There is so much negative news doing the rounds that it’s easy to lose sight of the many really good things happening in the world right now.
This is why we wanted to share you some of the good news amongst the madness.
Here we share a few of the great developments in medical science. Allow it to lift your spirits!
1. Doctors have reversed a 2-year-old girl’s brain damage after she drowned.
Researchers in the US have reported what they believe is a first-of-its-kind reversal of brain damage on a two-year-old girl who drowned in a pool and was resuscitated after two hours of her heart not beating on its own. Thanks to a course of oxygen treatments were able to significantly reverse the toddler’s brain damage.
2. Smallpox has been eradicated and two more diseases that have plagued mankind for centuries are going the same way.
Scientists are on the verge of wiping out the Guinea Worm parasite, mostly thanks to an ingenious and cheap drinking straw filter that stops people from being contaminated via water. As of May this year, there were only five recorded cases. So far in 2017 there have only been eight confirmed cases of polio.
3. A drug that can treat autism symptoms is close.
A small, but promising clinical trial in the US showed this year that a 100-year-old drug called suramin can measurably improve the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children. There’s a lot more work to be done, but it’s the first time we’ve been so close to having a drug that can potentially treat ASD symptoms.
4. A UK-based team of researchers has created a graphene-based sieve capable of removing salt from seawater.
More work needs to be done to produce graphene oxide membranes inexpensively at industrial scales, but the development could eventually save millions of people without ready access to clean drinking water.
5. Scientists think they might be able to reverse Alzheimer’s memory loss.
An enzyme that interferes with key memory-forming processes in people with Alzheimer’s can now be specifically targeted so it can’t cause a genetic blockade, according to new research out of MIT.
6. A simple vitamin supplement could have the potential to prevent miscarriages and birth defects, according to a 12-year study by scientists in Australia.
In what scientists are calling “the most important discovery for pregnant women since folate”, a 12-year study has revealed that women could avoid miscarriages and birth defects by simply taking vitamin B3 during pregnancy.
7. Researchers are finally beginning to understand how to repair spinal cord injuries.
It is extremely complicated, but new research has shed light on how one of the most cutting edge techniques and how it works at a cellular level. By finally understanding how spinal cord injuries can heal, researchers will eventually be able to develop even more effective treatments that could potentially go as far as reversing paralysis and other nervous system damage.
8. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria already kill around 700,000 people each year.
Antibiotic resistance is regarded as a global epidemic, but scientists have found a way to reverse antibiotic resistance. At the start of this year, scientists announced the development of a molecule that reverses antibiotic resistance in multiple strains of bacteria at once, making it one of the most promising advances we’ve had to date in the fight against superbugs.
If you live in America, you probably know someone who has suffered from a heart attack. According to statistics, it’s the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S. Each year, about 735,000 Americans suffer a heart attack.
Most deaths from heart attacks occur because of ventricular fibrillation of the heart that occurs before the victim can reach an emergency room.
The good news is, those who reach the emergency room have an excellent prognosis. Survival from a heart attack exceeds 90%.
So, here are 7 crucial symptoms that could occur months (or earlier) before a heart attack.
1) Extreme fatigue
Heavy fatigue that lasts for days, weeks or even months can signal heart trouble. This isn’t simply feeling “tired” but extreme fatigue that you’d usually associate with having a flu.
More than 70 percent of women in a National Institute of Health study reported extreme fatigue weeks or months before a heart attack.
Watch out for fatigue that occurs suddenly that can’t be linked to any other factors such as lack of sleep or illness.
2) Insomnia and anxiety
Heart disease may cause a decrease in oxygen levels which may trigger agitation and anxiety.
Two studies found a strong association between self-reported symptoms of extreme anxiety and a risk of heart disease.
Watch out for sleep problems or anxiety if you’ve never experience this problem before.
3) Shortness of breathe
When you can’t breathe deeply, you probably think the problem is your lungs. However, it can also occur from little oxygen in your blood from your heart. You might also feel light-headed and dizzy.
A study published in Circulation found that 40% of heart attack victims report shortness of breath 6 months prior to having a heart attack.
4) Excessive sweating
While sweating in hot weather or during physical activity is healthy, a study suggests that when individuals excessively perspire and begin experiencing discomfort in chest, arm, neck or jaw with no exertion, it could be a sign of heart failure.
Watch out for flu-like symptoms that can last longer than a week, or that come and go over a period of time.
5) Chest pain, heaviness or discomfort
Accorfing to Dr. Xu, this can occur months before a heart attack occurs. This is a somewhat typical symptom and can come and go at different times.
Keep a watch out for this if the faintness can’t be linked to anything else, such as lack of water.
7) Irregular heart beat
This can usually last for 1-2 minutes and it might cause dizziness and fatigue. It often appears unexpectedly and can be either be an irregular heartbeat or increased heart rate.
Dr. Xu reminds us that it’s important not to ignore symptoms and wait until they become severe. If you have a concern, talk to your doctor. If heart disease is caught early, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk.
Today’s generation is far more self-absorbed than even our parent’s generation was. We want more and we want it now. So it seems strange to have a conversation about how the things we are doing and studying and experimenting with now are going to have not just global impacts, but universal impacts.
Juan Enriquez is a scientist who studies what life looks like in the future. The most important question that society needs to ask itself right now is “is it ethical to alter the human body to further our species”?
If you have one of those self-absorbed perspectives, you might not think twice about saying, “yes! Change it all so humanity can survive!” But Enriquez pushes the question further and asks if that is really what needs to happen.
You can watch Juan Enriquez’ TED fascinating TED talk here:
If you can’t watch the video right now, here’s a summary in text:
As he recounts a lifetime of experiments involving human evolution, natural and forced, he continues to push the question of whether or not this is the right thing to do. Pacemakers extend lives, new hips help people walk, but where does it stop?
Well, it turns out that it isn’t stopping anytime soon.
As more and more scientists take on keeping the human race alive as long as possible, new and interesting (any maybe questionable) experiments are being conducted to find out what it looks like to transplant prosthetic kidneys, lungs, entire bones, skin, and brains.
“And four of the smartest people that I’ve ever met — Ed Boyden, Hugh Herr, Joe Jacobson, Bob Lander — are working on a Center for Extreme Bionics. And the interesting thing of what you’re seeing here is these prosthetics now get integrated into the bone. They get integrated into the skin. They get integrated into the muscle. And one of the other sides of Ed is he’s been thinking about how to connect the brain using light or other mechanisms directly to things like these prosthetics. And if you can do that, then you can begin changing fundamental aspects of humanity. So how quickly you react to something depends on the diameter of a nerve. And of course, if you have nerves that are external or prosthetic, say with light or liquid metal, then you can increase that diameter and you could even increase it theoretically to the point where, as long as you could see the muzzle flash, you could step out of the way of a bullet. Those are the order of magnitude of changes you’re talking about.”
A Chinese scientist is conducting hundreds of surgeries to find out if a mouse head can be transplanted to see if the brain lives and if it retains anything.
And we all know that human experimentation starts with the mice.
“The second experiment to think about is a really weird experiment that’s been taking place in China. So this guy has been transplanting hundreds of mouse heads. Right? And why is that an interesting experiment? Well, think of the first heart transplants. One of the things they used to do is they used to bring in the wife or the daughter of the donor so the donee could tell the doctors, “Do you recognize this person? Do you love this person? Do you feel anything for this person?” We laugh about that today. We laugh because we know the heart is a muscle, but for hundreds of thousands of years, or tens of thousands of years, “I gave her my heart. She took my heart. She broke my heart.” We thought this was emotion and we thought maybe emotions were transplanted with the heart. Nope.”
The point of all this heavy conversation is to determine if we need to prepare to vacate earth and how the human body will be able to adapt if life needs to continue to exist somewhere else.
Enriquez depicts interesting imagines of how the human body has already adapted and evolved to what we know today, but that our next generations might need adaptive help through genome evolution, biological prosthetics and even change the entire body itself to be something more conducive to living on Mars or on a moon far off in space.
Enriquez reminds us that there have been five extinction level events in the history of the planet and if we are smart we’d be preparing for the next one to ensure that the human race continues beyond the events of the future. And to that end, he turns the question of ethical behavior on its head and argues that knowing the extinction level event is coming, it would be unethical not to continue to find a way to save the human race.
“This is taken from six billion miles away, and that’s Earth. And that’s all of us. And if that little thing goes, all of humanity goes. And the reason you want to alter the human body is because you eventually want a picture that says, that’s us, and that’s us, and that’s us, because that’s the way humanity survives long-term extinction. And that’s the reason why it turns out it’s actually unethical not to evolve the human body even though it can be scary, even though it can be challenging, but it’s what’s going to allow us to explore, live and get to places we can’t even dream of today, but which our great-great-great-great- grandchildren might someday.”
With everything that we know about our bodies, our history, and our DNA today, it’s hard to believe there are still things to be discovered about how our world shapes us into the people we are today.
Moshe Szyf, a geneticist, recounts his experiences with discovering how the way we experience life in the beginning can have lasting impacts on our lifestyles as adults.
Studying rats and later monkeys, because studying humans is hard and unethical, Szyf found that by separating newborn animals from their mothers into two groups (one where the baby animal got lots of attention and “love” from its surrogate mother, and one group where the baby was given minimal “love” and attention from its surrogate mother), the dynamic of that animal, the preparedness for life, and the understanding of things like social class were intrinsically present.
But how is this possible?
Moshe Szyf explains his theories, experiments and findings in this compelling TED talk below:
Basically, the hypothesis was that our DNA could be physically changed based on the mother who cared for us — or in this case, the rats and monkeys.
The amount of care rats and monkeys received from their “mothers” during experiments had impacts on the levels of stress, anxiety, obesity, and illness overall. Animals who experienced more attention and care were less likely to develop these conditions, while animals who only received the basic life necessities were more likely to be stressed out and become ill later on in life.
The correlations between the findings in the animals and the likelihood of this occurring in humans seems to be high. One study was referenced about babies that were born after a particularly economic and environmental stressor in a city in Canada that caused the mothers-to-be a great deal of anxiety and worry while they were pregnant. Some 15 years later, these children are experiencing higher levels of disease, anxiety, and obesity.
It’s partly because of our hardwiring DNA that we are all born with, and it’s partly because, Szyf believes, based on how we were raised in our early years. He gives many examples of how children who are brought up to conserve food and eat when they can due to famine or lack of resources to feed a family struggle with obesity and depression later in life because they can’t break the cycle of needing to eat to prepare for a time when there will be no more food.
As more studies are conducted, we might find that our existing DNA can be influenced by our upbringings, our lots in life, and our mothers.
Why are some people prone to hallucinations? According to new research from the University of Cambridge and Cardiff University, hallucinations may come from our attempts to make sense of the ambiguous and complex world around us.
Each person experiences the world in a different way. Even if two people are present at the same event, their own personal experiences, ways of knowing the world, and point of view can greatly impact the experience for them and how they recount it to others later.
This is such a striking phenomenon that several major motion pictures have been made about how things look different to different people. Many studies have been done on how people interpret ink blots on paper, how people experience master works of art, and how people recount the scene of an accident to a first responder when help arrives.
Some people experience hallucinations their entire lives
Hallucinations, often associated with psychotic disorders, may result from a natural process used by the brain to make sense of the world, say scientists.
Professor Paul Fletcher, from the Department of Psychiatry at Cambridge University, said: “Having a predictive brain makes us efficient and adept at creating a coherent picture of an ambiguous and complex world. But it also means we are not very far away from perceiving things that aren’t actually there, which is the definition of a hallucination.”
However, in some cases, people experience hallucinations as a result of mental illnesses that cause psychosis. Psychosis is defined as disconnection between what people think and see and what is actually happening to them: a kind of different reality.
This can cause great difficulties for people who are trying to make sense of the world around them, particular events, or even their own existence.
Because psychosis can be accompanied by changes in perception that are long lasting, people can experience hallucinations beyond the visual and also experience sensations related to feeling, seeing, touching, tasting and hearing.
This can make it even more difficult to convince someone that what they think is real, is not.
There are a number of factors that come into play when a person is suffering from hallucinations or psychosis which causes hallucination.
These include medication, past medical history, injury or trauma, post-traumatic stress disorders, abuse, family history, and an unstable mental history. Sometimes though, psychosis and hallucinations can come out of nowhere and it is can be difficult to treat patients who don’t seem to have any explanation associated with this type of condition.
The ability to interact with the environment depends heavily on our perception
Our ability to interact with the environment depends heavily on our ability to accept what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and experience as real.
If we question what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and experience, we might begin to construct new meanings for those experiences, which can also lead to hallucinations.
Of course, drug addicts or people who use stimulants or other drugs that can cause hallucinations, may continue to use those drugs to get the sensations that are associated with their use.
This “high” is also difficult to manage because people become used to living in a world that is altered. It can make coming back down and coming back into the real world very difficult.
It can be difficult to trust our own eyes sometimes, even for people who do not suffer from hallucinations or psychosis causing hallucinations.
Have you ever had to look at a picture twice to make sure what you were seeing was actually there? What about those trick photos that look like a vase but it’s really two people’s profiles facing each other?
Those kinds of things can play tricks on our brains to make us think we are seeing one thing, but really it’s something completely different.
This also explains why some witnesses in criminal trials, after some probing, determine that the accused was not the person they saw commit the crime after all.
When you place a person in front of someone in similar clothing or with a similar build, skin tone and hair color, you can expect the witness to find other similarities too. It’s just the way our brains are wired.
So while hallucinations can be scary for some, they can be treated with care and consideration for what the person believes they are seeing.
Some people may experiences hallucinations due to lack of hydration, heat, extreme circumstances, daydreaming, sleep walking, and many other reasons.
Once someone has identified that they are hallucinating, they can begin the road to recovery through mental health, medication and therapy.
Some people may go their entire lives without ever realizing that they are seeing the world in a skewed way, and some people may never experience such hallucinations. Those who are prone to them should seek help to determine a proper treatment plan and to begin working toward identifying solutions for the hallucinations in everyday life.
Parenthood. One of the biggest changes in life one can go through.
It’s no longer just yourself. You now have to protect and care for an innocent and defenseless little human being.
Dealing with this change is tough enough, but have you wondered what biochemical reactions happen in the brain to the Mother who had to conceive this baby?
We all know giving birth takes a huge toll on the body, but we often don’t talk about the effects it has on the brain.
So today, we’re going to go over what science has found to Mother’s brain once she becomes pregnant.
What happens to the brain after pregnancy
A groundbreaking study recently found that being pregnant creates long-lasting effects in a mother’s brain, with MRI scans showing changes in grey matter volume that may actually help Moms look after their new babies.
What are these changes?
According to the researchers, gray matter concentrates in regions associated with social cognition and theory of mind – a region of the brain that’s activated when women looked at photos of their infants.
Here’s the definition of ‘theory of mind’:
“The ability to attribute mental states—beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc.—to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, intentions, and perspectives that are different from one’s own.”
Also, activity increases in regions that control empathy, anxiety, and social interaction. These changes were still present two years after birth.
We all know that during pregnancy, there’s an enormous increase in hormones such as progestorone and estrogen to prepare a women’s body to carry a child.
We produce similar amounts of these hormones during puberty, which is known to cause dramatic and organizational changes in the brain. Boys and girls lose gray matter in the brain as it is pruned to be more efficient.
While it is not entirely clear why women’s gray matter concentrates during pregnancy, the lead researcher of the study, Heokzema, thinks it may be because their brains are becoming better prepared to adapt to motherhood and respond to their babies.
Mel Rutheford, an evolutionary psychologist, summarizes it best:
“As a parent, you’re now going to be solving slightly different adaptive problems, slightly different cognitive problems than you did before you had children…You have different priorities, you have different tasks you’re going to be doing, and so your brain changes.”
But ask any Mother:
One of the biggest changes that occur after giving birth are intimate ones – the emotional changes. The feelings of empathy and love that’s so deep it can’t be put into words. But, as it turns out, they are also largely neurological.
The researchers say that gray matter becomes more concentrated and activity increases in regions that control empathy, anxiety and social interaction, as well as a flood of hormones resulting from pregnancy, help attract a new mother to her baby.
In other words, the incredibly strong maternal feelings of love, fierce protectiveness and constant worry begin with neurological changes in the brain.