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I have Parkinson's diseases and thought it would be nice to have a place where the contents of updated news is found in one place. That is why I began this blog.

I copy news articles pertaining to research, news and information for Parkinson's disease, Dementia, the Brain, Depression and Parkinson's with Dystonia. I also post about Fundraising for Parkinson's disease and events. I try to be up-to-date as possible.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Two keys to strong bones: Calcium and Vitamin D

September 17, 2016

Quite a few of us fall. this information is helpful for strong bones.

Although bone-weakening osteoporosis is quite common among older people, it isn't an inevitable part of aging. There's a lot you can do to shield your bones from this disease.
The best insurance against osteoporosis is building the highest bone density possible by your 30s and minimizing bone loss after that. But if you're already in midlife or beyond, there is still much you can do to preserve the bone you have and perhaps even to replace lost bone. Daily weight-bearing exercise, like walking, is the best medicine. Getting enough calcium and vitamin D are two other critical strategies for keeping bones strong.
Calcium is an important nutrient for building bone and slowing the pace of bone loss. But it's not a single magic bullet, and some scientists suggest that too much calcium or dairy products may be unhealthy. Keep in mind that in addition to calcium, there are other nutrients and foods that help keep your bones strong — most importantly vitamin D, but also vitamin K.
How much calcium? The recommended daily intake for calcium is 1,000 milligrams (mg) a day for adults up through age 50 and 1,200 mg a day for people ages 51 and older, when bone loss accelerates. With age, the intestines absorb less calcium from the diet, and the kidneys seem to be less efficient at conserving calcium. As a result, your body can steal calcium from bone for a variety of important metabolic functions.
Because some research suggest that high calcium intake may increase the risk of prostate cancer, men should avoid taking calcium supplements or taking too many calcium-rich antacids.
Vitamin D
In building bone, calcium has an indispensable assistant: vitamin D. This vitamin helps the body absorb calcium, and some researchers think that increasing vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis. Milk sold in the United States is fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D is also prevalent in fortified breakfast cereals, eggs, and vitamin supplements. Some brands of yogurt are fortified with it, as well as some juices.
If possible, a small amount of sun exposure can help your body manufacture its own vitamin D — about five to 30 minutes of sunlight between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. twice a week to your face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen will enable you to make enough of the vitamin. People with fair skin that burns easily should protect themselves from skin cancer by limiting sun exposure to 10 minutes or less.
Food and sun exposure should suffice, but if not, some experts advise getting 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily from a supplement.

Source:Harvard Medical School.

Innovative sound therapy treats hypertension and migraine


Aligning brain activity using sound may ease a number of health issues.

An innovative, non-invasive neurotechnology balances the brain frequencies in the left and right hemispheres, reducing blood pressure and removing the symptoms of migraine. This week, the results of two experiments confirm that the intervention shows real promise.
The results of two fascinating studies were recently presented at the American Heart Association's Council on Hypertension 2016 Scientific Sessions.
If the results are replicated, they could signal a revolution in the way that both mild hypertension and migraine are treated.
The studies used a neurotechnology called high-resolution, relational, resonance based, electroencephalic mirroring, or HIRREM for short.
HIRREM uses sensors that are placed on the scalp; they measure electrical activity, any imbalances between the left and right brain, and hyperarousal.
Hossam A. Shaltout, assistant professor in the Hypertension and Vascular Research Center at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, explains the premise of his research.
Most people have relatively balanced electrical activity between the right side and left sides of the brain. 
Imbalance, with one side dominant, or more active, may reflect autonomic dysregulation associated with the effects of chronic stress, which is thought to play a role in high blood pressure, migraines, insomniadepression, hot flashes, and more."
Hossam A. Shaltout, study author

How does HIRREM work?

HIRREM monitors the brain's electrical activity. As it registers the levels, it translates them into an audible signal, which it repeats back to the person whose brain is being monitored.
According to Wake Forest School of Medicine, where the system was designed, HIRREM is a:"Novel, noninvasive, closed-loop, electroencephalic-based feedback technology to facilitate auto-calibration, and self-optimization of neural oscillations by using auditory tones to reflect dominant brain frequencies in near real time."
This real-time feedback has a significant effect on the brain's output. Shaltout explains: "Gradually, and on its own, with no conscious, cognitive activity required, the electrical pattern tends to shift towards improved balance and reduced hyperarousal." The two before and after images below demonstrate the type of response that HIRREM can generate.

Before Treatment

Spectrograph presenting brain electrical activity before HIRREM sessionsImage credit: Dr. Charles H. Tegeler, MD, Department of Neurology, Wake Forest School of Medicine.


After Treatment

Spectrograph presenting brain electrical activity after HIRREM sessions. Image credit: Dr. Charles H. Tegeler, MD, Department of Neurology, Wake Forest School of Medicine.

The theory is that trauma, whether physical or otherwise, can lead to disturbances in the brain's normal activity. For instance, if the brain's fight-or-flight (sympathetic) nervous system is activated and, for whatever reason, not able to return to normal, it could be unhealthy and contribute to disease.

Studying HIRREM's effects

HIRREM's designers are careful not to imply that their creation is a medical device. Their website says: "HIRREM [...] is not intended to treat, cure, heal, or diagnose any disease, mental illness or symptom, and individual results and duration of effects may vary."

However, its fascinating potential has not been ignored by medical researchers. The first study to be presented at the scientific sessions involved 10 participants (half men, half women) with stage one hypertension. After an average of 17.7 HIRREM sessions, spread over an average of 10.2 in-office days, the patients showed a significant improvement.
On average, the researchers measured a reduction in systolic blood pressure from 152 to 136 millimeters of mercury, and a reduction in their diastolic pressure from 97 to 81 millimeters of mercury. Insomnia and anxiety levels also improved.

Heart rate variability refers to a variation in the interval between heart beats; in the current study, the participants' variability increased from an average of 42 to 57.
An increase in variability is a good thing. According to Shaltout: "The more flexibility and dynamic range the body has to be able to change the heart rate in response to the blood pressure, the better."

In the second study, 52 adults with migraine were treated. They received an average of 15.9 HIRREM sessions over 9 in-office days. Patients reported improvements in insomnia, headaches, and mood.

Of course, due to the studies' small size, it is difficult to extrapolate the results; however, these two investigations are just a small part of a larger research program that has now enrolled over 400 participants. "If these findings are confirmed in larger controlled studies, HIRREM may prove to be a valuable new approach for brain-based healthcare," Shaltout said.

Finding a solution that offers an improvement to medical issues that are notoriously difficult to treat, without the need for invasive techniques, could be a real breakthrough.
No doubt many insomnia and migraine sufferers will be waiting to hear the results of the larger trial with baited breath.


Human Brain Map Gets a Bold New Update

The new Allen Brain Atlas combines neuroimaging and tissue staining to offer an unprecedented level of resolution.

Credit: Allen Institute for Brain Science

Most of us think little of hopping on Google Maps to look at everything from a bird’s-eye view of an entire continent to an on-the-ground view of a specific street, all carefully labeled. Thanks to a digital atlas published this week, the same is now possible with the human brain.
Ed Lein and colleagues at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle have created a comprehensive, open-access digital atlas of the human brain, which was published this week in The Journal of Comparative Neurology.
“Essentially what we were trying to do is to create a new reference standard for a very fine anatomical structural map of the complete human brain,” says Lein, the principal investigator on the project. “It may seem a little bit odd, but actually we are a bit lacking in types of basic reference materials for mapping the human brain that we have in other organisms like mouse or like monkey, and that is in large part because of the enormous size and complexity of the human brain.”
The project, which spanned five years, focused on a single healthy postmortem brain from a 34-year-old woman. The researchers started with the big picture: They did a complete scan of the brain using two imaging techniques (magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion weighted imaging), which allowed them to capture both overall brain structure and the connectivity of brain fibers.
Next the researchers took the brain and sliced it into 2,716 very thin sections for fine-scale, cellular analysis. They stained a portion of the sections with a traditional Nissl stain to gather information about general cell architecture. They then used two other stains to selectively label certain aspects of the brain, including structural elements of cells, fibers in the white matter, and specific types of neurons.
The researchers also took a subset of the Nissl-stained slides and used them to catalogue 862 different brain structures, including novel subregions of the thalamus and the amygdala, and two other structures that previously had only been described in non-human primates.
The key step in creating a complete brain atlas was combining broad-scale, high-resolution brain imaging data with detailed cellular-level mapping, which the researchers then annotated with the brain structures they identified. The entire map is available online. Lein explains that the atlas can be accessed via a portal, where people can “navigate it, and move from the macro level all the way right into the cellular level.”
Lein thinks the atlas may be a particularly valuable tool for neuroscientists who can use it as a common starting point and add layers of annotation based on their own criteria for dividing up the brain.
Human brain mapping has long been a goal of neuroscientists, who, along with the rest of us, are eager to figure out how exactly this essential mass of tissue inside our skulls should be divided up, and what the different areas actually do. In 1909, German anatomist Korbinian Brodmann used the same Nissl method of staining to create a cellular-scale brain map, which formed the basis for many brain-mapping efforts to follow.
Researchers from the Human Connectome Project released their own detailed brain map earlier this year. Using a broad-scale approach, they compiled brain images from multiple MRI measurements performed on 210 healthy adults.
For Lein and his colleagues, however, concentrating their efforts on only one brain allowed them to go into a lot more detail with their work.
“Because of the labor intensiveness of doing this, it always lives in the scale of a single brain,” Lein says, “and you really go to town in trying to understand everything you can about that one individual. ”
Matthew Glasser of Washington University School of Medicine, who was part of the Human Connectome Project effort but was not involved with the present study, calls the brain atlas “impressive,” particularly on a neuroanatomical level, but points out that it may be difficult to generalize the information from one individual. “The thing that's a challenge is relating a single brain like this that's very intensively studied to other brains,” he says.
Nevertheless, the effort marks a substantial advance in our understanding of brain anatomy. “There simply hasn't been a complete map of the human brain as a reference piece of material for anyone studying any part of the brain,” Lein says, “and this is a completely essential part of doing research.”

Friday, September 16, 2016


Effective Methods

The relaxation response is perhaps one of the most important skills you will use to gain control over your body. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognizes the relaxation response as having broad health benefits including the reduction of pain and restoration of sleep.
In addition, research on the relaxation response has shown that this simple technique can: increase energy, decrease fatigue as well as increase arousal from a drowsy state. It can increase motivation, productivity, and improve decision-making ability. The relaxation response lowers stress hormone levels and lowers blood pressure.
Pain Muscle Tension Fatigue Sleep Disorders Stress

Relaxation Techniques

The relaxation response is defined as your personal ability to make your body release chemicals and brain signals that make your muscles and organs slow down and increases blood flow to the brain. Drugs can do some of this for you, however they often have unwanted side effects. You can get your body to relax just as well without drugs while remaining conscious and aware at the same time. To be physically relaxed and mentally alert is the goal of the relaxation response.

The Relaxation Response is not:
Laying on the couch Sleeping
Being Lazy
The Relaxation Response is:
A mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed
Best done in an awake state
Trainable and becomes more and more profound with practice
There are many ways of achieving the relaxation response.
Some of these techniques are called:
ProgressiveMuscleRelaxation(tense&relax) VisualImagery

Which of these techniques is best?
To date, there is no data supporting the idea that one method is any better than any other. What does matter is your willingness to use a particular technique for your own health and your ability to gain relaxation through that method.

We will discuss two different versions of the relaxation response:
Progressive muscle relaxation (also known as Tense & Relax) and visual imagery.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (Tense & Relax Technique)

Everyone has a resting level of muscle tension. Some people have a great amount of tension at rest, others less. When people are under acute stress, their muscles tend to have higher levels of resting tension that can be painful and fatiguing. After you tense and relax muscles, the tension level not only returns to the original level, but will automatically drop below the original level, producing even greater relaxation to the muscles.
Start the exercise by getting comfortable.
You can keep your eyes open or shut. Most people prefer to close their eyes. If you are wearing glasses or contact lenses, you may want to remove them before starting the exercise.

Try not to fall asleep.
As you perform this exercise, you will tense
different muscle groups above their normal level of
When tensing, you need not tense to the point of
pain – simple tensing for 2 seconds is generally
Focus on how the tension feels. Then, let the
tension go.
Focus on the sensations of relaxation.
Continue to breathe deeply and regularly throughout the exercise.
After you have become skilled at using this technique, you can repeat parts of it in a shorter format when you need a quick relaxation break. For example, when sitting in traffic, you can tense the muscles in your shoulders and upper back and then relax them to get a nice burst of relaxation.

Are you ready to learn the tense and relax technique? Let’s go!

SKILL: The Tense & Relax Technique
Purpose: to relax your body without the use of drugs
Goal: to tense and relax various muscle groups of the body to produce
Step 1: Begin deep breathing.
Step 2: Tense the muscle groups (as described below) and then relax them.
The Tense & Relax Exercise:
1.   1)   Make yourself as comfortable as possible in a seated position
2.  2)  Try and sit up straight with good posture with your hands resting in your lap
3.   3)   Remove your glasses if you wear them, some people prefer to remove their contact lenses

Tensing and Relaxing Specific Muscle Groups

  1.   Relaxation of the feet and calves:
o    Flex your feet (pull toes toward the knees)
o    Contract calf muscles and muscles of lower leg
o    Feel the tension build and hold the tension
o    Take a deep breath
o    As you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go

  2.   Relaxation of the knees and upper thighs:
o    Straighten your knees and squeeze your legs together
o    Contract your thigh muscles and all the muscles of your legs
o    Feel the tension build and hold the tension
o    Take a deep breath
o    As you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go

  3.   Relaxation of the hips and buttocks
o    Tense the buttock muscles by squeezing them inward and upward
o    Feel the tension build and hold the tension
o    Take a deep breath
o    As you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go

      4. Relaxation of the abdomen
·        Observe your abdomen rising and falling with each breath
·        Inhale and press your navel toward the spine then tense the abdomen
·        Feel the tension build and hold the tension
·        Take a deep breath
·        As you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go

   5. Relaxation of the upper back
·        Draw the shoulder blades together to the midline of the body
·        Contract the muscles across the upper back
·        Feel the tension build and hold the tension
·        Take a deep breath
·        As you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go

6. Relaxation of the Arms and Palms of the Hands
·        Turn palms face down and make a tight fist in each hand
·        Raise and stretch both arms with fists
·        Feel the tension build and hold the tension
·        Take a deep breath
·        As you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go

7. Relaxation of the Chin, Neck, and Shoulders
·        Drop your chin to your chest
·        Draw your shoulders up toward your ears
·        Feel the tension build and hold the tension
·        Take a deep breath
·        As you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go

8. Relaxation of the Jaw and Facial muscles
·        Clench your teeth together
·        Tense the muscles in the back of your jaw
·        Turn the corners of your mouth into a tight smile
·        Wrinkle the bridge of your nose and squeeze your eyes shut
·        Tense all facial muscles in toward the center of your face
·        Feel the tension build and hold the tension
·        Take a deep breath
·        As you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go

9. Relaxation of the Forehead
·        Raise eyebrows up and tense the muscles across the forehead and scalp
·        Feel the tension build and hold the tension
    .      Take a deep breath
·        As you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go

10. Intensification of Relaxation throughout the Body
·        Focus on relaxation flowing from the crown of your head
·        Over your face
·        Down the back of your neck and shoulders
·        Down your body through your arms and hands
·        Over your chest and abdomen
·        Flowing through your hips and buttocks
·        Into your thighs, your knees and calves
·        And finally into your ankles and feet
·        Continue to deep breath for several minutes in silence

11. Finishing the Tense & Relax Exercise

Count backwards in your head from 3 to 1

a) 3 – become aware of your surroundings (location, people, noises)
b) 2 - Move your feet, legs, hands, arms, rotate your head
c) 1 – open your eyes feeling re-energized, refreshed, and relaxed

UMHS 2003, Dr. D. A. Williams and Dr. M. Carey 

Visual Image 

While some people like tensing and relaxing, others can often become more relaxed by simply imaging a beautiful place.
This technique uses your mind to distract you from pain, tension, or problems. It asks you to create images in your mind that are so captivating, so rich in detail, and so all-consuming for your mind, that you get lost in the images your mind creates.

Is imagery an acceptable way of obtaining the relaxation response?
Yes. But... there are some guidelines about how to gain the most benefit from this strategy.

How do I visualize?
 Start the exercise by sitting or lying in a comfortable position and deep breathing. Unlike the tense-relax technique, the focus is not on your body but on a pleasant image.
 You will want to decide where you want to go in your image before starting. Some people like to have several destinations in mind since, at first, it may be difficult to stay interested in any one image for very long.
You can leave your eyes open or you can shut them. Most people prefer to close their eyes when creating a mental image.

Your image can take you anywhere of your choosing. For example it could be a beach, a mountain retreat, a hiking trail, your own back yard, a fishing pond, a clean kitchen with tasty cinnamon buns baking, a favorite restaurant, a computer generated virtual reality, or a psychedelic ‘60’s-like landscape. Whatever you choose, try to make it peaceful, and calming.

In creating your image, USE ALL OF YOUR SENSES. For example: If imagining a woods try to imagine:
Vision: the moss, the trees, animals, the sun, the soil, leaves Smell: smell the moist earth, the heavy scent of green vegetation Sounds: hear the birds, sticks cracking, animals moving, creeks Feel: the cool moist air, the cool soil, the warm sun in a clearing
Taste: the fresh water from a creek, a ripe berry, a sweet apple
Start off with 5 minutes then gradually expand your imagery time to about 15-20 minutes per day.

This Technique:
Takes a lot of concentration and a lot of practice in order to fully master concentrating on your image and not being distracted by internal bodily discomfort or external noises.

After you have become skilled at using this technique, you can repeat parts of it in a shorter format (i.e., a few seconds or a few minutes) when you need a quick relaxation break.

Now let’s focus on the steps to relaxation through visualization.....

SKILL: Visual Imagery
Purpose: to relax your body without the use of drugs
Goal: to use visualization and all your senses to produce relaxation
Your imagery experience will have 4 parts: Entering the image, the journey to a private place in the image, experiencing the private place, and finally returning and ending the imagery.

Step 1: Enter Your Image.
As you enter your image notice the view.
What is in the distance?
What do you hear?
Are there any immediate smells or tastes?
Reach out and touch the things in your immediate
How do these things feel?
What is under your feet? How does this feel?
Are there any new smells or sounds?
What is the temperature? Make it comfortable.
Look above you. What do you see?
What do you hear now?
Identify a path along which you will travel as you journey
through this place.

Step 2: The Journey.
As you begin your journey take several additional deep breaths.
Your journey should take you deeper and deeper into your image.
As you travel, be keenly aware of the sights passing by you.
As you travel, be aware of new sounds that occur.
As you travel, be aware of the temperature, and feelings under your feet.
As you travel, be aware of the things you can touch and examine their texture.

As you travel, be aware of smells and tastes that enter your image.
Continue on your journey until you find a place of rich sensory
experiences. This is your private place.

Step 3: The Private Place
Once you reach your private place take several additional deep breaths.
Your private place should make you feel calm, peaceful, and filled with sensory pleasure.
In your private place, be keenly aware of the sights around you.
In your private place, be aware of new sounds that occur.
In your private place, be aware of the temperature, and feelings under your feet.
In your private place, be aware of the things you can touch and examine their texture.
In your private place, be aware of smells and tastes that enter your image.
Stay in your private place for several minutes allowing your imagination to run free with pleasurable images.

Step 4: The Return Home
Before you start to return home, do the following:
Notice how your body feels
You will want to return to this feeling in the future

Try and recall the best aspects of your journey and of your private place. You will want to return to these in the future.

• Prepare to leave by counting backwards from 3 to 1.
3 – Become aware of your surroundings (location, people, noises)
2 - Move your feet, legs, hands, rotate your head
1 – Open your eyes feeling re-energized, refreshed, and relaxed

Purpose: to relax your body without the use of drugs relaxation
page11image3688 page11image3848
Step 1: Try the Tense & Relax Technique

Schedule 20 minutes (for 3 days this week) to go through all of the major muscle groups. Note your tension level before and then after doing the

Step 2: Try the Visual Imagery Technique

Schedule 20 minutes (3 days this week) to try the visual imagery technique using the instructions in this chapter. Note your tension level before and then after doing the exercise. 

Let’s Summarize... 

♦  Find a relaxation exercise that suits you the best. They can all work equally well.
♦  Develop a routine to fit at least one technique into your day (at whatever time you prefer) to practice it
♦  Use something in your environment (like something round) as a reminder to fit relaxation into your day.
♦  Over time, as you use a relaxation exercise (e.g., Tense & Relax or Visual Imagery) on a daily basis, you can expect to get better at the skill.
♦  The relaxation response can significantly:

  • Decrease pain
  • Increase energy
  • Decrease muscle tension Increase motivation
  • Decrease irritability
  • Improve sleep
  • Enhance productivity
  • Lower Blood Pressure
  • Lower Stress Hormone Levels Increase arousal from the drowsy state
  • Improve decision-making ability Reduce fatigue
  • Decrease anxiety 

UMHS 2003, Dr. D. A. Williams and Dr. M. Carey