1. Natural cures for the ringing in the ear called tinnitus

    Sound therapy helps beat tinnitus

    You don't have to be particularly religious to appreciate the melodic ringing of church bells. But a ringing in the ears is another story.

    It's a condition called tinnitus, and it can range from a slight and occasional nuisance to a constant and maddening presence.

    There's no drug that'll cure it, but natural therapies can work wonders. And now, researchers say some cases of tinnitus can be eased through a combination of simple talk therapy and a little bit of relaxing ocean sounds.

    In the new study, 247 tinnitus patients were sent to audiologists but not given any specific treatment other than whatever that audiologist recommended.

    Another 245 patients were sent off for a combination of two treatments: a sound machine pumping out calming ocean waves in an attempt to "retrain" the ears, and cognitive behavioral therapy (that's a type of psychotherapy).

    A year later, these combo patients reported improvements in quality of life as well as less fear and fewer negative thoughts related to the condition, according to the study in Lancet.

    But it wasn't exactly a cure, either, because the ringing was still there -- the treatments just helped the patients to live with it better.

    That might be an improvement for patients who suffer from tinnitus caused by psychological factors. But most cases of tinnitus have a real cause inside the body -- and a much better and more permanent solution is to find that cause and correct it.

    In many cases, tinnitus is the result of poor blood circulation in the inner ear. Neither talk therapy nor the sounds of ocean waves -- or even the two together -- will do a thing to correct that. But circulation-enhancing supplements such as ginkgo biloba or vinpocetine can improve blood circulation and improve the condition.

    For many other tinnitus patients, the real "cure" isn't a cure so much as avoiding the cause.

    Caffeine, nicotine, and food sensitivities can all cause or worsen the condition. It's also a side effect of common drugs, including antidepressants, diuretics, aspirin, NSAIDs, and antibiotics.

    Learn to find and tune out the cause, and you can tune out the ringing for good. The ocean sounds are nice, but they're entirely optional.

  2. Nicotine may slow cognitive decline

    Could nicotine possibly be good for you?

    Short answer: Yes... sort of, and a new study shows again how the most addictive ingredient in cigarettes could help boost the brain.

    But don't start smoking -- because trust me, any "benefits" of nicotine are far outweighed by the risks.

    In the new study, researchers didn't even look at smokers. They recruited 67 non-smokers with mild cognitive impairment, one of the earliest warning signs of dementia, and assigned them to wear either a nicotine patch or a placebo patch.

    After six months, those who had the real patch did a little better on cognitive tests than those who got the placebo -- and didn't show any signs of side effects or even addiction.

    It's not too surprising, since nicotine is known to mimic a common neurotransmitter that often goes missing in people with dementia and other cognitive disorders.

    It does such a good job of it, in fact, that it pretty much behaves exactly like that neurotransmitter once it's in the brain -- and it's one of the reasons smokers get a quick boost in concentration after they light up.

    These brain-boosting benefits are among the reasons Big Pharma has been hard at work on a nicotine pill -- not to help smokers quit, but to bring the supposed benefits of nicotine to nonsmokers.

    But no matter how they try to sell you that nicotine, whether it's in a pill, patch or pipe, it's just not worth it -- because there are far better and more effective ways to boost your brainpower and slash your risk of dementia.

    Start with the ordinary B vitamins you can get from any vitamin shop. One recent groundbreaking study found that seniors who were given a blend of B6, B12 and folate did 70 percent better on memory tests than seniors who took a placebo.

    In fact, seniors who took the supplement improved by just about every measure, with boosts in episodic memory, semantic memory and overall global cognition. They even had lower levels of homocysteine, an inflammation marker linked to dementia, heart disease and more.

    And along with memory, B vitamins can help with everything from mood to muscle.

    With benefits like that, why mess around with nicotine?

  3. E-cigs cause lung damage

    If you're trying to quit smoking, you've got the right idea. But if you think smokeless "e-cigarettes" are a safer alternative or a tool to help you quit, your right idea is on the wrong track.
  4. The dangers of electronic cigarettes

    The latest gimmick aimed at smokers is something called an electronic cigarette, a battery-powered device that looks like a cigarette, but uses no flame and emits a mist instead of smoke.

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