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RESTORING HAIR AND HAIR COLOR USING HYPNOSIS AND GUIDED MEDITATION

This blog publishes updates and results of my hair restoration experiment. It explores the mind-body effect and its relation to the relatively new science of epigenetics.

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Recent blog posts
How a Few Simple Steps Can Rid You of Type 2 Diabetes

 

Why Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You How to Do It, Instead Of Prescribing another Pill

A Bulletin from the Trenches

Diabetes is likely to be the biggest epidemic in human history. There are now 415 million people in the world with diabetes according to the International Diabetes Federation. The cost of keeping diabetes at bay, day in and day out, is also staggering.

But what if you learned to take control of your body and to defy type 2 diabetes without any medicine?

What if you could act instead of feeling helpless–for yourself or for someone you care about—after your doctor delivers the shocking type 2 diabetes diagnosis?

If you're like most people, chances are, you or someone you know is right now being treated for type 2 diabetes. But perhaps you don’t have to. Learn from my experience.

Some people are good at looking the other way when their body tells them that something is wrong with them. I had being doing it successfully for quite some time, but come March of 2016, I could no longer ignore the fact that I wasn’t feeling well. My doctor recommended an extensive blood test, which came back on March 10 and ruined my day (and much of my life after that). My fasting plasma glucose level (FPG) (affectionately called “blood sugar”) was 312 mg/dl—way above the recommended level of 100—and my HbA1C (which tells you how your blood sugar level has been doing in the past three months or so) was at an astronomic 12.1% (the maximum recommended level of a healthy person being 5.7%).

With those numbers, I had to do something immediately, or I was in line for hideous diseases and premature death. My doctor immediately placed me on strong medication. As a result, only three months later, on June 21, 2016, my fasting blood sugar level had dropped to 138 mg/dl and my HbA1C to a mere 6%. That’s great, right? Wrong!

Fast forward eight months to February 14, 2017. My fasting blood sugar level had gone up to 157 mg/dl, and my HbA1C to 6.8%. The efficacy of the treatment was obviously diminishing, and I started to recall people telling me that, once you start on the path of blood sugar medication, you may end up injecting insulin. I wasn’t going to take that lying down.

When you become diabetic, you want to think that it is an Act of God, that you are not responsible for it. It’s just the world being mean to you. But while obviously in some cases diabetes may be due to your genetic makeup or to other causes over which you have no control, that’s untrue for most people. The reading and reasoning that I had done over the months since that fateful morning in March had convinced me that I had been causing it to myself with my own hands. I had been overeating and, what’s worse, eating the wrong kinds of food. I was overweight and wasn’t exercising enough. I reasoned that what I did to myself I might perhaps undo, if I could just find and follow the right path.

It took me five more months to prove that I was right and that managing my blood sugar level without taking drugs was possible. After stopping taking medication altogether for three and a half months (after a thorough, responsible, and careful priming period), I took a new blood test, on July 19, 2017. My fasting blood sugar was 102 mg/dl and my HbA1C was 5.8%. I’ll say it again: I’m taking no medication!

I decided to make what I have learned available to others. I have shared my procedure and my detailed test results in my book, The Secret Life of Your Blood Sugar – A Diabetes Skeleton in Your Doctor’s Closet.

I’m not going to tell you that what I did was easy and required no effort. But if you haven’t ruined your pancreas for good and you follow my example with perseverance and motivation, you may be able to accomplish the same result that I did, or even better. Hundreds of people that I know of have done the same. This appears to be the best-kept secret of the medical profession: In the majority of cases you can rid yourself of type 2 diabetes.

That doesn’t mean that at that point you will be able to start wolfing down sugar again like there’s no tomorrow, mind you. It means that you can lead a satisfactory life, remaining mindful of what you eat and how you run your day, without feeling that you are missing out on anything.

If you have the will, the determination and the stamina needed to beat type 2 diabetes, fight back and get rid of it. And if you don’t have them, go pop another pill and may God be with you, because if you don’t help yourself, only He can help you.

TheSecretLife 1

Posted by on in Regrow Healthy Hair
Update: June 2017

More time has passed and an update is in order. I'm happy to say that I have nothing new to relate, because in this case that is good news. As I wrote in my October 2016 post, my hair started to gray a little, but surprisingly, that has stopped too and I never went back to the almost completely white state from which I started. I'm not losing any more hair and the situation has remained static for over two years now. I dare say that this is quite a rewarding result for a short period of intensive work on my then graying and balding top.

I don't want to give you the impression that I have regrown the hair I had in my teens, however. It was merely a question of regrowing some, recoloring some, and reaching a state that I find satisfactory. It is true that I am starting to get curious and to wonder whether from this point I might be able to restore my hair to a much younger age (a bit like when you do a "restore" operation on your PC), but I just don't feel the urge right now. Still, I might in the future. If I do, I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, Do It With Words!

 

 

Post Image Copyright: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

Posted by on in Regrow Healthy Hair

A year and a half has passed since I stopped working on my hair and now the time has come to draw a line and see how it all adds up.

Surprisingly, I’m not losing hair again, although I have made no effort to prevent it. Regrowth of hair where I originally lost it, however, has stopped. The situation is quite static and I like it that way, although I assume that it won’t last forever. Still, I am happy with what I have managed to do: stopping the hair loss, which two and a half years ago was frighteningly fast, is good enough.

Lately, I have started graying again, but I don’t mind letting Nature take its course. Trying to stop it was only an experiment, not an end (and I rather like my gray air anyway). I have proven to myself what my mind can do, and the result was far more satisfying than I hoped for.

I don’t know if I will ever work on my hair again. I have new, more interesting challenges in which to invest my energies right now. And you should always go forward, toward new goals, not get stuck in old ones. Still, if the state of my hair should ever bother me enough, I may reinvest time and effort in fighting age. If I do, I’ll post details here. Until then, Do It With Words!

Kfir

State of the Hair: Conclusions from a Year-Long Experiment

The time has come to look back at the year or so since I first began my hair growth experiment, and to draw conclusions. During this year I have experimented in many ways, but mostly I have sought to determine how permanent the change that I have been able to bring about is. To that end, I have stopped my work on hair growth and color restoration for brief periods (of 1-2 weeks) during which I saw no noticeable slowing down of the process. To reach a meaningful conclusion, therefore, I stopped any attempt to improve color and to stimulate growth for three full months now – an extreme sacrifice, you might say, but one that had to be done to see a real effect.

With the aid of a string of photographs and of my son, who is my unofficial Experiment Controller, I have reached the following conclusions:

1. Stopping all mind-body activity also stopped the growth of black hair.

2. Stopping all mind-body activity did not stop the growth of white hair.

Therefore I must conclude that:

3. Repopulating bald spots with black hair requires a much greater effort than simply regrowing white hair. That makes sense since growing colored hair where no hair grew before involves two separate processes, i.e., reactivating the hair follicle that, for whatever reason, had stopped growing hair, and reactivating the production of melanin. The first is a must, since without a hair the body has no use for melanin around the follicle.  I also think that of the two, starting to grow a new hair is the most difficult endeavor. It therefore makes sense to me that the body should prioritize the growth process over the coloring process. (Of course, you might argue that none of this makes sense, since we don’t know how the mind-body interaction goes about accomplishing its results, but in this matter instincts and inner feelings count.)

4. I can’t say with certainty, but it seems that the growth of white hair in fact accelerated a bit. This could seem to be an incongruous behavior, given that I had stopped working on it, but it may mean that hair growth becomes less dependent on maintenance after the process has started, than the production of melanin is. I don’t know and I don’t want to draw hurried conclusions. The scope of this blog, I must remind myself and my readers, as far as my personal experiment is concerned, is merely to report and not to offer conjectures.

5. There is also another hidden effect that should be remembered. When I started my experiment I was losing hair frighteningly quickly. Hair loss stopped when regrowth began and I don’t know how much effort my body has put (and may still be putting) into countering the natural effect of age on hair health. What is clear to me is that, even without any new hair growth, merely stopping the accelerated hair loss that I was experiencing, would have been a great success. (I wasn’t trying to do that, however. I never imagined that it could be done.)

Now is the time to remind myself and the readers that, to me, accomplishing any measure of success in restoring hair health is a means, not an end. While it is nice to have healthier, thicker and better-looking hair, I don’t really care that much. I am not obsessed with my looks or with the state of my hair. However, using your mind to control something that your body does – to any extent, however minimal – is how you can learn, improve and empower your control over yourself, and that’s how you prove to yourself that you are not delusional, but you actually possess that power. That’s why a physical result is so important and exciting.

I have some other tests in mind, which I may or may not pursue and, as usual, if I have anything interesting to report, I’ll post it here.

 

Blog Image Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_jehsomwang'>jehsomwang / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Posted by on in Regrow Healthy Hair
How They Did It Back In 1900

Every now and then I make time to read through my 1900 edition of The Cottage Physician, to see how the guys were doing back then. Today I looked at the treatments for Gray Hair and for Weakness of the Hair (hair loss) and was surprised to learn that the sedentary and the studious are earliest visited with gray hair. The book recommends that I do brushings of sub-nitrate of bismuth in vaseline, but I dont think so.

 b2ap3_thumbnail_phys_gh.jpg

 

For Weakness of the Hair (hair loss) the Cottage Physician suggests many more interesting treatments and you only need to choose the one you like best:

b2ap3_thumbnail_phys_woth1.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_phys_woth2.jpg

I have read it all and although a few of the proposed mixtures may come with an interesting scent, I guess I'll stick with self-hypnosis and guided imagery.

 

 

Is Atopic Dermatitis A Figment Of Your Imagination?

It is remarkable how often we see a solution to a problem that bothers us, but fail to recognize it. Usually, this is because the solution is so simple that we don’t believe it will work and this appears to be the case with Atopic Dermatitis (AD), also known as atopic eczema, which is a type of inflammation of the skin (dermatitis) that results in itchy, red, swollen, and cracked skin. Atopic dermatitis affects about 20% of people at some point in their lives.

Treating AD is not easy; there is no known conventional cure for it, although treatments may reduce the severity and frequency of flares. Skin moisturizing may help, but more severe conditions may require applying topical corticosteroids, especially hydrocortisone. Other treatments, such as systemic immunosuppressants are also used. So we poison ourselves with ineffective drugs, while a solution is within easy reach.

Already twenty years ago Stewart and Thomas published the results of their clinical trial (Stewart AC, Thomas SE. Hypnotherapy as a treatment for atopic dermatitis in adults and children. Br J Dermatol. 1995;132:778-783). They studied 18 adults and 20 children with severe atopic dermatitis resistant to conventional therapy. The adults were instructed in self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques and were advised to practice daily. When under hypnosis, adults were given suggestions of non-scratching behavior, skin comfort, and ego strengthening and a post-hypnotic suggestion focusing on relaxation and skin comfort. The children were given an individually designed tape of "magic music" to use nightly that focused on relaxation, stress management, ego strengthening, skin comfort, and the same post-hypnotic suggestion.

 

After four weeks, 16 of the 18 adults had considerable improvement based on subjective evaluations of itch, scratch, and sleep disturbance. This improvement was maintained after up to two years of follow-up. Reported topical corticosteroid use decreased by 40% at 4 weeks, 50% at 8 weeks, and 60% at 16 weeks. The children were evaluated by parents and physicians for three visits after they started using the tapes. They also showed significant improvement .Shenefelt, who reviewed the data of this as well as of more anecdotal trials, concluded that for milder cases of atopic dermatitis, hypnosis along with moisturization can suffice as a primary alternative treatment.

 

So why is this important enough to be discussed on this blog? Atopic is a chronically relapsing inflammatory skin disease that usually presents during infancy and childhood, and can persist into or start in adulthood. The phenotype of AD is defined by the product of susceptible genes, defective skin barrier function, the environment and immunologic responses. According to a recent article the heritability of eczema is estimated to be 70-80 %

In other words, although AD is a very real physiologic condition, hypnosis can fix it. Several different hypotheses exist for the occurrence of AD (the discussion of which is beyond the scope of this post) and different patients may suffer from it because of different reasons. But whichever way we look at it, when the condition is alleviated or cured using hypnosis, this means that our mind has created a real change in our body. The result can be attributed to epigenetic changes if the origin of AD is genetic, or to changes to our immune system or to the functioning of any other relevant system of our body.

The question that now remains is, why are we still covering our body with potentially harmful chemicals, instead of investing our time in learning self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques? Other mind-body techniques, such as guided imagery, can be very helpful and can be combined with self-hypnosis to effectively deal with AD (similarly to the combination that I use in inducing hair growth).

I wish that readers suffering from AD would try this harmless technique, which is almost sure to help (but you need to obtain qualified advice from a proper self-hypnosis source; links to two such sources - Michael Hadfield and Forbes Robbins Blair - are here). If you try it and succeed in reducing or getting rid of your AD discomfort, please leave a comment here, to help other readers.

Post Image Copyright: albisoima / 123RF Stock Photo

Explaining Gray and Black Hair Growth

I am writing this post to try to give a comprehensive answer to a query by Anshul (thanks for that!), on my previous post, White Is the New Black. From the picture posted with that blog post Anshul had trouble seeing what I explained in the post, i.e., that two separate and apparently independent processes are taking place: 1) White (gray) hair is repopulating what was a completely empty patch. In fact, I can no longer feel my scalp when I touch that area with my hand, because I only feel hair there. 2) Black hair is growing independently and also replacing some of the gray hair.

Seeing both processes at the same time is difficult, because gray hair abounds more than black hair and covers much of it. To see the black hair you need to take a picture using a flash, so that light passes through the white hair. Conversely, to see the white hair you need to take a picture in natural light, without a flash. I did both today, to show you what I mean, and the result is seen below. Please click on the image to view an enlarged one.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_June-whiteblack-comparison.jpg

I expect that, eventually, the gray hair will be replaced by black hair. I base that assumption on the fact that, elsewhere, black hair has replaced gray hair at a brisk pace. The process takes time, but it is only 11 months since I started it and it amazes me every day. So if you are trying it, keep working. It takes time but if you do it right, with patience and perseverance, you will see results.

 

Blog Image Copyright: logo3in1 / 123RF Stock Photo

Posted by on in Regrow Healthy Hair
White Is the New Black

This is one of my irregular updates, which I post when I think I have anything worth sharing.

I have been worried, lately, as to how long it will take for my bald spot to fill up with black hair. Over the months I have come to realize that regrowing a dark hair on a spot that has been bare for a long time requires a lot of work from the body. First, a “dead” follicle has to be resurrected so it can actually grow a hair, and then the genes that are responsible for melanin production must be turned on again to replace dead melanocyte stem cells. In a growing hair, greying occurs when melanin ceases to be produced in the hair root, because the melanocyte stem cells at the base of hair follicles, which produce melanin, die and as a result new hairs grow in without pigment.

Hair growth and pigmentation of the hair are two separate processes and for the hair to grow dark both must happen simultaneously. Bringing about both changes at once must require quite some efforts and, therefore, the process of filling my once substantial hairless expanse takes time.

Luckily, my mind seems to be smarter than I. What it appears to be doing right now is growing the majority of new hair without bothering about melanin, so the bald spot can be covered with hair faster. There is nothing to stop it then, when the new hair cycle comes along, to reactivate the melanocyte stem cells, as has already happened widely.

To illustrate this fact please look at the picture below, which was taken today in broad daylight. You need to enlarge it by clicking on it, to get a full view. As you will see, while dark hair is still popping up all over, white hairs are growing in much larger numbers.

b2ap3_thumbnail_wnb.jpg

So, if you are working on your hair and see grey hair where there was none before, that means success, not failure! Originally, I didn’t dare thinking about regrowing lost hair and only worked on restoring hair color. Any new growth, therefore, regardless of its color, is a clear sign that you are turning back the clock. Be thankful for it.

 

Post Image Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

A Queer Invitation To ”ENJOY!”

Enjoying life means, among many other things, eating well. With the wave of natural health tips that bombard us daily we are used to reading titles like, 31 Healthy Foods You Should Be Eating Now, or How To Eat Healthy And Still Enjoy Life. That’s why nothing prepared me for this notice:

b2ap3_thumbnail_warning.jpg

I wish I had seen it before ordering food at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. It appears that the thoughtful hotel powers that be, make sure to leave a cheerful in-room dining guide in each hotel room:

b2ap3_thumbnail_in-room.jpg

I’m not sure what they were thinking when they planted it in my room, but I find it rather difficult to believe that they were (thinking, I mean). I probably wouldn’t have disliked it so much if it weren’t for the somewhat mocking “ENJOY!” exhortation facing the warning.

And of course, following the label’s offer, if I really want to learn about the many ways in which Room Service can give me cancer or affect my reproductive abilities, I can always stroll down to the In Room Dining Office where I’m sure that those most decent chaps will tell me all about it before they part from me, wishing me enjoyment.

That got me thinking of many other entertaining notices that Management should consider placing in the room. One could be: “This room’s bathroom electrical isolation is faulty, so you may expect electric shock in the shower”, or “Your room may be infected with poisonous fungi. A complete list of symptoms indicating that you are about to die is available from Housekeeping”. That would really make me feel that Management is on its toes and works hard to keep its guests fully informed.

Tagged in: hotel food warnings

Posted by on in Regrow Healthy Hair
Slowly but Surely

This is my report on the progress made in the last month (see my March post), which is remarkable. During the last few weeks I have been busy experimenting with other matters and have paid little attention to the growth of my hair (and as you will learn if you read my book, ignoring the process actually often helps). When making a comparison today I was pleased to see that not only the bald spot at the top of my head has noticeably shrunk in the last month, but also the darkening of my hair has continued. Look at the pictures below (you can click the image to enlarge):

 

circled April 15 marked

The red arrow indicates a small mark easily identifiable on my scalp, to help you to orientate. For quick reference, last month's comparison with the status at September 2014 is also shown below:

circled

 

It is not hard to see where this is going. As I have had occasion to say before, it takes time and patience, but the goal seems now closer than ever.

I'll keep you posted.

 

Post Image Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Posted by on in Scientific evidence
Think Yourself Younger

What happens at the cellular level when we age? For one, our telomeres get shorter.

Telo-what?!

Telomeres are stretches of DNA located at the ends of the chromosomes, which, among other things, make it possible for cells to divide. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter. When they get too short, the cell can no longer divide; it becomes inactive or "senescent" or it dies. This shortening process is associated with aging, cancer, and a higher risk of death. Telomeres are well explained in an article posted on the genetic science learning center of the University of Utah (well worth reading).

Telomeres are like “timers” of our life, and since their shortening is a continued, natural process, it seems that there is nothing we can do to extend our life span beyond what they are programmed to give us. But are we really helpless? Recent studies indicate that we may have some degree of control over the length our telomeres, via the mind-body connection. In a study conducted at the Stanford University School of Medicine and released in January of this year, researchers delivered a modified RNA that encodes a telomere-extending protein to cultured human cells. Using this method, the researchers were able to “lengthen human telomeres by as much as 1,000 nucleotides, turning back the internal clock in these cells by the equivalent of many years of human life”.

But what if we were able to lengthen our telomeres without the need to be injected with all kinds of materials? In a previous post I discussed the effect of mind-body practices on epigenetic changes. New information is added constantly to this intriguing field, such as the recent review by Niles et al., which concludes that although “[t]he field of mind-body genomics is still in its infancy … the body of literature is growing … Preliminary results indicate the presence of an underlying common genomic signature shared across diverse practices...”.

Already in 2011 Ursula Muñoz-Najar and John M. Sedivy discussed the role of the epigenetic control of cellular senescence, and in a study published in January of this year Luders et al. conclude that their findings “seem to add further support to the hypothesis that meditation is brain-protective and associated with a reduced age-related tissue decline.” In an article titled Epigenetics and aging, D’Aquila et al. conclude that the literature “reveals compelling evidence about the role of epigenetic modifications in the aging process.”

Finally, in a 2011 review, Liu and Rando correlated the shortening of telomeres to a graying of the hair and a reduction in hair growth.

So what do we take away from all that? Science is making daily discoveries that link mind-body practices to aging, via telomeres and other pathways, but what we know – and what we will probably discover in the next decades – is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg. One thing is clear, however: there is a real chance that using mind-body practices may help you stay younger, and has a potential to be beneficial to our body in general. Getting healthier, fuller and darker hair is probably the least important of the potential benefits, but it is a simple and clear indication that something is actually happening at the cellular level.

I am all for science, research and well-founded results, but the link between mind-body practices and aging may not be fully elucidated before my 100th birthday (or ever, for that matter) and that’s why I see little point in waiting for the stamp of approval of the scientific community before going after my telomeres. The assumption behind most, if not all, mind-body practices is that our mind knows how to deliver results, even though we don’t understand how it does it. For instance, we don’t really know (at least, I don’t) what is the actual cascade of chemical reactions and the resulting electric impulses that take place when I decide to lift my little finger – but that doesn’t stop my wish from being fulfilled.

Often, when I play the piano, I am awed by the fact that my hands and fingers actually produce the tune that I wanted to play, although I am completely clueless as to how this is happening. Right now, I am diverting some of my attention from the piano to the telomeres and will trust my mind with it, just like I trust it with the complex biochemistry needed to hit the right keys on the piano.

Blog Image Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Optical Illusions and Bald Spots

Until I started this experiment I didn’t realize how the image acquired by the human eye and the processing of the information it gathers are sometimes extremely different from a high-resolution picture (for an excellent review of this issue see Cambridge in Colour), nor did I realize that this may make it difficult for me to show some of the changes that are taking place. But I promised to update on the progress of my experiment, and photographs are an essential tool.

My grown-up kids, whom I use as referees for the progress of my bald spot (which, obviously, I can’t see directly) have no problem whatsoever when they need to explain to me what has changed and where new hair has grown. On the other hand, they have a hard time when they try to show to me what they see, in pictures of the spot that they have taken. So today I decided to try to make a fair comparison between a picture taken in September 2014 and one shot today. I asked the same photographer (my daughter Michal, who is a gifted camera artist – see her work here) to take a picture with the same equipment and with me in the same posture as in the September photo. The result is seen below:

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_1127---Copy.jpg

September, 2014

                

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_6055---Copy.jpg

March, 2015

 

However, when comparing these images I realized that the changes that have taken place don’t look like much (except for the color that is clearly much darker). It seems to be a case of “can’t see the trees for the forest”, because the whole picture distracts you from the details it contains. So to get around the problem I compared the “area of interest” in the two pictures, isolating it from the rest of the head that was making it difficult for me to focus my attention on the bald spot. The result is shown below:

 circled

Click the image to enlarge it

When we limit our view to the relevant area we avoid the distraction of the whole picture and then we see what is there much more easily and in greater detail. The progress that I have made since September is quite satisfactory, particularly taking into account that growing new hair is by definition a slow process.

Of course, vision is a very individual thing and two people don’t see exactly the same picture. Our eyes take in the light reflected by the object at which we are looking, but then our brain interprets it according to complex processes. One example of how our brain works individually is the recent heated debate on the web over the color of a dress, which is nicely explained in this article.

Obviously, if (when) the bald spot disappears it will be easier to show the effect on any picture, but that may take time, so in the meantime I’ll do my best to keep you posted in this way.

Post Image: By Rhcastilhos [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Posted by on in Scientific evidence
Analphagenetic

Yes, I know that “Analphagenetic” is not an English word, but it should be, now that scientists have mapped the epigenome. For years we have been told that we were born with a DNA that will determine how we live and die; if we got a lousy DNA, that’s just tough luck. Well, that turned out to be highly inaccurate. As very aptly put by Sharon Begley, “The human genome is the blueprint for building an individual person. The epigenome can be thought of as the cross-outs and underlinings of that blueprint: if someone's genome contains DNA associated with cancer but that DNA is ‘crossed out’ by molecules in the epigenome, for instance, the DNA is unlikely to lead to cancer.”

To illustrate it, take the following ominous prediction:

When you get here you will be kicked out and taken to a cell where you’ll be given dinner only sporadically and I’d be really happy to hear how they did it to you and how much they enjoyed it.

But now assume you have a decoding machine that tells you which words in that sentence are not “operative”, and highlights them in red:

When you get here you will be kicked out and taken to a cell where you’ll be given dinner only sporadically and I’d be really happy to hear how they did it to you and how much they enjoyed it.

The resulting sentence would belie its original ominous meaning:

When you get here you will be taken to dinner and I’d be really happy to hear how you enjoyed it.

That, in a simplistic way, illustrates how epigenetic works. We are no longer slaves to our DNA. We have a more powerful mechanism that overrides the DNA’s foulest intentions. Oh, but can we influence it? Recent research is adding more and more evidence suggesting that we can. For example, a 2012 study investigated epigenetic changes in response to tai chi practice and concluded that the “work has provided preliminary evidence that tai chi practice may be associated with measurable beneficial epigenetic changes”.

A 2013 study has shown that meditation can suppress genes that cause inflammation. The study provides scientific evidence for the notion that people can alter genetic activity and thus improve their health through thought and behavior.

More studies are under way and, while this is a very young field and much work is needed to discover all it has in store for us, the evidence so far is in favor of those who believe that we have a much greater measure of control over our body than we thought, and that we are not completely at the mercy of our DNA and of its interaction with our environment.

 

Post image copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Posted by on in Comic relief
Comic Relief

An important precept that I always follow is, “Be professional and serious in your work, but don't take yourself too seriously.” I have had several opportunities to voice my opinion that stress is a great enemy of your quality of life and that people who take themselves too seriously are stressed, whether they are aware of it, or not. You know the individuals to whom I refer: they are self-important persons who take levity as an affront. Having a conversation with them can be a drab affair because if you, God forbid, make a joke, they take it as a personal offense. The words that come out of their mouths, so they believe, should be revered, or at the very least, listened to rapturously.

You will find countless articles on the Internet advocating laughter as a means to relieve stress, like, for instance, this one from the Mayo Clinic (click the link to read it). However, it is much more difficult to find articles that tell you that if you keep behaving like a jerk and an empty sack full of hot air, you run the risk of getting much more stressed. That behavior is often dictated by a lack of satisfaction of those persons with themselves, and the desire to be perceived differently from what he or she really is. That creates perpetual tension, because those person’s minds are constantly busy trying to gauge whether the impression that they are trying to project is being driven home to their interlocutor, as hoped.

I pity people who need to resort to those techniques to try to impress me and to feel good about themselves; when I run into one of them I always do my best to penetrate their façade and make them laugh with a joke – and the more irreverent toward their persona the joke is, the better. Sometimes that breaks their defenses down and they join in the joke, and then the conversation flows much better and on a lighter level. When that happens it's a real satisfaction.

Because this blog deals with serious topics I think it is appropriate, now and then, to post here something that provides comic relief – especially after all that highbrowed talk. I therefore invite you to watch the video below.

 

 

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Posted by on in Regrow Healthy Hair
Can We Take A Break From Imagery?

One of the questions that I asked myself in my “Hair Restoration Experiment: First Six Months Report” was will the process continue on its own, after I started it, if I stop "prodding" it with mind-body practices?”. I really didn’t want to stop, not even for a day, but an experiment is an experiment, so I had to and, as promised, I am reporting the results.

While I did continue working with self-hypnosis, guided imagery and the rest of my arsenal, I directed it to other goals and did not continue to “prod” my mind with imagery directed either at de-graying gray hair, or at re-growing hair on my still thin top. I admit that keeping away from the familiar imageries was not an easy task, but I managed to stay on the wagon for three weeks.

Comments made on the web regarding the effect of stopping meditating draw a pretty grim picture (here is one example) and I think I could have inferred the expected result of my test from those situations. Nevertheless, I needed to see for myself, and here is what I learned:

Results

Please keep in mind that all the results I report are qualitative and some are subjective, because I don’t have a way to measure the speed of de-graying and I am too busy to actually count the hairs on my “sparse” top. There will be an end-point for this experiment and hopefully the results will be unequivocal. Meanwhile, my qualitative results are as follows:

Hair re-growth: While the process did not stop, it was noticeably slowed down during these three weeks.

De-graying: To my surprise, I noticed no change in the speed at which dark hair replaces gray hair. I was surprised by this result, because re-growing hair was a “side-effect” of my de-graying attempt, and therefore I expected their behaviors to be linked. However re-growing hairs requires re-activating hair follicles that have stopped producing hair, while de-graying “only” requires restarting the production of melanin in hair follicles that are still active, so obviously different biological pathways are involved. I have thought of a number of possible explanations for this behavior, but since they are probably all wrong I won’t bother you with them.

The following two pictures show the status at today’s date:

flash

This picture was taken indoor using a flash and therefore the still existing thin veil of white hair, which almost does not reflect light, is barely seen, while the dark hair under it is revealed. For the sake of completeness I also took an indoor selfie with natural light and without using a flash:

noflash

 

Because replacing all the hair on a head may take 2 to 6 years (see here), we need to be patient. However, the rate at which gray hair is replaced by dark hair on my head appears to be much faster, given that I am now only into the 8th month of my experiment. Bear with me while I go back to my regular routine. I’ll post updates when I have anything interesting to report.

 

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Posted by on in Scientific evidence
The Skills We Lose While Growing Up

Can you throw your mind back to when you were, say, 5-12 years old? If you were anything like me, barely a day went by without you coming home with new cuts and bruises. And yet, those superficial wounds disappeared very fast – much faster than they do today.

It is not (or at least, not only) that your body was in better shape then, than it is today. Most children living in a normal environment are not (yet) stressed and therefore have not yet suppressed abilities they were born with. We, the adults, have lost those skills or, at least, have repressed them to a degree that they no longer play a role in our life. Marcel Ebrecht et al. (Psychoneuroendocrinology (2004) 29, 798–809), for instance, show data that hint at a considerable influence of stress on wound healing, and that may explain why we – modern stressed animals – no longer heal as we used to.

In a previous post I highlighted research showing that children can grow back amputated fingertips, but the ability to regenerate a fingertip only exists in children and we apparently lose it around the age of 11. That brings me to the question of whether those regenerative abilities are the only ones we lose as we grow up. I don’t think so. Perceptive abilities also are lost and forgotten.

An article by Jessica Cerretani, published on the web site of the Harvard School of Medicine, discusses, albeit very shortly, the idea that humans possess more than five senses. We all know that our perception of the world around us cannot be due solely to vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. At the very least, inputs from those senses must be combined in some marvelous way to produce a more elaborate result. Intuition, for one, must rely on a combination of data that we obtain through those main senses, along with other less-understood ones.

Which brings me to the thorny issue of telepathy – an ability the existence of which is fully denied by most in the scientific community, and perhaps rightly so, because too many charlatans have rendered the subject unpalatable for rational people. And yet…let’s throw our mind back again to our childhood. Can you remember making decisions when interacting socially with other kids, which were much more based on gut feelings than on analytic thinking? Did you have an unspoken connection with your siblings that allowed you to “know” what they were thinking? Did you have a much higher rate of “coincidences” than you have today (like people phoning you just when you were thinking of them)? You know you did, you just are too ashamed to admit it. But admitting to those events doesn’t make you a charlatan – it simply means that you had some sensorial abilities, which we cannot fully explain, that you have lost growing up. It may be of some comfort to you to know that a serious scientific experiment recently proved that telepathic communication is possible.

A recent study of autistic savants, by Dr. Diane Hennacy Powell may give us a glimpse into this uncharted field. She studies severely autistic children who appear to repeat complex information (like mathematic equations and foreign language words) that are known to those around them. There would seem to be no explanation other than telepathy for the events she reports, which may be enhanced in autistic children because they lack other means of communication. In other words, while we may have repressed the somewhat primitive telepathic ability that may have been responsible for minor unusual events we experienced during childhood, the autistic child may have developed the same ability substantially. It is not uncommon to develop a sense when another fails, like, for instance, when visually-impaired people develop enhanced hearing, and this could be the reason for the autistic children’s enhanced telepathic skills.

All the above (which, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg) seems to support the idea that we are born with a set of abilities, which we lose as we grow up, but which we may regain if we try hard enough under the appropriate conditions. I don’t plan to chop off one of my fingertips and try to regrow it to prove the point, but I believe that less extreme means, like regrowing lost hair and degraying white hair, may be a small step in the right direction.

 

 

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Posted by on in Scientific evidence
How Intelligent Is Our Body?

Most people won’t like the notion that our body has “a mind of its own”. We concede that our acts will influence our body, but only because we make conscious decisions, like what to eat, where to live and what air to breathe, and how much to exercise. Apart from that, we want to think that our body is a black box with an automated program that can only be influenced from the outside, and only to some extent. The idea that our subconscious mind may be running the show is difficult to digest, because it takes away from our conscious mind much of the power over our own destiny. We may be very successful in life owing to our supreme intellect, but if our body fails us, we want to think that it’s not our fault – just bad luck.

Well, luck surely plays a role in it, as it does in everything else, but our failure to recognize the supremacy of our subconscious mind over the functioning of our body, certainly plays a part in it too. We weren’t always that obtuse, mind you. If you throw back your mind to your childhood you will surely remember times when you were in better contact with your inner self (but that is the subject of a future post, so I won’t go into that here).

Of course, we recognize that our body is active in maintaining itself by replacing dead cells with new ones, and obviously by keeping our various organs, like the heart or kidneys, running in good functioning order. But we tend to view all that as an automatic performance of a program with which we were born. That’s one way of looking at it, but unfortunately (or fortunately) it cannot explain events relating to the spontaneous regeneration of organs following a traumatic event.

One example is the regeneration of our liver, following a partial amputation (hepatectomy). In his article, Liver Regeneration, George K. Michalopoulos describes the mechanism of liver regeneration, as follows:

“Liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy is a very complex and well-orchestrated phenomenon. It is carried out by the participation of all mature liver cell types. The process is associated with signaling cascades involving growth factors, cytokines, matrix remodeling, and several feedbacks of stimulation and inhibition of growth related signals. Liver manages to restore any lost mass and adjust its size to that of the organism, while at the same time providing full support for body homeostasis during the entire regenerative process. In situations when hepatocytes or biliary cells are blocked from regeneration, these cell types can function as facultative stem cells for each other.”

Although the article is highly technical, it is worth reading to appreciate how complex this regenerative process is. This is further highlighted by the author’s conclusion that “Despite multiple studies of liver regeneration, many aspects of this phenomenon remain to be further understood”.

One thing, however, is already understood: our body has the ability to initiate on-demand an extremely complex set of processes that will culminate in the regeneration of one of our most important internal organs. That implies that our body has the intelligence needed to understand the need to regenerate the liver and to summon all the many factors required to accomplish that goal. But what does all that prove if that is a fluke, the one and only example of regeneration?

Well, it isn’t. A letter published in NATURE provides some insight on how children can grow back amputated fingertips, but the spontaneous regeneration of fingertips has been known for quite some time (see for instance the 1974 report by C.M. Illingworth), although it has been given little or no attention by the general public. It is noteworthy that the ability to regenerate a fingertip only exists in children and we apparently lose it around the age of 11. Animal studies, however, show that adult animals still retain that ability (this, again, will be discussed in a future post).

Spontaneous organ regeneration is a phenomenon that uses our body’s resources without the addition of foreign factors, such as drugs (although in the case of finger amputation, antiseptic measures are in order so as to avoid infection).

Given the undisputed evidence that we, the humans, are able (up to a certain age) to spontaneously regenerate an amputated fingertip and (without age limitation) to spontaneously regenerate a partially amputated liver, you might ask if it is incredible that we are also able to spontaneously regenerate a few hair follicles.

You know what I think.

 

 

 

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Posted by on in Scientific evidence
What Warts Tell Us

I am particularly “fond” of viral warts, because they introduced me to the world of mind-body practices, but I refuse to view them as something special. The reason I’m bringing this up is that I had the following exchange with a reader, a few days ago:

READER: “Everybody knows that you can cure viral warts with guided imagery. But growing hair…that’s going too far.”

KFIR: “Why? What is the difference between the two? In both cases we influence the way our body reacts to thought, right?”

READER: “Yes, but warts are different.”

KFIR: “In what sense?”

READER: “They just are.”

KFIR: “You don’t have a clue, do you?”

READER:…silence

I find it interesting that people are willing to accept that you can cure viral warts with guided imagery, but think that influencing our body in other ways is probably impossible. The logic behind their thought process eludes me, because getting rid of viral warts is all but a simple feat; it involves complex mechanisms, related and unrelated to our immune system, that we don’t fully understand.

Take for instance, plantar warts. The Mayo Clinic defines plantar warts as hard, grainy growths that usually appear on the heels or balls of your feet, areas that feel the most pressure. This pressure also may cause plantar warts to grow inward beneath a hard, thick layer of skin (callus).

Plantar warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus enters your body through tiny cuts, breaks or other weak spots on the bottom of your feet. They can be treated with salicylic acid or liquid nitrogen, which however often fail to be truly curative and so the wart returns.

Warts have a complex structure and in order to get rid of it our body must orchestrate the shutdown of the many blood vessels that bring nourishment to it. Frankly, I wouldn’t know how to tell my body to go about it if I had to, but once our mind expresses that wish, our brain does the rest and we don’t need to understand what it is that our body is doing.

The reason why people accept that our mind is capable, using guided imagery, to heal our body of persistent viral warts, is that warts are very common and, therefore, the mind-body effect is well documented and, at times, simply amazing. For instance, in a 2007 report published in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, Stephen Lankton reports a Psychotherapeutic Intervention for Numerous and Large Viral Warts with Adjunctive Hypnosis. Leaving out the big words for a moment, the report tells of a sixteen-year-old girl, who had actively sought medical help for five years for a small wart on the back of her left hand (and later her legs). Her physician, at that initial time, prescribed cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen) for the removal of the wart on the back of her hand. The paradoxical result was that the wart significantly increased in size. This unsuccessful treatment was followed with treatments of salicylic acid, retinoid cream application, tape occlusion, cantharidin, curettage, electro-surgery, and these unsuccessful treatments were followed by laser surgery - also unsuccessful. The result in every case was both an increase in the size of the wart and an increase in the number of warts and affected area.

But she didn’t give up. After going through all that she finally reached Dr. Lankton, who did four mind-body sessions with her and in seven weeks completely cured her (for the technical details of the procedures employed, read the paper). This article is one of many documented examples of similar healings. That’s why people accept the mind-body connection “as far as warts are concerned” – you can’t argue with success. However, I will argue that regrowing hair is not as difficult as getting rid of a wart that modern medicine had been stymied with for five years. Plausible theories have been put forward to explain how our mind is capable of influencing our body to fight the viral infection caused by the papilloma virus. However, we don’t know for sure how the process works at the mind-body connection level, just like we don’t know how our mind “orders” our follicles to grow new hair, and to be snappy about it.

Embracing the fact that our mind has the power to prime our body into accomplishing something magical, like spiriting away a persistent viral wart, and then shying away from the notion that it can direct our body to make other changes, simply doesn’t make sense. Let’s start making sense.

 

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The Great Power of an Old Selfie

The influence that an image may have on our body, under the appropriate conditions, has been discussed in books and articles. In his book, Quantum Healing, Dr. Deepak Chopra takes the position that “What you see, you become” is a truth that shapes the whole physiology, including the brain. Dr. Chopra relies on the results of a laboratory experiment to substantiate this claim. Discussing this fascinating point in depth is beyond the scope of this post, and for the present it is sufficient to say that strong arguments exist in favor of employing actual pictures as an aid in mind-body practices. This should not come as a surprise to us; there is a body of evidence showing that images change the way our brain works. Randomly-chosen examples of such reports are: How Advertisements Seduce Your Brain, How fake images change our memory and behavior, and Violent games DO alter your brain.

So why not use this effect to bolster the efficacy of your mind-body practice? After all, guided imagery is about visualization. When using imagery you create pictures in your mind that influence the way your brain and body work and even create measurable permanent changes. In many cases the image is non-realistic (for instance, when the condition addressed has to do with an internal organ in a not well-defined manner) and still works well, because the important factor is what message the image conveys to our mind, and not how accurate or realistic it is. But if the condition you wish to treat is an outer change in your body, and you have a picture of yourself before the change occurred, there is no excuse for not using it.

I am by no means the first to suggest using a picture of yourself while working with guided imagery. For instance, in the book Creative Visualization, Shakti Gawain suggests, when dealing with weight or physical conditions: “Show yourself with perfect body, feeling wonderful about yourself (cut a picture from a magazine that looks like you would look in your perfect condition, and paste a photo of your head on the body!)”

That’s certainly helpful if, for instance, you have been obese all your life. But if you were skinny in the past and now want to lose weight, using a good photograph of your more attractive self is surely better than making a collage out of a magazine. And since in this blog we are dealing with hair regrowth and hair color restoration, unless you started shaving your head in the cradle you must have a picture of yourself with full, naturally-colored hair. Use it! Below is the one I am using.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Kfir77.jpg

Since I run my hair restoration experiment on a trial-and-error basis, I cannot offer any proof that following this suggestion will help. All I have is my subjective conclusion that hair started to regrow faster after I started integrating this photograph in my daily practice. However, we all differ very much from one another – even if we look alike and have the same objective characteristics, such as hair type and color, age, etc. – because where our mind is concerned each one of us is the unique product of her or his life experience; therefore, it is next to impossible to create standard experimental conditions for an experiment like mine. Everyone has to run their own experiment, to make their own determination and reach their private conclusions. All I can do is publish tips and musings on the subject, which hopefully can help others to explore the exciting power of our minds. That’s what I’m here for.

 

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Posted by on in Mind-Body
Proof That Mind-Body Practices Work

Seeing is believing and before embarking on any mind-body practice it is wise to invest some time in proving to yourself, through actual tests, that such techniques have a chance to produce results. The reason is simple: if you start out thinking that the whole thing is baloney, you invite failure.

If you are familiar with guided imagery and with self-hypnosis, you are good to go. Otherwise, I recommend that you download the Getting Ready to Succeed PDF, by clicking this link, and that you read it and obtain the background information it details.

Assuming that by now you have a basic understanding of guided imagery and of self-hypnosis, we can move on toward acquiring the belief that we need to succeed. Doing that is very simple – you need to try out two experiments that will show you how your mind runs your body. These are simple tests and you can’t fail, unless you try very hard to bungle them.

 

Experiment #1

The easiest way of seeing the magic in action is if you are in pain (not that I am wishing pain to you, but if you happen to be in pain while reading this post, that will come in handy). It doesn’t really matter what the nature of the pain is: A simple headache or bellyache will do, or it could be menstrual pains or a strained muscle. Go to Michael Hadfield’s website—http://www.hypnosisiseasy.com/downloads.htm—and download his “Pain Relief Hypnosis MP3,” and you will see what magic looks like. I have tried it on myself and on others on several occasions and it has always worked like clockwork.

 

Experiment #2

The second easy way to see your mind ruling your body is if you are suffering from insomnia. If you don’t, try this one on an evening when you are not tired enough and not ready to go to sleep. Go to Forbes Robbins Blair’s website—http://www.forbesrobbinsblair.com—and download his “Time to Sleep” MP3. I dare you to stay awake for more than five minutes while listening to it.

Please come back for the next posts after you have tried at least one of those two amazing MP3s (better if you try both). They will give you a first impression of what your mind can do to your body, which is important so you can start on the right foot to work on more complex things.

Please, when you come back, leave a report of your experience with these MP3s, so others can benefit from it.

 

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