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Deformed Salamanders: Not a Halloween Trick October 31, 2008

Filed under: Environmental Wellness — aprasek @ 4:37 pm


A Purdue University study revealed some not so good news for Tiger salamanders. The poor little creatures are losing limbs and digits (and others are gaining extras). For a long time, we blamed the deformities on the inbreeding and genetics of the creatures, but now, research is questioning whether the deformities are evidence of our planet’s declining health.

Purdue Assistant Professor of Forestry and Natural Resources Rod Williams, made a pretty impactful statement in the release:

“Amphibians are a good bio-indicator species – real canaries in the coal mine.”

Looks like we need to start cleaning up this place…


Have a beautiful weekend and a safe Halloween,



Doctors Prescribe “Placebos” October 30, 2008

Filed under: Medical Ethics?,Pharma — aprasek @ 10:32 pm

I recently came across an interesting article in the NY Times about the use of placebos in medicine. The article stated, “Half of all American doctors responding to a nationwide survey say they regularly prescribe placebos to patients.”  

Hmmmm… it continues:

The most common placebos the American doctors reported using were headache pills and vitamins, but a significant number also reported prescribing antibiotics and sedatives. Although these drugs, contrary to the usual definition of placebos, are not inert, doctors reported using them for their effect on patients’ psyches, not their bodies.

There are a lot of ethical issues that arise out of all this (e.g., honest communication with patients, “Obecalp” for kids). But even before those controversies are discussed, is it true that we have become so pharmaceutically dependent that now “headache” pills, vitamins, antibiotics and sedatives are considered “placebos”?

Read the article and share your thoughts



Are You Psychic? October 29, 2008

Filed under: Complementary Therapies,My favorite things! — aprasek @ 12:05 am

If you’ve never perused the website for the Institute of Noetic Sciences then now is the time. I look it up every now and again to see what kinds of funky, out-of-the-box topics they’re discussing. I absolutely love the way the Institute describes their work:

          “[The Institute] conducts and sponsors leading-edge research into the potentials and powers of consciousness-including perceptions, beliefs, attention, intention, and intuition. The Institute explores phenomena that do not necessarily fit conventional scientific models, while maintaining a commitment to scientific rigor…. The Institute is not a spiritual association, political-action group, or a single-cause institute. Rather, we honor open-minded approaches and multiple ways of knowing, bring discernment to our work, and support diversity of perspectives on social and scientific matters.”  

What a fabulous mission-I wish all institutes, universities and every other academic/research model would follow suit.

While I was digging around on their website yesterday, I came across the “PSI Games”. Essentially, the games invite you to test your intuitive/psychic abilities. The games are also a research tool for the institute (however, if you rather, you can play the games without participating in the research). I suggest giving the “Garden of Dreams” game a try-I didn’t do so hot… perhaps I’m not as psychic as I thought… Anyway, the research being collected is pretty interesting and the games are fun. The best part is that the games invite you to wander outside of the usual concrete boundaries we often keep our minds in- what a wonderful relief 🙂





More from Michael… October 28, 2008

Filed under: Nutritional Wellness — aprasek @ 11:15 am


Michael Pollan was recently on the Leonard Lopate show to talk more about food policy issues. It’s absolutely fascinating to hear how complex these issues are and how important it is that we start paying attention to “the future of food”. Click here to listen to Pollan and comment back on what you think…

If you missed them, check out my earlier posts based on Pollan’s article, “Farmer in Chief”.

      Chief of Steak

      Food Inc. & The Meatrix


Breathe in, Peace out…



Candidate Comparison on Health Care Issues October 27, 2008

Filed under: Take Action! — aprasek @ 12:05 am

After the last presidential debate, I was surprised how little I actually knew about the candidate positions on the key healthcare issues. I didn’t want to just trust that my chosen candidate was right on these important issues. While digging for more information, I came across these sites:


The Kaiser Family Foundation has a helpful tool on their website that provides the basics of what McCain and Obama are proposing (regarding healthcare). You can even compare Obama and McCain’s proposals side-by-side to get a better idea of where they stand. References are listed at the bottom of the comparison page; use them as a starting block if you want to continue researching these issues.


          Also, Joseph Paduda, of the blog Managed Care Matters, wrote an entertaining article on what the health experts have to say about Obama and McCain’s proposals on healthcare.





The Banana Diet is Driving Me Bananas. October 24, 2008

Filed under: Nutritional Wellness — aprasek @ 4:53 pm

Apparently, bananas are flying off the shelves in Japan. The banana diet craze has hit Japan so hard that by early afternoon it’s nearly impossible to buy a banana in any of the grocery stores. Here’s the magic formula for the diet:


Breakfast:  Eat as many bananas as you want with one glass of warm water

Lunch:  Anything you want in “appropriate” portion

Snack:  A small serving of anything you want

Dinner:  Again, eat whatever you like but it must be before 8:00 P.M.

*You cannot eat anything after 8:00 P.M. and must go to sleep by midnight.


Goodness, this diet is B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Bananas do not have a magical weight loss enzyme or a miracle fat-blasting vitamin hiding within them. They are healthy and can support the body in many ways, but cannot offer the silver bullet for weight loss. Of course, the Dole company is racing to find support for the diet. On their website, under the tab “Dole Nutrition Institute” you can find a bunch of “support” for the new diet. Is anyone else picturing 6 foot bananas and pineapples in white lab coats conducting research? But really, the nutritional claims and studies cited do not add up to enough evidence to support this crazy diet- nice try Dole.


Thankfully, there are a few admirable characteristics for the diet;

  • Eating breakfast is a metabolism boosting and energy surging habit to have. Tons of research has found that those who eat breakfast will consume fewer calories throughout the day.
  • Warm water is absorbed by the body more efficiently. If you are dehydrated, your body will send you signals to rehydrate- often, we eat instead of drink water to satisfy these signals.
  • Reducing food intake after 8:00 P.M. can be helpful for a variety of reasons. Unless you’re working nights, you don’t need the extra calories to fuel activities in the late hours. Additionally, if you’re eating close to bedtime, the digestion process must occur during the night which can interrupt sleep. Studies have shown that those who have consistent sleeping patterns (with enough hours of sleep to restore the body) show lower body weights. 

The rumor is that the banana diet is actually a list of “rules” made up by a pharmacist in Osaka, Japan who wanted to help her husband lose weight.  There is no “banana diet study” that can confirm the success of this diet. If you are looking to lose weight, take a few of the tips and create an eating style that works for you (i.e. eat breakfast, drink water, have healthy snacks between meals, give your body at least 2 hours to digest a meal before bedtime and get a good nights rest.)


Have a fabulous weekend 🙂



Swami Baby October 23, 2008

Filed under: My favorite things! — aprasek @ 10:27 am

Imagine this saying wriggling around on a little onesie– how cute! For those attending a baby shower soon– here’s a great gift idea (if you live in MN, pair it with a Sweet Cheeks gift certificate and you’ll make mama and baby very, very happy).


Katie Holley, designer and owner of Swami Baby offers these wonderful onesies and the most adorable little yoga pants and t-shirts on her online boutique (the organic elements t-shirts are especially cute). She also designs a fabulous adult line– check out the yoga pants and her “Think Green” and “Elements” t-shirts. I just bought the long-sleeved OM hoodie (which I’m obsessed with and have worn way too much) and hubby got the OM long-sleeved shirt.  

Remembering to breathe,