Truth Code: health
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Δευτέρα, 20 Μαρτίου 2017

Are you familiar with the fact that the color, shape, and texture of your nails are considered as a window into your entire body?

Even though some nail symptoms are usually unnoticeable, others can indicate a chronic disease, even cancer. Also, the growth of the nails can be a sign of some health problem.

Healthy nails grow up to 3.5 millimeters on a monthly basis. However, there are some factors that can have a huge effect on their growth and among the most common ones are trauma, medications, nutritional status, and aging process.

So, if you notice some changes in your nails, such as discoloration, swelling, changes in shape and thickness, you should immediately consult a dermatologist.

10 Nail Symptoms and What They Mean for Your Health

1. Yellow Nails

There are many factors which can contribute to the yellow color of your nails. The most common are smoking, aging, and use of nail polish and acrylic nails.

The underlying cause can also be a fungal infection. Even though rarely, conditions like psoriasis, respiratory disease, diabetes, and thyroid disease can also be the cause.

2. Dry, Cracked or Brittle Nails

In this case, there are many factors that play an important role: the exposure to chemicals, living in an area with low humidity, using nail polish remover very often, having your hands in water regularly.

Other causes of cracking and splitting are fungal infection and thyroid disease, especially hypothyroidism. Deficiency in biotin or vitamins C and A can lead to brittle nails.

3. Clubbing

Clubbing is an enlargement of the fingertips. Also, the nails become curved downward. It can be associated with low oxygen in the blood, inflammatory bowel disease, AIDS, kidney disease, heart disease and lung disease.

4. White Spots

White spots on the nails indicate nail trauma. In most cases, they do not represent some serious problem, and tend to fade away. However, there are some cases where they can be a sign of fungal infection.

5. Horizontal Ridges

Horizontal ridges can be a result of uncontrolled diabetes, psoriasis, circulatory disease, and zinc deficiency. Mees is another type of horizontal line that can occur as a result of leprosy, arsenic poisoning, Hodgkin’s disease, malaria, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

6. Vertical Ridges

Vertical ridges most often are sign of aging and they occur at older people. However, they can also indicate nutrient deficiency like deficiency in vitamin B12 and magnesium.

7. Spoon Nails

If your nails curve upward at the edges, resembling a spoon, this can indicate iron deficiency, hypothyroidism or heart disease.

8. Pitting

Multiple pits on the nails indicate psoriasis. It can be also caused by connective tissue disorders, or alopecia areata, a disease that causes hair loss.

9. Dark Discolorations

If you have black streaks and painful growth of your nails, you should immediately visit your doctor because this can indicate melanoma.

10. White Nails with a Strip of Pink

The nails that are white with a strip of pink can be a sign of kidney failure, liver disease, diabetes, and congestive heart failure.

Simple Nail Care Tips
  • Make sure to eat a proper and balanced diet high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and protein
  • Keep the nails trimmed relatively short
  • Limit the use of artificial nails and nail polish
  • Protect your nails from excessive exposure to chemicals or water
  • Keep your nails moisturized by rubbing some coconut oil onto them on a regular basis


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The knees are an essential part of our body. They are responsible for the support, flexibility, and stability of the legs and they help us to walk, jump, stand, turn around, and crouch.

The proper care of them is of great importance if we do not want to get serious issues.

As we age, knees get weaker, and mostly, elderly people are the ones who experience problems with them. But, however, any person can experience knees problems, regardless of their age.

There are many factors which can be the cause for weak knees such as knee strain or injury, sedentary lifestyle, excess sodium intake, osteoarthritis in the knee, alcohol, and smoking,

The health lifestyle and dietary changes are natural ways which can help you to treat weak knees or pain in the knees.

We present you 10 ways which can help you to strengthen the knees, and prevent knee pain:

1. Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Inflammation can be the cause of pain and weakness of knees. It is very important to include in your diet foods which are anti-inflammatory such as turmeric, walnuts, ginger, spinach, avocados, blueberries, sweet potatoes, tart cherries, olive oil, and salmon.

Make sure to avoid inflammatory foods as white rice, white flour products, foods which are high in saturated fats, sugary foods, and soda.

2. Swimming

Swimming can be very effective in treating knee pain and arthritis because it is an overall fitness. It will reduce the stiffness of the knees, strengthens the bones and the muscles of the knee joints.

You need to swim 30 minutes a day. Butterfly stroke, backstroke, and front crawl are the most effective swimming strokes. Make sure to avoid breaststroke because it applies pressure on the knees joints.

3. Exercises

Exercises strengthen the knee bones and align the joints. The muscles surrounding the knee will be strengthened, which will improve their condition.

Knee bends, step-ups, hamstring stretches with thigh contraction, lunges, straight-leg raises, squats with a Swiss ball, and single-leg squats are some of the most beneficial exercises.

It is very important to perform these exercises 30 minutes a day, 4-5 times weekly.

4. Epsom Salt

Usually, extremely low levels of magnesium are present in people who have weak knees, or people who suffer from knee pain because of osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Epsom salt is rich in magnesium and it can effectively relieve this condition. It supports the calcium absorption, thus enabling a proper muscle function, and alleviating the inflammation around the knee joints.

Just dissolve 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt in a half a cup of water. Soak a washcloth in the solution and apply in on your knees. Let it stand for 15-20 minutes. Then, you can rinse it off with warm water. Repeat this procedure two times a week.
Also, once or twice a week, you can make an Epsom salt bath. Add a cup of Epsom salt in your bath, and soak in it for 20 minutes.

5. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential for the collagen formation. It is extremely important for the proper bones development, synthesis of collagen, and quality of bone matrix.

Furthermore, it can enhance the bone mass density and reduce the risk of fractures.

Vitamin C is found in foods like spinach, berries, lemon, broccoli, papaya, bell peppers, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, oranges, cauliflower, and kiwi.

Also, you can take it as supplements such as chewable tablets or capsules.

6. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is significantly important for joints and bones health. The risk of minimal trauma fractures and bone loss is increased by the deficiency of vitamin D.

Also, the body will not be able to absorb enough calcium, if it has a deficiency of this mineral. It is known that exposure to the sun is how our body produces vitamin D. So, spend at least 15 minutes a day in the sun.

Vitamin D can be found in fish, fortified cereals, egg yolks, cod liver oil, and dairy products. Also, you can take some supplements recommended by your doctor.

7. Calcium

Calcium is essential for the health of the bones. The deficiency of calcium can lead to weakening and thinning of bones, which causes osteoporosis. Because calcium is not produced by our body in a natural way, we need to take supplements and dietary sources in order to supply it.

Calcium can be found it cheese, milk, dark leafy greens, almonds, edamame, blackstrap molasses, fortified orange juice, sardines, and calcium-fortified cereals.

If you want to take supplements, choose those with vitamin D, because it helps the absorption of calcium. Visit your doctor so you can get the proper dose.

8. Massage

Another effective way to treat knee pain and strengthen the knee area is massage. If it is done on a regular basis, it can improve circulation.

Use coconut, mustard, or olive oil to rub your knees with firm but gentle movements (clockwise, and counter-clockwise) for 10-15 minutes. If you feel that there is a need, you can massage your knees two times a day. However, you should consult a massage therapist in case you suffer from a chronic knee pain.

9. Fish Oil

Fish oil can enhance the bone density and strengthen the knee joints as it contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), omega-3 fatty acids. Also, the stiffness and joint pain will be alleviated due to its strong anti-inflammatory properties.

10. Healthy Weight

The excess body weight can also be a reason for weaken joints. It applies much more pressure on the knees and the joints need to do much more work. The risk of hip or knee replacement is increased by obesity. In order to enhance the strength and stability of the knees, it is very important to lose excess pounds.

Additional tips:

  • You should not drink and smoke
  • You should not wear high-heeled shoes
  • Don’t sit or stand in the same position for a long time
  • To soften the cartilage, drink more fluids.
  • Yoga poses provide great relief
  • Limit the intake of salt, as it causes calcium loss
  • Walking and cycling greatly strengthen the knees
  • Avoid activities that include sudden movements, stopping, jumping, twisting
  • Avoid activities which intensify the knee pain


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Cracked heels are a sign of lack of attention to foot care rather than just over exposure or lack of moisturizing. Read on to see how to get your heels in tip top condition for the summer.

As we expose our feet after a winter wrapped away they often look neglected and the most common problem is often unsightly cracked heels. This is not a harmful to our health except when the fissures or cracks are deep, when they tend to become painful and the skin begins to bleed. This could lead to infection and need monitoring especially for those already suffering from chronic ailments such as diabetes or who have a depleted immune system due to age or illness which may slow down the treatment of cracked heels.

Many cracked heel repair creams that are available in the market today contain a range of chemicals that can aggravate your skin and increase discomfort. So go natural, and give your tootsies a real treat.

1. Scrubbing

Scrubbing the hard, dead skin away helps a great deal in getting rid of cracked feet. Before scrubbing, soak your feet in warm soapy water to help soften the skin and make it easier to scrub.
  • Before going to bed, mix some liquid soap in a foot tub filled with warm water.
  • Soak your feet in this warm soapy water for about 20 minutes.
  • Use a pumice stone to gently scrub off the loosened dead skin cells.
  • Rinse off your feet with clean water and pat dry with a soft towel.
  • Apply some foot cream or moisturizer and wear a pair of clean cotton socks overnight.


Follow this remedy daily until your cracked feet are healed completely.

2. Moisturize!

If you (like most people) take care to moisturize your face and even arms and legs but ignore your feet, you probably have very dry feet. The feet are already drier than most other body parts, so you need to work at keeping them soft and supple. Moisturize multiple times a day. If you have a medical condition like athlete’s foot or diabetes or are elderly, your feet may be drier than normal. This is usually because of reduced blood flow, damaged nerves, or, in the case of diabetics, high levels of blood glucose.

3. Regular Oil Massage

If you have a tendency to develop dry feet, then it is very important for you to regularly exfoliate your feet. But make sure that you do not use harmful cosmetic products on your feet and try to go for natural oils. If the cracks in your feet are bit deep, then you can think of massaging your feet with olive oil or almond oil regularly to reduce the cracked heels and feet. You can also use vegetable oil or coconut oil on the affected areas under the feet and massage softly so that your feet get the necessary blood circulation. You can leave this oil on your feet overnight and wash it off in the morning.

4. Vaseline And Lemon Juice Mixture

You need to first thoroughly clean and wash your feet and then pat it dry. Now, soak your feet in lukewarm water for about 20 minutes to soften your skin. After again patting your feet dry, you need to apply a mixture of one teaspoon of Vaseline and two or three teaspoons of lemon juice over the cracked areas of your feet. Rub it evenly so that the mixture gets absorbed by your skin. You need to leave it overnight and wash it off the next day morning and you will see crack-free feet in a week’s time.

5. Be Gentle And Cover Up

Pat your feet dry when you are done with a bath or soak. Don’t be rough, as this could cause threads from the towel to get stuck in the cracks. Put on a pair of clean, soft socks made with cotton or natural fabrics and wear footwear all the time. Don’t use rough material like wool directly on cracked skin as it can make it worse.2 Your footwear could be contributing to the problem, so avoid wearing high heels or flip flops for lengths of time.

Sources:
http://www.top10homeremedies.com/how-to/how-to-heal-cracked-feet.html
http://www.curejoy.com/content/how-to-heal-cracked-feet-naturally-03-2017/
http://www.myhealthtips.in/2013/09/how-to-heal-cracked-feet-quickly.html
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Wikicommons
By Sarah Marquart

Regenerative dental fillings that allow teeth to heal themselves have been developed by researchers, potentially eliminating the need for root canals. The treatment earned a prize from the Royal Society of Chemistry after judges described it as a "new paradigm for dental treatments."

THE ROOT (CANAL) OF THE PROBLEM

No one in their right mind would ever look forward to a filling at the dentist. Why can’t our teeth fix themselves? Maybe they can. At long last, scientists from the University of Nottingham and Harvard University may have revolutionized the way we look at treating dental issues. Their regenerative dental fillings allow teeth to heal themselves—potentially eliminating the need for the high-pitched drilling inherent in root canals.

Regenerating body parts sounds like something a superhero would do. So how do plain old humans get our teeth to regenerate without falling into a vat of toxic waste?

The tooth filling works by stimulating stem cells to encourage dentin growth. This is the bony material which makes up the majority of the tooth. Therefore, patients can effectively regrow teeth damaged through dental disease. Compared to the current methods used to treat cavities, this might sound great to anyone with a fear of the dentist.

REGENERATIVE DENTISTRY

Aside from a less traumatic experience in the chair, there are many benefits of this type of dentistry. “Existing dental fillings are toxic to cells and are therefore incompatible with pulp tissue inside the tooth,” said Adam Celiz, a research fellow from the University of Nottingham. “In cases of dental pulp disease and injury a root canal is typically performed to remove the infected tissues.”

Celiz describes the process, “We have designed synthetic biomaterials that can be used similarly to dental fillings but can be placed in direct contact with pulp tissue to stimulate the native stem cell population for repair and regeneration of pulp tissue and the surrounding dentin.”

This method won’t be available the next time you visit your local dentist. However, rest assured knowing scientists are hard at work developing the technique to replace traditional fillings.

References: Newsweek

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Παρασκευή, 17 Μαρτίου 2017

By Giovanni Bartolomeo

Yes, you read that right. As of this moment, I haven’t eaten for 53 days. There are many reasons why I chose to do this, which I will get into below, but the one thing I can say for sure is, the experience has not even come close to what I expected.

But first I must caution you not to try this at home. If you’re thinking of doing an extended fast PLEASE do your research first, and ease into it. You should also know that the way you break your fast is equally as important. Many P.O.W.s (prisoners of war) have died after returning from concentration camps because they ate too much food too quickly, so this is not something to be taken lightly.

Why I Started This Fast

To be totally honest, I’ve always wanted to embark on a “serious” fast. I had tried a 3-day and 7-day juice fast in the past, and although they were challenging, I felt I needed to go a little deeper. I’m also working on a CE documentary called Psyched Out that is about how everything we’re told about psychedelics may be wrong. (If you’re interested in learning more, click here to sign up to be notified when it’s released).

In the process of making this film I started exploring other ways to reach altered states of consciousness and fasting kept popping up, so I started interviewing people about fasting and the experiences they’d had, and found myself increasingly fascinated by the topic, not to mention all the religious references to fasting and experiences those seekers encountered while out in isolation on long fasting expeditions. Many people use these types of fasts as a healing mechanism but for me it was out of sheer curiosity.

“Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food. But to eat when you are sick, is to feed your sickness.“  -Hippocrates, M.D., 460-377 B.C., Father of western Medicine

At around the same time, my wife told me about this group on Facebook of people withering away, taking pictures of their poop (and many other nasty things coming out of them), and some even having their eyes change colour. At first I thought nothing of it, but a few days later she added me to it, and I was hooked. Intuitively I knew right away that this was for me, but the icing on the cake was when I found out that the creator of the fast, Gino DiSerio, lived in the same town I grew up in. I knew the universe was sending me a message so I got in contact with Gino, and within two weeks, I would be embarking on the Master Fast System.

The Master Fast System

Basically, the Master Fast is an extended fast that combines intermittent dry fasting (having a 6-8 hour window that you can drink juice in) with weekly and monthly extended dry fasts (24-48 hours of no food or water), drinking 1-3L of concord grape juice mixed with lemon juice daily within that window, taking a few tablespoons a day of a psyllium husk mixture with bentonite clay and activated charcoal (which they call psyllium pudding) to draw toxins from the intestine and keep the bowels moving, and some herbal tinctures taken with a kidney tea to filter the kidneys and support organs and glands through the detox. Enemas and colonics are also part of the system and are HIGHLY recommended to assist removal of toxins on the cleanse. All of this information can be found on the Master Fast website.

They recommend doing the fast for 108 days, which is very extreme and not appropriate for most people. I told myself I would aim for 40 days, which Gino says is the minimum required to get a good cleansing of the GI tract — the ultimate goal of the cleanse and the best way to reset the body. We have been clogging our system for years with foods and toxins that do not belong there, so we need a good clean to reset. Gino also believes we are meant to be mainly fruitarian, which he dives into a bit on the podcast (linked below).

In the Master Fast Facebook group, there are many incredible stories of transformation and healing on the physical, emotional, and mental levels. For example, there is a testimonial of a guy who healed his paralysis through extended fasting and is seen swimming in the ocean on a YouTube video.

My Experience

So I was ready to start, not knowing what to expect but open to any and all possibilities. I expected to feel lethargic and irritable (as I did on my 7-day juice fast a few years back), but it was quite the opposite. In the first week I felt amazing, and as the days went by I just felt better and better.

In the second or third week I started feeling aches and pains in my body, but I had read somewhere in the group that people claimed that old injuries would start to heal, and when I focused on where the pain was coming from (my middle toe and right hip flexor), I quickly realized these were old sports injuries, and within a few days the pain had subsided.

I think the theory goes something like this: when you start saving all the energy used to digest food it starts getting diverted to other places like brain function and healing. I’m not sure how to verify this scientifically but I can say that I felt it for sure!

“Instead of using medicine, rather, fast a day.” – Plutarch

“The best of all medicines are rest and fasting” – Benjamin Franklin

I still thought about food A LOT in the first three weeks. I was really contemplating how I would eat and what I would eat when I was done, and this would go on almost all day every day. I started to see what an addiction food was and slowly began to realize we don’t need to eat as much food as we do. We are responding more to cravings than a true need for food.

I know this is a very bold statement, and I’m planning to write an entire article about it and another short episode, but I compare it to when people say they need a cigarette or are dying for a cigarette — they are not going to die but really want it to the point that they will feel withdrawal. If we have been eating a certain way for many years, of course we will feel like that too. I’m not sure how to explain it, but you can see how close a link there is to food and emotions. As you stop eating, these emotions and cravings begin to disappear.

I have been doing a lot of reading and researching on the breatharian concept and an amazing author named Arnold Ehret created a theory that we are “air-gas” machines and we get our energy from the air and the various gases within it and very little from food, which may actually do more to slow us down than anything. He says the nutrition and protein theories that so much of our common nutritional understanding is based on were created based on very weak experiments and are still only “theories.” I don’t want to get too much into this here, but I just felt I needed to share that. I plan on writing a separate article that goes a lot deeper into why these theories appeal to me.

With this in mind, I made sure I was doing deep breathing exercises every day. The weight came off pretty quickly — I lost about 30 pounds in the first 30 days — but other than the way I looked (people couldn’t believe how skinny I got so quickly), I felt incredible. This is not normal for everyone, as most people will experience detox symptoms as their bodies release waste and toxins that have accumulated over a lifetime. Around the 30 day mark my food addiction had subsided, and I was at peace with not eating.

I started to experience a type of mental clarity that can be best described as what I saw in the movie Limitless starring Bradley Cooper. I was able to easily make difficult decisions and my intuition and creativity were operating on a whole new level altogether. I could sleep less (approximately five hours a night) but maintain an incredible focus on my work for extended periods throughout the day. I was reading books at an astonishing rate and am learning new things daily. For example, I learned how to edit videos in a single day, and this was something I had wanted to do for years but never got around to actually doing. (See my The Way Within video at the bottom of this article.) I also had a to-do list that seemed to have an ongoing list of things I would never get around to and yet managed to tackle in its entirety during this time.

More Than a Physical Cleansing

On day 40, I passed a two-foot-long worm (Or at least something that closely resembled one see pic below). It was either a rope or a tape worm, but I’m not an expert so I’m not going to guess. I also show a video of the worm at the end of the video attached below. This happened after I embarked on a 72 hour dry fast followed by a lemon and water enema. It felt amazing and I know almost every single one of us, especially those of us who eat meat and dairy, has parasites of some sort, and they literally suck your energy. Every time I would pass a few more buggers I would feel better and better. I also recently completed a 4 day dry fast (no food or water) and again something long and worm like came out with the enema (see pic).

I also noticed that my desire to be more organized had changed as well.

As I cleansed myself internally, I felt the need to clean and organize the external as well, which, for 35 years on this planet, had never been the case. I started cleaning out my computer files, desk drawers, and closets. For some reason I just needed to be more efficient, and I knew that every second saved in my life of rummaging through crap would benefit me in the long term.

Ancient Knowledge

All the ancients wrote and spoke about fasting as a spiritual practice to cleanse the body, mind, and soul, and I can totally understand that now. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and indigenous peoples from North and South America, among many others, use fasting as a ritual in their spiritual practices. I haven’t had a psychedelic experience while on this fast yet, but as I work myself up to longer dry fasts, I anticipate deeper experiences. jesus-dry-fastThere have been incredible shifts in myself and the way I see the world that I can attribute to this fast and I encourage anyone who resonates with this to give fasting a try, even if only for a couple of days. I have felt this incredible sense of peace and calm while on the fast; it’s like I am in a constant meditative state where I don’t react to situations and can easily see what the best outcome and course of action for me to take is. (And yes, sounds crazy to me, too.)

I interviewed Gino DiSerio,who created the Master Fast System, on our new show, The Way Within, where he talks about his 26-year journey to create the system. It goes against many of the concepts we have learned from the mainstream establishment, but I promise, it’s definitely an interesting listen. I also plan to share more specifics of my journey and create a fasting program on my own (along with Gino) in the near future. I have decided to break the fast after 55 days and losing 35 pounds, and will rebuild as a fruitarian on a mono diet and see how I feel. My intuition is telling me to do this, and I intend to listen.

Please feel free to connect with me on Facebook HERE or Instagram (@thewaywithin.me) HERE if you wish to follow my journey. You can also subscribe on YouTube below. If you want to join the way within mailing list to stay updated with new episodes you can do so at our website www.thewaywithin.me

Here’s the interview with Gino for those interested. Im going to do a short segment going over everything I did and even what I would change of I did it again. Subscribe to our mailing list if your interested!
Or you can listen to the interview on soundcloud:

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Σάββατο, 11 Μαρτίου 2017


Schizophrenia, a brain disorder that affects the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions, relates to others, and perceives reality, affects 2.2 million Americans. Genetics, brain chemistry, environment, and substance use are all considered considered to be the common causes for it.

Treatment for the disorder can allow many people to continue on with their lives in a highly productive and rewarding manner. But, like many other chronic illnesses, some patients do extremely well, while others continue to be symptomatic and need support and assistance.

The primary treatment for schizophrenia and similar thought disorders is medication, but one of the biggest problems associated with this is the inability for patients to follow through with a medication treatment, along with the concern of how such medications actually subside the most severe symptoms.

However, new research has shown that adding vitamin B supplements to typical treatments can be more beneficial in reducing symptoms than standard medications alone.

“When used as an adjunctive with antipsychotics, certain vitamins and minerals may be effective for improving symptomatic outcomes of schizophrenia, by restoring nutritional deficits, reducing oxidative stress, or modulating neurological pathways,” the abstract of the study reported.

The first meta-analysis carried out on the topic analyzed 18 different clinical trials, and found that higher doses of vitamin B, and doses combining several different B vitamins, were more efficient at keeping the condition in check continuously.

Currently, an estimated 80 percent of patients relapse within five years from treatment. Such an alarming statistic raises concern about the treatments available. However, this new information gives hope, suggesting that vitamins including B6, B8, and B12 could improve that statistic.

“Looking at all of the data from clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements for schizophrenia to date, we can see that B vitamins effectively improve outcomes for some patients,” explained one of the researchers, Joseph Firth from the University of Manchester in the UK. “This could be an important advance, given that new treatments for this condition are so desperately needed.”

The studies the researchers examined included a total of 832 patients. Though there were differences between the studies regarding their setup, vitamin B revealed to consistently help in the reduction of symptoms. And the sooner it was used, the more effective it was.

Though it is not fully understood why the supplements are of such benefit, researchers believe vitamins may help boost nutrition levels, lower oxidative stress, and balance out chemicals involved with schizophrenia.

The researchers hope that the vitamin B supplements may help the common relapses from typical treatments from occurring.

The patients who seemed to benefit the most from the added vitamin B already had nutritional or genetic deficiencies, and the studies involved used various dosages and types of vitamins.

Regardless, schizophrenia is an extremely complex condition. This is why all research and their findings are incredibly important to take into consideration. There is hope that other beneficial supplements could be of help as well.

“Further efforts should also be made to establish the mechanisms by which nutrients improve mental health in schizophrenia,” the researchers explained, “and to measure effects on other outcomes such as neurocognition and metabolic health.”

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Τρίτη, 7 Μαρτίου 2017

Relaxing or risky? Shutterstock
By Ian Hamilton | Mark Monaghan | Wayne Hall

Most cannabis users find that the effects of occasional use of the drug are pleasurable, but some regular users experience harm. Daily cannabis use can lead to cannabis dependence, and heavy use, over months and years, can lead some users to experience memory impairment and psychotic symptoms – hearing and seeing things that are not there.



Even though problem users are a minority, the number of people who use cannabis means that this minority actually represents a significant number of people. In the UK, about one in 11 people who try cannabis will develop a dependency. This equates to about 200,000 people. So if we could make cannabis safer, thousands of people would benefit.

What makes cannabis risky?

Unlike users in the US, those in Europe and the UK often smoke cannabis and tobacco joints, so one of the risks, along with cannabis dependency, is that the user can also develop a tobacco addiction.

Despite the fact that the numbers who smoke cigarettes has tumbled, the use of tobacco with cannabis has persisted and users aren’t always aware of the risk of developing a tobacco habit. This means that they might smoke more joints and confuse the symptoms of tobacco withdrawal with cannabis withdrawal.

Vaporisers allow the user to smoke cannabis without the use of tobacco, but while they are increasingly popular we don’t have enough evidence to recommend this as a safer alternative to the traditional joint. However, discouraging the combination of tobacco and cannabis in first-time users could improve their ability to have periodic breaks from drug use.

Potency

Daily or near daily use of cannabis is thought to be related to impaired thinking and reasoning (cognition). And heavy use over months and years can interfere with attending school, completing education and performing well at work. The active ingredient of cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is the chemical responsible for the high experienced by users as well as many of the negative effects on the brain. However cannabidiol (CBD), another constituent found in cannabis, appears to protect against the effects of THC on cognitive functioning and psychotic symptoms.

Cannabis strains with elevated THC levels have been developed to enhance the high and, unfortunately, this also increases the risk of adverse effects. According to some reports, while THC levels are increasing, concentrations of CBD are reducing in hash (cannabis resin), which suggests that hash producers may now be competing with producers of skunk (high potency cannabis).
THC and CBD ratio. Ian Hamilton, Author provided
But as well as the risks of THC, users with a family history of psychotic disorders are at even greater risk. And those who develop schizophrenia while continuing to use cannabis are more prone to relapse than those who did not use or who stopped using the drug.

Better measurement of cannabis use

Cannabis can be regulated in ways that reduce harm for users. One approach is to increase the tax on cannabis products with a higher THC content, making them more expensive.

A novel idea proposed by researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry and University College London is to find a ratio of THC and CBD that minimises the adverse effects of cannabis on health and brain functioning – this would probably involve increasing the levels of CBD. The rewarding effects or high would not appear to be compromised by doing so. Users who experienced adverse effects from high-potency cannabis could switch to products with higher levels of CBD. As higher concentrations of CBD appear to offer a protective effect against psychosis.

Legalisation of cannabis would allow researchers to assess the effects of using cannabis that varies in potency. Most of the epidemiological research on cannabis use was conducted in an era when lower-potency cannabis was probably used – and it was difficult for researchers to measure the THC and CBD with any degree of accuracy. But this can only be achieved if the research community can agree on exactly how cannabis potency should be assessed and reported.

But while this is debated and more research is conducted, we must ensure that cannabis users are already aware of the risk of daily cannabis use. Awareness of both tobacco and cannabis dependency, as well as the risk of memory impairment and psychosis associated with high levels of THC may be the first steps in making cannabis use safer.

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Δευτέρα, 6 Μαρτίου 2017

There is no sign of the suicide rate going down.  SpeedKingz/Shutterstock.com
University of Cambridge

Around one in 20 teenagers suffers from depression. Episodes can last for several months. Unfortunately, about 50% of teenagers who have a depressive episode are at risk of falling ill again, increasing the likelihood of relationship difficulties, educational failure and poor employment prospects. It’s important that treatments have a lasting effect to reduce the risk of becoming ill a second time.

My research investigates the causes of and treatments for adolescent mental illnesses, with a particular focus on depression. One of our key projects is evaluating the importance of various psychological treatments that are effective in helping young people with depression.

Only one treatment – cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – is approved by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for treating depression in teenagers. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of CBT therapists in the UK. This means that many young people with depression are placed on a waiting list, increasing their risk of worsening mental health.

With a growing rate of self-harm among depressed teenagers and no signs of the suicide rate going down, we have arguably reached a tipping point in services where we need to improve availability of therapies using existing mental health staff. With limited resources available for youth mental health in most countries, we need new therapeutic approaches that could be taught more easily than CBT but carry at least the same effectiveness for the depressed teenager.


Our “Improving mood with psychoanalytic and cognitive therapies” (IMPACT) study published in The Lancet Psychiatry considered three treatments: cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), short-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy (STPP) and brief psycho-social intervention (BPI).

CBT in this trial was a 20-session treatment focused on correcting negative thinking about the self, the world and the future, together with efforts to alleviate low mood arising from negative thoughts. STPP is a 28-session psychoanalytic treatment that aims to improve the ability to regulate mood and make and maintain positive relationships. BPI, in contrast, is a 12-session intervention that aims to provide information and explanations about depression, advising on immediate problems including keeping safe at this time of vulnerability, together with caring and support in making decisions about family school and friends.

There is good evidence that CBT works in adolescents. There is evidence that STPP is as good as CBT in adults, but, at the start of the trial we did not know if it worked for adolescents. We used BPI as a reference treatment, likely to be less effective than CBT or STPP because it uses fewer sessions and there is no evidence for or against its effectiveness.

We carried out a randomised controlled trial of 465 teenagers, referred to 15 NHS clinics across England. Each participant had a diagnosis of depression. We wanted to know if STPP is as effective as CBT. We also expected that both of these more intensive and specialist therapies would be more effective than BPI.

Our main goal was to find out which of these therapies showed the most enduring effects a year after the end of treatment. If we could show such a long-term effect we may have revealed a therapy that is not only a useful treatment but, importantly, also reduces the chances of a second episode occurring – something which is very common in teenage years.

More to choose from

We found that two-thirds of the depressed teenagers from each of the three treatments (CBT, STPP, BPI) showed improvements. Participants who responded continued to do so up to a year after their treatment ended.

Treatment effects (defined as a drop in depression symptoms of 50% or more, 12 months after the end of treatment) were obtained with between six to eleven sessions of therapy delivered over a three to six-month period for each category. These improvements were had using about half of the sessions planned for each treatment. We believe that many teenagers do not remain in longer-term treatments once they are confident they are functioning reasonably normally again or because they believe there is little likelihood therapy will do them any good.

We are currently analysing detailed information from the patients to understand their experience of treatment and confirm our speculations about the preference for shorter than planned therapy.

The total costs of treatment, including the subsequent use of health and social services after the end of treatment, were no different across the three therapies. The results are important as there is a limited choice of talking therapies. The fact that all three therapies are equally effective, and cost about the same to implement, means that we can now offer alternatives to depressed young people.

The next step is to see how we can target these treatments more precisely to patients’ needs as we suspect that there are important individual differences in determining which psychological treatment suits each type of depressed young person. We believe that each of these psychological treatments may have advantages for distinct groups of adolescent depression. Targeting the treatments in a more personalised manner may deliver more efficient and effective therapy and further reduce time to remission as well as lower the risk of further episodes.

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