Homeopathy and astrology are “bogus” and “harmful”, says this Nobel Laureate

Homeopathy and astrology are “bogus” and “harmful”, says this Nobel Laureate

Homeopathy is bogus. This is the expressed opinion of Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009.

I must admit, those tiny bottles with drops and little sugary pills don’t look convincing. But if what they contain is totally ineffective, why has the use of homeopathic medicine increased 15% in the US in the past five years?

Ramakrishnana who was making the comments in Chandigarh, India recently, echoes the opinion held by a large portion of the general public and the medical establishment that homeopaths are quacks and their medicine at best harmless but certainly ineffective. Mainstream medicine has always looked down on homeopathy criticizing the practice for not being scientific.

There are logical reasons for this. Homeopathic medicines are made by diluting substances to a very high degree.  The resulting dilution makes it practically impossible to trace a single molecule of the active ingredient in the dilution. Homeopaths claim that the substance leaves a trace or memory in the water or other materials used to make the drops and pills.

Intuitively one questions the efficacy of these dilutions, and it indeed poses a real challenge to scientific evaluation of their efficacy because it’s very difficult to evaluate a medicine that hardly contains any or no active ingredients.

In August 2005, the renowned peer-reviewed journal The Lancet published a systematic review and meta-analysis, reported by a research group from the University of Berne, Switzerland. The study compared 110 similar trials on homeopathy and conventional medicine, and reached the conclusion that homeopathy is no better than placebo. The group later corrected their findings by including previously omitted smaller trials which changed the results of the study, but the damage to homeopathy was done.

It’s the reference to the placebo effect, as if it’s something unacceptable and applicable only to homeopathy that’s interesting.  After all, the placebo effect is applicable to allopathic medication as well. Doctors know that some patients react positively and others negatively to the same medication. Maybe the patient whose symptoms improve, expected them to improve, just like a patient who believes he is getting a morphine injection, experiences relief from pain although only a saline solution was administered.

And just like the person who takes homeopathic medicine and gets better.

Harvard medicine professor Ted Kaptchuk doesn’t think it is belief that makes patients better.

He told Brian Resnick of Vox that medicine has ignored the placebo effect for too long. He says the usual definition of a placebo as “the effect of an inert pill,” is an oxymoron because an inert pill can’t have an effect.

Kaptchuk sees the placebo effect as a surrogate marker for everything that surrounds a pill, like the rituals of medicine, the symbols of medicine, and a warm, empathic doctor.  Taking medication activates neurotransmitters in the brain, activates specific quantifiable and relevant brain regions that release neurotransmitters which modulate symptoms. People taking a placebo feel better, or experience less pain because the whole engagement, not only the medication, everything surrounding it, make changes to the brain.

It’s not a case of mind over matter.

Science Proves Stress Seriously Affects Your Brain. Here’s How To Curb It

Science Proves Stress Seriously Affects Your Brain. Here’s How To Curb It

Struggling to focus? Having sleepless nights? Not able to form new ideas and create new concepts? You’re stressed-out and as science has now found that it’s altering the size of your brain.

As a result, you are becoming incapable of performing at your best. Experiencing stress is a common thing, and it’s not at all bad. In fact, stress pushes you towards the finish line.

However, stress starts taking a toll on you when you do nothing to de-stress or relax. High-stress level aggravates cortisol level, which leads to the development of problems, like –

  1. High blood cholesterol
  2. High blood pressure
  3. Weak immune system
  4. Incapability of hippocampus of creating new brain cells
  5. Chronic depression because of excessive cortisol level in your blood

So, here’s how you can fight stress and rejuvenate your mind.

Practice meditation.

Meditation is an ancient discipline of yoga. It is one of the best ways to curb stress. It an exercise for your brain. Start by focusing on deep breathing. Regular meditation will help in open up your brain and channelize an increased flow of blood – which will further boost your memory, concentration level and creativity power.

Do regular exercise.

Exercises are important for your body, mind and soul. Workout regimes like biking, running, walking and weight training will help in pumping up blood sugar in a natural manner and lower your stress level. With regular exercise, you will make your body capable of sustaining daily life activities in an effective and sound way.

Analyze stress and start altering the pattern.

It is crucial to evaluate your stress and its origin. Once you are done analyzing it, start changing the course slowly. If you’re feeling stressed at home, determine how to get rid of the chaos. Being overwhelmed will only throw you over the fence. The key is to sit down, relax and work on a plan to kill the buzz, before it destroys your mental and physical health.

These 5 Common Myths About Space Will Make You Question Everything You’ve Been Taught In School

These 5 Common Myths About Space Will Make You Question Everything You’ve Been Taught In School

While most of you have probably dreamed about being in outer space and being awed by different planets and suns, the truth is that most of what we know about space has come from Hollywood movies and science fiction shows. There’s a lot more to know, and science is only scratching the surface to find what lies out there.

Watch this video to see 5 common myths about space.

Stephen Hawking Has A Beautiful Message For Anyone Who Suffers From Depression

Stephen Hawking Has A Beautiful Message For Anyone Who Suffers From Depression

This is incredibly inspiring from Stephen Hawking.

Even though he usually speaks about physics and the forces that govern the Universe, he decided to turn his intelligence to help those in need.

At a packed lecture theater, he had these words to say to those who are suffering with depression:

“The message of this lecture is that black holes ain’t as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought.

“Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe. So if you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up – there’s a way out…

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.

“It matters that you don’t just give up.”

As a man who has overcome such incredible obstacles and lived such a brave and amazing life, this advice couldn’t come from a better place.

Originally published on The Power of Ideas.

Brain Scans Show The Real Impact Love Has On A Child’s Brain

Brain Scans Show The Real Impact Love Has On A Child’s Brain

You comfort them over a skinned knee in the playground, and coax them to sleep with a soothing lullaby. But being a nurturing mother is not just about emotional care – it pays dividends by determining the size of your child’s brain, scientists say.

Shocking: According to neurologists the sizeable difference between these two brains has one primary cause – the way were treated by their mothers.

Shocking: According to neurologists the sizeable difference between these two brains has one primary cause – the way were treated by their mothers.

Both of these images are brain scans of  two three-year-old children, but the brain on the left is considerably larger, has fewer spots and less dark areas, compared to the one on the right.

According to neurologists this sizeable difference has one primary cause – the way each child was treated by their mothers.

But the child with the shrunken brain was the victim of severe neglect and abuse.

Babies’ brains grow and develop as they interact with their environment and learn how to function within it.

When babies’ cries bring food or comfort, they are strengthening the neuronal pathways that help them learn how to get their needs met, both physically and emotionally. But babies who do not get responses to their cries, and babies whose cries are met with abuse, learn different lessons.

The neuronal pathways that are developed and strengthened under negative conditions prepare children to cope in that negative environment, and their ability to respond to nurturing and kindness may be impaired.

According to research reported by the newspaper, the brain on the right in the image above worryingly lacks some of the most fundamental areas present in the image on the left.

The consequences of these deficits are pronounced – the child on the left with the larger brain will be more intelligent and more likely to develop the social ability to empathize with others.

This type of severe, global neglect can have devastating consequences. The extreme lack of stimulation may result in fewer neuronal pathways available for learning.

The lack of opportunity to form an attachment with a nurturing caregiver during infancy may mean that some of these children will always have difficulties forming meaningful relationships with others. But studies have also found that time played a factor – children who were adopted as young infants have shown more recovery than children who were adopted as toddlers.

But in contrast, the child with the shrunken brain will be more likely to become addicted to drugs and involved in violent crimes, much more likely to be unemployed and to be dependent on state benefits.

The child is also more likely to develop mental and other serious health problems.

Some of the specific long-term effects of abuse and neglect on the developing brain can include:

  • Diminished growth in the left hemisphere, which may increase the risk for depression
  • Irritability in the limbic system, setting the stage for the emergence of panic disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Smaller growth in the hippocampus and limbic abnormalities, which can increase the risk for dissociative disorders and memory impairments
  • Impairment in the connection between the two brain hemispheres, which has been linked to symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Professor Allan Schore, of UCLA, told The Sunday Telegraph that if a baby is not treated properly in the first two years of life, it can have a fundamental impact on development.

He pointed out that the genes for several aspects of brain function, including intelligence, cannot function.

And sadly there is a chance they may never develop and come into existence.

These has concerning implications for neglected children that are taken into care past the age of two.

It also seems that the more severe the mother’s neglect, the more pronounced the damage can be.

The images also have worrying consequences for the childhood neglect cycle – often parents who, because their parents neglected them, do not have fully developed brains, neglect their own children in a similar way.

But research in the U.S. has shown the cycle can be successfully broken if early intervention is staged and families are supported.

The study correlates with research released earlier this year that found that children who are given love and affection from their mothers early in life are smarter with a better ability to learn.

The experiences of infancy and early childhood provide the organizing framework for the expression of children’s intelligence, emotions, and personalities.

When those experiences are primarily negative, children may develop emotional, behavioral, and learning problems that persist throughout their lifetime, especially in the absence of targeted interventions.

The study by child psychiatrists and neuroscientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, found school-aged children whose mothers nurtured them early in life have brains with a larger hippocampus, a key structure important to learning, memory and response to stress.

The research was the first to show that changes in this critical region of children’s brain anatomy are linked to a mother’s nurturing, Neurosciencenews.com reports.

The research is published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

Lead author Joan L. Luby, MD, professor of child psychiatry, said the study reinforces how important nurturing parents are to a child’s development.


10 Science Based Health Benefits of Hugging

10 Science Based Health Benefits of Hugging

There are two types of people: huggers and non-huggers. Some people just don’t enjoy hugging. These are the people who feel a little uncomfortable when you try to hug them. Other people love it when you hug them and will show their appreciation, happiness or excitement. These are the ones who will give a giant bear hug to people they love.

There are two types of people: huggers and non-huggers. Some people just aren’t the cuddly type. They’re probably the ones who shy away a little bit when you go in for a hug. Others love to show their appreciation, happiness or excitement by hugging those they care about. They are the ones who give those giant bear hugs that you either love, or are a bit afraid of, depending on your hugging preference.

Regardless of how you feel about hugging, the reality is that hugging can convey a message that words often can’t. It helps to create a special bond between two people and can allow the sharing of joy together.

When two people hug each other, it creates a series of health benefits for each person. The health benefits may help convince non-huggers to change their mind about hugging.

1. Hugging forms a bond

According to Psychology Todayhugging releases oxytocin from the brain which causes huggers to bond. This hormone is associated with feelings of contentment and relaxation.

2. Hugging relaxes the body

While a hug may begin quite firmly, most huggers relax their bodies and fall into each other during a hug. This creates a very relaxing effect for huggers, having therapeutic benefits.

3. Hugging can relieve pain

The release of endorphins relieves pain by blocking pain pathways in the brain. It can also help to soothe aching by increasing circulation to soft tissues.

So if you’re feeling some pain, hug someone!

4. Hugging increases understanding

A passionate hug creates an exchange of feelings between two people, and produces feelings of understanding and empathy. This comes from the release of oxytocin which is often referred to as the love hormone.

5. Hugging relieves depression

Dopamine levels in your brain are increased when hugging. This helps to boost your mood. Low dopamine levels are associated with depression, self-doubt and lack of enthusiasm. Oxytocin being released also plays a part in relieving depression.

6. Hugging elevates your mood

Hugging can be an instant mood booster by increasing both dopamine and serotonin levels. So if you’re down in the dumps, go and find someone to give a hug to!

7. Hugging alleviates stress

The stress hormone known as cortisol is reduced when hugging. Lower levels of cortisol helps to relax the body and calm the mind, as found by a study suggesting hugs showed a positive correlation with higher relaxation levels.

8. Hugging boosts the immune system

People who hug frequently receive more social support and have less symptoms of illnesses, according to a study.

9. Hugging reduces worry

Hugs and touch reduce worry, according to a study published in Psychological ScienceResearchers found that even hugging an inanimate object such as a teddy bear has a positive effect.

10. Hugging improves heart health

A study found that participants who didn’t have physical contact with their partners developed a quickened heart rate by ten beats per minute. Having a slower and stable heart rate helps to decrease blood pressure and lower the chance of heart problems.