Always wanted to try an exciting new activity, but just not sure where to start? We’re trying out the latest, greatest sports and activities for you and reporting back with our findings, so you know exactly what to expect when trying something for the first time. We tried everything from parkour to trail running and learned the basics straight from experts — and now we’re passing their secrets on to you. So go on, try that new sport for the first time… it probably won’t be your last.
Always wanted to try an exciting new activity, but just not sure where to start? We’re trying out the latest, greatest sports and activities for you and reporting back with our findings, so you know exactly what to expect when trying something for the first time. We tried everything from parkour to trail running and learned the basics straight from experts — and now we’re passing their secrets on to you. So go on, try that new sport for the first time… it probably won’t be your last.
By Susan Boskey
Recently I was invited to be on a panel about cannabis use for seniors. In an email exchange with one of the organizers I asked, “Are you referring to recreational or medicinal use?” The response I received back was unexpected. She said, “I see no reason to treat medical and recreational differently. Everyone is using cannabis for medicine whether they realize it or not.”
Really? I have been pondering her response ever since. Seems like this concept has gained traction as a cannabis-culture meme.
First of all, I think her response has something to do with the fact of living in Washington State where both adult-use and medical are legal. What I mean is . . . probably in the 10 states and DC that have legality for both, more people use cannabis than in medical-only states. That’s pretty obvious.
But what’s not so obvious, to me, anyway, is the thought that ALL of these users are using cannabis in an attempt to get better in their own way. That would include those using cannabis products containing an extremely high percentage of THC, say 15+ percent and smoking/using it several times a day and others who go ‘blotto’ to the extent of becoming non-functional on a regular basis.
Self-medicating? Interesting but I’m not so sure it’s true.
I guess it depends on how you define self-medicating. The online Cambridge Dictionary defines it as: “to take medicine or drugs to help you with a condition without asking a doctor”
If someone determines to help a condition they experience by using cannabis, wouldn’t they also want to learn the best ways to use it to accomplish that?
If they don’t have a conscious intent to use cannabis to help their health and wellbeing and consistently use more than necessary to do so, is that an act of medication or potential self-destruction?
Do we give unconscious use of cannabis a high-five pass because it’s cannabis whereas we might not if it were alcohol?
Where do addictive personality traits enter the conversation?
Is the blank-check assertion of self-medication instead cover for denial? Here are some indicators of possible cannabis addiction:
- Tolerance and withdrawal
- Using more than intended
- Unable to cut down or stop use
- Lots of time spent getting high
- Reduced activities
- Continuing to get high despite the problems it causes
- Using it to escape from problems
- Depending on it to be creative or to relax or enjoy yourself
- Choosing relationships and activities based on whether or not you will be able to get high
- An inability to attend to daily responsibilities 
I have more questions than answers at this point. But what I know for certain is that cannabis is an amazing and beneficial plant and that I am committed to learning and sharing its whole story. In my world every story has at least two sides. Methinks those who paint something as being all one way, may possibly have something to gain by doing so.
Susan is a Certified Cannabis Practitioner and graduate of the Holistic Cannabis Academy with over 45 years of personal involvement in the spectrum of wellness modalities. Her mission today is to intervene in the noise of modern life and help her clients identify and remove stressors that trigger their dis-ease. She personalizes care plans regarding the best cannabis strain, dose and delivery system to address her client’s issue. As a non-physician coach Susan enjoys the added flexibility of also providing protocols for simple lifestyle changes to accelerate the healing process. Visit her website: LifestyleWellnessRx.com
Image credit: Pixabay
By Amanda Warren
If you’re like me, you probably know at least one person who makes horrible dietary choices but still never seems to get sick, looks great, has tons of energy, and is always in a great mood. In fact, that person may even be you. Or maybe – once upon a time, that was you.
Many of us learned poor dietary habits from our parents. Often times, they didn’t know better because they learned poor eating habits from their own parents. Sometimes they were also misled by whatever diet was being touted by mainstream doctors at the time.
When I was growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, my mom was one of those parents who tried to stay current on what doctors were recommending. Her parents had horrible diets, which she later learned and revised only after she went to college. She wanted my sister and me to learn healthy eating habits when we were young. This included forcing us to eat green vegetables every night at dinner – whether we liked them or not.
When doctors started recommending whole wheat bread over white bread, my mom started buying less bleached flour-based food products. Bread, English muffins, bagels, pasta and pancakes often became whole wheat. It was definitely not as tasty but we adapted.
Like everyone else, though, she was misled by other dietary recommendations. My sister and I were slim and athletic and we didn’t have any chronic health problems. But my mom still stopped making us eggs as often because she was concerned about us getting high cholesterol. She stopped salting our food because there were warnings about salt. She started buying low-fat milk and cheeses. She started steaming and boiling vegetables more often than cooking them in oil. Dinners seemed to become more about pasta than anything else because that was being recommended by doctors. It seemed like she stopped buying and serving us as much meat too. Fat was the enemy.
Of course, what we ate was still probably better than what many kids ate while growing up. Even today, some people do just fine with that kind of diet. Some people do just fine on vegetarian and vegan diets too. Everybody is different because every body is different.
Because of health issues I was experiencing a few years ago, my doctor recommended that I try a Keto diet to see if I felt better. Lots of protein and fat – less carbs including starchy vegetables. Wow – what a difference. Not only that – when you start eating this way, it doesn’t take long before you stop craving carbs and sugar. It’s never a bad idea to have a cheat day once in a while – which I do. But overall, I feel and look so much better on the Keto diet that I don’t really want to cheat that often.
There is so much information now readily available at everyone’s fingertips that we no longer have the excuse of being enslaved by our parents’ misinformation or bad choices. Nor should we remain subservient to the often ethically compromised healthcare system and the medical doctors that are often beholden to it. You can easily learn for yourself about new findings that show the benefits of MCT oil, for example, or why it is so essential for the body to have enough hydrolyzed collagen to keep healthy joints and ligaments, as well as healthy skin that keeps you looking your best.
It is essential to begin finding the right combinations for your own body as early on as possible. Far too many people wind up letting their weight and general physical condition get so far out of hand that desperation forces them onto the toxic quick-fix “solutions” of prescription medications, or even the more radical weight loss programs that can have long-lasting negative consequences.
Remember: Food should be your medicine, not a source of bodily injury.
It may be difficult to imagine, but a single family may have had a direct effect on the massive epidemic of opioid-related addiction and deaths the U.S. is now experiencing.
The U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War between 1954 and 19751 led to the death of 58,200 military personnel.2 By comparison, in 2017 alone, 70,200 people died from drug overdoses, 68% of which involved an opioid.3
The number of overdose deaths involving opioids was six times higher in 2017 than in 1999. In the 18 years from 1999 to 2017, almost 400,000 people died from overdosing on an opioid drug, including illicit opioids such as fentanyl and prescription drugs.4
These monumental mortality statistics are a recent phenomenon, as are the skyrocketing prescriptions for pain medications, since the understanding of pain pathophysiology is still in its infancy. In 1986, the World Health Organization published its Cancer Pain Monograph,5 which addressed the perceived undertreatment of post-operative and cancer pain.
This prompted several publications questioning the undertreatment of pain,6 including an article in 1990 in Scientific American,7,8 which questioned why opioids were reserved solely for cancer patients and avoided by those suffering chronic pain.
In 2000, The Joint Commission published standards for pain management,9,10 while the Federation of State Medical Boards and Drug Enforcement Agency promised less regulatory scrutiny.11
These events provided the foundation for pharmaceutical companies to introduce new extended-release opioid formulations, such as OxyContin, which were presumed to have a lower likelihood of abuse but were in fact extremely addictive. From 1997 to 2002, prescriptions for OxyContin rose from 670,000 in 1997 to 6.2 million in 200212 as physicians were urged to prescribe opioids for the treatment of chronic noncancer pain.
Opioid Epidemic Driven by Aggressive Sales Strategies
A recent Massachusetts lawsuit13 alleges that even though Purdue Pharmaceuticals, maker of Oxycontin, was aware of the drug’s addictive potential, the company reassured physicians that the risk of addiction was low.14 By 1999, the National Capital Poison Center15 found 86% of patients who were prescribed opioids were using it for noncancer pain.
Early efforts to reduce opioid prescriptions created a demand for heroin, which was cheap and widely available. Deaths related to heroin overdose increased by 286% from 2002 to 2013.16 Synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, became available in 2013. By 2016, 20,000 deaths could be attributed to fentanyl and other synthetic opioid overdoses, in addition to overdoses from heroin and prescription opioids.17
The Massachusetts lawsuit alleges that in February 2015,18 Purdue Pharmaceutical’s Project Tango was presented to the board as a plan for a joint venture to sell the addiction medication suboxone (Naloxone). The team mapped out how patients could first get addicted to opioids through prescription drugs or heroin, and then become consumers of the company’s new drug.
They noted that even after patients were finished with the first round of suboxone, up to 60% would relapse and need it again, nullifying the company’s original assurances the drugs were not addictive.19 The Sackler family are the owners of Purdue Pharma and in 2016 were said to have a combined fortune estimated at $13 billion.20
The family received nearly $4 billion in profits over the past decade, in large part due to sales of Oxycontin.21 Kathe Sackler is accused of devising Project Tango to increase the company’s profits from a growing epidemic that is killing tens of thousands each year.22
Despite warning signs OxyContin was addictive, sales reps were promoting opioids to specific prescribers to increase prescription rates. Purdue Pharma hired global consulting firm McKinsey & Company to raise sales and control their image.
The effort is said to have been initiated to counterbalance emotional messages from mothers whose children had died from an opioid overdose.23 McKinsey & Company allegedly urged Purdue to direct its sales reps to the most prolific prescribers, classified as “Super Core” prescribers.24
Harvard Announces They Will Keep Sackler Name on Museum
The Sackler family play a strong role in Purdue Pharma and have historically been known for their philanthropic efforts. The family donated a wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a wing at the Louvre, a courtyard at Victoria and Albert Museum, a Center for Feminist art at the Brooklyn Museum and an arts education center at the Guggenheim Museum.25
Their profits have funded educational programs, medical research and professorships at Cornell, Stanford and Columbia universities.26 However, litigation against the Sacklers stemming from their role in the opioid crisis has placed pressure on these same institutions to return the gifts and remove the family name.
On this list of prestigious academic and art institutions is the Arthur M. Sackler Museum27 on the campus of Harvard University.28 As other institutions contemplate whether removing the Sackler name from their buildings and returning money might be appropriate, The Harvard Crimson29 reported university president Lawrence Bacow found this “inappropriate.”
He stated Harvard would not remove the Sackler family name from campus buildings and would not return past monetary donations,30 as it was Dr. Arthur Sackler who donated funds to Harvard to name the school’s museum after him.
Arthur Sackler — who The New York Times described as a research psychiatrist “who made his fortune in medical advertising, medical trade publications and the manufacture of over-the-counter drugs,” passed away in May 1987,31 nine years before Oxycontin was launched in the U.S.32 Bacow believes there are “legal and contractual considerations,” commenting:33
“Dr. Arthur Sackler died before the drug was developed. His family sold their interest in the company before the drug was developed. And I think it would be inappropriate for the university to either return the gift or take Dr. Sackler’s name off the building that his gift supported given that he had absolutely no relationship to it.”
New York Metropolitan Museum of Art Ends Relationship With Sackler Family
In a move the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art said is “in consideration of the ongoing litigation,” they suspended any donations from the Sackler family and decided to end their relationship with the family. In a statement the museum attributed the move to the34 “production of opioids and the ensuing health crisis surrounding the abuse of these medications.”
While they will no longer accept donations, they announced no plans to rename the Sackler Wing of the museum. The family quickly denied any allegations they are linked to the crisis in a statement to the New York Times,35 saying they believe the allegations are “false and unfair,” but understand accepting gifts would place the museum in a difficult position at this time.
This ends a period of multiple gifts over generations that have been given by the Sackler family to the museum. Daniel Weiss, president and CEO of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, made a statement on the importance of private philanthropy to the museum as it has literally been the foundation and reason for growth of the buildings and collections. Weiss said:36
“What distinguishes our Museum from its global peers, such as the Prado, the Hermitage, and the Louvre, is the fact that we did not begin with a royal or imperial collection. Every object and much of the building itself came from individuals driven by a love for art and the spirit of philanthropy.
For this reason, it is our responsibility to ensure that the public is aware of the diligence that we take to generate philanthropic support. Our donors deserve this, and the public should expect it.”
Similar announcements were made earlier this year from the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern and the Guggenheim Museum.37 In March, an arts organization — the Sackler Foundation — made a statement it would “pause” donations to institutions across the U.K.38
Arthur Sackler Designed Aggressive Tactics Responsible for Profits
Brooklyn-born brothers Arthur, Mortimer and Raymond Sackler were all physicians, and together founded Purdue Pharmaceuticals in 1952 after taking over a small struggling drug manufacturer. The company remained below the radar until the mid-1990s when Oxycontin came on the market.39
Over the years, the family was known for donating lavishly to a large range of institutions, many of which bear the family name. The loophole through which Harvard University40 and Arthur’s wife Jillian41 would like to step begins when Arthur’s brothers, Raymond and Mortimer, bought out his shares of Purdue Pharma from the estate before the introduction of Oxycontin.42
However, this overlooks Arthur’s contribution to the sales of Oxycontin, as the drug’s success is largely based on the aggressive advertising tactics he pioneered before his death. Arthur’s daughter Elizabeth has since divested herself from any work with Purdue Pharma.
Raymond’s sons Richard and Jonathan, and Mortimer’s daughters Marissa and Kathe continue to work with the company.43 Kathe Sackler was at the heart of the marketing campaign dubbed Project Tango.44
She may have been sitting at the knee of Arthur Sackler, who was posthumously inducted into the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame in 1997. Sackler thought of doctors as unimpeachable stewards of public health, and devised his advertising campaigns to appeal to medical professionals.
Understanding doctors were greatly influenced by their own peers, he enlisted prominent physicians to endorse his products and cited scientific studies underwritten by pharmaceutical companies. John Kallir, who worked under Sackler for 10 years, was quoted in The New Yorker45 saying, “Sackler’s ads had a very serious, clinical look — a physician talking to a physician. But it was advertising.”
Allen Frances, former chair of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine, put it differently:46 “Most of the questionable practices that propelled the pharmaceutical industry into the scourge it is today can be attributed to Arthur Sackler.”
‘The Sackler Family Lied and Our Kids Died’
The parents of children who fatally overdosed on opioids are unconcerned by claims that returning Sackler donations and taking his name off buildings are unrelated to the intricate relationship between Arthur Sackler and the opioid crisis. They are demanding Harvard University remove the family name from buildings that house one of its art museums.47
Tony LaGreca, age 71, told AP News48 the story of how his son Matthew became addicted after a football injury in college. He was prescribed 100 Oxycodone pills and told to take three or four a day.
According to LaGreca, his son rapidly became addicted and lived through hell for the next 15 years until he died. “The Sackler family lied and our kids died,” LaGreca said.49 Andrew Kolodny, co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University, commented:50
“If you look at the prescribing trends for all the different opioids, it’s in 1996 that prescribing really takes off. It’s not a coincidence. That was the year Purdue launched a multifaceted campaign that misinformed the medical community about the risks.”
Tufts University is another institution struggling with the decision of what to do with its Sackler donations. The scrutiny at Tufts was triggered by the Massachusetts lawsuit raised by the attorney general against Purdue Pharma.
Although a Tufts spokesman issued a statement saying the university remains deeply committed to the highest ethical and scientific standards, the allegations go deep into practices at the university.
According to the redacted lawsuit,51 in 1999 the family made a targeted gift, establishing Tufts’ masters of science in pain research, education and policy, essentially purchasing goodwill, name recognition and access to physicians. To get ahead of the game, Tufts has ordered its own investigation and tapped former U.S. Attorney General Donald Stern to review the program.52,53
However, while Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to misleading regulators in 2007, this action did not compel universities and museums to return or refuse cash. A scathing editorial in the Tufts Daily explained:54
“The opioid crisis was engineered in our own backyard… Purdue staff lectured Sackler students at courses on opioid policy, hosted events to encourage their widespread use, and developed research protocols and publications on pain management for the school.
Tufts even promoted a Purdue employee to be an adjunct professor in 2011, four years after Purdue pleaded guilty to intentionally misleading doctors and patients about OxyContin.”
Number of Opioid Lawsuits Growing as Purdue Publicly Discusses Bankruptcy
The mounting number of lawsuits promises to be expensive for Purdue Pharma. One court filing in Connecticut revealed a 20-year-old internal company email saying “abusers aren’t victims.” The emails, which came from Richard Sackler, were revealed in a public complaint brought by the Connecticut attorney general as one of 2,000 lawsuits filed across the country.
In a statement, Attorney General William Tong said,55 “Purdue and defendant members of the Sackler family knew people were dying, but they continued to push their opioids in blind pursuit of profit.”
At the party to launch Oxycontin, Richard Sackler, senior vice president of sales, announced,56 “[T]he launch of OxyContin Tablets will be followed by a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition. The prescription blizzard will be so deep, dense and white …”
About 1,500 of the 2,000 lawsuits filed in the U.S. are being overseen by a federal judge in Cleveland who is pushing the parties to settle. However, the Connecticut lawsuit is filed with the state government in a state court.
Purdue Pharma’s CEO has said the company is considering bankruptcy in the face of lawsuits alleging their role in the opioid epidemic. While they have not yet decided whether to file bankruptcy, the CEO told The Washington Post57 it is something they are considering.
Jails Were Not Designed as Detoxification Centers
The number of overdoses from heroin use has led to an overpopulation in county jails now struggling with a new role as a center for opioid detoxification. More county jails are adding a form of medicated assisted treatment to help inmates detoxify safely in the hope they will stay clean behind bars and after their release.58
However, jail programs were not designed or built for effective detoxification treatments. This has led to a critical situation in which jails are scrambling to catch up. The National Sheriffs Association estimates up to two-thirds of the jail population has a dependence or drug abuse problem.59
One of the states hardest hit has been Middlesex County, Massachusetts, where the sheriff believes they are in a critical situation as they must physically and medically detoxify up to 40% of their population. Jails that have been hardest hit by the opioid epidemic include those in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Carlos Morales, the director of Correctional Health Services for California, San Mateo County, is optimistic about their potential to impact the community. He states60 statistics in their area show that, as an opiate user, once you detoxify in the jail system you have a 40% chance of overdosing. He believes they have the potential to reduce those odds.
The offering of treatment programs is new for many correctional systems across the country. Morales believes the jail needs to build a momentum of treatment. But treatment inside the jail is only half the problem, as once the inmates leave the facility they need access to health insurance, medications, counseling and treatment services to help them get through and stay drug-free.
Struggling With Opioid Addiction? Please Seek Help
Regardless of the brand of opioid, it’s vitally important to realize they are extremely addictive drugs and not meant for long-term use for nonfatal conditions. Chemically, opioids are similar to heroin. If you wouldn’t consider shooting up heroin for a toothache or backache, seriously reconsider taking an opioid to relieve this type of pain.
The misconception that opioids are harmless pain relievers has killed hundreds of thousands and destroyed the lives of countless more. In many cases you’ll be able to control pain without the use of medications. In my previous article, “Treating Pain Without Drugs,” I discuss several approaches to consider that may be used separately or in combination.
If you’ve been on an opioid for more than two months, or if you find yourself taking a higher dosage, or taking the drug more often, you may already be addicted. Resources where you can find help include:
- Your workplace employee assistance program
- Contact the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration61 24 hours a day at 1-800-622-HELP
The degree to which a food has been altered during preparation lies on a continuum. Anything not directly harvested from the vine, ground, bush or tree has undergone some degree of processing. Processing may be as basic as freezing, canning or drying, or it may involve ultra-processing where food is significantly altered — foods you may typically purchase at a gas station.
Unfortunately, Americans not only eat a preponderance of processed foods, but 57.9% is ultra-processed.1 A study in 2013 found health care costs associated with Type 2 diabetes were $140 billion as compared to $90 billion for tobacco products,2 and diabetes is directly linked to a processed food diet.
The difference in the amount of sugar between foods that are ultra-processed and minimally processed is dramatic. Data demonstrate 21.1% of calories in ultra-processed foods come from sugar,3 while unprocessed foods contain no refined or added sugars. As food choices have changed over the past decades, so have the rising numbers of health challenges.
For instance, Type 2 diabetes is rooted in insulin resistance4 and a faulty leptin signaling system. In other words, it is triggered by a sugar-rich diet and the cure is free and readily available to anyone willing to change their eating habits.
An inundation of glyphosate in the food supply,5,6 exposure to organochlorine pesticides7 and heavy metal exposure8 may also be contributing factors to the rising numbers of children diagnosed with autism.
Rising Rates of Autism and Diabetes Are a Public Health Concern
The most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention9 indicate more than 100 million U.S. adults are living with diabetes or prediabetes. The report is based on 2015 data, which found 30.3 million have diabetes and another 84.1 million have prediabetes.
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death10 and may contribute to three other causes of death found in the top 10, including heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. According to the American Diabetes Association,11 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year and 193,000 under the age of 20 have been diagnosed with diabetes.
The most recent data regarding the financial burden associated with diabetes indicates $327 billion were spent in 2017; direct medical costs were $237 billion, and business lost $90 billion in productivity.12 After adjusting for the age and sex differences of the population, statistics show the average medical cost in those with diabetes was 2.3 times higher than in those without diabetes.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by repetitive behaviors and ongoing social challenges that vary in degree depending on where you are on the spectrum, including difficulty communicating and socializing.13 Often the symptoms are recognized within the first two years of life.
The CDC began releasing biennial updates of estimated prevalence among 8-year-old children from 11 states in the U.S. based on medical records in 2004. The first estimate recorded 1 in 166 children diagnosed with autism.14 By 2016 this number had risen to 1 in 68, and in 2018 it was 1 in 59, a 15% increase from 2016.
Prevalence of Autism May Be Higher Than Suspected
However, two independent research teams analyzed data from parent questionnaires and independently found different results, including 29.5% of children who were not being treated for the condition at the time of the study.15
The first survey, published in the journal Pediatrics,16 concluded parent reported autism diagnosis was 1 in 40.
The second study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association,17 found the prevalence of autism varied substantially across states. Of those who were treated, 43.3% receive behavioral treatment only, 6.9% receive medication only and 20.3% received both.
In an evaluation of resources used from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, it’s been determined there was an 8.08% use due to autistic disorder in 2004, which rose to 20.53% in 2014.18
Additionally, the category of autistic disorders has the second highest allowance rate, with little to no indication of a decline in growth of the number of children applying for and receiving SSI benefits for autism.
Calcium Propionate Associated With Exacerbation of Autism Symptoms
While no one factor has been linked to the development of autism, the food additive calcium propionate (E282)19 has been linked to an aggravation of symptoms, and may play a role in the development of the condition.
Calcium propionate is a widely used additive in the food industry as a preservative and antifungal agent routinely sprayed on fruit, packed meat, cheese and bread.
Although the chemical is highly effective as an antifungal, it has a negative effect on the gut microbiome, which can exacerbate autism symptoms.20 Calcium propionate is the calcium salt of propionic acid, which is currently classified as generally recognized as safe (GRAS).21
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it may be used as an additive in food with no limitation other than “current good manufacturing process” as determined by the manufacturer.22 The European Food Safety Authority23 recognizes calcium propionate as an authorized antimicrobial preservative used in animal feed effective against several strains of bacteria.
In the U.S.,24 it is also used as an additive in cattle feed, as an extra calcium source for cattle and as a treatment for a variety of infections. The ability of the chemical to affect microbial growth does not end once it reaches your gut.
Acetate, propionate and butyrate are short chain fatty acids generated by microbial fermentation in your gut.25 These have been shown to have multiple beneficial effects on energy metabolism, playing a complex role between diet, gut microbiome and energy.26 However, an excess of propionate may induce behavioral effects remarkably consistent with autism.
Propionic Acid Affects Gut-Brain Axis
In one study, researchers noted propionic acid is produced by autism-associated gastrointestinal bacteria27 (clostridia and bacteroides) and may produce reversible behavioral, electrographic and neuroinflammatory changes resembling autism when administered to rodents.28
Propionic acid is naturally produced by gut microbiota as it breaks down digestive fiber. Calcium propionate was designated GRAS as it was assumed to be compatible with human physiology. The rate of propionic metabolism is affected by a variety of genetic, microbiotic and environmental factors.
However, an overabundance is found to have a neurobehavioral effect, especially in those with autism, who are already prone to an excess of propionic acid due to the microbial gut abnormalities, making them vulnerable to further damage.29 While these symptoms are not as easily detected in healthy people, exposure to high levels may trigger reversible autistic-like symptoms in healthy people as well.30
Ideally, your gut microbiome has a balance of harmful and beneficial bacteria (although many so-called harmful bacteria only cause problems when allowed to overgrow). Once a disproportionate number of one species grows,31,32 it may lead to the starvation of others and an excess production of certain chemicals.
When harmful bacteria are allowed to outgrow beneficial bacteria, the resulting inflammation contributes to gastrointestinal challenges associated with autism.33 This may also stimulate the gut-brain axis, triggering behavioral and psychological issues, such as anxiety.34 Propionic acid also has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.35
While there have been no human studies demonstrating its potential to affect the development of autism, researchers hypothesize the sensitivity of neurological development during the fetal stage may contribute to the development of autism if the brain is exposed to excess propionic acid.36 There are animal studies suggesting perinatal exposure changes neurobehavior.37
Food Additive Used to Reduce Mold Growth Increases Insulin Resistance
A second study looked at propionate as a dietary disrupter, finding it could trigger a cascade of events leading to insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia. The study38 was led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Sheba Medical Center in Israel.
Propionate administered to mice was found to rapidly activate the animals’ sympathetic nervous system. This in turn led to a rise in glucagon and norepinephrine. The mice produced more glucose from their liver cells, leading to hyperglycemia.39 When the mice were chronically treated with propionate, equivalent to the amounts typically eaten by humans, it led to obesity and insulin resistance.40
The researchers went on to enroll 14 healthy human participants who were randomly placed in two groups. One received a meal with 1 gram of propionate as an additive and the other were given a meal with a placebo. Blood samples were drawn within 15 minutes of eating, and every 30 minutes for four hours.
The participants who ate the experimental meal had a significant increase in norepinephrine and glucagon. Lead author Amir Tirosh, Ph.D., who holds positions at the three collaborating universities, commented:41
“The dramatic increase in the incidence of obesity and diabetes over the past 50 years suggests the involvement of contributing environmental and dietary factors. One such factor that warrants attention is the ingredients in common foods. We are exposed to hundreds of these chemicals on a daily basis, and most have not been tested in detail for their potential long-term metabolic effects.”
Food Additives Increase Your Risk of Health Concerns
The FDA maintains a database of 4,000 ingredients, which by the FDA’s own admission42 “is only a partial list of food ingredients. Inclusion in this inventory of information from non-FDA entities does not indicate an FDA approval or evaluation of this use.”
The World Health Organization43 says there are “several thousand food additives used, all of which are designed to do a specific job in making food safer or more appealing.” Many additives have been linked to health concerns and were granted GRAS status without review or approval. As reported by the Washington Post:44
“The FDA said that although the law allows for food manufacturers to make their own safety determinations, the agency ‘encourages companies to consult with the agency when developing new ingredients.’ Ultimately, the FDA said, manufacturers ‘are responsible for ensuring that their food products are safe and lawful.’”
Unfortunately, while there is little assessment done on individual chemicals in isolation, mounting research suggests when consumed in combination, the health effects may be even more serious. An assessment45 done by the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark found chemicals may amplify each other’s adverse effects when combined, even in small amounts.46
Additionally, food manufacturers are permitted to label chemical compounds as “artificial flavors” without listing them individually. In late 2018,47 the FDA announced a list of seven synthetic compounds no longer allowed to be used as food additives in response to a petition brought by Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
These additives had been linked to cancer in animals and were most commonly used in baked goods, ice cream, candy and chewing gum. Dawn Undurraga, EWG’s nutritionist, said:48
“Consumers will never know which foods were made with these chemicals, since manufacturers have been allowed to hide these ingredients behind the vague term ‘flavor.’ This is a positive step forward, but the FDA should empower consumers to make their own fully informed decisions by requiring full ingredient disclosure.”
The EWG has published a dirty dozen guide to food additives, works to ban other endocrine disrupting chemicals used as preservatives, and has developed a Food Scores49 database — an extensive list of ratings for more than 120,000 food and personal care products, providing information on ingredients and processing.
Strong Gut Microbiome May Reduce Health Risk
Taking care of your gut microbiome may be one of the most important things you can do to optimize your health. Your gut flora influences the function of a variety of internal organs, including your skin, lungs, breasts and liver.50 When your gut microbiome is disrupted, it may automatically disrupt your immune function and have far-reaching consequences.
For instance, the use of checkpoint inhibitors in the treatment of cancer, a class of immunotherapy drugs working by triggering your immune system, appears to be dependent on the gut microbiome.
As reported in Nature,51 a 2015 study found microbe-free mice failed to respond to treatment with checkpoint inhibitors, but those given Bacteroides fragilis responded better. Others have suggested the connection between your gut and mental health appears to be so strong, probiotics may one day take the place of antidepressants.
In an article published in Biological Psychiatry,52 the authors suggested severe and chronic mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, may be eliminated through the use of specific probiotics by dampening stress hormones. To learn more about how to balance your gut microbiome and develop a strong microbiota, see my previous article, “Go With Your Gut.”
TUESDAY, May 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Interest in homemade sunscreens is hot, but many of these do-it-yourself brews lack effective sun protection, a new study warns.
Researchers found that only about one-third of homemade sunscreens on the popular information-sharing website Pinterest specified how much sun protection factor (SPF) each “natural” sunblock contained. In some cases, SPF content dipped as low as 2 — far below recommended guidelines for preventing premature aging and skin cancer.
“It is a great sign that consumers are paying attention to what is in their products,” said study author Julie Merten. She is an associate professor with the University of North Florida’s Brooks College of Health.
But she and her colleagues are cautioning do-it-yourselfers to be mindful that if “they do use Pinterest to make their own sunscreen, to be sure it is a formula that offers true broadband protection.”
Unlike commercial sunscreens, the Pinterest recipes aren’t tested or regulated, and could cause harm, Merten and others said.
Merten acknowledged there are “legitimate concerns” about some commercial sunscreens, including reef habitat destruction and hormone-disrupting chemicals. These “align with a societal shift toward more natural and organic products,” she noted.
Recently, a study from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), raised concerns regarding four common commercial-sunscreen chemicals: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule.
All four chemicals were found to have entered the users’ bloodstreams at levels far exceeding U.S. Food and Drug Administration safety thresholds.
Still, the UCSF study team did not conclude that anyone’s health was at risk. And some experts believe any concerns that might be raised are outweighed by the anti-cancer and anti-aging benefits of FDA-approved sunscreens.
One of those experts is Dr. Steven Wang, director of dermatology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, in Basking Ridge, N.J.
“There’s tons of scientific data that sunscreen with SPF of at least 15 reduces the risk for both melanomas and squamous cell cancer, and prevents wrinkles and pigmentation. That’s the benefit,” said Wang.
By Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, May 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Could a love for canines be contained in your genes?
New research from Europe suggests that’s so after comparing the genetic makeup of more than 35,000 twin pairs with dog ownership. The researchers concluded that genetic variations explained more than half of the likelihood of having a dog.
“We were surprised to see that a person’s genetic makeup appears to be a significant influence in whether they own a dog, said study author Tove Fall, a professor of molecular epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden.
“As such, these findings have major implications in several different fields related to understanding dog-human interaction throughout history and in modern times,” she said in a university news release.
The study results may explain why some folks are “dog people,” compared to those who have no pets.
“Although dogs and other pets are common household members across the globe, little is known how they impact our daily life and health. Perhaps some people have a higher innate propensity to care for a pet than others,” Fall said.
Dogs were the first domesticated animal and have had close ties with humans for at least 15,000 years. Dogs are believed to benefit the well-being and health of their owners.
“These findings are important as they suggest that supposed health benefits of owning a dog reported in some studies may be partly explained by different genetics of the people studied,” added study co-author Carri Westgarth, a lecturer in human-animal interaction at the University of Liverpool in England.
The study “cannot tell us exactly which genes are involved, but at least demonstrate for the first time that genetics and environment play about equal roles in determining dog ownership,” said senior study author Patrik Magnusson. He’s an associate professor in epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Solna, Sweden, and head of the Swedish Twin Registry.
The findings could add to understanding “the deep and enigmatic history of dog domestication,” said study co-author Keith Dobney, chair of human palaeoecology at the University of Liverpool.
“Decades of archaeological research have helped us construct a better picture of where and when dogs entered into the human world, but modern and ancient genetic data are now allowing us to directly explore why and how,” he added.
The study was published May 17 in the journal Scientific Reports.
By Neenah Payne
Note: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider.
Did you know that over 75% to 90% of all doctors’ visits are for health problems related to Red Mind? (Download the free 27-page ebook Do You Have Red Mind?)
Wallace Nichols Ph.D., called “Keeper of the Sea” by GQ Magazine and “a visionary” by Outside Magazine is an entrepreneurial scientist, movement maker, voracious idea explorer, New York Times best-selling author, international speaker, loving Dad, strategic advisor, and collaborator.
Dr. Nichols’ experiences as a field research scientist, government consultant, founder and director of numerous businesses and non-profit organizations, teacher, mentor, parent, and advisor all support his quest to build a stronger and more diverse Blue Movement to inspire a deeper connection with nature through the neuroscience of the human-water connection.
Dr. Nichols’ current focus is on what he refers to as Blue Mind, a powerful new universal story of water and a movement of global proportions. He communicates the cognitive, emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual benefits of healthy oceans and waterways. By connecting neuroscientists and psychologists with aquatic experts and artists, his work is transforming many sectors, including water and food infrastructure; environment and conservation; technology and innovation; health and well-being; education and parenting; arts, architecture and design; real estate and planning; travel and tourism; as well as sports and recreation.
Dr. Nichols has authored more than 200 scientific papers, technical reports, book chapters, and popular publications; delivered over 300 presentations in more than 30 countries; and reached millions in print, web, radio, podcast, film and television media outlets including NPR, BBC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Time, Newsweek, GQ, Outside Magazine, Elle, Vogue, Fast Company, Surfer Magazine, Scientific American, and New Scientist, among others.
His book Blue Mind: How Water Makes You Happier, More Connected and Better at What You Do quickly became a national bestseller, has been translated to over a dozen languages, and has inspired a wave of media attention and practical applications.
Now you can register for the Free 7-day Blue Mind docuseries at: https://bluemindhealth.com. See the trailer below:
See the interview with Dr. Nichols below:
Blue Mind Health Series: May 23-26
Each episode airs for 24 hours.
Episode 1: Blue Mind Health: Water Is Medicine – May 23 at 12 AM EST — Nichols shows the remarkable human connection to water and the tremendous physiological, emotional, and mental changes that occur when you’re in, on, or around water. Blue Mind can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do.
Episode 2: Blue Mind: A Deep Dive – May 23 at 12 AM EST — Discover the incredible origins of the Blue Mind concept that has already changed lives and brought millions together in a common pursuit of #waterismedicine!
Episode 3: Get Your Blue Mind On: Blue Mind 101 – May 24 at 12 AM EST — Everything you need to know to achieve and apply Blue Mind in your own life right now! You don’t want to miss this incredible conversation with Dr. Nichols!
Episode 4: A Healing Voyage – May 25 at 12 AM EST — Meet the amazing Special Operations combat veterans who were inspired to transform the health of our planet’s marine resources and use the power of water to heal their minds and bodies as they heal the environment.
Episode 5: A Healing Voyage – The Force Blue Team: Mission Therapy– May 25 at 12 AM EST — You loved the team in “A Healing Voyage”. Discover how Force Blue provides “mission therapy,” for these special men and women by retraining them from combat fighters to our ocean protectors. You won’t be able to get enough of the Force Blue Team!
Episode 6: Blue: 7 Ages of Water – May 26 at 12 AM EST — Discover how water directly influences every stage of your life from birth to death and how you can harness that natural power for better mental, emotional, and physical health right now!
Episode 7: A Flowed State of Calm: Depression and Blue Mind– May 26 at 12 AM EST — The depression epidemic is rocking the world and impacting the quality of life of millions every day. Find out how Blue Mind can help ease the symptoms, manage the disease, and give you back control of your life.
Through a deep and effervescent experience complimented by an e.e. cummings poem, Dr. Wallace Nichols inspires us to engage in a deeper relationship with nature. Using our oceans as the prime example of how insignificant humans can feel while also being unmistakably connected to the spirit of nature, Nichols urges us to embrace our natural surroundings to live robust and full lives.
Dr. Nichols defines “Blue Mind” as “a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment. It is inspired by water and elements associated with water, from the color blue to the words we use to describe the sensations associated with immersion.”
He knows that inspiration comes sometimes through adventures, or simply by walking and talking — other times through writing, images, and art. Science and knowledge can also stoke our fires. But he also knows that what really moves people is feeling part of and touching something bigger than ourselves.
Force Blue Team’s Life-Saving Mission
The Force Blue Team is featured in the visually stunning and inspiring Episode 4 and Episode 5 of the Blue Mind Health docuseries. This will change everything you think you know about our mental well-being and how we take care of our lifeline: the ocean.
FORCE BLUE grew out of a dive trip Jim Ritterhoff and Rudy Reyes took to the Cayman Islands. In the summer of 2015, they traveled to meet their friend Keith Sahm, General Manager of Sunset House which is the oldest continuously-operated dive resort in the Caribbean. For Ritterhoff and Sahm, experienced recreational divers who’d been reef diving for decades, this was just another week in paradise.
However, for Reyes, a former Recon Marine who had struggled with post-traumatic stress and depression since returning from multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, the experience was nothing short of life changing! “Here’s this trained combat diver,” Ritterhoff remembers. “One of the best, most highly-skilled individuals you’ll ever encounter underwater. Yet, he’d never seen a fish.” For Reyes, like most dive-trained veterans, diving meant hauling 200 lbs. of gear underwater to destroy potentially dangerous targets in the dead of night. What Cayman offered was transformative.
Reyes immediately proposed another trip so he could bring his recon brothers to experience what he had. However, after a few hours of discussion, the three men hatched a larger plan that included combat divers from all branches of service with marine scientists, conservationists, and journalists. “We saw it as an opportunity to do some good not only for our veterans, but for the planet as well. By starting a program that helps veterans and the marine environment, we’re uniting two worlds,” says Ritterhoff.
FORCE BLUE MISSION: To unite the community of Special Operations veterans with the world of marine conservation for the betterment of both. To sum it up: “We are so connected to water. If people don’t care about what they’re putting into the ocean, it’s crazy. It’s unsustainable. Every conservationist works hard to bring this to light. Unless you’re seeing it every day, you don’t fully appreciate how our actions have a consequence. We have to act as a team. We have to work locally, regionally, and globally if we’re going to have a positive effect. There really is no excuse anymore.”
Force Blue Saving Florida’s Coral Reefs!
Importance of coral reefs explains why coral reefs are SO vital – and are under SUCH great threat.
This video from the Force Blue Team website shows that the team is working to save Florida’s coral reefs from the disease that began about four years ago. With the help of the Force Blue Team, Florida may be able to save 2,000 corals instead of just 20 or 200. The reefs add over $7 billion to the state’s economy!
Unfortunately 27% of coral reefs are gone and this number could rise to 60% in the next 30 years. Force Blue says its mission is to change that outcome. The rescue is an urgent task that requires innovation and collaboration between scientists and veterans that has never been seen before.
Sarah Frangman, the Superintendent of the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary says she would like Florida to become a model. She believes that the rescue of the Florida coral reefs can be an example of the kind of teamwork that can be used to save coral reefs elsewhere since this is a global problem.
Coral Reefs: Rainforests of the Ocean
Force Blue is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) initiative that unites the community of Special Operations veterans with the world of coral reef conservation for the betterment of both. FORCE BLUE gives former combat divers and SOF veterans the chance to experience and explore one of the most critically endangered ecosystems on the planet and to adapt their training and teamwork to aid in its protection.
Force Blue’s mission is vital for the planet.
The Smithsonian Institution’s Corals and Coral Reefs site points out:
Coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems. They teem with life, with perhaps one-quarter of all ocean species depending on reefs for food and shelter. This is a remarkable statistic when you consider that reefs cover just a tiny fraction (less than one percent) of the earth’s surface and less than two percent of the ocean bottom. Because they are so diverse, coral reefs are often called the rainforests of the sea.
Coral reefs are also very important to people. The value of coral reefs has been estimated at 30 billion U.S. dollars and perhaps as much as 172 billion U.S. dollars each year, providing food, protection of shorelines, jobs based on tourism, and even medicines. Unfortunately, people also pose the greatest threat to coral reefs. Overfishing and destructive fishing, pollution, warming, changing ocean chemistry, and invasive species are all taking a huge toll. In some places, reefs have been entirely destroyed, and in many places reefs today are a pale shadow of what they once were.
This CBS News video featuring Force Blue can be seen below:
Film: Mercy, Love, and Grace: The Story of Force Blue
Mercy, Love and Grace: The Story of Force Blue chronicles the nonprofit’s first deployment to the Cayman Islands. It is the story of seven (7) Special Operations combat veterans…two U.S. Reconnaissance Marines, one Air Force Pararescueman, a Navy SEAL, an Army Green Beret, a British Royal Marine and one Combat Medic….each struggling with his own transition back to civilian life, coming together on a mission to preserve the planet and restore themselves.
It is the story of the marine scientists, environmentalists, therapists, and filmmakers who came to instruct them for two weeks, but left having learned their own lessons about sacrifice and service. In the end, Mercy, Love and Grace: The Story of Force Blue is the story of passionate people healing across the divide – and the magic that can still be conjured, even in these partisan times, when we are willing to become one team with one fight.
The moving trailer can be seen below:
Blue Mind: Blue Marble: Our Water World
Dr. Nichols’ research and expeditions have taken him to coasts and waterways across North, Central, and South America, to Asia, Africa, Australia, and Europe where he continually finds that the emotional connection to waters of all kinds – rather than force or financial gain – is what keeps his colleagues and collaborators working hard to understand and restore our blue planet.
In each of his talks, Dr. Nichols makes sure that every member of the audience receives a blue marble. At the end of the Organixx podcast, he explained that if the interview had been in person, he would have given each of the interviewers a blue marble.
It is a way to remind people that we live on a big blue marble and that our own health is intimately connected with the health of the oceans, rivers, lakes, bays, creeks, streams – as well as our tap water on which we depend every day for cleaning, flushing, bathing, drinking, and cooking. Our daily lives are TOTALLY dependent on our access to clean water!
Dr. Nichols points out that the waters of the world not only support us physically, but are key to our emotional and mental health – to our Blue Mind.
Mount Sinai study finds CBD is effective at treating opioid addiction by reducing cravings and anxiety without harmful side effects
Cannabidiol (CBD) reduced cue-induced craving and anxiety in individuals with a history of heroin abuse, suggesting a potential role for it in helping to break the cycle of addiction, according to research conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published May 21 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
The study also revealed that CBD tended to reduce physiological measures of stress reactivity, such as increased heart rate and cortisol levels, that are induced by drug cues.
The wide availability and use of heroin and prescription opioid medications in the United States during the past decade has resulted in an unprecedented epidemic involving more than 300,000 deaths. Despite this staggering toll, limited non-opioid medication options have been developed. Two of the current options, methadone and buprenorphine, are opioid substitution therapies which work on the same opioid receptors (mu receptors) as heroin and other potent opioid agonists.
These medications, however, carry a stigma as well as their own addiction risk, are mired in tight governmental regulation, and therefore are underutilized by the millions of people diagnosed with opioid use disorder. Such a treatment gap highlights the urgent need to develop novel therapeutic strategies that do not target the mu opioid receptor.
“To address the critical need for new treatment options for the millions of people and families who are being devastated by this epidemic, we initiated a study to assess the potential of a non-intoxicating cannabinoid on craving and anxiety in heroin-addicted individuals,” says Yasmin Hurd, PhD, the Ward-Coleman Chair of Translational Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai and first author of the study. “The specific effects of CBD on cue-induced drug craving and anxiety are particularly important in the development of addiction therapeutics because environmental cues are one of the strongest triggers for relapse and continued drug use.”
Previous preclinical work conducted by Dr. Hurd and her lab team at Mount Sinai, in animals with a history of heroin self-administration, demonstrated that CBD reduced the animals’ tendency to use heroin in response to a drug-associated cue. To determine whether the preclinical work could be translated to humans, her lab then conducted a series of clinical studies that demonstrated CBD was safe and tolerable in humans.
The current study used a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled design to explore the acute (one hour, two hours, and 24 hours), short-term (three consecutive days), and protracted (seven days after the last of three consecutive daily administrations) effects of CBD administration on drug cue-induced craving and anxiety in drug-abstinent individuals with heroin use disorder. Secondary measures assessed participants’ positive and negative affect, cognition, and physiological status.
Through the study, 42 drug-abstinent men and women were randomly assigned to receive either 400 mg or 800 mg of an oral CBD solution or a matching placebo. Participants were then exposed to neutral and drug-related cues during the course of three sessions: immediately following administration, 24 hours after CBD or placebo administration, and seven days after the third and final daily CBD or placebo administration. Neutral cues consisted of a three-minute video showing relaxing scenarios, such as scenes of nature, while drug-related cues included a three-minute video showing intravenous or intranasal drug use and exposure to heroin-related paraphernalia like syringes, rubber ties, and packets of powder resembling heroin. Measures of opioid craving, anxiety, positive and negative affect, and vital signs (skin temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation) were obtained at different times during the sessions.
The study team found that CBD, in contrast to placebo, significantly reduced both the craving and anxiety induced by drug cues compared with neutral cues in the acute term. CBD also showed significant protracted effects on these measures seven days after the final short-term exposure. In addition, CBD reduced the drug cue-induced physiological measures of heart rate and salivary cortisol levels. There were no significant effects on cognition, and there were no serious adverse events. The capacity of CBD to reduce craving and anxiety one week after the final administration mirrors the results of the original preclinical animal study, suggesting that the effects of CBD are long-lasting, even when the cannabinoid would not be expected to be present in the body.
“Our findings indicate that CBD holds significant promise for treating individuals with heroin use disorder,” says Dr. Hurd. “A successful non-opioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll, enormous health care costs, and treatment limitations imposed by stringent government regulations amid this persistent opioid epidemic.”
Dr. Hurd’s research team is working on two follow-up studies: one delves into understanding the mechanisms of CBD’s effects on the brain; the second paves the way for the development of unique CBD medicinal formulations that are likely to become a significant part of the medical arsenal available to address the opioid epidemic.
Article published by Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.