Archive for February, 2012

Baby goats massage man’s back

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Becky’s Homestead is the name of a YouTube channel offering suggestions for “how to go from a consumer lifestyle, into the Self-Sufficient, Community Driven, Eco-Friendly, Homesteading Lifestyle.” A video entitled “Goat Massage” offers what you might call an alternative to those massage chairs in the mall.

Read more.

Can Childhood Abuse Be Making You Fat?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

by Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, Guest Editor of Integrative Medicine, on

Although certainly just one of many things contributing to weight gain, I suspect that childhood sexual and emotional abuse can also play a significant role.

Having worked with thousands of seriously ill patients over the last 3 decades, including many women who went through childhood sexual abuse, I’ve seen how many women are left with long-term consequences. For example, I have been left with the impression that some (though of course not all) women who suffered sexual abuse as a child would put on a large amount of weight. This seemed to serve as a form of protection, by making themselves unattractive to whoever was abusing them.

New research suggests a physical mechanism that may be contributing to the weight gain. The study looked at women who have fibromyalgia or osteoarthritis pain. It found that the ones with a history of sexual or emotional abuse as a child had significantly higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol — despite the abuse having happened in the distant past. One side effect of cortisol levels that are too high is weight gain. Interestingly, the elevated cortisol was not found in women who suffered emotional trauma as a child from being neglected.

Although I need to stress that the study did not report on (or even really significantly discuss) weight gain, the findings of a persistently high cortisol in women who suffered abuse has several important implications:

(1) It may be an important physical contributor to excessive weight gain.

(2) It can explain why it would be physically very difficult to lose weight in these cases.

(3) It opens the possibility that physical and emotional treatments may allow the woman to finally lose the extra weight.

Read more.

Pat the cat

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Watch cute video.

Teach your children how to respond properly to adversity

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

How your children learn to respond to adversity depends largely on how you respond to adversity, and the perspective you teach them about the inevitable setbacks they will experience in their lives. You should be keenly aware of your reactions to setbacks, whether in a relatively unimportant situation, such as having difficulty balancing your checkbook, or in a critical situation, such as losing out on a job promotion. If you show frustration, anger, or despair when you face obstacles, you will be modeling this behavior for your children. Freak out! If you remain calm, positive, and motivated, they will learn this reaction from you. Geek out!

Dr. Peter Goldenthal suggests the following ways to help your children respond positively to adversity:

Put the situation in perspective. Show your children that a setback is not the end of the world.
Don’t rush to the rescue. Let your children try to solve the problem themselves.
Play up the positive. Point out to your children all the good things that happened besides the obstacle.
Suggest step-by-step success. Help your children set goals using the setback as useful information.
Admit your own mistakes. Share with your children difficulties that you had when you were young and how you overcame them.
The Choice is Yours

Read more.

Lent and the science of self-denial

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

When it comes to good-time holidays, Lent does not rank very high. Nor do Ramadan or Yom Kippur, of course, and no wonder. They are all about saying no to something (or many things) you love. Where’s the egg nog and holiday joy in all that? But we observe these less-than-festive celebrations all the same — and we have good reason to do so. There are hidden benefits to so much ritualized self-denial.

One of the open secrets of all religions is that even if you don’t care for the priestly raiment in which their traditions come draped, some of them can be very healthy all the same. And those, like Lent, whose secular message is nothing more complicated than practicing self-control, can be among the most salutary of all — something science is beginning to prove.

Read more.

Dangers of getting pork tapeworms in the brain

Friday, February 24th, 2012

A pair of new studies underscore the U.S. public health threat of neurocysticercosis—quite literally having pork tapeworm larvae curled up inside one’s brain—now the most common cause of adult-onset epilepsy in the world. The first study, The Impact of Neurocysticercosis in California, concluded that “Neurocysticercosis causes appreciable disease and exacts a considerable economic burden in California,” with estimated annual hospital charges exceeding $17 million. The second study, published two weeks ago, is the first to follow the cognitive function and quality of life of those living with these brain parasites.

As you’ll see in today’s video pick below, even after one’s brain is infested with pork tapeworms, some people can go for years before the headaches and seizures start as the larvae begin to multiply. What the second study suggests, though, is that long before the more obvious symptoms present, those who are infected may suffer from mental, social, and cognitive dysfunction.

Read more.

6 Surprisingly Advanced Ways Animals Use Medicine

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

We humans think we’re so smart. Sure, animals are good for a laugh or two, but if one of them gets sick, who’s going to take care of it? Either it’s some sympathetic human or nobody. It’s not like animals have doctors and medicine. Right?

Fascinating. Read more.

Which is the guilty dog?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Funny video. Watch.

Brain scans might tell if your relationship will last

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

When you’re in the early stages of falling in love, you might hide it from friends and family. But you can’t hide it from neuroscientists. By charting brain activity with an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) machine, scientists can spot telltale regions of your brain glowing joyously when you look at a photograph of your beloved.

But new research suggests that neuroscientists can tell you much more than what you already know (that you’re madly in love). Like fortune-tellers who read brains instead of palms, they have begun to figure out how to determine the fate of your relationship by studying your brain activity alone. And armed with the knowledge of the brain responses they’re looking for, you too may be able to find clues in your own behavior as to whether you and your loved one will be happily married years from now, or bitterly separated and wondering why it all fell apart.

Not all in-love brains look alike. Several years ago, Xiaomeng Xu, now a postdoctoral fellow at Brown University School of Medicine, and her colleagues performed fMRI scans on 18 Chinese men and women who reported being in the early stages of romantic love. Though all the study participants showed clear signs of love — looking at the face of their beloved triggered a flurry of activity in the areas of their brains involved in reward and motivation — the researchers identified subtle differences between the individuals’ brain scans. When the team followed up with the study participants 18 months later to learn how their budding relationships had turned out, they found a surprisingly strong correlation between certain characteristics in the original brain scans and the participants’ relationship status a year and a half later. [13 Scientifically Proven Signs You’re in Love]

Read more.

Bear cub and baby wolf play

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Watch video.

Thomas Ramey Watson is an affiliate faculty member of Regis University's College of Professional Studies. He has served as an Episcopal chaplain (lay), trained as a psychotherapist, done postdoctoral work at Cambridge University, and was named a Research Fellow at Yale University.

In addition to his scholarly writings, he is a published author of poetry and fiction.