Meditation Can Lead To Dramatic Enhancement In Cognitive Performance,

Not All Meditative Techniques Impact the Body Mind Alike

13/08/2014 06:06 GMTNational University of Singapore

Back in the day, our spiritual teacher used to make a point of explaining the wide range of meditations. Each designed for specific results, we used to experiment endlessly. Breath meditations, chanting meditations, silent attention and in motion all work in different ways impacting the body mind spirit.

NUS study revealed that Vajrayana meditation techniques associated with Tibetan Buddhism can enhance brain performance

Contrary to popular belief, not all meditation techniques produce similar effects of body and mind. Indeed, a recent study by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has demonstrated for the first time that different types of Buddhist meditation – namely the Vajrayana and Theravada styles of meditation – elicit qualitatively different influences on human physiology and behaviour, producing arousal and relaxation responses respectively.

In particular, the NUS research team found that Vajrayana meditation, which is associated with Tibetan Buddhism, can lead to enhancements in cognitive performance.

The study by Associate Professor Maria Kozhevnikov and Dr Ido Amihai from the Department of Psychology at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences was first published in the journal PLOS ONE in July 2014.

Vajrayana and Theravada meditation produce different physiological responses

Previous studies had defined meditation as a relaxation response and had attempted to categorise meditation as either involving focused or distributed attentional systems. Neither of these hypotheses received strong empirical support, and most of the studies focused on Theravada meditative practices.

Assoc Prof Kozhevnikov and Dr Amihai examined four different types of meditative practices: two types of Vajrayana meditations (Tibetan Buddhism) practices (Visualisation of self-generation-as-Deity and Rig-pa) and two types of Theravada practices (Shamatha and Vipassana).

They collected electrocardiographic (EKG) and electroencephalographic (EEG) responses and also measured behavioural performance on cognitive tasks using a pool of experienced Theravada practitioners from Thailand and Nepal, as well as Vajrayana practitioners from Nepal.

They observed that physiological responses during the Theravada meditation differ significantly from those during the Vajrayana meditation. Theravada meditation produced enhanced parasympathetic activation (relaxation). In contrast, Vajrayana meditation did not show any evidence of parasympathetic activity but showed an activation of the sympathetic system (arousal).

The researchers had also observed an immediate dramatic increase in performance on cognitive tasks following only Vajrayana styles of meditation. They noted that such dramatic boost in attentional capacity is impossible during a state of relaxation. Their results show that Vajrayana and Theravada styles of meditation are based on different neurophysiological mechanisms, which give rise to either an arousal or relaxation response.

Applications of the research findings

The findings from the study showed that Vajrayana meditation can lead to dramatic enhancement in cognitive performance, suggesting that Vajrayana meditation could be especially useful in situations where it is important to perform at one’s best, such as during competition or states of urgency. On the other hand, Theravada styles of meditation are an excellent way to decrease stress, release tension, and promote deep relaxation.

Further research

After seeing that even a single session of Vajrayana meditation can lead to radical enhancements in brain performance, Assoc Prof Kozhevnikov and Dr Amihai will be investigating whether permanent changes could occur after long-term practice. The researchers are also looking at how non-practitioners can benefit from such meditative practices.

Assoc Prof Kozhevnikov said, “Vajrayana meditation typically requires years of practice, so we are also looking into whether it is also possible to acquire the beneficial effects of brain performance by practicing certain essential elements of the meditation. This would provide an effective and practical method for non-practitioners to quickly increase brain performance in times of need.”

 

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Caffeine Against Alzheimer’s Disease

 

Caffeine Has Positive Effect On Tau Deposits In Alzheimer’s

As part of a German-French research project, a team led by  Dr. Christa E. Müller from the University of Bonn and Dr. David Blum from the University of Lille was able to demonstrate for the first time that caffeine has a positive effect on tau deposits in Alzheimer’s disease. The two-years project was supported with 30,000 Euro from the non-profit Alzheimer Forschung Initiative e.V. (AFI) and with 50,000 Euro from the French Partner organization LECMA. The initial results were published in the online edition of the journal “Neurobiology of Aging.”

Tau deposits, along with beta-amyloid plaques, are among the characteristic features of Alzheimer’s disease. These protein deposits disrupt the communication of the nerve cells in the brain and contribute to their degeneration. Despite intensive research there is no drug available to date  which can prevent this detrimental process. Based on  the results of Prof. Dr. Christa Müller from the University of Bonn, Dr. David Blum and their team, a new class of drugs may now be developed for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Caffeine, an adenosine receptor antagonist, blocks various receptors in the brain which are activated by adenosine. Initial results of the team of researchers had already indicated that the blockade of the adenosine receptor subtype A2A in particular could play an important role. Initially, Prof. Müller and her colleagues developed an A2A antagonist in ultrapure and water-soluble form (designated MSX-3). This compound had fewer adverse effects than caffeine since it only blocks only the A2A adenosine receptor subtype, and at the same time it is significantly more effective. Over several weeks, the researchers then treated genetically altered mice with the A2A antagonist. The mice had an altered tau protein which, without therapy, leads to the early development of Alzheimer’s symptoms.

In comparison to a control group which only received a placebo, the treated animals achieved significantly better results on memory tests. The A2A antagonist displayed positive effects in particular on spatial memory. Also, an amelioration of the pathogenic processes was demonstrated in the hippocampus, which is the site of memory in rodents.

“We have taken a good step forward,” says Prof. Müller. “The results of the study are truly promising, since we were able to show for the first time that A2A adenosine receptor antagonists actually have very positive effects in an animal model simulating hallmark characteristics and progression of  the disease. And the adverse effects are minor.”

The researchers now want to test the A2A antagonist in additional animal models. If the results are positive, a clinical study may follow. “Patience is required until A2A adenosine receptor antagonists are approved as new therapeutic agents for Alzheimer’s disease. But I am optimistic that clinical studies will be performed,” says Prof. Müller.

Attached files

  • Characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease: The tau protein. (c) Photo: Alzheimer Forschung Initiative e.V.

 

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Hemp Revolution Research Case Underway

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Hemp Revolution Is Well Underway

Ongoing research into the complex compounds found in cannabis are adding to the knowledge base  Dr. Daniele Piomelli offers testimony on Medical Cannabis

Dr. Daniele Piomelli, Editor-in-Chief of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, provided testimony on the science behind Cannabis research at a Senate Judiciary Committee, and Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, hearing on “Researching the Potential Medical Benefits and Risks of Marijuana.”

The hearing was held on July 13, 2016, and was a timely discussion about researching the potential medical benefits of the Cannabis plant and its cannabinoid chemical components.Testimony was offered to the Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism. I think that says it all when it comes to the dogged reluctance to putting the research we already have into wide spread medical use.

The hearing also addressed further removal of unnecessary barriers to research on cannabis and cannabinoids; especially, cannabidiol in the United States, where we like to think of ourselves as exceptional. An in the case of adopting medicinal cannabis, we are exceptionally resistant to health and wellness.

 

Evidence Of Reefer Madness From The Stone Age

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Nutrition News Hemp Issue

Founders of Western civilization were prehistoric dope dealers

DAILY NEWS  7 July 2016

It looks like the use of the cannabis plant is part of the march of civilization. A review of the data on cannabis in archaeology, links an intensification of cannabis use in East Asia with the rise of transcontinental trade at the dawn of the Bronze Age, some 5000 years ago.

That wonder weed cannabis keeps showing up in the story of who we are. People who understand how to take advantage of nature’s bounty. Medical and industrial researchers are both deep into the weeds, pun intended, with niche research applications for this plant.

Cannabis entered the archaeological record of Japan and Eastern Europe at almost exactly the same time, between about 11,500 and 10,200 years ago. A review of archaeological data links an intensification of cannabis use in East Asia with the rise of transcontinental trade at the dawn of the Bronze Age, some 5000 years ago.

That’s a long time to be keeping track of humanity”s use of a “Class 1 drug” under the U.S. Controlled Substance Act (CSA). Maybe our ancestors were on to something after.

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Magnesium Lowers Blood Pressure

Magnesium Lowers Blood Pressure

Magnesium may modestly lower blood pressure

06 July 2016 American Heart Association

Researchers have long debated whether magnesium plays a role in regulating blood pressure with inconsistent and controversial evidence from studies in humans. This meta-analysis, however, collected data from 34 clinical trials, involving 2,028 participants, and found a small but significant association between magnesium intake and reduced blood pressure.

With epic levels of obesity and CVD, it’s only a matter of time before we start looking at nutritional supplementation as an accessible, affordable and effective path to health and wellness.
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Full bibliographic information: Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials (DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.116.07664.)

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