Bacteria Found in Cow Dung Can Make You Smarter

Researchers from the Sage Colleges in Troy, NY, reported today their findings that specific bacteria common to our environment may increase learning behavior. Dorothy Matthews and Susan Jenks, who conducted the study, shared their findings with those in attendance at the meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in San Diego.

The bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, is well known to scientists, as the dead bacteria is being tested as immunotherapy for asthma, cancer, depression, psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and tuberculosis. M. vaccae, so named because it was first discovered in cow dung in Austria, is naturally found in soil, and it is inhaled when people spend time outdoors, especially where there are plants and trees.

It was found in previous research that heat-killed M. vaccae had anti-depressant effects on mice by stimulating the growth of neurons and levels of serotonin.  Mathews and Jenks, however, were curious about the effects of live M. vaccae, and fed live bacteria to an experimental group of mice to see how it would effect their navigation of a maze.

The mice that were fed the live M. vaccae learned the maze twice as fast as the control group, which had not received M. vaccae, and the experimental group exhibited less anxiety as well.

Some time later, the experimental group was taken off the bacteria and tested again against the control group.  This time, the experimental mice did not learn the maze as fast as when they were given the bacteria, but they were still faster than the control mice.

In yet a third maze learning experiment, conducted after the mice had rested for three weeks, the experimental mice ran faster than the controls, but not fast enough to make a statistically significant difference. This suggested to the researchers that the effects of M. vaccae are temporary.

“This research suggests that M. vaccae may play a role in anxiety and learning in mammals,” says Matthews. “It is interesting to speculate that creating learning environments in schools that include time in the outdoors where M. vaccae is present may decrease anxiety and improve the ability to learn new tasks.”

Take a walk outdoors when you take a break.  You’ll return more relaxed and smarter!

sources: Medical News Today, Wikipedia

Prahladananda Swami Yoga Retreat: 1st – 3rd January 2010

The Hare Krishna Valley in Bambra was the setting for last weekend’s yoga retreat conducted by Prahladananda Swami. This 3-days program was organised by Vraja Nari Dasi and the Urban Yoga crew and proved to be very successful.
PASretreat The first day featured a casual introduction of everyone and mantra meditation. The following day was action-packed: yoga session in the morning, elaborate breakfast, three and half hours bush-trek, copious lunch, a presentation on the practical application of yoga and meditation in a fast-pace life, sumptuous dinner followed by a movie night on the ‘Holy Ganges’ which was concluded by a heated spiritual debate. Sunday started with a yoga session, followed by a most beautiful breakfast after which those who were brave enough renewed the bush-trek adventure. Everyone gathered again around an elaborate Lebanese banquet followed by kirtan. By 5pm everyone was ready to cruise back to Melbourne after a memorable first-weekend-of-the-year.
Here are a few pictures giving an aperçu of the weekend!

Proves Three Monsanto Corn Varieties’ Noxiousness to the Organism

Proves Three Monsanto Corn Varieties’ Noxiousness to the Organism

Friday 11 December 2009

by: Le Monde with AFP   |  Le Monde

GMO cornfields in Canada. A new European study "clearly reveals … new side effects linked with GM maize consumption" affected the liver and kidneys, but also other organs for three Monsanto GMO corn varieties. (Photo: DawnOne)

A study published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences demonstrates the toxicity of three genetically modified corn varieties from the American seed company Monsanto, the Committee for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (Criigen, based in Caen), which participated in that study, announced Friday, December 11.

"For the first time in the world, we’ve proven that GMO are neither sufficiently healthy nor proper to be commercialized. […] Each time, for all three GMOs, the kidneys and liver, which are the main organs that react to a chemical food poisoning, had problems," indicated Gilles-Eric Séralini, an expert member of the Commission for Biotechnology Reevaluation, created by the EU in 2008.

Caen and Rouen University researchers, as well as Criigen researchers, based their analyses on the data supplied by Monsanto to health authorities to obtain the green light for commercialization, but they draw different conclusions after new statistical calculations. According to Professor Séralini, the health authorities based themselves on a reading of the conclusions Monsanto has presented and not on conclusions drawn from the totality of the data. The researchers were able to obtain complete documentation following a legal decision.

"Monsanto’s tests, effected over 90 days, are obviously not of sufficient duration to be able to say whether chronic illnesses are caused. That’s why we ask for tests over a period of at least two years," explained one researcher. Consequently, the scientists demand a "firm prohibition" on the importation and cultivation of these GMOs.
These three GMOs (MON810, MON863 and NK603) "are approved for human and animal consumption in the EU and especially the United States," notes Professor Séralini. "MON810 is the only one of the three grown in certain EU countries (especially Spain); the others are imported," he adds. A meeting of EU ministers over MON810 and NK603 is scheduled Monday

Translation: Truthout French Language Editor Leslie Thatcher.