Peanut Allergy on the Rise: Clever Cure on the Horizon

peanut allergy

I’m not a draft dodger I have a peanut allergy!

Although it isn’t an issue that is normally spoken about, I’ve seen firsthand how lives can be dramatically warped by America’s favorite nut. More than 3 million Americans are allergic to peanuts, and reactions can range from skin rashes to death.

Peanuts have been found to cause the majority of deaths in the U.S. from anaphylaxis, or severe allergic reaction. Allergic reactions can occur from eating peanuts or from even the slightest exposure to peanuts in some individuals. But hope is on the horizon. Researchers and scientists have found a way to “turn off” life-threatening allergic reactions to peanuts and possibly other foods by playing a trick on the immune system. This trick could be the key to saving millions of lives and improving the quality of life for many peanut allergy sufferers.

peanut allergy

More people have a food allergy than the whole U.S. prison population. http://cleanoutthepantry.org/

Peanut allergy is the most common cause of food related death in Americans. 90% of those suffering from food allergies suffer from an allergy to 1 of 8 foods. A peanut allergy is the most prevalent and dangerous of these 8 foods. 4% – 8% of U.S. children are allergic to peanuts. Peanuts are a seriously underestimated danger.

Related Article: A Tick is Turning People into Vegetarians for Life

New research done at the Northwestern University suggests that despite its prevalence, this peanut allergy may become a thing of the past. Dr. Stephen Miller and Dr. Paul Bryce, professors and researchers at Northwestern University pioneered the study. According to an October 2011 article from Northwestern University, they were inspired by Dr. Miller’s research on Multiple Sclerosis. Using mice as models, Miller hit on the idea of taking blood from a mouse with MS symptoms, attaching myelin protein to certain white blood cells, and infusing the blood back into the mouse’s bloodstream. According to Dr. Miller,

The idea is to convince the patient’s immune system that the myelin is not dangerous and to turn off its attack.

This same method could be applied to their research on peanut allergy relief. Dr.Bryce developed lab mice that were sensitive to peanuts and would suffer the same reactions as allergic humans — hives, swelling and, in more severe cases, constriction of breathing, plummeting blood pressure and shock that can lead to loss of consciousness and death. In their experiments, Bryce and Miller drew blood from their peanut allergic mice and attached peanut protein to white blood cells. They then infused the blood back into the mice and fed them peanut extracts that normally would set off severe allergic reactions. The results were more than they could have hoped for: The system increases the number of regulatory T cells in the mouse with the peanut allergy while “turning off” other cells that cause the peanut allergy, restoring tolerance to peanuts to the immune system.

Related Article: A Delicious Cure – Honey As An Antibiotic & Much, Much More

This kid's body cannot withstand the power of the peanut war. Let's help him! trialx.com

This kid’s body cannot withstand the power of the peanut war. Let’s help him! trialx.com

Despite this major breakthrough in the battle against the peanut allergy, many sectors of our community continue to establish new rules and regulations that are meant to control and monitor exposure to peanuts. For example, more schools than ever are banning peanuts and peanut products as the number of kids diagnosed with the potentially life-threatening peanut allergy has climbed dramatically in recent years. Between 1997 and 2002, the rates of peanut allergies in children under age five doubled, and consequently, 30,000 schools in America are now “peanut free”.

Despite this, there is still a tried and true convenience factor when it comes to peanut butter and kids. When busy parents are affected by an allergy that belongs to neither them nor their child, it is difficult to see the necessity of the rules against peanuts and peanut butter. Parents continue to ask, should one child’s allergy affect another child’s lunch? That is what school districts across the country are trying to establish.

Related Article: Eat Nuts for a Longer Life

Schools are not the only area of society to be affected by the consequences of possible exposure to peanuts in allergy sufferers. The debate has actually gone above and beyond us…literally.  Federal regulators have considered banning peanuts and peanut products on flights. The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities by U.S. and foreign air carriers, and the Department of Transportation requires airlines to accommodate travelers with disabilities unless doing this would cause an “undue burden” or require the airline to “fundamentally alter its services”.  The Department of Transportation believes that a severe peanut allergy counts as a disability — and federal law prohibits air carriers from discriminating against individuals with a disability. Therefore, further research is being done so the Department of Transportation can conclude whether they are really honoring a disability, or whether not serving nut products on flights is fundamentally altering its services. Schools and airlines represent just a few examples of how we are all affected by peanut allergies, whether we actually have one or not.

They have us surrounded!

They have us surrounded!

This may seem like a lot of input from “the peanut gallery”, but these debates prove that in a way, we are all peanut allergy sufferers, so the future implications of being able to “turn off” a peanut allergy mean something to the way we all live our lives. Despite the ground breaking research that has been done on how to lessen the negative effects of peanut exposure, results may be far off. According to Dr. Paul Bryce,

we… think we have recalibrated the immune system, but we’re still trying to understand how it works. Researchers say we are looking at three-five years before this approach can actually be tested on humans.

Related Article: The Greatest Medical Discovery of Our Time: Starve Cancer by Eating

If the peanut allergy treatment works on humans, it’s likely the method could also be applied to the growing list of food allergies and to autoimmune diseases. Another method for curing the peanut allergy is also in the early stages of development at the New England Food Allergy Treatment Center.

Heeeere's peanuts! peanutfreegallery.blogspot.com

Heeeere’s peanuts! peanutfreegallery.blogspot.com

The method called Oral Immunotherapy, involves the patient actually eating small amounts of nuts in a controlled setting.  The author of the study, Dr. Scott Nash of Duke University, says the treatment includes three phases: one day in the medical center, with increasing doses given throughout the day; a home phase lasting three or four months that involve daily, escalating doses; and a home maintenance phase in which the daily dose is 300 milligrams, about the equivalent of one peanut. At the end of the study, Nash’s team gave patients a “food challenge” with peanut flour, exposing them to the equivalent of more than 13 peanuts.

The goal of immunotherapy is for the allergy to go away, but more research is needed. Nash says patients are now at reduced risk for anaphylaxis. It isn’t a cure to the peanut allergy, but it’s not peanuts, either! In fact, according to the results, immunotherapy increased the quality of life for every single person that has participated in the therapy. New methods such as these are just the beginning of a new life for food and peanut allergy sufferers and a new beginning for how society handles the peanut allergy.

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

Do you remember that song? “It’s peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time!” Well thanks to new studies and technology, we’ll be able to have peanut butter jelly time no matter who is around, whether they’re a peanut allergy sufferer or not. Schools will lift their ban on peanuts and peanut butter; airlines may be able to have an allergy sufferer sit next to a non allergy sufferer; and we will finally be able to do away with any type of food allergy fear once and for all.

 

Sources:

http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1869095,00.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC154188/

http://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats

http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2011/10/peanut-allergy-bryce.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14657884/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/12/peanut-ban-on-airplaines-_n_610247.html

http://www.myelinrepair.org/about/principal_investigators.shtml

http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/newsroom/news-releases/year-2010/classic-pbj-sandwiches-banned-from-lunch-consider-another-butter.html

http://digitalcommons.uconn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1032&context=uchcgs_masters

http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/subtitle-B

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/12/peanut-ban-on-airplaines-_n_610247.html

http://airconsumer.dot.gov/rules/382short.pdf

http://www.nefoodallergy.org/results.cfm

http://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206(12)00641-2/

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

bahmankadeh.blogspot.com

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:

 

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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/

……………………………………………………………………………………..

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

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/07/the-vitamin-myth-why-we-think-we-need-supplements/277947/

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/

……………………………………………………………………………………..

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

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/04/the-100-year-march-of-technology-in-1-graph/255573/

http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/why-get-a-new-iphone-when-you-can-download-most-of-the-new-software-features-for-free-20130913-2tpqu.html

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

https://wondergressive.com/2013/02/11/the-singularity-is-nigh-upon-us-2/

http://www.ted.com/talks/ray_kurzweil_on_how_technology_will_transform_us.html?sa=U&ei=sowtUt38BcqZiAf-74HABA&ved=0CEQQtwIwCQ&usg=AFQjCNG0oJMmVydCi4PJjcPLQWYLLOY76w

http://www.amazon.com/Sony-DSC-RX1-Cyber-shot-Full-frame-Digital/dp/B0097CXFCC/ref=sr_1_6?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1379228687&sr=1-6&keywords=camera

http://slickdeals.net/

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/frugal/how-long-wait-for-price-drops.aspx

http://www.amazon.com/Beyerdynamic-T1-Audiofile-Stereo-Headphone/dp/B0031RD3YY/ref=sr_1_6?s=aht&ie=UTF8&qid=1379230951&sr=1-6&keywords=headphones

http://travel.cnn.com/explorations/escape/worlds-15-most-expensive-hotel-suites-747256

http://www.agoda.com/

http://www.hostelworld.com/

http://www.booking.com/

http://www.helpx.net/

http://www.wwoof.net/

https://www.couchsurfing.org/

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/07/magazine/07wwln_freak.t.html?ex=1325826000&en=970953e6241456e4&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0

http://www.statisticbrain.com/gym-membership-statistics/

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

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/cheap-gym-membership

http://www.groupon.com

http://www.tribalance.com/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/05/16/seven-minute-workout-to-burn-fat/

http://www.military.com/military-fitness/workouts/avoid-gym-by-using-calisthenics

http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/09/09/10-countries-that-spend-the-most-on-food-alcohol-and-tobacco/

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

http://www.gallup.com/poll/156416/americans-spend-151-week-food-high-income-180.aspx

http://nrn.com/corporate/consumers-cut-back-restaurant-spending

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AuHOPshyxQGGdFY1SzVrNzZoYnN5clV1b0NrejAtVEE#gid=0

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/01/calculator-food-spending-budget-frugal

http://community.ally.com/straight-talk/2012/01/ally-bank-looks-at-what-americans-spend-on-dining-out/

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AuHOPshyxQGGdEowT21KN0ZobWQxUHFQcVcxN1Naemc#gid=0

http://www.servingjoyfully.com/

http://moneysavingmom.com/2012/06/how-we-are-saving-over-2600-per-year-by-not-eating-out.html

http://www.taste.com.au/

http://eatdrinkbetter.com/2013/06/11/american-food-waste-facts/

http://sustainablereview.net/portion-size-key-restaurant-food-waste-research-finds/

http://allrecipes.com/

http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/

http://www.itipping.com/tip-guide-restaurant.htm

http://allrecipes.com/my/menus/planner.aspx?e3=TB_3.0.0_Menu-Planner

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/cheap-wine-deals/

wondergressive.com/2012/08/15/edible-landscapes/

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

Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears

 

Researchers from the Tambopata Research Center in Peru have recently observed butterflies in the Amazon swarming the heads of turtles to drink their tears. The reasons for the butterflies’ seemingly strange behavior is to attain the precious salts found in the turtles’ tears and eye balls.

Sodium is so precious in the rainforest because it is over 1,000 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, a major source of salt in the region.

Related Article: Surprises of the Amazon

Interestingly, butterflies in the eyes doesn’t seem to be all that bad of a situation. Although it may temporarily hinder the turtles’ vision, an eye ball feeding frenzy does little to no direct harm to them. Phil Torres, one of the lead researchers of the study, explains that:

The turtles have enough tears to feed the butterflies simply because the butterflies are taking so little.  They simply uptake salts through a process similar to absorption by placing the proboscis on the salt-laden and passively ‘feed.’

Torres explained that he has also seen bees attempt the same sodium harnessing technique, but that butterflies are a walk in the jungle compared to the annoyance of bees. He believes this is largely due to the annoying wing buzzing taking place, you know, on the turtles eyeball!

Related Article: The Profound Intelligence and Intuition of Elephants

Surprisingly, tear sucking isn’t that strange of an activity for butterflies, as they have also been observed obtaining sodium from

animal urine, muddy river banks, puddles, sweaty clothes and sweating people[.]

The weirdest part is that  in other areas of the world where butterflies and turtles coexist in the same environment this behavior does not take place. It seems to be an anomaly of the rainforest, a phenomenon of the Amazon.

Richard C. Vogt, a researcher at the National Institute of Amazonian Research in Manaus, Brazil remarks that

I have been studying turtles in the wild — from the northern U.S., Mexico and Amazonas — for over 50 years and have never seen butterflies drinking tears of turtles[.]

Simply awesome. Turtles secrete excess sodium through their tears, and the butterflies are somehow able to detect this surplus of sodium, latch on to what must seem to them a gigantic, terrifying creature, and lap up their sweet,or rather salty cry juice.

Here’s a video, the only video, from Perunature.com, of butterflies drinking turtle tears:

Related Article: Dolphins Show Unending Compassion

Is it possible that the relationship is a symbiotic one? Could it be that the butterflies are providing a beneficial enzyme or chemical to the turtles, or that the decrease in eye sodium, however minute, is a relief to the turtles?

Maybe the simple answer is that turtles cry for the world, and butterflies only want to mop up the sadness.

Go nature!

Related Article: A Group of Prominent Scientists Agree: Animals are Just as Conscious as Us

 

Sources:

http://news.discovery.com/animals/insects/amazonian-butterflies-drink-turtle-tears-130912.htm

http://www.livescience.com/39558-butterflies-drink-turtle-tears.html

http://www.perunature.com

Check If You Are Burning Fat on Your Phone

I want to know if I am burning fat. Is there an app for that? Most likely yes! A new gadget has been revealed that allows you to check if you are burning fat and sends the data to your phone. A group of researchers from Japan’s NTT DOCOMO Research Laboratories have conducted a study and built a prototype gadget that will soon hit the market.

The gadget works similarly to a breathalyzer. You breathe into it and it checks for one specific compound called acetone. This compound has been used to indicate whether a person is burning fat. When fat breaks down in your body during exercise or lack of other energy sources, acetone is produced in the blood. Eventually it gets expelled to the lungs and is exhaled.  This device measures the level of acetone in your breath and is fairly compact; It is about 4 inches long and weighs about a quarter of a pound.

Once you exhale, the device calculates the concentration levels of acetone (the more acetone you have the more fat you are burning) and sends it to the smartphone either via Bluetooth or a cable. This is all achieved within ten seconds.

(Burn more fat by not sitting down. Sitting could be lethal)

The study lasted 14 days and used 17 adults of which 11 were men and 6 were women. All of their BMIs were above Japan’s average. The volunteers were split into three groups:

  • (Group 1) Carried on normal life, no calorie restrictions, no exercise requirement
  • (Group 2) No calorie restrictions, partook in light exercise 30-60 mins a day
  • (Group 3) Calorie restricted, partook in light exercise same as group 2

Every day before breakfast, they were required to note down their body weight, fat percentage and breath acetone concentrations. Upon concluding the study, results show that the first two groups were not burning fat in significant amounts. Their acetone level also remained unchanged. The third group, however, experienced a significant increase in acetone concentration as well as the rate of burning fat.

(Start burning fat and lose weight with a seven minute workout!)

Implications

With the world population becoming more and more obese, fat acceptance is becoming the norm, as well as dangerous. The main investigator of the study, Satoshi Hiyama, had this to say:

Because obesity increases the risk of lifestyle-related illnesses, enabling users to monitor the state of fat burning could play a pivotal role in daily diet management. Current standard methods, however, are still not practically suitable for point-of-care instrumentation for diet-conscious people who wish to monitor their own fat metabolism at home or outside.

However if this device allows us to monitor how our dieting affects our fat burning, this might alter the way we think about food and exercise altogether. We may start to alter our diets ourselves more frequently.

The prevailing issue is still the fact that this was conducted with only 17 individuals. A small sample pool such as that could bring down the credibility and accuracy of this gadget. But even if the accuracy and consistency of the device is proven to be solid, the challenges that still remain are the acceptance of the new technology and whether it will achieve its main goal: to alter people’s dieting habits for a permanent improvement.

Sources:

http://www.iop.org/news/13/jul/page_60652.html

https://wondergressive.com/2013/02/09/the-dangers-of-fat-acceptance/

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

 

Sources:

 

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Driving While Stoned

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Why Humans Have the Unique Ability to Learn New Words

 

Scientists have found a pathway in our brains that is responsible for the acquisition of new words, an ability unmatched by any other species; chimps coming in second place with a limit of no more than a hundred words. This could be exciting news for those who are polyglots or who are learning a new language for either travel, school, or the workplace.

The common notion is that we learn new words through hearing them first and then spitting them back out, in other words, input and output, or recognition and recall. Very little is known about what happens inside the brain itself within the intricate neural mechanisms.

https://i0.wp.com/thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/d/d_10/d_10_cr/d_10_cr_lan/d_10_cr_lan_1e.jpg

Researchers from King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry have been able to draw out the pathways in the brain which are activated when learning new words. What the researchers found was that a collection of nerve fibers called the arcuate fasciculus connect the auditory and motor regions and is responsible for our ability to articulate new words. Depending on how this region is developed, everybody’s ability to acquire new words and languages will vary.

Related Article: Neocortex: How Human Memory Works and How We Learn

The researchers have also concluded that this pathway does not exist in other species, and that it is unique to humans. Yes, chimps can learn new words, however, their vocabulary is limited to double digits on average. Also, consider how many species you know that are bilingual or trilingual? We are pretty awesome if you take that into consideration. This newfound research could have implications on how new words are taught in language courses across schools and how quickly we can discover language disorders in individuals.

Related Article: Rosetta Stone’s Possible False Claim

The study was composed of twenty-seven volunteers. The individuals’ brain structures were imaged before a word learning task and MRI was used to detect regions of the brain that were most active.

They found a strong relationship between the ability to remember words and the structure of arcuate fasciculus, which connects two brain areas: the territory of Wernicke, related to auditory language decoding, and Broca’s area, which coordinates the movements associated with speech and the language processing.

Participants who had higher success in learning new words had one thing in common: their arcuate fasciculus was more myelinated, which basically means that electrical signals moved more quickly back and forth than they did in other participants. You can think of it as a faster data transfer rate like (or unlike, depending on your provider) your internet.

All this means is that in order for our kids to learn new words and to continue to acquire new language skills, it is important that we speak to them orally rather than through text messages and Skype, unless you’re voice chatting that is.

Sources:

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-07/kcl-sik072213.php

http://carta.anthropogeny.org/moca/topics/arcuate-fasciculus

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

Toothpick Surfing on Acoustic Waves and Other Levitation Implications

https://www.ethlife.ethz.ch/archive_articles/130716_schallwellenreiten_aj/index_EN

Toothpick Surfing on Acoustic Waves

Acoustic waves have allowed for many more objects and liquids to be levitated in mid-air than ever before. Such feats are usually performed with magnets, but the objects floating on the magnets needed to have magnetic properties. ETH, a group of researchers in Zurich, successfully levitated a toothpick in mid-air and controlled its movements using acoustic waves. With the same technique they also merged droplets of liquid.

The postdoctoral researcher involved in this study at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology is Daniele Foresti. Foresti made it possible for any object, regardless of its properties, (except maybe weight which is still at the experimental stage) to levitate in mid-air through the use of acoustic waves. This allows for the study of some chemical reactions involving processes that would otherwise be compromised with the contact of a surface.

Levitation via acoustic waves allows for a vast number of objects and liquids to be experimented on. The current methods we have that allow objects to reach a levitated state are magnetic levitation, electrical fields, and suspension in liquids with the help of buoyancy. The problem with magnets is the difficulty of controlling the movement of liquids. The liquids are required to have some sort of magnetic properties. Floating liquids in another liquid requires the use of immiscible liquids (not forming a homogeneous mixture when added together) such as oil and water. Acoustic waves take care of these limitations. The only limitation is the maximum diameter of the object being levitated. It has to correspond with half the acoustic wavelength being used. Levitation is achieved when all of the acting forces (gravity and acoustic waves) reach equilibrium. The force of the acoustic waves counteracts the force of gravity, which allows this state to occur.

Making Coffee on Acoustic Waves

The scientific term used to describe this phenomenon is the acoustic radiation pressure effect. This is not a new discovery, rather an alteration to a previous one that goes back to the findings of Rayleigh. However, unlike in previous studies, we can now control movement with acoustic waves. This was done by putting together multiple modules that create the acoustic waves and by switching them on to vary their wave action. This varying process is how liquid is able to move from one module to the next. Foresti used this method to merge a water droplet and a bit of instant coffee together to form coffee!

 

Sources:

https://www.ethlife.ethz.ch/index/index_EN

https://www.ethlife.ethz.ch/archive_articles/130716_schallwellenreiten_aj/index_EN

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

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

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1904/strutt-bio.html

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

 

[no_toc]

*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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Animals Evolve Too Slowly, Climate Change Too Fast

 

A new study on climate change and evolution shows that climate change is happening so fast that many vertebrate species can’t evolve fast enough to keep up with the pace. They would have to evolve ten thousand times faster than they currently are to keep up with the climate change that is expected for the next hundred years.

The study compared the past rates of adaptation to the modern rates of climate change.  Scientists analyzed 540 vertebrate species and the speed of their adaptation to climate change in the past. This included amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The study concluded that land based vertebrates do not evolve anywhere near fast enough to adapt to the new trends of climate change, resulting in possible extinction if they are not able to migrate, acclimate, and eventually evolve. Each species has their own comfort zone when speaking about temperature, climate and environment, which is why you won’t see penguins in the Amazon or monkeys in Antarctica.

Related Article: Ask an Astrobiologist: Global Warming, and What to Expect

According to Wiens, who conducted the research along with another postgraduate research assistant at Yale University, findings show that on average, species evolve and adapt to climate changes at a rate of about 1 degree Celsius per million years. However, if the International Panel of Climate Change is correct and we should expect a rise of 4 degrees in the next hundred years, a vast number of species won’t be able to evolve quickly enough.

frog evolve climate

This little guy’s species can’t evolve fast enough to stick around. http://cdn.ph.upi.com/

These conclusions came from studying evolutionary family trees of vertebrates that show how species relate to each other through DNA. The data gathered from the trees was then compared with the data on the climatic niche of each species. This allowed the scientists to evaluate at what pace the species changed in their given climatic niche. Most sister species evolved to live in habitats whose temperature difference was just 1-2 degrees Celsius over the course of one to a few million years.

Related Article: Germany Sets Example for Global Climate Battle

Overall, most of the vertebrate groups contain some species that will be potentially endangered. It does’t have to be all that bad though. Species can acclimate but not truly evolve, or they could migrate to their preferred climate. Unfortunately, for some species this is not an option as they move very slowly or are required to go through habitats that are heavily influenced by humans.

It should be noted that most extinction cases are not a direct effect of the physiological burden of climate change, rather the changes in interaction with other species, as well as their food availability. For example, if an area experiences serious droughts and plants cannot grow causing low food availability for those animals, it would ultimately result in their migration or demise.

Although all life can evolve to meet the demands of a new environment, a necessary ingredient to evolution is time, something the world does not have.

Sources:

http://uanews.org/story/ua-study-evolution-too-slow-to-keep-up-with-climate-change

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23800223

http://www.ipcc.ch/

Wondergressive: Ask an Astrobiologist

Wondergressive: Germany Sets Example