Veneer…What the heck??

Pink Can Too

I have been IN LOVE with Veneer!!!

I have been using it on my clients and myself.  I cannot recommend it enough!  I know there are a ton of companies making it now but I have only tried the one brand our salon brought in.  Its Cuccio Veneer.

Cuccio Veneer

 

BEST INVENTION EVER!!!!

Its hard (cured) like Gel but has the consistency of Nail polish.  You have to prep the nail similar to applying gel or regular polish and each layer is cured under a UV light.

This is a miracle for the manicure world.  Imagine going to the salon and having your regular manicure……..but your polish lasts more then a few days…even through the roughest household chores!!

This products goes on your natural nails and lasts for a few weeks with minimal chipping and needs to be refreshed as it grows out.

I looooooove this product and mention it to…

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The Placebo Effect

The placebo effect is the phenomenon of a patient recovering completely or partially from the symptoms of the illness when administered a dummy drug, whilst being told they are in fact being given an effective medicine which will cure them. The effects of the placebo are not simply that the patient believes themselves to be better, but an actual measurable decrease in recorded symptoms. There is a great debate over how placebos work, there is really little consensus over the matter, but the fact is that in some situations it does work, which makes the area a crucially important field of study, as we can discover ways to cure people without drugs and their potential side-effects. Not only is it better for the patient, but it is also more cost-effective. So, what are the prevailing theories of how placebos work?

The placebo has only been seen to be effective in subjective symptoms, that is, ones in which the severity is judged by the patient themselves, e.g. pain. There has been little evidence to suggest that placebos work to reduce objective symptoms, those that are observed and measured by the doctor, such as blood pressure. This strongly suggests that the effect is primarily psychological, but how does this produce a physical reduction in subjective symptoms? As is well known now, the subjects of psychology and neuroscience are deeply intertwined – the study of the mind and the study of the brain; without one you cannot have the other.

So, one suggestion is that the patient’s psychological state could affect the physical workings of the brain itself, for example by altering the levels of various hormones. The brain can learn to associate certain physiological happenings with exposure to a certain substance. One example of this was a group of studies conducted on lab animals in which the animals were exposed to a saccharin, paired with a drink which would produce immunosuppression. Soon the animals bodies began to produce the physiological responses causing immunosuppression merely upon tasting the saccharin, even when the other drink was not present. This included changes in the level of insulin secretion by the animals. This is similar to the studies carried out by Pavlov with his dogs.

Functional imaging on patients suffering from pain whilst being administered a placebo showed activation of various areas of the brain, including the amygdala, which perform a primary role in emotional responses. It has been recorded that some of these patients showed increased dopamine and opioid levels. Self-reinforcing feedback loops are formed wherein the individual recalls taking the placebo and notes a decrease in pain, and begins creating an association between the two. An increased release in dopamine levels has also been noted when administering placebos to patients suffering depression.

All these theories work around two main concepts; those of conditioning and expectancy. The patient expects the drug to work, and so notes a reduction in symptoms. The patient then undergoes conditioning in which they begin to associate the drug with the reduced symptom, so whenever they take the placebo they continue to experience the positive effects. Even small things, such as the enthusiasm of the doctor and the appearance of the drugs given to the patient can effect the strength of this association. In studies where patients were informed they were given a placebo, all reports of reduced symptoms disappeared almost immediately.

For now we cannot be entirely sure where the line crosses from a psychological effect to a physical one, but as neuroscience continues to expand and grow alongside psychology, we could perhaps know the answers in the future. Until then placebos remain an effective, if mysterious, form of treatment for many (even if they don’t know it).

The Purpose of Art Throughout History

Throughout the history of mankind, art has served several functions; everything from creative expression to therapy, from historic telling to the expression of ideologies, from engaging an audience to engaging the mind. Art is often cited as of no practical use to humanity, something nice to have, but not of the same practicality as the sciences or literature. However art has served both as a functional as well as an aesthetic purpose – here, I’d like to talk about just a few of the ways that art has helped mankind.

The Telling of History

Before photography (though an art form in itself), paintings, sculptures, and other forms of classical art were among the few ways that our ancestors helped us understand their lives, the events that formed them, and the cultures that shaped them. I don’t only mean the great war epics you find in great monuments and the houses of nobility, but even moreso art which depicted the everyday lives of people in the past. We see depicted the gaps between the rich and poor, the religious views of the people, the way in which different cultures intersected throughout history. By bringing all these together we form a timeline of a sort, watching humanity as it has changed over time – its ideas, its values, its great events. We see the scientific revolution in the mathematical precision of architecture in the Renaissance, we see the lavishness of the French nobility in the Palace of Versailles, we see the strict religious values of the Middle Ages in the stained glass windows of a Medieval church. When even the literature of an age is lost, it is often the art of an age which stands firm against the weathering of time to tell the present of the past.

Therapy

A more modern use of art is its role in therapy, the use of art to an individual to express themselves and help them to gain understanding when all other methods have failed. ‘Outsider art’ is a form of this – the artistic expression of those with mental illness, those who are imprisoned, etc. Through their art they are able to achieve many things – find a sort of peace, gain a better understanding of themselves and the world around them, or communicate with a world which can’t otherwise understand them. As well as helping the individual, by viewing this type of art people can look into the minds of the ‘outsiders,’ see them for once as people – different, but yet the same. However art can be therapeutic to anyone – the benefits of having a creative outlet are often proclaimed by those working with mental health – as humans we feel the need to understand be understood. Art is one way of doing that, often working where other media hasn’t. Literature often works in the same way, it is a form of expression which allows humans to communicate on a greater level and to a larger audience than a simple conversation can. Art allows people to express what words often can’t, and humanity gains a greater understanding of the many people within itself for it.

Spreading A Message

Art can often be open to interpretation, the artist may want each individual to form their own opinions on a piece, making it personal to each person viewing it. However at other times, the artist may want to send out a clear message; whether it be ideological, political, religious, or otherwise. Through art people can express their distaste with the current state of world affairs, can incite the world to action, can commemorate those who have suffered or achieved great things, or show the world the true colours of those who have done terrible things. Photography in particular is known for this – photographers flying out to developing countries to show the rest of the world the true horrors of poverty and disease, capturing moments in history to be remembered forever, or to express emotions at times when the world isn’t quite sure how to show what its feeling – as with the famous photograph of the ‘Falling Man’ from the 9/11 attacks. Art allows everyone to have their say, and doesn’t require that people be great speakers or intellectuals, they can use any number of materials to show the world that they have something important to say. And in turn, it can inspire people, make them think or spur them into action – it should never be underestimated how powerful a tool art is for provoking both thought and action. It is accessible to everyone, and can be produced by anyone, it is a universal language.

Aesthetics

What could perhaps be considered one of the less valuable qualities of art is its capacity to simply be beautiful. However, I would argue that this in itself is also important. Using art we can create emotions, atmospheres, different spaces where people can relax, and get away from a world where functionality is becoming increasingly important. It reminds people that there is more to life than simply being useful, that you can sometimes simply stop to smell the roses and enjoy what there is to see around you – whether it be made by nature or by man. Art can create something beautiful for everyone to enjoy without attaching a price tag to itself, or trying to force itself to be functional, or even practical. It’s something that can be enjoyed simply for what it is, and can bring moments of peace in what can be an extremely hectic world. A beautiful garden may not cure a disease or solve world hunger, but it can bring moments of joy, perhaps to people who otherwise have very few. Beauty is something which may be appreciated by everyone – young or old, rich or poor, and it can bring these people together in their shared enjoyment of something which has no purpose other than to bring a smile to someone’s face.

 

Just from these few things, we can already see that art is invaluable to humanity. Without it, we as a people would be very much different – it has shaped history, culture, and the minds and actions of people. It is a powerful tool which should not be underestimated.

The Demonisation of Pyschiatry

Over the past couple of decades there has been monumental progress in the areas of psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience. However, there have also been huge setbacks. It is acknowledged by most medical professionals dealing with mental health issues that the majority of the disorder and illnesses they encounter require a combination of two types of treatment: the pharmacological and therapy-based. However, recently there has been a growing trend which refuses to acknowledge the benefits of the former, instead insisting that drugs are simply handed out without discrimination to anyone complaining of a suspected mental health issue. These same individuals stipulate that these medications are not only ineffective, but also harm the person taking them. Here, I would like to tackle many of the false assumptions these beliefs are based on, and try to reverse the effects of what has become the demonisation of psychiatry.

Firstly, I would like to talk about the development and application of psychosomatic drugs. Depending on what is being treated, there are many different drugs available to doctors to prescribe, each with different benefits and different side-effects. Each and every one of these drugs has gone through rigorous testing, in the first to be sure that it is safe for human use, secondly to prove that it does what it claimed, i.e. treats the symptoms it is supposed to, and thirdly, that it does this more effectively and with less side-effects that previous medication. This process takes years and is extremely thorough, it is certainly not the case that just any proposed drug is approved – FDA figures estimate that only 30% of proposed drugs even make it so far as Phase I testing. The same figures estimate a 8% approval rate for any new drug being tested.

Even after all this testing, once the drug has reached approval, the measures taken to protect the patients who could potentially be administered the drug don’t stop. Doctors and psychiatrists are well informed of the various risks associated with each drug, and can choose the ideal one for any particular patient. The patient is always informed of potential side-effects and it is up to them to decide whether or not they are worth the risk. The patients continue to be monitored for their tolerance of the drug, and changes can be made; either changing the dose or the drug completely, or offering a new medication to off-set certain side-effects, so that the patient receives the best possible treatment for them.

Secondly, I’d like the address the mindset that psychosomatic drugs are ineffective. Of course, you only need look at the evidence provided by the many drug trials and tests I mentioned previously to know that no drug gets onto the market without proving its worth. Drug trials aren’t the only evidence though. People who refuse to believe in the effectiveness of pharmacological treatments for mental health issues are refuting thousands of papers written over a hundred years by the most respected professionals and researchers in these fields. It is often suggested that these professionals have something to gain by distorting the facts, but this clearly isn’t the case. If a psychiatrist at the top of his field were to write a paper proclaiming the benefits of a drug that is later found to be ineffective, than that psychiatrist would effectively be at the end of his career. The same is suggested of the people running the drug trials; it’s often stipulated that they’re in the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies, not taking into account the massive cost of conducting expensive trials over many years, with a very low success rate. Often these scientists find that they have spent many years working on a potential drug to no avail.

As for the pharmaceutical companies themselves, it brings them no benefit to sell ineffective drugs. They would soon find themselves losing business if the medicine they were selling wasn’t bringing any health benefits to their customers. One argument given is that this actually benefits them, as people who don’t get better have to keep taking medicine. However, it’s unlikely that a patient would continue an ineffective treatment, and in any case, it can hardly be argued that there is a shortage of people who need psychosomatic drugs – it is far better for the company to cure people and attract others who also want the benefits of what they’re selling. This in itself is just common business sense.

Finally, I’d like to talk about how the drugs are prescribed. It is often said that doctors simply throw drugs at a patient and send them on their way. This is not the case – as I’ve said previously, doctors have to consider the individual patient, and the patient themselves has a say on the treatment they receive. Good doctors will make a real effort to educate the patient on the effects of a particular drug before prescribing it to them. It is also rare that drugs are the only solution offered – doctors are the first to suggest various types of therapy-based treatments, and often have a lot of information and leaflets on offer suggesting local services which the patient can take advantage of. It is also the doctors job to refer you to the type of therapist suited to you – for example, after discussing it with you, they may suggest a counsellor who works with cognitive-behavioural therapy. But this is after discussion with you, and what you feel would benefit you most.

It’s also rare for doctors to prescribe medications without first asking about the patient’s general state of health. They’ll ask how often you exercise, what your sleeping pattern is like, if you’re stressed, if you’re eating healthily, if you smoke or drink heavily, etc. If the doctor is of the belief that you would benefit from some lifestyle changes, these will often be suggested before any type of drug. Medication may also only be offered as a temporary solution, to help the patient to cope until other treatments such as therapy have been attempted. There are often long waiting lists for psychologists and therapists,  and treatment takes some time to work – in the meantime, drugs may take the edge of a patient’s symptoms. At the end of the day, it is also true that some patients do require lifetime medication, in the same way that a person with type I diabetes will require insulin for the rest of their life. Mental health issues often have a chemical basis, and although it is not completely understood at this point, that does not mean that it should be disregarded. Some patients may find that their symptoms all but disappear on medication, and as usual, it is they who have the final say in whether or not they continue to take it. Therapy-based and lifestyle-based treatments do not work for everyone, just as pharmacological treatments do not work for everyone.

I hope by talking about these issues I have cleared a few things up on the topic of pharmacological treatment of mental health issues. In the end, it is usually a combination of drugs and therapy that will cure a patient, and disregarding either one is harmful to them as it will hinder their recovery. It is time that people returned their trust to their doctors, whose very job it is to help them.

A Few Things About Memory

There has been an endless amount of research in the past years in the fields of neuroscience and psychology regarding the subject of memory. Particular fields of interest have been how the relationship between sleep and memory, how we can improve memory (or weaken a traumatic memory) and just how well we actually remember things. Here I’ll take a short look at a few of these topics.

Sleeping and Learning

Several studies have indicated that sleeping directly after learning something, such as the steps to a new dance, can help you to remember it much better. It is thought that it is the REM stage of sleep which is the most effective in helping to consolidate memories, so in order to achieve the full benefits of this approach, you must sleep at least one and a half hours in order to experience the full cycle of REM/NREM sleep. However there is a downside to this. It has also been discovered that sleeping directly after a traumatic event, such as a car crash, can help preserve that event in your mind. This is associated with a higher possibility of developing PTSD-like behaviours. It is recommended that after a traumatic event the person staves off sleep for a while, which also has the benefit of reducing the impact of traumatic brain injury in cases where that has developed.

The Reliability of Memories

There has been a lot of research in the past 40 or more years that has shown that our memories are not nearly as reliable as we think they are – in fact, the memories which we think we remember the best, the more emotionally-driven ones, tend to be the least reliable of them all. One particular study used language to affect eyewitnesses’ memories of a car crash they had seen. Half of the witnesses were told that the cars had ‘smashed’ whilst the other half were told they had ‘hit’ each other. The first group reported ‘remembering’ broken glass at the scene, whilst the second half did not. There was no broken glass at the scene. This has huge implications for the reliability of eye-witness testimonies in court – especially if a witness points out the wrong person as having done a crime. In a 2001 study using simultaneous line-ups of suspects (where all the suspects line up together in a row), it was found that witnesses chose the wrong person about a quarter of the time. It was found however that by introducing suspects one by one, and so reducing any comparisons made between them and removing any pressure to select one of the suspects present (the witness would not know how many suspects would be introduced) these mistakes were greatly reduced.

Even more worryingly than these issues, data from an association called the Innocence Project has identified that in 27 percent of cases where a suspect was initially found guilty, but had later been proved innocent, the suspect had actually falsely admitted to the crime. This has been blamed by many researchers on implementation of the Reid technique, a widely-used form of interrogation which involves denying any protests of innocence from the suspect, implying that they are guilty by careful wording of questions, and trying to appear as though the interrogators are trying to help the suspect by minimising the seriousness of the crime, and downplaying the extent of the punishment the suspect may receive if they confess. A 2005 study carried out by Melissa Russano of Rogers Williams University found that this method doubled the chances of a genuine confession by two, but increased the chances of a false confession by more than seven-fold. This an obvious issue where many judges and jurors automatically accept a confession as definitive proof of a suspect’s guilt.

Eye Movements and Traumatic Memories

In January 2011, a study was conducted where patients with PTSD were separated into two groups. One was treated with a therapy called ‘Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing’ or EMDR and the other half carried out an identical session, but kept their eyes closed for the duration. During EMDR, patients are encouraged to move their eyes from side to side while they recall a traumatic memory – the theory is that by splitting the patient’s focus while they recall the memory helps them to strip it of its vividness and emotional intensity. Those patients who performed the eye movements reported a much more significant reduction in distress than those who did not. Their levels of physiological arousal were also lower than that of those in the control group. An additional study carried out in the Netherlands in 2012 found that the group using the eye movements were unable to recall picture fragments of a memorised image as well as those who did not. They also reported that the vividness of the recalled pictures had decreased. Hopefully these findings can be used to effectively treat people suffering from PTSD as part of their therapy plan.

These are a just a few of the recent findings in the field of memory. However there is so much research going on in this field right now that I couldn’t possibly cover it all. Hopefully I’ve piqued your interest in the subject – if you want to find out more there are many magazines, websites and journals where you can find more information, as well as textbooks (although these tend to be less up-to-date). A few good starting places would be ‘Scientific American Mind’ (a magazine), ‘ScienceDaily.com’ (Mind and Brain section) and ‘neurosciencenews.com’ (more suitable to those with a bit of background in chemistry/neuroscience).

Child Cured of HIV

Well there’s been some ridiculously exciting news today – it has been reported that a child has been cured of HIV. After one year since taking the cure and stopping medication, even the most sensitive HIV tests are coming back negative, although the doctors involve admit that it’s quite likely that a small amount of the virus is still present somewhere within the two-year-old’s body.

Although this won’t be of any immediate use to those already suffering with HIV, it is hoped that the same treatment can be used to cure other newborns born with the disease. Usually mothers who are HIV-positive are administered drugs during pregnancy and childbirth which prevent the passing on the virus in up to 98% of cases, but this new cure can be used for the unlucky 2% or those who haven’t had the treatment/not had it in time.

The doctors treated the baby with three antiretroviral drugs 30 hours after its birth, as opposed to the single drug which would usually be administered. This was only expected to control the severity of the HIV within the child’s body, but doctors were amazed to discover that the level of the virus has started to decline after about a month of treatment. The baby stopped treatment at 18 months and hasn’t taken any drugs for HIV since.

Doctors attribute this success to the intensity of the treatment and how quickly it was given after birth. So as I mentioned before, those who have had HIV for any period of time will not benefit from this cure, as many of their cells have already been effected, with produces a knock-on effect of killing and infecting other cells within the body. Current treatments can only minimise the effect of the virus on sufferers. However we are hopefully now one step closer to finally discovering a cure for everyone who suffers from HIV.