Friday Roundup – Beer and Your Brain, Little Miss Sunshine Act, Multitasking Gray Matter, and Much More!


Attention lovely readers! We at Healthshire will be providing you with a weekly Friday roundup of the latest in mental health news. Let us do all the work and be your one-stop-shop for all things current!

Friday Roundup – The Latest in Mental Health News

(and other stuff)

Is Beer Good For Your Brain?

CNN Health reports on several recently published medical studies that may offer new perspective on health. Here is what they found:

Beer May Be Good For You

According to research published in Behavioral Brain Research, xanthohumol, a flavonoid used in beer, may help cognitive processes. Researchers believe xanthohumol, and similar flavonoids found in red wine and dark chocolate, may aide in memory formation.

E-Cigs May Not Help You Quit Smoking

The journal Cancer recently published a study finding that smokers who use e-cigarettes were more dependent on nicotine than regular smokers and tried to quit smoking more times than regular smokers.

Dry Roasted Peanuts May Be Worse For Allergies

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology recently published a study  finding that dry roasted peanuts incited a stronger allergic reaction than raw peanuts.

You Drink More When You Exercise More

In the American Psychological Association’s journal, Health Psychologyresearchers find an association between the days people exercise and drink. The study finds people exercise more on Thursdays and Sundays and also consume more alcohol on the same days.

Men: How You Can Avoid A Heart Attack

A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology finds that five behaviors can help prevent cardiac arrest in males: eating better, exercising more, staying fit, avoiding smoking, and drinking moderately.

Sunshine Act Data Now Accessible

We (the public) now have access to the first round of data released by various industries regarding payments from pharmaceutical and medical-device companies and salaries for physicians and teaching hospitals. The database, managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), was established in conjunction with the Physician Payment Sunshine Act (PPSA) as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The database, known as Open Payments, includes information regarding salaries, research grants, consulting fees, travel expenses, and other gifts given to particular hospitals and physicians. Overall, Open Payments provides data on millions of payments totaling nearly $3.5 billion paid to over 540,000 physicians and almost 1,400 hospitals. Reports will be published yearly beginning in June 2015.

Equine Therapy Effective for Violence

A new study, recently published in Psychiatric Services in Advance, highlights the effects of animal-assisted therapy, particularly with horses, on violent behavior. Researchers from the New Jew Jersey’s Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, which holds 500 beds, tested the effects of animal-assisted therapy on 90 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. Study participants were randomly selected to different groups: therapy with dogs, therapy with horses, enhanced social skills training, or usual hospital care.

Researchers used a few horses they found appropriate for direct client contact. Participants did not ride the horses, but walked them around the course as they were guided by a therapist. Based on pre- and post-incident reports, the study found that violent and aggressive acts decreased in those who were working with horses as compared to other groups.

According to the study authors:

“Unique effects from therapy horses may come from interacting with physically imposing animals that appear quite capable of causing harm but do not. Equine interactions may model nonviolent behavioral strategies, resulting in patients’ greater tolerance of provocative interpersonal stimuli.”

Multitaskers Have Different Brain Structures

The Boston Globe reports on a study conducted at the University of Sussex in England that finds a significantly different brain structure in individuals who use multiple media devices as compared to those who only use one device at a time.  Researchers looked at gray matter of 75 adults by analyzing fMRI brain scans.

Participants who reported using more than one device at a time had less dense gray matter than those who only use one device occasionally. Researchers found multitaskers had less gray matter in the brain region in charge of executive function, which may impair memory and ability to control emotions.

Curry May Repair Your Brain

BBC News reports on a study that finds the spice aromatic-turmerone – a compound found naturally in turmeric, and commonly in curries – may enhance the brain’s ability to heal. The study, conducted at the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Julich, Germany and recently published in Stem Cell Research and Therapyanalyzed the brain scans of rats after they were injected with the compound.

Researchers found that certain regions of the brain associated with nerve cell growth were more active after the infusion of aromatic-turmerone, concluding that the compound may boost a proliferation of brain cells.

Scientists also immersed the neural stem cells (NSCs) of the rats in varying concentrations of the compound extract. NSCs are able to transform into any kind of brain cell, which may play a role in repair. They found increased growth of the NSCS with higher concentrations of aromatic-turmerone. The NSCS also seemed to transform into particular cell types more rapidly.

The authors conclude these findings may be beneficial for future research on drugs for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and strokes.

Telling Our Stories

It’s important to share your journey with others. In an effort to bring mental illness out of the shadows and reduce stigma, we are especially interested in hearing about you and your stories related to mental health. Be sure to visit Healthshire’s “Telling Our Stories” section. Spend some time reading the stories or submit your own!

This week’s roundup is dedicated to breast cancer awareness month!


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