The secret of the itch

May 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Research, Spinewave Bulletin 

itchiness-chiropractic-nervous-systemNot all itches go away with a simple scratch. Roughly 15% of people suffer relentless, long-term itchiness.

Researchers have identified a particular neurotransmitter that is responsible for passing itchy sensations from the skin to the brain, and found a new subset of neurons in the spinal cord that transmits those signals, according to a study published this week in Science. The findings suggest that itchiness has a neural pathway distinct from the one that mediates pain sensation.

Itchiness is triggered by the activation of sensory neurons called TRPV1 cells but these neurons also respond to heat and pain, so researchers were unsure if the sensation of itchiness might be a low level form of pain. That’s made it difficult to develop treatments that target itch without affecting other sensory systems.

Long-term itch can often caused by diseases and medications; terminally ill cancer patients, for example, often experience such severe whole-body itch in response to morphine that many choose to live in pain rather than take the medication.

For more on skin, goto: Psoriasis.

Reference: The Cells and Circuitry for Itch Responses in Mice. DOI: 10.1126/science.1233765

10 causes of leaky gut

May 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Research, Spinewave Bulletin 

10-things-that-cause-leaky-gutWhat is leaky gut?

Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes inflamed, damaged, and porous, allowing undigested foods, bacteria, fungus, and other foreign invaders into the sterile environment of the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream these toxins trigger the immune system, causing inflammation and leading to a long and varied list of symptoms. Chronic conditions associated with leaky gut include depression, joint pain, Crohn’s disease, food allergies, eczema, psoriasis, asthma, autoimmune diseases, and more.

Ten causes of leaky gut:

Although the causes of leaky gut can be ambiguous, Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MS has identified 10 factors that contribute to leaky gut:

  1. Diet: Most people blame poor diet, and rightly so, as many popular foods can damage the gut. Gluten in particular is associated with gut damage. Dairy, processed foods, excess sugar, and fast foods are common culprits. Excess alcohol is another gut saboteur.
  2. Medications: Certain medications increase the risk of leaky gut. They include corticosteroids, antibiotics, antacids, and some medications for arthritis. Some medications may also contain gluten as a filler.
  3. Infections: An overgrowth of H. pylori, a bacterium in the stomach, can cause ulcers and leaky gut. Overgrowth of other harmful bacteria, yeast infections, parasitic infections, and intestinal viruses can also cause leaky gut.
  4. Stress: Chronic stress raises the adrenal hormone, cortisol, which degrades the gut lining and contributes to leaky gut.
  5. Hormone imbalances: The gut depends on proper hormone levels for good health. When estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, or thyroid hormones are out of balance, this imbalance can contribute to leaky gut.
  6. Autoimmune conditions: We often think of leaky gut contributing to autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriasis. While this may be true, sometimes other factors can trigger an autoimmune condition, including toxic exposures or stress. In these cases, the autoimmune condition can be the cause of leaky gut and managing autoimmunity is a strategy to improving leaky gut.
  7. Industrial food processing: The food processing industry uses a variety of methods that can increase intestinal inflammation and leaky gut. These include deamidating wheat to make it water soluble, high-heat processing (glycation) of sugars, and adding excess sugar to processed foods.
  8. Environmental toxins: We are surrounded by toxins in our environment. Some of these toxins have been found to break down immune barriers like the gut. One way to shore up your defense against environmental toxins is to make sure your body is sufficient in glutathione, the body’s primary antioxidant.
  9. Vitamin D deficiency: Sufficient vitamin D is vital to good health and helps preserve gut integrity.
  10. Poor glutathione status: Glutathione is the body’s primary antioxidant and is necessary to defend and repair the gut lining. Poor diet and lifestyle factors deplete glutathione.

By better understanding the cause of your leaky gut, you will have more success restoring health to your gut and hence your immune system.

Reference: Kharrazian, D. Why do I still have thyroid problems when my lab tests are normal? Elephant Press. 2010.

Thinking hard is exhausting

May 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Research, Spinewave Bulletin 

chiropractic computer desk fatigueA new study suggests thinking hard can actually wear you out.

Wondering why you’re so drained when all you did today was sit in front of the computer? A new study headed by Samuele Marcora, a University of Kent Professor of Exercise Physiology, suggests that thinking hard can actually leave your body exhausted.

Researchers tested subjects on one of two tasks: playing a mentally challenging computer test and watching documentaries. After 90 minutes, the subjects hopped on bikes and worked until exhaustion.

The documentary-watching group was able to peddle longer than those who did the computer test.

While the mentally exhausted group gave up peddling faster than the documentary group, there was no difference in their cardiovascular response (heart rate, respiration, and blood glucose levels). Reseachers concluded that this had to do with a perception of how difficult a physical task is.

The study raises questions about our ability to maintain resilience and the momentum of our working pace – maybe we’d benefit from a little neutral brain work during the day, like the documentary group was subjected to. For ideas about how to incorporate a mindful break into your day, you might, for example, want to try out this two-minute mindfulness practice from Elisha Goldstein.

Reference: Marcora, S. et al. Mental fatigue impairs physical performance in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2009. Vol. 106 No. 3 857-864.

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