Spider venom: A breakthrough in chronic pain relief

By Tracy Brighten

Scientists have found that compounds in spider venom may provide the key to developing a new class of painkillers for chronic pain relief 

Science Nutshell tarantulaThe study, published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, reveals the potential for analgesics without the side effects that restrict the dosage and effectiveness of existing medications. 

Chronic pain affects 15% of the adult population worldwide, causing prolonged suffering and reducing quality of life. The economic cost is significant, and in the U.S. it is estimated at $600 billion a year, exceeding the combined cost of cancer, diabetes and stroke.  Continue reading

Thank you Mr Edwards

By Tracy Brighten

Shakespeare-Notes

You may not remember me now Mr Edwards, with thirty five years passing since I sat in your English class. I was always last to arrive, running late from another lesson. You might remember me as the Olympic athlete. Dr Hadley never invited me back to talk about my sporting experience – I think he was disappointed I didn’t go to university.

Despite my lack of career direction, you never gave up on me though, and I want to thank you for being an inspirational teacher. I thought of you recently when our son asked about my high school education. He was researching the link between educational outcomes and social class and it got me thinking about my experience. Continue reading

Welcome to Nature in Mind

Welcome to Nature in Mind where I write about living a caring and healthy life with nature in mind. I’d like this blog to be a place where we can exchange ideas and help each other create positive change.

I believe an informed, considered, and honest life, one that aligns with our values, is a meaningful life. By keeping nature in mind and caring more, we can enjoy a greener environment and better mental health.

I believe we naturally want to lead the good life and do the right thing. Through education and communication, we can improve conditions in society and the natural world. We can take action to enrich our own lives and those of generations to come.

Knowledge, compassion, and community are key to change. I would love you to join this community and share your experiences and enthusiasm!

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Image credit: Muriwai Beach Australasian Gannet Colony by David Brighten

Condemnation and controversy over livestock export of 50,000 sheep

By Tracy Brighten

Animal welfare groups and opposition MPs say slaughter, not breeding, awaits livestock export survivors

The News Hub - Sheep Muster med

The Green party, NZ First and animal welfare group SAFE are concerned the New Zealand government may be using a breeding claim to circumvent the ban on livestock exports for slaughter. The ban was implemented by the NZ Labour government on animal welfare grounds after international public outcry when 5,000 sheep perished in an Australian shipment bound for Saudi Arabia in 2004.

Animals loaded in secrecy

Livestock carrier NADA, registered in Panama, docked in Port Timaru in the South Island on Thursday when 50,000 sheep, and 3,000 cattle were loaded on board the multi-storey vessel overnight. NADA departed on Friday morning carrying the largest ever livestock cargo to leave New Zealand since 35,000 breeding sheep were exported to Mexico in 2007. Continue reading

Malta referendum fails to ban hunters shooting migrating birds

By Tracy Brighten

Fewer turtle doves will now survive their epic 3,000 mile migration from Africa to European breeding grounds, leaving conservationists stunned 

The News Hub - Turtle dove hunted

Hunters have won a Malta referendum allowing them to continue the tradition of shooting turtle doves and quail in spring, from April 14 until April 30. The margin of victory was slim, reflecting widespread Maltese opposition to this tradition. Hunting of these birds is banned elsewhere in the European Union. Continue reading

World’s rarest dolphin faces extinction

By Tracy Brighten

Will the New Zealand government protect the last 50 Maui dolphins from fishing and oil industry threats?

Science Nutshell Single Maui dolphin by Will Rayment

Experts presented new research on the critically endangered Maui’s dolphin that sends a clear message to the New Zealand government: act now or be responsible for following in China’s footsteps after the extinction of the Yangtze River dolphin in 2006.

In May, the International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee held its annual meeting in San Diego, U.S, where 200 of the world’s leading scientists presented their latest cetacean research.

In 2014, Otago University professors Dr Liz Slooten and Dr Steve Dawson, the world’s leading New Zealand dolphin experts, estimated the Maui’s dolphin population at 55 adults over one year old. Continue reading

Art, music and nature good for our health

By Tracy Brighten

If you feel awe on seeing a breath-taking view, joy on hearing a song thrush’s trills, or contentment on listening to Mozart, you may also enjoy good health

Science Nutshell panoramic view

Researchers in a study at UC Berkeley found a biological pathway between positive emotions and good health that involves pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Cytokines are proteins that interact with immune system cells to regulate the inflammatory response to infection, disease and injury. However, sustained high levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines can be damaging and are associated with type-2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and clinical depression. Continue reading

Older adults need double protein RDA to build muscle

By Tracy Brighten

New research shows that differences in protein synthesis between older and younger adults means that as we age, we must double our protein RDA to remain active

Science Nutshell protein sourcesIt is well known that we need to consume protein to enable our body to build and repair muscle. As we get older, the body becomes less efficient in this process at a time when fitness affects our quality of life and strong muscles can help protect our joints from osteoarthritis.

Research published in January in the American Journal of Physiology — Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests the amount of protein consumed by older adults affects the body’s net protein balance due to differences in the way they synthesise protein compared to younger adults. Continue reading

Sleep cleanses the brain of toxins linked to Alzheimer’s

By Tracy Brighten

Research revealing that sleep cleanses the brain of toxins has been awarded a top prize in the advancement of science 

Science Nutshell Sleep

Scientists have long sought to establish the function of sleep, proposing that there must be a more essential function than the storing and consolidation of memories, considering an animal’s vulnerability during the sleep state. Sleep is also known to have a restorative effect on the human brain, and lack of sleep impairs brain function, but how does this occur? Continue reading