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

Brain

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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