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7 Sure Signs You’re Having a Heat Stroke

by Staci Marks on June 25, 2012

With the summer solstice behind us, summer has officially kicked in, and so has the heat. Skyrocketing temperatures throughout the next couple of months may inspire us to seek shelter in the pool or under a cabana, snacking on cold treats like popsicles and chilled mugs of beer. During the summer, it is extremely important to stay hydrated and cool off in the shade or air conditioning from time to time. Too much exposure to the heat without respite may cause heat exhaustion, dehydration, and even heat stroke. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may be at risk for heat stroke and should cool off as soon as possible.

  1. Difficulty breathing

    Any breathing irregularity combined with the heat should be quickly evaluated. Your breathing during a heat stroke might be deep or shallow, erratic, and will feel difficult or painful. It may feel as though you are hyperventilating. If you’re in a hot environment and are partaking in strenuous activity or unable to cool off, labored breathing is a strong warning sign of a heat stroke. When your organs become overheated, they don’t work as well. This applies to your lungs, too.

  2. High body temperature

    If you’re concerned that you’re having a heat stroke, take note of your body’s actual temperature. In essence, a heat stroke is hyperthermia, or abnormally high body temperature. If the thermometer reads that your temperature is above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, you need to take immediate action to get your temperature back down. Retreat to a cool place, drink plenty of water, or take a cold shower — anything to lower your body temperature, as excessively high fevers can lead to a coma or death.

  3. Racing heartbeat

    In the event of a heat stroke, your pulse may be abnormally high. This is because your heart is working overtime to cool down your body. The stress placed on the heart produces a rapid heart rate, at or exceeding 130 beats per minute. The heart usually functions at around 60 to 100 beats per minute. You might suspect you’re having a heart attack, because the sensations and symptoms have similarities.

  4. Muscle cramps

    During a heat stroke, you may experience heat cramps or other muscle irregularities. Your muscles may become rigid or go limp. Heat cramps are typically due to a lack of electrolytes, which can easily happen if you’re sweating excessively and not replenishing your lost nutrients. The dehydration causes you to be deficient in minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. The cramps may be painful and, in a heat stroke, might not disperse after resting and thus may require medical attention.

  5. Hot, but not sweating

    During a heat stroke, your flesh may be red, but your skin might feel dry to the touch rather than moist with sweat. This is because you’re so dehydrated that your body is unable to administer its usual cooling mechanism through sweat. High heat or humidity often disable your body’s natural sweating ability. Evaporation of sweat cools your body down, drawing heat from your blood to the surface of the skin. Thus, if you aren’t sweating but have a high temperature and feel physically hot, chances are you’re having a heat stroke.

  6. Seizures

    During a heat stroke, a person may experience a seizure, which is when the brain behaves abnormally, misfiring synapses. This can cause loss of consciousness, paralysis, spasms, or total stillness accompanied by a blank stare. A seizure involving a great deal of thrashing is often referred to as a grand mal fit, while a seizure without much movement is referred to as petit mal. The seizure in a heat stroke is often prompted by a high fever and usually only lasts a couple of minutes.

  7. Hallucinations or confusion

    As the heat stroke worsens, the individual may become confused or suffer from hallucinations. These neurological side effects happen as a result of stress on the brain. The person may have slurred speech and be unable to communicate well or understand you. The disorientation resulting from the heat is one of the most serious clues as to a heat stroke and the person should be rushed to the hospital or immediately cooled off and given fluids.

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Bacon makes an excellent side dish to eggs and pancakes. It can greatly enhance a burger. It even works well as a star ingredient on a BLT. However, in the past couple of years, bacon has completely overstepped its boundaries. In the latest addition to the bacon craze, Burger King created a Bacon Sundae, a regular ice cream sundae bastardized by the use of chunky bacon slivers. No matter how much you might enjoy bacon, it simply doesn’t pair well with every food group. Some dishes are meant to be enjoyed bacon-free, and are rendered grotesque by the swine by-product.

  1. J&D’s Bacon Pop

    J&D’s Bacon Pop is popcorn flavored to taste like bacon. The website describes how, instead of salvaging your bacon grease to pair with popcorn on the stove, you can now pop it in a bag in a convenient five minutes. This is stated as though there were a faction of people that actually do save their bacon grease for popcorn endeavors. On the plus side, it’s one of the least belt-bursting options for bacon misuse, with around 420 calories per bag. The company also makes bacon salt, baconnaise, bacon ranch dressing, and envelopes with bacon-flavored adhesive. J&D’s is on a self-proclaimed “quest to make everything taste like bacon.”

  2. Gourdough’s Flying Pig Donut

    Gourdough’s is a donut shop parsed out from an airstream trailer in Austin, Texas. It may be a simple food truck, but it has gotten quite a bit of press, appearing on a segment of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, profiled in GQ, and written up in Texas Monthly. They pride themselves on strange, hearty donut flavors, such as the “Mother Clucker,” a regular glazed donut topped with fried chicken and honey butter icing. However, their tour de force is the “Flying Pig,” a bacon-topped donut with maple flavored icing. So, if you’re craving an artery-clogger that combines both savory and sweet elements, Gourdough’s “Flying Pig” may be for you.

  3. Bakon Vodka

    Bakon Vodka is exactly what it sounds like — bacon-flavored vodka. Bakon Vodka was made to accommodate mixologists around the world who wanted a base for savory cocktails. Reportedly, they start with a potato vodka, distilled from potatoes. While it might work well with a bloody Mary, the idea of vodka infused with salty, fat-laden pig strips is utterly disgusting. Select liquor stores carry Bakon Vodka across the United States. The website lists a multitude of cocktails you could make with Bakon Vodka, such as the “BLT Martini,” “Pizza Shot,” and the “Loaded Bakon,” the latter of which is comprised of the namesake vodka with half-and-half, pepper, chives, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce. That’s good, I suppose, if you want a baked potato that can get you drunk.

  4. Torani Bacon Syrup

    To go along with your bacon donut, you can now enjoy a bacon-flavored latte using Torani’s bacon flavored syrup. In fact, this exact recipe can be found on Torani’s website. The Bacon Breakfast Latte is made by combining the bacon syrup, French vanilla syrup, milk, and espresso. Once again, bacon takes its form as a gag-worthy additive to a once-delicious morning ritual. Yet, at least bacon is being used for the context of breakfast in this scenario, which is a step back in the right direction. One 375-milliliter bottle of this bad boy sells for $6.95.

  5. Jack-in-the-Box Bacon Shake

    Before Burger King made their Bacon Sundae, Jack-in-the-Box sprung on the bacon train with the Bacon Shake. Made with vanilla ice cream and bacon syrup, it is topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry as though it were any average milkshake. In no way can the Bacon Shake make it onto the Healthy Dining menu, however. The Bacon Shake clocks in at 773 calories for the 16-ounce serving. Thankfully, the Bacon Shake looks like a standard, unoffending vanilla shake, and neither has bacon bits sprinkled on top nor the sickly, pink hue of raw bacon.

  6. Vosges Bacon Chocolate

    You may have seen Vosges chocolate at your local Whole Foods, as it’s a relatively expensive brand of chocolate bar that comes in a variety of gourmet flavorings. Sadly, Vosges tarnished their reputation as a premier chocolatier when they released Mo’s Bacon Bar in both light and dark chocolate varieties. On their website, Vosges describes each bar as being enraptured by “hickory smoked uncured bacon and Alderwood smoked salt.” It doesn’t matter which way you spin it — bacon is not a gourmet ingredient, even if it’s cooked in truffle oil and served alongside foie gras.

  7. Uncle Oinker’s Gummy Bacon

    Archie McPhee created the unthinkable with Uncle Oinker’s Gummy Bacon, a pervasion on the gummy candy fame that birthed gummy bears, Swedish fish, and gummy worms. Each box contains four, 20 gram gummy bacon slices. Thankfully, gummy bacon isn’t actually flavored to taste like bacon, but merely looks like bacon. The flavor is actually strawberry, a confusing sensation for the eyes and tongue. Archie McPhee’s website also features Bacon Mints, Bacon Soap, and Bacon Gumballs, all of which do taste or smell like bacon. Each box of Gummy Bacon costs $4.95.

  8. The Bacon Explosion

    BBQ Addicts created a monstrosity called “The Bacon Explosion,” which is barbecue seasoned bacon, wrapped around Italian sausage, wrapped around twice-cooked bacon with more barbecue sauce. The result is a hefty brick of fatty protein. To consume it, you slice it up like salami, showing the pinwheel of meat inside. The Bacon Explosion can be purchased fully smoked and ready to eat through the website, or you could venture to try and make it yourself at home after slaughtering an entire pig farm. The excessively meaty creation was featured in The New York Times, CNN.com, and Good Morning America.

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Cancerous Risks

by Staci Marks on June 18, 2012

It is presumable that everyone has been affected by cancer in some way or another. It is one of the most depressing words that people will ever hear in their lifetime. Through medical research, we have been able to fight cancer and return hope to people’s lives. However, cancer still affects 11 million Americans. For many women, cancer can feel like an unfair aliment. After all the changes that a woman’s body goes through in her lifetime, many have a hard time facing cancer as well. There are five types of cancers that affect women at a higher rate than the other forms.

Breast Cancer

One of the most commonly known types of cancers for women is breast cancer. With breast cancer, women will experience an uncontrolled growth of breast cells. More often than not, the cancer will actually form in the lobules. These are the milk-producing glands that allow for milk drainage. Breast cancer will then continue to grow and if it makes its way into the lymph nodes, it has an opportunity to spread to the rest of the body. Though breast cancer can be hereditary, it is more likely caused by a genetic change or your aging body. Breast cancer will affect more women than lung cancer and accounts for about 30% of all female cancers. Women who are diagnosed have a variety of treatment options. One of the most extreme is to have a lumpectomy. This will remove the breast and prevent the cancer from spreading into the body. Other treatment options include: chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapy, holistic medicine or even drug treatment.

Lung Cancer

Most people attribute lung cancer to a long life of smoking, unfortunately smokers are not the only individuals who suffer from this disease. With lung cancer, abnormal cells will grow in one or both of your lungs. As they grow they will begin to block the lungs and hinder the functions that they were performed to do. This type of cancer is the second highest reported kind for both women and men. Lung cancer can even take a long time to be diagnosed. That is probably why it is the cancer with the highest death rates and why people usually get diagnosed later in life. Exposure to asbestos, environmental factors, and secondhand smoke are all factors other than smoking that can be attributed to a person getting lung cancer. Treatment usually includes surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation depending on the severity of the cancer.

Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer is another form of cancer that affects women. Currently, this form is the fourth most common form of cancer in women. The average age of women who discover that they have uterine cancer is 60, though 25% of all cases that are diagnosed are found in women before they go through menopause. Usually this form of cancer grows very slowly and will usually start as endometrial hyperplasia. Usually a hysterectomy is performed on patients or removal of the lymph nodes in the pelvis and lower abdomen. Other treatments are radiation, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy.

As a woman, it is important to meet with your doctor regularly to go over your medical history. Though genetics aren’t always a factor, it is important to understand what all of our risks are. As we age it is more common to develop the types of cancers that affect women. By following the recommended testing guidelines and talking to your doctor you will be able to detect any problems that you may be having from the beginning.

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Sodium: The Basics

by Julia McCartney on June 18, 2012

When it comes to a healthy diet, it’s important to keep sodium levels in check. Sodium is a mineral that plays a very important role in the human body. It carries or pumps fluids into cells throughout the body. Potassium, another mineral, carries away the byproducts. If you were to completely eliminate sodium from your diet, you would be in trouble. By the same token, however, excessive sodium is dangerous too. A healthy adult should consume 2,300 milligrams of sodium or less per day, which is roughly equal to about a teaspoon of salt. If sodium levels in the body become too high, or if a person has a sensitivity to salt, the risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease and stroke all increase. Research also suggests that too much sodium can weaken the bones. Learn more about sodium below.

Where is Sodium Found?

In general, natural foods contain very little sodium. The majority of sodium that is consumed on a daily basis is found in processed foods. Examples include deli meats, baked goods, prepared condiments like sauces and dressings and canned goods. Fresh fruits and vegetables generally contain very little sodium. In countries where very few processed foods are consumed, rates of hypertension, stroke and cardiovascular disease are noticeably lower.

How does Sodium Interact with the Body?

As mentioned above, sodium works to carry or pump fluids into cells in the body, By doing so, it maintains the body’s balance of electrolytes. It also maintains the body’s acid-base balance. Sodium also plays an important role in the contraction of muscles, and it aids in nerve transmissions as well. Without it, your body would be unable to function properly. As with so many other things though, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. In fact, modern diets make it extremely easy for people to exceed their maximum daily allowance of sodium, which largely explains the many health crises facing people today.

How Much Sodium is Found in Common Foods?

You’re sure to be shocked when you learn how much sodium is found in everyday foods. To put it into perspective, keep in mind that you should try to consume 2,300 milligrams or less of sodium per day. A few examples include:

  • Peanut Butter – 600mg
  • Processed Cheese – 1,100mg
  • Dry Cereal – 700mg to 1,100mg
  • Milk – 50mg
  • Fresh Salmon – 65g
  • Canned Salmon – 400mg
  • Raisins – 30mg
  • Crackers – 1,100mg
  • Canned Soup – 350mg to 450mg
  • Yogurt – 50mg
  • Reading Labels to Check for Sodium

    If you’re trying to maintain a low-sodium diet, you’re going to have to learn how to read nutrition labels effectively. It’s not just listed as “sodium” in ingredients lists either. It may also be called sodium phosphate, monosodium glutamate, or MSG, sodium citrate, sodium alginate or another complex-sounding chemical name. When reading a list of ingredients on a nutrition label, keep in mind that they are listed in order from high to low. In other words, the ingredients that are the most abundant in a type of food are listed first. If you see sodium near the top of the list, you can surmise that the food has a lot of it.

    The nutrition label should also list how many milligrams are contained in a serving. Make note of what constitutes a serving size too. If you consume three to four servings, for example, you could easily exceed your daily allowance of sodium in one sitting. It may also be listed as a percentage of the daily calorie intake of a healthy adult.

    Forms of Salt

    In addition to regular table salt, salt may be sold as sea salt, rock salt, kosher salt or iodized salt, which is infused with iodine. Keep in mind that sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, is also a form of salt.

    Prescription Medications

    Another thing to be aware of is that many prescription medications contain high levels of sodium. Laxatives, antacids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are all prime examples. By law, information about sodium must be included on the label. If you take a medication that has a high level of sodium, check with your doctor to see if low-sodium alternatives are available. In many cases, they are.

    Tips for Reducing the Amount of Sodium that You Consume

    Whether you’ve been ordered to consume less sodium by your doctor or not, it’s smart to limit the amount of sodium that you consume on a daily basis. It will help to keep your blood pressure in check, and it may help if you have been experiencing bloating and water retention too. A low-sodium diet may help you feel better in general. Here are a few tips for limiting the amount of sodium that you consume:

  • Limit Salty Snacks - As delicious as potato chips and crackers may be, they are loaded with sodium. Reserve them for
    special occasions.
  • Eat Fresh Fruits, Veggies and Other Unprocessed Foods - Keep plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits in the house. Stock up on other unprocessed foods. These types of food tend to have very low amounts of sodium. When the mood to nosh on something strikes, you’ll have a low-sodium option on hand.
  • Choose the Right Dairy Products - Many dairy products are loaded with sodium. Stick with dairy products that are low in fat and sodium. It should say so right on the label.
  • Stick with Unsalted Broths - When a recipe calls for broth, buy the unsalted variety. It’s an easy way to keep sodium levels in check.
  • Use Pepper Instead - In addition to spicing up your foods without the need for sodium, black pepper contains piperene, which some researchers believe may work to block the formation of new fat. By getting into the habit of using black pepper, you can keep sodium levels low and potentially lose weight too.
  • Getting into the swing of a low-sodium diet isn’t easy at first, but you’re sure to get the hang of it in no time. The health benefits that you’ll enjoy make it well worth it.

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    8 Nutrients Most Essential for Fetal Development

    by Staci Marks on June 14, 2012

    Pregnant women can’t simply eat whatever they want, as a balanced diet is crucial for healthy fetal development. If you fail to get certain nutrients while your baby is forming, you risk subjecting the fetus to birth defects and learning disabilities. Likewise, the mother may experience more complications with her own body throughout the pregnancy if she eats an unhealthy diet, and could have problems with labor when it’s time for the baby to be born. To get the right nutrients, pregnant women should subscribe to a diet rich in vitamins and minerals. Most of them are common sense, although the amounts you should get vary from nutrient to nutrient.

    1. Folic acid

      Folic acid is crucial because it prevents babies from being born with neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. These serious birth defects can cause lifelong paralysis and the baby to be born with part of its brain missing. Folic acid helps with cell division and formation, and in pregnancy, helps the baby form the neural tube that will become the spinal cord and brain. If the fetus doesn’t get enough folic acid, the neural tube may not close properly, putting the baby at risk for defects. Yet, by adding folic acid to your diet, you can help prevent a string of problems from occurring, such as cleft lip and low birth weight. You can get your required intake of 600 mcgs of folic acid by munching on leafy, green vegetables, bananas, or nuts.

    2. Iron

      When you’re pregnant, getting enough iron in your diet is important because it plays an essential role in your baby’s brain development. Research conducted by University of Rochester Medical Center showed that anemia or iron deficiency in infants may slow the onset of auditory nervous system development, compromising the baby’s ability to comprehend sound. This could lead to language problems down the line. When a mother doesn’t get enough iron, her baby may also be born with a low birth weight, which can bring on some complications. However, a mother should not get too much iron, as excess amounts can be toxic. Getting iron from a healthy diet is likely better than resorting to iron pills during pregnancy, which can supply a mother with more iron than she requires.

    3. Zinc

      Zinc helps your unborn baby’s cells grow and replicate, and is a necessary nutrient throughout all stages of pregnancy. Without zinc, you put your baby at risk for miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy. It can also cause toxemia. A pregnant woman should have somewhere between 12 and 15 milligrams of zinc in her diet during pregnancy. It’s uncommon for women in the United States to have a zinc deficiency, since it is already readily incorporated into our diets. Lamb, beef, and crab meat all contain zinc, and vegetarians may get zinc from fortified cereals, nuts, and beans. Your prenatal vitamin may also contain a supplement of zinc.

    4. Iodine

      The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism notes that not getting enough iodine during fetal development can lead to the infant contracting attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders. Extreme iodine deficiency can even cause mental retardation. Pregnant women need more iodine than usual because maternal thyroid hormone production increases by about 50%, resulting in iodine loss. When they do not get enough, they may develop goiter or thyroid problems. Sprinkling iodized salt on food can help considerably in getting iodine in your diet.

    5. Docosahexaenoic acid

      Also known as DHA, docosahexaenoic acid is an Omega-3 fatty acid that helps in your baby’s brain development. Getting the right amount of DHA can increase your baby’s intelligence, providing them with better attention spans and capacity to learn. Getting DHA can be as simple as adding salmon or Omega-3 fortified eggs to your diet. According to the March of Dimes, pregnant women should get 200 milligrams of DHA daily to ensure optimal infant brain, eye, and nervous system development.

    6. Calcium

      Not only does calcium promote strong bones in adults, but it also helps in fetal development by administering bone growth. Calcium aids in blood clotting, the sending of nerve signals, muscle contractions, hormone release and heartbeat regulation. Pregnant mothers need to make sure that they are getting their usual calcium intake during pregnancy so that there is enough left over for the baby, although a supplement is usually not needed unless you are calcium deficient. The Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board suggests that everyone gets 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily, including pregnant women. Likewise, a 2010 study published in The Journal of Nutrition indicated that a calcium-deficient mother could give birth to a child more prone to increased body fat percentage, elevated triglycerides and insulin resistance.

    7. Vitamins

      Moms need to eat essentially an alphabet of vitamins, including vitamin A, B-vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin D. Vitamins play an important role in fetal development. Vitamin A and beta carotene help your baby grow bones and teeth, flawless baby skin, and help with eyesight development. While 770 mcg should be consumed daily, pregnant women must limit their intake of A vitamins derived from animals, which can adversely affect development. B-vitamins each have their benefits, from B-1, which regulates your nervous system and energy levels while pregnant to B-12, which aids in the formation of red blood cells. Vitamin C works to keep your body tissues undamaged, while vitamin D promotes strong bones. Vitamin E has multiple benefits, such as aiding in the absorption of vitamin K and muscle formation.

    8. Protein

      A developing fetus needs protein because it encourages cell growth, provides the amino acids that boost in bone and muscle development, and allows for healthy blood production. By contrast, a lack of protein can cause a myriad of issues, including poor muscle and joint development, poor bone development, muscle or bone deformities, miscarriage, brain damage and a high risk of birth defects. A pregnant mother lacking protein may feel weak and fatigued. To ensure her baby develops normally, a mother should consume 70 grams of protein daily, from sources like eggs, peanut butter, and meats. However, she should avoid eating soft or unpasteurized cheeses as a source of protein, as they contain bacteria that could cause food-borne illnesses.

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    The Potential Benefits of Marijuana

    by Julia McCartney on June 14, 2012

    The use of medicinal marijuana is often parodied in popular culture, news cycles and political circuits. South Park forgot to mention, however, that medicinal marijuana is a potent deterrent against serious, progressive diseases like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s. While the movement to establish its legality is largely lead by a category of well-intentioned but uninformed “recreational” users, researchers at the Center for Medical Cannabis Research and other prestigious institutions are starting to add more substantial fuel to the fire.

    According to the growing number of medicinal marijuana studies, cannabis mimics a potent anti-oxidant to reduce stress on the brain, preserve neurotransmitters, and facilitate healthy aging. Critical thinkers and the opposition can’t help but ask, however: Is the campaign for cannabis a well-orchestrated hoax or a truly philanthropic effort in medical science? The following findings will expose it as the latter.

    Research Findings

    The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research has published a wealth of findings on the efficacy of marijuana as a disease-preventing agent. In “Cannabis for Treatment of HIV-Related Peripheral Neuropathy,” the CMCR illustrated one of the most widespread applications of medicinal marijuana: pain management. Subjects who received medicinal marijuana, as opposed to those who received placebos, reported less “experimentally-induced pain.” For those already undergoing harsh radiation and chemotherapy treatments, marijuana has a dual benefit. In addition to pain management, seasoned users will attest to the “munchies,” or increased appetite, that sets in after just one use. This provides a safe, invaluable advantage to these radiation patients, who often find it difficult to eat due to nausea.

    Additionally, researchers for NORML.org, an organization that uses empirical evidence to support the legalization of marijuana, have cited the use of cannabis to address autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. The Chinese have used cannabis for this purpose since before their millenia-old history was written. Unable to deny the dynamism of marijuana in treating serious diseases any longer, the American Medical Association called for more clinical research, implying that the herb may soon develop a much stronger presence in modern pharmacology.

    THC and CBD

    So what are the specific ingredients in marijuana, and how do they reap such positive effects for all kinds of patients? Possibly the most helpful among these ingredients is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. As most people are aware, THC decreases nausea, acting as an appetite stimulant for cancer patients and others suffering from nausea. But THC has also been exposed as an effective mood-improving ingredient. Alzheimer patients in a study featured on The Cannabis Medical Organization‘s website demonstrated less troubled behavior after receiving THC extracts.

    Medical researchers now know that tetrahydrocannabinol decreases pressure in the eyes due to fluid buildup, which may be the cause of the improved behavior that mentally suffering patients experience. In the long term, THC helps to delay or even halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by preserving acetylcholine, one of the body’s most important neurotransmitters. With the degradation of acetylcholine, a major player in the reception and execution of muscular and sensory impulses from the brain, comes disease and dysfunction.

    Cannabidiol, or CBD, the next active ingredient in marijuana, has similarly vast applications in brain and neuron preservation. CBD acts as an anti-psychotic, which renders it an effective supplement option for schizophrenia sufferers. It also slows the growth and spread of breast cancer cells.

    CBD interferes with THC absorption in the liver, which helps to counteract THC’s sedative effects and bring out the anti-oxidant benefits of both ingredients. When paired, the two ingredients protect nerves from the oxidative stress experienced by aging people. This is the combination that so accurately targets two of the most elusive boons of medical science: Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s.

    More Medical Applications

    In addition to treating Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease, medical marijuana helps cure anorexia, Tourette’s, dystonia, MS, glaucoma, epilepsy, and a large number of yet undefined psychiatric abnormalities. The Cannabis Medical Organization has also unveiled marijuana’s potential as an anti-inflammatory medication. This was determined in light of the subjective accounts of cannabis test subjects suffering from inflammatory diseases, who reported a decreased need for NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

    While the neuro-chemical origins of this effect remain unclear, marijuana has been reported to relieve spasms. People who suffer from hiccups, restless leg syndrome, epilepsy, and other neuro-muscular conditions have experienced a severe reduction or even a complete elimination of their symptoms. Other less-known applications of marijuana that are drawing more attention in medical science include pruritus, attention deficit disorder, and high blood pressure treatments.

    Illegality

    With virtually no exceptions, marijuana is still only legal for medical use. While hopeful conspiracy theorists claim that big tobacco is ready to mobilize marijuana with already completed packaging, slogans, and product, they will have to stow their pipes until further notice or meet consequence. As the topic becomes more popular and more sensitive, states are beginning to modify legislation to lessen penalties for marijuana possession and use, which pacifies eager medical scientists and keeps prisons from filling up too quickly. As it stands currently, up to 24 ounces of marijuana from up to fifteen different plants can be used for medical purposes in seventeen states and the District of Columbia. Each state differs in how many ounces can be used and what citizenship status, medical conditions, and residency are required.

    To support safe and effective herbology over the pharmacological Frankensteins that are beginning to emerge, conscientious Americans can research the potential benefits of marijuana and publicly support their position. Having never claimed a life directly from an overdose, marijuana could be the safest, most effective medicine available for the world’s future generations.

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    The AIDS Monster Under Your Bed

    by Staci Marks on June 13, 2012

    Here we are in 2012, and we are still hearing about deadly diseases that threaten our very existence. At times it seems that for every deadly illness we make advances to, there is another one that will creep up and take its place. That is exactly what medical experts are dealing with right now. Just when it feels like the medical community got a handle on AIDS, we are hearing that there may be another deadly disease, Chagas, which is slowly moving into the United States. Is there anything that experts can learn from fighting AIDS to combat Chagas, and is there anything that we should really be worried about?

    History of AIDS

    Perhaps the best way to understand how this new disease is spreading is to examine how the AIDS virus developed. Though the first cases were identified in the United States in 1981, it made its first recorded appearance in the Congo in 1959. Since the first strands originated in Africa, it is believed that they were originally spread from chimpanzees after World War II. When the virus was first discovered in the United States it began appearing in gay men. According to AVERT, it is estimated that more than one million people are living with HIV in the United States and that more than half a million have died after developing AIDS. In terms of race, the African American population has the highest amount of recorded cases. In terms of sex, most men get it from their male sexual partners while women obtain it through heterosexual contact. It is important that everybody understand the difference between HIV and AIDS. HIV is a immune virus that will lead to AIDS in some patients. Scientists have spent the last few decades trying to find a cure for both HIV and AIDS. Currently there is no specific cure but there are treatments that can help fight HIV from turning into AIDS.

    Chagas: A New Concern?

    As if our problems fighting HIV and AIDS were not enough, experts are now saying that Chagas could be the new “AIDS of the Americas.” Researchers are calling the new virus that because of the similarities in how it is spreading. The disease itself is currently very hard to detect and can take years for someone to show symptoms — often when it is too late to provide treatment. Chagas was discovered by a Brazilian doctor in 1909 and has mainly been contained into Latin America. However, our desire to travel has made people more exposed to the disease and has thus spread throughout North and South America. People usually obtain the infection from a blood sucking bug called Trypanosoma cruzi. It is a parasite that is injected into the individual’s blood stream. Once inside the body it can move around, manifest itself in the heart and even multiply. Many patients will eventually develop deadly heart conditions as a result. Researchers are now even speculating that Charles Darwin could have died of the infection.

    Looking Forward

    Though there are several similarities to HIV and AIDS and the comparisons have begun, many are saying that there is no reason that the two should be categorized together. According to Rick Tarelton, president of the Chagas Disease Foundation, the only direct correlation is that this disease originated affecting the poor populations of the world. His feeling is that since there are so many misunderstanding about HIV and AIDS then it is not fair to allow those misconceptions to now be placed on Chagas. One of the main reasons that it is not comparable to AIDS is that it can be treated within three months. The problem that we currently see from the treatment is that many people do not get the treatment for the infection because they can simply not afford it, not because there is not one available.

    Even though the infection of Chagas is something that everyone should be worried about, experts agree that it is not as scary as it was originally thought. The reasons for the AIDS comparison was meant to bring awareness to a forgotten disease. Still, if you think that you may be infected get examined immediately, especially if you have been traveling to Latin America.

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    The Truth About Flesh Eating Diseases

    by Staci Marks on June 11, 2012

    Twenty-four-year-old Aimee Copeland found herself without a foot, an entire leg, and hands a month after being admitted to the hospital for a leg wound. She had been using a homemade zipline that broke and gashed her leg. Twenty staples were used to close the cut but a short while later doctors discovered infection had set in. Known as Necrotizing Fasciitis, the “flesh-eating” disease began to enter her bloodstream and the doctors knew there would be no saving the leg. Unfortunately, it spread to the rest of her body and her other foot had to be amputated as well. The scariest part of this story is that this kind of incident is not isolated.

    Case Frequency and Instances

    CNN reported that there are fewer than 250 cases of this kind of infection reported every year, as estimated by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Roemmele, a co-founder of the National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation, recently heard the tragic story of Aimee Copeland and shared some interesting insight. Herself a survivor of the infection, Roemmele said she has known of many similar incidents — some including the death of the infected individual within 24 hours.

    Apparently, the toughest part about dealing with the disease is the diagnosis in the early stages. It’s hard for doctors to tell if someone has Necrotizing Fasciitis right away. Fighting it by the time it is discovered is extremely difficult. If identified early on, however, it can be treated with standard antibiotics fairly successfully.

    Not Really Flesh-eating

    The National Center for Biotechnology Information disproves the idea that Necrotizing Fasciitis is actually flesh-eating. The bacteria enter the body through damaged skin (cuts or scrapes) and as it grows, toxins are released into the bloodstream and nearby cells. This causes the damage to spread as more flesh becomes infected and as the tissue dies, more bacteria enter the bloodstream. This carries the bacteria to other parts of the body that can become infected as well.

    Causes and Solutions

    Weak immune systems provide the highest risk to this happening, but even then the disease is very rare. The best prevention against this kind of infection is to thoroughly clean any cuts or open wounds. This will reduce the chance that bacterial growth will become established.

    If you do detect any of the symptoms, such as pain disproportionate to the wound or injury, and severe flu symptoms followed by a raging thirst and dehydration, get to a doctor as soon as possible. Prompt diagnosis is necessary in order to prevent disfigurement or loss of limb.

    Although organizations are attempting to promote general public awareness, educating yourself and paying attention to the beginning symptoms will significantly boost your chances of catching the infection in its early stages.

    If you do contract Necrotizing Fasciitis and end up in the hospital to have it treated, the National Necrotizing Fasciitis website lists a few things you can expect. First of all, antibiotic IV therapy will be used to combat the disease to contain and prevent spreading. In addition to the antibiotics, aggressive skin removal is usually necessary in order to prevent loss of life.

    Happy Ending

    Going back to the story about Aimee Copeland, her father blogged that after a rough week of phantom pain and emotional struggles, her lungs have returned to health and she can finally speak again.She is still in critical condition, being kept in a burn center, but doctors expect her to make a fully recovery. Despite being short a few limbs, Aimee is lucky; many cases of this infection end in death.

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    Potential Complications of Diabetes

    by Julia McCartney on June 8, 2012

    Diabetes is becoming an increasingly large problem in our society. Although many people realize that diabetes is a challenging disease to live with, they don’t realize that diabetes can cause and is associated with several other debilitating health problems. Typically, most complications that arise from diabetes don’t manifest until 10 to 20 years after a person has diabetes. However, because many people who get diabetes don’t show any symptoms, the presence of a complication from diabetes might be the first sign that something is wrong.

    Diabetes can cause a lot of issues with the circulatory system and blood vessels. Over time, elevated blood glucose levels will weaken the walls of blood vessels. This can cause people with diabetes to become twice as likely as others to develop cardiovascular diseases. Specifically, diabetes has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. As many as two out of three people with diabetes also suffer from high blood pressure. Diabetes can also have a significant impact on a person’s kidneys. Your kidneys are a filter for your blood, and diabetes can cause your kidneys to filter too much blood and become overworked. Regular urine tests can help determine whether or not you are at risk for kidney disease. If kidney disease is not caught and managed early, the person who is suffering from the disease will need dialysis treatments or even a kidney transplant.

    Diabetes can also put people at a higher risk for eventual hearing loss. The National Institute of Health has conducted several studies and has determined that people who have diabetes are twice as likely to lose their hearing than people who do not have diabetes. Hearing is dependent on the blood vessels and nerves in the ear, and these blood vessels and nerves become damaged and unusable from years of damage from diabetes. Unfortunately, there aren’t many treatment options for those people who are suffering hearing loss from diabetes. If you believe you are suffering from hearing loss due to diabetes, talk with your doctor about the possibility of being fitted with a hearing aid.

    People with diabetes can also suffer from various eye complications. In fact, a high percentage of all people who suffer from diabetes will contract some form of retinopathy. Glaucoma is also common in people who have diabetes as people who have diabetes are 40 percent more likely to contract the disease than people without diabetes. People who have diabetes are also 60 percent more likely to get cataracts. Regular screening can help to fight these diseases as they can be managed better when they are diagnosed early.

    Many healthcare professionals are starting to believe that the relationship between diabetes and gum disease goes both ways, which is to say that people with gum disease have a higher risk of getting diabetes just as people with diabetes have a higher risk of getting a gum disease. Gum disease can progress into periodontitis, which can eventually cause an infection that threatens the bone and connective tissue around your teeth. Ultimately, periodontitis results in the loss of teeth. People with diabetes also tend to suffer more from dry mouth and from a fungal infection known as thrush.

    Diabetes can also lead to complications in pregnancy as well as sexual dysfunction. High blood sugar levels during pregnancy will increase the risk of a woman having a miscarriage, and high blood sugar levels can also lead to several birth defects. Women who have an increased blood sugar level during pregnancy also tend to produce larger babies. Sometimes, the size of these babies makes a traditional delivery impossible. 35 to 75 percent of men who have diabetes are likely to experience some form of erectile dysfunction during their lives. This is due to the damage that diabetes can cause to blood vessels. Additionally, men with diabetes are likely to suffer this problem 10 to 15 years earlier than their normal counterparts. There are several solutions to diabetes-related erectile dysfunction though, so be sure to talk with your doctor or urologist to determine what will work best for you.

    Diabetes also can cause nerve damage to people. This can lead to someone not being able to feel temperature differences very well or be able to register pain. In people with diabetes, nerve damage most commonly happens in the feet. This nerve damage can even cause a person’s feet and toes to change shape. Diabetes, in addition to causing this nerve damage, can also cause several topical foot problems like calluses, cracking skin and ulcers. In some cases, diabetes can even lead to the need for amputation. One of the most important things you can do to prevent nerve damage is to stop smoking as smoking also damages your body’s small blood vessels. In many cases, special footwear and regular care is all that is needed to prevent the need for amputation.

    Fortunately though, if you have diabetes and you do a good job of maintaining your blood sugar levels, you will be at a much lower risk for all of these complications. Additionally, if you do a good job of maintaining your blood sugar levels and you do develop a complication because of your diabetes, the effects of your complication should be far less severe than if you didn’t control your blood glucose levels.

    Other ways to help prevent further complications from occurring include watching your weight and living a heart-healthy lifestyle. Because the primary complications that stem from diabetes do damage to blood vessels and the entire circulatory system, following most of the rules that people at risk for high blood pressure follow is a good start. Eat foods that are low in fat and are low in sodium, exercise more, limit your alcohol intake, stop smoking if you haven’t already and be careful about the medications that you take.

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    The Basics of Diabetes

    by Julia McCartney on June 8, 2012

    As common as it may be, diabetes is misunderstood by the majority of those who don’t have it. There are many pervasive myths floating around out there about diabetes, and some folks seriously underestimate the seriousness of this chronic condition. Learn more about diabetes and why it’s nothing to be trifled with below.

    Diabetes: Basic Overview

    The pancreas is tasked with producing a hormone called insulin, which works to move glucose from the blood and into liver cells, fat cells and muscle cells. Those cells then use the sugar as a kind of fuel. When the pancreas fails to produce any insulin or produces an insufficient amount of it, diabetes occurs. Diabetes also happens when those fat, liver and muscle cells don’t respond properly to insulin. In that case, insulin resistance is the culprit. Approximately 80 million Americans suffer from diabetes, which is a chronic illness. Another 70 to 80 million Americans have insulin resistance syndrome, which is a precursor to diabetes.

    Types

    There are four main types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes and prediabetes:

    • Type 1 Diabetes: With this type of diabetes, the pancreas produces little or no insulin. It’s primarily diagnosed in children, teens and young adults. People with this type of diabetes require insulin injections. Genetic factors are believed to play a role, but the specific causes are unclear.
    • Type 2 Diabetes: This type of diabetes, which is sometimes called adult-onset diabetes, used to primarily develop in adults. However, as obesity rates soar, it’s increasingly being diagnosed in teens and children. It’s the most common type of diabetes, and it is characterized by insulin resistance, which can develop when excessive body fat prevents the body from processing insulin properly.
    • Gestational Diabetes: Pregnant women sometimes develop this condition between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. It can develop into Type 2 diabetes later, but it often goes away when a pregnancy is over.
    • Prediabetes – In this case, a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but they aren’t quite high enough to qualify as Type 2 diabetes. This condition is reversible and doesn’t necessarily have to lead to Type 2 diabetes.

    Symptoms

    The symptoms that occur with all types of diabetes are generally the same. The main difference is that they develop very gradually with Type 2 diabetes, but typically develop rapidly with Type 1 diabetes. The most common symptoms are:

    • Fatigue
    • Hunger
    • Excessive Thirst
    • Frequent Urination
    • More Frequent Infections That Heal Very Slowly
    • Blurred Vision
    • Numbness in the Hands or Feet
    • Weight Loss
    • Erectile Dysfunction
    • The Presence of Ketones (which are byproducts of the breakdown of fat and muscle, in the urine)

    Risk Factors

    With Type 1 diabetes, risk factors include having a relative who has diabetes and being Native American, Asian, African American or Hispanic. With Type 2 diabetes, the same risk factors apply. Additionally, having high cholesterol or high blood pressure can put you at risk. Being overweight and having excessive fat at the midsection are risk factors as well. Living a sedentary lifestyle and eating a poor diet can also put you at increased risk.

    Diagnosis

    If you suspect you have diabetes or prediabetes, your doctor can perform a preliminary test, which is a urine analysis that looks for high blood sugar in the urine. If your blood sugar is 200 mg/dL or higher, you may be at risk or have diabetes.

    From there, there are a few different diagnostic methods that can be used. A fasting blood glucose level test is commonly administered. If it reveals a blood glucose level of 126 mg/dL or higher twice, you will be diagnosed with diabetes. Your doctor may administer a hemoglobin A1c test. At 5.7 percent or lower, you do not have diabetes. If you have a level that’s between 5.7 percent and 6.5 percent, you have prediabetes. If it’s 6.5 percent or higher, you have diabetes. In some instances, an oral glucose tolerance test may also be used.

    Treatment

    There is no cure for diabetes. Treatment includes sticking to a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise. People with Type 1 diabetes typically need to count carbohydrates, and they generally require regular insulin injections. Insulin pumps are also available and are much more convenient.

    There are also medications that may help. Some block the stomach enzymes that break down carbohydrates. Others stimulate the pancreas, so that it produces higher levels of insulin. Still others inhibit the production and release of insulin by the liver. In some cases, bariatric surgery may be helpful. Pancreas transplants are sometimes used, but they are very risky.

    Prevention

    People who are at risk of developing diabetes should be screened for it regularly. If prediabetes is caught early enough, full-blown diabetes can sometime be prevented through diet and exercise. Keeping your weight in check and getting plenty of exercise can keep it at bay too.

    Is it Reversible?

    Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes are not reversible. Prediabetes and gestational diabetes, however, can be reversed in some instances.

    Common Myths about Diabetes

    Finally, you can learn more about diabetes by educating yourself about the many myths there are about it:

    • Overweight and obese people always get diabetes: This isn’t true. In fact, most overweight and obese people never develop diabetes.
    • People who have diabetes are more likely to get sick: No. Having diabetes does not make you more prone to colds, flus or other illnesses.
    • Eating too much sugar can cause diabetes: Genetics, lifestyle and unknown factors cause diabetes. Sugar consumption has nothing to do with it.
    • Diabetes isn’t all that serious: False. Two-thirds of those who have diabetes die of stroke or heart disease.
    • Diabetic people can’t eat sweets: A healthy diet is important, but people who have diabetes are still allowed to enjoy sweets. They just have to do so in moderation.

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