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For people who suffer from various psychiatric and neurological conditions, brain stimulation has become an increasingly important treatment option in the recent decades.

Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep Brain Stimulation

Brain simulation techniques can be divided into two broad categories, invasive and noninvasive. Both of them work by targeting specific sites in the brain to adjust the overall brain activity. Among the most well-known invasive techniques is the deep brain stimulation (DBS) which requires a brain surgery and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This process is typically used for treated Parkinson's disease and this process requires an electrode to be inserted in the brain. Among the noninvasive techniques is the transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) which can be administered from outside the head. This treatment is currently approved for treating depression.

Brain stimulation has resulted in dramatic benefits to patients with such disorders, which has motivated researchers to test if it can be useful in treated patients suffering from other diseases. The problem is that doctors have been unable to pinpoint which are the ideal sites to administer simulation in a given patient for a given condition.

A new study led by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggest that brain networks which consists of the interconnected pathways that link brain circuits to one another can assist in selection of ideal spot for brain stimulation therapies.

Michael D. Fox, MD, PhD, First author of the study, an investigator in the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation and in the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center at BIDMC remarked that although different types of brain stimulation are currently applied in different locations, it has been found that the targets used to treat the same disease are nodes in the same connected brain network. This can have a direct implication on how brain stimulations are administered to treat diseases.

For example, in order use brain stimulation to treat Parkinson’s disease or tremor an electrode need to be inserted deep in the brain. Getting the same effect with noninvasive stimulation is difficult, as the spot is deep in the brain. However, by looking at the brain’s network connectivity, sites can be identified on the surface of the brain that is connected with the deep spot site. Hence, that deep spot can also be stimulated noninvasively.

For this study Fox's team conducted a large-scale literature search to find out all neurological and psychiatric diseases where brain stimulation via both invasive and non-invasive techniques had shown improvement. The search found 14 such conditions namely addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, anorexia, depression, dystonia, epilepsy, essential tremor, gait dysfunction, Huntington’s disease, minimally conscious state, obsessive compulsive disorder, pain, Parkinson disease and Tourette syndrome. In the next step, they listed the stimulation sites, both deep in the brain or on the surface of the brain that was found to have been effective for the treatment of each of the 14 diseases.

In order to test the hypothesis that the various stimulation sites in the brain are different spots within the same brain network, Fox's team used a data base of functional MRI images and a technique that enabled them to see correlations in spontaneous brain activity. These correlations helped the investigators in creating a map of connections from deep brain stimulation sites to the surface of the brain. When this map was compared to sites for noninvasive brain stimulation on the brain surface, the two matched.

The study suggest that understanding the brain networks can help in understanding why brain stimulation works and how these therapies can be improved by identifying the best place to stimulate the brain for a given patient suffering from a given disease. These findings also suggest that resting-state functional connectivity can be useful for translating therapy between treatment modalities, optimizing treatment and identifying new stimulation targets.

References

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-09/bidm-srn092514.php

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140929153935.htm

Complementary Reading

Many people are confused about what postpartum depression (or PPD) actually is. Especially after birth, it is very difficult sometimes to separate the normal stress that comes along with being a new parent and dealing with a healing body, with the more serious symptoms that accompany PPD.

Some of these symptoms are feeling sad to the point that you cannot carry out your daily tasks, or having a hard time caring for others or yourself.

It’s thought that around 10 percent of new mothers develop this type of depression. Some experts think the number is higher because not all women seek treatment.

Postpartum depression develops within weeks after delivery. However, it can start developing before the mother gives birth. In fact, around half of women with PPD will exhibit signs and symptoms while they are pregnant.

If your healthcare provider believes you have PPD, then they will recommend counseling. You may be prescribed antidepressant medication, if they deem it necessary. They may also refer to you to a psychiatrist. It doesn’t matter when you are diagnosed with PPD, it’s important to get treatment right away. Getting over postpartum depression is possible with the right help.

Symptoms Of PPD

There are many symptoms of PPD and depression that may develop during pregnancy. In most cases, patients will experience five or more symptoms, and they will experience these symptoms just about daily. Some experience them for two weeks straight.

Some of the symptoms include crying all the time, experiencing extreme sadness and losing interest in the things you used to enjoy doing. Loss of appetite or eating too much are symptoms, and so is struggling to fall asleep at night or struggling to stay awake during the day. Other symptoms include feeling like you don’t want to live anymore, as well as difficulties focusing or feeling restlessness.

Other signs may include being angry or extremely irritable. You may find yourself avoiding friends and family. You may feel like you cannot properly take care of your child, too. Some women may become delusional or hallucinate, but those are rare cases.

If you have ever thought about harming yourself, then call a professional. The same goes if you thought about harming your child. Both of these are very serious.

Causes Of PPD After Birth

A combination of factors are thought to cause PPD. Some of these include hormonal, genetic, environmental, as well as emotional factors. Some women may feel like it is their own fault for being depressed, but that’s not the case. Depression is not brought on by something you did or didn’t do.

If you suffered with anxiety or depression during pregnancy, then you are at a higher risk of developing PPD. The same goes if you suffered with the baby blues after giving birth. Other factors include feeling physically fatigued after birth, as well as suffering from sleep deprivation.

PPD is related to hormonal changes that happen to a woman after she gives birth, and some researchers think changes can trigger depression in women who are more prone to shifting in estrogen and progesterone.

Are You At Risk?

There are a few predictors for PPD, with one being depression during pregnancy. Others include a traumatic birth experience, preterm delivery and a baby that needs neonatal care. Lack of social support, breastfeeding problems and a history of depression are other predictors.

Other risk factors are an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy and having the baby blues right after giving birth. Multiple babies or a child with birth defects are risk factors. Being single, domestic violence, unemployment and having many medical appointments throughout the pregnancy are risk factors, too.

Those risk factors don’t cause postpartum depression. Some women may only experience one of those risk factors. Other women may experience multiple factors.

How Is PPD Treated

PPD treatments are similar to treatments for depression that happens during or before pregnancy. Your healthcare provider may have you come in for regular check-ins, but if your symptoms are severe, then they will recommend counseling. You may be prescribed medications and counseling.

Counseling is sometimes referred to as talk therapy, and this may be on a one-on-one basis with a therapist or you will be in some sort of support group. This means you and other women with PPD will speak with one counseling. Sometimes the therapy sessions may include your family or your significant other.

Medications designed to treat depression balances brain chemicals. There are various types of antidepressants and your doctor can tell you about them. Some medications are combined in order to treat depression, and they will usually take a few weeks before their effects are felt.

However, medications can cause numerous side effects. Some of those effects will go away after a period of time. If you have side effects that cause you to not be able to function, then you will want to contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Some women don’t respond well to medication or talk therapy, and it’s usually because they have severe PPD. When this happens, they may receive treatment called electroconvulsive, which involves electrical currents being passed through the patient’s brain. Experts believe this treatment can lead to chemical changes that can help the patient get relief from the symptoms of depression. Once again, this treatment is usually reserved for women who are battling with a severe case of PPD.

Flexibility is a critical issue but not many people focus on it. With a flexibility diminishes further. Flexibility is also a big issue in case of people who sit for most of the day and also for people who do not stretch. Let's find out how you can become more flexible with just a few simple techniques.

Yoga

Yoga will improve your flexibility to great extent. You will be able to flax your body in a way that you never thought possible. Different poses or asanas in Yoga focus on making your body more flexible and relieve your stress. When you stretch in yoga, you hold it for several breaths. You also move constantly in yoga from one pose to another. All these exercises that you perform during a yoga workout, will help you to increase your flexibility. And it focuses on both upper and lower body flexibility. Along with flexibility, you will also achieve strength, balance and will be able to lose extra weight.

Dance classes

Dance classes are really beautiful and useful when you want to increase your flexibility. There are so many different moves that you need to perform and use different parts of your body, which ensure that you are increasing your flexibility. Whether it is ballet, salsa, zumba or any other traditional dance classes, all of them will help you to increase your flexibility. During dancing, you repeatedly move your arms, shoulders, back and legs in a wide range of motion and that makes you more flexible and agile.

Pilates

Pilates is useful for strengthening your core. It will also ensure that you stay limber or supple. It increases flexibility by forcing you to perform different types of poses and exercises. Researchers in University of Iowa found that flexibility of the study participants increased a lot within two months when they performed weekly pilates classes.

Stay hydrated

Water is a large part of our muscle composition and so you need water to make yourself more flexible. Your muscles will respond better to the flexibility training when they are in the optimum condition and for that optimal condition, you need to be well hydrated. If you stay in a dehydrated state for a long time, you won't be able to perform the exercises to improve your flexibility. Drink more water. You should drink water spatially during and after your exercise sessions so that your muscles are working in the optimal condition. If you do not drink water, your performance during the workout will decline.

Stretching

Stretching is important for improving stability. It may be different for different people. There are two types of scratching- static stretching and dynamic stretching. In static stretching, you hold a joint in a stretched position for a specific duration of time. Your muscles get some time to get adjusted to the new range of motion and your muscles are relaxed during the exercise.

On the other hand, dynamic stretching in close moving your body through a range of motion. Such stretching includes squats and lunges. You move your body in multiple planes of motion. Dynamic stretching is more useful for you especially before a training session.

Relax

When you are stressed, your body tightens up, so if you can relax, it will help you to improve your flexibility to a great extent. You always have stress from your home and your work and if you work out, you are going to have some stress from the hard sessions inside the gym. Find a relaxing activity and try to relax your mind and body. Yoga, walking, massage are some of the things that you can do to remove stress from your muscles and body.

References
1. Body weight flow
2. Benefits of flexibility exercises
3. Sample exercises-flexibility

Mebendazole Shows Promise In Treating Brain TumorsMebendazole, a medication for treating pinworms could be used to treat one of the most common brain tumors which is low grade glioma. Marc Symons, PhD, professor in The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research’s Karches Center for Oncology Research, have determined that the drug mebendazole that could extend the lives of low grade glioma patients.

Low-grade glioma is a tumor that develops from cells that could help and safeguard the brain’s nervous system. Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are the available treatments for this tumor. As the blood-brain barrier blocks substances from the blood entering to the brain, chemotherapy is very difficult. Vincristine is a drug that is usually used as part of different drug combinations for the treatment of brain tumors, though it is slightly toxic and very poorly passes through the blood-brain barrier.

Dr. Symons and team investigated mebendazole that had demonstrated to be efficient in treating glioma turmors in earlier studies. By analyzing how mebendazole destroys isolated tumor cells in the laboratory, they demonstrated that it functions in precisely the similar way as vincristine. They also identified but, that while mebendazole efficiently prevented the growth of glioma tumors, vincristine did not function at all.

Efficiency ofMebendazole

“We were quite shocked to know that vincristine, which is now being used to treat an array of various brain tumors, was completely inefficient in our in vivo glioma model,” mentioned Dr. Symons. “In comparison, in the same model, mebendazole worked rather well, most possibly since mebendazole crosses the blood-brain barrier and reaches the tumor a way better than vincristine. The reason that vincristine may be wrongly believed to be efficient for the brain tumors treatments is that it often has been used in combination with other therapies.”

As per the new findings and because of the fact that vincristine frequently has high side effects in contrast to comparatively mild reactions to mebendzole, Dr. Symons and his colleagues are currently motivated to begin clinical trials to verify whether mebendazole may replace vincristine in brain tumors therapies.

“Sometimes breakthroughs can be looking at current therapy in a new light,” said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institute. “This new strategy requires to be examined in clinical trials, but with Dr. Symons’ new results we can be closer to a new treatment option that might extend the lives of the patients with low-grade glioma and other brain tumors.”

Written by Lax Mariappan, Msc

Bloating not only looks bad but it can also cause discomfort to you. If you want to get a flat belly, you will need to stop bloating now and in future. It is a condition that you can easily avoid. Let's find out how you can stop bloating and get a flat looking belly.

Eat slowly

If you eat fast, you should change it right now and start eating slow. When you eat quickly, you tend not to chew your food well and that may result in non-digestion of the food. Eating fast may also result in swallowing of air which will result in bloating. When you chew better, the digestion of the food starts at your mouth and it will decrease bloating.

Get rid of constipation

Constipation may result from less fluids, fibre and physical activity. If you are constipated, it will result in bloating. How can you avoid it? You will need to consume a high fibre diet. Your diet should have 25 g fibre for women and 38 g for men. The fibre rich foods include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and seeds. You will need to drink lots of water, 6 to 8 glasses every day. You will also need to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day and five times a week.

Reduce sodium intake

If you want to reduce bloating, you will need to reduce sodium intake. So, you have to processed foods because they tend to contain high sodium content. They also contain very low amount of fibre and that may result in bloating. Any processed, frozen or canned food serving should not contain more than 500 mg of sodium. The total sodium intake for you should be within 1500 to 2300 mg per day.

Use the bloating foods and drinks

There are many foods which will help you to reduce bloating. Both foods and drinks are available which are suitable for this purpose. In drinks, peppermint tea is such an example. In foods, ginger, parsley, pineapple, and yogurt that contain probiotics are good for you because they help in reduction of bloating. These are safe foods and they are good for you and you can always try them for reducing your bloating.

Eliminate intolerance and allergies

If you have lactose intolerance or any other food allergies, they can result in gas and bloating. It is important to talk to your doctor and confirm whether you have such a condition or not. Without your doctor's advice, you don't have to eliminate healthy daily and whole grains from your diet. Let your doctor confirm whether you have an allergy or intolerance towards any particular food. If you suspect any food of causing any trouble with your body, you can reduce the amount of that food until you talk to your doctor.

Eliminate vegetables that cause gas

If you don't eat bean very often, it can cause a gassy feeling. Some other cruciferous vegetables can also cause gas. Such vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprout and cauliflower. However, that does not mean you should avoid these vegetables. They contain different nutrients which are very important for you.

Eat smaller meals often

When you eat smaller meals more often, it will help you by eliminating the possibility of bloating. You don't have to eat three big meals every day. Rather than that you need to eat smaller meals but more often. When a eat meals frequently, it is also good for you because it will help you to control your blood sugar and manage hunger. You can eat 5 to 6 small meals everyday just make sure the quantity of food and calories are within the daily limit for you.

References
1. The Flat Belly Code – Belly Fat Blasting System
2. Pathophysiology, Evaluation, and Treatment of Bloating
3. Abdominal bloating

Nanopores Could Map Small Changes in DNA That Signal Big Shifts in CancerResearchers at University of Illinois showed a new method using nanopores to identify, count and map methylations which may be a cancer signal, with extraordinary resolution.

Jean-Pierre Leburton, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois University said that single or less methylations is not a problem, however if there are a number of them and they are found close to each other, it is not good. DNA methylation is really a beginning process for cancer. So we have to find how many of them found and how closely they are packed. That can reveal as the stage of cancer.

Limitation in resolution is a major challenge on others efforts to detect methylation with the help of nanopores. Researchers initiate this by making a tiny hole in a flat sheet which has only one molecule or atom thickness. The pore is dipped in a salt solution and an electrical current is applied to force the DNA molecule through the hole. Researchers are aware that a methyl group is threaded through the dips in the current. But when two or three methyl groups are closer to each other, the pore counts it as one signal, Leburton mentioned.

Nanopores To Detect Methylations

The Illinois team tried a little different strategy. Instead of dipping, they applied current directly on the conductive sheet around the pore. In collaboration with Klaus Schulten, a professor of physics at Illinois, Leburton’s team made use of advanced computer simulations to examine applying current to various flat materials, like molybdenum disulfide and graphene, as methylated DNA was passed through.

“Our simulations denote that assessing the current through the membrane instead of just the solution around it is much more precise,” Leburton said. “If you have two methylations close together, even only 10 base pairs away, you continue to see two dips and no overlapping. We also can map where they are on the strand, so we can see how many there are and where they are.”

Leburton’s group is working with collaborators to improve DNA threading, to cut down on noise in the electrical signal and to perform experiments to verify their simulations.

Written by Lax Mariappan Msc

The following natural treatment options can help you to treat sciatica.

Drink more water

Water is essential for your body and it is considered as a very good cleanser, so, it will be able to minimise inflammation. Sciatica pain is associated with inflammation and when you have less inflammation, you will have less pain. The tissues of your spine contain water and when you are properly hydrated, this tissues will be strengthened.

Massage

Massage can help you to get relief from sciatica pain. Therapeutic massage is beneficial for you because it can improve circulation, can increase endorphins levels and relax your muscles. Endorphins are especially important because they are considered as the natural opiates or pain relievers. Trigger point myotherapy is used in case of sciatica. It focuses on the trigger points or specific areas of your muscles and deactivate them to save you from the pain.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture can help you to get relief when you are suffering from sciatic pain. In this treatment option, needles are placed at specific points in your body which helps in reducing pain. It is used in different types of medical conditions. Along with acupuncture, which is a Chinese traditional medicine system, you can also go for Chinese medical massage. Acupuncturists sometimes also use Chinese herbs along with the needles for promoting muscle relaxation and release of tension. This may also help you by reducing your pain from sciatica.

Find an herbal therapy expert

There are herbal therapy experts available who can offer you different types of herbs and products made of herbs which will help you to get relief from sciatica pain. There are muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory agents available which can help you in your pain. Equisetum or horsetail is a plant that contains high amounts of minerals which can increase the strength of your skeletal structure. Turmeric has very effective anti-inflammatory properties and it has been used for a long time. Jamaican dogwood is a hard that works as a muscle relaxant. It is also a potent sedative. It is very effective against inflammation and pain. Nutmeg is another element that has been used as a pain reliever and muscle relaxant for centuries. It can also help you by reducing your pain and relaxing your muscles. Willow bark is considered as modern aspirin. It can treat inflammation and it has been used for centuries for doing that.

Find a chiropractor

Chiropractors are specially trained people and they know the spine problems and the solutions. They are trained and they know how to move the bones of your spine to correct their alignment and they can help you by releasing the pressure on the sciatic nerve. They know how to treat sciatic pain and so they can help you to get away from pain. Leg and also help you to understand and learn specific exercises which will improve the condition of your spine and which will in turn help you to reduce static pain. They can also perform traction or spinal decompression therapy in which they use a traction table and stretch out the spine to reposition it thereby reducing the sciatic pain you are suffering from.

Hot and cold therapy

Hot and cold therapy can help you to get relief from sciatica pain. There useful in treatment of sciatica and can provide you with immediate relief. In this method, you need to apply ice on the affected area for 10 minutes and then apply heat for five minutes. You will need to do this for three cycles. And you will need to repeat this process for times every day.

References
1. Relief Sciatica Naturally
2. Sciatica
3. Diagnosis and treatment of sciatica