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Archive for the ‘Treatments’ Category

The UK’s Daily Mail (8/28) reports that researchers at Australia’s University of Queensland, after discovering “a chemical released by a mown lawn makes people feel happy and relaxed,” have formulated “a perfume which ‘smells like a freshly-cut lawn’ which relieves stress and help boost memory.” The perfume, called Serenascent, appears to affect “the emotional and memory parts of the brain known as the amygdala and the hippocampus,” the two areas of the brain “responsible for the flight or fight response and the endocrine system, which controls the releasing of stress hormones like corticosteroids.” In experiments, the investigators “found that animals exposed to stress-buckeye psychiatry — which combines three chemicals released when green leaves are cut — escaped damage to the hippocampus.” Next month, the perfume “will go into production…and sell for around £4 a bottle.”

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curBBC News (6/4) reports that, because of curcumin, a component of tumeric which has been linked to slowing “the spread of amyloid protein plaques — thought to cause dementia – in the brain,” a US researcher has suggested that “eating a curry once or twice a week could help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.” However, “the theory, presented at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ annual meeting, has been given a lukewarm reception by UK experts.” At the meeting, Professor Murali Doraiswamy, MD, of Duke University, said there was “evidence that people who eat a curry meal two or three times a week have a lower risk of dementia.” Dr. Doraiswamy “stressed that eating a curry could not counter-balance the increased risk of dementia associated with a poor diet,” but added, “If you have a good diet and take plenty of exercise, eating curry regularly could help prevent dementia.” Rebecca Wood, of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, however, “stressed that people would need to eat a lot of curry — over 100g of turmeric curry powder — to get a clinical dose of curcumin.”

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Kids%20Playing%20Video%20GamesMedscape (5/21, Boughton) reported that, according to a study presented May 18 at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting by researchers from Sullivan University, “playing video games may help improve concentration in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD).” For the study, 10 children playing an automobile-racing video game “were treated for 10 to 15 sessions every two weeks for six months.” The youngsters “wore a virtual helmet” containing electroencephalograph (EEG) sensors while playing the video game. Next, “EEG data were plotted and quantified for 15 minutes per session and analyzed statistically,” with the results showing that “theta waves decreased and beta waves increased during the gaming sessions,” indicative of improved concentration. But, “experts at the” APA meeting said the study results “should be interpreted with caution,” not just because of the “study’s small sample size,” but also because “video gaming is known to lead to addiction.” APA fellow Michael Brody, MD, said, “It can be like any other behavioral addiction or obsessive activity.”

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lupron_1The Chicago Tribune (5/21, Tsouderos) reports, “Desperate to help their autistic children, hundreds of parents nationwide are turning to an unproven and potentially damaging treatment: multiple high doses of” Lupron [leuprolide], a medication “sometimes used to chemically castrate sex offenders.” Lupron “therapy is based on a theory, unsupported by mainstream medicine, that autism is caused by a harmful link between mercury and testosterone. Children with autism have too much of the hormone, according to the theory, and…Lupron can fix that.” Geneticist Mark Geier, MD, of Maryland and his son, who has a bachelor’s degree in biology, “developed the ‘Lupron protocol’ for autism,” and are now “marketing it across the country, opening clinics in states from Washington to New Jersey.” Noting that Dr. Geier is not “board-certified in any specialty relevant to autism,” the Tribune points out that “four of the world’s top pediatric endocrinologists” called “the Lupron protocol…baseless, supported only by junk science.”

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a_06_cr_mou_1aHealthDay (5/7, Gardner) reported that, according to a study presented at a neurology meeting, “cortical brain stimulation improved symptoms and, in some cases, launched a full remission for people with major depression who had suffered for decades and who had failed multiple other treatments.” For the study, researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital randomly assigned “a dozen patients with refractory depression…to receive eight weeks of cortical stimulation of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) area of the brain, which appears to play a role in depression, or to get ‘sham’ stimulation.” Next, “those receiving the sham treatment were then switched over to active therapy.” The team found that, “on average, participants experienced an improvement of about 25 percent to 30 percent on different measures of both depression and quality of life,” and “three people went into complete remission.”

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The San Francisco Chronicle (2/25, Tansey) reported that Yale University researchers have “found a link between [Alzheimer’s] disorder and the prion protein, which can cause mad cow disease and other maladies.” Researchers discovered “that the prion protein, whose normal function is to maintain brain health, may contribute to nerve damage if it becomes entangled with a protein fragment, [amyloid beta peptide,] that scientists consider a chief suspect as a cause for Alzheimer’s disease.”
        During their study, “researchers looked at hundreds of thousands of candidates for potential disease-mediating receptors for the specific form of amyloid-beta linked to Alzheimer’s,” according to HealthDay (2/25, Preidt), “and identified cellular prion proteins as the most likely culprit. It appears, they said, that amyloid-beta peptides attach to cellular prion proteins, resulting in damage to brain cells.” Researchers noted, however, that their results do not “suggest that these proteins convert to an infectious agent in Alzheimer’s disease, but the findings do suggest that the role of these normally harmless proteins in common neurodegenerative diseases warrants further study.”
        Also, the “findings suggest that scientists could design a drug that would block the prion from binding to the nerve cell,” Bloomberg News (2/26, Waters) reports. “The goal of such a drug would be to prevent the beta amyloid clumps from attaching to the neurons and starting a ‘toxic cascade that prevents memory function,'” researchers said, adding, “If you can do that, you can halt the disease.”

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HealthDay (2/25, McKeever) reported that a study published in the Feb. 24 edition of Cerebral Cortex suggests that “memories and emotions that people associate with familiar songs can be traced to the medial prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain where the wiring for memories and thoughts about music appears to be linked.” The finding might “explain why people with Alzheimer’s disease display strong emotional response to songs. This section of the brain is among the last to be affected by the neurological disease.” For the study, researchers “had 13 university students listen to excerpts of popular songs from their childhood while recording their brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI.” The team found that the music that “evoked the strongest memories” and “brought about the most emotion responses” in the students also were the “ones that the fMRI scans revealed as causing the most activity in the medial prefrontal cortex.” Researchers hope the “finding could be a jumping off point for developing a musical therapy to help people with Alzheimer’s.”

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The Washington Post (2/24, H2, Vedantam) reports that last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “approved ‘deep brain stimulation’ for the treatment of intractable obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD.” The technique “involves surgically implanting electrodes deep within the brain to trigger electrical activity,” and it’s “the first time” it “has been approved for use in a psychiatric condition. The implants have been previously used to treat Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.” According to the Post, “the FDA approval suggests officials believe that deep brain stimulation might help reduce anxiety. The device was approved for use when conventional treatments, such as medications and talk therapy, have not worked.” The decision was based “on a small study that found deep brain stimulation improved the condition of 26 patients with persistent obsessive-compulsive disorder by an average of 40 percent.” The particular “device approved by the FDA is called Reclaim and is manufactured by Medtronic Inc.”

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Bloomberg News (1/14, Lopatto) reports that, according to a study published in the Jan. 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Certain antidepressants lessen the distress of pain and sleep disturbances for fibromyalgia patients, boosting their quality of life.” Winfried Hauser, M.D., of the Klinikum Saarbruecken, and colleagues, conducted a meta-analysis of “18 randomized trials, with a combined 1,427 participants.”
        WebMD (1/13, Boyles) noted that the trials contained “patients taking different classes of antidepressants, including low doses of tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants (TCAs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRI), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).” Using “a standardized model to assess the effectiveness of the medications on common fibromyalgia symptoms,” researchers found that the “TCA amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep), given in low doses, had the largest effect on pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. Little effect was recorded on depressed mood, however.”
        Based on their findings, the investigators wrote that “since evidence for a long-term effect of antidepressants in [fibromyalgia] is still lacking, their effects should be re-evaluated at regular intervals to determine whether benefits outweigh adverse effects,” HealthDay (1/13, McKeever) reported.
        The condition “affects up to 12 million people (four percent of the U.S. population), nearly 11 million of them women,” Scientific American (1/13, Ballantyne) added. Experts say that the “degree of debilitation caused by the disease ranges ‘from very little to total.'” At present, “there is no definitive test for fibromyalgia, which doctors typically diagnose based on symptoms, including chronic widespread pain.”

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On the front page of its Health section, the Washington Post (11/11, HE1, Vedantam) reports on transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a depression treatment that the Food and Drug Administration approved as a treatment for major depression in October. “Many scientists believe that the technique is a harbinger of things to come. Already, researchers are probing its effects on schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder, or manic depression.” The technique “uses the principle of electromagnetism to induce small electric currents inside the brain.” The Post notes that while “no one really knows what is specifically happening in the brain to cause depression, [likewise] no one really knows why TMS, psychotherapy, and other treatments work.” In clinical trials, “patients who had unsuccessfully tried one antidepressant (as opposed to a large number of prior treatments) seemed most likely to respond to TMS.” Still, many insurance companies are “unlikely to cover transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy right away, [and] a course of TMS treatment might run a patient $6,000 to $8,000.”

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