Health

  • China's pollution worsens, prominent Tibetan conservationist arrested Paid Member

    Four years ago, China overtook the US to become the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide. Now International Energy Agency (IEA) has announced that China tops the list as the biggest energy consumer in the world. What does all this mean? Lots and lots of pollution. A report in yesterday's New York Times painted a dispiriting portrait of China's environmental problems: More »
  • “Forest bathing” keeps you healthy Paid Member

    Studies show that spending more time in natural settings—forests, parks, and places with trees—improves the immune system. According an article in the New York Times, this is due to both stress reduction and chemicals that plants emit to protect them from rotting and insects called phytoncides. Exposure to phytoncides appears to lower blood pressure, pulse rate, and cortisol (a stress hormone), among other things. Many of these studies are taking place in Japan, where the practice of visiting nature parks for therapeutic effect is called Shinrin-yoku. More »
  • Buddhist meditation boosts concentration skills Paid Member

    According to a recent study published in the July 2010 issue of Psychological Science Buddhist meditation can boost concentration skills. The study, conducted by psychologist Katherine A. MacLean, PhD, and associate researchers from the University of California, Davis, focused on a group of 60 participants with an average age of 49. The participants were sent on three-month retreats where they studied meditation techniques with Buddhist scholar and co-researcher Alan Wallace, PhD, of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies. All the participants had been on meditation retreats before, but this time they were taught to concentrate and asked to complete concentration tests. From WebMD: More »
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    Actual Tomatoes Paid Member

    I'm growing tomatoes on my balcony. The latest development is actual tomatoes! This one got redder and was joined by two others. There are several in various stages of green-orangeness. The main problem with the overall plant's growth is lack of superstructure. Next summer I'll get one of those green wire fences to give the vines something to cling to (see the wooden stake, found on the street downstairs, as part of a feeble attempt to provide same.) More »
  • Are Tibetans superhuman? Paid Member

    How is it that Tibetans thrive at 13,000 feet, where those of us born closer to sea level get sick? Scientists now think that Tibetans have evolved while most of the rest of us have stood still: Recent research shows that Tibetans, who have lived isolated in these high altitudes for thousands of years, enjoy a genetic variation that keeps their hemoglobin levels in a normal range. A variation of EPAS1, a gene that is sometimes associated with increased athleticism, causes an enzymatic change in the way oxygen binds to blood and is transported around the body. Compared to lowland Chinese, Tibetans thrive in high altitude—they do not suffer from chronic altitude sickness and their children are born with normal weight. More »
  • Chronic pain? There's hope. Paid Member

    I've heard plenty about meeting pain with meditation, and there's a whole book about it—or many, but this latest book is one I may read in preparation for old age. Author Tim Parks, inspired by a A Headache in the Pelvis, a book by two Stanford urologists who recommend meditation, decided to give it a try. And—drum roll—it worked; his chronic pelvic pain was significantly alleviated. According to tomorrow's Irish Times: It took about three months to lower the levels of pain to such an extent they were no longer a problem, he says. More »