Health up­date

From itch­ing to at­tributes for health and wealth, Thérèse Henkin looks at re­cent re­search find­ings.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - WELLBEING -

Start­ing from scratch

Sci­en­tists have dis­cov­ered why we start feel­ing itchy when the per­son next to us is scratch­ing. A re­cent study found that when we see some­one scratch­ing, the brain re­leases a chem­i­cal sub­stance called GRP (gas­trin-re­leas­ing pep­tide). GRP is a key chem­i­cal trans­mit­ter of itch sig­nals be­tween the spinal cord and the skin. The study, which was con­ducted on mice, showed that when a mouse saw an­other scratch­ing, GRP was re­leased and they started scratch­ing as well. When GRP was blocked, the mice didn’t have the scratch re­sponse. The lead re­searcher says mim­ick­ing so­cially con­ta­gious behaviour such as scratch­ing and yawn­ing is not a choice or psy­cho­log­i­cal re­sponse but rather it is hard­wired into the brain.

“A new Swedish study shows that mind­ful­ness group ther­apy may be just as ef­fec­tive as in­di­vid­ual cog­ni­tive be­havioural ther­apy for the treat­ment of a wide range of psy­chi­atric symp­toms, in­clud­ing de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety, and ob­ses­sive com­pul­sive disor­der.”

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