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Written by Marie Ellis

The health detriments of cigarette smoking are, by now, very well known to the general public. But what about hookah smoking? Though some people believe the myth that because hookahs employ a water bowl, it makes them safer by drawing the smoke through the water, a new study unveils some shocking discoveries about just how harmful hookah smoking is.

Just one hookah session delivers 10 times the carbon monoxide of a single cigarette, prompting researchers to caution that hookah smokers are exposed to more toxicants than they likely realize.
Hookahs are water pipes from which people can smoke specially made tobacco with flavors, including apple, mint, cherry, chocolate and watermelon.

Use of the hookah – also known as narghile, argileh, shisha, hubble-bubble and goza – began centuries ago in Persia and India. It is typically used in groups, and users share the same mouthpiece as it is passed around.

Hookah cafes around the world are becoming more and more popular, with locations springing up in countries including the UK, France, the US and Russia.

Although cigarette smoking rates are beginning to fall, researchers from this latest study – published in the journal Public Health Reports – note that more people are using hookahs to smoke tobacco.

However, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers say their study shows that such smokers are taking in a large load of toxins.

Hookah delivers 10 times carbon monoxide of single cigarette
To conduct their research, the team conducted a meta-analysis, which is a mathematical summary of previously published data. The benefit of a meta-analysis is that it produces more precise estimates based on available data.

Dr. Smita Nayak, study coauthor and research scientist, says that individual studies “have reported different estimates for inhaled toxicants from cigarettes or hookahs, which made it hard to know exactly what to report to policy makers or in educational materials.”

Fast facts about hookahs
Hookahs are water pipes used to smoke specially made tobacco
They have been used for centuries, likely originating in Persia and India
Hookah smoking carries many of the same risks as cigarette smoking.

In total, the researchers reviewed 542 scientific articles that were relevant to cigarette and hookah smoking. From this, they narrowed the articles down to 17 studies with enough data to make reliable estimates on toxicants inhaled from cigarettes or hookahs.

Their research revealed that one hookah session delivers about 125 times the smoke, 25 times the tar, 2.5 times the nicotine and 10 times the carbon monoxide of a single cigarette.

Lead study author Dr. Brian A. Primack says their findings demonstrate the dangers that hookah smoking present, and he cautions that “it should be monitored more closely than it is currently.”

“For example,” he adds, “hookah smoking was not included in the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey System questionnaire, which assesses cigarette smoking, chewing tobacco, electronic cigarettes and many other forms of substance abuse.”

The issue of teen hookah smoking is currently being addressed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They recently reported that – for the first time – past 30-day use of hookah was higher than past 30-day use of cigarettes among high school students in the US.

Because about one third of US college students have smoked tobacco for the first time from a hookah, there are concerns that the device could be a gateway to regular tobacco use.

‘Hookah smokers exposed to a lot more toxicants than they realize’
The researchers acknowledge that comparing a single hookah smoking session to smoking a single cigarette is problematic, due to smoking pattern differences.

For example, a regular cigarette smoker may smoke 20 cigarettes each day, while a regular hookah smoker may only use a hookah a few times each day.

“It’s not a perfect comparison because people smoke cigarettes and hookahs in very different ways,” says Dr. Primack. He explains that the reason they had to carry out their analysis in this way is that it is how underlying studies report their findings.

He adds:

“So, the estimates we found cannot tell us exactly what is ‘worse.’ But what they do suggest is that hookah smokers are exposed to a lot more toxicants than they probably realize. After we have more fine-grained data about usage frequencies and patterns, we will be able to combine those data with these findings and get a better sense of relative overall toxicant load.”

According to the CDC, hookah smokers may be at risk for some of the same diseases smokers face, including oral cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, reduced lung function and reduced fertility.

In 2015, Medical News Today reported that almost 20% of high school seniors report using hookahs.

Written by Marie Ellis

A research carried out with participation of the University of Granada (UGR) proves that suffering repeated traumatic experiences throughout infancy and adolescence multiplies by 7 the risk of suffering psychosis during adulthood.

Additionally, having been a heavy cannabis user (that is, smoking five times a week or more) during infancy or adolescence multiplies said risk by 6. This possibility rises a 30% for each point gained in a personality trait called neuroticism or emotional instability (emotional instability and insecurity, high level of anxiety, constant state of worry and stress, etc.).

These three associations are independent of each other and of genre, age, or the patient’s extroversion (another personality trait included in the so called Eysenck Personality Test, which the researchers used in their research).

By Rick Nauert PhD

New research suggests the practice of using benzodiazepines to treat psychiatric conditions should be abandoned as evidence suggests the drugs heighten the risk for dementia and death.

Benzodiazepines include branded prescription drugs like Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, and Xanax. This class of drug received FDA approval in the 1960s and was believed to be a safer alternative to barbiturates.

Despite new psychiatric protocols, some physicians continue to prescribe benzodiazepines as a primary treatment for insomnia, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and other ailments.

“Current research is extremely clear and physicians need to partner with their patients to move them into therapies, like antidepressants, that are proven to be safer and more effective,” said Helene Alphonso, DO, a board-certified psychiatrist and Director of Osteopathic Medical Education at North Texas University Health Science Center.

“Due to a shortage of mental health professionals in rural and underserved areas, we see primary care physicians using this class of drugs to give relief to their patients with psychiatric symptoms. While compassionate, it’s important to understand that a better long-term strategy is needed.”

Alphonso will review current treatment protocols, outpatient benzodiazepine detox strategies, and alternative anxiety treatments at OMED 15, to be held October 17-21 in Orlando. OMED is the annual medical education conference of the American Osteopathic Association.

A Canadian review of 9,000 patients found those who had taken a benzodiazepine for three months or less had about the same dementia risk as those who had never taken one. Taking the drug for three to six months raised the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 32 percent, and taking it for more than six months boosted the risk by 84 percent. Similar results were found by French researchers studying more than 1,000 elderly patients.

Experts say the case for limiting the use of benzodiazepines is particularly compelling for patients 65 and older, who are more susceptible to falls, injuries, accidental overdose, and death when taking the drugs. The American Geriatric Society in 2012 labeled the drugs “inappropriate” for treating insomnia, agitation, or delirium because of those risks.

“It’s imperative to transition older patients because we’re seeing a very strong correlation between use of benzodiazepines and development of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. While correlation certainly isn’t causation, there’s ample reason to avoid this class of drugs as a first-line therapy,” Alphonso said.

Source: American Osteopathic Association/EurekAlert

Jan 27

Nerve Stimulation May Relieve Chronic PTSD Symptoms


By Rick Nauert PhD
A new University of California (UCLA) study may have found an answer for people with symptoms of PTSD that persist for years or even decades.

Researchers followed 12 individuals with persistent symptoms after an initial trauma that occurred, on average, 30 years ago. Participants reported problems with depression, anxiety, hypervigilant behavior, difficult sleeping, and a high incidence of nightmares.

The participants — survivors of rape, car accidents, domestic abuse, and other traumas — found significant relief from an unobtrusive patch on the forehead that provided mild electrical stimulation while they slept.

Electrodes are placed so as to stimulate the trigeminal nerve.

“We’re talking about patients for whom illness had almost become a way of life,” said Dr. Andrew Leuchter, the study’s senior author, a UCLA professor of psychiatry and director of the neuromodulation division at UCLA.

“Yet they were coming in and saying, ‘For the first time in years I slept through the night,’ or ‘My nightmares are gone.’ The effect was extraordinarily powerful.”

The research, which has been presented at three scholarly conferences and published in the journal Neuromodulation: Technology at the Neural Interface, revealed the first evidence that trigeminal nerve stimulation, or TNS, holds promise for treating chronic PTSD.

“Most patients with PTSD do get some benefit from existing treatments, but the great majority still have symptoms and suffer for years from those symptoms,” said Leuchter, who is also a staff psychiatrist at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

“This could be a breakthrough for patients who have not been helped adequately by existing treatments.”

Based on the study, which was conducted primarily with civilian volunteers, the scientists are recruiting military veterans, who are at an even greater risk for PTSD, for the next phase of their research.

TNS is a new form of neuromodulation, a class of treatment in which external energy sources are used to make subtle adjustments to the brain’s electrical wiring — sometimes with devices that are implanted in the body, but increasingly with external devices.

The approach is gaining popularity for treating drug-resistant neurological and psychiatric disorders. TNS harnesses current from a 9-volt battery to power a patch that is placed on the user’s forehead.

While the person sleeps, the patch sends a low-level current to cranial nerves that run through the forehead, sending signals to parts of the brain that help regulate mood, behavior, and cognition, including the amygdala and media prefrontal cortex, as well as the autonomic nervous system.

Prior research has shown abnormal activity in those areas of the brains of PTSD sufferers.

“The chance to have an impact on debilitating diseases with this elegant and simple technology is very satisfying,” said Dr. Ian Cook, the study’s lead author.

PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of the U.S. population but a much higher proportion of military veterans. An estimated 17 percent of active military personnel experience symptoms, and some 30 percent of veterans returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan have had symptoms.

Sufferers often have difficulty working with others, raising children, and maintaining healthy relationships. Many try to avoid situations that could trigger flashbacks, which makes them reluctant to socialize or venture from their homes, leaving them isolated.

People with the disorder are six times more likely than their healthy counterparts to commit suicide, and they have an increased risk for marital difficulties and dropping out of school.

For the recently completed study, the researchers recruited people with chronic PTSD and severe depression who were already being treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. While continuing their conventional treatment, the volunteers wore the patch while they slept, for eight hours a night.

Before and after the eight-week study, the study subjects completed questionnaires about the severity of their symptoms and the extent to which the disorders affected their work, parenting and socializing.

The severity of participants’ PTSD symptoms dropped by an average of more than 30 percent, and the severity of their depression dropped by an average of more than 50 percent, the study reports.

Researchers discovered that for 25 percent of the participants, their PTSD symptoms went into remission. In addition, study subjects generally said they felt more able to participate in their daily activities.

Future research will focus on a larger population of veterans who have served in the military since 9/11. For this study, half will receive real treatment and half will be given a fake TNS patch, in the way a placebo pill would be used in a drug trial. At the end of the study, subjects who were using the fake patch will have the option of undergoing treatment with an actual TNS system.

TNS treatment has been shown to be effective in treating drug-resistant epilepsy and treatment-resistant depression.

“PTSD is one of the invisible wounds of war,” Cook said. “The scars are inside but they can be just as debilitating as visible scars. So it’s tremendous to be working on a contribution that could improve the lives of so many brave and courageous people who have made sacrifices for the good of our country.”

Jan 26

How to Handle Controlling People


By Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC
Can controlling people be successfully managed? It depends on the type of behavior and the willingness to try several tactics. A controller can be a friend, neighbor, boss, co-worker, spouse, or parent. Here are several ways to effectively deal with them.

Identify the type of controlling behavior. There are many ways a person can be unscrupulous. They can tell lies about the victim’s family members or friends in an attempt to create a dependency on their opinion. They can embarrass, humiliate, or shame to make the victim feel small. Or they can deliberately set up scenarios where the victim explodes so the controller can justify their domineering behavior.
Don’t believe the lie. Controlling behavior is not about the victim, it is about them. They are the broken ones who feel the need to manipulate. A domineering person insists that the reason for their cunning behavior is because of the victim’s attitude, actions, tone, or body language. This is a lie. There are many ways to confront a person in a healthy manner without the use of serpentine behavior.
Recognize the triggers and patterns. A controller often uses the same pattern of dysfunctional behavior over and over again in a variety of environments. It is far easier for them to repeat familiar offenses than it is to discover and test out new ones. Once recognized, this becomes an easy way to identify the possible triggers. Knowing the spark, allows time to either plan an appropriate response or an escape route.
Carefully choose a response. Do not directly answer a control tactic. This is precisely what the controller wants and most likely they have planned out responses to whatever is stated. Their goal is to incite the victim to a defensive subordinate position so they can overshadow. Instead, choose from one of these responses.
Ignore and walk away. When the controller seeks out secret information about the victim and uses it later as a tool for embarrassment, this is a good moment to ignore and walk away. Indulging their historical revisionism will only increase the humiliation as the victim responds defensively. Stepping aside politely and quietly will highlight the dysfunctional behavior for anyone else who might be around.
Distract or change the subject. When hour long explanations are given for simple issues in an effort to wear the victim out, distraction is the best method. Usually the controller has an almost rehearsed speech so when interrupted, they can’t easily return to where they left off.
Ask a question. When the controller fails to see shades of grey making an issue either their way or a complete opposite extreme, this is the time to ask a question. Preferably a question which reinforces the concept that there is more than two options available. Do not ask “Why” questions however or the controller is likely to become defensive and react in a verbally aggressive manner.
Apply logic to the statement. When a guilt trip is given such as “I gave birth to you therefore you have to …,” this is a great time to apply logic. Counteract the guilt with reason, never emotion. “You taught me that I don’t ‘have to’ do anything,” is an appropriate response instead. Have a couple of statements prepared ahead of time for use.
Answer the fear. When the controller is jealous of the relationship between the victim and another friend, respond to the fear of abandonment. Actually say the words, “I hear that you are fearful I will leave you for someone else.” Then only speak about that topic, refusing to divert back to the obsessive envious comment.
Try, try again until done. When one method fails to work, try another one and if needed, another after that. But at some point the relationship might have to come to an end. As the Kenny Roger’s song The Gambler goes, “Know when to walk away, know when to run.” A controller who resorts to more extreme forms of manipulative behavior is not worth the trouble of having a relationship.

Christine Hammond is the award-winning author of The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks.

Jan 3

How Cannabis Affects Bipolar Disorder


By Traci Pedersen

Cannabis use is linked to an increase in both manic and depressive symptoms in people with bipolar disorder, according to a new study by Lancaster University.

The study is the first to examine the use of cannabis in the context of daily life among people with bipolar disorder. In the U.K., where the study took place, around two percent of the population suffers from bipolar disorder, with up to 60 percent of those using cannabis at some point in their lives.

Research in this area is limited, however, and reasons for this high level of use are unclear.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Tyler of the Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research at Lancaster University led the study with Professor Steven Jones and colleagues from the University of Manchester, Professor Christine Barrowclough, Nancy Black, and Lesley-Anne Carter.

“One theory that is used to explain high levels of drug use is that people use cannabis to self-medicate their symptoms of bipolar disorder,” said Tyler.

For the study, the researchers evaluated people diagnosed with bipolar disorder who were not experiencing a depressive or manic episode during the six days the research was carried out. Each participant reported daily on their emotional state and drug use at several random points over a period of week. This enabled people to log their daily experiences in the moment before they forgot how they were feeling.

Here are a few comments from the daily reports:

“I do smoke a small amount to lift my mood and make myself slightly manic but it also lifts my mood and switches me into a different mind-set.”
“I do not use weed to manage depression as it can make it worse, making me anxious and paranoid.”
“I have found though that if I have smoked more excessively it can make me feel depressed for days afterwards.”

The researchers found that the odds of using cannabis increased when individuals were in a good mood. Cannabis use was also associated with an increase in positive mood, manic symptoms and paradoxically an increase in depressive symptoms, but not in the same individuals.

“The findings suggest that cannabis is not being used to self-medicate small changes in symptoms within the context of daily life. However, cannabis use itself may be associated with both positive and negative emotional states. We need to find out whether these relationships play out in the longer term as this may have an impact on a person’s course of bipolar disorder,” said Tyler.

The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Source: Lancaster University

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