Thursday, September 17, 2009

Brain Training

Brain Health Blog

Working memory training changes the brain

By Gregory Kellett, a cognitive neuroscience researcher at SFSU and science writer for Lumos Labs .

It seems that working memory training may work by physically altering the brain. Stockholm Brain Institute researchers put healthy people through working memory exercises for 35 minutes per day over a period of 5 weeks. Changes in dopamine receptor density were measured with positron emission tomography (PET) before and after the training.

Following working memory training, they found:

  • An increase in the density of dopamine receptors.
  • An improvement in working memory performance.
The neurotransmitter dopamine plays a central role in working memory. This research implies that improving working memory performance through several weeks of training might work by increasing the quantity of dopamine receptors in the brain

Time to try a little Brain Training....!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What is Aromatherapy?

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Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of aromatic plant extracts or essential oils. These oils and extracts have a wide variety of uses, such as in bath salts, massage oils and even fragrances, which can be therapeutic to the mind, body and soul.

The pure essence of a plant, otherwise known as essential oils, provides physical and psychological benefits when used correctly and safely. These benefits can come from both inhalation and physical application.

There are a wide variety of aromatherapy products to choose from and each serves a different purpose. For example, lavender has a calming effect, while oils from the family of mint – such as peppermint and spearmint – offer a stimulating effect.

These oils can be found in numerous vehicles, such as soaps, air fresheners, candles, and massage oils.

Benefits of Aromatherapy

The benefits of the essential oil aromas can be noticed almost immediately. Inhaling the fragrance of essential oils stimulates the brain to trigger a chemical reaction, like releasing serotonin, due to the neurotransmitters firing at a certain level.

The lungs also get a much needed boost from the naturally occurring chemicals in the fragrances, offering a therapeutic benefit. For instance, the diffusion of eucalyptus oil can help break up congestion.

Essential oils that are applied topically can be absorbed into the blood stream and aid in health, beauty and certain hygiene conditions.

How To Use Aromatherapy

These oils should never be applied directly to the skin in an undiluted form. Carrier oils, such as cold pressed vegetable oils, are used to dilute the concentrated essential oils and add moisturizing ingredients to help with absorption.

Aromatherapy is a great alternative to some traditional medicines and treatments. By going the natural route, you avoid some of the negative side effects of pharmaceuticals, while at the same time providing additional benefits.

Many health food stores carry essential oils and have knowledgeable staff that is more than willing to explain different uses. Classes and seminars are also sometimes available in your local area. Search for them online or ask your local health food store.

Here are a few items you can use to get started on your path to effective aromatherapy:

1. Essential oils. These oils can be found at health food stores and online. Pick out your favorites or ones that are known to have the effect you’re looking for.

• Don’t be afraid to combine two or more oils for a new scent and a dual effect.

2. Diffusers. There are numerous ways to allow essential oils to get into the air.

• Cold air diffusers use the motion in the room to help diffuse the essential oil.

• Hot air diffusion is usually done by steam or a gentle warming of the oils.

3. Misting bottle. Misting bottles are a great way to spread the essential oil without having to use a diffuser.

• They fit conveniently into your purse or pocket and can provide a quick spritz of essential oils as needed.

Of course, there are many other items you can use for aromatherapy, but these three would be a great place to start if you’re looking for some natural help to common issues or if you just like the way they smell.

Remember to use essential oils sparingly! They’re concentrated and usually just a few drops will go a long way.

It’s easy, therapeutic, and fun to use the effects of aromatherapy. Give it a try!

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Friday, September 11, 2009

The effects of mood on the immune system

The effects of mood on the immune system -
The direct impact of negative thoughts and emotions on immunological function seems to be reasonably well documented and, since many Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) phenomena seem to be mediated by negative affect, rather than situational “stress”, strategies that directly modify this factor may manifest greater benefits. While relaxation orientated meditation most likely acts to reduce the impact of stress...

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

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