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Medical Cannabis and Autism

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Autism is exceptionally prevalent worldwide, especially among children. Autistic children experienced behavioral outbreaks, communication blocks, and stress. Cannabis-based treatments are rapidly emerging as a safer, well-tolerated option to combat some of the autistic symptoms. In previous studies, researchers had administered Dronabinol, which is a THC based drug. They found reductions in hyperactivity, irritability, and lethargy. Another study demonstrated that the administration of Dronabinol reduced self-destructive behavior in a group of 10 adolescents. 

The mechanism of cannabis in affecting autistic patients is not understood entirely. However, research hypothesizes that GABA and glutamate action can limit the dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system. Other research studies have suggested that cannabis can enhance the release of oxytocin and vasopressin. These are hormones that can contribute to increased processing of social information

A recent study aims to analyze the efficacy and safety of cannabis-based treatments on young autistic patients. The results of the study demonstrated that compliance of the treatment is high, with 85% of participants completing the treatment. The side effects of the treatments included restlessness, which was present in 6.6% of the patients. These side effects were easy to manage, which potentially contributes to the high efficacy of the treatment. About 80% of participants reported significant or moderate improvement in their symptoms. 

While cannabis seems to impact autistic behavioral systems positively, there is more research needed on the subject. Let us know in the comments if cannabis has alleviated autistic symptoms in anyone you know! 

Source:

  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-37570-y

Fitness/ Diet

7 Anti-Inflammatory Foods

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Inflammation refers to your body’s method of protecting itself against things that harm it, including infections, injuries, and toxins. One way to treat inflammation could be a prescription for pain medication. Another way to combat inflammation can come from your local grocery store. Here are seven food items you can find at your local grocery store to help fight your body’s inflammation.

1. Broccoli 

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that is low-calorie and rich in folate, vitamins C, E, and K, and fiber, along with cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale. Research has shown that consuming the right amount of cruciferous vegetables can decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer. The vegetable’s high amount of antioxidants is related to its anti-inflammatory effects. Broccoli is high in sulforaphane, an antioxidant that combats inflammation by reducing your levels of cytokines and NF-kB, which leads to inflammation

2. Avocados

Avocados are loaded with potassium, magnesium, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. This superfood also contains carotenoids and tocopherols that helps lower the risk of cancer. One study found when people ate a slice of avocado with a hamburger, and they had lower levels of the inflammatory markers NF-kB and IL-6. Other participants who ate the burger without avocado had higher levels of the inflammatory markers. 

3. Green Tea

Green tea is one of the healthiest drinks you can find on the market. This tea reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and other medical conditions. Most of its health benefits derive from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents, including the substance epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG helps to reduce inflammation by decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokine production and damage to the fatty acids in your cells 

4. Peppers

Bell peppers are not just known for their delicious flavor but are loaded with vitamin c along with chili peppers. Both peppers contain antioxidants that have substantial anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Bell peppers contain the antioxidant quercetin, which may reduce one marker of oxidative damage in people with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease Chili peppers have sinapic acid and ferulic acid, which can lead to healthier aging and reduce inflammation.

5. Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice with a rich, earthy flavor that has a bitter taste and is often used to season or color curry powders, mustards, etc. The flavorful spice has received a considerable amount of attention for its content of curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient. Turmeric lowers inflammation associated with arthritis, diabetes, and other diseases.

6. Cherries

Sweet and sour cherries are packed with antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and catechins, that help fight inflammation. Although the effects of tart cherries have been studied more, sweet cherries also provide health benefits. In one study, participants who ate 280 grams of cherries per day for 1 month, had lower levels of the inflammatory marker CRP and remained low for 28 days after they stopped consuming cherries 

7. Dark chocolate and cocoa

Dark chocolate is supplied with antioxidants that reduce inflammation and can decrease the risk of disease and lead to healthier aging. Flavanol-rich cocoa is responsible for chocolate’s anti-inflammatory effects and keeps the endothelial cells that line your arteries healthy. Be sure to choose dark chocolate that has at least 70% cocoa; the higher the percentage of cocoa, the better to obtain these anti-inflammatory benefits.

Incorporating healthier options onto your plate won’t provide you with an instant cure for inflammation, but it could help reduce your flare-ups or lower your pain levels. Including anti-inflammatory foods into your diet is a more holistic way of addressing pain and inflammation, as opposed to taking medication.

Sources: 

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-inflammation
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-anti-inflammatory-foods#section6
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22100562
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20370896
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17584048
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21324570
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21324570
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18188410
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17569207
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20944519
  11. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-tart-cherry-juice-benefits
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16549461
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16877960

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Covid-19

Can Dogs Detect the Coronavirus?

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An innovative way to test the coronavirus could include trained dogs sniffing out those possibly infected with the virus. Last month a new study was announced in the U.K. by a team of researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the registered charity Medical Detection Dogs, and Durham University, to study the possibility of dogs to sniff out the coronavirus for screening efforts.

Due to the keen sense of smell from canines, this could help them detect the virus with high accuracy. A dog has around 125 to 300 million scent glands, while a human has about 5 million scent glands. This means a dog’s sense of smell is approximately 1,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than a human’s.

Previous research has proven that dogs can identify lung cancer faster than doctors in clinical samples. Dogs can detect lung cancer in patients better than physicians’ “most advanced technology”. Other studies conducted by the same team stated that dogs are great at sniffing out infectious diseases, especially malaria, according to Prof. James Logan, head of the Department of Disease Control at LSHTM. Researchers are crowdfunding their study efforts to train medical detection dogs to screen individuals for COVID-19.

Scientists addressed the uncertainty if the virus is at all detectable through body odors, but prior knowledge of other respiratory illnesses, professionals hypothesize that it could be.

“It’s early days for COVID-19 odor detection. We do not know if COVID-19 has a specific odor yet. Still, we know that other respiratory diseases change our body odor, so there is a chance that it does,” explains Prof. Logan.

The researchers suggest that specially trained medical detection dogs could supplement the effort to screen for COVID-19 in the future. Trained dogs may be able to sniff up to 250 people an hour, rendering a quick and noninvasive screening process.

Researchers explained that the dogs’ would undergo training, including sniffing out odor samples from individuals with COVID-19 and teaching them to recognize the smells linked with the disease.

Dogs can distinguish who is ill because they can sense small differences in skin temperature, which can help to detect who has a fever. If successful in training, researchers believe that medical detection canines may be capable of screening for the infectious disease after just six weeks of training

In the future, scientists discussed that specially trained dogs could provide services in airports where they could “sniff out” travelers who may be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to Prof. Steve Lindsay from Durham University. Lindsay believes this could help prevent the re-emergence of the disease after establishing control over the virus. 

Regarding the new initiative, Claire Guest co-founder and CEO of Medical Detection Dogs commented on the future of the effort “In principle, we’re sure that dogs could detect COVID-19. We are now looking into how we can safely catch the odor of the virus from patients and present it to the dogs.”  Guest stated that the goal of the initiative is to have dogs identify the disease in those who are asymptomatic and notify officials if they need to be tested.

The initiative could provide a noninvasive screening process to help detect the coronavirus and reserve testing resources for those who need to be tested. 

Do you think this could help identify COVID-19 cases? Let us know in the comments below!

Sources: 

  1. https://www.medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk/
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/could-dogs-help-detect-covid-19#Dogs-could-revolutionize-diagnostics

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Lifestyle

5 Ways to Relieve Stress During a Pandemic

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Living in uncertain times can feel a bit stressful, especially when facing a pandemic. Most of us have never experienced living through a pandemic as well as having to adapt swiftly to our temporary reality. Public places that were once accessible are now closed due to the coronavirus epidemic. Staying at home can create anxiety, unable to go to the gym to get those endorphins up, or visiting friends and family. Incorporating a sense of normalcy into your daily activities is essential to relieve stress and lower anxiety levels. There are still some ways you can increase your endorphin levels and stay productive in the comfort of your own home including:

Meditation

There is research that shows meditation can improve symptoms of stress-related conditions. The benefits of meditation also include the ability to regulate everyday emotions and boost the immune system. Creating a daily habit of meditation can help preserve these benefits and help develop a positive outlook on life. There are apps you can download to start your meditation journey and help guide you through your meditation. 

Exercise

Gyms may be temporarily closed, but you can still fit in a good workout without any gym equipment. Maintaining your workout routine is essential for supporting healthy immune function and preventing weight gain. To add resistance to your workout, you can find a bag or backpack and fill it with cans or any other items to use the bag as a weight. From squats to lunges or burpees you can get your heart pumping and relieve stress. You can also access streaming services online to find at-home workouts and keep you motivated like in the video down below. 

Grab a Book

Take a break from binge-watching the latest series on your streaming devices and grab a book to keep your brain engaged. Reading just 30 minutes a day can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and psychological distress. Reading fiction can boost your imagination, and reading self-help books can help you navigate your daily lives. Staying mentally proactive is just as important as staying physically active. 

Get Outside 

Staying indoors can start to feel a bit suffocating, unable to go to the mall to walk around or even to restaurants on a Saturday night. The CDC recommends the population to practice social distancing to keep a distance of six feet from others outside your home. You can still go outside and grab some fresh air to supply your daily dose of vitamin D. On your next lunch break, take a minute to get out and help restore your focus.

Phone Family/Friends

Studies have shown that having social support is vital to maintain physical and mental health. Social support also builds resilience against stress. You may be unable to visit your friend’s home, but with modern technology, it’s possible to video chat, call, and text loved ones. 

The most important thing you can do to relieve the anxieties of the outside world is to prioritize your physical and mental health. Implement these daily activities to help manage your stress levels and stay active.

Sources:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-benefits-of-meditation#section3
  2. https://wordofhealth.com/2019/06/18/top-5-meditation-apps-to-try-in-2019/
  3. https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/20/health/exercise-gym-close-coronavirus-quarantine-wellness-jampolis/index.html
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-reading-books
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html
  6. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/70548/11-scientific-benefits-being-outdoors
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921311/

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