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A new generation of research into psilocybin could change how we treat numerous mental health conditions

depression
© Scientific American
Roland Griffiths was trying to meditate - but he couldn't do it. If he sat there for a few minutes, it felt as through hours were stretching out before him, like a long, slow torture. So he quit. This tall, thin young scientist, who was rapidly rising through the ranks of academic psychology, would not meditate again for twenty years - but when he returned to mindfulness, he became part of unlocking something crucial. Professor Griffiths was going to make a breakthrough - just not for himself, but for all of us.

I came to Roland Griffiths' door towards the end of a 40,000-mile journey, from Sydney to Sao Paulo to San Francisco. I set out on this trek to interview the world's leading experts on what causes depression and anxiety, and what really solves them, because I had been downcast and acutely anxious for much of my life, and the solutions I had been offered up to then hadn't taken me very far.

Comment: The Health & Wellness Show: Don't try this at home: Illicit cures and black market medicine


Brain

Brain power and muscle power have much in common

woman flexing muscle
© Michaela Begsteiger / Global Look Press
Science has linked the benefit of physical exercise to brain health for many years. In fact, compelling evidence suggests physical exercise not only helps build cognitive power1 but also helps the brain resist shrinkage by promoting neurogenesis,2 i.e., the ability to adapt and grow new brain cells. Unfortunately, forgetfulness and "senior moments" are considered by many medical professionals to be a normal and anticipated part of aging.

I disagree. In fact, I believe if you've noticed memory lapses you may want to seriously consider making immediate lifestyle changes to help reverse or at least minimize further deterioration. Your brain is actually quite adaptable and has the capacity to repair and regenerate, the medical term for which is neuroplasticity. A recent study has found a strong correlation between grip strength and brain health.3

Comment: More tips on maintaining and even improving cognitive function:


Red Flag

Fentanyl: The hard-to-trace ingredient behind skyrocketing cocaine deaths

drugs
© Cliff Owen
A person with gloved hands holds a small plastic bag of white powder.
A DEA employee holds a bag of fentanyl seized during a drug raid.
Often laced into popular illicit drugs, synthetic opioids are killing more people than heroin or OxyContin.

In the United States, more people are dying because of synthetic drugs like fentanyl than because of heroin or prescribed painkillers. While, to many, the opioid crisis has been synonymous with heroin and prescription pills, a report published Tuesday in JAMA Psychiatry builds the case that the class of synthetic drug is increasingly making its way into other drugs like cocaine and leading to overdoses. From 2010 to 2016, more and more overdose deaths have been found to be caused, at least in part, by drugs like fentanyl.

In a way, this isn't exactly news. The same data the study used was reported on late last year with the shocking headlines that synthetic opioids like fentanyl have overtaken heroin as the source of opioid deaths. But, according to Wilson Compton, one of the new report's authors, his study zeroes in on a particularly insidious aspect of the drug: the increased risk it poses to people who seek out drugs like cocaine and Xanax and end up with fentanyl-laced products that could kill them in as fast as a few minutes. For example, in 2016, nearly a third of the people in the United States who were declared dead from overdosing on benzodiazepines-drugs like Xanax and valium-had also ingested fentanyl or something like it.

Take 2

Atrazine's dark secrets re-emerge in TEDx Talk by Dr. Tyrone Hayes

atrazine
Everything changed for Dr. Tyrone Hayes when in 1998, the largest chemical company in the world asked him to use his expertise to determine if the company's top-selling product interfered with the hormones of frogs.

The company: Syngenta. The product: weedkiller atrazine.

Hayes, an American biologist and professor of Integrative Biology at University of California, Berkeley, discussed in his nearly 16-minute TEDxBerkeley talk the results of exposing African clawed frogs in his lab to atrazine. He presented an image up on the big screen of frog testes, showing a considerable difference between the controlled and exposed groups.

Comment: Read more from Dr. Hayes and why his research on Atrazine has made him a target from the biotech giant Syngenta:


SOTT Logo Radio

The Health & Wellness Show: Don't try this at home: Illicit cures and black market medicine

ayahuasca
© Chris Kilham
The Banisteriopsis caapi, a vine found in the jungles of South America, and used to brew the psychedelic drink ayahuasca.
More and more, it seems, illegal drugs are being found to be quite helpful for their therapeutic potential to ease suffering and sometimes even cure disease. While made illegal for their potential for abuse, researchers are now more than ever exploring these forbidden drugs for their potential for great healing. Psychedelics like LSD and magic mushrooms for mental disorders or addiction, MDMA for PTSD, ketamine for suicidal states, kratom and ibogaine for opioid addiction, cannabis for a seemingly endless list of aliments - the list is extensive and growing.

Join us on this episode of the Health and Wellness Show where we discuss some of the recent research on the potential power of party drugs to heal. Could the tide be turning on some of these, perhaps unfairly stigmatized drugs?

NOTE: This discussion should not be taken as an endorsement to break the law!

And stay tuned for Zoya's Pet Health Segment where she discusses how animals experience pain.

Running Time: 01:26:37

Download: OGG, MP3


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Black Cat 2

Growing up with with exposure to pets, dust may boost mental health

cows in a field
Children raised in a rural environment, surrounded by animals and bacteria-laden dust, grow up to have more stress-resilient immune systems and might be at lower risk of mental illness than pet-free city dwellers, according to new research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The study, co-authored by researchers from the University of Ulm in Germany and CU Boulder, adds to mounting evidence supporting the "hygiene hypothesis," which posits that overly sterile environments can breed health problems.

The research also suggests that raising kids around pets might be good for mental health-for reasons people might not expect.

Comment:


Cell Phone

New study raises concerns over mobile phones as evidence reveals malignant brain tumors have doubled in last two decades

cell phone
© Illustration by Don Carroll
Fresh fears have been raised over the role of mobile phones in brain cancer after new evidence revealed rates of a malignant type of tumour have doubled in the last two decades.

Charities and scientists have called on the Government to heed longstanding warnings about the dangers of radiation after a fresh analysis revealed a more "alarming" trend in cancers than previously thought.

However, the new study, published in the Journal of Public Health and Environment, has stoked controversy among scientists, with some experts saying the disease could be caused by other factors.

The research team set out to investigate the rise of an aggressive and often fatal type of brain tumour known as Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM).

They analysed 79,241 malignant brain tumours over 21 years, finding that cases of GBM in England have increased from around 1,250 a year in 1995 to just under 3,000.

Comment: Numerous studies have shown links between mobile phone use and brain cancers, but as with this study the controversy exists chiefly because the cell phone industry has consistently worked to dismiss or obstruct any facts that would endanger their business.


Life Preserver

Finnish study suggests taking frequent saunas could significantly reduce risk of stroke

saunas
People in Finland who regularly take saunas may face a far lower stroke risk than those who go less often, said a study Wednesday.

The report in the journal Neurology is the first to assess the relationship between saunas and strokes, and was based on more than 1,600 people who were followed for an average of 15 years.

Those who spent time in the sauna four to seven days a week showed a 61 percent lower risk of having a stroke than people who went just once a week, it said.

A benefit was also apparent for those who took saunas two or three times a week, with a 14 percent lower stroke risk than those who took saunas once per week.

Researchers found the benefits persisted even after adjusting for other factors that could affect stroke risk, including exercise, high cholesterol, smoking and diabetes.

Comment: Saunas are also an excellent method of detoxification and have been shown to reduce stress, improve the immune system and assist in weight loss among many other benefits. Infrared saunas which use infrared light instead of conventional heat to bring up the body temperature can improve the health results achieved as they heat tissues several inches deep enhancing natural metabolic processes, circulation and oxygenation of tissues.


Yoda

Now the good news: Dark chocolate consumption reduces stress and inflammation while boosting mood, memory and immunity

dark chocolate
© LLU Health
Research shows there might be health benefits to eating certain types of dark chocolate.
New research shows there might be health benefits to eating certain types of dark chocolate. Findings from two studies being presented today at the Experimental Biology 2018 annual meeting in San Diego show that consuming dark chocolate that has a high concentration of cacao (minimally 70% cacao, 30% organic cane sugar) has positive effects on stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory and immunity. While it is well known that cacao is a major source of flavonoids, this is the first time the effect has been studied in human subjects to determine how it can support cognitive, endocrine and cardiovascular health.

Lee S. Berk, DrPH, associate dean of research affairs, School of Allied Health Professions and a researcher in psychoneuroimmunology and food science from Loma Linda University, served as principal investigator on both studies.

"For years, we have looked at the influence of dark chocolate on neurological functions from the standpoint of sugar content -- the more sugar, the happier we are," Berk said. "This is the first time that we have looked at the impact of large amounts of cacao in doses as small as a regular-sized chocolate bar in humans over short or long periods of time, and are encouraged by the findings. These studies show us that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity and other beneficial effects."

Comment: Well that is good news! Who doesn't feel better after having some dark chocolate? The effect is real - it's science!

See also:


Health

France on alert as disease-carrying tiger mosquito dangerously spreading across country

tiger mosquito

The tiger mosquito can be identified by its distinctive black-and-white stripes
The tiger mosquito has now been confirmed in 42 departments across the country, with an alert issued to warn of its danger as a carrier of disease, along with advice to prevent its spread.

The species has been described as particularly invasive, and a vector for serious diseases, including dengue fever and viral infections chikungunya, and zika.

This has made the insect a priority for authorities to monitor, especially during its imminent usual "active period" of May 1 to November 30.

Currently most of the south and middle of the country is affected, as well as southern Ile-de-France, and Corsica. Just six departments were recorded as affected in 2010.