Treating Anxiety With Nootropics

Nootropics are supplements that are mainly used to help with cognition enhancement, increasing memory and even sometimes repairing damage. The damage can come from either aging and also from neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. A great side effect of these smart drugs is that it can also have a positive effect on your mood. Anxiolytic supplements like these have had great success in helping people with anxiety issues. They help individuals feel more relaxed and can improve their social skills and help eliminate social anxiety. There are many nootropics on the market and in this article I will try to outline the best ones for the treatment of anxiety.

In the brain, there are many neurotransmitters that transmit signals from one part of the brain to another. One of these transmitters is called GABA or (gamma aninobutryic acid) a mouthful I know, so let’s stick with GABA. Anxiety itself has been shown to have many different factors that cause the disorder. One of these is a deficiency of GABA in the brain. GABA is actually produced by a separate chemical called glutamate. This is the main anxiolytic neurotransmitter in the brain which blocks the effects in the central nervous system. So when the levels of GABA in the brain are low, your nerve cells become more active and start firing off signals much quicker than they should. When the case is not too severe, this can exhibit itself as a feeling of nervousness and can induce panic attacks and in extreme cases possibly seizures.

Due to GABA being directly related to anxiety levels, when they are higher than usual or at least normal you generally feel at ease and generally more relaxed. This is exactly why there are many sedatives rely on stimulating these GABA receptor sites. Surprisingly enough, alcohol is actually known as a GABA stimulant. However, as alcohol has so many bad side effects it could not be thought of as a nootropic supplement. There are however, an array of suitable GABA stimulating nootropics that have the benefits of calming that you would be looking for in order to control the feeling of anxiety.

The one issue that you would need to keep in mind however, is that the GABA supplements are not able to cross the blood to brain barrier. This renders them no good for reducing anxiety. What you would need is a nootropic that is precursor to GABA and is capable of crossing the blood to brain barrier. There are many supplements that can penetrate through from the blood stream into the brain tissue where this process occurs. Some of these nootropics are widely available for purchase while others need a prescription from your health professional.

One of the best known supplements to relieve anxiety is called Phenibut. However, daily use of this supplement is not recommended. It can easily extend over the blood to brain barrier and activate the GABA-b receptors which causes a sedative like effect. This causes the person to relax. There are some reports that it is equivalent to drinking little bits of alcohol, which also stimulates the GABA-b receptors. Therefore, phenibut is a good anxiolytic nootropic, but can have negative side effects when used for long periods of time. It is also a prescription medicine in a lot of countries around the world, except for the USA where it is an over the counter drug.

Another great supplement to help control mood is one of the racetam nootropics. Aniracetam is the best out of this family of supplements at treating stress and anxiety. Mainly because it activates the receptors that control the glutamate in the brain. Previously mentioned, glutamate is the precursor for GABA production. This means that ingesting aniracetam actually has an effect on GABA even if it is indirectly. It has been documented from many trials and studies that aniracetam diminishes social anxiety and increases focus and communication.

Finally, noopept is very similar to the racetam nootropics. Although, from the many users the reports on its effectiveness has been met with some mixed reactions. Some rate it as great while others do not believe it has much of an effect for them. Noopept also stimulates the receptors that control the glutamate production. Also, noopept has been proven to make bigger amounts of serotonin and dopamine in the cerebral cortex of the brain. It is also touted as being two hundred times stronger than the previously mentioned aniracetam. The effects of noopept also last longer, meaning that you can take it just once and feel the stress relieving effects for the whole day.

So to sum up, there are many nootropic supplements on the market that will help to reduce anxiety at the source in the brain. Not all nootropics are created equally, and so research should be done before diving in head first. There are many places to buy these supplements but if I were you I would do some research first. Mainly to find the one that would suit your own personal situation best as well as knowing what, if any, side effects there are.

Keeping Your Earpieces Clean and Maintained

Believe or not, a lot of people purchase earpieces but they fail to keep them clean as its maintenance. Some of these earphones are expensive so it deems right to at least take good care of them and ensure that these are well kept. This ensures that they last for a longer time.

Regular cleaning is needed and is the key to get the best out of your earphones. Here are some tips to make sure that these last as long as they should:

Wipe the dirt off

It’s important and pretty much obvious that you should keep your earpieces free from external grime and ear wax. Use damp cloth or wet wipes to make sure that your earpieces stay free from dirt.

Additionally, aside from the fact that this would keep your earpiece working as long as possible, this hygienic act will greatly reduce your risk from getting an ear infection.

Replace the filter

Every quality earpieces include a built-in ear wax filter. You can ask some stocks from your supplier so that you can easily change them as needed. Change them constantly to steer clear of audio distortion and diminished volume. Do this approximately once every two months.

Of course, the more often you use your Earpiece, the faster the ear wax builds up, and therefore you will need to change the filter more regularly.

Wear them the right way

You might wonder, isn’t it that you just put them straight in your ear canals? Yes, that is how you generally use an earpiece, but to avoid breaking them and bruising your ears, there are some that are designed to be twisted a bit for that perfect fit. That means that you should not force these earpieces in. They should sit in your ears comfortably.

Remove batteries

If you have a pair of wireless earphones, then by all means take the batteries out when not in used. Why? Batteries have the possibility to leak, and the liquid will definitely corrode the earpiece altogether. So just to be extra careful, you have to make sure that your batteries are out when your earpiece is not being used.

Finding the best storage

Keep your earpiece in a safe place. If it came with a small container on the day you purchased the product, then you can recycle and use that to properly store your gadget, including the batteries that were taken off. If not, then you can most likely use a small pouch instead.

Though keep in mind that there are different types of earpieces like Security Earpiece that is used together with a two-way radio, whatever it is, make sure that you maintain and clean them regularly. You’ll be glad you did.

Ovarian Cysts – The Post-Menopausal Reasons, Menaces and Answers

Even though ovarian cysts after the menopause are less common, instances do crop up and may cause difficulties. Post-menopausal women with an ovarian cyst that is not suitable for conservative management may have to have an oophorectomy. This operation is done to take out the ovary within a bag so as not to have the cyst break open in the peritoneal cavity. Post-menopausal women are recommended to take a sonographical CA125 test using transvaginal grayscale. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and Doppler scans are not as good for the detection of post-menopausal cysts. Transvaginal ultrasound is the best way to understand the situation of ovarian cysts because it gives enhanced detail and more sensitivity. Larger cysts nevertheless should be examined transabdominally.

Some seventeen percent of post-menopausal women contract ovarian cysts. There is no optimal solution for cyst management. Most of them will disappear spontaneously without any major impact. Ovarian cysts and malignancy do not seem to be correlated, but there is a concerning rise in ovarian cancer in older women. If the cancer invades beyond the ovary then survival is probably unlikely. Although it may be recommended to suspect all ovarian cysts of malignancy in a woman following the menopause, to be entirely certain means a full laparotomy and staging procedure. Studies done recently on post-menopausal ovarian cysts from a group of 226 women indicates that ovarian cysts that are smaller than 50 mm in diameter are benign and can be handled using safe management using regular examination of the dimensions of the cyst and the concentration of CA125.

For a post-menopausal woman, ovarian cysts spark two questions, the first about the best management and the second on where the treatment should be done. A general gynecologist will be able to handle women with low risk, but for women at an intermediate risk level referral should be made to a cancer unit and if the level of risk is high, they should be accompanied to a cancer center. When used with an index to register the risk of malignancy, the revision of management changes should be done accordingly. A typical test is the check on CA125 that is practiced in over four out of five cases. A cutoff of 30 u/ml is used most often and the test sensitivity is 81 percent with specificity of 75 percent. The use of ultrasound has been registered at 89 percent sensitivity and 73 percent specificity. Doppler sonography with color flow has in addition been found to correctly assess ovarian cysts. Examining the fluid cytologically from an ovarian cyst gives less precise results in order to find out if a tumor is benign or not. The sensitivity is only approximately 25 percent with a greater menace of the cyst rupturing.

In the laparoscopic management of ovarian cysts in post-menopausal women, the recommendation is often for oophorectomy instead of cystectomy. Frequently the error is made in choosing ovarian cyst fluid for a cytological assessment in an effort to identify cyst malignancy. The precision factor is only 25 percent in this case and there is also the risk of the cyst disintegrating. It is the high threat malignancy index that shows all ovarian cysts in post-menopausal women, which are suspected of being malignant. If a laparoscopy indicates suspicious clinical findings, then a full laparotomy and other staging procedures are to be employed. These must be done by a surgeon qualified for this as part of a multidisciplinary team working at a certified cancer center. Therefore one may deduce that aspiration has no real role to play in the post-menopausal management of asymptomatic ovarian cysts. Nevertheless, in conjunction with laparotomy and laparoscopy it might be a step in the preliminary surgical management. The extended midline incision should comprise biopsies from areas and adhesions under suspicion, the cytology in the form of ascites or washings, BSO, TAH and infra-colic omentectomy and laparotomy that is well documented. If the cyst is malignant this may have grave further effects on the probability of the patient surviving.

Post-menopausal ovarian cysts in common with many other chronic health ailments have no simple cause. For this reason, classical medicine that only focuses on a specific symptom will not be successful in remedying ovarian cysts. Several factors will in fact trigger the formation of an ovarian cyst. Some of these factors are directly responsible for ovarian cysts forming, and others act indirectly to play a secondary part to worsen existing cysts. Although classical medicine may be of use in handling a primary cause, these indirect factors will stay around and be the root of further complications. A holistic program is the only way to free yourself from a complaint of post-menopausal ovarian cysts. Because multiple factors are at the root of ovarian cysts, the treatment needs to integrate multiple dimensions. This is the only way for getting to the real, underlying problems and removing cysts forever.

Signs and Symptoms of Winter Dehydration in the Elderly and 8 Ways to Avoid Them

Dehydration can kill. It is crucial for anyone to stay properly hydrated but it is even more important for seniors who have other comorbidities as well as dementia like diseases. One of the reasons that the dehydration threat is higher for seniors is because of thinner skin that comes with aging. The thinner skin makes a person more prone to losing fluid. Another issue that makes seniors more open to fluid loss is their medications, some medicines can cause you to become easily dehydrated.

A wide array of medical issues can lead to dehydration. Considering that our bodies are made up of 50% to 65% water, this element is critical to virtually all our physical functions. Every organ and system of the body depends on water, so a shortage of fluid can naturally lead to serious health consequences. Dehydration is one of the most frequent causes of hospitalization among people over the age of 65. Worse, at least one study has found that about one-half of those hospitalized for dehydration died within a year of admission. Older people are at greatest risk for dehydration because the mechanism that normally triggers thirst becomes less sensitive with age. In addition, as we age, a lower percentage of our body weight is water, so dehydration can occur more rapidly. Those elderly individuals most vulnerable to dehydration live alone, especially when they are ill. In addition to fluid lost from fever from flu, or diarrhea from a stomach virus, sickness usually interferes with normal eating and drinking patterns.   We lose water in many ways. 

  • Breathing results in humidified air leaving the body
  • Diarrhea is the most common reason a person loses excess water. A significant amount of water can be lost with each bowel movement. Worldwide, dehydration from diarrhea accounts for many of the deaths in children.
  • Vomiting can also be a cause of fluid loss; as well, it makes it difficult to replace water by drinking it.
  • The body can lose significant amounts of water when it tries to cool itself by sweating. Whether the body is hot because of the environment (for example, working in a warm environment), intense exercising in a hot environment, or because a fever is present due to an infection, the body loses a significant amount of water in the form of sweat to cool itself. Depending upon weather conditions, a brisk walk will generate up to 16 ounces of sweat (a pound of water).
  • In people with diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels cause sugar to spill into the urine and water then follows. Significant dehydration can occur. For this reason, frequent urination and excessive thirst are among the symptoms of diabetes.
  • Burn victims become dehydrated because water seeps into the damaged skin. Other inflammatory diseases of the skin are also associated with fluid loss.
  • The inability to drink adequately is the other potential cause of dehydration. Whether it is the lack of availability of water or the lack of strength to drink adequate amounts, this, coupled with routine or extraordinary water losses, can compound the degree of dehydration.
  • One common side effect of many medicines is increased frequency of urination. You need to compensate for these additional lost fluids by drinking more than usual. Medications that often cause this problem are diuretics, blood pressure drugs, antihistamines and psychiatric drugs.
  • The aging process can diminish our natural sense of thirst, but if you also suffer from incontinence, you may be reluctant to drink fluids throughout the day. Sipping often in small amounts is essential to avoid becoming dehydrated.

The body’s initial signs and symptoms of dehydration are: 

  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output. The urine will become concentrated and more yellow in color.
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dry nasal passages
  • Dry, cracked lips dry mouth the eyes stop making tears sweating may stop muscle cramps nausea and vomiting lightheadedness (especially when standing). weakness will occur as the brain and other body organs receive less blood.
  • Coma and organ failure will occur if the dehydration remains untreated.
  • Irritability & confusion in the elderly should also be heeded immediately.

Here are some easy remedies and ways to prevent dehydration:

  1. As is often the case in medicine, prevention is the important first step in the treatment of dehydration.
  2. Fluid replacement is the treatment for dehydration. This can include: water, juice, soups and clear broths, Popsicles, Jell-O, ice cream, milk, puddings, decaffeinated beverages, Kool-Aid, nutritional drink supplements (Ensure, Boost, Sustacal, Resource and instant breakfast drinks), and replacement fluids that may contain electrolytes (Pedialyte, Gatorade, Powerade, etc.)
  3. Reduce or eliminate dehydrating beverages such as coffee, tea and soft drinks (unless decaffeinated). But even decaffeinated drinks can contribute to dehydration. Beware of alcohol intake too. Alcoholic beverages increase risk of dehydration because the body requires additional water to metabolize alcohol and it also acts as a diuretic.
  4. If you drink the unhealthy beverages, you need to add even more water to you daily total. The dehydration caused by those drinks must be compensated for by increasing the water.
  5. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Most have a high water content.
  6. Drink water all day long in small amounts. It is not good to suddenly gulp down 64 ounces of water. You can fill a 24-32 ounce tumbler in the morning, refill it by late morning and refill again for the afternoon. Consume that by 5 PM. Most people need to start limiting fluids 1-3 hours before bedtime.
  7. Individuals with vomiting and diarrhea can try to alter their diet and use medications to control symptoms to minimize water loss. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be used to control fever.
  8. If an individual becomes confused or lethargic; if there is persistent, uncontrolled fever, vomiting, or diarrhea; or if there are any other specific concerns, then medical care should be accessed. Call 911 for any patient with altered mental status – confusion, lethargy, or coma.

Remember that the lack of a sense of thirst is not a reliable indicator of the need for water. You need water long before you feel thirsty.  

1, 2, and 4 and Here’s to Your Good Health Without BPA – "Bisphenol A"

This article was originally submitted for publication on August 9, 2010 and has since been updated and revised as additional information on BPA could be verified.

Take the number one and double it. Now take the number two and double it. And with the number four you now have the easy to remember formula to your “possible” good health. But not so fast. These three numbers, one, two and four, so-called “resin identification code” numbers found within the ubiquitous triangle on most, not all, plastic pieces were the brainchild of the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) in 1988 for the environmental purpose of recycling. They stand in contrast to the numbers three, five, six and seven and what makes these three numbers “safe numbers” is their lack of the toxic chemical Bisphenol A, (BPA for short), which is inherent in the remaining four numbers.

BPA, a synthetic estrogen having industrial and dental applications, is the chemical that has been shown to leach into food including baby foods and formulas from BPA plastics and cans that are lined with BPA. This writer will not pretend to offer expertise on the subject. I have none. However, the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as of this writing, each post online over 300 technical entries on BPA. I’m sure other federal agencies may also address this serious matter of public health concern. The most comprehensive non-technical reporting on Bisphenol A is provided by the donation funded Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) and the search engine of the Center For Science In the Public Interest (CSPINET.org) also provides topics of concern on Bisphenol A while maverick physicians like Joseph Mercola, D.O. (mercola.com) openly discuss online the hazards posed by BPA.

In a random, non-scientific inquiry I inventoried my own home only to discover shocking results. Naturally my first inclination was to inventory any type of plastic that was even remotely connected to foods and beverages. Real old plastic containers used for food leftovers, like Rubbermaid for instance, understandably lack the numbered triangle. Instead, some pieces may have a number within a circle, the meaning of which is unknown. On to the post 1988 products and my first, and somewhat surprising item, is a Styrofoam carton housing a dozen eggs which bears the number six (6), a BPA-containing carton. I can’t help but wonder if somehow this toxic chemical can permeate a porous eggshell barrier over a given period of time so my egg purchases today come in sturdy cardboard cartons that have no possible adverse effects on eggs and are very safe to recycle.

From an egg carton I move on to the colorless plastic bottles used for juices such as Tropicana. I have several of these, different brands and sizes. I routinely use them to refrigerate filtered tap water and they all seem to have the number one (1), but I’m dismayed when, under magnification, I examine their hard, colored plastic bottle caps but find no resin identification codes. I force myself to avoid speculation.

I have two food containing tubs in the fridge, a Kraft Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese, a must for my customary lox and bagel breakfast, and Stonyfield’s Oikos Organic Greek (nonfat) Yogurt, my occasional health food lunch. They bear the numbers seven (7) and five (5) respectively and I’m too miffed to check the lids!

Over the years I somehow managed to accumulate those hard plastic water bottles with company logos that conveniently rest in automobile cup holders and often contain hot beverages. Now alarm sets in. All but two “safe” bottles, from the National Medical Association and G. H. Bass Clothing, bear the number five (5), but two findings compound the problem. None of the plastic caps have resin identification codes and all were manufactured in China, which notoriously manufactures merchandise having lead based paint. Add hot coffee, tea or other hot beverage to these vessels and the resulting chemical interaction could conceivably be harmful, even toxic, to a chemical sensitive person.

So it’s off to the fast food joints but only to check the take-out beverage fountain cups, not the Styrofoam food containing dishes. None of these cups can be used for hot beverages. They’re strictly cold beverage containers, some are of the Styrofoam variety, the others are the more rigid type. It makes no difference. The numbers I encounter are either five (5) or Styrofoam Six (6). I don’t bother to check the lids. At this point I’m so disgusted the lids could be made of bazoonga for all I care. At home I come across two rigid plastic 64 ounce advertising cups, one from the major Cola manufacturer, the other from 7 Eleven and their respective numbers are five (5) and two (2) which, thanks to 7 Eleven, proves that each and every one of these cups can and should be made of BPA free plastic. I can’t help but wonder if sodas are harmful to teeth enamel what sort of reaction occurs between BPA plastic and soda and then what is that resulting effect on teeth and the body? Could it also be that the plastics industry charges the food industry less money for BPA-coated plastic containers than for BPA-free products?

Chemical reactions between BPA, the foods and beverages they contact and any alleged health risks need to become an investigative priority as well as the financial incentives between these industries. Some anecdotal evidence suggests that canned tomato products lined with BPA increase the potency of the toxin and yet these cans show no markings of their BPA content. WHY NOT? This also begs the question should the toxin BPA now be listed as an ingredient or additive to affected foods and beverages? At the very least manufacturers of BPA lined cans and plastics should be required to spell out that their packaging contains BPA to preserve the product so that consumers can decide whether or not to purchase the product. Precedent for this requirement has already been established with health risk warnings on tobacco and alcohol products. Only when health risk warnings on plastics and metal cans appear on these products will consumers have the right to know for certain if foods and beverages they contain will be at risk for BPA contamination.

With less than two weeks to the Thanksgiving 2011 holiday, scientists at the Breast Cancer Fund found inconsistent levels of BPA in several named canned foods traditionally found at the dinner table. The study, “BPA in Thanksgiving Canned Food — a product-testing report by the Breast Cancer Fund” was reported in the online Business section of the November 15th. Los Angeles Times edition in the article “Study finds chemical BPA in popular Thanksgiving canned foods” by Rosanna Xia. The one positive finding in the study noted that no BPA levels could be detected in cans of Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce.

Here’s where the tragedy and fun really begins. I’m in the bathroom where I notice a plastic bottle used to mist water on plants and two different plastics containing the shampoo brands Pert and Finesse. I decide to check these out as well as the various plastic cleaning product containers. They include large refill plastics of Tilex, Simple Green, Drain Care, as well as pump and pour plastics of Scrub Free, Tilex, Zep Mildew and Mold Stain Remover, Liquid Plumr and Kaboom. In the kitchen I come across a large plastic container of Heinz Distilled Vinegar. With the exception of Kaboom which bears the Safe number one (1) and Finesse Shampoo which bears BPA number three (3) every other plastic just named bears the SAFE number two (2) resin identification code!! I’m flabbergasted!! Every plastic used for harsh and caustic chemical solutions is BPA free while cans and most plastics intended to contain food or beverages for human consumption are laced with toxic BPA!! To make matters worse a BPA plastic is used to contain Finesse Shampoo, and in a store I find no resin identification code whatsoever on any plastic container of Fructis Shampoo. There must exist explanations for these abuses and it’s time to demand those answers. Could it be the food industry conspired with packaging manufacturers to add BPA to their packaging so that they (the food manufacturers) wouldn’t have to declare BPA as an additive or ingredient to preserve food? Food manufacturers must be held accountable for everything affecting food and beverages. Would it be feasible to convince Kraft and Stonyfield to sell their otherwise nutritious products in Zep and Scrub Free plastics for the sake of public health, or require Finesse Shampoo to use a number two (2) plastic container like its Pert competitor or demand that Fructis Shampoo reveal the resin identification codes on all its many different plastic containers? I would be quite satisfied with these corrections. I dare not check the resin identification codes for pesticide plastics. The very thought of BPA free plastic pesticide containers is unnerving.

Often overlooked in medicine cabinets are the clear orange colored plastic bottles used for prescription medications. They are made of resin identification code number five (5), BPA, which, should leaching occur, could contaminate prescribed medications with synthetic estrogen. For a number of patients estrogen in any form is a contraindication and for this reason medicines and nutritional supplements should be contained in glass bottles at time of manufacture or transferred immediately to a glass container at home. Certain dental appliances have a BPA plastic composition and these must be evaluated to determine the possibility of synthetic estrogen leakage.

PEDIATRICS, the “Official Journal Of The American Academy Of Pediatrics,” in a widely publicized study on October 24, 2011 entitled, “Impact of Early-Life Bisphenol A Exposure on Behavior and Executive Function in Children” cited in its abstract, “Conclusions: In this study, gestational BPA exposure affected behavioral and emotional regulation domains at 3 years of age, especially among girls. Clinicians may advise concerned patients to reduce their exposure to certain consumer products, but the benefits of such reductions are unclear.”

On a recent Sunday morning I head over to Costco where I find a set of plastic BPA-laced cutting boards (WHAT IS THE RATIONALE FOR COATING CUTTING BOARDS WITH BPA?) and an interesting on sale product named, “Snapware Glasslock 18-Piece Food Storage Set” whose box claims the product is BPA FREE. And indeed the Glassware by definition is BPA free and definitely microwave safe and definitely safe to recycle, BUT its plastic lid (intended for microwave cooking) has an inconspicuous resin identification code number five (5), another BPA containing plastic and certainly unsafe for microwave cooking or recycling. So many questions can and must be raised about this and any obvious intrusion by the plastic and BPA manufacturers regarding the obscene exploit of BPA into and on everything dealing with our food supply. No lid should ever contain the toxin BPA and WHY CUTTING BOARDS? While in Costco a demonstration for the blender VITAMIX is taking place. I’ve always been intrigued by the presentation but never got around to making the actual purchase. On the box of each unit is a statement that says the container is BPA-free which also piques my curiosity. During the break I ask the salesperson if I could examine the container and at the bottom of the container I notice a BARELY VISIBLE resin identification code number seven (7), a known BPA laced plastic. I ask the salesperson about this and the reply astounds me. I’m told that the container is not a plastic at all but a copolyester which means it is neither plastic nor does it contain BPA. WHOA! I say nothing further as a new group of onlookers begins to gather, but can’t help but wonder about any chemical reaction with BPA code number seven (7) or IF new copolyester products could leak their chemicals when the unit is used for any purpose but especially to microwave soup or other hot beverage.

When I return home I fire off an e-mail to Vitamix HQ requesting an explanation for what seems to be an obvious discrepancy. I’m impressed by the near immediate Sunday afternoon reply but not impressed by its substance from a company representative which reads in part, “…#7 includes both non-bpa and BPA containers (copolyester and polycarbonate). The containers used are the new copolyester BPA-free containers.” Could this be true and if so has the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) changed the rules to mean “an all inclusive umbrella” under which anything goes? I set about to find answers and with the thought that regardless of the response numerous independent laboratories must identify all copolyester chemicals and confirm that this new copolyester container is indeed BPA free as advertised and ascertain that copolyester plastics do not leach their chemicals or have other harmful effects on foods or beverages especially at high temperatures including microwave heating.

That said, I e-mail my inquiry to the Society of the Plastics Industry and receive a prompt and courteous reply from someone I believe to be a secretary advising me to e-mail my queries to ASTM.ORG which I do, but before sending the e-mail I enter the word “copolyester” in its search engine which returns three inconsequential replies. My next step is to send the actual e-mail but incredibly my e-mail goes unanswered. In frustration I Google “Bisphenol A” where I find websites galore praising or condemning BPA, but nothing from the plastics industry that would allow me to explore questions about the role of resin identification code number seven (7). I can’t help but think that some form of regulations governing resin identification codes are justified to curb what appears to be industry abuses that satisfy the needs of its membership, without any accountability, and at the health expense of the consumer. So I decide to investigate other country’s dealings with the BPA issue.

The year 2008 became the pivotal year for the disposition of BPA. Canada banned BPA from baby bottles and although the debate rages on whether or not to ban the toxin entirely, on October 14, 2010 the government became the first government to officially declare BPA toxic. Denmark restricted the use of BPA. The Washington Post reported on June 12, 2008, “The new laws in the European Union requires companies to demonstrate that a chemical is safe before it enters commerce — the opposite of policies in the United States, where regulators must prove that a chemical is harmful before it can be restricted or removed from the market.” WHAT A MARVELOUS, SENSIBLE AND COST EFFECTIVE CONCEPT FOR EUROPEAN GOVERNMENTS!!. In this country New York State and California led the fight to ban BPA from baby bottles but California legislators failed to pass the bill. I cannot say whether or not politics plays any role in the future of BPA, it shouldn’t, but in April, 2008 Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and fellow Senate Democrats proposed legislation to ban BPA from all children’s products. Then, a disturbing article in the December 15, 2008 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel entitled, “FDA maintains bisphenol A is safe” quotes Laura Tarantino, chief of the FDA’s Office of Food Additive Safety saying, “At the moment, with all information in front of us, we do not believe we have the data on which we could base a regulatory ban,” (HUH? 300+ entries on your own website not to mention confidential reports that aren’t made public!) which makes this writer facetiously suggest to the “Powers That Be” at FDA that BPA should be reclassified as a nutrient so that the FDA could ban it once and for all! The above newspaper articles are “Must Reads” in their entirety and appear on the EWG.ORG website. As late as March 29, 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared BPA a “chemical of concern.” That same year Maryland legislators banned BPA from baby bottles and is actively pursuing additional restrictions on the chemical.

If additional documentation is needed for Laura Tarantino and the FDA to justify banning BPA the chief of the Office of Food Additive Safety is directed to the Editorial section of the September 17, 2008 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and a strongly worded review of a preliminary study entitled, “Bisphenol A and Risk of Metabolic Disorders” by Frederick S. vom Saal, PhD, and John Peterson Myers, PhD. In it the authors cite the following, “…Lang et al report a significant relationship between urine concentrations of BPA and cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver-enzyme abnormalities in a representative sample of the adult US population.” JAMA also published a Harvard School of Public Health research letter in its November 23, 2011 issue entitled, “Canned Soup Consumption and Urinary Bisphenol A: A Randomized Crossover Trial.” In it the authors “hypothesized that canned soup consumption would increase urinary BPA concentrations relative to fresh soup consumption.” They emphasized the relationship between BPA concentrations to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Regrettably, this writer finds it necessary to remind and advise the FDA that its mission, its integrity, is to protect the U.S. population not the food industry, not the drug industry.

On the subject of safe microwave cooking with plastic Clair Hicks, PhD, professor of food science, University of Kentucky at Lexington maintains that resin identification code numbers one (1) and five (5) are safe and that number six (6) “may be microwaved only if it is covered with a barrier film, such as a microwave-safe plastic wrap.” Here it must be emphasized that only the number one (1) resin identification code is free from BPA contamination making it the only safe plastic for the microwave and then only if glass cookware isn’t available.

Until the federal government, plastics industry, metal can industry and food industry sort out this mess we consumers must exercise our own awareness and vigilance, a kind of civil protest, in our food purchases, preparation and recycling practices to limit our exposure to BPA as with any dangerous toxin. Until the use of known BPA plastics and unidentified metal cans containing BPA intended for food and beverage consumption is either eliminated or advertised with a warning notice, consumers would do well to buy similar products in glass jars which have no known toxins or deleterious health effects, are safe to microwave and safe to recycle. Metal and/or plastic caps should be certified BPA FREE. I intentionally avoid replacing BPA plastics with any plastic since the chemistry of so-called “safe plastics” could possibly result in other health issues particularly where microwave heating is employed. The ultimate purpose of resin identification codes is to recycle same type plastics and cans for future use. Are we then recycling BPA coated products to once again contact and contaminate our food supply?? I suspect we are and for this reason I no longer recycle any remaining BPA-laced plastic or can but instead trash them with other garbage or with hazardous waste material. It’s time to send urgent messages to our legislators to resolve BPA issues and to the food industry that we will no longer buy your food products packaged in unidentified cans that may be lined with BPA or in plastics bearing the numbers three (3), five (5) six (6) or seven (7). I look forward to the day when food manufacturers proudly advertise their products to be safe in BPA FREE packaging (including lids) that only have the numbers 1, 2, or 4 (prominently visible) resin identification codes and no “slight of hand” switcheroos courtesy of the Society of the Plastics Industry.

It seems ironic that the day before the 2010 Earth Day rally in Washington, D.C. a contingent of the SPI Bioplastics Council flew to the nation’s capital to lobby members of Congress. Their agenda, a call “for increased bioplastics funding through grants and other programs such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred program.” Only In America could such audacity prosper unbridled. Corporate influence in government, especially that which adversely affects public health, is a corruption that must be exposed and legislatively eliminated. This means overhauling the exploitative effects of lobbying OUR legislators for commercial gain.

This original limerick is intended to drive home the point that the continued use and intimacy of BPA with food or beverage is a case of Americans Poisoning Americans LEGALLY:

Imagine from a country named Reggert
We imported the delicacy Weggert
‘Twas laced with the toxin
Known simply as Poxin
And our government simply did nuthin’

Ewg.org provides informative reports and newspaper articles and readers are encouraged to explore their search engine, “find something” and also enter the following term: “Bisphenol A In Plastic Containers” to consider the many sides of this issue.

Similarly, NPR (npr.org) has reported on the plastic and Bisphenol A controversy, as noted in its search engine, and two March, 2011 broadcasts by Jon Hamilton “Study: Most Plastics Leach Hormone-Like Chemicals” ( http://www.npr.org/2011/03/02/134196209/study-most-plastics-leach-hormone-like-chemicals ) and “Plastic’s New Frontier: No Scary Chemicals” ( http://www.npr.org/2011/03/04/134240436/plastics-new-frontier-no-estrogenic-activity ) discuss the estrogen problem related to plastics and the future of possible harmless plastics. The New York Times followed these broadcasts with a Special Report by Erica Gies on April 18, 2011 entitled, “The Business of Green: Substitutes for Bisphenol A Could Be More Harmful.”

The online article, “The Price of Environmental Stewardship” by this writer adds further commentary on BPA.

Writer: Allan R. Marshall, D.C.

2012 Maumee River Walleye Run Safety Tips

There is nothing greater than arriving on the banks of the Maumee River before the daylight opens its eyes. Getting to your spot and claiming you length of the fishbowl. Before the sun rises you listen for the female walleye rolling in the current. Your blood races and you know that you can’t cast until it is exactly sunrise. You patiently wait, perhaps in the nook of a fallen tree. As you wait, you are silent. You begin preparing the ultimate Carolina Rig, knowing that the colors you choose have got to be “the one.” We all have the same common anticipation. The head shake of that first Eye!

I remember how long it took me, to gain enough confidence in my knowledge, to go fishing alone. Looking back, that was a lot of time that I wasted, not getting to enjoy the peaceful, serene solitude of communing with nature.

Fishing is my main stress reliever. There is nothing, that a day spent standing in the middle of a river, with a fly rod can’t fix. I never return, with the same heavy residue, that life can sometimes leave on your soul.

Water can be your friend if you understand one thing…It is the boss of you. One sure fired way of walking away from your “serene nature communing” less than relaxed, is getting a wet ass.

Not only can a dunk in the drink ruin your hair, it can also potentially take your life. And I am sorry but there is no fish on the face of this earth worth that price. I recommend having and wearing a floatation vest. With the technology available there is no reason not to have one on. There are automatically inflating life vests on the market now. They lay flat on your skin, instead of the typical bulky vests that are cumbersome to try fishing in. There are automatic vests designed to only inflate when the vests censors become saturated. This eliminates defunct inflates from most minor splashes.

Being prepared can only get you so far. One of the most important things, that I have personally learned, about safety is to NEVER just walk right into ANY body of water. There are a great many factors to the make-up of a river. For instance, you have to take into consideration not only the depth and temperature, but of the terrain of the bottom.

With that being said, you should also be familiar, with how strong of a current the river you intend on fishing has. The current of a river can make or break you, not only getting into the water, but of also getting back out of the water. I looked all over the internet to get the best words to describe what exactly a current is and came across an article written by Norm Minas.

His description was one of the only ones available. Gravity moves water downhill. The steepness of grade determines how fast the current is. There are quite a few things that go along with this though. You have to be aware that objects in the river such as rocks and downed trees and varying gradients, also have a major effect on a river’s current.

Pools are best described as areas where the gradient has decreased, or where there is an obstruction slowing the current. Riffles and runs are what should be associated with faster flowing water.

The best way of initiating your entrance, is to have a walking stick, to stick down into the water, to determine the correct depth. Any tree branch will do if you are fresh out of a walking stick. You will want to put the stick all the way down, into the water, feeling the bottom. You want to feel for what type of river bed you have. There are MANY different types. Some rivers have pea gravel beds, others have mucky or silt covered floors. And yet, others will be algae covered, slimy shale or large rock floors. If your first step is unprepared, it could be very dangerous.

When you’re starting out on your own, I recommend sticking to depths no deeper than your upper calves to your knees. This will give you the most control over your experience. I know for me, the deeper the water, the more buoyant I become.

Now that you have determined that the depth of where you are going to get into the water is sufficient to maintain stability and control the next part is getting in. I am hoping you will look for a place where the water and shore meet, where there is not much of a step down. This is not easy to do, and the best way to locate such areas, is to spend a day doing some good old fashion recon, of the area you plan on fishing.

Start by placing one foot down into the water. Bring your second foot down off of the bank. Keep your feet, at a shoulder width apart, to give yourself balance against the current. (Obviously, if the current is not aggressive, you have a lot more room for error) Begin your journey out into the river by taking one step at a time.

With your lead foot, feel the bottom in front of you before each step. You should look a little like Igor as you step out into the stream, one step at a time, feeling the bottom with your foot as you go. You are using your lead foot to find drop offs in the bottom. These can be quite unexpected and the biggest reason for not just walking out. You are also feeling, to make sure the river bottom does not change from say, a rocky or gravel bottom, to something a little more treacherous, like for instance a mucky or silt covered bottom.

Until you have some experience making your way out into the waters, you should use short steps. I promise you that the river is not going anywhere and you have time to get to where you want to be.

I always try to keep myself sideways in the water. Maintaining your body in this manner removes a LOT of pressure, from the current off of you. Standing face into the current can be fairly dangerous. You are putting a lot of resistance on the waters natural direction, thus affording a bigger opportunity of the water knocking you down. By keeping sideways you offer less of your body to cause that resistance. Oh, and one major thing, that I feel needs to be expressed here, NEVER WALK BACKWARDS!

Next up is, fishing fashion! For the record, the fish may not care what you look like out there, but your potentially sunburned or hypothermic skin does.

In this day and age, there is so much “fishing technology” available, that there is really no reason to ever be in a position, of being sunburned or of becoming a Fisherman Popsicle.

First off there is no excuse for not catching the weather on the local news. You need to know what the high and low temps for the day are going to be, especially, during the times, that you plan on being on or near the water. Most areas have online sites that will provide up to date information as well. Or if all else fails, check out The Weather Channel.

There are many reasons to know what the weather will bring. You need to be prepared for extremes. Many times in the early morning hours, it is damp and much cooler than mid-day. More often than not the temperatures drop in the evenings as well. Dressing appropriately for a wide spectrum of temperatures is the key to staying comfortable while you’re out there. Layers work the best and are the most functional. In the mornings, you definitely want to make sure you’re warmer, but also want to make sure you can cool down, as the temperatures rise. One thing to keep in mind, if you get warm, you can always take clothes off once you are out there…but unless you brought your closet, you’ll pay hell to find more to put on to warm up.

I like starting with a base layer. Under Armor makes very technology advanced clothing. But, it is also quite pricey. There are many manufacturers that offer products similar enough to forego the “name brand.” Bass Pro, Cabelas, Simms, Orvis all offer products designed with us in mind.

From the base layer, I will add items such as turtle necks, polar fleeces, sweat shirts, etc., including a short sleeve shirt. What you put on is dependent on what your weather will be. I even like the zip off pants that are available. Maintain your comfort and you will get the maximum enjoyment in any weather situation.

For extremely cold weather fishing (salmon, steelhead, ice fishing) there are a great many products that will give off heat. “Hothands, Toasty Toes, Socks with battery operated warmers,” just to name a few. I keep a variety pack of the “hothands & toasty toes” in my tackle bag at all times. It is a good thing to be over prepared.

Now that you are dressed properly, let’s take a minute to talk about sun block. USE IT! Not only can the sun cause skin cancer, it can cause aging! We’ve all seen the pictures of old fishermen, with their wrinkled up, weathered faces. These are pictures of carelessness. A little sun block never hurt anyone. If you’re not into applying it to your skin, there are things like shirts, hats, face masks & gloves designed to give you varying levels of SPF protection.

I can assure you that an entire day near the water can be quite painful in the end. If the temperatures are cooler, you may not realize just how much sun you have gotten, until it is too late. I have personally made the mistake of deciding against sunscreen or sun block clothing. The result was first, the pain of the actual blistering sunburn but then, the awful snake skin shedding that went on, for what seemed like an eternity.

The next things that you should be thinking about are waders and boots. I am not an advocate of putting a ton of money into something that I am not sure that I will even continue to enjoy. However, I am also not interested in investing the minimum amount of money only to have to continue to re-invest for the same item repeatedly.

Waders can definitely be one of those things. First of all, you need to determine what types of fishing you will be doing. Will you be an all around, all year fisherman? Will you always only fish in extreme cold? Or, will you only fish in the heat of summer? I personally do all of the above. There is not one season, in North West Ohio, that I am not in or on some body of water fishing.

There are many brands of waders. However, there are very few, that offer superior quality, as well as, exceptional customer service after the sale. To me, after the sale service is almost as important, as the product’s quality. As a consumer, I do not like to hear a company that I have purchased something from, tell me no. I find there is no excuse for not taking care of your customers after they have made a purchase from you.

The technology available today is incredible. The most common materials used to make waders are neoprene & light weight breathable Gore-Tex constructions. Neoprene waders are, in my opinion extremely heavy, cumbersome, and hard to get on and off. However, with that all being said, they are truly the warmest of any material. Neoprene is the same stuff that wet suits are made from. Most neoprene waders are going to be 3.5 mm or greater. The higher the number of Millimeters (mm) the thicker the neoprene is, thus the warmer they will keep you. If you are truly a cold weather fisherman then these may suit you the best.

Light weight, breathable Gore-Tex constructed waders are just that. This style of wader is made to be a whole lot roomier, allowing for a lot more layers of clothing offering maximum comfort. They will weigh a whole lot less, be a whole lot more pliable and be a lot easier to get on and off.

Any of you that have tried to get a pair of neoprene waders on or off know exactly what I mean about what a struggle it can be to get out of them quickly. There is nothing worse than a sudden and eminent bathroom break needed and you can’t get your waders off.

I will not even comment on rubber waders, except to say, I stay away from them. Unless, of course, if you are picking up hip boots. These are typically made out of rubber.

The next thing regarding waders, that I would like to express my personal opinion on, is the question of boot foot or stocking foot. I do not like boot foot waders. While they may keep things more simplistic, I feel they are fairly dangerous in their own right.

A boot foot chest wader is just what it sounds like. It is a pair of waders that come up over your chest and have a muck boot attached. There is no water flow through this style of boot. I recommend a neoprene sock over your wader sock. The neoprene sock will give you an insulated buffer between your socks and the rubber boots. This type of wader is definitely easier to put on, however, if you happen to step into the muck and try to pull your foot out of it. Chances are your entire foot is going to come out of the boot. This can definitely be a problem and a dangerous one at that. Besides all of that, they offer absolutely NO ankle support.

Stocking foot, chest waders, are waders that come up over your chest, but have a neoprene stocking foot attached. With this style of wader, and the one that I most frequently recommend, you will also purchase a pair of wader boots. This style of wader has offered me the most comfort in all of the years that I have been fishing. I wear them in all seasons with the exception of Ice Fishing. The extra roominess allows me to really bundle up and stay truly warm.

The boots purchased to wear with this style, offer great ankle support and a variety of bottoms. There are felt, lug, Eco and studded soles on most wader boots. Wader boots are designed to allow water to flow through them. I have for the most part stuck with the felt soles. They however, do not do well in muddy conditions and can become quite slippery.

The newest technology is the Eco sole. They were designed to give you more traction on the algae covered rocks and to get fishermen away from using felt soled boots. It is believed that the felt soles track too many bad micro-organisms between bodies of water.

The lug soles are quite slippery as they are made out of rubber. They do not offer much traction. You can purchase boots with the studs already placed or you can purchase a container of studs and attach them to just about any wader boot. I would not recommend attaching them to a boot foot wader though.

Wader pants are also available. These only go up to your waist and secure like a pair of pants. With this style, you are truly limited to the water depths you will be able to fish.

Whether you opt for neoprene or light weight breathable waders, chest or wader pants, make certain you have a wader belt. Make sure that it is secure and fits snuggly around your waist too. The wader belts are designed to prevent an immediate wader fill up if you happen to take a spill. It slows down the amount of water entering the waders. The wader belt is an excellent safety tool. Use it!

I do hope that you have found this informative enough to stop back by for the next part of this article series. I will tell you all of the gear that you need to be successful during the Maumee River Walleye Run this year and every year. I will give you some professional tips on casting, retrieving & color selection.

Learn About Physiotherapy Equipment Used In Physical Therapy

A physical therapist, also known as physiotherapist, may give therapy manually as well as by using either mechanical or electrical equipment to aid in therapy and support the recovery process of his patients. The physiotherapy equipment works on reducing the pain besides healing and joints and muscles. Certain equipment also makes the patient comfortable during the visit to the physiotherapist.

While physiotherapy chair, couch, bed and table are some of the common physiotherapy equipment, a cushioned flat bench with head support that is also cushioned and adjustable sections ranging from two to seven in number, is also used. The purpose of these sections is that they are adjustable and the patient can lie down on the stomach or on the back, as required. It can also be folded into various degrees to serve as a chair or an exercise table. This equipment lets the physiotherapist make the patient comfortable during examination and diagnosis. The same equipment is also used during exercises that have to be performed by the patient and during massage therapy.

Weights to exercise hands and legs, exercise balls, and elastic bands are also a part of physiotherapy equipment. A large ball filled with air and attached to a small stool set on rollers with back support id used for exercises that require support. It enables to contain strain that would otherwise be felt on the spine and back.

Physiotherapy equipment, such as Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, also called TENS is used to decrease acute and chronic pain. TENS provides short-term relief for pain without having to resort to medication, narcotics, or injections. This machine generates tiny electrical impulses that are sent to the nerves. These electrical pulses block the pain signals from reaching the brain. It is believed that they increase the quantity of endorphins generated by the brain. Portable models of this equipment are available in the form of handheld devices that are battery operated.

Equipment used to conduct ultrasound and electrotherapy is also important to the physiotherapist. A round handheld wand or probe is used in ultrasound. This device is connected to the patient’s body by putting it on the skin with an ultrasound gel. This probe then transmits ultrasonic waves through the skin. This equipment is very useful in delivering medication below the skin, without involving injections. The same equipment can also be useful in generating tissue heat for pain alleviation and muscle relaxation as well as for tissue relaxation by producing a pulse without heat. Ultrasound wands can be attached with a large electronic device further connected to a cart for convenient handling.

The above are just some of the examples of physiotherapy equipment; each physiotherapist may prefer different equipment and treatment method.

Maqui Berry – The History and Legends of This Magical Superfruit

The maqui superberry is a dark purple berry that can only be found deep within the Patagonia region of Chile. Known as a powerful and sacred plant, the Mapuche Indians of Central and Southern Chile have enjoyed its many benefits for hundreds of years. From the history, legends and myth behind this maqui berry, the many uses the Mapuche Indians were able to discover and some of the health benefits they enjoyed. This article aims to explain the history and untold legends of this magical maqui berry.

Unlike virtually every other Native American Indians, the Mapuche Indians have been able to remain unconquered. No other Indian group in the entire continent has been able to avoid this. First the Inca and then later the Spaniards attempted conquer without success. It has been said that they fought the Spanish for over 300 years. Legend would have it that their mythological power, strength and stamina was largely due to drinking the fermented maqui berry juice several times each day.

Over the centuries the maqui berry become a symbol or icon for strength and stamina. Its healing powers were believed to be profound and mystical. This was especially true during the winter months when the berries were used to increase warmth and stamina. Traditionally the Mapuche Indians would use the maqui berries for ailments including tumors, fever, sore throat, diarrhea, birth delivery, ulcers and hemorrhoids. There have been reports of the maqui leaves being used to treat diabetes, and reduce inflammation.

Today the Maqui berry and the native forests of the Mapuche Indians are under constant threat of deforestation and industrialization. Although there are a number of projects underway to help prevent this, the story of the maqui berry and the Mapuche Indians must be told before its it’s too late. Even today the berries are hand picked and harvested by the native families. Their environmentally friendly methods and plant sustaining practices are a great example for all of us.

Living With Diabetes – Knowledge is Power!

More than any other health condition, living with diabetes requires you to take charge of your day-to-day health care yourself. Every hour of every day you will have to manage your blood sugars with activity, food, and medication without anyone to tell you what to do. The reality of diabetes is that simply following doctor’s orders is never enough to achieve an active lifestyle free from complications of this condition.

The good news is, however, that every diabetic can eventually bring blood sugars under control. Living with diabetes, and living well with this condition, just requires three basic areas of knowledge.

1. Every diabetic has to keep track of blood sugars:

If you don’t know your blood sugar levels, you won’t know how well your diet and medication are working and you can’t prevent dangerously high or dangerously low blood sugars.

And if there’s any single aspect of healthy lifestyle that diabetics resist, it’s doing finger sticks to take blood samples to measure blood sugars. That’s because most diabetes educators don’t actually have the condition, don’t take their own blood sugars, and don’t know how to draw that tiny drop of blood painlessly.

The secrets to pain-free sugar testing are:

  • use a spring-activated lancing device. Never try to poke yourself with a bare needle
  • test on the sides of your fingers and thumbs, never the fleshy part in the middle
  • use test strips that require the smallest possible drop of blood

It’s also possible to use test strips designed to test blood from forearm punctures. The forearm has few nerve endings and drawing blood there is almost always painless. With the right setting of the spring-activated lancing device, fresh lancets, and testing on the sides of the fingers, however, there is no reason blood glucose testing should hurt.

2. Every diabetic needs to know what it means to have blood sugars ‘under control‘:

The problem with the concept of diabetic control is that most doctors don’t have a good grasp on it!

In various situations, diabetics might be told that getting sugars under 250mg/dL (14mmol/L) is good enough, or they might be told that any blood sugar under 60mg/dL (3.3mmol/L) could be deadly, or they might be told that the number 140mg/dL (7.8mmol/L) has “mystical significance.” The fact is, managing the numbers isn’t all there is to managing diabetes. Blood sugar levels are just a general guide to diabetes, but there are levels are definitely too high or definitely too low.

As a general rule, if your blood sugars go over 170mg/dL (9.4 mmol/L), even for a little while, your muscle and liver cells develop insulin resistance. This protects them from a flood of glucose that burns with the production of massive amounts of free radicals. Most of the science confirms that having your sugars go over 170mg/dL (9.4mmol/L) after you eat, slowly makes type 2 diabetes worse. You need to keep your after-meal (post-prandial) sugars in control, not just your fasting sugars. You probably won’t feel bad if your sugars are 170mg/dL (9.4mmol/L), but any sugar level this high at any time will gradually make the underlying insulin resistance worse.

Of course, keeping your post-prandial sugars to 90mg/dL (5mmol/L) or so is optimal, but most diabetics need a lot of practice to do this! Just be sure you always need to control the upper limit of your blood sugars. Any reading over 400mg/dL (22mmol/L), ever, requires immediate medical attention, and persistent blood sugars over 200mg/dL (11mmol/L) also require drastic changes in care.

It’s also true that diabetics need to avoid low blood sugars. It is actually very, very rare for diabetics to go into comas and die. It’s relatively common for diabetics to suffer diminished mental capacity and get into accidents, or make ruinous life decisions, when sugars get much below 60mg/dL (3.3mmol/L). Again, you won’t know for sure you have a low sugar reading unless you test. Don’t treat a problem you don’t have.

3. Every diabetic needs to know when their blood sugar readings are suspect:

Test strips make diabetes much easier… but they aren’t perfect. The glucose concentration in the capillaries, where you actually draw your blood sample, is consistently 8 to 20% lower than the glucose level inside your body. And there are many situations in which blood sugar levels are spuriously high or low. There are so many of these situations that it helps to have a reference guide.

Splenda – The Medical Research & a Self-Test to See If You Have a Splenda Sensitivity

Splenda is a zero calorie sugar alternative in those little yellow packets that’s been manufactured since the 1990s. Splenda is made from a chemical process that is created from the chlorination of normal sugar. Splenda is a sugar that has been chemically adapted. Splenda has enjoyed a great rise in popularity, and many dieters and diabetics find it has less of an aftertaste than any other artificial sweetener.

Between 2000 and 2004, the number of US households using Splenda jumped from 3 to 20 percent. Splenda sales surpassed $177 million in a recent year during which there were only $62 million in sales for the aspartame-based sweetener Equal and $52 million in sales for the saccharin-based Sweet ‘N Low.

The company that makes Splenda, McNeil Nutritionals, says that Splenda has endured some of the most demanding food trials on record for any food additive. McNeil says that over 100 such studies have been conducted on Splenda. Most of these studies have involved animals, which throws into doubt the safety report for humans.

At issue in the concern over the safety of Splenda is it’s possible toxicity in the body. Our foods today are laden with artificial ingredients and chemical enhancers. Toxicity in the body leads to disease, illness, premature aging, weight gain, malnutrition, and even mental health problems. Splenda is, indeed, an artificial product. The degree to which it acts as a toxin or poison in one’s body has not yet been determined. The likely truth is that it produces some amount of toxicity, the severity of which will vary from person to person. The accumulation of toxins in the body is a very real part of life on planet earth in the 21st century. Most every person would benefit from learning about what is and is not toxic to the body and make an effort to reduce or eliminate your expposure to toxins and periodically do a body cleanse detox program.

Is Splenda REALLY Sugar?

The chemical name of the Splenda molecule is sucralose. While sucralose starts off as a sugar molecule, it is the process by which it’s made that raises concern. Sucralose is a purely synthetic chemical that is produced in a five-step patented process. During this process, three chlorine molecules are added to a simple sugar molecule. The initial, natural sugar molecule is a disaccharide made up of two single sugars bound together; fructose and glucose.

The chemical process to make sucralose modifies the chemical composition of the sugar so much that it is converted into a molecule that does not normally occur in nature. Because this artificial molecule is not naturally occurring, the body does not know how to process it. According to the manufacturers of Splenda, this is the very reason why Splenda is calorie neutral — it is not metabolized or digested in the body. Splenda simply makes its way through the digestive track without depositing any calories.

This is deceptive, however, as Splenda’s zero calorie status would only apply if the body did have the capacity to metabolize it. More troubling, the fact that Splenda is an artificial ingredient evokes questions about its safety, especially if used in unsparing amounts over a long period of time. There is the additional problem of insulin reaction. While research reports are still inconclusive, the medical community widely speculates that Splenda triggers an increase in insulin levels, which, whether or not calories are present, will tell the body to hold on to fat reserves or even store more fat.

One research finding nullifies the notion that Splenda is not absorbed by the body. In this study (conducted on humans), one in eight participants did not eliminate any sucralose after three days of ingesting Splenda. Another study (conducted on animals) found that 15% of ingested sucralose is absorbed into the digestive system and is thenstored in the body.

Splenda Under the Microscope

Nutritional and medical reseachers have studied Splenda and make these observations:

  • Splenda is a chlorocarbon, which has a history of producing organ impairment, genetic mutation and reproductive problems.
  • Splenda can impair the thymus gland, which plays an essential role in healthy immune system function.
  • Splenda can create swelling of the liver and kidney stones or calcification of the kidneys.
  • The studies promoted by the makers Splenda only report cherry-picked results and do not show an accurate picture of the actual health impact of Splenda.
  • The chlorine that is used in the process of producing Splenda is a carcinogen, according to the OSHA Hazardous Waste Handbook.
  • Sucralose is not as dangerous as Aspartame. If you had to choose between the two, choose Splenda. Saccharin is the only artificial sweetener that is in any way acceptable. But it is best to use a natural form of sweetener.
  • The extra sweetness of sucralose (Splenda is rumored as being 600 times sweeter than sugar) only creates greater addiction to the taste of sweetness.
  • Unless digestion is hampered, any food or substance you ingest will be absorbed. If we feed the body a wholly indigestible material (such as margarine), it will travel through the body undigested, if it doesn’t get bound in the gall bladder. If Splenda is really indigestible, that is a bigger problem than the matter of assimilation.
  • The only benefit to using Splenda is the earnings the manufacturer gains.

Splenda Reaction Symptoms

  • Skin welts, blisters or other irritation
  • Rash
  • Allergic response
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Depression
  • Forgetfulness
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of focus
  • Lightheadedness
  • Feelings of panic

How to Detect if Splenda is Harming You

The best way to determine if sucralose is impacting your health is to perform this simple test. First, eliminate sucralose completely from your diet for a period of two weeks (this goes for all other artificial sweeteners). After two weeks, eat three to five servings of Splenda for up to three days. Do not take any other variety of artificial sweetener during this time. Observe very carefully how your body responds. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, there is reason to believe that you have a sucralose intolerance. If you have strong reactions, especially on day one, this is a very strong sign that Splenda has an adverse effect on your body. You will do well to avoid Splenda completely, and you will benefit from a body detox program. This self-test can be done with any of the artificial sweeteners.

Regardless of any Splenda reaction you may experience, it is a good idea to sweeten your foods with healthy, natural sweeteners. There are many healthy sweeteners to chose from, some you may never have heard of, and most of which will not produce toxicity or digestive side effects for you.

Bipolar Disorder In A Nutshell

Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic-depressive illness, is one of several disorders known as mood disorders. Mania and depression alone or in combination are the hallmarks of the mood disorders. Mania is characterized by a feeling of euphoria in which the individual has grandiose ideas, exhibits boundless energy, needs little sleep, and exhibits great self-assurance. While in a manic state people’s thoughts race, they speak too fast, and they demonstrate poor judgment. Manics may impulsively spend too much money, commit sexual indiscretions, and alienate people with their irritability and impatience. Hypomania refers to a milder form of mania that is an excessive amount of elation but does not significantly impair the individual’s life.

Depression can be characterized by many symptoms, including feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and sadness. When one is depressed, life seems empty and overwhelming. The depressed individual has difficulty concentrating, cannot make decisions, lacks confidence, and cannot enjoy activities that previously were pleasurable. Physical symptoms may include gaining or losing weight, sleeping too much or too little, agitation, or lethargy. Depressed individuals may be preoccupied with death or suicide. They may believe that they have committed the unpardonable sin and that loved ones would be better off without them.

Bipolar disorder is so named because those afflicted with it experience both mania and depression, in contrast to those with unipolar disorders, who experience only one extreme, usually depression. Bipolar disorders are categorized into two types, Bipolar I and Bipolar II. In Bipolar I the individual experiences both mania and depression; in Bipolar II the individual experiences hypomania and depression. Mania or hypomania is the key to diagnosing bipolar disorder. A person who experiences a manic state even once is presumed to have bipolar disorder. Manic and depressive states may immediately precede or follow one another or may be separated by long time intervals, and the individual may have more episodes of one pole than the other. Some individuals, known as rapid cyclers, will experience four or more episodes per year.

The age of onset for bipolar disorder is younger than for unipolar depression and usually begins in the late teens or twenties but seldom begins after age 40. In some cases it is preceded by a disorder named cyclothymia, which is a milder form of mood disorder, characterized by marked moodiness and mood swings for at least two years. Bipolar disorder is a chronic disorder and even with treatment less than half of the individuals who experience it go five years without a manic or a depressive episode. People with bipolar are at risk for suicide in the depressive phase and are more prone to accidental death in the manic phase due to impulsiveness and poor judgment.

The causes of bipolar disorder are unclear, but it is probably determined by multiple factors. Family and adoption studies have consistently indicated a genetic predisposition toward mood disorders. First-degree relatives of persons with bipolar disorder are much more likely than the general population to experience bipolar depression, unipolar depression, and anxiety. At this point, however, there is no clear evidence that a particular gene is linked to the transmission of bipolar disorder; instead it seems that a family history increases vulnerability to several disorders.

Neurotransmitters in the brain have been widely investigated and are very likely involved in bipolar disorder but in complex and interactional ways not yet understood. The relationship between neurotransmitters and the hormones secreted by the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands seems to be significant. There is also speculation that bipolar disorder may be related to circadian rhythms because some people with bipolar disorder are especially light-sensitive and show abnormalities in sleep patterns such as entering REM sleep too quickly, dreaming intensely, and missing the deeper stages of sleep.

Stressful life events may precipitate episodes of mania or depression but do not seem to be the primary cause of bipolar disorder. Psychosocial factors such as attributional style, learned helplessness, attitudes, and interpersonal relationships all seem to be correlated with bipolar disorder but have not been identified as causes; they are often the result of having such a disorder. It seems that a genetic vulnerability coupled with stressful psychological and sociocultural events may result in bipolar disorder.

Three primary treatment modalities are most frequently used for bipolar disorder. Medication is commonly used, especially lithium. For reasons not yet fully understood, lithium reduces the frequency of episodes, and many persons with bipolar disorder are maintained on lithium for long periods. Lithium levels must be carefully monitored through blood tests, and there may be side effects such as weight gain, lethargy, and kidney malfunction. Because of the side effects of medication and because they miss the energy of hypomania and manic states, people with bipolar disorder may discontinue their medications. The newer antidepressants that affect serotonin levels are often used, but there is some suspicion that they may contribute to more rapid cycling. Antiseizure medication, such as carbamazepine, is also being used.

A second treatment approach that is sometimes used is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). This approach is used only in severe cases in which uncontrollable behavior or the threat of suicide makes it impossible to wait the two to three weeks for medication to take effect. ECT, used to treat people who have not responded to other forms of treatment, is often effective but is subject to side effects: temporary short-term memory loss and confusion immediately after treatment.

Psychotherapy is the third treatment approach. While many psychotherapeutic approaches have been tried, cognitive therapy and interpersonal therapy are currently the most popular. Cognitive therapy focuses on identifying and correcting faulty thinking and attributional styles, so that the client can gain cognitive control of emotions. Interpersonal therapy focuses on developing the skills to identify and resolve interpersonal conflicts, which frequently accompany bipolar disorder. Both of these psychotherapies are highly structured and short-term. Many people receive a combination of both medication and psychotherapy to stabilize them and prevent relapse.

In addition to addressing the potential causes of bipolar disorder, psychotherapists help people cope with a number of problems that arise in living with the disorder. One is the difficulty of living with interruptions to one’s life that manic and depressive states bring. People may be too ill to work or parent and may even be hospitalized. Another problem is undoing or coping with inappropriate behavior that was performed during a manic state, when the individual may have recklessly spent money, made grandiose promises, or said inappropriate things. A third common problem is dealing with negative reactions and the distrust of family, friends, and co-workers who have been affected by the individual’s extreme mood swings. Taking medication regularly is a struggle for some people, a struggle that is compounded by the tendency for people in a manic or hypomanic state to feel that they do not need medication. People with bipolar disorder deal with the constant anxiety that their feelings may spin out of control. They often feel powerless and as though their illness is in control and may take over any time. There is also the question of why God allows people to go through such struggles. People with bipolar disorder need therapists who help them exercise cognitive control over their emotions, recognize when they are getting too high or too low, manage interpersonal relationships, cope with life stresses, and understand how to accept and live successfully with bipolar disorder.

Tianeptine: The Forgotten Antidepressant

The most common type of mental illness, depression affects more than one-quarter of U.S. adults. At any given time, afflicted individuals may experience feelings of hopelessness, despondency, and/or guilt that interferes with daily tasks. According to a recent Gallup poll, depression costs U.S. workplaces $23 billion in absenteeism alone! The human toll of the disorder is, however, far greater.

In the United States, about 60 percent of people who commit suicide suffered from depression or another mood disorder. A disproportionate number of that group had been previously diagnosed with the most serious type of depressive disorder – major depression. Now the leading cause of disability in the United States for ages 15 to 44, major depressive disorder strikes between 3 to 5 percent of Americans each year.

What makes it different?

Although serious, the one in four U.S. adults that suffer from depression typically have one or two bad days in a row where they are admittedly “down in the dumps” or have “the blues.” This may prompt them to take a mental health day to deal with their depression, either on their own or with professional help. But when those sad, hopeless, helpless feelings continue for more than two weeks, the periodic issue may result in a debilitating mental illness.

Just like regular depression, major depressive episodes may occur spontaneously or in response to an upsetting life event, such as the loss of a loved one, a romantic breakup, or problems at work. Unlike regular depression, both emotional and physical symptoms of the disorder continue unabated for a fortnight with no sign of relief. As a result, some people who suffer from clinical depression may begin to feel that their life is not worth living.

The increased risk of suicide alone make this form of the illness the most serious and severe. The goods news is that with the right combination of psychological counseling and prescription medications, major depression is a treatable illness. Because it is a long-term, even lifelong disease, many patients are on and off meds for years at a time. The challenge for their doctors is to find antidepressants that work well with minimal side effects.

Popular options

Because it is such a common disorder, there are dozens of antidepressants on the market today. Those designed specifically for major depressive episodes usually fall into one of two classes of compounds: selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Since they are generally safer and have fewer side-effects, physicians often start by prescribing an SSRI such as Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft. They may also select a brand name from the SNRI class, such as Cymbalta, Pristiq, or Fetzima. But when it comes to lesser-known drug classes and medications that do not fit neatly into any one class, doctors are often hesitant to prescribe them to their patients. Such is the case with Tianeptine, a promising antidepressant that has been largely ignored for more than half a century now.

What is tianeptine?

Discovered and patented by the French Society of Medical Research in the 1960s, Tianeptine is available in a number of European, Asian, and Latin American countries. But the drug that is used primarily in the treatment of clinical depression is not prescribed in Canada, the U.K., the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. One of the reasons for its limited availability is, once again, that Tianeptine does not fit neatly into any known class of antidepressants. In fact, it was mislabeled as an selective serotonin reuptake enhancer (SSRE) until only recently. We also know that tianeptine has disparate chemical and pharmacological properties that have left researchers scratching their proverbial heads as to how the drug produces its antidepressant effects. One thing we know for certain, however, is that tianeptine works, and works well!

The science

Because its chemical structure contains three rings of atoms, tianeptine is classified as a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA). But as we mentioned, its pharmacological properties were mistakenly attributed to its function as a selective serotonin reuptake enhancer (SSRE) until recently. In fact, it wasn’t until July 2014 that new research discovered that the antidepressant effects of the drug are due to indirect alteration of AMPA and NMDA glutamate, which is thought to alter neuroplasticity and trigger the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

In layperson’s terms, tianeptine works by stimulating hedonic or pleasure hotspots in the brain that are responsible for feelings of satisfaction and wellbeing. As an anxiolytic, the drug also reduces anxiety and inhibits dysphoria. This rare combination makes tianeptine a promising option for those who suffer from major depression that is triggered by an anxiety disorder.

How well it works

As the most widely used tricyclic (TCA) antidepressant, amitriptyline is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. Approved for use in 1961, it has been a benchmark for all other drugs in its class ever since. In fact, many researchers believe that amitriptyline may have superior efficacy than many, even most, SSRIs and SNRIs in treating major depressive episodes. It is surprising then that tianeptine compares favorably to the popular pill in many key areas.

Researchers may not know how it works, but tianeptine’s efficacy against major depression has never been in doubt. Compared to amitriptyline, imipramine, maprotiline, and other TCAs, tianeptine has significantly fewer side effects. It even stacks up well against fluoxetine (a.k.a. Prozac), the most widely prescribed SSRI.

One advantage tianeptine has over most other antidepressants is its remarkable anxiolytic properties. This is important because anxiety is one of the most common symptoms of clinical depression. As result, tianeptine has proven effective at treating a wide spectrum of anxiety disorders that are often involved in major depressive episodes, including panic and post-traumatic stress disorders.

Tianeptine may also have a beneficial effect on cognition, due in part to its relative lack of sedative qualities. According to numerous studies, drowsiness was a fairly uncommon side effect of the medication. Tianeptine has also compared favorably to other antidepressants in tolerability tests, where subjects consistently reported fewer and less intense adverse effects of sustained treatment.

Medical benefits

There are several reasons why tianeptine is not considered a first-line antidepressant. To begin with, it belongs to an older class of drugs (TCAs) that generally have a higher risk toxicity in overdose and lower tolerability than newer medications in SSRI and SNRI drug classes. Secondly, it is not sold in many countries. It is this last fact that is particularly puzzling, since many clearly inferior drugs in its class are widely available. As we mentioned earlier, tianeptine have proven every bit as efficacious against major depressive episodes as amitriptyline (the most popular tricyclic antidepressant), but with significantly fewer side effects. The drug even has advantages over SSRIs and SNRIs, for which hundreds of millions of prescriptions are dispensed each year in America. Such as?

As popular as they may be, it is well established that serotonin enhancers (SSRIs and SNRIs) cause problems in the bedroom. Diminished libido, delayed sexual arousal, and muted or absent orgasm are common symptoms of these prescription medications. Because it does not affect serotonin levels directly, taking tianeptine will not cause adverse sexual side effects. In fact, there is some evidence that sexual function could actually be enhanced by the combination of non-stimulating mood brightener and non-sedative anti-anxiety agents. Why then is tianeptine so much harder to find?

Contrary to rumors on the internet, there is no conspiracy that has kept the drug from those in need, wherever they might reside. The real reason tianeptine is not sold in some countries is because the companies that manufacture it have decided not to enter certain markets, mostly likely because the costs of entry is prohibitive. With that said, there are many in the psychiatric community that believe the time-tested psychotropic drug could help millions were it more widely available.

Who should take it?

Because it does not cause sedation or sleeping problems, tianeptine is suitable for patients who are sensitive to the unwanted effects of most antidepressants, including the elderly and those recovering from alcohol withdraw. The drug could also be of great benefit to those who suffer from anxiety disorders. How?

At last count, forty million American adults struggled with some form of anxiety on a regular basis. About one-third of those that seek treatment also report regular bouts of depression, since the two disorders are highly correlated with each other. In other words, those who are depressed are often anxious and vice versa. And since tianeptine is both a antidepressant and an anxiolytic, it can be used to treat both illnesses simultaneously.

Why it works

Although recent discoveries have provided some much-needed insight, researchers have merely scratched the surface when it comes to the complicated series of chemical reactions tianeptine intake triggers in the brain. At its simplest level, we know that unchecked stress causes the adrenal glands to secrete a surfeit of cortisol, a powerful stress hormone. The primary function of this steroid is to increase blood sugar and give the body the energy and strength it needs to defend itself from danger. Also known as the fight-or-flight response or the stress reaction, this involuntary process tends to lower mood levels in order to help us focus on the task at hand. But when cortisol and other stress hormones remain at elevated levels for protracted periods of time, they can cause clinical depression. In fact, cortisol levels are now used as a biological marker for suicide risk.

Current evidence strongly suggests that tianeptine works to prevent and even reverse the neural damage that is caused by stress or stress hormones like cortisol. Researchers also believe that continued use of the drug may help normalize the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) system, which is responsible for monitoring and releasing cortisol and other stress hormones. In other words, tianeptine may help at-risk individuals deal with stressful environments and situations a bit better by normalizing their HPA system.

Conclusion

As with many psychotropic medications, tianeptine won’t work for everyone: research shows that perhaps as much as one-third of users do not respond as expected. With that said, tianeptine has proven efficacious in antidepressant cocktails when monotherapy, or use of a single first-line drug, has failed. Most promising of all is the drug’s apparent ability to protect against and even reverse the effects of hypercortisolemia – a condition that results from prolonged exposure to excessive cortisol levels, and one that is strongly linked to major depressive episodes. Long-term use of tianeptine may therefore protect against relapse and recurrence of clinical depression.

At the end of the day, depressive illness is an incredibly complex disorder that we may never fully understand. What we do know, however, is that the more tools we have to fight melancholia, the more hope we can offer those who suffer its devastating effects. Tianeptine may not be the catholicon its supporters suggest, but what it has to offer is both valuable and unique. An established mood-brightener-cum-anti-anxiety medication that is well tolerated and relatively safe, tianeptine’s neglect by the Anglo-American psychiatric community is shortsighted and undeserved.

Is Avoidance Part of Your Anxiety Disorder? – 3 Ways to Heal Hidden Causes of Self-Sabotage

Avoidance. It’s the #1 coping strategy for sufferers of anxiety disorder. Avoiding a situation that triggers intense anxiety can feel like dodging a bullet. Canceling plans with friends or turning down an offer to go out to a nightclub and instead spending a quiet night in your jammies (ALONE, thank you) feels like pure heaven. The relief is almost palpable.

And it works, too. For awhile.

The Hidden Cost of Anxiety Avoidance

Avoidance isn’t free though. You have to pay for it one way or another. Along with your anxiety, you’re also avoiding the people, situations, and experiences that make a fulfilling life. Let’s look at some common ways your anxiety avoidance causes self-sabotage:

  • Rejecting offers to go out with friends. Sure, it provides relief from awkward social anxiety, but think of all the fun you’re missing out on. Not to mention that not maintaining friendships eventually leads to not having any friends.
  • Turning down opportunities to travel. There’s a big wide world out there. You’ve only seen one small corner of it. Many people consider travel essential to a rich, full life.
  • Watching DVDs at home instead of going to movies. I know it’s tempting to wait to see that cool new flick until it’s on the shelf at Blockbuster. After all, movies are expensive. And crowded. But there’s something about taking in a show with other people that even the best home theater system can’t duplicate. Movies are a unique social experience.
  • Calling in “sick” to work because of your anxiety. There’s nothing wrong with taking an occasional mental health day. We’ve all done it. When it becomes a habit though, it’s what my old boss used to call a CLM – a “Career Limiting Move.” Chronic absenteeism can leave you stuck, demoted, or even fired.
  • Avoiding family gatherings. George Burns said that happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family. In another city. There’s no doubt families can be annoying. Challenging. Sometimes they’re impossible. But they are the ties that bind us to this world and tell us who we are. Not having family is a very lonely feeling.

Cycle of Fear: The Bad Habit of Habitual Avoidance

Getting too comfortable avoiding uncomfortable situations is self-sabotage because it makes your anxiety worse. Psychology refers to this as negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement is any behavior that’s rewarded because it removes an unwanted stimulus or feeling.

Let’s say you have driving anxiety. It’s very common. Now let’s say you’re uncomfortable driving on freeways. You begin to avoid freeways, which makes you more uncomfortable driving on freeways, which leads to more avoidance.

You may eventually find your discomfort about freeways has turned into panic. Just the thought of them may now fill you with terror. You’ve gone from merely being uncomfortable on freeways to being terrified, at which point you’ll probably stop driving on them completely.

With anxiety, avoiding an uncomfortable situation is a form of negative reinforcement. When you allow fear to make you back out, you’re causing the self-sabotage of your own goals. The “reward” is that you don’t have to experience the fear anymore. But when you avoid anxious situations, you’re more likely to avoid them in the future.

I’ve used driving anxiety as an example here, but chronic avoidance of any anxiety-provoking situation will eventually make your anxiety disorder worse.

3 Ways to Heal the Causes of Your Self-Sabotage

First, let’s clearly see what self-sabotage means. I like this definition from The Adventurous Writer:

“Basically, self-sabotage is a combination of thoughts, feelings, and actions that stop you from achieving your goals or succeeding in life. It’s you creating obstacles that work against your own self-interests.”

In the context of anxiety disorder, self-sabotage is the increasing avoidance of anxiety-producing situations. Achieving your goals is very hard when can’t engage in the activities required to reach your goals in the first place.

So, you need to learn skills that allow you to face uncomfortable situations without running away. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must learn to do the thing you think you cannot do.”

  1. Get help with professional therapy. Therapy, especially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), is very effective for treating anxiety disorders. Many experts consider CBT the overall most successful treatment for anxiety. The downside is therapy can be expensive. If you can’t afford professional help, consider one of the many excellent self-help books about CBT.
  2. Practice the art of mindfulness. Self-sabotaging anxiety is usually anticipatory. In other words, it’s your fear about what MIGHT happen and not fear of what actually IS happening. Fear of the unknown future is always worse than any discomfort you’re experiencing now. Being “mindful” means learning to bring your attention back to the present moment when you notice you’re getting caught up in anticipatory anxiety. Anxiety disorder is mostly about fear of the future; what’s happening now is often tolerable, even pleasant. Mindfulness is about staying focused on your moment-by-moment experience.
  3. Learn self-hypnosis techniques. Hypnosis has gotten a bad rap, mostly due to stage hypnosis. We’ve all seen the image of the man waving a watch and chanting, “You are getting veeeeeeeery sleepy.” Real hypnotherapy bears about as much relation to this as psychology does to alchemy. Hypnosis is a way to bypass your conscious, thinking mind and speak directly to your subconscious. Your subconscious is where most of your feelings and attitudes about the world reside, particularly fear-based reactions. Hypnosis induces a state of calm relaxation in which the unconscious mind becomes open to new suggestions about reality.

Choose to Believe Change is Possible

As the Buddha said, “What we think, we become.” I would add that “how we feel depends on how we act.” If you have anxiety disorder, it’s likely that avoidance is the main cause of your self-sabotaging behavior.

What you need are tools that will let you “hang in there” in scary situations long enough to break the negative reinforcement cycle of avoiding your fear. Therapy, mindfulness, and hypnosis are powerful tools that will help you do this.

Change becomes possible when we learn to not let fear dictate our actions. I believe that with all my heart.

Mixing Alcohol and Prescription Drugs – The Big Gamble

Many people with a drinking problem are also using pills for an array of reasons. It is a good idea to know the risks involved from mixing alcohol with these drugs. Here is a list of some of the results that can be expected when mixing drinking with pills.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics as we know are used to treat infectious diseases. In combination with acute alcohol consumption, some antibiotics can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, and in more extreme cases convulsions. At the very least, alcohol consumption decreases or nullifies the effects of the antibiotic. In other words, there is no point in taking antibiotics if you are drinking because the antibiotic won’t work and you won’t experience any of the benefits of the antibiotic.

Antidepressants

Alcoholism and depression frequently go hand in hand, leading to a very good chance of alcohol-antidepressant interactions. Alcohol increases the sedative effect of tricyclic antidepressants such as Elavil and other similar drugs, impairing the mental skills required for say, driving. This is because acute (drinking on a regular basis) alcohol consumption increases the availability of some tricyclics, potentially increasing their sedative effects. Also there is a chemical called tyramine, found in some beers and wine that will interact with some anti-depressants, resulting in a dangerous rise in blood pressure, and if it goes high enough can result in stroke. Even just one drink can set the stage for an interaction like this.

Anti-diabetic Medication

Oral hypoglycemic drugs are prescribed to help lower blood sugar levels in some patients with diabetes. Chronic alcohol consumption decreases the availability of these needed drugs in your system. Alcohol also interacts with some drugs of this class to produce symptoms of nausea and headache. In addition to the potential drug interaction, while moderate amounts of alcohol can cause blood sugar to rise, excess alcohol can actually decrease your blood sugar level — sometimes causing it to drop into dangerous levels.

When diabetics run into serious departures from the correct blood sugar levels, it results in organic degeneration.

Antihistamines

Drugs like Benadryl and similar drugs in this family are available without prescription to treat allergic symptoms and insomnia. Alcohol can intensify the sedation caused by some antihistamines, causing slower reactions and poor judgment. These drugs may cause excessive dizziness and sedation more intensely in older people.

Antipsychotic Medications

Drugs such as Thorazine for example are used to diminish psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations. Acute alcohol consumption increases the sedative effect of these drugs resulting in impaired coordination and potentially fatal breathing problems. Further, the combination of chronic alcohol ingestion and antipsychotic drugs can accelerate liver damage.

Antiseizure Drugs

These drugs are prescribed mainly to treat epilepsy. Chronic drinking can significantly reduce the patient’s protection against the epileptic seizures, even during a period of abstinence.

Cardiovascular medications

These drugs include a variety of medications prescribed to treat heart problems and issues with the circulatory system. Acute alcohol consumption interacts with some of these drugs to cause dizziness or fainting when attempting to standing up. These drugs include nitroglycerin used for angina, and most of the medications used to treat high blood pressure.

Chronic alcohol consumption decreases the high blood pressure medication in your system reducing its effect and leaving you more vulnerable to the problem the drug has been taken to alleviate.

Narcotic Pain Medication

These drugs are prescribed for pain. They include the opiates morphine, codeine, Darvon, and Demerol. The combination of opiates and alcohol enhances the sedative effect of both substances, increasing the risk of death from an overdose.

Non-narcotic Pain Prescriptions

Aspirin and this type of nonprescription pain reliever, on their own some of these drugs cause stomach bleeding and inhibit blood from clotting. Mixed with alcohol can increase these effects. This can result in episodes of gastric bleeding. In addition, aspirin may increase the potency of the alcohol, increasing the effects of drinking.

Chronic alcohol ingestion activates enzymes that transform acetaminophen type drugs like Tylenol and others into chemicals that can cause liver damage, even when acetaminophen is used in commonly used (or lower) amounts.

Sedatives – Sleeping Pills/Tranquilizers

Benzodiazepines such as Valium are used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Doses of benzodiazepines can cause severe drowsiness in the presence of alcohol, increasing the risk of household and car accidents, and in the right combination, can result in depressed heart and breathing functions. Low doses of Dalmane interact with low doses of alcohol to impair driving ability, even when alcohol is ingested the morning after actually taking the Dalmane. Since many alcoholics often suffer from anxiety and insomnia, and since many of them take morning drinks, this interaction may be dangerous.

The benzodiazepine Ativan is used for anti-anxiety and sedative effects. The combination of alcohol and Ativan can result in depressed heart and breathing functions.

Acute alcohol consumption increases the potency of the barbiturates in the bloodstream, prolonging the sedative effect. Further, acute or chronic alcohol consumption enhances the sedative effect of barbiturates at their site of action in the brain, sometimes leading to coma or even fatal respiratory depression.

Anticoagulants

Coumadin is prescribed to retard the blood’s ability to clot. Acute alcohol consumption along with taking the anticoagulant increases the user’s risk for life-threatening hemorrhages. And chronic alcohol consumption reduces the Coumadin benefits therefore lessening the patient’s protection from the consequences of blood-clotting disorders.

Anesthetics

As we all know, anesthetics are administered prior to surgery to render a patient unconscious and oblivious to pain. Chronic alcohol consumption increases the dose of anesthetics required to induce loss of consciousness. Chronic alcohol consumption also increases the risk of liver damage that can be caused by the anesthetic gases.

If you have a drinking problem and have an upcoming surgery, this would be the time when being completely honest with your doctor about your drinking habits will really pay off.

Blueberry Harvesting Methods: By Hand, Shaking and Catching and Machine Picking

1.) Picking by hand

Blueberry picking is an enjoyable way to harvest blueberries. Look for good ripe blueberries. A good blueberries skin should not be cracked and it should be firm blue and round, blue. They won’t get any sweeter after picking. To pick blueberries cup your hand under the bunch of blueberries and simply attempt to roll them off the branch into your hand using your thumb. Then put the blueberries in your bucket. If it doesn’t come off easily, it’s probably not ripe yet so just move on. Several blueberries at a time using this procedure and most of the berries that are not ready will stay on the stem. About 40 to 50 percent of blueberries grown commercially are hand-picked.

Blueberry picking tool:

Using a blueberry rake can make picking go much faster. A blueberry rake is a flat toothed instrument used to pull the berries from the plant without damaging the plant. Using a Hubbard rake is much faster than doing the same thing by hand. These are manufactured by the Hubbard Rake Co. in Jonesport, Maine 04649.

Hand harvesting blueberries has been estimated to require up to 550 worker-hours per acre and in 2011 costs around $1.00 per pound. Labor costs are projected to rise while blueberry prices are expected to drop. As the blueberry industry expands nationally finding enough hand picking laborers during the peak harvest season may become a problem.

2.) U-Pick

U-pick is done by hand by customers who come to the farm for that purpose. They carry their blueberries in a bucket or other container. Some time a rope is put on the bucket so it can hang over their shoulder or around a person’s neck. An excellent container can easily be made by using a 1 gallon plastic milk bottle and cutting off the upper part of the front side and top, making sure the handle part is left on. From a farmers perspective u-picking may be the most profitable alternative. However you must carry significant liability insurance in case of an unforeseen accident.

3.) Shaking and Catching (blueberry fruit catch frame)

There are blueberry fruit catch frames that are made to roll under the blueberry bushes to collect the blueberries when the branches are shaken. The branches or stems can be gently tapped with a rubber hand-held hose to shake off the ripe blueberries. You can also use an electric or air driven mechanical vibrator to shake the branches. If you get too many green blueberries shaken off it means you’re tapping too hard! Using such a simple, hand-operated, wheeled rolling catch frame you can harvest a heavily loaded large bearing plant in just a short time. When you want to empty the frame the frame that is now full of blueberries it is tilted on its wheels back so that ripe fruit rolls to a rear flap which is opened so that the berries fall right into the container. The blueberries can then gently run over an inclined blower and belt to remove any trash.

You can solve the hot weather picking blues of long hours in the field picking blueberries using this method. You can then offer your U-Pick customers fresh-picked blueberries at retail prices! These blueberry fruit catch frames were the predecessors of today’s mechanical harvesting systems. They were widely used in the 1950s and often used hand-held vibrators power-driven using batteries or compressed air to take off fruit. As discussed above the fruit was caught in a canvas-covered catching structure positioned under the plant. Such a simple system is incredibly efficient reducing the harvest cost by 55% and reducing harvest time by more than 200%. Blueberry fruit catch frames are now hard to find because manufactures now make mechanical harvesting systems and have discontinued making the catch frames.

If you cannot find a commercially available catch frame you can build your own by using a photo image of such a catch frame as shown on of blueberry croft’s blueberry blog.

4.) Machine harvesting of blueberries

Harvesting blueberries using a machine is not a panacea. If the slope of the ground exceeds 10 percent it is difficult to harvest with a machine. Damage to the blueberries is greater than hand picking. In general, the expense of a self-propelled harvesting machine cannot be justified unless the blueberry producing acreage exceeds 10 acres.

Several factors have generated increased interest in using a machine to harvest of blueberries in recent years, as mechanical harvesting technology has improved, and new labor regulations have come about and cost have increased. Not all fields are suitable for use of mechanical harvesters. Generally at least 10 or wide rows are required and 25-foot turnaround places at the end of rows are needed for the movement of motorized harvesters. Blueberries for the fresh market have a short shelf-life when they are machine harvested. Therefore blueberries harvested by machine needs to be sold quickly. The shelf life is typical shorter than hand-picked blueberries.

Perhaps the most severe drawback to using mechanical harvesters is this process can cause the damage to the blueberries. Blueberries can be simply bruised by impact resulting from a vertical fall during any step in the process of mechanical harvesting. If the height of a drop onto a hard surface exceeds 6 inches extensive bruising can occur to ripe blueberries. The amount of damage is related to the distance the blueberries fall. Bruised blueberries are also subject to sustaining more decay during storage after harvest.

Today harvesting by machine is about 10 times faster than a typical person using a hand rake swiping it through the shrubs over and over all day. About 10 years ago 20 percent blueberries were harvested using mechanical equipment. Today about 80 percent of growers with large fields of blueberries use machinery to replace hand pickers because it’s cheaper.