Exercise and sleep in Parkinson’s

Hot off the research press is a journal article with a self-explanatory title: Effects of exercise on sleep in neurodegenerative disease.

It starts by summarising the main things that affect sleep in people with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases as being:

  1. damage to the sleep-wake system in the brain, that affects the circadian rhythm and disrupts normal sleeping and waking patterns; and
  2. “secondary mechanisms” which include a raft of things like medication side effects, having to get up to the toilet during the night, poor sleep “hygiene”, sleep-related breathing disorders, and the environment in which you try to sleep.
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Blood glucose and red light

There’s been increasing interest in photobiomodulation and muscles.

Researchers from Brazil have been looking further into this, curious to see what happens to blood glucose (often called blood sugar) when a combination of red and near infrared light is shone into muscles. Their interest was piqued by reports that photobiomodulation can help lower blood glucose levels in people with diabetes. Blood glucose levels stay high in diabetes and that causes all sorts of problems for the rest of the body.

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Magnificent mitochondria

Thomas Ryan and David Tumbarello, two British researchers, published a very interesting two-page review article due to be published in September 2021, but made available early.

It seems that mitochondria, the batteries in our cells, aren’t merely being driven by other, more high-status, parts of the cell. It looks like the mitochondria themselves might be in the driver’s seat, at least for some aspects of their activity. We should take more notice of them.

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Epilepsy and light

It is looking like transcranial photobiomodulation could improve epilepsy that results from having a stroke.

Having a stroke is a scary thing. So many parts of the body can be affected and the likelihood of full recovery is incredibly variable. To add to the misery, you can be left with epilepsy.

If you are even more unlucky, you will be one of the one third of people whose epilepsy doesn’t respond to standard medications. Treatment-resistant epilepsy is a dreadful burden to the individual and the family.

Dr Vogel’s research team looked at the effect of light on the heads of rats who had stroke-induced epilepsy. They compared recordings of brain activity from before starting transcranial light and sixty days after treatment.

They found that the rats who had been treated with transcranial light had fewer seizures and the duration of seizures had shortened.

While this is a very early report, it strongly suggests that transcranial photobiomodulation could reduce the impact of epilepsy in people who have had a stroke. This is exciting work.

Reference:

Vogel, DDS, Ortiz‐Villatoro, NN, de Freitas, L, et al. Repetitive transcranial photobiomodulation but not long‐term omega‐3 intake reduces epileptiform discharges in rats with stroke‐induced epilepsy. J. Biophotonics. 2021; 14:e202000287. https://doi.org/10.1002/jbio.202000287

The beautiful photo is by Josh Riemer on Unsplash

Movement and Molecules

Below is an excellent article written by Gretchen Reynolds, first published in the New York Times and reprinted in The Age on 1 December 2020. Reynolds describes new research into the effect of movement on molecules in the blood and what that might mean for quality of life and length of life.

If you’ve ever thought that exercise of any degree or duration is over-rated, then this is the article for you: Link

Thanks to John Moeses Bauan from Unsplash for this gorgeous photo.