Psycho-Acoustic Medicine: Science Behind Sound Healing For Serotonin Production

Mental illness has reached an all time high in the world, and yet the modern day medicines to relieve symptoms have gained controversy. This is, in part, why people have dug up the past to better understand alternative ways of healing.

Sound, for instance, has been a tool for promoting the physical and emotional health of the body for as long as history can account for, deeply rooted in ancient cultures and civilizations. The ancient Egyptians used vowel sound chants in healing because they believed vowels were sacred. Tibetan monks take advantage of singing bowls, which they believe to be “a symbol of the unknowable” whose “vibrations have been described as the sound of the universe manifesting.”

“Our various states of consciousness are directly connected to the ever-changing electrical, chemical, and architectural environment of the brain. Daily habits of behavior and thought processes have the ability to alter the architecture of brain structure and connectivity, as well as, the neurochemical and electrical neural oscillations of your mind.”

Psychoacoustics is the scientific study of the perception of sound, and it has fueled researchers paths to better understand how it can be used as medicine. For instance, in 1973, Dr. Gerald Oster, a medical doctor and biophysicist, proved, in his research paper, “Auditory Beats in the Brain,” how sound affects the how the brain absorbs new information, controls mood, sleep patterns, healing responses, and more, and how quickly. Thus, specific frequencies of sound and music can be used to generate neurotransmitters such as serotonin.

brain_scan

To understand the fundamentals of sound in healing, we must first understand our brain waves. The nucleus of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, is the communication between neurons. Brain waves are generated by way of electrical pulses working in unison from masses of neurons interacting with one another. Brain waves are divided into five different bandwidths that are thought to form a spectrum of human consciousness.

The slowest of the waves are delta waves (.5 to 3 Hz), which are the slowest brain waves and occur mostly during our deepest state of sleep. The fastest of the waves are gamma waves (25 to 100 Hz), which are associated with higher states of conscious perception. Alpha waves (8 to 12 Hz) occur when the brain is daydreaming or consciously practicing mindfulness or meditation.

According to Dr. Suzanne Evans Morris, Ph.D., a speech-language pathologist:

Research shows that different frequencies presented to each ear through stereo headphones… create a difference tone (or binaural beat) as the brain puts together the two tones it actually hears. Through EEG monitoring the difference tone is identified by a change in the electrical pattern produced by the brain. For example, frequencies of 200 Hz and 210 Hz produce a binaural beat frequency of 10 Hz (The difference in 210 Hz and 200 Hz is 10 Hz). Monitoring of the brain’s electricity (EEG) shows that the brain produces increased 10 Hz activity with equal frequency and amplitude of the wave form in both hemispheres of the brain (left and right hemisphere).

It is thought that different brain wave patterns are connected to the production in the brain of certain neurochemicals linked with relaxation and stress release, as well as better learning and creativity, memory, and more. Such neurochemicals include beta-endorphins, growth factors, gut peptides, acetylcholine, vasopressin, and serotonin.

A series of experiments conducted by neuro-electric therapy engineer Dr. Margaret Patterson and Dr. Ifor Capel, revealed how alpha brainwaves boosted the production of serotonin. Dr. Capel explained:

As far as we can tell, each brain center generates impulses at a specific frequency based on the predominant neurotransmitter it secretes. In other words, the brain’s internal communication system—its language, is based on frequency… Presumably, when we send in waves of electrical energy at, say, 10 Hz, certain cells in the lower brain stem will respond because they normally fire within that frequency range.

Additional research upholds the beliefs of mind-body medicine in this sense, stating that brainwaves being in the Alpha state, 8 to 14 Hz, permits a vibration allowing for more serotonin to be created.

It’s important for us to come to terms with the fact that there is science behind age-old medicinal practices that do not require putting unknown substances in our bodies to alleviate issues like stress, depression, anxiety, and more.

But even more intriguing is to think something as simple as sound, as music, which we have come to treat as utterly pleasurable entertainment, has not only been used to promote healing and well-being, but has proven to work through research as well.

If your mental health is of concern, try listening to a binaural beat to generate alpha waves between 8 and 14 Hz to produce more serotonin. Another option is to take advantage of music that promotes a relaxed alpha state in the brain such as classical music.

Related CE Article: Research Shows We Can Heal With Vibration, Frequency & Sound

Tips That May Help You Put Rheumatoid Arthritis Into Remission

In our modern day world, when something goes awry with our health, we often seek the advice of a medical professional to help understand what is going on and how we can treat it. While becoming aware of our ailments is important, the way in which we treat them is just as much so. Health begins with prevention. Remaining aware of what is known to deplete our wellbeing is pertinent. And if you are faced with an unfortunate diagnosis, it’s necessary to understand it to the best of your ability, and acknowledge the factors that could have caused it, otherwise you may find yourself in the same situation again later on down the road. You must also know your healing options. There are many medicinal paths out there, and sometimes the one you are presented with is not necessarily the right one.

Here, rheumatoid arthritis is discussed, and you might be surprised at the healing options available to you.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis? 

Rheumatoid arthritis is defined as a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation of the joints, frequently accompanied by marked deformities, and ordinarily associated with manifestations of a general, or systemic, affliction.[1]

This disorder, which often affects the small joints in the hands and feet, is the result of the immune system accidentally attacking the body’s own tissues, damaging the lining of the joints, and causing swelling that can become so severe that it can lead to bone erosion and deformed joints. Other parts of the body that can be affected are the skin, eyes, lungs, and blood vessels.

The Signs and Symptoms

RA can be difficult to diagnose, but knowing the factors involved is crucial. Some of the early signs include: fatigue, dry mouth, loss of appetite, irritated eyes that can even experience discharge, chest pain upon breathing, and hardened tissue in the form of small bumps under the skin on your arms.

You may then experience inflammation, stiffness, and pain in the fingers, wrists, knees, feet, ankles, or shoulders. Numbness, tingling, and burning are also common as a result of carpal tunnel syndrome, often associated with RA. You might also experience a fever accompanied by other RA symptoms.

The disorder, which can be terminal, can have pain so crippling that half of people who develop it will no longer be able to work within 10 years. Furthermore, within five years, 50 to 70 percent of RA’s victims will experience some form of disability. With such a small number (less than one percent) of people experiencing spontaneous remission, it can feel very defeating to live with.

Traditional Treatments

Many of the doctor-prescribed medications do little to reverse RA, but rather alleviate the symptoms associated with the disorder. To do so, anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and highly toxic drugs are often utilized. Steroids like prednisone can have many side effects, including an increased risk of infection, weight gain, worsening diabetes, cataracts in the eyes, and the thinning of bones.

Furthermore, there is also the concern of  people with RA experiencing relapses while on these toxic medications. “That can happen within months or even many years after a patient has been started on a drug,” explains Dr. Hardin, a professor of medicine in the division of rheumatology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Bronx, New York. Dr. Hardin notes that this phenomenon is the result of people simply becoming resistant to medications.

“When I was diagnosed with RA, my rheumatologist started me on immuno-suppressants, steroids and methotrexate (a drug commonly used in chemotherapy),” says Rachna Chhachhi, a certified nutritional therapist. “After a while of feeling good, I noticed that my hair had started falling. I tried everything possible to get back my lost hair, but to no avail. Nothing worked. When I asked my immunologist, he told me it was a side effect of the drugs I was taking. I had to choose between balding and being able to walk.” Chhachhi chose alternative methods, changing her lifestyle choices first and foremost.

Lifestyle Changes and Natural Pain Relievers

As with any health concern, it’s much easier to assume this is the unfortunate hand you are dealt with and give in to medications as a means for getting through the day. But a crucial step many people miss when it comes to diagnoses is understanding what might have caused them in the first place.

RA is an immune system disorder, so it makes sense that the buildup of nutritional deficiencies could weaken the body. Chhachhi chose to strengthen her immune system through nutrition and physical practices like yoga and pranayama. Here is a look at similar lifestyle changes that can be made:

Diet

Avoiding or limiting inflammatory foods can be extremely beneficial for reversing RA. These foods include whole-milk products, fatty cuts of meat, empty starches, added sugars, refined flours, and processed foods complete with hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. Anti-inflammatory foods include wild salmon, avocado, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, vegetables, and antioxidant-rich fruits. Essentially, you are eating for your joints.

A 2011 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that, over a 15-year- period, men and women who ate a healthful dose of nuts had more than a 50 percent lower risk of dying from inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis as opposed to those who ate little to no nuts.

Olive oil, which is loaded with oleocanthal, hinders inflammation in the body as well as reduces pain, much like the synthetic medications on the market. “This compound inhibits activity of COX enzymes, with a pharmacological action similar to ibuprofen,” explains José M. Ordovás, PhD, who is the Director of Nutrition and Genomics at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.

Another natural pain reliever is the curcumin found in turmeric, which is touted for its incredible anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, a study published in 2006 in the Journal of Natural Products discovered that pure curcuminoid extracts are effective in preventing and treating experimental rheumatoid arthritis.

Weight

Excess weight isn’t good for people with rheumatoid arthritis because it adds extra stress and strain on weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips. Low-impact aerobic exercises are the way to go. “While, yoga keeps their joints supple and flexible, pranayama helps in the efficient release of toxins from the body, thereby reducing pain,” explains Chhachhi of her chosen and recommended method.

study conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic discovered that obese individuals were 25 percent more at risk for being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis than people with normal body weights. The study’s lead researcher, Eric Matteson, says it’s more than just stress on the joints, however. “The link, we think, has to do with the activity of the fat cells themselves,” says Matteson.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D plays an important role in the strengthening of bones, joints and cartilage, so not getting enough can work to do the opposite — weakening your body and aiding in muscle and skeletal pain. A 2012 study published in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism concluded that a deficiency of this vitamin may be linked to the onset of serious diseases for people with RA. The sun is the best source of natural vitamin D. You can also get it through your diet by eating foods like salmon, egg yolks, and fortified milk and yogurts. And to make sure you are absorbing it properly, it’s important to have healthy gut flora. Consuming fermented foods daily is a great place to start.

Get Inspired

If you’re suffering from RA and want to try an alternative method that can alleviate your symptoms and potentially put you in remission, check out how Dr. Mercola helped his patient, Sarah Allen, find her way back to health in this video:

Study Links The Birth Control Pill To Depression

 study from the University of Copenhagen has revealed a link between the female contraceptive pill and depression.

Though it may seem obvious that a medicine that tampers with hormone levels might affect mood, the research suggests these links are even stronger than some may have initially assumed. The most extensive study of its kind, involving one million Danish women between the ages of 15 and 34, researchers tracked participants for a total of 13 years and concluded that those taking a combined contraceptive pill are 23% more likely to use antidepressants as opposed to those who do not.

The statistic increased to 34% for the progesterone-only pill, 60% for the vaginal ring, and an astonishing 100% for the patch.

Family planning organizations and the NHS have boosted their efforts to encourage teens to use long-lasting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), mostly because they eliminate the need for users to remember to take a pill every day, and are also thought to have less severe potential side effects than the pill. But the new research out of Denmark suggests such encouragements are altogether ill-advised.

Research has already found that the pill may worsen symptoms of pre-existing depression, so if teens were at greater risk of depression, continuing this contraceptive practice would be extremely remiss. The researchers even acknowledged the notion that, since GPs are less likely to prescribe the pill to those already suffering from depression, and since women who find themselves depressed once on the pill have a greater chance of opting out of it, this particular study likely underestimates the possible negative effects that hormonal contraceptives can have on mental health.

The initial response from women seemed to back up the study’s findings via a poll on NewStatesman. Many claimed the pill gave them anxiety, depression, or mood swings, while others claimed it made them feel angry, irrationally upset, or “weepy.”

There were also people, like myself, who actually felt more balanced on the pill, and even experienced depression after getting off of it. But the study, nevertheless, has profound implications for women and mental health. Mood changes are one of the biggest reasons many stop using the pill within the first year, and this study allows women’s concerns to finally be taken seriously, and not pushed off as some sort of emotional incompetence.

Naturally, the medical community tried to stifle the importance of these findings once the research came out, with experts claiming we shouldn’t be alarmed, concerned, or even tempted to stop using our hormonal contraceptives. Much of this advice comes from men who haven’t taken contraceptives themselves. For instance, Dr. Ali Kubba, a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, (RCOG) said:

Women should not be alarmed by this study as all women react differently to different methods of contraception. . . . There are a variety of contraceptive methods on offer, including the Pill, implants, injections, intrauterine devices, and vaginal rings and we therefore advise women to discuss their options with a doctor, where they will discuss the possible side-effects and decisions around the most suitable method can be made jointly.

Women are only fertile six days per menstrual cycle, while men are fertile every single day, yet we are educated to believe females must be the ones to subject their physical and mental well-being to hormonal treatment and potential health risks. Since getting off the pill, I have found myself much more in tune with my body. I had been on it for years, and relied entirely on an empty packet of pills to signal my impending period; I didn’t know anything about my own ovulation. And when I speak to other women who use the pill, it seems they don’t really, either. I’ve used the fertility awareness method for quite some time, and there are plenty of other effective alternatives to hormonal contraceptives, like the copper coil, diaphragm, condoms, and of course, vasectomy and the contraceptive injection for men called Vasalgel.

Instead, the response from medical professionals has proved disheartening, including one’s reminder on the new research that “an unwanted pregnancy far outweighs all the other side effects that could occur from a contraceptive.” So what’s the point of even considering the other side effects?

Women are also twice as likely to experience depression than men, due to “the fluctuation of progesterone and oestrogen levels.” Regardless of all the facts, however, it seems easier to blame women’s depression on their sex than it is to point the finger at a medication produced through synthetic hormones.www.goo

The Importance of Teaching Empathy To Children

At its simplest, empathy is the awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people. It goes beyond sympathy, which is often thought of as feeling for someone, and instead, is feeling with that person.

When we are empathetic toward someone else, we think before we speak or act, and instead, find a way to make them feel supported, loved, cared for, or even just simply understood. Practicing empathy can be as deep and as challenging as being there for someone during rough times, or as surface as making an effort to be kind to the people and things we come across in our own little worlds each and every day. This mindset entails the basic necessity of respect and the knowledge that we must treat others as we want to be treated ourselves.

The sooner we understand what empathy means, and the importance of it, the sooner we can live a more peaceful existence. Various studies even reinforce that the more empathy a child displays, the less likely they are to bully someone else. They are also more likely to share with and help others, and less likely to be antisocial or exhibit uncontrolled aggressive behaviours.  This is why educators are devoting more attention to empathy in recent years.

Yalda Modabber is one of those people. Now the principal and founder of Golestan Education, a Persian-language preschool and after-school program in Berkeley, California that collaborates with other local schools on cultural education, she admits that being bullied as a child motivated her to integrate empathy into every level at her school.

“It was nonstop for two years,” admits Modabber. “That period in my life was so hard that I blocked it out. I don’t even remember my teachers’ names. The entire class turned on me.”

Research suggests that people who are exposed to empathy earlier in life have a better chance of beholding longer-lasting emotional benefits than those exposed to it later, or not at all. In fact, one recent study discovered that children taught social and emotional skills in preschool and kindergarten have, in comparison to kids who don’t have empathy integrated into their curriculum, better social skills and fewer behaviour problems.

We’re Born With It

Infants as young as 8 to 14 months can show precursors to empathy via signs like concern for a parent if they’re hurt or upset. And the older we get, the more our empathetic behaviour becomes apparent. A study from the University of Munich in Germany discovered that children between the ages of five and seven increasingly anticipate feelings of concern for other people.

It Can Lead To Success

Empathy can also aid kids in becoming more successful as well. A recent study from Duke and Penn State discovered that kids who shared and helped others were more likely to graduate high school and have full-time jobs thereafter.

“It’s not just children,” explains Tina Malti, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto. “It’s a life issue. I think a holistic view emphasizes living a more balanced life. If you only focus on academic outcomes, or work outcomes, you are going to miss the whole being of a person. It needs to be balanced in a healthful and meaningful way. And the word ‘meaningful’ always entails the whole being.”

There Are Many Ways To Build Empathy

There is no one size fits all when it comes to integrating empathy into an academic atmosphere. For instance, at Golestan Education, Yalda Modabber brings her dog, Nika, to work and allows her students to feed her, groom her, and give her water.

Research shows that people who have an attachment to a pet are actually more empathetic, with one recent study conducted by the American Humane Association showing how having an animal in the classroom increases students’ feelings of compassion and empathy towards one another.

“It’s not about bringing in a dog,” notes Malti. “It’s about teaching a student how to care for another. You can have a good teacher or a horrible teacher. If a student just watches a teacher taking care of the animal, and doesn’t participate, she doesn’t learn as well. But research shows if you have the child care for the animal, or even an infant, herself, it’s different. How you learn how to care for something is important.”

Malti also urges the importance of focusing on the individual.”Every single classroom is a microcosm,” Malti explains. “And each child in that classroom has varying capacities of mental needs. If you don’t look at the varying needs, you miss the opportunity to promote empathy in the best way possible.”

In addition to bringing her dog to school,  Modabber has the students do gardening. “They’re nurturing seeds to grow,” Modabber explains. “They’re giving it water and sunlight, they take care of it every day. Then they plant it. They don’t just pick them. They are really appreciating these plants. They see them. They’re present. They’re aware of these plants and how they’re growing.”

Every day before lunch, the students sing a song and chant to thank the earth for the food they’re about to eat—the food they’ve grown. Once they have finished, they sing a song to thank the chef who prepared it for them. This gratitude goes hand in hand with empathy according to research, which links higher empathy to less aggression.

Connecting with other cultures helps to improve empathy as well, according to Modabber, who says that every Friday, the children learn about a different country or culture, so they can better relate to people with context.

Video On Empathy

What is the best way to ease someone’s pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own fragilities.

Study Finds That Nearly 30,000 Plant Species Are Used As Medicine Around World

For more than a decade and with increasing urgency, critics have called out the disproportionate influence the pharmaceutical industry has had on the practice of medicine, as well as biomedical research. Meanwhile, the power of natural medicine has increasingly entered the spotlight, and a new study brings more attention to the latter.

report released by the Kew Gardens in the United Kingdom has revealed that there are nearly 30,000 plant species recorded as being of medicinal use throughout the world. The report also noted that fewer than 16% of the species used in plant-based medicines are cited in medicinal regulatory publication.

This is surely a blow to the many pharmaceutical companies who stay not just afloat, but on top, by calling natural, plant-based herbal remedies useless in the world of medicine.

Plant medicines are widely and successfully used across the globe, however. In Germany, for instance, 90% of the population opts for herbal medicines over drug-based medicine. And, interestingly enough, the United States spent 17 billion dollars on herbal remedies in 2000 alone, despite its heavy reliance on pharmaceuticals, greater than any other country in the world.

Certainly of importance, as the new study notes, is that mixing pharmaceuticals with plant-based medicines can be dangerous, since many of the plants are made of compounds that become dangerous if taken incorrectly. Furthermore, there are many alternative names for each species.

To develop drugs, the majority rely on lead compounds that are directly extracted from medicinal plants anyway.

The report says:

Since 1981, 1,130 new therapeutic agents have been approved for use as pharmaceutical drugs, of which 593 are based on compounds from natural sources. Thirty-eight are derived from medicinal plants [40,41] . Fifteen of the 56 natural drugs registered for the treatment of cancer since 1980 are derived from medicinal plants with a long history of traditional use. For example drugs based on Paclitaxel have been isolated from the yew tree (Taxus spp.), Camptothecin from the happy tree, (Camptotheca acuminata) and Podophyllotoxin from the May apple (Podophyllum hexandrum and P. peltatum)

So, is pharmaceutical medicine plant-based? Not exactly, considering their patent-based model heightens the toxic side effects to the patient. Never mind the fact that, when Big Pharma needs it, they can simply outsource the science needed to prove their drug will follow through with its word to heal, while buying off anyone who could reveal its dirty ingredients — full of carcinogens, viruses, and dead human cells.

The report also reveals that putting efforts on world trade of just a few species of medicinal plants risks their sustainability. This then forces companies to substitute other plants for those they’ve devastated, a practice that can further harm human health.

The report also pointed out that, of the five drugs created for Alzheimer’s disease, two are derived from plants:

Galantamine, from Galanthus (snowdrops), Leucojum (snowflakes) and Narcissus (daffodils), was the first natural product drug to treat dementia symptoms. The second was Rivastigmine, which is chemically derived from physostigmine, an alkaloid from Physostigma venenosum (calabar bean).

The report also writes of another study that found 656 flowering plant species are used traditionally for diabetes. So while Big Pharma continues to try and bury the reality, the science is out there that medicine always begins with nature.

5 Easy Ways To Say “NO” In A More Graceful Manner

Sometimes we just don’t want to say no. A friend asks you to go out on a Friday night. You want to… badly! But, you also know you have an early morning, and told yourself you needed to keep it mellow, give yourself some much deserved me-time, and simply reconnect to that beautiful feeling of nothingness. Do you give in and go because you want to? Or because your friend wants you to?

Sometimes it’s that you really want to say no, but you’re too afraid. A co-worker asks you for help with a project; a friend asks you for help moving furniture; you get asked to grab dinner with a friend. You say yes to all of them, because the fear of how the other person will respond to your denial is too much to bear.

Wanting to be liked by others is something many of us can relate to. And there’s nothing wrong with it, but if you’re compromising your well-being, who you are, and what makes you happy, it’s time to take a step back.

There’s a common fear that saying no to someone — despite being too busy, super stressed, or uninterested — makes you selfish. It’s not. Saying no is just as important as saying yes. The difference is being true to yourself (because who wants a fake friend, anyway?)

If you know you need to start saying no more, but are worried about how others may perceive you, fear not. There’s an art to saying no, filled with respect and ease.

Practice Saying “No”

You never need a good reason to say no, but if fear is getting in your way, then it’s helpful to prepare through practice.

“Think of situations that have come up in the past, and then experiment with polite ways to say no,” suggests Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D. “Actually say it out loud so that when the time arises you’re comfortable with the words.”

Trying saying something along the lines of, “That sounds like a really good cause, but I don’t have the time to devote to it,” Carter says. Or, “It’s so nice of you to think of me, but I can’t add anything else to my plate right now.”

Show Your Appreciation

One of the biggest concerns of saying no is offending the person requesting your help or presence. It can take a lot of courage to ask another person to share a task or moment with you, so be sure to show your appreciation. Saying something like, “I appreciate you thinking of me, but I can’t today,” can set the tone of your denial in a much more loving way than simply saying “No, I can’t.”

Be Clear That You’re Saying No

Though there are definitely times when we are unsure of our commitment to something, saying maybe when we know we mean no is an unhealthy way of expressing ourselves. It also gives the other person the opportunity to follow up again and ask us the same question. Giving them hope when you know you aren’t going to follow through with their request isn’t fair to the other person. To avoid this, be clear that the answer is no. You can do this politely by saying a statement such as, “Thank you, but I’m going to have to decline.”

Offer a Referral

If someone asks you to help them with a project, but you don’t have time, try suggesting someone else you may know who would be good for the task. You can say, “My schedule is to full, but I know a great copywriter who would be perfect for this!”

Give an Explanation (If Necessary)

Only if you feel it’s benefitting your statement should you offer an explanation as to why you have said no. Explanations are often perceived as fake excuses to get out of things. Lying is never the answer. So, if you simply don’t want to, just say no. If you feel strongly about informing the other person that the ONLY reason you have to say no is because you have a prior commitment, feel free to inform them of that event, but keep it brief.