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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Clinical studies (Aleman, Valenzano, 2019; Lowery 2015) have reported significant differences in microbial composition between young and elderly human subjects. A key transition from healthy adult to elderly microbiota is characterized by a decrease in microbial diversity, resulting in the expansion of distinct groups of bacteria that have been implicated in the development of age- associated type 1 diabetes, diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis and a spectrum of inflammatory bowel conditions.


Researchers report the microbiome likely plays a role in our metabolism, emotions, bio-behavioral indicators and cognitive functioning. Changes in the nature of the microbiome community nested in our bodies may result in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. The microbes inside our body have a huge impact on who we are, what we do and how we feel. While research on the human microbiome is still early in our understanding of this phenomenon, emerging research suggests our health and wellness are influenced by these colonies of microbes on the gut- microbiome-brain connection throughout our lifespan.


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UNDERSTANDING THE FUNCTION OF THE HUMAN MICROBIOME

The intestinal tract is home to about 100 trillion bacteria, both friendly and pathogenic. To fight infection quickly, the intestine has several innate immune defenses designed to act immediately when alerted to danger. Emerging research points to aberrant alterations of the gut microbiome that are associated with the pathogenesis of various metabolic diseases, including insulin resistance, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease, as well as multiple sclerosis, anxiety and depression.


Changes to the gut microbiome occur throughout the lifespan from infancy to full adulthood. Our bodies are hosts, and key findings implicate a central role of the gut microbiome in host aging. Colonization of various microbial species in the gastrointestinal tract during early stages of life is reported to affect later health of the host organism. Recolonization of the microbiome occurs as we age, with diet playing a major role in shaping the microbiome composition throughout adulthood.


Clinical studies (Aleman, Valenzano, 2019; Lowery 2015) have reported significant differences in microbial composition between young and elderly human subjects. A key transition from healthy adult to elderly microbiota is characterized by a decrease in microbial diversity, resulting in the expansion of distinct groups

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; retired service chief from the VA Medical Center; and tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky.

Recent advances in DNA sequencing technologies have allowed the investigation of the composition and functional dynamics of complex microbial communities in our bodies. The scientific community has focused on microbiome research to establish and better understand the function of the human microbiome in human beings.


The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new awareness for many of the presence of viruses and their influence on our heath. The microbiome consists of all of the bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses that live in and on the human body. The Human Biome Project from the National Institutes of Health is part of an initiative to sequence the entire genomes of 3,000 individual microbes found within our human microbiome. This innovative project has begun by sampling and sequencing the microbial communities at 18 different sites on the body, including the mouth, nose, skin, vagina and gut.


The microbiome exists within certain niches in the body. Thus, each microbiome is structurally distinct and plays a different role within its niche. Microbiome composition and health is affected by factors that include diet, stress, geography and ancestral background. These different microbiomes play an important role in key bodily functions such as digestion, immune response and gut-brain axis, which involves our brain health.