Controversial GM Alfalfa

A long standing battle over the use of genetically modified alfalfa has just resurfaced after several years of court battles. What looked to be a done deal, is now back in the courts and stirring controversy around the nation. One of the issues surrounding the GM alfalfa is that its creators, Monsanto, have engineered it to be resistant to Round Up herbicide (also a Monsanto product), so as to make it easier to kill weeds without harming the crop. This sounds good, but opponents of this Round Up ready alfalfa believe that it’s herbicide resistance is spreading to other weeds, resulting in the increased use of herbicide chemicals and lessened crop yields. “The drastic increase in pesticide use with genetically engineered crops is due primarily to the rapid emergence of weeds resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide,” said Dr. Charles Benbrook, chief scientist of The Organic Center. “With glyphosate-resistant weeds now infesting millions of acres, farmers face rising costs coupled with sometimes major yield losses, and the environmental impact of weed management systems will surely rise.”

Dr. Benbrook and a team of scientists have found that Monsanto’s GM alfalfa has lead to an overall increase of chemical herbiscide use of 318 million pounds. Even greater a risk than increased chemical herbicide use is the threat that GM alfalfa poses to organic and non-GM alfalfa crops. According to Jim Munch of the Cornicopia Institute, the key difference between alfalfa and other crops “is the distance over which pollen is carried. Alfalfa is pollinated by bees carrying pollen from one plant to another, whereas the grain crops are pollinated by the action of gravity and air movement. Research and practical experience have shown that bees can carry pollen for a range of more than 2 miles, which is much farther than wind-carried pollen.” Jim continued: “Another key difference between the two is that seeds for grain crops are grown over large geographic areas, whereas a large proportion of all alfalfa seed is grown within compact geographic areas in a handful of Western states. This is due to climate, topography, and soil type. The result of these two important differences is that there is a high probability that cross-pollination will cause significant contamination of non-GE alfalfa seed with GE alfalfa genetics in a matter of years. In other words, there will eventually be no truly non-GE or organic alfalfa seed.”

The GM alfalfa issue is currently back in the courts where it is being battled out as you read this. There have been several court decisions dating back to 2007 that have culminated with the current supreme court debate. Update: The supreme court has ruled that the GM Alfalfa cannot be used until it obtains the go ahead from the USDA, which will take a while. When that unfolds, so will the court battles. It’s not over, but at this point the organic farmers have a victory to celebrate.

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Chronic Pain Mitigation & Meditation

Chronic pain, and its common partner depression, are serious problems that people around the world struggle to deal with effectively. A new study from the University of Manchester shows that meditation can be an effective tool for lessening chronic pain. The research shows that proper mindfulness based meditation causes the brain to anticipate the pain less, and thus reduce its severity. “The results of the study confirm how we suspected meditation might affect the brain. Meditation trains the brain to be more present-focused and therefore to spend less time anticipating future negative events. This may be why meditation is effective at reducing the recurrence of depression, which makes chronic pain considerably worse,” explained Dr Christopher Brown, who conducted the research. “Meditation is becoming increasingly popular as a way to treat chronic illness such as the pain caused by arthritis,” said Dr Brown. “Recently, a mental health charity called for meditation to be routinely available on the NHS to treat depression, which occurs in up to 50% of people with chronic pain. However, scientists have only just started to look into how meditation might reduce the emotional impact of pain.” Dr. Brown continuted: “Although we found that meditators anticipate pain less and find pain less unpleasant, it’s not clear precisely how meditation changes brain function over time to produce these effects. “However, the importance of developing new treatments for chronic pain is clear: 40% of people who suffer from chronic pain report inadequate management of their pain problem.”

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Corn & Sugar Crop Pesticide Harms Frogs

Everyone jokes about the toxic chemicals used in the agricultural industry, only many of us don’t really know what the effects are on the environment or our health. New research is showing the specific effects that one of the commonly used weed killers has on frogs. Scientists at UC Berkeley have just released their findings about the effects that the hericide Atrazine has on the reproductive organs of frogs. “The effects of atrazine in the long term have been shown to demasculinize or chemically castrate [frogs], combined with complete feminization of some animals,” said lead researcher Tyrone B. Hayes, a biologist and herpetologist at the University of Berkeley. Atrazine is a favorite among corn and sugar farmers in the U.S. because it is cheap. The European Union banned it in 2004 due to the residual levels found in water not meeting the EU’s regulatory levels. Scientists are continually conducting research, like the UC Berkeley study, that does not shine a good light on Atrazine. The only testing that shows it to be safe comes from research that is funded by the Atrazine makers themselves. Read the full report here.

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Immune System Affects Behavioral Disorders

Until now, considering the immune system as a contributing factor in behavioral disorders was all but unheard of. New experiments are showing a direct link between the two. “We’re showing there is a direct relationship between a psychiatric disorder and the immune system, specifically cells named microglia that are derived from bone marrow” and exist in the brain, explained Mario Capecchi, a Nobel winning professor of human genetics at the University of Utah School of Medicine. “There’s been an inference. But nobody has previously made a direct connection between the two.” “A lot of people are going to find it amazing,” continued Capecchi. “That’s the surprise: bone marrow can correct a behavioral defect.” Capecchi went on to explain that these findings may inspire researchers “to think about potential new immune-based therapies for psychiatric disorders.” However, “I’m not proposing we should do bone marrow transplants for any psychiatric disorder” in humans. Instead Capecchi thinks “it’s a very good model for obsessive-compulsive disorder.” To visit source click here.

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Natural Pain Relief And The FIR Sauna

Nothing can be more crippling to a person that pain. Drug based pain relief has continually been the solution to this problem, only most Americans are tired of the associated negative side effects that come with continued drug use. In recent years this problem has been addressed by the immense growth in portable sauna use to mitigate pain naturally. A new type of pain has come into view among scientists called HRP or “Heat Responsive Pain.” Any common pain that can be relieved through heat therapy falls under the HRP category. Impressive results from treating conditions such as upper-body, menstrual, and lower-back pain have come from researchers using continuous low-level heat therapy to treat these and other HRP ailments. “Through new clinical research, we have found that heat activates complex neurologic, vascular and metabolic mechanisms to mediate the transmission of pain signals and effectively provide relief for a variety of pain conditions,” explained the Past-President of the American Pain Society and Clinical Health Psychologist, Riverhills Healthcare, Cincinnati, OH -Peter Vicente. He went on to say that “for centuries, healthcare providers have used topical heat to relieve minor aches and pains. Today, we are just beginning to understand the full range of therapeutic benefits that heat offers.” By dilating peripheral blood vessels with infrared heat from a FIR sauna, muscle and soft tissue relief can be maximized. Even the speed of injury recovery is increased because of the increased blood circulation brought on by infrared heat therapy.

In a dental study where repeated heat applications were employed , an eventual abolishment of the whole nerve response responsible for pain arising from dental pulp (center soft part of the tooth) was the end result. A two year long controlled trial with 46 random patients suffering from chronic pain was conducted. All of the 46 patients received four weeks of treatment from multiple disciplines. 22 of the subjects were given 15-minute daily FIR sauna treatments in addition to the other treatments. After the two years had gone, the subjects in the FIR sauna group were 37% more likely to have returned to work, have improved sleep, and tended toward greater improvement in anger scores and pain behavior scores. This pain relief may be a result of a reduction in muscle spasms and the relaxation of other irritable tight tissues.

By undergoing infrared heat therapy, many people have see the benefits of natural pain relief from numerous different painful health conditions. Some of them included: Low Back Pain, Muscle Pain (notably post exercise muscle pain), Muscle Tension, Neuralgia (related to disc protrusion), Pain which prevented sleep or limited usable sleeping positions, Adhesions (scarring) from athletic injuries, trauma or repetitive stress syndromes, Arthritis, gouty, rheumatoid or degenerative joint disease, Brain Injury (The effects of acceleration-deceleration injury or brain contusions) and Compression fractures, In one person pain stopped for three days of after only a single treatment, TMJ (arthritis and muscle spasms have been reduced or eliminated), Post traumatic shock has been reversed, Shoulder Pain, and Spinal Cord Shock. If pain relief without the negative side effects of drugs is what you are looking for, then there is hope. Whether it is a portable sauna at your house or the infrared sauna at the health spa, pain relief can be on your horizon.

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Soccer Improves Balance And Bone Density

Several new research papers are being published about various health benefits from regularly playing soccer. Some may find it a surprise that the studies do not focus on the more obvious benefits of such an athletic sport, such as greater muscle strength and improved cardiovascular health. Instead, the studies reveal that regular engagement in soccer bring improved bone density, bone health, better posture and improved balance. “During soccer training and games, the players perform many sprints, turns, kicks and tackles. This combination of actions help achieve a variable bone impact that appears to provide a better stimulus to bone mineralization than running,” said project leader Peter Krustrup. “The research shows that 70-year-old men, who have played soccer most of their lives on a recreational basis, have just as good a balance and rapid muscle strength as untrained 30-year-olds and much better balance and muscle strength than their peers” explained Peter Krustrup. More information will be published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports in a special edition issue entitled “Football for Health” containing 14 scientific articles.

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Umbilical Cord Clamping Research

Most people never stop to think about the timing of their baby’s umbilical cord clamping, or how critical the right timing can be for the infant’s health. New research has just come out that looks directly at this issue. Researchers at the University of South Florida’s Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair are reporting that doctors should wait a few minutes longer than the usual 30  seconds to 1 minute time period for optimal health results. Their studies showed that the last bit of blood from the umbilical cord is filled with important stem cells that are very useful to the newborn. “Several clinical studies have shown that delaying clamping the umbilical cord not only allows more blood to be transferred but helps prevent anemia as well,” explained the study’s lead author Dr. Paul Sanberg, the Center dircector. “Cord blood also contains many valuable stem cells, making this transfer of stem cells a process that might be considered ‘the original stem cell transplant’.” “Several randomized, controlled trials, systematic reviews and meta-analyses have compared the effects of late versus early cord clamping,” said co-author Dr. Dong-Hyuk Park. “In pre-term infants, delaying clamping the cord for at least 30 seconds reduced incidences of intraventricular hemorrhage, late on-set sepsis, anemia, and decreased the need for blood transfusions.” “There remains no consensus among scientists and clinicians on cord clamping and proper cord blood collection,” summarized co-author and obstetrician Dr. Stephen Klasko, dean of the USF College of Medicine and senior vice president of USF Health. “The most important thing is to avoid losing valuable stems cells during and just after delivery.”

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Environment Increases Diabetes Risk More Than Genes

It is generally known that people with diabetes have the disease either because it runs in their family, or because of an unhealthy diet made up of fatty foods. A new study just released by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine has put new and greater emphasis on the environmental causes of diabetes, such as pesticides and other chemicals. By using a novel approach to researching the association of environmental factors and diabetes, scientist were able to eliminate some of the ambiguity that has existed in previous studies where this same relationship was researched.  This new approach used the same techniques initially developed to identify the numerous sections of DNA throughout the genome that could contribute to disease development. “This approach catapults us from being forced to ask very simple, directed questions about environment and disease into a new realm in which we can look at many, many variables simultaneously and without bias,” said Atul Butte, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatric cancer biology, who is also director of the Center for Pediatric Bioinformatics at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. “In the future, we’ll be able to analyze the effect of genes and environment together, to find, perhaps, that a specific gene increases the risk of a disease only if the person is also drinking polluted well water.” “Studying relationships between a person’s environment and their disease burden in this manner is going to be far more impactful,” explained Butte. “We can now imagine what it might be to look at everything in the environment, in the same way that we’ve been doing with the genome for the past decade. Imagine one day wearing a chip on your clothing that assesses your exposure to hundreds or thousands of environmental toxins. You could bring that in to your annual physical and you and your doctor could incorporate the information into discussions about disease risk and prevention.” To see the full report click here.

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Ginger Root Eases Muscle Pain

The traditional folk medicinal herb, Ginger Root, has been used for ages to help with various ailments such as upset stomachs or colds. Now muscle pain can be added to that list. Scientists at the University of Georgia recently demonstrated how ginger root can be useful as an anti-inflammatory agent for sore muscles. Up until now this had been a theory, but never tested clinically with humans. The researchers reported that consuming ginger root offered a 25% reduction in muscle pain after working out. “The economic and personal costs of pain are extremely high,” said Patrick O’Connor, a professor in the College of Education’s department of kinesiology. “Muscle pain generally is one of the most common types of pain and eccentric exercise-induced muscle pain specifically is a common type of injury related to sports and/or recreation (e.g., gardening). Anything that can truly relieve this type of pain will be greatly welcomed by the many people who are experiencing it.” To read the complete study click here.

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Air Pollution Affects Heart Health

Most people think of lung health, not the cardiovascular system, when the topic of air pollution comes up. New research is revealing that air pollution has a direct impact on heart health. According to Penn State College of Medicine researchers, breathing polluted air adds stress to the heart’s regulation capacity, even six hours after inhalation of the polluted air. Professor of public health sciences, Duanping Liao, explained that the particulates found in polluted are can contribute to cadiovascular disease. “Air pollution is associated with cardiopulmonary mortality and morbidity, and it is generally accepted that impaired heart electrophysiology is one of the underlying mechanisms,” explained Fan He, master’s program graduate, Department of Public Health Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine. “This impairment is exhibited through fluctuations in the heart rate from beat to beat over an established period of time, known as heart rate variability. It is also exhibited through a longer period for the electric activity to return to the baseline, known as ventricular repolarization.” “The time course, how long it would take from exposure to cardiac response, has not been systematically investigated,” said Fan He. “We conducted this study to investigate the relationship between particle matter and heart electrophysiology impairment, especially the time course.” The primary pollutant is PM2.5, which refers to air bone particulate that is 2.5 micrometers in size and comes mainly from deisel engines and coal burning. “Our findings may contribute to further understanding of the pathophysiology of air pollution-related cardiac events, specifically our results indicating elevated PM2.5 exposure is associated with immediate disturbance of cardiac electrical activities within six hours after exposure,” said Liao.

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