Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

ID-10043596“Hey doc, I have this pain in my back and I don’t know why?”

Chances are, your doctor may not know either.

One study (2011, 620 German primary-care patients,  Journal of Psychosomatics) estimates that up to two-thirds of patient pain complaints are unexplained.  Other reports seem to confirm this idea that pain can’t always be explained. In part, this may be due to patients having more serious psychiatric illness or somatic disorders (involve anxiety) that are not always front and center.

The most common symptoms of unexplained pain are headaches, back pain, fatigue, abdominal pain, and dizziness.  The goal in working with these symptoms isn’t necessarily to remit the pain, but help people live with it. We know that paying attention to symptoms can often make them feel worse.

And sometimes these symptoms are what we call “health seeking behavior” meaning something more psychological may be going on and needs to be treated. In fact, a 2006 study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that 60% of patients who averaged 13 visits to their doctor in a year had underlying major depression.

What helps is cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation training. These can ease symptoms and improve a person’s mental health, as well as reduce the number of doctor visits. The goal in using these approaches is to help a person rethink his/her beliefs about pain and learn to distract from the pain.

In reality, most people live with unexplained pain and can still be in good health. So even though you can’t always explain away pain, you can still learn to reduce your anxiety over it, not ruminate over it and distract yourself from making the symptoms worse.

ID-100112057I generally like the work of biological anthropologist, Helen Fisher. She wrote a book called, The Anatomy of Love, and concludes that women are more wired for monogamy than men.

She claims that men are wired to want sex with many partners and women with just one partner. She believes the difference has to do with women’s need for security and constant love. In other words, monogamy is for women only!

Marital researcher, John Gottman, argues the point. Gottman tells us that historically monogamy was designed by men for the purpose of ascertaining paternity to enable inheritance property. He goes on to say that social changes have questioned this monogamy need for women. With more access to men in the workplace, more economic power, affair rates for men and women are more equal. In other words, with women in the workforce and having more economic power, they don’t act differently than men when it comes to straying from their one partner.

I say, monogamy is for men and women based on our free will to decide what to do with our passions and lusts no matter the source–biological wiring or access to more partners!

ID-10056374What if eating strawberries, cucumbers and other produce could prevent an Alzheimer’s patient from memory loss?

There may be new evidence for this based on mice studies. These findings have not been replicated on Alzheimer patients yet, but the mice may tell us something that will direct our research.

Here is what researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California found. A plant-based compound called flavonoids contains something called fisetin.

Fisetin may reduce memory-related brain inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease. At least, that’s what the festin fed mice told us in a study. The mice, that were bred with Alzheimer like symptoms were daily fed fisetin, the equivalent of about 37 strawberries. The fisetin reduced levels of a molecule (p25) associated with nerve damage and brain inflammation. It had no effect on brain plague. But it did improve memory.

Now, if you are thinking of running to your local nutrition store to find fisetin, you won’t find a commercial version of the supplement with pure fisetin in it. For now, load up on the strawberries and other produce. It can’t hurt and it might even help.

ID-10077874Mike is a 20-year-old college student who needs to score well on his next big test. If he doesn’t get a high grade, it could jeopardize his grade point average and chances of getting into medical school.

Mike knows that one of his roommates takes Adderall, a stimulant medication for ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). He has heard that taking the drug would help him focus better when studying. Several of the guys in the dorm “share” their roommate’s medication around exam and tests times.

ADHD is a legitimate psychiatric diagnosis based in neurobiology. When a diagnosed person takes an ADHD medication, it helps him or her focus and be less impulsive. For people with ADHD, the medication can make all the difference in their ability to succeed in a day.

However, we now see a portion of people taking these drugs who do not have a physiological need or a diagnosis. They are taking the drug without a prescription in order to lose weight or improve their focus  And those who crush the drug and then inject or snort it, can experience a euphoric high, feel a false sense of self-confidence, and develop a dependency.

Furthermore, taking a drug like Adderall (“Addy”) with no monitoring or diagnosis can produce side effects like dangerously high BP, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, seizures and tremors, and mood disorders. With repeated and high use, there is also a danger of  stroke and cognition changes such as confusion, hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.

The message to Mike and his buddies who are not diagnosed with ADHD and looking for a little help to do better on exams is to find a better way. Using your roommate’s ADHD medication is not only illegal, but potentially dangerous to your health and well-being.