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Why pressing your belly button could fire you up

14th October 2005

I don't know if this is a sign of things to come...

But I've been staring blankly at the screen for the past hour trying to get today's letter started.

Lara's even hoovered round me like I'm a piece of old furniture.

'Maybe you should just take me to the junk shop down the road,' I said, 'You might get a fiver for me.'

'Yes,' she agreed, 'but that's only because you have 4.50 in your pocket.'

Anyway, to kickstart my brain, I've just followed these three brain exercises I found on the Internet to help 'switch on':

Why pressing your belly button could fire you up

Stretch one of your hands so that there is as wide a space as possible between the thumb and index finger.

Place your index and thumb into the indentations below the collarbone.

At the same time place your other hand over your belly button. Gently press on these points for about 2 minutes.

That should get the blood flow moving and your concentration up.

So, with fresh spring in my fingers, let's take a look at one of the most upsetting illnesses around, and let's see what we can do about it.

Because one thing's for sure...

If we just leave it to the authorities to sort out, we could be waiting a very long time indeed...

Queuing round the block for the 'memory clinic'

Last week I stood on my soap box and ranted about the state of cancer treatment in the UK.

Well I'm back there again, this time bemoaning the state of Alzheimer's treatments.

Here's the terrible situation we're facing...

According to the Alzheimer's Society, dementia currently affects over 750,000 people in the UK.

Approximately 18,000 people with dementia are under the age of 65.

After that age, the problem starts to accelerate.

Dementia affects one person in 20 over the age of 65 and one person in five over the age of 80.

But here's the real knockout fact...

Patients newly diagnosed with Alzheimer's have to wait up to five months for an appointment at something called a 'memory clinic'.

Then, and only then, can you obtain a prescription for Alzheimer's drugs, once your condition has been confirmed.

Now, five months seems an awfully long time to wait for ANYTHING.

But for families who have to see a parent, partner or grandparent get progressively worse, five months must seem like an eternity.

So I've done a bit of research of my own, and have hit upon a substance that might provide a powerful treatment against this terrible illness...

The 'potency wood' that could help stave off Alzheimer's

Muira puama, also called 'potency wood', is a small tree up that grows in the Brazilian Amazon.

For centuries, local tribes have used the bark and roots to treat sexual debility, fatigue, neuromuscular problems, and rheumatism.

And without knowing it, these tribes could have stumbled across a powerful remedy in the fight against Alzheimer's.

You see, muira puama is rich in free long-chain fatty acids, essential oils, plant sterols, coumarin, lupeol, and a new alkaloid named 'muirapuamine'.

Because it contains so many substances, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what is doing what, but something in muira puama seems to block an enzyme known as acetylcholinesterase (why aren't these names ever short?)

By blocking this enzyme, more acetylcholine is available in the central nervous system...and this could well help prevent Alzheimer's.

Muira puama also has antioxidant properties that protect the brain from damage - so this humble little tree seems to be an all round good guy when it comes to our mental health.

It sounds like this substance warrants further investigation. Most websites that mention this substance concentrate on the sexual remedy side of its abilities.

So, as always, chat to your doctor before steaming in and accidentally becoming the local lothario!

More blunders from the authorities

Last week doctors were told to stop giving antidepressants to children and people under 18, because of the risks that the pills will make them feel suicidal.


Surely it was obvious that putting a kid on pills for depression is only going to cause further problems in the long run?

That's the trouble with our quick-fix society. Get them in, dose them up, get them out.

Not that I'm blaming doctors... they do a marvellous job under immense pressure. But it seems masking the symptoms rather than rooting out the cause and PREVENTING the condition is what we are offered.

But not in this letter!

Here are some all-natural, totally SAFE ways to help beat mild depression:

- St John's Wort has been shown to be a highly effective in the treatment of depression and other mood disorders.

- Passiflora can help reduce irritability, restlessness and anxiety. It acts as a natural tranquilizer, without magnifying the symptoms of depression, which can happen with some herbs like Valerian.

- Skullcap is an odd little substance that keeps the nervous system is good shape. It's claimed to be effective against serious mental exhaustion, depression, tension and stress. And if you're finding it hard to sleep, this could also help improve sleep patterns.

(N.B. - it's extremely important you get the right dose for your kids even when we're talking about natural substances. So ALWAYS check with your doctor before starting your children on any herbal remedy).

- Get your kids eating a diet of 75% raw fruits and vegetables, including whole grains, seeds, nuts, brown rice, legumes and millet. Ignore the moans round the dinner table, and reward them with the occasional treat of chocolate or ice cream.

- Make sure you use cold pressed flax-seed oil (never heated) in your diet. This oil contains essential fatty acids that help the transmission of nerve impulses needed for normal brain function.

- Avoid 'depressants' such as sugar, fried foods, meat, caffeine and processed foods. Now, I say 'avoid' and that's exactly what I mean. Don't make them cut these things out altogether. After all, a trip to Macdonalds can be a social thing as much as anything else, so banning them from going would do no good at all. Just get them to see the sense of not gorging on these foods - and make the alternatives more tempting.
- Keep their minds active and find interests that get the body moving and the heart pumping. Try and lure your kids away from the Playstation (so you can have a go!) by buying them a cool bike or skateboard. Don't wait for Christmas or birthdays to do this - if you can stretch to it do it at a totally unexpected moment...that will lift moods immediately.

That's all for today. Have a truly wonderful weekend, treat yourself to something special, and I'll be back again very soon.

Yours as ever,

Ray Collins
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