Falling Asleep - Body State(Continued)

For the most part, it will be uncomfortable trying to fall asleep as your stomach is empty, you're feeling hungry, and your mind is trying to suppress the hunger. Then again, you don't want to go to bed with a full stomach, because then your stomach will be put into constant work trying to digest all of what you've stuffed it with, and you may also feel uneasy with a full tummy. One other thing is drinking (or not drinking) a bit of water before sleeping. Some people say it's healthier, some say it's not. Personally, I think it depends on the person, in the sense that if you don't have a drink before getting in bed, you may consequently get thirsty if you don't fall asleep quick enough, then again if you do have a drink, you might be forced to get up and relieve your bladder at some point in time before you wake up in the morning (or maybe even before you fall asleep!). So for this last bit, use your own judgement from your own experience!

To all of you who have already mastered all this and more, I envy you! :) Otherwise, I do hope you found this either remindful/helpful and I forever wish you all less sleepless nights!

Falling Asleep - Mindset(Continued) & Body State

With this in mind, what I am trying to get at is: stress. The amount of stress you give your computer, the less willing it is to shutdown quickly - same goes with your body - the more worried and stressed you keep your mind going, the less likely you will fall asleep sooner. So stop thinking about the crap that happened earlier today, stop worrying about what's coming tomorrow. Taking some deep breaths helps to slow things down!

Body State

Internally, your body should be ready to drop down into hibernation. What this means is that you don't want your organs and what not to be working intensively. You should empty your bladder before going to sleep. Obviously, you wouldn't want to have your bladder waking you up in the middle of the night to interrupt your sleep! The same goes for your stomach. Ideally though, you should not go to bed on a completely empty stomach!

Falling Asleep - Mindset


Another key part about falling asleep is having the ability to clear your mind. By this I mean you really need to stop thinking. Stop working your mind. JUST STOP. It is easier said than done of course, but if your mind is working, or stuck on something, chances are, you are not making your body calm enough to fall asleep. So if you are one that finds it hard to clear your mind, try to think of happy events in the past, something satisfying, something non-stimulating. Maybe it's a pure white never-ending wall, maybe it's a rainbow, maybe it's that smile of your partner. I like to think about this the way computers work and the way they respond to shutting down as well. If your computer is under heavy load and you try to shut it down, it'll usually take a much longer time to clear everything up than if you were to tell it to shut down when not much is running.

Falling Asleep - Sleeping Position - Continued

Small not noticeably uncomfortable things may cause your muscles to get tensed - obviously not something that will help shutdown your body. Therefore this is the reason why the recommended sleeping position is to lie flat on your back, legs straight, hands by your sides. But I'm sure many of us, including myself, can speak from our own experiences that this isn't ever the easiest way to fall asleep. A good alternative suggestion would be to try to get into a comfortable position as close to the ideal sleeping position as possible. Comfort varies from person to person, so for you, it may be slightly leaning to one side, for someone else, it may be spreading out their hands/legs more, and for someone else, it may just be placing your hands together on top of your torso. Whatever it is, the bottom line here is to get into a comfortable position for yourself, as close to the ideal sleeping position, and one that will not cause your muscles to get tensed and for your body to not feel pressured in the least amount of ways.

Falling Asleep

Sleep is a vital part of life. Depending on the person, some people require less sleep, some people require more sleep. Nevertheless, there comes times when we're lying in bed, awake, unable to fall asleep.

This here is part 1 of my guide on some recommended ways to help you fall into unconsciousness.

Sleeping Position

The ideal position in which you would like to fall asleep in is of key importance. If you are in an awkward, and uncomfortable position, chances are, this will not help. What you want is to be in a position that will let your body feel comfortable and relaxed. You do not want to be lying in a position where you're causing a strain on certain muscles in certain areas of your body. You do not want to be putting pressure on parts of your body either. Examples of this includes sleeping on your hand, which hinders blood flow, or heavily sleeping on your front, which may hinder normal breathing.

Tackling Allergies

So how do you tackle allergies effectively in your everyday life?

I believe there are 4 primary ways to go about this:

  1. Avoidance
  2. Antihistamines
  3. Decongestants
  4. Immunotherapy

There has been research and experiments done on genetic engineering to shutdown specific proteins.

Common types of antihistamines are Seldane, but it provoked cross reactions with other medications so now it is being marketed as Allegra, which has less or none of the side effects of Seldane which were causing problems previously. There's also Cetirizine, Loratadine, etc. Sometimes one medication works while another doesn't, so don't hesitate to try others if you feel like the one you're using isn't being too effective. Of course, do consult a professional in the field if you are able to.

For asthma, leukotrienes are chemicals that can be released by white blood cells and can trigger the asthma. Ventolin is the most common inhaler, it works like adrenalin, but has less effects on our hearts.

You can also go for allergy testing, but that's not really fool proof though...

If avoidance doesn't work, and antihistamines don't work either, then you could try to opt for allergy shots. These could be altered forms of the allergen, and tiny amounts get injected into your body. This would allow for the reduction in the IgG antibody of the ones responsible for the allergic reaction, and therefore prevents IgE to the allergen.

Good luck!

Culprits of Allergies

The main culprit at hand here is the mast cell. It is a particular white blood cell. Immunoglobulin E, or abbreviated as IgE, can give an antibody-allergen reaction, which is basically the antibody trying to protect against the allergen. This causes the release of histamine into the blood stream, and from that it causes the particular reaction.

There are 2 main antibodies: IgE and IgG.

Image source: Wikipedia.com

The histamine molecule can be easily described with an analogy. It is like a structure where a key needs to be bound and be the right fit for activation to occur. They float all around in your body. Histamines fit into receptors and 'unlocks' the effect. What you want is therefore anti-histamines, which are similar to histamines in the first place, but while they fit into receptors, they don't 'unlock'. Hence this will block out the histamines and no effect will occur.

Some anti-histamines make you drowsy, so sometimes companies tend to market them into sleeping aids as well! Smart but tricky if you ask me! Just make sure you are all aware of this.

Funky Allergies

One can be allergic to Urushiol in poison ivy / oak / Japanese lacquer tree. Poison ivy reactions do not spread. It is a contact dermatitis. Flip flops can also be a source of contact dermatitis  The metal nickel too. It is actually a very allergenic metal. It isn't a protein! It is also a contact dermatitis. 'Pure' gold may be gold mixed with nickel alloy so watch out!

Image source: Wikipedia.com

Other funky allergies include garlic, detergent, henna, dyes, latex (which unusually could lead to papaya and banana allergies as well), water, etc. These are all contact allergies. They could very well affect the whole body because it can travel in the blood stream. Some people even have a photoallergy. No, this isn't the condition where one is allergic to photos or taking photos. This refers to being allergic to the sun or some other light. The origin of the cause is still quite a mystery at this point.

Types of Allergies

Image source: Wikipedia.com

Peanut allergies can be lethal. Research has shown that this form of allergy seems to be geographic. Handling something from someone who reacted to some allergy can cause allergies too. So make sure to be aware of this! Allergies are also very genetic.

If you have a severe allergic reaction, adrenalin is something that could save your life! But it should definitely be administered with benadryl, which is an antihistamine. Adrenalin only buys you time, so you still have to be monitored! Also, exposure at the right time depends if allergies will develop or not. Very early could be good, any later could be bad.

Anaphylaxis is a common consequence to insect stings. These usually involve a rapid progression, which is a serious matter as it can be life threatening!

Contact dermatitis is a type of reaction on the skin. There are two types: irritant or immune system mediated. For example, detergent allergy is immune system mediated, whereas pickle juice is acidic and is considered an irritant.

Allergies vs. Intolerance and Other Subtleties

There's a distinct difference between allergies and intolerance. A food allergy involves our immune system, whereby antibodies are produced, whereas food intolerance is different. Food intolerance affects around 30% of adults. One of the most common examples of food intolerance is lactose intolerance. Lactase is an enzyme that breaks down lactose. Only 70% of people have it! This is in no way considered an allergy if you can't break down lactose.

Image source: Wikipedia.com

Salicylates refers to how the body builds up something until a certain concentration, and then only does the body start reacting on small amounts from then on. An analogy could be something like how a bucket gets filled up with water first and only when it's full that it starts to overflow and cause an effect from then on. Nevertheless, this is just an intolerance, as no antibodies are involved! This could be like a reaction to sulfites (preservatives) in wine.

An interesting fact: people who are allergic to fish are not necessarily allergic to shellfish, and vice versa!

Allergies usually involve proteins. Common symptoms are indigestion, puffiness, discoloration, and swelling. Stay tuned! More on this to come! :)

Hypotheses and Experimentations

So as some of you may know, there has been lots of hypotheses, theories, and testing going on around the topic of allergies.

Some say that early vitamins lead to allergies. We're not too sure about that. It could very well be cause and effect or just a link. More research on this still needs to be done.

Then there's the hygiene hypothesis theory. It goes that there has been an increase in allergies because we're just too clean.

There has been a study, where 2800 school children in Ecuador showed that allergies were less with people injected with worms. The point of this was that the body would be busy dealing with the worms.

Other studies include children who attend daycare tend to be less likely to develop leukemia or Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Dairy farmers have been shown to be about five times less likely to develop lung cancer. The theory here is that they breathe manure dust containing bacteria.

Image source: Wikipedia.com

Finally, one more study has seemed to show that cotton factory workers have lower rates of some cancers, including lung. The reason came up here was that the endotoxins tend to rev up the immune system.

Allergies Overview - Continued

Image source: Wikipedia.com

Dust mites live everywhere. Protein in dust mite poop can cause allergies.

There's a thing called "total allergy syndrome" where such people who have this,  seem to be allergic to pretty much everything. However, there seems to be controversy as to whether the suffering is from a psychological context or not...something like a fear of chemicals everywhere.

There's also food allergies. Around 4% of adults have it.

Always remember that you must have previous exposure, because the body reacts by producing these antibodies. However, the body produces antibodies to substances that are not harmful, then during the subsequent times, the antibodies will appear on something.

Gelatin can be used as stabilizers in vaccines. Royal jelly can be contaminated with pollen. Such instances can easily lead to allergic reactions.

A sign that allergies are increasing are from the doubling of asthma rates since the year 1980.

Another thing to note is that as our population increases, the introduction of an array of substances in life becomes wider. Around 80,000 chemicals since the 1940s have been introduced!


An allergy is any adverse reaction to substances that are normally harmless where IgE (antibodies) are involved. Around 10-20% of our population suffers from allergies. In terms of anaphylaxis, this refers to a rapidly progressing, life threatening allergic reaction, whereas atopy/atopic refers to the genetic tendency to develop the classic allergic diseases - for example atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), asthma, food allergies, etc.

Image source: Wikipedia.com

Hay fever, which does not refer to being allergic to hay, but rather being allergic to the pollen of ragweed in most cases. Hay fever may progress to asthma in up to 50% of people. Symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, and tearing of your eyes.

Proteins in dead skin cells of animals can be a source of allergies too. Black cats are more allergenic than white cats apparently. Do keep in mind that cats can also bring around pollen and other things along with it! It tends to be the case that the longer the hair or fur, the more there is of the spreading of the dead skin cells.

Sport Stacking - Conclusion

This ability to bestow intrinsic value upon extrinsically useless activities was what gave rise to the notion of sports in the first place. Perhaps someone found a coconut and thought it might be fun to kick it around, then other people joined in and some rules were made up so everyone knew how to play, and so the new game could be taught easily. The Greek city states decided it would help relations with one another to hold a series of competitive events, and thus the Olympics, the most famous and prestigious sporting event of all time, was born. Not because it was productive for mankind, but because mankind decided it would be productive.

Image source: Wikipedia.com

When you think about it, kicking a ball around a field, throwing a ball into a suspended hoop, or striking a ball with a long stick in an effort to get it into a tiny hole in the ground are all ideas no more or less absurd than anything else we've come up with. Sport stacking seems strange at first, but it’s popular enough to boast its own world record, as well as some dexterously talented young competitors. Their collective involvement in this exhibition of a pointless skill has evolved it into a sport in its own right, giving it the intrinsic value we humans are so good at creating!

Sport Stacking - More Thoughts

I gave it some more thought. Humans participate in an array of activities that are inherently valuable. Eating, for example, is valuable because it provides our body with the fuel it needs to continue functioning. But we are also inclined to engage in many more activities that have no significant extrinsic value. The reason we acknowledge that these activities have value is because a group of people decided that it did. We bestowed intrinsic value on literally thousands of pointless activities.

Image source: Wikipedia.com

Artists make art, but it isn't because their creations have a point. Artists create because, thousands of generations ago, our ancestors climbed down from the trees and decided that drawing on the rough stone walls of the caves where they dwelt was a productive use of their time. They took a useless activity and gave it usefulness and meaning, and that meaning went on to inspire new generations of artists. Humans would begin to experiment with new ways to make art, new surfaces upon which to draw, and each new artist would add something to the collective value of art as a whole.

Sport Stacking

I recently discovered the talent of Steven Purugganan, a fifteen year old boy who holds a world record for the fastest cup stacking. Upon further investigation, I found that cup stacking, or 'Sport Stacking' as it’s more often referred to in the business, is actually an international sport - complete with international tournaments, strict rules and their own governing body, the World Sport Stacking Association (The WSSA).

My first reaction, upon watching Purugganan stack his Dixie cups over and over was, “Wow, this kid is really fast!” My second reaction was, after a few seconds of consideration, “Is this kid really spending the better part of his life stacking cups?” My instinct was to declare this practice an utter waste of time, nothing more interesting than a party gimmick or weird talent that gets you featured on page four of a local newspaper. Simply because it was new and unusual, I wanted to dismiss sport stacking...

A Mix of Other Hormones & A Bit More on Thyroid

Just to wrap up on thyroid, the parathyroid gland, with 'para-' meaning 'just beyond', together with thyroid regulates calcium and phosphorous metabolism (related to bones). Calcium in intestine together with Vitamin D will be plasma calcium, which is regulated by our kidneys. Calcitonin, which is produced by the thyroid gland, is crucially related to our bones. Parathyroid hormone (PTH) or just parathormone, is produced if this process doesn't take place, so bone gets dissolved into plasma calcium into the blood. Additionally, too much parathormone leads to kidney stones from the calcium deposits in our kidneys. You don't want to have to go through surgery for this! Beware!

As I had touched upon earlier, Thomas Addison conducted research in adrenal insufficiency in 1855 and he was the one who came up with Addison's disease. Recall that this results in weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and hyper-pigmentation.

Image source: Wikipedia.com

Moving on to the pancreas. The pancreas is responsible for producing insulin. Banting, Best, and Macleod were the 3 people responsible for the discovery of insulin. Type I diabetes cannot be cured, but can be treated using insulin. Type II diabetes, well, your best bet is to lose weight as soon as you can!

Hypothyroidism & Hyperthyroidism

As we introduced hypothyroidism in our last post, what that really entails is an under-active thyroid gland. If this is the case, the thyroid gland grows into a large physical size and this is called a goiter. Goiters can also be caused by a lack of iodine, of which the thyroid gland needs in order to function properly. There has been cases of cabbage goiters too.

Cretinism is whereby an under-active thyroid gland in children can affect the brain too.

Now we take a look at hyperthyroidism. This, by the hyper- term, you can tell that it works the opposite way as hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism can cause the following:

  • anxiety
  • nervousness
  • rapid pulse
  • fatigue
  • weight-loss (Graves disease, protruding eyes)

Treatment of hyperthyroidism is rather simple. You want to block the formation of the thyroid hormone, or in the case of too much iodine, you could use radioactive iodine (I-131) to permanently destroy iodine. In other cases, surgery might be the solution. I hope that isn't the case for anyone who suffers from this!

More on Hormones & Functions

Adrenocorticotropic hormone, or abbreviated as ACTH, is related to the adrenals, which produces aldosterone, cortisol, corticosterone, etc. Corticosteroids protect your body from things like infection, exertion, allergic reaction, and more. Hydrocortisones can act as immunosuppressants. Inflammation can be dealt with hydrocrotisone. Other things include:
  • redness
  • swelling
  • warmth
  • pain
Corticosteroids can be used to treat asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, crohn's disease, and more.

Image source: Wikipedia.com

However, overabundance of cortisone in the body may result in Cushing's syndrome, named after Harvey Cushing who lived from 1869 to 1939. The symptoms include:
  • moon face
  • buffalo hump
  • weak bones and muscles
  • easily bruised skin
  • peptic ulcer
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
Other common hormones include follicle stimulating hormone or FSH, thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH, and more. As I've mentioned in my previous blog posts, thyroid controls metabolism. So it is crucial to maintain this. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include the sensation of sluggishness, a slow heart rate, a tendency to obesity, and cold skin. So if you have any of these symptoms and you aren't eating a proper diet, then you might want to get yourself checked out by someone like a physician as soon as possible!

Hormones as Proteins

Image source: Wikipedia.com

Most hormones are proteins, which are chains of amino acids. Just like the proteins you find in your eggs and meat that you may be eating on a daily basis, especially for you lot of athletes out there. Don't forget though, hormones can be classified as steroids too, which typically aren't allowed in sports!

Those marketers for growth hormones tried to market something that incites the production of amino acids. Bovine somatotropin, also known as bovine growth hormone (BGH) are for cows, like other hormones, it is produced in small quantities and is used in regulating metabolic processes. Porcine somatotropin are for pigs, which provides more rapid growth and a greater proportion of muscle to fat on less feed. Again, don't even think about trying this for yourself! They definitely will not work and it won't be a surprise that they will be harmful.

There are many other hormones out there and they control many different things, like thyroid controls metabolism. So this is absolutely essential for athletes to be aware of their metabolism. You would want a higher metabolism if you want your body to process things at a faster pace, and lower metabolism for a slower pace.

Examples of Hormones

The prolactin hormone is responsible for the formation of milk.

The somatotropin hormone is what's called the "growth hormone", as evidently from the description, is responsible for growth.

Sandy Allen was the worlds tallest woman.

Image source: Wikipedia.com

Robert Wadlow was the tallest around 1918 to 1940 which was the years he managed to live. He died at an early age because it is always hard for the body to sustain such a large size. Acromegaly is excessive pituitary hormone, which leads to abnormal bone growing. Likewise with "Andre the Giant", he died from heart failure.

Human growth hormone did exist as a medication. Sometimes it was used to treat the medical or genetic condition that results in an adult height of 4 feet 10 inches. Research has been done where they injected growth hormones in old people. The consequences included an increase in blood pressure and plasma glucose. Other side effects included carpal tunnel syndrome as well as breast enlargement. As a whole, no measurable improvements in muscle function or physical performance were observed in spite of improved muscle-fat distribution. We can safely say that trying this as an athlete to try to improve your performance will NOT work out well!

Not surprisingly, it is illegal now because of the aforementioned consequences.

Hormone: "Stir into action"

I apologize for the short break as I was away, busy traveling. Fear not, I am back to guide you on your well-being for all you athletes out there. I am going to make this post packed with extra information for you all as compensation!

We are in the year 1902 and Ernest Starling injected ground duodenum, which is the connection of the small intestine to the stomach, into the jugular vein of a dog. Just within seconds, he was able to note the flow of pancreatic juice - just exactly like what happens when a dog consumes food! This, as we know today, is/was called "Secretin".

The word 'hormone' actually comes from Ancient Greek, which means to "stir into action", traveling through the blood stream. The endocrine system comprised of endocrine organs responsible for hormones. For example, the hypothalamus & pituitary in the brain, and our kidneys for mineral balance.

Image source: Wikipedia.com

As introduced just above, the primary conductor of the endocrine system is our pituitary gland. It typically produces a millionth of a gram of hormones per day, that is, 1 micro-gram. This minute amount leads to dramatic physiological effects on your body so it is absolutely crucial for the functioning of your body. Your body's performance will be severely hindered if there's something wrong with the pituitary gland! The gland is responsible for the cascading hormonal effect that releases to the other glands throughout your body.

We will talk about common types of hormones in your body next. But remember, as you read above, bigger is not always better!

False Claims and Myths

In the year 1889, a man by the name of Charles Brown-Sequard decided to inject himself with macerated dog testicles as well as monkey glands on several occasions. His claims were that he actually felt better. I, among many others, highly doubt his testimonials.

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, the famous Scottish physician and writer, had also written one of his Sherlock Holmes books about "The Adventure of the Creeping Man".

John Romulus Brinkley, an American, was apparently a "specialist in rejuvenation", or so he claims to have been. He was interested in the horny nature of goats. His claims were that there were effects that resulted from the insertion of goat testicle parts into men, of which several of such tests were actually conducted. Needless to say, none of these ridiculous trials had any actual affect!

Image source: Wikipedia.com

We come to the year 1895, where adrenalin was extracted and injected into animals which showed signs of increased blood pressure.

I will continue my discussion in my next few blog posts, where I will begin to explain more on the role of hormones and less about the past history of this discovery.

Human Autopsies Show Signs of Hormones

Image source: Wikipedia.com

The year was 1855 when Thomas Addison was conducting autopsies on humans. He noted that people who had atrophied adrenal glands, meaning shrunken adrenal glands, had shown signs of poor appetite, low blood pressure, weakness, anemia and a bronze coloring of the skin. From these patterns he had observed, his conclusion was that the adrenal gland must have been releasing something that prevents these symptoms in the first place. He was indeed correct as our society today now knows that this was the case with the adrenal glands in humans.

Dolanski, in the year 1894, was the one who laid out the foundation for hormones. Mr. Dolanski tried to insert acid into the rectum of a dog, into it's intestine, in order to stimulate digestive juice acids. This didn't work. What was the reason? The reason was that it was the hormones that needed to do the trick in order for it to work properly.

Hormones In The Darkness

After John Hunter, it wasn't until over 50 years later that there was a substantial advancement in the area of hormones. Keep in mind that at this point, the discovery of the concept of hormones were still not yet uncovered and that scientists across all around the world were still in the dark about this subject matter.

Image source: Wikipedia.com

In 1849, a man by the name of Arnold Berthold followed suit with John Hunter's previous experiments and made some new discoveries of his own.

Arnold castrated roosters as well but this time, he returned a testicle back into the body cavity of the corresponding castrated rooster. This led to the rooster showing normal sexual behavior and comb development. As a conclusion, the result was that the testes must have released something into the blood of the rooster. Now today, as we know, the consequence that was seen through this experiment was the responsibility of hormones.

Hormones For Your Wellness

It is important to have a good understanding about our hormones in our body. Hormones play a huge role in your body's functions. They are responsible for everyday functionality of many things that happen in your body - primarily with your organs' operations. For example, Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN) can result in symptoms of:

  • Excessive growth throughout your body
  • Visual problems (which the pituitary gland is partly responsible for)
  • Low blood sugar levels ( which the pancreas gland is partly responsible for)
  • Soft skull parathyroid

Over the next few blog posts, I will try to cover the following key questions that pertain to our bodies:

  • What are hormones?
  • What problems are associated with hormone imbalance?
  • What treatments are available?
  • Are hormones used for any other reason than to correct an imbalance?
  • What are the risks and benefits of hormone treatments?

John Hunter, who lived from 1728 until 1793, conducted primitive experiments regarding hormones at a very early stage, long before hormones were discovered properly. Mr. Hunter castrated roosters and observed the unusual shrinking of their combs.

We will continue our look into the historical discovery and understanding of hormones in my next blog post! :)