Category Archives: Health

“Life by Design”?!? …Pulling back the curtain on this buzzy concept

The phrase Life by Design seems to be thrown around quite a bit these days.  However, what the heck does it mean?  …or, perhaps, should it mean?

The perception of life by design can easily be swayed by lofty posts on photo sharing and marketing sites (you know the ones) of excess photos from beach walks, coffee breaks on decks with breathtaking scenery, and/or work on a laptop in a picturesque setting that is more or less polar opposite to an office.

Although these images are certainly inspiring and pretty to look at, they may not be representative of entirely realistic goals for everyone.

So what IS… realistic in thinking about a “life by design”?   

Essentially, life by design is an approach to mindful living with respect to overall well-being for one’s self as well as their influence on others.  Often this would consider how one eats, spends time, thinks, and outwardly behaves.  It may also include how and where money is spent.

A positive life by design typically consists of specific intentions and a heightened self-awareness for one’s abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and inter-relationships with others.  Meanwhile, as further illustrated in this Inc article, Do These 5 Things to Live Life by Your Own Design, it also emphasizes not playing a victim’s role.

However, most of all, it’s realistic.  Instead of a fantasy, it’s more of a grounded perspective on or a mindset for one’s circumstances which ultimately influences personal behavior, conduct, and/or engagement with the world.

…and, how can you make the shift?!?

A few steps to take in the shift to a more positive Life by Design are;

Identify your why or why’s:  This is likely the most cliche, yet relevant step in any personal or professional development plan.  However, there is a legitimate reason to give this significant priority.

People with a strong sense of purpose typically live happier and less stressful as well as have stronger relationships or bonds with others.  In fact, it is a key pillar in the Blue Zones Project, a world-wide, geographical research initiative centered on groups of people with most favorable health outcomes.

A simple way to integrate this into your life is to find time for self-reflection and write a few things down.  This can be a consistent placeholder on the calendar or something you do when the thought strikes you in some sort of easily accessible journaling tool.

Set realistic goals:  There are more than one valid frameworks to set great goals, aims, or objectives.  One option that coaches love is the SMART goal framework (click for a worksheet from the University of San Diego).  The approach has been leveraged in numerous evidence-based behavior change programs, is easy to teach and implement, and, best of all, “smart” is more than just an acronym!  The framework can help break down overarching goals into actionable steps which can be oriented towards daily, weekly, monthly or annually.

The art, so to speak, is to set goals, aims, and objectives that are both intentional and creative.  This is where visualization tools can come in handy.  We have likely all seen those vision board parties…  you get the idea!  Focus on where you can thrive vs get bogged down or riddled by bottlenecks in productivity.

Great times for goal setting and/or review are at the end or start of a year and some version of a mid-point to the increment of time that you are trying to achieve the goal.  Finding time and space where you can be clear of distractions, think creatively, and have sufficient duration for a full brainstorm.

Identify how you are spending your time:  This more or less boils down to making determinations for when you are operating on auto-pilot and, perhaps, not actually productive.  What are your power hours?  When do you feel most creative?  Furthermore, are you including time to focus on your passions, causes you wish to support, and relationships?

Once you have answers to these type of questions, you can shift your projects on your calendar around to best meet your personal tendencies and better fit to desired outcomes.  Bundling tasks that are synergistic with one another is also a great tactic.

My resourceful friend Janet, owner of Aligned Biz Systems, has even more tips and tricks on her company blog.

Reframe obstacles or challenges:  A significant facet to life by design is how you respond to your specific circumstances.  Behavior results from a combination of conscious and subconscious minds.

The subconscious essentially catalogs all the information you have been exposed to and experiences you have had across the course of your life.  It is typically more influential than many people realize.  Counseling Psychologist, Christiana Star, discusses this further in her Thrive Global submission, How Your Subconscious Beliefs Affect Your Life.

Reflection on how you have responded to hard times or circumstances in the past can help to illustrate tendencies.  This Mind Body Green article, Out-smart Self-sabotage: 5 Steps to Change Subconscious Beliefs, sheds more light on this.

A basic reframe tactic is to recognize setbacks as key lessons learned or stepping stones.  Furthermore, clear and transparent identification of what gets in your way can help determine where a little personal development and growth work may be relevant.

Be open to support when needed:  “Superwoman” or “superman” may be fun to watch on tv or in the theater, but is completely fictitious.  At some point, we all need a little support to balance our potential weaknesses or challenges we may be facing.  Most of all, accountability can help us stay on track and accomplish things.

This HuffPost article, Life by Design, Not by Default, presents a light-hearted, yet likely relatable story of “falling on her face” a few times.  Yet, details further the intricacy behind making a positive “life by design” a priority including surrounding yourself with positive examples.

Finally… define your version of success!  (BONUS TIP: this may not be the status quo!)

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

 

Why care about lifestyle when thinking about brain health?

Brain health is often paired with a discussion on healthful aging each of which stems from a combination of three overarching areas;

  1. genetic disposition and/or triggering of the genes
  2. lifestyle
  3. environmental factors

There has been a common perception that having a genetic disposition will absolutely ensure a specific health outcome.  However, as more recent bodies of evidence on various chronic disease outcomes have suggested, this is a misinterpretation.

You will notice that I included “triggering of the genes” in the list above.  Well, the triggers can stem from variables associated with lifestyle and environment.  So, as you may begin to see, we have overlap or intersection of the three categories above.

So what do you need to think about for lifestyle?

Well, much of it is really not that different than what you may have heard from other health experts honing in on lifestyle health overall.  Essentially dietary patterns, movement and physical activity, reduction of adverse stress, and appropriate sleep all play a role.

You may have also heard of cognitive exercises to nurture a facet of the brain called neuroplasticity.  A more comprehensive synopsis is available from the Positive Psychology Program.

However, what seems to be a missing link?

An area that is often overlooked in lifestyle health approaches is addressing environmental factors and understanding for the areas in which we CAN take action.

Research is emerging, but from a scientific lens, we are starting to observe more patterns in chronic disease manifestation associated to adverse environmental exposures, including those associated to the brain, such as forms of dementia.  Also, chronic diseases associated with the brain, such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, have observed increased prevalence, especially in industrialized nations.

It may seem as if we are helpless in this area.  However, a key take-way from this blog post is that there are certain shifts in the lifestyle that can support a reduction in the overall burden.

Approaches should center on some combination of realistic avoidance of adverse exposures and boosting our body’s detoxification pathways.  Then, as previously indicated above, focus on healthful behaviors and practices.

It is not uncommon for people to simply not know where to take action …or, out of ALL the options out there, understand what to place focus on. 

However, once some of the blinding curtains begin to come down, a clearer perspective for what to do can be gained.

Emphasis on the area of brain health is top of mind for so many people.  There is much more we could talk about for the “How to do it” with regards to lifestyle health and the brain.  It is this reason why I’m offering a free 5-day virtual challenge, Boost Your Brain Health in 5 Days, which starts April 29th, 2019.

Participation in this free educational challenge will get you started on realistic shifts in the lifestyle to further support healthful aging and the brain.  The challenge will include daily emails with an informational video and easy to complete activity plus daily engagement in a closed Facebook group.

The sign-up form can also be accessed for the Facebook event page HERE.

 

Photo by Fachy Marín on Unsplash

Journey with Network Chiropractic Care

Have you heard of network chiropractic care?  If you answered, “no”, you are likely not alone.

Network Chiropractic Care, otherwise known as Network Spinal Analysis (NSA), is a gentle touch approach that nurtures the nervous system.  The emphasis on a reset is multi-faceted across physiological and mental/emotional health.

The intervention occurs through spinal cord adjustments that support a re-organization of the tension within the nervous system.  Its aim is to shift out of a stress-based state towards more optimal functionality.  A more thorough synthesis is provided on Daocloud HERE.

It is EXTREMELY important to consider the health of your nervous system.  The nervous system is tied into so many other areas including hormonal regulation, detoxification pathways, and digestive health, then, of course, the brain!

I had been passively looking for a chiropractor with a focus on gentle applications.  Admittedly, I had been doing just about everything else for good health, but keeping this type of treatment on the back-burner.  Until recently, I didn’t realize that the gentle approach that I was looking for would equate to NSA.  However, upon the introduction, I was immediately drawn to the concept.

In the Functional Medicine community, we frequently talk about neurology and respective tie-ins to overall health.  The nervous system (or systems, because there are different components to the master system) is a foundational system imperative for both structural health and overall well-being, yet may be under-emphasized in personal approaches to wellness.

In February of this year (2019), I started my journey with Network Chiropractic Care.  The timing was a little off due to some pre-established travel plans, but like with anything in life, there never really is a perfect time and sometimes we just need to dive in.

I wasn’t expecting favorable results from my initial scan, but I was also surprised at how much tension I was actually carrying.  Therefore, after wrapping up my travel, I returned in March to enroll in a 3-month intensive.  (The specific practice I enrolled can be accessed HERE).

At this point, I’m a few weeks into my care plan.  It will be an exciting update down the road upon completion of the intensive.  However, for now, a few initial observations are as follows;

  • Most of the applications are very, very light in touch.  It’s is nothing like getting a massage.  However, it is amazing how relaxed your muscles feel after a session.
  • For now, I’m still dealing with tension and tightness that returns, sometimes in little as a few hours to a day after a session, but, so far, the treatments have made me MUCH more aware of how I engage with my body.  Operating in a subconscious, auto-pilot sort of way, I have realized how often I have been twisting and contorting throughout the day and evening, particularly around the shoulder and upper back area.
  • The relationship between neurology and breathing is even more clear.  I have been aware of this mind-body connection area for quite some time.  It appears in so many healing modalities from meditation to yoga to visual frameworks, such as guided imagery.  However, in the NSA framework, you really feel it.  A minor touch on a specific point can almost immediately shift your breath.  I would like to think this is a release within the body and further demonstration of what is working.  To be continued…

I would love to share more about my journey with Network Chiropractic Care.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me to learn more about the experiences and insights I have had thus far.

In the meantime, a few additional resources are below;

New Day Network Wellness

Information on Daocloud

Family Network Chiropractic, About NSA™, Network Spinal Analysis

A free directory of providers

Epienergetics website

 

*Photo by Stuart Poulton on Unsplash

Finding Balance while Living with Autoimmune Related Conditions

March is autoimmune disease awareness month.

For those of you who know or follow me, you are likely well aware that living healthful and well is a key focus area for both my personal life and professional niche.  This may be in spite of having chronic conditions or underlying physiological dysfunction.  The fact that I carry my own diagnosis and am a fit to “autoimmune wellness warrior” can present certain idiosyncracies to maintaining balance.

Professionally, I work with people to live better, well, and most healthful, while personally, I am often holding on tight while navigating through turbulent, bumpy roads all while working to keep it all together!  Naturally, it can give me greater ability to express empathy, but it can also leave me feeling that I have a massive case of imposter syndrome.

A few insights on autoimmune related conditions are as follows (more can be found via the AARDA):

  • Approximately 50 million Americans are afflicted with an autoimmune-related condition.
  • There are over 80 conditions confirmed associated with underlying autoimmune dysfunction and the list is growing.
  • Women are disproportionately affected.
  • Late or misdiagnosis has been common.
  • Despite supportive evidence for lifestyle interventions significantly influencing outcomes, immunosuppressant treatment is still common yet may result in devastating long-term side effects.
  • The body of research centered on effects from environmental factors and the manifestation of autoimmune-related conditions is mounting.

For people who are able to put autoimmune conditions into remission, a 3-5 year timeline is common.  This is typically curated through a “lifestyle-medicine” approach which will involve a range of shifts including dietary approaches, relationship with sleep and stress, reduction in adverse environmental exposures where possible, and a potential range of therapeutic related approaches to nudge the body closer to healthful homeostasis.  For many of us, like myself, complete remission may not be realistic, but a significant reduction in the severity could be possible.  Therefore, 5 years not just after a diagnosis, but from the time in which notable lifestyle changes are begun is kind of a relevant time to do a robust check-in.

This spring will mark 5 years since I have had a formal diagnosis for autoimmune related conditions, (which often cluster and may come with secondary conditions that are considered to be present as a result of the specific autoimmune condition(s) manifestation).  In many ways, things are going relatively well.  There may still be an occasional flare-up or mishap, but many of my symptoms have been significantly reduced, my antibody labs came back the best results I have seen since I started this journey, and I have indoctrinated the lifestyle changes to become my new normal without much mental anguish to think it all through.

Which brings up a good point.  As much as these conditions are physiological, there is also a chaotic dance in store for the mindset.  However, although sometimes haphazard with certain unexpected variables, it’s still one that can be orchestrated.  Therefore, a few wellness tips can also be rather impactful!

Manage expectations through letting go of perfect.  “Well” does not mean perfect.  Hey type A-ers, I’m talking even a little more closely to you.  Systems and plans can be fantastic for staying on track, but remaining flexible while having a sense of humor can also go a long way!

It’s ok to say No.  Not everyone is going to understand what we are dealing with.  It’s not personal, educate when it’s appropriate, but otherwise, let it go.  Time and energy are much better spent on other areas in which we can enthusiastically say “yes”.

Focus on the unintentional gifts.  For me, I have significantly more knowledge and perspective than I would have had otherwise.  Also, I have been able to shift various focus and responsibility to a more meaningful purpose.

A few other bloggers’ posts that are a little similar to this one that may provide further insight and inspiration.

Autoimmune Disease Warriors, About Us

The Advantages of Disadvantages

Why I Am Not an Autoimmune Warrior

 

Photo by Marion Michele on Unsplash

Live Out Your Joy

It was a blast to plan out an Instagram contest with a fellow entrepreneur who takes center on healthful living.  Be sure to follow @theConureLife and @LiveConscientiousLiveHealthful on Instagram to play along.

It starts on February 13th (US time) which also happens to coincide with “National Self Love Day”.

The daily themes center on healthful habits and behaviors that can be easily and consistently addressed, such as hydration, breathing, eliminating negative facets that don’t serve you, movement, and appropriate rest.

Additional ideas for you to “Live Out Your Joy” can be found in this Mind Body Green article, 10 Everyday Choices for a Soul-centered, Joyous Life.  I also love this article written by Eric Barke, How to Live Joyously Like an Old Person, that gains perspective on joy from our elder population.

Feel free to join us!

 

 

Photo credits to @JuicePlus and @WellnessStockShop

Support your body to better ward off infection & illness with this recipe

Herbs and spices have various “healing” properties.  They can also play a role in prevention.

Specific profiles will vary, but in general, appropriate usage of herbs and spices in our dietary protocols can make a favorable impact on digestion, circulation, blood sugar regulation, and immune response.  Within the scope of health-beneficial herbs and spices, options such as cinnamon, cloves, and ginger are often revered.  (click on each of them for more info)

I am happy to share this nourishing hot beverage from my mother’s recipe Rolodex.  A true inspiration, she has been steadfast in practicing whole-food, natural-living protocols for many years.

This warming drink comes especially in handy for times that you notice signs and symptoms of a nasty bug coming on, such as a cold or other viral infection.

Start with the following:

  • cinnamon stick (break it up if you can)
  • 1 tsp whole clove buds
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • two large mugs of water

Put the water in a pan and bring to a high boil.  Add cinnamon and clove.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Turn off heat and add ginger.  Steep for about 15 more minutes.

Time to get warm and spicy.  Drink up.  Strain the desired amount.  Add lemon juice and honey to taste (optional).  Keep any remaining beverage to sip on later.

Photo credit Wellness Stock Shop #wellnessstockshop @wellnessstockshop

Free Fitness Fav’s

This fall I ended up booking a fair amount of travel across a 6-week period.  Previously, I had not leveraged various online fitness resources.  However, this time frame allowed me the chance to give them a try and figure out my favorite go-to’s.

In considering this avenue, there are essentially two directions to take;

  1. pick and chose from pre-set workouts, many of which are on platforms that include filters to help make a decision
  2. sign up for online programs that provide courses in a sequential nature

It seems a little more likely to find free options in category #1, but for paid options in category #2, the price point may not be high and the structure they provide could help to stay on track.

I tried the following;

  • Fitness Blender is very easy to follow, has great filter settings and covers a wide range of fitness type and levels.  Also, I LOVED the timer.
  • Jessica Smith TV had been featured in a Greatist article.  Her cues are well paced and easy to follow.  For someone who needs a little music, her videos are synced with instrumental fitness-oriented beats and tunes.
  • Commune offered a sequential online yoga program for free and it was perfectly timed to my travel schedule.  Courses are considerate of all levels and often shorter in duration so they can fit into busy and/or irregular schedules.

Tips I would provide are likely familiar but good reminders;

  • invest in resistance bands and keep 2-3 options for varied workouts (also, these pack easy and don’t add extra weight to luggage)
  • talk to your favorite trainers before you leave for their best tips and tricks on the go
  • keep a flexible perspective as there will undoubtedly be variability in various factors such as space, weather, and scheduling

Other suggestions are to check out retailers such as Athleta or Lululemon for community-based options.  Also, yoga studios, both franchise and locally owned, are fantastic resources.  I even found some local community center options for pilates and yoga.  Many events can be found through perusing Eventbrite or Facebook.  You might even make a new friend!

*Photo credit to Wellness Stock Shop.

Reasons to Get to Know your Local Farms

#ShopLocal represents a bit of a movement for many reasons…  supporting local economies, helping small businesses and entrepreneurs, and enjoying specific, regional options are a few of those.  When it comes to nutrition, it can also equate to greater transparency, produce picked at peak ripeness, reducing an urban footprint, and some regional health benefit, such as honey that is more likely to support a reduction in allergy symptoms related to a local area.

It’s also a personalized experience! 

A recent trip to a local grower, Wauka Meadows Farm, near the area my mother retired to introduced a new food (for my knowledge) that carries a nutritional punch, the muscadine grape (pictured above).  It also led to a healthful discussion with one of the owners with regards to local produce, the growing environment and regional climate, and some barn kittens running around the property.  Having the ability to speak directly with the owners is a fantastic opportunity for places such as this.  It also allows us to vote with our consumer dollar which for transitional farming areas may be quite impactful.  Finally, you may just meet a local billy goat who relishes the idea of your attention!

*Livestrong.com provides a write up on muscadine grapes HERE.

*Find sustainable and organic farms in the North and Central Georgia area via Northeast Georgia Locally Grown CSA (community supported agriculture) program.

A segway into glyphosate and engineered plants for food

I am someone who grew up in a farming family from the Midwestern part of the US.  For me, it was times two.  Both grandfathers operated commercial farms.  One of these eventually closed up when I was in middle school while the other still exists today.  However, my paternal grandfather’s story was a bit of an interesting one.

In late middle school, we were given an assignment to interview someone living during World War II.  I interviewed him.  Little had I known that he hadn’t gone to war.  He was, in fact, in chemistry for the Department of Agriculture and it was determined that his work was relevant enough to avoid the draft.  He later left due to a disconnect with some of what that they were doing.  It wasn’t until many years later that I came to further understand the significance of this.

I wish I could tell my late grandfather that it got better.  Unfortunately, we have a silent war occurring over chemical based applications in farming and glyphosate (a predominant agent in Round Up) is one of the most controversial headliners involved.  The US is one of the battle grounds.

It is no doubt that even adding a post of this nature will raise some eye brows.  However, despite this, I feel it is imperative to provide information that may be relevant to health.

Recently, I attended a community sponsored presentation delivered in a “state of” format.  The lead presenter, a retired chemist who worked on genetic engineering of food, began following literature centered on glyphosate and engineered foods post-career.  As a result, he became concerned and shifted into information based advocacy.  This blog post synthesizes what was provided.

The History

Glyphosate, a molecule, is one of the most successful chemicals in terms of global distribution.  It was developed and patented in the early 1970’s, then formulated as the herbicide “Round Up” in 1974.  Later, it was patented as an antibiotic.  (Remember this fact as it will come up again).

Initially it served to be a weeding agent which could reduce time and costs related to plowing fields.  In theory this could impact yield, but concrete and clear, non-biased* data suggesting benefit to yield may not be available.

Over time, additional applications of the substrate have emerged.  This includes topical applications to GMO (genetically modified organisms) and a process called “chemical ripening” which includes another spray application just before harvest.  The intent of chemical ripening is to even out the harvest across the land.

…Are you counting?

This is now three layers onto the soil in which the plants grow and, if the plants are GMO, one layer directly on to plants themselves (in which you may consume).

In countries such as the US, we have also observed a shift in the approved MRL (maximum residue limits), ie the trace amount of the pesticide legally allowed to be left over from the application.  At this point in time, more residue is allowed to remain on the food or feed as compared to years past.  The presentation did not address if there is a MRL for the soil in which the plants are grown.

…That’s right, you are now legally allowed to be exposed to more in the US.

It is also used “everywhere”.  Beyond farms, there is distribution direct to consumers for around homes, landscape applications, and other commercial ones such as along train routes and highways.

To not be exposed at all to this agent in industrialized countries such as the US would be literally impossible.

Professionally, I can tell you that we have only recently started taking “collective burden” seriously for exposures to chemical agents across the board vs LOAEL’s and NOAEL’s** on a per substrate basis.  Dr’s  Walter Crinnion and Joseph Pizzorno are two leading environmental medicine professionals who can share a wealth of information covering this topic.

What is Controversial?

As I would hope readers will understand, a commercialized chemical agent with this large of market share will have its share of study data, some of which will be funded for and directed by the company of manufacturer (it is likely you have heard of them…), while others will be independent in nature, ie external to the company of manufacture.

Although not an absolute safe guard against biases, independent, peer reviewed studies are considered gold standard.  Funding sources for external studies can vary.  There may be incentives for findings in industrial studies, but this will not be the case for university based trials.

Some findings in non-company funded and directed research has raised cause for concern.  Including, but not limited to (note, support and level of significance for each of the bullets below varies based upon the area of research);

  • animal studies suggesting vulnerability from exposure to the chemical
  • mitochondrial damage (remember, mitochondria are bacteria)
  • association to inflammation and gut lining permeability in humans (two precursors for chronic disease, particularly those related to immune dysfunction)
  • potential link to adverse cellular health and DNA damage (studies have suggested that glyphosate can enter cells in replace of an amino acid glycine, but, if so, will not fold correctly)
  • accumulation in proteins, such as animal and human milk
  • observation of “super weeds” that are resistant to glyphosate

Research reflecting possible adverse effect from current applications of glyphosate has piqued interest on a global level.  As it stands, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a call for concern.  In the US, the EPA has not reissued the WHO’s call (to date).  From a historical perspective, this is NOT common.

Dr. Zach Bush is one provider who maintains various information related to health concerns and pesticide exposure.

Other Cause for Concern

Although slightly outside of the scope of this presentation, countries such as the US have very high rates of obesity and chronic conditions associated to being over weight or obese.  Concern for the over consumption of refined and processed food choices providing limited to no quality nutritional value is high.  Many of these processed foods represent applications of widely produced GMO crops such as soy, corn, and rapeseed that makes canola oil.  As mentioned above, these foods are not only being refined and processed, they are the ones directly sprayed with herbicides in commercial farming.

Why a Community Presentation?

Local communities have little to no authority to regulation pesticides, yet some communities would like to do more.  Some policy driven organizations have formed and will vary by the local level.  National agencies do also exist.

In Closing

Product selection, including food, is one way to reduce risk and provide some level of a consumer voice (via purchasing decisions).  GMO based crops are herbicide resistant by design.  This includes soy, corn, canola, sugar beet, alfalfa, sorghum and cotton.  These crops are sprayed directly as plants and.  Chemical ripening is popular in grain, seed, and legume based crops.  Therefore, these plant sources for food and consumer products may have the highest application frequency.

A few other resources are listed below.

Typically I allow comments on posts.  Due to the offensive nature some take towards anyone who presents any sort of information related to this specific topic, I have turned comments off.  As I said, there is a silent war.  I believe it is a sad and disturbing one.

Other resources

Research publications

Clair, E., Mesnage, R., Travert, C. & Seralini, G.E. (2012, Mar).  A Glyphosate-based Herbicide Induces Necrosis and Apoptosis in Mature Rat Testicular Cells In Vitro, and Testosterone Decrease at Lower Levels.  Toxicology In Vitro, 26(2), 269-279.

Gasnier, C., et al. (2009, Aug 21).  Glyphosate-based Herbicides are Toxic and Endocrine Disruptors in Human Cell Lines.  Toxicology, 263(9), 184-191.

Kruger, M., et al. (2014).  Detection of Glyphosate Residues in Animals and Humans.  Environmental and Analytical Toxicology, 4(2).

Larsen, K., Najle, R., Lifschitz, A. & Virkel, G. (2012, Nov).  Effects of Sub-lethal Exposure of Rats to the Herbicide Glyphosate in Drinking Water: Glutathione Transferase Enzyme Activities, Levels of Reduced Glutathione and Lipid Peroxidation in Liver, Kidneys and Small Intestine.  Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology, 34(3), 811-818.

Samsell, A. & Seneff, S. (2013, Dec).  Glyphosate, Pathways to Modern Diseases II: Celiac Sprue and Gluten Intolerance.  Interdisciplinary Toxicology, 6(4), 159-184.

Samsell, A. & Seneff, S. (2013, Apr 18).  Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases.  Entropy, 15, 1416-1463.

Swanson, N.L., Leu, A., Abrahamson, J. & Wallet, B. (2014).  Genetically Engineered Crops, Glyphosate and the Deterioration of Health in the United States of America.  Journal of Organic Systems 9(2).

Notes

*Non-biased is a descriptive term commonly used in reference to scientific information.  Essentially in any form of scientific presentation (published studies, information used in white papers, citations used in verbal/visual presentations, etc), peer-reviewed, independent studies are considered the standard for "non-bias".  Some bias may still exist in how the information is presented or how the study was conducted.  Despite a scientific preference for peer-reviewed and independent, studies funded by companies, that are also self-directed and reviewed, can be published.  Some journal standards do exist, but there are many publications and media sources to date.  Academic based research institutions and the researchers involved are not compensated with incentives related to research outcomes in the same way as they could be if private industry is their workplace and/or setting of research.  Disclosure of this information is suppose to be indicated when it is published (see... ).

**LOAEL and NOAEL refer to Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level and No Observed Adverse Effect Level.  These scientific standards are used in assessing safety and approving various products that may be produced for commercial reasons.

Medical Cannabis, oh my…

If you had asked me a few years ago my thoughts on medical marijuana (or cannabis), I would have likely half way nodded, then mumbled something about attending a public health centered presentation on it once and it’s typically a very low dose that is necessary.

As it stands now, I live in a state piloting a medical cannabis program. In the last few months I have seen it presented to an area health professionals networking group I am a part of, observed the launch of a docu-series, The Sacred Plant, and met some representatives from a local dispensary who were set up at a farmer’s market. Therefore, a few weeks ago, I made a point to attend an informational session presented by the dispensary. I also asked my integrative physician (M.D.) about it.

Now, I am one of the many patients who skirts a fine line. I have diagnosis’ (multiple autoimmune conditions) that are similar to those on my state’s list of “approved conditions”, but am not an exact match to the program as it currently stands. Based on some of the information presented in the docu-series, this could be an unfortunate disadvantage. However, the list is apparently evolving and hopefully expanding to be more inclusive for those who could be better served if access to the program were available.

I learned a few key points from an information session on medical cannabis.

Dose and consumption options for medical cannabis are vast and dependent on bio-individual factors. Some trial and error may be required to arrive at appropriate dose (amount, frequency, and compounding proportions). Therefore, a program directed by medical regulation can be beneficial.

Essentially, the two main compounds of interest for medical dose/compounding are CBD and THC. Again, proportioning is very, very personal.

There are oils, tinctures, topical applications, edibles, and hash (which would need to be smoked). Pricing will vary across a somewhat wide range. Again, bio-individuality and specific circumstances will play a role (despite how policy is written).

The Illinois program is designed, in part, to support local growers and be beneficial to job growth/creation within the state. (*No mention of farming methods was provided, such as organic, sustainable, or conventional).

At this point, for my particular state, ONLY medical cannabis is approved. A list of medical conditions will likely be available from your state health department. Some states have approved a recreational dose. Including a recreational provision is thought to support sustainability of the growers and operators within the industry.

The Illinois program is riddled with fees for those seeking a medical card and approval is for a limited duration. So far, no aid based program exists for those who may have need, but cannot shell out the several hundred dollars just to apply for the medical card. A finger print (think forensics) is also required and this represents another fee.

There are also no guarantees of approval and, if denied, there is no refund of the fees. Therefore, it is critical, before applying, to meet with an appropriate representative 100% knowledgeable on the regulatory aspects of the program.

A physician directive is required and, at this point, ONLY the M.D. designation counts (no D.O., P.A., etc). Also, not all physicians are on board. Dispensaries have lists of those open and willing to work with their specific centers if your preferred physician is not comfortable providing a directive. The dispensaries are also aggressively working on outreach at both consumer and professional levels.

Care takers can be designated in order to help facilitate purchasing/pick up from dispensaries and specific approval processes exist for them.

So what?

As you can see, there are definitely enhanced options available to those with medical conditions that could benefit from medical cannabis in specific states and/or for those who simply wish to use these therapies in their treatment protocols. However, there are caveats to be considered. It will also take support in planning the financial aspect. Some centers have employed health educators and coaches to help patients in the lifestyle planning facets.

Information sessions and workshops are now being offered by both dispensaries and advocacy groups, but offerings will vary based on where you live. Some groups have been able to line up time and space at local libraries.

A brief overview of possible health benefits of medical cannabis is provided in this Harvard Health Letter published in early 2018.

A broader lens on advocacy, legal information, industrial applications, and synthesis of medical use can be found from NORML.

Further information on costs are synthesized by another dispensary; http://sevenpoint.org/blog/

I would also throw a word of caution that the business aspect of this has become a HUGE topic in both media and on the black market. Due to this frenzy, misinforming media could be out there.

Recently in Illinois, “tainted synthetic pot” led to several hospitalizations and a few deaths. It was eventually linked back to a man in the Peoria area. A Chicago Tribune article provides further details here.

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