Read the full article here.
In this article, professor Allen Frances presents a criticism from Tamara Kayali who discusses how including Female Sexual Arousal and Female Orgasm Disorders (FSDs) in the DSM-5 could be very problematic thanks to the overzealous pharmacology industry. It's no secret that sexual dysfunction is a hot button topic and most of the pharmacology industry is focused on developing the magical pill to fix all your (real and imaginary) woes. Kayali's biggest concern is that of potential "Pharma disease mongering" - the increase in marketing for these magic treatments will increase the number of women seeking treatment for FSD not because they have it, but because they are striving to reach unreasonable societal expectations set by the pharmacology industry. Hopefully when these women seek treatment they consult a sexuality counselor who can work through their experiences and offer a more holistic approach than doctors who have been swayed by the drug companies' marketing ploys.
Read the full article here.
Healthcare is a hot-button topic in homes across America as politicians, insurance companies, and healthcare professionals scramble to increase profits, save lives, gain votes and support. Escape Fire: The fight to rescue American healthcare is an award winning documentary by Dr. Weil exposing the conflicts and impending changes in American healthcare.
From the official website:
ESCAPE FIRE examines the powerful forces maintaining the status quo, a medical industry designed for quick fixes rather than prevention, for profit-driven care rather than patient-driven care. After decades of resistance, a movement to bring innovative high-touch, low-cost methods of prevention and healing into our high-tech, costly system is finally gaining ground. Award-winning filmmakers Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke follow dramatic human stories as well as leaders fighting to transform healthcare at the highest levels of medicine, industry, government, and even the US military. ESCAPE FIRE is about finding a way out. It's about saving the health of a nation.
The trailer is really powerful
I highly recommend watching through the whole movie. It originally aired on CNN March 16th, but it's available for download through iTunes, Amazon, and a number of other digital media services. If you've had the pleasure of watching it already I would love to hear your thoughts on the documentary and the issues raised. Comment here or tweet me https://twitter.com/sextalksherri" target="_blank">@SexTalkSherri
From the HeartMath Institute:
The human heart emits the strongest electromagnetic field in our body. This electromagnetic field envelops the entire body extending out in all directions, and it can be measured up to several feet outside of the body. Research from the Institute of HeartMath shows that this emotional information is encoded in this energetic field. HeartMath researchers have also seen that as we consciously focus on feeling a positive emotion - such as care, appreciation, compassion or love - it has a beneficial effect on our own health and well-being, and can have a positive affect on those around us.
YouTube video: Science of the Heart
At the Institute of HeartMath Research Center, research has been conducted on the physiology of the heart and what role emotions, perceptions, health, and information processing has on our lives. During embryonic development, the heart develops before the brain. In fact, there are about 40,000 neurons within the hearts own neurological system. This system communicates to the brain. There are three types of hormones produced in the heart making the heart a biochemical gland. The heart secrets just as much of the hormone (and others) Oxytocin, a hormone secreted during orgasm, as the brain does. This biophysical organ is 60 times higher in force than the brain. Generates an electromagnetic field 5,000 times stronger than the brain, and emits about an 8 foot field.
Youtube Video: Mysteries of the Heart
When we are in states of frustration (or negative emotional states), chaotic heart patterns result. This in turn causes the fight-flight-freeze stress response, increasing cortisol (stress hormone), inflammation, increased blood pressure, reduced libido, shallow respiration, and decreased immune function.
When we are in states of appreciation (or positive emotional states), fluid and harmonious patterns result. This in turn produces coherence of signals to the Pre-Frontal Cortex (executive center of brain), reduced blood pressure, access to sexual arousal, consistency of breath, and enhancing immune function.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.-Declaration of Independence
We all want to be happy. We each have our own strategies in our pursuit of happiness. Sometimes we have a sense of success in that pursuit and at other times, happiness eludes us.
But what is happiness? What qualities constitute this quality of being and how have our strategies and pursuits cultivated happiness or how have they escaped our grasps. Looking at the research certainly points in a direction that we can train our minds to be happy and there’s benefit to our health---body, mind, and spirit.
In his book, Flourish, Researcher Martin Seligman (father of Positive Psychology) details the well-established studies that conclude the Optimist (happy people) have less heart disease, lower cancer rates, less inflammation, and fewer colds and flus.
In his early research on happiness, he posited that positive emotions, engagement, and pursuit of positive relationships were the cornerstones to authentic happiness. In his new book, Flourish, he established that meaning and achievement are also necessary elements that contribute to well-being.
In the burgeoning field of neuroplasticity, when we cultivate positive emotions through volition, we create wiring in our brains that produce a neurochemistry that makes us feel good. It’s as simple as imagining what makes you feel good and holding that state of mind for 20-30 seconds. In that time, neurons are firing and wiring together. Create this for yourself daily and often throughout your day.
Engagement is the commonly used phrase of “being in the zone”. What endeavors create this experience for you? Take time to become aware of the activities, work, enjoyments you do that put you in the zone. Again, having a daily practice of engagement is cultivating happiness.
We all want positive relationships. We know what it feels like to be around people that uplift our spirits and inversely, those that bring us down. In my upcoming blog series, I will be discussing the science of this connection. It is crucial to our health and well-being that we surround ourselves with the positive relationships and limit any negative ones.
Optimism, well-being, and happiness are a state of mind that needs to be cultivated. We practice every moment of our lives which state of mind our nervous system lends itself to. Is your life showing evidence of happiness? If not, then begin practicing and cultivating that state of mind. As you do, your neurobiology changes and it becomes easier and easier to access that state and live a happier life. It’s up to you……Choose Happiness!
This fascinating article published back in October highlights Richard Davidson's research on neuroplasticity and tells the story of french Buddhist Monk, Matthieu Ricard. He moved to India in his 20s to study under leading Buddhist teacher, H. H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and now at 66 is a close confidant of the Dalai Lama, genetic scientist, and author of The Art Of Meditation. This article includes fascinating images from Ricard's brain scans, helpful tips from The Art of Meditation, and a trailer from a documentary about Ricard's life. Definitely an interesting read if you're as fascinated by the human brain as I am.
Is this the world's happiest man? Brain scans reveal French monk has 'abnormally large capacity' for joy - thanks to meditation
Check out his TED talk, too - The Habits of Happiness
We've been talking about neuroplasticity and how to improve the way your brain functions. Today I'd like to share some resources with you that will put all this science into work to strengthen your brain.
From my years of various meditation practices, I seem to return to a very simple single pointed, focused method that remains focused on my breath. This type of focused meditation is what has been a hot topic of discussion and research in neuroplasticity.
Donald Hebb, a Canadian psychologist, stated that neurons that fire together, wire together and what’s important to understand in this statement is what is firing and do you want that to be wired the way it is? Meaning, our habituated patterns of behavior are a result of this concept. If we self-reflect on our patterns of behavior, it becomes evident that there are a few or more that we’d like to change. The good news is is there’s a method. This method has proven efficacy as verified in neuroscience.
The brain puts out the call, the mind decides whether to listen, says Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, MD, from UCLA School of Medicine. What he is essentially stating is that our mind (remember from previous blog that mind is the flow of information and energy) makes a decision (often out of our awareness) to listen or not to listen to the brain. Our knee jerk reactions (habits) are those embedded neural events that keep as locked into actions and behaviors not serving us any longer. Essentially our precious cats and dogs are under this same brain systems acting in this same way.
So to actually activate and cultivate the higher brain center (Neo-cortex- which makes us human) activity and begin to get neurons firing and wiring here, especially the Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC), it takes volition (will). Such volition or effort is what is referred to as attention. This attention operates under intention. When we set an intention and place attention on a single object, this is the cultivation of self-directed neuroplasticity. This is the path to liberating ourselves from entrenched patterns that have caused our suffering in our lives.
Breaking free from habituated ways of being take time and as stated, EFFORT. Our ability to maintain emotional stability of our minds is the cultivation of well-being. Through well-being our physical and sexual health will benefit.
Here’s a simple focused practice that I recommend to patients to do daily. Start with 5 minutes every day and build to 20-30 minutes. Over time you will begin noticing how all the triggers that sent you in fight-flight-freeze, are calming. It’s up to you now to take this simple advise on how you want your brain to be working for you. Or you can certainly decided to keep letting it act on it’s own accord. Or we are certainly in fond company with our fury friends.
This great dialogue between IONS Director of Research Cassandra Vieten and neuropsychologist and meditation teacher Rick Hanson highlights how meditation and other purposeful thinking can truly affect your life, love, and well-being through neuroplasticity. I highly recommend this great read.
Sherri Aikin is a Fellow of Integrative Medicine, Nurse Practitioner, Sex Counselor, Mindfulness Facilitator, and Life Coach.