1. The health benefits of music

    Looks like the savage beast isn't the only thing music can soothe: A good tune can also help ease pain.

    Of course, that's not too much of a surprise since many people already use music to soothe both physical and mental pain -- but the latest research shows how there's one group of folks in particular who stand to benefit the most.

    And if you're the type that finds yourself getting anxious at the very thought of pain -- the type who breaks out into a sweat even thinking about a routine dental cleaning, for example -- then get the headphones out and fire up some tunes, because music might be better than a painkiller for you.

    In the new study, researchers sent painful jolts of electricity through the fingertips of 143 volunteers and measured their levels of pain as they listened to music. The volunteers were also told to pay attention to the music by focusing on certain melodies and listening for specific tones.

    And it worked: Pain levels went down as the musical concentration went up for at least some of the patients.

    But it didn't quite work for everyone. In fact, people who didn't have much anxiety over pain didn't get much of a benefit -- and I'm guessing it's because these folks probably don't feel the same levels of pain either.

    Pain, after all, is as much mental as it is physical -- and that's why people who get anxious over it stand to benefit the most.

    And if that's you, the researchers behind the new study say be sure to pick music that will hold your interest. Because, let's face it, that's rarely going to be the sleepy office Muzak and "light FM" droning in the background of most medical clinics.

    So next time you have a medical or dental appointment, bring your own music player and a pair of headphones (as long as it's allowed in the room, of course). Tune in to your tunes... and tune out the pain.

  2. Tai chi can help prevent falls

    It's just about the slowest and easiest form of exercise on the planet -- but what tai chi lacks in flash, it more than makes up for in benefits.

    These simple Chinese stretching exercises have been shown to help seniors beat everything from pain to depression -- and now, new research shows that they can also help improve balance and prevent falls.

    Falls are a leading cause of loss of independence in seniors. The breaks and fractures often require long and even permanent hospitalization -- and with the rise of hospital-acquired infections, any admission for any reason has the potential to be your last.

    But if the new study is any indication, you can dramatically lower your risk of a life-changing or life-ending fall through tai chi.

    In the new study, researchers assigned 70 seniors from assisted-living homes to either four months of tai chi or musical instruction.

    Music is nice -- but those who went to the 90-minute tai chi classes three times a week learned critical skills such as weight shifting, awareness of body alignment, and the rotation of the head and trunk.

    As a result, the study in Age and Ageing found that these seniors had significant improvements in their ability to balance and the awareness of the position of their limbs than those who learned music.

    And if boosting your balance and slashing your risk of a fall aren't enough, that's not all tai chi can do for you.

    Studies have found that these slow stretches can help bring relief from arthritis and osteoarthritis, boost overall physical function, beat depression, and even improve your quality life.

    Along with being easy, tai chi is cheap or even free. There may be a group practicing tai chi in your local park, library, or senior center.

    And if you can't find one near you, you're only a mouse click away from some free lessons -- search YouTube for "tai chi” for some simple exercises you can do right now, in front of your computer.

  3. Walk faster, beat death

    It turns out the slowest walkers have the highest risk of death.
  4. Medical marijuana can limit pain meds

    This one's bound to make some pretty big waves: Yet another new study backs marijuana for medicinal purposes in a big way.
  5. Natural relief for Crohn's, IBS and more

    The only thing worse than a stomach problem is a stomach problem that never, ever goes away. Your own doctor will keep trying different meds until he finds one that kinda-sorta works without causing too many side effects, but there are much better approaches for recurring stomach issues.
  6. Yoga can beat back pain -- and that's no stretch

    I know plenty of people who won't try yoga because, well, it's yoga -- and they think they'd feel ridiculous doing it. But if you're battling back pain, do yourself a favor: Open your mind before you open another jar of pills -- because yoga can help beat your pain, and two new studies prove it.
  7. Move your back, ease the pain

    The last thing anyone with a sore back wants to do is move it around ... and the natural reaction is to find a spot where you can sit as stiff as a board and move as little as possible.The other natural reaction, of course, is a fistful of painkillers. Don't give in to either reaction.
  8. Simple ways to end migraine pain

    I've said it before, and the latest research proves it again: You don't need powerful, dangerous and addictive meds to beat the relentless pain of migraine headaches.
  9. Chondroitin offers arthritis relief

    The new study confirms that chondroitin can beat pain, ease stiffness, and even restore function to patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the hands.
  10. Painkillers up miscarriage risk

    You wouldn't dream of pumping a newborn full of powerful painkillers like ibuprofen -- yet nearly a fifth of all pregnant women take these meds during pregnancy... and it's killing their unborn children.
  11. Migraine relief

    I recently came across a new remedy for migraine relief. It involves putting tiny amounts of feverfew and ginger into a little pouch, and then putting it under your tongue.
  12. Yoga can bring fibro relief

    Researchers say light stretching can do what a pharmacy full of drugs often cannot: Bring real relief to women suffering from fibromyalgia, the mystifying and often debilitating pain condition.
  13. Seaweed for heart health

    But in Asia, this nuisance is on the menu -- and with good reason, too: Seaweed is one of the healthiest foods you can eat, and a new review of the research finds it can boost your heart health like nothing else.
  14. Feds light controversy over medical marijuana

    The U.S. Department of Justice has finally responded to a 2002 petition to reclassify marijuana as a medical treatment.
  15. Antidepressant drug approved for pain

    The latest drug to win FDA approval isn't even a pain med -- it's the powerful antidepressant Cymbalta. And it fights pain about as well as you'd expect an antidepressant to.
  16. Getting rid of that pain in the neck

    There's a pretty good reason most people can't seem to shake their chronic neck pains: Their own doctors are absolutely stumped by the condition. How else can you explain their mass insistence on treatments that don't work? A new study shows that few neck patients are given the safe and effective treatments that can send the pain packing...while far too...
  17. Love beats pain

    Love has been known to cause its share of pain... but a new study shows that it can help protect you from it, too.

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