Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Brain Structure Is Different In Those With Anorexia

A study conducted earlier this year has discovered physical differences in the brains of anorexics compared to those without the disorder.

The brain is always active and incredibly fast moving in its processing. Whenever a person is receiving visual stimulus, the brain reacts and becomes increasingly active in several different regions. This new study has discovered that anorexics will have different levels of activity in specific areas of the brain. The technique used in the study to discover this new information is called functional magnetic resonance imaging and has allowed for a new and interesting look at the brains of those suffering from anorexia nervosa.

The difference is in how the brain is connected. The two main regions that are responsible for processing images of the body have been found to be significantly weaker in anorexics when compared to those without the disorder. It has been found that the weaker the connection is (the stronger the difference when compared to a normal brain) the more anorexic individuals consider themselves to be overweight. Dr Boris Suchan, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Ruhr-Universitat states that“These alterations in the brain could explain why women with anorexia perceive themselves as fatter, even though they are objectively underweight"

This is exciting news for those involved in research and treatment of anorexia; any solid, physical confirmation of differences in the brain is grounds for new areas and directions of research and could pave the way for new treatment for anorexia nervosa.

In the study, ten anorexic women were chosen, along with fifteen healthy women as a control group. After being tasked with choosing which visual representation of a body was most similar to their own by picking from a list of silhouettes, the women were then scanned through MRI machines. At the same time, the women were shown varying pictures of different types of bodies.

The critical element of this study is the “fusiform body area”, or FBA, and also the EBA, or “extrastriate body area”. The activity in these areas and their connections was the base of the studies findings on how different connection levels can be linked with anorexia.

As mentioned above, the link was weaker in the anorexic group. This confirmation of the level of FBA and EBA connection and its relation to anorexia is an extremely important discovery. While some studies are more speculative in nature, this research has found physical differences in the brain that can be tied to anorexia, guiding future research and prospects of treatment. 

For More information about Eating Disorders and all other forms of addiction, visit the Life Works Community Website. 

Friday, 7 June 2013

Can tailor made substances help cannabis withdrawal?

New synthetic drugs are currently undergoing research and testing that may help cannabis users wean themselves off the substance. With street cannabis growing increasingly strong for decades, these synthetic substances may aid heavy users in restoring much needed control to their lives.

With the rate of cannabis relapse estimated at 71% within the United States, the choice to go cold turkey with cannabis is far from simple and certainly not easy. While many would be surprised at such a figure, the fact remains that many thousands of users are struggling with the problem of staying clean from cannabis. This problem is expected to increase in scale in America as the drug comes ever closer to decriminalization or full legalization.

One of the substances aimed at assisting with this problem is Nabilone. Synthetic in nature, Nabilone mimics the structure of cannabis without giving a high to the user. It appears from initial testing that Nabilone is effective in reducing common cannabis withdrawal symptoms related to sleep and appetite. It also appears that the substance can help minimize the level of stress and general impairment in individuals attempting to quit cannabis; something quite significant in the psychological battle of withdrawal.

Similarly, it has been found that a combination of THC delivered orally and lofexidine can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms in the same vein as Nabilone. Lofexidine is an opiate withdrawal drug that has seen use within the United Kingdom. It is not, however, approved for use within the United States as of yet.

While it may seem surprising or controversial to some, the use of synthetics in withdrawal from cannabis is a perfectly legitimate and feasible avenue, providing appropriate substances can be found that are both effective and minimal in their side effects. The fact that many view cannabis is a safer or more benign substance does not change the fact that many users struggle with abstinence. Symptoms such as sleeping issues and problems with the appetite of the individual in question are very real and can be very disruptive in day to day life, something that can spill over into other areas and be profoundly difficult to contain. If these synthetic drugs can be researched thoroughly and implemented in reducing the difficulty of withdrawal from cannabis for users, thousands will benefit and gain further confidence from conquering a difficult issue within their own lives.

For more information about substance abuse and all addiction, please visit the Life Works Community Website.