Archive for category Other Addictions

What Is Kratom And Why Is It Dangerous?

Kratom is on the spotlight these days when it comes to alternative medicine. This plant has been touted to possess many health benefits, but some studies say that it’s harmful to human health.

kratom leavesKratom (scientific name Mitragyna speciosa) is a large tree grown in South East Asian countries. Its popularity rose when it was discovered that its leaves can be chewed or made into a tea and utilized for healing purposes. Some variants of Kratom are available in concentrated extract with synthetic chemicals incorporated to it.

Advocates of Kratom claim that it cures stress, anxiety, pain, and depression. The alkanoids contained in Kratom give stimulating, depressing and intoxicating effects. Here are some of the reported benefits of using Kratom in moderate amounts:

  • When taken in moderation, users of Kratom become more talkative, alert and energetic.
  • In tropical forest areas where they are grown, Kratom has been attested by locals to restore vigor.
  • Its leaves can alleviate diarrhea and stabilize hypertension.
  • The drug is also found to be effective in losing weight as it suppresses appetite.
  • People who are exposed to the sun can derive good protection from Kratom as it enhances production of melanin.
  • When consumed more, it creates a euphoric feeling, giving a sense of relaxation and inner calmness.

Some books mention that Kratom is less destructive than morphine and cocaine. However, claims like these on alternative medicine have not yet been proven because no extensive studies have been conducted, despite having many people attesting to its health advantages.

Below are some unwelcome consequences when a person uses Kratom. Some of these effects manifest right away and may last up to seven hours (longer if taken in high doses).

  • Nausea (can be severe and prolonged)
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Itching
  • Increased urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle tremors and jerking
  • Episodes of panic
  • Sudden swings of mood
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia

Kratom may be helpful physically and psychologically. However, quitting the use of Kratom may lead a person to experience typical withdrawal symptoms such as muscle pains, jerky limbs, runny nose, and even as far as being violent.

There are a number of new age alternative medicines popping up as of late. Many people want to stay away from synthetic medication and shift towards herbal and natural alternatives. With all that has been said about Kratom, studying about the plant can significantly contribute to the world of wellness. In fact, experts in the field of health and drug industry are spending time and money to conduct extensive studies for such a potential breakthrough in the medical arena.

[Image from ThorPorre via Wikimedia Creative Commons]

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Happy New Year!

Have a safe, happy and fun New Year’s celebration.

Photo courtesy of Amodiovalerio Verde on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Amodiovalerio Verde on Flickr

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Study: E-Cigarette Use Leads To Cell Damage and High Cancer Risk

Many people look to electronic cigarettes as a way to quit smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes, but several studies have confirmed that e-cigarettes are no better. Another study recently added to the list of researchers against e-cigarettes.

teen e-cigarette useResearchers at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System revealed via a news release that electronic cigarettes may lead to cellular damage. This occurrence increases the risk of developing cancer. “Our study strongly suggests that electronic cigarettes are not as safe as their marketing makes them appear to the public,” the researchers said.

The research team conducted lab experiments on human cells by exposing them to e-cigarette vapors from two specific brands. Whether the product was free from nicotine or not, the damage was evident in cells exposed to the vapor, compared with untreated human cells. “We found that other variables can do damage as well. It’s not that the nicotine is completely innocent in the mix, but it looks like the amount of nicotine that the cells are exposed to by e-cigarettes is not sufficient by itself to cause these changes. There must be other components in the e-cigarettes that are doing this damage. So we may be identifying other carcinogenic components that are previously undescribed,” said study co-lead Dr. Jessica Wang-Rodriquez.

Results of the study were published in the journal Oral Oncology.

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Merry Christmas!

Photo courtesy of Nicole Vaughan on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Nicole Vaughan on Flickr

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Teens With Too Many Facebook Friends More Likely To Experience Stress and Depression

You would think that having a big social circle will lead to a better emotional disposition, but a recent study revealed that having many friends on Facebook might lead to the opposite.

facebook effect on teenagersA team of researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Montreal in Canada followed 88 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17, looking into their Facebook use and number of friends. The teens were also tested for levels of cortisol, a hormone that the human body releases as a natural response to stress.

Results showed that teenagers with more than 300 friends on the social networking site exhibited higher levels of cortisol than those with fewer Facebook connections. Study lead author Prof. Sonia Lupien said that this will definitely impact those with many more Facebook friends. “We can therefore imagine that those who have 1,000 or 2,000 friends on Facebook may be subjected to even greater stress,” Lupien said in a news release.

Although the researchers explained that having many Facebook friends wasn’t the sole reason behind the increased cortisol level, the social media site was contributory to about 8 percent of the effect.

In terms of depression, Lupien implied that the increase in cortisol levels may lead to depressive tendencies in the future. “Adolescents who present high stress hormone levels do not become depressed immediately; it can occur later on… Some studies have shown that it may take 11 years before the onset of severe depression in children who consistently had high cortisol levels,” Lupien added.

The study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, and may be used as a jumping board for further studies on other age groups. “Developmental analysis could also reveal whether virtual stress is indeed ‘getting over the screen and under the skin’ to modulate neurobiological processes related to adaptation,” the study lead author expressed.

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Children Exposed To E-Cigarette Hazards Due To Lack of Parental Awareness

As the world continues to debate on the benefits and dangers of e-cigarette use, a recent study sheds light into the importance of parental intervention in the issue.

teen e-cigarette useAccording to researchers from St. Louis’ Washington University School of Medicine, many children are exposed to the potential risks of electronic cigarettes because parents are unaware of the possible health problems. “These are largely avoidable risks, but because e-cigarettes are relatively new, many people – including pediatricians – aren’t aware of the dangers or the steps that should be taken to protect children from them,” according to study first author Jane Garbutt in a news release.

In their research published in the journal Academic Pediatrics, close to 660 parents and legal guardians were asked to answer a survey to determine their e-cigarette use and know-how. Results showed that majority of them are aware of electronic cigarettes, with about 20 percent having experienced using it, and 1 out of 8 declared that it’s being used by a family member on a regular basis.

Results revealed further that 36 percent of respondents who use e-cigarette do not deliberately keep the products away from children. This lack of security may be in the form of failure in keeping e-liquid refill bottles or childproofing them. In fact, 34 percent of respondents said that they store e-liquid containers in a cupboard, while 22 percent keep their liquids in a bag.

In addition, only 15 percent of the population were able to tell their children’s pediatrician about e-cigarette use in the household. The researchers believe that parents should inform their kids’ doctors from the get-go. “We strongly encourage pediatricians to ask parents about nicotine use, including e-cigarettes, and to discuss the risks of exposure,” Garbutt added.

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