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Ayahuasca: A New Approach to Western Medicine

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eyes Depression, anxiety, and addiction are among the most common illnesses that plague the western world today. It seems that every second person is either taking some form of anti-depressant or self-medicating themselves with alcohol or recreational drugs. This occurrence can be viewed in all age groups; the idea of escaping problems using the common vices previously mentioned. It seems as though our overall health and well-being are no longer in the interests of the health care system, when a person of any age can walk into a doctor’s office and attain a prescription to antidepressants. It’s time to take a step back to look inside ourselves to find out where these issues are coming from. Are any of these substances or so called medications serving us, or allowing us to find peace within ourselves? For centuries ancient cultures from around the world have taken the naturopathic approach to healing their ailments, and it’s this concept of utilizing nature that western society has moved away from that might be one of our biggest downfalls. Deep within the Amazonian jungles, a traditional plant based medicine called ayahuasca has been used throughout their culture’s history to cure any known illnesses. In recent years, this form of medicine has found its way to North American culture, and is gaining widespread attention from many medical professionals.

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peruSo what is ayahuasca? Traditionally, it is a tea or brew made from the combination of the vines and leaves of certain plants from the Amazonian jungle. This tea is brewed by what is described as a “shaman”. Shamans are considered the medicinal doctors of the native cultures in South America. These people are said to have the ability to communicate with the spirit world, and during an ayahuasca ceremony the shaman uses these abilities to help the participants through their journey with the plant medicine. It is unknown how long these ancient cultures have been using this alternative form of medicine. The first recorded usage of ayahuasca in western society was made in 1851 by a famous European scientist named Richard Spruce. Archaeological evidence suggests that native plant use dates back thousands of years.

Ayahuasca is considered a sacred practice by the natives of South America, and the tea is usually ingested in a group setting using a ceremonial approach. The ceremony is led by the Shaman, and the participants usually include people from all walks of life. Academic researchers have taken interest in this sacred practice in recent years, exploring the idea of using ayahuasca to treat depression, anxiety, or even drug addiction. These scientists are finding their way to the amazon to take part in these ceremonies to expand their own awareness of foreign medicine in hopes to take what they have learned back to America. National Geographic has written articles on the plant based medicine; even David Suzuki has explored the idea in his CBC program “The Nature of Things”. It is clear that the North American science community is beginning to realize that our current approach to therapy is no longer serving the masses.

ayahuasca-limpia

So you may be wondering what an ayahuasca experience entails? Usually a participant agrees to take part in an ayahuasca ceremony because there are either physical or emotional issues that need to be dealt with, or sometimes the intent behind participating can simply be to attain knowledge of self. These mental issues can vary from traumas such as abuse, depression in the teenage or adult years, drug and alcohol addictions, and so on and so forth. The participant is required to go on a strict diet, called a “dieta”, the week before their experience. This cleanse allows for the body to rid itself of dangerous toxins that may interfere with the effects of ayahuasca, and it also allows for the mind to be clear and ready for what the medicine will teach its user. Traditionally, the ceremony will take place within the amazon, although it is becoming common for trained shamans to travel to Canada or the United States, bringing the medicine to local communities for people who are not able to commute. The brew is usually taken after the Sun has set, and so the group of participants meet beforehand to introduce themselves to the rest of the party and to the shaman leading the ceremony. Once settled in, the ceremony commences as one by one each person drinks the amount of ayahuasca decided by the shaman that will be necessary for their healing journey. After the participant has drunk the ayahuasca, they return to their bed and begin their solitary meditation for the rest of the evening. Ayahuasca brings its user into an altered state of consciousness, which can seem frightening at first, however the shaman and other helpers are there to guide and aid people if they are going through a difficult experience. It’s through this altered state of consciousness that the ayahuasca users become aware of mental or emotional traumas that have been affecting them at a subconscious level, whether it is abuse, substance addiction or so on. It is said that when someone takes ayahuasca, the spirit of the plant manifests through the guide of the shaman, and it is this spirit who helps teach and heal the participants throughout the ceremony. The ayahuasca ceremony can bring up difficult experiences, and it is common that when someone is dealing with a difficult memory that in order to heal they will expel bad energies in the form of purging, crying, yawning, or even defecating. The more difficult experience a person goes through, the more they are healing and shedding themselves of the ghosts of their past. During the ceremony, the shaman may feel that someone needs personal attention, and can do one-on-one healing work with that person. In the tradition of the ayahuasca culture, the shamans will chant sacred hymns throughout the ceremony to guide the participants through their journey, which can last anywhere from 2-6 hours. After the effects of the plant medicine have worn off, the patient is usually exhausted and will need to sleep; it is in the following day and days to come that they will feel like a new person, having shed any unnecessary emotional and physical weight that they have been carrying. The participant carries with them a new level of awareness that has ultimately changed their life forever. It is said that the amount of healing one can gain through only a few nights of drinking ayahuasca is equivalent to the amount of healing one would receive from years of psychotherapy.

What has happened to North American culture that has made us think that we are separate from nature? What has caused us to think that synthetically created drugs or alcohol can solve our problems? These are important questions which must begin to be addressed during this time. Stats Canada states that 8 % of Canadian adults suffer from depression. The pharmaceutical industry brings in billions of dollars a year, and the alcohol industry is not far behind that number. Perhaps the indigenous cultures that recognize that we are a part of nature, and who understand that nature has the ability to restore our health and well-being, are more ahead of the game than we know. Western society is now beginning to explore the concept of alternative medicine and is starting to accept that the way in which we are dealing with illnesses are no longer serving the masses. With these new alternatives such as ayahuasca being utilized, perhaps we are on the brink of a new era of health empowerment and a new era of self-awareness like never seen before.

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*Most of the ceremonial information from this article comes from my own experiences with ayahuasca.

References:

1.)    http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/cd-mc/mi-mm/depression-eng.php

2.)    http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/lsg-pdsv.nsf/eng/h_hn01703.html

3.)    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02860772?LI=true

4.)    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0163725804000464

 

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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Boy or Girl – Baby Gender Selection Issues

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Some parents have the possibility to opt for gender selection; however, being able to decide whether to have a baby boy or girl is a controversial issue.

Many couples expecting a baby do not think it’s a big issue whether they have a boy or a girl; however there are several medical, social, and personal reasons that could influence parents to recur to some form of gender selection.

Like many other controversial practices, the legality of gender selection, also known as sex selection, varies from country to country.

The Legality of Baby Gender Selection

The United States has perhaps some of the most relaxed laws regarding baby gender selection in the world. Most European countries and Australia, on the other hand, have bans on sex selection and only allow it for medical reasons. For example, if a parent is a carrier of a mutation or gene with more chances of manifesting itself in a certain gender, baby gender selection is valid. However, if parents simply wish to balance the ratio of boys and girls in their family, they are not allowed to recur to sex selection.

This has generated a form of medical tourism in which couples from countries where gender selection is illegal, like the UK, travel to the US in order to be able to choose whether to have a baby boy or girl.

On the other hand, sex selection is illegal in the two most populated countries on Earth, China and India. In these countries, baby gender selection has been performed clandestinely for many years and for reasons other than family balancing or avoiding genetic diseases. In these societies, having a baby boy is preferred mainly for cultural and economic reasons. Parents believe that boys have better chances of earning income and eventually support them when they reach an old age.

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Methods of Baby Gender Selection

There are two major types of gender selection methods: the first one is called sperm sorting, and involves separating X-chromosome sperm from Y-chromosome sperm by flow cytometry, a purification technique in which chromosomes are suspended in a stream of sperm and identified by an electronic detector before being separated. Intra-uterine insemination or in-vitro fertilization can then be performed with the enriched sperm. The success rates for this method vary from 80% to 93%.

The other method, called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, consists in generating several embryos through in-vitro fertilization, which are then genetically tested to determine a baby’s gender. The chosen embryos can then be implanted. This method has a success rate of almost 100%; however, it can be quite expensive, costing up to $15,000.

Issues Regarding Baby Gender Selection

While there are few objections against baby gender selection when it is performed for medical reasons, it has become a highly controversial issue when it is used for balancing the number of boys or girls in families. Some people raise the obvious ethical question of whether people who opt for gender selection are “playing God” by manipulating whether to have a baby boy or girl. Others believe that new parents will raise a baby more appropriately if he or she belongs to their preferred gender.

Gender Imbalance Caused by Baby Gender Selection

Gender selection has caused demographic concern in China and India since it has contributed to generate a gender imbalance in the populations of those countries. In some regions of China, for example, the sex ratio for newborns is 118:100, boys to girls. This phenomenon has in turn been associated with social problems such as an increase in violence and prostitution.

It seems like a logical solution for governments around the globe to legalize baby gender selection but to analyze the personal reasons why each couple intends to select a baby boy or girl. Gender selection for medical reasons should even be encouraged, since it could prevent serious genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, and Haemophilia A. Balancing the gender ratio of a family should be accepted if by doing this, a healthy family environment is created. On the other hand, China and India have shown that baby gender selection as a result of a bias towards a particular gender can not only create a gender imbalance in the population, but contribute to social problems as well.

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We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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Organic Certification: What the USDA Organic Label Means

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Organic and natural labels mean different things, and various types of labels tells you what percentage of ingredients are actually organic. We'll explore what to look for.

  • Reflect On:

    Do you sometimes buy products thinking they are organic or fully natural based on their wording? Have you later found out that those products aren't natural or organic at all? Read labels more closely at grocery stores to be aware.

Don’t get conned by fraudulent claims of “natural” or “organic.” Learn what to look for, and why it’s important, to ensure you’re getting the quality you are paying for.

The industrial age of the 20th century brought about changing agricultural practices that have generated increasing alarm about the effects of these practices on the environment and health. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, irradiated and genetically altered food and fiber products has created a groundswell of rightful concern. It has led to the growing demand for non-toxic, organic products that many are willing to pay a higher price for to ensure the healthful purity of food and clothing provided for their families.

With such profit opportunities, it’s little wonder that the lucrative organic product market has suffered abuse with so-called “organic” labels being fraudulently placed on products that have not earned the right. As a result of pressure from farming and consumer groups, legislation for the standardization of organic certification was introduced in the 1980s. It has been updated to include more vigorous enforcement and control methods since, with the current standards established in 2002 by the USDA.

The Standards of USDA Organic Certification

Specific standards must be met in order to legally claim a product as USDA certified organic. Organic producers must utilize methods that conserve water, maximize soil health, and reduce air pollution. The specific standards to earn USDA organic certification include:

Free of synthetic chemicals such as insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, and additives

Free from irradiation and genetically modified organisms

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Agricultural products grown on land that has been free of prohibited substances for a period of three years

Animals used for meat, eggs, milk or other animal products must be exclusively fed foods that are organically grown, may not be given antibiotics or hormones, and must have access to outdoors.

Clean and sanitized harvesting and processing equipment throughout the process from harvest to finished, packaged product

Detailed chain-of-handling records from the field through final sales

Physical separation of certified organic products from non-organic products throughout the process of production

Regular on-site inspections from USDA-approved inspectors to ensure compliance

Understanding the Certified Organic Label

Once the rigorous process of certification has been completed, organic producers may place the USDA certified organic seal on their products. Currently, there are four levels of certified organic products, with a specific definition of the percentage of organic ingredients the final products contains. They are as follows:

• 100% organic: all production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic.

• Organic: at least 95% of the production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• Made With Organic Ingredients: at least 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• No organic wording or seal: less than 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic and no claims may be made on the front or back of the product.

Manufacturers or producers who knowingly label a product “organic” when it does not meet the USDA standards are subject to fines up to $11,000 per violation.

Why Organic Certification is Important

When you see the official USDA organic certification seal on food, clothing, and bedding products, you can be assured that these products have met the meticulous standards required and are free of chemicals, toxins, antibiotics, and hormones. When you see the USDA certified organic label, you will understand the value of the higher priced organic products as compared to non-organically produced products.

With the current stringent organic certification requirements enforced by regular inspections from USDA accredited agents, the USDA certified organic label has great meaning and importance to the consumer. Look for the label to know that you are getting the quality you are paying for.

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We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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WHO Finds Global Lack Of Inactivity Rising Especially In Wealthier Countries — What You Can Do

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Inactivity is on the rise and it's the cause of a wide range of health concerns. Our population is only becoming more inactive, not less, and it's time to change that.

  • Reflect On:

    There are many factors of our modern world that make us less active. Our jobs, driving rather than walking/biking, too much screen time. What can you do differently to bring more activity into your life? What story stops you from starting?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than a quarter of the entire population on this planet are not getting enough physical exercise, this number has barely improved since 2001. There are many factors that contribute to this, but just how much damage are we doing by failing to be active?

The lack of physical exercise raises the risk of many health problems, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and various types of cancers.

Interestingly, according to their study published in The Lancet Global Health, higher income countries, such as the UK, were among the least active population. Women were also found to be more sedentary throughout the world, excluding two regions in Asia.

The study looked at self-reported data on activity levels from 358 population based surveys covering 168 countries and included 1.9 million people.

The populations of higher income countries, which include the UK and USA showed an increase in the proportion of inactive people and had actually risen from 32% in 2001 to 37% in 2016, in the lower income countries it remained at 16%.

Those who were classified as inactive did less than 150 minutes of moderate exercise and around 75 minutes of intense activity per week.

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It was found that women were less active than men overall, except for in South and Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and higher-income Western countries. The authors believe that this was caused by a few different factors including extra childcare duties and cultural perspectives that may have made it more difficult for them to exercise.

Why More Inactivity In Wealthier Countries?

According to the researchers, in the wealthier countries, many of the jobs have transitioned to more office or desk jobs, meaning a more sedentary type of lifestyle. On top of that much of the population of these countries drive automobiles or take public transit to and from work which in many cases accounts for a lot of their time.

In the lower income countries, many of the jobs require the people to be more active, are physically demanding and people often have to walk to and from their jobs.

The WHO has had a goal to reduce the global levels of inactivity by 10% by 2025, the authors of the study feel that at the rate we are currently going, this target will be missed.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Regina Guthold said, “Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not falling worldwide, on average, and over a quarter of all adults are not reaching the recommended levels of physical activity for good health.”

Regions with increasing levels of insufficient physical activity are a major concern for public health and the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.”

Co-author, Dr. Fiona Bull added, “Addressing these inequalities in physical activity levels between men and women will be critical to achieving global activity targets and will require interventions to promote and improve women’s access to opportunities that are safe, affordable and culturally acceptable.”

According to the WHO,

Exercise guidelines for 19- to 64-year-olds

How much?

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles
  • break up long periods of sitting with light activity

What is moderate aerobic activity?

  • Walking fast, water aerobics, riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills, doubles tennis, pushing a lawn mower, hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading, volleyball, basketball

What counts as vigorous activity?

  • Jogging or running, swimming fast, riding a bike fast or on hills, singles tennis, football, rugby, skipping rope, hockey, aerobics, gymnastics, martial arts

What activities strengthen muscles?

  • lifting weights, working with resistance bands, doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups, heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling, yoga

What activities are both aerobic and muscle-strengthening?

  • circuit training, aerobics, running, football, rugby, netball, hockey

Final Thoughts

I was surprised to see that the WHO didn’t touch on inactivity due to too much screen time — watching television, Netflix, Facebook scrolling, messaging, texting, browsing etc. Certainly, the increase in screen time plays a roll with the amount of inactivity, especially in the higher income countries. If you are someone who spends too much time staring at a screen, then it is important to consider the above information. Can you limit your screen time and replace it with something active? Or would you consider jumping rope, or rebounding while watching the television? Our health is our greatest wealth and having awareness about an issue is the first way to create change and take responsibility for our lives.

Could you walk or bike to work instead of drive? What about trying a new sport? Could you commit to adding a few hours each week of physical activity? These small decisions could have a profound impact on your health, longevity and overall well-being.

Much Love

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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