for many patients with chronic pain the on-going problem results from the brain’s habituated response to a very real, original problem. By breaking the brain’s habituated response patterns, we can allow patients relief from this kind of pain without the use of medications.

“We encourage chronic pain sufferers to explore every possible avenue of relief. And, before considering radical surgery, we encourage individuals to consider a non-invasive alternative that allows the brain to re-find and re-establish healthier ways of functioning,” notes Flynn.

Chronic pain costs U.S. up to $635 billion a year

By Alina Selyukh | Reuters – Wed, Jun 29, 2011

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Addressing chronic pain, a hard-to-treat yet highly common condition, costs the United States as much as $635 billion a year and requires a much more comprehensive strategy for curbing lost productivity and healthcare expenses, according to a new government report.

At least 116 million U.S. adults — or about four in 10 — suffer from chronic pain every year, leading to extra sick days, lost wages and productivity, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) said on Wednesday.

Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts more than several months. It remains hard for doctors to diagnose, is often self-treated by patients and commonly perceived as less than a legitimate condition.

“Many health care professionals are not adequately prepared to provide the full range of pain care or to guide patients in self-managing chronic pain,” IOM researchers wrote in the report mandated by Congress through the 2010 U.S. healthcare overhaul.

The IOM report excluded costs associated with pain in children or members of the U.S. military, making the estimate conservative and yet higher than economic costs of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, according to its researchers. The federal Medicare program takes the brunt of the medical costs of pain, bearing a quarter of expenditures, the report said.

Chronic pain commonly sets in after other illnesses, injuries and medical treatments. Similar to that, acute pain — also addressed in the report — is a sudden, short-lived kind of pain, but can be a recurrent and equally complex problem.

Pain in the lower back is the most commonly reported pain in the United States, followed by knee pain, severe headaches or migraines and neck pain.

Looking for ways to manage pain, many sufferers resort to painkillers, including prescription opioids such as morphine and oxycodone. More than 33 million people abused opioids in 2007, resulting in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined, according to the latest government data.

“It’s a conundrum of opioids,” said Noreen Clark, vice chair of the IOM committee that organized the study. “There are people who really need access to pharmaceuticals to manage their pain and there are some who abuse the pharmaceuticals, but the abusers are a very-very small proportion of those who need but don’t have access to the treatment.”

Drugmakers including Pfizer Inc have been developing painkillers that are tamper-resistant to prevent abuse, including pills that make it difficult to snort or inject the drugs.

IOM’s report urges more professional education as well as more data collection and research into the phenomenon of chronic pain, in part to get rid of various social stigmas associated with pain as a disease.

The call comes a day after the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians lobbied Congress to pass a bill that would require physicians to go through special training before prescribing painkillers.

Citing a recent study, IOM said only five of 133 U.S. medical schools have required courses on pain and 17 have elective courses.

The IOM report also calls on federal and state insurance programs, Medicare and Medicaid, together with private health plans and workers’ compensation programs to address lags in pain care coverage.

(Editing by Michele Gershberg, Dave Zimmerman)

Posted in: Chronic Pain

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Levamisole found in cocaine causes dying flesh

“Cocaine is God’s way of telling you your making too much money.”

Robin Williams.

Now, your flesh being eaten away and the risk of having your ear fall off may be God’s way of telling you ‘”Cocaine is just plain stupid and really, really dangerous.”

Oh, and just in case you did not learn this already, your dealers – everyone from Mexico or Columbia to the guy on the corner – only wants your money, even if it means you get a skin eating infection.

That appears to be the summary of research by Dr. Noah Craft, a dermatologist with Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, and reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Levamisole found in cocaine“It’s probably quite a big problem, and we just don’t know yet how big a problem it really is,” notes Craft, referring to his study of six cocaine users recently plagued by dark purple patches of dying flesh – a problem that appears to be national.

Craft has joined an increasing number of physicians across the country who havelinked rotting skin to levamisole-tainted cocaine. The damage appears several days after using cocaine because of an immune reaction that attacks the blood vessels supplying the skin. It’s simple: Without blood, the skin suffocates and starves, turns blue and black and necrotic.

According to an April 2011 report by the U.S. Drug Administration, 82 % of seized cocaine contains levamisole, which is used as a filler probably because it acts on the same brain receptors as cocaine and might enhance or extend the drug’s euphoric effects – on the cheap until your ear or cheeks start to die. Levamisole is a veterinary antibiotic normally used to deworm cattle, sheep, and pigs.

“We don’t know who is this is going to happen to,” reports Dr. Lindy Fox, the University of California, San Francisco, dermatologist who first connected the gruesome lesions on cocaine users to levamisole. Researchers are not yet able to determine why some levamisole users are more at risk than others. However, Fox reported once seeing a photo of a man whose entire body, face included, was black with dying flesh. Even after the drug has cleared the body, levamisole may leave scars.

In addition, levamisole also prevents the cocaine user’s bone marrow from producing infection-fighting white blood cells. “Rich or poor, black or white,” anyone who uses cocaine is at risk, according to Craft. “It’s a bit like having HIV. About 10 percent of those patients will die from severe infections. They may be walking around like a time bomb.”

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Major cause of student injury due to blackout drinking

It’s the worst nightmare of parents of any college student: The middle-of-the-night phone call reporting that College Student Son or Daughter is in a hospital emergency room on the other side of the country.

And an article in the June 27, 2011 on-line edition of the journal Injury Prevention points to a major cause – students drinking to blackouts.  The report, an analysis of data from the College Health Intervention Project Study (CHIPS), surveyed 796 undergraduates and 158 graduate students at four universities in the US and one in Canada between 2004 and 2009. The analysis indicated that memory blackouts are a significant predictor of future alcohol-related injuries among college drinkers after adjusting for heavy drinking episodes.

One or two blackouts make it much more likely that a student will suffer an alcohol-related injury in the future. Blackouts frequently follow short-duration, heavy drinking binges – as few as three or four shots as many as ten or more in 60 to 90 minutes and often on an empty stomach. In the Injury Prevention study, more than half of the undergraduates reported experiencing a blackout sometime in the last 12 months; 7% had more than six. The overall prevalence of alcohol-related injuries was just over 25 percent and the risk was the same for men and women.

Of special importance was the finding that the more alcohol-related blackouts a student experienced, the greater the risk of accidental injury – one or two blackouts increased the risk by 57 percent; students with at least six blackouts were nearly three times as likely to suffer an injury.

“It may be easier for a student to dismiss general health warnings on excessive alcohol drinking harms than to refute that his extreme alcohol drinking is causing impairment in brain function, ” the authors of the report noted.

“Blackouts are distinctively different from passing out,” notes Francis J.(Skip) Flynn, Psy.D., director of clinical services for Brain Training Centers of Florida and an addiction counselor. “Both can be extremely dangerous. Students tend to pass out after extended periods of drinking; they think they’re just ‘going to sleep it off.’ Unfortunately, passing out after consuming too much alcohol may result in cardio-pulmonary failure and death,” explained Dr. Flynn.

Effects Of Alcohol On The Brain“Generally, students who blackout have been ‘pre-gaming’ – consuming quantities of alcohol in short periods of time before going to a party, football game or even going out drinking. They tend to lose the ability to recall recent events because high concentrations of alcohol alter nerve cell communication in the hippocampus region of the brain, which affects memory formation,” explained Flynn. “In short, events that occur during a blackout never get into memory and will never be recalled. In this state, students often completely lose track of how much they have consumed, where they are, or how to keep themselves safe.”

In the study, students 18 to 20 years old, “sensation seekers, and those reporting the most heavy drinking days reported the highest numbers of blackouts. Male problem drinkers reported consuming just under 82 drinks during the previous 28 days, while female problem drinkers consumed just under 59 drinks.

“When we remember that the ‘drinking mentality’ of underage drinkers is ‘I have to drink as much and as fast as possible because I don’t know when I will be able to drink again,’ these results make absolute sense to 18, 19 and 20 year olds, but not to their parents and school officials,” observed Flynn.

“Obviously, as much as ‘helicopter parents’ might want to, parents can’t watch over their away-at-school children every minute of the day, but they should be aware and take reasonable precautions. Parents have an obligation to check students’ credit card accounts for indicators of alcohol use; they should establish firm rules regarding alcohol abuse – one medical crisis, shame on you, a second crisis and you’re home for a year,” said Flynn, who, lectures to college student audiences across the US and Canada about preventing alcohol and drug abuse problems.

Posted in: Health & Exercise

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Beating Depression Permanently Without Medications

I have been providing brain waive optimization for the past three and a half years. I have analyzed and provided session plans for over 12,000 sessions. I have now helped hundreds of people overcome their depression permanently without medications. In 2008 I personally overcame my depression without the use of medications and have been depression free since then. I just wanted to personally describe how successful we have been this month helping people recover from their depressions.

In the beginning of the month, a 26 year old male came in because he was having difficulties with his relationship with his fiancé. During his process with us, his fiancé broke off their engagement. He was sadden by this, but did not miss a day of work, and was able to function well. He (and his employer) were quite amazed. He reported that it was devastating, but now he could cope and not sink down into the mire of shame and guilt that he used to experience.

Beat Depression Using Brain Wave Optimization - Brain TrainingAlso in the beginning of the month a 30 year old army veteran who’s Humvee was hit by a missile in Iraq, came in. He was burned on over 80% of his body. This was not however, why he came to see us. He reported that he had an anger problem way before he ever went to Iraq. This was why he wanted help. He completed 16 sessions over a course of three weeks. He has reported never feeling better. His anger is now well under control.

A 30 year old woman came in because she has battled depression for many years. She was in the middle of another bad bout when she came in due to difficulties surrounding her work and her ex-husband. She is now smiling ear to ear.

A 35 year old female physician came in because her stress levels and obsession with the well-being of her daughter were pushing her to a level of having panic attacks etc. Her depression was now causing her much difficulty. She has completed 10 sessions and is amazed at how much better she is feeling.

A 50 year old woman came in for anxiety and depression. She has completed six sessions, and has reported “I am now one of your greatest fans!”

A 22 year old mane came in due to battling depression. He had been taking benzodiazepine addictively. He has now stopped and reports having an unexplained general feeling of happiness.

A 45 year old fireman came in due to PTSD, anxiety and depression. He performed 15 sessions. I received a text today from a friend of his that said “…he told me he really feels great and the training has really worked well…”

The young lady who sent me that text and referred him to me came in to overcome her depression. She performed 16 sessions and has an entirely new lease on life. She has referred many others to us as well. She may be coming in next week to do a video testimonial, which we will be posting to youtube soon!!!!

This has been a great month in beating depression. I felt compelled to report this on our Blog. If you or anyone you know is suffering from PTSD, anxiety, and/or depression, please have them contact us as soon as possible. We are helping people beat this horrible mental disease everyday without medications!!

Posted in: Anxiety, Depression, PTSD

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