|News & Information for January 19 – 20, 2019
Alert 79: Dr. Peter Breggin’s Inspired Interview about his Lifelong Reform Work (Part I)
This is the beginning segment of Dr. Peter R. Breggin’s interview with film makers Aaron and Melissa Dykes in the making of The Minds of Men, a documentary in which Dr. Breggin is featured. This new YouTube series, which includes the whole unedited interview, presents some of Peter Breggin’s most inspired and engaging discussions about his life’s work and shows what motivated him to become such an avid lifetime reformer.
Flashback (1973): Dr Breggin threatened by psychosurgery thug
Jack Anderson: “GET BREGGIN — the nation’s most outspoken foe of psychosurgery, psychiatrist Peter Breggin, has been warned that several ex-convicts are out to ‘get’ him.”
The prescription drug epidemic no one’s talking about
Exploding prescription rates, widespread addiction and soaring overdose deaths are staples of media coverage of opioids. Yet these same phrases apply equally well to another class of prescription drugs whose impact has received little attention: benzodiazepines […] Valium, Librium, Rohypnol, and Xanax […] Physicians have long-prescribed them mainly for anxiety and insomnia […] Overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines increased more than 8-fold from 2000 (1,298 deaths) to 2016 (10,684 deaths). A massive increase in prescribing facilitated this horrifying rise in mortality. Between 1996 and 2013, the quantity of benzodiazepines doctors provided to Americans more than tripled. […] The risks of benzodiazepines have attracted far less attention than those of opioids. But a few government agencies have awakened to the problem. At the federal level, the Food and Drug Administration recently ordered that labels on benzodiazepines and opioids mention the risk of combined use, and the Veterans Health Administration is educating its prescribers about safer alternatives to benzodiazepines. At the state level, benzodiazepines are increasingly being included in prescription drug monitoring programs.
Could this radical new approach to Alzheimer’s lead to a breakthrough?
The FDA has approved just five treatments for Alzheimer’s, and they provide only limited, temporary relief. The agency hasn’t signed off on any new ones since 2003, despite more than 500 clinical trials of Alzheimer’s drugs. […] For decades, though, Big Pharma hasn’t been very interested in less conventional theories. Seeking an enormous payout of perhaps $10 billion a year in sales, they have thrown thousands of scientists and billions of dollars at this one idea [ the amyloid hypothesis ], again and again, with no luck. “You know that definition of insanity?” Cox asked, the first time we met. “Doing the same thing over and over again despite getting the same results? Each trial is a billion bucks; each targets the same thing. None have worked. It seems to me that if you’d put in a billion bucks and failed, you’d say, ‘Let’s try something else.’ ” […] “We think that chronic exposure to BMAA is a risk factor for ALS and Alzheimer’s. It’s not deterministic. It’s like tobacco and lung cancer: If you smoke, you might not get it, and if you don’t smoke, you still might get it. With L-serine, it’s possible that it could significantly reduce our risk of these diseases. It’s cheap and it’s safe, so it could prove to be the molecule of choice for disease prevention. If the research pans out, we could possibly provide L-serine to all people who are deemed at risk of developing the disease in the future.”
Related study (2016): Toxins from blue-green algae cause Alzheimer’s-like brain changes
A group of villagers on the Pacific island of Guam has offered some key insight into the role that an environmental toxin may play in brain changes that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. And scientists studying that neurotoxin appear to have found a possible antidote. […] In hunting for the cause of the Guamanian affliction, scientists’ suspicions have fallen on an environmental toxin–the amino acid beta-N-methylamino-L-alanine (or L-BMAA). […] Among the Chamorro who were studied, L-BMAA had made its way in high doses into their diets […] even when outsiders came to Guam and ate what locals ate, they were likely to become ill […] scientists decided to test the effects of ingested L-BMAA in vervets, a monkey native to Africa […] After the 140 days, tangles and amyloid deposits were found in the brain tissues of all of the vervets who consumed L-BMAA. […] “The tangles and amyloid deposits produced were nearly identical to those found in the brain tissue of the Pacific Islanders who died from the Alzheimer’s-like disease,” […] But the vervets that got the [ amino acid ] L-serine with the L-BMAA fared far better: They had neurofibrillary tangles that were significantly less dense than those seen in monkeys that got L-BMAA alone.
Mindfulness Protects Against Depression, Anxiety, Fatigue, and Sleep Issues in MS Patients, Study Finds
Mindfulness protects against depression, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep problems in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), improving their quality of life and overall well-being, a study finds. The study […] was published in the International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology. […] longitudinal long-term data documenting the impact of mindfulness on MS patients’ quality of life, in particular, are rare. Therefore, a team of researchers at Harvard University and collaborators set out to evaluate the long-term impact of two different types of mindfulness […] “The results confirm and extend the importance that mindfulness can have on the general quality of life of people with MS including meditation-based approaches and, for the first time, the same results using the Langerian mindfulness framework [which does not include meditation],” the team concluded.
How Virtual Reality Can Help Treat Chronic Pain
Spurred by research that suggests VR [ virtual reality ] can help alleviate the anxiety and pain of patients suffering from acute and chronic pain, and the fact that the technology is becoming more affordable, a growing number of health care providers are using virtual reality to ease physical suffering. More than 250 hospitals nationwide use VR […] which puts viewers in an immersive, multi-sensory three-dimensional environment – can effectively distract patients from pain, studies suggest. For instance, research published in 2017 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research concluded that the use of VR in hospitalized patients “significantly reduces pain” compared to a two-dimensional video. A separate study, published in 2016 in the journal PLOS One, found that a five-minute virtual reality experience decreased the sensation of chronic pain by an average of 33 percent from pre-session to post-session. The study involved 30 participants who suffered from an array of chronic pain disorders, including cervical spine pain, lumbar spine pain, hip pain and abdominal pain. If you’re suffering from acute or chronic pain, here are the potential benefits of using virtual reality:
Antidepressant Withdrawal: An Unknown Disorder?
In 1977, George Libman Engel (December 10, 1913 – November 26, 1999), an American internist and psychiatrist who spent most of his career at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY and gave a seminal contribution to medicine via the formulation of the biopsychosocial model,1 criticized the dominant medical culture of those days. He said that biomedical dogma requires that all disease, including “mental” disease, be conceptualized in terms of derangement of underlying physical mechanisms. He added that this allows only two alternatives in medical doctors’ behavior and approach: the reductionist, which says that all phenomena of disease must be conceptualized in terms of physicochemical principles; and the exclusionist, which says that whatever is not capable of being so explained must be excluded from the category of diseases. The reductionists concede that some disturbances belong to the spectrum of disease, categorizing these as mental diseases. The exclusionists regard mental illness as a myth.