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Awareness

Four Signs Your Endocannabinoid System Is Out Of Whack

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Image: Juan Gaertner / 123rf.com

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Our endocannabinoid system (ECS) is vitally important to maintaining homeostasis throughout our bodies and minds. An imbalanced ECS may contribute toward conditions such as depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, migraines, IBS, and obesity.

  • Reflect On:

    What can you do to take greater care of your endocannabinoid system? Where is there imbalance in your life that may be affecting your health?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a human being. Maybe you’re suffering from some kind of health concern. It may not be life threatening, but it’s certainly got you worried enough to consult Dr. Google. But what if I told you us humans were designed to enjoy optimal, balanced health? That sounds like some kind of far-fetched fairytale, right? In reality, we’ve just forgotten how to live in alignment with ourselves, our environment, and our endocannabinoid system.

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Our Endocannabinoid… What?

If this is the first time you’ve heard of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), you’re not alone. That’s because, despite being one of the most important communication systems in the body, the ECS is barely taught in medical school.

The way the ECS was discovered is undoubtedly a contributing factor – scientists just happened to be researching how compounds in the cannabis plant worked in humans. They discovered a complex network of receptors throughout the brain, central nervous system and immune system that were activated by two natural cannabis-like chemicals (endocannabinoids) called anandamide and 2-AG. These receptors (CB1 and CB2)  are literally everywhere in our bodies. Indeed, endocannabinoid activity is involved in many physiological functions including sleep, appetite, sexual reproduction, pain, our immune system, mood, memory, and cell growth.

What Does The ECS Do?

Scientists believe the ECS works as a master biological regulator, a bit like a conductor in an orchestra, making sure that all the individual sections work in harmony with no one out-playing the other.

However, thanks to our 21st century tendency to live fast, eat junk food, self-medicate with alcohol, and sleep too little, our endocannabinoid system is struggling under all of this strain. Imagine what would happen if an orchestra conductor got a migraine mid-concert and decided to lay down his baton. Utter chaos, right?

Well, something similar may be happening with our endocannabinoid systems. The result of which is a litany of health conditions ranging from fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, MS, and depression.

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So, what are the signs your endocannabinoid system may be out of whack?

1. You Have An Oversensitivity To Pain

Endocannabinoid research is a relatively new field, but scientists have discovered that a number of conditions relating to oversensitivity to pain such as fibromyalgia, IBS, migraines, and MS share what is known as endocannabinoid deficiency. This refers to lower levels of the endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG as well as fewer endocannabinoid receptors.

One way to give a lacklustre ECS a boost is by supplementing it with compounds found in the cannabis plant known as cannabinoids. If you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the world where cannabis is legal for medical use, then speak directly to your doctor. Otherwise, CBD oil derived from hemp is a decent alternative. In fact, not only does CBD increase anandamide levels in the body, but it is also a natural alternative to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.

2. You Feel Anxious or Depressed

Approximately 15% of the population will be affected by depression at some point in their life, and while there’s no one cause that’s true for every person, a deregulated endocannabinoid system is thought to be a biomarker. And when you consider that one of the key endocannabinoids, anandamide, is named after the sanskrit word for bliss, this should come as no surprise.

Studies have also shown low levels of the other key endocannabinoid, 2-AG, to be present in depressed states and PTSD. Not only that, but normal CB1 endocannabinoid receptor expression in the brain appears to play a pivotal role in maintaining mental health as well. A study trialling a new obesity drug found that blocking the CB1 receptor had the unwanted side effect of causing anxiety.

Thankfully, something as simple as going for a run could be a good way to give our ECS a mood boost. We now know that the euphoria experienced through intense exercise is as much to do with anandamide as endorphin production.

3. You Have An Autoimmune Condition

Over the last fifty years there has been a dramatic rise in autoimmune conditions. Elevated stress levels certainly play a role, but could an off-kilter endocannabinoid system also be a factor?

A fully functioning  ECS is vital to keeping our immune system in balance. It acts rather like a dimmer switch, giving our immune system a boost when it needs a helping hand, and dampening it down when over-activated. Immune over-activation occurs in autoimmune disease. Instead of fighting off outside invaders, our immune system literally turns in on itself, reaping havoc in the body.

We know that elevated endocannabinoid levels and CB2 receptors are found in patients with autoimmune diseases and conditions associated with chronic inflammation. It is thought that this increased activity is the ECS trying to bring our systems back into balance again.

Again, compounds in cannabis and hemp like CBD have been found to reduce inflammation in the body and, thanks to their antioxidant properties, may even protect autoimmune sufferers from further cell damage.

4. You Find It Hard To Lose Weight

So far, we’ve spoken about a deficient ECS, but it’s also possible for our endocannabinoid system to become over-activated, causing weight gain and even diabetes. That’s why an obesity drug trialled was found to block endocannabinoid CB1 receptors.

However, scientists are unsure if overeating causes increased CB1 signalling, or whether obesity itself is a consequence of an overactive endocannabinoid system.

Either way, the good news is that diet and exercise as well as a quality Omega 3 supplement will soon bring your endocannabinoid levels back into balance again.

Most of us live in blissful unawareness of the tireless work performed by our endocannabinoid system. Whether you believe yours is out of whack or not, it’s time we all started giving our ECS some much needed TLC. It’s not rocket science. Simple steps like minimizing stress, getting enough sleep, eating well, staying off the booze, and regular exercise are all that is required to keep our ECS making its own sweet, orchestral music.

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Awareness

Johnson & Johnson Found To Have Knowingly Allowed Asbestos In Their Baby Powder

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Johnson and Johnson have recently lost lawsuits for negligence in knowingly allowing carcinogenic substances in their talc-based hygiene products.

  • Reflect On:

    Are we starting to turn the page on an era where human health and safety are not the prime considerations in the manufacturing of consumer products?

We are starting to awaken to the fact that it seems to be the rule, and not the exception, that large Western corporations put profits above human health considerations. The only time they seem to give any regard to human health concerns is when their forecasts of potential lawsuits down the road would likely exceed the cost measures needed to ensure the safety of their product.

Johnson & Johnson is just one of a long line of corporate perpetrators who believed that covering up and lying about known health concerns would make better business sense than taking the time and resources to actually address those health concerns within their products.

Contaminated Baby Powder: The Height Of Indignity

One would think, regardless of an understanding that the bottom line is a priority for most private companies, that the health and safety of a nursing mother and her newborn child would be sacrosanct for any industry. The reality is that this is simply not the case, even though J&J could have mitigated this problem from the start.

Companies that mine talc are required to take extra steps to ensure the absence of asbestos in their talc. Instead, J&J allegedly went to great lengths to fake it.

Not only did the company know about the asbestos contamination, evidence suggests, but J&J also failed to warn its customers about the link between Baby Powder and cancer or replace its talc with a safer alternative. As a result, J&J guaranteed its customers’ exposure to asbestos.

And regardless of their size or numbers, asbestos fibers are lethal at any capacity. As the World Health Organization (WHO) has stressed repeatedly, there is no safe level of exposure. (source)

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The Testimony of Scientist James Webber

Baby Powder’s contamination with asbestos (a mineral that naturally occurs near talc) has long been the subject of lawsuits. But only in recent years has evidence begun to unravel J&J’s defense – that the company had no idea – and threatened its success in lawsuits to come.

In March, a California jury awarded $29 million to Terry Leavitt, a woman who said that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-powder-based products caused her terminal mesothelioma. Environmental scientist James Webber testified in her high-profile California trial and made these observations:

During several hours on the stand, Webber explained how he ran tests that showed “clear” evidence of asbestos contamination in the mines from which J&J sourced talc.

“The testing I have seen [shows] that it was present at least as early as 1971 and up through the late 1990s,” said Webber, who ran an asbestos laboratory in New York state.

Despite denying it publicly, J&J had observed this contamination in internal memos. Its notes dismissed the amount of asbestos in its talc as “but a trace,” Webber alleged. But that was just an optimistic interpretation of superficial testing, he said: the tests used methods too weak to detect microscopic asbestos fibers. Webber insisted the actual tests results revealed there could be millions of asbestos fibers per gram of talc.

And J&J’s inaccurate reports were allegedly only the tip of the iceberg. In some instances, Webber said, photos attached to J&J’s reports revealed that “they had been seeing it and not reporting it.”  (source)

And It’s Getting Worse

The $29 million verdict, in California Superior Court in Oakland, was the latest defeat for the healthcare conglomerate facing more than 13,000 talc-related lawsuits nationwide. And things may be getting even worse for J&J, according to ZeroHedge:

Johnson & Johnson shares are down over 5% after Bloomberg reports that, according to people with knowledge of the matter, the U.S. Justice Department is pursuing a criminal investigation into whether Johnson & Johnson lied to the public about the possible cancer risks of its talcum powder…

Now, a grand jury in Washington is examining documents related to what company officials knew about any carcinogens in their products, the people said.

The Takeaway

It seems as though corporations have long been willing to take the calculated risk of short-cuts and denials instead of ensuring that their products are safe for public use. My suspicion is that a part of our collective awakening process will be issuing in a new business paradigm in which human health and safety become paramount.

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Awareness

Prescription Infant Formulas Found To Be Contaminated With Aluminum

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Multiple brands of prescription infant formula were found to contain high levels of aluminum.

  • Reflect On:

    Should we be questioning the quality of products that come from pharmaceutical production? Do we veer away from natural methods of raising children more than we should? At what cost?

You may not think aluminum is a big deal, but it is. For anybody who has looked into aluminum toxicology, it’s quite clear and apparent that it has no place inside of any living biological organism. Putting it simply, it wreaks havoc on our biology. High amounts of aluminum have been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, with experts in the field believing that aluminum brain accumulation may be one of the main causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s also been discovered within the brains of MS patients, and some of the highest aluminum content ever recorded in brain tissue has also been discovered in people with autism. Aluminum is associated with several diseases. But an adult body can do a great job of flushing out aluminum.

Despite the fact that aluminum has no place within earth’s biota, it’s still present in many of our medications, our food, and even in the water that we drink due to contamination since the industrial revolution. Aluminum inside the body is a new phenomenon and still understudied. Again, there is a threshold, and aluminum that is injected via vaccines doesn’t exit the body–there is strong evidence that it remains inside the body and ends up in distant organs and eventually inside of the brain. If you want to access more studies on that topic, you can read this article I published that provides them and goes into more detail. You can also watch this interview with Christopher Exley, where he also points to that fact.

A new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health has shown that multiple popular infant prescriptions are contaminated with aluminum. You may be asking how much aluminum, but the authors make it a point to stress that there are no safe amounts of aluminum levels that can be inside of a human body, let alone a newborn baby. That being said, the amounts found are listed within the abstract of the study:

Historical and recent data demonstrate that off-the-shelf infant formulas are heavily contaminated with aluminium. The origin of this contamination remains to be elucidated though may be imported via ingredients, packaging and processing. Specialised infant formulas exist to address health issues, such as low birth weight, allergy or intolerance and medical conditions, such as renal insufficiency. The aluminium content of these prescription infant formulas is measured here for the first time. We obtained 24 prescription infant formulas through a paediatric clinic and measured their total aluminium content by transversely heated graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry following microwave assisted acid/peroxide digestion. The aluminium content of ready-to-drink formulas ranged from 49.9 (33.7) to 1956.3 (111.0) μg/L. The most heavily contaminated products were those designed as nutritional supplements for infants struggling to gain weight. The aluminium content of powdered formulas ranged from 0.27 (0.04) to 3.27 (0.19) μg/g. The most heavily contaminated products tended to be those addressing allergies and intolerance. Prescription infant formulas are contaminated with aluminium.

Another very important point made right off the bat by the authors:

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Human exposure to aluminium is a serious health concern. Aluminium exposure in infants is understandably a burgeoning issue. While infant exposure to aluminium continues to be documented, its consequences, immediate and in the future, have received only scant attention and research is required to understand the biological availability of aluminium through formula feeding. For example, how much aluminium is absorbed across the neonate gut and its subsequent fate, including excretion.

There is already too much aluminium in infant formulas and herein we have measured its content in a large number of prescription formulas, products which are fed to vulnerable infants in their first months of life. Many of these products are heavily contaminated with aluminium.

As for the specific infant formulas, you can refer to the study. The researchers obtained 24 prescription infant formulas via the Paediatric Clinic of Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, United Kingdom. The ready-to-drink and powdered products were new, ready-to-be used and unopened samples. These formulas are for babies with some sort of growth restriction, like for preterm infants or infants who have poor weight gain. There were also powdered formulas for allergies and intolerances and powdered formulas with additional amino acids.

The authors contacted each manufacturer and expressed that they denied knowing that there was any aluminum in their products, which means it’s still a mystery as to their source. The authors hypothesize on a number of ways that aluminum could be entering into the formulas.

In their conclusion, the authors emphasize that:

Where possible, breast milk feeding should be prioritised, as the aluminium content of breast milk is invariably an order of magnitude lower than in formula feeds. Where infant formulas are the only source of nutrition for many infants in their first weeks and months of life, aluminium ingested in formula feeds will be the major contributor to their body burden of aluminium. The last thing that vulnerable infants fed specialised formulas for their specific nutritional/medicinal need is additional aluminium in their diet.

Detoxing

There is a lot of information out there on how a person can detox from aluminum and other heavy metals. There are multiple studies, and based on what I’ve looked into, water with high amounts of Silica are effective in draining aluminum out of your body and brain. Herbs like cilantro and substances like chlorella and spirulina are also great for removing some metals. The information is out there, so be sure to do your research.

The Takeaway

It’s concerning to think about what these corporations are doing. Again, aluminum should hold no place in our society, it should’ve remained well below our surface as part of the Earth’s crust for a reason. It wasn’t until humans began digging it out and using it for a number of things, irresponsibly I might add, that we started to see the health implications which still go largely ignored by the medical community.

In fact, heavy metal accumulation and detoxification of aluminum haven’t been addressed at all, which is odd given the fact that heavy metal accumulation is linked to a variety of diseases.

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Awareness

9 Studies You Should Be Aware of Before Trying The Ketogenic Diet

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The Ketogenic diet is a popular fad diet that promotes quick weight loss and symptom management for bodies that are dealing with poor lymph, kidney and digestion health.

  • Reflect On:

    Based on the studies that are emerging, is our desire for quick weight loss more important than living a long and healthy life? Are we learning about these diets primarily through those with strong ties to upholding these diets?

The ketogenic diet has popped up as a popular approach to weight loss in the last few years. Is it successful at that? Sure, it is. I’ve experimented with the diet myself years ago when I was looking to lose some belly fat. I was entering into ketosis in a different way than most, as I was not eating any animal products, but it does in fact work.

But like any animal product based diet, what are the consequences of eating so much food that does not truly jive with our human bodies? Not only that, is fast weight loss more important than keeping our morality rate down?

In the last few years, we’ve reported a lot on the Keto diet and the various ways it can be done. We have explored the studies, the results and in some ways, we supported it. But lately, I have been thinking about how supporting this could actually be encouraging people to jump into these diets, including the paleo diet, when in reality these diets increase mortality rates and are not healthy for the human body.

It became a thought in the back of my mind, I have always strived to put the best information out that I can through this platform to promote good health. And so we must look at that, even if that means upsetting some people who currently are on paleo or keto and are seeing some good weight loss or symptom management. The truth is, like the many people I’ve seen crash on these diets after a few years, I want people to know the truth of what’s going on out there. And how we can get beyond diets that symptom manage, and instead get onto diets that truly heal.

Anytime we have fad diets, which paleo and keto are, we see products and bias pop up all over the place to support the continuation of these trends. It becomes less about health and more about upholding an identity or a business.

So as I recently looked into what experts are saying about these diets, I came upon two important videos I think everyone should check out. Both have been embedded below. Remember, it’s not that I care what you choose in your own life, or that I feel there is a right or wrong, it’s that I believe we should be informed and I wish to use this platform to promote as best a message as I can.

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The Videos

Thanks to Plant-Based News for creating such a good channel and resource of information on YouTube.

In this video, several plant-based health experts talk through 9 nutrition studies that would be of interest to low carb keto diet proponents. To read the 9 studies, click here.

Next up, Dr. Kim Williams (past President of the American College of Cardiology) shares his insights about the ketogenic.

Related Articles

Diabetic Shares Why He Quit ‘The Ketogenic Diet’

Doctor Explains Why She Never Recommends The ‘Ketogenic Diet’

The Biggest Misconception About The ‘Ketogenic Diet’…You Don’t Actually Have To Follow It

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