natural remedies for Alzheimer’s Archives

Yoga Alters Your Gene Expression!

I'll bet that's a surprise, huh? I admit, when I first saw those headlines, I was skeptical. Even though I see firsthand every day how much Yoga helps our physical health, I didn’t understand the "why." Now that it makes so much sense, I wonder why someone hadn’t discovered this information long ago.

For years we‘ve known that practices like Yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi make us feel better, breathe better, remove stress, and even sleep well. “New science” has shown us that these mind/body practices leave, what science calls, a “molecular signature” in our cells; they actually cause our body to either raise or lower the protein production of our genes. Cool!

One recent study examined the effects of mindfulness practices on the immune system, with a specific focus on five outcomes: (1) circulating and stimulated inflammatory proteins, (2) cellular transcription factors and gene expression, (3) immune cell count, (4) immune cell aging, (5) antibody response. Their conclusion is that there is enough evidence to support a link between these mindfulness practices and gene expression to warrant further studies. YES! Let’s get more scientific evidence on board so that more docs will recommend Yoga, meditation, etc.

Another review seemed to point to what most of us already know – the majority of improvements and health benefits that people enjoy from these mindfulness practices are related to stress hormones and inflammation. While previous studies have focused on how these practices affect our brains (losing less of our grey matter as we age), this study also looked specifically at how our genes are affected. Certain genes are either upregulated or downregulated in our body throughout our day, based on many different circumstances. All of the studies measured what they call “gene expression,” (the way that genes activate to produce proteins which influence the biological make-up of the body, the brain, and the immune system.) They used blood samples to identify this gene expression both before and after each different mindfulness practice. Some studies were all about Yoga, some Tai Chi, others studied different forms of meditation, etc. In all the studies, the gene expressions of genes that control inflammation and stress were changed after the session.

The results of 18 studies that used gene expression analysis in research on mindfulness practices have, overall, found a significant downregulation of NF-κB (a key transcription factor that controls the expression of inflammation-related genes), which can reverse the molecular effects of chronic stress. I’ll take that!

Even though the study designs, the population, and the types of mindfulness practices used in the studies included in this review vary, it indicates that some of the psychological and physical benefits result from biological changes in NF-κB genes. More studies are currently being done to understand better how Yoga and other mindfulness practices affect our genes.

Another study, which was a follow up to a previous study done at UCLA, found that the Yogic meditation practice called Kirtan Kriya, reversed the pattern of increased NF-κB-related transcription of pro-inflammatory cytokines and decreased IRF1-related transcription of innate antiviral response genes previously observed in healthy individuals confronting a significant life stressor. Translation: This meditation practice reversed the inflammatory process in stressed out caregivers! This particular study was done on caregivers who live with the daily stress of caring for family members with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

When that first UCLA study came out, I wrote an article about it and offered training in this particular meditation practice. I am offering a special on Kirtan Kriya meditation training again today. You can find out more, and sign up HERE.

Dr. Helen Lavretsky, senior author of this study and a professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and her colleagues, found, in their work with 45 family dementia caregivers, that 68 of their genes responded differently after Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KKM), resulting in reduced inflammation. “The goal of the study was to determine if meditation might alter the activity of inflammatory and antiviral proteins that shape immune cell gene expression," said Lavretsky. "Our analysis showed a reduced activity of those proteins linked directly to increased inflammation. This is encouraging news. Caregivers often don’t have the time, energy, or contacts that could bring them a little relief from the stress of taking care of a loved one with dementia, so practicing a brief form of yogic meditation, which is easy to learn, is a useful tool."

Notice she used the word “brief”. This meditation takes only twelve minutes a day! Can you spare twelve minutes a day to alter your genes for reduced inflammation as well as increase your grey matter? Sign up now and learn this easy meditation practice!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Coloring Is Fun AND Good For You!

cover-jpegMy friend Dianna Mullane and I are excited to tell you about our enchanting, stress relieving, adult coloring book, "A Coloring Book For Women - 30 Divine Designs." Dianna and I have just completed this project of love and we're so excited to share it with you today! "A Coloring Book For Women - 30 Divine Designs," was written by, and for, women. This is different from any of the others that I have found in bookstores or on Amazon. We wanted to provide something more; something informative, something that would be a way to connect with our inner child again. According to this review on Amazon, we have been successful! "I tried adult coloring books before, but the designs were busy, geometric designs that I found difficult to color. Those types of coloring books actually ended up frustrating me more than anything! But, "A Coloring Book For Women, 30 Divine Designs," is very different; the designs that Kathi Casey and Dianna Mullane have chosen are lovely and FUN to color! After all, that's why we want to color again, right? To feel the joy we did as children when we sat down to color. I love this book and can't recommend it enough!" -- Jane The book is available on Amazon, (go take a sneak peek) and also HERE on my website, where, for the same price, we'll include a box of colored pencils to get you started. Each design in our book has a description that will inspire, empower, or simply bring a smile to your face. If you are starting your holiday shopping this week, please consider our simple, inexpensive stress relief, for all the women on your list (including you!). Here's what people are saying about our coloring book: "This book is GORGEOUS! I've seen plenty of adult coloring books, but this one tops them all! Calm and pleasant designs to color that don't make my head explode! I love it. No complicated geometric designs; instead, lovely designs that have meaning for women and are truly a meditative and soothing experience to engage with. This really is a coloring book for all women. I especially love the depiction of Pinga, an Inuit goddess of fertility, medicine, and the hunt. She is surrounded by two beautiful swans. I highly recommend this book!"Estra Roell "A Coloring Book for Women: 30 Divine Designs" is a dream come true. An adult coloring book created just for women! The pictures are incredibly creative and inspiring. There are descriptions with each design that help you think, and contemplate your own inner path. It is a fantastic addition to the adult coloring book world. I highly recommend "A Coloring Book For Women: 30 Divine Designs." A great gift for the holidays!!!" Elizabeth Helming Take a peek on AMAZON or our WEB PAGE today! Thanks. Best of Health, Kathi

Alzheimer’s Prevention Strategy!

 

A while back I wrote about a study that showed aerobic exercise increased the brain's hippocampal volume in older women, which increased memory performance.

Now, another study has confirmed that meditation is good for your brain. This Harvard study used MRI scans to document, for the very first time in medical history, how meditation produced massive changes inside the brain's gray matter. Senior author Sara Lazar, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology states, "This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing."

Wow! I have felt that for years, and certainly Eastern traditions have known that for centuries, but now even Western science has proven it to be true. Color me happy!

The participants of this study spent an average of 27 minutes each day practicing mindfulness exercises, and that is all it took for a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. MRI's were done before they started this eight week course and again after. In previous studies this group also found that experienced meditators have a thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration.

"It is fascinating to see the brain's plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life," says Britta Hölzel, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany. I agree!

Imagine - 8 weeks to better brain health!

If you would like to take a more active role in improving your brain health by learning meditation techniques, let me know! You can get a few friends together and I'll come to your home to teach the group, or you can click HERE to learn about an individual program!

Mindfulness exercises do not mean that you have to sit in an uncomfortable position for an hour and "clear your mind."There are many techniques to help you meditate. For instance, prayer is often a meditation. There are mantra meditations, visualizing yourself in your "place of calm", e.g., a beach or the woods.
Contact me today and we'll discover what works for you!

Healthy Recipe For Rosemary Chicken

 

Here's a delicious recipe that includes Rosemary from Dr. Mark Hyman's book, "The Blood Sugar Solution."

Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Swiss Chard and Baked Delicata Squash

 

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Delicata squash halved and seeded (I used Acorn squash)

1 Lg head of Swiss Chard roughly chopped

2 (6 oz) Boneless chicken breasts (I used boneless skinless thighs)

1/4 Cup Almond Meal

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 Cup low sodium chicken broth

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Brush the cut sides of the squash with 1 tsp of the olive oil. Place squash, cut sides down on a baking sheet and roast for 20-30 min. It's cooked when a knife slides easily into the flesh when pierced.
  3. Heat 1 tsp oil in saucepan and saute the Swiss Chard 5-6 min until it wilts. Put aside
  4. Lay out a piece of plastic wrap on the counter, place the chicken on top with another piece of plastic wrap over it and pound with a kitchen mallet until they are about 1/4 inch thick.
  5. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the almond meal and salt and pepper to taste
  6. Heat remaining oil in your saute pan over medium high heat, add the chicken and cook 5 min per side.
  7. While the chicken is cooking, combine broth, lemon juice and rosemary in a bowl until well mixed.
  8. When the chicken is golden brown on both sides and cooked well through, add the liquid mixture to the pan and reduce for 3-4 minutes.

Serve chicken on top of the cooked greens with the squash on the side. Yummmmmm!

Wishing you a delicious and healthy week!
Best of Health,

Kathi

Want to Sniff Some Rosemary With Me?

 

You have most likely seen the info passing around on Facebook that sniffing Rosemary is good for your memory. Did you think it was baloney?  I wondered too. So, of course, I did some research, and here's what I found.

 

Rosemary has been known as the "herb of remembrance" for centuries! That's pretty cool.

In 2012, research published in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology described a small study involving 20 people that suggested the scent of rosemary oil may improve speed and accuracy when performing certain mental tasks.
Then in 2013, Northumbria researchers reported at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society that putting the scent of rosemary in the air helped people with memory tests.

According to the Northumbria study, not only did participants do better with future memory tasks, but traces of rosemary oil was found in the blood samples as well. Future memory is the type of memory that we all want to improve. It's remembering to take your medicine at a certain time, or remembering to pick up your daughter at the airport next Tuesday, or remembering to get a birthday present for your spouse.

The scientists believe that there are compounds in rosemary oil that may change memory performance. One of them is called 1,8-cineole - it may act in the same way as the drugs licensed to treat dementia, causing an increase in a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.

These compounds do this by preventing the breakdown of the neurotransmitter by an enzyme. And since inhalation is one of the best ways of getting drugs into the brain, it makes sense that traces were found in the blood of participants. When you eat a drug it may be broken down in the liver, which processes everything absorbed by the gut; but with inhalation, small molecules can pass into the bloodstream and from there to the brain without being broken down by the liver.

Researchers said that, "These findings may have implications for treating individuals with memory impairments. It supports our previous research indicating that the aroma of rosemary essential oil can enhance cognitive functioning in healthy adults, thereby extending to the ability to remember events and to complete tasks in the future. Remembering when and where to go and for what reasons underpins everything we do, and we all suffer minor failings that can be frustrating and sometimes dangerous. Further research is needed to investigate if this treatment is useful for older adults who have experienced memory decline."

I don't know about you, but I love the scent of Rosemary and I plan to put some in the garden this year, keep it hanging around the kitchen year round, hoping it will not only make the room smell great, but assist my memory as well.

Best of Health,

Kathi

Top 7 Health and Wellness Advances in 2015

It's always fun at the beginning of a new year to look back on achievements from the previous year. Not just personally, but also in the world at large. So today, I'm sharing one that I am proud of, as well as looking at health and wellness milestones in general for 2015.

Ned Thru Hole for BookI am grateful that my Amazon bestselling book STOP Back Pain! has remained steadily on Amazon bestseller lists in all it's categories! FOUR years on the bestseller lists is a huge accomplishment!

 

In the world at large this past year, these are my choices for Top 7 advances in health and medicine. Some of these sound like science fiction from my childhood!

The Saving Mothers, Giving Life partnership announced, at the first-ever Maternal Newborn Health Conference in October, a nearly 50 percent reduction in maternal mortality in target facilities in Uganda and Zambia.

Australian researchers have come up with a non-invasive ultrasound technology that clears the brain of neurotoxic amyloid plaques - structures that are responsible for memory loss and a decline in cognitive function in Alzheimer's patients. If a person has Alzheimer's disease, it's usually the result of a build-up of two types of lesions - amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles. Most of us Boomers are all too aware that Alzheimer's affects 50 million people worldwide, and we are all concerned about this terrible disease. It's been a race to figure out how best to treat it, starting with how to clear the build-up of defective beta-amyloid and tau proteins from a patient's brain. In 2015, a team from the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) have come up with a very promising solution. Published in Science Translational Medicine, the team describes the technique as using a particular type of ultrasound called afocused therapeutic ultrasound, which non-invasively beams sound waves into the brain tissue. By oscillating super-fast, these sound waves are able to gently open up the blood-brain barrier (a layer that protects the brain against bacteria), and stimulate the brain's microglial cells to activate. Microglila cells are basically waste-removal cells, so they're then able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clumps that are responsible for the worst symptoms of Alzheimer's. The team reports fully restoring the memory function of 75 percent of the mice they tested it on, with zero damage to the surrounding brain tissue. They found that the treated mice displayed improved performance in three memory tasks - a maze, a test to get them to recognize new objects, and one to get them to remember the places they should avoid. They are hopeful that this treatment will be available for us aging Boomers as soon as 2017.

A new advancement in breast cancer radiation therapy, called intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), shows great promise. Used successfully for decades with a different type of radiation therapy as part of treatment for abdominal cancers, a new type of IORT is now being used to deliver high doses of radiation during lumpectomies, concentrated only in the cavity where tumors were removed. After excising the tumor and surrounding tissue from the breast, radiation is delivered through an applicator directly to the former tumor's site, where the risk of cancer recurrence is highest. This focused radiation does no damage to the heart or lungs, which often happens with whole breast radiation. After about 30 minutes of treatment, the applicator is removed. Based on the results of a large clinical trial, focusing the radiation on the tumor bed, IORT has been shown to be as effective as whole breast radiation for selected patients with early stage breast cancer. The study also showed the risk of skin toxicity is decreased after IORT, compared to conventional radiation therapy. Also, IORT costs significantly less than standard whole breast radiation. And with fewer trips to the hospital for radiation therapy and less time spent in treatment, this therapy provides a significant boost to the quality of life for patients with early stage breast cancer.

Doctors at Duke University have successfully re-engineered the polio virus to treat brain tumors by removing a key genetic sequence. This genetically engineered polio virus, PVS-RIPO, is not unlike other experimental treatments in the past using HIV, measles, and smallpox. Unlike these other diseases, researchers from Duke found that polio actually seeks out and attaches itself to receptors that can be found on almost every solid tumor. Not only was this re-engineered polio virus successful in seeking out and poisoning cancerous cells, but it also steered clear of normal cells While PVS-RIPO has been in the works for the past 25 years, groundbreaking steps in this potential cancer treatment were made in 2015, which included eradication of tumors in certain patients. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to make its decision on "breakthrough status" for this treatment in 2016.

2015 was a big year for 3D printing. Using 3D printing and 3D imaging techniques, researchers from several universities developed a 3D-printed guide that can help regrow the sensory and motor functions of a rat's nerves after an injury, effectively giving them the ability to regenerate damaged nerves. When a 54-year-old cancer patient from Spain needed a portion of his rib cage and his entire sternum replaced, he didn't have many options. Not too many living donors are willing or able to part with either of those. Even if they were, everybody is different, so finding one that would fit was problematic. So, the minds at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), designed a 3D printed titanium rib cage and sternum that fit perfectly and it saved his life. Similarly, "Han Han" - a 3-year-old girl in China, suffering from a rare condition that resulted in her head growing four times its normal size, was saved by 3D printing. To prevent potentially harmful pressures on the tissues of the brain, Han Han underwent a 17 hour operation, which was considered the world's first full skull reconstruction surgery using 3D printing technology. The surgical team used 3D imaging and 3D printing to create a new titanium skull that repositioned her brain and prevented future complications. Sounds like something out of Star Trek, doesn't it!

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or C.L.L., is a common blood cancer. It is typically indolent, initially, but then it can accelerate, causing debility and death as it clogs the liver, spleen, and bone marrow, choking off the normal production of blood cells. The classic approach to treating C.L.L. is to poison malignant cells with chemotherapy, a treatment with modest benefit, whose effects usually wane over the course of a year or so. In the past decade, scientists have been exploring how cells communicate with one another, receiving signals from outside, and transmitting them, through a cascade of molecules, into their interiors. Targeting these molecules can make a treatment more specific and less toxic. In December, in the New England Journal of Medicine, a group of oncologists reported the success of such a strategy with C.L.L. They demonstrated that a drug called ibrutinib, which interferes with the signaling molecule, BTK, produced impressive remissions in patients with C.L.L. The effects also tended to last beyond the end of the clinical trial, with rare relapses. A challenge with many cancers is that they have redundant systems of communication; when one pathway is severed, another can still pass along the messages that allow the cancer to grow and divide. Sometimes, though, as in the case of ibrutinib, disconnecting a single network leads to dramatic improvement. Dramatic improvement in the treatment of any cancer is a good thing in my book!

A new, painless, more accurate, faster, and significantly less expensive blood testing method has been developed by the company, Theranos. Gone are the big needles and vials, replaced instead by a proprietary software and hardware technology that uses a mere drop of blood from the end of your finger! The blood sample is wicked into a special nanotainer, which holds the equivalent amount of a raindrop. It's then shipped to a special CLIA-certified laboratory, where hundreds of different tests can now be performed from that one drop of blood, from standard cholesterol checks to sophisticated genetic analyses. Blood results are then sent back to the requesting physician in a matter of hours. When further testing is needed, it can be done immediately, again with the same tiny blood sample. This new testing, which can be collected at a local participating pharmacy as well as a doctor's office, comes at a mere fraction of the cost of traditional blood testing methods. In some cases, these new tests will cost as little as 10 percent of the traditional Medicare reimbursement. That IS good news!

Best of Health,

Kathi

What Did I Come In Here For?

storm cloudsHow is your short term memory these days? Long term memories, like movies and songs from our childhood, seem to stay with us. But how often during the week do you walk into a room to get something and forget exactly what it was that you went in there for? I find myself doing that too. Often, it has more to do with stress than memory loss - especially since I know people in their 30's who do it too! And my own long term memory is filled with memories of going into a grocery store and forgetting what I was supposed to buy when I got there...

Here is a way to improve our short term memory. Do EVERYTHNG with mindfulness. Keep your focus totally centered on what you are doing from the moment you get out of bed.

Start by noticing the feel of your feet on the floor as you get out of bed. Take a moment to look at your bed and thank it for giving you a good night's sleep. Feel each step as you walk to the bathroom, listen to the sounds in the house, smell the scents from last night's dinner from the kitchen. Bring mindfulness into brushing your teeth. Take a good look at the toothpaste, smell it, pay attention to how much you put on your brush, the noise your brush makes, and how many minutes you brush. How often do you rinse while brushing and flossing? Keep your focus totally centered on what you are doing.

When you begin, you'll slip back into unconscious movement and tasks, but whenever you realize you've slipped, bring yourself back to total focus and involvement with the moment and task at hand.

Best of Health,

Kathi

More Snowdays!!!!

Another big storm hit the Berkshires this week! And school closings are driving parents crazy.

I don't know about you, but I don't remember so many snow days from my childhood. Either school officials call off school more quickly these days or my memories of snow days have gotten mixed up with other childhood memories of sledding down "killer hill" on the weekends!

And speaking of memory, I read an interesting article the other day on prevention tips that help us ward off memory loss as we age. One of the best things we can do for ourselves (big surprise) is exercise! Exercise increases blood flow to your brain, bringing fuel (glucose) and oxygen.

Moderate exercise helps us in so many ways, it's like the cure-all of everything! Twenty minutes a day is not too much time really, when you think of a healthy heart, better memory, muscles that continue to work as we age, not to mention the "feel good" hormones released when we exercise!

A surprise for me was that the eye movements that I do in all of my Yoga classes have also been shown to improve cognition! Niiiiiiice.

Dr. Andrew Parker of Manchester Metropolitan University ran a study where students participated in cognitive testing before doing the eye movements, then they repeated these tests after the exercises and their scores improved! I'm thrilled and will add that little bit of information now when I am teaching the classes.

Here's a link to a video of my Yogic Eye Exercises for you!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Eat Healthy While Travelling!

Holy Veggies Batman!

grilled veggiesI just read in my copy of the Physician Committee News that 75% of restaurants at the nation’s busiest airports are offering at least one cholesterol-free, plant-based, fiber-packed meal, according to a new report from registered dietitians at the nonprofit Physicians Committee. Cool!

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport ties with Newark Liberty International Airport for the most improved airport this year and takes the lead with 92 percent of its restaurants offering nutritious fare. Seattle-Tacoma International and Los Angeles International follow close behind with a score of 90 and 88 percent, respectively. Even though Atlanta comes in last, roughly half of its airport eateries are moving vegetables, whole grains, and legumes to the center of the plate.

The takeoff of plant based eating and the rising popularity of nutritious food among people all over the world is a true “good news” story!

Most of us used to leave healthful eating in the dust while traveling, but that no longer holds true. Consumer lifestyles are shifting, and plant-based meals are in high demand—even on the go. The food industry is listening, and it’s getting on board the flight to better health – Alleluia!

If you’d like the whole list of busy airports so that you know where to fly out of or into, HERE you go!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Mindfulness Made Easy

We all know that life doesn't always go the way we intend. In fact, little and big surprises seem to be always popping up, but when we learn to deal with them in a calm way, the road is less bumpy.

Here are a couple of simple tools for relieving anxiety that take very little time:

  1. Ancient Japanese art of palming. When you stare at your computer or the TV for hours on end, eyestrain, headaches, and tension can result; but there's a simple technique to loosen it up. While breathing deeply, briskly rub your palms together to generate some heat. Then cup the palms over your eyes with your fingers resting up in the hair. Close your eyes and feel the heat sinking into your eyes, through the optic nerve, and into the brain. Feel it relaxing, restoring, and calming. Then lightly stroke the eyelids with the fingertips, from the nose out toward the ears. Lastly, gently massage your temple or jaw, wherever you hold tension. I recommend stopping to do this at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon - every day!
  1. Yogic foot massage. Sit on the floor, or a chair, with your right foot gently reflexology5hanging off your left thigh. Then place all of the fingers of your left hand between the toes of that right foot. Now rotate the foot around so you feel that ankle getting a good workout. Reverse the direction after about 8 rotations. Now release your fingers and use your hand to gently flex the toes in one direction and then the other. Massage the foot for a few breaths and then gently slap the foot with fists or palms to wake up circulation. Now look at your feet. One will be a slightly different color than the other. So treat the other one special as well!

Best of Health,

Kathi

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