Proper breathing brings better health

As newborns, we enter the world by inhaling. In leaving, we exhale. (In fact, in many languages the word "exhale" is synonymous with "dying.") Breathing is so central to life that it is no wonder humankind long ago noted its value not only to survival but to the functioning of the body and mind and began controlling it to improve well-being. As early as the first millennium B.C., both the Tao religion of China and Hinduism placed importance on a "vital principle" that flows through the body, a kind of energy or internal breath, and viewed respiration as one of its manifestations. The Chinese call this energy qi, and Hindus call it prana (one of the key concepts of yoga). A little later, in the West, the Greek term pneuma and the Hebrew term rûah referred both to the breath...

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Mitochondria play an unexpected role in killing bacteria

According to biology textbooks, a macrophage engulfs a bacterium, internalizes it in a toxin-filled vesicle called a phagosome, then shuttles the cellular remains to a lysosome for degradation. But killing microbial invaders turns out to be a lot more complex, with other organelles such as mitochondria-the main sites of energy production in the cell-participating in the process. One piece of evidence for mitochondria's role surfaced in 2011, when researchers curtailed the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) - highly destructive molecules that are byproducts of metabolism - in mouse macrophage mitochondria, and found that the immune cells became less effective at killing bacteria. Four years later, immunologist Mary O'Riordan of the University of Michigan Medical School uncovered another piece of the puzzle when she exposed mouse macrophages to the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. This appeared to activate a particular stress pathway...

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How to unwind your busy monkey mind

Most people believe relaxing activities are only done in the evenings, and should be grouped in categories, scheduled, or put in an evening "routine," as if it's simply another item to check off your "to-do" list. The good news? You don't have to wait until the evening to unwind and relax. In fact, you shouldn't. You deserve to feel grounded in your center and a sense of peace all day, not for just a few hours at the end of your day. You shouldn't have to, and you absolutely do not have to and mustn't do so. It is time to do away with the philosophy that it is only safe to entertain the idea of relaxation at the very end of your day, after spending the large majority of your waking hours walking through the day scattered, stressed, anxious,...

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It’s the brain-altering drugs stupid: Opioids, SSRIs, anti-psychotics, benzodiazepines & suicidality

This morning, just as I was about to start writing my weekly Duty to Warn column, I glanced through the Duluth News-Tribune and couldn't help but notice a full-page ad on page A3. The ad was titled "Rallying to Address Opioid Addiction". The color-printed ad likely cost well over a thousand dollars and was paid for by an entity that I had never heard of before called "Rx ALI Minnesota" (Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative). The group was apparently a fresh new "alliance" of "concerned" corporate entities that were suddenly interested in the opioid crisis that is affecting all portions of America. Or maybe the interest of some of the major alliance entities sponsoring the ad had some ulterior motives, such as trying to obscure the guilt that they should be acknowledging in actually causing the addiction and suicidality crises in...

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‘We hear what we listen for’ – The art of listening well

Forget about what you were going to say next. Make sure you hear what the other person says A zoologist was walking down a busy city street with a friend. In the midst of the honking horns and screeching tires, he exclaimed to his friend, "Listen to that cricket!" The friend looked at the zoologist in astonishment and said, "You hear a cricket in the middle of all this noise and confusion?" Without a word, the zoologist reached into his pocket, took out a coin, and flipped it into the air. As it clinked on the sidewalk, a dozen heads turned in response. The zoologist said quietly to his friend, "We hear what we listen for." ...

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