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5 Facts About Depression Nobody Ever Talks About

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression, making it the leading cause of disability worldwide. It is also classified  as a mental disorder, but does it truly fit that classification?

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Anti-Depressants May Worsen Depression

A good deal of research suggests antidepressants might actually worsen depression. For example, a fairly recent study published in the journal Medical Hypothesis outlines how chronic depression is on the rise (a statistic that can’t be argued), and as a result, so is treatment. This indicates that the use of antidepressants isn’t really solving the problem, and that antidepressant efficacy is on a downward trend. The study suggested that this is “emerging evidence that, in some individuals, persistent use of antidepressants may be pro-depressant” in the long term, and it’s not the first study to mention it.   (source)

Related CE Article: Depression & The Harmful Medications That Go With It

Neuroplasticity – Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Brain

Positive thinking literally changes your brain. It’s called neuroplasticity, and it shows us how our thoughts, our emotions, and our perception of the environment around us can re-wire our brain.

Neuroplasticity is widely accepted in the scientific community, and continues to prove that our brain is extremely adaptable and “changeable.” Again, neuroplasticity shows us how thought can change the brain’s structure, and it’s being used as treatment for various diseases. This means that constant positive thought and activity can rewire our brain and strengthen areas that stimulate positive feelings.

“The idea that the brain is plastic in the sense of changeable, adaptable and malleable is, I have come to believe, the single most important change in our understanding of the human brain in four hundred years… [Neuroplasticity] is that property of the brain that allows it to change its structure and its function… it’s in response to sensing and perceiving the world, and even, quite fantastically, to thinking and imagining…. Human thoughts and learning actually turn on certain genes in our nerve cells which allow those cells to make new connections between them.” – Dr. Norman Doidge (source)(source)

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The fact that our consciousness alone has the power to transform our biology is also well illustrated by the placebo effect. You can read more about that and access some studies here.

Mushrooms (Psilocybin) Can Treat Depression

Multiple studies have been published showing the effectiveness of psilocybin in improving psychological well-being. For example, a fairly recent study was published in Journal of the Royal Society interface comparing M.R.I. brain scans of subjects injected with psilocybin with scans of their normal brain activity. The brains on psilocybin showed radically different connectivity patterns between cortical regions (the parts thought to play an important role in consciousness). The researchers mapped out these connections, revealing the activity of new neural networks between otherwise disconnected brain regions. (source)

What we are looking at here is the fact that the brain temporarily behaves in a new way under the influence of psilocybin, and it might have very significant consequences with it comes to treating disorders like depression.

In depressed individuals, there is over-activity in the anterior cingulate cortex. Psilocybin possesses the power to switch off the over-activity in this part of the brain.  Then, rather than increasing levels of serotonin in the brain, Psilocybin binds to serotonin receptors and mimics them, causing the brain to function as if it has more serotonin without actually altering the levels themselves.

Neuroscience researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim have reported that, not only does the use of LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline not cause long-term mental health problems, but in many cases, actually decreases the rate of these issues.

There are a plethora of studies outlining this beneficial link between psychedelics and depression, many of which have also stressed that they are not linked to mental health problems whatsoever.

According to a study conducted at the John Hopkins School of Medicine, psychedelic mushrooms, or what are commonly known as “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms,” may have long lasting spiritual and medicinal benefits. You can read more about that story here.

It really makes you wonder, what if these were our “pills” (straight from the jungle) instead of what the pharmaceutical companies are giving us today…

It Takes Effort

It’s easy to pop a pill and think that it’s going to assist you in some way, but depression is all about effort. You have to change your way of thinking. Obviously, this is extremely difficult to accomplish and can take years of work, but with the science of neuroplasticity and consciousness coming to light, it’s definitely worth a try. The more positive thoughts you bring forth, the better. The less you dwell inside of the victim state, the better. The more you see your problems and depression as an opportunity for growth, the better. The more you eat healthily, exercise, and follow your passions, the better. I know that when you are unmotivated as a result of depression, staying in bed all day may feel like the best, or indeed the only, thing to do, but you have to take that first step – change starts within you, not from something outside of yourself.

The Environment That Surrounds Us: Our Current Human Experience

Feeling depressed, especially in today’s world, is not abnormal. Many of us are forced into lives we do not want to live, working long hours at a job we don’t like so we can have enough food in our bellies and a roof over our heads. Our passions, joy, and heart desires seem to be completely ignored the moment we enter into the school system and are encouraged to become  ‘normal.’ If we are going to look at this issue properly, our environment and our current overall human experience need to be examined and changed.

Again, being depressed doesn’t necessarily mean you have some sort of mental condition to the point where you should be taking potentially harmful ‘medications.’ Doing what we are told takes a tremendous amount of time, and a big chunk out of one’s life, as most of us spend our entire lives doing the same thing over and over. If we take a look at what most of us do for joy, it looks pretty similar across the board. We go to various ‘entertainment’ outlets like bars, sporting events, and more, but is this really what we desire? Is this really a healthy source of happiness and joy? Is the current 9-5 human experience natural and healthy for the mind/body and spirit? Is it really okay to surround ourselves with toxic substances 24/7? In the midst of all this, we are not thinking about the planet and the products that we use on a daily basis.

At the same time, the idea of ‘success’ is heavily marketed to us, and it is an ideal many people are not able to achieve. As a result, they feel worthless or useless. The same thing goes for education, looks, and more. It’s like we have a defined set criteria of what it means to be ‘successful’ or to have ‘done well.

Maybe the problem isn’t necessarily a psychological/biological one, maybe it has to do with the environment we’ve created for ourselves here on planet Earth. Many people are experiencing a lack of joy, or hate their job, or are struggling to survive. How can one cultivate positive thoughts if they spend most of their lives doing things that do not provide them with any real pleasure?

This is why it’s so important to follow your heart and your passions. No matter what you are doing, take time to do the things you love, and take the necessary steps to make it happen. There are always changes you can make in pursuit of your own happiness, no matter how small you perceive them to be. The joy does not lie within the end results, it lies within the journey itself.

Hopefully this helps some of you out, thanks for reading.

 

 

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Health

An Indigenous Perspective About Being A Vegan

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Below is a video from of Margaret Robinson, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, talking about indigenous culture and its relationship with animals.

  • Reflect On:

    Have we been mislead with health, an desensitized to cruelty?

Indigenous wisdom is something that resonates with many people. Despite the fact that this way of life was almost completely erased all over the world by the ruling class, it lives on today, and there is a big movement to grow it and share its vital message, which necessary for the preservation of our planet.

This kind of cultural genocide began during the Roman Empire, when Roman culture, institutions, and beliefs were pushed upon the citizenry, and consequences were doled out for those who didn’t follow them. The aristocracy controlled the people, and went on a global mission to conquer other parts of the world. Through this conquest, many cultures, beliefs, and wisdoms were lost, all so the ruling power at the time could assimilate others into their way of life.

Moving forward, we saw this type of ideology pushed by the Church, which condemned those who offered new ideas, science, and alternate views about the nature of our reality. Despite history moving forward, very little had changed; the powerful group of people who control politics, finance, and most aspects of our lives today were still pushing a certain way of life upon the citizenry.

And it remains so today. The destabilization of many countries, especially in the Middle East, and the whole process of globalization in general, is proof of that. We now live in a corporatocracy, which thrives on making the “American Dream” the primary focus of all global citizens. War and corrupt politics are the main tools used to carve out this new way of life for others.

As far as indigenous peoples go specifically, scholars have estimated that, prior to the ‘discovery’ of the Americas by Europeans, the pre-contact era population could have been as high as 100 million people. In very recent history, indigenous assimilation, forced by church and state, has continued, as the residential school system in Canada makes clear.

And because these cultures pass down beliefs and teachings orally, a lot of wisdom held by the elders was lost. Fortunately, some remain to preserve it.

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The world has changed a lot, but much of their teachings, meant to serve as a guidebook for a way of life that respects and honours all beings, still applies today. One great example would by the modern day food industry. Several different cultures within the first nations of America preach deep respect for all life and the animal kingdom, and a recognition that all life is connected. Imagine travelling back in time and showing footage of modern day factory farms — animals being raised and tortured en mass, in the billions, solely to be killed for our increasing greed.

I would be surprised if you could find one elder today who wasn’t appalled and heartbroken, or an elder in ancient times who would allow their people to participate in such barbaric acts.

There is no question about it — the modern day meat industry and the way we eat meat today would not have been accepted by the First Nations of recent history. But don’t take my word for it.

What Would Indigenous Wisdom Say? 

Rita Laws, Ph.D., published an article explaining how among her own people, the Choctaw Indians of Mississippi and Oklahoma, vegetables were the traditional diet, and homes were constructed of wood, mud, bark, and cane — not skins.

“The principal food, eaten daily from earthen pots, was a vegetarian stew containing corn, pumpkin and beans.”

She explains how meat in “the form of small game was an infrequent repast” and how their clothing was even derived from plants.

Perhaps one of the most interesting revelations shared by her experience and research is the fact that “more than one tribe has creation legends which describe people as vegetarian, living in a kind of Garden of Eden. A Cherokee legend describes humans, plants, and animals as having lived in the beginning in ‘equality and mutual helpfulness.’ “

She goes on to explain how “the needs of all were met without killing one another. When man became aggressive and ate some of the animals, the animals invented diseases to keep human population in check. The plants remained friendly, however, and offered themselves not only as food to man, but also as medicine, to combat the new diseases.”

Laws also points out how many other Indian tribes were like hers, subsisting primarily on plants, but those who did hunt did so sparingly and with care. A special bond existed between them and the animals whose lives they took, or, according to many legends, these animals who offered themselves freely. The animals were also seen as a gift from the great sprit, spiritual warriors who were there for the protection and well-being of the people, to provide in several ways, almost like guardian angels.

“In the past, and in more than a few tribes, meat-eating was a rare activity, certainly not a daily event. Since the introduction of European meat-eating customs, the introduction of the horse and the gun, and the proliferation of alcoholic beverages and white traders, a lot has changed.”

Laws also explains how meat consumption was not revered, and there was nothing ceremonial about it. It was always plants and fall festivals centred around the harvest that were most celebrated.

Meat-eating was a rare activity, certainly not a daily event. Since the introduction of European meat-eating customs, the introduction of the horse and the gun, and the proliferation of alcoholic beverages and white traders, a lot has changed. Relatively few native peoples can claim to be vegetarians today.

“What would this country be like today if the ancient ways were still observed? I believe it is fair to say that the Indian respect for non-human life forms would have had a greater impact on American society. Corn, not turkey meat, might be the celebrated Thanksgiving Day dish. Fewer species would have become extinct, the environment would be healthier, and Indian and non-Indian Americans alike would be living longer and healthier lives. . . . Now we, their descendants, must recapture the spirit of the ancient traditions for the benefit of all people. We must move away from the European influences that did away with a healthier style of living. We must again embrace our brothers and sisters, the animals, and ‘return to the corn’ once and for all.”

You can read her full article here, where she goes into more detail and gives many more examples. It definitely gives you something to think about, doesn’t it?

An Excellent Video Discussing The Topic In More Detail

“If, as our Mi’kmaq legends suggest, animals are our siblings, then how can we justify their treatment as objects within the hunting, fishing and agricultural industries? What alternative do Mi’kmaq legends offer to the Christian colonial models of stewardship and domination, in which animals are our property? This workshop examines Mi’kmaq cultural values as an indigenous grounding for vegan practice while offering a critical standpoint on issues such as the indigenous fishing industry.”

Below is a video from of Margaret Robinson, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  She’s a member of the Lennox Island First Nation. You can learn more about her and view some of her publications here.

In the lecture, she brings up several points regarding food and indigenous culture, and the current issues that surround the modern day perception of a vegetarian/vegan diet according to various indigenous cultures. She focuses primarily on the barriers for aboriginal veganism.

Personally, I believe our world is experiencing a dramatic shift in various areas, and compassion is one of them. As a result, along with all of the health benefits outlined in the articles linked below the vide, this is precisely why more and more people are switching to vegan/vegetarian diets.

 
Related CE Articles:

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Some Doctors Claim Babies Should Share Their Mother’s Bed Until The Age Of 3

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A study involving 16 infants monitored the babies while they slept in their mother's bed. It's not the only study examining the benefits of close contact between mother and child shortly after birth.

  • Reflect On:

    How much of what we do today in a conventional way, especially with regards to childbirth, is the best way to do it?

When it comes to parenting, everyone seems to have an opinion, and rightfully so, especially if you are yourself a parent. But what about controversial topics? Is there a right or wrong way to raise your children? Are there certain things that you should or should not be doing? Of course, some things are more important than others. But new advice given by a paediatrician suggests children should sleep in bed with their mothers until they reach the age of three. 

Dr. Nils Bergman, from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, argues that for optimal development, healthy newborns should sleep on their mother’s chest for at least their first few weeks. After that, he believes they should stay in bed with mom and dad until they are three or even four years old.

Because there has been a lot of fear propaganda created around the risk of cot death — the notion that a parent might roll over and suffocate their child — co-sleeping is generally not advised, and in fact, a recently published British study found that almost two-thirds of the cases of SIDS occurred when the bed was being shared.

But, according to Dr.Bergman, “When babies are smothered and suffer cot deaths, it is not because their mother is present. It is because of other things: toxic fumes, cigarettes, alcohol, big pillows and dangerous toys.”

A study involving 16 infants monitored the babies while they slept in their mother’s bed. It found that the baby’s heart was under three times as much stress when he or she slept alone. While sleeping in a cot, they had a more disrupted sleep and their brains were less likely to cycle and transition between the two types of sleep, called active and quiet.

In the cots, only 6 of the 16 babies had any quiet sleep at all, and their sleep quality was much worse.

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Dr. Bergman continued to explain how changes to the brain that are brought on by stress hormones can actually make it more difficult to form relationships and close bonds later in life.

Another study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry monitored results from 73 premature infants receiving Kangaroo Care, or skin-to-skin contact with their mothers, and another three premature infants received standard incubator care. The subjects of the study were monitored over a 10-year period, and the results were as follows:

KC increased autonomic functioning (respiratory sinus arrhythmia, RSA) and maternal attachment behavior in the postpartum period, reduced maternal anxiety, and enhanced child cognitive development and executive functions from 6 months to 10 years. By 10 years of age, children receiving KC showed attenuated stress response, improved RSA, organized sleep, and better cognitive control. RSA and maternal behavior were dynamically interrelated over time, leading to improved physiology, executive functions, and mother–child reciprocity at 10 years.

The National Childbirth Trust supports bed sharing provided the parents have not been drinking, smoking, or using drugs, or if they are obese, chronically ill, or suffer from chronic exhaustion, all of which could cause them to roll over onto the baby or otherwise impact their health.

Overall, it’s a very controversial issue. Many swear by bed sharing, and it certainly used to be standard practice before cribs became so common and affordable. There are many upsides to this, but it is also important to be aware of and consider the potential dangers.

We all know babies need to be snuggled and cuddled and given love; they need to feel safe and secure, and how could they possibly feel this all alone in another room in a crib? When you actually think about it, it seems pretty backwards.

Every parent is just doing what they feel is best for their baby, but the opinions of others tend to get in the way. We’ve all heard those comments like, Oh you shouldn’t pick up that baby, you need to let them cry, they are going to have attachment issues, how are they going to develop their independence? Well, they are babies; they can’t care for themselves and they need to be taken care of. It is a natural urge for the mother to take care of her child.

What are your thoughts on this? Did you co-sleep with your child? Did you ever feel it was unsafe? Do you prefer your child to sleep in a crib? Let us know!

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Awareness

Yale Study Reveals 1 in 3 Drugs Have Safety Issues Even After FDA Approval

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association conducted by a team of researchers from Yale University discovered that nearly one in three drugs that the that the FDA tests and approves ends up having safety issues.

  • Reflect On:

    Are prescription drugs as safe as they're marketed to be?

In 2014, Harvard University stated that prescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death, yet pharmaceutical companies continue to hide behind their profits and promote their products as safe. Doctors and even their patients are willing to turn a blind eye to many of the adverse side effects of drugs, opting for the “bandaid” effect they provide instead of seeking alternative treatments and preventative methods.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and conducted by a team of researchers from Yale University studied the effectiveness of the FDA’s drug approval process. The team discovered that nearly one in three drugs that the FDA tests and approves ends up having safety issues.

Research Finds Serious Issues With FDA Drug Approval Process

In order to establish whether or not pharmaceutical drugs are safe for consumers, the FDA implements drug testing and clinical trials. These trials typically test fewer than 1,000 patients over a short timeframe, usually around six months or less. The Yale researchers suggested that safety issues could only truly be detected if more patients were studied over a longer period of time, speaking to the ineffectiveness of the FDA’s testing.

To identify how to effectively determine any safety issues with pharmaceutical drugs, the Yale researchers studied data on new drugs approved between 2001 and 2010, with follow up through 2017. Their findings proved that approximately 32% of new drugs approved by the FDA had notable safety issues.

A shocking 71 of the 222 drugs approved within this timeframe were withdrawn, had a “black box” warning regarding the side effects, or required a safety announcement to the public about newfound risks. This begs the question: Why are these drugs being approved in the first place if they warrant so many safety concerns?

“That is very rarely a drug withdrawal, but more commonly a black box warning, or drug safety communication issued by the FDA to let physicians and patients know that new safety information has been determined,” explained Associate Professor of Medicine and Public Health Dr. Joseph Ross, who led the research team.

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The researchers also specified characteristics of pharmaceuticals that were more likely to pose a higher risk of safety issues to patients, including biologic therapies and drugs that were approved through the FDA’s accelerated approval pathway. The accelerated approval process often uses surrogate endpoints, which means that the researchers measured a factor other than survival, such as tumour size, to figure out whether the drugs should be approved.

“This [finding on surrogate endpoints] has the greatest relationship to policy today,” Ross further elaborated. “In the 21st Century Cures Act, there’s a push to have the FDA move to further support the use of surrogate markers … [but] they’re more likely to have concerns in the post-market setting.”

“While the administration pushes for less regulation and faster approvals, those decisions have consequences,” Ross stated. The Yale team’s previous studies exposed that the FDA approval process for drugs is much faster than that of other government organizations in Europe, which is interesting given the nature of the business in both countries. Prices of drugs are far higher in America than they are abroad, and Americans take a lot more drugs, meaning U.S. pharmaceutical companies make a lot more money.

The timing of this study is interesting too, as the FDA has been facing increased pressure lately to quicken the drug approval process. “It shows that there is the potential for compromising patient safety when drug evaluation is persistently sped up,” said Ross. “At the very least, the study should inform ongoing debate about premarket drug evaluation,” the researchers concluded.

Dr. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness, weighed in on the study, commending the researchers for their work. “It’s important to keep in mind that the post-approval safety issues cover the spectrum from relatively minor to serious,” Alexander said.

“A good next step would be to dig into the extremely serious safety problems, determine whether the FDA could have flagged them sooner and how they might have been missed,” he continued.

“All too often, patients and clinicians mistakenly view FDA approval as [an] indication that a product is fully safe and effective,” Alexander explained. “Nothing could be further from the truth. We learn tremendous amounts about a product only once it’s on the market and only after use among a broad population.”

Dr. Alexander makes a great point: Just because a drug is approved by the FDA, doesn’t mean it’s safe. In an ideal world, FDA approval would mean that the drug is entirely safe to use, but the reality is that the testing is not extensive enough to even determine the safety of the drug, let alone guarantee it.

Far too often, people place their doctors and health care practitioners on pedestals and fail to conduct their own research. Though I am not qualified to professionally advise anyone on their health, I certainly do not trust everything that my doctor recommends, which is largely because no doctor knows everything there is to know about health. It’s up to you to figure out your own health, not your doctor.

Though doctors can provide wonderful advice and can help immensely when diagnosing and treating illnesses, they can also drastically hinder your health. However, that’s not necessarily their fault, it’s often yours. The onus is on you to conduct your own research, get multiple professional opinions if need be, and ensure you are making informed decisions.

Further Proof of Misconduct at the FDA

In journalism, embargo refers to a “back-room deal” in which journalists and their sources agree not to publish an article prior to a specific date or time. The FDA goes one step further by implementing a “closely held embargo,” which gifts the organization complete control over all new FDA information privy to exposure for the American public.

The FDA’s use of the “close embargo” reveals that the institution likely wants to prevent reporters from leaking information. The biggest concern seems to be that, when officials begin giving the go-ahead for this special access, it makes it much easier for the agency to prevent stories they don’t like from being exposed.

The FDA hinders the public’s right to know about scientific fraud and misconduct as well. In an article for Slate wrote:

For more than a decade, the FDA has shown a pattern of burying the details of misconduct. As a result, nobody ever finds out which data is bogus, which experiments are tainted, and which drugs might be on the market under false pretenses. The FDA has repeatedly hidden evidence of scientific fraud not just from the public, but also from its most trusted scientific advisers, even as they were deciding whether or not a new drug should be allowed on the market. Even a congressional panel investigating a case of fraud regarding a dangerous drug couldn’t get forthright answers. For an agency devoted to protecting the public from bogus medical science, the FDA seems to be spending an awful lot of effort protecting the perpetrators of bogus science from the public.

You can read more about that in the following CE article:

FOIA Investigation Unearths Documents Showing How The FDA  Manipulates Media & Science Press

The FDA also works hand-in-hand with pharmaceutical companies, which you can read about in the following CE article:

Merck & The FDA Caught ‘Fast Tracking’ The Approval Of HPV Gardasil Vaccine Without Scientific Approval

To make matters worse, pharmaceutical companies also hold close ties to doctors, which you can learn about here:

This Website Tells You How Much Big Pharma Pays Your Doctor To Prescribe Drugs

To be clear, 128,000 people die every year in the U.S. from drugs prescribed to them, which is being done under the approval of the FDA and doctors. The reality is, drug companies make a lot of money from selling prescriptions, and so do those involved with them, including doctors.

At the end of the day, the medical industry is a booming business, one that thrives off sick people. These companies actually benefit when their drugs cause adverse effects, because they then have additional reasons to sell you even more drugs. The system is designed to help you in one way, and then disadvantage you in another. In essence, they want you healthy, but not too healthy, and until we educate ourselves and take control of our health, we will continue to perpetuate this cycle.

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