Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mindfulness meditation training changes brain structure in 8 weeks (1/25/2011)

Mindfulness meditation training changes brain structure in 8 weeks (1/25/2011)

Participating in an 8-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. In a study that will appear in the January 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers report the results of their study, the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain's grey matter.

"Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day," says Sara Lazar, PhD, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, the study's senior author. "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."

Previous studies from Lazar's group and others found structural differences between the brains of experienced mediation practitioners and individuals with no history of meditation, observing thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration. But those investigations could not document that those differences were actually produced by meditation.

For the current study, MR images were take of the brain structure of 16 study participants two weeks before and after they took part in the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness. In addition to weekly meetings that included practice of mindfulness meditation - which focuses on nonjudgmental awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind - participants received audio recordings for guided meditation practice and were asked to keep track of how much time they practiced each day. A set of MR brain images were also taken of a control group of non-meditators over a similar time interval.

Meditation group participants reported spending an average of 27 minutes each day practicing mindfulness exercises, and their responses to a mindfulness questionnaire indicated significant improvements compared with pre-participation responses. The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased grey-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. Although no change was seen in a self-awareness-associated structure called the insula, which had been identified in earlier studies, the authors suggest that longer-term meditation practice might be needed to produce changes in that area. None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time.

"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, PhD, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany. "Other studies in different patient populations have shown that meditation can make significant improvements in a variety of symptoms, and we are now investigating the underlying mechanisms in the brain that facilitate this change."

Amishi Jha, PhD, a University of Miami neuroscientist who investigates mindfulness-training's effects on individuals in high-stress situations, says, "These results shed light on the mechanisms of action of mindfulness-based training. They demonstrate that the first-person experience of stress can not only be reduced with an 8-week mindfulness training program but that this experiential change corresponds with structural changes in the amydala, a finding that opens doors to many possibilities for further research on MBSR's potential to protect against stress-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder." Jha was not one of the study investigators.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by the Massachusetts General Hospital

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Babies process language in a grown-up wayResearch shows emotional stress can change brain function (1/19/2011) 

We know that chronic stress negatively affects brain function in many ways... here we have a study  showing acute stress does the same. However with the new mental and emotional protocols from CLRT, there is now a way to immediately reduce the effects of stress on the brain with laser accuracy. Come learn how to do it in Charlotte, Chicago or San Diego this spring! 

Research conducted by Iaroslav Savtchouk, a graduate student, and S. June Liu, PhD, Associate Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, has shown that a single exposure to acute stress affected information processing in the cerebellum - the area of the brain responsible for motor control and movement coordination and also involved in learning and memory formation. The work is published in the January 12, 2011 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The researchers found that a five-minute exposure to the odor of a predator produced the insertion of receptors containing GluR2 at the connections (synapses) between nerve cells in the brain. GluR2 is a subunit of a receptor in the central nervous system that regulates the transfer of electrical impulses between nerve cells, or neurons. The presence of GluR2 changed electrical currents in the cerebellum in a way that increased activity and altered the output of the cerebellar circuit in the brains of mice.

Read more on www.brainmysteries.com...

Register for a Spring CLRT seminar here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Low level laser therapy for traumatic brain injury

Proc. SPIE 7552, 755206 (2010)


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Crash Course in CLRT

Time: Yesterday, Mid afternoon

Scene: “The Lab”/ Wise Chiropractic and Wellness

Patient: “Bob”, retired white male, early seventies

Chief Complaints: Ten years of terrible balance and no equilibrium, leaning forward all the time, some lower back and leg pain (mild), constant numbness and burning in his feet...and oh yeah: whenever he walks more than 5 feet, he cannot stop.

Sounds like the beginning to a bad joke, right?

A guy walks into a chiropractor’s office and crashes headfirst into the wall.

The Doctor says...

(I haven’t thought of a good punchline yet.)

That’s right, Bob can start walking just fine, but once he’s rolling, he can’t slow down or stop without crashing into walls or furniture. Inconvenient, to say the least. He certainly won’t be touring any china shops anytime soon.

This condition had started over ten years ago, but had been getting seriously worse over the last two years. Bob tended to downplay his own problems-- he was mostly just upset he couldn’t play golf for the last decade, but the looks on the faces of his wife and daughter clearly indicated a high level of frustration, exasperation, even desperation... in other words, this situation was drastically decreasing the quality of ALL of their lives.

Bob seemed lucid enough in conversation, but his wife told me he was having trouble remembering things. When I saw his forward-slumped standing posture, I immediately thought of Parkinson’s, but those patients have more trouble initiating action, not ceasing it. He needed a walker, but refused one, so he carried a cane as a compromise with his wife. Unfortunately, the cane did nothing to slow him down, keep him up, or keep him from lunging forward, so he still pitched into things regularly.

Previous diagnoses and medical treatments had focused on spinal stenosis, peripheral neuropathy, MS, high cholesterol, herpes-type viral infections...you name the specialist, they said, and they’ve been to see ‘em. You name the test, and Bob’s had it. You name the drug, and he’s been on it. He had also been under chiropractic care, lots of massage therapy, and he “even tried acupuncture” a few times. However, nothing in a decade had done ANYTHING to slow him-- or his condition-- down.

Current medications listed were a statin(!) for high cholesterol, Lyrica for peripheral neuropathy, and a beta blocker for high blood pressure. I asked him how long he had been on a cholesterol drug, he said “Oh, about 30 years.”

I did a spit-take. “Say what!? Which ones?”

“Mostly Lipitor for 15 years, then switched to Zocor, then Vytorin and Crestor...”

This was red flag numero uno.

Statins, especially the last two he mentioned, are notorious for causing peripheral neuropathy, and the longer you are on them, the more likely these “side-effects” will show up. Three decades of statin use, with progressively stronger drugs, can cause a lot of serious neurological problems if unchecked. A plan of action was formulating in my mind, as we typically do really well with peripheral neuropathy cases. Get him on some CoQ10 stat, lots of essential fatty acids, give him some chiropractic adjustments and CLRT treatments... he should respond fairly well.

However the real bomb dropped a few minutes later, when his wife casually mentions his... wait for it... pernicious anemia of 50 years! At this point, chocolate milk flew out of my nose! (Or would have, had I been drinking it. Keep in mind, this is 24 minutes into the case history before they let me in on that slightly significant tidbit.)

“Oh, but it’s been under control,” his wife continued. “He takes a B12 shot every two weeks, and his hemoglobin is fine.” Obviously the anemia part had been more or less under control, but the B12 in the shot was not getting to his nervous system for some reason. When I looked it up to refresh my memory, I saw that almost ALL of his neurological symptoms could be caused by advanced B12 deficiency! I looked over all the MRIs (lumbar, cervical, brain) and they were all clear. Nothing of any medical interest at all, and his chiropractic findings were merely a hypo-lordotic neck curve and some serious forward head carriage. All of the sudden this was a lot more complicated.

I recommended a conservative trial of chiropractic and cranial laser treatments, and before I treated him, I asked him to walk up and down the waiting room to see him in action. Sure enough, with his head down he gained speed from one end to the other, and then he went through the open door into my adjusting room, and a second later we heard the muffled bang of his lower body hitting my adjusting table.

His wife said, “See?”

Yep. I saw.

With him supine on the table, I examined the active and passive ROM of all his lower extremity joints. His ankles were especially rigid with very little motion in any direction. I adjusted his ankles, knees and hips with the Impulse adjusting instrument, which taps at 6 Hz, and is an excellent way to stimulate joint proprioceptors. Then I adjusted his atlas as a “double anterior” listing, tapping from A-P on both TP’s.

Next I used my 200mW red laser and bathed his cranium/cortex in light. The points that I chose first were the cranial reflex pathways for the calves, ankles and hips, and C1. After that I lasered the “executive decision” areas of the prefrontal cortex, the medial PFC( mPFC), and the major chronic stress area for men, the right orbital PFC (rOPFC). Total laser time was about a minute and a half.

Like Dr. Frankenstein raising his unholy creation for the first time, I slowly brought the table to upright and had Bob stand up. First thing that was evident was his posture: instead of stooping over like Nixon looking for seashells on the beach, he was fully upright with his head and shoulders pulled back.

His wife was the first to comment. “Oh my GAWD, Bob! You’re standing up straight!”

Bob shrugged. “Yeah I guess so.” He shrugged his shoulders a bit. He was mildly impressed.

Take a walk, I said. And he did exactly that: he casually strolled across the room, chatting to us about something (I don’t recall what as he was headed towards a glass table with a lamp on it), but as he got near it, he stopped on a dime, pirouetted, and turned around. He sauntered back toward us, turned around again, a did another lap, still chatting.

His wife’s jaw was hanging wide open. “You STOPPED!”

Bob shrugged again as if to say “Yeah, what’s the big deal?”

“Oh my GAWD daddy, you STOPPED!” His daughter was also impressed.

He made a few more successful laps back and forth.

I gave them my nutritional recommendations, and after that he made it to the bathroom without crashing, the front desk without leaning on it, and to his car without any help whatsoever.

I scheduled him for two days later to check on him, and when he came back in, he said that he had walked around the entire Publix supermarket “like a normal person” the day before for the first time in 3 years. No motorized scooter was needed this time.

This impressed him.

As I have only seen him twice so far, I don’t know if he will completely recover... but I can tell you one thing, it’s a helluva start. The initial results with Cranial Laser Reflex Technique, chiropractic, and basic nutrition are extremely promising.

Oh yeah. I thought of the rest of the joke.

A guy walks into a multidisciplinary doctor’s clinic and crashes headfirst into the wall.

The MD says ”Looks like you need a little pick-me-up. Here’s an antidepressant.”

The PT says “Your problem is weak abs. Lets strengthen your core.”

The straight DC says, “Yep. Definitely an atlas subluxation.”

The acupuncturist says, “The dampness in your spleen has stagnated your chi.”

The CLRT practitioner says “Your holographic biophoton field is hemorrhaging light! Get me a laser, stat!”

The front desk girl points to the small piece of plastic connecting his shoes and says, “I think he needs to quit stealing shoes from K-Mart.”

Ok, I’ll keep working on that one.

The video following this post is from Bob's second visit, where he demonstrates his rediscovered ability to stop and turn.

‘Til next time from the Lab,

Dr. Nick

PS: We are holding 2 “Crash Courses” in CLRT in the UK this June! Come learn this amazing technique that takes the hard work out of great results.

Visit www.lightforhealth.co.uk/education for more information.