Suncream may interfere with skin’s natural defence to UV light

Man-made Suncream may block the body's natural defence against UV rays.

Suncream may actually block the body’s natural defence against harmful UV rays, a surprising new study has found.

Scientists from Brown University, UK have discovered that human skin contains sensors that detect radiation from the sun. These light receptors – which are also found in the retina of the eye – immediately, prompt the release of melanin, the body’s own form of sun protection.

This is likely to provide rapid protection against UV damage, long before the skin starts to tan. Researchers now believe that full sunscreen blockage is not necessarily good in sun creams because they block certain wavelengths of light needed to trigger the body’s natural defences.

It is hoped that the findings, published in the journal Current Biology, will help pharmaceutical companies to develop more effective products.

The findings say that there was no prior evidence that those receptors can function in skin. The study shows that a dedicated UV receptor allows skin cells to immediately detect and respond to UV light. This protective capacity should be taken into consideration in the design and use of broad-spectrum sunscreens.

During the study human skin was exposed to light at different wavelengths. Results revealed that the light receptors, called rhodopsin, became most active under blue and UV light, prompting melanin production within seconds. Melanin is a pigment that absorbs harmful ultra violet rays to help protect the skin, as well as turning skin darker. This helps prevents the damage responsible for the formation of malignant melanoma and other skin cancers.

The research further found that human skin detects light using a mechanism similar to that used by the retina, on a timescale significantly faster than was previously known. Both the eye and skin – the only two organs constantly exposed to solar radiation – use similar molecular mechanisms to decode light.

There are a number of ways that you can prevent sunburn and stay safe while in the sun.

Wear clothing to protect your skin from UV rays, such as a long-sleeve shirt and trousers

Wear good-quality sunglasses to protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays

Keep babies and children out of direct sunlight

Use Suncream that has a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 (use a higher SPF for fair and sensitive skin), and reapply it frequently

Seek advice immediately from your GP if you notice changes to any of your moles – for example, a change in their size, colour or texture.

Transformation of the Body through Yoga

Yoga transforms the physical body. Forbearance (Yama), which includes veracity and chastity; religious observance, which includes internal and external purity; posture and pranayama play an important role in this transformation. Regular practice of Yoga keeps the physical and mental organs active and maintains their natural condition. Needless to say that natural functioning of organs is the main mantra for a healthy living. The life dependent on artificial organs cannot be stable. Over medication, especially allopathic medicines finish the chances of rejuvenation of physical organs in their natural form leaving aside their sensitivity. A medicine taken to cure a particular disease, gives rise to a new disease. These physical diseases finally give birth to mental diseases.

Different yogic processes like posture, pranayama, devotion, mudras, bandhas, Shatkarma etc. are used in order to purify the blood, vital life energy, nerves, glands etc. All the diseases and disorders are removed from the body totally. The life including proper diet, sleep, celibacy is always enjoyable and healthy. The philosophers of Yoga have included forbearance and religious observance as the two primary branches of Ashtanga Yoga, and are actually the basis of a healthy society and people. Forbearance, which includes not doing injury to living things, not veracity, avoidance of theft, chastity and non-acceptance of gifts is helpful in all round development and building a good civilized society.

Religious observance which includes external and internal purity, cheerfulness or contentment, austerity, chanting Vedic hymns, devoted reliance on the lord are determinants of personal progress. It should not be understood that non-violence and other acts of forbearance have no purpose in personal progress. Ultimately, acceptance of people’s disciplined and civilized life is acceptance and discipline of the society. Non-violence and other forbearance except celibacy are with reference to the society whereas, religious observance are with reference to individual. Saint Patanjali has called forbearance as the greatest religious vow on the basis of this aspect. The meaning is very clear that the people inquisitive of learning Yoga should not be impatient in following non-violence and other acts of forbearance in the name of place, period and condition. However, the suitable place, period and condition could be necessary with respect to external and internal purity, austerity and chanting Vedic hymns etc. The word ‘austerity’ used with respect to religious observances has been elaborated in great detail in Indian literature.

Saint Patanjali has given a very brief note on the form of yoga in the form of Kriya yoga. Austerity is also an important part of this Kriya Yoga along with chanting of Vedic hymns and devoted reliance on the lord. It has been mentioned clearly that austerity is the developed form of physical and mental energy and consciousness not just exploitation of physical organs. According to Patanjali, tolerating confusion is austerity, energy at physical level and logical thinking at mental level give a person the ability to tolerate confusion. Indian sages have recognized these confusions at physical and mental levels in the form of hunger-thirst, cold-hot, happiness- unhappiness, loss-gain, fame-defame, victory-defeat etc. The continuous widening of the ability of tolerating confusion is patience, which is known as the basis quality of personal, family, social, political, religious and spiritual life of the individual. Lord Krishna further elaborates austerity. He included the factors of forbearance and religious observances under austerity and declared it as physical, verbal and mental. Actually, luxurious life full of pretense deteriorates the moral values of a person. A person habituated to leading a comfortable life cannot imagine leading a life without these comforts. The person feels handicapped in the absence of comforts even if he is a fully able person. This attitude makes a person diseased. At this point the nature appears like an enemy. Austerity is an invitation to forbid luxurious and comfortable life style and live in proximity with nature.

Posture or asana is a popular branch of Yoga to maintain the physical balance. Saint Patanjali is very generous and simple while defining asana. According to him, stable and comfortable position is asana. Different writers have different opinions with respect to number of asana and the most interesting is the one given in Dhyanbindupanishadkar. According to it, the number of postures is equal to the number of species of life. It is necessary to strengthen the muscles and nerves in order to keep the body healthy. Posture and exercise strengthen the muscles and nerves. Exercise plays a very important role in supplying the nourishment to different parts of the body obtained through food. Absence of exercise gives rise to imbalanced body. Posture and light exercises strengthen our respiratory system. The therapists are using different yogasana in the successful treatment of various diseases. Different diseases occurring in stomach, neck, spine and knees are cured with popular asanas. Yoga is fully capable of transforming the physical body.

Meditation: Study claims it boosts our minds and immune systems

Meditation can boost our immune system and improve our mental health  according to scientists.

Researchers from Harvard University and Justuc Liebig Univeristy discovered that the ancient religious tradition has various health benefits and can be used as an effective clinical treatment.

Key findings, published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, revealed that meditation can lead to an improved immune function, reduced blood pressure and enhanced cognitive function.

Experts have discovered that meditation has various health benefits and can be used as an effective clinical treatmentExperts have discovered that meditation has various health benefits and can be used as an effective clinical treatment

The practice – an essential part of Buddhist and Indian Yoga life – has become increasingly popular around the world as a way of combating stress.

But now experts say that the research, based on existing scientific literature, proves it is more than a vague remedy and has important health implications.

Lead researcher Dr Britta Hazel,said that the aim of the study, was to ‘unveil the conceptual and mechanistic complexity of mindfulness.’

They concluded that there are four key components of the practice that could attribute for its beneficial affects including attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation, and sense of self.

Dr Hazel added: ‘Understanding the relationships between these components, and the brain mechanisms that underlie them, will allow clinicians to better tailor mindfulness interventions for their patients.’

The team now hope further research on the topic will enable patients to utilize mindfulness meditation as ‘a versatile tool to facilitate change both in psychotherapy and in everyday life’.


Yoga can improve your bad back

Its fans claim it helps the body fight aches and pains through a range of stretches.

But it would seem that the ancient practice of yoga really does work – and it could be even better than going to the doctor.

Patients with a common form of lower back pain who did three months of classes in the therapeutic discipline were able to do daily chores they previously would have found impossible, say scientists.

And some claimed the effects continued for a year after they had finished  the sessions.

The extent to which yoga helps the body and mind remains highly contested however and only last week researchers from the U.S. claimed it brought no improvement to well-being.

But a team from the University of York have looked at its effects on around 300 patients with chronic lower back pain, a  common condition which affects one in five adults in any given year.

Half followed a 12-week course of yoga, with specific exercises focusing on their back. The remainder carried on visiting their GP and were given painkillers, exercises to follow and in some cases physiotherapy.

The findings, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, show that after three months patients who had been to the yoga classes were able to do 30 per cent more daily activities than those who had carried on seeing their family doctor.

However, yoga did not seem to relieve patients’ pain. It only enabled them to carry out more household chores, such  as gardening.

And 12 patients who had completed the yoga reported suffering episodes of severe pain, which may have been caused by their stretches.

Nonetheless the researchers claimed yoga helped patients feel more confident in carrying out chores despite their pain.

Chief investigator Professor David Torgerson said: ‘Back pain is an extremely common and costly condition. Exercise treatment, although widely used and recommended, has only a small effect on back pain.

‘We therefore set out to investigate an alternative approach using a specially-developed weekly yoga programme  for back pain sufferers to see if this  allowed them to manage their back pain more successfully.’

Professor Alan Silman, Medical Director of Arthritis Research UK, which funded the study said: ‘We’re delighted that our trial has shown that yoga provides such positive benefits for people with chronic low back pain.

‘This extremely common condition cannot be managed with painkillers alone and there is an urgent need to have non-drug therapies that sufferers can utilise in their own home.’

Around 80 per cent of Britons will suffer chronic lower back pain at some point in their lives.

Painkillers are often ineffective and many patients try alternative forms of therapy such as acupuncture, exercise or massages to relieve symptoms.

2 how-to yoga videos: Moves to relieve back pain3 yoga tips for back pain



Here are three yoga tips to help you unlock your tight back and return to your strong, supple and stable self:

1. Back off to move forward

If you rush into a stretch too quickly, you could trigger the stretch reflex, which can cause the muscle to contract defensively and get tighter or even strain.

Instead, to target back muscles in, say, a seated or standing forward bend, bend the knees so your spine can lengthen into its natural curves. Then, maintain a long spine as you begin to stretch the legs back. When you first meet the edge of a stretch, stop, breathe and soften there. Then go a little farther into your next edge.

Easing off the extreme stretch and instead seducing the body to open by going on a gentle, yet insistent journey through layers of flexibility will help you circumvent your body’s protective reflexes and allow it to release.

2. Vive la resistance!

To signal your central nervous system to release tension in the lower back, or anywhere, you can try the PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) technique, or in simpler terms, resist and release.

It’s used by physical and sports therapists, and by modifying your back-stretching poses to include it, you’ll also gain the benefits of increased muscle flexibility. To make PNF work for you, you’ll need to maintain a balance of three things: muscle action, muscle stretch and proper alignment. These are not passive stretches only.

In my video, you’ll be both using a muscle at the same time you’re stretching it, a technique called resistance stretching, and alternating resistance and release. These moves are part of the reason my students get more flexible, fast, while remaining pain-free. It tells your central nervous system that you’re protected, and it seems to cause a greater release than just passive stretching alone.

Whenever you’re trying to move past chronically tight areas, maintaining proper alignment means that every move you make should serve one area to remain open, strong and free: the spine. If students jam the legs straight but compromise the spine, the pose has crossed the line into unhealthy territory.

Instead, as we resist and release, resist and stretch, back off, gain traction or anything else we do to increase our range of motion, we should only go as far as we’re able while preserving the integrity of the all-important spine. The stretch will come from there, in time.

3. Gain traction

Once you’re warmed up, you’ve done your yoga and you’re ready to rest, try a restorative pose first that will gently pull your lower back spine into traction or a slight opening.

When you’re in a supported pose, like the sacral reset with a block you’ll see in the video, you can release muscular action and allow gravity to take over. As your body rests, your muscles also cool down and reset into new alignment. So the position you’re in while you re-form the mold of your body is very important. First rest in a back traction pose like this one, and then take full savasana to allow your legs to retain their optimal length.

All in all, remember that it took a while to get your back to this point, and it’s a journey back out again. As you move through the stages of your flexibility and re-strengthening, instead of hitting your edge and letting your inner voice say “I’m soooo tight,” try this perspective: “I’m really opening up here — little by little, but it’s going to make a huge difference.”