Monthly Archives: May 2012

Biofeedback is Back!

biofeedback device

I’m excited to see more coverage of biofeedback, which can help you interpret your body’s physical responses to stress (heart rate) usually with a device, such as a fingertip sensor, that measures the changes in temperature skin.

The tools discussed in this NYT Well blog are a sort of high-tech approach akin to relaxation techniques such as deep breathing. Computerized biofeedback gadgets have been shown to help teach relaxation and stress management exercises.  They’re an important part of a holistic approach that may be helpful to people dealing with IBS, migraines and numerous other medical conditions that are influenced by stress levels.  The source in this NYT Well blog story notes that kids in particular seem to respond well to this drug-free way to help treat anxiety and stress.

The Doctor’s Remedy: Biofeedback for Stress      

What the Doctor Says: Biofeedback devices typically weigh only a couple of ounces and look something like an iPod. Pressing your thumb to sensors on the devices allows them to take your pulse and measure changes in your heart rate. The devices then use audible cues, flashing lights and graphics to guide you to breathe in a way that has a calming effect.  Dr. Rosen prefers using the emWave brand of biofeedback devices, which he says helps his nervous patients relax before operations….MORE

Related alternahealthgrrrl stories:

Cool New CBT Tool for Kids with OCD

New Antidote for Teen Angst

Are folding bikes the future?

The Daily Good explores the promising potential of foldable bicycles in Fold My Ride: The Bike That Could Change Transit as part of their Bike Nation series.

This spring, bike sharing came to South by Southwest for the first time in the festival’s history—something of a late arrival, given the crowd that assembles in Austin every year. When I stopped by to check it out, I was surprised to find not the usual cruisers-for-rent but instead a collection of foldable bikes.

Folding bikes are the black sheep of the bike community, neither respected by hard-core cyclists nor frequently used by the average citizen. But a new global company called Tern Bikes is out to change that perception—and, in the process, change transit.  (Read more from Tim Fernholtz, GOOD business editor)

The Racket Known As Flame Retardants

Illustration thumbnail: Reducing your risk                                                 

As Nicholas Kristof writes in this weekend’s column, Are You Safe On That Sofa?, the Chicago Tribune series, Playing with Fire,  is a must-read. (Click here to see the package) It’s about the history behind the “protective” toxins in our furniture known as flame retardants.

The chemicals embedded in our household upholstery are toxic to humans, and, according to this investigation, useless. But that’s not the news. Experts have known for some time that endocrine disruptors and other ubiquitous chemicals are linked to cancer, fetal damage, child development problems and fertility problems.  The real story? It turns out that flame retardants’ whole reason for being was just to protect the tobacco industry.  The “protect-people-from-fires” thing was just a smokescreen.

I hope my mom reads this report.  This is the reason I insisted on organic cotton clothing for my newborn and why we need real public health policies and laws like the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards to protect us from industrial chemicals and the corporations that profit from them.

Bravo to reporters Patricia Callahan, Sam Roe and Michael Hawthorne!

Related content:  Toxins on Shoes and Other Environmental Exposures to Avoid; Lyme Disease Alert! + DEET alternatives that protect without toxins;  Air Pollution Linked to Kids’ Anxiety and Attention Problems; What Siberian Husky Sled Dogs Reveal About Human Bodies.

Study: Soda pop rots your brain

Get the details from the fantastic site and health tool, PillAdvised:

Attention, college students cramming between midterms and finals: Binging on soda and sweets for as little as six weeks may make you stupid.

A new study from University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) shows how a diet with high-fructose corn syrup slows the brain, hampering memory and learning…(more)

Related alternahealthgrrrl post:  The Mean Girl Diet: Why processed food pisses you off

The Healing Power of Art

Can music heal?  When is art considered medicine? Will the arts actually help improve healthcare?  Studio 360 explores these and more questions in an encore presentation of Art As Medicine.

A Stress Handicap? More Proof Stress Damages Your Brain

Talk about a mind melt!  New research published in Scientific American sketches out the biology behind a brain freeze: Everyday stress disables brain function, literally shutting down the central nervous system’s command center.  When the amygdala, which processes emotions, takes over, mental paralysis and panic can result.

But don’t panic!  This is simply another great argument for the need for policies that promote stress reduction and a reminder of the importance of practicing mindfulness.  This particular SA feature is available only to subscribers, but non-subscribers can click to read a nice summary of the research or see SA’s stress meter quiz.  And everyone can check out alternahealthgrrrl posts on the science behind mindfulness and how to use it to melt your every stress levels.

What you can really get out of meditation

Real stress relief

The True Threat to Inner Peace