Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Electrify your brain: "A growing body of evidence suggests that passing a small electric current through your head can have a profound effect on the way your brain works. Called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), the technique has already been shown to boost verbal and motor skills and to improve learning and memory in healthy people - making fully-functioning brains work even better. It is also showing promise as a therapy to cure migraine and speed recovery after a stroke, and may extract more from the withering brains of people with dementia. Some researchers think the technique will eventually yield a commercial device that healthy people could use to boost their brain function at the flick of a switch."

Chocolate for your heart: "Heart patients at a leading London hospital will be treated with chocolate if a revolutionary experiment is approved. Roger Corder, a professor of experimental therapeutics, is so convinced of the possible benefits of eating dark chocolate that he has asked for permission to test the theory as part of the treatment for 40 cardiovascular patients. While the idea that chocolate can be good for you is not new, this will be the first time it has been used on heart patients. The key, scientists argue, is in its molecules, or polyphenols - especially the largest group, flavonoids. Flavonoids have an anti-oxidant effect that acts on the body's LDL-cholesterol - the so-called "bad cholesterol" found in the blood, which hardens arteries and causes blockages and eventual strokes and heart attacks. To this extent, flavonoids found in chocolate are said to act like aspirin in the way they prevent clotting. At least one recent US study found that eating 25 grams of dark chocolate a day resulted in lower platelet activity, the particles of blood which stick together to form clots."

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