This example of Italian style shows the human hair and pearls used to make the Italian Venuses so glamorous.  Photo by Joanna Ebenstein.

The Unsettling Beauty of the Wax Venus : Anatomical Models Through History

A modern anatomical torso, by Axis Scientific

A modern anatomical torso, by Axis Scientific

As modern anatomy enthusiasts, we are familiar with the anatomical torso. With its clear depiction of the organs of the human midsection, anatomical torsos make great study and patient education aids. However, in the 18th and 19th centuries, another anatomical model was a much more common sight – The Anatomical Venus.

Made of wax, and frequently depicted with real human hair, elaborate jewelry, and even makeup, these anatomical figures were created as a response to the difficulty of obtaining cadavers. On top of that, cadavers were not well preserved at that time, and the dissection of these remains was rather disgusting. While preservation techniques were improving by the 17th century, anatomists and scientists looked for an alternative means of presenting the anatomy of the human body in a clear way. At the end of the 17th century, a Sicilian artist and French surgeon collaborated on the creation of the first realistic anatomical model made of wax. The model was deemed a success, thanks to wax’s ability to hold form and color while not breaking down as quickly as other materials.

This blend of artistry and science spread across Europe, with distinct regional styles developing. The two most notable styles are the Italian and English. As is traditional with classic Italian art, the style that emerged from Florence displayed a sense of physical beauty, even eroticism, almost as if they were live, glamorous women, who just happened to have their organs exposed. These figures were designed with an “ideal beauty” in mind, with one famed museum director commenting that the models needed to be perfect and free of defect.

In comparison, the models created in the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands appeared as if they were cadavers, with crude, lifeless pallor, and grotesque expression. While the Italian style seemed to balance beauty with anatomical detail, the English models were totally unadorned and practical.

This comparison of the English and Italian styles shows the stark contrast between them.  A) Italian, 'La Specola' workshop, late 18th/early 19th century.  B) English, Joseph Towne, circa 1827-79.

This comparison of the English and Italian styles shows the stark contrast between them. A) Italian, ‘La Specola’ workshop, late 18th/early 19th century. B) English, Joseph Towne, circa 1827-79.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Anatomical Venus was how readily available they were to the public. Patrons were fascinated by these models, and even Victorian women were permitted to visit the anatomical museums of the time. While they were admitted separately from gentlemen, women in Victorian England were encouraged to visit the museums and learn anatomy both to better take care of themselves and their families. The practice was, however, somewhat scandalous, with some arguing that anatomy was too indelicate for respectable women.

La Venerina, the Little Venus, by Clemente Susini.

La Venerina, the Little Venus, by Clemente Susini.

Among the most famous artists to create these Anatomical Venuses was Clemente Susini, an Italian sculptor who worked during the late 18th century. His work brought acclaim for its anatomical accuracy, as well as its incredible beauty. Many of his works are still visible at the Italian Museum of Zoology and Natural History, La Specola, in Florence, which houses more than 1400 anatomical wax models. Another of his more famous works is the Venerina, visible at the Museo di Palazzo Poggi in Bologna.

La Specola, Florence.

La Specola, Florence.

Interested in learning more about these gorgeous yet macabre anatomical models? Check out some of these links from around the web with more images and more information.

Links:

Featured photo by Joanna Ebenstein, The Secret Museum.

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GetBodySmart.com

Anatomy Resources: GetBodySmart

Welcome back to Anatomy Warehouse’s blog series on the topic of anatomy study aids.  Today, we’re pleased to introduce a Warehouse fan favorite, GetBodySmart.com.  Depending on your needs, Get Body Smart might just be the missing piece in your study!

Courtesy of GetBodySmart.com

Courtesy of GetBodySmart.com

Get Body Smart was developed over time by an educator with over 20 years of teaching experience at university level, Mr. Scott Sheffield.  The site was created to give students, teachers, and the intellectually and scientifically curious a convenient and free source for information about the human body and its amazing physiology. Mr. Sheffield has been running the site for 14 years, and he is constantly updating the site, making it an indispensable resource for anyone looking to study human anatomy.

The site is fully animated, and works a lot like an interactive book!  The main page presents a variety of topics on the right side, including an overview, in depth sections about the systems of the body, and a section of quizzes for those looking to test their skills.  When you choose a section, the page opens up to a variety of tutorials, as well as relevant quizzes.

The Muscular System - Courtesy of GetBodySmart.com

The Muscular System – Courtesy of GetBodySmart.com

Each tutorial covers a selection of information.  In the example above, we can see that the muscles of the arm, forearm, shoulder, and much more are explored individually, allowing visitors to brush up on specific areas of the body, muscle groups, and even physiology of systems.

Another wonderful feature of GetBodySmart is the selection of physiology animations which can be played on tablets and smartphones through the use of an easy to install app.  This allows students to take their study on the go, and can be used on both Android and iDevices.

We’re always excited to see the new features of GetBodySmart, and can’t wait to see what’s next from Mr. Sheffield.  Check out this site for anatomy study and review!

Looking for past entries in the Anatomy Resources series?

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Introducing Axis Scientific – Quality Anatomy Models at a Great Price

We tend to keep our blog entries focused more on information than advertising – After all, we’re here to help educate! However, we’re extremely excited to introduce our new line of anatomical models, exclusive to Anatomy Warehouse. Axis Scientific was designed for educators, students, and professionals, with a strong focus on combining quality with cost. We’re extremely proud of the results!

The Axis Scientific Painted Skeleton, Exclusively from Anatomy Warehouse

The Axis Scientific Painted Skeleton, Exclusively from Anatomy Warehouse

One of the early stand-outs in the collection has been our Axis Scientific Painted Skeleton. This life sized skeleton is a beautiful addition to any classroom or medical facility, with an incredible balance of cost and detail. A feature that’s been popular with customers is the nearly invisible hardware on the skull, allowing for an uninterrupted study of the cranium. The calvarium attaches with magnets, rather than the standard hooks found on other skeletons and anatomy models. This is not only more attractive, but more practical as well! Broken skull hooks have been a common concern among our customers for years, and we’re very happy with this solution. The skeleton includes an easy to assemble stand, for attractive display.

Axis Scientific's 16 part Dual Sex Mini Torso, only at Anatomy Warehouse

Axis Scientific’s 16 part Dual Sex Mini Torso, only at Anatomy Warehouse

A favorite among our staff is the Axis Scientific 16-part Dual Sex Mini Torso, a 17” anatomical torso with interchangeable genitalia. We love this torso because of the amount of detail packed into its tiny design! One of our favorite features is the way the torso fits together. Rather than being primarily held together with pegs, as most big torsos are, this torso is held together mostly with a combination of magnets and hooks. The parts fit together easily – Even an early anatomy student will be able to put this together! It’s also a great price, making it a no-brainer for anyone looking to study the internal organs of the human body.

We’re so proud of the Axis line that we want to be sure everyone has a shot at their own Axis model. To this end, we’re offering a 15% off discount on the entire Axis Scientific line for a limited time. Now through 6/27/2014, customers can score this extra discount (once only!) by using promo code AXISLAUNCH during checkout.  New, awesome anatomy models can be yours, at a lower cost than you thought possible!

Tried Axis already? Tells us what you think in the comments for a shot at fame, glory, and maybe, just maybe, something special from your Anatomy Warehouse friends.

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Anatomy Resources: AnatomyArcade.com

Muscular System Jigsaw from AnatomyArcade.com

Continuing our series of anatomical study aids, we’re excited to introduce AnatomyArcade.com, a site full of exciting games to help students of all levels study the human body and its systems.

Created by a science and physical education teacher in Australia, Ben Crossett, Anatomy Arcade offers games of all sorts, including word games, matching games, and the site’s “signature” games, like Whack-a-Bone and Poke-a-Muscle. With the range of game styles presented, it’s easy for any student to find a great study asset that is perfect for their learning style.

Whack-a-Bone, website version.

Whack-a-Bone, website version.

The site also includes a collection of helpful videos, from basic to advanced, that Mr. Crossett recommends for students of anatomy and physiology. A few of the videos in the library are broken links, but the collection is extremely convenient for students and educators alike. We’re especially excited by the collection of Dr. Fabian’s Human Anatomy Lectures, videos that are suitable for advanced students to study and learn from. We even spotted a few of our products in Dr. Fabian’s videos, including the Functional Shoulder Joint model from 3B Scientific.

Bacteria Tower Defence

Bacteria Tower Defence

Another exciting treat from AnatomyArcade is the Whack-a-Bone iPad edition, a reasonably priced app that’s perfect for students of the skeletal system of all ages. The available reviews on the Apple store seem very positive, as well, making this a very exciting port from site to app.

Finally, Mr. Crossett has also developed a series of “Just for Fun” games, including Bacteria Tower Defence, a favorite around the office.

We highly recommend checking out this excellent site. Whether you’re just starting on your anatomical studies or are further along, you’re sure to find a game that is just right for you.

Miss the first article in our resources series? Check out Anatomy Resources: AnatomyAtlases.org.

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Anatomy Resources: AnatomyAtlases.org

Plate image from Atlas of Human Anatomy, courtesy of AnatomyAtlases.org

Plate image from Atlas of Human Anatomy, courtesy of AnatomyAtlases.org

Beginning our series about online resources for medical students, we’d like to introduce a wonderful site that we’ve been a fan of for years. Anatomy Atlases is run by two doctors, Dr. Michael D’Alessandro and Dr. Ronald Bergman. The website itself acts as an online library of anatomical information, both historical and current. The site’s purpose is to provide curated anatomical content to educate patients, healthcare providers, and students for free.

At time of this writing, six textbooks and atlases are available through the site, including a fascinating collection of Human Anatomy in Cross Section, as well as Dr. Bergman’s translation of Dr. Carl Ernest Bock’s Atlas of Human Anatomy, originally published in 1841.

From Atlas of Human Anatomy in Cross Section, courtesy of AnatomyAtlases.org

Section of the head from Atlas of Human Anatomy in Cross Section. Courtesy of AnatomyAtlases.org

One of the most compelling aspects of the site is how it integrates modern anatomical science and much older classical medical illustration and information. While the Atlas of Human Anatomy was written over 100 years ago, its illustrations offer a gorgeous view of human anatomy, and the historical content of the book is fascinating to read. Conversely, the Atlas of Human Anatomy in Cross Section is much more recent, with its last revision in 2004, and shows actual segments of human anatomy, giving a graphic and clear addition to anatomical study.

Another interesting component of the site is the Anatomy of First Aid, a first aid manual that was prepared for the United States Navy. It is designed to be anatomically and medically correct, and offers unique situations where these techniques may be used.

Overall, we love the variety of information present on the site. Additionally, it appears to receive regular updates, and, while some of the information is older, it is clearly a well-maintained and useful collection of information for students and the curious.

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5 Quick and Easy Ways to Relieve Stress

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” – Deepak Chopra

Our last blog addressed the dangers of stress to your health, and briefly touched on the importance of exercise to individual well-being. We received notes from friends afterwards, asking about other ways to relieve stress in our daily lives, so we compiled this quick “cheat sheet” for some easy ways to help reduce your stress.

  1. Chew gum. This may seem like a strange tip, but stress can manifest in the jaw – Just consider how often angry people clench their jaws! Chewing gum loosens up the muscles in this area. As a bonus, peppermint and spearmint are used in aromatherapy to help relieve stress.
  2. Light a scented candle. We mentioned aromatherapy, but it’s not just the mint family that can help relieve stress. Lavender, ylang-ylang, and sandalwood are just a few smells that encourage relaxation and tension relief. Incense is also a great option.
  3. Try this easy breathing exercise to relax.

    Try this easy breathing exercise to relax.

    Deep breaths! Breathing techniques are a wonderful way to decompress. Even just allowing yourself a few good, deep breaths can help calm your nerves.

  4. Eat something. Bananas, chocolate, and nuts are a few great options for stress relief. Looking for other great options? We like this short list from Buzzfeed.
  5. Just take a few minutes to yourself. Especially at work, a break is vital to staying productive and happy during the day. A few ideas for ways to use your break; Meditate, read an uplifting article or story on the internet, or just look at pictures of cats being cats. We’ve also included some options in our links below.

Take some time out of your day today to relax!

Further Reading:

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Stress vs. Your Body

This infographic displays several shocking facts about stress in our daily lives.  Click for the full graphic.

This infographic displays several shocking facts about stress in our daily lives. Click for the full graphic.

One of the most common complaints among individuals is stress. In a 2013 study by the American Psychological Association, 42% of individuals surveyed reported that their stress levels have increased over the previous 5 years, while 36% say their stress has stayed the same. Stress at work, stress at school, stress at home – It’s everywhere, and it’s impacting our lives in a multitude of ways. Stressed workers perform less efficiently. Individuals who experience chronic stress in their daily lives report sleep problems, interpersonal issues, and physical symptoms like fatigue and headaches.

These physical symptoms just scratch the surface, however. A recent study by the Society of Biological Psychiatry has shown that stress and the resulting anger, anxiety, and depression can affect the heart and its healthy function. Stress can also lead to digestive issues, including IBS, as well as increased weight gain. Stress has been shown to have a direct correlation to decreased energy and mood, dizziness, panic and irritability – The list goes on, and impacts the bulk of Americans on a daily basis.

Moreover, individuals widely report they are not managing their stress, in spite of a large percentage of individuals saying they want to reduce their overall stress levels. What is the best way to manage stress? The Mayo Clinic recommends physical activity, including yoga and tai chi, to help reduce stress, as well as getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet. Other techniques suggested include meditation, relaxation techniques, avoiding tobacco and reducing caffeine intake. Alcohol should also be imbibed only in moderation.

Overwhelmingly, medical professionals recommend regular exercise to help reduce stress and its effects, but it can have other amazing effects as well, including improved sleep, mood, and self-confidence. It can help reduce your risk of illnesses like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer, as well as reduce the risk of an early death by up to 30%. Seems like a great argument for breaking out the walking shoes, or hopping on a bike!

Sources:

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5 Ways to Care for Your Feet

Our feet are so often overlooked, but they truly do keep us up and moving every day. It’s vital to take good care of our feet to avoid things like odor, dry skin, and conditions like plantar fasciitis. Simple changes like wearing proper shoes can make a world of difference, but we’ve collected a few quick and easy ways to take good care of your feet and keep them healthy and happy every day.

Taking proper care of your feet is paramount to your health and well-being.

Taking proper care of your feet is paramount to your health and well-being.

  1. Stretch your muscles. Professionals suggest that limbering your feet can help to relieve tension in your muscles and tendons. Try drawing the letters of the alphabet in the air with your toes once a day. This can help loosen tense muscles, and prevent cramping. Another great solution for tension in the feet is to give yourself a foot massage with a tennis ball (instructions below).  Even taking a walk can help relieve muscular tension.
  2. Rethink your footwear. Comfortable, properly fitting shoes are paramount to happy feet, and wearing the correct size can make a world of difference. Experts advise trying on new shoes in the afternoon, as our feet slowly “stretch out” throughout the day and will be bigger after we’ve been on our feet all day. Proper arch support should also be considered. Summer tends to encourage shoes that do not provide proper support, such as flip flops. Be sure your shoes have proper arch support, or limit the amount of time in flat shoes. Socks should also be worn to help keep your feet dry and healthy.

    This anatomy model illustrates the internal structures of a normal foot.

    This anatomy model illustrates the internal structures of a normal foot.

  3. Switch up your shoes. Alternating shoes every other day can also help to prevent odors, fungus, and infections.
  4. Wash your feet. It seems straightforward and logical, but properly washing between your toes and under your feet is vital to their health. This will help prevent athlete’s foot, odor, bacteria, and fungus. After bathing, be sure to moisturize your feet using lotion or cocoa butter to help prevent dry skin.
  5. Give your feet a treat! Especially with the changing of the seasons, our feet become terribly dry and cracked. Ladies, giving yourself a pedicure can be both relaxing and beneficial to your well-being. Start with a gentle foot scrub (we’ve included some recipes below!), then grab your favorite non-toxic nail polish for a splash of color. Gents, you can also enjoy the scrubs – They offer a great way to slough off that dead skin at the end of winter.

Interested in learning more about the anatomy of the foot? Check out AnatomyWarehouse’s collection of foot and ankle models and charts.

Sources & Further Reading :

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What are Gut Flora and Why Should We Care?

Did you know there are more than 100 trillion microorganisms living in your intestines? That’s not a typo – 100 trillion tiny organisms take up residence in your guts. That’s about 10 times more bacteria than there are human cells in our bodies. There are somewhere between 300 and 1000 unique species of bacteria living in our gut, with most estimates sitting around 500. What’s more, they’re meant to be there, and even help keep you healthy. We’ve known about the existence of gut flora for a very long time – Louis Pasteur actually discovered them in the 1800s. However, we’re still only starting to understand the role of these enteric bacteria, known as “gut flora.” We do know a few things, though.

Human E.coli, a gut flora that can help produce Vitamin K.

E.coli, a gut flora, can help produce Vitamin K.

One important task the gut flora takes on is training and building the immune system. These bacteria help promote early development, both physically and functionally, and continue assisting as we age. They can also help balance our reactions to things like allergies.

What else does our gut flora do?

  • Helps metabolize food, vitamins, and ions like magnesium and calcium
  • Helps absorb and break down undigested carbohydrates. Since we cannot digest certain fibers, starches, and sugars, these little guys can help us get these out of our systems, frequently resulting in flatulence.
  • Keep other, less friendly microbes from colonizing our guts. When potentially harmful yeast or bacteria tries to settle into the intestines, the gut flora prevents them from growing through competitive exclusion. This is known as the “barrier effect.” Just think of your gut flora as the army that protects your digestive tract from invaders!

That’s just a short list; the gut flora also plays a role in preventing tooth decay, creating B12, regulating our mood, and so much more. Interestingly, we’ve also recently learned that the gut flora also has an impact on the development of our brain, and how we react to various things. An international team of researchers found in 2011 that the gut flora have a direct influence over our levels of anxiety, and can even impact how active we are in our daily lives.

Learn about the digestive tract with this detailed poster.

Learn about the digestive tract with this detailed poster.

Obviously, our gut flora is very important to our health. While scientists have found that individuals can survive without it, they are subject to many more infections. How can we best take care of our tiny friends? Research seems to encourage less meat, dairy, and high fat foods for gut health. Studies have indicated that the structure of gut flora can alter very quickly with diet changes, and that a diet with a more moderate intake of meats and cheeses and more fiber can help keep gut flora happy and healthy. Fibers such as beans, bananas, and oats can be especially beneficial, as can root vegetables and nuts. Eating healthy fermented foods, like yogurt and sauerkraut, can also help gut flora flourish.

Curious about your own gut flora? For a fee, the American Gut Project will take several samples, from your skin, mouth, and feces, and break down your microbial makeup.

Sources & Further Reading:

Please note: Anatomy Warehouse does not endorse any product or service listed, unless otherwise noted.

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The Anatomical Development of Type 1 Diabetes

According to American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes and 5% of people with diabetes have type 1, which is less common but much more serious than Type 2 diabetes. People who get the Type 1 diabetes produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to convey sugar to enter cells to produce energy.  If the sugar stays in the blood at a high level, it could damage eyes, kidneys, nerves, and the hearts [3]. 40% of young people with diabetes are at risk of heart and kidney disease. Recently, the researchers could identify young people with type 1 diabetes at risk of heart and kidney disease by using a simple urine test, which may help offer treatment early and prevent them happening.

But there is exciting news from CNN! Type 1 diabetics could maintain normal glucose levels long-term through transplantation of the Islet cells, which could produce the insulin and regulate the glucose levels. It is waiting for approve of the Food and Drug Administration. But it cannot help with Type 2 diabetes, which occurs due to insulin resistance [1]. Most of Type 1 diabetics are diagnosed from infancy to the late 30s.

Knowing the symptoms of Type 1 diabetics could be important:

• Extreme thirst, especially for sweet, cold drinks

• Frequent urination

• Drowsiness or lethargy

• Increased appetite

• Sudden weight loss

• Sudden vision changes

• Sugar in the urine

• Fruity odor on the breath

• Heavy or labored breathing

• Stupor or unconsciousness

• Nausea and vomiting (acute symptoms)

If you have any signs from above, you should call a doctor immediately. Most of the diabetics begins in childhood and use insulin injections to control the diabetes, and it could become fatal quickly if not be controlled well [2]. There is more risk for low blood sugar because intensive insulin therapy. While Type 1 diabetes is not preventable, the usual complication of diabetic neuropathy can be prevent, which is usually happen at least 10 years after the diabetes is diagnosed. The best ways are to keep the blood sugar under control and assess the nerve function regularly [4].

 

[1] Cells offer hope for Type 1 diabetes, CNN news. http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/06/health/islet-cell-transplantation-diabetes/index.html?hpt=he_c2

[2] More Ways to Cope With Type 1 Diabetes, The New York Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/25/health/25brody.html?_r=0

[3] What is Type 1 Diabetes? , Diabetes Research Institute Foundation.

http://www.diabetesresearch.org/what-is-type-one-diabetes

[4] How to Control Diabetic Neuropathy, Everyday Health.

http://www.everydayhealth.com/type-1-diabetes/diabetic-neuropathy.aspx

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