Archive for June, 2015
The common weed known as the “sorcerer’s violet” has been a celebrated herbal medicine around the world for thousands of years.
It’s been known to heal everything from the flu to fatigue to eye infections … and Western medicine now has evidence that it can protect neurons, enhance memory, and possibly even fight Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s a favorite ground cover with pretty little purple-blue flowers in the spring and attractive foliage a few inches high the rest of the growing season. Homeowners like to grow it around driveways, hard-to-mow slopes and ditches, and flowerbeds across the country.
I’d love to tell you to just pluck a few leaves or flowers and add them to your salad… but unfortunately, snacking on the plant can lead to dangerous side effects.
Read on to find out what it is, and how you can get all the brain-boosting benefits without the side effects.
Estimated to Kill 300 Million by 2050, This Culprit Is Now Airborne
The biggest health threat mankind has ever faced is here!
It’s already taking the lives of over 23,000 Americans each year, yet unlike other deadly infections, this one may still be in humanity’s control.
CLICK HERE and I’ll tell you how I went from a happy, healthy 48-year-old one minute to a man at death’s door only HOURS later.
And how I found the remedies that could be your last best hope against the deadliest scourge of all time.
I urge you to read the most important story you’ll ever read. Learn the awful truth. Prepare now.
There’s a lot to be said for a salad of wild dandelion greens. I’ve even heard of people snacking on rose petals. But periwinkle (also called vinca) is one weedy flower you should NOT add to your salad.
If you look up periwinkle online, you’ll find multiple references to its danger as an oral supplement. The side effects include nausea and vomiting, as well as nerve, kidney and liver damage. Excess amounts cause low blood pressure.
It wasn’t until 1975 that a Hungarian chemist was able to extract apovincamine, the compound responsible for periwinkle’s long history of healing power. The extract is actually taken from the perwinkle’s seeds, not the leaves or flowers.
He then synthetically derived ethyl apovincaminate, commonly called vinpocetine, which is now used for great benefit in the body (and brain) — all without any side effects.
Since the seed extract was developed, vinpocetine has become popular in European and Japanese medicine, especially for its power to improve brain health.
- Increases cerebrovascular blood flow. Vinpocetine acts as a mild vasodilator that increases blood circulation and metabolism in the brain. This is beneficial for improved oxygen flow, nutrient distribution, glucose use, and improved concentration. It’s considered a powerful memory enhancer.
- Protects nerve cells from damage.
- Fights inflammation. There are many current, plausible theories for the causes of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. There are many suspects. Inflammation is beyond being a suspect — it’s practically a convicted criminal.
In a 2010 study from the University of Rochester, vinpocetine was shown to greatly reduce inflammation both in mouse lungs and a variety of human cells. It works by reducing the expression of at least three pro-inflammatory molecules.
Plus, vinpocetine has none of the dangerous side effects of steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), making it ideal for long-term treatment of inflammation-based diseases in the future.1
How much do you need?
Though vinpocetine is not currently offered as a pharmaceutical in the United States, you can buy it as a dietary supplement. It’s in a number of different memory formulas.
Most studies have shown benefits from 10 to 40mg of vinpocetine daily, with ideal levels apparently at 30mg. Because everyone’s body composition and requirements are different, the best approach is to start at 10mg and work up to no more than 40mg daily. (You can also take 10mg at a time, three times daily.) Be sure to check with your doctor if you are pregnant or taking other medications.
Professor Giovanna Mallucci heard about what happens to a squirrel’s brain when it hibernates, and the process intrigued her.
Up until then she hadn’t made the connection. But now she realized there was a possible link between hibernating animals and Alzheimer’s.
So she set about finding out if it was true and if so, what the discovery might imply for finding a treatment for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Here’s what she discovered. . .
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Hibernation is an Extreme Form
Of What Happens in Our Brains
Connections between brain cells — called synapses — continually form, get removed and then reform. In toxic conditions like Alzheimer’s, they don’t always reform, leading to a loss of brain cells and the erosion of memory.
This loss of synapses also occurs during hibernation but in an extreme form.
The animal’s body cools, its metabolic rate lowers and its brain activity slows as it goes into a state of torpor that will allow it to survive for months without food.
As the animal comes out of hibernation, its body warms up, synapses are reformed, and normal brain activity is restored.
During hibernation and cooling, many proteins can’t be created because of the lower body temperature, but a class of proteins called “cold shock proteins” are formed. One of these is called RNA-binding motif protein 3 (RBM3).
This protein helps prevent the death of brain cells, but its relationship to the removal and formation of synapses is unknown.
In the study conducted by Professor Mallucci and other scientists at Leicester and Cambridge Universities in England, they mimicked hibernation by cooling two types of mice, healthy ones and those specially bred to come down with very early and late stage neurological diseases (Alzheimer’s and Cruetzfeldt-Jakob).
In Advanced Disease, RBM3 Doesn’t Increase
In the healthy mice and those in the very early stages of disease, synapses were lost on cooling and reformed when warmed. RBM3 levels increased on cooling and stayed elevated for several days after warming.
In the mice with advanced disease, synapses were lost during the cooling phase but did not reform on warming, nor did RBM3 levels increase. However when the protein was artificially boosted, it protected against synapse loss.
The scientists also artificially decreased RBM3. They found in healthy mice that synapses were reduced and memories deteriorated. In the diseased mice, synapses were lost at a faster rate and their condition worsened.
The study demonstrated that cooling is protective against synapse loss in the early stages but not later stages of neurodegenerative disease (at least in mice). The researchers believe this is due, at least in part, to whether RBM3 is stimulated or not.
Restore Synapses, Restore Memories
Professor Mallucci believes that memories could potentially be restored if synapses are recovered. However, she warns, “Please don’t try this at home.”
She does not want you to immerse yourself in a cold bath in the hope of emulating the experiment, as it could be dangerous.
Cooling the body temperature (hypothermia) is used in medical emergencies such as heart attacks or when a newborn baby suffers oxygen loss. The treatment protects the brain from damage, but it’s not practical for neurological diseases.
The professor said, “…reducing body temperature is rarely feasible in practice. But, by identifying how cooling activates a process that prevents the loss of brain cells, we can now work towards finding a means to develop drugs that might mimic the protective effects of cold on the brain.”
And if we do, we’ll have squirrels to thank for it.
Your brain depends on omega-fatty acids – the type of fats found in fish oil – to stay healthy and keep your memory working.
The body uses these fats to create protective brain cell membranes that keep neurons from damage. This is crucial for having a better brain as you age, because when these membranes are compromised, your neurons become much more vulnerable to memory-destroying problems like Alzheimer’s disease.
Your body can’t make omega fatty acids for itself. You have to take them in from your food. When you consume these fats in your diet, they are first sent to the liver, which turns them into a form that can be sent to the brain and absorbed.
But to get those important fats to the brain, the body needs a ready supply of one particular vitamin. Otherwise, those nutrients never make the trip to the neurons where they are needed. Which vitamin? Keep reading. . .
Imagine no more. It’s here. . .
This “Forbidden” Food
Super-Charges Your Brain
It’s being called a “silent epidemic”. . .
A brain health crisis already growing faster than Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. . .and affecting the memory and cognitive ability of Americans as young as 40.
Over the next decade, the U.S. government will spend more than $3 billion to study this threat. Yet for millions of young and middle-aged adults, this research may come too late.
And you know what? They don’t need to spend the $3 billion because the major cause of memory loss has already been identified. Yet almost no one knows about it.
Millions of people are losing their memories and seeing their brain health go downhill because nine out of ten of us don’t consume enough of a vital nutrient. . .
. . .and the reason we don’t get enough of this nutrient is that doctors tell us NOT to eat the foods that happen be richest in this “missing ingredient for good brain health”!!
That’s right, the very food you need most for memory and cognitive health is a forbidden food!
It’s a national scandal. . . but it’s also an opportunity for you to save your brain and improve your memory like you wouldn’t believe. . .
Click here and I’ll tell you the full story. . .
More than 90 percent of all Americans don’t get enough of this vitamin. There’s a good chance you may be one of them.
Vitamin E is the substance necessary for these fats to get where they do the most good. And until recently, no one clearly understood this function.
The Evidence Leaves Little Doubt
“There’s increasingly clear evidence that vitamin E is associated with brain protection, and now we’re starting to better understand some of the underlying mechanisms,” says researcher Maret Traber, Ph.D.,who is with the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University.
Traber’s lab research has focused on the brain-protective role of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the most important omega-3 fat. DHA is part of a substance called DHA-PC that is incorporated into the membranes of every brain cell.
Her research shows that a vitamin E deficiency can lead to a 30 percent lower level of DHA-PC in the brain.
That’s dangerous: Other researchers have found that when you have less DHA-PC circulating in your body (much of it on the way to your brain), you run a much higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
To get to the brain, DHA-PC is transported in compounds called lyso Pls. They allow the DHA-PC to cross the blood-brain barrier and be used as a building block for repairing brain cell membranes.
In Dr. Traber’s tests, a deficiency in vitamin E was associated, on average, with a whopping 60 percent drop-off in lyso Pls.
“The particular molecules that help carry (DHA to the brain) are these lyso PLs, and the amount of those compounds is being greatly reduced when vitamin E intake is insufficient,” warns Dr. Traber. “This sets the stage for cellular membrane damage and neuronal death.”
As Dr. Traber points out, other studies have shown that people suffering the early stages of Alzheimer’s can be helped somewhat by taking vitamin E. But by the time Alzheimer’s has started, she says, years of neurological damage have already taken place that cannot be reversed by merely supplementing with vitamin E.
“You can’t build a house without the necessary materials,” Dr. Traber warns. “In a sense, if vitamin E is inadequate, we’re cutting by more than half the amount of materials with which we can build and maintain the brain.”
She notes that vitamin E in food is usually supplied by cooking oils like olive oil. But many people don’t eat the foods richest in vitamin E — things like avocados, almonds and sunflower seeds.
If you take vitamin E supplements, take natural vitamin E made up of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. These high-quality vitamin E supplements comprised of multiple forms of E are hard to find, but they’re more than worth the trouble and extra cost.
The body is not able to effectively put synthetic vitamin E to good use. Most common vitamin E supplements contain only alpha tocopherol, which is not very nutritious by itself, and may even be harmful, according to some studies, if not taken in combination with the other forms of vitamin E.
A Parasite in Your Brain Could be Running Your Life
Today’s story is sort of a sci fi thriller. Call it “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Imagine a parasite that takes over your brain and changes your personality. A common parasite that affects a vast number of people. . .
Imagine no more. It’s here. . .
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Parasites live off of other living beings. A variety of creatures including worms, microscopic protozoa, ticks, fleas and mites can infect a host organism and feed at the expense of the human or animal that provides them with a home.
Not pleasant stuff to think about, I admit. But it gets even more disturbing: Researchers suspect that a common parasite not only infects almost one out of every three people living on planet earth, but that it might be changing our behavior in an attempt to insure its own survival and reproduction.
The parasite is known as Toxoplasma gondii, a protozoan that infects cats and can be transferred to people in cat feces, meat from infected animals that are not cooked sufficiently, and drinking water that has been contaminated.
T. gondii is the reason that pregnant women are advised not to clean kitty litter boxes. This one-celled microbe can cause miscarriages and birth defects.
Are you a man or a mouse?
When mice are infected with T. gondii, it changes their behavior, invading the amygdala in the brain, making them less afraid of cats. While researchers aren’t sure how it goes about making mice suicidally fearless, they have found that it increases the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
And they know that a mouse’s sudden bravery when faced with a murderous feline works to the parasite’s advantage: When the cat eats the mouse, T. gondii can get on with its life-cycle in the body of the carnivorous cat.
But what happens when a human becomes infected? It’s a puzzling question that has inspired research and speculation.
“In populations where this parasite is very common, mass personality modification could result in cultural change,” says researcher Kevin Lafferty, Ph.D., who is at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
In other words, as Dr. Lafferty sees it, people in certain parts of the country – or in other countries — may behave differently when a large percentage of the population is infected with T. gondii.
When Dr. Lafferty looked at the infection rates of various countries, he found that places with higher levels were characterized by people who scored higher in tests of their neuroticism, and by men who were more likely to strictly define their acceptable macho-male roles in society.1
Another study showed that men with the parasite have tendencies to be rebellious, suspicious and introverted. But the parasite’s influence on women was found to be the opposite: The bug apparently made them more obedient, trusting and extroverted.2
Parasite for life
There is no treatment for a T. gondii infection. Once it enters your body, it forms cysts that the body can’t get rid of.
But a study at the Indiana University School of Medicine shows that before it forms cysts, the parasite makes changes in the brain by altering proteins in structures called astrocytes — star-shaped cells that take part in processing neurotransmitters.3
“We don’t know the impacts of these changes yet,” admits researcher William Sullivan, “but these discoveries could be particularly significant in understanding how the parasites persist in the brain and how this ‘rewiring’ could affect behavior in both rodents and humans.” Dr. Sullivan is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
The consequences of the parasite on your brain as you age is unclear. Some studies have shown that T. gondii infection is linked to a poorer memory.4 So, as you grow older a dog might be a better choice than a cat. If you do own a cat, when you change the kitty litter, wear disposable gloves and be very careful to dispose of the litter properly.
I love cats, but if I had children around the house I don’t believe I’d keep one. The risk is too great that they wouldn’t be careful about the sanitation measures, like hand washing, required to avoid the infection.
I make a point of not worrying about things that can’t be helped. And T. gondii probably falls into that category. But remember, too, that knowledge is power. If you’re a male who’s introverted and suspicious, or a female who is excessively trusting – maybe it’s because you have this infection. Merely being aware that an illness is at work might be a small help in correcting undesirable behavior – or learning to accept ourselves as we are and not judge ourselves too harshly.
A great philosopher once said that if a stone flying through the air could think, it would probably think it had chosen the path it’s on. I’m not that much of a fatalist, but I do know that most things are beyond our control. Focus on those that are (I do believe they exist!) and do the best you can.
Have you ever noticed that you’re able to remember entire songs better than most other things, like grocery lists, dates, or even people’s names?
Anything put to music is much easier to remember because “auditory memory” is separate from, but complements, visual and spatial memory — giving you three ways to remember instead of just two.
Studies indicate that, even in Alzheimer’s patients, musical memory remains mostly intact long after “standard” long-term memory has faded.
It turns out there’s a special reason this part of the memory survives the assault of the deadly disease. It’s a neat trick of your brain’s physiology that you can use to hang on to your thinking ability for precious extra years. Let’s take a look. . .
Big Pharma’s Attempt to Patent
This Herb Caused an Outrage!
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When Curcumin’s amazing health properties where discovered by Western medicine, one pharmaceutical company’s attempt to patent it caused widespread outrage.
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The studies that prove it are impressive. Exercising your auditory memory today could help stall memory decline.
Neuroplasticity and piano lessons
This is why previous issues have urged you to take up a musical instrument. It’s hard and challenging – which gives you good exercise in itself. But beyond that, learning to play an instrument builds up a part of the brain that is the last to succumb to memory loss.
Learning or practicing music is such a brain teaser and absolutely qualifies as a dementia-fighting exercise. Beyond aural memory, playing music also requires muscle memory and dexterity, visuospatial memory, fast mental processing, and cognitive flexibility.
Because the exercise is so multi-faceted, it appears to have multiple benefits as well.
It all comes down to neuroplasticity — the ability for even the adult brain to grow new neurons, increase neural networks, and reap the benefit of physical, positive change in brain structures.
For example, lifelong musicians have been shown to be especially good at remembering things they have heard. They process sound more efficiently and are better at processing speech against a noisy background — a problem characteristic of Alzheimer’s.1
But even if you’ve reached a ripe old age without ever learning to play an instrument, you’re not out of luck.
“The brain can be trained to overcome, in some part, some age-related hearing loss,” explained hearing loss expert Don Caspary. “[Studies] strongly suggest that intensive training even late in life could improve speech processing in older adults.”1
An Emory University study agrees:
Musicians who continue playing into their senior years tend to perform better on visuospatial judgment tasks, “suggesting there continues to be plasticity in advanced age,” said Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, study author and assistant neurology professor.2
Plus, she noted, musical training also appears to enhance “cognitive reserve” — the phenomenon where the brain both physically and cognitively compensates for damage by drawing on “extra” neurons developed earlier in life.
So it appears that yes, it is worth signing up for piano lessons — even as an adult. Remember, challenging your brain like this can stall dementia by as much as five years—and add significant quality of life and independence.
A separate memory just for music?
It’s fascinating that the separate memory domain devoted to music seems to be spared the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease.
According to a 2009 review paper, there is no doubt musicians have different brain structures and cognitive strengths than non-musicians.
And, musicians who develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease actually preserve their musical memory, especially when they continue playing after onset of the illness.3
For example, one case study of a 63 year old pianist with severe dementia showed that by listening to a piece of piano music and studying it for six days, she was able to play the piece well on the seventh day.
Surprisingly though, she transposed the song into a different key without realizing what she had done.
This is especially interesting because it implies her aural memory was intact — in other words, she could recognize the melody as she played it — but there was some disconnect between the written notes (visual learning) and what her fingers actually played.
A follow-up study a year later showed she had continued to play familiar music despite further cognitive deterioration.
This indicates that aural memory alone is unique—and it is quite possibly “stored” in areas of the brain unaffected by Alzheimer’s pathology.
A 2010 Boston University School of Medicine study confirmed it:
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease were able to learn lyrics to songs only when they were presented with music—not when the words were presented visually and recited.4
So, it might not be that music improves memory … it’s that musical memory is separate and preserved, despite disease or damage to the brain.
What about just listening to music?
While the “Mozart effect” — the notion that children who listen to classical music are somehow made smarter — has largely been debunked, merely listening to music does have proven positive benefits.
A British team from Northumbria University recently discovered that upbeat music positively affects cognitive functioning. It creates a happy mood and increases alertness and emotional processing — which indirectly translate into increased cognition.5
So, does that mean it might be more useful to learn happier songs during your upcoming music lessons? You’ll have to find out and let me know.