What Is Allergy Immunology?

Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system to substances in the environment called “allergens”. Exposure to an apparently harmless substance, such as pollen causes the immune system of an allergy sufferer to react as if the substance is harmful. Allergies can be of various types: indoor and outdoor allergies (also known as hay fever, seasonal, perennial or nasal allergies), food and drug allergies, latex allergies, insect allergies, skin allergies and eye allergies. Here is a vital, reassuring piece of allergy information: people that have allergies can live healthy and active lives like everyone else.

The study of the biomedical aspects of allergies and what causes them, what types of things people are allergic to, what cures there are for those allergies is – allergy immunology. Many people benefit from allergy immunology because many people suffer from allergies or allergy symptoms. We have a lot to be thankful for in terms of scientific discoveries when we are able to take a shot that lets us enjoy milk again or take a pill that stops hay fever. All of those cures are courtesy of the study of allergy immunology.

There are a variety of tests that scientists do to discover what people are allergic to. There are a variety more that they perform to discover how to create an immunotherapeutic system to help cure us. In basic, scientists find out what causes allergies and then, sometimes, flood our immune systems with exactly the thing we are allergic to in order to drive our immune system into resistance mode which naturally fights the cause of the allergy symptoms.

This, of course, is only one part of the science behind finding the cures for various allergies but it is a popular method.

Immunotherapy is designed for those allergy sufferers that are not reacting to conventional medical cures.

If the natural medications for symptoms do not work, many people turn to immunotherapy instead. This is a type of therapy that actually moderates and fixes the cause and direction of the allergic reaction and fixes the allergy itself, not just the symptoms. Sadly, but immunotherapy does not work in everyone. It generally recommended as a last help by most medical professionals because of the expense and complication.

Immunotherapy requires taking injections for three to five years that may or may not result in long term benefits for the allergy sufferer. This allergy therapy is only recommended for those that have no choice but to be near their allergens or for those that are experiencing hard allergic reactions. This therapy is commonly used on people that suffer from hay fever allergies and on people with asthma as the allergens in that type of allergy are hard to avoid.

Allergy immunology makes it possible for those types of allergies to be cured because of the way science has dedicated itself to finding a cure for common allergies. To date, there are many cures for allergies and many more on the way.

Does Asthma Cause Claustrophobia?

I’m asthmatic and have claustrophobia. Does being asthmatic necessarily mean you’re going to suffer, also, from claustrophobia? Maybe. I read about this in Prevention magazine. It seems that recent studies show that there is a striking connection between asthma and psychological problems, i.e. depression and anxiety. If you’ve ever been in a situation where you have not been able to breath, it’s not hard then for the mind to extrapolate, “small place, no air.” In the last year or so I’ve, unfortunately, had some anxiety attacks brought about by asthma. For example, during our trip to Russia I acquired some bug. When we returned, I was sick for a good 6 weeks with coughing, sinus problems etc. So the coughing exacerbates the asthma. I’m going to my allergist, taking all kinds of stuff and still having trouble breathing. One night I wake up in a sweat and am gasping for air.

I tried not to panic. I was able to slow my breathing down and work my way out of it. But it was scary as hell. I can not imagine what it would be like to have a fully blown panic attack. But, back to asthma and claustrophobia. I’ve tried to overcome the phobia. A few years ago while in Rome (oh, another vacation dropper), we decided to go to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. Now, if you’ve ever been in these old churches, you can only surmise that the people who built them must have been 5’5″ and 150 pounds because all of the walkways are very narrow and low. I decided to give it a try (my mantra is that if God put it on this earth, I want to see it). It was July and peak tourist season. As we begin to ascend, you’re walking in a spiral. So, you really only see the people’s butts in front of you. There are 100’s of people in front of me and 100’s behind me.

No escape! My dear, dear husband. How I love him so. But what does he say? “This can’t be very good for your claustrophobia”. Screenplay: Wife reaches back and strangles husband. Life: “I love you too dear”. As you get closer to the top of the dome, you are now bending to the right because the staircase mimics the dome. Help!!! Luckily, every so many steps there was a small slit of a window. I would stick my head out of the window, take a deep breath, and continue. I made it to the top! Congratulations! Now to go back down… Over the years I’ve climbed into the Great Pyramid of Giza, gone underground in the Valley of the Kings, gone into caves in Borneo (big ones), and had a Cat Scan. I can fight it but I can’t defeat it.

For the last 5 years I’ve been getting allergy injections. My asthma is almost, ALMOST, under control. And I’ve actually gotten better about being in small places But, any movie or TV show that has a person locked in a room, a room with no window, or, God forbid, watch Kill Bill, forget it. I can’t watch. If a terrorist wanted info from me, just threaten to put me in a small cell with no window and withhold my rescue inhaler… I’ll talk, I’ll talk!!!!! Oh, and no, no scuba diving. Enveloped by water and breathing through a small tube? I don’t think so…

I Feel Emotionally Detached – What Does it Mean and What Can I Do?

This is the urgent question I received in my in-box last week. It came from a woman who was clearly becoming increasingly panic-stricken at the impending life changes she will experience soon.

If you are feeling emotionally detached from your surroundings, your friends and your family, you are most likely experiencing a symptom of anxiety disorder. Some people say they have a sense of unreality. It’s also referred to as derealization and depersonalization – a sense that nothing is real.

Many people think they are losing their minds because they know these feelings are not normal. It’s a scary experience, and it can happen to anyone who is under severe stress for an extended period of time.

The woman I’ve been helping with her anxiety-related problems emailed me with concerns about these feelings that had taken over her life. She was about to get married and move away from the family home where she’d always felt safe and secure.

Suddenly, she would have to ‘make it’ in her own home with all the responsibilities it entails. The stress of having to sort out in her own mind all the drastic changes that face her was overwhelming.

For the first time in her life, she had anxiety disorder. The attacks only hit her in a few areas, but they were gradually filtering across her entire life. That’s when the feeling of ‘not belonging’, of ‘feeling detached’, struck. She became very afraid of what it meant and how bad it would get.

Apart from feeling detached, she was constantly feeling sleepy even though she believed she was getting sufficient sleep.

Like many anxiety-sufferers, she feared that she was going crazy – losing her mind. The disconcerting thing for her is that she has always been very close to her family and always under their protection.

When she developed an increasing sense of distance between her and her family and coworkers she became extremely worried. She felt like she ‘doesn’t belong’ with them. She was experiencing depersonalization or derealization.

If you experience similar symptoms, here’s what’s causing them.

First off, sleepiness is an escape mechanism and so is being in a state of feeling detached. They are common side effects of anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorder and panic trigger in us a fear for our safety. Feeling anxious is not normal so we believe there must be something terribly wrong and that we must protect ourselves in whatever way we can.

It all comes back to the fight or flight mechanism that goes into action when we are in threatening or perceived threatening situations. The unresolved conflict of what to do triggers anxiety attacks. If allowed to continue, it becomes anxiety disorder.

In a crisis, our bodies send messages to prepare to defend ourselves. We increase our heart rate so that more energy is available in our muscles so we can run from the danger if need be.

If you’ve ever had a near-miss accident or been involved in a fender bender, you will know that feeling of being disassociated for a very short time. What happened is you separated your emotional from the logical side of your brain so you could deal with the crisis in a way that your decisions would not be clouded by emotion.

When your emotions are confused or threatened, we react similarly by separating our emotions from our logical brains, thereby creating a sense of disassociated and detached. Your body is doing what is necessary to protect your emotions, which can be fragile sometimes.

In the case of my contact, she was dreading the whole idea of moving away from the comfort of her family home – lots of questions and doubts. A great deal of emotions were involved… ranging from happiness about the marriage and fear of the unknown… too much for her to deal with. If she didn’t develop some level of detachment from her surroundings and her immediate family, the effect of the mounting stress on her emotions would be unhealthy.

Sleep acts as an escape from the stress. It also provides relief from the constant pressure we’re under. Although my contact thinks she sleeps well, chances are she doesn’t get proper restful sleep. This prevents her body from ‘repairing’ itself from each day’s stresses, both physically and mentally.

On top of this, the lack of sleep alone can cause a sense of detachment because our minds want to sleep but our bodies don’t allow it. It’s not unlike the feeling we get when we are getting very tired at the end of the day and ready for bed. Our brains are beginning to shut down in preparation for sleep. This state creates a type of separation of our minds from our bodies.

It’s important not to get too obsessed about feeling detached when you are going through anxiety disorder and panic, and experiencing that sense of derealization. Although it’s uncomfortable to feel that way, and certainly disconcerting, it’s not serious. It’s self-preservation tactics at work.

We use our emotions when dealing with friends, family and coworkers. They help us to understand how others are feeling and what their conversations really mean. Our emotions are always at work as part of our communication network. Without emotions, it would be difficult for us to truly understand the intent behind what people say and do.

When your body feels the need to put its emotions in a protective place, it blocks those over-worked emotions so they can rest and not burn out. When we feel stronger mentally and our bodies are properly aligned again, that blockage will be released and the feelings of connection between us and our surroundings will return to normal.

What can you do in the meantime?

It’s not easy, but the first step is to try not to worry about those feelings. One way to do that is to find something to distract you. For instance, do something enjoyable and relaxing, like going swimming, reading a good book, taking a drive in the country, visit your favorite place, take part in your favorite community event.

If lack of sleep is the problem, try something different. Instead of lying in bed trying to get to sleep, try staying awake instead. Pull out a book and read – when you feel sleepy, don’t give in. Try to stay awake as long as possible until your body just refuses to obey. There’s no scientific evidence this will work – it’s just a theory that’s certainly worth a try.

To sort through your crisis, however, you need to take more definite steps. Your first goal must be to take back control. Here’s what we’re aiming for:

  • First… control your thoughts.
  • Second… control your life.
  • The end result… you control your anxiety disorder.

If you have a pressing issue that needs resolving and it’s causing you distress – or if you have a major life change coming up and you are feeling at sea – there are things you can do right now.

Let’s take my friend’s case. She’s getting married and moving into a new home with her husband, leaving her family behind. She doesn’t know what to expect and this is making her very nervous and anxious. The underlying derealization has her downright scared.

Get to the root of your distress and take control

If you’re planning to get married or start out on your own, try this.

Take a sheet of paper and write down every single thing that will change, from organizing your own home and paying your own bills to deciding who gets the first shower and who gets the remote. You might note that your new home will be quieter because there will be fewer people around.

Your list can include your food choices, stocking the medicine cabinet and kitchen cupboards, what kinds of problems might arise with the house or apartment and how you’ll deal with them, how you’ll keep track of the money and where you’ll do the banking, who’ll be in charge of what, etc.

Sort out exactly what parts you are unsure of. Be sure to include the good and the bad things – things you are looking forward to, and the things that have you worried.

When your list is complete, set it aside for a day or two and let your idle brain resolve them for you. Amazingly, the brain can be extremely effective when you give it the problem and let it ‘do its thing’ while you get on with your day. Solutions will pop out at you at the most unexpected time. You will have amazing revelations when you least expect them. And at that very moment, you will experience a feeling of great satisfaction and relief.

The final step is to go back over your list and identify exactly what it is you’re afraid of and work on finding solutions. Do not labor over the problems themselves. Figure out how you’re going to deal with them, how you’ll make your decisions, decide how much on the list you can control and how you’ll control them.

For example, let’s say you are overwhelmed with unpaid bills and they are so out of control you feel you’ll never recover.

The first step is to establish why you got in this predicament in the first place. Quite possibly it’s because you didn’t set a budget. You had no idea how much you could afford to spend, so you just spent. Now the bill collectors are causing you extreme anxiety and you are dreading the imposing outcome.

In other words, you lost control of that part of your life. What you want to do now is take back control.

First, you have to figure out how to set your budget and how to figure out how much you can spend, and how you will pay off what you owe.

List all your bills with dates of when they are or were due. Start with the one that’s been overdue the longest and work your way down the list. Calculate how much your income is per month, how much you need to survive every month, and find out what’s left.

There are several ways you can proceed. You can focus on paying off the oldest bills first, or you can spread your money over all of your outstanding debts.

If this exercise causes you too much stress and anxiety, especially if you’re like me and do not have good math skills, find someone who can help you with it. Some volunteer organizations offer such services, so check at your local library, in your local phone book, or church.

Do this with the rest of the items on the list. Find solutions to all the things that make you feel anxious or nervous or that you just don’t feel comfortable with.

This exercise is a great way to take control, believe me. When all this stuff is floating around inside our brains, we get confused and anxious. Their importance magnifies to the point we blow it all out of proportion.

When we write them down, they take on a whole new perspective. They aren’t nearly as fearful as we thought. In fact, when we see some things written down we’ll feel downright silly that they scared us because they aren’t as big a problem or situation as we’d allowed ourselves to imagine.

Doing this will put you back in control so you can finally enjoy some relief from your anxiety disorder. Once you gain control of your situation, you will be ready to take back control of your life. Your anxiety disorder will dissipate and “feeling detached” will soon fade away.

One last bit of advice – only allow positive thoughts into your mind. When you doubt your ability to overcome your situation, remind yourself that you “can take control over this (because I’m strong or smart) and getting (stronger or smarter)”.

Answers For Menopause and Depression

The feelings of sadness from menopause and depression can come in like a fog. This can be a real surprise for a woman who has never experienced feelings of depression before. The waves of despair and anxiety can seem so overpowering at times.

On top of that, there is the pain and feelings of guilt that often accompany depression, which only compounds matters. There is a light at the end of the tunnel though! You most certainly can find out how to feel whole, balanced and happy again!

Many women find great success in using a holistic health provider to guide them. This type of depression, known as sub-clinical, is the result of a hormonal imbalance, which is the result of menopause.

We all know that a woman’s body experiences a dramatic change in hormones during menopause. This change will cause you to experience any or all of the common menopause symptoms: insomnia, irritability, mood swings, and depression.

A common treatment is to use anti-depressants, such as Praxil, Prozac, and Effexor. For a woman suffering from clinical depression this is the best option, however, if your depression is sub clinical, you should certainly find out if the cause is a hormonal imbalance.

This is easily accomplished by taking a free test that will help you determine to what degree you have a hormonal imbalance. Your holistic health care provider will also be able to assist you in taking a similar test.

Clinical depression

This is a serious condition that requires medical attention and possibly anti-depressants. Clinical depression is typically associated with intense feeling of sadness that have no apparent cause. A common cause could be a child leaving home, fatigue from overwork, stress at work, relationship problems, etc.

If your sadness has no apparent cause, and simply does not go away over time, you should seek medical help. After your feelings are normal, you will be in a position to use a holistic method of treatment.

Sub clinical depression is cause related

This is caused by the normal trauma of life, such as relationship stress, exhaustion from overwork, stress at home, etc. Typically sub clinical depression is very responsive to restoring your hormonal balance.

Conclusion

Your body naturally seeks a balanced state, which is known as homeostasis. A holistic approach to health will help you during menopause to restore this balance.

As you learn to interpret your own symptoms of menopause, you will have the tools you need to find that balance once again. Those good feelings of health and happiness will return and your menopause and depression will be manageable.

Sitting For A Relaxing Massage

What is a massage?

It is the pressing, rubbing, kneading action applied on muscles, skin and tendons either with the hands, elbows, feet or mechanical aids to release stress and tension and promote relaxation and wellbeing. It is an ancient practice among predominantly eastern and many European civilizations believed to be in practice before recorded history.

Why massage

Studies of the effects of massage have shown that it is beneficial in many ways, such as reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. It may also be directly responsible for relieving stress related insomnia, headaches, fibromyalgia, anxiety, digestive disorders and a host of localised syndromes.

Massage chairs

Massage may be given on a massage table, massage chair on the floor on a mat. Massage chairs are designed for massages while sitting. The non-robotic ‘traditional’ massage chairs allow the masseur easy access to the shoulders, back, neck, head, arms and hands of the recipient. They are also portable. This makes it easy to provide the recipient on site massages. This makes them popular at trade conferences and business offices in the corporate world, because an office environment is considered stressful and a relaxing massage the cure-all. The massage chair now usually refers to the robotic one, which was introduced in the late 1980s intended to match the motions and techniques of an actual masseuse, with the goal of relieving stress and back pain. The idea caught on slowly and more manufacturers entered the market to vie with each other for more effective features.

Techniques of Massage Chairs

The techniques of massage that the chairs today are able to deliver effectively are

Shiatsu – using rolling, rotating, pressing, sweeping and patting movements. Shiatsu technique focuses on releasing tension in specific locations of the body

Swedish – consists of kneading and long gliding strokes and the aim is to promote better circulation in the body

The main components of a massage chair

Nodes and Rollers to emulate the fingers and hands! They come in various sizes, the larger ones for general pressure and the smaller ones for point specific action.

Motors – They power the nodes and rollers to move and act on different parts of the body and the control to these motors is provided on the control pads of the chairs. The motor also assists in seat adjustment for the back.

Computer assisted adjustability – this significant feature automatically adjusts the seat and its massaging components for the height, width and weight of the user.

How to choose the best massage chair

The following points have to be kept in mind:

· Check the range of heights available on the chairs, to accommodate yours.

· Check the range of massages provided – in addition to the Shiatsu and Swedish are there any more?

· You would like different massages at different times depending on the need.

· Warranty

· Price – be prepared to pay a high price literally for the benefits you are about to receive. But being priced as they are, financing options are available with the retailers.

How Much is Your Case Worth?

Evaluating personal injury claims is a tricky business. In the past six years my firm, CapTran, has underwritten 10,000 requests for pre-settlement advances by plaintiffs. We have never had anyone tell us that their case was not a “slam dunk” or that they were not going to get a substantial settlement. We are always told the insurance company is going to settle quickly because their case and/or attorney are so good.

Our experience tells us – baloney!

Unrealistic expectations in personal injury law are a recipe for certain disappointment. Rarely do even slam-dunk cases get settled quickly for large amounts. Quite the opposite, slam-dunk cases usually involve serious injuries that require a long time to treat. Settlements are rarely reached prior to the victim achieving maximum medical improvement.

Hubris aside, everyone wants to know the real value of their case. Unfortunately, accident victims are often beset with self-appointed experts replete with stories and anecdotal evidence of huge jury awards. They know someone who knows someone who got a huge settlement for a back strain or “whiplash”. These influences do nothing but confuse the issue and most of the time has nothing to do with reality.

The truth is that, with the exception of the horrific paralyzing or disfiguring injury, most accident damage awards fall within a very predictable range. The National Transportation Safety Board reports that 3 million people are injured in motor vehicle accidents each year and insurance companies pay out nearly $20 Billion in bodily injury claims annually. The Insurance Research Council conducts a survey of auto claims every five years. The survey’s participant’s account for about two out of every three claims paid in the United States. In short, there is an enormous amount of data available to insurance companies regarding every conceivable type of injury and the amount paid to settle the claim.

Facts to consider

1. The average amount paid for a bodily injury claim is less than $10,000.

2. The amount paid varies widely by state.

3. Insurance companies are very wary of chiropractic treatment, especially if it is the only treatment.

4. Insurance companies are very wary of excessive physical therapy treatment.

If your attorney is experienced in personal injury cases he or she will know the range of values and the claiming behavior of insurance adjusters in your area. Our experience is that attorneys are prone to overestimate the value of your case rather than underestimate it. We urge you to listen to your attorney’s advice regarding claim value because it is unlikely that they will overestimate its worth. If you attorney is not experienced in PI cases – well, get another attorney.

That having been said, we offer the following thoughts that come from our experience. We have limited our comments to the most common type of case – motor vehicle accidents.

Factors to Consider

There are a great many factors that impact on the potential value of you claim. In order to determine whether (and how much) to invest in your case, CapTran® uses these factors or case attributes, to calculate the value of a case. In general we look at the following case attributes:

1. The event

2. Liability

3. Ability to pay

4. Damages

5. “Quality” of the Defendant

6. “Quality” of the Plaintiff – you!

1. The Event

What actually happened? Not what you think happened, or even what you know happened but rather, what can be verified or proven.

o If the police did not arrive at the scene it will be more difficult for you to prove anything.

o If you received a ticket you will have a difficult time collecting full value for your case (in contributory negligence states you may collect nothing!)

o If the defendant received a ticket, his or her insurance carrier is more likely to readily admit liability.

o If the accident happened in a manner that is unquestionably not your fault and/or demonstrates recklessness on the part of the defendant, the insurance carrier is more likely to attempt to settle.

o Where there witnesses unrelated to you and not in your vehicle present? If so, defendant’s insurance carrier is more likely to readily admit liability.

o Did the other driver admit liability at the scene? If so, defendant’s insurance carrier is more likely to readily admit liability.

o Did you take pictures of the car at the scene or later?

o Was your vehicle moving or stopped? If lawfully stopped it is highly unlikely that you will be deemed to have contributed to the accident and the defendant’s insurance carrier is more likely to admit liability.

2. Liability

The certainty of liability or the availability of a defense will impact the level of enthusiasm the insurance carrier has to settle your case. If there appears to be a valid defense available, even if not perfect, the value of a settlement offer will suffer. If the injuries are minor, the only thing the insurance company has to lose is the expense of trying the case.

3. Ability to Pay

Regardless of your damages, someone has to have the ability to pay in order for you to collect. The availability of insurance or a financially strong defendant is critical to the ability to achieve financial redress for your injuries.

Amount of insurance coverage. Insurance policies have limits on the amount they will pay per accident victim as well as per accident. If you are one of several people injured in an accident you will have to share the coverage with the other claimants. For example, if a policy has a “per accident” cap of $100,000 and five people are injured each with a claim worth of $50,000 (for a total of $250,000) there will not be enough to cover all claims.

Self Insurance. Many large companies self-insure meaning that instead of paying premises to an insurance company, they set aside certain monies each year to establish an insurance reserve to handle future claims. Many times the company will actually have its own so-called captive insurance company.

4. Damages

Severity of impact. This is common sense. If your vehicle has a sustained little damage the insurance adjuster will know that a jury is likely to conclude that no one could have been seriously injured in such a “fender bender”. On the other hand, they will not want to go up against an attorney that can hold up a picture of your severely demolished vehicle telling the jury “why, my client is lucky to be alive!”

When you received treatment. If you went to the emergency in an ambulance that is better than if you went to the emergency room two days later (especially if you went to your attorney first).

Soft tissue injuries versus broken bones. Most minor accidents involve what used to be called “whiplash” but are now referred to as cervical strain or sprain. A broken bone is easy to prove and easy for juries to understand. With soft tissue injuries, it is difficult for juries to separate good claims from fraudulent ones. Insurance adjusters know that juries will not award large amounts for soft tissue injuries.

If you have a broken bone, especially if it is a weight-bearing bone, you have an injury that can be verified by indisputable evidence such as x-rays.

Amount of your medical bills. While “meds” are a very significant (often the most significant) factor in determining case value, there is no simple formula to use in determining case value. Forget the junk about “3 times meds” or “3 times specials”. Insurance Research Council survey data reveals that bodily injury claims cannot be estimated in such a simple fashion. Values vary widely from state to state and the type of meds is very important. Some rules of thumb are:

1. “Treating” expenses carry more weight with insurance adjusters than diagnostic expenses. It matters little that you decided to have an expensive MRI or CAT Scan.

2. Chiropractic expenses are severely discounted by insurance adjusters (and ignored by us).

3. Excessive visits to the physical therapist are not only discounted by adjusters but along with chiropractic bills also raise a red flag for what is called “build-up”.

Medical providers that treated you. Insurance adjusters look for treatment by medical specialists that indicate clear-cut injuries associated with vehicular impact. If you are only treated by the ER physician and perhaps your family doctor it will not carry as much weight as if you were treated by an Orthopedic Surgeon or a Neurologist.

Documentation of your injury. Failure to go for medical treatment, or large gaps of time between treatments, are red flags for insurance adjusters. Inadequate documentation will not pass muster with insurance adjusters.

5. Quality of the Defendant

Appearance matters in court. Every adjuster knows that a sympathetic defendant is less likely to suffer large verdicts. The inverse is, of course, true as well. The kind of evidence, especially prior acts that can be presented in court varies from state to state but defendants must be wary that adverse evidence regarding the plaintiff will see its way into the jury room.

6. Quality of Plaintiff – YOU!

We have had several good cases lost because the jury simply didn’t like the plaintiff. If you appear too strident or are overly aggressive, combatant or belligerent, a jury will find a way to punish you for your behavior.

If you have had several minor accidents a jury may conclude that you are a scam artist.

Above all else, try to be realistic in your evaluation of your claim. The object of the tort system is to compensate you for your damages not to unreasonably enrich you. Be sensible and reasonable and you will enhance your chances for a successful outcome. Good luck!

This article is intended for information only and should not be construed as legal advice. You should consult your own attorney for legal advice.

©Copyright Capital Transaction Group Inc

Ayahuasca as a Cure For Depression

I happen to know for a fact that ayahuasca can help with depression, because it helped me. I had suffered from depression since I was fifteen, being suicidal for seven of those years. Thirty years later, after a quite a variety of therapies, medications, self­-help books, workshops, spiritual practices, and eventually dedicating to a healthy diet and regular exercise (don’t underestimate the impact of those two factors), my life had become… okay. Depressive episodes had pretty much disappeared, but my experience of life was flat, joyless. Not much excited me and very little held any real interest, but I was highly functional professionally, developed friends, and no longer thought of dying on a regular basis. I now suspect I would have scored as depressed on any of the standard psychological tests, but it was such an improvement for me that I told people I was no longer depressed. Yet I still envied the joy and zest for life I saw in many other people.

One day doing some research on the internet I stumbled upon an article about ayahuasca. It was intriguing for many reasons, and a bit of exploration soon revealed the conventional wisdom that it could help with depression. Given the lingering flatness of my experience of life, I decided to give it a try. In short, it worked.  After my time in Peru drinking ayahuasca, I felt happy, got excited about doing things, laughed easily and found joy in many simple things in life. As long as I took good care or myself (eating well, exercise, nurturing my spiritual life, etc.), the flatness would not return. New acquaintances were surprised when they learned I had spent 30 years of my life depressed.

Much can be found on the internet about ayahuasca helping people who suffer from depression, in the form of both anecdotal personal accounts and research papers. Of the research papers I have read, all have had the interpretation of their results severely restricted by limitations of their sample base or study methodology. The sample size for the study may have been small, or the demographics of its participants narrow in scope. It may have been limited to participants who had drunk ayahuasca in the past, or ayahuasca’s efficacy with depression may simply have been an indication revealed in the scope of a broader study. All these accounts and studies have left me disappointed in my search for some definite, incontrovertible evidence that ayahuasca is in fact effective for helping people suffering from depression.

Now, I don’t believe that my personal account will add much to the body of evidence supporting the use of ayahuasca as a treatment for depression, but perhaps what I have learned over the past two years and seen first-hand will add some weight to the argument.

In addition to finally clearing my depression, ayahuasca touched me deeply in several other ways. I knew I would be coming back to learn more about the medicine. When I first came to Peru three years ago I had been working as a software engineer for 15 years. I have now lived in Iquitos, Peru for the past year and a half and have been doing dietas [a student of ayahuasca diets the plants in order to learn their properties] and learning the medicine with a teacher for close to a year. Currently, I am the owner of the Hummingbird Ayahuasca Retreat and Healing Center in Iquitos, http://www.ayahuascaRetreats.org. I have drank ayahuasca with 35 ayahuasqueros in Peru and Ecuador, and participated in over 500 ceremonies. Needless to say, my life has changed dramatically.

The Hummingbird Ayahuasca Retreat and Healing center is primarily a healing center. We offer a packaged 12 day retreat similar to many other retreat centers in the area, but our emphasis is on personal retreats where people come to be healed from some affliction. Though we have successfully treated a variety of conditions, a significant percentage of our clients come to address issues with depression and anxiety. Over the past four years we have had sixty such clients. Their length of stay varied from two to four weeks, and included one or two diets with medicinal plants recommended by our healers. Their ages ranged from twenty three to fifty nice.  Upon leaving the center, 7 clients reported minimal positive change in their subjective experience of life, but some of these did report having more tools to deal with her depression and anxiety, along with deeper insights into their root causes. The others were astounded at the amount of positive change they experienced in such a short period of time, and reported feeling “transformed”, “reborn”, “finally able to live”, “free to be myself”. Additionally, all reported a positive self-image and liking themselves, some for the first time in their lives.

Lisa Pallandino, a Doctoral candidate at the Pacifica Graduate Institute, recently made her dissertation available online. It is titled “VINE OF THE SOUL:  A Phenomenological Study of Ayahuasca and its Effect on Depression”.  The full text of the dissertation may be downloaded here: http://www.newstudiesonshamanism.com/2010/11/23/ayahuasca-and-depression/. Reading this dissertation I was struck by the parallels between the experience and outcomes of her study’s participants, and those of our clients. It is my hope that in articulating these parallels, some value may be added to the discussion of whether ayahuasca actually IS a valid tool for addressing problems with depression. I would also like to describe a bit of the process our clients went through, so those considering trying ayahuasca to address this problem will have a bit more information for making a decision. Be forewarned – it is not easy work. Without exception, all our clients said it was the most difficult thing they have ever done in their lives.

I will begin with an excerpt from the dissertation about existing research on the subject:

“An extensive review of the literature about the topic of ayahuasca combined with the research findings regarding ayahuasca’s impact on symptoms of depression revealed that experiences with ayahuasca allow access to realms of the human psyche difficult to access otherwise. The benefit of this access is the possible recognition of stored beliefs or traumas which, when reflected upon provide for cathartic, healing responses to follow. The self-insight then begets new, alternate reactions to surroundings and impacts one’s relationship to others and the environment within which one is operating. Often, the experience has a numinous quality that challenges the person to engage in a new awareness-accepting the wholeness of life, healing from past wounds, and living life with greater purpose.”

The above description correlates perfectly with the experience of our clients at the Hummingbird Center. All were able to identify hidden beliefs that influenced their lives, and/or connected to traumas, most commonly from early childhood. Time and again our clients report gaining new, crystal clear insights into how past events created their beliefs, and how these beliefs have affected their perception of reality. Most importantly, they report a new inner certainty that these beliefs and subsequent perceptions have been false, in a very real sense just a story they created. With this insight, new avenues of perception open to them, and they are able to see themselves and life in very different ways. All have reported a setting aside of self-judgment, and of finally being able to let go of the guilt and remorse they have carried as a result of living a depressed life.

The study used a phenomenological approach, detailed in the dissertation.  It identified “essential constituents” of the participant’s experience, group into three categories.

  1. Experience of depression
  2. Ayahuasca experience
  3. Outcome of the experience

I will forego describing the experience of depression, but below are the findings for the other two categories. The study had six participants, and the findings are listed for each. The dissertation contains a table of supporting quotations from each participant, for each essential characteristic. It is worth perusing to get a clearer idea of the subject’s experiences, especially of the variety of experience.

Study Results

The dissertation contains a section titled “Review of Themes That Emerged”. The author states it “is provided as a means of illuminating the common themes that were expressed, but also to demonstrate individual experiences arriving at a similar conclusion in a variety of manner”. In the following section I provide a quote from that section for each of the characteristics which captures the essence of the theme discussed. Please note that these themes correlate very well with the experience of our ten clients at the Hummingbird Center. I highly recommend reading that section of the paper in its entirety to gain a deeper understanding of what is possible with ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca Experience

Experienced depression just prior to taking ayahuasca – “Four participants reported that depression was an issue in the days prior to taking ayahuasca. The pertinence of this theme is that depression was still present and relevant….”

Ayahuasca gave clear messages on life issues – “Out of the six participants, four stated that messages, which were direct and even blunt, were provided by ayahuasca. […] participants were clear on messages being lucid.”

Realized new levels of self-understanding in experience – “Four participants described a breakthrough in self-understanding. This was further clarified to mean a different appreciation of essence of self.”

Felt a wiser part of themselves was speaking to them – “S2 and S6 referred to the feeling that there was a more knowing voice, which was identified as perhaps a wiser, internal voice that was part of one’s self.”

Emotionally difficult in anticipation and in actual experience – “Four participants reported it was emotionally difficult to anticipate the experience of ayahuasca and the experience itself was challenging. Going through life’s painful challenges may require a descent into the unknown. […] A journey through suffering may be an integral part of the journey.”

Experienced the numinous – “All six participants felt they had met the nuomenal realm. The nuomenal was beheld as just as real as anything manifested within the phenomenal world.”

Returned to originally traumatizing life experience – “Three participants returned to an original experience felt to be a source of trauma. […] S2 and S5 also claimed revisiting past experiences, which made them aware of the way a family dynamic shaped them.”

Outcome of the Experience

Take things less personally – “Four of the six participants reported that this was a new perspective. Taking things less personally allows for an increase in personal contact, which is one important aspect in reducing isolation and thereby also reducing the risk of depression.”

Greater self-awareness and personal responsibility – “Three participants expressed increased self-awareness and a new awakening to personal responsibility. They perceived that challenges were opportunities to correct misguided notions of powerlessness.”

Greater awareness of own capabilities, self-efficacy, that difficulties can be managed – “Four co-researchers felt more aware of their own ability to handle difficulties or painful past life events.”

Feeling of greater self-acceptance – “Four of the six felt greater self-acceptance. S said he was not as ‘broken’. S2 … said that ayahuasca was a tool, which allowed him to mindfully discover more of himself and not hide from it.”

Change in how one relates to others, thus impacting mood – “Three participants reported that relationships changed, which also created changes in mood.”

Depression diminished but cautious that this will not last after the first interview – “Following the first interview, four participants cautiously expressed that depression had diminished but they wanted to reserve making conclusions about ayahuasca having cured the depression permanently. It seemed important to them to have these changes actually tested by life’s triggering events.”

Depression has not returned base on second interview – “Five participants stated that depression had lifted by the second interview. “

Grateful feelings toward ayahuasca – “All participants stated that they felt grateful towards ayahuasca. This indicated that although there was emotional difficulty in anticipation and also during some of the ayahuasca experiences themselves, ultimately the majority of participants sensed it was a beneficial pursuit.”

As I stated before, the above illumination of themes is representative of the experience or our clients. None of the Hummingbird clients referenced in this article had taken ayahuasca before. All said the onset of depression was in their teen years or earlier. Two could not remember the onset of depression, simply stating they had always been that way.

For the Hummingbird clients, I will present the essential characteristics as a percentage of those who indicated Significant (S), Moderately Significant (MS) or Not Significant (NS).

Study Results

** All clients reported a new ease being around other people, and the ability to be more spontaneous, more naturally themselves without first thinking about how others may respond to them.

These findings are inferred from our case notes and our memories of the client’s transformations while at the Hummingbird Center. Though admittedly error prone and almost certainly biased toward the positive, nevertheless, my partner and I believe it is at worst a reasonably accurate depiction of their experience of these essential characteristics, and most likely a very good one. The reports of our clients are clearly weighted toward “Significant in your experience” when compared to those of the study in both the Ayahuasca Experience and Outcome of the Experience categories. Compared to the study, our group of clients had a greater commonality of the experience of ayahuasca itself, and in the outcomes of their healing process. I would like to propose some possible explanations for this difference, primarily focused on possible differences of set and setting.

The paper indicated that no report of setting was alike for its participants. “Settings included a context of the religious and community, a shamanic circle or in the Santo Daime church, as well as more isolated settings, a self-made bonfire and an apartment in San Francisco. In the former, a more experienced guide was present and in the latter, participants were primarily alone in their encounters.” The paper provides no description of the supporting environment in which ayahuasca ceremonies were held. As such, no comparisons can be made between the supporting environment at the Hummingbird Center, and those of the study’s participants. Yet I would like to list some environmental and contextual factors we believe are important contributors to the success we have had at the Hummingbird Center.

1)      Our clients were all at the same center, working with the same healers, with similar programs of treatment, and drank ayahuasca made by the same ayahuasquero.

2)      The supporting environment, specifically conversations about how the medicine works to heal and the types of experiences one may expect to have under the influence of ayahuasca were consistent across the client base.

3)      We hold a circle meeting the morning following each ceremony in which participants are encouraged to share their experience and how they believe it relates to their healing process. In listening to others, they invariably discover they are not so different. They quickly bond with others in the group, and are able to relax and be themselves without fear of being judged.

4)      Most of our clients showed up with a willingness to do whatever it took to heal. Several stated this was their last hope, and as such, were willing to undergo, if necessary, a “descent into hell” in order to be relieved of their depression.

5)      Our clients came on personal healing retreats specifically to be cured from depression. This is different than “ayahuasca workshops” or “ayahuasca tours” in which large groups of people (15-25) participate in ceremony. Though we also offer workshop of similar style, ours are limited to 16 people. The pertinence of this is our clients get a great deal of personal attention by the shaman during ceremonies. The stays of the clients on personal retreats frequently overlap the workshop, but the small group size ensures they continue to get the attention they need.

6)      After being examined in ceremony by our shaman, a personalized program is developed for each client, depending on causal issues identified by the shaman. This program always includes a dieta of at least one medicinal plant.

7)      Clients on personal healing retreats are housed in a private tambo, set in isolation in the jungle. This provides a peaceful place for meditation and reflection on their experiences in ceremony.

8)      I personally have suffered from, and been cured of, long term depression. Having a background in a variety of spiritual practices and extensive experience working with ayahuasca allows us to be skilled guides through the process of working with ayahuasca, helping our clients understand their experience, and assist in alleviating the fear and emotional distress that invariably arises.

9)      We spend a lot of one on one time with our clients, frequently several hours a day. This is in the form of both casual conversations in our common areas, and also in private sessions with Tracie who is a licensed counselor specializing drug and addiction therapy. This extensive time with our clients is the reason we are confident that the ratings assigned to the essential characteristics of experience are accurate.

10)   Most of our clients arrived willing to do whatever it takes to be healed. This is very important, because it helps eliminate resistance to the frequently unpleasant experiences that arise under the influence of ayahuasca. Allowing the medicine to do what it wants is an important factor in being healed.

11)   While at the center, we keep the focus on the client’s healing process. They are encouraged to fully feel what arises, and to articulate those feelings. Having been through it ourselves, we are able to create a safe environment for people to experience painful or unfamiliar emotions.

12)   Our clients typically come for an extended period of time. Two weeks is the minimum length of time we accept for a personal healing retreat. Most have stayed for at least three weeks, and a few for four.

We believe all of the above are important factors in the success we have enjoyed treating people with depression. With this type of work in particular, the importance of a willingness to do whatever it takes cannot be overstated. In our experience, people who suffer from depression often have extremely difficult and terrifying experiences with ayahuasca. While these types of experiences can happen with anyone, they are clearly more frequent and more severe for those suffering from depression. It is not rare in our experience, after the first few ceremonies, for someone to say they never want to take ayahuasca again, however when they persevere they find their experience improves.

Ayahuasca works on people in a very individualized way. Though there may be similarities, no two people’s experiences are the same. Additionally, no one person’s experience is the same from one ceremony to the next. It is highly personal, which is not surprising when you consider ayahuasca provides access to hidden regions of one’s mind. Nobody can predict what another will experience when they take ayahuasca. Nevertheless, we have noticed a pattern in the healing process of many of our clients. This pattern may be summarized simply as “you may feel worse before you feel better”.

Several of our clients have experienced an intensification of their symptoms after the first few ceremonies. The second in particular seems to be a crisis point. They report feeling more anxious, lethargic, depressed and confused. Much of this is brought on by what they are shown by ayahuasca. It is very common for people to revisit traumatic events of their childhood, to be shown aspects of themselves they do not like, or experience a lot of dark imagery. Some feel their primary depressive symptoms at a level of intensity far greater than they have ever experienced in normal life. My personal experience in my third ceremony was of the deepest, darkest depression I had ever known. I was certain it would never change, that my situation was completely and irrevocably hopeless, and all I wanted was to die. We have had a few clients see in their visions that ayahuasca was an evil force out to destroy the world, and that it was going to cause them to go insane.

Such experiences do not motivate one to continue taking ayahuasca.  Revisiting past traumas and being shown our shadow side clearly can help a person see themselves and past experiences from a different perspective. Finding benefit in the frightening visions is more difficult, and remains a bit of a mystery. Yet they seem to be an integral part of the healing process. Time and again we have seen people go through several extremely difficult ceremonies, and then something shifts in a subsequent ceremony. They have a breakthrough of self-understanding and of how events in their lives have shaped them. With this breakthrough, they are able to set aside negative thought patterns and beliefs, and participate in life in new, more positive and constructive ways.

Several of our clients were truly terrified at the thought of taking ayahuasca again, and sat through at least one ceremony without drinking. It took a lot of encouragement from myself and my partner Tracie, along with hearing first-hand accounts from other clients about the benefits they received, for these clients to decide to continue with the process. Having been through it ourselves and witnessed this process many times before, we were eventually able to persuade these individuals that their next ceremony was unlikely to be as terrifying, and that positive change would come. Yet, without a deep desire to heal, without the willingness to do whatever it takes to find relief from their suffering, it is unlikely they would have summoned the courage to continue.

One of our clients had been on medication for 20 years, and had been working with his current therapist for the past 10. Before coming to our center he consulted his therapist, and went off his medication, as many anti-depressant drugs are dangerous to take with ayahuasca. Upon returning, his therapist told him his time here had brought him to a place the therapist had been trying to get him to for the past ten years, and advised him to not resume his medication. Four months later, he remains off medication and has taken up a spiritual practice, meditating twice a day.

I asked a current client being treated for depression if he would provide a brief description of his experience I could use in this article. I gave him no information about the content of the study, or this article, just that it was about ayahuasca and depression.  Here is what he wrote: “Ayahuasca pulled me out from the rut of self-destructive thought and behavior paths that were my depression. It opened up new paths for me to find and gave me the tractions of strength and determination to explore them.” If you return to the original quote I included from the study, I believe you will see a remarkable similarity to what this client wrote and the study author’s conclusions from a review of the existing literature.

Our experience at the Hummingbird Center leaves us convinced that ayahuasca can cure depression.  The results of Lisa Palladino’s study reinforces that conviction. Additionally, it reinforced our own insights into how people experience the healing process, along with outcomes beyond the lifting of depression.  I suspect that if the study were replicated with a larger sample size, it would yield similar results, and most of the same essential characteristics of experience. This supposition is informed by participant feedback from the 160 plus ceremonies in which I drank ayahuasca.

I am well aware that this article correlating the results of the Hummingbird Center with those of Lisa Palladino’s study does not prove ayahuasca cures depression. It is my hope it adds some support to the conventional wisdom that it does. More importantly, for those considering trying ayahuasca to get relief from their depression, I hope it has provided some good information that helps them make a more informed decision.

For those who do choose this healing path, I’d like to offer a few suggestions:

1)      Find a center focused on healing as opposed to centers offering an ayahuasca experience to large groups of people. Though healing can and does occur in that setting, you are more likely to get positive results with an individualized treatment program.

2)      Trust your instincts when choosing a center. There are many good ones available in the Amazonian region. Follow your heart.

3)      TRUST the medicine. Accept what it brings you in ceremony and know it is for your healing.

4)      Do not resist what happens in ceremony. Allow the medicine to do what it wants. If you resist, you will not receive the same degree of healing, and your experience will almost certainly be more challenging.

5)      You do not have to like what happens, nor do you need to understand your ayahuasca experience in order to receive healing.

6)      Come with a willingness to do whatever it takes to be healed.

Open your heart and mind to the unexpected. Find the courage to walk through your fears. Surrender to the mystery and magic of this ancient and sacred medicine. The worst that can happen is that you will lose your illusions and find your true self. And that can be terrifying indeed. As one participant described his experience, “It was horrible, and beautiful, and I am so grateful.”

Jim Davis and his wife Gina are owners of the Hummingbird Ayahuasca Retreat and Healing Center in Iquitos, Peru. Jim is currently on a learning path to become an ayahuasquero. More information about the Hummingbird Center may be found on their website, www.ayahuascaRetreats.org.

Lipoma Removal – What To Look Out For Following Lipoma Surgery

Usually, lipomas are neither painful nor harmful, but there are occasions when they may be uncomfortable, particularly if they arise on the back. If they do not cause any problems, then no treatment is necessary, but for many people, they are aesthetically unattractive, and lipoma removal surgery may be the preferred choice.

During the straightforward excision procedure, a small cut is made over the lump, the fatty tissue is removed, and the skin is sutured. The patient, size and location of the lump, will determine the type of anaesthetic used. Small lipomas can be removed using a local anaesthetic, which may only mean day surgery, with a short period of recovery time required. Larger lipomas such as those on the back, should be removed under a general anaesthetic, and therefore will involve a longer recovery period, with driving or operation of machinery prohibited for at least 24 hours.

As with all surgery procedures, there will be certain risk factors to be aware of following the lipoma removal. The following are some examples:

Fluid

This is a common occurrence. Clear fluid collects in the space vacated by the removal of the lipoma, and sometimes may need to be drained.

Infection

Antibiotic treatment will be required if infection occurs.

Bleeding

If the wound does bleed, it may be necessary to return to the surgeon for further attention

Recurrence

If a small piece of the lipoma is left behind, then the lipoma will return

Damaged Nerve

As is the case with all surgical procedures, the possibility of nerve damage is raised.

Scarring

Some people develop keloid scars, which can be unsightly.

Risks of a more general nature, although extremely rare, include death as a reaction to anaesthetic, blood clots, heart attack or stroke due to blood vessel problems.

Following surgery, the very least that can be expected is appropriate pain management by the medical team, who should frequently monitor pain and discomfort levels, and take any necessary action. The typical pain relievers that may be used are Panadol and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), but it is rare that anything stronger than panadol will be needed. As with all medication and drugs, professional medical advice must be obtained before proceeding with the treatment.

Upon discharge, the incision should be protectedby a waterproof dressing for roughly 5 days. It should be healed after this period, but will still need care when washing until fully healed. It is normal to find bruising around the wound, maybe slightly reddened along the cut or a hard ridge of tissue beneath the wound. These should all fade and be less visible after approximately three months.

A common sense approach to activities and exercise should be employed, taking things slowly and gently at first, until the wound is fully healed.

However, not everybody finds lipoma surgery an appealing choice. There are several natural, home remedies and herbal treatments that could be tried if surgery does not seem to be a suitable solution. Of course, the appropriate professional medical advice should always be sought before taking this course of action to avoid lipoma surgery.

Virtual Reality Therapy to Treat Phobias

We are in the 21st century, so high-tech gadgets would, of course, present themselves to treat phobias and fears. In actuality, virtual reality has proven to be quite effective in treating phobias – especially arachnophobia.

This is one therapy you will not be able to do on your own. You will have to find a place that offers this treatment since it requires a virtual reality setup. However, we can touch on the basics of what it can do and how it works.

Virtual Reality (VR) is a type of exposure therapy in a virtual setting that is safer, less embarrassing, and less costly than reproducing the real world situations. Besides situations can be created that are difficult to find in real life and it’s more realistic than imagining the danger.

Already some experiments have proven VR to be a useful tool in treating specific phobias such as fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of flying and claustrophobia, as well as agoraphobia. However most research that is done on VR exposure consists of single case studies and controlled group studies are necessary to support the conclusions of case studies. Research in this area is still in its infancy, but is progressing rapidly.

The therapy consists of a few sessions with a psychologist to determine the origin of the fear. The VRT portion of the therapy begins after there is a sufficient understanding of the phobia. Using a platform and a headset, a patient is immersed in a computer-generated environment designed to reproduce a real-world setting. Real digital video is incorporated into the virtual environment to promote a sense of reality. A process known as habituation is used to help patients manage their anxiety.

Habituation occurs with exposure over time. The therapy might begin with exposure to the virtual room only. Then the stimulus (spider) is introduced far away and gradually gets closer. It’s sort of like taking baby steps. As the patient becomes more and more comfortable in the room, the body’s anxiety reaction will become less and less severe.

The headset is attached to a desktop computer and sensors pick up any head movement so when the user turns his head, he can look around. The earphones will simulate the sounds of the environment. The platform also moves to simulate the physical nature of the situation.

The process is started in a hierarchical way beginning with the less intimidating scenario and gradually making it more difficult. The patient is kept in the environment until their anxiety begins to lessen (habituation).

Overall the experience is convincing but still cartoon-like; there’s no mistaking this for the real situation. But, for most people with phobias that doesn’t matter–it’s real enough to elicit their fears. The advantages of virtual reality are becoming very evident. First, the therapist can carefully control the amount of exposure in each session. For fear of flying, for example, they can slowly take clients through the steps of a flight–from takeoff to landing–over many sessions, waiting at each step and working with them until they feel comfortable and habituated.

Also there is the convenience and confidentiality factor: One therapist explains, “I could take someone with a fear of elevators onto a real elevator, but this way they don’t have to worry about running into people and explaining who this guy with them is.”

Finally, it’s easier to get people with phobias to agree to exposure therapy when it’s begun virtually, rather than in vivo. In vivo [exposure therapy] is very effective, but you have to convince people to try it. By definition, someone with a phobia wants to avoid what they’re afraid of.

Of course, virtual reality has some disadvantages as well. First, there is the cost: A Virtually Better VR system sells for more than $6,000 and requires a monthly licensing fee. That price tag doesn’t put it out of reach for most therapists, but it is a significant investment.

For the patient, it can be expensive as well. The treatment costs between $100 and $300 an hour. Typical treatments are completed in eight one-hour sessions. Also, the therapy does not work for everyone–and it works better for some people than for others. Some studies have found, for example, that people who are more hypnotizable or more easily able to block out distraction and be absorbed in an activity like reading are also more likely to benefit from virtual reality exposure therapy. There are people who try it and it doesn’t work, but that’s not true for most people.

The goal, of course, is to eventually move all clients from the virtual to the real world.

When it comes to arachnophobia, virtual reality appears to work very, very well. On the screen, the phobic will see a 3-D virtual spider in what appears to be a normal setting like the kitchen. The subject will be encouraged to “walk” closer to the spider while their anxiety level is monitored.

Eventually, they will be asked to touch a realistic larger version of a spider while virtually touching the one in the setting. Again, habituation is used to minimize the body’s fear response and the patient will eventually become less stressed to touch the spider – both virtually and in reality.

While not everyone is able to do this, they are able to make great strides towards reducing their anxiety level and better deal with the spider in real life.

The Clinical and Economic Importance of Amoeba in Medicine and in the Human Health

Amoeba falls into the class Lobezea of the Protozoa phylum. The Lobezea are organisms which move with the help of pseudopodia. Reproduction is by binary fission. The production of a cyst is one of the stages in the life cycle. Among the pathogenic species for man is the Entamoeba histolytica. The causative agent of human intestinal amoebiasis, or amoebic dysentery.

Morphology

Enteroamoeba histolytica occurs in the human body in such forms:

1. Entamoeba histolytica forma magna is a vegetative large tissue form which feeds on the erythrocytes and does not become encysted:

2. Entamoeba histolytica forma minuta is a vegetative small commensal encysted form which lives in the lumen of the large intestine.

3. Cysts which develop from the forma minuta. E.histolytica penetrates into the tissues of the large intestine under the influence of a number of factors (lowered resistance of the human body due to various diseases, intoxications, overheating, overstrian, injuries, substances that cause lysis of cells and tissues. The parasite grows to a size of 30-50 micrometer in diameter and becomes capable of phagocytizing erythrocytes. This vegetative form is known as the tissue form. Entamoeba histolytica forma magna. It is usually found in the mucosanguineous stools (feces with blood and mucus) of patient with amebiasis. The amoeba ectoplasm is translucent, while the endoplasm is granular. The endoplasm contains the nucleus and food vacoules. The nucleus has a central karyosome. Forma minuta is the main form of E.histolitica. Its size ranges from 12 to 25 micrometer. Bacteria in phagocytes are found in small numbers in the endoplasm. Ectoplasm is poorly developed and accumulated in the pseudopodia, motility is decreased. Amoebas inhabit the upper part of the large intestine of a healthy man and known as luminal, cavity or commensal forms. The forma minuta transforms into a cyst. The cyst are spherical in shape with a diameter of 9 to 16 micrometer. They have thin-walled, double membranes, Fully mature cysts contain four nuclei. Immature cysts have one, two and sometimes three nuclei. Cysts are discharged with the feces for a long period of time and sometimes throughout life. They may re-enter the human body with foodstuffs or water and transform into luminal forms in the intestine.

Pathogenesis and disease

Fecal-Oral transmission of cysts involves contaminated food or water, Ingested cysts of E.histolytica excysts in the small intestine. Trophozoites (forma minuta) are carried to the colon, where they mature and reproduce. Forma minuta may live in the lumen as being commensal. Successful colonization and transformation of forma minuta into forma magna depends on factors such as intestinal motility, transit time, the presence or absence of specific intestinal flora, the host’s diet. If mucosal invasion occurs, it may be limited to a few simple superficial erosion or it may progress to total involvement of the colonic mucosa with ulceration, most often in the caecum or sigmoid colon. Patients have acute or chronic diarrhoea, which may progress to hemorragic dysentery. Invasion of blood vessels leads to secondary extra-intestinal lesions. Extraintestinal disease may be present as a complication (peritonitis) or as metastasis (liver, lung, skin or brain abscess).

Laboratory diagnosis

Fresh stools are examined under the microscope. E.histolytica (forma magna and cysts with 4 nuclei) can be demonstrated in the stools.

Prophylaxis

All patients are transferred to a hospital and adequately treated. preventive measures against amoebiasis also include protection of foodstuffs and water from flies and contamination with feces. The staff of catering establishments must be examined for cysts carriage. Health education of the population.

Non-pathogenic amoebas can parasite the human gastrointestinal tract. These include Entamoeba gingivalis (Oral Cavity), Entamoeba Coli (large intestine) and E.Coli larger than E.histolytica. Their cytoplasm is granular and the vacuoles contain bacteria, leukocytes, food particles, and glycogen, but no erythrocytes. E.Coli forms cysts with 8 nuclei, E.gingivalis doesn’t form cysts.

What Causes Shaking When You Also Have Candidiasis?

So my friend’s husband, John, has experienced the shakes. Both John and his wife (Lucy) are pretty sure that he has some form of candidiasis and he says his body has been shaking so much lately that he can’t concentrate at work. His chair vibrates. It’s almost like his body is humming.

So she remembers reading somewhere that this can be one of the many symptoms of the yeast infection. She would be interested to hear my input for the shakes. She thought that maybe this is a die-off reaction.

He’s been taking the ‘Yeast Busters’ regime for almost 6 months now, with not much of a diet change. They are already vegetarians, and he’s lactose and gluten intolerant.

The description above is quite common for candida sufferers, as matter as fact I have met two cases with similar condition described above.

What I can say to her is I didn’t exactly have the shakes when I got candida, but I got a buzz/hum/vibration over my entire body. I have many food intolerance’s and found that when I went on an elimination diet the buzz/hum went away.

I still get this sometimes as I am still trying to find out all of my food intolerance’s, but I keep becoming sensitive to different foods. I am now trying to find out why I suddenly became sensitive to so many foods. But, one of my friend, David, he has this symptom.

He used to get the shakes, and after some months of being on treatment and diet for candida, he had an allergy test done. The shakes he was getting were a reaction to allergens he was introducing to his body by way of foods. As he has eliminated those foods, the shakes are gone.

There are different ways of testing for allergies, some people will recommend to go the acupuncture way, others won’t. The one I had done is called Elisa/Act, and it was done with blood samples.

Panic Attacks Can Limit or Destroy your Career

Irrational fears left to themselves seem to take on a life of their own. Although the symptoms of a panic attack can be simulated by some of our so-called entertainment available today, uncontrolled attacks of panic can have serious consequences in your life. From a layman’s perspective, a panic attack is they want like an adrenaline rush.

It’s like the feelings you get while watching a very suspenseful movie. The modern genre of horror motion pictures like Hostel, the SAW series, Jason and the Halloween movies also can work one into a heightened state of agitation.

Well, watching the suspense and horror movies, many people experience, shaking her trembling inside, hyperventilation, racing heartbeat and stomach churning. These are all symptoms very similar to a panic attack

One of the most diagnosed types of anxiety disorder/panic attacks is that of agoraphobia. This is an unnatural fear to venture out into public, which in turn can limit your ability to function. Imagine not being able to take a walk in your own neighborhood for fear that you may need to interact with a neighbor or passerby. The inability to interact with people in public situations due to panic attacks fear may limit a person with agoraphobia to the point where their career, if they have one, can be compromised.

Less severe cases of agoraphobia have been known to limit careers in the business world. The ability to interact with people is key to many successful in high-paying careers. A person suffering with agoraphobia however may be so terrified at the thought of dealing with the public that they are unable to successfully complete any work that takes interaction with others.

The fear of public speaking can also be part of this panic disorder. For many, just a thought of doing a simple business presentation can trigger a debilitating panic attack. This fear of public speaking is very real and affects many people. As a form of agoraphobia, depending on the severity it can also limit one’s career. Imagine not being able to attend business meetings for fear of having your ideas analyzed and criticized by others. For many, this is a natural part of a modern career, but for those suffering with panic attack disorders it can become terrifying. This fear of public speaking can be so great that some are unable to deliver even a basic business presentation in front of colleagues.

And in the ability to present your ideas can have serious implications for your career success. It’s no secret that people who are noticed end up promoted and move up the ladder. The best opportunity to be seen by supervisors however is to nurture opportunities to give public presentations of your ideas and completed work reports at executive meetings. Without this visibility you can expect fewer promotions.

While people claim that there is little a person can do when panic attack symptoms strike, panic and anxiety has been successfully treated with anti-anxiety medications and psychological counseling. With the help of a qualified psychological counselor, strategies can be developed to minimize the effects of a panic attack.

If you find yourself fearful or having anxiety about the thought of delivering a business proposal or presentation at a meeting you should consider getting help before this problem affects your career

Dog Diarrhea – A Comprehensive Guide

If you’ve got a dog, then chances are, he or she has had diarrhea at some point. Not only is dog diarrhea an inconvenient mess, it is an indicator that something could be seriously wrong with your pet’s health.

Remember: diarrhea that worsens, becomes more frequent, lasts longer than 24 hours, or is accompanied by a fever or lethargic behavior is an indicator that your dog needs to be seen by a veterinarian right away. Do not wait to call the vet – it is much better to call and find out that your dog will be fine, than to wait and discover that you let the symptoms go untreated for too long.

Here are some common types of dog diarrhea, and some of the things that might be causing your puppy or dog to be suffering from diarrhea symptoms.

Yellowish or Greenish Color – This type of dog diarrhea is often very foul smelling, and can have a liquid consistency. It is often an indicator that something your dog has eaten has traveled rapidly through his system, and that the body is trying to eliminate it quickly. If your dog has a habit of eating garbage or has found something disgusting to chew on, like a dead animal, this could be what is causing diarrhea.

Yellowish With Mucous and Blood Streaks – Any time you see blood in your dog’s stools, you should be alarmed. This type of diarrhea can indicate a bacterial infection like Coccidia or Giardia. If it worsens quickly and is accompanied by vomiting, it could be Parvo. Get your dog to the vet right away to give him the best chance at survival.

Bloody, Foul Smelling Diarrhea – Very bloody dog diarrhea is usually an indicator of Parvovirus. By the time most dogs get to this stage they have less than twenty-four hours to live, unless emergency treatment is given immediately. Dogs with Parvo are lethargic, and are unable to keep anything down without vomiting. Bundle your dog up, and get him or her to the vet right away.

Black Tarry Diarrhea – Diarrhea that looks black or tarry probably contains digested blood from the dogs’ own digestive tract. This could be an indicator of a serious illness, and your vet will probably need to run a blood panel to determine what is wrong with your pet.

Foamy Diarrhea – Very light, foamy dog diarrhea can be an indicator of a bacterial infection, especially if it is yellowish or greenish in color. If your dog has no appetite, is vomiting or appears to be lethargic, and has watery or foamy stools, he or she could have an internal obstruction. Veterinarians remove things like chunks of rawhide chew, shreds of fabric, pieces of plastic from garbage or a toy that the dog has destroyed, and even objects like coins from dogs’ intestines every day. Many dogs, especially puppies, will ingest just about anything – so don’t be surprised if your vet wants to take x-rays to see whether there is an obstruction in cases like this.

Pale, Grey Colored Diarrhea – If your dog has very pale colored diarrhea on a regular basis, this could indicate that he or she has an internal illness. Pale dog diarrhea is often seen in dogs who are suffering from liver disease. The vet will probably conduct a blood panel to see what is causing the diarrhea, and will then prescribe a course of treatment.

Remember, parasites and bacteria can often be transmitted to humans and other pets via contact with contaminated surfaces. Talk to your vet about how to sanitize your pet’s area, and be sure to get rid of anything that has come into contact with diarrhea.

Treating Diarrhea With Home Remedies?

Diarrhea occurs when stools become loose and work without any consistency. It is an effective way to remove the undesirable substances from the body. The symptoms for diarrhea are vomiting, stomach pain, consistent thirst, fever, nausea or even dehydration. The results for the same may be dangerous in children as well as in people aged above 65 years. Due to vomiting there is loss in fluid of the body that needs to be replaced. Diarrhea, in most cases is a symptom of some other problem. It is caused by food poisoning that can be due to bacteria in food or water, food allergies or a virus. It can also be caused due to consumption of alcohol in excess, laxatives or caffeine.

Some special drugs are able to stop diarrhea effectively but the fact that they interfere in the natural process of cleansing the body is unwanted. However with the help of some natural remedies we can cure diarrhea without hampering the work of our immune system. Our body makes use of diarrhea remove the bacteria or viruses that we might have taken in while eating. Therefore to stop diarrhea very soon is not a good idea. However if it goes for several days then dehydration and loss of several important nutrients from the body might be dangerous.

Given below are some very useful home made and natural remedies for curing diarrhea-

1. If you believe to have taken bad food then take homeopathic Arsenicum.

2. If you have developed a burning pain in the mid section and are feeling weak then take curprum arsenicosum. You should take four charcoal tablets in a span of one hour.

3. If the diarrhea is mild than you should drink blackberry tea.

4. You can also make capsules of cayenne and take this at regular intervals.

5. As earlier you can make capsules of ginger and take it at regular intervals. You can also drink ginger tea as it can stop cramps and pain.

6. In case of diarrhea you should drink plenty of fluids and at the same time you should not drink alcohol and caffeine. Drinks made from ginger and carrots are useful as they make the stools less watery. Also make sure that you do not drink juice made of apple because it will only increase diarrhea.

7. What you can also do is boil brown rice with water for a minimum of forty-five minutes and drink the water in it.

Other good home remedies for diarrhea are:

o Eat bananas.

o Eat sticky white rice to stop diarrhea.

o Boil half a cup of water with lemon peel and drink the water.

o Eat 1-2 tablespoons of mashed apples to stop diarrhea.

o Drink warm sage tea in small sips.

o Mash 3 carrots and eat.

o Drink chamomile tea to relax the pain in the stomach when suffering from diarrhea.

o Eat plain toasted bread.

o Drink blackberry juice to stop diarrhea.

o Eat plain yogurt to cure your diarrhea and don’t forget to drink a lot of water to prevent dehydration.

Treatment for Insomnia – Stop Insomnia Naturally

Are you sick of tossing and turning, counting sheep and trying every other well known method of falling asleep? Is so, you are not alone, there are millions who suffer from insomnia like you. The good news is that there are a multitude of natural remedies for this problem. After you read through this article, insomnia is no longer going to be an issue for you as you will be able to chose an effective treatment for insomnia.

There are so many natural ways to assist with sleep issues which I will not be able to cover in its entirety here so be sure to give these a try and, if they do not work for you, for whatever reason, then I’d suggest you keep searching for natural remedies as insomnia is curable very easily so there is no reason that your should continue to suffer with it.

Severe insomnia is sometimes a symptom of a more serious condition so be sure to rule that out before dealing with it with these natural methods.

Here are some highly effective natural remedies for you;

  1. Exercise – Exercise, whether it be as simple as a walk or a strenuous workout has been proven to help with sleeping problems. Exercise releases stress and helps you to relax. One note of caution though…do not do your exercise too close to bedtime as this can cause insomnia.
  2. Relaxation Techniques – There are a variety of techniques that fall under this category including Yoga, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Visualization and more. Get yourself a good book on these techniques and give them a try.
  3. Modify Your Diet – Stay away from caffeine or caffeinated snacks or drinks. Magnesium is a natural sedative so try to incorporate magnesium-rich foods into your diet. Here are some magnesium-rich foods that you can try, dark leafy green vegetables, wheat bran, almonds, cashews, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, and whole grains.
  4. Herbs or Supplements – Melatonin is a hormone that our body produces that aids in sleeping. Therefore it makes sense that if you are having trouble getting to sleep that perhaps you could do with a boost of melatonin.

    Valerian is another herb that is highly effective in helping people sleep but has many possible interactions with other medications you might be taking so be sure to do your research on this one thoroughly before taking it.

  5. Aromatherapy – apparently Lavender oil has proven to help people get to sleep and have deeper sleeps
  6. Music – quiet, slow, rythmic music has also shown to aid in getting to sleep

So now you have 6 techniques to help you to get some much needed sleep. Insomnia is not the 800 pound gorilla that it might have seemed to be before you had this information. You can take steps to get rid of it.

Always remember to seek out natural remedies for any condition that affects you or your loved ones as they usually have no harmful side effects to deal with.