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In This Issue

Crohns Treated with Viagra

Omega 3 Benefits Spine Pain

Husbands' Touch Eases Wives' Stress

Aerobic Workouts- How Long?

Did you know?

Crohn's Disease Treated with Viagra

Until now Viagra has not been used to boost circulation in the intestine, although it is well-known for its effect on blood flow. That could change with the finding that Viagra can help treat Crohn's disease. People with the long-term, inflammatory condition develop holes and ulcers in the intestine. A team from University College London wondered whether an overactive immune reaction was the problem.

Biopsies were carried out on six Crohn's disease patients and nine healthy volunteers. The operation triggered an acute immune response in the healthy people, producing white blood cells to heal damage caused by the removal of cells. The patients with Crohn's Disease, however, responded by producing far lower amounts of white blood cells (The Lancet, vol 367 p 668)

The researchers used Viagra to boost blood flow to the intestine in the patients with Crohn's disease, thus increasing the flow of white cells to the damaged area.

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Omega 3 EFA's Reduce Spine Pain

From March 2004 to June 2004, 250 patients who had been seen by a neurosurgeon and were found to have non-surgical neck or back pain were asked to take 2 grams of pure fish oil providing 64% omega-3s (EPA and DHA) essential fatty acids, approximately 1200 mg. A questionnaire was then forwarded to these patients approximately one month after taking the supplement.

Of the 250 patients, 125 returned the questionnaire after an average of 75 days on fish oil. 78% were taking 2 capsules (about 1,200 mg omega-3s) and 22% took 4 capsules (about 2,400 mg omega-3s) in the form of EPA and DHA.

The survey conducted by Nordic Naturals revealed 59% (73) of the respondents stopped taking either pain medications or NSAIDs at the time they completed the survey. Most (78%) had been taking two fish oil capsules (64% omega-3s, about 1,200 mg) and some (22%) took four capsules (about 2,400 mg) on a daily basis. The exact amount of time on EFA is unknown for each patient but the average time duration was 75 days. Improvements in overall pain and joint pain (60% improved) correlates with the same number of patients able to stop their other pain relieving medications.

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Husbands' Touch Eased Wives' Stress.

Neuroscientists have found that married women under extreme stress who hold their husbands' hands feel immediate relief. They say this is the first study of how human touch affects the neural response to threatening situations. The soothing effect of touch could be seen in scans of areas deep in the brain that are involved in registering emotional and physical alarm. The study found that women received significantly more relief from their husbands' touch than from a stranger's, and those in particularly close marriages were most deeply comforted by their husbands.

The findings help explain one of the longest-standing puzzles in social science - i.e. why married men and women are healthier on average than their peers. Researchers say that husbands and wives who are close tend to limit each other's excesses like drinking and smoking but not enough to account for their better health compared with singles.

Dr. Ronald Glaser, director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University, who was not involved in the study says, "This is very imaginative, cutting-edge science, linking this complex response to stress to different areas of the brain."

In the study, to appear in the journal Psychological Science later this year, neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Virginia used newspaper advertisements to recruit 16 couples from the Madison, Wisconsin region. The couples were all rated as very happily married on an in-depth questionnaire asking about coping styles, intimacy and mutual interests.

Lying in the jaws of an MRI scanning machine and knowing that they would periodically receive a mild electric shock to an ankle, the women were noticeably apprehensive. Brain images showed peaks of activation in regions involved in anticipating pain, heightening physical arousal and regulating negative emotions, among other systems. But the moment that they felt their husbands' hands-the men reached into the imaging machine-each woman's activity level plunged in all the regions gearing up for the threat. A stranger's hand also provided some comfort, though less so.

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Should Aerobic workouts be Short but Intense - or Mild and of a longer Duration?

Michael O'Shea, a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, says an exercise regimen that includes both types of workouts will generally help reach your fitness goals in a shorter amount of time. Moderate physical activity, such as walking 30 minutes a day, burns an adequate amount of calories while improving the function of your cardiovascular system. Naturally, more vigorous forms of exercise (e.g. jogging or running) will burn more calories and strengthen your heart and lungs quicker.

He suggests that during usual moderate aerobics routine, you can try mixing in a 30-second interval of intense activity (such as a sprint) followed by a minute or two of exercise back at your normal pace. Then add another interval, but do only two or three of these intervals at the beginning. Then as you get in better shape, attempt to do additional intervals. These 30-second intervals help improve your speed, strength and maximum capacity i.e. the ability to do more activity before feeling fatigued, while building more muscle and bone strength.

The moderate exercise will improve the function of your cardiovascular system and your endurance while the intervals of fast-paced activity will enhance your speed, power and anaerobic system. Strive for a balance of mild and intense activity. Michael says that too much too soon will greatly increase your odds of injury and lower your compliance and that means that you won't stick with your routine.

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Did you know?

  • Ginkgo may prevent cancer.
    Daniel William Cramer, MD, ScD, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Brigham and Women's Hospital - Harvard Medical School, Boston, presented his study at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting. His study of 1,389 women found that taking a standard daily dose of Gingko for at least six months decreased ovarian cancer risk by 60% or more and slowed growth of cancer cells in the lab by up to 80%.
  • Broccoli may prevent blindness
    Paul Talley, MD. tells us that Sulforaphane, the naturally occurring antioxidant in broccoli and broccoli sprouts, protects the eye from damage caused by the sun's ultraviolet rays. This damage is believed to be a primary cause of age-related macular degeneration. Paul Talalay, MD, is professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and co-author of a study of antioxidant protection in cells, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.
  • You can freshen your breath with a cup of tea.
    Polyphenols found in green and black tea inhibit growth of odor-causing bacteria.
    Drinking one to two cups of tea a day can help keep your breath fresh says Christine D. Wu, PhD, professor of periodontics and associate dean for research, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry.
  • Birth control pills increase heart attack risk.
    Jean Patrice Baillargeon, MD, professor of internal medicine, department of medicine, endocrine division, University of Sherbrooke, Quebec, and lead researcher of a meta-analysis of 14 studies of women taking oral contraceptives between 1980 and 2002, published the finding in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. They found that women who take low-dose birth control pills are twice as likely to have heart attacks or strokes as women who don't take them. Especially at risk are women who are:
    • over 35 years old
    • have a high risk of heart disease or diabetes
    • are overweight or
    • have polycystic ovary syndrome
    Researchers believe that the risk disappears after birth control pills are discontinued.
  • why urine smells 'funny' after eating asparagus?
    Asparagus contains mercaptan, a sulfur compound that also is found in onions, garlic, rotten eggs and the secretions of skunks. In the case of asparagus, the odor isn't produced until the compound has been broken down by digestive enzymes. Interestingly enough, not everyone has the gene for the enzyme that breaks down mercaptan, so some people can eat asparagus without having their urine smell afterward. A study in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that less than half of British people tested produced the odor, while all French people tested did produce the odor.

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In Good Health.
Pamela Nathan

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