Common Psychoactive Treatments

In the old days, people rely on medicine men, oracles, and even the position of the stars to find a cure for various illnesses. Much for what was considered as medicine were merely based on myth and superstition. But with the advent of modern medicine, people became more aware of scientific means of diagnosing and treating illnesses. Medications, or drugs prepared in laboratories, are widely used for their convenience and effectiveness. For many years, we have used different kinds of medications in order to ease and alleviate the pain we feel in our bodies. It has become a necessity for each home to have at least a couple of basic medications for cough and colds, fever and flu, headaches, and so on. Having these medications at hand can prevent further aggravation of an ailment when dealing with hospitals, drugstores, and doctors.

An interesting kind of drug medication would be the class of psychoactive medication. Also called psychotropic substances, this specific drug is a chemical substance that acts on a person’s central nervous system wherein it alters the brain’s function, causing short term changes with regards to a person’s mood, perception, consciousness, and behavior. These drugs can be used recreationally (entheogens) for ritual and spiritual purposes, or therapeutically for medication. Since this would be the only kind of medication that can be used for recreation, it can sometimes be abused because of the mind altering effect that it can bring, making the person feel more pleasant as he was before.

But in a more medical sense, psychoactive medication are often helpful in treating psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, among many others. Although these psychoactive drugs do not affect the underlying cause of these disorders, they can serve symptomatic relief for patients who wants to live a normal life.

Anxiety is seen as the continuous tension, nervousness, or panic caused by stress or any other psychological causes. This disorder is seen in many, and is often resolved by taking psychoactive medication. Anti anxiety drugs are used to give relaxation or to reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as shaking and palpitations. Causing such relaxation and sedation, a certain class of psychoactive medication called benzodiazepines are included in anxiety medications that depress the person’s central nervous system. Beta blockers also contribute to these medications, allowing the suppression of physical symptoms. Having depression can interfere with a person’s daily activities, and when this situation starts to stay there for a time, a person may need medical help. Psychoactive medications can be appropriate for this kind of disorder. Antidepressants would be the specific kind of medication, offering the increase of the neurotransmitters’ level in the brain. More often than not, it takes some time (from six to eight weeks) before these antidepressants take effect.

When a person has trouble sleeping, they may be experiencing insomnia. Both anxiety and depression can cause insomnia, among many others. When this specific cause is known and treated, the person’s sleep patterns generally return to normal. When insomnia gets persistent, sleeping pills may be appropriate. Most sleeping pills cause sedation by depressing the central nervous system (more likely as those of anxiety medications). Although a person can sleep while under these medications, the sleep induced by the drug will not be the same as of natural sleep, since the drug suppresses brain activity.

These are just examples of how psychoactive medications are commonly used in our everyday lives. It is important to know and be well-informed about every aspect of the medication, to prevent any side effects, withdrawal symptoms, and any negative impact on the body and brain itself.

Reversing the Metabolic Syndrome

What is the Metabolic Syndrome?

The American Heart Association has established standards for diagnosing the metabolic syndrome. The patient must have 3 of the following conditions:

1. Waist circumference greater than 40 inches for men, 35 inches for women.
2. Triglycerides greater than 150 mg/dL.
3. HDL Cholesterol less than 40 mg/d for men, less than 50 mg/dl for women.
4. Blood pressure greater than 130/85 mm Hg.
5. Fasting glucose greater than 100 mg/dL.

What causes the Metabolic Syndrome?
The metabolic syndrome appears to be caused by insulin resistance and the associated accumulation of VAT. VAT releases inflammatory adipocytokines, which contribute to the proinflammatory state. Fatty liver is also strongly correlated with VAT [1], and is a likely cause of the elevated lipids.

VAT accumulation correlates with fasting insulin, total whole-body glucose disposal, glucose oxidation and nonoxidative whole-body glucose disposal [2]. Also, factors associated with insulin resistance are also correlated with VAT accumulation, including triglycerides [3], hepatic lipase [4] and HL/LPL ratio [5]. Likewise, factors inversely associated with insulin resistance are also inversely correlated with VAT accumulation including HDL [3].

How can the Metabolic Syndrome be reversed?
Improving insulin sensitivity is of primary importance. This requires an improved diet along with exercise.

1. Lose weight. Weight loss greatly improves insulin sensitivity.
2. Upgrade your fat intake. Saturated fat significantly worsens insulin resistance, while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (especially omega-3) improve it [6].
3. Exercise. Even something as simple as daily walking reduces visceral adipose tissue areas and improves insulin resistance [7].
4. Minimize stress. Cortisol appears to be involved in VAT accumulation and insulin resistance.
5. Eat more fiber. Fiber improves insulin sensitivity and is associated with lower amounts of VAT [9]. Pectin appears to be an especially effective fiber for reducing VAT [10].
6. Take supplements. Pantethine [11], taurine [12], calcium [13] and tea [14] all improve insulin sensitivity and reduce VAT.

David Spelts

[1] Kelley DE, McKolanis TM, Hegazi RA, Kuller LH, Kalhan SC. : Fatty liver in type 2 diabetes mellitus: relation to regional adiposity, fatty acids, and insulin resistance. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 10/2003.
[2] Laakso, Markku: Insulin resistance, body fat distribution, and sex hormones in men. Diabetes, 2/1/1994.
[3] R. B. Terry, P. D. Wood, W. L. Haskell, M. L. Stefanick and R. M. Krauss: Regional adiposity patterns in relation to lipids, lipoprotein cholesterol, and lipoprotein subfraction mass in men. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 1989.
[4] C. E. Tan; L. Forster; M. J. Caslake; D. Bedford; T. D. G. Watson; M. McConnell; C. J. Packard; J. Shepherd: Relations Between Plasma Lipids and Postheparin Plasma Lipases and VLDL and LDL Subfraction Patterns in Normolipemic Men and Women. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 1995.
[5] Despres JP, Couillard C, Gagnon J, Bergeron J, Leon AS, Rao DC, Skinner JS, Wilmore JH, Bouchard C: Race, visceral adipose tissue, plasma lipids, and lipoprotein lipase activity in men and women: the Health, Risk Factors, Exercise Training, and Genetics (HERITAGE) family study. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol, 2000.
[6] Riccardi G, Giacco R, Rivellese AA.: Dietary fat, insulin sensitivity and the metabolic syndrome. Clin Nutr. 8/2004.
[7] Miyatake N, Nishikawa H, Morishita A, Kunitomi M, Wada J, Suzuki H, Takahashi K, Makino H, Kira S, Fujii M.: Daily walking reduces visceral adipose tissue areas and improves insulin resistance in Japanese obese subjects. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 11/2002.
[8] Gluck ME, Geliebter A, Lorence M.; Cortisol stress response is positively correlated with central obesity in obese women with binge eating disorder (BED) before and after cognitive-behavioral treatment. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 12/2004.
[9] DS Ludwig et al: Dietary fiber, weight gain, and cardiovascular disease risk factors in young adults. Journal of the American Medical Association 1999.
[10] Hendricks KM et al. High-fiber diet in HIV-positive men is associated with lower risk of developing fat deposition. Am J Clin Nutr 78: 790-5, 2003.
[11] Osono Y, Hirose N, Nakajima K, Hata Y: The effects of pantethine on fatty liver and fat distribution. J Atheroscler Thromb, 2000.
[12] Nakaya Y, Minami A, Harada N, Sakamoto S, Niwa Y, Ohnaka M: Taurine improves insulin sensitivity in the Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty rat, a model of spontaneous type 2 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr, Jan 2000.
[13] Soares MJ, Binns C, Lester L: Higher intakes of calcium are associated with lower BMI and waist circumference in Australian adults: an examination of the 1995 National Nutrition Survey. Asia Pac J Clin Nutrition, 2004.
[14] C. Wu, et al: Relationship among Habitual Tea Consumption, Percent Body Fat, and Body Fat Distribution. Obesity Research, September, 2003.

Don’t Ignore Achilles Heel Pain

You don’t have to be an elite athlete to suffer Achilles tendon injuries. They can occur even from performing minor household tasks, such as climbing a ladder. According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS), Achilles tendon weakness is common in adults and prompt treatment when symptoms occur can prevent more serious injury.

“The Achilles tendon is the longest and strongest tendon in the body, but is subjected to considerable wear and tear,” said Gerald Travers, DPM, FACFAS, a foot and ankle surgeon in Colorado Springs. “When the tendon becomes inflamed from overuse or too much sudden stress, tendonitis can weaken it over time and cause microscopic tears,” said Travers. “Going without treatment increases risk for further deterioration and possible rupture.”

According to the ACFAS consumer Web site, FootPhysicans.com, pain, stiffness and tenderness in the area are the main symptoms of Achilles tendonitis. Pain occurs in the morning, improves with motion but gets worse with increasing stress and activity.

“In addition to athletes, Achilles problems are common for anyone whose work routine puts constant stress on the feet and ankles,” said Travers. “These injuries happen most often to less conditioned, ‘weekend warrior’ athletes who overdo it. But I’ve also had patients who have ruptured the tendon simply by climbing a ladder quickly.”

When pain and other symptoms indicate possible Achilles tendonitis, Travers said a foot and ankle surgeon will make a thorough diagnosis and evaluate flexibility and range of motion in the tendon. Treatment options vary depending on severity and include casting, ice, anti-inflammatory pain medication, physical therapy and surgery if other options fail.

Travers noted recreational activities involving jumping and running are the major cause of Achilles tendon injuries. “In sports like basketball and tennis, muscles and tendons in the back of the leg are prone to injury from an imbalance that occurs from a lot of forward motion. The imbalance can weaken the tendon unless stretching exercises are performed regularly.”

He added the best ways to prevent Achilles tendon injuries are to warm up gradually by walking and stretching. Further, it’s best to avoid strenuous sprinting or hill running if you are not in shape for it.