Health

In our pursuit of health (the state of being free from illness or injury) we discovered the magic of meditation, the wonderful benefits of prayer, and the infusion of mind, body, and spirit through the consumption of tea.  In this pursuit, we have come across various writings, videos, and artistic presentations which can further these efforts.  To be of additional service to you, we have compiled an assortment of these works which you may find helpful.   Please enjoy as we have.


 

Fasting for 72 Hours Can Reset Your Immune System by Matt Van Sol

FASTING FOR 72 HOURS CAN RESET YOUR ENTIRE IMMUNE SYSTEM

 

University of Southern California – According to a study done by USC scientists at the University of California, fasting for three days can have a significant improvement in your body’s health. The six-month study was done on both mice and human’s who are currently going through chemotherapy noticed a significant improvement in their health as the white blood cells and other toxins in the body were flushed out over the course of the fast.

“When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged,” Longo said. “What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. So we started thinking, well, where does it come from?”

Basically, when you fast for a prolonged amount of time, your body uses the stored glucose, fats and produce ketone bodies that are especially good for your brain, to keep you going and you flush out anything that your body doesn’t need, like damaged cells and toxins. When your eating regularly harmful toxins in the body can attach themselves to these fats and live on but when you fast, your body is forced to lighten itself.  It’s like the survival of the fittest, only the strong survive. “PKA is the key gene that needs to shut down in order for these stem cells to switch into a regenerative mode. It gives the OK for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system,” explained Longo, noting the potential of clinical applications that mimic the effects of prolonged fasting to rejuvenate the immune system. “And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting. Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.”

Further research is needed to discover how the rest of the organs in the body are affected beyond stem cell regeneration. At least we know for now, for people that go through the extremely taxing experience of chemotherapy, prolonged fasting can help your body get back to normal, and possibly even better than before.

Additionally, here is a Ted Talk on the benefits of intermittent fasting.

 
 
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12 Ways to Unlock the Powers of the Vagus Nerve by Thomas Ropp & upliftconnect.com

12 Ways to Unlock the Powers of the Vagus Nerve

By Thomas Ropp on Tuesday September 5th, 2017

How to Hack Your Nervous System

The vagus nerve is the most important nerve you probably didn’t know you had.

Unlike the other Vegas, what happens in this vagus doesn’t stay there. The vagus nerve is a long meandering bundle of motor and sensory fibers that links the brain stem to the heart, lungs, and gut. It also branches out to touch and interact with the liver, spleen, gallbladder, ureter, female fertility organs, neck, ears, tongue, and kidneys. It powers up our involuntary nerve center—the parasympathetic nervous system—and controls unconscious body functions, as well as everything from keeping our heart rate constant and food digestion to breathing and sweating. It also helps regulate blood pressure and blood glucose balance, promotes general kidney function, helps release bile and testosterone, stimulates the secretion of saliva, assists in controlling taste and releasing tears, and plays a major role in fertility issues and orgasms in women.

Dr Justin Hoffman, a Santa Rosa, California, licensed naturopathic medical physician, says:

Without the vagus nerve, key functions that keep us alive would not be maintained.

Nationally recognized sports nutritionist, strength, and conditioning coach Brandon Mentore elaborates:

The vagus nerve is extremely critical to your overall health and is intimately tied in with multiple organs and systems of the body.

The vagus nerve has fibers that innervate virtually all of our internal organs. The management and processing of emotions happens via the vagal nerve between the heart, brain and gut, which is why we have a strong gut reaction to intense mental and emotional states.

Emotional processingEmotional processing happens via the vagal nerve between the heart, brain and gut.

Vagus nerve dysfunction can result in a whole host of problems including obesity, bradycardia (abnormally slow heartbeat), difficulty swallowing, gastrointestinal diseases, fainting, mood disorders, B12 deficiency, chronic inflammation, impaired cough, and seizures.

Meanwhile, the vagus nerve stimulation has been shown to improve conditions such as:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Heart disease
  • Tinnitus
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Migraines
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Leaky gut
  • Bad blood circulation
  • Mood disorder
  • Cancer

A Closer Look At This Super Nerve

The vagus nerve is the longest of our 12 cranial nerves. Only the spinal column is a larger nerve system. About 80 percent of its nerve fibers—or four of its five ‘lanes’—drive information from the body to the brain. Its fifth lane runs in the opposite direction, shuttling signals from the brain throughout the body. Anchored in the brain stem, the vagus travels through the neck and into the chest, splitting into the left vagus and the right vagus. Each of these roads is composed of tens of thousands of nerve fibers that branch into the heart, lungs, stomach, pancreas and nearly every other organ in the abdomen.         

The vagus nerve uses the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which stimulates muscle contractions in the parasympathetic nervous system. A neurotransmitter is a kind of chemical messenger released at the end of a nerve fiber, that allows for signals to be moved along from point to point, which stimulate various organs. For example, if our brain could not communicate with our diaphragm via the release of acetylcholine from the vagus nerve, then we would stop breathing.

Longest cranial nerveThe vagus nerve is the longest of our 12 cranial nerves.

Some substances such as botox and the heavy metal mercury can interfere with acetylcholine production. Botox has been known to shut down the vagus nerve, which causes death. Mercury blocks the action of acetylcholine. When mercury attaches to the thiol protein in the heart muscle receptors, the heart muscle cannot receive the vagus nerve electrical impulse for contraction. Cardiovascular problems normally follow. Mercury used in fillings only inches from the brain as well as the 3,000 tons of mercury put into the atmosphere can interfere with acetylcholine production. Mercury-laden vaccines may also play a role in vagus nerve-related autism in children.

Hoffman says:

Theoretically, anything that helps to improve the presence and function of acetylcholine, will also help to regulate the health of our vagus nerve.

He recommends natural nootropics huperzine and galantamine for improving the sensitivity of acetylcholine receptors.

Vagus nerve damage can also be caused by diabetes, alcoholism, upper respiratory viral infections, or having part of the nerve severed accidentally during an operation. Stress can inflame the nerve, along with fatigue and anxiety. Even something as simple as bad posture can negatively impact the vagus nerve.

The impact of stressStress can inflame the vagus nerve, along with fatigue and anxiety.

It’s also believed that diet plays a role in vagus nerve health. An obesogenic ‘cafeteria diet’ (high-fat, high-carb junk food) reduces the sensitivity of the vagus nerve. Spicy foods can also cause it to misfire.

A Feeling In Your Gut

When people say they feel it in their gut, that’s not just imagination, according to Dr. Mark Sircus, acupuncturist, and doctor of Oriental and pastoral medicine.

Our gut instincts are not fantasies but real nervous signals that guide much of our lives.

This is because the enteric nervous system (ENS), which governs the function of the gastrointestinal tract, communicates with the central nervous system (the brain) via the vagus nerve. This is known as the gut-brain axis. The ENS is sometimes referred to as the second brain or backup brain centered in our solar plexus. Sircus continues:

We now know that the ENS is not just capable of autonomy but also influences the brain. In fact, about 90 percent of the signals passing along the vagus nerve come not from above, but from the ENS.

Keeping the gut and vagus nerve gateway healthy impacts our mental health. A recent study shows how antibiotics can make us aggressive when they upset the microbiome balance in our gut. An important study last year by McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, found that certain beneficial gut microbes can actually prevent PTSD. Probiotics can help keep the gut and vagus nerve signals in a healthier state, according to a report in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

Mental health and the vagus nerveKeeping the gut and vagus nerve gateway healthy, impacts our mental health.

Dr Abby Kramer, a holistic practitioner and chiropractor in Glenview, Illinois, explains:

Probiotics help promote vagal activity, due to its connection to the gut and digestive functions. Zinc is also a great supplement for anyone with stress or mental health issues, which also links back to the vagus nerve.

Boosting With Electricity

Doctors have long exploited the nerve’s influence on the brain. Electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve, called vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), is sometimes used to treat people with epilepsy or depression. VNS is designed to prevent seizures by sending regular, mild pulses of electrical energy to the brain via the vagus nerve. These pulses are supplied by a device something like a pacemaker. It is placed under the skin on the chest wall and a wire runs from it to the vagus nerve in the neck. Researchers studying the effects of vagus stimulation on epilepsy noticed that patients experienced a second benefit unrelated to seizure reduction: their moods also improved.

A 2016 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), showed how stimulating the vagus nerve with a bioelectronic device “significantly improved measures of disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis,” a chronic inflammatory disease that affects 1.3 million people in the United States and costs tens of billions of dollars annually to treat.

Electrical stimulation of the vagus nerveVagus nerve stimulation (VNS), is used to treat epilepsy, depression and arthritis.

12 Vagus Nerve Stimulation Techniques

The vagus nerve doesn’t need to be shocked into shape. It can also be toned and strengthened similar to a muscle. Here are some simple things you can do that might improve your health markedly:

1. Positive Social Relationships – A study had participants think compassionately about others while silently repeating positive phrases about friends and family. Compared to the controls, the meditators showed an overall increase in positive emotions like serenity, joy, and hope after completing the class. These positive thoughts of others led to an improvement in vagal function as seen in heart-rate variability. The results also showed a more toned vagus nerve than when simply meditating.

2. Cold – “Cold exposure such as cold showers or face dunking stimulates the nerve as well,” says Mentore.

Studies show that when your body adjusts to cold, your fight or flight (sympathetic) system declines and your rest and digest (parasympathetic) system increases–and this is mediated by the vagus nerve. Any kind of acute cold exposure including drinking ice cold water will increase vagus nerve activation.

3. Gargling – Another home remedy for an under-stimulated vagus nerve is to gargle with water. Gargling actually stimulates the muscles of the pallet which are fired by the vagus nerve.

“Typically patients will tear up a bit which is a good sign and if they don’t, we recommend that they do it regularly every day until they notice that they do start tearing up a bit,” says Hoffman. “This has been shown to immediately improve working memory performance.”

4. Singing And Chanting – Humming, mantra chanting, hymn singing, and upbeat energetic singing all increase heart rate variability (HRV) in slightly different ways. Essentially, singing is like initiating a vagal pump sending out relaxing waves. Singing at the top of your lungs works the muscles in the back of the throat to activate the vagus. Singing in unison, which is often done in churches and synagogues, also increases HRV and vagus function. Singing has been found to increase oxytocin, also known as the love hormone because it makes people feel closer to one another.

Compassion meditationCompassion meditation has been shown to result in a more toned vagus nerve.

5. Massage – You can stimulate your vagus nerve by massaging your feet and your neck along the carotid sinus, located along the carotid arteries on either side of your neck. A neck massage can help reduce seizures. A foot massage help can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. A pressure massage can also activate the vagus nerve. These massages are used to help infants gain weight by stimulating gut function, largely mediated by activating the vagus nerve.

6. Laughter – Happiness and laughter are natural immune boosters. Laughter also stimulates the vagus nerve. Research shows how laughter increases HRV in a group environment.

There are various case reports of people fainting from laughter and this may be from the vagus nerve/parasympathetic system being stimulated too much. Fainting can come after laughter as well as urination, coughing, swallowing or bowel movement—all of which are helped along by vagus activation.

7. Yoga And Tai Chi — Both increase vagus nerve activity and your parasympathetic system in general. Studies have shown that yoga increases GABA, a calming neurotransmitter in your brain. Researchers believe it does this by “stimulating vagal afferents (fibers),” which increase activity in the parasympathetic nervous system. This is especially helpful for those who struggle with anxiety or depression.

Studies show that tai chi also can ‘enhance vagal modulation.’

8. Breathing Deeply And Slowly — Your heart and neck contain neurons that have receptors called baroreceptors, which detect blood pressure and transmit the neuronal signal to your brain. This activates your vagus nerve that connects to your heart to lower blood pressure and heart rate. Slow breathing, with a roughly equal amount of time breathing in and out, increases the sensitivity of baroreceptors and vagal activation. Breathing around 5-6 breaths per minute in the average adult can be very helpful.

9. Exercise – Exercise increases your brain’s growth hormone, supports your brain’s mitochondria, and helps reverse cognitive decline. But it’s also been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve, which leads to beneficial brain and mental health effects. Mild exercise also stimulates gut flow, which is mediated by the vagus nerve.

Laughter is a natural immune boosterLaughter stimulates the vagus nerve and increases HRV in a group environment.

10. Coffee Enemas — Enemas are like sprints for your vagus nerve. Expanding the bowel increases vagus nerve activation, as is done with enemas. This cleansing is accomplished by increasing the liver’s capacity to detoxify toxins in the blood and binding them to the bile. In the process, the liver cleanses itself as it releases the toxic bile into the small, then large, intestine for evacuation. The entire blood supply circulates through the liver every three minutes. By retaining the coffee 12 to 15 minutes, the blood will circulate four to five times for cleansing, much like a dialysis treatment. The water content of the coffee stimulates intestinal peristalsis and helps to empty the large intestine with the accumulated toxic bile.

11. Nervana — This wearable product sends a gentle electrical wave through the left ear canal to stimulate the body’s vagus nerve, while syncing with music, which in turn stimulates the release of neurotransmitters in the brain that generate a calming sensation throughout the body.

12. Relax – Learning how to chill may be the No. 1 thing to help keep your vagus nerve toned. According to Hoffman, most relaxing activities will stimulate the vagus nerve.

Ultimately, this is where the most profoundly felt impacts can be found. Reading a book, listening to music, watching children play–whatever it is, my advice is to seek relaxation and make time in your life for it. ~ Dr Justin Hoffman

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9 Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms by John Staughton & organicfacts.net

9 Proven Benefits Of Reishi Mushrooms

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated – 

The most important health benefits of reishi mushrooms include their ability to boost energy, reduce blood pressure, and slow the aging process. It is also known for its anti-cancer potential. They also detoxify the body, eliminate inflammation, and improve your cognitive ability.

What is Reishi Mushrooms?

Reishi mushrooms are one of the most popular and beneficial types of fungi on the planet. These mushrooms, in particular, have been relied upon for thousands of years in the Asian region, but have recently come to the attention of the wider world. [1] Scientifically known as Ganoderma lucidum, “reishi” is the name by which these beneficial mushrooms are known in Japan, while in China, they are called lingzhi mushrooms. Lingzhi mushrooms, as a group, actually represent a species of complex fungal entities, many of which are in use throughout the world. These fascinating fungi are potent because of their unique collection of organic compounds and components, which include triterpenes, alkaloids, sterols, and various essential polysaccharides.

Uses of Reishi Mushrooms

Although mushrooms are eaten in order to enjoy the health benefits, the most popular means of using reishi mushrooms includes crushing dried mushrooms and steeping them in water. [2] These mushrooms are extremely bitter in taste, which makes them unpleasant to consume directly or in a highly concentrated liquid form. For this reason and because traditional herbal remedies have been replaced by efficient herbal supplements, you can mainly find reishi mushroom supplements in a pill or capsule form. However, there are plenty of places in the world where this type of mushroom is still processed and administered directly. 

Close up of reishi mushrooms on a wooden table

Health Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the fascinating health benefits of reishi mushrooms.

Anti-aging Properties

With popular names such as “king of herbs” and the “10,000-year old mushroom”, reishi mushrooms have been highly praised in herbal medicine for thousands of years for their effects on longevity. In ancient times, those seeking immortality often used reishi mushrooms because of this belief. However, modern studies have positively linked reishi mushrooms to certain lifespan expansion, namely due to the impressive polysaccharide content of these fungi. [3] This is accomplished by boosting the health of the immune system and preventing certain abnormal blood vessel formation. Furthermore, certain antioxidant properties of other organic compounds in reishi mushrooms neutralize free radicals, which can cause chronic diseases and premature aging.

Anti-cancer Potential

Most people consume reishi mushrooms due to their anti-cancer properties.  According to Xingzhong Jin, Julieta Ruiz Beguerie, Daniel Man‐yuen Sze et al’s report on reishi mushrooms published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the triterpenoids found in this type of fungus has the ability to reduce the metastasis of cancerous cells and slow the progression of tumor growth. [4] Furthermore, a second study found that the active ingredients of reishi mushroom extract can seek out and neutralize cancerous cells within the body.

Detoxification of Body

Our liver is a delicate and essential organ, so decreasing the level of toxins in it is a huge goal for humans. Studies have linked reishi mushroom extracts to faster regeneration of healthy liver cells and a release of free radicals that have built up in the organ, thereby promoting overall health and wellness. [5]

Improved Cognitive Activity

Neurological diseases are the most painful and unsolvable mysteries and for cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s disease, there is no proven cure. [6] However, research has shown that the extracts of reishi mushrooms can stimulate cognitive activity and display certain neuroprotective effects, particularly in the stimulation of nerve growth factor, which is a key part of a healthy cognitive function.

Anti-inflammatory Properties

One of the most important side effects of reishi mushroom extracts is their anti-inflammatory capacity. [7] This is partially why it can help with cognitive disorders, by increasing the amount of blood flow to the brain. For people suffering from arthritis or gout, reishi extracts can be very helpful. Reishi mushrooms have also been relied on for relieving headaches and healing injuries.

Healthy Respiration

For those suffering from asthmabronchitis or other chronic respiratory conditions, reishi mushroom extract can have a strong effect on reducing irritation and eliminating the allergic reactions from the body. [8] By preventing the release of histamine from mast cells in the body, reishi mushrooms prevent allergic reactions, from mild skin irritation to potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis.

Lowered Blood Pressure

Hypertension is one of the most common and pervasive problems in the world today, and cardiovascular diseases remain the major killer in our society. [9] Reishi mushrooms have been proven to improve the efficiency of blood flow to the heart and lower blood pressure; they also reduce the amount of oxygen consumed by the heart, which means that there is more oxygenation for the rest of the body and organ systems. Furthermore, certain elements of reishi mushroom extract can reduce the level of LDL (bad) cholesterol in your system, further protecting you from strokes and heart attacks.

Immune System Aid

Although we’ve already mentioned antioxidants, which are a key component of the immune system, reishi mushrooms also contain beta-glucans, one of the most effective and powerful immune system boosters that we know of. [10] By increasing the number of beta-glucans in your body, you can protect yourself against a vast range of potential diseases and reduce the signs of aging. Some experts believe that it is this high glucan content that linked it historically with immortality and vitality.

Boosted Energy

In addition to immortality, traditional medicine also suggested reishi for energy-boosting. As we age, our energy levels do tend to drop, but adding a spirit in our golden years with the help of this mushroom would be wonderful.

Side Effects

As anything with so many good qualities, there is inevitably a flip side. Extended use of reishi mushrooms (for 1-2 months) has been connected with some side effects throughout history. Some of them include:

Although these side effects seem mild, it is still a good decision to speak with a medical professional or trained herbalist before adding reishi mushrooms to your diet.

About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

 

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