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First Published May 29, 2008.

  It turns out that trust is chemical, at least according to modern neuroscience and research into oxytocin.  Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the neuron part of the pituitary gland that has long been known to strengthen uterine contractions in childbirth and to start milk production in breast feeding.   More recently, scientists have started to understand its role in brain and behavior with key role in trust. Read the rest of this entry »

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There is a dirty little euphemism we all learn about in medical school called health care disparities.  It seems the health care system is better at treating heart disease in men compared to women, hypertension in whites compared to blacks, and in keeping rich people healthier across the board in every category compared to the poor.  The problem runs deep enough and fundamental enough that it appears no one is immune.  It is the problem of poverty that I find particularly perplexing. Read the rest of this entry »

  It turns out that trust is chemical, at least according to modern neuroscience and research into oxytocin.  Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the neuron part of the pituitary gland that has long been known to strengthen uterine contractions in childbirth and to start milk production in breast feeding.   More recently, scientists have started to understand its role in brain and behavior with key role in trust. Read the rest of this entry »

One thing that consistently amazes me about the human mind is its intricate relationship to our health and well being. In anxiety, your muscles remain constantly tense and flexed, burning your energy supply, leaving you exhausted. Panic attacks can feel identical to heart attacks, as your body is flooded with stress hormones.

Every specialty has their own somatoform disorder. These are real physical symptoms that occur as a result of an outside stressor. They can include headache, irritable bowel syndrome, wheezing and trouble breathing, nonepileptic seizures, paralysis, chest pain, rashes or a host of other symptoms. Despite the tendency to claim, “It’s all in your head,”all of these conditions are very real and lead to the consumption of a lot of physician’s time.
Unfortunately because they are intricately related to the mind, they tend to be written off by doctors. We tend to see conditions as either physical or mental when the truth with any disease is that there are always strong components of both.

So where does this prejudice stem from? Oddly enough, I think it is rooted in our scientifically useful proof of the mind body connection, the placebo. Read the rest of this entry »

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