study from the University of Washington, in Seattle, tested the relationship of immune system functioning to lack of adequate sleep. To rule out genetic factors, which experts say account for 31 to 55 percent of individual sleep patterns, researchers tested blood samples from 11 pairs of adult identical twins (genetic matches) with differing sleep habits. They found that the immune system was depressed in the twin that slept less. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans are sleeping 1.5 to two hours less than they did 100 years ago, and more than 30 percent of working people average fewer than six hours a night. Dr. Nathanial Watson, lead author and co-director of the university’s Sleep Medicine Center at Harborview Medical Center, observes, “Seven or more hours of sleep is recommended for optimal health.”
Massage Relieves Chronic Back Pain
esearchers from Indiana University-Purdue University, in Indianapolis, set out to find out if massage therapy—typically an out-of-pocket expense not covered under most insurance plans—can provide effective treatment for individuals suffering with chronic back pain. The study followed 76 primary care patients with chronic back pain for 24 weeks. The researchers measured pain, disability and quality of life at the beginning of the study, after 12 weeks and again after 24 weeks of massage therapy. Each patient was referred to a licensed massage therapist for 10 no-cost sessions in a real-world environment during the initial 12 weeks. More than half of the patients that completed the core study reported clinically meaningful improvements for physical and mental measures. For bodily pain, 40 percent were clinically improved. Older adults and Baby Boomers reported the highest percentage of changes. Plus, the study found that sufferers that avoided taking painkillers were twice as likely to experience reduced pain than those using opioids.
Sufficient Sleep Supports Immunity
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Scientists from the University of Oxford and the Chinese Medical Academy studied 500,000 healthy adults in China for seven years, tracking medical records of illnesses and deaths. They found that a 100-gram serving of fruit per day (primarily apples and oranges) reduces the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke by one-third. 10
EATING FRUIT LOWERS CARDIAC RISK
Natural Awakenings is Washington, D.C.'s green, healthy living magazine.