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The Complete Explanation & Solution To PMS, Reproductive & Stomach Disorders, Depression & More

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Have you ever wondered why PMS is so common among women today? What about why it so often comes with additional symptoms and disorders like PCOS, endometriosis, IBS, ovarian cysts and depression? There is a very simple truth behind these complicated and often debilitating issues: the liver. Stagnation and lack of proper energy flow in the liver is at the root of almost all reproductive, gastrointestinal, and even emotional conditions. And thanks to Traditional Chinese Medicine, we can all be on the road to healing.

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Why are we in pain if it’s a natural part of life?

PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) is just what the name implies – a syndrome. It’s a disorder, meaning out of order/out of the ordinary. So why does everyone seem to have at least some of the symptoms? Our bodies were created to perfection; we literally have the power to regenerate and heal ourselves. There are no mistakes here. We wouldn’t have a period in the first place if it was meant to hurt us. After all, periods are the reason women live longer than men! We lose old, stagnant blood every month so that our incredible bodies can replace it with fresh, clean blood to nourish our organs. It’s a time of renewal where we’re connected to the feminine energy of the moon, where we shed what we no longer need and start fresh. In fact, we actually menstruate according to nature and the moon – some women cycle with the new moon, and others with the full. There are no coincidences!

We shouldn’t have to suffer through this time of regeneration, and the truth is that we never have to again. Every symptom that your body produces is a signal. Every ache and pain is a trail of clues that leads you to a root cause if you figure out how to follow the patterns. Symptoms are not meant to be muffled with pain relievers and Midol. Symptoms are meant to be observed and thanked, because your body is telling you exactly what you need to do in order to get well.

Following the Symptom Trail

Chinese Medicine offers such amazing explanations for illness because it does exactly what I mentioned: it uses your symptoms as clues to a bigger issue. Let’s think about PMS. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? The emotional roller coaster, of course! Women can often tell when we’re about to get our periods because we get moody and unpredictable.

Emotions = The Liver

Whether it’s depression, anxiety, sadness, PMS, PMDD, or even bipolar disorder, it’s related to the liver in TCM. The liver is the seat of emotion, especially irritability and anger.

5PhasesEmotionalStates

source: www.ayacupuncture.com

When the liver is healthy, the liver meridian naturally balances your mental state and releases suppressed emotions via your flow of Qi/energy (also known as life force). The fact that depression, frustration, irritability and anger are major symptoms of PMS leaves us the clue that disharmony in the liver is to blame.

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Let’s look at the other symptoms that come with difficult periods:

– Cravings, particularly for sweets/carbs/salt
– Water retention
– Fatigue
– Diarrhea/Constipation
– Abdominal bloating
– Breast swelling + tenderness
– Headaches
– Insomnia
– Sore throat
– Nausea
– Menstrual irregularity
– Painful menstruation

Each and every one of these symptoms can be explained by Chinese medicine, and will be traced back to the liver below.

The Liver & The Flow of Qi

Qi is the ‘prana,’ energy, or ‘life force’ that flows through our organs each day and keeps us alive. When the Qi is free flowing, we have a healthy body with no issues. When it’s not free flowing, we have a problem. This means that whenever there is an issue, no matter what it is, the Qi is somehow blocked and there is an underlying imbalance in one of your organs/meridians.

The basic energetic imbalance that causes PMS and reproductive/emotional disorders is Liver Qi Stagnation. In Chinese medicine, the liver is responsible for “spreading the Qi” throughout the body and maintaining its smooth and unobstructed flow. This implies that the right energy arrives at the right place at the right time.

source: www.comfytummy.com

source: www.comfytummy.com

The chart displayed above depicts the “Chinese Body Clock.” At 2 hour intervals all day and night, our Qi moves into different organs of the body to do its active or repair work. This cyclic, uninterrupted flow of Qi through every organ at the right time represents the Western view of the endocrine system and the rise and fall of hormones in the body. We secrete different hormones at different parts of the day for very specific reasons.

Anything that harms the liver obstructs the flow of Qi (since I mentioned that the liver is solely responsible for “spreading the Qi.”) Because Qi mirrors the Western concept of the endocrine system, this can be translated as: anything that harms the liver obstructs the flow of hormones. This makes perfect sense since, after all, hormones are indeed metabolized by the liver! And of course, all the issues we’re talking about here (cramps, PCOS, cysts, etc.) have an underlying hormone imbalance and relate to the reproductive system.

Here’s how it works:

The liver’s job is to spread the Qi…
↓↓
so if there is congestion in the liver,
↓↓
there is congestion of Qi.
↓↓
The Qi’s job is to move the blood,
↓↓
so when the Qi becomes stagnant, the blood also stagnates.
↓↓
Over time, congested or ‘stuck’ blood will do exactly as it sounds: clot and stick in places it shouldn’t. This leads to ovarian cysts, fibroids, endometriosis, myomas, and painful menstrual periods because the body is cramping up to expel your period. There is a lack of Qi to assist in moving the blood out. In such cases, the menstrual discharge is often dark or clotty.

The Chong Mai, or “Thrusting Channel,” is an energy pathway that runs up the core of our body. It is also known as the “Sea of Blood.” When there is Liver Qi Stagnation, and thus stagnation in the lower abdomen, the Thrusting Channel is affected (which you can tell from the photo is where your menstrual flow would exit).

source: www.kundaliniawakeningprocess.com

source: www.kundaliniawakeningprocess.com

Symptoms in the Chest and Throat

The second area of the body that can manifest symptoms of Liver Qi Stagnation is the chest. This explains the chest symptoms we see with PMS: breast swelling, pain and tenderness.

Fullness and stagnation in the liver will thrust up past the chest and then manifest in the throat. This can lead to hypertrophy of the thyroid gland and goiter, along with all types of thyroid imbalance – something else that’s common in those with PMS, cysts and the like.

Symptoms in the Stomach or “Spleen”

In TCM, the “Spleen” stands for the entire process of digestion. Just of the “spleen” as the stomach. Energetically, Liver Qi Stagnation is a fullness of stuck energy in the liver. And unfortunately, this fullness gets vented onto the spleen. In this case, the liver invades the spleen, or as it’s known in Chinese medicine, the liver “attacks” the stomach.

source: www.organicolivia.com

As shown above, the liver is the organ that can directly “attack” stomach. The root of IBS and gastrointestinal pain is actually the liver’s attack, because it’s ‘overcharged’ with heat due to being stagnant and full. This is why you shouldn’t eat while watching TV: Your eyes are connected to your liver. When you’re eating, you’re supposed to be focused on the food so that your spleen is charged and focused on digesting. If you are using your eyes to watch TV, you are charging your liver while your stomach is in motion. This gives your riled up liver a chance to attack!

This liver fullness makes the spleen empty. An energetically weak or ’empty’ spleen explains the symptoms of diarrhea and constipation that come with IBS, gastrointestinal disorders and PMS.

Craving for Sweets

Since the flavour that “tonifies” (or strengthens) the spleen is sweet, people with Spleen Emptiness due to Liver Qi Stagnation will crave sweets. Unfortunately, too many or too concentrated sweets will only further weaken the spleen. Avoid candy and high sugar fruits due to their concentration of sweetness, and stick to warming/mildly sweet foods like sweet potato, sweet rice, pumpkin and squash.

Water Retention

The Spleen is also in charge of transforming and transporting water in the body. If the spleen is empty, there will be water retention and bloating.

Emotions + Depression

The first thing I talked about was how depression, frustration and irritability come with PMS and Liver Qi Stagnation. However, Liver Qi Stagnation is responsible for any emotional troubles that come with or without PMS! The liver stores the “Hun.” In TCM, the Hun represents the psyche. When the liver becomes congested (and therefore stagnant with heat) the Hun becomes agitated due to the abundance of heat with no way to disperse it. Heat and stagnation in the liver are at the root of all emotional problems, including anger and depression.

source: www.fredhatt.com

source: www.fredhatt.com

If this stagnant heat ‘wafts’ up to disturb the heart, it causes restlessness and anxiety.

Cold in the Uterus

Yang deficiency (a deficiency of heat) in the uterus is another huge contributor to the stagnation of blood and Qi. Over-eating raw fruits and vegetables, iced or frozen foods and drinks, and drinking too many cold juices, are all contemporary Western causes for blood vacuity. This can cause blood stasis in the uterus due to cold invading the womb and be harmful to healthy menstruation if they are eaten just before or at the onset of menstruation (when they are often craved). Opt for lightly cooked vegetables, roots like sweet potato and hearty soups or stews.

Parasites

Many people think that because we live in a first world country, we’re immune to parasites. This is quite the contrary and I urge you to look at the work Kerri Rivera and Dr. Kalcker are doing for children with autism. Through a parasite protocol, diet changes, hyperbaric chambers and so much more they have been able to successfully recover 162 children of autism. These children pass huge parasitic worms – and lots of them. One child (the before and after photos can be seen in Kerri’s lecture video) had 5 jars worth of worms by the time he was recovered. Once I started parasite cleansing I was shocked at the sheer number of liver flukes I passed. Have you ever seen ‘tomato skins’ or ‘carrot pieces’ in your stool even though you hadn’t eaten tomatoes or carrots that day? Those are liver flukes. They plug up the pores in our liver and excrete waste into our blood, making it extremely hard for our Qi and blood to flow and clean itself normally. It’s important to parasite cleanse bi-annually and eat a diet so healthy that your immune system kicks the bugs out!

So how do we get Liver Qi Stagnation in the first place?

1. Stress and Emotional Burden – Most, if not all women with PMS have more than an average amount of emotional stress in their lives stretching back at least to puberty. Stress = frustration and anger, and the burden we face just keeps building. Our world is faster than ever and it’s impossible to keep up.

2. Environmental Stress – Our lives are incredibly stressful on an emotional level, but there’s an environmental and energetic war being fought as well. Our entire lifestyle generates more stress than the human organism is capable of withstanding. Background noise from our computers that are constantly on, background music everywhere we go, blaring televisions, EMF radiation from our phones that are constantly on our bodies, driving in cars, pollution, denatured processed food, politics, and more. The media constantly projects fear on us to keep us controlled whether it’s Ebola, measles, shootings, or terrorism. We’re bombarded with advertisements that tell us we’re not good enough and need to rush out to buy a product or service to make us acceptable to society.

3. Birth Control Pills – Birth control pills add hormones that are out of phase with the body’s normal periodicity. These synthetic hormones adversely affect the Liver’s spreading function and thus the energy of the entire body. This is why birth control pills are implicated in high incidences of pelvic and breast tumors, which according to TCM always begin as Liver Qi Stagnation.

4. Poor Diet – You know the deal. We are a Liver Stagnation Nation because of the the food we eat as a culture. There has never been a better time or reason to ditch the junk and put whole foods into your body.

5. Poor Sleeping Patterns – Look at the Chinese body clock! You are not supposed to be up past 9 or 10 pm. This is so important. You will never be healthy if you are staying up until midnight or 1 AM every night, even if you’re sleeping late the next day. After 11pm we enter gall bladder and liver time, and being awake or active during these hours directly causes Liver Qi Stagnation.

6. Lack of Exercise – We need to go on more hikes to move the blood and Qi and breathe the fresh air. Do more yoga and move that lymph.

How to Treat Liver Stagnation and All That Comes With it:

DON’T LIST:

Coffee, black tea, energy drinks, soda with caffeine.

Thick, creamy, or cheesy sauces.

Alcohol. Don’t do it! It’s too yang and charges up your liver causing the Qi to ascend, just like anger. Actually, that’s why alcohol can make people angry and violent.

Excessive sugar.

Fried and oily food.

Heavy, complicated, or oversized meals.

Late dinner and eating before bed.

Inactive lifestyle.

Repressing your feelings. Journal it out. Writing literally brings emotional and physical healing.

– Excessive work and stress. Turn off the electronics!! In the last decade, electronics have taken over our lives in a whole new way. Constantly checking our smartphones creates agitation in our livers.

– Ice cream, chilled foods and icy drinks. Cold = stagnation.

DO LIST:

Eat real food! The best for liver Qi stagnation include:

Screen-Shot-2015-02-14-at-3.46.05-PM

– Exercise! When we sit, the Blood in our arms and legs returns to the liver for storage. This pooling of blood in the liver tends to aggravate the liver Qi stagnation. Exercise pumps this blood out of the liver and along with it, some of the stuck Qi.

Spend time relaxing with activities or people you like.

Breathe.  One of the reasons why exercise is so helpful for Liver Qi stagnation is that you have to breathe harder and you get more oxygen into the body. Deep breathing is essential. Try lying in bed and breathing deeply 10 times before you fall asleep each night.  At work, set an alarm at your desk to stop every 30 minutes and take 5 deep breaths. Or better yet, step outside and get 5 deep breathes of fresh air.

– Use your liver acupuncture/acupressure points.

source: www.blog.daum.net

source: www.blog.daum.net

Press these points off and on all throughout your day. You can use them when you wake up in the morning and especially whenever you are stressed or angry. Pressing on these points can also provide relief of menstrual cramps in the moment.

– Deep relaxation and meditation. What will get at the root of the full/stagnated liver Qi is deep relaxation. There is nothing that will do for your liver what meditation will do, if it’s done the right way. It must include the entire body: muscular relaxation – not just cerebral relaxation. It also must result in the center of consciousness coming out of the head as found in deep meditation. It then must be done for a minimum of twenty minutes per day, but does not need to be done more than thirty minutes. And finally, it must be done every single day without missing a day for at least 3 months or 100 days.

Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine: Xiao Yao Wan. Xiao Yao Wan is the most amazing formula for Liver Qi Stagnation. The herbs in this formula disperse stagnant energy in the liver, regulating the secretion of hormones, especially estrogen dominance, which is so common due to pesticides, petrochemicals and xenoestrogens in items such as plastic. Preliminary research suggests that xiao yao wan may have antidepressant-like effects. In a study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2013, for example, tests on rats revealed that xiao yao wan may help fight depression by protecting against stress-related changes in biochemistry. It has been traditionally prescribed for anxiety, depression, headaches, menstrual pain, premenstrual syndrome, pain alleviation, and mood improvement. It is also used to stimulate the digestive system and treat digestion-related health troubles. The important thing is that it treats the root cause: stagnation in the liver!

References

1) PMS: Its Cause, Diagnosis & Treatment According to Traditional Chinese Medicine by Bob Flaws. Blue Poppy Press

2) Gao XX, et al. “An investigation of the antidepressant action of xiaoyaosan in rats using ultra performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry combined with metabonomics.” Phytother Res. 2013 Jul;27(7):1074-85.

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Awareness

How To Clear Seriously Blocked Sinuses Naturally In 1 Minute

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Three simple steps you can take to clear blocked sinuses that seem to work for many people.

  • Reflect On:

    Are you healthy? What natural things do you do when "flu season" comes around to give your immune system a boost?

Having clogged sinuses isn’t fun. You can’t breath, you can’t smell, your head hurts, and your voice sounds funny. Finding relief when you have clogged sinuses is usually like finding a million dollars on the ground — it’s amazing!

The causes for nasal congestion can range greatly, and you don’t have to be sick to be congested. Many people will experience congestion from allergies, temperatures, dust, smoking, spicy food, and air particles.

Recently I was at Contact in the Desert in California and I found myself having clogged sinuses from the blowing sand and dry air. Within two days, I couldn’t breathe at all out of one side of my nose and my sinuses got blocked up, causing my face and head to hurt. I needed a solution.

After trying to blow my nose over and over again, I turned to the internet for relief. Sure enough, Google came through.

I found a video by Dr. Adam that quickly and easily explained how to clear sinuses in about one minute using just your fingers — and no, they don’t have to go in your nose. Sure enough, I had relief from the pain the blockage was causing, and I could breathe!

Some might be wondering why I didn’t take sinus or cold medication to get relief. The answer is simple: I don’t like taking medication for anything unless I absolutely have to. I know many of you are on the same page and like to do things naturally. Many cold medications just mask symptoms and come with negative side effects that are worth avoiding if possible.

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How to Clear Your Sinuses Fast!

You simply need to sit down and get your hands ready for the following steps. The video below offers a visual demonstration, so I recommend checking that out too.

1. While sitting with your head and body on about a 45 degree angle, turn your head sideways and rub your sternocleidomastoid muscle downward four or five times. You can find the muscle right beneath your ear running down your neck to your collarbone. See image. Do this on both sides of your neck to help relax your neck.

2. Take your index fingers, locate the hard, bony part of the upper sides of your nose, and move downward toward the soft part on the side of your nose where the bone ends. Begin massaging this area in a circular motion with as much pressure as you can for about 20 seconds. Once completed, rub the muscles from the side of your nose down and toward your cheekbones to relax them.

3. Take your index fingers and run them under the inside orbit bone above your eyes until you find a notch in the bone called the super orbital notch. It is usually just above the centre of the eye. Massage that notch in a circular motion with as much pressure as you can handle for about 20 seconds. Once done, massage your forward with both hands starting in the centre of your forehead and pulling outwards towards your temples.

That’s it! Once you have gone through this process you should notice a lot of relief in your sinuses and should be able to blow your nose quite easily. You may have to repeat this process again, but play with it and see what works for you.

Below is a video from Dr. Adam explaining the entire process. I have also included another helpful method that worked well for me as well.

Alternative Method

This method is simpler but may not be as effective for everyone. As always, do what works best for you.

1. Push your tongue flat into the roof of your mouth, with decent pressure, for one second.

2. Then, take your thumb and press the area right between your eyebrows above your nose for one second.

3. Alternate between steps one and two over and over again for about 20-30 seconds. Note: You are not pressing the points at the same time, simply alternating between them.

Repeat this process as necessary to help clear your sinuses.

Prevention

If you’ve had blocked sinuses, you probably don’t want it to happen often, so prevention is the key! Here are a few ways you can avoid blocked sinuses.

Eat a well-balanced diet – Eating healthy foods promotes good health. What you put into your body to digest is what determines your health. If you want your immune system working well, take care with quality food and keep your gut performing well.

Get regular exercise – Regular exercise also helps improve overall health and the immune system.

Quit smoking – It goes without saying, but cigarettes are not good for us and the smoke can irritate sinuses.

Use a humidifier – If you find your house dry, use a humidifier to help dampen the air. You can also hop in a warm shower and breathe in the steam. It’s best to use a chlorine filter on your shower head so you aren’t breathing in toxic chemicals from chlorine.

Cut out antibiotics – Antibiotics don’t do anything for viral infections, which is usually why people get clogged sinuses when they are sick. Antibiotics wreak havoc on your health. Only take them when they are absolutely necessary!

Keep a clean home – Dust and poor air quality can also cause blocked sinuses. Vacuum and wipe down surfaces of your home regularly. Decrease clutter and areas where dust can collect and stay.

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Alternative News

Cannabis Might Reverse Heart Failure, University of Hawaii Study Finds

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    New research is showing that TRPV1, a cannabinoid receptor found abundantly in the heart may be key in slowing down and potentially even reversing heart failure.

  • Reflect On:

    With so many medical applications and the potential to treat and even cure a wide variety of diseases, why has there been such a lack of research, funding and clinical trials when it comes to medical marijuana?

Cannabis could potentially slow and even reverse heart failure via TRPV1, a cannabinoid receptor. This is according to research led by a team at the University of Hawaiʻi John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM).  Alexander Stokes, a JABSOM assistant professor in cell and molecular biology, said “the potential medical benefits of using cannabis-based therapies for the treatment of heart disease are promising.”

TRPV1 is showing long-term effective reversal of heart failure when the substance is administered orally. The key here is orally, this doesn’t mean that you can smoke cannabis and it will be good for your heart, in fact, it may very well have a negative effect if you do that. “TRPV1 has primarily been studied as a pain receptor,” said Stokes. “The receptors are abundant in the heart, and we are excited to show that if we inhibit its function with oral doses of drugs, we can reverse some effects of heart failure.”

The findings were published in the journal Channels.

A Big Topic Right Now

The topic of medical marijuana is a big one right now, especially in Canada where it was recently legalized. For years, there’s been a negative stigma attached to the substance, and when one dives deep into the subject it’s quite easy to see why. Cannabis, often called marijuana, has potential to treat and possibly even cure a wide range of diseases, but because of prohibition, the studies examining the medicinal aspects of the herb have been very limited. This is very unfortunate, for a number of reasons, and also very suspicious.

If we look at cancer, for example, multiple studies have clearly shown its potential to completely destroy cancer cells, many in vitro studies have clearly demonstrated this potential, without question. They’re not hard to find and have been published in abundance. Here is a video of Dr. Christina Sanchez, a molecular biologist at Compultense University in Madrid, Spain, explaining how THC (the main psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant) can completely kill cancer cells. THC is simply one constituent of cannabis. It has been shown to be effective for multiple diseases as well, while other diseases are better treated with CBD, another constituent within cannabis. This begs the question, why have there been no, or at least so few, clinical trials set up as a result?

This hasn’t stopped people taking matters into their own hands though. There are numerous examples all over the internet of people claiming that cannabis oil, for example, cured their cancer. But from a scientific perspective this isn’t evidence, it’s simply anecdotal and as a result of a lack of research we cannot officially say cannabis kills cancer. We can only say that it has tremendous potential and that a lot more research is needed.

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Pharma vs Cannabis

When a pharmaceutical drug shows even less than half of the potential that marijuana has shown, clinical trials are set up right away. Just imagine if the same resources that are poured into conventional cancer treatments were given to medical marijuana’s potential to treat cancer, among a wide range of other diseases. If that were to happen, we would know much more. But the lack of research continues. Is it because if scientists were to discover what strain, method of delivery and all of the other factors that require more research that are needed to treat disease, cannabis could become an effective treatment for cancer? What would happen to conventional treatments? Would people have to pay for their treatment if it was disclosed how to, for example, make cannabis oil in the right way for a specific cancer? Maybe this has something to do with it?

Big pharma would lose billions. It’s definitely something to think about.

What’s happening right now with the legalization of marijuana is that components of it are allowed to be studied. It seems that drugs will be developed to synthesize certain components of the plant, and the drugs themselves can then be patented. This is how big pharma will ultimately make money off of medical marijuana.

The Challenge With Government Control Of Cannabis

It’s great to see people with Parkinson’s, Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Epilepsy, cancer and more have tremendous success with medical marijuana. What’s unfortunate is that mainstream medical marijuana will be in the hands of big pharma, it already is. We will not know how it’s grown, how it’s been manipulated, and what’s been changed. It’s simply being used for profit, because at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about in our current infrastructure. We have a sick care industry, not a health care industry.

A free, open and caring society, a health care industry that truly cares about health could use multiple natural substances to completely wipe out the need for any pharmaceutical drug. There are massive amounts of foods, herbs and plants that, if studied in full, could completely eliminate our dependence on the corporation.

“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.”

– Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), Harvard professor of medicine and former Editor-in-Chief of The New England Medical Journal  (source)

Important Thoughts To Consider About Cannabis

The other side of the coin is that heavy cannabis use, although not lethal, can be dangerous and potentially damaging to young brains that are not fully developed, and perhaps to those who use it on a regular basis in ways we do not yet understand.

It’s not as harmful as alcohol abuse or smoking cigarettes, but there is still a lot that we don’t know. Legalization in Canada at least have led to the idea that it’s completely safe and beneficial for everybody. This is also, most likely, not true.  We need to get past the idea that it’s something healthy for everybody, and even healthy to smoke cannabis on a regular basis. But when it comes to the medicinal aspects of cannabis, for several diseases, there is a very serious discussion to be had here as it’s again, already helping many people around the world with their cancer, with their epilepsy, etc.

With many people losing trust in the medical industry, it’s easy to see why they are turning to growing their own cannabis, testing doses, and methods of delivery, etc. For some, it’s a shot in the dark but worth a try.

We are not advocating that it’s healthy to use cannabis recreationally and that it will not have any negative effects, we are simply stating that it’s a head scratcher how such a potent medical plant that clearly has multiple medical applications has been ignored and prohibited from research and professionally treating many diseases with it.

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Awareness

America’s Fifty-Fold Increase in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – What’s Going On?

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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), considered a neurobiological condition, is an often “long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions), and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.” Although the specific obsessions and compulsions vary widely from person to person, the common denominator is that they “create stress and interfere with daily life.”

U.S. researchers estimate that OCD affects 1%-2% of children and up to 3% of adolescents and adults. The current lifetime prevalence estimate of around 2.7% is 54 times higher than the estimated pre-1980s prevalence (for the U.S. population as a whole) of around 0.05% (1 in 2000). In a retrospective hospital-based study that looked at OCD prevalence over time, researchers who examined psychiatric discharge diagnoses from 1969 to 1990 reported that something changed in the 1980s, with a marked increase in the frequency of OCD diagnoses over the decade.

Reflecting the disorder’s growing prominence, the American Psychiatric Association’s 2013 diagnostic manual revisions eliminated OCD as a subcategory of “anxiety disorders” and gave the diagnosis its own category of “obsessive-compulsive and related disorders.” OCD experts now urge busy neurologists “to be aware of OCD…and to have a high index of suspicion for this disorder.”

OCD is just one of numerous neurodevelopmental disorders that have gone from relatively rare to common since the late 1980s—over the same time frame in which the childhood vaccine schedule exploded. There are at least three reasons to suspect a potential vaccine-OCD link:

  1. Proper brain function depends on a well-regulated immune system.
  2. Vaccination’s acknowledged aim is to “perturb the immune system.”
  3. Immune dysregulation is a documented contributor to OCD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

As Duke University researchers have stated, “the immune system, both in the central nervous system (CNS) and in the periphery, is crucial in shaping and influencing normal brain functions, and any disruption of immune function could adversely impact the brain too.”

Not only OCD

Studies show that OCD is more severe when it is early-onset; when diagnosed before puberty, children have “a longer duration of illness [and] higher rates of comorbid tics” as well as more frequent compulsions and greater psychosocial difficulties. In addition to comorbid tics, OCD often presents alongside autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other diagnoses that are not only increasingly common in American children but often persist into adulthood. In a study of adults with OCD, three out of four (75%) had one or more other neuropsychiatric diagnoses. Researchers also believe that some types of OCD may be closely related to PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections).

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Compared to girls, boys tend toward a greater neuroinflammatory response, reflecting sex differences in how the brain’s principal immune cells (the microglia) function. This may be one of the reasons why early-onset OCD is two to three times more common in boys. (In early adulthood, however, OCD symptoms appear more frequently in women.) In this respect, OCD is no different from a number of other neurodevelopmental and health conditions, including ASD, that also disproportionately affect boys.

The Yale study

In 2017, researchers from the Yale Child Study Center published a retrospective case-control study in Frontiers in Psychiatry that considered a possible association between prior vaccination and increased incidence of seven neuropsychiatric disorders, including OCD. Recall that at the start of the 1980s, children received three vaccines for seven illnesses (totaling two dozen doses by age 18), whereas fully vaccinated children now get almost six dozen doses for sixteen conditions.

The Yale researchers looked at a national sample of privately insured children and adolescents (ages 6-15) for the six-year period from January 2002 through December 2007. They found that for four diagnoses—OCD, anorexia nervosa, anxiety disorder and tic disorder—the affected children were more likely than matched controls to have received a flu shot in the preceding 12 months. In addition:

  • For OCD, flu shots just three or six months prior also increased the risk.
  • There was an association between OCD and hepatitis A vaccination.
  • Children with OCD, anorexia or a tic disorder were more heavily vaccinated overall compared to children without these disorders.

All three vaccines marketed in the U.S. for hepatitis A—GlaxoSmithKline’s Havrix and Twinrix and Merck’s Vaqta—list anorexia as adverse reactions reported during clinical trials. The Yale authors considered the “high comorbidity rates” between OCD and anorexia significant and also highlighted that OCD and anorexia have a number of “immune-mediated mechanisms” in common.

OCD is also frequently comorbid with a variety of autoimmune diseases. A recent Swedish study reported that individuals with OCD had a 43% increased risk of any autoimmune disease (compared to those without OCD), and “significantly elevated” risks for autoimmune conditions “across all organ systems”:

  • Moisture-producing glands: Sjögren’s syndrome (94% increased risk)
  • Small intestine: Celiac disease (76%)
  • Peripheral nervous system: Guillain-Barré syndrome (71%)
  • Gastrointestinal tract: Crohn’s disease (66%)
  • Thyroid: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (59%)
  • Pancreas: Type 1 diabetes mellitus (56%)
  • Platelets: Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (51%)
  • Large intestine: Ulcerative colitis (41%)
  • Central nervous system: Multiple sclerosis (41%)
  • Skin: Psoriasis vulgaris (32%)

Beware the adjuvants

Given the extensive overlap between OCD and autoimmunity, the growing body of research that links vaccine adjuvants to autoimmunity is relevant for OCD. In fact, adjuvants—intended to intensify the immune response to a vaccine (immunogenicity)—present vaccine makers with a dilemma: “[I]ncreased vaccine reactogenicity [adverse reactions to vaccination] is the inevitable price for improved immunogenicity.”

Pointing to their influenza vaccination findings, the authors of the Yale study note that six European countries and China linked H1N1 influenza vaccination in 2009 to autoimmune narcolepsy, and some speculated that the H1N1 vaccine’s adjuvant—a squalene-based oil emulsion called AS03—was the culprit. Researchers caution:

A major recurring concern is the potential association between oil emulsion adjuvants and autoimmune disease induction as seen in animal and fish models. A single intradermal injection of a range of oil emulsions, including squalene emulsions, induces adjuvant arthritis in susceptible murine and rat models. […] There is a theoretical risk that any humans who share similar genetic susceptibility features to these models could similarly be prone to develop adjuvant arthritis, lupus, autoimmune hepatitis, uveitis or some other form of autoimmune disease after exposure to oil emulsion adjuvants alone or when combined with other potent innate immune activators [emphasis added].

Aluminum-based vaccine adjuvants—and especially the proprietary AAHS [amorphous aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate] adjuvant that Merck includes in its Gardasil 9, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccines—are also a prominent suspect in the autoimmunity epidemic. Researchers who compared AAHS to two other types of aluminum adjuvants found that AAHS was “substantially” different from the other two in revving up the immune system. As Italian researchers have stated, “the specific mechanism of action of each single adjuvant may have different effects on the course of different diseases.”

Hear no evil, see no evil

Pharmacotherapy with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) is a “first-line” treatment for OCD; because remission is uncommon, “long-term management is often necessary.” Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline—two of the four companies that lead the U.S. vaccine market—make some of the top-selling SSRIs prescribed for individuals with OCD; the two pharma behemoths completed a joint venture in 2019 to integrate their consumer health care businesses. From their point of view, OCD represents an attractive market.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, the federal government and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program turned down citizen requests to add asthma, autism, tics and several neuropsychiatric disorders—including PANDAS—to the Program’s Vaccine Injury Table. The feds’ refusal was not terribly surprising: very few new injuries have made it onto the Table since the Program came into being in 1986, despite the large number of vaccines piled onto the childhood schedule after that year. The government’s resolute refusal to conduct needed studies and its denial of even the possibility of vaccine culpability for conditions such as OCD leaves individuals no choice but to ferret out answers on their own.

Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. CHD is planning many strategies, including legal, in an effort to defend the health of our children and obtain justice for those already injured. Your support is essential to CHD’s successful mission.

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