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Taking Calcium Supplements Causes Brain Lesions

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A study British Journal of Nutrition emphasizes how calcium supplements are linked with vascular pathologies associated with cardiovascular and how they may also be associated with the occurrence of brain lesions.

  • Reflect On:

    Are calcium supplements necessary? Calcium is found in a wide variety of foods, even for those who are lactose intolerant, there should be no problem getting your daily dose of calcium without supplements.

This article written by Written by Sayer Ji, founder of Greenmedinfo.com, posted here with permission. 

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Most calcium supplements are just plain bad news. The idea of taking calcium in pill or tablet form to “keep the bones strong” just doesn’t make that much sense given, first, that we are designed to get our calcium from food. Second, our bone is a living tissue, which requires vitamin C, amino acids, magnesium, silica, vitamins D and K, etc., not to mention regular physical activity, just as much as it does calcium. Taking calcium to the exclusion of these other critical factors doesn’t make sense; nor does it make sense to look at osteoporosis or osteopenia (a misleading term) as a deficiency of calcium supplements!

As we have reported on extensively in the past, not only is consuming limestone, bone, and the shells of oysters and eggs not a good idea because the calcium can deposit in our soft tissues leading to heart attacks and strokes, but even the goal of maintaining bones as dense as a 25-year old late into life (known as the T-score) is fraught with danger, including a far higher breast cancer risk for those with the highest bone density. Instead of pathologizing aging, and focusing on making the bone denser by any means necessary, the focus should be on bone quality and agility and bodily self-awareness late into life, which helps the elderly prevent the falls that lead to fracture in the first place. In other words, simply having a gait or vision disorder can be at least as an important factor in fracture risk as bone mineral density.

The problem with poor quality, inorganic, calcium supplements, however, does not stop with their contribution to cardiovascular disease risk. A combination of factors including low magnesium, vitamin K2 and the presence of fluoride in the water and diet can lead to pineal gland calcification, as well as the calcification of other brain structures, which recently has been hypothesized to be a contributing factor in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease.

A truly provocative study on this topic published in the British Journal of Nutrition somehow slipped through the cracks, because it did not receive mainstream medical reporting at the time of its release. Titled, “Elevated brain lesion volumes in older adults who use calcium supplements: a cross-sectional clinical observational study,” the study looked at the possibility that since calcium supplements have now been linked in multiple studies with vascular pathologies associated with cardiovascular disease they may also be associated with the occurrence of brain lesions (known on MRI scans as hyperintensities) in older adults. These brain lesions, visible as brighter spots in MRI scans, are known to be caused by lack of blood flow (ischemia) and subsequent neurological damage.

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According to the study,

Brain lesions,also known as hyperintensities, are areas of damage observed on brain MRI (See Above). These lesions are common in older adults and increase the risk of devastating health outcomes, including depression, cognitive decline, dementia, stroke, physical disability, hip fracture and death. Postmortem studies have determined that these lesions form primarily due to ischemia, especially larger lesions (.3mm) and lesions found in depressed individuals.

The observational study enrolled 227 older adults (60 years above) and assessed food and supplemental calcium intakes. Participants with supplemental calcium use above zero were categorized as supplement users. Lesion volumes were assessed with MRI scans.

Key findings were:

Greater lesion volumes were found among calcium supplement users than non-users.

The influence of calcium supplements was of a magnitude similar to that of the influence of high blood pressure (hypertension), “a well-established risk factor for lesions.”

The study found that the amount of calcium used was not associated with lesion volume and that “even low-dose supplements, by older adults, may be associated with greater lesion volumes.”

Even after controlling for food calcium intake, age, sex, race, years of education, energy intake, depression and hypertension, the association between calcium supplement and lesions volumes held strong.

The study details were summarized as follows:

In the present cross-sectional clinical observational study, the association between Ca-containing dietary supplement use and lesion volumes was investigated in a sample of 227 older adults (60 years and above). Food and supplemental Ca intakes were assessed with the Block 1998 FFQ; participants with supplemental Ca intake above zero were categorised as supplement users. Lesion volumes were determined from cranial MRI (1.5 tesla) scans using a semi-automated technique; volumes were log-transformed because they were non-normal. ANCOVA models revealed that supplement users had greater lesion volumes than non-users, even after controlling for food Ca intake, age, sex, race, years of education, energy intake, depression and hypertension (Ca supplement use: β = 0.34, SE 0.10, F(1,217)= 10.98, P= 0.0011). The influence of supplemental Ca use on lesion volume was of a magnitude similar to that of the influence of hypertension, a well-established risk factor for lesions. Among the supplement users, the amount of supplemental Ca was not associated with lesion volume (β = – 0.000035, SE 0.00 015, F(1,139)= 0.06, P= 0.81).The present study demonstrates that the use of Ca-containing dietary supplements, even low-dose supplements, by older adults may be associated with greater lesion volumes. Evaluation of randomised controlled trials is warranted to determine whether this relationship is a causal one.

What is the mechanism beneath this association?

The researchers discussed the already established link between calcium supplementation and increased ischemic stroke risk, indicating that calcium supplementation may contribute to calcium deposits in the vasculature (i.e. arterial calcification), mainly in the fatty deposits (atheromas) that contribute to blocking the opening (lumen) of the blood vessels. They state that this process can lead to lack of blood flow and subsequent oxygen deprivation (ischemia), ultimately leading to the development of brain lesions. Another mechanism by which excess calcium may have a direct neurotoxic effect on the brain is the influx of excess calcium into brain cells, which lead to cell death. This possibility is greatly increased if the blood-brain barrier is compromised.

The researchers also highlighted the importance of the finding that calcium supplementation may have as significant a deleterious effect on brain lesions as high blood pressure (hypertension):

If this finding is confirmed in longitudinal studies, it could have important health implications – because it is obviously much easier to cease Ca supplement use than to medically manage hypertension.”

In other words, hypertension is often caused by toxic antihypertensive drugs that may actually increase the risk of cardiac mortality. Why not remove one of the modifiable causes: calcium supplementation, which would strike to one of the root causes of the problem and resolve it.

The researchers concluded their study as follows:

“The use of Ca [calcium] -containing dietary supplements by older adults was found to be associated with greater brain lesion volumes, even after controlling for the usual amount of dietary Ca intake. Interestingly, neither the amount of supplemental Ca nor the duration of supplemental Ca use was associated with lesion volume. These findings indicate that adverse biochemical effects of supplemental Ca use may exist in older adults, regardless of the dose.”

This is not the first study to point out this link. Another study, published in 2009 in the journal Medical Hypothesis links Alzheimer’s disease to brain calcification of structures such as the pineal gland. Learn more by reading, “A Radically New Understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease Causes and Cures.”

So, what do we do instead of taking calcium supplements?

First, consider why you think you need calcium supplements. Is it because of the dairy industry promoting for decades the concept that we need calcium (from milk)? Or, is it because your doctor is throwing around terms like osteopenia and osteoporosis carelessly, without explaining to you that the present day bone mineral density (BMD) reference ranges assume that aging is a disease and even if you are 60 or 100 for that matter you are still supposed to have the BMD of a 25-year old young woman; an absurd and dangerous idea. Please read the expose, “Osteoporosis Myth: The Dangers of High Bone Mineral Density,” in order to understand how millions of healthy women were made to believe that aging is a disease, with worse health outcomes as a result of overdiagnosis and overtreatment.

Now, when it comes to calcium, focus on food sources. The site NutritionData.com lists about 1,000 of the highest calcium-containing foods, categorized by food group:  Foods highest in Calcium. Consider that kale, for instance, has higher concentrations of calcium (and far higher magnesium and silica) than milk when compared milligram per milligram. Also, remember that the accelerated bone loss that occurs later in life in women, is triggered by hormonal changes associated with the exhaustion of the ovarian reserve. Nature, however, provides ‘back up’ support for the ovaries in the form of pomegranate. Other hormone-modulating foods include the fermented soy food misoprunes, and even vitamin C, which has recently been found to regenerate steroid hormones.

For a far more extensive research resource on bone health, you can view our page dedicated to the topic here: Bone Health.

*This work is reproduced and distributed with permission of GreenMedInfo LLC. Want to learn more from GreenMedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter here: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/greenmed/newsletter

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Awareness

Frankincense Shows The Ability To Alleviate Symptoms Of Anxiety & Depression

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Studies have proven the psychoactive effects the scent of frankincense has on the brain, alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression.

  • Reflect On:

    With all the man-made chemical pharmaceutical drugs out there, perhaps solutions to what ails us are more simple than we may realize.

Gold and frankincense and myrrh… sound familiar? These were the gifts that were allegedly brought by the three kings when Jesus Christ was born. We all know that gold is valuable, but what about the others? Frankincense has long been touted as a magical, mystical medicine and has been regarded as such for millennia within many ancient cultures of the world. The same goes for myrrh, but for the purpose of this article we are going to stick to the medicinal properties of frankincense.

Frankincense starts out as a type of resinous sap that is found inside a special family of trees called Boswellia, which grow almost exclusively in the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. When it is harvested at specific times of the year, the trees are cut carefully with special knives and the sap seeps out. This special sap is then dried in the sun until it is ready for use. More commonly, frankincense is burned simply as sweet smelling incense, but it has many other uses as well including the following…

Historical Uses Of Frankincense

  • As a part of ritual or religious ceremonies
  • Was used extensively during burial rituals as an embalming material to help mask the odor of the deceased body
  • Smoke from burnt incense can effectively drive away mosquitoes and other pests

Frankincense has also been used medicinally, treating various ailments such as arthritis (it has strong anti-inflammatory properties), gut disorders (like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), asthma, and maintenance of oral health.

And perhaps the most intriguing quality for our westernized modern culture is the psychoactive effects of this special resin, as studies have shown that burning frankincense can trigger an effect that can aid and even alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The Research

One study in particular, conducted by a team of researchers form John Hopkins University and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, explains how burning the resin from the Boswellia plant (frankincense) activates certain previously misunderstood ion channels in the brain in order to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. This might explain why Roman emperor Nero once burned an entire year’s harvest of frankincense at his favorite mistress’ funeral.

“In spite of information stemming from ancient texts, constituents of Bosweilla had not been investigated for psychoactivity,” said Raphael Mechoulam, one of the research study’s co-authors. “We found that incensole acetate, a Boswellia resin constituent, when tested in mice lowers anxiety and causes antidepressive-like behavior. Apparently, most present day worshipers assume that incense burning has only a symbolic meaning.”

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The researchers administered incensole acetate to mice in order to determine its psychoactive effects. This compound they found drastically impacted the parts of the brain that generate emotions and the nerve circuits that have responded positively to current drugs used for depression and anxiety. The incensole that was administered activated a protein called TRPV3, which is connected to the ability to perceive warmth of the skin.

“Perhaps Marx wasn’t too wrong when he called religion the opium of the people: morphine comes from poppies, cannabinoids from marijuana, and LSD from mushrooms; each of these has been used in one or another religious ceremony,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Studies of how those psychoactive drugs work have helped us understand modern neurobiology. The discovery of how incensole acetate, purified from frankincense, works on specific targets in the brain should also help us understand diseases of the nervous system. This study also provides a biological explanation for millennia-old spiritual practices that have persisted across time, distance, culture, language, and religion–burning incense really does make you feel warm and tingly all over!”

Can This Work For You?

Sure, this study was conducted using mice, which certainly aren’t the same as humans. However, many religious texts claim that this special resin had uplifting effects on the brain. So, the good thing is that if used appropriately, it really can’t hurt to try. You can typically buy the resin at health food stores and more commonly at stores that sell incense, crystals, sage and those sorts of spiritual ceremonial tools. It can also be found as an essential oil. I like to diffuse it in a diffuser, and sometimes I’ll burn the resin on charcoal pucks as well.

At the very least, you’ll get a nice and pleasant smelling aroma, and at best it can help turn that frown upside down, increase your mood, reduce your anxiety and maybe even put a smile on your face. Perhaps those three wise men were as wise as they’ve been made out to be, and frankincense really is as special as it’s been believed to be for millennia.

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Binge Watching Is Associated With a 12 Percent Increased Risk of Inflammatory-Related Death

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    An Australian study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise looked at more than 8,900 adults and found that each additional hour of TV viewing was associated with a 12% increased risk of inflammatory-related death.

  • Reflect On:

    How much TV do you watch? How active is your lifestyle?

I’m sure that you hesitated before choosing to read this article, as most of us have been sucked into a binge watching marathon on more than one occasion (myself included). While it may seem like we’re buckling down to give ourselves a break, we may actually be hurting ourselves far more than we realize. Sitting for prolonged periods of time has proven to be harmful to our bodies, especially for adults over 50, and when you match lounging with television, you create a deadly combo.

In an Australian study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers examined more than 8,900 adults and found that each additional hour of TV viewing was associated with a 12% increased risk of inflammatory-related death, and those who spent more than four hours a day watching TV were at an even higher risk. This includes  diabetes, respiratory, cognitive, and kidney diseases. (source)

In general, watching television has proven to negatively impact mental health; it alters your brain, lowers your attention span, and has the potential to make you more aggressive. You don’t need to experience the “trance-like” state television can put us in, but I’m sure you’ve witnessed it before. This trance occurs roughly 30 seconds after you start watching TV. Your brain begins by producing alpha waves, leading to a light hypnotic state that makes the viewer less aware of their environment and more open to subtle messages — aka programming.

In the 1990s. Dr. Teresa Belton, a visiting fellow at the University of East Anglia, studied the effects that television has on the imagination of 10-12 year old children, ultimately concluding that television negatively impacts their development: “The ubiquity and ease of access to television and videos perhaps robs today’s children of the need to pursue their own thoughts and devise their own occupations, distracting them from inner processes and constantly demanding responses to external agendas, and suggests that this may have implications for the development of imaginative capacity.”

And these physical affects are becoming increasingly apparent. Not only does it eventually lead to immobility as you age, but with the risk of creating inflammation in the body, you are susceptible to a host of diseases including kidney disease, diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer’s, and even depression.

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Dr. Megan Grace is the lead investigator at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne. Between 1999 and 2000, her team quizzed adult participants about their viewing habits via a questionnaire. Again, this was before we had access to popular streaming websites like Netflix. The participants were separated into three groups based on their TV viewing habits: less than two hours per day, greater than two hours but less than four hours, and more than four hours.

“TV time was associated with increased risk of inflammatory-related mortality. This is consistent with the hypothesis that high TV viewing may be associated with a chronic inflammatory state,” the authors wrote.

They followed up with their participants 12 years later and found, of 909 deaths, 130 were inflammatory-related. Of the inflammatory-related deaths, 21 were from diseases of the respiratory system and 18 of the nervous system, and those who watched between two to four hours of TV a day showed a 54% higher risk of inflammatory-related death. Additionally, people who watched more than four hours of TV a day doubled their risk of dying from an inflammatory disease compared to those who watched two hours.

In addition to cutting down the amount of time you spend sitting in front of the TV and sitting or lying down, you can help combat inflammation with a number of foods like avocados, berries, sweet potato, onions, and watermelon, and herbs like, cloves, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric.

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The Science Of Healing Trauma With Plant Medicine – Dr. Jeff McNairy Explains

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Ayahuasca has assisted thousands of people with an array of mental health disorders. There is real science that can explain how this "medicine" is able to actually change the brain.

  • Reflect On:

    Ayahuasca is not for everyone, and it will not fix you. It might, however, show you what you need to see in order to release what is no longer serving you in life and holding you back.

Over the past decade or so, the use of ayahuasca by western cultures has absolutely blown up. Chances are you’ve either taken it yourself or know someone who has. You may have heard some incredible and transformative stories about how this indigenous plant medicine has assisted many of those struggling with depression, addiction, anxiety and many other ailments.

It has been difficult to explain how this plant actually works to help alleviate symptoms of trauma, and many stick to simply regarding it as a mystical experience that shows you whatever it is that you need to see in order to heal your wounds. However, there is a scientific way to explain what is actually happening within the brain and body when ayahuasca is ingested. Some people with a more logical method of receiving information might prefer to know the actual physical “why” as to what is happening. In the video below, Dr. Jeff McNairy explains this.

Dr. Jeff McNairy is part of the Rythmia family, the world’s first fully licensed medical facility that offers ayahuasca. The entire CE team had the opportunity to go back in 2016 and it was a wonderful experience for us all.

Personally, I have processed a lot of my own trauma with the assistance of this potent plant medicine. It was able to show me things that I hadn’t realized had such a profound impact on my life, things that I had simply written off as unimportant. There were many things that I had stuffed down, locked away and refused to look at over the years that ultimately were the cause for my struggle with depression, addictive behaviours and anxiety. With the assistance of ayahuasca, a light shined on these areas that I had locked away in my subconscious, which helped me to see where healing was still required.

Is Ayahuasca For You?

Whether you are drawn to ayahuasca or not is okay, it’s not for everyone. But if you have a serious desire to uncover more layers of who you are and why you are the way you are, and you’re drawn to this medicine, then it may be for you. Ayahuasca can be a great tool for those who have suffered trauma, but it is important to know that ayahuasca won’t fix you, however it can lead you to understand what it is you need to know in order to fix yourself. It has the capacity to show you whatever it is that you are not seeing from a different perspective, opening your eyes to what you may not have been able to see before.

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It is no coincidence that ayahuasca has emerged within westernized cultures around the globe during this important time of transition. Not only is it assisting people to reconnect back to their soul’s essence, but it is also increasing our regard for our environment and our Mother Earth as a whole.

On another note, here’s an interesting quote from Joe Martino:

Psychedelics were used back in a time when the level of consciousness of the planet was not as high, which helped give insight to shamans so they could share it with their communities. It was meant for use in extreme cases where heavy trauma or addictions existed and people could not use other ways to work through their emotional challenges. Here in present time, we use them in a western fashion as THE GO TO for moving through all of our challenges. I’m here to remind you that you have so much power and ability as a being that in most cases, you don’t need any of these things to evolve. I’m not suggesting don’t do it, I’m simply saying truly ask your heart what you want, and don’t get caught up in the grand allure and peer pressure. (source)

Use Responsibly

It is important to seek out and use ayahuasca that is harvested using sustainable practices and served by shamans who have the utmost respect for the sacred medicinal brew. As its popularity has increased, so has the opportunity to exploit it, so do your due diligence when it comes to determining if ayahuasca is right for you and who will be serving you this medicine.

Related CE Article: Why Psychedelic Drugs Are Not A Shortcut To Enlightenment

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