Lack of sleep alters brain chemicals to bring on cannabis-style ‘munchies’

Too little sleep may bring on a form of the marijuana “munchies”, say scientists who found that sleep-deprived people craved crisps, sweets and biscuits far more than healthier foods. The US researchers believe that skimping on sleep alters brain chemicals in much the same way as the hunger-boosting ingredient in cannabis, which has long propped…

Doctors warn of demand for ‘vaginal seeding’ despite thin evidence

British doctors say more parents are requesting so-called “vaginal seeding”, when a swab from the mother’s vagina is wiped into a newborn’s mouth after caesarean-section birth, despite a lack of evidence for its medical benefits. The practice, also known as microbirthing, involves wiping the swab over the baby’s mouth, eyes, face and skin to bring…

We need a cure for bacterial vaginosis, one of the great enigmas in women’s health

Lenka Vodstrcil, Monash University and Catriona Bradshaw, University of Melbourne This article is part of our series examining hidden women’s conditions. Few have heard of bacterial vaginosis (BV) although it’s a relatively common condition. It affects at least 12% of Australian women, 30% of American women and up to 50% in parts of Africa. Symptoms…

Study grants for virgins ‘illegal’

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has slammed as “illegal” a new scholarship scheme for female students who must pass virginity tests during the holidays to receive grant money. Uthukela municipality near Durban city last month awarded “maidens’ bursaries” to 16 university students on condition they remain virgins until they completed their studies. Beneficiaries of the…

Why you can’t just wipe out mosquitoes to get rid of the Zika virus

On Saturday Colombia’s national health institute confirmed that more than 2 100 pregnant Colombian women are infected with the Zika virus, which has been linked to a devastating birth defect that affects a foetus’ brain. The mosquito-borne disease, for which there is no vaccine or treatment, has been quickly spreading across the Americas since May, when…

What I’ve learned about diets: Punishing your body is not taking care of it

It’s the third week in January. You’re probably on a diet. More than any other axis of life – more than our careers, our relationships, our finances – we’re trained to ring in the dawn of each year with a hyper-critical evaluation of our bodies. Even if we don’t plunge into full-blown six-almonds-with-a-side-of-chia-seed-slurry regimens, there’s…