Health and Disease

HWA – VACCINATED PEOPLE MAY BE MORE VULNERABLE TO VARIANTS

VACCINATED PEOPLE MAY BE MORE VULNERABLE TO VARIANTS

 

vaccine

As soon as vaccine companies announced they were developing a COVID-19 vaccine, doctors, scientists, researchers and other experts raised warnings1,2 about the problematic history of coronavirus vaccines and their propensity to produce antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), which could make vaccinated individuals more susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2 or its variants.

It is also called paradoxical immune enhancement (PIE), which I believe is a more accurate description of what is happening.

Among those issuing early warnings were Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who in my interview with him — featured in “Well-Known Hazards of Coronavirus Vaccines” — recounted previous failed coronavirus vaccine trials in which he said the vaccinated animals died when exposed to the wild virus.

Considering all previous coronavirus vaccine efforts have failed for this reason, it seemed reasonable to suspect that a COVID-19 vaccine might have similar problems, and that such effects might remain hidden for some time since animal testing was bypassed. Recent research suggests such fears might still be warranted, although conclusive evidence that ADE is in fact occurring has not been produced.

Trial Subjects Have Not Been Informed of ADE Risk

The October 28, 2020, paper,3 “Informed Consent Disclosure to Vaccine Trial Subjects of Risk of COVID-19 Vaccine Worsening Clinical Disease,” stressed that “COVID-19 vaccines designed to elicit neutralizing antibodies may sensitize vaccine recipients to more severe disease than if they were not vaccinated,” and criticized vaccine makers for not clearly informing participants in current vaccine trials of this risk. 

 

“Vaccines for SARS, MERS and RSV have never been approved, and the data generated in the development and testing of these vaccines suggest a serious mechanistic concern:

That vaccines designed empirically using the traditional approach (consisting of the unmodified or minimally modified coronavirus viral spike to elicit neutralizing antibodies), be they composed of protein, viral vector, DNA or RNA and irrespective of delivery method, may worsen COVID-19 disease via antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE),” the paper stated.4

“This risk is sufficiently obscured in clinical trial protocols and consent forms for ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials that adequate patient comprehension of this risk is unlikely to occur, obviating truly informed consent by subjects in these trials.

The specific and significant COVID-19 risk of ADE should have been and should be prominently and independently disclosed to research subjects currently in vaccine trials, as well as those being recruited for the trials and future patients after vaccine approval, in order to meet the medical ethics standard of patient comprehension for informed consent.”

What Is ADE?

What exactly is ADE, and what does it mean? In a nutshell, it means that rather than enhance your immunity against the infection, the vaccine actually enhances the virus’ ability to enter and infect your cells, resulting in more severe disease than had you not been vaccinated.5

Needless to say, this is the exact opposite of what a vaccine is supposed to do. The 2003 review paper “Antibody-Dependent Enhancement of Virus Infection and Disease” explains it this way:6

“In general, virus-specific antibodies are considered antiviral and play an important role in the control of virus infections in a number of ways. However, in some instances, the presence of specific antibodies can be beneficial to the virus. This activity is known as antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) of virus infection.

The ADE of virus infection is a phenomenon in which virus-specific antibodies enhance the entry of virus, and in some cases the replication of virus, into monocytes/macrophages and granulocytic cells through interaction with Fc and/or complement receptors.

This phenomenon has been reported in vitro and in vivo for viruses representing numerous families and genera of public health and veterinary importance … For some viruses, ADE of infection has become a great concern to disease control by vaccination.”

 

Vaccinated People More Susceptible to South African Variant

As feared from the beginning, vaccinated individuals do appear to be more susceptible to infection by certain variants of SARS-CoV-2, although it remains to be seen whether they are more prone to serious illness.

A study by researchers at Tel Aviv University and Clalit Health Services in Israel found the South African variant of SARS-CoV-2, dubbed B.1. 351 — which presently accounts for about 1% of COVID-19 cases in Israel — affects people vaccinated with Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine to a greater extent than unvaccinated people.7,8,9,10

The researchers compared 400 individuals who had tested positive for the B.1.351 variant two weeks or more after receiving at least one dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine against 400 unvaccinated individuals who had been infected.

Among the 150 people who were fully vaccinated, having received both shots of the vaccine, the variant was eight times more prevalent than in unvaccinated individuals (5.4% compared to 0.7%).

An estimated 53% of Israel’s 9.3 million inhabitants have received the Pfizer vaccine.11 While Moderna’s vaccine is also available in Israel, it was not included in this investigation. According to professor Adi Stern, Ph.D.,12 at Tel Aviv University, who said the findings took her by surprise:13

“We found a disproportionately higher rate of the South African variant among people vaccinated with a second dose, compared to the unvaccinated group. This means that the South African variant is able, to some extent, to break through the vaccine’s protection.”

For clarity, while the risk of infection appears significantly greater, it is still unknown whether the variant might generate more serious illness in vaccinated individuals. The study did not report disease outcomes, stating it would be “statistically meaningless” to do so since the number of vaccinees infected was too low.

That said, professor Ran Balicer, director of research at Clalit Health Services, which provided assistance for the study, noted this is the first study “to be based on real-world data, showing that the vaccine is less effective against the South Africa variant, compared to both the original virus and the British variant.”14

 

Other Research Suggests B.1.351 May Evade First-Gen Vaccines

Another recent study,15 reported by Times of Israel,16 was done by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Here, they analyzed blood samples to assess vaccine response to the South African variant. As reported by Times of Israel:17

“The researchers collected blood samples from 10 people who recovered from COVID-19, five people who received the first dose of the vaccine, and 10 people who also received the second. Samples were drawn from participants 21 days after the first dose, or 10 days after the second. They then measured the antibodies’ ability to protect against infection.”

The study18 found that while the Pfizer vaccine produced high levels of neutralizing antibodies against the generic strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the British variant, it fared worse against the South African variant.

Overall, the neutralization potency of the Pfizer vaccine was 6.8 times lower for the B.1.351 variant compared to the generic strains. It was also less effective against strains that have attributes of both the British and the South African variants. According to the authors:19

“Our study validates the importance of the Pfizer vaccine, but raises concerns regarding its efficacy against specific SARS-CoV-2 circulating variants … Our data also indicate that the Pfizer vaccine is moderately compromised against SA-N501Y/K417N/E484K pseudo-variants.

Average decrease in mean neutralization potential of the vaccinated sera against this pseudovirus was 6.8-fold, relative to wild-type SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus. This result is only partly aligned with recent conclusions from Pfizer,20 reporting that its vaccine is almost similarly efficient against the SA [South African] variant as wild-type SARS-CoV-2.

A Moderna report21 also documented that its vaccine is 6.4-fold less efficient in neutralizing SA-B.1.351 variant, relative to neutralization of the wild-type SARS-CoV-2. However, their conclusion indicated that such a reduction is not clinically significant.

In our mind, the clinical significance of a 6.8-fold-reduced neutralization potency of convalescent or post-vaccination sera against the SA strain remains to be determined and raises concerns about vaccine efficiency against current or future SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Overall, these results call for close attention to variant spread. Moreover, development of new vaccines with improved neutralizing potency against specific SARS-CoV-2 variants may be required.”

As you’d expect, vaccine makers are already hard at work tweaking their formulas to target various mutations of the virus, so don’t be surprised if all of a sudden vaccinated individuals start getting called back for additional shots. As reported by STAT News:22

“Vaccine makers are working on booster shots specifically targeting B.1.351 or that could defend against multiple strains of the coronavirus, and regulators are considering how the updated shots could be authorized without needing to go through the full gamut of clinical trials.”

Pfizer Study Reports Drop in Effectiveness Against B.1.351

Last but not least, Pfizer’s own investigation, published in The New England Journal of Medicine23 March 8, 2021, found its vaccine was about two-thirds less effective, in terms of neutralizing potency, against the South African variant, B.1.351, compared to other forms of the virus.

“It can be difficult to extrapolate what such lab experiments mean for what happens if someone who received the vaccine is exposed to the variant. For one, these experiments only look at how one arm of the immune system, called neutralizing antibodies, responds to the modified virus,” STAT News reports.24

“The vaccines generate a range of immune fighters, including other types of antibodies and T cells, so it’s possible that overall people retain more of their defenses in fending off the virus. It’s also possible that even though neutralizing antibodies don’t work as well against the variant, they can still mount enough activity to have an impact.”

What STAT News does not mention is that the vaccines may also generate nonneutralizing (aka binding) antibodies25 which, instead of preventing infection, can trigger ADE, a paradoxical immune enhancement that increases your susceptibility to infection and more severe illness.

Aside from the studies already mentioned at the beginning of this article, many others have raised concerns about coronavirus vaccines and ADE in particular. Among them is the May 2020 mini review26 “Impact of Immune Enhancement on COVID-19 Polyclonal Hyperimmune Globulin Therapy and Vaccine Development.” As in many other papers, the authors point out that:27

“While development of both hyperimmune globulin therapy and vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 are promising, they both pose a common theoretical safety concern. Experimental studies have suggested the possibility of immune-enhanced disease of SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV infections, which may thus similarly occur with SARS-CoV-2 infection …

Immune enhancement of disease can theoretically occur in two ways. Firstly, non-neutralizing or sub-neutralizing levels of antibodies can enhance SARS-CoV-2 infection into target cells. Secondly, antibodies could enhance inflammation and hence severity of pulmonary disease …

Animal studies … have shown that the spike (S) protein-based vaccines (specifically the receptor binding domain, RBD) are highly immunogenic and protective against wild-type CoV challenge … However, immunization with some S protein based CoV vaccines have also displayed signs of enhanced lung pathology following challenge.

Hence, besides the choice of antigen target, vaccine efficacy and risk of immunopathology may be dependent on other ancillary factors, including adjuvant formulation, age at vaccination … and route of immunization.”

Th2 Immunopathology Is Another Potential Risk

Another potential risk is that of Th2 immunopathology, especially among the elderly. As reported in a PNAS news feature:28

“Since the 1960s, tests of vaccine candidates for diseases such as dengue, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) have shown a paradoxical phenomenon: Some animals or people who received the vaccine and were later exposed to the virus developed more severe disease than those who had not been vaccinated.

The vaccine-primed immune system, in certain cases, seemed to launch a shoddy response to the natural infection …

This immune backfiring, or so-called immune enhancement, may manifest in different ways such as antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), a process in which a virus leverages antibodies to aid infection; or cell-based enhancement, a category that includes allergic inflammation caused by Th2 immunopathology. In some cases, the enhancement processes might overlap …

Some researchers argue that although ADE has received the most attention to date, it is less likely than the other immune enhancement pathways to cause a dysregulated response to COVID-19, given what is known about the epidemiology of the virus and its behavior in the human body.

‘There is the potential for ADE, but the bigger problem is probably Th2 immunopathology,’ says Ralph Baric, an epidemiologist and expert in coronaviruses … at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In previous studies of SARS, aged mice were found to have particularly high risks of life-threatening Th2 immunopathology … in which a faulty T cell response triggers allergic inflammation, and poorly functional antibodies that form immune complexes, activating the complement system and potentially damaging the airways.”

Full Extent of Risks Remain To Be Seen

Whether or not COVID-19 vaccines can trigger ADE or Th2 immunopathology remains to be seen. As or right now, studies suggest vaccinated individuals are at increased risk of contracting lab-confirmed infection with variants such as the South African B.1.351 strain, but there’s no telling whether they actually get sicker than unvaccinated individuals.

Similarly, while there are now hundreds of cases of fully vaccinated individuals having being diagnosed with COVID-19, some of whom have died as a result,29 it’s too early to tell whether ADE is at play. We’re currently moving into summer in the Western hemisphere, a time when respiratory viruses tend to be less prevalent in general, so I suspect the real test will come this fall and winter.

So, while some argue that ADE is a “non-issue” with COVID-19 vaccines simply because we haven’t seen any signs of it yet,30 even with new variants, I have my doubts. I suspect we might still see it once flu season sets in. Besides, ADE is far from the only potential problem. There are many other potential side effects, some of which may take months or years to develop, while others may be lethal within days or even hours.

The vaccines may also be problematic for already immunosuppressed patients. The reason for this is because they don’t develop a robust neutralizing antibody response from the vaccines, and there’s research31 warning that developing a poor neutralizing antibody response after an initial exposure to certain coronaviruses might result in more severe illness upon re-exposure. Might the same apply if you fail to develop robust neutralizing antibodies in response to mRNA gene therapy?

A recent JAMA study32,33 found only 17% of organ transplant recipients mounted detectable antibodies after their first dose of Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine. Among patients taking antimetabolites, only 8.75% had detectable antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 following vaccination. As noted by the authors:

“Given this observation, the CDC should update their new guidelines for vaccinated individuals to warn immunosuppressed people that they still may be susceptible to COVID-19 after vaccination. As the CDC guidelines are currently written, they assume that vaccination means immunity.

Our study shows that this is unlikely for most transplant recipients, and one could guess that our findings (especially those concerning anti-metabolites) could also apply to other immunosuppressed patients, such as those with autoimmune conditions.”

In my view, there are still so many potential avenues of harm and so many uncertainties, I would encourage everyone to do your homework, keep reading and learning, weigh the potential pros and cons, and take your time when deciding whether to get any of these COVID-19 gene therapies

 

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Sources and References
Lifestyle

HWA-14 Reasons Why Witch Hazel Should Be In Every Home

14 Reasons Why Witch Hazel Should Be In Every Home

 

Witch Hazel is a substance known as an astringent, which means that it has the ability to shrink the pores of your skin. It comes from the Witch Hazel bush, (whose scientific name is Hamamelis Virginiana), which is a plant native to North America.

Witch Hazel, which is produced by boiling parts of the plant, can be applied topically, and has long been known for its medical properties. It is recognized the world over as a natural skin cleanser and toner, but in actual fact it has many more uses.  Once you find out all the amazing uses for witch hazel  you will probably want to rush out (or make your own – see the end of the article for more details) and make sure you have some in your medicine cabinet.

Use of Witch Hazel # 1 – As a natural astringent

Witch Hazel is a rich source of tannin, and it is this tannin that gives it its astringent qualities, meaning that it is able to bring down the size of your pores and remove any excess oil from your skin. People who work outdoors and who are exposed to environmental pollution can use Witch Hazel to minimize the amount of contaminants that can otherwise infiltrate their pores. This not only helps to keep their skin cleaner, but also reduces the severity of any blemishes. Using Witch Hazel on a regular basis will banish excess oil and help to eliminate and prevent blackheads from forming.

 

Use of Witch Hazel # 2 – A treatment for inflammatory skin conditions and bruises

As well, as helping to minimize and eliminate blemishes on your skin, Witch Hazel can also be used to combat inflammatory skin conditions such as acne. The best way to apply it is with a small ball of cotton wool, or a bespoke cosmetic pad. In addition to eliminating blemishes and dealing with inflammatory skin conditions Witch Hazel can also accelerate the healing and fading of bruising.

Use of Witch Hazel # 3 – Helps to banish blackness around the eyes

The ability of Witch Hazel as an astringent to tighten the skin and minimize inflammation, means that it is the perfect natural treatment for dealing with darkness and puffiness around your eyes. You do however need to be very careful when applying it, because if it gets into your eyes, it will cause considerable pain and discomfort.

Use of Witch Hazel # 4 – Minimize swollen veins

Witch Hazel can also be used to minimize the appearance of Varicose Veins by reducing both the swelling and the pain. Pour the Witch Hazel onto a soft terry cloth, and gently lay over the affected area. It’s also a good idea to elevate the area you are treating as high as you can, as this will help to decrease the blood pressure in the veins.

 

Use of Witch Hazel # 5 – Arrests bleeding

The ability of Witch Hazel to tighten skin through its astringent characteristics helps to promote more rapid healing. You can apply organic Witch Hazel to small grazes and cuts to arrest any bleeding. Some Witch Hazel products that can be bought over-the-counter may contain isopropyl alcohol, which is a disinfecting agent. Although it may sting a little when applied, this will soon disappear, which is why it is such a popular wound cleanser for many people.

Use of Witch Hazel # 6 – Deals with shaving and waxing bleeds

Witch Hazel can be used by anyone who nicks themselves when shaving. Its anti-inflammatory characteristics can be used to minimize razor burn too, rather like an aftershave. It’s also used by many men and women after a hot wax treatments.  This sometimes results in pin-prick size bleeds that Witch Hazel deals with very effectively.

Use of Witch Hazel # 7 – A hemorrhoid treatment

Because of Witch Hazel’s excellent anti-inflammatory characteristics, it is also a great treatment for hemorrhoids and helps to reduce the swelling, as well as any itching, pain, or bleeding. It is actually used in the manufacture of many over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments. To make your own, simply mix a little Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera gel and apply to any hemorrhoid for instant relief.

Use of Witch Hazel # 8 – Sore throat treatment

An herbal tea made with Witch Hazel can help to ease a sore throat. If you are buying an over-the-counter Witch Hazel product, make sure that it is one that does not include isopropyl alcohol. Gargling with non-isopropyl alcohol Witch Hazel solution will reduce any swelling and help to mop up any excess mucus. It can also be used to treat other throat conditions, including laryngitis, sinusitis, and tonsillitis.

Use of Witch Hazel # 9 – Dental treatment

You can use a mouth rinse made from Witch Hazel (one that doesn’t include isopropyl alcohol), to help to minimize the pain and swelling of inflamed gums. It is also very useful at helping to stop any bleeding in the mouth too. For small children with teething problems, or for anyone with emerging wisdom teeth that are causing pain, or if anyone is suffering from discomfort following a dental procedure, a Witch Hazel mouth rinse, to which is added one drop of clove oil, and one drop of myrrh oil, can be administered.

Use of Witch Hazel # 10 – Treatment for Swimmer’s Ear

 

“Swimmer’s Ear” is a microbial infection of the ear canal. Witch Hazel can be used to treat this infection by putting several drops into the affected ear. This will dry up any pus, mop up any excess oil, and help to dislodge any earwax or debris that may be lodged in the ear canal. Once the Witch Hazel has been applied, allow the ear(s) to drain naturally, and clean using a cotton ball. It’s always a good idea to follow up any infection like this with a natural oil with antimicrobial properties, such as apple cider vinegar, basil oil, or tea tree oil.

Use of Witch Hazel # 11 – Anti-irritant for diaper rash

Witch Hazel can be used as a safe and effective treatment for diaper rash. By applying regularly, it can also help to repair damaged skin, thus reducing discomfort.

Use of Witch Hazel # 12 – Anti-sunburn treatment

We’ve already mentioned that you can mix Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera gel to create an effective treatment for hemorrhoids. The same mixture can be used to treat sunburn. The anti-inflammatory characteristics of the Witch Hazel, together with the soothing effect of the Aloe Vera are a match made in heaven for those with painful sunburn.

Use of Witch Hazel # 13 – Remedy for dermatitis

Thanks to its drying and anti-irritant capabilities, Witch Hazel is an effective remedy for dealing with inflammatory conditions caused by plants; such as poison ivy, and poison oak. It is also an effective treatment for dermatitis.

Use of Witch Hazel # 14 – Treatment for bug-bites and insect stings

In the same way that Witch Hazel can be used to act as an anti-inflammatory against poison ivy and poison oak, etc, it can also help to take away the pain and irritation from bug bites and insect stings.

 

 

 

 

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Foods, Health and Disease

HWA-Gluten Free Cauliflower Pizza Crust and Cauliflower Chia Pizza Crust

Gluten Free Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Pizza can be healthy too! Instead of a heavy and greasy pie crust, try cauliflower and chia seeds instead.

It is healthy, delicious, and yields many benefits. Cauliflower is full of the vitamins that our bodies need and crave like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folic acid, omega-3’s, and vitamin K. It also serves as a good source of vegetable protein, phosphorous, and potassium.

Cauliflower is very good for cancers such as breast, colon, prostate, and ovarian. The cauliflower provides special nutrient support for several body systems that are closely connected with cancer prevention. It has certain compounds that help resist cancer, and can eliminate cancer enzymes. Cauliflower contains sulforaphane, a Sulphur compound that has been shown to kill cancer stem cells.

Cauliflower is also good for your heart, digestive system, and it’s anti-inflammatory. Sulforaphane in cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables has been found to significantly improve blood pressure and kidney function.

The delicious flowery vegetable is also full of choline, a B vitamin which is known for its role in brain development. Choline is very important during pregnancies, and it may be able to diminish age-related memory decline.

Chia seeds also play a starring role in this deliciously healthy vegan crust. Chia seeds are tiny black seeds that are full of fiber, protein, calcium, iron, and omega-3. They are loaded full of antioxidants that can fight the production of free radicals, which damage molecules in cells that contribute to ageing and horrible disease like cancer.

Make this crust, and you will not be disappointed in the flavor or the benefits!

Cauliflower Chia Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large head of Organic Cauliflower
  • 3/4 cup of ground almonds
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Dried Oregano
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds  ( I have also used flax seeds )
  • 3/4 cup water

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 400F.

2. Mix your chia seeds in with the 3/4 cup of water and place in your fridge 20 minutes before intended use.

2. Chop the cauliflower, and place in a blender or food processor and blend until it is a fine rice-like texture.

3. Measure out around 3 cups and place into a large bowl, add in the ground almonds, oregano, salt, and pepper. Make a hole in the center and add in the Chia goop.

4. Combine the ingredients by hand and, and shape everything together into a ball. It should be loose and sticky not like a traditional dough.

5. Put the ball onto a baking tray and form into a flat crust with your hands. Make a ridge around the outside, and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

6. Add your favorite tomato base, and toppings bake an additional 5-10 minutes and enjoy your healthy meal!

  • We are in this Together!

    -People Start to Heal The Moment They Are Heard-

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Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/truth-about-chia

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/top-10-health-benefits-chia-seeds-6962.html

7 Health Benefits of Cauliflower

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=13

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/02/22/cauliflower-health-benefits.aspx

Health and Disease

HWA-Plastic Compounds in Tea Bags: Source of Potential Toxins

 

Plastic Compounds in Tea Bags: Source of Potential Toxins

 

I’ve long advocated drinking tea in lieu of coffee, but the downside of modern food technology is again rearing its ugly head and causing brand new health concerns over this otherwise healthful brew.

A recent article in The Atlantic raises questions about the safety of plastic tea bags, some of which have fancy pyramid shapes, designed to allow the tea leaves to unfurl during infusion.

Chances are you’ve never even given the tea bag a second thought. But indeed, some of the newer tea bags are made with a variety of plastics; some are nylon, some are made of viscose rayon, and others are made of thermoplastic, PVC or polypropylene.

Anyone aware of the dangers of plastic chemicals leaching out of plastic containers and bottles is likely to be concerned about drinking tea steeped through heated plastic.

The other bad news is that paper tea bags may be just as bad, or worse, than the plastic ones because many of them are treated with epichlorohydrin, a compound mainly used in the production of epoxy resins.

Considered a potential carcinogen by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health2 (NIOSH), epichlorohydrin is also used as a pesticide. Besides making its way into tea bags, it can also be found in coffee filters, water filters, and sausage casings.

When epichlorohydrin comes in contact with water, it hydrolyzes to 3-MCPD, which has been shown to cause cancer in animals. It’s also been implicated in infertility (it has a spermatoxic effect in male rats3) and suppressed immune function.

This chemical is already a well-known “process contaminant” associated with modern food production. According to the American Oil Chemicals Society5 (AOCS), 3-MCPD can also be found in variable levels in refined vegetable oils, which is yet another reason to avoid such cooking oils and replace them with organic coconut oil.

Do Plastic Tea Bags Pose a Health Concern?
As you probably know, chemicals in plastic containers and bottles have been found to leach into food and drink, thereby posing a number of health hazards. Examples include bisphenol-A (BPA), bisphenol-S (BPS), and phthalates, all of which mimic hormones and act as potent endocrine disruptors.

Unfortunately, according to the featured article, neither the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have any information on the toxicity of plastic tea bags or the levels of plastic chemicals that might migrate into the tea when steeped in hot water. Hard to believe, but true, the US federal agencies are not supervising this potential toxic exposure.

According to the featured article:

“Could plastic tea bags also be bad for our health? They are most commonly made from food grade nylon or polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which are two of the safest plastics on the scale of harmful leaching potential.

Both have very high melting points, which offer some assurance to consumers, as one would think the melting point of plastic is the temperature at which one would need to worry about accidentally eating it.

There is another temperature point for plastics, though, that we may need to worry about, called the ‘glass transition’ temperature (Tg). That is the temperature at which the molecule in certain materials such as polymers begin to break down. As a rule, the Tg of a material is always lower than the melting point.”

Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius). In the case of PET the glass transition point (Tg) is about 169 degrees, and the breakdown point of nylon is even lower than PET.

“If the question is, ‘As the polymer goes through that transition state, is it easier for something to leach out?’ ‘the answer is yes,’ said Dr. Ray Fernando, professor and director of polymers and coatings at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo,” The Atlantic states.

So while these plastics are generally considered among the safest in terms of leaching potential, the molecules in these plastic tea bags may still in fact break down and leach out when steeped in boiling water—which is the recommended way to brew a good cup of tea, especially when you’re using higher quality whole tea leaves, which these newer tea bags are designed for…

Paper Tea Bags May Be Just as Bad, or Worse…
The now defunct Dexter Corporation was the initial owner on the patent6 of a method for treating both tea bags and coffee filters with latex (plastic), to aid in preventing tears that allow the tea leaves/coffee grounds to leak. This invention “saturates and completely impregnates” the entire web material. Therein lies one of the problems with paper tea bags as they are frequently treated with epichlorohydrin, which hydrolyzes to the carcinogen 3-MCPD when contact with water occurs.

Dow Chemical Co is one of the largest producers of epichlorohydrin. According to safety literature7 from Dow, it’s a very dangerous chemical that requires using extra precautions when handling. Granted, that doesn’t automatically render it dangerous in the final product, but it can still be a cause for concern, particularly as it can turn into a carcinogen when water is added. There are many unanswered questions with respect to the potential hazards of using this chemical in products specifically designed to be used with boiling water…

A good way to protect yourself and your family in this area is to purchase your tea from manufacturers who can certify that their tea bags do not contain this compound. Organic India, for example, has sent me a confirmation that the paper used for their tea bags does not contain epichlorohydrin. In a 2009 article, Kristie Leong, MD also claims to have done her own inquiries and that Bigelow Tea Company does not use the chemical in their bags8. Many plastic tea bags are advertised as “silky” or “mesh bags,” or they’ll have fancy shapes or oversized bags. I’d suggest avoiding those as well if you want to be on the safe side.

Your best option would be to opt for loose tea. This does take longer, but it can be well worth the wait. One of my favorite teas is Royal Matcha Green Tea, which has one of the highest levels of the potent antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Unlike other teas which you steep and strain, matcha tea is a powder made from ground green tea leaves. You add the powder right into the water. You are consuming the whole leaf, which makes matcha one of the healthiest green teas available. Another excellent option is loose Tulsi tea leaves. This well-known Ayurvedic herb is also full of antioxidants that fight free radicals in your body and prevent oxidation damage.

 

How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea
There is an art to brewing tea using loose tea leaves, but once you find your “sweet spot” you may never go back to bagged tea again. Here are a few simple guidelines for making the “perfect” cup of tea:

It is known by all that tea has to have that amount of properties highly for our health.  Today we will talk about the benefits of a particular type of tea: White tea.  In addition to its mild and sweet taste, white tea has a lot of beneficial properties for the body and mind.Bring water to a boil in a tea kettle (avoid using a non-stick pot, as they too can release harmful chemicals when heated)
Preheat your tea pot or cup to prevent the water from cooling too quickly when transferred. Simply add a small amount of boiling water to the pot or tea cup that you’re going to steep the tea in. Ceramic and porcelain retain heat well. Then cover the pot or cup with a lid. Add a tea cozy if you have one, or drape with a towel. Let stand until warm, then pour out the water
Put the tea into an infuser, strainer, or add loose into the tea pot. Steeping without an infuser or strainer will produce a more flavorful tea. Start with one heaped teaspoon per cup of tea, or follow the instructions on the tea package. The robustness of the flavor can be tweaked by using more or less tea
Add boiling water. Use the correct amount for the amount of tea you added (i.e. for four teaspoons of tea, add four cups of water). The ideal water temperature varies based on the type of tea being steeped:
White or green teas (full leaf): Well below boiling (170-185 F or 76-85 C). Once the water has been brought to a boil, remove from heat and let the water cool for about 30 seconds for white tea and 60 seconds for green tea before pouring it over the leaves
Oolongs (full leaf): 185-210 F or 85-98 C
Black teas (full leaf) and Pu-erhs: Full rolling boil (212 F or 100 C)
Cover the pot with a cozy and let steep. Follow steeping instructions on the package. If there are none, here are some general steeping guidelines. Taste frequently as you want it to be flavorful but not bitter:
Oolong teas: 4-7 minutes
Black teas: 3-5 minutes
Green teas: 2-3 minutes
Once desired flavor has been achieved you need to remove the strainer or infuser. If using loose leaves, pour the tea through a strainer into your cup and any leftover into another vessel (cover with a cozy to retain heat)
After Water, Tea is One of Your Healthiest Beverage Choices
While some tea bags—whether plastic or paper processed with epichlorohydrin—may pose a potential hazard, please don’t let that deter you from drinking tea altogether. Although I still believe pure water should make up the majority of your daily fluid intake, high-quality tea has numerous health benefits to offer. Among them is growing evidence that the polyphenols in tea, which include EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) and many others, can be protective against cancer. For example, the polyphenols in green tea appear to be even more effective at fighting the progression of cancer than the antioxidants found in red wine and grapes. Beyond this, the beneficial properties in tea have been known to:

Neutralize the effects to your body of harmful fats and oils
Inhibit bacteria and viruses
Improve digestion
Protect against oxidation in your brain and liver
Help promote healthy gums
Drinking tea has also been linked to:

Improved mental alertness and slowing of brain-cell degeneration Reduced blood pressure Protection again type 2 diabetes
Lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels Lower risk of breast, colon, lung, ovarian and prostate cancers Reduced risk of heart attack and stroke

Of course, there are some general ground rules to follow when selecting tea of any kind, and those are that it should preferably be:

Organic (otherwise tea may be heavily sprayed with pesticides)
Grown in a pristine environment (tea is known to accumulate fluoride, heavy metals and other toxins from soil and water, so a clean growing environment is essential to producing a pure, high-quality tea)
So keep these tips in mind, and go ahead and enjoy a cup or two of your favorite variety. I personally prefer Matcha tea, a vibrant bright green tea made of tea leaves ground into a powder, and Tulsi tea, which is a powerful adaptogenic herb that provides important therapeutic benefits.

 

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Dr Patricia Carrothers – Reviewed

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Health and Disease, Lifestyle

WHAT IS DEPRESSION? REALLY!

What Is Depression, Really?

images (9)It’s normal to experience sadness. (Who didn’t cry when Simba couldn’t wake up Mufasa?) But unlike typical sadness or grief, time can’t and won’t heal Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), the term for clinical depression, which most people just call “depression.” It’s a common mental health condition that shows up like an unwanted houseguest and refuses to leave. This extended period of sadness or emptiness comes with a constellation of other symptoms, like exhaustion, sleep trouble, a shrinking appetite, overeating, sudden crying spells, and sometimes thoughts of suicide. Symptoms range in severity and must last for two weeks or more to receive an MDD diagnosis, though it’s rare than an episode would only last for that short time. Most people have symptoms for six months to a year, and sometimes, they can last for years.

Depression statistics including age of diagnosis, percentage who do not receive depression treatment, number of americans who experience depression, chance of having a second depression episode, and depression as the leading cause of disability

Without treatment, depression won’t fade away on its own. Even if you do white-knuckle it through your first episode of depression, your chance of another recurrence is more than 50 percent. If you’ve had two episodes, that chance shoots up to 80 percent. Meaning, you’re going to want to deal with this sooner rather than later.

One hallmark of depression is an inability to experience pleasure, which is literally no fun. Losing interest in things you once enjoyed often means that your capacity to function at work and home takes a dive. In fact, depression is one of the leading causes of disability in the U.S., as 7.2% of Americans—17.7 million people—experience Major Depressive Disorder, each year.

Other Types of Depression

We talked about MDD (a.k.a. depression) but there are other types of depression. They include:

  • Persistent Depressive Disorder. This is a chronic form of depression, formerly known as dysthymia. Sometimes people call it “high functioning” or “smiling” depression. While symptoms aren’t as severe as MDD, they last for two years or longer. People with PDD might feel like they’ve always been depressed. (In cases of “double depression,” people experience severe episodes of MDD within their usual state of chronic depression.)
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Depression symptoms start and end seasonally, around the same times every year. Most people get depressed in cold, dark winter, but some people’s mood plummets in summer.
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). Here, depression symptoms are tied to the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, starting about one week before your period and ending just after your period. Though many of the symptoms mirror PMS—irritability, high anxiety, frequent crying—they’re much more severe. They interrupt your ability to work, destroy personal relationships, and can lead to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. This condition was added in 2013 as a form of depression to the DSM-5, the official guide of mental disorders.
  • Peripartum Depression. New mothers with this disorder typically develop symptoms of depression and even psychosis within a few weeks of giving birth. It used to be called postpartum depression and many people still use the term interchangeably. (In some cases, symptoms start during pregnancy; other times, when the baby is several months old—hence the name change.)
  • Perimenopausal Depression. In midlife (specifically, the years leading up to menopause), people experiencing this disorder have typical depressive symptoms plus perimenopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.
  • Substance/Medication-Induced Depressive Disorder. Substance abuse (alcohol, opiates, sedatives, amphetamines, cocaine, hallucinogens, etc.) or taking some medications, like corticosteroids or statins, can trigger the symptoms of depression. If substance use (or withdrawal from using) is causing your symptoms, you may have this version of depression.
  • Disruptive Mood Regulation Disorder. A child with this juvenile disorder is grumpy and bad-tempered most of the time. They have severe, explosive outbursts with parents, teachers, and peers several times a week. Their overreactions are extreme and inconsistent with their developmental level.

Depression strikes people at a median age of 32, but it’s important to remember that depression can happen to anyone, at any age, of any race, gender, or political affiliation. One out of every six adults will experience depression at some time in their life. Fortunately, depression is treatable. That’s why, at the first hint of symptoms, it’s important to make an appointment with a mental health professional who can help determine whether you have depression, and if so, which type—and most importantly, which treatment is appropriate for you.

What Causes Depression?

You’re not going to like this answer, but no one knows for sure. That said, for the past few decades, the prevailing theory is that depressed people have an imbalance in their brain chemistry—more specifically, low levels of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine, which help regulate mood, sleep, and metabolism. We now know it’s a little more complicated than that.

Certain circumstances put people at a higher risk of depression, including childhood trauma, other types of mental illness and chronic pain conditions, or a family history of depression, but anyone can get depressed.

Scientists informed by decades of research believe that the following factors also up your risk of becoming depressed, but they can’t prove causality. Still, they can play heavily in the development of depression, so it’s important to be aware of them:

  • Genetics. Research shows that having a first-degree relative with depression (a parent, sibling, or child) makes you two-to-three times more likely to have depression tendencies.
  • Traumatic life events from childhood, such as abuse or neglect.
  • Environmental stressors, like a loved one’s death, a messy divorce, or financial problems.
  • Some medical conditions (e.g., underactive thyroid, chronic pain). Per science, the relationship between these physical conditions and depression is bidirectional, so there’s a chicken-or-egg thing going on because they feed each other.
  • Certain medications, including some sedatives and blood pressure pills.
  • Hormonal changes, like those that come with childbirth and menopause.
  • Gut bacteria. There has been a link established between the microbiome and the gut-brain axis, but it’s only just starting to be studied.

Do I Have the Symptoms of Depression?

Wondering whether your feelings qualify for clinical depression? Those with MDD experience five or more of the below symptoms during the same two-week period, and at least one must be depressed mood or loss of pleasure. The symptoms would be distressing or affect daily functioning.

  1. You feel down most of the time.
  2. The things you liked doing no longer give you joy.
  3. Significant weight loss (without dieting) or weight gain or feeling consistently much less hungry or hungrier than usual.
  4. Having a hard time getting to sleep and staying asleep or oversleeping.
  5. A molasses-like slowdown of thought, becoming a couch potato, or spending days in bed. (This should be noticeable to others, not just subjective feelings of restlessness or slothiness.)
  6. So. So. Tired. You’re so exhausted you can’t even.
  7. Feeling worthless a lot of the time, even if you haven’t done anything wrong.
  8. Being super distracted, indecisive, and unable to concentrate.
  9. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide(with or without a specific plan to actually do it). If you need help for yourself or someone else, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
6 Symptoms of Depression graphic

How Do Doctors Diagnose Depression?

When you’re having a depressive episode, it might feel like you’re destined to feel terrible forever. That’s not true. It’s just what your depressed brain wants you to think. The hardest step is ignoring that feeling and making an appointment with a doctor and/or mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. A mental health professional is the only expert that can help you figure out if you are depressed.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy blood test that can determine if you have depression, though that would make diagnosis a lot easier. (Get on it, science!) The DSM-5 helps clinicians make that call with a targeted list of common symptoms. To be diagnosed with MDD, patients must experience five or more of the above symptoms (see “Do I Have the Symptoms of Depression?”)—one must be depressed mood or loss of pleasure—during a two-week period.

Even if your symptoms match up to MDD, though, your doctor should rule out any underlying medical causes first. Some conditions, such as thyroid disease and vitamin deficiency, can mimic symptoms of depression. Next, consider any medications you’re currently taking.
If this sounds like you or someone you know, make an appointment with a mental health professional. Now. Don’t wait! What’s the worst thing that can happen? If you feel better by the time the appointment rolls around, you can always cancel it. If you don’t, you’ve saved yourself precious time (and unnecessary pain) by taking steps to managing your mental health.

What Are the Best Treatments for Depression?

Regardless of why you’re depressed, it’s important to get treatment before the condition starts to erode your quality of life. Studies and surveys show that most adults in the U.S. who screen positive for depression remain untreated. Don’t be one of them.

As scientists continue to hash out theories about the root causes of depression, research shows that the most effective treatment is a mix of psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. It might take a (frustratingly long) while to find the right recipe —antidepressants work differently in different people so finding the right fit often takes some trial and error. Plus, the mental health professional you’re working with will be by your side. They won’t give up and neither should you. Some of the treatment options available are:

Psychotherapy

This doesn’t mean you’ll find yourself reclined on a couch, complaining about your relationship with your mother (though it might). A psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or licensed clinical social worker might use a variety of techniques to help change the negative thinking, beliefs, or behaviors that exacerbate your depression and make your world seem hopeless. Types of therapy include psychodynamic therapyCognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and interpersonal therapy.

Medication

*WARNING – TRY EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU TRY MEDICATION.  YOU COULD LOOSE YOUR JOB, AND MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT TO GET ANOTHER ONE.  ALSO, YOU WILL HAVE TO TURN IN ALL YOUR GUNS, YOU CAN NOT WORK WITH CHILDREN AND MANY OTHER RESTRICTIONS NOW APPLE.

Your depression might require more than coaching. Doctors may prescribe medication including antidepressantsmood stabilizers, and/or antipsychotic pills in order to decrease the symptoms of depression. These include:

  • SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), and Zoloft (sertraline) and SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) like Cymbalta (duloxetine) and Effexor XR (venlafaxine) make neuro-transmitters serotonin and norepinephrine already existing in the brain more available.
  • TCAs (tricyclic antidepressants) like Tofranil (imipramine) and Norpramin (desipramine) and MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) like Emsam (selegiline) and Marplan (isocarboxazid) are first-generation antidepressants that work similarly on neuro-transmitters, but they’re used less often because of unpleasant side effects.
  • Doctors may also use atypical antidepressants like Zyban or Wellbutrin (bupropion) or Remeron (mirtazapine) that affect serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine levels in ways unique from other anti-depression drugs. Or they may add atypical antipsychotics, a.k.a. second-generation antipsychotics like Seroquel (quetiapine) or Abilify (aripiprazole). They’re “atypical” in that they affect dopamine and other neurotransmitters without the physical side effects, such as tics and tremors, that first-generation antipsychotics can cause.
Common Depression Treatments graphic

Brain Stimulation

For treatment-resistant depression that doesn’t get better after exhausting psychotherapy and more than two classes of antidepressants (such SSRIs and TCAs), there are more hardcore options. Severe depression may warrant electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which you might remember from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Fear not—modern ECT is safe, performed under anesthesia, and much less aggressive than you see in the movies.

There is also repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) which some docs refer to as “ECT Lite”. For severe depression, some people receive vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), a surgical implant that works kind of like a pacemaker, sending electric pulses to the brain.

Other Treatment Approaches

These may include:

  • For severe, treatment-resistant depression, the FDA recently approved esketamine, a nasal spray based on the party drug/anesthetic ketamine. Experts say it works by kicking up production of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that helps prompt the brain to form new neural connections.
  • Sadness during seasonal depression (SAD) can be alleviated with melatonin-regulating light therapy.
  • Postpartum depression may be treated with Brexanolone (Zulresso), an IV version of the body’s own neurosteroid allopregnanolone.
  • Research shows that lifestyle changes like incorporating exercise and mindfulness can amplify results of medication and therapy. Even if they aren’t foolproof mood-lifters, it never hurts to build a health-supportive routine.

Where Can I Find Depression-Related Communities?

The thing about depression is that it makes you want to roll yourself into a blanket burrito and never come out. But shutting out the world can make an already-bad situation worse by giving you free reign to neglect your needs, ruminate over your perceived flaws, and destroy any chance of forward momentum. Along with therapy and medication, finding supportive people—and connecting with them online and in real life—is a key part of taking care of yourself. Here’s where to start.

Top Depression Instagrammers and Bloggers

  • Tonya Ingram, @tonyainstagramtonyaingram.com

Follow because: She has one hell of a way with words—after all, she is a poet and author. She also battles some pretty heavy stuff like depression, lives as a “lupus legend” (her words—we love) and is currently waiting on the sidelines for a kidney transplant. She takes it all day by day and shares how she gets out of bed, looks herself in the mirror, and figures out how to simply… survive.

  • Scott Ste Marie, @depressiontoexpressiondepressiontoexpression.com

Follow because: Immediately, he sounds like someone you want to be friends with, someone whose vibe you want to channel. A former Twitter employee and now public speaker, Scott isn’t going to guide you on some path to a complete cure—nor is he going to sugarcoat the realities of living with depression. In order to overcome your demons, Scott believes you have to come to terms with the fact that sometimes life sucks, and that’s okay.

  • Kevin Hines, @kevinhinesstorykevinhinesstory.com

Follow because: You know the saying “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”? Kevin Hines is living proof. He is the only person ever to survive a suicide attempt from the Golden Gate Bridge. After a sea lion kept him afloat, he was reborn as someone who now devotes his life to making sure you’re here tomorrow—which is why he regularly uses the hashtag #beheretomorrow.

  • Lola, Gina, and Nora Tash, and Nicole Argiris, @mytherapistsaysmytherapistsays.ca

Follow because: Sometimes the only way to come out of a deep dark hole is with the universal language of laughter. These girls (mostly family or like family) create endless hilarious memes that represent the real trials and tribulations of living in today’s social media-infested world. The point of it all? So you know that, as they put it, “you’re never alone and never as batshit as you think.”

  • Sad Girls Club, @sadgirlsclub

Follow because: It’s not your typical reel of inspirational quotes and nod-worthy memes — though, those are sprinkled in, too. Mostly, this feed—run by women of color (including founder @elyse.fox)—gives you actual advice on how to cope with depression, especially in modern-day situations, like discussing mental health at work (hashtag awkward). This feed gives you the ammo you need to shut down stigma.

  • Kate Allan, @thelatestkate

Follow because: Animals make everything better — especially when they’re paired with a quirky drawing and an all-too-familiar feeling. A wolf that speaks to your soul; a fox that gives you all the feels; and a bird who tells it like it is. Run by artist, author, and anxious human Kate, this page (and the cute animals that live there) is a feel-good must-follow.

  • The Sad Ghost Club, @theofficialsadghostclubthesadghostclub.com

Follow because: Nathan, Lize, and Helen are besties—or, ghosties, as they refer to themselves—who came together to share life with mental illness from behind the computer screen. These ghosts don’t sugarcoat things, but they’re also not gloom and doom. You’ll be hooked on their graphics and positive (but not overly earnest) messages.

Top Depression-Related Podcasts

  • The Hilarious World of Depression. Stand-up comedy meets a psych appointment when actors and comedians struggling with depression tell their (surprisingly funny) mental health stories to “professionally depressed” host John Moe.
  • Terrible, Thanks for Asking. Author Nora McInerny, who has dealt with depression, isn’t afraid to ask the awkward questions, as real listeners share their own tales of coping with grief, despair, and anxiety.
  • Jen Gotch is OK…Sometimes. Ladyboss CEO and ban.do founder Jen Gotch gets vulnerable and real every week, sharing her struggles with mental health.
  • Happier with Gretchen Rubin. It’s no surprise that the author of The New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project has tons of suggestions to help you emerge from your sad cave, build positive habits, and create a happier outlook. Her slightly skeptical sister Elizabeth Craft keeps all that sunshine in check.
  • Anthologies of Hope. You’re here, and you’re reading this, so that in itself proves that you haven’t given up hope. But it’s not just that you are here—it’s why you’re here. This podcast dives even deeper into that “why” and tries to bring that to the forefront of your mind instead of the other garbage trying to pull you down. Host Rick Osowski, who has battled depression, brings a variety of guests into the fold to talk about their why.

Top Depression Support Groups and Non-Profits

  • Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). This nonprofit is dedicated to the prevention, treatment, and cure of anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and co-occurring disorders. Come here for new research, monthly webinars from mental health experts, educational infographics and stats, and a Find-a-Therapist database you can search by disorder. You can always find (free) support on the ADAA Online Peer-to-Peer Support Group or support group iOS app for iPhone.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). This nonprofit mental health advocacy group offering free education and support programs such as NAMI Peer-to-Peer (eight free sessions for adults with specific mental health conditions). You can also connect with other folks who have depression on this org’s online message boards and via NAMI Connection (use the site to find a weekly or monthly recovery group near you).
  • Reddit, r/depression. Reddit is the hideously under-designed social website for anonymous users with a bad rep for attracting “incels” and “neckbeards.” The self-proclaimed “Front Page of the Internet” has memes, conspiracy theories, and thousands of communities called subreddits—and some of them are quite lovely. For example, the r/depression subreddit is over a decade old with more than half a million subscribers. In here, the vibe is all about empathy, support, and helpful feedback. (A recent study even found that visiting the subreddit caused a “positive emotion change” in users.)
  • Talkspace. More like “safe space.” It’s online, it’s private, and it’s “open” 24/7. Over 1 million people use Talkspace to get matched up with one of their 5,000+ licensed therapists and then message them…as much and as often as they’d like. There are different packages depending on your needs, but the instant feedback and comfort is pretty much priceless.
  • Sad Girls Club. This is a nonprofit, an online community, and an Instagram handle (see above) focused on the millennial and Gen Z experience of mental illness (depression, anxiety, or something undiagnosed all count). They host meetups IRL where you can connect with similar people and try a cool twist on art therapy like a poetry slam or embroidery class.
  • To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA). It’s not just a nonprofit — it’s a movement. Online, at in-person events, through social media and blogs, TWLOHA creates a place for hope and healing through depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. People who attend their events and join this community have said they’ve felt transformed. Worth a try, yea?
  • We are in this Together!

    -People Start to Heal The Moment They Are Heard-

    Health and Wellness Associates

    EHS Telehealth

    DR MARK WILLIAMS MD  BC-PSYCH

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Health and Disease

ADD GUM DISEASE TO THE LIST OF RISK FACTORS FOR COVID 19

ADD GUM DISEASE TO THE LIST OF RISK FACTORS FOR COVID 19

images (9)Keep flossing: A new study finds that gum disease may raise the chances of hospitalization or death if COVID-19 strikes.

The reason? Gum disease can be a sign of inflammation throughout the body.

“It is well-established that systemic inflammation is not only linked with periodontal disease, but to several other respiratory diseases as well,” explained Dr. James Wilson, president of the American Academy of Periodontology.

“Therefore, maintaining healthy teeth and gums in an effort to avoid developing or worsening periodontal disease is absolutely crucial in the midst of a global pandemic like COVID-19, which is also known to trigger an inflammatory response,” Wilson said in an academy news release.

News Picture: Add Gum Disease to List of Risk Factors for Severe COVID-19

In the study, researchers compared COVID-19 patients in Qatar who had severe complications — including assisted ventilation, admission to intensive care and death — and those without severe complications.

Of the 568 patients, those with periodontitis — the most severe form of gum disease — were at least three times more likely to have severe COVID-19 complications.

The researchers also found that COVID-19 patients with periodontitis had increased levels of biomarkers (including white blood cell levels, D-dimer, and C-reactive protein) associated with worse COVID-19 outcomes.

The study, by Nadya Marouf of the Oral Health Institute, Hamad Medical Corporation in Doha, Qatar, and colleagues was published online Feb. 1 in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

Systemic inflammation is a symptom of COVID-19, and can also be a symptom of gum disease, the researchers noted.

The findings show the importance of good oral care during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the academy.

Gum disease can cause bleeding gums, bad breath and, if untreated, can lead to tooth loss. Up to half of U.S. adults aged 30 and older have some form of gum disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Previous research has linked gum disease to serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

We are in this Together!

-People Start to Heal The Moment They Are Heard-

Health and Wellness Associates

EHS Telehealth

DR ANNE SULLIVAN – ONCOLOGIST

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More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health explains how to prevent gum disease.

SOURCE: American Academy of Periodontology, news release, Feb. 3, 2021

Foods, Health and Disease

HWA – APPLE CAKE – VEGAN AND GLUTEN FREE

Apple Cake

Vegan and Gluten Free

This apple cake is gluten-free, vegan, and is not filled with all that white sugar that lot’s of baking has.  It is my kind of cake. The only sweeteners in it are a little rice syrup and stevia which is actually food for us.  It is also egg free and dairy-free too which is important as eggs and milk are not good for me. And it is delicious.

Apples – Your mom didn’t use the term superfood but she knew about apples. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” was the first nutritional advice I and many children heard from their moms. For this reason, we call them “the first superfood.”

Coconut oil is actually very good for us. In tropical climates like Polynesia, Sri Lanka and the Yucatan where they have a diet high in coconut oil, the people are healthier, have less heart disease, cancer, and colon problems than unsaturated fat eaters. It is now accepted that there is good cholesterol and there are good saturated fats. 

As I don’t use sugar for my baking I often use stevia / TRUVIA which is the healthy option. The stevia plant is incredibly sweet and also incredibly good for you. The leaf is 30 times sweeter than sugar while extracts are 300-400 times sweeter. The best stevia will, therefore, be the one that retains some whole food value and is water-based. Liquid forms will be less processed.

When we think of cinnamon we usually imagine delicious pastries or a hot drink but cinnamon is also full of health benefits. These benefits are backed by valid scientific research. It is helpful from lowering “bad” HDL cholesterol levels to lowering blood sugar levels. This is for sure a valuable superfood to be included in our diet. At the bottom of this recipe, there are many recipe links for you. All of them are favourites of mine created in my kitchen.

Arrowroot is well tolerated by food-allergic people, even those with multiple allergies. High nutritional properties that enhance baking performance. It has a chewy texture and increased browning capabilities.

Brown rice syrup is made from cooked brown rice, which is fermented by adding enzymes to turn the starches in the rice into sugars. Brown rice syrup is absorbed easily into our system, leaving less for fat accumulation in contrast with regular sugar. It is a complex sugar thus takes longer to digest and does not create the sugar high that the simple sugars do.

Brown Rice Flour has become a staple in my wheat-free baking adding fiber and nutrition.  It assists in weight loss, helps reduce cholesterol, and balances energy.  It is low cost and adds a somewhat dry gritty crumbly texture.

Potato Flour is high in fiber and protein and is a fine creamy white-yellow powder.  It is made from dehydrated whole potatoes and is a healthy substitute for xanthan gum or guar gum. Cautions: Don’t confuse with potato starch. Use much less.  Do not use potato flour if you are prone to kidney or bladder problems, on have been on a keto diet for more than three months. 

Apple Cake Gluten-Free Vegan with Cinnamon Recipe

 
This apple cake is gluten-free, vegan, and is not filled with all that white sugar that lot’s of baking has.  It is my kind of cake. The only sweeteners in it are a little rice syrup and stevia which is actually food for us.  It is also egg free and dairy-free too which is important as eggs and milk are not good for me. And it is delicious.
 
coconut butter icing This has coconut butter icing. 
 

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups fresh apples Use 1/2 cup of sliced apples for the top
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup rice syrup
  • 1 tsp Stevia
  • 4 Tbsp chickpea or soy flour
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup potato flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2/3 cup water or 1/2 cup if you like a drier cake.
  • 3 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375º F.
  • Oil and lightly flour a 8” X 8” cake pan.
  • Chop 2 cups of apples into one inch pieces.
  • Sprinkle the apples with 2 tsp of cinnamon.
  • Slice 1/2 a cup of apples into slices to decorate the top of the cake.
  • Blend the vegetable oil, rice syrup, and water in a blender.
  • Mix flours, baking powder and sea salt in a separate bowl.
  • Add the chopped apples to the dry flour mixture.
  • Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients.
  • Mix quickly.
  • Immediately pour the batter into a cake pan.
  • Decorate the top of the cake with apples.
  • Sprinkle 1 tsp cinnamon on top of the apples.
  • Bake at 375º F. oven for 35 To 40 minutes.

Coconut Butter Icing

1/3 cup Coconut oil
1/3 cup Rice syrup
1/2 cup Almond meal
1 Tbsp Arrowroot powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Cream together coconut oil and rice syrup.
  2. Mix in vanilla, almond meal, and arrowroot.
  3. Ice cake after it is cool.

We are in this Together!

-People Start to Heal The Moment They Are Heard-

Health and Wellness Associates

EHS Telehealth

 

DR ANNE SULLIVAN – ONCOLOGIST

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Health and Disease

HWA – SEX AFTER A HEART ATTACK IS HEALTHY

Resuming Sex Soon After a Heart Attack Might Be Healthy

American Heart Association Cautions Heart Attack Survivors During Pandemic  | EHS TodayMany heart attack survivors worry that resuming sex too soon afterwards might trigger another attack. But new research suggests the opposite may be true.

Research out of Israel finds that resuming a normal sex life in the months after a heart attack may actually boost survival.

Lead researcher Yariv Gerber believes part of the benefit could lie in a person’s mindset.

“Sexuality and sexual activity are markers of well-being,” said Gerber, head of the School of Public Health at Tel Aviv University. “Resumption of sexual activity soon after a heart attack may be a part of one’s self-perception as a healthy, functioning, young and energetic person. This may lead to a healthier lifestyle generally.”

In the study, Gerber’s team collected data on nearly 500 sexually active people aged 65 or under who were hospitalized for a heart attack in either 1992 or 1993.

During a median follow-up of 22 years, 43% of the patients died. But the study found that those who’d maintained or increased the frequency of sex during the first six months after a heart attack had 35% lower risk of death, compared with those who had not.

The survival benefit of having more sex appeared tied to reductions in non-cardiovascular deaths — for example, fewer deaths tied to cancer — the researchers noted.

Of course the findings can’t prove that a return to sexual activity soon after a heart attack directly improves long-term survival — only that the two appear associated.

The new study was published Sept. 23 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

As the researchers explained, sex is a form of physical exercise that increases heart rate and blood pressure. And although vigorous physical exertion can sometimes cause a heart attack, regular physical activity can also reduce the risk of heart problems over time. Likewise, sex can trigger a heart attack, but your risk is lower if you exercise regularly, Gerber’s team noted.

“For this and other reasons, some patients [including younger ones] hesitate to resume sexual activity for long periods after a heart attack,” Gerber said in a journal news release.

He also theorized that a quick return to bedroom activity after a heart attack may be a sign of a better overall recovery.

“Improved physical fitness, stronger spouse relations, and a mental ability to ‘bounce back’ from the initial shock of the event within a few months are among the possible explanations for the survival benefit observed among the maintained/increased group,” Gerber said.

“On the other hand, patients who perceive their health as poor might be less likely to start having sex again,” he said. “They may also be less likely to adhere to cancer screening tests and other prevention practices during follow-up. This may explain the strong inverse association between resumption of sexual activity and cancer mortality that was seen in our study.”

In any case, the new findings “should serve to reduce patients’ concerns about returning to their usual level of sexual activity soon after a heart attack,” Gerber said.

Dr. Guy Mintz directs cardiovascular health at Northwell Health’s Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. He wasn’t involved in the new research, but said it should help counter “an old taboo that sexual activity after a heart attack is dangerous.”

Mintz said that the Israeli study did have its limits, however: “This study looked at a younger population, median age of 53, and this does not translate to older patients or women. Women were poorly represented, as 90% of patients were men.”

And he said that following a heart attack, patients should have a frank discussion with their physician about a return to sexual activity, since it “increases heart rate and blood pressure, which can have an effect on the heart.”

Still, for many people, “normalization of sexual activity improves a patient’s sense of self-worth, health and vigor,” Mintz said. So, “an important message here is that re-engaging in sexual activity is not dangerous and will be helpful long term,” he said.

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Foods

HWA- WATERMELON JAM

Watermelon Jam

Recipe That Always Works

This watermelon jam is so simple to make, tastes amazing and turns out perfect every time! This is the only watermelon jam recipe you’ll ever need!

If you are a beginner who wants a foolproof method of making watermelon jam, look no further! This is the easiest watermelon jam recipe on the Internet and it turns out perfect every time!

how to make watermelon jam

Since watermelon is naturally very watery, turning it into jam is not very straight-forward.  If you take another type of jam recipe (for example, strawberry jam, peach jam, etc.) and just change the fruit to watermelon, it won’t work 🙂 After all, you want to end up with watermelon jam, not watermelon syrup.  My recipe produces a real thick watermelon jam that’s gorgeous red in color and tastes like extremely concentrated sweet watermelon! It’s super easy to follow and only uses 4 ingredients!

Watermelon jam on toast

With this homemade watermelon jam, you’ll be tasting *summer* long after the summer is over! Preserving the summer watermelon flavor has never been easier when you have this simple jam recipe on your hands 🙂

Making watermelon jam is super easy.  All you need to do is puree the watermelon flesh in a blender or food processor, then put it in a pot, add sugar, lemon juice and pectin, then boil for 20 minutes and you are done!

WATERMELON JAM RECIPE

This watermelon jam recipe is super easy and works every time! Produces perfectly set jam that tastes like extremely concentrated watermelon! This is the only watermelon jam recipe you’ll even need!

Ingredients
  • 2 cups pureed watermelon
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 6 tbsp (2 packages) powdered pectin (labeled as “low sugar” or “no sugar needed”)
Instructions
  1. Put pureed watermelon, lemon juice and sugar in a pot. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
  2. Add the pectin and whisk it with a handheld whisk or a fork immediately, so it dissolves without clumping.
  3. Bring the watermelon jam to a boil again, then reduce heat to simmer and simmer, stirring every minute, for 20 minutes.
  4. Pour the watermelon jar into a mason jar. This watermelon jam will set completely once it’s cooled.
  5. This watermelon jam can be canned, or you can simply store it in a refrigerator (it will stay fresh in a refrigerator for up to 1 month).
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Foods, Health and Disease

HWA POTATO AND HERB STUFFED PEPPERS

These stuffed bell peppers look beautiful and taste even better. If you’re a mashed potato fan, you will likely enjoy this fun presentation of a family favorite.

Medical Medium® on Instagram: “POTATO & HERB STUFFED PEPPERS A ...

Potatoes: Abundant in amino acids that specifically inhibit viral growth. Potatoes are high in glucose that provides substance to the liver, as it’s precisely what the liver relies on to keep strong. It also helps build up glycogen storage, the very resource that protects us against blood sugar problems, weight gain, fatty liver, and dirty blood syndrome. Potatoes keep the liver grounded and stable, giving us a good constitution. They’re also shunned for being a nightshade, when in truth they have the ability to reverse many varieties of chronic illness.

Potato & Herb Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley; more for garnish
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives; more for garnish
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 yellow, red, and/or orange bell peppers

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.

Add 3 inches of water to a medium-sized pot, bring it to a boil, and add a steaming basket. Place the potatoes in the basket, cover, and steam for 5 to 10 minutes, until tender. Remove and cool.

Place the potatoes in a large bowl or pot. Add the onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, chopped parsley, chopped chives, and lemon juice. Mash until smooth using a potato masher. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water if the potatoes are very dry.

Slice the bell peppers in half and remove the seeds and core. Place them in a baking dish. Divide the potato mash between the halves. Cook in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until browned on top. Remove and serve. Garnish with chopped parsley and chives.

Potato & Herb Stuffed Peppers

Tips:
It’s important to choose bell peppers that aren’t green. If they are green, it means they are unripe and can cause some discomfort. Red, orange, yellow, and purple peppers are ripe and the best choices.

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