Archive for the ‘Alternative Health’ Category

weed…it’s not just for breakfast anymore…

In Alternative Health, General Psychology, Medication, Medicine on Wednesday, 21 August 2013 at 08:21

i have always respected sanjay gupta and appreciate that he, unlike MANY others in medicine and related fields, is able to apologize and say he was wrong and has researched the topic and come up with his professional opinions based on data and experience. we put so many legal drugs into our systems with serious side effects but think nothing of it since they are prescribed by doctors. perhaps it is time to look at alternative medicine. especially that that is natural and not chemically manufactured. how many times do we hear about drugs recalls based on serious side effects (including death) that have been prescribed or the misuse and abuse of “legal” drugs. we have bigger problems than “weed.” as for recreational drugs, alcohol kills from accidents, abuse, overdose, etc., but there are no discussions to go back to prohibition. very interesting article.



Gargling Sugar Water Can Boost Your Self-Control

In ADHD, ADHD Adult, ADHD child/adolescent, Alternative Health, Psychiatry on Saturday, 10 November 2012 at 10:54

Gargling Sugar Water Can Boost Your Self-Control.

what are you grateful for? practice gratitude.

In Alternative Health, Fitness/Health, Mindfulness on Friday, 2 November 2012 at 06:25

The Year In Gratitude: Introducing the virtual Gratitude Visit


“You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.” — Paulo Coelho

Each year is a transition.  We let go of relationships, connections to places, jobs and ways of being.  But this opens us to new people, new associations and different ways of relating.  Through death or circumstance or choice we move away from those we loved, or cared for, or knew: The unknown, the surprise, the unexpected takes their place.  This is life.

Too often the losses weigh us down with a centrifugal sadness that keeps us pinned to the passing.  Our energy is invested in the mourning, often for longer than what may be healthy or helpful.

But the loss we experience is directly proportional to the joy and love and engagement we’ve had.  We feel the pain because we knew the joy.  So the grieving must honor the connection as well.

The research on gratitude keeps demonstrating how powerful a positive intervention of having gratitude in our lives can be.  To acknowledge someone for being in your life is one of the most dynamic ways to increase your well-being and the well-being of others.  This exercise works best if you write it down, and even better if you can deliver a letter of gratitude to the person involved.  Here’s how it works.

Think of a person who has been a positive person in your life, but with whom you are no longer involved.  Write out a letter of gratitude for the positive features of your relationship.

If it is possible and appropriate, meaning that it would not cause harm, embarrassment or upset to the other person, find them.  Track them down and read them the letter.  This is the famous gratitude visit exercise researched by Martin Seligman, the positive psychology researcher.

If they are unavailable or have died, read the letter out loud to an empty chair.  Let them know how much you appreciate who they are (were) and the joy and gratitude you have for them being (or have been) in your life.

Now for the interesting part: Reverse roles. Sit in the empty chair and become them for the role play. As them, respond to the letter that was just read to you.

Finally, come back into your own chair and say the final things you wish to say.  Notice how you feel.  Yes, they may no longer be in your life, but honoring the joys they brought you can help them if they are available, and you feel better if it is done through an empty chair.  I call this second method the Virtual Gratitude Visit (VGV).

There may be others you would like to share your gratitude with.  New research has show that gratitude toward God is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to evoke feelings of well-being.  With a VGV you may want to express your gratitude toward God.  Yes, it is okay to reverse roles and become him, but don’t forget to come back to your own chair.  Otherwise you are going to find a lot of prayer requests in your email inbox.

Last but not least, as we transition into the New Year, perform a VGV toward the people we haven’t met.  When I think back to last January and the people I said goodbye to over the year, literally several dozen new people came into my life who have filled me with unexpected joy and hope and wonderment.  Gratitude can be used to open us up to the future.  Try a VGV with a person you haven’t met yet but know you are scheduled to meet, or to the unknown, unexpected encounters you are bound to have. You may even want to express your gratitude toward a future self, the person you are becoming over the next year.

Finally, when the dust from the VGVs settles down, take a moment and review the year. Notice your breath.  Just like people and events in our life, our breath is drawn in and released.  We don’t hold on or just breathe out: we take in and let go.  What we are left with is the stuff of life.

We began with the words of the brilliant Brazilian lyricist and novelist, Paulo Coelho.  I don’t think anyone could say it more clearly than him, so it seems fitting to end with his thoughts as well. “When someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive.” 


Rosmarin, D.H., Pirutinsky, S., Cohen. A., Galler, Y., & Krumrei, E.J. (2011). Grateful to God or just plain grateful? A study of religious and non-religious gratitude. Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(5), 389-396.

Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410.

Tomasulo, D. (2011). Can God and Gratitude Help Your Mental Health?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 27, 2011, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives /2011/12/11/can-god-and-gratitude-help-your-mental-health/

Retrieved from: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/01/03/the-year-in-gratitude-introducing-the-virtual-gratitude-visit/

Gratitude Research Delivered: Diagnosis, Part Two


Jen Cunningham Butler uses a highly proactive and inspiring approach in dealing with the anniversary of her cancer diagnosis. At once it was corrective and intuitive; courageous and simple; heartfelt and effective.  Jen prepares for the day by honoring her health and recovery. She actively demonstrates her gratitude toward the physicians, nurses  and support staff involved in her treatment. Her story is detailed in Part One.

Part One chronicles Butler’s ongoing effort to demonstrate gratitude to all those who helped during her treatment.  These are simple acts of gratitude such as writing notes, bringing a tray of goodies into the treatment center, and even lollipops to the parking attendants.

Although these offerings of gratitude are modest, these actions undid the anxiety of recalling the day, while activating a positive sense of self and affecting others.  Instead of anxiety and depression, she was able to instill joy, feelings of well-being, and hope — because some of the goodies were delivered personally to women currently undergoing radiation.

We could leave this as a beautiful example of a human interest story, knowing that the tale alone will inspire others to approach their diagnosis day, divorce day, or whatever their “D” Day is in a different manner.  But there is something more to this story that intrigued me.

What Jen had done intuitively was to follow some foundational research in gratitude.  In fact, the cornerstone of what she did is an exact representation of one of the original positive interventions offered by Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association and the man introduced at conferences now as the “Father of Positive Psychology.”

In a seminal 2005 article, Seligman and his colleagues (Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005) reported on studies with five positive interventions.  One of these they simply called the gratitude visit.  The Internet-based study engaged participants to write a letter of gratitude to someone who had been particularly kind to them in the past, but who had never been properly thanked.  Then the participants had to deliver the letter personally.

Sound familiar?

What made this study so unique in the field of positive psychology was that it was a randomized control study. The gold standard of research designs, it randomly assigns participants to the condition(s) being studied, one of which is a placebo.  The placebo condition for this experiment was to ask participants to write about their early memories every night for a week. These folks were then compared to people delivering the gratitude visit.  Those participants were given a week to write and deliver a letter of gratitude as described above.

The researchers used results from 411 participants and measured them on two scales, the Center for Epidemiological Studies–Depression Scale (CES-D), and the Steen Happiness Index (SHI).

The results?  One week after the study, people taking part in the gratitude visit were happier and less depressed, and this lasted for one month after they had completed the visit.  Of the five interventions studied, those taking part in the gratitude visit demonstrated the greatest positive change.

There are two interesting features of this study.  First, it demonstrates that a gratitude visit isn’t merely an act of kindness, it is a proven method of improving well-being by increasing happiness and reducing symptoms of depression.  Second, a six-month followup of all participants found that those who continued their particular exercise on their own continued to experience long-term benefits.

Jen thinks about her gratitude visits all year long.  Her benefits are ongoing.

Thank you, Jen, for giving us inspiration and encouragement with your ongoing examples of turning lemons into lemon trees.  For the rest of us there is only one question left: Who are we going to write our gratitude letter to?

For more information and another gratitude intervention check here.


Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410.

Tomasulo, D. (2012). The Year in Gratitude: Introducing the Virtual Gratitude VisitPsych Central. Retrieved on October 28, 2012, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/01/03/the-year-in-gratitude-introducing-the-virtual-gratitude-visit/

Retrieved from: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/11/01/gratitude-research-delivered-diagnosis-day-part-two/


Healthy Diet and ADHD

In ADHD, ADHD Adult, ADHD child/adolescent, Alternative Health, School Psychology on Sunday, 16 September 2012 at 05:16

Healthy vs Western Diet Linked to Better Outcomes in ADHD

Megan Brooks & Penny Murata, MD


Clinical Context

In children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the effectiveness of diet and dietary supplements is not clear. Dietary measures that have been proposed include sugar restriction; the additive- and salicylate-free Feingold diet; the oligoantigenic or elimination diet; and ketogenic, megavitamin, and polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) supplements. In the July 2011 issue of the Journal of Attention Disorders, Howard and colleagues reported a link between ADHD and a “Western” diet high in fat, refined sugars, and sodium.

This review of the literature assesses the evidence for dietary treatment in children with ADHD.

Study Synopsis and Perspective

When drug therapy fails to control ADHD or is unacceptable, adopting a “healthy” diet, eliminating items known to predispose to ADHD, and adding omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may be worth trying, new research suggests.

“The recent increase of interest in this form of therapy for ADHD, and especially in the use of omega supplements, significance of iron deficiency, and the avoidance of the ‘Western pattern’ diet, make the discussion timely,” the authors write.

Many parents and physicians continue to be interested in how diet and dietary changes, particularly parents wanting to find an alternative to stimulant medication or a complementary therapy. Nevertheless, it remains a “controversial” topic, the authors note.

For their review, J. Gordon Millichap, MD, and Michelle M. Yee, CPNP, from Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, searched PubMed for relevant studies on the role of diet and dietary supplements for the treatment of children with ADHD.

They note that their recommendations on diet and dietary supplements are based on a critical review of the data and their own experience in a neurology clinic for children and adolescents with ADHD.

The study was published online on January 9 in Pediatrics.

Elimination Diets Not Advisable

Perhaps the “most promising and practical” complementary or alternative treatment, write Dr. Millichap and Ms. Yee, is adopting a “healthy” dietary pattern, omitting items shown to predispose to ADHD or to make the condition worse. These items include fast foods, red meat, processed meat, potato chips, high-fat dairy foods, and soft drinks.

They point to a “provocative” study published last year, which found a link between ADHD in adolescents and a “Western-style” dietary pattern that was high in fat, refined sugars, and sodium and low in fiber, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids (Howard et al, J Atten Disord. 2011;15:403-411). ADHD was not associated with a “healthy” dietary pattern rich in fish, vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole-grain foods.

Adopting a healthy dietary pattern “may offer an alternative method of treatment of ADHD and less reliance on medications,” the authors of the current study write.

They also note that although many parents report worsening of hyperactivity symptoms after consumption of foods and drinks containing sugar or aspartame — and isolated reports support the parents’ observations — most controlled studies have failed to find a significant harmful effect of sugar or aspartame, the authors note.

Additionally, they say that the elimination of sugar and aspartame and adapting additive-free diets are complicated, disruptive, and often impractical; such measures are indicated only in select cases.

Fatty Acid Supplements May Be Helpful

Low levels of long-chain PUFAs have been reported in the plasma and red cells of children with ADHD in comparison with their ADHD-free peers, Dr. Millichap and Ms. Yee note. Some studies have demonstrated a reduction in ADHD symptoms with PUFA supplementation, although no definitive conclusions can be drawn.

However, the authors note that “on the basis of reports of efficacy and safety, we use doses of 300 to 600 mg/day of omega-3, and 30 to 60 mg/day of omega-6 fatty acids, continued for 2 or 3 months, or longer if indicated.”

“As initial or add-on therapy, we have occasional reports of improved school grades and lessening of symptoms of ADHD, without occurrence of adverse effects. Most parents are enthusiastic about trying the diet supplements, despite our explanation of only possible benefit and lack of proof of efficacy,” they note.

They also note that iron and zinc supplementation is advisable when there is a known deficiency in these minerals, and this may “enhance the effectiveness” of stimulant therapy.

Pediatrics. Published online January 9, 2012.

Related Link
The National Institute of Mental Health’s Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) site offers a wide range of information helpful for parent education including a downloadable booklet discussing the condition and its management.

Study Highlights

  • This review study provides an overview of the role diet has in children with ADHD. The following supplements, foods, and diets affect the children’s health outcomes in various ways, according to several studies.
  • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplements
    • Low long-chain PUFA levels were reported in children with ADHD vs control patients.
    • Some studies showed that PUFA reduced ADHD symptoms, but other studies did not.
    • Doses of omega-3, 300 to 600 mg/day, and omega-6, 30 to 60 mg/day, for 2 to 3 months or longer have been used.
    • Concurrent ADHD medication is almost always needed.
  • Additive and salicylate-free (Feingold) diet
    • Adherence to the diet is complicated and may be disruptive or impractical.
    • Foods to be avoided are apples, grapes, luncheon meats, sausage, hot dogs, and cold drinks with artificial flavors and coloring agents.
    • Permitted foods are grapefruit, pears, pineapple, bananas, beef, lamb, plain bread, certain cereals, milk, eggs, and color-free vitamins.
    • Controlled trials found a small subgroup of preschool children had an adverse response to challenges of additives and preservatives.
    • Children with ADHD and atopy vs no atopy have a higher response to elimination of foods, artificial colorings, and preservatives.
  • Oligoantigenic (hypoallergenic/elimination) diet
    • Adherence to the diet is complicated and may be disruptive or impractical.
    • The oligoantigenic diet eliminates sensitizing food antigens or allergens, including cow’s milk, cheese, wheat cereals, egg, chocolate, nuts, and citrus fruits.
    • Elimination of some foods appeared to decrease some ADHD symptoms, but plays an uncertain role in ADHD treatment.
    • A 2- to 3-week period of elimination diet is followed by the reintroduction of single items each week until the food sensitivity is identified.
    • Behavior improvements might not occur for up to 2 weeks.
    • Enzyme-potentiated desensitization might enable children to become tolerant of provoking foods.
  • Sugar and aspartame
    • Sugar does not affect behavior or cognitive performance, but might affect a subset.
    • In preschool boys, daily sucrose and total sugar intake correlated with duration of aggression.
    • Reactive hypoglycemia after sugar load might reduce cognitive function.
    • Hypoglycemia is linked with impaired electrical activity of the cerebral cortex and slow rhythms on electroencephalogram.
  • Ketogenic diet
    • A ketogenic diet high in fats and low in carbohydrates for children with intractable seizures helped to control seizures and improve behavior, attention, and social functioning.
  • Iron deficiency
    • Iron deficiency is not consistently linked with ADHD severity or frequency.
    • 1 study showed that low serum ferritin correlated with baseline inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and effective amphetamine dose needed.
  • Zinc deficiency
    • Low zinc levels were found in the serum, red cells, hair, urine, and nails of children with ADHD, but mostly in countries with endemic zinc deficiency.
    • In the United States, low serum zinc was linked with inattention, but not with hyperactivity or impulsivity.
    • Zinc supplements might enhance the effect of d-amphetamine, but are not routinely recommended.
  • Other alternative dietary therapies
    • Orthomolecular medicine and megavitamin therapy refer to combination of minerals and nutrients.
    • A study of megavitamin therapy in children with ADHD showed no improvement in behavior, but 42% had elevated serum transaminase levels.
  • “Healthy” vs “Western” diet pattern
    • A cohort study of children from birth to age 14 years found a “Western” dietary pattern associated with ADHD diagnosis and a “Healthy” diet pattern not associated with ADHD diagnosis.
    • The Western dietary pattern includes fast foods, red and processed meats, potato chips, high-fat dairy products, and soft drinks.
    • The Healthy dietary pattern includes fish, vegetables, tomatoes, fresh fruit, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.

Clinical Implications

  • Indications for dietary therapy in children with ADHD include medication failure or adverse reactions, patient or parental preference, mineral deficiency, and need for change from an ADHD-linked Western diet to an ADHD-free Healthy diet.
  • In children with ADHD, additive-free and elimination diets are time-consuming and disruptive, but might be indicated in selected patients; iron and zinc are indicated for deficiencies; omega-3 supplements have inconsistent effects; and a Healthy diet rich in fish, vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains might be beneficial vs a Western diet of fast foods, red or processed meats, high-fat dairy products, soft drinks, and potato chips.

Multi-Vitamin Supplements and Brain Function

In Alternative Health, Brain studies, Fitness/Health on Saturday, 15 September 2012 at 08:24

Multivitamin supplements boost brain function, say UK researchers

Taking a multivitamin supplement daily can improve cognitive performance in both children and adults, say UK researchers.

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