HERBS FOR HEALTH MANAGEMENT

Herbs are a foundational root in medicine and health treatments, dating back thousands of years throughout every culture around the world. Modern Western herbalism comes from ancient Egypt. The Greeks developed a comprehensive philosophy of herbal medicine by 100 BCE and the Romans built upon it to create a variety of medical practices, some of which are still used today.

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ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE IMPACTS PSYCHOLOGICAL HARDINESS

Psychological hardiness is an individual’s resistance to stress, anxiety and depression. It includes the ability to withstand grief and accept the loss of loved ones. Alternative medicine is a more popular term for health and wellness therapies that have typically not been part of conventional Western medical approaches but are often used along with conventional medicinal protocols.  Coping and dealing with stress in a positive manner play a major role in maintaining the balance needed for health and well-being.

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ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

Interest in complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing as consumers and health care professionals search for additional ways to treat anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. Some of these remedies include:

St. John’s Wort.  More than 30 studies show it to be effective for treatment of mild forms of depression,…

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The complexity of treating addiction has led psychiatrists and mental health professionals to identify several medications and behavioral therapies that are beneficial for managing addictive thinking and behaviors. They work best when used in combination. Identifying the appropriate treatment for an individual depends on the severity of the addiction and the individual’s motivation and compliance with the selected treatment plan. There is promise in the potential for vaccines against nicotine, cocaine and other drugs. This might prevent these drugs from entering the brain.


Addiction is a serious and complicated disease with serious medical and social consequences. Publicly funded addiction treatment centers located throughout the United States provide information via the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This public health unit, a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services, is charged with improving the quality and availability of effective treatment and rehabilitative services to reduce addictions, illness, disability and death.


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BRAIN CRAVINGS AND ADDICTION

The biological basis of addiction helps explain why people need more than good intentions to manage their addictions. It is a misconception that addiction is a choice or moral dilemma. Brain chemistry actually changes with addiction, and it takes a good deal of therapeutic intervention to reverse these changes and return to an appropriate level of functioning. There is also a genetic explanation that researchers seek to understand further.


Clinician researchers have found adolescents can be especially vulnerable to addiction because their brains are not yet fully developed. This shows particularly in the frontal region of the brain. In the mature brain, this region aids impulse control and assessing risk. Pleasure circuits in adolescent brains tend to operate in overdrive, making substances of abuse even more rewarding and enticing. The NIH has a series of nationwide studies that are examining how teen brains are altered by alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs. Researchers use brain scans and other tools to assess the long-term impact of addictions on the developing brain. These studies track the links between substance use and brain changes, academic achievement, IQ, thinking skills and mental health over time. There is much to learn about the adolescent brain and reducing the harm of addiction.

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine and Department of Gerontology, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky.

more articles by Dr thomas w. miller

The marvelous human brain has a down side where cravings can overcome someone’s ability to control urges for things the brain seeks. Whether it is candy, nicotine, alcohol, uppers, downers, a variety of Smartphone apps and challenging games or social media, brain biochemistry suggests addictions occur at multiple levels. This happens through an interaction between the cellular/ biochemical and neural functioning of the brain’s addiction-seeking regions or centers.


The normal healthy human brain is known to reward beneficial thinking and behaviors by switching on circuits that make you feel satisfied and content. This then motivates you to repeat that thinking and behavior. When addictions challenge the brain, they can interfere with the pleasure/ reward circuits, resulting in less desirable behaviors. This leads to pleasure-seeking alternatives such as social media, challenging video games, drugs or alcohol to deal with the anxiety and stress.


Addicted individuals find themselves losing control and craving whatever it is that meets the need to satisfy what has been lost. Several National Institutes of Health-funded (NIH) scientists are focused on learning more about the biology of addiction. These researchers have found addiction is a long-lasting, complex brain disease. Current treatments can help patients develop methods of control. However, there is always a risk of relapse.