By Tara MacIsaac
The pineal gland in the human brain has the structure of an eye. It has cells that act as light receptors, as the retina does. It has a structure comparable to the vitreous—a gel-like substance between the retina and lens of the eye. It has a structure similar to a lens.
Scientists are still learning much about the pineal body, known in both Eastern spiritualism and Western philosophy as the seat of human consciousness. Eastern beliefs also hold that, on other plains of existence, eyes may be seen all over the body. Western science is slowly coming to understand the pineal body as a third eye.
For many years, scientists have recognized the similarities between the pineal body and the eyes. In 1919, Frederick Tilney and Luther Fiske Warren wrote that the similarities listed above prove the pineal gland was formed to be light-sensitive and possibly to have other visual capabilities.
More recently, in 1995, Dr. Cheryl Craft, chair of the department of cell and neurobiology at the University of Southern California, wrote about what she called the “mind’s eye.”
“Under the skin in the skull of a lizard lies a light-responsive ‘third eye’ which is the … equivalent of the bone-encased, hormone-secreting pineal gland in the human brain. The human pineal is denied access to light directly, but like the lizard’s ‘third eye,’ it shows enhanced release of its hormone, melatonin, during the night,” she wrote. “The pineal gland is the ‘mind’s eye.’”
A bundle of nerve fibers connects it to the posterior commissure, another part of the brain that is not well-understood.
In the 1950s, researchers discovered the pineal body’s ability to detect light, and to produce melatonin according to the amount of light it detects. In this way, it essentially controls important rhythms in the body. It affects the reproduction and immune systems. The pineal body was previously thought to be vestigial, but this discovery showed it actually has an important function.
In May 2013, another discovery was made that could change the way the pineal body is viewed.
It was found that a rat’s pineal body produces N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). DMT has a widespread presence in organic beings that is not well-understood. Some people ingest DMT to induce psychedelic experiences often characterized as intensely spiritual.
Dr. Rick Strassman conducted U.S. government-approved clinical research at the University of New Mexico in the 1990s, injecting human volunteers with DMT. He calls DMT the “spirit molecule.”
The study that confirmed the presence of DMT in the pineal glands of rats was conducted at the University of Michigan by Dr. Jimo Borjigin and at Louisiana State University by Dr. Steven Barker. It was partially funded by the Cottonwood Research Foundation, which is headed by Dr. Strassman and which supports scientific research into the nature of consciousness. It was published in the journal Biomedical Chromatography.
By James Chi
People who suffer severe and chronic depressions age sooner, according to a new study.
The team of researchers in California and the Netherlands noticed people with depression have shorter telomeres than their healthy peers. Telomeres are strands of chromosome caps that shorten as people age. The study was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry on Nov. 12, 2013.
Based on these measurements, the researchers found that those who are clinically depressed for 2 years abnormally aged 7 to 10 years. Also, people who experienced the most severe depression had the shortest telomeres.
According to the study, while depression tends to induce harmful lifestyle habits—such as drinking, smoking, taking drugs—that shorten people’s lifespans, depression itself is also responsible for premature aging. Even though the researchers can’t confirm a direct correlation between depression and aging, psychological distress does take a toll on the body.
In quantum physics, one of the most enduring mysteries is known as the double-slit experiment, which renowned physicist Richard Feynman described as containing “the only mystery.”
So what’s so mysterious about it?
This requires a bit of setup: If you take a light-tight box, and inside shoot photons (basically units of light) through one slit onto photographic paper, you’ll see a pattern where it’s darkest right in the middle, and gets fainter as you move toward the edges. Basically, it’s what you would expect: most of the light hits the middle, and the rest of the photons get deflected to various degrees and stray from the middle in predictable ways.
If you change your apparatus and introduce a second slit, and shoot photons through it, you’ll now get an interference pattern—alternating bands of dark and light. What’s happening is the light is acting like a wave on its way to the photographic plate, and the two beams of light are interfering with each other. Sometimes they reinforce each other, and sometimes they cancel each other out.
Now here’s where it gets really interesting: if you shoot one photon at a time through the device, but don’t know which slit the photon goes through, you still get the interference pattern!
But if you shoot one at a time, and you know which slit it goes through, you’ll just get two clusters, like when there’s only one slit open, but in two places.
Numerous theoretical explanations have been offered to explain this mystery, some of which propose that the act of observation by a conscious entity—a mind—plays a crucial role. The act of observation, in effect, alters the state of matter at the quantum level.
This is controversial, probably because it doesn’t fit with the prevailing scientific worldview that matter and energy are primary, and consciousness is more or less something extra, and has nothing to do with the most basic constituents of the universe. If mind isn’t just as fundamental as matter, how could it affect matter at a quantum level?
There are problems with the view that matter is primary and consciousness comes later, but the best way to demonstrate that is probably with experiments, rather than philosophical arguments. (After all, such philosophical arguments have been going on for a long, long time.)
What if it could be shown experimentally that consciousness can affect the results of the double-slit experiment?
The Experimental Evidence
Enter Dean Radin and colleagues, who carried out a series of six experiments demonstrating just this.
Participants were first familiarized with the double-slit experiment by watching a 5-minute animation, then they were brought into an electrically shielded steel room, sat down a few meters from the double-slit apparatus, and were given instructions to try to influence the beam when told to do so.
During randomly assigned periods lasting from 15 to 30 seconds, participants were cued to relax or to try to influence the apparatus. Each session lasted about 15 minutes, not including instruction.
Radin and colleagues found that during those periods when participants were attending to the device, the interference pattern was significantly reduced, compared to when the device was active but no one was present. That means it looked more like when there’s knowledge of which slot the light passed through.
They controlled for various factors, such as electrical shielding, temperature, and vibration, but none of these could explain away the results: focused attention influenced the pattern of light.
And how good one is at focusing turns out to be an especially important factor. Participants’ amount of meditation experience made all the difference as to whether they could affect the pattern or not—those who did not practice meditation on average failed to show a statistically significant effect.
Somehow, those who regularly practice focusing their attention can have more of an effect on this quantum phenomenon.
This brings up a host of new questions: how does focused attention affect this or other phenomena? Are these meditation practitioners different than other people, or is it the meditation itself that produces the effects? If it is amount of practice, what exactly is it about meditation that produces this capability?
Regardless of the answers to those questions, these six experiments present strong statistical evidence that meditators are capable of influencing quantum events. To get these results by chance, you’d have to run the same set of experiments 150,000 times. In contrast, for most psychology studies, if you would arrive at a particular result by chance one out of 20 times, it is considered a valid effect.
Radin and colleagues also examined whether fluctuations in the Earth’s geomagnetic field might be responsible for the results, because previous studies have shown that these magnetic variations are linked to various phenomena related to human behavior, such as stock market activity, suicides, and cardiac health, as well as differences in performance on extra-sensory perception (ESP) tasks.
They found that the results of these experiments are not explained by these variations, but the variations contributed to how strong the effects were, thus further validating that both these geomagnetic influences and the effect on the double-slit experiment are real.
The study was published in Physics Essays, June 2012.
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Chinese company leads apparent global market fraud
While clothes marketed as organic bamboo fabric are gaining popularity worldwide, it turns out no organic bamboo textiles have actually been certified. Behind the apparent fraud is the Chinese industry giant Tenbro.
The amount of “organic” bamboo fabric Tenbro exports annually is 20 times greater than the amount of American-produced organic cotton exported annually. Yet the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) public database, the leading authority on certification, does not contain any “organic bamboo.”
In Europe and Japan, sales of this non-existent material are on the rise, and organic bamboo bags and clothing are marketed as the “new organic cotton.” Organic bamboo textiles are sold as environmentally friendly, natural, anti-bacterial, and breathable.
Shanghai Tenbro Bamboo Textile Co., Ltd. and the related Jiago Chemical Fiber Co, Ltd. actually exported 216,000 tons of fabric with a false internationally accredited organic certificate. The company’s description of the fabric reads: “Trendy Bamboo fibre materials. Nature, Organic, Elegant.”
The company was reported for seal abuse, having used old versions of certification seals on its website without actually being certified, Lebi Perez, Inspection and Training Coordinator at the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) told Epoch Times via email. OCIA certificates comply with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) guidelines and are supported the world over.
The silky material known as organic bamboo is actually viscose rayon made from bamboo fibers. Actually, what Europeans and Japanese are buying is viscose rayon made from bamboo fibers. Truly organic bamboo textile would be coarse, not having the smooth texture of rayon.
Rayon is not an eco-friendly alternative to cotton textiles, since it takes almost twice the energy to make compared to cotton-based textiles. The process of making rayon also involves many chemicals and it eliminates some natural benefits of bamboo, such as it’s anti-bacterial effect.
The most common solvent used in viscose rayon production is carbon disulfide, which is highly toxic and a dispersant (50 percent of the substance is released into the air when used in production). A newer form of rayon, Lyocell, dissolves plant fibers with the somewhat less toxic amine oxide. However, Lyocell depends on nanotechnology for fiber shaping, which is a technique not fully understood for its impact on human health, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In the United States and Canada it is illegal to market rayon made from bamboo pulp as “bamboo.” It should be labeled “rayon” or “rayon made from bamboo.” The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned the public about chemically-made rayon sold as natural bamboo textiles and sued several major retailers for misleading consumers.
Is Tenbro the only company doing this? Tenbro holds a vague patent in China on bamboo rayon. It will “sue any illegal overseas buyer of bamboo fiber products … accredited by the State Intellectual Property Bureau,” according to their website. They will “take legal actions to those suppliers with fraud intellectual properties or pirating our intellectual properties.” It is not entirely clear what this means or what legal claims Tenbro makes.
The Organic Bamboo Textile Dream
It is possible to grow bamboo in a natural way, even if the organic status of textiles is cast in doubt. Since 2012, a specific organic bamboo grove standard has been in place. If a grove is on clean soil, uses pure water, adds no pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and does not grow bamboo in a monoculture, it can be qualified as “organic bamboo.”
Actually, the fast-growing plant is used in reforestation efforts to regenerate bare soil and raise groundwater levels. This is how bamboo earned its reputation as a natural and environmentally friendly crop.
Traditionally, it was common sense to plant the versatile crop in gardens. According to drawings of the “four gentlemen” on the Chinese website Minghui.org, plum blossoms, orchids, bamboo, and chrysanthemums have traditionally represented integrity and are valued as true artistic subject matter in Chinese culture. Bamboo represents “morality.”
It is also possible to make textile fibers from the softer inner bamboo stalks and leaves mechanically, and mix them with other fibers into a textile you could make cloth from. However, this kind of natural bamboo textile is still in development; it is not mass-produced and not commonly for sale.
Certified organic bamboo is used for food or medicinal purposes, or construction, not for textile production. IFOAM is currently recruiting for the Bamboo Switch-Asia project. This project “funded by the European Commission addresses the urgent needs in China for increasing safety and green practices in agro-food processing. More precisely, it aims to transform the highly polluting and resource-consuming edible bamboo shoot industry into a sustainable value chain.”
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LED light bulbs are becoming increasingly popular with designers and consumers of green technology, as they use less electricity, last longer, and emit more light on a pound-for-pound basis than traditional incandescent bulbs. However, while it may be tempting to look at them as having solved the problem of environmentally-unfriendly lighting, researchers from the University of California would advise against such thinking.
Scientists from UC Irvine and UC Davis pulverized multicolored LED Christmas lights, traffic signal lights, and automobile head and brake lights, allowed residue to leach from them, and then analyzed its chemical content. They discovered that low-intensity red LEDs contained up to eight times the amount of lead allowed under California law, although generally brighter bulbs tended to contain the most contaminants. While white bulbs had a lower lead content than their colored counterparts, they still had high levels of nickel.
Besides the lead and nickel, the bulbs and their associated parts were also found to contain arsenic, copper, and other metals that have been linked to different cancers, neurological damage, kidney disease, hypertension, skin rashes and other illnesses in humans, and to ecological damage in waterways. UC Irvine’s Oladele Ogunseitan said that while breaking a single bulb and breathing its fumes would not automatically cause cancer, it could be the tipping point for an individual regularly exposed to another carcinogen.
Scientists claim they could be more effective at keeping you alert than caffeine
- Blue light is harmless to tissue but can trigger biological effects in the body
- In a study, people exposed to blue light performed better at distraction tests
- The same test, proved too much for caffeine users who performed poorly
- It builds on research that has found blue light can improve cognitive abilities
Blue light has been getting a bad reputation lately for its role in disrupting sleep.Smartphones and other gadgets used before bed can cause restless nights because their light causes melatonin suppression – a chemical which controls the body clock.But there are some positives, according to a recent study, that looks at how blue light can make the brain more alert if it is used at the right time.
Researchers at Mid Sweden University compared the effects of caffeine and blue light on the brain and found them both to have a positive effect.
Tags: chinese medicin, psychology
Chinese medicine is a complete healing system that first appeared in written form around 100 B.C. Since that time, China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam have developed their own distinct versions of the original Chinese system.
Qi (also spelled “chi”) is an essential concept in Chinese medicine. Qi is a form of vital energy that exists both inside and outside the human body. At the root of every function of the human body and the universe around us is a form of qi.
Chinese medicine describes human physiology and psychology in terms of qi, correlating qi with specific mental and physical processes and emotional states. Different kinds of qi commonly referred to in Chinese medicine include blood qi, organ qi, nutrition qi, meridian qi, and pathogenic qi. Pathogenic can enter the body from sources such as wind, dampness, heat, cold, and dryness.
The quality of qi is described in terms of yin and yang. Yin and yang are opposite energies but exist interdependently. Yin qi is defined as cold or cooling energy, and yang qi is defined as hot or warming energy.
To be healthy, a person needs to have a balance of yin and yang because yang needs yin’s nourishment in order to function, and yin needs yang in order to be produced and utilized. Human beings are considered healthy when qi is circulating freely and there is a balanced flow of yin and yang.
When yin qi is deficient, then yang qi is in excess, and symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, restlessness, elevated blood pressure, and constipation can manifest.
When yang qi is deficient, yin qi is in excess, and symptoms such as increased sensation of cold, feelings of fatigue, diarrhea, slow metabolism with water retention, low blood pressure, and psychomotor retardation can occur.
In Chinese, the words for the different emotions are followed by the word “qi.” For example, anger is called “anger qi” and joy is called “joyful qi.” Therefore, when an intervention is made with acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine, it not only aims to affect the physical functions of the body, but also the mental functions and emotions.
Qi circulates through energy channels called meridians. The meridians form a web-like system that connects different parts of the body together and supplies qi to every part of the body. Chinese medicine relates each meridian with specific mental, physical, and emotional functions.
In Chinese medicine, mental functions and emotions are not confined to the brain but are viewed as the interaction between the brain and the meridians. Another way of looking at it is that the brain is part of each individual meridian, and each meridian’s health affects the brain.
The lung meridian is associated with grief, and thus people in the grieving process may be more susceptible to upper respiratory infections. The biomedical model might explain this reaction in terms of diminished immune responsiveness due to chronic stress induced by grief. Chinese medicine would characterize the problem as an emotional stressor causing imbalance in the lung meridian, thus causing it to become deficient in qi.
In the West, one of the most well-known treatment methods of Chinese medicine is acupuncture, which is also one of the oldest treatment methods. Acupuncturists insert extremely thin needles into the body at strategic points in order to rebalance the flow of yin and yang through the meridians
Acupuncture treatments are used alone or integrated with conventional medicine to treat a variety of psychiatric conditions, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, pain, addiction, and depression.
In Chinese medicine, major depression is seen as the extreme psychiatric manifestation of an excess of yin and a deficiency of yang. Mania is the opposite, being the result of an extreme manifestation of excessive yang and deficient yin.
The abnormal transition between extreme yin and extreme yang is similar to the pattern of cycling in bipolar disorders. Thus, acupuncturists place needles in the body with the goal of rebalancing yin and yang.
Dr. Yang is a board-certified psychiatrist and is a fourth-generation doctor of Chinese medicine. His website is taoinstitute.com
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By Henry Jom
Modern science has verified what the ancients believed about one’s heart—that the heart is a center of higher wisdom. It can actually remember things and it functions much like the brain.
The heart’s structure is similar to that of the brain: it has an intricate network of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins, and support cells.
“There is a brain in the heart, metaphorically speaking,” said Dr. Rollin McCraty of the HeartMath Institute, a non-profit that offers treatments based on the connection between heart and brain. “The heart contains neurons and ganglia that have the same function as those of the brain, such as memory. It’s an anatomical fact,” he said.
“What people don’t know that well is that the heart actually sends more information to the brain [than the brain does to the heart],” he added.
Dr. J. Andrew Armour coined the term “heart brain” in 1991; he has also called the heart a “little brain.”
According to Harvard Medical School, chemical “conversations” between the heart and the brain affect both organs. Depression, stress, loneliness, a positive outlook, and other psychosocial factors influence the heart. The health of the heart can also affect the brain and the mind.
As neuro-cardiology (the study of the brain and heart connection) has developed, researchers have found that negative emotions throw both heart rhythms and brainwave patterns out of sync.
Stress responses, for example, take a toll on the body, contributing to high blood pressure, the development of artery-clogging plaque, and brain changes that may contribute to anxiety and depression, according to Harvard Medical School.
Conversely, when a person experiences positive emotions, heart rhythms and brainwave patterns are harmonious and coherent.
Heart as an Emotional Center
The heart as an organ is linked to the concept of heart as an emotional center. The heart sends messages through physical pathways to the brain, which are then interpreted as emotion.
McCraty explained: “Heart beats are similar to morse code, with these messages reflecting one’s emotional state.”
McCraty has worked as a psycho-physiologist for nearly 30 years. One technique he works with through the HeartMath Institute is “heart-focused breathing.”
While breathing deeply, the patient directs attention to the heart, which “shifts the physiology and facilitates changes in the body’s rhythms,” McCraty said.
Heart and brain wave patterning has been measured to observe the effects of this technique, showing greater coherence.
Near death experiences NDEs have been reported through the ages by those who were near death—or thought they were—and then return.
Though these experiences are not all the same, they have many distinctive hallmarks: seeing a tunnel of light; seeing loved ones who have passed away; feeling bliss or euphoria; having a heightened sense of cognition; feeling a sense of great love; reviewing one’s whole life, often in a very short period of time; and feeling as if the soul has left the body. NDEs also tend to transform the lives of those who experience them—leading them to try to become better people.
These rich, interesting experiences have provoked the question of whether we truly do have souls, or if our consciousness is only a product of the brain. As brain science advances, there are an increasing number of claims that NDEs can be explained by neuroscience alone, thus obviating any need for an explanation based on the soul.
But how well do these explanations from neuroscience hold up?
One very important piece of information is that about half of NDEs occur when individuals think they are going to die, but are not actually medically close to death. So for example, if someone fell off a building, and thought they were going to die, but only sustained minor injuries. This means that if we’re looking to the brain to explain all the different elements of NDEs, we need an explanation that accounts situations where the person is actually dying, and those where there is no real threat of death, in terms of one’s medical condition.
A common explanation that has been advanced by some scientists is that when the brain is deprived of oxygen, you can expect various patterns of response, particularly a sense of bright light in your center of vision. This kind of experience can indeed be induced by a lack of oxygen, but the problem is, not all NDEs involve anoxia, yet many still have the sense of a tunnel of light.
Furthermore, when the brain is out of oxygen, it starts firing rapidly in a disorganized fashion—it’s not working properly. From our knowledge of the brain, we would not expect organized experience in this state, but a jumble perhaps akin to what one might find in seizures or in mental illness—other examples of the brain not working correctly.
But what we get are vivid, organized, transformational experiences—people report that their NDEs feel “more real than real,” they feel free, that they understand the universe at a deep level, and have never been happier. This can happen both when the brain is not in immediate danger, and when it’s under severe duress because of a life-threatening situation.
Interestingly, when the brain is close to death, there is a higher incidence of cognitive enhancement—the mind feels unfettered and able to process more thoughts than usual. That we would find enhanced cognition under deprived conditions for the brain does not square with our understanding of brain function.
Another brain-based explanation is that the out-of-body experience (OBE) portion of NDEs is caused by a misfiring at the temporal-parietal junction, a region of the brain thought to be responsible for forming one’s body concept.
The evidence that this region is responsible for the feeling of people leaving their bodies and perceiving the nearby surroundings—sometimes nearby rooms and areas—is surprisingly weak. The most-often mentioned study, by Blanke and colleagues, is based on one patient, and the patient’s explanations indicated that though she felt like she was not in her body, she only saw her legs and her trunk—which she would have been able to see anyway.
The study only demonstrated that electrically stimulating this part of the brain can make people feel like they’re not in their body, but doesn’t produce any of the other perceptual qualities of an OBE, like seeing their entire body, floating around the room, and seeing the surrounding environment. In short, it failed to elicit anything qualitatively close to the out-of-body component of an NDE.
Explanations for the life review—a phenomenon where the person’s life is reviewed, sometimes in great detail, and they feel remorse for selfish acts and satisfied with their “good” actions—are also particularly lacking.
One explanation, in a Scientific American article by Charles Choi, suggests that the brain region responsible for the life review is likely the locus coeruleus, an area that is involved in stress and is connected to areas that process emotion and memory. However, why would this area evoke an entire life’s worth of memories during death—or when death is thought imminent—and not elicit any memories during other extreme stress? And how does it explain the new moral insights that often accompany this aspect of an NDE?
Another article, by Mobbs and Watt, appearing in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, attempts to explain the life review by citing a single patient who exhibited REM (a characteristic state during dreaming) during an NDE. They conclude that the life review is probably related to REM because it happened during the NDE and is also associated with consolidation of memory.
One critical flaw with this argument is that REM has only been shown to be involved with the consolidation of procedural memories—things like learning a new skill such as riding a bike—and not for episodic memories that constitute the memories of one’s lifetime, as revisited in a life review.
Another major problem with the explanation, just like with the out-of-body example, is that it relies on only one patient. Relying on one example to make a generalization in a case like this is simply bad science, because you can’t know if it’s an exceptional situation.
Mobbs and Watt also try to explain the presence of loved ones who have passed away, giving the example that people with extreme Parkinson’s disease will sometimes hallucinate headless corpses, monsters, and ghosts, as well as dead relatives. Parkinson’s involves a problem with areas of the brain that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine, and the authors suggest that these hallucinations arise from a dopamine imbalance.
The problem with this is that almost all NDE cases report positive experiences, and feelings of love and bliss—not headless corpses. While there are some cases where people apparently experience something like hell and demons, the majority of cases are not this way.
A more significant problem is that in Parkinson’s disease cases, there is an awareness that these are hallucinations, whereas those with NDEs feel that it is real. This would, at the very least, suggest a different neural pathway.
A good explanation from neuroscience needs to not only actually account for each individual phenomenon, but do so in a way that combines them and explains how they happen together.
Another explanation offered for NDEs is confabulation—that these experiences are concocted by the mind as a way of explaining a gap in consciousness. This has been offered by biologist P.Z. Myers, a noted skeptic.
Myers says that when people come back from clinical death and recount a story it doesn’t mean they were aware during the time of clinical death, it could just be the brain’s way of accounting for the lost time. In fact, he claims that this is the “the default understanding by neuroscientists of how the brain works,” in an article posted on Slate.
This explanation suffers from the same major problem as the other neuroscience explanations: about half of NDEs don’t happen in truly life-threatening situations, meaning these people didn’t go unconscious at all, and thus there’s no gap to account for.
The other problem is that confabulation sounds plausible at first, but in the scientific literature, confabulation of fantastic or extraordinary events—which an NDE would be considered—only happens in people with severe memory problems.
People who have recently had some sort of brain trauma and have trouble both learning new information and remembering old information will sometimes confabulate stories to explain things. These are occasionally quite fantastic, such as being a space pirate, but share little in common with NDE-type experiences.
The explanation suffers other weaknesses, as well. For one, this kind of confabulation goes away over time. Two, the stories often change. And three, they don’t have any qualities of ineffability, a hallmark of NDEs—that is, people try to explain what they went through, but acknowledge that words really aren’t adequate for describing the experience.
So confabulation is a kind of cheap explanation—it might sound good at first, but doesn’t fit with what’s known about confabulation, and completely fails to account for half of NDEs.
It is important to try to explain these phenomena through known mechanisms, because we don’t want to falsely believe in things, but we also have to acknowledge weaknesses or when an argument entirely fails.
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By Naveen Athrappully
Each person is endowed with a unique set of characteristics that define him or her, with fingerprints and eye scans being the most commonly used methods of biometric identification. Now scientists have come upon another way through which a person, including his ethnicity, can be classified. As every smile is precious, every mouth, it has been proven, is unique. The microbial cocktail that thrives in the mouth cavity is different for everyone.
This study, undertaken by the University of Ohio, has also concluded that each ethnicity has a different oral bacterial composition. Following the results of this study, oral treatment, which has until now been basically the same for everyone, could be more specialized in the future, thereby increasing its effectiveness.
The study of 100 people from four ethnicities—African American, Latino, Caucasian, and Chinese—found that approximately 400 unique bacterial species exist in the mouth, out of which only 2 percent were similar in everyone who participated. About 90 percent of the individuals had 8 percent shared between them. Bacteria were taken from tooth surfaces, saliva, and under the gums.
The press release by the university stated that researchers found that “each ethnic group in the study was represented by a ‘signature’ of shared microbial communities.”
“This is the first time it has been shown that ethnicity is a huge component in determining what you carry in your mouth. We know that our food and oral hygiene habits determine what bacteria can survive and thrive in our mouths, which is why your dentist stresses brushing and flossing. Can your genetic makeup play a similar role? The answer seems to be yes, it can,” says Purnima Kumar, associate professor of periodontology at The Ohio State University and senior author of the study, in the press release.
Furthermore, the researchers constructed an algorithm that predicted individual ethnicities, which was right 62 percent of the time. African Americans, however, were identified with 100 percent accuracy.
The findings shed light on why some ethnicities like African Americans and Latinos are more prone to gum disease.
“The most important point of this paper is discovering that ethnicity-specific oral microbial communities may predispose individuals to future disease,” Kumar said.
Only about 40 percent of the bacteria in the mouth has ever been identified and studied, mainly because they don’t grow well in laboratory conditions. The bacterial species were classified by sequencing their DNA.
“Nature appears to win over nurture in shaping these communities,” Kumar noted in the study.
The group had already recognized the adverse effects some substances like tobacco have on the oral cavity. Smoking disrupts the healthy microbial community, causing infections ranging from cavities to oral cancer. The study also suggests dispositions toward certain diseases among different ethnic groups.
The trillions of invisible bacteria that make our bodies their home have not yet been fully studied by scientists. These organisms affect our bodies in many significant ways, telling a lot about a person including their health, intake of fat, allergies, and reactions to certain external elements.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, was supported by the Ohio State University College of Dentistry and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
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By Henry Jom
Jon Robson gets to the root of symptoms of illness—the patient’s state of mind.
Robson began studying an integrative system of healthcare called “meta-medicine” in 2008 and founded Meta-Medicine USA in 2012. Compelled and inspired by his mother’s passing at an early age, and having a family history of chronic diseases, Robson set out to find a way to help people with chronic diseases.
He wanted to find a healthcare system that went beyond just managing symptoms and medicating patients for life.
Robson said in an interview with Epoch Times: “Disease is not a natural state the human body should be in. I believe that health and vitality are the natural states of the body.”
How a Patient Healed Heart Disease With His Mind
Robson had a client who had heart disease. After this client had a heart attack, Jon guided him with meta-medicine, and was able to help him understand the stresses in his life that manifested in his body as heart disease.
“[The client was able] to dissolve those stresses he was experiencing. He resolved his life stresses and his heart healed.”
Manifestation of Self-Loathing: Body Literally Attacks Itself
Robson also had a client who had Systemic lupus erythematosis. Systemic lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to essentially attack itself.
It’s underlying cause is not fully known. MedLine Plus explains: “It is where the immune system believes that certain tissues and organs in the body are cancerous and it then attacks itself.”
Robson helped this client by asking deeper questions: “Why is this body attacking itself? What deeper resentment do they have for themselves?”
After careful analysis, he discovered that this client devalued herself. She had put her mother on a pedestal, and felt she was herself unworthy.
Robson explained, “[The client] grew into systemic lupus. [This] systematically broke down her body because she didn’t feel worthy of love and had deeper anger toward herself.”
Jon taught the client to love and appreciate herself. He helped the client see that the positive characteristics she attributed to her mother she actually had in her own unique form and style within her own personality. This client’s disease went into remission. Her body healed.
“Their outer world changed, purely because they changed from within,” Robson said.
When asked how Meta-medicine relates to Buddhism or spiritual disciplines that teach looking within one’s mind and heart to find the root of problems, Robson said his treatment is similar in that, “[it] lets you see the specific moments which are taking you out of truth, and through that coaching process that brings you back to truth, transformation occurs.”
He said: “Your physical body is a perfect reflection of your mind.”
By Pure Insight
Reincarnation. Fact, fallacy, superstition or simply coincidence? Those stories of people with super-minds; minds that delve into the past, minds that have the power to move objects and perceive things the rest of us cannot with our ordinary senses; minds that operate independently of the body. Since ancient times, these enigmas have intrigued rational people but only back in the 1970s are scientists, the Mind Detectives, beginning to understand something of the mysteries at work inside of us.
Do we have one life only or several? Have you ever experienced that feeling of déjà vu or a sense of “been here before”? According to mind detectives, we have experienced many previous lives in the past and we’ll go on being born again, into other forms, until we reach an absolute state.
Here are three interesting cases of experts’ experience on the subject of reincarnation. Below is Part I
Case Study 1 – the Bloxham tapes
Arnall Bloxham was a Welsh hypnotherapist from back in the 1970s who, over a 20-year period, hypnotized a few hundred people and recorded what appear to be descriptions of previous lives. Do the Bloxham tapes prove reincarnation or can they be explained in some other way? Arnall Bloxham is an expert in what hypnotists call ‘past lives regression experiments.’ Under hypnosis he can take a person back to the moment of his or her birth, and even beyond that. Bloxham was the president of the British Society of Hypnotherapists then and he was using hypnosis to cure people of physical ailments, like smoking, for instance.
What happens during his experiments on hypnotic regression defies common human logic. His clients could relate, in meticulous detail, lives of people who existed hundreds of years ago.
As unbelievable as it may seem, Bloxham produced over 400 tape recordings of hypnotized subjects reliving their previous lives. In addition, many detailed records, cross-references from these tapes, have been substantiated as facts. According to Bloxham, this strong evidence strongly supports the ancient belief of reincarnation as the truth.
One of Bloxham’s high-profile cases is that of Jane Evans. Jane’s regression into her past lives began in 1971 when she saw a poster that reads: “Arnall Bloxham says rheumatism is psychological.” Jane, a 32-year-old Welsh housewife who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, found the statement incredible, so she decided to get in touch with the man responsible for this poster. Indeed she did, through a friend of her husband. And ultimately got in touch with six of her past lives as well. They were: as a tutor’s wife in Roman times; as a Jew who was massacred in the 12th century in York; as the servant of a French medieval merchant prince; as a maid of honor to Catherine of Aragon; as a poor servant in London during the reign of Queen Anne; and as a nun in 19th-century America.
The story of Jane Evans and several other examples of reincarnation were brought to light by BBC television producer, Jeffrey Iverson in his book, “More Lives Than One?” In 1975, in pursuing verification of the theory of reincarnation, Iverson asked Jane’s permission to let Bloxham hypnotize her again into regression, this time in the presence of a BBC television camera and tape recorder. Iverson then set out to uncover whether she did, in fact, have more lives than one.
Iverson researched the detail of these lives and verified that the details of Jane Evans’ recorded regressions were indeed founded on fact. At the end of the book he considers that Bloxham’s 20 years of work signify strong support for the concept of reincarnation. He also produced a BBC documentary film, called “The Bloxham Tapes” based on all these materials.
Case Number 2 - Dr. Arthur Guirdham’s Cathars
Skeptics have attributed this phenomenon to what mind detectives call “cryptomnesia,” a term that simply means remembering facts you forgot you ever knew! If such a distant memory could be culled from a person’s mind, it might logically explain Jane Evan’s supposed ‘reincarnation.’
However, for Dr. Arthur Guirdham, Britain’s other great authority on reincarnation, this explanation cannot account for the cases he had seen and heard. Dr. Guirdham relates these experiences in his books, “We Are One Another,” “The Cathars & Reincarnation” and his autobiography, “A Foot in Both Worlds.”
Dr. Guirdham, a retired national health psychiatrist in the U.K., heads a small group of people who believe that they were Cathars in their past lives, a heretical religious group which existed in the Languedoc area of south-west France in the 13th century.
The incident that led to Dr. Guirdham’s reincarnation theory began in Bath, 1962, in a hospital’s outpatient department, where Dr. Guirdham worked as a psychiatrist. His last patient on one particular day was an attractive, apparently normal young woman who had had a recurring nightmare occasionally since her teens, but was now experiencing it two or three times a week. In her dream she was lying on her back on the floor while a man approached her from behind. She did not know what was going to happen but was absolutely terrified.
Although Dr. Guirdham remained calm and detached, he had to hide his surprise while listening to his new patient for the woman was describing the same nightmare that had plagued him, too, for more than 30 years. The doctor was intrigued but said nothing to his patient. She never had the nightmare again and, as for Dr. Guirdham, his dream stopped within a week of meeting this new patient.
Their meetings continued, though. Dr. Guirdham was certain there was nothing mentally wrong with his patient and her knowledge of the past intrigued him. Later she gave him a list of names of people she said had existed in the 13th century and described things that happened to them. She also told Dr. Guirdham that he, too, had been alive then and was called Rogiet de Cruisot.
As a psychiatrist, Dr.Guirdham had picked up some basic information about the theory of reincarnation, but never had much interest in the subject. Nevertheless, intrigued by this case, he decided to investigate. He found that the names given to him by his patient were indeed accurate, though only mentioned in fairly obscure history records of the Middle Ages. Those records had been written in French though, and had never been translated into English. The people Dr. Guirdham’s patient described were all members of the Cathar sect, a group that had flourished in southern France and northern Italy in the Middle Ages. Among other things, the Cathars believed in reincarnation. Over time, Dr Guirdham met more and more individuals, 11 in total, who had memories of their past lives living together in a Cathar group.
None of the subjects were drugged or hypnotized; past names and incidents simply appeared in their minds, said Dr Guirdham. Dr Guirdham also produced one of the most remarkable pieces of evidence he had. It was the sketchpad of a seven-year-old girl, containing drawings of a bygone era. The sketchpad also includes many members’ names of the Cathar sect. Amazed, Dr Guirdham said, “It’s beyond me how a 7-year-old child could know these names when I shouldn’t think there was an expert in medieval history in England at the time who knew them.”
The sheer amount of memories, names and contacts convinced the doctor that he and his group had all lived together, not just once, but several lifetimes before. He said, “With 40 years of experience in medicine, it is either that I know the difference between a clairvoyant’s experience and a schizophrenic one or I am psychotic myself. None of the people in my group is mad in any way – and none of my colleagues have found me psychotic.”
Case Number 3 - Dr. Ian Stevenson, University of Virginia
If the world’s top experts on reincarnation were to be named, Dr. Ian Stevenson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia would be on that list. He has traveled all over the world to investigate various reports of reincarnation and has devised a rigorous test to rule out fraud, cryptomnesia, etc. Out of 200, only 20 cases survived this tough test by Dr. Stevenson to be suggestive of possible cases of reincarnation. Seven of these cases occurred in India, three in Sri Lanka, two in Brazil, one in the Lebanon and seven among a tribe of Indians in Alaska.
Take the case of a very young girl, born in 1956 in central Sri Lanka with a tongue-twisting name of Gnantilleka Baddewithana. Soon after she had started learning to talk, she began mentioning another mother and father in another place, where she said she also had two brothers and many sisters.
From the details the little girl gave, her parents were able to fit her descriptions to a particular family in a town some distance away. They found that this family had lost a son in 1954. When Gnantilleka was taken to visit this family, she said that she was their dead son and correctly identified seven members of “his” family. But until then the families had never met each other or even visited each other’s town.
Skeptics may dismiss the theory of reincarnation as fallacy, while non-believers in reincarnation may brush it off as baseless superstition.
Regardless of whether you believe it or not, since time immemorial, Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Taoism have been advocating the theory of reincarnation in their beliefs. They believe in the theory of causation, in other words, the connection between cause and effect. They believe a person’s conduct in this present life matters and all the good deeds and misdemeanors committed by one will be accounted for. But, well, who is the bookkeeper?
Theory has it that the natural forces of the Cosmic Law, or you may call it Nature’s Law, will take precedence over this. A person’s deeds, good or bad will manifest their effects in one’s present life or the next, as good fortune or destiny versus bad destiny or retribution, and so on, according to the case itself.
The atheists would probably consider this theory as an example of “fatalistic syndrome.” The atheists believe life is what one makes out of it; one’s destiny is in one’s own hands.
On the contrary, Taoists believe a person reaps what he/she has sown. Perhaps, this explains one of the theories of Taoism about the eight types of people’s reincarnated destinies; such as, wealth vs. poverty, honor vs. ignobility (lowliness), longevity vs. short-life, and the like.
Perhaps this is also the reason why Buddhism has promoted the theory of the “six paths of samsara (reincarnation)” beginning some 2,500 years ago until today.
And perhaps this could be the reason for the often heard advice of our forefathers and parents to follow the maxim of, “Doing good deeds will be rewarded with virtues and doing bad or evil deeds will beget retribution”.
Read more: Reincarnation: Fact or Fallacy?
More in Beyond Science
By Tara MacIsaac and Henry Jom
In the Eastern spiritual discipline of Daoism, the human body has long been viewed as a small universe, as a microcosm. As billion-dollar investments are made in the United States and Europe to research brain functioning, the correlations between the brain and the universe continue to emerge.
The two pictures below illustrate the similarities. The top picture shows the neural network of a brain cell; the bottom picture shows the distribution of dark matter in the universe as simulated by Millennium Simulation.
By China Gaze
In China, food was traditionally considered to have medicinal qualities. Here are 20 foods that help the body detoxify. When preparation calls for juice, you can use a juicer if you have one or blend the ingredients with a little water in a good blender.
With their digestible fiber, sweet potatoes can facilitate bowel movement. The best way to eat them is baked and unpeeled.
Green beans can eliminate toxins, induce diuresis, and quench thirst. Green-bean soup can also help reduce swelling. Do not cook beans too long; otherwise, nutrients will be destroyed and the effects will be diminished.
Oats can relax the bowels, stimulate bowel movement, and detoxify the body. It is good to steam oats and then blend to make a thin drink. You can also add other ingredients to the mixture, such as an apple or raisins, which are also nutritious and promote elimination.
Barley is great for detoxification and as beauty aid. It can improve blood circulation, induce diuresis, and reduce swelling caused by edema. You can boil barley and eat it cooked. For a natural way to whiten your skin, boil barley, add a bit of sugar, and apply it externally.
A well-known ingredient in Chinese cooking, lotus root can purify the blood and act as a diuretic. Lotus root can be served hot or cold. You can juice it and add a bit of honey or you can heat it on low heat and then add a bit of sweetener and drink it while it is still warm.
Since it doesn’t contain gluten, millet doesn’t irritate the intestinal tract. It is mild and easy to digest, which makes it suitable to eat with other detoxifying foods. Millet gruel is very good for detoxification and inducing diuresis.
Whole, unmilled rice is rich in fiber. It can absorb water and fat and give you a feeling of fullness. It can also stabilize the digestive system. A good way to keep yourself detoxified is to have a bowl of brown-rice porridge every morning.
These beans can stimulate bowel movement, help with constipation, and induce diuresis. You can put red beans to stew in an electric cooker or crockpot before going to bed and then drink the liquid the next morning to promote detoxification.
Carrots help treat constipation and are also rich in beta carotene, which can neutralize toxins. Fresh carrots are better at clearing away toxins, soothing the intestines, and relaxing the bowels. You can juice them and add honey and lemon juice, which is thirst-quenching and good for detoxification.
These yams can rectify the digestive system, reduce subcutaneous fat, and help your immune system. They work best when served raw. You can cut a peeled Chinese yam into small pieces and combine with pineapple and water in a blender or juice them. This is good for promoting digestion and regulating the intestines.
Native to Europe and Northern Asia, the burdock plant has small purple flowers and large, fuzzy leaves that are whitish underneath. Burdock can improve blood circulation and metabolism and regulate bowel function.
The fiber can soften excrement, which is good for detoxification and treating constipation. You can make burdock tea and drink it any time. Burdock is safe to use over a long period of time.
Asparagus contains various nutrients, including asparagine and potassium, which can induce diuresis to discharge excess water in the body. The tips of asparagus are rich in vitamin A. It’s good to leave the tips a bit on top of the water when cooking to maximally preserve nutrients.
Onions can stimulate bowel movement and promote digestion. They are rich in sulfur which, when combined with protein, is especially good for the liver, resulting in good detoxification.
Make a pot of onion-based vegetable soup and add some high-fiber vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and celery. The soup can break down accumulated toxins and help with elimination.
Radishes are very good for inducing diuresis. The fiber they contain can also relax the bowels and help with weight loss. They are good for detoxification when served raw. You can also juice or pickle them.
Chrysanthemum is rich in vitamin A, which protects the liver and helps to discharge toxins from the body. You can make a tea by boiling chrysanthemum flowers and adding a little sweetener. It is also good in a juice made with tomato, carrot, grapefruit, apple, and mixed nuts.
Sweet Potato Leaves
Sweet potato leaves give a feeling of fullness. They can also stimulate bowel movement and prevent constipation. Wash fresh sweet potato leaves and cook them in boiling water. When fully cooked, stir with chopped garlic and add a bit of salt and oil.
These leaves contain vitamins and fiber that can stimulate the appetite and help with constipation. Clean and drip-dry the radish leaves. Then juice them and add a bit of honey. Regular intake is good for detoxification and health maintenance.
Sichuan aescin is an extract from horse chestnuts that can reduce blood sugar and treat habitual constipation. You can mix Sichuan aescin with tomato, alfalfa sprouts, yellow pepper, kiwi, mixed nuts, and a bit of passion fruit juice or apple cider vinegar. Blend and enjoy as a drink.
Yogurt has lactic acid, which may help with constipation and stabilize the stomach. It can also help discharge toxins accumulated in the intestinal tract. Yogurt can also give you a feeling of fullness. It is good to eat yogurt before breakfast when the stomach is empty.
Vinegar is good for metabolism and discharges acidic materials from the body. It can also induce diuresis and relax the bowels. Drink some diluted vinegar after breakfast and dinner every day.
China Gaze is the English edition of the popular Chinese website and newspaper Kanzhongguo, which offers a window into the philosophy, culture, and beauty of China’s 5,000-year-old civilization. www.chinagaze.com
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