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At Ecoja we explore and compare the traditional and modern systems of health and wisdom.  Ecoja is a community where all knowledge can be questioned and new insights are sought.  The discussion forums are the heart of this site and there is more to come.

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Those Without Electric Light Sleep More

sleep

This is hardly a surprising conclusion.  Yet the effects of modern sleep habits on health tend to be underestimated.

The recently published study Access to Electric Light Is Associated with Shorter Sleep Duration in a Traditionally Hunter-Gatherer Community studied two similar groups of people, except one had access to electricity whereas the other didn’t. They found that the group that relied on natural light got more sleep (43 minutes more during the summer and 56 more during the winter).

Abstract: Access to electric light might have shifted the ancestral timing and duration of human sleep. To test this hypothesis, we studied two communities of the historically hunter-gatherer indigenous Toba/Qom in the Argentinean Chaco. These communities share the same ethnic and sociocultural background, but one has free access to electricity while the other relies exclusively on natural light. We fitted participants in each community with wrist activity data loggers to assess their sleep-wake cycles during one week in the summer and one week in the winter. During the summer, participants with access to electricity had a tendency to a shorter daily sleep bout (43 ± 21 min) than those living under natural light conditions. This difference was due to a later daily bedtime and sleep onset in the community with electricity, but a similar sleep offset and rise time in both communities. In the winter, participants without access to electricity slept longer (56 ± 17 min) than those with access to electricity, and this was also related to earlier bedtimes and sleep onsets than participants in the community with electricity. In both communities, daily sleep duration was longer during the winter than during the summer. Our field study supports the notion that access to inexpensive sources of artificial light and the ability to create artificially lit environments must have been key factors in reducing sleep in industrialized human societies.

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Jamu: Indonesia’s Ancient System of Health and Lifestyle

indonesia

I by chance encountered a Time Magazine article today titled Jamu: Why Isn’t Indonesia’s Ancient System of Herbal Healing Better Known?  This is the first time I heard of Jamu.

The Wikipedia article on Jamu is not very long but does provide a concise overview. From the Wikipedia article:

It [Jamu] is claimed to have originated in the Mataram Kingdom some 1300 years ago. Though heavily influenced by Ayurveda from India, Indonesia is a vast archipelago with numerous indigenous plants not found in India, and include plants similar to Australia beyond the Wallace Line. Jamu may vary from region to region, and often not written down, especially in remote areas of the country.

We started a discussion thread on Jamu on our Ecoja discussion forums.  Please feel free to comment if you have more information about this system of health.

A short video on Jamu herbal beverages is displayed below:

Single Gene able to Reverse Certain Kinds of Cancer?

mouse

We are often sceptical of cancer research, especially when a large claim is being made or a panacea has been claimed to be found.  Scepticism does not mean outright rejection, however, and one must be open to new findings.  The following study caught our eye:

Lukas E. Dow, Kevin P. O’Rourke, Janelle Simon, Darjus F. Tschaharganeh, Johan H. van Es, Hans Clevers, Scott W. Lowe. Apc Restoration Promotes Cellular Differentiation and Re-establishes Crypt Homeostasis in Colorectal Cancer. Cell, 2015; 161 (7): 1539 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.05.033

In this study the researches found that:

Our study reveals that colorectal cancers (CRC) cells can revert to functioning normal cells given appropriate signals and provide compelling in vivo validation of the Wnt pathway as a therapeutic target for treatment of CRC.

This is a very technical paper but the unique finding was that by reactivating a single gene the cancer cells were influenced to return to a normal, non-cancerous state.

This study was done using mice and is very early stage research but the potential promise this line of inquiry holds is clear.

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Low Heart Rate Variability in Women linked to Low Sexual Libido?

retrowoman

Given that low resting heart rate variability has been associated with erectile dysfunction, I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising that a recent study has shown that it effects female libido as well.

From the study:

Women with below average HRV were significantly more likely to report sexual arousal dysfunction (p < .001) and overall sexual dysfunction (p < .001) than both women with average HRV and women with above average HRV. In conclusion, low HRV may be a risk factor for female sexual arousal dysfunction and overall sexual dysfunction.

Stanton, A.M. et al. Heart Rate Variability: A Risk Factor for Female Sexual Dysfunction. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 2015.

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Without Self-Realization, no Virtue is Genuine.

nisargadatta_maharaj

Do not pretend that you love others as yourself. Unless you have realized them as one with yourself, you cannot love them. Don’t pretend to be what you are not, don’t refuse to be what you are.  Your love of others is the result of self-knowledge, not its cause.

Without self-realization, no virtue is genuine. Where you know beyond all doubting that the same life flows through all that is and you are that life, you will love all naturally and spontaneously.

When you realize the depth and fullness of your love of yourself, you know that every living being and the entire universe are included in your affection.

But when you look at anything as separate from you, you cannot love it for you are afraid of it. Alienation causes fear and fear deepens alienation. It is a vicious circle. Only self-realization can break it. Go for it resolutely.

— Nisargadatta Maharaj

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Chikungunya Virus becomes International Threat

chikungunya

First identified in 1952, the Chikungunya virus, a mosquito born virus, is known for its crippling and contorting effects on its sufferers.  This virus had mostly isolated to parts of Africa and Asia but has spread widely since it has been monitored.  Now it’s found in North America, Europe, India, and beyond infecting millions.

Peru just reported its first locally acquired case of the virus.

We had previously wrote a blog post titled BBC Article on Herbal Remedies in Antigua that explored an article about some natural remedies for Chikungunya.

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What Does your Pee say about You?

Urine analysis has long been a part of the traditional health systems. Consider this interesting study:

A study on Tailabindu pariksha – An ancient Ayurvedic method of urine examination as a diagnostic and prognostic tool

The text of this study provides a good overview of the subtleties and nuances of Ayurvedic urine analysis.

From the Abstract:

Indian traditional medicine, Ayurveda has a great history. Researchers in India have tried to corroborate ancient wisdom with the modern scientific practices. Tailabindu pariksha is a diagnostic tool of urine examination developed by the medieval Ayurvedic scholars, and also throws a light on the prognosis of the disease condition. This study aims at using this ancient wisdom to diagnose the medical conditions and to study about their prognosis, and studying about how it can be applied to modern medical practice and its limitations. For the purpose of the study, 30 volunteers were divided into 3 groups. Group I consisting of healthy volunteers, group II of those patients who suffer from curable conditions and group III consisting of patients suffering from chronic diseases which can be regarded as incurable. The urine collection, oil drop instillation and evaluation, were all done according to the guidelines laid down in Ayurvedic practices. Upon the evaluation of the color, appearance, consistency and pattern of oil drop spreading in different patients of different groups, it could be seen that the data could be correlated to what has been provided in the literature in majority of the cases. In today’s modern medical practices, there is a plethora of urine diagnostic examinations available. These act as an added financial burden to the patients. In the midst of this, making use of Tailabindu pariksha for urine examination, will not only prove economical, but also is a time-tested and scientifically proven method. More in-depth studies on larger groups of patients, suffering from various diseases need to be done to standardize the procedure and make it scientifically more acceptable.

Discuss this video on our discussion forums.