Category Archives: Research

Laughter Yoga Therapy

Credit Richard Duszczak

Credit: Richard Duszczak

The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “Yuj”, meaning to yoke, to integrate, to harmonise. It means union, or connection – with your own body, with your thoughts, with the world around you, your environment, and also your breath. Your breath acts as a bridge between your mind and your body – a constant exchange of energy, a mirroring between your physical and mental being – when you deepen your breath, you calm your body by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. When you calm your body, you calm your mind, and when both your mind and your body are at ease, then you start to become more relaxed in the present moment. This ability to be fully present in “the now” is the key to finding happiness, because we can only experience happiness in this present moment. We cannot feel an emotion in the past or the future, only now. Being present allows us to forget about the emotions of our past and the anxieties of the future, and enjoy simply being.

The practice of yoga asana, which is what most of us would recognise as yoga, is a means of using the unity of mind, body and breath to find joy in the present moment, as are meditation and mindfulness practices. Laughter yoga, however, takes a slightly different approach – there are no physical requirements or limitations to practicing laughter yoga, which makes it a universal option for people seeking a happiness practice but who are unable to practice hatha yoga.


Laughter Club India

 Scientific research has proven that laughter has a documented positive impact on mental and physical well-being, as a form of complementary preventative and therapeutic medicine. In March 1995 Dr Madan Kataria, a GP from Mumbai, India, was curious about the practice, having researched the benefits and discovered a man who claimed to have recovered from a terminal illness by using laughter yoga as his main form of therapy. Kataria began a laughter yoga group, starting with just 4 people and growing to over 50 people, encouraging his participants to release their inner childlike playfulness out of its learned confines. He started with sharing jokes and anecdotes, but the jokes soon became tired and old, and then he realised that if just one person was laughing, the others were more likely to laugh – not necessarily because the joke was funny, but because they enjoyed seeing another person laugh. As they say, laughter is contagious, and he realised that there didn’t need to be something to laugh ABOUT – the magic lay in the act of laughing itself. They started making up mime and other laughter exercises – doing normal daily activities in the group but laughing the whole time. Madan’s wife, Madhuri Kataria, suggested the addition of some breathing exercises in between the laughter exercises, which incorporates the yogic connection.

 The groups started small, then began to expand in size as people began to reap the benefits. The behaviour was undeniably strange, but the health benefits were real, so more and more laughter clubs started up. Nowadays there are thousands of laughter clubs around the world, and there are also a number of organisations encouraging laughter yoga as a means of finding peace and happiness, of developing a positive community, bringing together people from all walks of life, and healing physical and emotional illnesses.

We are happiest and when we are playing, and to laugh means to be in the present moment fully, free from anxieties and fears. We’ve all heard it before, and there’s nothing like a good belly laugh, but now we know: laughter really is the best medicine!

For more info:

Action for Happiness is a movement for positive social change, bringing together people from all walks of life who want to play a part in creating a happier society for everyone.

R x Laughter develops & implements projects that examine the positive health benefits of entertainment to reduce or alleviate the trauma of serious physical and emotional issues of children and adults. is the site of Dr Madan Kataria, founder of Laughter Yoga.

Guest Article By Arthritis Digest – Blood test for fibromyalgia moves a step closer

Image credit: Kim Strømstad

Image credit: Kim Strømstad

New research from King’s College London could lead to a reliable blood test for fibromyalgia, experts claim.

The team will examine samples and measurements taken from 400 twin volunteers, in which one twin has chronic widespread pain. The samples will be compared with the DNA of the healthy twin to establish the differences and identify biomarkers in the DNA associated with the condition.

“Currently there’s no blood test for fibromyalgia, which makes diagnosis difficult,” explains Dr Frances Williams, lead researcher. “And treatment is limited, and in many cases unsatisfactory.

“Our research will help patients in two ways. First it’ll contribute to our understanding of how fibromyalgia – and other chronic pain syndromes such as irritable bowel syndrome – develop, and point to pain pathways which we may not have suspected.

“Secondly, we hope it’ll lead to identification of a biomarker which we could work into a blood test.

“As well as enabling the condition to be diagnosed more effectively, it could help to ‘stratify’ patients into groups depending on disease severity, which will help in clinical trials of potential new treatments. It might even help us predict how the condition will progress.”

Fibromyalgia is common pain syndrome that causes muscle and bone pain, fatigue and disturbed sleep. It has no obvious physical cause and is difficult to diagnose, treat and manage.

Dr Natalie Carter, head of research liaison at Arthritis Research UK comments:

“Fibromyalgia is notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat, partly because we know so little about why it occurs and how it progresses. Being able to diagnose it would be a major step forward, and understanding more about the influence of genetics will allow us to develop treatments specifically for people with fibromyalgia in the future.”

Source: Arthritis Digest magazine,

Guest Article by Arthritis Digest – New Osteoarthritis Treatment?



Image credit: followtheseinstructions

Transplanting a person’s own fat cells could reduce the symptoms and heal some of the damage of osteoarthritis, says research published in Cell Transplantation.

A total of 1,114 people (average age 62 years, 53% male) with osteoarthritis received self-donated fat cell transplants and were followed for an average of 17 months. Before treatment and at three, six and 12 months, assessments were made of pain, non-steroid analgesic usage, limping, extent of joint movement and stiffness. Hip and knee joints were the most common joints treated and some patients had more than one joint treated.

“No serious side effects, systemic infection or cancer was associated with SVF cell therapy,” report the researchers. “Most patients improved gradually three to 12 months after treatment.”

At least a 75% score improvement was noticed in 63% of the volunteers. And after 12 months, at least a 50% score improvement was seen in 91% of the volunteers. Painkiller use declined dramatically after treatment.

Obesity and a higher grade of osteoarthritis were associated with slower healing.

“Autologous stromal vascular fraction cell therapy for degenerative osteoarthritis is safe, cost effective and clinically effective, and can lead to an improved quality of life,” the researchers conclude. “However, there is no guarantee that this cell therapy can lead to a definite cure for degenerative osteoarthritis. Future patients receiving SVF will need longer follow-up to answer questions about durability and long term safety of SVF cell therapy.”

Source: Arthritis Digest magazine,

Guest Article by Arthritis Digest – Brain Chemical Gives New Clues In Treating Chronic Pain

brain neuron  Birth Into Being

Image credit: Birth Into Being

A chemical in the brain usually associated with movement, reward-motivation behaviour and cognition may also play a role in promoting chronic pain, according to experts from The University of Texas in Dallas.

A research group followed the sequence of pain impulses travelling from the brain to the spinal cord in mice. They found that by removing a collection of neurons (called A11) that contain dopamine, chronic pain was diminished.

“These findings demonstrate a novel role for how dopamine contributes to maintaining chronic pain states,” explains Dr Ted Price who is involved in the research. “This may open up new opportunities to target medicines that could reverse chronic pain.”

We know that pain signals travel like electricity from an injury to the spinal cord where they pass pain signals to other cells. Those pain signals then travel upward and relay the information to neurons in the brain. There is no one pain centre in the brain, but experts believe that chronic pain may change how these pain centres are activated.

In people with chronic pain, neurons continue to send pain signals to the brain, even in the absence of injury. We don’t yet know why but it could be because of the A11 neurons. The current research found that these neurons didn’t affect acute pain, but they did have a profound effect on chronic pain. By targeting these neurons in mice with chronic pain, the researchers permanently reversed a chronic pain state.

“In future studies, we would like to gain a better understanding of how stress interacts with A11,” Dr Price says. “And we’d like to know more about the interaction between molecular mechanisms that promote chronic pain and dopamine.”

Source: Arthritis Digest magazine,



Fifth Sense Charity is Launched Supporting Taste and Smell Disorder Sufferers



How would you describe the smell of a rose to someone who has never had the ability to detect odours?

As a person who has always had the ability to smell or taste, have you ever considered what it might be like to lose these senses?

Fifth Sense is a new charity set to support sufferers of taste and smell disorders. Anosmia is a complete loss of the sense of smell. It can be caused by sinus or nasal disease, head trauma, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, viruses and other causes.

Duncan Boak lost his ability to smell 10 years ago, at age 22, as a result of a head injury. His loss of smell took away his enjoyment of simple everyday pleasures such as the smell of dinner cooking, the scents of summer or an autumnal countryside walk. He established Fifth Sense to provide support and advice to sufferers of smell and taste disorders and raise awareness of such conditions, and in the longer-term generate funding for research into potential treatments.

The Fifth Sense vision is for the senses of smell and taste to be seen as essential to our quality of life, health and wellbeing. To do this, Fifth Sense intends to play a leading role in educating society on the huge role that these senses play in our lives. Smell and taste disorder sufferers themselves are key to this effort, and Fifth Sense seeks to give them the confidence and knowledge needed to become the leading educators on the power of these senses.

The sense of smell is closely linked with memory; those with full olfactory function find smells can evoke certain memories; the scent of an orchard in blossom conjuring up recollections of a childhood picnic. The psychological impact of smell loss can be a reduced ability to form and maintain close, personal relationships, which can lead to depression.

“Smell impacts on our lives in so many ways,” says Duncan. “The impact of losing the sense of smell is not commonly understood, so sufferers receive little sympathy or understanding which can lead to isolation and a lack of confidence”.

“Fifth Sense has been created using the collective experiences of its members; we want to create a community for sufferers and to create awareness of the condition. Many doctors are simply not aware of the disorder and do not know where to refer patients.”

Fifth Sense is working with leading clinicians, researchers, and of course its members, to demonstrate the need for advances in treatment and research.

You can read more about Fifth Sense and how to support their work here



Yoga can change your life

As our bodies age we need to work harder to keep supple and mobile. Health becomes a far more valuable asset the older you get. Good mobility enables social engagement, fun and adventure, things that are hard to do if you can’t move around easily. Never forget that once you are past child bearing/rearing age, mother nature is not really your friend – she’s trying to get rid of you to make room for the next generation. Yoga might just give you the edge!

Regular yoga practice is a gentle way into exercise with excellent benefits, even if you don’t start until you retire. Just getting out of the house and into a village hall with a few other people of your own age and gently stretching will give you social and health benefits far beyond being able to bend over and tie your shoe laces. You’ll get increased muscle tone, better balance, stronger limbs and improved mobility. And maybe a few new friends, some laughs and fun along the way.

Regular exercise reduces death  and disease rates for all ages. Yoga is low impact, and can help you gain or maintain mobility to help you continue with other activities such as biking and walking longer than you would otherwise be able to.

Have a look at this article on yoga for seniors to understand the different types of yoga and decide which would be most suitable for you

Read this article in the Huffington Post on the benefits of yoga for the over 50s

And be inspired by this article in the Telegraph about seniors who have benefited from taking up yoga late in life.


Diabetes timebomb warning over doubling in cases in two decades

By Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent, The Telegraph 23 Sep 2013

Britain is “sleepwalking into a public health disaster” with a predicted doubling in the numbers suffering from diabetes within two decades, experts have warned.

Forecasts from the charity Diabetes UK warn that 5 million people are expected to develop the disease by 2025 – twice the number recorded just five years ago.

The vast majority of sufferers have Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity, poor diet and sedentary lifestyles.

The charity said the NHS was already under “huge strain” with 10 per cent of its budget now spent on treating the disease.

More than 70,000 deaths a year occur among those suffering from the condition – one in seven of all deaths.

Patients with Type 2 diabetes are 36 per cent more likely to die in any given year than those of the same age without the condition.

An ICM poll of 1,000 people for Diabetes UK found that just 13 per cent of people were aware that the condition increased the risk of death. Less than one in three were aware of other major complications of the disease, which can cause blindness, amputations, heart attacks and strokes.

Around 85 per cent of diabetes sufferers have Type 2, which can be helped by exercise and an improved diet. Such patient do not produce enough insulin or the insulin they produce does not work properly.

Experts believe the vast majority of such cases could be prevented by a healthy lifestyle.

Those with Type 1 diabetes, which is not triggered by obesity, cannot produce any insulin.

The charity is launching a campaign to highlight the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes, which include: being overweight, having a waist of over 37 inches in the case of men, or 31.5 inches in the case of women; having a close relative with diabetes; being over 40 (or over 25 for South Asian people.)

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “You only have to spend five minutes talking to someone who has lost their sight or has lost a leg as a result of Type 2 diabetes to realise the devastating impact the condition can have.”

She said most people were unaware of how serious the condition could become.

“This is a misconception that is wrecking lives and is the reason that as a country we are sleepwalking towards a public health disaster of an almost unimaginable scale,” she said.

DIABETES UK is offering risk assessments at

from The Telegraph 23 Sept 2013


National Arthritis Week

National Arthritis Week 2013 logo

National Arthritis Week is taking place from October 7-13 this year.

Arthritis Research UK  organise the week to raise awareness about what it’s like living with arthritis or caring for someone affected, and  to raise vital funds for research that will make a difference.

In a National Arthritis Survey held last year, and completed by over 9,000 people, the Arthritis Research UK gained valuable insight in to the impact of arthritis on the UK population and how the condition is seen and understood:

There are still some common myths about the condition with some people either being unsure or believing these to be true:

• Arthritis is an inevitable part of ageing.
• Not much can be done to treat arthritis.
• It’s caused by a cold wet climate.

SO this year’s National Arthritis Week is about working hard to bust these myths, by helping people living with arthritis feel properly informed about their condition and able to make choices and lifestyle changes to ease their condition rather than just ‘putting up with it’.

So if you want to help with fundraising you can download an official fundraising pack here

And to see who will benefit from your Joint Effort Pledge read about three-year-old Rosie Jupp from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex who was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) after her parents  noticed that she began to wince in pain when they encouraged her to walk around as normal. read more here

For further information on Arthritis Research UK visit their website here

garden hand tool set

Gardening lovers suffering from arthritis love our Radius Hand Tool Set. These garden tools are strong, lightweight and kind to the hands and wrists.