Fracking Worse Than You Think: Delusional America and Special Interest Gangs

fracking water

Mam, your water’s just fine, a pungent gasoline smell is normal nowadays. news.nationalgeographic.com

A recent peer reviewed study has revealed that greenhouse gas emissions from drilling and fracking are 50% worse than previously thought. According to the Harvard study US fossil-fuel-industry methane leaks are dramatically higher than the official estimates have claimed. Not surprisingly, the coal seam gas industry in Australia (one of the largest in the world) has rejected the study outright.

The report, published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, directly challenges the EPA’s decision to cut its methane emission (produced from fossil fuel extraction) estimates by 25% for 1990 – 2011. The report states that:

We find that [methane] data from across North America instead indicates the need for a much larger adjustment of the opposite sign

Fracking is altering the climate far faster than we first thought. However, before we continue with fracking, let’s first understand the difference between Australia’s coal seam gas and America’s natural gas.

Coal Seam Gas Vs. Natural Gas:

As an end-use product, coal seam gas is the same as natural gas...The only difference between CSG and natural gas is in the way that it is formed by nature. CSG is composed predominantly of methane and small percentages of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The coal seam is both the source and the reservoir, which is different from the sandstone reservoirs of conventional oil and shale gas. As coal forms over millions of years, large quantities of methane-rich gas are generated and trapped in coal seams by water and ground pressure. CSG is trapped in the coal in tiny fractures, or cleats, under hydrostatic pressure. CSG is extracted at low pressures from coal.
Shale gas is methane held within shale layers, rather than a coal seam. Shale is much harder than coal and always requires fracturing ('fracking') to allow the gas to flow.
fracking graphic

Seems pretty technical boys, just throw in all the chemicals you can’t pronounce. http://www.usatoday.com

While natural gas produces less CO2 than coal, the savings become irrelevant when considering the amount of methane that is sprayed into the atmosphere from methane leaks at well sites and while transporting the fuel. The reason for all the worry is that methane traps about 20 times more heat over a 100 year period compared to CO2, despite remaining in the atmosphere for less time.

Related Article: What is the Solution to Smog? A Vacuum! 

A natural gas addiction has infected the U.S. with fracking spreading across the country like a viral epidemic. Fracking is the process of harvesting natural gas, or shale gas.  It involves mixing dangerous chemicals with large quantities of water and sand and injecting the mixture into shale wells at extremely high pressure. It is for this reason that fracking is believed to be poisoning well water all across the U.S. and in other areas of the world. According to the NRDC (Natural Resources Defence Council):

Over the last decade, the industry has drilled thousands of new wells in the Rocky Mountain region and in the South. It is expanding operations in the eastern United States as well, setting its sights most recently on a 600-mile-long rock formation called the Marcellus Shale, which stretches from West Virginia to western New York.  Fracking is a suspect in polluted drinking water in Arkansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming, where residents have reported changes in water quality or quantity following fracturing operations.

fracking U.S.

The U.S. is ripe for the fracking! http://www.geomore.com

Immense wells of shale gas are spread across most of the U.S. mainland.  These sites each undergo several fracking pumps. Although the media portrays natural gas as the new and improved, next-gen, problem free energy source, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Pipeline incidents and injuries abound and reports of polluted drinking water continue to pop up across the nation with greater frequency. Studies have directly linked shale gas fracking to:

The EPA still has not issued its report on the effect of fracking on drinking water. Despite all of the science pleading with us to reconsider our actions, fracking continues unimpeded.

Related Article: A Cheaper Alternative to Pollution

 

Fracking Denial and Delusions

By far the worst issue surrounding fracking is that as a whole, we still seem to have no clue that fracking is even taking place, let alone destroying the water supply and decimating the health of 1000’s of people as well as the land.  I suppose this isn’t surprising though as many nations are just as clueless about climate change. Afterall, climate denial is a real thing, actively and directly supported by a large number of the 90 institutions that are responsible for climate change since the industrial revolution. So, why shouldn’t the natural gas and fracking industries involve the same type of nonsense?

 

fracking climate

Superhuman denial abilties…
http://www.frankejames.com/

The truth is that human beings, especially us good ol’ Americans, will buy into anything given the opportunity. People are often fooled into passionate belief, and the denial campaigns and propaganda of billion dollar industries do a great deal of fooling.

Related Article: Climate Change too Fast for Evolution 

Let’s consider climate change again: Many Americans continue to believe that climate change is either a hoax or an over-dramatized issue.  This ignorance is a wrench in the spokes of global progress, especially in light of increasingly volatile weather patternsincreasing extinctions in land and marine lifewarnings from scientists across the globe; and the potential loss of trillions of dollars due to the costly effects of climate change.  This is cognitive dissonance in its purest form: we know the facts, but we are refusing to change.

 

Crony Capitalism and Special Interest

Despite America’s lack of progress in reducing emissions, most Americans’ desire a green, renewable energy policy. This applies to fracking as well; a large number of Americans are completely against it. Unfortunately though, oil, coal, and gas companies are at the top of the special interest dole list.

Special interest comes in the form of better government subsidies, tax cuts, court rulings, and allowances. We all know it takes place, and it has been widely practiced and wildly accepted. It is called crony capitalism, and it has been an an ongoing, yet somehow overlooked problem in America.

Related Article: Team Red = Team Blue

fracking george bush

No. Well, for the entertainment value, yes. bigdanblogger.blogspot.com

When Bush appointed Dick Cheney to lead an energy task force to revolutionize America’s energy policy, Cheney quickly organized a private meeting with fossil fuel giants at the head of the fracking movement. Companies such as Exxon Mobil, Conoco, Shell Oil, BP America and Chevron made the top of the list.  Today, these companies are still given billions of dollars in tax cuts and subsidies despite raking in hundreds of billions of dollars in private profit. According to PBS:

In 2005, Bush, who has received more from the oil and gas industry than any other politician, signed an energy bill from the Republican-controlled Congress that gave $14.5 billion in tax breaks for oil, gas, nuclear power and coal companies. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was based on recommendations by Cheney’s energy task force, also rolled back regulations the oil industry considered burdensome, including exemptions from some clean water laws. All of this transpired only one year after Congress passed a bill that included a tax cut for domestic manufacturing that was expected to save energy companies at least $3.6 billion over a decade.

During the time that Bush and Cheney, both of whom are former oil executives, have been in the White House, the oil and gas industry has spent $393.2 million on lobbying the federal government. This places the industry among the top nine in lobbying expenditures. The industry has also contributed a substantial $82.1 million to federal candidates, parties and political action committees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. 80 percent of the industry’s contributions have gone to Republicans.

It is clear that special interest is taking place and is supporting companies in defiance of America’s health, wealth, and overall best interest. The truth is that a complete multi-industry infiltration of the U.S. government has taken place. Men and women with stake in the fracking, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and more are casting votes and making decisions that directly benefit the industries and leave citizens stripped of their money and power.

 

Monsanto the Usurper

The most obvious example of a corporation infiltrating the U.S. government is that of Monsanto. Monsanto, in case you didn’t know, is responsible for destroying thousands of local farms, using known harmful herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides, using chemicals responsible for colony collapse disorders in bees, and much more.

Related Article: The Senate is Useless and Should be Dismantled

Monsanto and Monsanto products are banned in several countries.  Numerous petitions to cut government ties to Monsanto have circulated, yet to no avail.  I wonder, why they didn’t succeed?

First, follow this link to view a list of 71 senators who voted against your right to know if what you are eating is GMO. Oh, and that’s despite 90% of the population saying they would be in favor of mandatory labeling.

fracking monsanto us

Whoa, there must be some huge cracks in the U.S. government for these people to slip through. https://www.facebook.com/GrowFoodNotLawns

Next, check out the following list of U.S. government/Monsanto ties and the answer will be obvious.

David Beier 
MONSANTO POSITION: Head of Government Affairs for Genetech, (Now Monsanto)
FEDERAL POSITION: Chief Domestic Policy Advisor to Vice President Gore

William Conlon:
MONSANTO POSITION: Worked for Monsanto’s Legal Team
FEDERAL POSITION: Department of Justice

Sam Skinner:
MONSANTO POSITION: Worked on Monsanto’s Legal Team
FEDERAL POSITION: Department of Justice

Robert Fraley:
MONSANTO POSITION: Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
FEDERAL POSITION: Serves as advisor in public agencies, including the USDA, among others

Michael A. Friedman:
MONSANTO POSITION: Senior Vice President for Clinical Affairs at G.D. Searle &Co. (Merged with Monsanto)
FEDERAL POSITION: Acting Commissioner of the FDA

Marcia Hale
MONSANTO POSITION: Director of International Government Affairs
FEDERAL POSITION: Assistant to President Clinton and Director of Government Affairs

Arthur Hull Hayes:
MONSANTO POSITION: Consultant to Searle’s (merged with Monsanto) Public Relations Firm
FEDERAL POSITION: Previously was FDA Commissioner

John L. Henshaw:
MONSANTO POSITION: Director of ESH Quality & Compliance
FEDERAL POSITION: Senior Advisor to U.S. Secretary of Labor

Rob Horsch:
MONSANTO POSITION: Vice President of Product and Technology Cooperation
FEDERAL POSITION: Advisor to the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy

Michael Kantor:
MONSANTO POSITION: Board of Directors, also represented Monsanto as a lawyer
FEDERAL POSITION: U.S. Secretary of Commerce

Gwendolyn S. King:
MONSANTO POSITION: Monsanto Board Member
FEDERAL POSITION: Commissioner of SSA 1989-1992

Richard J. Mahoney:
MONSANTO POSITION: CEO of Monsanto for 14 years
FEDERAL POSITION: Serves as Director of U.S. Soviet, Japanese and Korean Trade Councils, a Member of the U.S. Government Policy Committee

Margaret Miller:
MONSANTO POSITION: Oversaw the Approval of rBGH, was a top Monsanto scientist
FEDERAL POSITION: In, 1991, Margaret was appointed Deputy Director of the FDA

George Poste:
MONSANTO POSITION: Sits on Monsanto’s Board of Directors, previously a Monsanto Animal Specialist
FEDERAL POSITION: In 2002, Poste was appointed head of Bioterrorism division of Homeland Security

William D. Ruckelshaus:
MONSANTO POSITION: Member of the Monsanto Board of Directors
FEDERAL POSITION: In 1970, he was the first Chief Administrator for the EPA, later the acting director of the FBI, then Deputy U.S. Attorney General

Donald Rumsfeld:
MONSANTO POSITION: Previous CEO of Searle (merged with Monsanto), he successfully had ASPARTAME legalized while in that position.
FEDERAL POSITION: Appointed to Secretary of Defense in 1975, then appointed to Secretary of Defense again in 2002

Suzanne Sechen:
MONSANTO POSITION: Worked on Monsanto-funded rGBH in connection with her graduate work at Cornell University
FEDERAL POSITION: FDA Reviewer on Scientific Data

Robert B. Shapiro:
MONSANTO POSITION: Previously the President and CEO of Monsanto, Chairman and CEO of Nutrasweet, and Chairman and CEO of Monsanto
FEDERAL POSITION: Previously Served as President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and on the White House Domestic Policy Review of Industrial Innovation

Islam Siddiqui:
MONSANTO POSITION: Former Vice President of CropLife America, which represented Monsanto
FEDERAL POSITION: Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the Office of the Trade Representative

Michael Taylor:
MONSANTO POSITION: Former Attorney for Monsanto for seven years, previous h Head of the Monsanto Washington D.C. Office
FEDERAL POSITION: Former FDA Deputy Commission for Policy. In 2010, appointed by the FDA as a senior advisor of the FDA Commissioner

Dr. Charles Thomas:
MONSANTO POSITION: Previous Monsanto Researcher in charge of the Manhattan Project, creating the atomic bomb. Later, became Monsanto’s Chairman of the board.
FEDERAL POSITION: Previously Served as a consultant to the National Security Council and as a U.S. Representative of the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Commission

Clarence Thomas:
MONSANTO POSITION: Former lawyer for Monsanto, a notorious chemical polluter. Thomas would later cast the decisive vote in 2000 on the Supreme Court, ratifying the stolen election that put George W. Bush Jr. into office
FEDERAL POSITION: In 1991, was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court

Anne Veneman:
MONSANTO POSITION: Previously served on the Board of Directors of Calgene, a Monsanto Biotech subsidiary
FEDERAL POSITION: In 2001, was appointed Head of the USDA

Jack Watson:
MONSANTO POSITION: Former Staff Lawyer with Monsanto in Washington D.C.
FEDERAL POSITION: Chief of Staff to President Carter

Seth Waxman:
MONSANTO POSITION: Hired by Monsanto to prosecute two Farmers who fought against Monsanto’s Seed Policies in 2002
FEDERAL POSITION: Former U.S. Solicitor General

Dr. Virginia Weldon:
MONSANTO POSITION: Retired Senior Vice President for Public Policy at Monsanto
FEDERAL POSITION: Previously, was a member of the FDA’s Metabolism & Endocrine Advisory Committee

Rufus Yerxa:
MONSANTO POSITION: Former Chief Counsel at Monsanto
FEDERAL POSITION: In 1993, was nominated as U.S. Deputy to the World Trade Organization

Toby Moffett:
MONSANTO POSITION: Monsanto Consultant
FEDERAL POSITION: U.S. Congressman (D)

Dennis DeConcini:
MONSANTO POSITION: Monsanto Legal Counsel
FEDERAL POSITION: U.S. Senator (D)

Josh King:
MONSANTO POSITION: Director, International Government Affairs
FEDERAL POSITION: White House Communications (Clinton)

Carol Tucker-Forman:
MONSANTO POSITION: Monsanto Lobbyist
FEDERAL POSITION: White House Appointed Consumer Advisor (Clinton)

Linda Fisher:
MONSANTO POSITION: Vice President, Government & Public Affairs
FEDERAL POSITION: Deputy Administrator EPA (Clinton, Bush)

Lidia Watrud:
MONSANTO POSITION: Manger, New Technologies
FEDERAL POSITION: USDA, EPA (Clinton, Bush, Obama)

Hillary Clinton:
MONSANTO POSITION: Rose Law Firm, Monsanto Counsel
FEDERAL POSITION: U.S. Senator (D), Secretary of State (Obama)

Roger Beachy:
MONSANTO POSITION: Director, Monsanto Danforth Center
FEDERAL POSITION: Director USDA, NIFA (Obama)

 

How to Patch a Sinking Ship

It appears that industries spanning every sector, including fracking, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and more are playing a game with the U.S. government, swapping players each season for their own sake, not mine and yours. When congress, the congress of the people, stops acting in the people’s best interest we have a serious problem. Right now we are in the heart of the danger zone. What are we to do?

permaculture fracking system

So, let’s make this happen immediately. shadesofgreeninc.org

In a capitalistic society you are a consumer first and foremost.  A capitalistic society feeds on your spending, and it feeds you with the sweet satisfaction of ‘things.’  You have power in your purchases; use your buying power to support sustainability-minded companies. If companies are getting away with infiltrating and orchestrating sections of the government, then why not make sure they are excellent companies willing to appease, not disease the masses.

Buy local, support the little guy. Sure, it may sometimes be more expensive, but try not spending your money on a few of your monthly non-essentials and you’d be surprised how quickly your savings add up.

Related Article: Income Inequality in America

Become more independent and deplete your dependence on ‘the system’ by making purchases with awarenessFind satisfaction in the little things and start wanting less. Become more aware of how each and every decision you make affects the rest of the world.  Imagine that everyone else on planet Earth is you; what effect would you like to have on yourself?

Grow a garden, go foraging for food, or keep honeybees. Learn about permaculture and begin practicing a zero-waste lifestyle. It’s way easier than you think, and is actually really fun.

Arguably the most important thing you can do is vote. Contact your elected officials  and tell them what you think. Demand that they act as your representative, not a rogue speaker. Help fight fracking by joining organizations that fight to stop it.

Educate yourself and spread awareness about issues that are important to you.

Consider. Constantly consider the effect you are causing.

 

 

 

Source:

http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/harvard-fracking-study-rings-methane-alarm-bells-in-australia-20131126-2y87s.html#ixzz2lu8UBq6R

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/03/12/factbox-csg-australia

http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/ch4.html

http://www.dartgas.com/content/Document/Factsheets/What%20is%20CSG.pdf

http://www.nrdc.org/energy/gasdrilling/

http://www.nature.com/news/is-fracking-behind-contamination-in-wyoming-groundwater-1.11543

http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/news/radioactive-shale-gas-contaminants-found-at-wastewater-discharge-site

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/04/fracking-could-cause-elevated-levels-of-air-pollutants-near-gas-wells/256158/

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2012/03/reproductive-problems-death-animals-exposed-fracking

http://www.npr.org/2012/01/05/144694550/man-made-quakes-blame-fracking-and-drilling

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/monsanto-petition-tells-obama-cease-fda-ties-to-monsanto/2012/01/30/gIQAA9dZcQ_blog.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/epa-data-links-groundwater-contamination-fracking-2012-10

http://www.dangersoffracking.com/

http://www2.epa.gov/hfstudy

http://www.fractracker.org/map/

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/americans-uninformed-about-fracking-says-new-study-16762

http://www.pewresearch.org/2006/02/28/both-reds-and-blues-go-green-on-energy/

http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/347/oil-politics.html

http://www.organicconsumers.org/gefood/countrieswithbans.cfm

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/monsanto-petition-tells-obama-cease-fda-ties-to-monsanto/2012/01/30/gIQAA9dZcQ_blog.html

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_27635.cfm

http://justlabelit.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Mellman-Survey-Results.pdf

http://www.monsanto.com/whoweare/pages/robert-fraley-bio.aspx

http://organicconsumers.org/monsanto/revolvedoor.cfm

http://www.rense.com/general33/legal.htm

http://www.aiard.org/meetings/2004forum/horsch.htm

http://www.monsanto.com/whoweare/pages/gwendolyn-king-bio.aspx

http://www.nytimes.com/1983/08/02/business/talking-business-with-mahoney-of-monsanto-farm-subsidy-complications.html

http://organicconsumers.org/monsanto/revolvedoor.cfm http://www.gao.gov/assets/200/196503.pdf

https://webapp4.asu.edu/directory/person/629659

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Rumsfeld#Career_in_government_.281962.E2.80.931977.29

http://www.gao.gov/assets/200/196503.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_B._Shapiro

http://www.gao.gov/assets/200/196503.pdf

http://www.nap.edu/booksearch.php?booksearch=1&record_id=4548&term=monsanto&chapter=338-353

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/07/supreme-court-monsanto-seeds_n_1946361.html

http://www.organicconsumers.org/corp/veneman.cfm

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/business/justices-signal-a-monsanto-edge-in-patent-case.html?_r=0

http://beckerexhibits.wustl.edu/mowihsp/bios/weldon.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rufus_Yerxa

http://www.organicconsumers.org/corp/foremancfa.cfm

http://one.gaslandthemovie.com/take-action/contact-elected-officials

 

 

 

https://wondergressive.com/news/90-companies-responsible-climate-change/

https://wondergressive.com/news/fooling-people-into-passionate-belief/

https://wondergressive.com/news/warning-weather-hazards-ahead/

https://wondergressive.com/news/unprecedented-changes-and-extinctions-occurring-in-marine-life/

https://wondergressive.com/news/climate-change-too-fast-for-evolution/

https://wondergressive.com/news/costly-climate-changes/

https://wondergressive.com/news/ask-an-astrobiologist-global-warming-and-what-to-expect/

https://wondergressive.com/news/indiana-blue-laws-exemplify-crony-capitalism-time-to-punish-politicians/

https://wondergressive.com/news/mystery-of-the-dyingdisappearing-honeybees-solved/

https://wondergressive.com/news/bowman-monsanto-court-case/

https://wondergressive.com/news/afraid-to-wake-up-conquering-fear-and-living-the-lives-we-want/

https://wondergressive.com/news/the-wonderful-healthier-life-changing-and-life-lengthening-world-of-fasting/

https://wondergressive.com/news/awareness-and-dealing-with-rejection/

https://wondergressive.com/news/edible-landscapes/

https://wondergressive.com/news/healthy-honey-bees/

The 20 Biggest Wastes of Money and How to Avoid Them

money garbage

Waste of Money http://1four.co.uk

We all spend too much money on something out there. After all, money in and of itself is useless unless we are spending it. That being said though, some of the everyday things people spend their money on are an absolute waste and a downright scam. In this post, I will go over the 20 biggest wastes of money that we continue to spend our hard earned cash on. I am not here to judge anyone in particular, just the human race as a whole that I am happily a part of. How many of these are you guilty of?

 

1) Cigarettes

Cigarettes are bad for you, like really bad, like proven to cause cancer and a multitude of other illnesses bad. Despite what you tell yourself, and unlike other substances such as cannabis, there are actually no real benefits to smoking cigarettes, especially when it comes to the money in your pocket. There are however hundreds of reasons to quit.

Related Article: Smoking: A Pre-existing Condition Under Obamacare

To begin, cigarettes do not just contain tobacco, they contain over 599 additives. These 599 additives turn into 4000 different chemicals through the chemical change of burning the tobacco. 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer. Some of the lovely chemicals that cigarette smokers deeply inhale include: carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanides and ammonia. The initial 599 additives have been approved as safe by the FDA, but they were approved without being burned. The FDA never once approved the 4000 chemicals created through the burning process that are known to be noxious poisons. You are spending your money on unapproved carcinogens.

According to the CDC:

Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths per year, and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030. Cigarette smoking account[s] for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined. Smoking causes an estimated 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women.

Translation: Cigarettes are a near guaranteed death sentence, a death sentence that consists of horrible pain and struggling until the very last moment. Oh, and if you don’t die from smoking cigarettes, you are still more likely to get sick. Because they lower the effectiveness of the immune system and other bodily functions, the CDC notes that compared to non-smokers, smokers are more likely to develop:

  • coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
  • strokes by 2 to 4 times
  • men developing lung cancer by 23 times
  • women developing lung cancer by 13 times
  • dying from chronic obstructive lung diseases (such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema) by 12 to 13 times

So if cigarettes are so harmful, why do people start smoking in the first place? The major reasons are:

  • Media advertising
  • Epigentic predisposition
  • Parental influence
  • Stress relief
  • Self medication
  • Appetite suppression
  • Rebellion
  • Social benefits
  • Peer pressure

Some of these reasons for starting are understandable and may seem like benefits from the get go. For example, stress relief doesn’t sound so bad. The problem is that once the incredibly strong sway of nicotine addiction sets in, which could be within days, cigarettes themselves become a stressor because smokers are antsy, anxious, and stressed without the tool they have become dependent on for solving their stress. Quite the downward spiral. The truth is that any physical benefit from smoking quickly subsides as the body builds a resistance to the nicotine found in tobacco. The positive benefits, such as appetite suppression and mood elevation, quickly fade in place of the same old you, that same old you that you originally tried to alter with a highly potent poison. Keep in mind that nicotine is incredibly potent, with resistance and dependency forming very quickly. To be precise, it is:

  • 1000 X more potent than alcohol
  • 10-100 X more potent than barbiturates
  • 5-10 X more potent than cocaine or morphine

What about social benefits? Isn’t it great to be able to do something with your mouth and fingers to distract from the awkwardness of getting to know other people? The truth is that in this case you are only slightly curing a symptom of a problem with much deeper roots. If you require a biologically destructive tool to be able to comfortably talk to people, then you should put your focus on overcoming this societal fear rather than using an irrational crutch forever and ever.

Related Article: Cannabis Cures Cancer and More: A Thorough History and Review of the Evidence

It should be obvious that the rest of the list consists of very shallow and poor reasons for choosing to take up such a clearly destructive and incredibly hard-to-break habit. Not to mention, cigarettes are extremely expensive.

Super, super expensive in fact! In 2011 a pack of cigarettes cost between $4.74 (West Virgina) and $11.90 (New York), depending on the state. In 2012 the price range for cigarettes changed to $4.84 (West Virgina) to $12.50 (New York). If you live in New York and smoke a modest 1 pack of cigarettes a day, you’re spending $87.50 a week, which is $4,550 a year. Not surprisingly, a recent study found that cigarettes smokers in New York that made $30,000 a year or less spent a whopping 25% of their income on cigarettes. 25% of their income on something that has no real benefits past the first couple weeks, is incredibly difficult to stop doing, is proven to cause cancer, and shortens your life span by at least 10 years. Go figure.

You might be thinking, ‘Hey, I’m sure some people enjoy smoking until the day they die whether they develop cancer or not.’ The odds are against you friend. 69% of smokers in the United States admit to wanting to quit completely with 52% of smokers trying to quit in 2010. Feel like throwing your health and money away? Grab a pack of cigarettes.

Sadly, even today, despite so much available information, 4,000 kids younger than 18 smoke their first cigarette everyday, and everyday 1000 kids younger than 18 become daily smokers. If you are attempting to quit smoking, there are many ways to change behavior and break habits successfully. Don’t give up on yourself, you’re worth it!

Related Article: A How To: Behavior Changes and Breaking Habits

 

 

2) Designer Clothing and Fashion

designer clothing expensive

projectmotherhoodnyc.com

If there was ever an absolute scam, this is it. Billions of people around the world have been brainwashed into believing that brand names equate to better quality and ‘cool factor’. While this may be the case in some instances, it is not the norm.

Whether it be sunglasses, watches, hats, handbags, pants, jackets, shoes, or any other material possession, much of the world is not happy unless they have an item made by their favorite designer. The problem is that designers charge insane amounts of money for products that often cost them about the same amount as it costs Walmart to make their products. The difference is that they claim their name and minimum amount of labor is worth the hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars extra.

The brainwashing goes even further when people insist that they need to buy new clothes each season to keep up with the changing fashion. High end clothing companies and designers would have you believe that you are not cool unless you pay them exorbitant amounts of your hard earned money four times a year to keep up with the ‘in crowd.’ What an ingenious way to suck consumers dry.

Related Article: Income Inequality in America: Red Herrings and Wealth Envy

This form of brainwashing comes largely in the form of advertising, celebrity worship, and companies/independent designers banking on your insecurities. According to David A. Aaker, the vice chairman of Prophet, a brand consulting firm:

The cost of creating those things has nothing to do with the price, it is all about who else is wearing them, who designed them and who is selling them.

It’s not about price, it’s about competing with everyone around you. And for what? To look the flashiest? Readers, I have news for you: You are an adult, and if you haven’t figured this out yet, it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. The only time it matters is in a job interview, because a job has the benefit of giving you the ability to support yourself. Your potential boss is not looking at your wardrobe, he is looking at a single outfit. But even in that instance, guess what? Unless you have the Walmart logo on your button down collared shirt, your boss will have NO IDEA how much you spent on your clothing. As long as you look presentable, that is what matters, and it does not take $500, $200, or even a $50 shirt to do that.

The mark ups on all clothing are astronomical, but this is especially the case with designer clothing. Did you know that Kohl’s department store has been caught hiking up the price of their products right before a huge sale? It is even possible to pay more for a sale price than you would have for the normal price of the good. There is a reason why all your favorite designers are living in multiple mansions, driving cars that cost more than your life’s net worth, and purchasing their own islands: they tricked you. They have the world at their fingertips, and what do you have? Their sewn together fabric. Woopdie-do.

Related Article: A Note on the Top 1%: Psychopaths or Superhumans?

If you just can’t break the habit of buying designer goods and clothing, all hope is not lost. Head to a resale shop like Plato’s Closet and pick up some designer clothes at a fraction of the price. Sure, the clothes might be used, but after washing them no one will be able to tell the difference. Plato’s Closet has incredibly high standards for their clothing and even the slightest defect will be noticed and that piece of clothing removed from the store. You may be wearing used clothes, but at least you won’t have to work 20 hours of overtime next week to pay back the growing interest on your Macy’s credit card.

*Note: Another great idea is to buy clothes and other art from Etsy.com and support independant, and possibly even local artists/artisans. At least you’ll know that your particular item is one of a kind instead of wearing the same Abercrombie shirt as every other 20-something-debt-up-to-their-nose-fashion-freak.

 

 

3) Playing the Lottery

You actually have a better chance of being killed by a mountain lion or becoming president of the U.S.A than winning the Mega Millions Jackpot or the Megabucks Slot Machine Jackpot. There is a reason winning the lottery is called a pipe dream, and it’s not because pipes help you win.

200170608-001

 

4) New Cars

Buying a new car is one of the best ways to cut your money into little pieces and throw it to the wind. The moment you drive your shiny new vehicle off the lot it depreciates in value by up to 40% of the price you just paid only seconds before. So, if you pay $25,000 for a new car, within seconds of the purchase it is worth only $15,000. Yikes! By the end of the third year your 4-wheeled baby is worth about 40% of its original price. If you’re planning on holding onto yo6a00d83451b3c669e2013486235de6970c-800wiur car for longer than 3 years its only going to get worse. The older a car is, the slower it depreciates in value.

Don’t forget that it’s impossible to know whether you will get into an accident or not, potentially totaling your car. Remember, you might be the best driver in the world, but what about everyone else?

 

 

 

5) Bottled Water

Bottled water is next on the list. Not only is bottled water a completely unnecessary expenditure in all but the most extreme cases, it is also extremely detrimental to the environment and your wallet.

While there is an ongoing debate regarding the safety of many plastics and various other ingredients found in plastic bottled water, what is not debated is the effect on the environment. Bottled water clearly effects the already heavily burdened environment in a highly negative way. Just because you throw your plastic bottles in the recycling bin does not mean that the bottle is being reused; it’s probably being dumped right into a landfill or the Pacific Ocean.

Related Article: Unprecedented Changes and Extinctions Occurring in Marine Life

bottled water landfill waste money

ipsofactoradio.blogspot.com

Every bottle you buy and toss away has on average a 28% chance of actually being properly recycled. Keep in mind that due to improper recycling practices and the rise of plastic use around the world, parts of the Pacific Ocean contain more particles of plastic than plankton. Sea life consumes this plastic, is caught by fishing companies, and goes right back on your plate. You are eating the water bottles you throw away, that is not an exaggeration.

Furthermore, there is no clear proof that bottled water is any healthier to drink than tap water. While our tap water is not very clean, containing harmful drugs, plastics, pesticides and other dangerous elements, there is no evidence that bottled water does not contain the same substances. You are better off buying a water filter and filling your own BPA free water bottles at home. The best reason to fill up your own water bottles at home is how much money it will save you in the long run.

Related Article: The 5 R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot

Think gasoline is expensive? Bottled water costs up to 3 times as much per galon! To make matters worse, bottled water costs over 1000 times more than tap water, the water you are paying for each month anyway! The absolute worst part? Many studies have found that a large percentage of bottled water is just tap water.

On average, each person in the U.S. consumes 167 plastic bottles of water each year. You can use this bottled water cost calculator to figure out your own wasteful spending, but let’s just assume you are average. If you buy 167 bottles of water per year at a low price of 1.50 per bottle (some bottles of water like Fiji brand could cost up to $5.00 per bottle in the stores) you are looking at $250 dollars per year. Compare that to buying a water filter and a reusable water bottle and the purchase already pays for itself even before the end of a year. Remember that the water filter and water bottle are almost endlessly reusable.

Related Article: Conservation Efforts of Earth’s Seven Continents

The multi-billion dollar bottled water industry is one of the most lucrative businesses in the world, and it is a complete scam. Ever notice that Evian is naive spelled backwards?

*Note: The one instance where it is extremely tempting to buy bottled water is while traveling where it is unsafe to drink the water. The same suggestion applies: buy a couple reusable BPA-free water bottles and just fill them on the go at your hotel/hostel. You can even get a lightweight, compact UV water purifier to bring with you and ensure your water is completely safe to drink. If you live or are traveling in North America, a great solution to bottled water is to take advantage of purified water vending machines, an idea that many bottled water companies are implementing. These vending machines can often be found outside of supermarkets.

 

 

6) Weddings

Weddings: one of the prime sources of gossip on Facebook, and one of the ultimate stressors for couples and relatives alike. Weddings are romanticized and embedded deep into the psyche of little girls from the time they are toddlers. Since time immemorial, humans have simply accepted that the culmination of success and happiness in a relationship must lead to a budget crippling, single-day expenditure called a wedding. Of course, most weddings just end in the creation of bridezillas and couples taking out a few additional loans to base the foundation of their future lives on. No wonder so many marriages end due to arguments over finances.

wedding waste of money

Who needs a house? http://www.glamour.com

The majority of couples end up paying far more for their wedding than they had originally budgeted for. After adding up so many variables (the wedding dress, makeup and hair, DJ, decorations, food, wedding favors, invitations, photography… the list is seemingly endless) the final price of a wedding usually ends up being about the price of the downpayment on a new couple’s house. I suppose that’s easy to understand when the average price of a DJ is $748, and the average price of a photagrapher is $1,777. Even saying thank you costs big bucks, with the average price of thank you cards totaling $94.

Related Article: Afraid to Wake Up? Conquering Fear and Living the Lives We Want

In 2012, couples and their families in the U.S. spent an average of $28,427 on wedding ceremonies alone. This is an absolute waste of money, especially for something that lasts less than a full 24 hours. According to the Bureau of Business & Economic Research, the median personal income in the United States in 2012 was $42,693. That means that on average, couples are spending 66% of the average person’s income on a single day to celebrate, well, themselves. Spending the cost of a house downpayment on a single day to remind everyone of your love: that might be the very definition of both insanity and vanity.

The truth is that traditional weddings are downright unnecessary and insultingly wasteful to the rest of the struggling world. Amy Keyishian reminds women in her article “Why I think Weddings are a Stupid Waste of Money,” to not make the mistake of spending thousands for a wedding. By not spending so much:

You’re not a princess, princess. You’re a smart cookie. Trust me, that’s so much better.

If you are spending anywhere near the United States average on a single day, this is a great chance to improve your creativity. There are a remarkable amount of DIY wedding ideas that you can implement to ensure that your wedding is a low cost, creative, unforgettable experience. There are also many ways to have the traditional wedding you’ve been fantisizing about on the cheap by cutting out some of the unnecessary expenses. One of my favorite solutions is cutting out all the ridiculous party favors. According to Gail Johnson, a Decatur, Ga.-based wedding and event consultant:

expensive wedding

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I can’t tell you [how] many times guests leave these items on the tables or take them home and toss them. Entertaining your guests with a great meal and entertainment is plenty, so there is no need to spend money on wedding favors.

Weddings are not a fairytale, they are part of a multi-billion dollar industry that wants as much of your money as possible. What’s so romantic about that?

Related Article: Money: Designed to Fail

*Note: Even the prospect of marriage isn’t entirely necessary nowadays. Although there are a great deal of federal benefits afforded to married couples, domestic partnerships and civil unions are a great option as well. Check out your state policies to see if a civil union or domestic partnership is a better alternative for you and your significant other. Remember, marriage does not equate to true love.

 

 

Rolls of Paper Towels7) Paper Towels

One ton of paper towels is equal to 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water. 3,000 tons of paper towels are produced in the U.S. each and everyday. That means that each day approximatley 51,000 trees and 60,000,000 gallons of water are used so that Americans can dry their hands.

Related Article: Wood Pulp is Changing the World

The solution is simple. Instead of shelling out clams for disposable paper towels each time you go the supermarket, make a one time purchase and buy reusable dish towels instead. It costs $13 for a 12 pack of reusable cotton dish towels. Throw them in the wash when they get dirty, dry them, and repeat. I know Bounty brand is tempting, but it destroys the bounty of our environment!

 

8) Diamonds/Jewelry

Many people purchase diamonds and jewelry as gifts that symbolize true love. This was not always such a widespread practice though. Giving a diamond ring as an engagement gift is only about a century old. Furthermore, the only reason people do it, as usual, is because a very clever business convinced all of us that it is not only a great idea, but a crucial one. Oh well, at least diamonds and other precious jewelry are a great investment right? Wrong. This myth has been dispelled time and time again.
The value of jewelry rises at about the same rate of inflation, but good luck selling your jewelry at even half that price. The biggest issue with trying to sell jewelry is that high-end jewelry stores generally do not buy back precious stones and metals. The amount they would offer sellers would be embarassingly low as they would have to offer them the wholesale price, not the insanely high mark-up price that we all pay.

Related Article: A Planet Covered in Diamonds

Diamonds and jewelry are a horrible waste of money and the very opposite of a smart investment. You’re better off recalibrating your societally learned bourgeoisie tastes and heading to Etsy.com for truly unique, creative, and beautiful jewelry. Besides, is it really worth putting so many eggs into one basket. Owning a $5,000 dollar diamond ring means that if your ring is lost or stolen, so are all those greenbacks the ring is worth.

Keep in mind that an unknown amount of diamonds on the market are blood diamonds, and it is very hard to be sure of the source of your precious stones. When you flash your bling-bling, there’s a good chance you are announcing to the world that you happily support slavery, suffering, and mass death. Support Etsy instead.

 

 

9) Fast Food

Fast food: quick, convenient, cheap, and a total waste of money. In 1970, Americans spent $6 billion on fast food. In the year 2000 that number rose to $110 billion and continues to rise year after year. To give you a better perspective of these numbers, every day 25% of the adult U.S. population shoves fast food down their gullets.

Fast food might seem like a bargain, but the truth is that you are scamming your body and your wallet with every bite you take. Sure, you can get a meal that will fill you up for 3 dollars by ordering off the dollar menu, but is it worth it? Is a dollar worth the nutritional value and health detriment of a Wendy’s Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger? The simple answer is no. Let’s take a look at the not so simple answer.

Related Article: Obesity Has More to Do With Diet Than Exercise

Eric Schlosser describes in his book “Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal” the ugly truth behind fast food: it tastes good, but is utterly destructive to your body. In an excerpt from Fast Food Nation, Schlosser explains that:

The Food and Drug Administration does not require flavor companies to disclose the ingredients of their additives, so long as all the chemicals are considered by the agency to be GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe). This lack of public disclosure enables the companies to maintain the secrecy of their formulas. It also hides the fact that flavor compounds sometimes contain more ingredients than the foods being given their taste. The ubiquitous phrase “artificial strawberry flavor” gives little hint of the chemical wizardry and manufacturing skill that can make a highly processed food taste like a strawberry.

A typical artificial strawberry flavor, like the kind found in a Burger King strawberry milk shake, contains the following ingredients: amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amylketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), α-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, γ-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.

fast food waste money

mrmeltdown.com

Here’s a hint: much of what you just read does not belong in your body, and that is just one example among tens of thousands of products. Despite this, American kids between the ages of 6 and 14 eat fast food 157,000,000 times every month. One of the major reasons is that the flavor wizardry of fast food keeps you wanting more. Simply put, fast food is addictive.

Related Article: Save the Food Pyramid by Cutting Out Carbs

You’d be hard pressed to find a doctor who would suggest that even a small amount of fast food is okay to eat. In fact, many doctors in the UK are demanding a ban on fast food chains near schools due to how serious of an epidemic fast food, and consequently obesity, is. That is why fast food is an utter waste of money. Sure, you won’t starve if you eat it, but you are far more likely to become obese and have very serious health problems down the road if you eat fast food on a regular basis.

Take a look at the nutrition facts for your favorite fast food chain. A Big Mac alone contains 540 calories, 29 grams of fat, and 1040 mg of sodium. Add the obligatary order of large french fries and you just tacked on an extra 500 calories, 25 grams of fat, and 350 grams of sodium. Based on a 2000 calorie diet, that single meal consisting of a burger and fries accounts for 50% of your alloted daily calories, 83% of your alotted daily fat intake (consisting of a great deal of saturated fats and some trans fats thrown in for good measure), %58 of your daily sodium intake, and 36% of your daily carbs at 108 grams. Not a pretty picture, is it? Let’s paint a complete picture just for fun and eat 3 meals at McDonalds, shall we?

 

Breakfast:

Minutemaid Orange Juice: Calories (190), Fat (0), Carbs(0), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (39mg)

Egg McMuffin: Calories (300), Fat (12g), Carbs(30g), Cholesterol(260mg), Sodium (820mg)

Hashbrown: Calories (150), Fat (9g), Carbs(15g), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (310mg)

 

Lunch:

Big Mac: Calories (540), Fat (29g), Carbs(45g), Cholesterol(75mg), Sodium (1040)

Large Fries: Calories (500), Fat (25g), Carbs(63g), Cholesterol(0mg), Sodium (350g)

21 fl oz Diet Coke: Calories (0), Fat (0), Carbs(0), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (30mg)

 

Dinner:

Big N’ Tasty With Cheese: Calories (510), Fat (28g), Carbs(38g), Cholesterol(85mg), Sodium (960mg)

Medium French Fries: Calories (380), Fat (19g), Carbs(48g), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (270mg)

Mcflurry with Oreo Cookies: Calories (510), Fat (17g), Carbs(80g), Cholesterol(45mg), Sodium (280mg)

21 fl oz Coke: Calories (0), Fat (0), Carbs(58g), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (15mg)

 

Totals:

Breakfast: Calories (640), Fat (21g), Carbs(45g), Cholesterol(260mg), Sodium (1169mg)

Lunch: Calories (1040), Fat (54g), Carbs(108g), Cholesterol(75mg), Sodium (1420mg)

Dinner: Calories (1400), Fat (64g), Carbs(224), Cholesterol(130mg), Sodium (1525mg)

 

Full Day Total: (Daily values based on a 2000 calorie diet)

Calories (3080) 154%DV

Fat (139 g) 214%DV

Carbohydrates (377 g) 126%DV

Cholesterol (465 mg) 155%DV

Sodium (4114 mg) 171%DV

 

Combine these atrocious numbers with all the artificial additives and preservatives in fast food and its easy to understand why it is so unfathomably unhealthy and not worth a single penny!

Related Article: The Obese Shall Inherit the Earth

The fats found in most fast food products have been linked to increased fat around the abdomen and an increased risk of diabetes. There is also clear evidence that fast food (constituting the foundation of a poor general diet) is in large part responsible for childhood obesity. Even seemingly healthy options at fast food chains are coated with hidden fats and biologically harmful ingredients. Keep in mind that all of the health problems caused by eating fast food also increases individual and statewide health costs.

What is the point of eating food that only serves to harm you? Doesn’t it make more sense to spend a little extra cash for the sake of actually eating a nutritional meal, maintaining health, and steering clear of medical bills? Paying more for healthy food actually gives you bang for your buck, as opposed to fast food which only serves as a health detriment in the long run.

Besides, eating healthy doesn’t have to be more expensive! In fact, with some careful planning, eating healthy and cooking your own meals at home could be even cheaper than your weekly fast food budget. For example:

Don’t have time to cook? Might as well start making time for more hospital visits. I can’t put this any nicer: find time! It is your life and well being we are talking about here! You could be spending $200 to $400 a month on healthy food, or a ‘fair price‘ of $63,648 on heart surgery. $63,648 is equal to 13 to 27 years of paying for healthy food. It’s your choice.

Related Article: The Life Changing and Life Lengthening World of Fasting

If you don’t think eating healthy foods will fill you up enough, remember that getting filled up is entirely dependant on food density, rather than calorie content. While 4 pounds of fruits and veggies will provide about 400 calories, 4 pounds of pop tarts will provide nearly 10,000. If you think 4 pounds of veggies won’t fill you up, give it a try. You won’t even make it a fourth of the way through.

People that struggle with body fat management tend to fill up on energy dense, processed foods. This means stored energy for later.

Translation: Fatness.

If we eat 4 pounds of energy-controlled, whole, real food – we get lots of nutrition with a calorie count that our body can handle.

Check out the differences outlined below:

Most people in the U.S. are consuming (on average) the following amounts of food each day:

2.0 pounds of meat, dairy and eggs
1.5 pounds fruits and veggies
0.5 pound grains
0.5 pounds added sugars, fats and oils
= 4.5 pounds
= about 3,700 calories per day

What if we switched this around?

2.5 pounds of fruits and veggies
1.0 pounds of grains and legumes
0.3 pounds nuts/seeds
0.3 pounds meat, dairy and eggs
0.1 pounds added sugars, fats and oils
= 4.2 pounds
= about 2,075 calories per day

You can eat healthy without paying anymore than you would for fast food and still be left completely satisfied. The dollar menu is an illusion; nutritionally the food is worth far less than a dollar.

If you happen to work 120 hours a week for $1 an hour, then there are still options for you. If for whatever reason you must resort to eating fast food, there are ways to make healthier choices when perusing the fast food menu, as well as ways to make normally unhealthy fast food healthier. Some of my favorite suggestions are to drink water instead of a soft drink, undress your meal by removing unnecessary sauces, and to research all ingredients. Don’t waste your money on non-nutritional garbage. Think of healthy food as an investment in yourself.

fast food waste money

“Supersize Me”

 

10) University

While some countries enjoy free university and college, here in the U.S. we are stuck paying prices that a Middle Eastern oil mogul would be awed by. From 2008 to 2010 the average tuition cost for American universities rose by 15%. For some schools, it was even as high as 40%. On average, in the 2010 to 2011 school year, the average cost of one year of tuition, room, and board for all insitutions across the U.S. was $18,497. To split that total up, the average 4-year private institution cost $32,617 per year while the average 4-year public institution cost $15,918 per year. That is a whole lot of dead presidents. Some for-profit universites, which are not included in those averages, could cost even more.

Related Article: Public School Failure in America

students-in-front-of-the-academic-building-on-the-texas-a-m-university-campus_slideA university education is not a waste of money for everyone out there, but for a huge percentage of the population it absolutley is. Think long and hard before setting foot on campus: there is no return policy. If you are paying $20,000 a year to get a bachelors degree, by the end of 4 years you are looking at spending the price of a brand new condominum, or 2 brand new condos, depending on where in the U.S. you lay your head at night. And that’s IF it takes you 4 years to complete your degree. The average time it takes to complete a bachelors degree is 54 months, or 4.5 years. So, if you are on the upper end of that average, and going to an above average university, you could be spending closer to $200,000. You could completley pay for 2 houses for that price; live in one and rent the other one out. We are talking about a very serious amount of money just to listen to people considered experts in their field give lectures. From my experience it is mandatory to buy the new version of their book each year too.

Despite what society would have you believe, going to college or university isn’t for everyone. A degree does not guarantee success, nor does it guarantee a job. With unemployment currently hovering around 7.5%, employers only plan on hiring an extra 2.1% of graduates compared to 2012, a number that they had originally estimated to be 13% in the Fall of 2012. Unemployment for people under 25 in the U.S. is closer to 16%. Financially, the situation is even more troubling for recent grads:

Young college graduates with full-time jobs earned an average hourly wage of $16.60 last year, roughly $34,500 a year. That is down 7.6 percent from 2007. Benefits are also a problem. Between 2000 and 2011, the share of young graduates whose jobs provide for retirement plans dropped to 27.2 percent from 41.5 percent. The trend is troubling given that most students are graduating from college with huge debts.

Let me reiterate: having a degree does not guarantee success, or even make success any more likely. The most important thing when thinking about university is to consider who you are as an individual, and to remember that there are so many other options. An article from Learnfinancialplanning.com shares a very poignant story.

A friend of mine recently told me the story from when she worked at McDonald’s back when she was still in high school. Someone came along and applied for a job. Under “educational experience”, the individual listed a 6 year degree in Calligraphy.

They hung the application on the wall and had quite a few chuckles.

They laughed because the degree was absurd and stereotypical. There are precious few things one can do with a degree in Calligraphy. Spending $50,000 was probably a bad choice. The individual could have simply learned the trade without the degree, and saved thousands.

Don’t go to a degree it isn’t necessary. If it is necessary, and you can make your money back with a typical job in the field you’ll be getting your education in, then go for the degree. Just rationally analyze your situation, your goals and the necessity of the degree, and you’ll be fine.

Related Article: Science Says “Smart People are Idiots”

studentdebtEducation comes in many forms, don’t let society convince you that university is the only way. So, what are your alternatives to university? How about traveling the world? Backpacking through different countries is a great way to widen your perspectives and find out what you truly want to achieve in life. It is also one of the best ways to meet other people and create a solid network. The age old saying ‘it’s not about what you know, but who you know’ still applies. Volunteering or interning is also a great way to get experience in a field without having to pay tens of thousands of dollars to find out that it doesn’t really appeal to you. You could also apply for vocational training, or even start a business. Ever heard of Mark Zuckerberg? He didn’t need a degree to make Facebook.

While not everyone who starts a business will succeed, the lessons you will learn will be an invaluable tool you can take with you for the rest of your life. PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel is even paying university students $100,000 to drop out of school and attempt to start a business. According to Thiel,

Learning is good. Credentialing and debt is very bad. College gives people learning and also takes away future opportunities by loading the next generation down with debt.

In a similair vein, Cameron Herold, an entrepreneur since he was a child, points out the importance of recognizing and fostering entrepreneurial talent in kids. He gives an extraordinary TED talk on how exactly to raise kids to better their chances of becoming succesful entrepreneurs, if not more successful people in general when they grow up.

Related Article: Paul Ryan: “School? Get a Job! In Fact Get Three!”

Sure, you may be nervous to go against the mold of society, but just remember that there’s no rush. Take some time to think about what you want out of life. Society insists that we go to university, graduate, and start a career as quickly as possible; don’t listen to everything you hear! Your life is yours to live. If going to university/college turns out to be a mistake, it will be a costly one that will haunt you in the form of loans and insane interest rates (6% or more!) for decades to come. You don’t have to waste your money on university if it isn’t right for you, and you can still be a fully capable, and even highly successful member of society.

If you feel alone in choosing not to go to university, check out this endless list of highly succesful people that never went to university or dropped out. Just to name a few:

Sandy Adams, U.S. congressperson. Dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to join the Air Force. Later got her GED and attended the police academy before being hired as a deputy sheriff.

Ben Affleck, actor, screenwriter. Left the University of Vermont after one semester; then dropped out of Occidental College to pursue acting.

Chuck Allen, banker, co-founder of the National Scholastic Surfing Association, and founder of the U.S. Amateur Snowboard Association. At the age of 19, he moved from Oklahoma to California and began working odd jobs until he was established enough to move on to a banking career.

Woody Allen, screenwriter, actor, director, and producer. Was thrown out of New York University after one semester for poor grades. Also dropped out of City College of New York. As he admitted, “I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics final. I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me.”

Hans Christian Andersen, short story author, fairy tales. Left home at the age of 14 to find work. Later attended Copenhagen Univesity.

Peter Arnell, advertising executive. Never attended college. Talked his way into the advertising business after graduating from high school.

Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder, software programmer. Studied mathematics at the University of Melbourne but dropped out because other students were doing research for the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Dan Aykroyd, actor, comedian. Dropped out of Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

Keep in mind that this list consists only of famous drop outs with last names that start with the letter ‘A.’

Related Article: Coursera: Free Online Courses from the World’s Top Universities

 

 

11) Charity/Non-For-Profit

When you donate to charity it gives you a nice, warm feeling inside. You get to help the world, at least a little bit, from the comfort of your own home. In 2011, individuals, corporations, and foundations in the U.S. collectively donated $298.42 billion to charitable organizations. The sad truth is that a surprisingly large percentage of many charities’ donations do not go to helping anything or anyone at all, but instead cover the costs of overheads.

charity perpetuate poverty waste of money

michellegallardogsoc151.blogspot.com

Even well known organizations such as Feed the Children have been found to be utterly inefficient. While the founder and former president of the organization Larry Jones purchased a $1.2 million dollar house to better “reach out to celebrities,” Feed the Children was caught lying about donating food to the needy in Haiti. They hadn’t fed a single person!

A few weeks ago I was was traveling through Sumatra, trekking through the jungle with a guide. The guide explained to me that people from North America and Europe think that the money they donate to NGO’s such as the World Wild Fund for Nature is being used to make a difference. He expressed a very different reality, telling me that:

They do nothing to help the wildlife here, and often do more harm than good. They helped pay for feeding platforms for the dying organgutans, but this only makes the orangutans dependant on humans for food. It also spreads disease to the orangutans. Because they have nearly 97% identical DNA with humans, they can catch our sicknesses and have no way to cure themselves. WWF is useless.

Even handing out money to homeless people you pass on the street is often totally unhelpful because tiny amounts of money that they do not and cannot save only serves to perpetuate their poverty. What they need is direction, not beer money.

Related Article: Ever Heard of Microcreditng?

I am not going to claim that every single charity is a waste of money though! You can use the sites Charity Watch, and Charity Navigator to check the efficiency of charities and find out if the money you donate is actually being used to help the needy.

Another option is to look into is microcrediting. Microcrediting is:

a small loan that individuals invest towards small businesses or entrepreneurs in developing countries. It can also help to improve the lives of many women who, unlike men, have less of a chance to find stable employment.

This provides the direction that the needy require, hopefully allowing them to escape from poverty for good.

 

12) Makeup

Makeup? More like mark-up! The price of makeup is marked up by 78% on average. Ladies, all 80% of you that wear makeup on a regular basis have seen and paid for these high prices, but is it really worth it?

The average woman spends $15,000 on makeup in her lifetime, money that contributes to an industry worth more than $382 billion. Lost makeup alone costs women $400 a year on average. All of this money to alter your physical self in order to be more comfortable around people that will judge you regardless of the mask you wear. Daily makeup use is also very unhealthy due to the chemicals that are absorbed into the skin, and subsequently the bloodstream. Anything that has a 78% mark-up, is unhealthy for you, and only serves to hide who you really are is an absolute waste of money.

If makeup gives you a greater sense of confidence and security, then I can certianly understand your argument. But ladies, moderations is key. Your health and wallet will thank you dearly!

 

 

13) Greeting Cards

Whether it is for birthdays, anniversaries, religious holidays or just to say thank you, giving greeting cards is a staple tradition of society. It is subsequently a mindless waste of money. As Pretired Nick excellently describes:

At the local stores, the customer plays his or her role, flipping through the cards as quickly as possible until one is found that will “work” — not perfect, just “good enough.” The card is mindlessly purchased, a name is unemotionally signed and the card sits until it’s time to hand it over to the receiver. That moment is funny, too, with the giver anxiously waiting while the receiver opens the card, fakes a chuckle at the joke and says a heartfelt “thank you.” If it’s a group setting, the card is then passed around so everyone can enjoy the hilarious joke. And, then, of course, after the journey from forest to factory to store to lucky recipient, the card is usually recycled [or thrown away].

Related Article: Fooling People into Passionate Belief

The greeting card has become an object we now take for granted. We may as well pretend to open a card, say “blah, blah, blah” out loud, and then mock throw the card away; it will yield the same results only with less waste. Giving a greeting card is equivalent to giving a person a clump of dirt and saying “look, I picked this clump of dirt for you rather than any of the other clumps, how great is that!?” sad_batman_greeting_card_by_hatpire-d53ecao

They are a drain on the environment, a social stressor, and most of all, a sink-hole in your wallet. Americans spend between $7 billion to $8 billion each year on over 6.5 billion greeting cards.Birthdays are by far the most popular card sending occasion. And listen up ladies; you are responsible for a whopping 80% of all greeting card sales!

Related Article: A How To: Behavior Changes and Breaking Habits

The average price of a greeting card falls between $2 -$4. If you buy greeting cards for a modest 10 people, on 4 different days out of the year, you are spending $80 to $160 per year on something that is glanced at, thrown away, and never thought of again. If you are buying cards for more than 10 people, well… you may as well just burn your money and leave out the middle man.

I know, I know, you still don’t want to break the societal mold and just stop giving greeting cards, so what can you do? Luckily for you, technology!

You can always send your friends and family an e-card and save the environment, money, and your time. The best part about sending an e-card is that they are usually free. Even Hallmark, the almighty Baron of Greeting Cards, offers unlimited e-cards for only $1 per month! E-cards will also reach the recipient instantaneously. Goodbye snail-mail, hello 21st century!

Related Article: Go Go Gadget: Wearable Tech

Another major reason for not buying greeting cards is that picking a piece of paper from amongst other pieces of paper requires zero creativity. The same applies to ready made e-cards. If you truly want to show someone that you care about them, make your own greeting card or e-card. There is endless amounts of greeting card software available for those that are not creatively inclined.

For those with even a minute semblance of creativity, get a piece of paper, put a writing instrument in your hand, and make your own. Simple, yet surprisingly not so obvious.

 

14) Wrapping Paper

Wrapping paper may be the single most belligerent thing humans have ever conjured up. It’s single, solitary function is to be ripped apart and thrown away. That’s right, not recycled, but thrown away, because the dyes and chemicals in wrapping paper make it non-recyclable.

Here are some disgusting facts about wrapping paper and its evil cousin, ribbon:

Related Article: Unprecedented Changes and Extinctions Occuring in Marine Life

The environment is just one consideration. Think about how much time you spend wrapping each and every gift. I’ve seen people set aside entire nights devoted solely to wrapping with paper that will be immediately disregarded in lieu of what is inside of it. Waste of time, waste of resources, burden to the environment, and an utter waste of money.

Let’s assume a naked gift is simply going to far. You’re modest and have a sense of dignity, and you want your gifts to reflect your top notch moral values. I understand. Here are some cheap, eco-friendly alternatives to wrapping paper:

Related Article: A Product That Will Turn You into a Tree After Death

More often than not, wrapping paper is dyed and laminated. It can also contain non-paper additives, such as gold and silver coloring, glitter and plastics. Additionally, it can be very thin and contains few good quality fibers for recycling. To make matters worse, it usually has tape on it from gift wrapping. Recognizing that those pretty words at the beginning of this paragraph probably distracted a few pro-wrapping paper fiends out there, if you do receive a gift covered in it, make sure to reuse it and not just throw it in the garbage.

The way I see it, giving unwrapped gifts can be a great gauge of a person’s personality. If they seem irritated, angry, or disappointed that you didn’t wrap their gift, then they missed the whole point of your giving them a gift in the first place. They are short-sighted and ungrateful. Pat them on the back, leave them alone for the time being, and send them over to this article for some perception restructuring. We’ll have them back to you good as new in no time.

Related Article: Sweden is Running Out of Trash

 

15) Vitamins

Many of us took Flintstone vitamins as kids, take vitamin supplements as adults, and will continue taking vitamins well into the winter of our lives. You probably already know this, but I’ll remind you anyway: food, that natural stuff that grows out of the Earth and comes in various shapes and colors, contains the same vitamins and nutrients found in all the pills you’re popping!

Just because vitamin supplements contain nutritious elements doesn’t mean they’re your best option for attaining nutrients. In fact, the only reason ANYONE takes vitamins is due to a single Nobel prize winner named Linus Pauling, who despite decades of clear scientific data showing the opposite, claimed that taking multivitamins would eradicate the common cold, cure cancer, and Vitaminsamongst other miracles, extend life expectancy to 150 years. In case you weren’t sure, Linus was dead wrong.

Related Article: Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else

Although just about the entire global scientific community agrees that multivitamins/ nutrient supplements do more harm than good in the long run, over half of the American population still takes their daily multivitamins. This is largely due to age old hype and unfounded propaganda convincing people that money spent on vitamins equates to years of elongated, healthy life.

Even a glance at the tip of the research iceberg regarding the effects of multivitamins makes it clear that they are incredibly dangerous and in fact detrimental to health. They are a waste of money in the same way that cigarettes are. The vitamin and supplement industry combined is worth nearly $90 billion, despite the fact that according to Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, it is clear that:

The concept of multivitamins was sold to Americans by an eager nutraceutical industry to generate profits. There was never any scientific data supporting their usage.

Studies repeatedly make it clear that this multi billion dollar market is pure quackery, and yet:

On October 25 [2011], a headline in the Wall Street Journal asked, “Is This the End of Popping Vitamins?” Studies haven’t hurt sales. In 2010, the vitamin industry grossed $28 billion, up 4.4 percent from the year before. “The thing to do with [these reports] is just ride them out,” said Joseph Fortunato, chief executive of General Nutrition Centers. “We see no impact on our business.”

HealthyVitaminFeatureRelated Article: Starve Cancer by Eating

Just eat food! As long as its not a money waster like fast food. It borders on impossible to consume too many vitamins or other nutrients from actual food.

If you do have certain allergies or restrictive diets, your choices may be slim, but there are SO many options out there. Be creative and do your research. You don’t need pills to be healthy, quite the opposite!

 

 

16) Cleaning Products

How many households including your own do you know of that have a cabinet filled with cleaning products? I’m willing to bet there’s bottles you didn’t even know you had sitting under your sink, filled with chemical names you can’t pronounce or even begin to know the danger of. The truth is that all of those bottles of biological/environmental poison can be replaced by a few simple, sunder-kitchen-sink-cabinet-organization-hall-of-fame-21605295afe substances/solutions that you can make yourself in moments for a fraction of the cost.

Related Article: For Humanity’s Sake Wash Your Hands!

Websites abound with various options for creating your own cheap household cleaning products. These cleaning products often involve white vinegar, lemon zest, certain essential oils, and the legendary baking soda! I consider it legendary because baking soda can save you money by being used in literally hundreds of different ways, from deodorizing smells, to cleaning produce, to putting out fires!

A mixture of baking soda and white vinegar mixed with a solution of water can take care of just about any area in the home that needs some cleaning and disinfecting. If you’re looking to kill mold, instead of bleach, use clove oil, which in my experience works just as well.Need to cut grease? Use lemon juice, it’s that simple!

Related Article: pH Levels and Your Scalp

In no time, by making a few simple changes, you can clean your home non-toxically and on the cheap. Not to mention, think of all the cabinet space your cans of Febreeze and Oxy had been hoarding that is now ripe for the filling! For 1000’s of cheap, alternative cleaning ideas, check out the following links:

Non-Toxic Home Cleaning Solutions

1001 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar

Eco-Friendly Cleaning Recipes

Cleaning with Clove Oil

 

 

17) Gadgets

gadgets31

Give me 6 of everything please. http://tech.gaeatimes.com

We love our gadgets! How could we not? With a single device that fits into our pocket we can put our lives on autopilot and have even more time for shopping, Jersey Shore re-runs, and fast food.

But, and I know I should walk on eggshells when I ask this, do we really need all our fancy gadgetry? Of course not, but it makes life so much better. So, let’s rephrase the question: Do we really need a new gadget so often? Do we really need to upgrade our phone every 6 – 12 months, get a new computer every 1-4 years, buy the latest, greatest, mind-bending fast machine the moment it is released?

Related Article: The Draw of Cellphones

We all know that technology changes rapidly; there is always something new. Weeks after buying state of the art technology it is rendered obsolete by the next best thing. It is simply impossible to keep up with every single generation of new gadgetry. And yet, in the face of impossibility, we humans persevere, and practically kill ourselves trying to keep up with society’s view of the Western dream:

A television in every room, a computer, a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone, printer, faster internet, a bigger television, a better computer, an external harddrive, faster laptop, new headphones, more advanced smartphone, faster internet, new camera, 3-D television, quad core computer…. you get the idea.

Related Article: 3D Printing: The Next Revolution in Creativity

Isn’t it incredible that the moment we hear rumours about the iPhone 5S, suddenly, our iPhone 5 seems like a drab toy barely capable of entertaining a Neanderthal? The tech industry, specifically the at-home-electronics industry, is a Yoda-level swindler when it comes to convincing you that what you need is the next greatest technological development NOW. The industry, like all big industries, is a master of constantly reigniting your desires for something new, and convincing you that what you have simply isn’t good enough.

Every 3 – 12 months Apple releases a new model of the iPhone, and its out with the old, in with the new. Their sales continue to rise, and the population continues to fork over their hard earned cash for something they pretty much already have. And that’s just the iPhone! Countless other gadgets, electronics, and gizmos attain the status of ‘necessary to our lives’ on a daily basis. How is it possible that a device that can do everything, including have a conversation with you, can bore us in less than a year? Our grandparents used to get a kick out of playing wall ball for half a day. Wall ball, a game so simple that you can describe the entire premise of the game with two syllables: wall, and ball. Try to do the same with Final Fantasy. And yet, More than 20 Final Fantasy games later, we need more, more, MORE!

Related Article: Oculus Rift and Omni Treadmill: Gaming of the Future

The hard truth is that in contemporary society, enough is simply never enough. Take a look at the graph below. It is evidence of the aforementioned truth.

 

According to the graph:

— In 1900, <10% of families owned a stove, or had access to electricity or phones

— In 1915, <10% of families owned a car

— In 1930, <10% of families owned a refrigerator or clothes washer

— In 1945, <10% of families owned a clothes dryer or air-conditioning

— In 1960, <10% of families owned a dishwasher or color TV

— In 1975, <10% of families owned a microwave

— In 1990, <10% of families had a cell phone or access to the Internet

Today, at least 90% of the [U.S.] has a stove, electricity, car, fridge, clothes washer, air-conditioning, color TV, microwave, and cell phone. They make our lives better. They might even make us happier. But they are not enough.

Related Article: Income Inequality in America: Red Herrings and Wealth Envy

Compared to a single generation ago, everyone has everything, and yet, the majority of everyone is in debt and/or living paycheck to paycheck. So, is the only solution to become the fool on the hill and live gadget free? Not a chance. The answer is far less extreme.

Decrease your frequency of gadgetry/electronics purchases. That’s it. As long as you can still browse the internet, take pictures and video, call friends and family, play endless amounts of games, take notes, have conversations with AI, and pinpoint your exact latitude and longitude in the blink of an eye, you DON’T need a new gadget that performs the exact same functions with the sole added bonus of a fingerprint scanner for an additional $500 or more. Gadgets themselves are not a waste of money, far from it. It’s a waste of money to buy a brand new, redundant gadget so often. Let’s have a look at some solutions to your expensive gadget habbit:

Related Article: Your Old Android Phone Can Save the Rainforest

Virtual-Keyboard

Is that a thing? Oh my god I need that right now! new-gadgetstech.blogspot.com

Be honest with yourself. Buy a single gadget that meets your needs. Don’t buy a new one until you TRULY need it. If you have a built in camera in your phone, do you really need a state of the art $2800 camera? Unless you are a professional photographer, the answer is no.

Look for sales. For many people, a sales price means that because the item is so cheap they have money left over to play “what’s the quickest way to empty my wallet?” This defeats the purpose of buying items on sale. Take advantage of sales prices, but don’t spend the money you save on something else you don’t need. Be patient. Some of the best sales can pop up at any time. Use sites like slickdeals.net to ensure that you are getting the best bargain price possible.

Upgrade instead of buying new. The next time your computer starts processing information in slow motion, consider upgrading its component parts rather than buying a whole new one. If you have 8gb of RAM, and your computer has a 16GB RAM capacity, just buy more RAM. Upgrades will not always be the better value, but they often are. Make sure to do a price comparison.

Related Article: Augmented Reality Blows My Mind Twice

Wait for the price to come down. Within as little as a few months after a product’s release the price will inevitably decrease. The truth is that technology companies have already developed the technology years before it is released, meaning that nothing is really state of the art. Everything you see on the market is technologically inferior to what actually exists. Simply put, you will never truly have ‘the best.’ So, is it really a big deal to just deal with your perfectly capable piece of tech for a few more months, or even years, in order to eventually buy a product at a fraction of its original price?

Watch out for gadget overlap. If you have a laptop that can do practically everything you don’t need a tablet for the sole fact that it has a touch screen. People have survived without touch screens since, well, forever, and you will too. If you have a $20 pair of headphones that work, unless you are Mark Zuckerberg and have a couple billion dollars to throw away, you do not need a $1200 pair of headphones. No, you don’t.

Related Article: TVs, Brains, and Zombies, Oh My

Be rational and reasonable. If you’re a man and you find a computer that is 10% of its normal price but only sold in pink, just be the guy that has a pink computer! You just saved 90% and are now able to eat food without charging your nutritional intake to a credit card.

Heil Kitler! First it was the house that looks like Adolf, now we bring you the cats of the furred Reich  1

You’ve already stared at Kitler’s moustache 14 times this week!

Be satisfied with the incredible god-like gadgets you already own. Compared to a single generation ago, the capabilities of even our most basic gadgets make people living in the 21st century seem like Gods to the rest of former humanity. Keep this in mind the next time you find yourself perusing Amazon for something better. Buying new gadgets, like any type of shopping, is a drug and a status symbol, and you are wasting your cash trying to keep up with the Joneses for the sake of a slightly better screen resolution and larger harddrive space to look at even more high quality pictures of cats with Hitler moustaches.

Related Article: Cute Baby Animal Pictures Increase Productivity

What’s the rush anyway? Due to exponentially accelerated change, in the very near future we won’t be able to tell the difference between biology and technology.Cherish the time when you actually have the choice to be separate from your precious gadgets. The singularity is near.

Related Article: The Singularity is Nigh Upon Us

 

 

18) Eating/Drinking Out

money_food

Eat up, this meal is going to cost you! angellebatten.com

There’s nothing like a nice dinner out with a glass of wine to demolish your bank account. Society romanticises the notion of eating and drinking out, making us believe that going out for a meal or a drink should be the norm. Check your perceptions and you’ll come to see that there is nothing romantic about paying outlandishly high prices for something you can obtain at the market for a fraction of the price right down the street from the restaurant.

Sure, going out to wine and dine affords us a pleasant, stress free night, but in the same vein as gadgets, the problem comes in when we start wining and dining too often.

Related Article: Food Myth: Don’t Eat After a Certain Time

While America as a whole doesn’t spend the most on food and alcohol compared to other nations, food and alcohol still does some serious damage to our collective paycheck. The worst part is that more often than not, we choose to pay for outlandishly overpriced food and drinks at restaurants and bars.

In the last 30 years, from 1982 to 2011, alcohol at stores has decreased in price by 39%, while alcohol from bars and restaurants has increased by a whopping 79%.

Despite these statistics, over the same 30 year period, Americans have increased the amount of alcohol they buy from restaurants and bars by 14%, and have decreased the amount they buy from stores by 16%.

This means that as Americans, we have consciously chosen to spend drastically more money on booze than we have to. Why would we choose to spend nearly double the amount for a product, despite having the clear option of a cheaper deal on the same product right down the street. Must be the booze.

Related Article: The Life Changing and Life Lengthening World of Fasting

What about restaurants? Are we more rational with our restaurant spending? Surely there’s some financial rationality left in the human race.

The good news is that in 2012, a survey from Gallup reported that 77% of Americans were eating at home the day before the survey, which is a fantastic number compared to the 10% who reported they had eaten at a restaurant. The bad news is that when it comes to money, percentages can’t hide the fact that we are throwing it all away on eating out.

61% of Americans say that they want to cut back on their restaurant habit. Clearly we are feeling guilty for the amount of time spent hassling waiters and gorging ourselves in public.

Related Article: Burning Fat App on Your Phone

How much a person dines out is dependant on numerous factors, including gender, age, income, and region. Writers at Mother Jones used information acquired by Bundle.com, a company that analyzes credit card data from Citigroup, to create a food spending chart of major cities around the United States. They found drastically different spending behaviors across the country. For example, the average person in Austin, Texas spends $420 a month on dining out, whereas the average person living in Detroit, Michigan only spends $69 dollars each month on dining out. People living in Austin spend nearly 6 times as much on dining out compared to people in Detroit. According to Mother Jones:

Austin, Texas, spends almost twice the national average for dining out; five Detroit households could eat for a year on an average Austinite’s food budget.

How is it that we are spending so much on food? Don’t these amounts seem drastic? A large part of the reason, as we all know, is that restaurants overcharge us. The only reason restaurants exist in the first place, like any business, is to fill a niche and ultimately make a profit. The only way to make a profit is to charge you more than they paid for the food and drinks. Much, much more, especially since they buy everything in bulk.

Related Article: Why Don’t We Eat Insects?

Barring very special occasions, your best option is to just not eat out all. Even in instances where your family or friends invite you out, invite them to your place and let them know why you would rather make a meal at home. What are some reasons it is better to make food at home?

      • It’s cheaper. This is probably obvious to you, but what might not be so obvious is just how much you can save by not eating or drinking out. For example, Crystal Brothers from Servingjoyfully.com saved her family over $50 per week, or $2600 each year by simply not eating out. Think of all the iPhones you could buy with those savings! Also, if you have some self control, make sure to buy your alcohol in bulk. For example, buy cases of wine instead of a single bottle at a time. You could save 40% or more using this method.
      • It’s more fun. Cooking is an art form that combines all 5 of your senses. The texture of the foods involved, the smell and taste, the colors and presentation, as well as the sounds of preparation all play pivotal roles in the experience of cooking. It is also a great chance to experiment. Buy foods at a foreign supermarket you’ve never even heard of and look up a recipe for them. You might find a new favorite. Take a traditional recipe and spice it up or down. Cooking at home can be a journey of culinary self discovery. You can even get the kids involved or, throw on some tunes, pour a glass of wine and make it into a healthy and delectable date night.
      • It’s healthy. Cooking at home is mentally, emotionally, financially, and physically satisfying. Choosing ingredients and preparing a meal provides mental stimulation. Cooking with a partner gives you more time together to develop a stronger emotional bond. Being in control of the sodium content, fat, cholesterol, etc. in your meal makes it a healthier alternative to eating out. Lastly, your budget will love you for choosing the economical path.
      • You’re in control. You are in control of the ingredients so it can be healthier. You can also control the portion sizes, which is one of the major reasons we in the West take up so much space. Drinking at home can also be more fun as it provides a more intimate scene. Instead of shouting across a noisy bar you will actually be able to hear and engage in proper conversation. Most importantly, being in control can lessen the chance that you will drink industrial amounts and/or drive drunk.
      • Better for the environment. Eating at home is better for the environment for various reasons. Each year America wastes about 40% of all the food it produces. This frightening percentage means that a family of four loses nearly $2,275 per year solely due to food waste. Studies have shown that one of the major reasons for such extreme levels of food waste in America is due to portion sizes, especially those served in restaurants and bars. And, if portion sizes are too big, what do you do? You take your meal home in a plastic container, inside of a plastic bag. Waste upon waste upon waste.

Related Article: The Obese Shall Inherit the Earth

If you’re going to cook at home and aren’t the experimental type, you’ll need some solid recipe sites to inspire you with cooking ideas. Below is a list of some of my favorite recipe sites:

Really though, the internet is full of great ideas for at-home cooking. Take a look in your refrigerator and do a Google search of the ingredients. A delicious recipe is bound to pop up. Or, you can use Recipe Key to find recipes based on what’s in your refrigerator and pantry. You can even make your own baby food. The possibilities are endless.

Related Article: The Power of Hemp Seeds

You know why you shouldn’t eat out, and why it is so much better to eat at home, but what about those uncontrollable urges? How can they be avoided? Here are some tips for avoiding the urge to eat out:

**Note about tipping: Do not go out to eat or drink unless you are also willing to tip. Not tipping is not a way to save money. Waiters, waitresses, bartenders, busboys, and other members of the hospitality service are paid well below minimum wage all across America, (usually between $2.13 and $4.95 per hour) nearly all of which goes to paying taxes. By not tipping a server, you are effectively telling them that you don’t care whether they are alive or not. Even worse, if you don’t tip a server, they are literally PAYING FOR YOU to eat at the restaurant. A percentage of what a server is tipped is given to bartenders, busboys, and other restaurant workers whether a server is tipped or not. If you tip a server 18%, 14% goes to the server, and 4% goes to other employees. This tip-share is different for each restaurant, but the large majority of restaurants have a tip-share.

Related Article: Volunteering is Good for Your Health

If you don’t know how to tip or how much you should tip, read this tipping guide carefully.

 

 

19) Luxury Hotels

How cool would it be to stay in a hotel with a private pool, a grand piano, 12 rooms, and ivory furniture? Even if you had the money, it would still be an utter waste.

accommodation08

Who cares about a mortgage payment, look at all the lanterns we have in our luxurious abode!! http://www.doonbeglodge.com

Sure, you could stay in some of the most expensive hotels in the world and talk to your personal, hotel provided butler all day, but what’s the point of paying top dollar for a luxurious nights sleep. Why bother traveling in the first place?

Related Article: Breathe Deep to Relieve Stress

The most meaningful and memorable vacations are those in which you can truly step outside of your normal day to day life and experience something new and exciting. Sleeping on a super comfy bed in an air conditioned room after ordering room service does not fall into that category.

When my partner and I were traveling through Laos we had the option of staying at a $26 per night hotel, or a $3 per night hostel. While both of these options are incredibly cheap by Western standards, we opted for the $3 hostel. We met another couple who opted for the $26 per night hotel. After exchanging descriptions of our respective accommodation we realized that both places had the exact same amenities. The only difference was that the hotel room had a slightly better view and a larger room. Too bad the only time they went back to the room was to go to sleep, at which point the expensive view they had been enjoying all day outside of the hotel was too dark to see.

Related Article: Money: Designed to Fail

m_1156651a

Classic example of a kitchen in a cheap hostel. http://www.realadventures.com

Keep in mind also that hostels almost always have a public kitchen where you can cook your own meals. This saves even more on food, and gives you the opportunity to shop at a supermarket and live like a local.

Instead of spending so much money on the hotel room, spend the money on a dish you’ve never tried, an unforgettable experience, or something else you come across unexpectedly. Traveling, if done right, will provide you with a truly enriching cultural experience, a cultural education, endless fun, a chance to meet new people, and most of all, an opportunity to get out of your shell and grow into an even more broad minded, well rounded you.

Experience the world, not a hotel room.

Related Article: Fun Fact: You’re the Cause of Boredom

Some great sites to use for finding reviewed hotels, hostels, and guest houses for very cheap can be found below:

Hostelworld

Agoda

Booking

 

For those of you looking for a truly unique experience along with FREE accommodation, even in your own country, check out the following sites:

Help Exchange (HelpX)

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)

Couch Surfing

 

 

20) Gyms

ronnie

“Why bother buddy, you’ll never be this big!” http://www.skyhdwallpapers.com

Gyms; the place most of us go to force ourselves to do exercises we hate, exercises that we could be doing for free. What a waste of time and money. Unless you are a professional body builder you have no business giving a gym a single penny.

Related Article: 7 Minute Workout to Burn Fat

Any given gym, like most places we waste our money at, is part of a multi-billion dollar industry worth nearly $20 billion as of 2008. The average gym membership costs $55 per month, and yet, on average, people only go to the gym 2 times per week. Steven Levitt, the author of Freakonomics, stated in the New York Times that

people who buy annual gym memberships often overestimate how much they’ll actually use the facilities by 70%.

In fact, 67% of people with gym memberships never even use them.

Who are we kidding? That’s right, ourselves.

Related Article: Awareness and Dealing with Rejection

Before gyms, did exercise simply not exist? Of course not. Why are you running on a treadmill when it is free to run outside? Or, if you want to run inside, go to your local park district and run around the track for free. Why are you lifting finely sculpted pieces of heavy metal? Just go lift any heavy object that exists on planet Earth, the results will be the same. Oh, you enjoy swimming as a form of exercise? Well, is the $40 gym really the only place with a body of water?

Going to the gym has become a status symbol and social soiree. The gym has more to do with conversation than it does with fitness. Why are you spending any money at all, no matter how little, to stand around talking? And if you are actually exercising, you need to start thinking outside the box gyms have trapped you in.

Related Article: Obesity Has More to Do With Diet Than Exercise

Instead of wasting your money at a gym try doing exercises you can do at home, in a park, or in other places that are free. Try out yoga, callisthenics, a jog around the block, the full body 7 minute workout, maxalding, or even just going for a walk.

You can even incorporate your workout into everyday life. While at the supermarket do a few more laps around the store once your cart is fully loaded. Sprint to the bus stop instead of walking. Do jumping jacks during a commercial break. You can even make a game out of it; for every 30 minutes of GTA V that you play, do 10 push-ups. Or, every time you catch yourself logging into Facebook, do 15 lunges.

Related Article: Salamba Sirsasana: It’s Time to Do a Headstand!

If you’re still not convinced and want to continue pretending you go to the gym far more than you actually do, at least take advantage of tried and true techniques for slashing the cost of gym memberships.

      • Pay month to month
      • Check with your health insurance to see if they will give you a discount for having a gym membership
      • Look for sales and promotions, especially on sites like Groupon
      • Try out a free trial memberships at multiple gyms before committing

The fact remains… unless you are a professional or a highly disciplined individual, a gym is almost always an unnecessary, utterly wasteful expenditure.

Just so you are fully aware, this is the only form of human that can claim his or her money is well spent at the gym:

 

Sources:

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https://wondergressive.com/2013/02/12/sweden-is-running-out-of-trash/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/02/24/refuse-reduce-reuse-recycle-rot/

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https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/23/money-designed-to-fail-2/

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http://www.precisionnutrition.com/what-are-your-4-lbs

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http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2013/05/09/why-a-college-degree-no-longer-guarantees-success

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http://www.psmag.com/business-economics/economic-trouble-for-graduating-class-of-2013-57700/

http://learnfinancialplanning.com/why-you-dont-need-a-college-degree/

http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0611/6-alternatives-to-going-to-college.aspx

http://www.ted.com/talks/cameron_herold_let_s_raise_kids_to_be_entrepreneurs.html

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/facebook-paypals-peter-thiel-pays-college-students-drop/story?id=13693632#.UcPYCjs0y0Y

http://collegedropoutshalloffame.com/

http://www.grantspace.org/Tools/Knowledge-Base/Funding-Resources/Individual-Donors/American-giving

http://www.topsecretwriters.com/2012/10/feed-the-children-organization-%E2%80%93-charity-or-scam/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Wide_Fund_for_Nature

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/03/should-you-give-money-to-homeless-people/72820/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-23288,00.html

http://shop.nordstrom.com/c/beauty-makeup-all-makeup?origin=leftnav

http://www.charitywatch.org/articles/aipmethod.html

http://www.charitynavigator.org/

http://www.mint.com/blog/consumer-iq/splurge-vs-save-which-beauty-products-are-worth-the-extra-cost-0413/?display=wide

http://www.medindia.net/news/Make-Up-Unhealthy-for-Skin-22507-1.htm

http://www.youngentrepreneur.com/

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-51407464/summer-internships-6-best-ways-to-get-one/

http://www.ibewcco.org/why-join-the-ibew/apprenticeship.aspx

https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/31/obesity-has-more-to-do-with-diet-than-excercise/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/12/save-the-food-pyramid-by-cutting-it-by-the-limbs/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/04/the-obese-shall-inherit-the-earth/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/09/24/the-wonderful-healthier-life-changing-and-life-lengthening-world-of-fasting/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/14/public-school-failure-in-america/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/04/21/science-says-smart-people-are-idiots/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/18/coursera-free-online-courses/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/16/paul-ryan-school-get-a-job-in-fact-get-three/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/22/ever-heard-of-microcrediting/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/11/24/volunteering-is-good-for-your-health/

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http://www.ehow.com/how_6945763_clean-clove-oil.html

http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm

http://www.moneycrashers.com/how-to-save-money-with-baking-soda/

https://www.ecocycle.org/hazwaste/ecofriendly-cleaning

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2012/10/19/vitamins-good-for-you-bad-for-you-or-what/

http://www.reportlinker.com/ci02037/Vitamin-and-Supplement.html

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/effects-of-taking-too-many-vitamins

http://pretired.org/saving-money/greeting-card-tyranny/

http://www.greetingcard.org/AbouttheIndustry/tabid/58/Default.aspx

http://rubberstamping.about.com/od/opportunities/a/GreetingCardFactsandFigures.htm

http://www.123greetings.com/

http://www.hearts.com/ecolife/sustainable-giftwrap-reusable-gift-bags-boxes/#_edn1

http://earth911.com/recycling/paper/wrapping-paper/facts-about-recycling-wrapping-paper/

http://www.environmentreport.org/story.php?story_id=4795

http://www.recycleworks.org/resident/holiday_facts.html

http://www.thedailygreen.com/going-green/tips/recycled-paper-gift-wrap-461207

http://earth911.com/news/2012/12/18/eco-friendly-wrapping-paper/

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https://wondergressive.com/2013/08/04/biggest-wastes-of-money-part-1/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/08/18/biggest-wastes-of-money-that-we-all-continue-to-pay-for-part-3-fast-food-and-education/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_iOS_devices#iPhone

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Fantasy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siri

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https://www.couchsurfing.org/

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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703436504574640651941267992.html

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http://www.tribalance.com/

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http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/06/19/155366716/what-america-spends-on-booze

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Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 1): Cigarettes, Fashion, Lottery, New Cars

 

 

We all waste our money on something out there. After all, money in and of itself is useless unless we are spending it. That being said, some of the everyday things people spend their money on are an absolute waste and a downright scam. Over the course of five posts I will go over what I see as the 10 biggest wastes of money (including 10 (dis)honorable mentions) that people spend their hard earned cash on. I am not here to judge anyone in particular, just the human race as a whole that I am happily a part of. How many of these are you guilty of?

 

Part 2 of this series can be found here: Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 2): Bottled Water, Weddings, Jewelry, Paper Towels

Part 3 of this series can be found here: Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 3): Fast Food, University, Charity, Makeup

Part 4 of this series can be found here: Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 4): Wrapping Paper, Greeting Cards, Vitamins, Cleaning Products

Part 5 of this series can be found here: Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 5): Gadgets, Dining Out, Luxury Hotels, Gyms

 

Cigarettes

Cigarettes are bad for you, like really bad, like proven to cause cancer and a multitude of other illnesses bad. Despite what you tell yourself, and unlike other substances such as cannabis, there are actually no real benefits to smoking cigarettes. There are however hundreds of reasons to quit.

Related Article: Smoking: A Pre-existing Condition Under Obamacare 

To begin, cigarettes do not just contain tobacco, they contain over 599 additives.  These 599 additives turn into 4000 different chemicals through the chemical change of burning the tobacco. 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer.  Some of the lovely chemicals that cigarette smokers deeply inhale include:  carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanides and ammonia. The initial 599 additives have been approved as safe by the FDA, but they were approved without being burned.  The FDA never once approved the 4000 chemicals created through the burning process that are known  to be noxious poisons.

According to the CDC:

Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths per year, and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030. Cigarette smoking account[s] for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined. Smoking causes an estimated 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women.

Translation: Cigarettes are a near guaranteed death sentence, a death sentence that consists of horrible pain and struggling until the very last moment. Oh, and if you don’t die from smoking cigarettes, you are still more likely to get sick.  Because they lower the effectiveness of the immune system and other bodily functions, the CDC notes that compared to non-smokers, smokers are more likely to develop:

  • coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
  • strokes by 2 to 4 times
  • men developing lung cancer by 23 times
  • women developing lung cancer by 13 times
  • dying from chronic obstructive lung diseases (such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema) by 12 to 13 times

So if cigarettes are so harmful, why do people start smoking in the first place? The major reasons are:

  • Media advertising
  • Epigentic predisposition
  • Parental influence
  • Stress relief
  • Self medication
  • Appetite suppression
  • Rebellion
  • Social benefits
  • Peer pressure

Some of these reasons for starting are understandable and may seem like benefits from the get go. For example, stress relief doesn’t sound so bad. The problem is that once the incredibly strong sway of nicotine addiction sets in, which could be within days, cigarettes themselves become a stressor because smokers are antsy, anxious, and stressed without the tool they have become dependent on for solving their stress. Quite the downward spiral. The truth is that any physical benefit from smoking quickly subsides as the body builds a resistance to the nicotine found in tobacco. The positive benefits, such as appetite suppression and mood elevation, quickly fade in place of the same old you, that same old you that you originally tried to alter with a highly potent poison. Keep in mind that nicotine is incredibly potent, with resistance and dependency forming very quickly.  To be precise, it is:

  • 1000 X more potent than alcohol
  • 10-100 X more potent than barbiturates
  • 5-10 X more potent than cocaine or morphine

What about social benefits?  Isn’t it great to be able to do something with your mouth and fingers to distract from the awkwardness of getting to know other people?  The truth is that in this case you are only slightly curing a symptom of a problem with much deeper roots. If you require a biologically destructive tool to be able to comfortably talk to people, then you should put your focus on overcoming this societal fear rather than using an irrational crutch forever and ever.

Related Article: Cannabis Cures Cancer and More: A Thorough History and Review of the Evidence

It should be obvious that the rest of the list consists of very shallow and poor reasons for choosing to take up such a clearly destructive and incredibly hard-to-break habit.  Not to mention, cigarettes are extremely expensive.

Super, super expensive in fact! In 2011 a pack of cigarettes cost between $4.74 (West Virgina) and $11.90 (New York), depending on the state. In 2012 the price range for cigarettes changed to $4.84 (West Virgina) to $12.50 (New York). If you live in New York and smoke a modest 1 pack of cigarettes a day, you’re spending $87.50 a week, which is $4,550 a year. Not surprisingly, a recent study found that cigarettes smokers in New York that made $30,000 a year or less spent a whopping 25% of their income on cigarettes.  25% of their income on something that has no real benefits past the first couple weeks, is incredibly difficult to stop doing, is proven to cause cancer, and shortens your life span by at least 10 years. Go figure.

You might be thinking, ‘Hey, I’m sure some people enjoy smoking until the day they die whether they develop cancer or not.’ The odds are against you friend. 69% of smokers in the United States admit to wanting to quit completely with 52% of smokers trying to quit in 2010. Feel like throwing your health and money away? Grab a pack of cigarettes.

Sadly, even today, despite so much available information, 4,000 kids younger than 18 smoke their first cigarette everyday, and everyday 1000 kids younger than 18 become daily smokers. If you are attempting to quit smoking, there are many ways to change behavior and break habits successfully. Don’t give up on yourself, you’re worth it!

Related Article: A How To: Behavior Changes and Breaking Habits

 

 

 

Designer Clothing and Fashion

designer clothing expensive

projectmotherhoodnyc.com

If there was ever an absolute scam, this is it. Billions of people around the world have been brainwashed into believing that brand names equate to better quality and ‘cool factor’. While this may be the case in some instances, it is not the norm.

Whether it be sunglasses, watches, hats, handbags, pants, jackets, shoes, or any other material possession, much of the world is not happy unless they have an item made by their favorite designer.  The problem is that designers charge insane amounts of money for products that often cost them about the same amount as it costs Walmart to make their products. The difference is that they claim their name and minimum amount of labor is worth the hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars extra.

The brainwashing goes even further when people insist that they need to buy new clothes each season to keep up with the changing fashion. High end clothing companies and designers would have you believe that you are not cool unless you pay them exorbitant amounts of your hard earned money four times a year to keep up with the ‘in crowd.’ What an ingenious way to suck consumers dry.

Related Article: Income Inequality in America: Red Herrings and Wealth Envy

This form of brainwashing comes largely in the form of advertising, celebrity worship, and companies/independent designers banking on your insecurities. According to David A. Aaker, the vice chairman of Prophet, a brand consulting firm:

The cost of creating those things has nothing to do with the price, it is all about who else is wearing them, who designed them and who is selling them.

It’s not about price, it’s about competing with everyone around you. And for what? To look the flashiest? Readers, I have news for you: You are an adult, and if you haven’t figured this out yet, it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. The only time it matters is in a job interview, because a job has the benefit of giving you the ability to support yourself. Your potential boss is not looking at your wardrobe, he is looking at a single outfit. But even in that instance, guess what? Unless you have the Walmart logo on your button down collared shirt, your boss will have NO IDEA how much you spent on your clothing. As long as you look presentable, that is what matters, and it does not take $500, $200, or even a $50 shirt to do that.

The mark ups on all clothing are astronomical, but this is especially the case with designer clothing. Did you know that Kohl’s department store has been caught hiking up the price of their products right before a huge sale? It is even possible to pay more for a sale price than you would have for the normal price of the good.  There is a reason why all your favorite designers are living in multiple mansions, driving cars that cost more than your life’s net worth, and purchasing their own islands: they tricked you.  They have the world at their fingertips, and what do you have? Their sewn together fabric. Woopdie-do.

Related Article: A Note on the Top 1%: Psychopaths or Superhumans?

If you just can’t break the habit of buying designer goods and clothing, all hope is not lost. Head to a resale shop like Plato’s Closet and pick up some designer clothes at a fraction of the price. Sure, the clothes might be used, but after washing them no one will be able to tell the difference. Plato’s Closet has incredibly high standards for their clothing and even the slightest defect will be noticed and that piece of clothing removed from the store.  You may be wearing used clothes, but at least you won’t have to work 20 hours of overtime next week to pay back the growing interest on your Macy’s credit card.

*Note: Another great idea is to buy clothes and other art from Etsy.com and support independant, and possibly even local artists/artisans. At least you’ll know that your particular item is one of a kind instead of wearing the same Abercrombie shirt as every other 20-something-debt-up-to-their-nose-fashion-freak.

 

Dishonorable Mentions:

 

Playing the Lottery

You actually have a better chance of being killed by a mountain lion or becoming president of the U.S.A than winning the Mega Millions Jackpot or the Megabucks Slot Machine Jackpot. There is a reason winning the lottery is called a pipe dream, and it’s not because pipes help you win.

200170608-001

New Cars

Buying a new car is one of the best ways to cut your money into little pieces and throw it to the wind.  The moment you drive your shiny new vehicle off the lot it depreciates in value by up to 40% of the price you just paid only seconds before. So, if you pay $25,000 for a new car, within seconds of the purchase it is worth only $15,000.  Yikes! By the end of the third year your 4-wheeled baby is worth about 40% of its original price. If you’re planning on holding onto yo6a00d83451b3c669e2013486235de6970c-800wiur car for longer than 3 years its only going to get worse. The older a car is, the slower it depreciates in value.

Don’t forget that it’s impossible to know whether you will get into an accident or not, potentially totaling your car. Remember, you might be the best driver in the world, but what about everyone else?

 

 

Sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/

http://www.tricountycessation.org/tobaccofacts/Cigarette-Ingredients.html

http://www1.umn.edu/perio/tobacco/nicaddct.html

http://www1.umn.edu/perio/tobacco/nicaddct.html

http://www.theawl.com/2011/06/what-a-pack-of-cigarettes-costs-state-by-state

http://www.theawl.com/2012/06/pack-of-cigarettes-cost

http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/20/nyregion/poor-smokers-in-new-york-state-spend-25-of-income-on-cigarettes-study-says.html?_r=2&=_r=6&

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/02/22/consumerwatch-investigation-finds-kohls-sale-prices-arent-always-a-deal/

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/29/fashion/29ROW.html?_r=0

http://www.platoscloset.com/

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-11/dismal-odds-winning-lottery-infographic

http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/car-buyers-guide/cbg_depreciation.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/vera-wang-house-photos-2011-8?op=1

http://www.bornrich.com/giorgio-armani.html

http://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motoramic/ralph-lauren-40-million-bugatti-wins-top-prize-175719868.html

 

Related Wondergressive Articles on This Page:

https://wondergressive.com/2013/04/12/smoking-a-pre-existing-condition-under-obamacare/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/10/11/suicide-the-leading-cause-of-injury-mortality-in-the-united-states/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/09/cannabis-cures-cancer-and-everything-else-a-thorough-history-and-review-4-2/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/28/epigenetics-and-altering-your-dna/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/16/awareness-and-dealing-with-rejection/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/02/behavior-changes-and-breaking-habits/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/07/income-inequality-in-america-whats-the-big-deal/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/02/15/a-note-on-the-top-1-psychopaths-or-superhumans/

 

An Argument Against the Critics of Cannabis Use (Part 2)

[no_toc]

*Note: This article is part of a larger report featured on Wondergressive entitled ‘Cannabis Cures Cancer and More: A Through History and Review of the Evidence

Copyright © 2013 [Eric Feinberg]. All Rights Reserved.

To read Part 1 of this post please click here.


What the Critics Have to Say About Cannabis

(And Why They’re Wrong…)

 

Critics are quick to point out the consistently noted dangers of cannabis ingestion.  These are the same arguments that have been used for decades.  They remain aggressively debated without compromise, despite decades of rational evidence suggesting falsity and fallacy. The seemingly valid concerns regarding cannabis use that top the critics’ list are: the gateway drug theory, short-term memory loss, psychosis, decreased intelligence, harm from cannabis smoke, depression, an elevated heart rate, and worries over driving while high. Let’s allow science and logic to save the day, shall we?

Psychosis

An historically major issue concerning cannabis is the worry that it may induce schizophrenic symptoms or intensify various forms of latent schizophrenia. The subjective experience of ingesting cannabis is highly personal and varies greatly among users around the world. Common experiences include:

  • Greater enjoyment of food taste and aroma

    blogs.sfweekly.com

    blogs.sfweekly.com

  • An enhanced enjoyment of music
  • A greater enjoyment of comedy and humor
  • Distortions in perception of time and space
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Improved long-term memory recall
  • Creative thinking
  • New perspectives
  • Increased libido
  • Elevated mood
  • Heightened sensitivity to external stimuli
  • Relaxation

At extremely high doses common experiences include:

  • Altered body image
  • Auditory/visual illusions
  • Hallucinations (extremely rare)
  • Mild dissociation of mind and body
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia

While the vast majority of the effects of cannabis are viewed as positive, panic attacks and paranoia are obviously unwanted.  Between 20 and 30 percent of recreational users experience intense anxiety and/or panic attacks after smoking cannabis.

Related Article: The Incredibly Diverse Medicinal Properties of Cannabis 

While these symptoms usually occur due to thoughts of legal ramification for ingesting cannabis, exaggerated worry over a thought process, or general anxiousness over trying something new, it has been reported that the symptoms can happen spontaneously as well. It is possible and plausible that these symptoms could lead to greater and more persistent symptoms of psychosis. However, there are multiple aspects of the psychosis worry that needs to be discussed.

First, through our increasing knowledge of cannabinoids and the role they play on the endocannabinoid system, researchers have discovered that certain cannabinoids have a marginally stronger effect than others with regards to producing hallucinations  delusions, and subjective psychological stress.

While the THC (the most psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis) offers incredible physio/psychological health benefits, it has been linked to being the sole culprit of producing more schizophrenia-like symptoms.

Related Article: The History and Legality of Cannabis Use Around the World 

When comparing multiple subjects under the influence of only THC, a mixture of THC and CBD (cannabidiol), and no cannabinoids, researchers found that only THC produced subjectively negative psychological effects.  The subjects with no additional cannabinoids in their system and the subjects with the mixture of THC and CBD both experienced a nearly identical psychological effect.  The only major difference was that the subjects who had ingested the mixture reported less anhedonia (unable to experience pleasure)  then the other two groups. The researchers concluded that if anything, their research highlighted

the importance of distinguishing between different strains of cannabis.

Once we break cannabis down into its component cannabinoids it is easy to see why users describe such incredibly varied experiences. Cannabidiol is extremely effective in treating and preventing symptoms of schizophrenia, as research continues to suggest.  Many researchers believe that cannabis legalization will herald a revolution in the treatment of various psychological disorders, including schizophrenia. According to a 2005 double-blind study analyzing the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol, researchers found that:

cannabidiol treatment was accompanied by a significant increase in serum anandamide levels, which was significantly associated with clinical improvement. The results suggest that inhibition of anandamide deactivation may contribute to the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol potentially representing a completely new mechanism in the treatment of schizophrenia.

Other studies on the topic affirm that many subjects report

no clinically significant adverse effects

while self treating themselves with cannabis.

Even in the Netherlands, where cannabis use is widespread and often harshly judged internationally, scientists have reported an utter lack of evidence that cannabis use leads to schizophrenia.  The report states that:

A group of Dutch scientists say that there is no proof that cannabis induces schizophrenia. These findings will be embarrassing for the Dutch government, which has been bearing down on Marijuana Coffee Shops saying the drug induces schizophrenia.

The truth is that  much of the research done thus far has been skewed and largely unscientific.   Under proper guidance, and using the correct strains, researchers all around the world agree that cannabis is a wonderfully effective psychotropic medication. Researchers discussed the consistently shown promise and proof of cannabis as an effective psychotropic medication in the British Journal of Psychiatry:

I considered Arseneault et al‘s (2004) search for evidence of the association between cannabis and psychosis as quite skewed. They did not explore the evidence regarding positive, therapeutic or beneficial psychoactive effects of cannabis in mental health in the context of appropriate, rational and clinical usage…Signalling, mostly inhibitory, suggests a role for cannabinoids as therapeutic agents in central nervous system disease where inhibition of neurotransmitter release would be beneficial. Evidence suggests that cannabinoids inhibit the neurotransmitter glutamate, counteract oxidative damage to dopaminergic neurons and may be potent neuroprotective agents (Croxford, 2003)…knowing [cannabis’] potent neuroprotective function, its potential role in psychiatric practice should not be discarded lightly.

The most important thing to remember is that symptoms of schizophrenia generally (nearly always) precede cannabis use. Schizophrenia and general psychosis have far more to do with genetic make up than anything else (refer to the graph).

Research regarding the connection between cannabis and psychosis, especially symptoms of schizophrenia, remains historically lacking and skewed with regards to component cannabinoids in cannabis.  Cannabis produces highly varied subjective experiences, and research has revealed that each cannabinoid within cannabis has a markedly different effect on individuals. Multiple recent studies have shown that cannabis, specifically the cannabinoid CBD, is a highly effective agent in treating schizophrenia and other psychological disorders.  Most importantly, symptoms of schizophrenia precede cannabis use in the vast majority of cases.  There is currently no clear evidence that cannabis is directly responsible for causing psychosis and schizophrenic symptoms in users. 

 

Depression

This is one of the most commonly used arguments against the use of cannabis as a form of medicine or recreation.  Like the psychosis argument debunked above, the depression argument is always portrayed in a skewed and exaggerated fashion.  The most important thing to remember as we discuss this is that correlation does not imply causation.

forum.grasscity.com

forum.grasscity.com

It is well known that many already depressed individuals (ranging from mild to incapacitating depression) use cannabis as a form of self-medication.  This often takes place after finding no success with taking a whole slew of expensive, addictive, and biologically destructive prescription drugs handed out by the oh so helpful DSM devotees.

Related Article: The Power of Hemp Seeds: Behold Powerful Nutrition

What researchers have found is that the vast majority of people who use cannabis to treat their depression find it to be highly physically/psychologically therapeutic and helpful. All people react differently, just like with any substance.  Regardless of subjective experience it is clear at the biological level that cannabis has an anti-depressant effect on the body and mind.  With regards to decreased depression associated with cannabis use an additional study incorporated:

Over 4400 adult internet users [who] completed The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale and measures of marijuana use. We employed an internet survey in an effort to recruit the most depressed and marijuana involved participants, including those who might prove unwilling to travel to the laboratory or discuss drug use on the phone or in person. We compared those who consumed marijuana daily, once a week or less, or never in their lives. Despite comparable ranges of scores on all depression subscales, those who used once per week or less had less depressed mood, more positive affect, and fewer somatic complaints than non-users. Daily users reported less depressed mood and more positive affect than non-users. The three groups did not differ on interpersonal symptoms.

Cannabis users, whether they ingested the substance less than once a week or every day, reported far less depressive symptoms and far more happiness and satisfaction than non-users.  The study goes on to say that:

The media continues to report links between marijuana and depression. In a recent review, Degenhardt, Hall, and Lynskey (2003) identified a modest relationship only among problematic users. Many studies show no link between cannabis and depression despite appropriate statistical power, measurement, and design (Fergusson & Horwood, 1997; Fergusson, Lynskey, & Horwood, 1996; Green & Ritter, 2000; Kouri, Pope, Yurgelun-Todd, & Gruber, 1995; McGee, Williams, Poulton, & Moffitt, 2000; Musty & Kaback, 1995; Rowe, Fleming, Barry, Manwell, & Kropp, 1995). One neglected source of depression among marijuana users may stem from medical use. Separate analyses for medical vs. recreational users demonstrated that medical users reported more depressed mood and more somatic complaints than recreational users, suggesting that medical conditions clearly contribute to depression scores and should be considered in studies of marijuana and depression. The data suggests that adults apparently do not increase their risk for depression by using marijuana.

Just like we discussed in all of the other arguments, the public only sees what the media picks and chooses to show, which is usually negligible data that has been exaggerated and skewed to fit their hype.  The previous study also brought up an excellent point that has never been discussed before: are the results of studies concerning cannabis and depression that get aired by main stream media corrupted by reports of depression that originate from medical suffering?  The use of cannabis is so wide spread around the world, especially in the US, that it should not be discounted.

Related Article: Cannabis Protects Brain From Damage While Binge Drinking

Besides, just like in the psychosis argument, it is clear that depression generally precedes cannabis-use.  Furthermore, studies suggest that:

After adjusting for differences in baseline risk factors of marijuana use and depression, past-year  marijuana use does not significantly predict later development of depression.

To reiterate, cannabis exhibits an antidepressant-like behavior in more ways than one, and is often used to treat even incapacitating depression successfully.

Finally, in a longitudinal study completed in 2009 regarding cannabis and suicide,researchers found that:

Although there was a strong association between cannabis use and suicide, this was explained by markers of psychological and behavioural problems. These results suggest that cannabis use is unlikely to have a strong effect on risk of completed suicide, either directly or as a consequence of mental health problems secondary to its use.

The depression argument is false in many of the same ways as the psychosis argument.  In the vast majority of cases depressive behavior precedes cannabis use. Additionally, in most cases where cannabis is used to self-treat depression it is found to be successful.  Cannabis is a clear biological antidepressant and exhibits incredible therapeutic properties. Depression is highly subjective and everyone experiences it differently.  The truth is that in multiple studies both light and heavy cannabis users report far less depressive symptoms than non-users.  There is no evidence whatsoever that cannabis use predicts or causes depression.  Many depressed people use cannabis and report positive results far more often than people using contemporarily prescribed prescription medication. 

 

Driving While Stoned

(*Note: this report does not advocate driving while under the effects of any substance, including cannabis.  The aim of this section is to view the credible findings on how cannabis affects drivers.)

The claim that ingesting cannabis somehow affects driving ability makes sense at first glance.  Unfortunately all of the reports historically presented by mainstream media have focused on theory and self-report tactics, rather than actual evidence and proof.  They continuously focus on potential ratios, theoretical effects, and skewed speculation.

Related Article: Federal Judge Urges Decriminalization of Marijuana 

Biologically, it is true that

cannabis impairs driving behavior. However, this impairment is mediated in that subjects under cannabis treatment appear to perceive that they are indeed impaired. Where they can compensate, they do.

Despite biological theories for how cannabis might potentially affect a driver, experiments using driving simulations in the lab find that:

drivers who drank alcohol overestimated their performance quality whereas those who smoked marijuana underestimated it. Perhaps as a consequence, the former invested no special effort for accomplishing the task whereas the latter did, and successfully. This evidence strongly suggests that alcohol encourages risky driving whereas THC encourages greater caution, at least in experiments.

The [findings] contrast with results from many laboratory tests, reviewed by Moskowitz (1985), which show that even low doses of THC impair skills deemed to be important for driving, such as perception, coordination, tracking and vigilance. The present studies also demonstrated that marijuana can have greater effects in laboratory than driving tests. The last study, for example showed a highly significant effect of THC on hand unsteadiness but not on driving in urban traffic.

It is apparent that despite multiple laboratory studies displaying favorable results, real world driving tests are even more positive. When we actually test the effects of cannabis on drivers in the real world, we see very little safety issues, if any at all.

Drivers under the influence of cannabis, unlike alcohol, realize they are under the effects of a substance and successfully compensate for their altered state of mind by driving slower and by giving themselves more space between other vehicles. One of the first actual road tests with cannabis studies drivers in the lab, on the highway, and in congested urban areas.  The results affirmed that as far as cannabis’ effect on actual driving performance:

Driving quality as rated by the subjects contrasted with observer ratings.  Alcohol impaired driving performance according to the driving instructor but subjects did not perceive it; marijuana did not impair driving performance but the subjects themselves perceived their driving performance as such….Thus there was evidence that subjects in the marijuana group were not only aware of their intoxicated condition but were also attempting to compensate for it…drivers become overconfident after drinking alcohol…and more cautious and self critical after consuming low THC doses by smoking marijuana.

Drivers under the effects of cannabis pay more attention to the road; drive more slowly, and leaving themselves more room between other cars.

Related Article: Portugal Decriminalizes All Drugs; 10 Years Later the Results are Mind Blowing

The truth is that alcohol is a far more serious problem than cannabis when it comes to driving. Studies performed from 1982 to 1998 demonstrate time and time again that alcohol is significantly more dangerous than cannabis on the road. Alcohol use is also far more prevalent in crash statistics.

Blood and/or urine from fatally injured drivers in Washington State were collected and tested for the presence of drugs and alcohol. Drug and/or alcohol use was a factor in 52% of all fatalities. Among single vehicle accidents, alcohol use was a factor in 61% of cases versus 30% for multiple vehicle accidents. Drugs most commonly encountered were marijuana (11%), cocaine (3%), amphetamines (2%), together with a variety of depressant prescription medications.

The study even found that it was far less likely to find alcohol in a person’s system in the presence of cannabis, implying that cannabis use lessened the prevalence of alcohol use on the road:

Trends noted included an association of depressant use with higher blood alcohol levels, while  marijuana use was associated with lower blood alcohol levels.

With regards to comparisons between cannabis and illicit substances overall, Accident Analysis & Prevention, a peer-reviewed journal, reported in its July 2004 article titled “Psychoactive Substance Use and the Risk of Motor Vehicle Accidents,” by K.L.L. Movig, et al.:

The objective of this study was to estimate the association between psychoactive drug use and motor vehicle accidents requiring hospitalization.

The risk for road trauma was increased for single use of benzodiazepines and alcohol…High relative risks were estimated for drivers using combinations of drugs and those using a combination of drugs and alcohol.  Increased risks, although not statistically significant, were assessed for drivers using amphetamines… No increased risk for road trauma was found for drivers exposed to cannabis.

With regards to comparisons between cannabis and substance-free drivers:

The largest study ever done linking road accidents with drugs and alcohol has found drivers with cannabis in their blood were no more at risk than those who were drug-free. In fact, the findings by a pharmacology team from the University of Adelaide and Transport SA showed drivers who had smoked marijuana were marginally less likely to have an accident than those who were drug-free. A study spokesman, Dr Jason White, said the difference was not great enough to be statistically significant but could be explained by anecdotal evidence that marijuana smokers were more cautious and drove more slowly because of altered time perception. The study of 2,500 accidents, which matched the blood alcohol levels of injured drivers with details from police reports, found drug-free drivers caused the accidents in 53.5 per cent of cases. Injured drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration of more than 0.05 per cent were culpable in nearly 90 per cent of accidents they were involved in. Drivers with cannabis in their blood were less likely to cause an accident, with a culpability rate of 50.6 per cent. The study has policy implications for those who argue drug detection should be a new focus for road safety. Dr White said the study showed the importance of concentrating efforts on alcohol rather than other drugs.

The BBC and CNN both filmed their own research on the actual effects of cannabis on driving ability.  The BBC study focused on a single driver and found that he actually drove better while ‘high’; driving more cautiously and paying more attention to the driving test.  The CNN study was a bit more extensive and controlled.

The study, conducted in Washington where recreational cannabis use is legal, focused on 3 volunteers who drove under the effects of different amounts of cannabis.  They drove alongside a driving instructor with drug recognition experts (police officers with specific drug recognition training) watching them from outside the vehicle.  The volunteers included a heavy daily user, a weekend user, and an occasional user.  Even at 7x the legal limit of driving under the influence, 5x the legal limit, and 4x the legal limit respectively, all of the volunteers passed their driving tests, received positive reviews from the driving instructor, and would not have been pulled over by the drug recognition experts.

Related Article: Uruguay to Legalize Marijuana

States with medical marijuana laws are also reporting that since cannabis became legal medically and/or decriminalized, they have witnessed decreases in deaths resulting from car accidents:

A report from the University of ColoradoMontana State University, and the University of Oregon found that on average, states that have legalized Medical cannabis had a decrease in traffic-related fatalities by 8-11%.

It’s just safer to drive under the influence of marijuana than it is drunk….Drunk drivers take more risk, they tend to go faster. They don’t realize how impaired they are. People who are under the influence of marijuana drive slower, they don’t take as many risks

From a theoretical point of view it makes sense that people would be concerned over potential risks of ‘driving while stoned.’  However, the research speaks for itself.  Laboratory and real world test results have confirmed time and time again that cannabis does not have a detrimental effect on driving ability.  People under the effects of cannabis, unlike alcohol, realize their altered state of mind and compensate successfully for it.  In most instances cannabis users drive more safely; driving slower, paying more attention to the road, and remaining more cautious and vigilant. Cannabis does not pose any serious danger to drivers or anyone else on the road. 

atheistfoundation.org.au

atheistfoundation.org.au

 

Cannabis Smoke and Lung Damage

patients4medicalmarijuana.wordpress.com

patients4medicalmarijuana.wordpress.com

There are endless reports that claim cannabis harms the lungs and bronchial airways, as well as increasing the risk of lung cancer. What you’ll quickly notice though is that the studies these reports are quoting from are completely theoretical studies based on comparisons with cigarette smoke, as opposed to actual findings from research. Additionally, they only focus on one mode of cannabis ingestion, one that destroys many of the medical benefits of cannabis; smoking.

It is true that there are over 50 potentially carcinogenic substances found in cannabis.  Additionally, because smoked cannabis is not completely dry and is smoked without a filter, there is roughly 4 times more tar than the amount found in cigarettes. One can see why studies would speculate that cannabis may increase the risk of lung cancer.  As usual, when you look at the actual science, the opposite is true.

Related Article: Smoking: A Pre-existing Condition Under Obamacare

First of all, there is currently not a single known case of cancer originating from the ingestion of cannabis. As stated numerous times in this report, there has never been a death that cannabis was directly responsible for.

Endless studies, despite a hypothesis to the contrary, are unable to find an increased risk of cancer due to cannabis use.  in fact, as stated previously,

studies indicate that THC has anti-tumorigenic and anti-metastatic effect against lung cancer [and most other forms of cancer].

A study in 2005, the largest ever conducted of its kind, left Donald Tashkin, a pulmonologist at UCLA‘s David Geffin School of Medicine, scratching his head.  Tashkin and his research team had hypothesized an association between cannabis and lung cancer, but even after 30 years of observing thousands of subjects they were unable to find a connection between cannabis and lung cancer.

We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use. We expected that we would find that a history of heavy marijuana use – more than 500 to 1,000 uses – would increase the risk of cancer from several years to decades after exposure to marijuana. What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect.

kushsmoke.com

kushsmoke.com

The heaviest users in Tashkin’s study smoked more than 60 joint-years worth of marijuana, or more than 22,000 joints in their lifetime. Moderately heavy users smoked between 11,000 and 22,000 joints.

That’s an enormous amount of marijuana [however] in no category was there any increased risk, nor was there any suggestion that smoking more led to a higher odds ratio. There was no dose-response, not even a suggestion of a dose response, and in all types of cancer except one, oral cancer, the odds ratios were less than one. This is the largest case-control study ever done, and everyone had to fill out a very extensive questionnaire about marijuana use. Bias can creep into any research, but we controlled for as many confounding factors as we could, and so I believe these results have real meaning.

That being said, Dr. Tashkin wisely notes:

It’s never a good idea to take anything into your lungs, including marijuana smoke.

Smoke does not belong in your lungs, and just as this report does not advocate driving while under the effects of cannabis, it equally does not recommend smoking cannabis.  What this report does suggest is using a vaporizer, cooking the cannabis into food, or making a cannabis oil.  All of these methods make this entire argument irrelevant as they do not involve any form of smoke.

The media has bombarded the public with seeming ‘proof’ that cannabis leads to lung cancer.  The truth is that all of this ‘proof’ has been entirely speculative.  Despite cannabis smoke containing carcinogens and up to 4 times more tar than the amount found in cigarettes, long term studies confirm that there is no increased risk of lung cancer from smoking cannabis.  On the contrary, the cannabinoids found in THC work to fight against cancer and even protect healthy cells.  Most importantly, because cannabis can be ingested in many ways that don’t involve smoke, this entire argument is irrelevant.

 

*Note: This article is part of a larger report featured on Wondergressive entitled ‘Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else: A Through History and Review

 

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Cannabis Smoke and Lung Damage

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An Argument Against the Critics of Cannabis Use (Part 1)

 

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*Note: This article is part of a larger report featured on Wondergressive entitled ‘Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else: A Through History and Review

For part 2 of this article please click here

Copyright © 2013 [Eric Feinberg]. All Rights Reserved.


What the Critics Have to Say About Cannabis

(And Why They’re Wrong…)

 

Critics are quick to point out the consistently noted dangers of cannabis ingestion.  These are the same arguments that have been used for decades.  They remain aggressively debated without compromise, despite decades of rational evidence suggesting falsity and fallacy. The seemingly valid concerns regarding cannabis use that top the critics’ list are: the gateway drug theory, short-term memory loss, psychosis, decreased intelligence, harm from cannabis smoke, depression, an elevated heart rate, and worries over driving while high. Let’s allow science and logic to save the day, shall we?

 

Gateway Drug

Many critics of cannabis use claim that cannabis is a gateway to harder and more persistent drug use.  They are implying that if a person uses cannabis, recreationally or medically, they are more likely to use dangerous drugs like cocaine (again, ironically listed as a schedule 2 drug) or heroin.  Although multiple studies have found that cannabis users are more likely than non-users to engage in the use of more ‘hardcore’ substances (meaning higher addiction potential and/or more biologically detrimental), there are endless holes in this argument.

Related Article: The Incredibly Diverse Medicinal Properties of Cannabis 

First, let’s start with the fact that there is no definitive evidence that cannabis use is responsible for the ingestion of harmful drugs. According to former US Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders:

Much of their [US drug-policy leaders] rhetoric about marijuana being a ‘gateway drug’ is simply wrong. After decades of looking, scientists still have no evidence that marijuana causes people to use harder drugs. If there is any true ‘gateway drug,’ it’s tobacco.

Alcohol and tobacco are more accessible and far more likely to be used by teens, consequently making those substances more likely to lead to further drug use.  As stated by Elders, they are the true gateway drugs. In one of the most highly credible and sourced assessments on the science of drug use, the Institute of Medicine stated that:

In fact, most drug users do not begin their drug use with marijuana–they begin with alcohol and nicotine, usually when they are too young to do so legally…

There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the basis of its particular physiological effect.

Starting to see the trend here?  Alcohol and tobacco are far more dangerous and addictive than cannabis.  If the gateway drug theory did have any legitimacy, it would have to be applied to alcohol and nicotine, two completely legal substances, before it could be attributed to any other substance.

Related Article: The History and Legality of Cannabis Use Around the World 

The best analogy I’ve ever encountered for the ridiculousness of the gateway drug theory comes from Lynn Zimmer, PhD, Professor Emeritus at Queens College at the City University of New York:

In the end, the gateway theory is not a theory at all.  It is a description of the typical sequence in which multiple-drug users initiate the use of high-prevalence and low-prevalence drugs.

A similar statistical relationship exists between other kinds of common and uncommon related activities.  For example, most people who ride a motorcycle (a fairly rare activity) have ridden a bicycle (a fairly common activity).  Indeed, the prevalence of motorcycle riding among people who have never ridden a bicycle is probably extremely low.  However, bicycle riding does not cause motorcycle riding, and increases in the former will not lead automatically to increases in the latter.

Nor will increases in marijuana use lead automatically to increases in the use of cocaine or heroin.

Not surprisingly, a study of 4,000 participants suggests that cannabis use discourages the use of harder drugs. Another study suggests that any trace of the gateway effect disappears by age 21. What is more likely to lead to additional drug use is not cannabis itself, but the overly harsh penalties of cannabis use.  Karen Van Gundy, who is a sociologist at the University of New Hampshire, did not set out to disprove the gateway theory, but nevertheless found that, rather than cannabis itself:

If we overly criminalize behaviors like marijuana use among teens, this could interfere with opportunities for education and employment later on, which, in turn, could be creating more drug use.

The gateway drug theory is weak and unfounded.  It is in fact not a credible theory at all. It has no place in the realm of science.

 

Decreased Intelligence

It is a propaganda technique that we have been hearing for nearly the entire 20th century and it continues into the 21st century; cannabis makes you stupid, a loser, a burnout.

While there is clear evidence that cannabis, like other substances, alters perception and brain function, there is no evidence that cannabis alters brain function in a purely negative way.  Additionally, there is absolutely zero evidence that the biological effects of cannabis are permanent.  On the contrary, science tells us that all of the consistently noted negative biological aspects of cannabis are entirely temporary.

Related Article: The Power of Hemp Seeds: Behold Powerful Nutrition

According to Igor Grant, MD, Executive Vice Chairman at the University of California, San Diego Department of Psychiatry:

Smoking marijuana will certainly affect perception, but it does not cause permanent brain damage. ‘The findings were kind of a surprise. One might have expected to see more impairment of higher mental function. Other illegal drugs, or even alcohol, can cause brain damage

If we barely find this tiny effect in long-term heavy users of cannabis, then we are unlikely to see deleterious side effects in indivduals who receive cannabis for a short time in a medical setting

If it turned out that new studies find that cannabis is helpful in treating some medical conditions, this enables us to see a marginal level of safety.

420tribune.com

420tribune.com

Dale Gieringer, PhD, State Coordinator of CalNORML explains that the notion that cannabis decreases intelligence is based entirely on a study that was later proven to be inaccurate:

Government experts now admit that pot  doesn’t kill brain cells.

This myth came from a handful of animal experiments in which structural changes (not actual cell death, as is often alleged) were observed in brain cells of animals exposed to high doses of pot. Many critics still cite the notorious monkey studies of Dr. Robert G. Heath, which purported to find brain damage in three monkeys that had been heavily dosed with cannabis. This work was never replicated and has since been discredited by a pair of better controlled, much larger monkey studies, one by Dr. William Slikker of the National Center for Toxicological Research [William Slikker et al., ‘Chronic Marijuana Smoke Exposure in the Rhesus Monkey,’ Fundamental and Applied Toxicology 17: 321-32 (1991)] and the other by Charles Rebert and Gordon Pryor of SRI International [Charles Rebert & Gordon Pryor – ‘Chronic Inhalation of Marijuana Smoke and Brain Electrophysiology of Rhesus Monkeys,’International Journal of Psychophysiology V 14, p.144, 1993].

Neither found any evidence of physical alteration in the brains of monkeys exposed to daily doses of pot for up to a year.

The surprising truth is that cannabis actually promotes the creation of new neurons in hippocampal regions of the brain, the part of the brain most responsible for memory. Xia Zhang, an expert at the Neuropsychiatry Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry, at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada along with other medical researchers, points out that cannabis is the only illicit drug ever found to promote the creation of brain cells:

We show that 1 month after chronic HU210 [high-potency cannabinoid] treatment, rats display increased newborn neurons [brain cell growth] in the hippocampal dentate gyrus [a portion of the brain] and significantly reduced measures of anxiety- and depression-like behavior.Thus, cannabinoids appear to be the only illicit drug whose capacity to produce increased hippocampal newborn neurons is positively correlated with its anxiolytic- [anxiety reducing] and antidepressant-like effects.

Multiple long-term studies have found that there is no significant difference in cognitive decline between heavy users, light users, and nonusers of cannabis. Intelligence, or a lack thereof, depends on a great deal of variables, including genetic makeup, nutritional status, health status, formal education, and age-related developmental processes, but cannabis use is not one of them.

Related Article: Cannabis Protects Brain From Damage While Binge Drinking

From a social standpoint, studies have even found that kids who use cannabis and other illicit substances usually have a higher IQ than their peers. Additional studies found that:

College students who smoke cannabis demonstrate comparable or even higher grades than their  cannabis abstinent classmates, and are more likely to pursue a graduate degree.

The short answer is yes, cannabis alters your mind and body, like any other substance in the world, but it does not make you stupid (certainly you’re not going to claim any of these highly successful cannabis-users are stupid), and all of the physiological and psychological effects are temporary.

Barack Obama Smoking Cannabis: weedquotes.blogspot.com

Barack Obama Smoking Cannabis: weedquotes.blogspot.com

 

Memory Loss

Critics of cannabis use argue that memory loss, especially short-term memory loss, occurs more prominently in cannabis smokers.  They also claim that it is a permanent effect. All of these claims are either exaggerated or wrong. We’ve already discussed how all the effects of cannabis ingestion are completely temporary; the same applies to memory.

To begin, it is true that cannabis has a noticeable effect on short-term memory as well as working memory, while the user is under the influence.  Cannabis affects working memory through the mechanisms stated above, by encouraging neurogensis, or the creation of neurons, in the hippocampus region of the brain. Although this has a positive effect on memory overall, it disrupts short-term memory while the user is ‘high’ by creating ‘noise’ in the hippocampus. These effects are detectable at least 7 days after heavy cannabis use,

but appear reversible and related to recent cannabis exposure rather than irreversible and related to  cumulative lifetime use.

Furthermore, after extensively studying cannabis use, lead researcher and Harvard professor Harrison Pope came to the conclusion that:

From neuropsychological tests chronic cannabis users showed difficulties, with verbal memory in  particular, for ‘at least a week or two’ after they stopped smoking. Within 28 days, memory problems vanished and the subjects ‘were no longer distinguishable from the comparison group.’

These tests affirm that the physio/psychological effects of cannabis are temporary and reversible.

Related Article: Federal Judge Urges Decriminalization of Marijuana 

As for the seriousness of the temporary effects on short-term memory, studies have found that the effect is negligible. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine headed by Dr. Igor Grant analyzed data from 15 previously published controlled studies involving 704 long-term cannabis users and 484 nonusers and found that:

long-term cannabis use [is] only marginally harmful on the memory and learning. Other functions such as reaction time, attention, language, reasoning ability, perceptual and motor skills [are] unaffected. The observed effects on memory and learning, [show] long-term cannabis use [causes] ‘selective memory defects’, but that the impact [is] ‘of a very small magnitude.’

In fact, rather than having deleterious effects on memory, Ohio State University scientists have shown that

specific elements of marijuana can be good for the aging brain by reducing inflammation there and  possibly even stimulating the formation of new brain cells.

Research supports this claim as past studies have revealed that cannabinoid receptors stimulated by cannabinoids in cannabis act as an anti-inflammatory agent and serve to improve memory in old rats.

Surprisingly, recent research into the activity of the hippocampus suggests that the key to a good memory is forgetting.  Think of the brain as a computer with enormous hard drive space. Despite this incredible amount of storage, it is still finite. The more memories our brains create, the harder it is for our working memory to properly remember and recall.  In this way, forgetting a few things actually isn’t a bad thing. It is in fact highly beneficial overall.

Another important point is that different cannabinoids found in cannabis affect memory centers in the brain in remarkably different ways.  Through further legalization, scientists will have the freedom to perform more extensive research, while growers will have the opportunity to create strains of cannabis that have an even more minimal effect on the memory centers of the brain.

These studies reveal that in the short run, short-term and working memory are disrupted by the ingestion of cannabis by creating new neurons in the memory centers of the brain.  These additional neurons disrupt working memory by acting as additional ‘noise’ to the active, recalling mind. These short-term memory lapses are completely temporary though, and in the long run the brain is actually left with additional neurons and a more expansive memory center.  To use the analogy of a computer again, think of heavy-cannabis ingestion as a temporary lapse in primary memory functionality for the sake of upgrading the storage capabilities of secondary memory. 

 

Elevated Heart Rate

It is true that many cannabis users describe symptoms of panic and consequently an elevated heart rate, especially during their first time trying cannabis.  What still remains debated is whether cannabis itself biologically causes heart rate to increase.

Related Article: Portugal Decriminalizes All Drugs; 10 Years Later the Results are Mind Blowing

The most well known study done on the correlation between cannabis and heart rate, and subsequently the only truly credible and widely used study, is one performed by a man named Dr. Murray A. Mittleman.  Mittleman’s study focused on:

information on cannabis use from 3,882 middle-aged and elderly patients who had suffered heart attacks. A total of 124 patients were identified as current users, including 37 who reported smoking the drug up to 24 hours before their attack, and nine who had used it within an hour of experiencing symptoms.

Mittleman’s conclusion was that the first hour after taking cannabis heart attack risk is 4.8 times higher than during periods of non-use. In the second hour, the risk drops to 1.7 times higher. According to Mittleman this was the first study to document that smoking cannabis could trigger a heart attack, but that the trigger mechanism remained unknown. So what’s the issue with this constantly cited study?

Besides the fact that any type of smoke entering the lungs produces the same effect (it is not necessary and not medicinally optimal to smoke cannabis, a subject that is covered later in this report), Dr. Lester Grinspoon, who is one of the world’s foremost cannabis researchers as well as Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a former senior psychiatrist at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston for 40 years, explains why this study should be dismissed.  Dr. Grinspoon tells an interviewer, in response to Mittleman’s study:

..let me say that since 1967 there have been numerous reports and studies, each of which the American media has blown out of all proportion, stating one or another supposed ill effect of marijuana use. I can list them, if you’d like. ‘Increase in the size of the ventricles, decrease in testosterone, destruction of chromosomes.’ All were front-page stories, none of them have ever been replicated. In other words, they didn’t pan out scientifically. Of course, the studies that contradicted them ended up on page 31 or thereabouts, if they got mentioned at all… I would point out that out of 3,882 patients, we’re talking about 9 who used marijuana within an hour of the onset of a heart attack. That’s around 0.2%. By sheer mathematics, given that people sleep eight hours per day or so, we can deduce that 6.7% of those patients emptied their bowels within an hour of onset. It’s incredible to me that the numbers here could be said to constitute a significant risk factor.

So, as is typical of the main stream media, a report was utterly sensationalized and relatively negligible data was heralded as proven truth. Dr. Grinspoon elaborates on the shortcomings of the study by reminding the interviewer that:

[Mittleman] put that increase [in heart rate] at 40 beats per minute. In truth, that number is closer to 20 beats per minute, which is probably consistent with running up the stairs in one’s house...I blame the media far more than I do Dr. Middleman. I read his abstract, and in its conclusion he cautioned against making too much of the data…in 1997, Kaiser Permanente did a large-scale study which included more than 65,000 admitted marijuana users, and they could not demonstrate any impact of marijuana use on mortality. If marijuana use really was a significant risk factor for heart attack, it is hard to believe that it didn’t turn up there. Again, I’m not saying that there is absolutely no risk demonstrated here. But given the history of the research since 1967, I’d be surprised if these findings don’t go down the same chute as all of the other front-page scare stories.

It’s really not that hard to believe.  We have seen the same baseless scare tactics take place 20 years ago, 40 years ago, 60 years ago, 100 years, and more!

Related Article: Uruguay to Legalize Marijuana

With regards to actual significant scientific data, cannabis has in fact been shown (as stated in the ‘Cannabis Cures Everything’ section of this report) to treat and protect the heart, as well as help prevent heart disease through the interaction with the endocannabinoid system of the heart and surrounding regions of the body. It is consequently a likely tool for fighting and preventing obesity (along with hemp seeds). The science is still emerging, but what little research exists strongly suggests that cannabis will serve an extremely positive role in keeping the heart healthy in the future.

 

The single study that is consistently used to argue that cannabis poses a danger to cardiovascular health is far from significant and only became prominent through sensationalized media.  Repeat studies suggest the cannabinoids found in cannabis play a pivotal role in cardiovascular health and the prevention of heart disease. 

 

 

*Note: This article is part of a larger report featured on Wondergressive entitledCannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else: A Through History and Review

 

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Soda and Diet Soda: Household Poisons

We all know soda and diet soda aren’t exactly good for us.  Pretty much in the same way that any sugar filled treat isn’t good for us right? Fatally wrong. Soda, yes, even diet soda, is one of the most harmful substances that you could possibly fill your form with, yet people still down the stuff like a dehydrated cactus lapping at a single drop of water. Even the cans that soda normally come in are incredibly harmful. The truth is that even a single gulp of soda is like a 120 mph head on collision with a brick wall for your organs.  Need an extra push to kick your soda habit? Do yourself a favor and read on.

 

Why do People Drink Soda?

If everyone knows soda is bad for them, why do millions of people still tilt their heads back and indulge?  The answer is simple: it’s easy.  Soda is tasty, cheap, convenient, and EVERYWHERE! No matter where you go you’re bound to see an advertisement for some type of can or bottle of sugary satisfaction.  There’s a reason advertisements exist, and it’s not for aesthetics:  Advertising works!

Your brain is constantly processing every minute detail of information that your senses even remotely capture.  Whether you remember it or not, all of this information is stored in your brain.  If a Mountain Dew advertisement steps into your peripheral vision for even a moment it seeps into the murky depths of your mind and the next time your friend even mentions the word ‘mountain’ or ‘dew’ – BAM!  Your synapses fire, a connection is made to the instantaneous glance of the Mountain Dew advertisement you saw earlier and your mouth begins to water.  Why does your mouth water?  Because you are addicted.

Related Article: Aspartame…Miracle Sweetner or Deathly Toxin

Soda is almost entirely water, sugar and caffeine, and sugar and caffeine happen to be two of the most addictive substances on the planet, nearly equal in their biological sway to heroin and meth.  Consumption of sugar and caffeine are associated with a whole slew of attractive words like ‘binge,’ ‘craving,’ and ‘withdrawal.’

But that’s okay, people can become addicted to anything, whether it be carrots, television, or sex, so what’s the big deal?

 

The Big Deal: Soda Vs. Diet Soda

Soda and diet soda each have their own disgusting face that the advertisements hide, but let’s start with good ol’ regular soda first.

Dr. Mercola explains what happens within an hour of drinking a soda:

Within the first 10 minutes,10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. This is 100 percent of your

recommended daily intake, and the only reason you don’t vomit as a result of the overwhelming sweetness is because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor.

Within 20 minutes, your blood sugar spikes, and your liver responds to the resulting insulin burst by turning massive amounts of sugar into fat.

Within 40 minutes, caffeine absorption is complete; your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, and your livers dumps more sugar into your bloodstream.

Around 45 minutes, your body increases dopamine production, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain – a physically identical response to that of heroin, by the way.

After 60 minutesyou’ll start to have a sugar crash.

Drug goes in, pleasure comes out, then CRASH! So you drink some more. Compared to the physiological effects of a simple serving of soda, cannabis suddenly doesn’t sound so bad after all.

Related Article: Aluminum Cans, Not Just the Soda, Leading to Obesity

The long term effects are far more startling. Let’s take a look at the specifics and scare your desire for soda back into the pit of future diabetes where it came from!

 

Soda

1. What makes soda so deliciously sweet is a huge serving of high fructose corn syrup, a clever name for organ-destroyer.  HFCS has been linked to diabetes more than a few times.  Your chances of developing type 2 diabetes is practically guaranteed with a regular intake of soda.  On top of the whole diabetes fiasco, soda is absolutely useless biologically.  Which brings us to our next point.

2. Soda is useless.  There are absolutely no nutritionally beneficial components to soda, with the exception of a measly 4mg of potassium. Soda excels in one area: expanding your waistline.

3. Soda leads to obesity, a growing trend for the world at large. For each additional serving of soda that you consume you increase your risk for obesity by 1.6 times.  Enough said.

Related Article: The Obese Shall Inherit the Earth

4. Due to a lack of calcium in the diets of people who habitually consume soda, osteoporosis is a serious risk associated with soda consumption.  Even minor soda consumption can lead to bone loss as the large amounts of phosphoric acid found in soda hinders the body’s ability to effectively use calcium.

5. If Mountain Dew can dissolve a rat think about what it does to your body, especially the enamel of your teeth. Soda is about as good for your enamel as staring directly at the midday sun is good for your eyesight. It is even worse for your teeth and causes more tooth decay than traditional hard candy. Sure, soda is cheap, but when’s the last time you only spent a few dollars at the dentist?

6. Drinking soda leads to kidney disease.  All it takes is 2 servings of soda a day and you are automatically added to the long line of people more than likely to be diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. Soda also dramatically increases the rate of formation of kidney stones. It doesn’t take much either.  Just a slight amount of soda consumption is a sure path leading to pain worse than child labor. As a person who has passed a kidney stone before, listen to me and not your tongue; the soda isn’t worth it!

7. Consumption of soda leads to harmful effects on the liver similar to the effects that alcohol has on the liver. When it comes to the liver, soda junkies are no better than alcoholics.

Related Article: Aspartame in Diet Soda Responsible for Destroying Kidney Function

8. An additive in soda called sodium benzoate causes irreparable cell and DNA damage, leading to accelerated aging and age related diseases.

9. Finally, there is a high addiction potential when it comes to soda. As stated above, caffeine and sugar are insanely addictive.  Many researchers are suggesting that sugar to be as controlled as alcohol and tobacco due to its harmful effects on the body and incredibly addictive nature.

At this point you might be thinking “I’m no fool, I dropped soda years back and replaced it with diet soda, the healthy alternative to all my sugary-sweet woes.”  Think again, diet soda is even worse.

 

Diet Soda

A lot of what you read about soda still applies to diet soda.  A common misconception is that diet soda is better for you than regular soda due to being calorie free as it does not contain high fructose corn syrup.  Allow me to explain to you how diet soda is even worse!

1. Although diet soda doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup, it does contain artificial sweeteners so that your tongue can still get excited.  The most common artificial sweetener used is aspartame, which is closer to a toxin than anything else.  People from all over the world have reported adverse reactions to aspartame and double blind studies verify the results. The toxicological dangers of aspartame are well documented and the general rule of thumb that you will hear from medical professionals regarding the substance is to treat aspartame like a desperate Louis Vuitton wielding female and, “stay far, far away!”

Related Article: Cannabis Cures Cancer and More: A Thorough History and Review of the Evidence

2. Just like regular soda, diet soda is nutritionally useless, containing carbonated water, caramel color (depending on the soda), aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium citrate, natural flavors, citric acid, and caffeine. There is no conceivable benefit to consuming soda or diet soda besides the fraction of a second pleasure your tongue devilishly persuades your brain is worth the well documented risks.

3. Diet sodas actually make it even MORE likely than regular sodas that you will become obese. There are multiple theories for why this occurs, but the most likely reason is the cravings that diet soda leaves us with.

How could a zero-calorie drink raise your risk of obesity? Researchers have a few theories. Some people may feel that drinking diet soda gives them a “free pass” to eat more foods that may not be so low in calories, thereby leading to weight gain. Another theory posits that the sweet taste of diet pop alerts our digestive system that high-calorie foods are coming. When they don’t, our bodies are confused and our appetite increases in anticipation of the food it’s expecting.

4. Keep in mind that diet soda still contains phosphoric acid so the risk of bone loss is still ever present for diet soda drinkers.

5. Although the pH level (acidity) of diet soda is not as strong as regular soda, it is still extremely acidic, and leads to enamel loss in the same way that soda does.

6. Remember the kidney problems that were associated with regular sodas? Same applies to diet sodas.  Sorry ladies and gentleman, diet soda is not going to fix the kidney stone problem.

7. If you’re fond of dark sodas, I have bad news for you.  Researchers have found that the seemingly harmless caramel coloring found in dark sodas may lead to an increase risk of multiple forms of cancer.

8. Diet sodas even more commonly contain that wretched chemical sodium benzoate.  Again, sodium benzoate causes irreparable cell and DNA damage, leading to accelerated aging and age related diseases. If you’re part of the YOLO fad, maybe soda is for you, otherwise, stop burning your wick at both ends, put down the soda, and ‘live long and prosper.’

Related Article: Green Tea Power: Surprising Health Benefits 

9. To sum up, diet soda involves all the same risks as soda, and is also associated with a higher risk of obesity, greater toxicity due to aspartame, and even greater DNA damage.

 

So what should you drink?

Water, tea, and every so often 100% fruit juice, but not too much as fruit juice contains a hefty amount of sugars, even if they are natural.  Seem like a boring list?  Well guess what?  Doing a crossword puzzle in the comfort of your home might be boring but it beats dying of cancer as an obese diabetic 50 year old on a semi-sterile hospital bed.

Besides, tea is a world of variation regarding taste and physical effect.  I guarantee there are at minimum 100 diferent types of tea out there that you will discover and fall eternally in love with, if only you make a conscious effort and kick the soda habit. One of my favorite brands of tea is Yogi.

Make no mistake, soda is an addictive drug, and it will take time to wean yourself off of it.  Once you do though, you will wonder how you ever stomached the horrid junk in the first place.

 

Source List:

Wondergressive: Aluminum Cans Leading to Obesity

Forbes: What Makes a TV Commercial Memorable and Effective?

Princeton University: Sugar Can be Addictive

National Geographic: Caffeine Addiction is a Mental Disorder

PubMed.gov: Brain Mechanisms of Sweetness

Dr. Mercola: What Happens to Your Body After Drinking Coke

High Fructose Corn Syrup and Diabetes

PubMed.gov: Consumption of Sweetened Beverages and Intakes of Fructose and Glucose Predict Type 2 Diabetes Occurrence

Soda Nutrition Facts

Wondergressive: The Obese Shall Inherit the Earth

PubMed.gov: The Role of Sugar-sweetened Beverage Consumption in Adolescent Obesity

PubMed.gov: Short-term effects on bone turnover of replacing milk with cola beverages

WebMD: Soda and Osteoporosis

Scientific American: Can Mountain Dew Really Dissolve a Mouse Carcass?

The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice

PubMed.gov: Carbonated soft drinks and dental caries in the primary dentition

PubMed.gov: Effect of cola consumption on urinary biochemical and physicochemical risk factors

PubMed.gov: Changes in urinary magnesium, citrate, and oxalate levels due to cola consumption

Kidney Stones and Uretral Stones

PubMed.gov: Long term nutritional intake and the risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

PubMed.gov: The evaluation of the genotoxicity of two food preservatives: sodium benzoate and potassium benzoate

Wondergressive: Aging Process is Similar to Replicating CDs

Time: Should Sugar be Regulated Like Alcohol and Tobacco? 

PubMed.gov: Aspartame ingestion and headaches: a randomized crossover trial

PubMed.gov: Adverse reactions to aspartame

Reported Aspartame Toxicity Effects

Men’s Health New: Science Vs Soda

WebMD: Drinking More Diet Soda, Gain More Weight?

Health Side Effects of Diet Soda

Pop and Cavaties

PubMed.gov: The evaluation of the genotoxicity of two food preservatives: sodium benzoate and potassium benzoate

Wondergressive: Green Tea Power

Yogi Tea

The Incredibly Diverse Medicinal Properties of Cannabis

 

Copyright © 2013 [Eric Feinberg]. All Rights Reserved.

 

*Note: This article is part of a larger report featured on Wondergressive entitled ‘Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else: A Thorough History and Review

                                                

Cannabis (commonly called pot, ganja, weed, marijuana, etc.) is the most diversely effective and efficient medicine known to man, with the added benefit of having far less harmful side effects than most prescribed drugs, not being physically addictive, being minimally psychologically addictive and being impossible to overdose on. Unlike most substances approved by the FDA, Nobody has ever died from ingesting cannabis. It is one of the least toxic substances known to man; less toxic than much of the food we eat as well as many non-nutritious substances we consume, especially alcohol, tobacco, and even sugar.

Even more amazingly, studies all around the world have concluded with exponentially growing empirical affirmation that cannabis completely and totally cures cancer.  It additionally acts as a preventative, stopping cancer from ever coming back.  Don’t believe me?  Continue reading, or just ask the US government; they own the patent for cannabis as a successful cure and/or treatment for a whole array of medical conditions.

Related Article: The Power of Hemp Seeds: Behold Powerful Nutrition

Before we delve into the medicinal benefits of cannabis, we must first understand the vehicle through which cannabis performs its medicinal magic, the endocannabinoid system.

The Endocannabinoid System 

Cannabis is one of the most highly effective medicinal substances in the world.  It has the power to treat and/or cure a countless number of illnesses and syndromes, including a whole array of different types of cancer. But how can a single substance have such an extraordinary effect on our biology? It all begins with the endocannabinoid system.

The endogenous cannabinoid system, also known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), wasn’t fully discovered until 1992. All vertebrates share the endocannibinoid system along with various invertebrates. It is made up of compounds called endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors, and is found throughout your entire body: in the brain, organs, tissue, and cells of all shapes and functions.

The endocannabinoid system plays a vital role in pre and post-natal life. The purpose of the endocannabinoid system remains uniform throughout our bodies; to maintain a stable internal environment amidst an endless stream of external fluctuations, a process called homeostasis. It modulates energy intake, and is also in charge of nutrient transport, metabolic storage, and much, much more. 

Related Article: Cannabis Protects Brain From Damage While Binge Drinking

Because the discovery of the endocannabinoid system is relatively new, and despite there being over 12,000 scientific articles concerning the endocannabinoid system, there are still gaps in our understanding.  There is still a significant amount of research that needs to be done, and educating people on the actual science of cannabis’ activity in the body will help to clear the smoke of ignorance and closed mindedness. Once people embrace the current research that is taking place, further research into more specific and particular roles of the endocannabanoid system will take off at lightning speed. What we do know is the following:

Cannabinoid receptors are found in every part of the body and are believed to be more numerous than any other receptor system in our biological system. When cannabinoid receptors are stimulated, a variety of physiologic processes ensue. Researchers have identified two cannabinoid receptors: CB1, predominantly present in the nervous system, connective tissues, gonads, glands, and organs; and CB2, predominantly found in the immune system and its associated structures. Many tissues contain both CB1 and CB2 receptors, each linked to a different function. Researchers are currently seeking to discover additional cannabinoid receptors as studies suggest that they do exist. As for endocannabinoids:

Endocannabinoids are the substances our bodies naturally make to stimulate these receptors. The two most well understood of these molecules are called anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). They are synthesized on-demand from cell membrane arachidonic acid derivatives, have a local effect and short half-life before being degraded by the enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL).

Phytocannabinoids are plant substances that stimulate cannabinoid receptors. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most psychoactive and certainly the most famous of these substances, but other cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) are gaining the interest of researchers due to a variety of healing properties. Most phytocannabinoids have been isolated from cannabis sativa, but other medical herbs, such as echinacea purpura, have been found to contain non-psychoactive cannabinoids as well.

The information above focuses on the two most well known endocannabinoids in the body, as well as the most well known cannabinoids in cannabis, but there are far more. Cannabinoids are split into three categories:

Cannabinoids appear throughout all of nature.  For example, besides being found in cannabis and humans, cannabinoids are found in large abundance in chocolate, flax seeds, and breast milk.  Additionally, hemp seeds aid the body in creating natural cannabinoids with the help of omega fatty acids.

Related Article: Federal Judge Urges Decriminalization of Marijuana 

Due to the nearly identical structure of phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids, as well as their identical mechanism of bonding to the same receptors in our body, we have a natural form of cannabis flowing through us at all times. What this means is that the compounds found in cannabis fit perfectly well into our own body‘s natural systems, ensuring highly efficient and proper uptake of the plant’s remarkably beneficial multitude of cannabinoidal compounds.

 

Cannabis Cures Cancer

This is more than just a theory or hypothesis.  There is an insurmountable pile of evidence that cannabis cures/treats cancer (and a multitude of other illnesses) in a large amount of cases, and may even prevent it from coming back. The amount of evidence is daunting, and the science is sound.

It is through the encocannabinoid system that cannabis is able to perform its magic.  Cannabis has the ability to treat and/or cure a constantly growing list of illnesses, including cancer. Dependent on the individual and the type of cannabinoid used, most types of cancer have been observed responding positively to the introduction of cannabis in the system, including cancer found in the breast, prostate, lung, thyroid, colon, skin, pituitary gland, ovary, pancreas, as well as melanomaleukemia and more! The cannabinoids in cannabis act through the body’s natural endocannabinoid system to cure and/or treat cancer in several ways, the most prominent and well researched being:

 

Related Article: Cancer Cells Avoid Chemotherapy

One of the greatest benefits of cannabis as medicine is that it stimulates and acts in harmony with a system that is already present throughout the body.  Instead of prescribing five or more different, highly addictive pills to treat various symptoms, and additional pills to treat the endless side effects (often worse than the illness itself) of all the pills, doctors are able to use cannabis and the cannabanoids within it, as a single, natural medicinal source without any physical addiction potential and little to no harmful side effects.  Plus, don’t forget, it is impossible to overdose on.

 

Cannabis Cures Everything Else

Along with treating various forms of cancer, cannabis can be used to treat a constantly growing list of other diseases and syndromes as well.  It may even slow the aging process. Additionally, the cannabinoids found in cannabis are exceptional anti-oxidants and neuroprotectants.  It is such a remarkable substance that it is able to treat seemingly opposite illnesses simultaneously, like obesity and eating disorders/malnutrition.  Again, the key is the activation and involvement with the endocannabinoid system. Cannabis has shown results ranging from promising potential to revolutionary effectiveness in curing and/or treating:

  1. Addiction
  2. ADHD
  3. AIDS/HIV
  4. Alcoholism
  5. Alzheimer’s Disease
  6. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  7. Anorexia
  8. Anxiety
  9. Arthritis
  10. Asthma
  11. Atherosclerosis
  12. Autism
  13. Auto-Immune Diseases
  14. Bacterial Infections
  15. Bipolar Disorder
  16. Blood Disorders
  17. Bone Loss (reverses bone loss)
  18. Brain Damage From Binge Drinking
  19. Brain Injury/Stroke
  20. Cachexia
  21. Cancer
  22. Cluster Headache
  23. Crohn’s Disease
  24. Cystic Fibrosis
  25. Depression

  26. Dermatitis
  27. Diabetes
  28. Dystonia
  29. Eating Disorders
  30. Epilepsy
  31. Fever
  32. Fibromyalgia
  33. Flu
  34. Fungal Infection
  35. Gastrointestinal Disorders
  36. Glaucoma
  37. Glioma
  38. Heart Diseases
  39. Hepatits 
  40. Herpes
  41. Huntington’s Disease
  42. Hypertension
  43. Incontinence

  44. Infant Mortality
  45. Inflammation
  46. Insomnia 
  47. Liver Fibrosis
  48. Mad Cow Disease
  49. Menopause
  50. Migraine
  51. Motion Sickness
  52. MRSA
  53. Multiple Sclerosis 
  54. Muscular Dystrophy
  55. Nail Patella Syndrome
  56. Nausea/Vomiting (including nausea due to chemotherapy)
  57. Neuroinflammation
  58. Nicotine Addiction
  59. Obesity
  60. OCD
  61. Pain

  62. Pancreatitis
  63. Parkinson’s Disease
  64. Periodontal Disease
  65. Phantom Limb Pain
  66. Poison Ivy Allergy
  67. Proximal Myotonic Myopathy
  68. Psoriasis
  69. PTSD
  70. Restless Leg Syndrome
  71. Schizophrenia
  72. Scleroderma
  73. Septic Shock
  74. Sickle Cell Disease
  75. Siezures
  76. Sleep Apnoea
  77. Spinal Cord Injury
  78. Stress
  79. Tourette’s Syndrome
  80. Traumatic Memories
  81. Wasting Syndrome
  82. Withdrawal
  83. and more…
 (*Note: each of these words link to an individual study)
 
Related Article: The Greatest Medical Discovery of Our Time: Starve Cancer by Eating
 

It is because the cannabinoids in cannabis are so influential on the endocannabinoid system, a system that spans every part of our body, that they are able to have such an effective, overarching, revolutionarily positive effect. Keep in mind that the above is what researchers have found with limited funds, little time, and immense legal obstacles. The golden age of cannabis research hasn’t even started yet.

 

Cannabis Oil: Run From the Cure

The most medicinally beneficial way to ingest cannabis is by making a high potency cannabis oil.  It should be clear now from this report that cannabis is far more effective than conventional medicine for a near-endless variety of ailments. This is especially true for cancer.

Cancer cells have recently been seen avoiding chemotherapy, which explains why chemotherapy only has a 2.3% success rate, with the cancer often returning even in seemingly successful cases. Many patients also describe the side effects of conventional cancer therapies, especially chemotherapy, being even worse than cancer symptoms.  In some cases, chemotherapy even shortens patients’ life expectancy, leading to a shorter life filled with pain and suffering.

The point is, no matter what type of conventional medicine you use, your chances of survival are bleak, and the side effects are horrendous. On the other hand, there is a medicine available that has been proven to completely cure cancer in the majority of cases, as well as having little to no adverse side effects.  Additionally, it is as non-toxic as a substance can get, and is impossible to overdose on.  Plus, it focuses on treating the side effects of cancer along with the cancer itself.  At this point, you recognize that I’m referring to cannabis, but in this case, I’m referring specifically to cannabis oil, also called hemp oil and hash oil (though hemp oil could also refer to a pressed oil derived from hemp seeds which contains a relatively low amount of medicinally superior cannabinoids, namely THC.  To avoid confusion I will refer to it only as cannabis oil).

Related Article: 15 Year Old Invents a 3 Cent Cancer Treatment Using Google

Cannabis oil refers to a highly potent extract of cannabinoids from cannabis, especially THC, usually in the range of 40-90% purity (though there are claims of higher purity), in the form of a thick oil that can be taken daily. The same science discussed above applies to cannabis oil as the same cannabinoids are present, only with the oil they are in much higher concentrations. It is due to the increased potency in cannabinoids, specifically THC, that cannabis oil is the most medicinal and beneficial form of the medicine.

The use of cannabis oil became most prominent due to a documentary made by a man named Rick Simpson.  The documentary is called ‘Run From The Cure,’ ( the word cure referring to the conventional cures for cancer, like chemotherapy.  The documentary focuses on the science of the endocannabinoid system, how to make the oil and what to expect, doctor testimonials, research regarding cannabis’ effect on cancer, and testimonials from patients that have used cannabis oil to successfully cure their cancer.

Another story that is making ground breaking news is a story that is dubbed: Brave Mykayla.  It is the story of Mykayla Comstock, a 7 year old girl from Oregon who successfully used medical marijuana, specifically cannabis oil, to fully cure her leukemia.

Additional information on Rick Simpson, Rick Simpson Oil (cannabis oil created using Rick Simpson’s simple method), and how to make cannabis oil yourself can be found on Rick Simpsons personal website: http://phoenixtears.ca/.

Over 150 testimonials on the profound effects of cannabis oil have also been compiled.

Related Article: It’s a Mini-Me: Mice Clones Provide Personalized Cancer Treatment

Cannabis oil is effective to an unprecedented degree, so says science and the people who have used it successfully to treat their cancer. Unfortunately, unless you are approved to use cannabis medically, it is incredibly expensive and potentially dangerous to procure due to its legal status.  Something obviously needs to change, but what can be done?  What’s the next step? **This article is preceded by and continues in the report: Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else: A Through History and Review.

*Note: Although it does not specifically contain a discussion on cannabis oil, this exceptional video speaks extensively on the overall science of cannabis’ effects on the endocannabinoid system, presents testimonials from doctors and patients, and discusses various government funded/peer reviewed studies verifying cannabis’ extraordinary effects. It is the video I recommend to anyone even remotely interested in the subject, and is a great introduction to the plethora of research on the issue.  It contains the following credible credits:
 
Dr. Robert Melamede, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Biology Chairman
Biology Department at the University of Colorado
CEO and President of Cannabis Science
“Cannabinoids kill cancer cells in many cases, people are not aware of this”
 
Dr. Manuel Guzman, Ph.D.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Professor at the Complutense University, Madrid, Spain
“Cannabinoids have the effect of inducing death in cancer cells”
 
Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti, Ph.D.
Vice President for Cannabinoid Research
University of South Carolina Columbia Distinguished Professor
“Cannabinoids can be used effectively as anti-cancer agents”
 
Dr. Sean McAllister CPMC Scientist
California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute
http://thesethgroup.org/videos.html
“Cannabidiol inhibits aggressive breast cancers”
 
Dr. Donald Tashkin, M.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
Emeritus Professor of Medicine
Medical Director of the Pulmonary Function Laboratory
“THC actually has an anti-tumor effect”
 
Dr. Robert Sterner, M.D.
UCSD General Surgeon
Graduate of Harvard & UCLA
“Marijuana seeks out cancerous cells and preferentially kills them”
 
Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather, M.D.
Addiction Medicine Specialist
President of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians
“There are multiple mechanisms of action in which cannabis kills cancer cells”
 
Dr. Bonni Goldstein, M.D.
Canna Centers, Medical Director
Cannabis Researcher and Scientist
“Cannabidiol has been found to make cancer cells commit suicide”
 
Dr. Josh Wurzer, Researcher
Laboratory Director, SC Laboratories
Cannabis Researcher and Scientist
“Health benefits attributed to THC is actually because of the CBD content”

Final Thoughts

It should now be clear by reading this report that cannabis and hemp remain illegal for utterly irrational reasons that are actually damaging society as a whole.  Most importantly, cannabis should not be labeled a schedule 1 substance as it contains, at the very last, a substantial amount of medicinal value.  This medicinal effect comes with the added bonus of having little to no danger of addiction, overdose, or biological harm; something that cannot be said about most other substances approved by the FDA. Even aspirin, a substance millions of people around the world pop like candy, kills 1000’s of people every year.  Let’s not forget that the most popular pain killer in the world has been found to substantially increase heart attack risk.

A slew of studies…show diclofenac — sold under the brand names Voltaren, Cambia, Cataflam and Zipsor — is just as likely to cause a heart attack as the discredited painkiller Vioxx (rofecoxib), which was pulled from the U.S. market in 2004.

We have so many issues with modern medicine, yet a cheap (free if you grow it) natural, highly effective medicine/pain killer already exists in the form of cannabis. Why is it still only available to less than half the country, and only after jumping through extraordinary loopholes? Even more ludicrous, although medical cannabis users are practicing their legal state right, and moreover, the natural right to peacefully preserve their own lives, they are still labeled by the federal government as criminals deserving up to life sentences behind bars.  This is alarmingly unreasonable and irresponsible decision making at best. At worst it is pure foolishness and downright criminal in itself.

Related Article: Portugal Decriminalizes All Drugs; 10 Years Later the Results are Mind Blowing

Regardless of medicinal comparisons between substances, what is important is that people have as many medicinally effective substances available to them as possible, without interference from Big Brother.  As Lynn Zimmer, PhD, former Professor Emeritus at the Queens College, City University, New York explains:

The question is not whether marijuana is better than existing medication. For many medical conditions, there are numerous medications available, some of which work better in some patients and some which work better in others. Having the maximum number of effective medications available allows physicians to deliver the best possible medical care to individual patients.

**Note: This article is part of a larger report on Wondergressive entitled ‘Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else: A Through History and Review

 
 
 

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Cannabis Oil: Run From the Cure

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Final Thoughts

 

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http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.source.php?sourceID=000233

Smoking Pot Without Getting High: But Why?

If you haven’t heard yet, Cannabis Cures Cancer, and there is a ridiculous amount of evidence supporting that claim. Reference the related article and hyper-linked title. Now that that is out of the way, lets continue!

Pot is feared by many as a drug and as the ultimate devil on earth, but is that fear really researched or backed? I am not here to argue against that, because that is not the point to this article, the real point is a new development in the world of drugs. An Israeli company has created a new strain of marijuana that is void of any THC. That’s absolutely positively correct. A marijuana plant that produces no high but still offers its medicinal value. Who could argue against that?

Related Article: Cannabis Cures Cancer and MORE

A new strain of Avidekel, is it still pot? Just because it is being called something else doesn’t mean it is not still marijuana. Just a distant cousin. Pot that isn’t really pot but rather is just another plant?  What’s the point you ask?

Let us say that perhaps it is a miracle drug, and mayhaps it does help cure cancer, well in that respect that is exactly what you would want to be prescribed to you by a doctor, and without it causing a high there really is no basis for it to remain illegal. In come pharmaceutical companies… Anyway. Currently there are around 9,000 people in Israel that use medicinal marijuana as Reuters reports and 18 states in the US with legal medicinal marijuana use, as well as Washington DC. Whether or not it does cure cancer, the idea of a feared drug without its “immobilizing” effects being circulated into our market would have interesting results I think.

Related Article: Federal Judge Urges Legalization of Marijuana

Just think, something that is supposedly non-addictive and not bad for you at all; almost like a healthy protein shake. Unfortunately for now, the plant stays secretly operational and maximally enforced by security as it does have a draw for criminals, reports Reuters, but who knows what a little more research and a lot more results can yield. A future hope to a legalized medical marijuana everywhere and the cures it will bring! And for everyone else, a bummer that we can’t mellow out and just enjoy the music.

Cheers!

Related ArticleThe Power of Hemp Seeds

 

Research:

Reuters.com

Reuters: Israeli firm grows “highless” marijuana

New strain of Avidekel

Cannabis Sources

Apoptotic Effects of Cannabis

Granny’s MMJ List

18 Legal Mecial Marijuana States

Wondergressive: Cannabis is Not a Gateway Drug

Wondergressive: The Endocannabinoid System

Wondergressive: Federal Judge Urges Legalization of Marijuana

Wondergressive: Cannabis Cures Cancer and MORE

Wondergressive: The Power of Hemp Seeds

The History and Legality of Cannabis Use Around the World

//

 

 

 *Note: This article is part of a larger report featured on Wondergressive entitled ‘Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else: A Thorough History and Review
 
Copyright © 2013 [Eric Feinberg]. All Rights Reserved.
 
 

Why is cannabis labeled as a schedule 1 drug, or in laymen terms, a dangerous, highly addictive substance devoid of any medical benefit? Tobacco has absolutely no medical benefits, is proven to cause cancer, is proven to kill hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, and is one of the most physically and psychologically addictive substances on the planet. However, tobacco, like alcohol, isn’t even scheduled.  Additionally, cannabis is scheduled as even more dangerous, more addictive, and less medicinally beneficial then cocaine or methamphetamine, which are labeled as schedule 2 substances.  As another example of the illogical scheduling process, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, and DMT, which have been proven to be highly effective to cure cluster headaches as well as an invaluable tool inpsychotherapy, are labeled as schedule 1 drugs despite these psychedelics having little to no addiction potential. Are you starting to see how silly this is?  So what gives? Let’s take a walk through history to find the answer.

Historical Use

Cannabis has an extremely long history of use. Although cannabis is indigenous to Central and South Asia, it spread all over the world very early in human history.  While humans in Taiwan were growing hemp as early as 8,000 BCE, the historical use of cannabis as a physical and psychological medicine began over 5,000 years ago.

Related Article: Portugal Decriminalizes All Drugs; 10 Years Later the Results are Mind Blowing

Researchers even found over two pounds of still green, highly potent cannabis in a basket near the recently discovered 2700 year old Ice Man.  It has been historically used by JewsChristians, Muslims, Hindus, Taoists, Buddhists, and Atheists alike. Cannabis was even used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as in medieval Islamic countries.

Cannabis is a natural human pastime, embedded into our epigenetic expression. It was used for centuries as a form of relaxation, as a tool for meditation during religious ceremonies, and as a way to foster creativity. Additionally, hemp is one of the oldest domesticated plants known.  Hemp was used in various industries, optimizing productivity, efficiency, and waste management. Then one day, cannabis and hemp were suddenly seen as cesspools of sin originating from the pits of hell.

Historical Legality 

To understand the history and legality of cannabis you must also understand the history of hemp. The difference between these plants is that industrial hemp contains little to no THC (meaning it can’t get you high) and is also more fibrous and tough, making it more useful as a productive material. Additionally, hemp seeds are highly nutritious, containing the most easily digestible protein in the world, as well as a nearly perfect ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids.

As mentioned above, both plants were used all over the world for various purposes since time immemorial. The plants were brought to the new world for the first time (in Chile) by the Spaniards in 1545.  Cannabis seeds may have been brought to Brazil even earlier in the 16th century by African slaves. Cannabis and hemp were used widely in England and America even before the US existed.  Both cannabis and hemp were grown in the original colonies by the boat load and exported to international buyers.  Hemp was used as a cheap yet high quality textile source for clothing and rope. It was also used to make paper products (the first two copies of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp), dyes, housing, etc. and began gaining prominent use in many other fields as scientific innovation progressed.

Related Article: The Power of Hemp Seeds: Behold Powerful Nutrition

420magazine.com

420magazine.com

Even before the early colonial era, cannabis was used as a highly effective pharmacological agent and was listed as a viable option to cure many ailments. Even today, hemp is considered one of the most important and functionally diverse materials on the planet and would pave the way for incredible innovation and efficiency in more industries than you could probably name if given the legal opportunity (refer to the picture). So why did cannabis and hemp become illegal?

Both hemp and cannabis were made illegal for multiple reasons, but the most prominent reasons were due to money, ignorance, and irrational racism.  All around the world cannabis and hemp were being criminalized simply by default; by tossing them in a category with substances that were highly addictive (opium, hashish, morphine, etc.). There was no consideration for each substance’s individual pros and cons, and certainly no empirical scientific basis.  Anything with even the slightest amount of potential for addiction was just labeled together as a harmful/addictive substance, and that was that.  The US took a similar approach.

As the US began to buckle down and ensure that all of their medicine was regulated and safe, they also realized that it would be a good time to help rid the country of addictive substances like opium.  Although there wasn’t any serious problem with cannabis abuse, our ancestors figured that once opium and morphine were no longer freely available, people would turn to one of the most readily available and easily procured substances in the country: cannabis.  States began arbitrarily tossing it into the growing legislation of criminalized substances, not giving much thought to the actual dangers or potential pit falls of such an action.

In an attempt to make substance regulation laws more uniform, all states were encouraged to regulate cannabis in the same way, essentially handing over control to the federal level. Up until this point cannabis was still legal and available as a medicine; it was simply regulated while its recreational use was criminalized. Then along came Harry Anslinger, the future head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and a nuclear bomb of lies, deceit and propaganda was dropped onto the US and the world at large.

 

Related Article: Uruguay to Legalize Marijuana

 

Harry Anslinger Versus Science

Harry Anslinger claimed that cannabis, which he referred to as “marijuana” to incite racial fear and rage, (the word marijuana originates from the Spanish word marihuana, which is Mexican Spanish for cannabis) was the most dangerous and fatal substance ever known to mankind.  He developed highly racist rhetoric devoid of any science and contrary to statements made by the American Medical Association at the time.  He paraded in front of congress and across the country spouting his ridiculous, unfounded claims.  Here are some classic Harry Anslinger quotes actually used as ‘fact’ by prominent newspapers and regurgitated as reasons for stricter cannabis laws by congress in the 1930’s:

There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.

…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.

Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.

Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.

Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing.

You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.

Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.

We recognize these claims as utterly ridiculous nowadays, but congress back in the day wasn’t very bright. I guess some things never change.

Anslinger and his buddies were also directly responsible for the propaganda video entitled “Reefer Madness,” depicting young men and women becoming violent, sex crazed, and downright insane after smoking cannabis.  “Reefer Madness” was seen as a legitimate informational source at the time of its release and for many decades afterward.  It is now shown to students as a form of retrospective humor. Anslinger used baseless scare tactics in an attempt to bolster criminalization laws in the US regarding cannabis, and even more astounding, industrial hemp, which can in no way get a person high.

Related Article: The Senate is Useless and Should be Dismantled

Many seemingly separate parties were involved with the criminalization and illegality of cannabis/hemp. Big name players such as the banker Andrew Mellon, industrial wood company Dupont, and media mogul William Randolph Hearst were all directly and passionately involved in the senseless fight against cannabis/hemp for the sake of their wallets. William Randolph Hearst owned a string of newspapers across the nation. Unfortunately for Hearst, he had a great deal of money invested in timber, and hemp is far more efficient, cost effective, and environmentally friendly than wood.  What’s a man to do?  Make your competition illegal of course.

Anslinger used Hearst’s publications to create an onslaught of propaganda that reached millions of households, killing two birds with one stone by furthering his career and outlawing hemp. Because cannabis and hemp were viewed as the same plant at the time (which is like comparing a Great Dane to a Shih Tzu and saying they are the same animal because they are both dogs), after congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, the production of industrial hemp, despite being unable to get people high, was also criminalized and exorbitantly taxed.

Various highly researched, credible reports (from the American Medical Association, members of the DEA, medical professionals, and patients) like the La Guardia Report, were issued by medical journals in 1944 directly refuting every single claim made by Anslinger. These reports were blatantly ignored.

After 1937, cannabis and hemp continued to become more and more controlled with increasingly harsh criminal/mandatory sentencing.  Cannabis and industrial hemp were eventually made completely illegal in the 50’s through a series of further restrictions and mandates. Eventually both substances were listed as schedule 1 narcotics, losing any and all hope of finding a place in society.

Related Article: U.K. Chief Advisor on Drug Policy Fired for Showing Danger of Alcohol and Tobacco

What should you take out of this brief history lesson?  Congress made cannabis(a great medicine) and hemp (a product that would revolutionize countless industries) illegal because of a silly, sensationalized, utterly unscientific movie shown to school children.  They disregarded the claims made by experts and medical professionals.  They ignored the pleas for rational thought and sensibility.  They had no reason to make cannabis illegal, and still don’t. I guess that’s why times are changing so quickly!

 

Contemporary Legality

In the latter half of the 20th century, rational substance reform finally began to take a turn with actual long term medical/economic/political/social implications of each individual substance in mind. It became clear that the historical basis for keeping cannabis illegal is entirely political and has nothing to do with science.  Just think, even main stream media and most countries around the world still refer to cannabis with a name spawned from mindless propaganda; marijuana.war on drugs political cartoon

People all around the world have begun to see that the war on drugs has completely failed in every way imaginable, actually leading to more drug use and significantly more violence worldwide. This is due to the fact that the war on drugs only fights the symptoms of a disease deeply ingrained into our society, and I’m not talking about drug use; I’m referring to gangs/organized drug cartels. In response to the effectiveness of incarceration on drug crimes, the Public Safety Performance Project found that:

Once incarcerated, drug dealers tend to be quickly replaced by new dealers and, as during the crack epidemic, the new recruits can be younger and more prone to violence than their predecessors. Thus while drug dealers no doubt deserve punishment, most leading researchers, and many law enforcement officials, now agree that incarcerating the foot soldiers in drug gangs, not to mention drug users, has a negligible impact on crime. Moreover, by creating job openings in drug-dealing organizations, it draws more people into criminal lifestyles and may in certain cases exacerbate crime.

The war on drugs is also one of the major reasons the US has the highest rate of incarceration in the entire world, with more than 1% of the entire population currently behind bars, and an additional 2% of the population on supervision, probation, or parole. That accounts for about 3% of the US population under correctional supervision. By a large margin, the US has the largest percentage of prisoners based on population in the world. The International Centre for Prison Studies at King’s College in London lists some startling statistics:

More than 9.8 million people are held in penal institutions throughout the world, mostly as pre-trial detainees (remand prisoners) or as sentenced prisoners. Almost half of these are in the United States (2.29m), Russia (0.89m) or China (1.57m sentenced prisoners).

After Nixon and all subsequent presidents became serious about the war on drugs and started punishing non-violent, hard working Americans for ingesting substances responsibly and safely, from 1960 to 1980 the number of total arrests nationwide rose by 28% while the number of drug related offenses rose by more than 127%, with the number continuing to rise exponentially. Nearly 40% of all federal and state inmates are non-violent drug offenders. Moreover, more than half of all drug-related arrests are entirely cannabis related.

Related Article: Cannabis Protects Brain From Damage While Binge Drinking

This is a staggering waste of financial resources.

Taxpayers spent about $68.7 billion in 2008 to feed, clothe, and provide medical care to prisoners in county jails, state and federal prisons and facilities housing legal and illegal aliens facing possible deportation. From 1982 to 2002, state and federal spending on corrections, not adjusted for inflation, rose by 423%, from $40 to $209 per U.S. resident. Corrections spending, as a share of state budgets, rose faster than health care, education, and natural resources spending from 1986 to 2001. The average cost of housing a prisoner for a year was about $24,000 in 2005, though rates vary from state to state.

That incredible spending increase from 1982 to 2002 coincides precisely with the increase of drug arrests due to the failed ‘war on drugs.’ This is an especially important point to consider since drug offenses are almost entirely non-violent, and rehabilitation costs significantly less for tax payers.

Treatment delivered in the community is one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent such crimes and costs approximately $20,000 less than incarceration per person per year. A study by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy found that every dollar spent on drug treatment in the community yields over $18 in cost savings related to crime. In comparison, prisons only yield $.37 in public safety benefit per dollar spent. Releasing people to supervision and making treatment accessible is an effective way of reducing problematic drug use, reducing crime associated with drug use and reducing the number of people in prison.

The war on drugs only serves to bolster the monstrous prison-industrial complex of the US, increasing the profits of private prisons across the nation. Despite the statistics, the US continues to permanently destroy the lives of hard-working, non-violent citizens. Additionally, private prisons and jails are a total loss of revenue.

the benefit to counties where private prisons are built and operated can be quite scant — some receive less than $2 per prisoner per day from the private prison operator…the federal government agreed to pay CCA [one of the largest private prison firms] almost $90 per day for each detained immigrant at a San Diego facility.

Today, private companies imprison roughly 130,000 prisoners and, according to one group, 16,000 civil immigration detainees in the United States at any given time. As states send more and more people to prison, they funnel ever greater amounts of taxpayer money to private prison operators. By 2010, annual revenues of the two top private prison companies alone stood at nearly $3 billion.

Above all, the war on drugs does a great job of pouring public money into the hands of dangerous cartels and various private entities.

Famous, influential, intelligent individuals all around the world are voicing their opinion that cannabis, and additionally hemp, should at the very least be decriminalized.  These individuals include prominent politicians, actors/actresses, presidents, comedians, performersphilosophersscientists, economists, doctorsjudges and more.

Related Article: New Report Urges Decriminalization of Drugs in Australia

The people who advocate the decriminalization/legalization of cannabis along with other substances are from every walk of life; many don’t even ingest cannabis. The one thing they have in common though is that their opinions are founded in scientific evidence, empirically tested data, and time tested proof. Previous and current presidents and politicians have admitted to smoking “pot,” (including president Obama who admitted to smoking pot regularly with his high school friends) yet they continue to stagnate with reform at the federal level (despite, again, the federal government owning the patent on cannabis as a medicine).  Amidst all the hurtles and lack of progress, let’s take a look at what is changing within the US and the world at large.

 

Compared to the rest of the developed world, America is definitely lagging behind a significant amount of its rational, forward-thinking brethren. As recent examples, the Czech Republic legalized medical cannabis, Ireland legalized medical cannabis, and the United Kingdom is currently working to legalize cannabis completely, as medical cannabis is already legal. Additionally, in an attempt to combat gang crime, increase economic development, and provide its people with a cheap or free form of potent and effective medicine, Uruguay recently legalized cannabis.

As seen on the map, a significant number of countries around the world have chosen to legalize medical cannabis and/or cannabis as a whole with strong domestic and international support due to the positive effects of the decriminalization of cannabis. There is a surprisingly large number of countries with sensible cannabis laws.

Many political leaders, heads of agencies, and medical professionals are also pointing out how ridiculous it is that extremely addictive, highly toxic substances like tobacco and alcohol go unchecked while a harmless substance like cannabis remains globally demonized. Ask yourself, if alcohol were discovered today would it even be legal? In the UK, the chief drug adviser Prof. David Nutt was fired for pointing out the dangers of alcohol and nicotine and further explaining that they are for more dangerous and harmful than cannabis. Another UK drug adviser recently resigned from his job in protest of David Nutt’s silencing.

In America, progress is slow, but the wheels of rationality are beginning to turn. The most cited (and dubbed a genius by his peers) federal judge in America recently urged for the legalization of cannabis for the sake of economic development and to “let the punishment fit the crime.” 15 separate states have decriminalized or legalized the personal use of cannabis, while 19 states have passed medical cannabis laws. 9 other states currently have pending medical cannabis laws. As you’ve probably smelled, Washington and Colorado became the first two states to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, with seven more states likely to legalize cannabis as well within the next couple years. Another piece of great news is that the Kentucky Senate Committee voted unanimously to approve legal hemp. The country is waiting with bongs in hand to see how the federal government will react.

dont-smoke-weedIn an interview with Barbara Walters concerning cannabis legalization in Colorado and Washington President Obama said:

It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that’s legal.

President Obama’s response was typical of all political speech; evasive and vague.  While tokers all around the country take bets on the fed’s actions, there is a significant amount of pressure on the white house to legalize cannabis at the federal level.  Various bills are being presented in Congress to repeal cannabis laws and broaden economic opportunities. Although there are steps you can take, like signing this petition to give states the right to regulate cannabis however they want, decisions and movement at the federal level remain slow and stagnant as usual.

Related Article: Federal Judge Urges Decriminalization of Marijuana 

One of the strangest pieces of this entire puzzle is that despite continued sentiments from the US federal government that cannabis is still a  hellish scourge upon the planet, the federal government has been supplying high grade medical cannabis to select patients since 1978.

Come on America, even the utter craziness that is North Korea has 100% legalized cannabis, and they’re the world’s mentally challenged cousin. Maybe that’s why their attempts to scare the world with a video featuring a nuclear missile hitting New York failed utterly; through their glazed, blood-shot eyes the video looks state of the art!

So, countries all around the world along with a growing number of US states are decriminalizing cannabis for personal use, legalizing cannabis as a medicine (or entirely legalizing it), and the US government owns a patent on medicinal cannabis as well as supplies certain patients with medical cannabis for life.  What’s all the hype over cannabis?  It just so happens that cannabis is a wonder-drug; a miracle for millions; potentially billions. **This article continues in the report: Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else: A Through History and Review.

 

What’s the Next Step?

The next step is to step out of the historical shadow of basing medical and political decisions on myths and rumors. More unbiased research needs to be performed on the effects of cannabis on each and every part of the human body and psyche. The DEA, FDA, and NIDA have made further legitimate research an ongoing uphill battle.

A pro-marijuana group lost its legal battle this week when a federal appellate court ruled that marijuana would remain a Schedule I drug, defined as having no accepted medical value and a high potential for abuse. The court deferred to the judgment of federal authorities, quoting the DEA’s statement that “the effectiveness of a drug must be established in well-controlled, well-designed, well-conducted and well-documented scientific studies…. To date, such studies have not been performed.

But guess who bears responsibility for the studies the court claims are not being performed? The DEA itself, which through its ultra-tight restrictions on cannabis has made it nearly impossible for researchers to obtain the substance for study, as well as the National Institute for Drug Abuse, which controls the availability of the tiny quantity of research-grade cannabis that is federally approved for production.

In response to the DEA’s actions against sensible substance users, the LA Times accurately labeled the DEA as

a terrified and obstinate toddler when it comes to basic science.

Probably the most ridiculous aspect of the FDA’s behavior is that they approve of multiple synthetic cannabinoids which precisely mimic natural cannabinoids found in cannabis, especially THC.  The only difference is that they and the pharmaceutical companies can add a few substances to the cannabinoid, call it a cocktail, and turn a significant profit on people in desperate need for something that works. So, synthetic cannabinoids which can be patented and sold at exorbitant rates are legal but naturally grown, free medicine containing the same exact cannabinoidal actions, as well as a wider range of medicinal benefits remains illegal.  It doesn’t get much more hypocritical or shameless than that.

Related Article: No Link Between Cannabis and Depression

We have the ability to breed specified strains of cannabis, and create particular synthetic cannabinoids to meet the precise needs of patients.  This incredible opportunity to create safe, effective, highly personalized medicine is stifled at the federal level, despite opposition from a majority of the US public.

The fact remains that Americans love cannabis. A recent survey of over 85,000 people revealed that at least 42% of Americans have tried cannabis. This is extremely surprising as only 20% of people in the Netherlands have tried cannabis, a country with extremely lax cannabis laws.

A second poll found that nearly 50% of Americans support legalizing cannabis, while 83% favor legalizing medical cannabis. Cannabis is such an American pastime that companies are planning to install cannabis vending machines in Washington and Colorado.  Does this mean that 42% of Americans should be in prison, and 83% of Americans should be on the wanted list for supporting an act listed as a felony?

Although Americans love their cannabis, they aren’t the only ones. According to data compiled from WHO World Mental Health Survey, the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Center, and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the prevalence of adult lifetime cannabis by country reveals that the countries with the highest rate of cannabis use are countries that are developed, economically superior, have relative political freedom, and are culturally similar to the US. There is no way all of these people should be considered criminals:

(*Percentages reflect any cannabis use during a person’s life for the stated ages in the stated year.)

 
  1. Canada: 44.5% (ages 15+ in 2005)
  2. United States: 42.4% (ages 14+ in 2002-2003)
  3. New Zealand: 41.9% (ages 16+ in 2004-2005)
  4. Denmark: 36.5% (ages 16-64 in 2005)
  5. Australia: 33.5% (ages 14+ in 2007)
  6. France: 30.6% (ages 15-64 in 2005)
  7. United Kingdom: 29.6% (ages 14+ in 2004)
  8. Italy: 29.3% (ages 15-64 in 2005)
  9. Spain: 28.6% (ages 15-64 in 2005-2006)
  10. Chile: 26% (ages 12-64 in 2009)
  11. Germany: 24.5% (ages 18-59 in 2003)
  12. Netherlands:  22.6% (ages 15-64 in 2005)
  13. Czech Republic: 20.6% (ages 18-64 in 2004)
  14. Scotland: 20.5% (ages 16-64 in 2004)
  15. Austria: 20.1% (ages 15-64 in 2004)

Millions of people worldwide use cannabis for an endless list of reasons.  Besides using it as a medicine, people all over the world responsibly use cannabis to experience:

a general alteration of conscious perceptioneuphoria, feelings of well-being, relaxation or stress reduction, increased appreciation of humor, music or the arts,joviality, metacognition and introspection, enhanced recollection (episodic memory), increased sensuality, increased awareness of sensation, increased libido, and creativity.

Why are the DEA/FDA stalling? They raid innocent people’s homes, destroying families and jailing individuals for hyperbolic amounts of time.  They go to all this effort to rid society of non-violent, victimless crimes.  All this fear and war over a substance that they admit is beneficial (ie. allowing synthetic cannabinoids to be used medicinally and still sending medically grown cannabis to individuals).  This is explicitly hypocritical and undoubtedly insane.

Related Article: The Politician Who Donates 90% of His Salary to Charity

If the DEA/FDA are truly concerned over Americans’ safety, why are they not going after the truly dangerous substances. Research routinely finds that cannabis is strikingly safer than alcohol and tobacco within every measurable facet.

According to a 2006 United Kingdom government report, using cannabis is much less dangerous  than tobacco, prescription drugs, and alcohol in social harms, physical harm, and addiction.

The scheduling system is nonsensical and has no clear logical basis for the large majority of listed substances.

Another important point is that through the legalization of cannabis, the economy could be booming! Here is a list of some examples of how cannabis legalization has already positively affected the economy, and how further legalization will improve the economy in the future:

Furthermore, the tobacco industry is ready to put cannabis distribution into high gear.

Tobacco companies have the land to grow it, the machines to roll it and package it, the distribution to market it. In fact, some firms have registered trademarks, which are taken directly from marijuana street jargon. These trade names are used currently on little-known legal products, but could be switched if and when marijuana is legalized. during the run up to the 2010 election in which marijuana legalization was on the ballot in California, Altria took control of the web domain names AltriaMarijuana.com and AltriaCannabis.com. For those not in the know, Altria is the parent company of Phillip Morris, the manufacturer of Marlboro, Players, Benson & Hedges and many other popular brands of tobacco cigarettes.

theragblog.blogspot.com

theragblog.blogspot.com

Allow me to reiterate how much money Americans would be saving on ending the war on cannabis and reducing incarceration rates.  The Center for Economic and Policy Research commented on how cannabis legalization would affect incarceration rates and increase savings.

We calculate that a reduction by one-half in the incarceration rate of non-violent offenders would lower correctional expenditures by $16.9 billion per year and return the U.S. to about the same incarceration rate we had in 1993 (which was already high by historical standards). The large majority of these savings would accrue to financially squeezed state and local governments, amounting to about one-fourth of their annual corrections budgets. As a group, state governments could save $7.6 billion, while local governments could save $7.2 billion.

Cannabis has the potential to change everything for the better. It could also help alleviate the health care crisis as Americans would be able to grow their own highly effective medicine. Let’s not forgot about the multitude of uses for hemp. It’s no wonder so many industries are lobbying against cannabis and hemp legalization including:

(*Note: many companies pour large amounts of money into the Partnership for a Drug Free America)
 

All this information is great and all, but you’re probably wondering what you can do to help, right?  Here’s how you can get started.

 

What You Can Do

    1. Vote! Voting is one of the best ways to enact change.  It’s how Washington and Colorado were able to finally legalize cannabis.
    2. Talk to your representatives. Send an email to your house representative and your state senators. Let them know how you feel, and how you think they should vote.
    3. Sign petitions. Sign a petition to give states the right to decide their own cannabis laws. Sign a petition to legalize cannabis federally. Or, create your own petition to the White House and spread it around.
    4. Do your own research. Alter your perceptions so that they are founded on evidence and scientific data.
    5. Spread the world.  Share this report or other relevant information you find and help educate others. Don’t be afraid to talk to people and tell them about what you’ve learned.
    6. Don’t give up:  people’s freedom and lives are at stake!

 

*Note: This article is part of a larger report on Wondergressive entitled ‘Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else: A Through History and Review

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What’s The Next Step?

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What You Can Do

Apple Cider Vinegar for Diabetes

Lately, bloggers, Pinterest and the internet in general have flocked towards apple cider vinegar—and why not? The list of its purported benefits goes on for a while! But how much of it is hype and how much if it is actually backed by science? First, let me begin by saying that in this article, “apple cider vinegar” will refer to the raw form only. It should have the “mother” of the vinegar, which appears as strand-like particles. The clear stuff you can get for under a dollar at Walmart has been processed and does not carry any of the benefits of raw apple cider vinegar.

My research on the topic has yielded both good and bad results. First, the good.

There seems to be a strong indication of apple cider vinegar’s effects on blood sugar levels. In a 2007 study of 11 people with Type 2 diabetes, taking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed was shown to lower their glucose levels in the morning by about 4-6%.

Further to the above, WebMD goes on to tell us:

A 2006 study showed evidence that vinegar could lower cholesterol. However, the study was done in rats, so it’s too early to know how it might work in people.

NOTE: Apple cider vinegar is VERY POTENT! It must always be diluted before being ingested, whether with water or juice, doesn’t matter.

Now the bad. There are a lot of folk legends running amok online (as is the way of the interwebs), that ACV will cure everything from an upset stomach to cancer. However, I would strongly advice caution in this matter. For example:

A few laboratory studies have found that vinegar may be able to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. Observational studies of people have been confusing. One found that eating vinegar was associated with a decreased risk of esophageal cancer. Another associated it with an increased risk of bladder cancer.

That sounds like a bit of a gamble!

Additionally, a number of sources (WebMD among them) note that ACV, being an acid, can harm the enamel of your teeth. However, this Reader’s Digest article recommends it for whitening your teeth without any kind of warnings whatsoever. Not cool, Reader’s Digest. Not cool. You know folks are going to start following this advice blindly.

In that particular scenario, The Herbivore Hippi tells us the following:

Dentists recommend that if you use it as a mouth rinse you must be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly! The acids, if used too often or not rinsed away will not only soften your teeth but also wear away at the tooth enamel even though it can strengthen brittle teeth. Apple cider vinegar is incredibly potent so always remember to dilute it!

I’d be interested to see how the cancer and cholesterol studies pan out down the road, but in the meantime, those of you with diabetes might consider talking to your doctors about including apple cider vinegar into your diets/daily routines. Please do not just jump into this without consulting your healthcare provider, as vinegar containes chromium and can alter your insulin levels. Your doctor will be in the best position to alter/adjust your current medication to account for the change in insulin levels.

 

Resources
Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Reader’s Digest: 8 Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar for Healthy Teeth