In 1753, a Scottish surgeon by the name of James Lind proved that scurvy could be effectively cured with citrus juice. By drinking plenty of lemonade over the course of a two-week long treatment, his patients would fully recover from the fatigue, sores and bleeding typically inflicted by this malady, which was formerly thought to be caused by poor digestion and unclean water (when the real culprit was a simple deficiency in vitamin C).
Until that discovery, the debilitating and often fatal disease limited the ability of seafaring vessels to travel long distances. But after Lind’s popularization of a cure, sailors learned to effectively prevent scurvy by packing barrels of lemon juice and fresh limes for their travels. Today, the disease is so rare as to be almost unheard of, but British sailors retain the nickname limeys, which dates back to their adoption of the practice.
Meanwhile, often derided as a marketing term without scientific basis, the label “superfood” indeed has no legal definition, but according to the Macmillan Dictionary it can be applied to any food that’s “considered to be very good for your health and that may even help some medical conditions.” And so, because vitamin C is found in large quantities in citrus fruits—oranges, lemons and limes can be considered superfoods.
You are what you eat, after all, and foods like kale, sweet potatoes, blueberries and wild salmon provide essential macro- and micro-nutrients that the human body requires for health. Superfoods confer increased vitality and allow humans to fully thrive, along with preventing or treating diseases.
For example, broccoli has widely touted anti-cancer properties, while salmon provides Omega-3 fatty acids that protect your heart, and blueberries arrive packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids that prevent inflammation and can help prevent cancer and heart disease.
Now imagine that all around the world, millions of people are suffering from a modern-day version of scurvy—that is, an easily treatable condition caused by a lack of essential nutrition. Only in this case, the missing dietary element is cannabis, or more specifically cannabinoids, a set of incredibly medicinal compounds found primarily in the marijuana plant.
All humans have what’s called an endocannabinoid system, comprised of receptors that fit these cannabinoids like a lock fits a key, and this endocannabinoid system regulates many vital systems in the body—including respiratory, circulatory and neurological. Which means, if that system malfunctions and cannabinoids are not brought into the body from the outside (by smoking/vaping/eating cannabis) to return it to balance, the negative consequences can be severe, or even life-threatening.
Dr. Ethan Russo first articulated this idea of “clinical endocannabinoid deficiency” (CECD) in a 2004 scientific paper, describing a condition that contributes to high levels of cancer and degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and rheumatoid arthritis. With the research to back it up, he’s basically claiming that a lack of cannabis can be the underlying cause of these and many other potentially deadly conditions.
Now imagine that the preventative cure for all of these painful, heartbreaking outcomes could lie in the cannabis plant being widely used as a dietary supplement, much as lemons and limes ended scurvy over two hundred years ago.
After all, if CECD is caused when the body doesn’t produce enough endocannabinoids on its own, and this lack of endogenous cannabinoids can be corrected by adding cannabis from herbal sources, such a simple dietary supplement could save untold lives and relieve immeasurable suffering.
And so, much like James Lind and his studies into the effect of vitamin C on scurvy, Russo is currently pioneering research into one of the least understood, but probably most important, superfoods on the planet. One significant difference in their research? Oranges and limes aren’t a Schedule 1 narcotic that can get you thrown in jail for years.
That legal status has been a serious impediment to proper research on cannabis’s nutritional and medicinal value, but it hasn’t stopped other physicians from picking up on Russo’s lead.
An outspoken advocate for juicing raw cannabis leaves as a dietary supplement, Dr. William Courtney popularized the practice amongst growers in Northern California. Currently in the midst of setting up a juicing retreat center in the Caribbean, Courtney writes that “akin to Essential Fatty Acids and Essential Amino Acids, there needs to be Minimum Daily Requirements established to guide worldwide adoption of raw cannabis as the single most important dietary element.”
While juicing raw cannabis is not psychoactive, it does allow for much of the plant’s medicinal benefits to be absorbed by the body. However, for many patients, sourcing an adequate amount of fresh cannabis leaves for juicing purposes can be troublesome. So Courtney and a growing chorus of other activists continue to agitate for the right to use cannabis in any amount necessary, much as any other vegetable.
Because along with its botanical cousin hemp, it seems that cannabis is a superfood in its own right, conferring superb health benefits, anti-inflammatory action and the power to prevent and treat diseases, along with many relaxing and rejuvenating qualities. In this sense, we can consider cannabis as another tool in our arsenal along with blue-green algae, maca, yacon, ginseng, cacao, matcha and other health-positive superfoods that help us reach our full, vibrant, active potential.
Fortunately, while all-too-many cannabis-infused edibles manufacturers continue to flood the market with sugary sweets, an increasing number of progressive companies recognize the plant’s unique medicinal benefits and have devoted themselves to creating cannabis-infused foods that combine cannabis with other superfood ingredients for maximum healing and supreme vitality.
Heather Hoffman, co-founder and chief medical officer at Pura Vida Health, is a radiant young woman who studied holistic nutrition at the Canadian Institute of Natural Nutrition. When meeting her, it’s hard to imagine that she struggled mightily with epilepsy throughout her youth, but the condition is currently non-existent.
“Since I tried cannabis, I have not had a seizure,” Hoffman said. “It’s been five years, and I consider myself cured.”
Pura Vida creates power bars and granolas that pair ganja with other healthful ingredients, including papaya extract, oats and almonds, a blend that Hoffman believes “helps the body better utilize cannabis.” Available in over 100 California dispensaries, Pura Vida products use coconut oil, which “acts as a platform for cannabis to help the body absorb it, so people report getting higher quicker and feeling more of an impact.”
Hoffman said that while it can be tough to get healthy options on the shelves of dispensaries, if “we want cannabis to be what it truly is—a healing medicine—then we have a responsibility to actually do that,” and greater education is necessary so patients understand that nutritious cannabis-infused foods exist.
“It’s best to not give cancer patients a chocolate bar,” she explained. “Corn syrup and sugars aren’t medicine.”
When using cannabis as medicine, especially for patients fighting cancer, it’s important to remember that sugar feeds cancerous growth. Items that eschew refined sweeteners and processed ingredients in favor of combining cannabis with other nutrient-dense whole foods, additional herbs and supplements create functional edibles designed to promote specific effects like “energy boost” or “super sleep.”
It’s a viewpoint shared by Ezra Malmuth, founder of the Sababa Snacks Collective and also a graduate of the culinary nutrition program at Johnson & Wales University. While assisting a friend’s father who was suffering from stage 4 cancer, Malmuth found that a lot of the cannabis edibles he was eating “were not health conscious, had a lot of sugar and calories and didn’t taste great.” Determined to find a better way, Malmuth began combining superfood ingredients into “clusters,” small, bite-size morsels of dried fruit, nuts, spices and herbs.
“It was like an oatmeal cookie meets a granola bar,” Malmuth explained. “And it was delicious while providing the medicine that he needed.”
Sababa Snacks went on to capture a second place award for their Caramel Cashew Apricot clusters at the 2016 Nor-Cal Cannabis Cup, a win Malmuth attributes to “people who understand the value of wholesome food being attracted to this product.”
When selecting ingredients to pair with the 25 milligram dose of THC per cluster, Malmuth chose to create “an inherent offering to the body,” mixing oats and nuts to provide protein and dried fruit to provide carbohydrates, making a combination of macro-nutrients that supports the metabolic process. Favored as an athletic recovery snack, these clusters help long-distance runners “eliminate the inflammatory response to exercise,” Malmuth said, “while optimizing performance.”
Joseph Winke, founder of Jambo Superfoods, has always treated cannabis as an essential vitamin, mixing it into new versions of traditional healing foods, such as the company’s bestselling “Daily Ritual,” a unique blend of THC combined with medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and ghee from grass-fed cows. The resulting super-butter is meant to be enjoyed with morning coffee in the Bulletproof-style, or simply spread onto bread or used in cooking.
Winke champions the use of MCT oil, a type of coconut oil that is liquid at room temperature, explaining that this form of fat is especially bioavailable, so the “body is able to easily process these fats, so you get a really good uptake,” making the THC more effective.
“We use actual food that the body knows how to metabolize,” Winke explained. “Not high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring, or whey protein isolates…humans perform better when we have an abundance of cannabinoids.”
Much like how we perform better when we have vitamin C, antioxidants and essential amino acids available in our diets.
So remember, when we fight to free the cannabis plant, we’re fighting for our lives!
Samsung developing TV controlled by your BRAIN
Samsung is developing a TV system that might one day allow users to flick channels and adjust the volume using their brains.
The so-called Project Ponthius is part of a cooperation between the South Korean electronics giant and the Center of Neuroprosthetics of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.
The aim of the project is to give people with severe physical disabilities, like quadriplegia, a chance to enjoy their favorite shows without the help of others.
The company presented a prototype during its developer conference in San Francisco last week.
‘How can we provide accessibility to people who cannot move or who have extreme limitations on their movements,’ senior scientist at EPFL Ricardo Chavarriaga said during the panel.
‘We’re making tech that is more complex, that is more intelligent, but we should not forget this tech is being made to interface with humans.’
The system uses a Brain Computer Interface (BCI) to connect the viewer with the TV set.
The BCI relies on a headset covered with 64 sensors and an eye-motion tracker.
The scientists are currently taking brainwave samples to determine how the mind behaves when we have a desire to watch movies.
This could one day lead to a system that uses cues from the brainwaves to make predictions, and then eye movements to confirm.
Once selections have been made, the software will be able to build up a viewer profile and inform future suggestions, streamlining the content selection process.
Although the technology might one day help people who have been paralyzed, it is unlikely to become mainstream anytime soon.
That’s because to use the current prototype users will need to apply gel to their heads before wearing a sensor helmet, something that may be more cumbersome than spending a few minutes looking for the remote control that you lost in the sofa cushions.
Samsung and EPFL are also working on another system that will allow viewers to interact with TV sets with their brainwaves alone.
This system could be particularly useful for people who suffer from disabilities such as locked-in syndrome, the highest form of paraplegia.
Other companies are also working on BCIs that might one day allow humans to interact with machines.
They include Elon Musk’s Neuralink, which is developing ‘ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers’.
Headmaster Fired for Stealing School’s Electricity to Mine Crypto
A headmaster’s side hustle just cost him his job.
On Friday, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that Lei Hua lost his job as headmaster of a high school in China’s Hunan province because he was stealing electricity from the school — to power his cryptocurrency mining operation.
According to the SCMP report, Lei began mining the cryptocurrency ether from his home in June 2017. After he discovered how much electricity his mining computer was consuming, he decided to move it to the school. He later added another seven machines, with the school’s deputy headmaster getting in on the action with a computer of his own.
Lei got caught after teachers noticed the whirring noise of the machines. The government reportedly seized his earnings, but it’s hard to estimate how much Lei earned given the volatility of the crypto market. The school no doubt hopes it was at least enough to cover the $2,120 energy bill his computers racked up during their year of operation.
Whole World Problem
This could be read as a cautionary tale against mining crypto on the company dime. But it should also serve as a warning that the energy consumption of crypto mining is out of control globally.
These school employees would rather risk their jobs than pay the electricity bill that comes along with a mining operation — it’s that energy intensive — but other miners across the globe remain undeterred. They’re firing up their systems and collectively using enough energy to push the globe to the brink of a climate catastrophe.
And unlike Lei’s school, we can’t do anything to stop them.
READ MORE: Chinese Headmaster Fired After Stealing School’s Electricity to Mine Cryptocurrencies [South China Morning Post]
Neuroscientists Have Finally Tracked Down The Bilingual Language Switch in The Brain –
Breaking from a conversation in Spanish and turning it into a discussion in German is a two-step process that requires a degree of cognitive effort.
Until now, researchers have never been sure which part required more work: ending the first language or starting with the second. A new study reveals just what’s going on upstairs when we make a switch between languages.
“A remarkable feature of multilingual individuals is their ability to quickly and accurately switch back and forth between their different languages,” says study lead author Esti Blanco-Elorrieta from New York University.
This isn’t limited to Spanish and German, or even verbal languages. People who flip from sign languages to spoken word also appear to seamlessly blend one stream of thought into another.
But just how seamless is this process?
The anterior cingulate cortex helps us pay attention, while the pre-frontal cortex is the ‘thinking’ part of the brain, what we generally associate with decision making and other executive functions.
So it probably comes as no surprise that when we decide to switch between two languages, we might involve parts of the brain that look at what’s happening around us and evaluate outcomes before flipping the switch.
This jump in neural activity suggests the brain needs to work harder to move from one language to another. Far from a smooth transition, it’s clear there’s some hard peddling going on.
What hasn’t been clear is precisely what drives this change. Are we peddling to shut one mental language book, or open another? The two actions are virtually simultaneous, which makes them hard to tease apart.
One way to pinpoint the ultimate cause of this neural activity would be to look at the brain as it starts one language without stopping the first.
Breaking into English without pausing your Spanish monologue would require a second mouth, so we can forget two spoken languages. Instead, the research team turned to individuals who could English and American Sign Language, or ASL.
“The fact that they can do both at the same time offers a unique opportunity to disentangle engagement and disengagement processes – that is, how they turn languages ‘on’ and ‘off’,” says Blanco-Elorrieta.
The experiment itself involved naming images shown on flash cards, while having the magnetic fields of their brains mapped in a procedure called magnetoencephalography.
Repeating the process with 21 native ASL-English speaking volunteers – all children of deaf parents – provided the team with enough data in detailed resolution to identify the exact moment key areas of the brain kicked it up a notch.
It turns out we need to work at putting the brakes on one language, but don’t really need to do much to get our fingers and tongues wagging on the second.
“In all, these results suggest that the burden of language-switching lies in disengagement from the previous language as opposed to engaging a new language,” says Blanco-Elorrieta.
Surprisingly, this meant that it didn’t really take any more effort to name an image in ASL and English at the same time than it did to name it in just ASL. Naming it in English alone, however, was relatively easy compared to both.
Learning more about the neurology of bilingualism is an important field. Brains that can jump between different languages often have a slight cognitive edge on those that can’t. Having a second language on call might even help you recover faster from a stroke.
Of course it helps to start out young. But even those of us well past our linguist prime can still gain benefits from learning how to say “Pass the salt” in a few different languages.
If this study shows us anything, it’s that our brains find it relatively easy slipping from one language to the next. Just as long as you can put the brakes on your babble first.
This research was published in PNAS.
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