Archive for the ‘Sleep’ Category

How to Detox Naturally For Healthy Aging

https://vitalplan.com/blog/how-to-detox-naturally-for-healthy-aging?

how-to-detox-naturally-healthy-aging

How to Detox Naturally for Healthy Aging

By Beth Janes Posted 03-15-2019

Environmental toxins have always posed a risk to humans, even thousands of years ago. Back then, it was things like molds and other dangerous bacteria and viruses, poisonous berries and other plants, snake venom, or the sting of a jellyfish that had the biggest potential to make people ill or even kill them.

Now, however, those naturally-occurring toxins are the least of our problems. Instead, our modern world is overrun with toxins and toxicants — the proper term for man-made toxins — which are harder to avoid and much more insidious than natural ones ever were.

Some estimates suggest that more than 200,000 man-made chemicals now exist, most of which have only been developed in the past 100 years or so, says Dr. Bill Rawls, M.D., Medical Director of Vital Plan. And we’re exposed to many of them every day in the air we breathe, the food and drinks we consume, and what has contact with our skin. Here’s just a taste of what’s on that list:

  • Pollution from cars and industrial processes include particulate matter, ozone gas, and benzene.
  • Indoors, chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are commonly released from household items like carpet, paint, and cleaning solutions.
  • In the average American diet, you’ll find pesticide and herbicide residue, BPA or other chemicals from plastics that can leach into food, plus heavy metals and arsenic in water.
  • The many personal care products we use, often with the intention of making skin and hair more healthy, can contain endocrine disruptors that have been linked to a variety of cancers.
  • Traffic jams, work deadlines, and other pressures easily trigger toxic chronic stress.
  • Refined carbohydrates, highly processed sugars and manipulated fats can also be toxic to humans’ otherwise relatively primitive systems, which were designed to run on simple plants, barks, herbs and fresh, clean water.

All of these toxins and toxicants negatively impact health on many different fronts, but one of the most serious is how they accelerate or interfere with aging. In fact, research now shows that environmental toxins play a significant role in what’s called external aging, according to a recent review in the journal Trends in Molecular Medicine. That’s the type of aging that’s driven by external factors, as opposed to the genetic and internal ones we can’t control.

As tempting as it is to want to isolate and target the worst culprits on the toxic list, there’s not necessarily one or even a few that you can vilify over others, says Dr. Rawls. “It’s all of them together — it’s this high level of insidious toxins that has never been here before on earth,” he explains. “Because our ancestors didn’t deal with them, our bodies don’t have the genetic memory or ability to properly tolerate or process all of the toxins that we’re now bombarded with daily.”

But all is not lost: It is possible to minimize toxins’ impact and significantly decelerate aging — and naturally, to boot. Here’s how.

How Cells Age — and How Toxins Interfere

How Cells Age — and How Toxins Interfere

To understand how modern toxins interfere with the aging process, it helps to first know how the body ages normally. “We are a collection of cells, and each cell is specialized to take care of other cells,” Dr. Rawls explains. “When a critical number of cells, or cells from a key organ like our lungs or heart, get sick or old or die — that’s what aging and illness is in a nutshell.”

That happens naturally over time when mitochondria, cells’ power generators, burn out, which causes cells to die or produce less healthy cells that don’t function properly. It also happens when cells are no longer able to properly communicate and coordinate with their 10 trillion peers, which all come from 200 different groups.

“That cellular coordination is remarkably important,” says Dr. Rawls. “When it doesn’t happen, the body starts breaking down and functions stop working — that’s also illness and aging.”

In many ways, our bodies aren’t that different than a machine, and just like components of a machine, our cells and systems eventually stop working as well. Toxins, however, can cause the aging of cells and breakdown of cellular communication to happen sooner than it would otherwise. “Environmental toxins strangle or suffocate or damage cells, or they disrupt chemical messengers so cells aren’t communicating, and so the body breaks down,” Dr. Rawls says.

For example, just as herbicides and pesticides mess with the chemical messenger channels in weeds and insects, they can also disrupt those in humans (which are surprisingly similar), says Dr. Rawls. Chemicals in plastics and in pesticides, meanwhile, may mimic hormones in the body. Not only does that affect signaling, it can throw your body’s hormonal balance out of whack and potentially contribute to hormonally-active cancers.

Other toxins may act as free radicals, causing inflammation and damage to cell membranes or blood vessels, Dr. Rawls says. That’s the case with many air pollutants from cars and industrial processes. When you breathe them in, they flood your respiratory and cardiovascular systems and can pass into your bloodstream.

These free radical-like toxins can interact with nerve endings, too, which then allow them to disrupt your nervous system. In fact, studies have found a clear link between high levels of airborne toxins in the environment and early death from all causes, but particularly heart disease. Decreased lung function and increased hospital admissions were also shown to be more common among those who live and work in the polluted areas.

Toxins may also directly damage DNA, the blueprint that cells use to make new cells. When that happens, the new, abnormal cells may die off — or they may continue reproducing damaged, diseased, or dysfunctional cells. For example, DNA in skin cells directly absorbs photons from UV light, which then leads to skin wrinkling and increased risk for skin cancer. Research even suggests exposure to certain toxins in pesticides and elsewhere may change DNA in a way that contributes to disease not only for those exposed, but also to their offspring and subsequent generations.

That’s all pretty scary stuff, but the good news is that you aren’t powerless. “The great thing about where we are now, is that we know more about the effects of these toxins than ever before, and we have more choices that let us better avoid or deal with them,” Dr. Rawls says.

How to Detox Naturally

Along with reducing your exposure to the more obvious and well-known toxins — such as steering clear of cigarette and cigar smoke, avoiding household chemicals, and reducing your use of plastic containers — here’s how to best protect yourself against invisible, insidious toxin exposure and equip your body to naturally filter them out and reduce the potential damage.

1. Fill Half Your Plate with Vegetables and/or Fruit

“No matter what the issue is, when it comes to improving health, the answer will almost always include eating more plants,” Dr. Rawls says. But as far as detox goes, there are specific ways veggies can help.

For one, many modern toxins are fat soluble, and, unlike meat, plants generally don’t have a lot of fat in which to store toxins. Many fruits and some veggies also have protective peels that help limit their load, plus you can find many affordable organicoptions.

People who eat a lot of produce also tend to not have excessive amounts of body fat that can store toxins. Cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cabbage in particular also help ensure proper functioning of your liver, which is one of your body’s main detox centers, Dr. Rawls says. Vegetables’ fiber plays a key role, too.

“After your liver processes a toxin to make it water soluble, it’s secreted into bile, where the molecules then need something to bind to in order to exit your body,” Dr. Rawls says. “Vegetable fiber does that better than any other type.”

Indeed, fiber intake was closely tied to what researchers called “successful aging,” according to a study in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. The researchers found that people who ate a lot of fiber were 80% less likely to have hypertension, diabetes, dementia, depression, and a functional disability.

Vegetables also ensure cell membranes are their healthiest, and these membranes are what let nutrients in and help keep toxins out. “All the fat you eat ends up in cell membranes,” Dr. Rawls explains. “If you’re eating mostly saturated fat from meat and fried foods, membranes become stiff like lard.”

Plus, fried food can actually be a toxin all on its own; cooking fat or oil over extremely high heat turns it into free radicals. “So what you’re doing then is lacing cell membranes with damaging free radicals,” he says. One study in the journal British Medical Journal found that post-menopausal women who ate one or more servings of fried food a day had an 8% higher risk of dying during the study period. The risk rose to 13% for those who ordered up fried chicken daily.

A healthy plant-based diet also contributes to a healthy vascular system and good blood flow, which also helps move toxins out of your body, Dr. Rawls adds. Bottom line: “What we eat influences aging down to the cellular level, as well as our ability to flush out toxins.”

2. Try Detoxifying Herbs and Natural Ingredients

“Everyone wants one simple detox product, but most of what’s available cause only a laxative effect,” Dr. Rawls says. “When people get constipated, they build up loads of bad bacteria in their gut, and when they get rid of it, they feel better. But those products are not actually helping remove toxins.”

One that is at the top of his list: Chlorella. A nutrient-rich freshwater green algae, chlorella is rich in chlorophyll, a pigment with antioxidant properties that binds to toxins and helps usher them out of your system.

He also points to herbs that support healthy liver function, which is highly involved in processing toxins so your body can remove them. “Herbs like milk thistle and burdock root, as well as andrographis are at the top of the list because they help protect liver cells,” Dr. Rawls says. Milk thistle, for example, contains a potent antioxidant compound that has been shown beneficial in liver disease, as well as for protecting against liver toxins and reducing liver inflammation, according to a review in Lancet Oncology.

Another herb to consider: Glutathione, an essential antioxidant found in many plants and our own bodies. Glutathione plays a key role in liver function, especially during the first stage of toxin removal — when the liver transforms the toxin from fat soluble to water soluble so it can be excreted, Dr. Rawls says.

Studies suggest glutathione can be beneficial for the liver, with a recent study in BMC Gastroenterology even showing it may help those with non-fatty liver disease. What’s notable here, though, is that along with supporting liver function, glutathione also helps protect cell mitochondria from free radical damage that contributes to aging.

Berberine and other bitter herbs that support healthy digestion also help your body detox and support healthy aging. They work by ensuring proper removal of toxins through stools, plus promote healthy, balanced gut flora. And a healthy balance of gut bugs means a strong immune system — upwards of 70% of our immune system lives in our gut — which helps strengthen your defenses against disease.

3. Get Enough Sleep

Not only does sleep help diffuse stress and its toxic effects, it is essential for your body to rid itself of toxic materials and waste. “Deep, stage-3 sleep is when your body is able to detox most effectively, and when it works the hardest to get rid of toxins,” Dr. Rawls says.

One recent study in the journal Science Advances showed how this works when it comes to the brain and toxic proteins that can build up and that have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers found that deep sleep sets up the ideal environment for your body’s glymphatic system to work optimally. The glymphatic system is your brain’s specialized waste removal system, which uses the flow of cerebrospinal fluid to “cleanse” away toxic junk.

If you struggle with occasional sleeplessness, herbs and other natural ingredients can help here, too. A few to consider:

  • Montmorency tart cherries: They’re a natural source of melatonin, a sleep-signalling hormone. Levels are low, but you don’t need much to initiate sleep, says Dr. Rawls, and in fact the high levels (>3mg) found in many supplements may actually disrupt your normal sleep-wake cycle.
  • Magnesium: More than half of Americans don’t get enough of this essential mineral, a shortfall that’s been linked with poor sleep quality. Plus, magnesium helps promote calm and relaxation, which naturally lends to better sleep. Look for it in magnesium glycinate form, which is more easily absorbed by the body.
  • Ashwagandha and l-theanine: If stress is what’s keeping you up, consider these herbs. They can help balance the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, which regulates stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline so you’re better able to manage stress in the face of it.
  • Bacopa, passionflower, and motherwort: Especially when taken together, these three herbs help promote a calm mind and support normal, healthy sleep.

4. Drink Plenty of (Filtered) Water

Filtering your tap H2O is a no-brainer for limiting exposure to all sorts of metals and toxic substances. For example, as many as 56 million Americans in 25 states may be drinking tap water with unsafe arsenic levels, according to the U.S. Natural Resources Defense Council.

But along with arsenic, a known carcinogen, tap water can contain trace amounts of medications, heavy metals, and other toxins that can mess with natural hormones. Bottled water, however, isn’t the answer since it may not be filtered, plus has the added risk of potentially containing BPA, a hormone-disrupting toxin in many plastics, according to a paper in the The British Medical Journal.

Just as important as filtering your water is to be sure you’re drinking enough. Adequate hydration helps flush toxins out of your system through urine, but also by keeping your GI function regular, which is another exit point for toxins, Dr. Rawls says. Check out your urine for clues as to whether you’re sipping sufficiently — it should be light yellow, like lemonade.

5. Cut Way Back on Sugar

“Excess sugar is toxic in a variety of ways,” Dr. Rawls says. First, excessive sugar promotes the growth of abnormal or pathogenic bacteria in the gut. Those gut microbes can actually create toxins that stimulate and agitate the brain, which then affects sleep and hormone levels and sets off a domino effect that impacts health and longevity at every stage, Dr. Rawls says.

Excess glucose in particular accelerates aging since it sticks to proteins in the body, which “gums up the works,” Dr. Rawls says. “Proteins make all functions in cells possible, and when you load the body with glucose, it sticks to the proteins and causes them to collapse.” One of the most visible signs of too much sugar, for example, is skin wrinkling. That’s because collagen — skin’s main support structure — is primarily made of protein.

But that’s not the only way too much sugar can be toxic. The more you eat, the more your body will become resistant to the insulin that moves glucose out of your blood and to cells that use it for energy. That can lead to elevated levels of both insulin and blood glucose, which have been linked in studies to cellular aging, including in the brain. Meanwhile, other research has found that those who eat a lot of sugar are at higher risk of dying of cardiovascular diseases, reports a study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

6. Stay Physically Active

“One of the best ways to get rid of heavy metals in your body is through exercise,” Dr. Rawls says. “It increases blood flow and promotes sweat, which is a key way your body detoxes; I think of it as blowing out your pipes.” In fact, research suggests that people exposed to higher levels of metals may sweat out just as many toxins as they release through urine, according to a review in the Journal of Environmental Public Health.

Exercise is also the most effective way to manage stress and help encourage quality sleep. “That’s important, because stress and lack of sleep disrupt hormones, which then interferes with your ability to get rid of toxins,” Dr. Rawls says. So try to be moderately active every day, by walking frequently throughout the day or using a bike to commute. And if you can regularly work up a sweat, even better.

7. Turn to Nature’s Air Purifiers

A number of plants are known to be especially effective at scrubbing indoor air of pollutants, reports a paper in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. While all plants will help to some extent, try filling your home with air-purifying all-stars shown to significantly lower indoor levels of VOCs, including areca, lady and bamboo palms, English ivy, Boston ferns, peace lily and Ficus.

Likewise, when you’re outdoors, try to spend as much time as possible in naturally green areas and away from major roads and highways. Research suggests lusher landscapes help mitigate the effects of climate change, including improving air quality and reducing your exposure to airborne toxins. One review found decreased risk of mortality among those subjects who lived in the greenest areas.

What’s more, spending time amidst nature also significantly reduces stress, according to a study in Behavioral Sciences. If you can’t escape the city, at least seek out parks for a daily dose of nature. Research suggests urban parks and green spaces improve air quality and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, mortality, and diabetes, according to a review chapter in the book Nature-Based Solutions to Climate Change Adaptation in Urban Areas.

8. Be Sun Safe

While most toxins do their dirty work inside your body and in ways you can’t see, ultraviolet rays from the sun age you prematurely in very visible ways: Over time, they cause skin to wrinkle, make it less elastic, and trigger hyperpigmentation (brown spots) plus rough, dry skin texture.

Researchers who studied 183 sets of twins proved just how aging sun damage can be. The twins who had had more sun exposure and a history of outdoor activities and lack of sunscreen all looked significantly older compared to their more sun-safe sibling. Ultraviolet rays are also known carcinogens that can increase your risk of skin cancer, Dr. Rawls says.

You needn’t become a vampire who ventures out only at night, however. To protect yourself, simply practice sun-safe behaviors:

  • Avoid being outdoors in the sun when rays are strongest, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Wear protective clothing, a wide-brim hat, and sunglasses.
  • Apply a non-toxic sunscreen to exposed skin. Look for those that list zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as active ingredients, which are inert minerals that block rays, providing natural SPF.

Ultimately, it’s impossible to completely avoid the influx of modern-day toxins and their aging effects. But with these tips, you can certainly lessen your exposure and mitigate their negative effects now and years down the road as you enter and enjoy your golden years.

References
1. Sorrentino, Jessica A. et al. “Defining the toxicology of aging.” Trends in Molecular Medicine. 2014 July; 20:7 P375-384
2. University of Michigan School of Public Health, Environmental Health Fact Sheet. 2013, November. “Air Pollution and Oxidative Stress.” Retrieved from http://mleead.umich.edu/files/Air-Pollution-and-Oxidative-Stress.pdf
3. Kelly, Frank J. “Oxidative stress: Its role in air pollution and adverse health effects.” Occupational & Environmental Medicine. 003;60:612-616
4. Ueda, K. “Effect of environmental chemicals on the genes and the gene expression.” Yakugaku Zasshi: Journal of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan. 2009 Dec;129(12):1501-6.
5. Manikkam, Mohan et al. “Pesticide Methoxychlor Promotes the Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance of Adult-Onset Disease through the Female Germline.” PLoS One. 2014 Jul 24;9(7):e102091.
6. Gopinath, B. et al. “Association Between Carbohydrate Nutrition and Successful Aging Over 10 Years.” The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 2016 Oct;71(10):1335-40.
7. Kmietowicz, Zosia. “Fried food linked to increased risk of death among older US women.” BMJ. 2019; 364:1362
8. MacMillan, Amanda. “What’s in your drinking water?” NRDC. 2017, May 02. Retrieved from http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/qarsenic.asp
9. Kerr, Jonathan R. “Bottled water for all, all the time?” BMJ2016;352:i1214
10. Harvard Medical School, Blavatnik Institute, Neurobiology, newsletter. “Sugar on the Brain.” Retrieved from http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/sugar-and-brain
11. Yang, Quanhe et al. “Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults.” JAMA Internal Medicine. 2014;174(4):516-524.
12. Sears, Margaret E. et al. “Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury in Sweat: A Systematic Review.” Journal of Environmental and Public Health. 2012; 2012: 184745.
13. Claudio, Luz. “Planting Healthier Indoor Air.” Environmental Health Perspectives. 2011 Oct; 119(10): a426–a427.
14. James, Peter et al. “Exposure to greenness and mortality in a nationwide prospective cohort study of women.” Environmental Health Perspectives. 2016: Sep
15. Ewert, Alan and Chang, Yun. “Levels of Nature and Stress Response.” Behavioral Sciences. 2018 May; 8(5): 49.
16. Braubach M., et al 2017. “Effects of Urban Green Space on Environmental Health, Equity and Resilience.” In: Kabisch N., Korn H., Stadler J., Bonn A. (eds) Nature-Based Solutions to Climate Change Adaptation in Urban Areas. Theory and Practice of Urban Sustainability Transitions. Springer, Chem
17. Guyuron, B. et al. “Factors contributing to the facial aging of identical twins.” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2009 Apr;123(4):1321-31.
18. Hablitz, Lauren M. et al. “Increased glymphatic influx is correlated with high EEG delta power and low heart rate in mice under anesthesia.” Science Advances. 27 Feb 2019:5, 2, eaav5447
19. Siegel, Abby B. and Stebbing, Justin. “Milk thistle: early seeds of potential.” Lancet Oncology. 2013 Sep; 14(10): 929–930.
20. Honda, Yasushi et al. “Efficacy of glutathione for the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: an open-label, single-arm, multicenter, pilot study.” BMC Gastroenterology. 2017; 17: 96.
21. Wallace TC, McBurney M, Fulgoni VL, 3rd. Multivitamin/mineral supplement contribution to micronutrient intakes in the United States, 2007-2010. J Am Coll Nutr. 2014;33(2):94-102.

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For more:  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2015/12/06/tips-for-newbies/

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2019/01/26/lyme-herxheimer-reactions-dr-rawls/

 

 

 

Walgreens & CVS Join the Cannabis Race

https://www.emperorcbd.com/walgreens-and-cvs-join-the-cannabis-race/

 

Cannabidiol (CBD) has become the new hot product everyone’s talking about. Much like marijuana, you can use CBD to de-stress, reduce inflammation, or treat seizures without getting drowsy, hungry, or having the perception of time slowing down. In other words, consuming CBD won’t get you high.

CBD is extracted from the industrial hemp plant and is therefore considered part of the cannabis family. In 2018, congress passed the Farm Bill which legalized the production of hemp derived CBD. However, not all CBD is legal. Only those products compliant with the Farm Bill and approved by the FDA are considered legal by the federal government.

Nevertheless, the Farm Bill was seen as a huge win by the cannabis industry; a huge win that did not go unnoticed.

Competition has emerged from all corners of the globe. So much so, that the industry is expected to reach $22 billion by 2022. It was only a matter of time before well-known retail stores such as CVS and Wal Greens rushed to grab a piece of the pie.

Walgreens Wants In

WalGreens has announced its plans to sell CBD in almost 1500 of its stores throughout the US. As of now, they plan on selling CBD patches, creams, and sprays. However, the brand for these products has not been specified.

Due to the various state regulations regarding CBD, Walgreens will only sell CBD in nine states:

  • New Mexico
  • Colorado
  • Vermont
  • South Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Illinois
  • Tennessee
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky

Walgreens spokesperson Brian Faith shared with CNBC the reason for introducing CBD in their stores is to increase the accessibility of health and wellbeing products to better meet customer demand.

However, with the recent stocking of CBD products on CVS shelves in early March, we highly doubt meeting customer demand was the only reason Walgreens announced it would sell CBD.

CVS Takes a Leap of Faith

CVS is leading the charge for retail pharmacies by selling CBD. The giant chain store has introduced CBD salves, lotions, spray roll-ons, and creams to its line of products in a strategic move to capture a portion of the growing industry.

At the time of writing, CVS sells CBD in:

  • California
  • Illinois
  • Alabama
  • Kentucky
  • Colorado
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Tennessee

Due to the FDA’s regulations, CVS has stated that it’s not selling any CBD food additives or supplements. Rather, they claimed to have partnered with CBD manufacturers that are complaint with the Farm Bill to deliver only high quality products to customers.

The CEO of Curaleaf has claimed that CVS will soon be selling its products on the CVS website and in over 800 CVS stores throughout ten states.

CVS is yet to confirm any of these claims.

Time will Tell

With the FDA frowning upon the use of CBD (especially as an additive in food or dietary supplement) many retailers are turning to CBD as a beauty product. The challenges for these two giants highly increase with the online competition completely dominating the market.

Only time will tell if consumer demand will allow CBD to become another mainstream product at retail stores.

________________

For more:  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/09/28/cbd-for-pain/

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2019/02/10/the-endocannabinoid-system-and-the-important-role-it-plays-in-human-health/

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2019/01/16/ldn-cbd/

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/11/14/hemp-oil-presentation/

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2019/02/09/webinar-cbd-craze-health-or-hype/

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/10/08/thc-vs-cbd-for-pain-the-differences-interactions/

 

Innovative “Alternative” Therapies for Chronic Lyme Disease

https://restorativemedicine.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/4Holtorf_-Lyme-CFS.pdf  (Slides Found in link)

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Innovative “Alternative” Therapies for Chronic Lyme Disease

Kent Holtorf, M.D.

Holtorf Medical Group National Academy of Hypothyroidism Kholt@holtorfmed.com

 

 

Melatonin: Benefits & Uses

https://articles.mercola.com/vitamins-supplements/melatonin.aspx?

waking up from healthy sleep

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, which helps regulate your circadian rhythm
  • Taking a melatonin supplement may be helpful for people who are experiencing sleep disorders due to various environmental or social factors
  • Aside from promoting sleep, melatonin supplements may help boost cardiovascular health, manage fibromyalgia, lower the risk of gallstones and decrease the symptoms of tinnitus

Sleeping is an essential human function, and at the heart of it is your circadian rhythm, also known as your body clock. It’s a natural, biological timer that helps your body recognize sleepiness and wakefulness over a period of 24 hours.

By sticking to a regular bedtime schedule, such as sleeping and waking up at the same time each day, you can maintain a steady circadian rhythm that will allow you to maximize your productivity while you’re awake, and get the right amount of sleep when nighttime arrives.1

Your circadian rhythm is largely dictated by your pineal gland. This gland is located near the center of your brain, with a shape that looks similar to a pine cone, hence the name. It’s estimated to be one-third of an inch long, and is made up of unique pineal cells and neuroglial cells that help support the gland.

Despite its small size, it plays a crucial role in your health because it produces a single hormone called melatonin, which is vital for controlling your body clock and, ultimately, your sleeping patterns.2

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin, or N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, is a hormone produced by the pineal gland.3 Your brain usually starts secreting melatonin around 9 p.m., which is the time most people go to bed. By increasing the amount, your body begins to recognize that bedtime is fast approaching, allowing you to sleep at an ideal time.4

To do this properly, you need to be aware of your exposure to light throughout the day and especially at night, because melatonin production depends on how much light your body absorbs.

If you stay awake past dark, light emitted by electrical devices hampers your body’s ability to produce melatonin. Ideally, you want to stop using gadgets an hour before sleeping to help increase melatonin production and maintain a steady circadian rhythm. Nightshift workers usually have it worse and constantly suffer from disrupted body clocks, because of their poor melatonin production.

3 Main Uses of Melatonin in Your Body

What is the role of melatonin anyway? Based on published research, it has been discovered to perform three main functions:

Controls your circadian rhythm — Melatonin works as a sleeping aid by normalizing your circadian rhythm by convincing your body to prepare itself for bedtime.5 It’s a hormone that only “signals” your body to prepare for sleep, not one that actually makes you fall asleep.

Functions as an antioxidant — Recent studies have found that melatonin not only affects your body clock, but also functions as an antioxidant that can help support your health. Specifically, it may help different aspects of your brain, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health.6 It may even lower your risk of cancer, in some cases.7

Boosts your immune system — Melatonin may benefit your immune system in various ways. In one study, researchers suggest that melatonin may help improve the treatment of bacterial diseases such as tuberculosis.8 In another study, melatonin has been suggested as a potential tool against inflammation, autoimmune diseases and Type 1 diabetes.9


6 Ways to Optimize Your Melatonin Levels Naturally to Improve Sleep Quality

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans are suffering from a sleeping or wakefulness disorder.10 As a result, many of them turn to various remedies, such as behavioral and environmental changes, to get a good night’s rest.11

One of the first things you can do is to make sure that your body is producing enough melatonin. Optimizing your melatonin levels naturally is important because it helps keep your body functioning normally without relying on outside factors. So, instead of immediately relying on melatonin supplementation, here are a few lifestyle changes I suggest you try first to boost your melatonin production:

Avoid using electronic devices an hour before sleeping — Gadgets such as cellphones, TVs and computers emit blue light, and exposure to it tricks your body into thinking it’s still daytime. By avoiding gadgets an hour before bed, your body can produce the melatonin needed to help you sleep at your intended time.

Make sure to get regular sunlight exposure — Getting regular sun exposure in the morning or at noontime helps your body reduce its melatonin production, so that when nighttime arrives, your pineal gland produces the correct amount to induce sleepiness.

Try to sleep in complete darkness — If possible, try to remove immediate light sources from your room to help improve your sleep quality. The slightest exposure to light can interfere with your body’s melatonin production and keep you up later than you need. Keep gadgets 3 feet away from your bed or use blackout window shades.

Remove sources of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in your bedroom — EMFs emitted by certain devices such as Internet routers can disrupt your pineal gland’s melatonin production. Ideally, you should turn off your wireless router, as well as other wireless devices connected to the Internet before sleeping.

If you need a nightlight, use a low-wattage yellow, orange or red bulb — Low-wattage bulbs with a yellow, orange or red color do not interfere with melatonin production the same way that white and blue bulbs do.

Wear blue light-blocking glasses — This special device can help keep your eyes from absorbing blue light that can affect your melatonin levels. It can be a useful tool to have around the house, especially if you’re constantly surrounded by gadgets and artificial light sources.

In addition, the following foods are known to contain small amounts of melatonin. Making them a part of your regular diet while practicing the aforementioned sleeping tips may help improve sleep quality:12

  • Grass fed meat (lamb, beef and pork)
  • Wild-caught salmon
  • Pasture-raised chicken and eggs
  • Raw, grass fed milk
  • Pineapple
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Pomegranate
  • Mulberry
  • Tart cherries
  • Grapes
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Cauliflower
  • Turnip
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot
  • Radish
  • Beetroot
  • Tomatoes
  • Seeds (Flax, sunflower, fennel, mustard, alfalfa, celery and fenugreek)
  • Nuts (pistachio, almonds and walnuts)

If you’ve already tried everything, including incorporating melatonin foods in your diet, and you’re still having difficulty getting quality sleep, you may consider taking a melatonin supplement. In 2016 alone, 3.1 million adults in the United States turned to melatonin supplementation to help them sleep peacefully.13

Studies Regarding the Use of Melatonin Supplements

Since the discovery of melatonin, various studies have been conducted to discover how using it as a supplement can benefit your health. According to the Journal of Pineal Research, the melatonin secreted by your pineal gland enters every cell in your body and can even cross morphophysiologic barriers.

As a result, not only may it help you improve sleep quality,14 it also has certain anti-inflammatory compounds that may help reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis and hypertension.15

In addition, a study published in Endocrine Journal reports that increasing melatonin intake may help improve your overall health, as this hormone can be an effective antioxidant that can help fight free radicals in your body.16

Another study suggests that melatonin may help obese people manage their weight. The researchers indicate that certain lifestyle factors suppress melatonin production, which results in sleep disruption that can lead to weight gain. By increasing melatonin production, adequate sleep can be reintroduced as part of a healthy lifestyle, along with other positive lifestyle changes, to help curb obesity.17

8 Potential Benefits of Melatonin Supplement

Melatonin may help boost your health in various situations, as shown in the table below. While each benefit is backed up with scientific research, always consult with a doctor before giving melatonin supplements a try:

Insomnia — Melatonin is primarily used to help treat people who have sleeping disorders by inducing sleepiness quicker.18

Jet lag — Melatonin may be used to help treat jet lag by adjusting your body to a new time zone. However, it’s generally recommended only for travelers who cross four to five time zones.19

Heart disease — People who are struggling with heart disease may benefit from melatonin. A study has found that it may help lower your bad cholesterol levels by as much as 38 percent.20

Menopause — Increasing melatonin consumption in menopausal women 42 to 62 years old may help improve mood and stave off depression.21

Autism — Children diagnosed with autism who are also plagued with sleeping problems may benefit from melatonin supplementation. Research indicates that taking the hormone can lead to deeper sleep and better daytime behavior.22 However, I advise consulting your health care provider before giving any melatonin supplement to children.

Fibromyalgia People affected with fibromyalgia are believed to have lower levels of melatonin. A group of researchers found that increasing the melatonin levels of fibromyalgia sufferers through supplementation helped alleviate their symptoms and improved sleep quality.23

Gallstones Melatonin can help lower your risk of gallstones by inhibiting cholesterol absorption across the intestinal epithelium, as well as increasing the conversion of cholesterol into bile.24

Tinnitus — If you have tinnitus, slightly increasing your melatonin may help improve your symptoms. In one study, participants who took 3 milligrams of melatonin supplements every night experienced a decrease in tinnitus intensity after the testing duration.25

Do Not Take Melatonin if You Have These Conditions

Here’s a crucial question you should ask yourself: Are you fit to take melatonin? While there are valid reasons for taking this supplement, remember that it can exacerbate certain health conditions as well. If you’re taking any of the following medications, you should not take melatonin as the mixture can have adverse effects to your health:26

Anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs

Anticonvulsants

Contraceptive drugs

Diabetes medications

Immunosuppressants

Taking melatonin while pregnant should be avoided as well, since there’s little knowledge in this field.27 If you’ve recently developed pregnancy-related sleeping problems, I advise you to consider behavioral and dietary changes before considering melatonin or other similar types of supplement.

Refrain from giving melatonin to children, including babies and toddlers, unless approved by your physician. While a 2016 study found that children with sleep difficulties who took melatonin did not develop any concerns or adverse side effects,28 it’s better to be safe.

10 Side Effects of Melatonin You Should Know About

Some of melatonin’s potential side effects include:29,30

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Short-term depression
  • Irritability
  • Vivid dreams, or possibly nightmares
  • Mild anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Confusion
  • Body clock disruption
  • Dizziness

If you are already taking a melatonin supplement and begin to experience any of the mentioned side effects, stop taking it immediately and consult with a doctor for safer alternatives. In addition, melatonin and alcohol should not be taken together, as it can increase your chances of accidents because the sedative effects are amplified.31

Remember: Consider Optimizing Your Melatonin Levels Naturally Before Taking a Supplement

Melatonin is a crucial hormone that performs few but important functions. Low levels of it can lead to sleep disruption, increase your risk of certain diseases and lower your antioxidant capabilities. However, remember to always try and improve your sleeping habits and environment before attempting melatonin supplementation.

While there’s an abundance of scientific evidence that suggest melatonin supplementation can be beneficial to your health, too much of it can actually make you more wakeful. By primarily focusing on natural strategies, you forego this risk, as well as the chances of developing unpleasant side effects that can further disrupt your quality of sleep. If you do decide to take a melatonin supplement, seek guidance from a doctor first.

Frequently Asked Questions About Melatonin

Q: Is melatonin addictive?

A: Currently, there’s very little information regarding melatonin supplement addiction. However, beware that it can still be abused, although the chances of becoming dependent are lower compared to other types of medications or supplements.32

 

Q: How long does it take for melatonin to work?

A: The average time for melatonin supplements to work is generally 20 minutes. If you’re about to take melatonin for the first time, it’s recommended that you take it one to two hours before your bedtime.33

 

Q: Can you take melatonin supplements while pregnant?

A: As of the moment, there is a lack of scientific evidence regarding the use of melatonin supplements on pregnant women, but it’s theorized that it may hamper sex drive, reduce ovarian function and increase the risk of developmental disorders. If you’re pregnant, it is best that you avoid using this supplement and resort to natural remedies to correct sleeping problems.34

 

Q: Is melatonin safe to use for kids?

A: Melatonin supplements are generally safe for children. According to a study published in Canadian Family Physician, children with sleep difficulties who took melatonin had no concerns or adverse side effects, according to their parents.35 However, consult with your child’s pediatrician before giving them any type of melatonin supplement.

 

Q: When is the ideal time to take melatonin?

A: Taking a melatonin supplement two hours before bedtime can help you maximize its effectiveness.36

 

Q: How long does the effects of melatonin last?

A: The half-life of melatonin is very short, around 59 to 65 minutes only.37

 

Q: Can you overdose on melatonin?

A: Yes. While there are no reported deaths related to overdosing from melatonin, consuming more than the recommended amount can cause side effects, such as autoimmune hepatitis, a psychotic episode, seizures, headaches or skin eruption.38

__________________

**Comment**

Besides helping sleep, melatonin is known for protecting the brain. Research has shown starting to supplement in middle age protects against Alzheimer’s, reduces the risk of Parkinson’s, shrinks the size of the infarct area in a stroke, minimizes brain swelling & dysfunction after head injury, and increases the “longevity protein” SIRT1.  https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2013/9/Melatonin-The-Brain-Hormone/Page-01

  • Melatonin has been proposed as a treatment for numerous brain and neurological diseases as it helps reduce oxidative stress and inflammation inside the brain and strengthens the blood-brain barrier.  A leaky blood-brain barrier can contribute to issues like brain fog, anxiety, depression, and even Alzheimer’s.
  • It also increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) – which is a protein that promotes survival of nerve cells & helps regular synaptic plasticity.  Mouse studies have shown melatonin relieves symptoms of ALS by preventing cell death and slowing disease progression.  
  • Melatonin is needed for normal eye development, decreases pressure in the eye and lack of it may be a cause of glaucoma.
  • A rat study showed melatonin prevents against cell death in optic neuritis, a manifestation of MS, Lyme, and Bartonella.
  • Regarding tinnitus, (noise in the ears), melatonin was 150 times more effective than other tinnitus drugs in reducing symptoms.
  • Melatonin may help prevent and treat cancer by improving immune function, increasing tumor suppressor proteins, acting against cancer stem cells, and by suppressing cells that block the activity of immune cells. Supplementation also reduced incidence and size of breast cancer tumors.
  • Melatonin concentration is 400 times higher in the gut than the brain and controls behavior of gut bacteria.  It’s been shown to be protective against lesions caused by H.pylori infection and speeds ulcer healing.  It protects and strengthens the intestinal barrier and can help prohibit inflammation in the stomach which can in turn protect against colitis, irritable bowel, and various cancers.  https://selfhacked.com/blog/melatonin/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Endocannabinoid System and the Important Role It Plays in Human Health

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/02/10/endocannabinoid-system-role-in-human-health.aspx?

Published on Feb 5, 2019

Natural health expert and Mercola.com founder Dr. Joseph Mercola interviews Carl Germano, a board-certified nutritionist and phytocannabiniods expert, on how the endocannabinoid system influences human health.
February 10, 2019
By Dr. Mercola

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Cannabinoid receptors in the human body were discovered in the 1990s, which in turn led to the realization that we make compounds in our body — endogenous cannabinoids — that influence these receptors
  • Endocannabinoid deficiency has been identified in people who have migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory and neurological conditions and a variety of treatment-resistant conditions
  • While CBD has gained the most attention, CBD alone cannot fully support your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). You need the other phytocannabinoids and terpenes as well
  • Hemp has been outlawed in the U.S. since 1938. The latest Farm Bill, signed into law at the end of 2018, makes it legal again; hemp oil with full-spectrum phytocannabinoids may benefit a wide range of health problems
  • There’s an intimate relationship between your ECS and your omega-3 status. Omega-3 fats make your cannabinoid receptors more active, and are used as backbone structures to produce cannabinoids in your body

Hemp has been outlawed in the U.S. since 1938. Thankfully, the latest Farm Bill signed into law at the end of 2018 makes it legal. In this interview, board-certified clinical nutritionist and expert on phytocannabinoids, Carl Germano, discusses the exciting implications of this change.

Now, there’s a difference between cannabidiol (CBD) products made from hemp and those made from marijuana. While many mistakenly believe hemp and marijuana are interchangeable, they’re actually two different plants.

“Both are considered Cannabis sativa by genus and species, but that’s where the similarity ends,” Germano explains. “Hemp has been cultivated for many reasons for the past few thousand years — food, clothing, fiber and fuel. The plant itself contains naturally occurring active compounds called phytocannabinoids, of which CBD is just one of them.

Marijuana, on the other hand, has been cultivated for its primary phytocannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While it has recreational value at small levels, it does have medicinal value.

Nevertheless, many decades ago, hemp got dumped into the definition of marijuana. Hemp was unjustly placed into the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which kind of hampered its access, its ability to have U.S. farmers grow it, or to have even medical or academic institutions study it.

We’ve been in the Dark Ages for decades. Thanks to Israel and Europe, who’ve championed all the research, we’ve [discovered] the cannabinoid system in the body called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

Trump did sign a Farm Bill that finally deregulates hemp. It takes it out of the CSA … It gives the rights of farmers to grow it. It will open up the doors for academic and medical institutions to study it. It will give consumers access to [what is] probably the most important botanical we have on this planet.”

Why Whole Hemp May Be Better Than Isolated CBD

The hemp plant contains over 100 different phytocannabinoids, of which CBD is one. And while hemp has now been taken off the CSA, CBD is still under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for the labeling of supplements and enforcing the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).

“With the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), you have several things against CBD. First, CBD was not in commerce prior to 1994, so it could not be grandfathered as a dietary supplement, yet hemp oil has been in commerce prior to 1994, so we’re OK there.

Secondly, DSHEA states that if you want to submit a new dietary ingredient application, you can do so and petition the FDA for an ingredient to be classified as a dietary supplement.

Well, if you were to do that today, you would get rejected immediately because the other part of DSHEA states that if Big Pharma takes a natural ingredient and makes a drug that gets approved, it’s hands-off to the dietary supplement industry.

GW Pharmaceuticals has two drugs using isolated purified CBD in it. Therefore, we’ve got several strikes against putting CBD on the front panel, calling it a dietary supplement, and I say, why bother? Because the story is much bigger than CBD, both clinically, scientifically and legally.”

Hemp oil is a food that happens to have CBD in it. But while CBD may not be legally advertised on the label, CBD-containing hemp products can be labeled as having phytocannabinoids — the class of compounds to which CBD belongs. While CBD has gained the most attention, CBD alone cannot fully support your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). You need the other phytocannabinoids and terpenes, which are very complementary to the phytocannabinoids, as well.

“Those of us in botanical medicine understand that the sum of all the parts of the plant is greater than any one single ingredient,”Germano says. “Let’s face it. There’s more than one ginsenoside in ginseng. There’s more than one curcuminoid in curcumin. There’s more than one isobutylamide in Echinacea. There’s more than one ginkgolide in ginkgo.

Well, there’s more than just one phytocannabinoid in hemp. Back in 2011, Dr. Ethan Russo in the British Journal of Pharmacology1 … wrote about the entourage effect of all the phytocannabinoids and terpenes needing to be present to give rise to full clinical, meaningful benefit …

While CBD may be the most dominant phytocannabinoid in hemp, the others are there in minor in number, but they are not minor in the body as they all participate in nourishing, supporting the ECS, which is the bigger story.”

Understanding Your ECS

While the discovery of the ECS is fairly recent, genetically it dates back over 600 million years.2Cannabinoid receptors in the human body were discovered in the 1990s, which in turn led to the realization that we make compounds in our body — endogenous cannabinoids — that influence these receptors.

It was also discovered that the ECS orchestrates communication between other bodily systems, such as your respiratory, digestive, immune and cardiovascular systems. The ECS does this via receptors found in every organ, including your skin.

“Your ECS is like the conductor of the orchestra. The orchestra are our organ systems. We cannot be healthy, we cannot be well if our ECS does not function well,” Germano says.

“Your body produces cannabinoids similar structurally to the cannabinoids found in cannabis. Your body feeds off of them. If you don’t produce enough to feed every single receptor, various conditions and various illnesses will ensue.”

Two Types of Endocannabinoid Receptors Have Been Identified

There are two primary ECS receptors: cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2). While CB1 is typically thought of as being primarily in the brain and CB2 primarily in the immune system, both types of receptors are in fact found throughout your body.

One of the two cannabinoids your body produces is called anandamide — a nod to the word “ananda,” the Sanskrit word for “bliss,” as it attaches to the same CB1 receptors that THC attaches to. The other, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), is found throughout your body.

“The ECS has been the subject of many scholarly textbooks … Quite frankly, this is something that should be taught from high school to college to medical school. Unfortunately, because of the stigma attached to cannabinoids … less than 13 percent [of medical schools in the U.S.] are teaching the ECS.

I say, ‘Are you insane? This is like saying that for the next 70 years we will not teach the cardiovascular system, as if it never existed.’ We now have to dismantle this medical travesty … The whole thing is about education. This is critical and crucial to our health and well-being.

We have to dismantle the stigma, and we have to start educating ourselves to understand that the ECS is probably one of the most important medical discoveries in quite some time. Understanding the enormity of this system and what it does and what it influences throughout the entire human body.”

Low Endocannabinoid Levels Result in Ill Health

With age, our bodies tend to become less efficient in creating the compounds needed for optimal health, and this holds true for anandamide and 2-AG as well. According to Germano, these two cannabinoids can actually be used as biological markers for certain illnesses and conditions.

Endocannabinoid deficiency has been identified in people who have migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory and neurological conditions and a variety of treatment-resistant conditions. Germano also cites a paper3 in Translational Psychiatry, which found low anandamide levels are a statistically positive indicator for stress-induced anxiety.

They’ve also discovered there’s an intimate relationship between your ECS and your omega-3 status.4As it turns out, omega-3 fats make your cannabinoid receptors more active, and are used as backbone structures to produce cannabinoids in your body.

What do we see in people who have low omega-3 status? We see the same things we see in people who are endocannabinoid deficient: pain, inflammation, stress, anxiety, depression and so on. It is a perfect marriage between omega-3s and phytocannabinoids, which act like a multivitamin for the ECS.

But it doesn’t stop there. Look at bones … the reason we give post-menopausal women estrogen is because it influences the cells that build up bone, osteoblasts, and the cells that break down bone, osteoclasts. What does this have to do with the ECS?

We now know that if you stimulate the CB1 receptors, you start to stimulate the brain-to-bone communication by slowing down the brain from releasing bone-breaking compounds, like norepinephrine. Then when you stimulate the CB2 receptors, it increases osteoblasts, the bone makers, and decreases osteoclasts, the bone breakers.”

Top conditions associated with low cannabinoid levels include:
  • Pain, inflammation and inflammatory conditions
  • Stress, anxiety and insomnia
  • Ocular health
  • Bone health
  • Neurological conditions

“These are all conditions that can be suitably treated with phytocannabinoids,” Germano says. “These are conditions that we see in people who are endocannabinoid-deficient.”

Running Dramatically Boosts Anandamide Level

While runner’s high is typically attributed to the release of endorphins, running also dramatically increases anandamide in the body, and anandamide not only targets the CB1 receptor, but it also influences opioid and endorphin receptors. Not surprisingly then, the higher an individual’s anandamide level, the better they report feeling.

“That makes sense, because anandamide hits the receptors in the brain that are involved in reward and mood,” Germano says. “We also understand that the cannabinoids we produce are quite promiscuous.

They certainly touch the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but they [affect] other receptors as well, [such as] the 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT3) receptors, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR), gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, and receptors that control inflammation, pain, reward, anxiety and things of that nature.”

A paper5 published in PLOS ONE also details how various nutrients (such as omega-3 fats), drugs, exercise, chiropractic care, massage and acupuncture influence the function of your ECS.

Your Endocannabinoid System — A Key Player in Inflammation

Curcumin, boswellia, fish oil and quercetin are all well-recognized anti-inflammatory nutrients, but none can compare to what cannabinoids can do, Germano says, especially when the full spectrum is used.

As noted in a 2014 paper6 in Current Opinions in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, the ECS is an emerging key player in inflammation, because it’s intertwined with all of the inflammatory pathways, including the eicosanoid ones that omega-3 fish oils influence.

Germano also cites other research showing that targeting the ECS can ease both inflammatory and neuropathic pain, and describe how cannabinoids act as analgesics. According to Germano:

“You cannot contend with any inflammatory condition unless you’re supporting the ECS. They can be used interchangeably; phytocannabinoids along with curcumin and boswellia and fish oils would be remarkable, as they are complementary to each other by doing different things.

Again, we must address the ECS in any inflammatory condition, whether it be irritable bowel syndrome or injuries — even inflammation in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of all neurological diseases. In 2003, the United States government got issued a patent on the neuroprotective effects of cannabinoids.

At that time, while the government has been telling us that phytocannabinoids are like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and heroin — [meaning they] have no medical value — they go out and get a patent on the medical value.

But that was followed up, and there are many papers that talk all about the anti-inflammatory effects in the brain and in the nervous system, of these cannabinoids … There is nothing else like supporting the ECS with phytocannabinoids.”

Your Endocannabinoid System Also Plays a Key Role in Your Gut Health

You’re probably familiar with the fact that there’s a strong connection between not only your brain and your gut, but also your immune system. The importance of this triad in health and disease prevention cannot be overstated. Your gut not only is your largest immune organ, it’s also your second brain, containing hundreds of millions of neurons.

“We now understand how the gut is involved with communicating with the brain and the immune system, because it has brain cells and immune cells in it,” Germano says. In the middle of this trio is your ECS. It is actually the orchestrator of this tri-directional communication. According to Germano, researchers have also discovered the ECS controls:

  • Motility in the gut
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Gut permeability
  • Tolerance to antigens

The ECS also reduces the activity of the stress pathways, including the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) pathways. Anandamide, specifically, participates in the immunological response in the gut. What’s more, there’s also communication occurring between your endocannabinoid system and your gut microbiome (the bacteria in your gut).

Clinical Applications for Hemp Products

Again, a full-spectrum oil is actually far preferable to product in which CBD has been isolated. Germano cites a 2015 Israeli paper, which compared full-spectrum oil against isolated CBD, and found the full-spectrum oil was in fact clinically superior.

As for dosing, most of the literature demonstrates efficacy of CBD in the several hundred milligram range — but that is for “single magic bullet” isolated CBD. Preclinical studies and any clinicians are reporting that efficacy can be achieved with much lower doses when using a ful spectrum oil — some in the 10 to 25mg CBD range.

“Since CBD is the most dominant cannabinoid in hemp, when you extract oil from hemp, you do have much, much higher levels of CBD naturally in the oil as compared to the rest of the phytocannabinoid family. Providing 10 to 25 mg of CBD is the sweet spot for most conditions in the trade — especially when used with other synergistic ingredients …

People are responding quite remarkably, which [suggests] you don’t need a lot to jump-start the body’s ECS. Quite frankly, when we look at the bell-shaped curve with the isolates, the higher the dose, sometimes you decrease the effectiveness … When you use a full-spectrum oil and you’re getting the other important phytocannabinoid and terpene components, this is superior, and I’ll tell you why.

People have been focusing on CBD, which is the wrong message. It’s the myopic message. Think about it, CBD does not attach to the CB1 or CB2 receptors. If anything, CBD supports the CB1 receptors by preventing the breakdown of anandamide in our bodies and anandamide hits the CB1 receptor.

What about the CB2 receptor that controls inflammatory cycling, pain signaling, insulin sensitivity and bone building? CBD does nothing for that, so we need something of a CB2 agonist. A perfect partner to CBD would be another phytocannabinoid called beta caryophyllene. Luckily, the family of other phytocannabinoids in a full-spectrum oil contains other phytocannabinoids that complement to what CBD is not doing as well.

We must get off this single magic bullet bandwagon. We must appreciate the full gamut of all these phytocannabinoids as a whole, and that they complement each other, because CBD is not the answer to support the ECS as a whole.”

As with most things, too much can backfire. While CBD cannot kill you, using CBD isolate in too high amounts can reduce its effectiveness. Such problems are far less likely when using a full-spectrum oil.

“I don’t foresee anybody really overdosing on the standard dosages that we’re recommending,” Germano says. “Nor when we look at the data that’s been published, up to 1,500 mg of CBD chronically administered over time show that it was well-tolerated, minimal to no adverse reactions on physiological function, psychological functioning and other parameters in the body, including blood pressure. So, CBD is quite well-tolerated in humans.”

Hemp Oil for Sleep

Aside from inflammation and pain, another area where a full-spectrum hemp oil can be beneficial is to improve sleep and treat insomnia. Germano recommends using a full-spectrum oil in a dose that provides 25 mg of CBD.

“CBD at that range does a number of things. No. 1, it reduces excitability in the brain. It can reduce glutamate toxicity and any excitatory conditioning. Secondly, CBD is involved in various neurotransmitters that are involved with a normal sleep cycle.

While it has a calming effect and helps to establish a normal sleep cycle, it’s not necessarily a sedative. You can use it with melatonin. You can use it with lavender. You can use it with chamomile and passionflower, what have you. I would do that towards the latter part of the day, at least an hour or two before bedtime. Lower doses of CBD are more stimulating, so to speak, and more upregulating.”

How the New Law Can Improve Quality of Hemp Products

In the past, prior to the signing of the new Farm Bill, the leaf, flower and bud of the hemp plant could not be used in the production of CBD-rich hemp oil. The oil had to be pulled from the stalk and stem of the plant only — the less concentrated part. With the new law, all parts of the plant can be used, which will make processing easier and more economical, as the cannabinoids are more concentrated in the leaves, flowers and buds.

The law also makes it legal to grow hemp in in every state, so if you wanted to, you could grow it in your backyard. This is something I’m definitely considering, as you can easily juice the whole plant or add it to smoothies.

“Growing it for yourself would be wonderful,” Germano says. “It is a weed. It has a short period of harvest. It grows very rapidly — July, August and September. Yes, the whole plant can be used rather than just extracting the oils from it. All the phytocannabinoids and lipids are found in the oils, but the leaf can be juiced and put into smoothies as well …

In terms of growing and processing it, it’s a rather easy plant to grow, because it is a weed. When we talk about the raw plant, a lot of these cannabinoids are in their acidic form. CBD is in CBDA, cannabidiol acid, form. To convert it to its useable form, the acid has to be decarboxylated.

So, while you may benefit from a lot of the phytocannabinoids [in the raw plant], it’s going to be reliant on your body’s ability to process it from the acidic forms that are in there. Exposure to heat, light, moisture and air will decarboxylate a lot of them as well. The more you process it yourself, the more useable some of those phytocannabinoids will be.

[To process it], you can take the leaf, flower and bud. You can blend it and store it in the refrigerator. Over a day or two of exposure to heat, air, light and moisture, it’ll decarboxylate to some extent and you’ll benefit more from that. How much do you get? Appreciable amounts of CBD may be difficult with just juicing alone …

I don’t want to misquote myself and say the wrong thing, but probably an ounce or two [of raw plant] would do the trick as a healthy plant beverage. Again, you don’t need a lot to jump-start your body’s ECS. It’s not a numbers game. Small doses, you would definitely respond to.”

How to Identify a High-Quality Hemp Product

If you’re not growing your own, attributes to look for when shopping for a hemp product include:

Organic Kosher-certified
Non-GMO Verified pesticide and herbicide free
Full-spectrum phytocannabinoids Grown from certified seeds and not hybrids with marijuana

“I look for companies that are doing the right thing also. That is, they don’t mention CBD on the front panel or quantify it in the Supplement Fact box. Responsible companies talk about phytocannabinoids,” Germano says.

They talk about hemp oil. They talk about nourishing the endocannabinoid system. This is a superior story to just CBD. Those are the more reputable companies that are telling the right story, [and not just talking about] isolated CBD.”

More Information About Endocannabinoid System

Germano has written a book about the endocannabinoid system called, “Road to Ananda: The Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System, Phytocannabinoids and Hemp,” (www.roadtoananda.com) which is due out shortly. I am very proud to have written the forward to this book as it is a great resource. Definitely pick up a copy if you want to learn more about this fascinating topic.

“I’m ecstatic to announce that the person who wrote the introduction to the book is Raphael Mechoulam, the father of cannabinoid research and who was involved in the discovery of the endocannabinoid system.

He is well-known in the scholarly circles. There are certainly plenty of scholarly work out there, but we need to get this message, this story, which is enormous, out to the layman and practitioner out there who is really unaware still,” Germano says.

“I’ve been in this industry for over 35 years. I’m a clinical nutritionist by trade. I have not seen any natural compounds this clinically relevant since the inception of this industry. I can tell you that targeting the endocannabinoid system, supporting it, will dominate medicine and nutrition of the next couple of decades.

There are also topical applications for phytocannabinoids, because, again, our skin is one of our largest organs. It also has five to 10 times more cannabinoids in it than we have in our brain. The CB1 and CB2 receptors are there as well.

There are three targeted areas for topical applications. One, obviously, is pain and inflammation, because the CB2 receptors are there that control that. That is something that will blow away any of these compounds in the marketplace today for topical pain relief.

Then we know that certain cannabinoids strangle the sebaceous gland for acne. Certain cannabinoids also influence age spot development and antiaging. [There are] some very interesting things going on in the topical application area.

When we look at the global picture of what is the subcutaneous endocannabinoid system doing, it’s helping to maintain normal cell proliferation, differentiation and immune competence. Oncologists are going to be interested in that aspect.”

_________________

**Comment**

If you are a Lyme/MSIDS patient you should see yourself ALL over this article.  We struggle with pain, inflammation, gut issues (motility, permeability, antigen tolerance, pain/inflammation), neurological issues, & insomnia.  Many experience ocular & bone issues as well.  It will be interesting to observe the topical applications of this since so many have pain.

It’s quite amazing that our government has gotten away with pigeon-holing this wonderful plant into the same category as heroin and marijuana for decades.  Hopefully, we will see pricing begin to fall as currently, cost is high.

The article, and indeed everything I’ve read, stresses that full-spectrum CBD is crucial.

For more:  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2019/02/09/webinar-cbd-craze-health-or-hype/

My entire family has found CBD oil to help with both sleep and pain.  I give the brand we’ve had success with here:  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2019/01/16/ldn-cbd/  (I am not affiliated with ANY companies).  It is potent.  The company has other strengths as well.

Non-specific Symptoms in Adult Patients Referred to a Lyme Centre

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/30287411/

Non-specific symptoms in adult patients referred to a Lyme centre.

Zomer TP, et al. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2018.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: There is controversy whether non-specific symptoms can be related to previous Lyme borreliosis (LB). Positive serology can be considered a proxy for a previous or persistent infection with LB. We assessed non-specific symptoms and serology in patients suspected of LB referred to a Lyme centre.

METHODS: Included were adult patients who visited a Lyme centre between 2008 and 2014. Before medical consultation, serum samples were taken and questionnaires on non-specific symptoms completed. The prevalence of non-specific symptoms was calculated for patients with positive and negative IgG serology. Logistic regression was used to obtain odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence interval (CI) for an association between positive serology and non-specific symptoms.

RESULTS: Of 1439 included patients, 31.6% (455/1439) had positive serology. The most common non-specific symptoms were severe fatigue (61.4%, 883/1439), sleep disturbances (54.8%, 789/1439), and stiffness of neck/back (52.6%, 757/1439). The prevalence of severe fatigue was 53.0% (241/455) in patients with positive serology versus 65.2% (642/984) in patients with negative serology (OR 0.74; 95% CI 0.58-0.94). The prevalence of sleep disturbances was respectively 46.2% (210/455) versus 58.8% (579/984) (OR 0.73; 95% CI 0.58-0.93). The prevalence of stiffness of neck/back was respectively 47.7% (217/455) versus 54.9% (540/984) (OR 0.85; 95% CI 0.67-1.06).

CONCLUSIONS: In patients referred to a Lyme centre, non-specific symptoms did not occur more frequently in patients with positive serology compared to patients with negative serology. Hence, a questionnaire on non-specific symptoms cannot be used for identifying patients with possible “post-Lyme borreliosis symptoms” in clinical practice.

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**Comment**

I find it increasingly baffling how “positive serology” on a test that misses over half of all Lyme cases and is commonly known as being notoriously abysmal is still being used for research purposes.  Move on people!  This test is worthless!  

I feel sorry for the sad-suckers who didn’t get a positive.  They were sent home empty-handed to continue suffering in silence.  Notice that MORE of the people testing negative had a considerably higher preponderance of symptoms…..

The sickest patients sometimes NEVER test positive.  

Also, notice the symptoms….severe fatigue, sleep disturbances, and stiff back/neck.  Those are notorious Lyme symptoms!  In fact it screams Lyme (particularly the back/neck issue).  

How about they treat these people clinically for Lyme and then retest?  By giving a provoking agent, it would be interesting to see how many of these sero-negatives turn into positives.

I guess someone would have to use their God-given brain to do that….and we wouldn’t want to have to do that now would we?

 

THC vs. CBD for Pain: The Differences & Interactions

http://nationalpainreport.com/thc-vs-cbd-for-pain-the-differences-and-interactions-by-winston-peki-8837164.html

THC vs. CBD for Pain: The Differences and Interactions

 

As a natural pain-relief drug, some experts consider cannabis more suitable for your body than the synthetic pharmaceuticals available.

The reasoning behind this is that the body can metabolize natural chemicals better than synthetic ones the same way it can digest natural foods better than processed ones.

Synthetic drugs, as with processed food, can create by-products, which remain as harmful toxins in the body, causing strain on the liver and kidneys. Some (medical) strains of cannabis also provide many health benefits, such as anti-oxidant, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, pain-suppression, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Not only studies, but many users strongly support the pain-relieving properties of medical marijuana in anecdotal reports. Different types of strains, however, suit different pain conditions, so before diving into medical marijuana use, it’s important to understand the differences.

Let’s look at the difference between the strains of marijuana available, and what their effects are. With the information below, you can hopefully make an informed choice about whether it’s better to use a high-THC or high-CBD strain for your pain relief.

A Brief Overview of THC and CBD

Cannabinoids are the active ingredients specific to the cannabis plant, and they are the compounds primarily responsible for the healing effects. The two most effective and studied cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

There have been 70 cannabinoids identified to date, and there are several others currently being studied, such as cannabigerol (CBG) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).

They are not the only active ingredients, however, and some estimates predict a figure of over 120 active components in the plant. This richness in active compounds is one of the reasons experts consider it useful for treating several ailments.

It is worth noting that THC and CBD also only convert to an effective pain-relieving agent under heat, which is why smoking, vaporizing, or baking it is important.

Most cannabis oils and extracts, designed for direct consumption, haven’t undergone heat treatment. Without heat before ingestion, their effects may not manifest.

The Difference Between THC and CBD

Both THC and CBD contribute to the positive effects associated with marijuana. However, experts only link THC to the strong psychoactive effect known as getting high. This is one of the primary differences between the two components.

The Predominant Effects of High-THC Strains

THC is the primary psychotropic component in marijuana, that is the component responsible for an altered state of mood and perception. This effect makes THC attractive to recreational users.

But THC also contains strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, so it has shown some success in the treatment of pain caused by inflammation, such as arthritis, and cancer.

THC relaxes the nervous system, which helps in spasm-related pain, such as multiple sclerosis. The altered mental state caused by THC can contribute to relieving severe pain in some cases in the same way medicine uses opiates to treat pain.

The Predominant Effects of High-CBD Strains

CBD has received recognition for its anti-carcinogenic qualities. Alongside the lack of feeling “high,” CBD has shown positive anti-inflammatory and pain relief effects. Clinical trials have proven links to suppressing pain receptors from some of the chemical reactions caused by CBD.

CBD has powerful anti-oxidant properties, which also help to support the immune system. Although not considered psychoactive, it can help with the depression, and anxiety sometimes a side-effect of chronic pain.

Cannabidiol Oil and Medical Supplements

Natural cannabis oil supplements are available in capsule and spray forms, as well as oils, which patients can smoke or consume orally. Patients should not confuse medical supplements with the synthetic pharmaceutical varieties, which mimic the effect of cannabis but are not natural. Medical supplements can be pure THC, pure CBD or, so called ‘full-spectrum products’ like CBD oil, which contain ALL the beneficial compounds found in the hemp plant.

The Effects of THC versus CBD in Pain Relief

More clinical trials have linked CBD to positive results for pain relief than THC.

For example:

Chronic Pain. A 2017 report concluded that there was substantial evidence that hih-CBD cannabis-based products are effective for treating chronic pain. Another, separate study published in 2012 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, suggests that CBD use can lessen both pain and inflammation.

Digestive Pain. CBD has proven it also can help immensely as a digestive aid and digestive pain as well. Researchers have found evidence, as suggested in Cannabinoids for treating inflammatory bowel diseases: where are we and where do we go? that the endocannabinoid system, digestion and CBD have all sorts of interactions. While research involving CBD to treat digestive issues is still in its early beginnings, the experts believe it has the potential to help with all sorts of digestive issues which often come with pain.

Arthritis Pain. Arthritis, which literally means inflammation of the joints, is another condition that CBD oil may be very effective for. Research published in 2016 in the European Journal of Pain found a dramatic reduction in inflammation and signs of pain, without adverse side effects in rats with arthritis after the animals were given a topical gel that contained CBD for four days.

While some studies have shown positive effects of THC on pain relief, particularly for cancer-related pain, the side effects, like altered mental states, make it a less preferred cannabinoid to CBD. Although THC is more effective in muscle-spasm-related pain.

Interactions Between THC and CBD

When looking to reduce your pain, you don’t have to make a choice between THC and CBD. In fact, it could be wise to combine the two. Researchers have found that cannabis really is a synergistic shotgun in the sense that all the compounds in the cannabis plant interact with each other.

Although the exact mechanisms for these interactions remain unclear, the most effective cannabis-based pain treatments have been found to contain a combination of both THC and CBD. So, if your laws and regulations allow, go for a cannabis-based product which contains both compounds in good amounts. Just realize that THC can produce altered mental states, which can be dangerous while doing things that require proper hand-eye coordination like driving.

Choosing a Strain

There are a large range of chemical compositions within the high-THC and high-CBD varieties of cannabis. These can produce different medical effects.

To complicate the matter, the same product can have vastly different results in different people.

When looking for a natural herbal form of cannabis, the sativa strain (cannabis sativa) generally has a higher amount of CBD, whereas the indica strain (cannabis indica) contains more THC. However, due to crossbreeding this is not always reliable. Anecdotal evidence suggests that sativa is more energizing whereas indica is more of a relaxant. This observation may explain some differences that are not specific to the THC or CBD content and why many people prefer indica for pain relief. If you want therapeutic amounts of CBD, always go for a high-CBD strain, this can either be Sativa or Indica.

Conclusion

In medical use for pain relief, doctors prefer the CBD varieties of cannabis extract over THC, primarily due to their lack of side effects. Supplements combining CBD and THC, such as Sativix, have shown the best results in adults in clinical trials. Although experts prefer CBD because it has no side-effects, combining both CBD and THC might be the most effective way to treat pain.

Medical marijuana has fewer risks than other pain-relief medications such as codeine. It also offers more benefit while providing similar pain-relief effects. Since the reactions are incredibly variable and risks of any adverse effect are very low, it is best to discuss options for your pain management with a medical professional and begin with a small dose as a trial. Select the most suitable option for your needs, and let the results quickly manifest themselves.

Winston Peki is a marijuana enthusiast and vaporizer expert. Born and raised in Amsterdam He is the Founder of Herbonaut, an informative vaporizer and cannabis-based products site where you can find vaporizer reviews, CBD oil reviews and more.

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More on CBD derived from marijuana:  

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/06/14/caffeine-more-dangerous-than-cannabis/

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2015/05/19/marijuana-the-miracle-herb/