health

"Constraint therapy" for stroke victims may help them regain function

This AP story concerns a fascinating therapy for stroke victims who lost partial use of one arm.

Their strong arm was restrained during two weeks of intensive therapy, forcing them to use the weakened one, and to "rewire" the brain. Most people saw significant improvement.

As the cliche goes, use it or lose it!

Anti-supplement spin, but glucosamine and chondroitin better than Celebrex for arthritis pain

Even more interesting than the results of this study on glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis pain is the spin on the reporting. Here are the numbers:

Sixty percent who took the dummy medication had reduced pain compared with 64 percent who took glucosamine, 65 percent who took chondroitin and 67 percent who took the combo pills...

The drug Celebrex did reduce pain - 70 percent reported improvement - affirming the study's validity...

Of the 354 people with moderate to severe pain, 79 percent who took both supplements reported relief compared with 54 percent who took the dummy pills and 69 percent who took Celebrex.

Bisphenol-A in your polycarbonate water bottle

Somewhere along the way, I picked up the idea that polycarbonate plastic was safer to use in beverage and food containers than plastics like PET, that it didn't leach toxic chemicals.

Oops.

Polycarbonate plastic molecules are made up of strings of Bisphenol A (BPA), which was originally created as a synthetic hormone. As polycarbonate ages, wears, or is exposed to heat, acids, or bases, BPA leaches out.

Brain care news

A few interesting bits about the brain that I've seen the past few weeks...

First, contrary to long-held popular belief, adult brain cells do keep growing. So you can teach an old brain new tricks. Furthermore, it seems that a marijuana-like drug can accelerate neurogenesis, and may have anti-anxiety and anti-depressive effects. (Despite what the SSRI-pushers claim, the anti-depressant effects of drugs like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil apparently have more to do with neurogenesis than with correcting some "chemical imbalance".)

Secondly, new brain cells follow the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This should be very interesting to people who practice craniosacral therapy.

Vitamin C and cancer - another round of the debate

The BBC reports on a new study showing intravenous vitamin C in the form of ascorbate may help fight cancer.

The science about the health benefits of vitamin C is, to say the least, fraught with controversy, dating back to when Nobel laureate Linus Pauling first suggested it might help fight the common cold and cancer. Two sides of the issue: from Alacer, makers of Emergen-C, versus Stephen Barrett's "Quackwatch" .

Shocking news: healthy diet and regular exercise still good for you

Reuters reports on a study showing that exercise and healthy eating may help prevent aging-related memory loss. They specifically cite omega-3 fatty acids and their anti-inflammatory effects; unfortunately, the article mentions only fish oils as a source of these, neglecting the plant based sources which may provide better results.

Anyway, whenever I hear of some new study like this, I always remember the words of Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, when confronted with a purported "immortality" serum: "[L]engthen lives? Poppycock. I can do more for you if you just eat right and exercise regularly.".

Vegetarian Glucosamine

Things I didn't know were out there: I was under the impression that the only source for the popular supplement glucosamine (believed to support joint health) was shellfish. Turns out there are vegan sources. Deva makes a glucosamine with MSM and CMO supplement that's available at vegan specialty retailers; KAL makes a vegan glucosamine that you're more likely to find at your local store. I will probably add this to my regimen...maybe to Piccolo's too, she's been having some knee problems.

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