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Acupuncture Helps Heart Patients
February 2011

A Solution for Those Suffering from Cardiac Issues

accupunctureResearch news from Germany reports that acupuncture can improve exercise tolerance in patients suffering from chronic heart failure. The researchers gave such patients—who were on conventional medication and stable—10 sessions of acupuncture, focusing on the healing method’s pressure points that boost general strength, and according to traditional Chinese medicine, influence the nervous system and inflammation. The control group was treated with placebo needles that did not break the skin.

The needles did not increase the heart’s pumping function, but they seemed to have an influence on skeletal muscle strength, and increased the distance that the heart patients were able to walk in a given time. The acupuncture patients also recovered more quickly from the exercise and tended to feel less general exhaustion.

This finding could provide a useful option in the future if relatively low-cost acupuncture treatment can work to improve the prognosis for cardiac patients over the long term.

 
Stress-Busting Walnuts
February 2011

Go Nuts for This Healthy Food

walnutsA diet rich in walnuts and walnut oil may prepare the body to deal better with stress, according to a team of Penn State researchers. They specifically considered how these foods, which contain polyunsaturated fats, influence our blood pressure. Their studies showed that walnuts and walnut oil have the ability to lower blood pressure, both when we are at rest and in response to stress.


 
Blushing Could Save Face
February 2011

Turning Red May Not Be a Bad Thing

blusingMost people try to hide their blushes when they’re embarrassed, but new research published in the journal suggests that facial expressions can serve an important role in smoothing social interactions.

Researchers from the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, had participants read vignettes about typical social transgressions and mishaps, and then rate how favorably they felt about the faces of the ostensible social culprits. Blushing people were judged more favorably than non-blushers, regardless of the other emotional cues on their face.

The researchers argue that blushing signals a sincere acknowledgement of wrongdoing and communicates to others that we won’t make the same mistake again. They concluded that blushing might prevent people from being socially excluded after committing some kind of transgression. It could actually help us, yes, save face.


Source: GreaterGood.Berkeley.edu

 
Dream on… and Learn Better
February 2011

While You Sleep, Your Brain is Hard at Work

dream_onModern science has established that sleep can be an important tool for enhancing memory and learning skills. A new study at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center sheds light on the role that dreams play in this process. “After nearly 100 years of debate about the function of dreams, this study tells us that dreams are the brain’s way of processing, integrating and really understanding new information,” says senior author Robert Stickgold, Ph.D. “Dreams are a clear indication that the sleeping brain is working on memories at multiple levels, including ways that will directly improve performance.”

Indeed, according to the researchers, these new findings suggest that dreams may be the sleeping brain’s way of telling us that it is hard at work on the process of memory consolidation— integrating our recent experiences to help us with performance-related tasks in the short run, as well as over the long term. In other words, dreams help us translate this material into information that has broad application in our lives.

 
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