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Back in the golden age of rock-n-roll, Chubby Checker exhorted us to “Shake It Up, Baby!” Turns out he had a darn good idea, when applied to medical imaging techniques. In 1999, some clever researchers at the Mayo Clinic came up with an idea they called ultrasound-stimulated vibro-acoustic imaging (USVA). Since then, they’ve shortened the mouthful to “vibro-acoustic imaging” (VA), and found numerous uses for the technology, from using VA to detect subtle flaws in biomedical equipment to monitoring surgery in-progress.

VA is an extension of the widely-popular ultrasound technology used for so many life-saving diagnoses today. Like most really brilliant ideas, it sounds very simple and obvious once you hear it: introduce two known sources of vibration to cause resonance at a known frequency; listen to the reflections made;  tumors or calcium deposits will reflect the vibrated ultrasound back differently than healthy tissue.  There’s a really nice summary of VA research and innovation on the Mayo Clinic website as part of a retrospective of one of the co-inventors, a Dr. Greenleaf.  Technical types will also want to read this detailed technical paper on VA imaging.

A paper being presented this week at a medical imaging conference describes using VA to distinguish benign fibroids from malignant tumors in the thyroid.  This is especially good news for folks, like me, with thyroid problems. Most of us have thyroid nodules, and most thyroid nodules are benign.  Of course, when they’re not, it’s often too late to do anything about them.  Detection is mostly about watching for changes,  which involves annual or quarterly expensive additional ultrasound or MRI that insurance companies are understandably reluctant to cover.  The thyroid is sufficiently small that attempting to remove the items will usually result in removal of a substantial portion of the organ, and if they were benign, well, oops.

Another application is the extension of traditional mammography with VA techniques.  Using VA, researchers were able to detect calcification in breast tissue samples.   They have worked out a protocol to extend traditional mammograms with VA.  There are also successful clinical trials are underway, using VA for early detection of breast cancer.

You’ll undoubtedly be hearing more about this non-destructive and incredibly useful imaging technique in medical news over the next few years.  A 2005 paper describes a number of innovative future uses for vibro-acoustography, and I’m sure that more will follow.    Many of the core technology elements are patented by the Mayo Foundation.  I hope that they will be generous with licensing so that the technology can be deployed globally wherever there is need, especially in places where surgical biopsy is considered overly invasive for cultural reasons.   

Thanks to the always-interesting Physics News Updates for the tip!

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I rediscovered an article I'd saved, a December 2006 announcement of Dr Michael Salter's work on reversing Type 1 diabetes in rats. Neuropeptide P deficiency was causing inflammation at the Islets of Langerhorn in the pancreas. Injection of “Substance P” reversed the condition. Since then, Salter's team has also reversed Type II diabetes in rats.

A handy collection of Substance P research cites shows a strong role for “SP” “in the regulation of pain, asthma, psoriasis, {rosacea}, inflammatory bowel disease and, in the CNS, emesis, migraine, schizophrenia, depression and anxiety.” Further, another cite goes on to indicate that topical applications of substance P were shown to reverse granulation of psoriasis in a statistically significant number of patients.

Asthma, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease (irritable bowel), migraines, and most of the neurological symptoms all share the trait that in usually symptom-free patients, they are brought on by stress. Sometimes the stress turns out to be a hidden subclinical infection, such as a UTI or anaerobic sinus infection.

Cinnamon, which has been shown to assist in blood sugar control, is not only antimicrobial but a strong anti-inflammatory. Many of the most popular cooking herbs in the world, such as garlic, ginger, oregano, turmeric, and capsicums (hot peppers) have anti-inflammatory properties, as well.

My dad wasn't drafted because he had severe psoriasis.

If you haven't seen a pattern here yet, you aren't paying attention.

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Found this stunning blog entry about the death of someone’s mom via ‘s journal. Went on to read the comments (oh, the comments … heartbreaking) and the follow-up posting. [Edit: and the third posting.]

When I think about my ever-escalating war against the medical establishment to get GOOD treatment for my autoimmune diseases, and my supplement and lifestyle changes to prevent fibro or CFS, I realize that sometimes being a stubborn b**ch can be a good thing.

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Worked up a rather long reply to a friend who has a parent with some issues, and thought others might appreciate the info. Getting a parent to actually TAKE vitamins or admit anything is wrong might be, well, some kind of karmic irony in action. But maybe you can use the info to get their doctor to evaluate and propose some supplemental nutrition.

  • The excellent Alzheimer’s pages at Healing with Nutrition mention that “Two of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the elderly are folic acid and vitamin B12. These deficiencies lead to motor skill disturbances, confusion, delusion, fatigue, memory loss, numbness, and ringing in the ears. Sounds like dementia, Alzheimer’s, chronic fatigue, and multiple sclerosis all rolled up into one. The important thing to realize is that there are often no differences between the subtle signs of nutrition deficiency and what we interpret as “old age.””
  • Some doctors’ papers available at an Australian site offer a lot of hope:
    “Not a single one of the scores of middle-aged-to-elderly people who have consulted me since 1981 for memory-loss or early Alzheimer’s dementia – and who stayed on my program – has ever gone on to develop the full-blown Alzheimer’s Disease.”
  • This research paper indicates that “cholinesterase inhibitors, FDA-approved drugs that slow the breakdown of acetylcholine in Alzheimer’s patients, help alleviate dementia symptoms.”
  • Try increasing available acetylcholine via nutritional supplements.
  • Look at other medications the folks are on to find any anticholinergic drugs that may be bringing on dementia-like symptoms; also check the listed side effects and interactions to see if ‘cognitive impairment’ is listed.
  • Consider applying several of the suggested therapies from CERI’s table of anti-Alzheimer’s recommendations, especially DMAE, glutathione, and lots and lots of lethicin and B’s. Note that we forwarded info from CERI’s programs on dealing with Downs Syndrome via nutritional therapy to Mike’s brother when our little niece was born with it. She is mainstreamed and does really well, though she may top out at some point (is only 11 now). Mike’s mom thinks that it’s because little A “only had a mild case”– um, yeah. Trisomy-21, you have it or you don’t, eh? Dunno if their Alzheimer’s stuff is as good, but give it a shot.
  • This MIT research “suggests that a cocktail treatment of omega-3 fatty acids and two other compounds normally present in the blood, could delay the cognitive decline seen in Alzheimer’s disease” (omega-3′s, uridine, and choline)
  • Wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil, or deep-sea norweigan fish oil, are both the best omega-3/omega-6 good-ratio supplements out there. Flaxseed oil requires the body to do more conversion (a conversion which cats can’t do, found out about it on a make your own petfood site). Pasture-raised eggs, specifically the yolks, are an excellent source of omega-3; current indoor, factory-farmed eggs and meats are quite lacking in them compared to historical values. Most modern grain-heavy diets provide a ton of omega-6 but without omega-3 in the right ratios you run into trouble. Yes, that’s a very vague statement; go look these up yourself, I’m tired now.
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    Followed a link in my inbox to a rating survey of hospitals, rating them on things like doctor-induced harm, post-op sepsis, patient death, etc. 4th or 5th annual survey of over 5K hospitals in USA.

    If fellow South Bay folks need anything, or have to go to an ER and have choices, go for O’CONNOR HOSPITAL in San Jose. They made it onto the HealthGrades Distinguished Hospitals list in the 4th annual Patient Safety in America survey. There were East Bay hospitals on the list, too.

    However, no Bay Area hospitals are on the HealthGrade nationwide top 50 list. To get on that, a hospital has to have been a Distinguished Hospital in all years of the survey, or be in the top scoring percentile of the hospitals that have been a DH in the previous 4 years of the survey.

    CA hospitals that made the top 50 list:

    Glendale Memorial, Glendale
    Cedars-Sinai, LA
    Good Samaritan, LA
    St Johns, Santa Monica

    Given that there was a 28% reduction in mortality between the top 50 and a standard hospital– not even complications, just straight out “He’s dead, Jim”, I think if our family needs anything major done, we might hop on down to LA, or even Santa Monica.

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