Frequencies – How Sound & Vibrations Can Elevate Your Life

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When’s the last time you listened to music, or a podcast, or white noise, or binaural beats, or any other form of audio?

Probably not that long ago. Now answer this: when’s the last time you gave any thought whatsoever to the wavelength frequency of the sound being blasted into your ears? Most likely, never.

At the gym, at the end of a shift, on a romantic night in with the lights turned down and a delicious meal on the table, humans have this strange habit of turning on certain sounds from various sources that vibrate the air around and randomly hit your eardrums which stimulates specific neural activity in such a way as to effect a change in mood, focus or emotion.

Weird.

What’s even weirder is that this isn’t typically thought of as being bizarre. Music innervates daily life, and just as emotional health is critical to your humanity, music, sound, and vibration are tied up in your overall wellbeing. But sound doesn’t even need to be structured to elicit an emotional and physiological response. Think back to the last time you were sitting quietly minding your own business, focusing on some project, and out of nowhere the air is split by the sound of a glass or plate clattering on the ground. You snap to attention, briefly entering fight-or-flight fear mode.

This is due to something even weirder. The gut reaction to jump and become afraid at loud noises is deeply woven into human genetics. Loud noises elicit a fear response, including increased blood pressure and pulse rate, in order to keep you alive. And that type of fight-or-flight, sympathetic nervous system reaction initiates the release of the chemical norepinephrine, which shuts down immune functions like viral defense and ramps up the production of specialized white blood cells called monocytes. These monocytes, while extremely effective in inhibiting infection, are by nature pro-inflammatory. So if you’re constantly exposed to loud noises or sounds that cause a similar reaction to a nonstick pan colliding with tile, or louder, you may be allowing minor inflammation, the bane of longevity and physical health, to rise and rule largely unchecked. However, if you expose yourself to sounds that are more wholesome, you can reduce the damaging effects of other sounds, and even heal yourself of a myriad of diseases and decrease the prevalence of harmful mental states and degenerative physiological conditions.

That’s the (simply stated) basis of sound healing. Sound healing is the practice of using audio tones and vibrational frequencies to repair damaged tissues and cells within the body. It works on the idea that all matter is vibrating at specific frequencies, and sickness, disease, depression, and stress cause human beings to vibrate at a lower frequency. Playing tones that promote healing, happiness, and vitality will allow DNA strands to repair themselves.

Sound has been used as a healing tool for centuries and is still regularly utilized by many alternative health care centers and cultures with rich ancestral traditions. Tibetan singing bowls, tuning forks, drumming therapy, and even chanting are all used in sound therapy, and many participants experience strong emotions during therapy sessions. Advocates of sound healing claim that it has the power to heal mental illness, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and can even shrink cancerous tumors.

This may sound a bit woo-woo, but this type of medicine isn’t as superstitious as you might be led to believe. Sound healing is a form of energy medicine, which refers to two kinds of energy fields: veritable energy fields (measurable), and putative energy fields (can’t be measured with current technology). Veritable energy fields include things like vibrational energy from sound, and electromagnetic forces such as visible light, magnetism, and monochromatic radiation such as lasers.

There are oodles of well-established uses for measurable energy fields in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), laser eye correction surgery, cardiac pacemakers, radiation therapy and UV light therapy, just to name a few. There are even a few less well-known therapies based on veritable energy, such as magnetic therapy for pain relief, and, as you’re about to discover, sound energy/vibrational therapy.

Sound therapy is as old as dirt – or at least as old as primitive human medicine. Here, you’ll discover just a few of the dozens of methods available, including one super practical tip you can implement today. But first, it’s time to put to rest the naysaying and to get into the specifics of how sound physically interacts with your body.

Sound Waves, Brainwaves, and Cellular Waves

There are three things you should familiarize yourself with: sound itself, and how it works, the electromagnetic rhythms of your brain, and the vibrational energy of your cells.

Sound is vibration, or waves of air molecules oscillating as a result of the rapid, back-and-forth movement of an object. And if you'd like a crisp scientific definition:

“Sound waves are produced by a vibrating body, be it an oboe reed, guitar string, loudspeaker cone or jet engine. The vibrating sound source causes a disturbance to the surrounding air molecules, causing them to bounce off each other with a force proportional to the disturbance. The energy of their interaction creates ripples of more dense (higher pressure) to less dense (lower pressure) air molecules, with pressures above and below the normal atmospheric pressure. When the molecules are pushed closer together it is called compression; when they have pulled apart, it is called rarefaction. The back and forth oscillation of pressure produces a sound wave.”

A vibrating object, whether a guitar string or your own vocal chord, causes the air surrounding it to also vibrate. These sound waves hit your eardrums, making them vibrate, and that in turn causes waves in the fluid of your inner ear. Those waves are detected by various auditory nerves that relay the information to your brain to let you hear. Hearing, the detection of sound, isn’t detached from the physical world – it’s a physical effect, resulting from a physical cause. So it shouldn’t seem all that weird that certain frequencies of vibrating air impact your physiology and mental state.

Now onto brain waves. Neuroscientist Seth Horowitz wrote a book called The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind. He talks about the “right rhythms” for your brain, which may affect neurohormonal changes that occur over several months to a single neuron changing its activity state in milliseconds or less. With EEG (electroencephalography) machines, a few major rhythms have been identified that underpin the human cortex (the largest part of the brain that plays a key role in memory, attention, perception, cognition, awareness, thought, language, and consciousness), each of which changes under different physiological and cognitive conditions. The theta rhythm is the slowest (4-8 Hz) and rises at least in part from the hippocampus during memory processing. The alpha rhythm (6-12 Hz) is generated by connections between different parts of the cortex and the cortex and the thalamus. The beta rhythm (20 Hz) is generated in the motor cortex to control voluntary movement, and is usually only seen right after a person stops moving, acting as a sort of “off switch”. The gamma rhythm (40 Hz), may be involved in binding together individual sensory inputs and feedback loops that let you observe the world as a coherent, consistent environment.

But waves, rhythms and electrical vibrations don’t zap around just in your cranium.

These waves interact with your entire body and this is how sickness, disease, depression, and stress cause human beings to vibrate at a lower frequency, according to a JB Bardot article. There’s also a great book available titled Healing and Recovery, by Dr. David Hawkins. In it, he explains how frequencies, including audible frequencies produced by sound and music, can elicit either positive or negative emotion. And those frequencies can also elicit positive vibrations in different cells and tissues in your body – but they can also cause negative vibrations. That’s why some music makes you feel really good, while some can stress you out to no end.

Sound medicine is the science of biohacking these bodily rhythms that are vibrating in your brain, feet, and everywhere in between, in order to maximize the prominence and efficiency of specific wavelengths. Dr. Horowitz mentions a number of commonly-used strategies, like playing a tone or noise at a particular rate like the 8-10 Hz posterior alpha rhythm to induce relaxation. But methods like that are a bit simplistic, so he goes on to say that to get large portions of your brain hooked to a single rhythm, you need to expose yourself to a complicated input from a number of sources acting together. One way to do that is through binaural beating.

Most of the current research on binaural beats is based on the early 1970’s research done by biophysicist Gerald Oster, who showed that when a tone is played in one ear, and a slightly different tone is played in the other, the difference between the tones causes the brain to create a third, internal tone, which is the binaural beat. This syncs up the brain waves in both hemispheres, a process duly dubbed “brainwave entrainment”. In 2008, the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine published a review of twenty studies of brainwave entrainment and patient outcome and concluded that it is indeed an effective tool against cognitive functioning deficits, stress, pain, headaches, behavioral problems, and premenstrual syndrome.

Sound can even be used to treat more serious conditions than a simple lack of focus or drive, however. Ultrasound, whose most commonly-known use is observing the fetus in the womb, uses sound waves to produce a visible image. It’s also used to determine pain sources, as well as loci of swelling and infection. But lately, it’s taken on a more therapeutic application. Either by itself or in conjunction with drugs, it’s used to treat diabetes, stroke, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, infections, osteoporosis, thrombosis, glaucoma, nerve damage, skin wounds and bone fractures. And one of the primary ways by which it works is its interactions with cells and tissues. Hold on tight, things are about to get a little technical.

Your cells have what’s called electrical potential, by which they resonate and vibrate at specific frequencies that change under various circumstances. All molecules, including the ones that make up your cells, oscillate at a specific frequency, whose intensity is dependent on temperature. For single molecules and molecule groups, there are characteristic frequency patterns with defined peaks already used in modern chemical analysis. The characteristic spectra of molecular vibrations of many biomolecules have been determined for different tissue types, ranging from 1011 – 1014 Hz. Certain parts of tissue cells, like the cell membrane, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, and different microsomes representing polar lipids, will exhibit varying frequency patterns in different environments. When the cell is damaged, it reads the electromagnetic signals of specific frequencies in order to properly respond to the surrounding circumstances.

Now, ultrasound will actually elevate the temperature of the target tissue cells. It’ll also impact the vibrational frequency of the entire cell. And granted, different tissue types will react differently – osteocytes (bone cells) have a higher ultrasound absorption coefficient than muscle cells, so they react more dramatically. But ultrasound is still beneficial to the entire body. Perhaps the most dramatic effect is called “cellular cavitation”. Cavitation bubbles form when high-amplitude ultrasonic pressure waves travel through liquid. When the bubbles occur in close proximity, they rupture, and the resulting jets can rapidly stretch cells, poke holes in them or even obliterate their membranes, leading ultimately to cell death. Dying cells express a signal to the surrounding surviving cells to eat them and clean up the remains, a process known as “autophagy”. This is what makes ultrasound so effective against unhealthy, damaged, and/or tumorous cells. By targeting them, the ultrasound waves cause them to rupture and be swept up by the surrounding tissue cells.

To summarize:

Your body is literally humming (albeit very quietly) with energy at specific vibrational frequencies. When you’re healthy, you hum along at normal rates. But when something’s wrong with some part of your body, your cells, and therefore you, hum much more quietly and less efficiently. So in order to fully maximize your natural inclination to vibrate your way through breakfast, work, lunch, school, and dinner till you go to sleep and hum a different tune, you have to expose yourself to beneficial sound waves. There’s a wonderland of paraphernalia that can induce audio therapy, from sound healing ceremonies and crystal bowls, to music, to vibrating massage therapy tables and all sorts of other things out there that capitalize on your body’s response to vibration. So for the next little bit, enjoy a short and sweet introduction to sound therapy biohacks.

Vibrational Energy Healing & Restorative Frequency Therapy

First of all, you need to limit or eliminate exposure to deleterious sound and vibration frequencies. Composer Michael Tyrrell realized that there are negative frequencies that cause negative physiological effects. In particular, the “A” tone generated by most tuning instruments oscillates at a frequency of 440 Hz, which, when played on its own over the body, introduces a certain level of physiological chaos. So Tyrrell did some experimentation and discovered that sonically, moving up ever so slightly to 444 Hz gives you the greatest frequency, something you can play safely because it activates every single organ, and positively impacts your DNA. Tyrrell now makes music of specific frequencies that are associated with positive emotions as well as different organ functions.

For example, 528 Hz affects your brain and influences any sense of shame or unworthiness, lending a greater sense of self-worth, as well as impacts the cells of the heart and also elicits a sense of love. You can put the CD into your player, plant yourself between a set of speakers, and let actual waves of healing power wash over you. You can even do things like getting massages while exposing yourself to Tyrrell’s compositions. If CDs and big speakers aren't your thing, you can also get something called a tuning device that you can blow into to produce a specific tone, or use a tuning fork. Or, by listening either to Tyrrell’s compositions or a binaural beating track through your headphones, you’ll get enhanced exposure to the positive effects of tonal frequencies.

There’s also an app called Brain.fm, co-founded by Junaid Kalmadi and innovated by Adam Hewett, a neuroscientist and expert in audio and brain stimulation. Brain.fm is designed to generate realistic 3D sounds that are 100% digitally engineered through artificial intelligence software, in order to “lull” your brain into what might best be described as a state of mild hypnosis, using different sounds to cause a state of either “Focus”, “Relax”, or “Sleep.” It works like gangbusters if you’ve got a work project you need to buckle down on, a thesis to write, if you’re sleep-deprived and need a nap, or if you have trouble falling asleep at night.

You can also use two devices that generate potent, body-optimizing frequencies using pulsed electromagnetic fields, or PEMF – the Delta Sleeper PEMF machine, and the EarthPulse PEMF Sleep Machine. As already stated, your brain naturally generates specific electromagnetic frequency patterns that reflect what state you’re in. But the brain is highly receptive to external electromagnetic stimuli. So if you expose your body to specific PEMF frequencies, they’ll stimulate those that your brain would produce at various sleep stages, thus inducing that particular stage at a much faster, more efficient rate, and resulting in better sleep, improved energy production and greater metabolic health.

But even if you don’t take advantage of all these cool gadgets, there’s one simple, practical tip that you should absolutely try after reading this, and it requires nothing more than your bare feet. This giant ball of dirt and rock hurtling through space we call Earth emits a natural electromagnetic frequency called the Schumann resonance. It falls roughly between 7.3 and 7.4 Hz, so it’s super slow but oh-so-powerful. And honestly, not nearly enough people get their minimum daily intake of the Schumann resonance. Human ancestors got a heavy dose every single day, walking around barefoot, sleeping on the ground, running through the woods hunting, meandering from bush to bush gathering nuts and berries, and even just sitting on the packed earth in their homes. But with the rise of thicker footwear and man-made flooring, man experiences far less Schumann resonance, a sad lot to be in since 7-8 Hz has been shown to effect a healing change in the body, and to regulate the body’s electrical signals and conducting channels after flying on a plane, using WiFi or Bluetooth, or being surrounded by appliances and cell phone towers and dirty electricity.

To reorient yourself to the frequencies of the Earth, just go outside for ten to twenty minutes a day barefoot and get in touch with trees, rocks, dirt, or any natural thing that’s touching the earth so you can absorb the healing properties associated with the Schumann resonance. You can even get specially designed shoes that compound its effect, like the Earth Runners minimalist earthing sandals, just in case you don’t want to be that barefoot hippie at the neighborhood potluck. They’re inspired by the world-renowned long-distance runners, the Tarahumara Native American Indians of Northwestern Mexico, capable of traversing over 100 miles on foot in just a couple days, with minimal footwear. However you do it, barefoot or in special footwear, go out of your way each day to recreate this one-of-a-kind, primal experience to fully optimize body, mind, and spirit.

Summary

Words and sounds are much more than just a method of communication. They are tangible forces that have a direct effect on your health and wellbeing. The study of quantum physics shows that the human body and the entire universe is made up of tiny pieces of vibrating matter, hinged together by magnetic forces. Exposing the internal organs and brain to different musical frequencies will encourage the living matter in you to heal from within, to raise the frequency of your body and promote health, vitality and spiritual enhancement.

As you go through your day, think about how your exposure to various types of vibrations affect you. What kind of music do you listen to? Are you getting in touch with the planet you live on? Do you play frequencies like 444 Hz, 528 Hz, or any frequency in the 800s to hone in on specific areas of your body? Do you surround yourself with pulsing, electromagnetic energy to reset your brain and capitalize on the waves you generate naturally?

There are lots of ways you can maximize your exposure to beneficial vibrations. So your task now is to make time at some point in the day to kick aside the shoes and wiggle your toes in some dirt. It doesn’t have to be long, just ten or twenty minutes, so you’ve got every opportunity to include this in your daily routine. Wholesome, total-body rejuvenation can occur from within, all you have to do is tune your environment, and your body will inevitably follow suit.

Uncovering why playing a musical instrument can protect brain health

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A recent study conducted at Baycrest Health Sciences has uncovered a crucial piece into why playing a musical instrument can help older adults retain their listening skills and ward off age-related cognitive declines. This finding could lead to the development of brain rehabilitation interventions through musical training.

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience on May 24, found that learning to play a sound on a musical instrument alters the brain waves in a way that improves a person's listening and hearing skills over a short time frame. This change in brain activity demonstrates the brain's ability to rewire itself and compensate for injuries or diseases that may hamper a person's capacity to perform tasks.

"Music has been known to have beneficial effects on the brain, but there has been limited understanding into what about music makes a difference," says Dr. Bernhard Ross, senior scientist at Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute (RRI) and senior author on the study. "This is the first study demonstrating that learning the fine movement needed to reproduce a sound on an instrument changes the brain's perception of sound in a way that is not seen when listening to music."

This finding supports Dr. Ross' research using musical training to help stroke survivors rehabilitate motor movement in their upper bodies. Baycrest scientists have a history of breakthroughs into how a person's musical background impacts the listening abilities and cognitive function as they age and they continue to explore how brain changes during aging impact hearing.

The study involved 32 young, healthy adults who had normal hearing and no history of neurological or psychiatric disorders. The brain waves of participants were first recorded while they listened to bell-like sounds from a Tibetan singing bowl (a small bell struck with a wooden mallet to create sounds). After listening to the recording, half of the participants were provided the Tibetan singing bowl and asked to recreate the same sounds and rhythm by striking it and the other half recreated the sound by pressing a key on a computer keypad.

"It has been hypothesized that the act of playing music requires many brain systems to work together, such as the hearing, motor and perception systems," says Dr. Ross, who is also a medical biophysics professor at the University of Toronto. "This study was the first time we saw direct changes in the brain after one session, demonstrating that the action of creating music leads to a strong change in brain activity."

The study's next steps involve analyzing recovery between stroke patients with musical training compared to physiotherapy and the impact of musical training on the brains of older adults.

With additional funding, the study could explore developing musical trainingrehabilitation programs for other conditions that impact motor function, such as traumatic brain injury.

Research for this study was conducted with support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which supported research staff and equipment.

Dr. Ross' work is setting the foundation to develop hearing aids of the future and cognitive training programs to maintain hearing health.

11 Plants Native Americans Use To Cure EVERYTHING (From Joint Pain To Cancer)

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The Cherokee is a Native American tribe that is indigenous to the Southeastern United States. They believe that the Creator has given them a gift of understanding and preserving medicinal herbs.

The Cherokee trust the healing and preventative properties of nature’s pharmacy. Because many plants become scarce throughout history, the Cherokee promote proper gathering techniques. The old ones have taught them that if you are gathering, you should only pick every third plant you find. This ensures that enough specimens still remain and will continue to propagate. Here are some of the medicinal plants that were commonly used and foraged for by the Cherokee tribe.

However, the following 12 plants were used by this tribe in the treatment of almost every single illness and health condition. However, before we explain their properties, we must warn you that they can be quite strong and dangerous if not used properly.

Keep in mind that the Cherokee healers were experienced as they had centuries of practice. Furthermore, it is of high importance to understand their value as powerful natural medications, so you should be gentle when scavenging them.

These are the natural plants that provide amazing health benefits:

Plants For Healing

# Blackberry

To the Cherokee, the blackberry is the longest known remedy to an upset stomach, however this herb can be used for just about anything. Using a strong tea from the root of blackberry helps to reduce swelling of tissue and joints. A decoction from the roots, sweetened with honey or maple syrup, makes a great cough syrup. Even chewing on the leaves of blackberry can sooth bleeding gums.

Some other health benefits of blackberry fruit include:

  • better digestion

  • strengthened immune system

  • healthy functioning of the heart

  • prevention of cancer

  • relief from endothelial dysfunction

These tasty berries are also incredibly nutritious. Vitamins provided by blackberries include vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. Blackberries also have an incredible mineral wealth of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc. They are also a good source of dietary fiber and essential amino acids.

# Hummingbird Blossom (Buck Brush)

Hummingbird blossom has been used by the Cherokee for treatment of cysts, fibroid tumors, inflammation, and mouth/throat problems. Present day research has concluded that this herb is also great for treating high blood pressure and lymphatic blockages.

The Cherokee mainly use hummingbird blossom as a diuretic to stimulate kidney function, however it was was also used to treat conditions such as:

  • inflamed tonsils

  • enlarged lymph nodes

  • enlarged spleens

  • hemorrhoids

  • menstrual bleeding.

To get all of the benefits from hummingbird blossom, the Cherokee would steep the leave and flowers in a boiling water for about five minutes then drink the tea while it is still warm.

# Cattail

The Cherokee consider this herb to not exactly be a healing medicine, but rather a preventative medicine. It is an easily digestible food that can help with recovery from illnesses. Almost every part of this herb, except for the mature leaves and seed heads, can be used for medicinal purposes. The root of cattail is high in starch and the male plants are high in pollen content.

Cattail root can be prepared much like potatoes, boiled and mashed. The resulting paste is a great remedy for burns and sores. The pollen from cattail is a great source of protein and can be used as a supplement in baking. The fuzz from flowers, called the seed down, can also be used to prevent skin irritation in babies, such as diaper rash. The flowers of cattail can even be eaten to help with diarrhea.

# Pull Out a Sticker (Greenbriar)

The roots of this herb are high in starch while the leaves and stems are rich in various vitamins and minerals. Due to the rubbery texture of greenbriar, its roots can be used like potatoes. The starch in the root of greenbriar has a harsh, strange taste but is rich in calories.

The Cherokee use greenbriar as a blood purifier and mild diuretic that treats urinary infections. Many Cherokee healers make an ointment from the leaves and bark and apply it to minor sores and burns. The leaves from this herb can even be used in your tea to treat arthritis! The berries of greenbrier can be eaten raw or made into jams. They make great vegan jello shots too.

# Mint

Mint is a very popular herb in present day culture and is commonly used in tea. However, many people don’t know that mint contains a variety of antioxidant properties. It also contains magnesium, phosphorus potassium, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber!

The Cherokee use this herb to aid with digestion. The leaves can be crushed and used as cold compresses, made into ointments, and even added to your bath to sooth itchy skin. The Cherokee healers use a blend of stems and leaves to lower high blood pressure. If you are breast feeding and find your nipples cracking, try applying some mint water. It worked miracles for me!

# Mullein

This herb has the power to soothe asthma and chest congestion. According to the Cherokee, inhaling the smoke from burning mullein roots and leaves works miracles to calm your lungs and open up pathways. Mullein is exceptionally helpful to soothe the mucous membranes. You can make a warm decoction and soak your feet in it to reduce swelling and joint pain. Due to mullein’s anti-inflammatory properties, it soothes painful and irritated tissue. Mullein flowers can be used to make tea which has mild sedative effects.

# Qua lo ga (Sumac)

Every single part of this herb can be used for medicinal purposes! Sumac bark can be made into a mild decoction that can be taken to soothe diarrhea. The decoction from the bark can also be gargled to help with a sore throat. Ripe berries can make a pleasant beverage that is rich in vitamin C. The tea from the leaves of sumac can reduce fevers. You can even crush the leaves into an ointment to help relieve a poison ivy rash. A study published in Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research reported that sumac, if added to daily diet, can help lower cholesterol levels.

# Big Stretch (Wild Ginger)

The Cherokee recommend a mild tea, made from the root of wild ginger, to stimulate better digestion. This herb can also help with intestinal gas, upset stomach and colic. A strong tea from the root of wild ginger can be used to remove secretion from the lungs. The Meskwaki, another Native American tribe, use crushed, steeped stems of wild ginger as a relief from earaches. You can use rootstocks from this herb as a substitute for regular ginger and flowers as flavoring for your favorite recipe!

# Jisdu Unigisdi (Wild Rose)

The fruit of a wild rose is a rich source of vitamin C and is a great remedy for the common cold and the flu. The Cherokee would make a mild tea out of wild rose hips to stimulate bladder and kidney function. You can even make your own petal infusion to soothe sore throat! Or try making a decoction from the root to help with diarrhea. My grand-mother use to make jam out of the petals and it was delicious.

# Squirrel Tail (Yarrow)

This herb is known best for its blood clotting properties. Fresh, crushed leaves can be applied to open wounds to stop excess bleeding. Yarrow’s juice, mixed with spring water, can stop internal bleeding from stomach and intestinal illnesses. You can also use the leaves to make tea which will stimulate abdominal functions and assist in proper digestion. It can also help with kidney and gallbladder related issues. Oh, and did I mention that you can use a decoction made from leaves and stems to help clear up your acne? It works wonders for chapped hands and other skin irritations.

# Kawi Iyusdi (Yellow Dock)

The Cherokee often use this herb in their kitchen. It is very similar to spinach but contains a lot more vitamins and minerals due to its long roots that gathers nutrients from deep underground. The leaves of yellow dock are a great source of iron and can also be used as a laxative. You can even prepare a juice decoction out of yellow dock stems to treat minor sores, diaper rash, and itching. The Cherokee healers use a decoction, made from the crushed roots of yellow dock, as warm wash for its antiseptic properties.

You should always remember that all of the above mentioned herbs are very potent and might be dangerous if used in the wrong way. The Cherokee healers have many centuries of practice and experience. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that these herbs are all very valuable! They are the nature’s pharmacy, so please be kind and caring when scavenging any of these.

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

“We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

“When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

“All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

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Silence relieves stress and tension.

It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

“This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

Summation

Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]^Nautil US: This Is Your Brain on Silence[2]^HuffPost: Why Silence Is So Good For Your Brain[3]^American Psychological Association: Silence Please[4]^Heart.: Cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and respiratory changes induced by different types of music in musicians and non‐musicians: the importance of silence[5]^Journal of Environmental Psychology: The Restorative Benefits of Nature: Toward an Integrative Framework

What Science Reveals About Gratitude’s Impact on the Brain

New research sheds light on the physiology of gratitude, bringing us closer to being able to understand and harness the health benefits of this powerful emotion.

Imagine you are on the run from a Nazi manhunt and are taken under the protection of a stranger. This stranger spends the winter providing you with food and shelter—even traveling to other towns to relay messages to your family members—yet has no hope or expectation of repayment from you. While your loved ones are systematically ensnared by the Nazi machine, this stranger keeps you alive and nourishes your faith in humanity, offering proof that in the midst of widespread horror, many individuals still act with unfettered compassion and dignity.

When you think about this stranger, what they risked, what you received—how would you feel?

You may feel a rush of positive emotion, joy from the relief of worrying about survival, and a sense of close connection to the stranger who has given you this gift. In concert, these feelings could be described as gratitude.

Does Gratitude Effect Our Brains?

Gratitude is celebrated throughout philosophy and religion; recent scientific studies suggest it carries significant benefits for our mental and physical health. But very little is known about what actually happens in our brain and body when we experience it.

Why does that matter? Because better understanding the physiology of gratitude can help pinpoint strategies for harnessing its health benefits and help people understand the importance of fostering this powerful emotion. The goal of my research has been to lay the groundwork for understanding what happens in the brain when we feel grateful—and a picture of the grateful brain is now starting to emerge.

Better understanding the physiology of gratitude can help pinpoint strategies for harnessing its health benefits

When I first embarked on the journey to study gratitude, I came across philosophical treatises and religious exhortations emphasizing the importance of gratitude, along with scientific studies suggesting that gratitude can improve your sleepenhance your romantic relationshipsprotect you from illnessmotivate you to exercise, and boost your happiness, among many other benefits.

At the time, however, very little was known about what happens in our brains and bodies when we experience gratitude, which made it difficult to understand how gratitude actually works. Since I’m a neuroscientist, I zeroed in on the neurobiology of gratitude with a more specific question in mind: Can our brain activity reveal anything about how gratitude achieves its significant benefits?

How Gratitude Strengthens the Mind-Body Connection

Given the clear relationship between mental and physical health, I thought that understanding what happens in the brain when we feel gratitude could tell us more about the mind-body connection—namely, how feeling positive emotion can improve bodily functions. I also thought these results could help scientists design programs aimed at generating gratitude by helping them zero in on the precise activities and experiences most essential to reaping gratitude’s benefits.

It must be said that actually capturing people in the moment of feeling gratitude poses some challenges. After all, some people may not feel gratitude when we expect them to, and others may even feel grateful in unexpected situations. I thought my best bet would be to try to induce gratitude through powerful stories of aid and sacrifice.

To achieve this, I turned to the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History, which houses the world’s largest repository of videotaped Holocaust survivor testimonies—many of which, perhaps surprisingly, are filled with breathtaking acts of selflessness and generosity. Along with a team of amazing undergraduates, I began by watching hundreds of hours of survivor testimony to find stories in which the survivor received help of some kind from another person.

We assembled a collection of these stories and transformed them into short scenarios that we shared with our participants. Each scenario was re-phrased into the second-person (e.g., “You are on a wintertime death march and a fellow prisoner gives you a warm coat”) and presented to our study’s participants. We asked them to imagine themselves in the scenario and feel, as much as possible, how they would feel if they were in the same situation. While participants reflected on these gifts, we measured their brain activity using modern brain imaging techniques (in the form of functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI).

The regions associated with gratitude are part of the neural networks that light up when we socialize and experience pleasure.

For each of these scenarios, we asked participants how much gratitude they felt, and we correlated this rating with their brain activity in that moment. While such an approach will not elicit exactly the same feelings as actually living through such situations, participants overwhelmingly reported strong feelings of gratitude, deep engagement in the task, and, perhaps even more importantly, an increased empathy for and understanding of the Holocaust as a result of participating in the study.

What’s more, our results revealed that when participants reported those grateful feelings, their brains showed activity in a set of regions located in the medial pre-frontal cortex, an area in the frontal lobes of the brain where the two hemispheres meet. This area of the brain is associated with understanding other people’s perspectives, empathy, and feelings of relief. This is also an area of the brain that is massively connected to the systems in the body and brain that regulate emotion and support the process of stress relief.

Three Ways Gratitude Benefits Our Minds

These data told us a reasonable story about gratitude:

  1. It can help relieve stress and pain. The regions associated with gratitude are part of the neural networks that light up when we socialize and experience pleasure. These regions are also heavily connected to the parts of the brain that control basic emotion regulation, such as heart rate and arousal levels, and are associated with stress relief and thus pain reduction. Feeling grateful and recognizing help from others creates a more relaxed body state and allows the subsequent benefits of lowered stress to wash over us. (We recently published a scientific paper elaborating on these ideas.)

  2. It can improve our health over time. They are also closely linked to the brain’s “mu opioid” networks, which are activated during close interpersonal touch and relief from pain—and may have evolved out of the need for grooming one another for parasites. In other words, our data suggest that because gratitude relies on the brain networks associated with social bonding and stress relief, this may explain in part how grateful feelings lead to health benefits over time.

  3. It can help those with depression. Perhaps even more encouraging, researcher Prathik Kini and colleagues at Indiana University performed a subsequent study examining how practicing gratitude can alter brain function in depressed individuals. They found evidence that gratitude may induce structural changes in the very same parts of the brain that we found active in our experiment. Such a result, in complement to our own, tells a story of how the mental practice of gratitude may even be able to change and re-wire the brain.

This article originally appeared on Greater Good, the online magazine of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, one of Mindful’s partners. View the original article.