Statistics indicate more and more men, women and children are overweight or obese. The National Institutes of Health state that more than 35 percent of adults in the United States are obese and more than 34 percent are overweight, while 17 percent of children and adolescents in the United States are obese. Obesity rates are three times as high among today’s children than they were among youngsters just one generation ago.

As individuals attempt to lose weight, they may wonder what is the most effective way to accomplish that objective. Some argue that the secret to weight loss is lots of exercise, while others insist that calorie control is the key. When it comes to slimming down, some may be surprised by what the experts have to say.

The Mayo Clinic advises that cutting calories through dietary changes appears to promote weight loss more effectively than physical exercise alone.

According to Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D., a nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic, weight loss is about 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise. People generally see the largest short-term results when they eat healthy foods and healthy portions.

Poor diets can be difficult to overcome, as it takes a lot of exercise to spur dramatic weight loss, whereas a low-calorie, healthy diet can be a simple and effective means to losing weight. Nutritionists often point to a balanced diet that focuses on fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole-grain carbohydrates over fad diets or ones that require the adherence to strict guidelines that are difficult to follow for lengthy periods of time.

But exercise should not be abandoned in favor of a low-calorie diet. Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, who runs one of the largest obesity clinics in Canada, says that weight loss occurs from what’s created in the kitchen, but health is gained in the gym.Dr. Freedhoff often advises his clients to make smart changes to the foods they eat to spur weight loss, and then incorporate exercise into their lifestyles as a way to keep the body in top form.

Regular physical exercise is necessary to maintain strong bones, build muscle, improve flexibility, and keep the cardiovascular system working efficiently. Exercise also releases endorphins, which can improve mental alertness and feelings of well-being.

The Mayo Clinic notes that studies have shown that people who lose weight and keep it off over the long haul are those who get regular physical activity.

When it comes to losing weight, the foods a person eats play a bigger role than exercise. But it is the combination of both diet and exercise that can lead to greater overall health and sustained weight loss.

The availability of digital content has made it easy to forget how pleasurable it can be to pick up a good book and get lost in a story. In fact, a 2015 Huffington Post/YouGov poll of 1,000 adults in the United States found that 28 percent hadn’t read a single book in the previous 12 months.

Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health analyzed 12 years of data from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study concerning reading habits.

Among the 3,600 participants over the age of 50, those who read books for as little as 30 minutes per day over several years were living an average of two years longer than those who didn’t read.

Studies have shown that reading improves fluency and story retention while providing a host of additional benefits to young children. However, the perks do not end with the passing of adolescence. Data published in the journal Neurology found reading regularly improves memory function by working out the brain. This can help slow a decline in memory and other brain functions. Frequent brain exercise can lower mental decline by 32 percent, according to research published in The Huffington Post.

Studies even suggest that reading can help a person be more empathetic to others’ feelings. Research published in the journal Science showed that reading literary works (not popular fiction) cultivates a skill known as “theory of mind,” which is the “ability to ‘read’ the thoughts and feelings of others.”

Reading also can be calming, helping to reduce stress as a result. By losing oneself in a book, worries and stress can melt away, says research conducted in 2009 at the University of Sussex. Measuring heart rate and muscle tension, researchers discovered that study participants needed just six minutes to relax once they began reading.

There are many other reasons why reading is good for the mind and body. The following tips can help men and women find more time to read.

  • Find small minutes to read. Busy people may think they don’t have the time to devote to reading, but if they read in small intervals, the amount of time will add up. Read during commutes (if you’re not driving), while in physicians’ waiting rooms or during a lunch hour.
  • It’s okay to quit. If you’re a few chapters into a book and it’s not striking your fancy, it’s okay to trade up for a more interesting tale. Don’t feel obligated to finish a book if you are not engaged.
  • Read paper books. Reading printed books can be a welcome, relaxing change from looking at screens all day. This may inspire you to read more and for longer periods of time.
  • Join a book club. A book club in which you engage with fellow readers can motivate you to read more often.

People who live in regions where winters are cold often note the feeling of rejuvenation they enjoy on the first warm day of late-winter or spring. The chance to get outside and soak up some sun while breathing some warm air is a feeling unlike any other for those who spend much of their winters bundled up in layers of clothing.

The value of spending time outdoors extends well beyond dusting off winter cabin fever, providing long-term benefits that might surprise even the most ardent outdoor enthusiast.

A 2018 report from researchers at the University of East Anglia found that living close to nature and spending time outside has wide-ranging health benefits, including a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure. Authors of the report studied data from across the globe, gathering evidence from more than 140 studies involving more than 290 million people. Researchers cannot pinpoint exactly why people who spend ample time in greenspaces enjoy better health. However, the benefits appear to be so wide-ranging as to suggest that people who currently do not spend much time in greenspaces should make a concerted effort to do so.

The following are a handful of ways busy individuals can start spending more time outdoors:

  • Dine al fresco. On nights when the weather is fair, take dinner into the great outdoors. People who live in private homes can dine on the patio or on the deck in the backyard, while apartment dwellers can make use of local parks for nighttime picnics or dine on balconies or rooftop recreational areas, which have become popular in crowded metropolitan areas. Rooftops and balconies may not pass the “Is it greenspace?” test, but dining in such areas can be more relaxing than an apartment dining nook.
  • Get off the couch. Don’t hesitate to get outside when night falls. Spend time in the backyard or go for nightly walks around the neighborhood or in a nearby park. Say so long to television binging sessions, making healthier and more beneficial use of nightly free time by utilizing nearby greenspaces.
  • Go hiking on weekends. Even city dwellers no doubt live within driving distance of local hiking areas. Hiking provides a host of cardiovascular benefits and can make for a great, full-body workout. Researchers associated with the UEA report suggested that the practice of forest bathing, which is popular in Japan and promotes spending time sitting down or lying in nature, exposes people to a diverse array of bacteria present in natural areas that may benefit the immune system and reduce inflammation. People who think that accessing nature is helping them to stay healthy aren’t wrong. In fact, making time to include nature in your daily or weekly routine can have positive and wide-ranging effects on your overall health.

Your Healthy Brain and the Role of Environmental Medicine

By Pamela Costello, MD

As a medical doctor of 28 years, an operating neurosurgeon for much of that time, as well as a published neuroscientist of over 30 years, I’ve had extensive exposure and insights into the true basis of neurological disease. I have additionally further trained and specialized in environmental medicine, allowing me insights to diagnose the influences of the environment on our nervous systems, along with the mechanisms of repair and recovery, in treating the underlying base causes of neuroinflammatory diseases.

The natural progression of neuroinflammatory disease results in neurodegenerative disease, and most neurodegenerative disease is without potential cure by traditional medicine. Furthermore, when pharmaceutical agents are used in an attempt to slow the disease process, the side effects of those agents can be substantial, as these drugs are not removing or reversing the true underlying cause of the illness. However, when the root causes, such as neurotoxins and low grade infections, are identified and addressed, the neuroinflammatory processes can be reversed.

Environmental neurotoxins include substances that enter the body beginning at conception, crossing the placenta, with continued exposure throughout our lives via contaminated air, water, food substances, dental amalgams, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, perfumes and hygiene products, as well as insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc. These acquired toxins create an inflammatory response in the nervous tissues, as well as potentially cause cell death. As our environment becomes increasingly saturated with these toxins, so do our nervous and immune systems. An environmental medicine approach addresses the basis of illness by identifying these root causes, including both historical and potential ongoing exposures.

As the burden of industrial, man made toxins accumulates in our air, soil, and water, they also accumulate in our nervous and immune systems.

Although increasing numbers of Americans are becoming aware of the concept of environmental medicine, standard medicine (which is largely run on a pharmaceutical driven “pill for a disease” model), lags slowly behind. While allopathic medicines and surgeries provide life-saving intervention in the acute, or emergency, setting they are far less appropriate in managing chronic disease or in preventing disease. The rise of environmental toxins has become stratospheric, thus mandating a dramatic refocusing of our healthcare system’s attention, as well as that of the public. This awareness is necessary in order to offer any hope to curb the epidemic rise in neuroinflammatory illness, and provide effective curative treatment to those already afflicted.

As the burden of industrial, man made toxins accumulates in our air, soil, and water, they also accumulate in our nervous and immune systems. After generations of toxins saturating our environment, we now are faced with the problem of toxic saturation in ourselves, through the process of bioaccumulation. Furthermore, while many are aware of the causes of acute poisoning, very little of current healthcare deals with bioaccumulation, or the chronic storage or accumulation of toxins in our brains, nervous tissue, immune tissue, bones, organs and other body tissues. Such accumulation results in inflammation and malfunctioning of the cells, glands, and organ systems.

Fortunately, awareness of and general knowledge about hazardous substances in our environment and surroundings is increasing. Numerous risks are continuously reduced by law, certainly through The Clean Air and Water acts, as well as the World Ban on Mercury. Although we might expect people to get increasingly healthier, more and more symptoms are manifesting and, unfortunately, with technological progress, new chemical substances keep entering into our environment and are considered absolutely harmless, until proven otherwise.

Fortunately, awareness of and general knowledge about hazardous substances in our environment and surroundings is increasing.

The good news is that environmental medicine is concerned with the causes and effects this environmental impact has on human health. Beginning with a thorough examination and investigation, treatment then follows, which entails both removing further exposures, as well as beginning the healing process by safely clearing the body of the absorbed toxins.The detoxification process stimulates the kidneys, liver, skin, and lymphatic system, and administers safe approaches, e.g. herbal substances and antioxidants, to absorb and discharge these toxins.

If you’d like a comprehensive brain health/neurotoxin burden assessment and treatment plan for your best brain health, please contact my office at 423-461-0073 and see my website

Summer is a time of year that’s synonymous with relaxation. The warm air and glowing sun of summer helps people to relax and take some time away from work to smell the roses. Or so it may seem.

According to the U.S. Travel Association, Americans accumulated 705 million unused vacation days in 2017. That’s 43 million more unused vacations than the year prior. Americans’ neighbors to the north seem to be following suit, as a 2018 survey from ADP Canada found that only one in three Canadian workers use their two weeks’ of vacation each year.

Unused vacation time may be having a more adverse effect on workers than they know. The American Institute of Stress notes that various studies have shown that job stress is a major and primary source of stress for American workers. When workers don’t use their allotted vacation time, they never get a break from that stress, allowing its effects to accumulate and put their long-term health in jeopardy.

The arrival of summer presents a perfect opportunity for professionals to take some time off from work and focus on reacquainting themselves with relaxation. The following are various practices that can help people relax, courtesy of the NorthShore University Health system.

Healthy breathing techniques can help the body take in more oxygen, which can relieve anxiety, slow the heart rate and stabilize blood pressure. Deep breathing exercises can teach people how to control their breathing.

Various forms of meditation can be employed to help people alleviate stress. Meditating for as little as five to 10 minutes can be effective. The Synchronicity Foundation for Modern Spirituality notes that meditating for as long as you feel comfortable, whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour, can be effective, and that it’s even possible to meditate too much. The group advises paying attention to your meditation tolerance and set aside enough time to benefit from meditation without overdoing it.

Many people find yoga to be great exercise for the body and an excellent way to alleviate stress. Combining various poses with breathing exercises, yoga can relax the mind and promote flexibility in the body. That latter benefit can be especially useful for people whose muscles tighten as a result of stress.

Visualization involves participants imagining relaxing settings and focusing on their details. The goal of visualization is eliminate stressful thoughts and calm the body.

Summer is a time of year that’s synonymous with relaxation. It also marks a great time for people dealing with stress to embrace various relaxation techniques that can help them reduce their stress and restore their energy levels.

It is impossible to dispute the many ways technology has positively affected the world. Tech has made interacting and collaborating with people from all corners of the planet as convenient as conversing with a next door neighbor. Technology also has changed the face of education, making it possible for students from all walks of life to easily access a wealth of information at the click of a button.

For all of its many attributes, technology has its drawbacks as well. One of the notable detriments is the “always on” reality of tech, as well as the ability to become addicted to such instant gratification. Few adults and children can spend more than a few minutes without checking their devices.

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, on average people are online 24 hours a week, twice as long as 10 years ago. One in five adults spends as much as 40 hours a week online. According to Common Sense Media, teens spend an average of nine hours a day online, compared to about six hours for kids between the ages of eight and 12 and 50 minutes for children eight years old and younger.

Technology also has blurred the lines that distinguish work and personal time. Gone are the days of leaving the office behind when the workday ends in early evening. Today’s workers can take work home, work remotely and even check work emails or put in some hours while on vacation. Children, too, can pay a price as a result of engaging with technology. For example, various studies indicate more than half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online.

These tips may help adults and children regain control and find balance in a tech-driven world.

  • Set strict usage times. According to Net Nanny, a technology and internet watchdog site, being plugged into devices, on an almost continual basis, directly affects the brain by keeping it in a state of constant stimulation. This can make it difficult for the brain to get the downtime it needs to recharge. Limit hours of screen time, and wind down at least an hour or so before bed.
  • Put devices on silent. If you or your children cannot resist the lure of devices, set them on silent or put them out of sight and out of reach at key times during the day.
  • Beef up in-person socialization. Instead of texting or emailing, speak with friends, family and coworkers in person.
  • Increase exercise. Time spent outdoors away from computers or other devices can be beneficial to the mind and body.
  • Find alternative solutions. Rather than running an internet search every time you have a question, look up answers in a book, travel to learn about new things, experience new hobbies, and immerse yourself in the physical world with renewed vigor.

Tech has changed the world, but it doesn’t have to consume people’s daily lives. With some mindfulness, individuals can find the right balance.

Gardening by the Signs

By Serina Marshall

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Gardening has become a trend that many use as a way to relax, be one with nature, and live off the land. There are various ways to take care of the crops you decide to grow. One such way is to do your gardening by following the signs. Astrological signs are typically used for horoscopes and the like. However, using them to garden actually has many successful effects, and those that implement the methods swear by them. In order to apply this method correctly, there are specific guidelines and information you may want to pay attention to as you begin your new gardening journey.

The moon passes through the twelve different signs throughout the year on its trip around the Earth. Each specific sign of the zodiac is associated with one of the four elements; earth, wind, fire, or water. Water signs include Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces; The Earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. Scorpio, Pisces, Taurus or Cancer are best for planting and transplanting of above ground bearing crops.

Air signs include Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius; And under the Fire sign are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Air and Fire signs are considered to be barren. During this time, one should skip planting and place their focus on weeding and pruning. The Libra sign, however, is semi-fertile and a time for blooming herbs and flowers, vines, tubers, and roots. Fruit trees should be pruned under a fire sign; seeds won’t sprout during Leo, so do your weeding then. Harvesting should be done during a fourth-quarter fire sign in order to preserve fruit and vegetables for future storage.

Following the Lunar calendar, root crops such as potatoes, carrots, and turnips produce the best yields if planted when the moon is in the sign of Capricorn. Crops that are above ground, such as annual flowers and vegetables, are best planted while the moon is in Cancer.

When you are gardening by the signs, you want to plant when the moon is both waxing and in a fertile (water or earth) sign; weeding, harvesting, and tilling should be the focus when the moon is waning and in a barren sign. It is also suggested to not plant on Sunday. This day is considered a barren day, and not acceptable for planting despite the sign. Each one of the signs holds a different set of characteristics. These include masculine, feminine, airy, dry, barren, moist, fiery, earthy, watery, fruitful, and non-fruitful. Planting requires moisture, so it should be done during one of the moist or fruitful signs. The best time to plant should be during a fruitful moon phase, as well as productive sign. Fruitful signs are Scorpio, Pieces, Taurus, and Cancer. If you are looking to plow, cultivate, or till, do so during Aries. NEVER PLANT DURING THE BARREN SIGNS! And always set your plants out in a water or earth sign.

If you are looking to graft, make sure you do so right before the sap begins to flow, while the moon is in its first or second quarter, also while it is passing through a fruitful watery sign, or Capricorn. Never graft or plant on Sunday as this is a barren and hot day. Thus, why it is called the sun’s day. Flowers should be planted in the sign of Libra because it is an airy sign. Libra also is a sign of beauty, which is thought to produce beautiful flowers. Be sure to plant them while the moon is in the first quarter. However, if you need the seeds, use the period between the moon’s second quarter and full status.

It is also said that if you plant your corn crops in Leo, they will hard, round stalks. If you are wanting to ensure that your crops will withstand droughts, you will want to plant them in Taurus and Cancer signs. Root flower cuttings, vines, cuttings, limbs, and setting out trees and flower bushes should be done in the months of November and December. If you are looking to have a large vine and stalk that produces little fruit, you will want to plant in Virgo. You will also want to plant all things which produce above ground during the moon’s increase, and all things which produce below the ground when the moon is decreasing. You also never want to plant on the first day of the new moon, or on a day when the moon will be changing quarters. Turning sod and pulling weeds should occur in the fourth quarter.

Picking and gathering fruit also has its own set of guidelines. Apples and pears should be picked in the old moon. By doing this, it is said that it will cause the bruises to dry up and not rot. If you pick during the increase of the moon, the fruit is sure to rot.

When the moon is decreasing, you will want to harvest most of your crops. This will help them to stay better longer. To keep your root crops drier and longer, you will want to dig the root crops for seeds during the third quarter of the moon. You will then want to gather the root crops in the last quarter of the moon.

To know when to enact certain gardening habits, you can pick up a Planting Calendar. These can be found at your local hardware, auto, and seed/feed store. The zodiac signs and moon phases are clearly marked to make it easier and more accessible to follow. Each method gives its own set of specific guidelines to follow to produce the desired type of crop, harvest, and garden. But the best results come from combining very distinct sets of moon phases and zodiacs. If you are searching for a new and proven way to yield the best your land has to offer, check out the sky for more information.

Meditation has long been part of Eastern practices and recommended by alternative health practitioners. With the widespread adoption of yoga, breathing exercises and general mindfulness, meditation has become much more mainstream and something many traditional physicians now recommend to their patients.

According to the yoga equipment supply company Gaiam, meditation is an approach to training the mind that is similar to the way athletes train their bodies. Many meditation techniques exist, and the term meditation refers to an overall discipline rather than one specific activity. People who have been meditating for some time may be able to rest their brains for extended periods of time. Some may need to work up to it. Others practice focus-specific meditation, which makes them focus on a sensation or a particular object to tune out other distractions. Another option is open-monitoring meditation, which involves paying attention to all of one’s surroundings. Instead of reacting, you just notice things as they are.
The brand-building company Buffer says that meditation produces measurable changes in the brain. Modern technology like MRI scans show a decrease in beta waves during meditation. Those waves normally indicate that the brain is processing information. Meditation helps to slow or stop that processing.

Meditation has been long studied as a way to induce relaxation and help alleviate stress. In the 1970s, Herbert Benson, MD, a researcher at Harvard University Medical School, coined the term “relaxation response.” In Benson’s words, this is “an opposite, involuntary response that causes a reduction in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.” Meditation helps achieve that.

Meditation may produce many different health results. Some are immediate, and others are cumulative. Here are some changes a person may see:

  • better focus while not meditating
  • reduced anxiety
  • lower blood pressure
  • lower blood cortisol levels
  • greater feelings of well-being
  • reduced feelings of stress
  • ability to cope better with challenging situations
  • potential benefits on immune system function

Meditation is a skill someone learns with practice. It’s never too early or too late to learn how to meditate. Online courses and neighborhood studios can help people get on the road to wellness through meditation.

Medical Cannabis – A Historical Look Back

By Serina Marshall

These days, when people hear the word “cannabis”, they automatically think of an illegal activity. However, cannabis is not a new trend on the scene. And it also isn’t used solely for the above-mentioned example.

Throughout history, the cannabis plant has been used for medicinal purposes to improve various ailments and pains. To understand the historical significance of this particular controversial herb, we must go back many centuries to understand where it all began and how we ended up here.

Man has used cannabis as a medicine for over 4000 years. It has been utilized for many different reasons in many different civilizations across the world. In China c. 2900 BC, cannabis mixed with wine was used as an anesthetic to relieve symptoms of gout, rheumatism, and malaria. Egypt used the plant for childbirth pain, glaucoma, and hemorrhoids c. 1000 BC. Childbirth pain, insomnia, headaches, dysentery, and gut ailments were treated with cannabis in India c. 600 BC. And in Medieval Islamic civilization c. 900 AD, diuretic, antiemetic, antiepileptic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic were treated with, you guessed it, cannabis. The reality is, history proves the establishment and success of cannabis, well before our own civilization was a thought.

In the 19th century, many medical physicians in the West recognized cannabis as a medicine. Circa 1830, Dr. William O’Shaughnessy conducted clinical trials using cannabis for dysentery, rheumatism, seizures in infants, and spasticity in tetanus and rabies. In 1799 Napoleon brought cannabis to France from Egypt. Dr. Jacques-Joseph Moreau c. 1840, wrote of cannabis use to suppress headaches, improve appetites and improve sleep. Another doctor, Dr. E.A. Birch (c. 1889), reported his success in treating opioid addiction with cannabis. Cannabis and its healing properties were used as various treatments for varying diseases well before modern medicine took the reins. These discoveries were made long before modern doctors or activists came across their healing properties.

The pharmacopeia of the United States saw the arrival of cannabis in 1850. The extract of cannabis was a common type of medicine, before it was actually outlawed in 1937 by the American Medical Association. In the early 20th century, prohibition became a progressive soap box for those who wanted to control the flow of alcohol, as well as drugs. Cannabis at this point was beginning to be seen as such. The Federal Income Tax in 1903 had to be passed by the progressives of that era in order to pass the 18th amendment in 1919 to reach the goal of prohibiting alcohol. Ultimately, the prohibition of alcohol failed in just thirteen years, but the idea that the government should control drugs, succeeded.

Harry Anslinger became the leader of the Bureau of Alcohol, followed by the Bureau of Narcotics. Anslinger was a notorious racist who criminalized cannabis, and blamed the satanic rise of the herb on Negroes, Mexicans, Filipinos and entertainers. Not only did he support the victimization of African Americans and spread discrimination, he also spread anti-drug campaigns. He also sponsored prohibition laws in the United States and United Nations General Conventions. After Anslinger, Richard Nixon picked up where he left off by speaking out strongly against marijuana. Nixon also used strong discriminatory stances just as Anslinger did with his campaigns, this time, saying those that are legalizing marijuana are Jewish. Richard Nixon forced cannabis to a Schedule I status, even though his own independent commission advised him not to.

“Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants” was a patent presented on October 7th, 2003, owned by Health and Human Services to prove that cannabis was indeed a medicine. The inventors of this patent were Aidan J. Hampson of Irvine, CA., Julius Axelrod of Rockville, MD., and Maurizio Grimaldi of Bethesda, MD. This patent helped to introduce the research needed to present cannabis as a medicinal purpose. A poll by MTSU in 2018, confirmed the support for medicinal use. It showed 81% of Tennesseans support medical cannabis by a 4 to 1 margin. 44% supported medical use, 37% supported unlimited use, while only 16% opposed all usage.

According to the epidemiology of conditions in Tennesseans, North Carolinians, and Virginians, a large number may benefit from cannabinoid medicines.

The American Cancer Society, 2020., states that there are 39,360 new cases of those that suffer from cancer. The CDC 2018., says that 1,990,380 Tennesseans have arthritis, 193,584 of those with severe arthritis. 120,000 Tennesseans suffer from Alzheimer’s according to the Alzheimer’s Association, and the CDC estimates 63,900 adults and 10,000 children have epilepsy.

In North Carolina, the estimated new cases of cancer according to The American Cancer Society in 2020 is 59,620. According to America’s Health Rankings, North Carolina is the least healthy when it comes to arthritis, at 47.3%. The Alzheimer’s Association, 2020., says that nearly 180,000 North Carolinians will suffer from Alzheimer’s in 2020 and nearly 210,000 by 2025. And the CDC estimates that 94,900 adults and 15,200 children suffer from epilepsy.
Virginia’s statistics follow those of Tennessee and North Carolina. The estimated number for cancer patients in Virginia according to The American Cancer Society is 47,550 new cases in 2020. The CDC says that over 1,513,000 Virginians suffer from arthritis. An estimated 150,000 Virginians suffer from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, and that number is expected to rise to 190,000 by 2025, and the CDC reports that an estimated 11,000 children and 73,800 adults live with epilepsy.

Due to the statistics listed above, it would seem that a large number of patients would benefit from the use of cannabis treatment.

Despite the obvious advantages to using cannabis within the medical realm, there are still many oppositions to the use of the plant at all. One objection claims that marijuana is dangerous. The truth is, all medicines can be dangerous. Cannabis is far safer than most OTC medicines approved by the FDA.

Another objection says we need more research. However, research has been outlawed by progressive policies. “Medical use leads to recreational use” is another concern. All medicines can be abused. Yet, it is always immoral to prohibit a medicine. Another objection is the fact that we already have medical marijuana. Marinol and Epidiolex are not competitive products and are rejected by patients who have options in free markets. The worry that children will gain access always has been a concern. An illegal market is the real risk with no restrictions on inappropriate access. And finally, the Gateway Theory, stating that if you smoke marijuana you will end up partaking in harder drugs, has already been proven many times over to be false.

A patient with epilepsy suffers every day with the unknowing onset of seizures at any minute. Currently, there is a Tennessee law that allows patients with epilepsy to possess CBD oil. The problem is, it provides no legal means for acquisition, making these vulnerable patients look like criminals. A patient with epilepsy may possess CBD oil with less than .9% THC if they have a diagnosis from a Tennessee doctor. These doctors can recommend, but cannot actually “prescribe” the medicine to the patient. Also, there is currently no provision to legally acquire or produce the CBD oil and it is a violation of Federal law to cross state lines.

Another addition to diseases that could be assisted by cannabis treatment, is schizophrenia patients. The National Institute of Mental Health states that across certain studies that use household-based survey samples, clinical diagnostic interviews, and medical records, the prevalence estimation of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders in the U.S. range between 0.25% and 0.64%.

The usage of cannabis has been present in the medical industry for thousands of years. This plant is not just used for illegal and recreational activities. It is a very important part of historical and modern-day medicine to help a series of ailments and diseases. The fight to make this herb legal across the board has yet to be achieved. However, we are on a closer path that we have been in previous years and that gap seems to be closing further with every year and successful patient story.

Nutritious diets have long been touted as essential components of healthy lifestyles. Many people have a tendency to view diet as something that’s purely physical, associating the foods they eat with how they look and how much energy they have. While accurate, it doesn’t paint the full picture of just how big and positive an impact healthy diets can have on overall health.

In regard to healthy diets, it’s hard to dispute the effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet focuses on plant-based foods and, as a result, includes lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and olive oil. The diet is so healthy that the World Health Organization even recognizes it as a healthy, sustainable dietary pattern. Long touted for its ability to promote heart health and reduce risk for heart disease, which the WHO notes is the number one cause of death across the globe, the Mediterranean diet has also been found to protect against cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Each of those benefits makes the Mediterranean diet worthy of consideration at the very least, but the benefits of this approach to eating don’t stop there. In fact, people unfamiliar with the Mediterranean diet, or even those who subscribe to it, may not realize that the diet can have a positive effect on mental wellness.

A 2015 study published in the scientific journal Ageing Research Reviews found that strong adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a 40 percent reduced risk for cognitive impairment. Another study from researchers in Spain found that older adults who supplemented their Mediterranean diets with extra olive oil or nuts had superior cognitive function, including better memory and thinking skills, than those who ate low-fat diets. Reasoning, attention and language were better among the former group as well.

In addition to improving cognitive function, the Mediterranean diet also may improve mental wellness by reducing adherents’ risk of developing depression. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging found that people who followed the Mediterranean diet most closely were nearly 99 percent less likely to develop depression that those who followed the diet the least closely.

While diet is often thought of in physical terms, the Mediterranean diet can benefit mental wellness while also helping people maintain healthy weights.