Posts Categorized: Health

Does the Mind Create the Brain or Does the Brain Create Mind?

By Deepak Chopra, MD

 

Neuroscience has risen over the past few decades to a crowning place in medical science, due to two innovations, advanced brain scans like fMRIs and the completion of the Human genome Project in 2003. Brain scans allow us to peer into the activity of a living brain without surgery or having to use tissue from cadavers. A complete map of human DNA opens up the possibility of detecting and correcting genetic anomalies connected to a huge range of disorders, including those of the brain.

 

No one can argue against the value of these advances, but they have had their downside. In particular, the assumption that the brain is the same as the mind has become dominant, not just in neuroscience but in articles aimed at the general public. In the first place, it’s only natural that a burgeoning field of science will claim more success than it has achieved, so the bias of neuroscience in favor of making the brain the answer to everything probably is unavoidable. But advances in technology and medical treatments are not the same as solving the mind-body problem.

 

The mind-body problem centers on the relationship between two levels of experience. The level of mind brings feelings, thoughts, images, and sensations in a steady stream. These non-physical occurrences belong in the domain of consciousness. The body, including the brain but not restricted to it, exhibits parallel activity that is the correlate of mental activity. However, no one has proved in any generally accepted way that the mind creates the brain or vice versa. They arise simultaneously and display their own peculiar qualities.

 

It would surprise most people, but given a choice, we can do without the brain in everyday life, something that’s not true about the mind. By “doing without the brain,” I’m referring to a simple fact. Living as conscious beings, humans do not have insight or access to brain activity. Until the brain is exposed to examination, we do not know about neurons, synapses, axons, and ganglia, or about stem cells, the reptilian brain, the amygdala, hypothalamus, or cerebral cortex, just to mention some main areas of inquiry by neuroscience. Instead, we all exist at varying levels of awareness. There is an interplay between the conscious and unconscious mind. Enormous strides are made through creativity, genius, insight, contemplation, and self-awareness in all its phases.

 

This picture doesn’t depend on any knowledge of the brain as an organ, and yet in the current climate of opinion, we are told that everything will eventually come down to the brain, which is like saying that all the news in a newspaper can be explained by paper and ink. The brain is the physical instrument of mind, not the mind itself. Even to call the brain a privileged organ is misleading, because there is equally intelligent, coordinated activity going on in many places throughout the body, including the central and peripheral nervous system, the immune system, and the gut. Messaging going back and forth from the brain to every cell in the body depends just as much on how the receiver responds as on what the message says.

 

How the receiver responds is overwhelmingly a matter of life experiences, including your beliefs, expectations, conditioning, predispositions, imprints from past traumas, and family input from childhood. There is zero evidence that the brain has any of these experiences. It’s not your brain that loves music, wants a fulfilling relationship, has a short fuse, worries about the kids, or anything else. Experience happens to you, a self. The self is the only source of experience as well as the interpreter of it. Therefore, only by investigating the self will the mind-body problem eventually be solved. One thing, however, is certain. The brain isn’t going to tell us the answers we seek–it holds no secrets about truth, beauty creativity, intelligence, insight, or personal evolution.

 

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Clinical Professor UCSD Medical School, researcher, Neurology and Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked Chopra #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest books are You Are the Universe co-authored with Menas Kafatos, PhD, and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine.   discoveringyourcosmicself.com

 

 

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#Whats Your Wellfie? Transforming Personal & Societal Wellbeing, One Moment at a Time!

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Be a part of WhatsYourWellfie – a 21 day  initiative focused on sharing your moments which will inspire the community and transform wellbeing.  Visit Jiyo.com to learn more.

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It’s High Time to Make the FDA Safe and Effective

By Deepak Chopra MD, Nancy S. Cetel, MD, Joseph B. Weiss, MD, Paul J. Mills, PhD, Danielle Weiss, MD, David Brenner, MD

Few government agencies impact our daily lives as critically as the Food and Drug Administration. Seventy percent of the US population takes at least one prescription drug each month. The marketplace for Big Pharma is staggering: In 2014 US prescription drug sales exceeded $374 billion dollars. Most people are aware of the FDA’s extremely slow and careful procedure for approving new drugs. But there are glaring loopholes in the law that place a disturbing number of people at risk, which too few people have been alerted to.

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Few government agencies impact our daily lives as critically as the Food and Drug Administration. Seventy percent of the US population takes at least one prescription drug each month. The marketplace for Big Pharma is staggering: In 2014 US prescription drug sales exceeded $374 billion dollars. Most people are aware of the FDA’s extremely slow and careful procedure for approving new drugs. But there are glaring loopholes in the law that place a disturbing number of people at risk, which too few people have been alerted to.

 

The size of the loophole, which permits tens of thousands of unapproved drugs to be sold and routinely used by millions of Americans, is immense. The most comprehensive list of unapproved drugs is not maintained by the FDA but rather by the National Library of Medicine, which identities 88,212 drugs that have been reported to the FDA. Of these, a minute fraction underwent testing and approval.  In the 110-year history of the FDA, the agency has studied and approved a grand total of 1,453 drugs. A number of these had their approval withdrawn when safety risks were subsequently identified, leaving only 1,246 drugs remaining. Why are over 86,000 untested and unapproved drugs still on the market? The history of the FDA is complex, but here are the highlights of a predicament whose lapses go back to the very beginning.

  • The FDA was created in 1906 but surprisingly was not required to assess drug safety and efficacy until 1938.
  • In deference to the financial benefit of the pharmaceutical industry over public health and safety, the FDA grandfathered all existing drugs from requiring FDA overview.
  • In 1962 Congress passed amendments to the 1938 law, mandating that all drugs approved between 1938 and 1962 were to be reviewed for effectiveness and safety.
  • Despite this mandate, the FDA has repeatedly issued administrative rulings that helped the pharmaceutical industry avoid regulatory oversight. The net result is to keep tens of thousands of unproven products on the open market.

 

In 2013 the FDA openly announced that it would continue to grant national drug code (NDC) numbers to pharmaceutical and other drug products not approved by FDA for a given use. The reasons for this lapse in caring for public safety are tangled, but they include the enormous expense and difficulty of testing so many products, the potential liability faced by class-action lawsuits if a drug fails to pass efficacy and safety tests, and sheer inadvertence.

 

The cursory voluntary post-marketing surveillance of drugs is widely recognized as haphazard and inadequate.  For example, after forty years on the market without FDA approval, the manufacturer of the popular thyroid replacement drug Synthroid reluctantly agreed to safety and efficacy guidelines, and the drug was approved by the FDA only in 2002.

 

The critical question, of course, is whether public health has been put at risk. Quite obviously it has. A huge proportion of unapproved drugs haven’t even begun the approval process.  Most physicians are totally unaware of the situation. Meanwhile, 440,000 deaths occur annually in US hospitals due to medical errors, and a significant percentage are due to adverse drug reactions or interactions. The cost to society of adverse drug reactions exceeds $136 billion per year.

 

The very absence of oversight makes it enormously difficult to arrive at precise statistics for the risks of unapproved drugs. Woefully, the actual number of prescription drugs on the market in the US is unknown, unpublished, and untracked by the FDA. But what is evident, given that 4 billion prescriptions are written each year by health-care professionals, is that total deaths from prescription drugs exceeds those caused by illegal drugs or automobile accidents.

 

The general public gets aroused only when the FDA approval process goes strongly amiss, as in 2004 when Merck’s anti-inflammatory drug Rofecoxib (Vioxx ®) had its approval withdrawn. Vioxx has been conservatively attributed with over 38,000 deaths in the US and 60,000 deaths worldwide. The actual numbers are probably a multiple of that figure. In 1999, the year Vioxx was introduced, the US experienced a jump in cardiovascular deaths by an unprecedented 50,000-plus per year. The surge persisted until the drug was withdrawn five years later. The grim arithmetic amounts to a potential 250,000 deaths in this country alone.

 

Clearly a massive push to close the regulatory loophole would greatly increase drug safety in America. Yet it must be realistically faced that the immediate withdrawal of over 80,000 unapproved drugs is unfeasible, as is the prospect of testing all of them, or even a proportion as small as 10 percent. Added to this is our lack of knowledge about how prescription drugs interact with over-the-counter drugs, herbal supplements, probiotics, etc.

 

We are not writing to say that we have found a solution, only to bring a dire situation to light. At the very least a national discussion is called for involving Congress, the FDA, the pharmaceutical industry, and the American public. In an era of genome screening, it should be feasible in the future to identify the people who are most likely to benefit from a given drug or suffer the worst risks of side effects.

 

Whatever ensues, a bold fact must be faced: The FDA and Congress have consistently failed to address a major public health and safety issue. The outdated grandfather status of drugs from 1938 and before must be addressed with all due speed. If 250,000 Americans can be killed over five years by one FDA-approved drug, imagine the numbers killed over eighty years with 88,000 unapproved drugs that were never evaluated for safety or efficacy.

 

 

 

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, Clinical Professor, University of California, School of Medicine, San Diego, Chairman and Founder, The Chopra Foundation, Co-Founder, The Chopra Center for Wellbeing

 

Nancy S. Cetel, MD, President and Founder, Speaking of Health, and specialist in women’s health and reproductive endocrinology.

 

Joseph B. Weiss, MD, FACP, Clinical Professor, University of California, School of Medicine, San Diego.

 

Paul J. Mills, PhD, Professor, University of California, School of Medicine, San Diego

 

Danielle Weiss, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor, University of California, School of Medicine, San Diego, Medical Director & Founder, Center for Hormonal Health & Well-Being

 

David Brenner, MD, FACP, Professor, Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences, Dean, University of California, School of Medicine, San Diego

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One Beauty Secret for Everyone

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By Deepak Chopra, MD and Kimberly Snyder, CN

 

The pursuit of beauty, which has been a constant theme throughout recorded history, makes beauty seem like a mysterious gift granted only to the fortunate few. Even now in a scientific age, there’s the constant search for beauty secrets that will bring this gift to many more people. In fact, such a secret does exist, in our view. Instead of saying, “If I’m beautiful I will be happy, the secret is the reverse: “If I’m happy, I will be beautiful.”

 

This is the axiom of finding beauty from the inside out. There is a rising tide of evidence to show that our cells immediately respond to the inner events in our lives. Being unhappy is a state of mind and body, not simply the mind. There are medical consequences in terms of decreased immune response, for example, among people who are depressed, grief-stricken, lonely, or who have been suddenly terminated from their jobs. This isn’t news. What’s news-worthy is the finer detail, which indicates that no matter how microscopic the scale, all the way down to our genes, shifts in mental activity produce shifts in the wellbeing of cells.

 

Let’s accept for the moment that the best way to be beautiful is to be happy.  Does that really improve the situation? The field of positive psychology, which is relatively new, has discovered that being happy isn’t a simple thing where one prescription works for everyone. And finding a path to increased happiness is tricky. Each of us has a kind of emotional set point we return to as our default. An outside event can cause the needle to move, making us temporarily happier than usual or unhappier. But over time we return to our emotional set point, even after the most extreme events.

 

Yet happiness is still the key, because two findings from positive psychology appear to be solid. The first is that a happy life is made up from happy days. In other words, waiting to be happy isn’t effective. Being happy today, here and now, is the best strategy. This ties in with the finding that our cells react to our moods. If you work for twenty years at a job that makes you miserable, waiting for retirement day so that you can finally be happy, then during those twenty years you amass cellular changes, including pathways in the brain, that imprint misery–something you will be carrying around biologically and psychologically for many years into your retirement.

 

What makes for a happy day? In the first post of this series we reduced this question to a matter of input. Our cells recognize only negative input and positive input. Experience is translated into chemicals that either benefit a cell or harm it. Therefore, by focusing on giving the mind-body system positive input every day and decreasing negative input, you are adding to your well-being overall. Here’s a sizable list of positive inputs to pay attention to, as first stated in our last post:

 

  • Pure food, water, and air.
  • Avoiding physical and emotional toxins.
  • Unprocessed, natural, organic food.
  • Nurturing relationships.
  • Good sleep.
  • Exercise that favors lightness, balance, flexibility, and gracefulness.
  • Attitudes of appreciation and gratitude.
  • A higher vision of life.
  • Service to others.
  • Satisfying, meaningful work.
  • Mediation and yoga.
  • Increased self-esteem.
  • The sense of being in control.
  • Feeling safe.
  • Feeling as if you belong.
  • Daily close contact with family and friends.
  • Generosity of self through acts of giving.
  • Being loved and loving in return.

 

As a practical matter, you can keep a journal that tracks these positive aspects of life, while at the same time tracking the negative aspects, which are simply the opposite of everything on the list. Most of these things are directly under your control, such as deciding to meditate, and others, such as being in a loving relationship, are things you have a voice in.

 

So choosing to be happy involves meaningful decisions, which brings us to the second discovery about how to be happy. Despite the effects of outside people and forces pulling against your happiness, and despite the emotional set point, it is estimated that 40-50% of a person’s happiness is dependent on choices made or not made. This is simply an average. It’s likely that some people grow much happier than the norm once they make steady, conscious, positive choices. We already know that such people have much better physical health than the norm, so it’s only logical that the same applies to wellbeing. In our view, “If I’m happy, I will be beautiful” is the beauty secret everyone has dreamed of.

 

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked Chopra #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine. Chopra is the author of more than 80 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest books are Super Genes co-authored with Rudolph Tanzi, PhD  and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine.  www.deepakchopra.com

 

KIMBERLY SNYDER, C.N., is a nutritionist and the New York Times bestselling author of the Beauty Detox book series. Snyder has appeared as a nutrition and beauty expert on Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, Ellen, Access Hollywood, The Doctors, and Today and has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Vanity Fair, ElleInStyle, as well as many others. The go-to nutritionist for many of the entertainment industry’s top performers, Snyder is also the creator of Glow Bio, an organic juice, smoothie and cleanse company. She hosts the top-rated podcast Beauty Inside Out on iTunes, and her blog, website, and products have spread the Beauty Detox movement to more than 150 countries. For more information, visit KimberlySnyder.com and  RadicalBeauty.com.

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