Mindfulness-Based Methods and Eating Behaviors

Mindfulness-based interventions are getting more and more popular for the promotion of healthy eating behaviors and weight control. Specifically, studies have indicated that mindfulness meditation may be helpful for healing binge eating (Katterman et al., 2014).

A meta-analysis and review of relevant studies indicated that as a primary intervention method, mindfulness meditation may be beneficial for relieving the problems of emotional eating and improving eating behaviors (Katterman et al., 2014). However, the overall and long-term influences of mindfulness-based methods on weight management need to be examined in larger population groups.

In a study focusing on the effects of an eight-week mindfulness-based method involving 26 women with abnormal eating behaviors, the training showed significant effects on food cravings and emotional eating (Alberts et al., 2012). The training also had beneficial influences on body image concern.

These studies have revealed that mindfulness-based interventions may have potential effects on improving eating behaviors such as emotional eating. More studies with long-term observations are still necessary to evaluate their effects on weight loss and psychological health.


Alberts, H. J. E. M., Thewissen, R., & Raes, L. (2012). Dealing with problematic eating behaviour. The effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on eating behaviour, food cravings, dichotomous thinking and body image concern. Appetite, 58(3), 847–851. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2012.01.009

Katterman, S. N., Kleinman, B. M., Hood, M. M., Nackers, L. M., & Corsica, J. A. (2014). Mindfulness meditation as an intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, and weight loss: a systematic review. Eating Behaviors, 15(2), 197–204. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2014.01.005

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Youth Obesity, Mindful Eating, and Meditation-Based Interventions

Today more than 30% of young people in the US are overweight, and more than 15% of them have metabolic syndrome (Dalen et al., 2015). Youth obesity is becoming a more and more significant health problem. However, effective interventions are still to be developed to solve the problem. In the meantime, most of the conventional weight loss approaches are not able to adjust eating behaviors or improve psychological conditions, which are also serious.

These problems are requesting more extensive cognitive-behavioral strategies that can be helpful for healing youth obesity. For example, meditation-based mindful eating strategies have been suggested as a useful approach that may improve the psychological status and promote weight loss among the youth (Dalen et al., 2015).

Such mindfulness methods may also incorporate family relationships to emphasize the environmental factors that may affect the results. The combination of mindful eating and family involvement, i.e., an integrative family-based mindful eating strategy has been proposed for helping overweight youth (Dalen et al., 2015). The effectiveness of such a framework needs to be tested in the relevant population.


Dalen, J., Brody, J. L., Staples, J. K., & Sedillo, D. (2015). A Conceptual Framework for the Expansion of Behavioral Interventions for Youth Obesity: A Family-Based Mindful Eating Approach. Childhood Obesity (Print), 11(5), 577–84. https://doi.org/10.1089/chi.2014.0150

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Mindfulness-Based Interventions, Eating Behaviors, and Obesity

How can mindfulness-based approaches affect psychological and physical health among those who are overweight or obese? A recent meta-analysis examined randomized controlled trials and focused on 15 relevant studies involving 560 individuals (Rogers et al., 2017). The study found that the average weight loss from the results of these trials was 4.2 kg.

In addition, the mindfulness-based interventions may have strong to moderate influences on health in many aspects including eating attitudes and behaviors, as well as psychological health such as depression and anxiety (Rogers et al., 2017). The approaches may also affect body mass index (BMI) and metacognition.

The study found that the median dose of the face-to-face interventions was 12 hours. However, no more efficacy advantage was observed beyond such median dose. Among the different interventions, the method of “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy” was found to improve BMI significantly (Rogers et al., 2017).

The meta-analysis concluded that the mindfulness-based interventions could promote physical and psychological health for overweight or obese people (Rogers et al., 2017). The relevant trials have also demonstrated that more studies are necessary for understanding the scientific mechanisms of the mindfulness-based interventions for obesity and weight loss.


Rogers, J. M., Ferrari, M., Mosely, K., Lang, C. P., & Brennan, L. (2017). Mindfulness-based interventions for adults who are overweight or obese: a meta-analysis of physical and psychological health outcomes. Obesity Reviews : An Official Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 18(1), 51–67. https://doi.org/10.1111/obr.12461

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Meditation, Weight Control, and Body Satisfaction

Meditation may have positive effects on weight control and body satisfaction. A recent study in Australia examined the relationship between meditation and weight control among 8009 Australian women (Lauche et al., 2017). The study also assessed the levels of body satisfaction.

About half of the examined women were overweight or obese, and most of the overweight women had desire for weight management (Lauche et al., 2017). More than 25% of the women with normal BMI and more than 65% of the overweight/obese women were not satisfied with their body weight and shape.

Some weight management approaches were taken by the women, such as physical exercises, having smaller meal sizes, and having less sugars or fats (Lauche et al., 2017). About 8% of the women often practiced yoga or meditation, and more than 14% of the women did so sometimes.

The study found that those women with normal BMI and practiced yoga or meditation were more satisfied with their body weight and shape, in comparison with the non-practitioners (Lauche et al., 2017). In addition, all of the yoga or meditation practitioners exercised more and tended to have a low-sugar diet. The study indicated that the practice of meditation may influence not only the level of body satisfaction, but also the healthy approaches for weight control.


Lauche, R., Sibbritt, D., Ostermann, T., Fuller, N. R., Adams, J., & Cramer, H. (2017). Associations between yoga/meditation use, body satisfaction, and weight management methods: Results of a national cross-sectional survey of 8009 Australian women. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), 34, 58–64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2016.09.007

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The Interactions between Natural Killer Cells and Monocytes in Anti-Cancer Therapies

Human natural killer (NK) cells, monocytes, and dendritic cells are important components of the innate immune functions with instant protections against cancer cells and infections. Monocytes are large white blood cells (also called leukocytes). They can become macrophages and obtain some properties of dendritic cells. Dendritic cells (DCs) are antigen-presenting cells that may perform as messengers between the innate and adaptive immunity. B and T lymphocytes are important for the adaptive immunity with previous sensitization for activation and prolonged defense.

NK cells are cytotoxic and especially powerful for anti-cancer and anti-microbial functions. The cytotoxicity of NK cells can be triggered by the overall effects of stimulating and inhibitory signals released from surface receptors. Activating signals may come from stress-stimulated ligands and pathogenic molecules (Poupot et al., 2016).

The proliferation of the NK cells may depend on the activation of monocytes. Complicated interactions are involved in the associations between monocytes/macrophages and NK cells. Studies have found that amino-bis(methylene phosphonate)-capped PPH dendrimers may activate monocytes and stimulate the proliferation of NK cells with the direct cellular contacts between the two types of cells (Poupot et al., 2016).

Dendrimer-activated monocytes may generate a positive signal for the proliferation of NK cells. However, NK cells may kill the dendrimer-activated monocytes for amplification, especially when monocytes are involved in the anti-inflammatory pathway (Poupot et al., 2016). It is necessary to consider such complex interactions when using poly(phosphorhydrazone) dendrimers for NK-cell based anti-cancer treatments.


Poupot, M., Turrin, C. O., Caminade, A. M., Fourni??, J. J., Attal, M., Poupot, R., & Fruchon, S. (2016). Poly(phosphorhydrazone) dendrimers: yin and yang of monocyte activation for human NK cell amplification applied to immunotherapy against multiple myeloma. Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine, 12(8), 2321–2330. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nano.2016.07.009

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Myocardial Infarction, Dual Antiplatelet Therapy, and Personalized Care

In the treatment of myocardial infarction, a balance is needed between the prevention of ischemic and bleeding problems (Brar, 2016). The applications of hP2Y12 inhibitors may reach a threshold that additional platelet inhibition can elevate major bleeding and abolish the effects on the inhibition of ischemic events (Brar, 2016).

To solve the problems, it may be helpful to identify the population groups with high ischemic risks for long-term dual antiplatelet therapy. In addition, the length of the dual antiplatelet therapy is relevant. It is also necessary to identify the best possible treatment duration.

Health informatics strategies including machine learning have been suggested for more robust approaches for risk prediction (Brar, 2016). The analysis of the data from electronic health records (EHRs) and the applications of the prediction algorithm may help with the identifications of the threshold and the optimal schedules. The combination of clinical observations and informatics methods may help improve the practice of personalize medicine in the treatment of myocardial infarction by finding the optimal strategies using long-term dual antiplatelet therapy.


Brar, S. S. (2016). The Yin and Yang of Long-Term Dual Antiplatelet Therapy. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 67(10), 1155–1157. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2015.12.061

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Potential Biomarkers for Anxiety

•    Potential Biomarker: Serum levels of lipid hydroperoxide (LOOH)
•    Type:    Serum
•    Relevance: The serum levels of lipid hydroperoxide have been considered as a potential biomarker for anxiety disorders among children (Ceylan et al., 2014).

•    Potential Biomarker: Nighttime Fears (NF)
•    Type: Behavioral
•    Relevance: Nighttime Fears (NF) may be a potential behavioral biomarker for anxiety vulnerability, fears, and behavioral problems among children, especially those preschool children of 4 -6 years old (Kushnir et al., 2014).

•    Potential Biomarker: BAIAP3 SNPs (AA for rs2235632, TT for rs1132358)
•    Type:    Genetic variants
•    Relevance: The genetic polymorphisms of BAIAP3 (BAI1 Associated Protein 3) may be the potential biomarkers for anxiety among women and benzodiazepine abuse    among men (Wojcik et al., 2013).

•    Potential Biomarker: Cone of Direct Gaze: CoDG (“range of eye gaze angles judged as being directed at oneself”)
•    Type: Psychophysical
•    Relevance: CoDG has been suggested as a potential psychophysical biomarker for social anxiety disorder (Jun et al., 2013).

•    Potential Biomarkers: Abnormal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) Aβ42 and t-tau levels
•    Type: Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
•    Relevance: Abnormal levels of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) Aβ42 and t-tau can be the potential biomarkers for the symptoms of anxiety, agitation and irritability among those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) (Ramakers et al., 2013).

•    Potential Biomarker: Electroencephalographic activities (P1 activation, N2 activation)
•    Type: Neurophysiological
•    Relevance: The Electroencephalographic activities may be the potential biomarkers for the outcomes of cognitive behavioral therapy (P1) and responses (N2) among anxious children (Hum et al., 2013).

•    Potential Biomarkers: Higher HDL, free fatty acids (FFA), dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEA-S), substance P
•    Type: Plasma biochemical markers
•    Relevance: Higher levels of HDL, FFA, DHEA-S, and substance P may indicate anxiety and degraded mood among females (Lieberman et al., 2012).

•    Potential Biomarkers: Elevated dark-enhanced startle, sympathetic system activation
•    Type: Psychopathological markers
•    Relevance: Elevated dark-enhanced startle and sympathetic system activation may be a marker for anxiety among children with abused mothers (Jovanovic et al., 2011).

•    Potential Biomarker: Higher cortisol levels in saliva
•    Type: Saliva biochemical markers
•    Relevance: Higher cortisol levels in saliva may be a potential marker for psychosomatic halitosis (PH) (oral malodor) with anxiety (Fukui et al., 2010).

•    Potential Biomarker: Aversive learning, aversive conditioning
•    Type:    Behavioral
•    Relevance: Aversive learning may be a potential biomarker for anxiety disorders among children (Craske et al., 2008).

•    Potential Biomarker: CO2 sensitivity
•    Type: Psychophysical
•    Relevance: The CO2 sensitivity may be a potential biomarker for social anxiety disorder (SAD) among young adults (Schmidt et al., 2008).

•    Potential Biomarkers: Inflammation and coagulation markers in men: C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-6 (IL-6), homocysteine, fibrinogen levels; in women: CRP, white blood cell counts, IL-6, homocysteine, fibrinogen levels
•    Type: Inflammation and coagulation markers
•    Relevance: Inflammatory and coagulation markers including CRP and IL-6 may be associated with anxiety among men (19-89 years old) and women (18 to 84 years old) (Pitsavos et al., 2006).

•    Potential Biomarker: Glyoxalase-I protein
•    Type: Protein marker in the brain areas
•    Relevance: The glyoxalase-I protein may be a potential biomarker for anxiety- and depression-like behavior, as identified in mice models (Krömer et al., 2005).

•    Potential Biomarker: Anxiety sensitivity (phrenophobia, fear of physical arousal)
•    Type: Psychological
•    Relevance: Phrenophobia may be a potential biomarker for anxious symptoms among young psychiatric inpatients between 9-17 years old (Joiner et al., 2002).

•    Potential Biomarker: Cholesterol levels
•    Type: Biochemical marker
•    Relevance: Cholesterol levels have been associated with anxiety and depression among a normal population in a primary care setting (Rafter et al., 2001).

•    Potential Biomarkers: Higher levels of CD16 (natural killer) cells; CD19 cells (B lymphocytes), human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DR-presenting cells, HLA-DR and CD19 surface markers (B lymphocytes with surface HLA-DR)
•    Type: Circulating lymphocyte phenotypic markers
•    Relevance: Higher levels of natural killer cells, B lymphocytes, and HLA-DR-presenting cells have been associated with anxiety disorders, panic disorder, and generalized social phobia (Rapaport et al., 1998).

•    Potential Biomarker: Plasma levels of glucose, cortisol and prolactin
•    Type: Plasma biochemical markers
•    Relevance: The plasma levels of glucose, cortisol and prolactin may be related to anxiety caused by physiology examination (EPh) and psychology (EPs) examination among female medical students (Armario et al., 1996).

•    Potential Biomarker: Frontal midline theta activity
•    Type:    Physiological
•    Relevance: Frontal midline theta activity has been considered as a potential biomarker for anxiety among male university students (Mizuki et al., 1989).


Armario A, Marti O, Molina T, de Pablo J, Valdes M. Acute stress markers in humans: response of plasma glucose, cortisol and prolactin to two examinations differing in the anxiety they provoke. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1996 Jan;21(1):17-24.

Ceylan MF, Guney E, Alisik M, Ergin M, Dinc GS, Goker Z, Eker S, Kizilgun M, Erel O. Lipid peroxidation markers in children with anxiety disorders and their diagnostic implications. Redox Rep. 2014 Mar;19(2):92-6. doi: 10.1179/1351000213Y.0000000082.

Craske MG, Waters AM, Lindsey Bergman R, Naliboff B, Lipp OV, Negoro H, Ornitz EM. Is aversive learning a marker of risk for anxiety disorders in children? Behav Res Ther. 2008 Aug;46(8):954-67. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2008.04.011.

Fukui M, Hinode D, Yokoyama M, Yoshioka M, Kataoka K, Ito HO. Levels of salivary stress markers in patients with anxiety about halitosis. Arch Oral Biol. 2010 Nov;55(11):842-7. doi: 10.1016/j.archoralbio.2010.07.014.

Hum KM, Manassis K, Lewis MD. Neurophysiological markers that predict and track treatment outcomes in childhood anxiety. J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2013 Nov;41(8):1243-55. doi: 10.1007/s10802-013-9755-7.

Joiner TE Jr, Schmidt NB, Schmidt KL, Laurent J, Catanzaro SJ, Perez M, Pettit JW. Anxiety sensitivity as a specific and unique marker of anxious symptoms in youth psychiatric inpatients. J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2002 Apr;30(2):167-75.

Jovanovic T, Smith A, Kamkwalala A, Poole J, Samples T, Norrholm SD, Ressler KJ, Bradley B. Physiological markers of anxiety are increased in children of abused mothers. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2011 Aug;52(8):844-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2011.02410.x.

Jun YY, Mareschal I, Clifford CW, Dadds MR. Cone of direct gaze as a marker of social anxiety in males. Psychiatry Res. 2013 Nov 30;210(1):193-8. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2013.05.020.

Krömer SA, Kessler MS, Milfay D, Birg IN, Bunck M, Czibere L, Panhuysen M, Pütz B, Deussing JM, Holsboer F, Landgraf R, Turck CW. Identification of glyoxalase-I as a protein marker in a mouse model of extremes in trait anxiety. J Neurosci. 2005 Apr 27;25(17):4375-84.

Kushnir J, Gothelf D, Sadeh A. Nighttime fears of preschool children: a potential disposition marker for anxiety? Compr Psychiatry. 2014 Feb;55(2):336-41. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2013.08.019.

Lieberman HR, Kellogg MD, Kramer FM, Bathalon GP, Lesher LL. Lipid and other plasma markers are associated with anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Health Psychol. 2012 Mar;31(2):210-6. doi: 10.1037/a0026499.

Mizuki Y, Suetsugi M, Imai T, Kai S, Kajimura N, Yamada M. A physiological marker for assessing anxiety level in humans: frontal midline theta activity. Jpn J Psychiatry Neurol. 1989 Dec;43(4):619-26.

Pitsavos C, Panagiotakos DB, Papageorgiou C, Tsetsekou E, Soldatos C, Stefanadis C. Anxiety in relation to inflammation and coagulation markers, among healthy adults: the ATTICA study. Atherosclerosis. 2006 Apr;185(2):320-6.

Rafter D. Biochemical markers of anxiety and depression. Psychiatry Res. 2001 Aug 5;103(1):93-6.

Ramakers IH, Verhey FR, Scheltens P, Hampel H, Soininen H, Aalten P, Rikkert MO, Verbeek MM, Spiru L, Blennow K, Trojanowski JQ, Shaw LM, Visser PJ; Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative and DESCRIPA Investigators. Anxiety is related to Alzheimer cerebrospinal fluid markers in subjects with mild cognitive impairment. Psychol Med. 2013 May;43(5):911-20. doi: 10.1017/S0033291712001870.

Rapaport MH. Circulating lymphocyte phenotypic surface markers in anxiety disorder patients and normal volunteers. Biol Psychiatry. 1998 Mar 15;43(6):458-63.

Schmidt NB, Timpano KR, Buckner JD. Fear responding to 35% CO(2) challenge as  a vulnerability marker for later social anxiety symptoms. J Psychiatr Res. 2008 Jul;42(9):763-8.

Wojcik SM, Tantra M, Stepniak B, Man KN, Müller-Ribbe K, Begemann M, Ju A, Papiol S, Ronnenberg A, Gurvich A, Shin Y, Augustin I, Brose N, Ehrenreich H. Genetic markers of a Munc13 protein family member, BAIAP3, are gender specifically associated with anxiety and benzodiazepine abuse in mice and humans. Mol Med. 2013 Jul 24;19:135-48. doi: 10.2119/molmed.2013.00033.

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Inflammation and Diseases

  • Inflammation is an immune response of the body to protect from irritants, stimuli, or external materials that may be detrimental.
  • Inflammatory signs:
    • Redness
    • Swelling
    • Heat
    • Pain
  • Immune surveillance:
    • The immune system can monitor, find, and remove the useless or damaging materials from inside or outside, e.g., cancer cells.
  • Inflammation is critical in many diseases:
    • acute diseases, e.g.,
      • Flu
      • Meningitis
      • Pneumonia,
    • Allergies, e.g.,
      • Asthma
      • Ocular inflammatory disorders
      • Skin disorders
    • Age-associated diseases, e.g.,
      • Neurodegenerative diseases
        • Alzheimer’s disease
        • Parkinson’s disease
      • Autoimmune diseases
        • Rheumatoid arthritis
        • Multiple sclerosis
      • Hypertension
      • Diabetes
      • Cardiovascular diseases
      • Colitis
      • Gastritis
      • Nephritis
      • Pancreatitis
      • Thyroiditis
      • Fibromyalgia
      • Lupus
      • Psoriasis
      • Cancers, e.g.,
        • Lung
        • colon/rectal
        • breast
        • cervical
        • prostate
        • bladder
        • liver
        • gall bladder
        • ovarian
        • pancreas
        • brain


Burnet, M. Cancer; a biologic approach. I. The processes of control. Br. Med. J. 1957, 1, 779–786.

Ehrlich, P. Uber den jetzigen Stand der Karzinomforschung. Ned. Tijdschr. Geneeskd. 1909, 5, 273–290.

Goronzy, J.J.; Wevand, C.M. T cell development and receptor diversity during aging. Curr. Opin. Immunol. 2005, 17, 468–475.

Khatami, M. Inflammation, Aging and Cancer: Friend or For? In Inflammation, Chronic Diseases and Cancer. Cell and Molecular Biology, Immunology and Clinical Bases; Khatami, M., Ed.; InTech: Rijeka, Croatia, 2012; pp. 3–30.

Khatami, M. Unresolved inflammation and cancer: Loss of natural immune surveillance as the correct ―target‖ for therapy! Seeing the ―Elephant‖ in the light of logic. Cell Biochem. Biophys. 2012, 62, 501–509.

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Acupuncture and Diarrhea: Factors and Prevention

The concepts of acute and chronic diarrhea in Chinese medicine are similar to acute and chronic enteritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and gastrointestinal dysfunctions in Western medicine. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acute diarrhea can be caused by these factors:

* Improper diet, such as eating too much, or eating too much greasy, or cold, or stale foods;
* Exogenous pathogenic factors such as dampness;
* Cold or dampness in the spleen that leads to dysfunctions in transformation and transportation.

Chronic diarrhea is usually caused by these factors:

* Mental or emotional upsets such as stress and anxiety that may lead to the malfunction of the liver and the inhibition of the spleen by the liver qi;
* Exogenous pathogenic factors, improper diet, or overstrain that can lead to the malfunction of the spleen and stomach;
* Prolonged diarrhea may lead to dysfunction of the kidney and deficiency of the kidney yang.

Prevention methods in TCM include:

* Have a more regular lifestyle, especially diet;
* Do not eat too much, especially do not eat too much cold foods;
* Improve emotional health, practice relaxing exercises such as meditation and Qi Gong, or perform acupressure at acupuncture points (acupoints) such as Taichong (LV 3).

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Acupuncture and Constipation: Factors and Prevention

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), constipation can be caused by these factors:

* Mental or emotional problems such as stress and anxiety;

* Aging, or physical weakness due to overstrain;

* Unhealthy lifestyle, lack of exercises, or imbalanced diets;

* Predominance of Yang, usually caused by eating too much spicy or high-fat foods, or addiction to smoking or alcohol;

* Other diseases that may cause the deficiency of the blood and qi, the dysfunction of the large intestine, as well as problems with the lung, spleen, stomach, and kidney.


Prevention methods include:

* Eating more fruits and vegetables;

* Exercise more often;

* Improving emotional health, such as through practicing Qi Gong;

* Have a more regular lifestyle;

* Massage the abdominal area and certain acupuncture points.

Acupressure and acupuncture methods have been shown effective for relieving constipation. For example, acupuncture has been found very useful for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome of the constipation type and post-stroke constipation. The methods are especially helpful for the constipated children and elderly. Certain acupuncture points (i.e., acupoints) including Guanyuan (CV 4) and Qihai (CV 6) are usually used for acupressure or acupuncture to prevent constipation.

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What is Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy is a preventive and therapeutic technique in Chinese medicine. It may also be beneficial for health promotion purposes. It is used to adjust the flow of qi and blood in local areas using a jar to attach to the skin. The attachment is made through the negative pressure produced by using ignited materials (e.g., a cotton ball) in the jar. Various jars can be used, including bamboo jars, glass jars, and pottery jars.

Cupping therapy is an effective method that has been used on a variety of health problems, especially pain. It is often used for wind-dampness syndromes and obstructive syndromes such as arthritis.

Cupping therapy has been found very helpful for relieving the numbness of the limbs, acute sprain, and other external illnesses. It is also used for infectious diseases such as common cold and cough, and internal diseases such as stomachache and abdominal pain.

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Prevention of Migraines and Headaches in Chinese Medicine

According to Chinese Medicine, migraines and headaches can be caused by these internal and external factors:

* Exogenous pathogenic factors such as wind, including wind-cold, wind-heat, and wind-dampness;
* Mental or emotional upsets such as stress, anxiety, depression, and anger that may lead to qi-depression and transformation into fire;
* Improper diets with too much greasy foods, that may cause phlegm;
* Prolonged diseases, weakness of the spleen and stomach, as well as the deficiency of the blood;
* Traumatic injury caused blood-stasis.

Strategies for prevention in Chinese Medicine include:

* Avoid exogenous pathogenic factors such as wind and dampness;
* Improve mental or emotional health, such as through practicing meditation and Qigong;
* Have a regular diet with less fat intake;
* Regular exercise to improve the flow of qi and the blood;
* Acupressure at acupuncture points Taiyang (EX-HN 5) and Fengchi (GB 20).

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What Are Auricular Acupuncture Points

Auricular acupuncture points are certain locations or areas on the ear that can be stimulated for certain effects such as relieving pain or inflammation. The stimulation can be from acupuncture needles or the pressure from certain seeds. The distribution of the auricular acupuncture points on the ear is similar to the position of a fetus with the head downwards and the buttocks upwards.

The auricular acupuncture points located in the ear lobe (i.e., the lower part of the ear) are associated with the head and facial regions of the human body. So these areas in the ears can be used to treat diseases in the head and facial regions. The auricular acupuncture points on the scapha and superior antihelix crus (i.e., the upper part of the ear) are associated with the limbs, and can be used for related diseases.

In addition, those auricular acupuncture points in the cavum and cymba concha (i.e., the middle part of the ear) are linked to the internal organs, and associated treatments can be made. Those auricular acupuncture points in the main part of antihelix (i.e., the middle part of the ear) are linked to the trunk and can be used for the relevant treatments.

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Preparation of Herbs

Crude herbs need to be prepared with certain procedures before they can be used.  Because herbs are natural products, they need to be cleaned and processed to be stored for a long term.  Some special processing methods are used to detoxify certain herbal ingredients, and to change the effects of certain herbs.

Objectives of Processing Herbs

  • To clean herbs, make them easier for storage, and to preserve their effects.
  • To facilitate the administration of herbs.
  • Detoxification: to reduce the toxicity or side effects of certain herbs.  For example, certain processing methods can reduce the toxicity of wild aconite root.
  • To enhance the efficacy of herbs.  For example, to improve the pain-relieving effect of corydalis tuber, the herb can be processed through stir-frying with vinegar.
  • To change the properties of herbs.  For example, processed rhubarb has reduced purgative effects than unprocessed dried rhubarb.

Processing Methods for Herbs

General processing methods:

  • Cleaning
  • Grinding
  • Slicing

Processing with water:

  • Washing
  • Rinsing
  • Grinding in water

Processing with heat:

  • Stir-frying
  • Frying with liquid adjuvants (vinegar, honey, wine, ginger juice, etc.)
  • Toasting
  • Wrapped baking

Processing with water and heat:

  • Steaming
  • Boiling
  • Dipping (in boiling water)
  • Fermentation
  • Crystallizing/powdering
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How to Use Herbs in Different Forms

Herbal compress: Applying a cloth that has been soaked in herbal solutions directly on the affected body area.

Herbal decoctions: Using the bark, root, seed, or berry of a plant to make a tea through simmering for about 20-30 minutes.  Note that ceramic containers should be used and metal containers should be avoided for making the decoction.  The decoctions can be used for oral administration or to rinse the affected body area.

Herbal essential oil: Obtained from steam distillation or cold pressing of herbs and mixed with a vegetable oil or water to use as tea, inhalant, or mouth wash, or for massage, or to be applied on affected area.

Herbal extracts: Concentrated extracts of herbs made through pressing herbs, or through soaking herbs in alcohol or water and then making alcohol or water evaporated to get the herbal concentrate.

Herbal infusion: Herb leaves, flowers, other parts, or concentrated herbal granules soaked in hot water.

Herbal ointment: Herbal extract, tea, juice, or powder that is mixed with a salve to apply on the body.

Herbal pills: Pills are prepared through grinding herbs into powder and mixing with other ingredients such as honey, water, rice paste, wine, vinegar, or bee-wax.

Herbal poultice: A soft and moist mass of grounded or granulated herbs spreading on cloth or other materials to apply on the body to relieve inflammation, pain, or other problems.

Herbal powder: A powder is made through grinding the useful part of the herb.  The powder can also be put in capsules or made in the form of tablets.  The powder can be taken orally or be applied on affected body area.

Herbal syrup: The mixture of herbs with a form of sugar and boiled together to make a syrup.

Herbal thread: A cotton or silk thread soaked in herbal decoction and then dry up.  For external usages.

Herbal vinegar: Herbs soaked in vinegar.

Herbal wine: A kind of wine with herbs soaked in for some time to get certain effects.


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Mind-Body Techniques and Weight Control

In today’s industrialized world, the problems of chronic stress and obesity are becoming more and more serious. In the meantime, mindfulness-based methods such as mindful eating are getting more and more popular in recent years. The practice of mind-body techniques such as meditation has been suggested helpful for healthy weight control.

However, such approaches still need the support from scientific studies with the understanding of the underlying mechanisms. Studies from the psychological aspect of mindfulness would be helpful.

Some advantages have been suggested by addressing self-compassion and compassion training in the common mindfulness programs for promoting weight loss (Mantzios and Wilson 2015). Meta-analyses have confirmed that mindfulness meditations focusing on eating habits and behaviors may be very beneficial for weight management.

A recent study evaluated the relationship between mind-body practice and body weight among a total of 61,704 individuals (Camilleri et al. 2016). The results of the study showed that those who practiced mind-body techniques regularly had significantly lower possibilities of being overweight or obese, with a lower body-mass index (BMI) than those who had never practiced the techniques.


Camilleri GM, Méjean C, Bellisle F, Hercberg S, Péneau S. Mind-Body Practice and Body Weight Status in a Large Population-Based Sample of Adults. Am J Prev Med. 2016 Apr;50(4):e101-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.10.005.

Mantzios M, Wilson JC. Mindfulness, Eating Behaviours, and Obesity: A Review and Reflection on Current Findings. Curr Obes Rep. 2015 Mar;4(1):141-6. doi: 10.1007/s13679-014-0131-x.

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Effects of Mind-Body Interventions on the Proinflammatory Transcription Factor NF-κB

Mind-body interventions such as Tai Chi, Qigong, yoga, and meditation have been found to improve the quality of life. Recent studies have shown that these methods may affect the biological activities especially inflammation. A meta-study of 26 trials about mind-body therapies (MBTs) analyzed their effects on different circulating and genomic markers related to inflammation (Bower and Irwin 2016).

The meta-study found that the effects on the genomic markers may be especially significant. For example, the lower expression levels of inflammation-associated genes and signaling were observed, including the proinflammatory transcription factor NF-κB (Bower and Irwin 2016).

In addition, sleep disturbances are the common complaints for older adults. However, such problems are difficult to treat and often ignored. A recent randomized clinical trial analyzed the effects of mindful awareness practices (MAPs) intervention and a sleep hygiene education (SHE) program among older adults with moderate sleep disturbances (Black et al. 2015).

When compared the two groups, the study found that the MAPs group had more significant improvement in the symptoms of insomnia and depression, as well as the severity of fatigue (Black et al. 2015). In addition, the lower levels of NF-κB were observed in both groups. The study suggest that the MAPs intervention may be helpful for promoting sleep quality with better effects than the SHE intervention. The alleviation of the sleep problems may also be beneficial for promoting the quality of life.


Black DS, O’Reilly GA, Olmstead R, Breen EC, Irwin MR. Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbances: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Apr;175(4):494-501. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8081.

Bower JE, Irwin MR. Mind-body therapies and control of inflammatory biology: A descriptive review. Brain Behav Immun. 2016 Jan;51:1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2015.06.012.

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Psychoneuroimmunology Database

The Database of Psychoneuroimmunology (DPNI)

The Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) Portal and Knowledge Base

Potential Biomarkers for Anxiety

The Database of Biomarkers: Depression

Mind-Body Medicine

About Meditation: The Portal and Knowledge Base

The Nervous System


The Database of Cytokines


The Database of Biological Rhythms (DBBR)

Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI)-Associated Inflammatory Biomarkers and Networks

  • Nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) pathways

•    Bipolar disorder (BD)

Adolescents with bipolar disorder (BD) showed increased levels of NF-κB in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, monocytes, and lymphocytes when they were compared with the controls (Miklowitz et al. 2016). They also had increased plasma levels of IL-1β. In addition, higher levels of stimulated NF-κB in monocytes were related to the severity of the depressive symptoms.

•    Pain and opioid treatment

Pain and opioids may have combined effects on the activation of the early inflammatory marker NF-κB (Compton et al. 2015). Pain or opioid administration alone may not have effects on NF-κB levels. However, the combined effects may lead to the higher levels of NF-κB in stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells, monocytes, and lymphocytes. The accrual effects of acute pain and opioids that are often seen in clinical conditions may stimulate the critical transcription factor in the proinflammatory reactions.


Compton P, Griffis C, Breen EC, Torrington M, Sadakane R, Tefera E, Irwin MR. Opioid treatment of experimental pain activates nuclear factor-κB. J Opioid Manag. 2015 Mar-Apr;11(2):115-25. doi: 10.5055/jom.2015.0261.

Miklowitz DJ, Portnoff LC, Armstrong CC, Keenan-Miller D, Breen EC, Muscatell KA, Eisenberger NI, Irwin MR. Inflammatory cytokines and nuclear factor-kappa B activation in adolescents with bipolar and major depressive disorders. Psychiatry Res. 2016 Jul 30;241:315-22. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2016.04.120.

•    Effects of Mind-Body Interventions


  • Interleukin 6 (IL-6) pathways


  • Tumor necrosis alpha (TNF-α) pathways


  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) pathways


  • Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR α, β, and γ)
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The Database of Biomarkers: Depression: S100B

The potential biomarkers of depression:


Associated diseases:

Burnout syndrome

Population group:

Emergency medicine residents


Burnout syndrome is a common issue among emergency healthcare workers. It may be related to fatigue and job separations. S100 calcium-binding protein B (S100B) is a protein found in the cytoplasm and nucleus of various cells. It is important in the regulation of many essential cellular activities including cell cycle progression and differentiation.

A recent study analyzed the role of the glial marker S100B among 48 emergency medicine residents with the problems of burnout syndrome and depression (Gulen et al. 2016). In the study, the S100B levels were tested before and after the night shifts. The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) were used to assess the burnout syndrome and depression. The study found that most of the samples had severe depression (Gulen et al. 2016).

The study suggests that the S100B levels were associated with depression and emotional exhaustion in burnout syndrome (Gulen et al. 2016). In addition, significant differences of the median S100B levels were observed between severe depression and moderate depression, as well as before and after night shifts.

Such analysis indicates that the S100B levels may be a potential biomarker that can be used to measure the risks for the development of depression and burnout syndrome under stress conditions. More studies are still needed to validate its applications.


Gulen B, Serinken M, Eken C, Karcıoglu Ö, Kucukdagli OT, Kilic E, Akpinar G, Nogay S, Kuh M. Serum S100B as a Surrogate Biomarker in the Diagnoses of Burnout and Depression in Emergency Medicine Residents. Acad Emerg Med. 2016 Jul;23(7):786-9. doi: 10.1111/acem.12973.

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The Database of Biomarkers: Depression: Adiponectin

The potential biomarkers of depression:


Associated diseases:

Chronic hepatitis C

Population group:

Patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections


Major depression (MD) is often observed among patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. These patients treated with interferon (IFN)-α may develop a depressive syndrome related to inflammatory profiles. A recent study examined 50 HCV-infected patients with psychiatric assessments (Fábregas et al. 2016).

The study analyzed the variables including the plasma levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and the soluble type 1 and type 2 receptors (sTNFR1 and sTNFR2) (Fábregas et al. 2016). The study also tested the levels of adipokines including adiponectin, leptin, as well as resistin. Encoded by the ADIPOQ gene, adiponectin is associated with the glucose homeostasis and the metabolism of fatty acids.

The study found that older patients and those who were not married had increased levels of body mass index (BMI) and liver inflammation with decreased levels of baseline adiponectin (Fábregas et al. 2016). In addition, the utilizations of IFN were related to the symptoms of depression. The study indicated that adiponectin could be a biomarker for major depression among patients with HCV infections.


Fábregas BC, Vieira ÉL, Moura AS, Carmo RA, Ávila RE, Abreu MN, Prossin AR, Teixeira AL. A Follow-Up Study of 50 Chronic Hepatitis C Patients: Adiponectin as a Resilience Biomarker for Major Depression. Neuroimmunomodulation. 2016;23(2):88-97. doi: 10.1159/000444531.

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Translational Medicine and Drug Discovery

Recent development in translational medicine provides a connection between basic scientific studies and clinical practice. Such an initiative may support the patient-centered objectives in both research and clinical environments. It may also improve the drug discovery procedure by allowing for a more robust and systems-based pathophysiological understanding of diseases and drug responses.

Such approaches may help improve the identification of drug targets and the optimization of drug candidates (Galizzi et al. 2013). Conventional drug design strategies have been focusing on improving structure-based protein targets to limit unintentional binding (Brown and Okuno 2012). However, the “one-to-one” drug design method has resulted in clinical adverse reactions because of multiple interactions among ligands and proteins with substantive impacts on the clinical phenotypes.

With the identification of better biomarkers, systems biology can become essential for translational medicine by connecting experimental tests with clinical concepts. Specifically, omics-based technologies may help organize and integrate the alterations in different variables including genes, proteins and metabolites into physiological and pathological networks (Galizzi et al. 2013). These approaches would help improve the efficiency in drug discovery.


Brown JB, Okuno Y. Systems biology and systems chemistry: new directions for drug discovery. Chem Biol. 2012 Jan 27;19(1):23-8. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2011.12.012.

Galizzi JP, Lockhart BP, Bril A. Applying systems biology in drug discovery and development. Drug Metabol Drug Interact. 2013;28(2):67-78. doi: 10.1515/dmdi-2013-0002.

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Systems Biology Approaches and Drug Design

The reductionist way of “one gene-one disease-one drug” has made it difficult for the discovery of more effective drugs.  In addition to conventional phenotypic and drug target screens, new methodologies may improve the drug design process, including ligand- and structure-based methods during the initial stages (Prathipati and Mizuguchi 2016).

The development of systems biology and “omics”-based technologies may help in such processes. High throughput (HTP) and multi-dimensional datasets with the focus on interactive networks may be useful for promoting the efficacy and decreasing the costs in drug discovery (Vandamme et al. 2014).

Some challenges in the applications of these approaches still need to be solved in the rational drug design, including the integration and organization of different systems biology data types. These data types include the important entities (such as drugs) and attributes, as well as and the relationships among them (Prathipati and Mizuguchi 2016). In addition, data models, knowledge representation, and analysis tools are also important technical issues.


Prathipati P, Mizuguchi K. Systems Biology Approaches to a Rational Drug Discovery Paradigm. Curr Top Med Chem. 2016;16(9):1009-25.

Vandamme D, Minke BA, Fitzmaurice W, Kholodenko BN, Kolch W. Systems biology-embedded target validation: improving efficacy in drug discovery. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Syst Biol Med. 2014 Jan-Feb;6(1):1-11. doi: 10.1002/wsbm.1253.

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Genetic Networks and Biomarkers

The post-genomic research based on large cohorts of preclinical studies have produced multi-dimensional genetic and transcriptomic data sets. The revelation of the molecular pathways and cellular networks associated with various diseases may promote the systems biology studies of the onset and progression of diseases. Such understanding based on genetic networks and systems biology may provide the key support for improving drug discovery and development (Wierling et al. 2015).

The detections of drug responses may also improve the results of pharmacological therapies for different disease phenotypes. Technically, the approaches of high-throughput (HTP) DNA genotyping and genome-wide expression profiling would help with the discovery of biomarkers of disease onset and development (Wang et al. 2013).

With more understanding in drug pharmacodynamics, such discoveries would also enable the findings of novel drug targets. In addition, the predictive biomarkers would be useful for choosing the patient subgroups with the optimal drug responses for individualized therapies.


Wang IM, Stone DJ, Nickle D, Loboda A, Puig O, Roberts C. Systems biology approach for new target and biomarker identification. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2013;363:169 99. doi: 10.1007/82_2012_252.

Wierling C, Kessler T, Ogilvie LA, Lange BM, Yaspo ML, Lehrach H. Network and systems biology: essential steps in virtualising drug discovery and development. Drug Discov Today Technol. 2015 Aug;15:33-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ddtec.2015.07.002.

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Systems Biology and Companion Diagnostics

The development in high-throughput (HTP) technologies and computational biology may help define the next generation of biomarkers. By providing an integrative viewpoint, systems biology may improve the understanding of the complexity in biological systems.

The assemblage of interacting molecular elements and multiple interconnecting relationships may contribute to the development of companion diagnostics and novel therapeutics (Caberlotto and Lauria 2015). The approaches based on systems biology would enable the development of novel strategies for the discovery of signatures or biomarkers for both disease progression and drug responses.

The advances of the systems biology perspectives would improve the current diagnosis and drug discovery processes. Applying systems biology approaches in companion diagnostics may be very helpful for these purposes.

Companion diagnostic uses medical devices to obtain information about the safety and effectiveness of drugs or therapeutic products. Such analyses may assist the decision making of patient-specific treatments for the better selections of drugs and dosages.


Caberlotto L, Lauria M. Systems biology meets -omic technologies: novel approaches to biomarker discovery and companion diagnostic development. Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2015 Feb;15(2):255-65. doi: 10.1586/14737159.2015.975214.

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Biomarkers for Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is an aggressive type of breast cancers (BC). Currently only a few specific genetic biomarkers or signatures have been identified for the disease. However, these genetic signatures are not very representative (Remo et al. 2015). More accurate and reliable biomarkers are in demand to represent the specific phenotypes and to improve the classification of IBC.

A recent study used a network-based approach to analyze the master regulators (MRs) related to IBC pathogenesis (Remo et al. 2015). By using in-silico modeling and cellular network analyses based on gene expression data, master regulators associated with the IBC phenotypes were evaluated.

The study also applied the method of pathway enrichment assessment to predict targets of the potential genes (Remo et al. 2015). In addition, the techniques of immunohistochemistry (IHC) and microarrays were used to examine the expression patterns of the MRs. The combination of these approaches may provide novel methodologies for the discovery of more effective biomarkers for the disease.


Remo A, Simeone I, Pancione M, Parcesepe P, Finetti P, Cerulo L, Bensmail H, Birnbaum D, Van Laere SJ, Colantuoni V, Bonetti F, Bertucci F, Manfrin E, Ceccarelli M. Systems biology analysis reveals NFAT5 as a novel biomarker and master regulator of inflammatory breast cancer. J Transl Med. 2015 May 1;13:138. doi: 10.1186/s12967 015-0492-2.

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