Critical Health News

Meaning and Well-Being

Victor Frankl

Dr. Victor Frankl was a powerful man. Not muscle and brawn powerful, but psychologically powerful. Frankel was an Austrian psychiatrist who spent 1944 in Nazi concentration camps, where, in addition to suffering the daily torture and slave labor, he was forced to experience the deaths of his mother, brother and wife.

Out of the tragedy of Dr. Frankl’s heart rending story came "Man's Search for Meaning" his most popular book, a tribute to hope and possibility in the direst of circumstances and one that describes his experience in Auschwitz and Dachau as well as the development of a healing modality called “Logotherapy”. Derived from “logos” the Greek word for “plan”, or more loosely “that which gives reason for being”, Logotherapy, as defined by Frankl, can be thought of as an emotionally resilient way of living that “aims to unlock the will-to-meaning of life”.

What Frankl noticed during his time enduring some of the most inhumane conditions in the history of man was that those around him who did not lose their sense of purpose and meaning in life were able to survive much longer than those who did. Frankl was so impressed by the survival benefits of “meaning”, that he devoted the rest of his life to using it therapeutically to improve the quality of life of his patients.

Logotherapy posits three basic assumptions: 

1. No matter what is occurring, all the circumstances of life have meaning.
2. People have a will, an inner drive, to find that meaning.
3. People have freedom to find meaning in the circumstances of life, as disquieting as they may be.

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Nutritional Support for Alzheimer's & Dementia


It’s been called the 36-hour day and for good reason. Although the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters that care for the victims of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) don’t really have an extra 12 hours a day of work, for many, it understandably seems that way.

Addressing the daily needs of dementia patients can be a challenging and frustrating experience for even the most intrepid of caretakers. Short term memory lapses require lots of repetition, not to mention the patience of “Job”. Normal bathing, dressing and bathroom activities that most of us take for granted can be particularly tumultuous and communication challenges can make everything more difficult. Sometimes scary, violent outbursts can spontaneously occur and keeping the wandering-prone patient in one safe place may be downright impossible. Ultimately it may become dangerous to leave him or her alone, even for just a couple of minutes. The disease damages senses, balance and judgment; it’s not unusual for dementia patients to start fires or overdose on medications. Aggression and paranoia can make them a danger to themselves and the people around them.

There are 5 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s the sixth leading cause of death. For many it’s a progressive condition and rates are increasing dramatically. A World Health Organization paper called “Dementia: a public health priority” states that this number will double by 2030 and more than triple by 2050.

Yet, lately there’s been reason for optimism. A team led by researchers at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory reported, in the May 7, 2009 issue of Nature, that deactivating a gene can reverse the effects of Alzheimer's and boost cognitive function in mice allowing them to regain long-term memories and the ability to learn.

More recently, in a small study conducted at UCLA in 2014, nine out of ten patients in various stages of dementia, said their symptoms were reversed after they participated in a rigorous nutritional and dietary program that included optimizing gut health, strategic fasting, normalizing blood sugar and insulin, and using Vitamin D and EFAs to support cognition.

As it turns out, despite years of medical dogma to the contrary, nerve cells actually do regenerate given the appropriate nutritional environment. Dr. Dennis Steindler of the University of Florida has shown that stem cells in the brain can give rise to new neurons. According to Dr. Steindler “By changing diet and nutrition, patients may be able to limit inflammation of brain tissue and prevent or even reverse these degenerative diseases, by giving neural stem cells the ability to heal the damage”

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Marijuana and Blood Sugar

OK I admit it, I'm a child of the 70’s and like many of my peers, I've smoked a little (all right, maybe more than little) pot back in the day. And although I haven't toked in a long time, I still look back at my stoned adolescence with a bit of nostalgia and a lot of, shall we say, entertaining memories.

As I recall, aside from the buzz, creativity and the inevitable hacking that followed a hit on joint or a pipe, one of the unavoidable results of getting high was an insatiable desire for food. And not just any food. When we got our late-night hankerings, it wasn’t like we were snacking on salads, fruit or any other wholesome edibles. No, what we inevitably craved were foods that were greasy, starchy and sweet; sandwiches, hamburgers, French fries, chips (potatoes, corn tortilla, it didn’t really matter as long as they were fried), cheese, ice cream, other desserts, or some combination thereof.

These days, as heretofore verboten ganja gradually migrates to the mainstream, we're finding that the evil weed is actually pretty darn good medicine. Cannabis contains over 85 chemical compounds, many of which have therapeutic value, particularly for epileptics and migraine sufferers. And now, medical professionals are discovering that, in addition to its anti-seizure benefits and protection from headaches, the biochemistry behind the marijuana munchies may point the way to therapeutic benefits for diabetics.

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Top 10 Strategies for Prevention of Cancer

Prevention of Cancer
  1. Minimize exposure to risk factors including smoking, drugs (including illegal and prescription) and excessive alcohol intake.

  2. Maintain body weight in within a healthy range. The obese and even overweight are more likely to get cancer.

  3. Practice regular, daily deep breathing.

  4. Stay physically active. A sedentary lifestyle is linked cancer.

  5. Eat (and drink) more veggies. Reduce intake of processed dairy and meat.

  6. Avoid fried and otherwise processed and refined fats.

  7. Reduce caloric intake (especially refined flour and sugar) and use intermittent fasting (1-3 days a month).

  8. Supplement with essential vitamins and minerals intelligently and strategically.

  9. Use relaxation techniques including massage, quality sleep (and naps), as well as emotional and mental strategies.

  10. Leverage spirituality by developing a personal relationship and regularly communing with Divine Force through prayer and meditation.

Did you know…

…that the name cancer refers to the crab like way tumors tenaciously grip and spread into adjacent tissues

…the earliest description of cancer was of a breast tumor found in an ancient Egyptian medical treatise dating back to 1600 B.C.

…lung, prostate, and stomach cancers are the most commonly diagnosed cancers in men. Breast, cervix, and colorectal cancers are the most commonly diagnosed cancers in women.

Cancer, Oxygen and Sugar

In the world of health and wellness, there’s nothing quite as terrifying as a diagnosis of cancer. As of 2014, nearly 15 million people living in the United States had a history of the dreaded disease. That’s about 5 percent or so of the population. While that’s certainly significant, it also means that 95 percent of Americans are cancer-free. In other words, despite the fear and angst it engenders, full-blown cancer is a relatively rare occurrence. While cancer has become a prosperous and profit intensive industry generating 125 billion dollars a year in revenue, the infrequency of its occurrence implies a certain resistance to the disease that is built into our biology.

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Pink Slime and Wrinkles

Connective Tissue

Remember pink slime? That was the stuff that made headlines a couple of years ago, much to the consternation of the fast food industry, which had long been adding the crimson goo as inexpensive excipient to beef up their burgers (and profits). Although the addition of fillers is not necessarily illegal or even unhealthy and has historically been a way to lower food costs to consumers, this particular additive created an unusually universal and vociferous revulsion. Within weeks of the ABC news story that revealed the practice to the public, fast food giants like McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell had officially renounced it and public schools around the country stopped serving it.

However, despite the horrific moniker, the strawberry colored filler with the gloppy consistency that was added to meat was actually not much different than the meat itself. It was chemically treated connective tissue (CT), the rubbery, flavorless chewy stuff most people know as gristle.

Despite its unsavory reputation, the stuff of slime, as well as gristle, is actually a pretty important substance, that is, when it’s a component of our bodies. Connective tissue makes up around 20 to 25 percent of our weight. It’s responsible, as the name implies, for connecting our various components, assuring that our organs and tissues are tightly bound to each other. It’s a type of biological cement that keeps us in one piece, as an intact and coherent whole.

Connective tissue is produced in a special cell called a fibroblast, the birthplace of the three major components of CT which is known as the “matrix”.

  1. collagen (“colla” is the ancient Greek term for glue), a strong, structural protein that gram for gram is more powerful than steel

  2. elastin – a flexible, elastic protein that allows connective tissues to resume their shape after stretching or contracting.

  3. complex sugar molecules (polysaccharides) and sugar-protein complexes (proteo-glycans) which act as a shock absorber and also have a nourishing and detoxifying effect.

The combination of the fibroblasts and the matrix they extrude is what is generally referred to as connective tissue

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