Monday, August 24, 2009

PTSD Linked to Heart Disease in Iraq, Afghanistan Veterans

According to a study published in August in the Journal of the American Medical Association and reported in Reuters Health Online, the veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental disorders have a greater risk of heart disease. The link between military-related PTSD and heart disease has been made before, but this is the first time an association has been made with veterans of the current conflicts. In examining behaviors of veterans, the researchers found those with PTSD and other mental disorders such as anxiety disorder are twice as likely to be tobacco users, a well-known risk behavior.

Reuters Health Online article...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Healthier Cake contest winners

Let Them Eat (Healthier) Cake

By Tara Parker-Pope, 8-18-09, NY Times Blogs (Well)

The American Cancer Society recently asked baking and pastry students at the Culinary Institute of America to reinvent the birthday cake using better-for-you ingredients.

Alexandra Mudry won for her makeover of a red velvet cake.

The winner was a healthful twist on the red velvet cake, created by Alexandra Mudry, a former actress from Pleasantville, N.Y., who will graduate from the school in October. The recipe cuts back on the sugar, eggs, oil and butter in the traditional version, substituting roasted beets, dried cherries, applesauce and whole grain flour to boost the nutrient content. Ms. Mudry’s New Red Velvet Cake, which is filled with chocolate ganache and topped with cream cheese frosting, is now the official cake of the American Cancer Society’s “More Birthdays” campaign.

Recipes from the other four finalists include:

Chocolate Raspberry Cake: Runner-up Arthur Battistini, from Middleboro, Mass., reduced the calories and boosted the beta carotene and flavonoid content in making his chocolate raspberry cake.

Blueberry Dream Cake: Finalist Tamara King, a former banking industry worker and a native of Harrod, Ohio, made her cake with whole-wheat flour, applesauce and blueberries, which are rich in antioxidants.

Chocolate Cake: Finalist Laura Sansone, a native of Boonton, N.J., who will graduate from C.I.A. in February, created an egg-free applesauce version of the traditional favorite.

Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake: Finalist Lorraine Tran, originally from Garden Grove, Calif., created a gluten-free cake filled with a yogurt-berry mousse.

Click here for the recipes:

Let Them Eat (Healthier) Cake By Tara Parker-Pope -c. NY Times Blogs, 8-18-09

Fibromyalgia and Traumatic Stress connections

I'd like to ask Belleruth about the seeming correlation between trauma and fibromyalgia in women. Has there been any research into this?

Mary, I write about this in Invisible Heroes. At the time of publication there were only 2 studies published, showing the link between fibromyalgia and traumatic stress – for men or women, although either condition hits more women than men. Now there are too many studies to count, but you can start with a recent article by some Italian researchers, Stisi et al, titled Etiopathogenetic mechanisms of fibromyalgia syndrome. Robert Scaer was on to this years ago, and wrote about it in The Body Bears the Burden. But the short answer is YES, there is a big, fat correlation.

Here is an explanatory (or at least I hope so) excerpt of the relevant material from my book (and for those of you who have the book, it’s in Chapter 5, The Physical Effects of Trauma, pages 78-80.

Chronic Pain Conditions
This constant activation of the alarm state leads to an accumulation of metabolic waste products in the muscle fibers, and the release of kinins and other chemical pain generators in the tissue, resulting in myofascial pain and the appearance of those seemingly intractable chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic headache, TMJ and more.

And because these conditions are generated in the brain stem and the motor reflex centers in the spinal column, and routed through a perturbed, automatic, arousal circuitry, peripheral forms of treatment provide only temporary relief. Constantly activated by everyday sensory cues, normal muscle movement and spontaneous memories, symptoms grow and become more and more entrenched over time. In other words, this is one nasty gift from the kindled feedback loop that, if not interrupted, will just keep on giving.

Our epidemiology research has already shown us an astounding percentage of people with baffling chronic pain conditions and “functional” diseases that have no obvious causes, who have been found to have prior histories of severe trauma. Probably if we could tease out the subset of traumatized people who experienced substantial dissociation during their trauma, and a truncated freeze response in the midst of it, we might find closer to one hundred percent suffering from posttraumatic stress. Unfortunately for them, they are often assumed to be malingering or engaged in attention-seeking behavior for neurotic reasons, instead of suffering from a very serious, self perpetuating condition with a potentially worsening trajectory.

Included in this group of maligned and misunderstood patients would be scores of people suffering from pelvic and low back pain, orofacial and myofascial pain, genito-urinary and abdominal pain; interstitial cystitis; and the previously mentioned headache, fibromyalgia (FM), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD); irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD), multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) and migraine.

Thanks for asking. Too many people still don’t know about this connection.
All best,
Belleruth Naparstek busy

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Workplace Yoga And Meditation Lowers Stress

Yoga and Meditation at Work reduces stress and improves sleep, what a concept. This study uses a modified-version of Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) as developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Workplace Yoga And Meditation Can Lower Feelings Of Stress

05 Aug 2009
Twenty minutes per day of guided workplace meditation and yoga combined with six weekly group sessions can lower feelings of stress by more than 10 percent and improve sleep quality in sedentary office employees, a pilot study suggests.

The study offered participants a modified version of what is known as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a program established in 1979 to help hospital patients in Massachusetts assist in their own healing that is now in wide use around the world..

In this context, mindfulness refers in part to one's heightened awareness of an external stressor as the first step toward relaxing in a way that can minimize the effects of that stress on the body... [cont.]

This work was supported by the National Institute of Health-funded General Clinical Research Center at Ohio State..

Co-authors of the study are Janet Buckworth of the College of Education and Human Ecology and William Malarkey of the College of Medicine, both at Ohio State..

Source: Ohio State University

Article URL:

© 2009 MediLexicon International Ltd

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Herbal formulas show inverse risk for breast cancers

This is an interesting German study, with over 10,000 post-menopausal women. While no study is ever the final word on any topic, it is encouraging to know there is some basis to support the use of herbal preparations for post-menopausal symptoms with an inverse risk for breast cancer; contrasted by the body of work that seems to show higher risk of breast cancers in women who have used HRT (hormone replacement therapy). jd

Findings: Every use of HEP (Herbal Preparations) was inversely associated with invasive breast cancer in a dose-dependent manner. Classes (formulas) of HEP did not differ significantly (in outcomes). Risks for invasive ductal and combined lobular/mixed/tubular tumors were similarly reduced by any HEP use but not for in situ (pre-existing) carcinomas. There were no substantial differences in associations of HEP use by estrogen receptor status and progesterone receptor status of the tumor.

Interpretation: Our findings support the hypothesis that HEP use protects from invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Among conceivable modes of action, those independent of estrogen-receptor mediated pathways seem to be involved (i.e., cytotoxicity, apoptosis). (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2009;18(8):2207-13)
Edited by jd for readability.

The Use of Herbal Preparations to Alleviate Climacteric Disorders and Risk
of Postmenopausal Breast Cancer
in a German Case-Control Study
Nadia Obi, Jenny Chang-Claude, Jurgen Berger, Wilhelm Braendle, Tracy
Slanger, Martina Schmidt, Karen Steindorf, Wolfgang Ahrens, and Dieter
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2009;18 2207-2213

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Listening is perhaps the most critical skill taught to Whole Health Educators, and it is a skill that requires constant attention and practice. The moment I take my listening skills for granted, I have lost a gift given by a friend, client or stranger. Co-mmunication requires two distinct forms of attention: giving and receiving. If we try to do both at the same time (now fondly labeled as multi-tasking) we risk real traffic congestion in the brain, and we risk losing valuable information that might just change a person's life (ours, another's, or both!). Enjoy this write-up on the value of listening by Linda from Spirituality and Health. Jan

Soul: Listen Up!

The dictionary lists the word “listen” as a verb - reminding us that listening is an active process and asks us:
1) to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing.
2) to pay attention; heed, obey,
3) to wait attentively for a sound. (

Probably the most interesting thing I noticed about these definitions is that all three contain the word “attention.” So, of course, I had to look up that definition, and there I found words like “attentiveness,” “concentration,” “consideration,” “heedfulness,” “observant care,” and “mindfulness.” Teachers and professionals in a wide variety of areas such as leadership, management, and conflict resolution, often describe techniques like “focusing attention on” or “attending to the speaker fully” to be able to absorb the information being shared. They also describe specific tactics to improve listening, such as waiting for the speaker to finish, and listening without thinking about other things, formulating your response, or judging what the speaker is saying.

(Sheryl McGavin, certified instructor, international speaker and examiner for The Upledger Institute, with a private practice in Palm Beach, Florida.) It occurred to me that if we were able to really listen to others, and be observant and attentive, concentrating on what was being said without wandering off in another direction or anticipating our own response, maybe we could also begin to really listen to our own inner voice and be present to it. We could begin to honor it and give it the consideration it deserves. Are we really listening in the full sense of the word? It’s amazing what you can get from a simple reading of the dictionary!
Your Weekly Soul/Body Connection®
August 5, 2009