This Is What Happens When You Place an Ice Cube at This Point on Your Head .

5191Seemingly little things can bring forth great happiness

You can live longer, look younger, have more energy and lead a fuller life with this simple Feng Fu trick!

Putting an ice pack on the back of the neck helps with an array of bothersome conditions. Illness also seems to disappear and you find yourself more energetic and plain happy.

Actually, this point is a pressure point found at the base of the skull, just below the bottom ridge of the skull cap at the top of the neck.

Brown fat is a heat-generating type of fat that burns energy instead of storing it. Newborns have a supply of brown fat to keep them warm, but by adulthood they lose most of their stores of it.

Brown fat has been located in the neck area, around blood vessels (helping to warm your blood), and “marbled” in with white fat in fat tissue.

In a new study, scientists found that they were able to activate the brown fat still present by cooling this area twice a day. Study patients burned more calories and lost white fat-the fat that causes obesity.

So, there is no doubt that this iced activation of the brown fat will rev up your metabolism along with your natural energy.

What does it do for you?

If you put ice on this point regularly, it triggers many beneficial processes in your body. Just do it once in the morning on an empty stomach and then again once before going to bed.

These are the benefits:

  • It rejuvenates your body.
  • It improves your sleep quality.
  • It improves your mood.
  • It helps regulate your gut.
  • It relieves colds.
  • It relieves toothaches and headaches.
  • It may help relieve lung and cardiovascular diseases.
  • It may help thyroid issues.
  • It may relieve PMS.
  • It may improve mental health.
  • It also helps with weight loss.

How to do this ice down cool treatment?

You should lie on your stomach and put an ice cube at the Feng Fu point shown in the picture with the red circle.
Leave it there for 20 minutes. You can also use a bandage to fix it in place if you’re on the go.

So, I think this is well worth a try. Many a time you have seen boxers and sport athletes ice downing their necks, not only to cool off, but to re-energize, sooth sore muscles, relieve back pain, knee pain, migraines or stop nose bleeding. So who can say it can’t do all the above mentioned goodness too?

Practical tip: You can put the ice cube in a zip-lock freezer bag, so it melts in the bag. Then you just put the bag in the freezer (on an angle so the water gathers in one corner), and you can keep reusing the same ice cube.


Earth Day

Why do measurements of the gravitational constant vary so much?

Newton’s gravitational constant, G, has been measured about a dozen times over the last 40 years, but the results have varied by much more than would be expected due to random and systematic errors. Now scientists have found that the measured G values oscillate over time like a sine wave with a period of 5.9 years. It’s not G itself that is varying by this much, they propose, but more likely something else is affecting the measurements.

As a clue to what this “something else” is, the scientists note that the 5.9-year oscillatory period of the measured G values correlates almost perfectly with the 5.9-year oscillatory period of Earth’s rotation rate, as determined by recent Length of Day (LOD) measurements. Although the scientists do not claim to know what causes the G/LOD correlation, they cautiously suggest that the “least unlikely” explanation may involve circulating currents in the Earth’s core. The changing currents may modify Earth’s rotational inertia, affecting LOD, and be accompanied by density variations, affecting G.

The scientists, John D. Anderson, retired from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and coauthors, have published a paper on the correlation between the measurements of Newton’s and the length of day in a recent issue of EPL.

As the scientists explained, the main point of the paper is the finding that, while the measured G values do vary, they do so in a predictable way.

“Once a surprising 5.9-year periodicity is taken into account, most laboratory measurements of G are consistent, and are within one-sigma experimental error limits,” Anderson told

The solar cycle (monthly mean of the total sunspot number) (black curve) does not consistently align with the data on G. Credit: J. D. Anderson, et al. ©2015 EPLA

The constant G is essential for our understanding of gravity, appearing in both Newton’s law of gravity and Einstein’s general relativity. G is not an intuitive concept, and not the same as the acceleration of an object due to gravity, g, of 9.81 m/s2.

The official value of G is 6.673889 × 10−11 N·(m/kg)2, but the 13 measurement values analyzed in this study range from approximately 6.672 × 10−11 N·(m/kg)2 to 6.675 × 10−11 N·(m/kg)2, which is a percentage variation of about 10-4. The variations in G are generally thought to result from measurement inconsistencies because G is very difficult to measure, partly due to the fact that gravity is much weaker than the other fundamental forces.

Despite the difficulties in measuring G, the new analysis suggests that the measurements are not flawed, but that something in the measurement process varies. One of the scientists’ first considerations was that the 5.9-year period is about half of the 11-year period of a solar cycle. Changes in solar activity are caused by changes in the number of sun spots, which affects Earth’s atmosphere, and in turn affects Earth’s . However, a closer look at the shows that it does not consistently align with the data on G.

Next the scientists turned to a 2013 paper published in Nature that reported a 5.9-year periodicity in Earth’s LOD, using data from the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Services (IERS) (Holme and de Viron). As the data shows, the length of each day varies slightly, with some days slightly longer and some days slightly shorter than others. The LOD variation is a measure of the speed of Earth’s rotation, and the scientists in the current study found that its periodic oscillation aligns almost exactly with the G oscillations. (These 5.9-year LOD periodic variations differ from observations that the Earth’s rotation is slowing down and the days getting longer due to tidal friction of the Moon, which occurs on a much longer time scale.)

Despite the close correlation between LOD and G, the scientists note that the maximum percentage variation of the LOD is on the order of 10-9, which is large enough to change G by only 10-5 of the amplitude—not enough to explain the full 10-4 percentage variation in G. Since this means that the LOD variations cannot cause the G variations, the researchers surmise that both variations are caused by changing motions in the Earth’s core, or perhaps some other geophysical process.

Although the results also raise the possibility that new physics could explain the variations, the scientists believe this is unlikely. One of the 13 measurements of G used in this analysis is the first-ever , called LENS-14, performed in 2014. The G value obtained by the quantum measurement is the larger of two outliers in the data, with the other outlier being a 1996 experiment that is known to have problems. Further quantum measurements of G are needed to understand why the quantum measurement deviates from the classical .

The are also not fully convinced that the G/LOD correlation is the full story, and they plan to search for other correlations in the future.

“We plan to look into the possibility of a connection with the Earth flyby anomaly, which also seems periodic, and perhaps other anomalies,” Anderson said.

Researchers find the genome of the cultivated sweet potato has bacterial DNA

A team of researchers with members from Belgium, China, Peru and the U.S. has found evidence of bacterial DNA in the genome of the cultivated sweet potato. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes their findings as an example of a naturally occurring transgenic food crop.

In modern times, scientists have created what are known as (GMOs), where plants or animals are modified to suit the particular needs of people in a certain region—to allow corn to grow in a dry climate for example. One common method of creating GMOs is to use bacteria that have been found able to modify the genes of a host as a carrier agent. GMOs have been met with suspicion in many parts of the world with some places banning them outright. Now, in this new effort, the researchers have found an example of a natural GMO that people have been eating for thousands of years: the .

Sweet potatoes have been growing wild in South America for thousands of years—over time, they were cultivated by people, and have since become a popular food in many parts of the world. But now it appears that a type of bacteria similar to the kind used by modern scientists to create many GMOs found its way naturally to cultivated sweet potatoes many generations ago and modified its DNA. To make this discovery, the researchers collected 291 sweet potato samples from cultivated sources across the globe along with nine wild sources and subjected them all to DNA analysis—they found that all of the cultivated potatoes carried at least two stretches of Agrobacterium DNA, while the wild species carried one. Their findings suggest the transfer of DNA to the potatoes occurred a long time ago, before they were carried to and grown in other parts of the world.

The researchers suggest their findings could have an impact on the perception of GMOs by some who oppose their creation on the grounds that it is not safe. They claim that humans eating food that was genetically modified naturally, over thousands of years, proves that such foods are not harmful.

More information: The genome of cultivated sweet potato contains Agrobacterium T-DNAs with expressed genes: An example of a naturally transgenic food crop, Tina Kyndt, PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1419685112

Agrobacterium rhizogenes and Agrobacterium tumefaciens are plant pathogenic bacteria capable of transferring DNA fragments [transfer DNA (T-DNA)] bearing functional genes into the host plant genome. This naturally occurring mechanism has been adapted by plant biotechnologists to develop genetically modified crops that today are grown on more than 10% of the world’s arable land, although their use can result in considerable controversy. While assembling small interfering RNAs, or siRNAs, of sweet potato plants for metagenomic analysis, sequences homologous to T-DNA sequences from Agrobacterium spp. were discovered. Simple and quantitative PCR, Southern blotting, genome walking, and bacterial artificial chromosome library screening and sequencing unambiguously demonstrated that two different T-DNA regions (IbT-DNA1 and IbT-DNA2) are present in the cultivated sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas [L.] Lam.) genome and that these foreign genes are expressed at detectable levels in different tissues of the sweet potato plant. IbT-DNA1 was found to contain four open reading frames (ORFs) homologous to the tryptophan-2-monooxygenase (iaaM), indole-3-acetamide hydrolase (iaaH), C-protein (C-prot), and agrocinopine synthase (Acs) genes of Agrobacterium spp. IbT-DNA1 was detected in all 291 cultigens examined, but not in close wild relatives. IbT-DNA2 contained at least five ORFs with significant homology to the ORF14, ORF17n, rooting locus (Rol)B/RolC, ORF13, and ORF18/ORF17n genes of A. rhizogenes. IbT-DNA2 was detected in 45 of 217 genotypes that included both cultivated and wild species. Our finding, that sweet potato is naturally transgenic while being a widely and traditionally consumed food crop, could affect the current consumer distrust of the safety of transgenic food crops.

Team first to model atomic structures of three bacterial nanomachines

Researchers at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute have become the first to produce images of the atomic structures of three specific biological nanomachines, each derived from a different potentially deadly bacterium—an achievement they hope will lead to antibiotics targeted toward specific pathogens.

The scientists used a leading-edge technology called cryo electron microscopy, or cryoEM, to reveal the form and function of these important structures. Papers on their findings were published in three top-tier journals: Nature, Cell, and Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.

Two of the nanomachines are structures called contractile ejection systems, which their bacteria use to transfer toxic molecules into healthy cells to usurp them for their own purposes, to attack rival bacteria by delivering toxins into them, and other functions. These structures have sheath–tube assemblies that create openings in the outer membranes of target cells through which they can insert toxic molecules.

The third nanomachine—different from the other two—is a pore structure that delivers deadly anthrax toxin into mammalian cells, once the is in the bloodstream. This mechanism is how anthrax bacteria activate the disease in an infected animal or person.

How the nanomachines work had been poorly understood, but the UCLA researchers used a cryoEM equipped with a special camera called a direct electron detector to produce highly detailed images. The scientists hope the new information about how they function will enable them to create antibiotics that target bacterial pathogens.

The team, led by Hong Zhou, professor of microbiology, immunology and , and of chemistry and biochemistry, runs the Electron Imaging Center for Nanomachines laboratory, which is based at CNSI and houses UCLA’s Titan Krios electron microscope—a highly sophisticated and rare cryoEM.

“As the centerpiece of our electron microscopy core lab, the cryo electron microscope is enabling exploration of new territory in ,” said Jeff Miller, director of the California NanoSystems Institute. “These unprecedented images enable us to understand the actual workings of these remarkable structures.”

Anthrax toxin

In a paper published online by Nature, Professor Zhou and his team reported that they were the first to determine the atomic structure of the anthrax toxin pore, the major disease molecule of Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes the disease anthrax in humans and animals. The anthrax toxin pore’s atomic structure is mushroom-shaped with a gate inside the “shaft.”

The finding confirms how the disease affects cells. When healthy cells encounter nanoscale objects in the body, they assume the objects are nutrients and absorb them. Like a Trojan horse, the toxin pore appears to the cells as something beneficial—in this case, a nutrient—and is taken in by the cell. But once inside the cell, the pore senses the change to a more acidic environment, which opens the pore’s gate and releases the molecule into the cell.

“This is a very important step toward understanding this mechanism, and it is essential for any anthrax countermeasure,” Zhou said. “It also informs our understanding of the mechanisms of other toxins that function like anthrax, which could lead to other targeted antibiotic drugs.”

Tularemia type VI secretion system

Another nanomachine was described by Dr. Marcus Horwitz, a UCLA professor of medicine and of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, who worked with Zhou’s team. In a studypublished in the journal Cell, the scientists reported the first atomic resolution model of any type VI secretion system, or T6SS, a nanomachine found in roughly 25 percent of .

Gram-negative bacteria are responsible for diseases such as cholera, salmonellosis, Legionnaires’ disease and melioidosis, and severe infections including gastroenteritis, pneumonia and meningitis. For the new study, the scientists examined Francisella tularensis, a bacterium that causes tularemia and is of great concern as a potential bioterrorism agent.

Built from component proteins, the T6SS nanomachine has an atomic structure that resembles a piston. When F. tularensis is taken up into a type of white blood cell called a macrophage it is surrounded by a bubble-like membrane, a structure known as a phagosome. The T6SS nanomachine then assembles inside the bacterium, where it plunges a tube through the bacterial wall and the membrane of the phagosome into the cytoplasm, the substance inside the macrophage. This enables the bacterium to escape the phagosome into the cytoplasm, where it can complete its lifecycle and multiply. Soon, the macrophage fills with bacteria and ruptures, freeing the bacteria to infect other cells. Thus, the T6SS is a novel target for antibiotics against this bacterium, and against others that use it to survive within host cells or to combat rival bacteria.

“We are already identifying drug molecules that target the F. tularensis T6SS,” Horwitz said. “Knowing how this structure works guides us in selecting drug molecules that block its assembly or function. The overall goal is to find new antibiotics that directly target this top-tier bioterrorism agent and other gram-negative bacteria with a T6SS such as Vibrio cholerae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Burkholderia pseudomallei, and pathogenic Escherichia coli.”

Horwitz and his team could potentially also develop wider-spectrum drugs that work on many different gram-negative pathogens that have in common a T6SS.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa

In humans and animals, a bacterium called Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes infectious diseases that lead to generalized inflammation and sepsis, a dangerous infection of the blood. A team led by Zhou and Miller discovered the of R-type pyocins, contractile ejection systems of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Their findings were published online by Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.

R-type pyocins are used by the bacterium to rapidly insert their nanotubes, like battering rams, into the cell membranes of competing bacteria to kill the competitors, giving Pseudomonas aeruginosa easier access to nutrients. These pyocins appear to create a channel in the outer envelope of the target bacteria, which essentially acts to weaken and kill it. This ability has made R-type pyocins the focus of research into possible antimicrobial and bioengineering applications, and scientists believe they could be engineered to give drugs a powerful antibacterial component.

“The R2 pyocin is an extraordinary molecular machine that uses energy from its own biological battery to function,” said Miller, who also is a professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics. “It is ideal for engineering targeted antibiotics that kill the bad bacteria without disrupting a patient’s protective gut bacteria.”

The scarcity of the technology and the expertise needed to use it make CNSI one of the world’s few facilities capable of imaging atomic structures like these nanomachines at atomic-level resolution, which is why researchers from around the world come to UCLA to use the Electron Imaging Center for Nanomachines, a fee-for-service laboratory open to any scientist in academia or industry.

Maple Syrup Extract Could Make Antibiotics More Effective Against Bacteria

A compound extracted from maple syrup has been found to weaken bacteria’s defenses against antibiotics, according to a new study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The extract could someday reduce the amount of antibiotics necessary to treat certain diseases effectively.

maple syrup

In the last couple decades, scientists and physicians started shying away from using antibiotics as a way to fight bacterial diseases. Overexposure can cause the bacteria to develop an immunity, which renders the medication useless. The new research offers an alternate future of antibiotics: one where the bacteria are weaker from the start and less medicine is needed to eradicate it from the body.

The experiments started simply enough. “We bought some maple syrup from a local market in Montreal, and we brought it back to the lab,” said Dr. Nathalie Tufenkji, senior author and assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at McGill University. Next, she says, the team cut out “a certain fraction of the maple syrup” that was rich in polyphenol compounds, which have been well-established to prevent degenerative diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

In treating several types of bacteria with the extract, including E. coli and Proteus mirabilis (a common cause of urinary tract infection) Tufenkji and her team were met with mild success. But treating those same bacteria with the maple syrup extract in conjunction with the antibiotics, they saw a breakdown in the bacteria’s protective membrane. What’s more, the one-two punch helped eliminate harmful biofilms left behind by the bacteria and also prevent new biofilms from forming. Plaque that forms on your teeth, for example, is a type of biofilm.

Another finding of interest, Tufenkji says, is that the extract acted on the bacteria’s genes that are in charge of establishing its virulence. “The maple syrup extract actually decreases the gene expression of those genes,” she explained. This in turn made the bacteria less infectious.

Tufenkji admits there is a long road ahead before the extract can have any real-world application. First her lab needs to move out of cell models and replicate the results in much larger in vivo studies. And then, once the initial testing validates the principle, they can begin work on clinical trials.

Antibiotics weren’t always a point of concern. For decades they helped doctors treat bacterial infections without much alarm. But through their natural proliferation, so-called bad bacteria started adapting to medicine to the point where they resisted attack. Today, humans transfer these bacteria through daily interaction and ingest them through the animal products we eat. The World Health Organization has stated antibiotic resistance “threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi.”

Tufenkji’s research suggests antibiotics could simply use a helping hand in reclaiming their effectiveness, and maple syrup — or at least a part of it — seems to be capable of filling that role.

Source: Maisuria V, Hosseinidoust Z, Tufenkji N. Polyphenolic Extract from Maple Syrup Potentiates Antibiotic Susceptibility and Reduces Biofilm Formation of Pathogenic Bacteria.Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 2015.

How Colorado Has Shown Marijuana Legalization Can Be Successful, If It’s Done Right

Marijuana, for most of its recent history, has been defined by skepticism and negative stereotypes. And why wouldn’t it be? Its use, along with LSD, is tied closely to the hippie counterculture of the 60s and 70s, which rejected mainstream societal structure and values and looked to these drugs for expanding consciousness. The 1980s’ War on Drugs, supported by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and various parents organizations, soiled its reputation further, persuading the American public that using it will sap motivation, lead to experimentation with harder drugs, and cause criminality.

For many years the public bought into this story. The majority of Americans perceived marijuana in a  light consistent with that of marijuana opponents and the 1980s War on Drugs. Support for legalization went from about a third of Americans in 1978 to 16 percent in 1990; their lowest point in history, according to a CNN/ORC poll. Since then, however, slowly but steadily that support has grown, and in 2014 it commanded the majority for the first time in history, with 53 percent of Americans saying it should be legal, the Pew Research Centerfound.

This support represents a sea change in the way people are viewing marijuana. And with tomorrow being April 20, or 420 as so many users know it — a day for celebrating weed — it’s never been more apparent that marijuana is shedding its countercultural image and going mainstream. Soon, marijuana opponents will no longer see it as a dangerous drug but as one that, when legalized, has few negative effects on public health and safety and a wide range of benefits. There’s already proof.

A Look At Recreational Pot’s Success

Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized weed so far. Colorado led the charge in 2012, voting in favor of Amendment 64, which required the state to set up legal, regulatory, and tax frameworks for people to cultivate, process, and sell marijuana not only to those who had been getting it for medical purposes for over a decade, but to anyone 21 and older. The state was followed soon after by Washington, and then last November by Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C.

While D.C. is experimenting with its own version of legalization, the other states have modeled or will model their own laws around Colorado’s, and for good reason. The law was implemented flawlessly despite Governor John Hickenlooper’s opposition. With the help of a task force consisting of 34 standing members and numerous other members assigned to working groups — from health care and law enforcement to businesses and labor — Hickenlooper ensured that both industry and government would work together to form a sustainable, regulated recreational marijuana industry that everyone could get behind. These efforts came to fruition on Jan. 1, 2014, when Colorado’s first recreational weed dispensaries opened.

Teen marijuana use has actually been dropping throughout the country, even as more states legalize weed. In Colorado specifically, the percentage of high school students who used marijuana dropped from 39 percent in 2011 to 37 percent in 2013, Forbes reported. Though insignificant on their own, these statistics represent a downward trend that’s persisted despite having medical marijuana available in the state since 2001. And while it’s far more likely recreational pot will be diverted to teens than medical pot, dispensaries are required to sell only to those 21 and up. At the same time, Hickenlooper noted that “one of the reasons so many people voted to legalize it was [that] it’s been pretty easy to get it for decades,” meaning those teens who want it will find a way to get it anyway.

Highway fatalities have been another major concern among opponents, who argue that more people will get into crashes while driving high. Indeed, states that have legalized medical weed have experienced surges in traffic fatalities, including Colorado. But it’s inaccurate to attribute a surge in traffic deaths entirely to marijuana. Unlike alcohol, which remains in the body for only as long as the person’s intoxicated, marijuana can be detected for days or even weeks after it’s used. A person who tests positive for marijuana metabolites following a driving death may not have been high when their car crashed.

It’s unclear why these fatalities increased elsewhere, but in Colorado, they quickly dropped to below 2000 levels and have remained there ever since. What’s more, traffic deaths were nearly identical in 2013 and 2014, suggesting legalization had no effect.

Beyond these concerns, recreational weed sales have raked in $53 million in tax revenue, some of which is being allocated to upgrade or rebuild schools. The state’s also saving upwards of $40 million to $60 million in law enforcement costs, as some 10,000 people cited or arrested for possession can carry the drug freely — decriminalization in other states also saves money and reduces unnecessary arrests. None of that money has to go toward fighting an uptick in crime either, because there hasn’t been one. In fact, crime has gone down, with dispensary robberies at their lowest in three years.

It’s Not All Marijuana And Rainbows

It would be nice to say recreational weed has been a complete success, but legalization has stumbled as well. For one, tax revenue in Colorado didn’t meet the projected $70 million because taxes and fees kept some users buying from the black market — similar issues are striking Washington as well. Medical patients who were expected to switch over to recreational (because it involves less hurdles) also stuck with medical due to lower taxes.

The new law has also given people a new reason to visit Colorado if not for the scenic mountain views and snow. But with little knowledge of marijuana edibles, such as brownies, cookies, and gummy candies, some have overdosed. The New York Times’ columnist Maureen Dowd was one of these tourists; after eating an entire candy bar meant to be split into 16 pieces, she experienced intense paranoia, anxiety, and hallucinations — all common symptoms of a marijuana overdose. Another 19-year-old college student visiting the state and trying weed for the first time leapt to his death from his hotel’s fourth-floor balcony after consuming edibles. Other instances in which edibles have been implicated in people’s deaths have occurred, too. And just as concerning, there’s been a rise in pediatric emergency room visits as more children get their hands on these marijuana-infused food products.

Government and industry have already made efforts to curb these incidences, which are relatively few and far between. Starting in February, Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division started incentivizing companies to package their products in doses of 10 milligrams of THC — the active ingredient in marijuana. Packages that contain higher doses are also required to denote how much constitutes a 10-milligram dose, which is recommended, and more explicit warnings and labels will go on the more child-resistant packaging.

“We are concerned about the uneducated consumer who may have had a bad experience with edibles, because that means they may not use our products in the future,” Joe Hodas, chief marketing director for the marijuana product manufacturer Dixie, which is producing a watermelon-flavored drink with 5 milligrams of THC, told the Huffington Post. “So educating that consumer and making sure they know how to use them is of great importance to the rest of the industry.”

The Future

Ultimately, it’s going to take a positive image to influence the public and policymakers to back recreational weed. While recreational success in Colorado and the other states will be surely be a factor in this, an even larger factor is medical marijuana.

Going back to that Pew poll, of the 53 percent who favored marijuana legalization, roughly 40 percent said their opinion on it had been different in the past. And when all of them were asked why they supported legal marijuana, 41 percent said it was because of the medicinal benefits while 36 percent said it was no worse than other drugs, with many explicitly mentioning cigarettes and alcohol — both of which are more addictive than marijuana and kill tens of thousands of people each year.

Medical marijuana works. According to a survey from the Public Health Institute, 92 percent of California patients who used medical marijuana agreed that the drug was beneficial, alleviating symptoms associated with serious medical conditions, including chronic pain, arthritis, migraine, and cancer. The researchers wrote the drug was used “equally by many groups of people and is not exclusively used by any one specific group,” meaning that both men and women, young and old, were using it.

Advances in research and approaches to medical marijuana will push its benefits to new heights. Doctors are already recommending medical marijuana patients replace their joints, blunts, and other smoking apparatuses with a high-tech vaporizer, such as the VapeXhale Cloud Evo, which heats the plant just enough to release active chemicals without burning the plant — other forms of smoking that involve burning the plant risk releasing carcinogens as well as causing bronchitis and other respiratory issues.

Recent studies have also supported anecdotal evidence regarding the positive effect of cannabis oil on children with treatment-resistant epilepsy. Cannabis oil is a concentrated extract of marijuana’s active ingredients. Researchers found that children given the extract rich in cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive compound, experienced fewer seizures each month — and none of them got high. Such advances promote marijuana’s use beyond anything recreational and focus on administration of the drug while causing as little harm as possible.

Medical marijuana’s success may be a deciding factor in the way America perceives the drug, but recreational pot will be what brings opponents and proponents together. States where medical marijuana is the status quo can benefit from the transparency provided by legalization. In California, for example, it’s incredibly easy to get a medicinal marijuana card — so much so that San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo admitted to NBC Bay Area that the system is closer to recreational than medical use. Legalization would ensure both the regulators and regulated have a clear idea of the rules, and could possibly reduce resentment among law enforcement officials and increase perceived legitimacy  among those who see it as a threat to people’s health and safety.

Inciting change takes time, but with determination it can and will happen. It’s already begun. So, while you may be taking a break from the real world tomorrow, get out there on Tuesday and show the world you defy stereotypes and that legal weed can exist in a functional society.


Google Glass in the ED?

Healthcare moves one step closer to Star Trek …

Imagine walking into an emergency room with an awful rash and waiting hours to see a doctor until, finally, a physician who doesn’t have specific knowledge of your condition gives you an ointment and a referral to a dermatologist.

That could change if a technological device like Google Glass, which is a wearable computer that is smaller than an ink pen and includes a camera function, could be strapped to an emergency room doctor’s head or to his or her eyeglasses and used to beam a specialist in to see patients at the bedside. Not only would a patient get a more specific initial diagnosis and treatment, but a second visit to a dermatologist might not be necessary.

Researchers did just this for a small sample of people at the emergency room of the Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. They found during the course of the study that 93.5 percent of patients who were seen with a skin problem liked the experience, and 96.8 percent were confident in the accuracy of the video equipment and that their privacy was protected.

“There had been a lot of talk about using Glass in healthcare, but at the time that we designed the study, no one had actually tried it. No one knew if it would work,” said Megan Ranney, a study author and assistant professor of emergency medicine and policy at Brown University.

ER doctors normally have to page an on-call specialist — in the study, a dermatologist — to talk through the patient’s condition. With that information, the dermatologist makes a judgment call about the treatment, usually without ever seeing the patient. If there’s no dermatologist available, which can frequently be the situation, doctors do what they can but then refer the patient for follow-up dermatological care. Many rural and community hospitals do not have dermatologists on staff and it’s up to the emergency physician to care for the patient.

In the study, researchers instead had the physicians connect via Google Glass, enabling the specialist to see on his or her office iPad or computer what the ER doctor was seeing in person. The ER doctor was able to communicate with the dermatologist, and both physicians could ask questions of the patient in real time.

“You’ve rolled the first and second visit into this one visit. You have the specialist at the bedside, and if you get better, you don’t need to have follow-up,” said Paul Porter, a physician in the emergency department of Rhode Island Hospital and study author. “There’s nothing more frustrating [for the patient than] to be seen, leave with diagnostic uncertainty, and have to go somewhere else. … People don’t want that answer.”

Emergency rooms across the country may already use telemedicine technology for patients with skin or other visible conditions, but many of those machines can cost as much as to $60,000 — not to mention the expense of maintenance and support. Google Glass costs less than $2,000.

In addition, many ERs either don’t have the funds to obtain a telemedicine “cart,” or don’t use it because the size — 4 to 6 square feet — can be too large for that setting, said Edward Boyer, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass.

“The crowding in emergency rooms means we physically do not have enough room to manage the patients they have in them. A dermatology cart is not a little thing, and a lot of ERs don’t have that much spare room to store and wheel around one of those things,” said Boyer.

The researchers’ next step is to study whether Google Glass or similar headset technology could be used for other ER patients, such as those showing signs of stroke or who may have been exposed to poison.

In the latter instances, poison control center toxicologists are always available, though mainly consulted via the telephone. But these patients commonly have visual symptoms such as seizures, said Peter Chai, a lead author and fellow in medical toxicology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. And, if a person is severely ill due to poisoning, they are flown via helicopter to the closest major hospital, he added.

 “If we could see them virtually, could we save the money of transport, keep them in the community intensive care unit, and give better patient care?” Chai said, noting that even if ERs in smaller or rural settings don’t have access to telemedicine, they may be able to afford this type of device.

The research surveyed 31 people with skin conditions in the Rhode Island Hospital emergency department for six months and was published as a research letter in JAMA Dermatology April 15. Google Glass is currently not available commercially, but healthcare providers can get the device throughhealthcare technology companies.

Low-Normal Thyroid Function Not Linked to Coronary Risk

Patient-level meta-analysis suggests no coronary event or mortality risk.

Medpage Today

Coronary risk doesn’t appear elevated with thyrotropin levels on the upper end of normal, a patient-level meta-analysis of 14 cohorts showed.

In it, people on the highest end of the normal range, at 3.50 to 4.49 mIU/L, had a similar risk of a first coronary heart disease event (hazard ratio 0.97, 95% confidence interval 0.83-1.13) and of death from coronary disease (HR 0.94, 95% CI 0.74-1.20) as people on the lowest end of normal, with 0.45 to 1.49 mIU/L thyrotropin levels.

 Each 1-mIU/L higher thyrotropin level had no significant association with either endpoint, Bjorn O. Asvold, MD, PhD, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway, and colleagues found.

Subgroup analyses yielded similar results across sexes and age groups, they reported online in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“Some experts suggest that serum thyrotropin levels in the upper part of the current reference range should be considered abnormal, an approach that would reclassify many individuals as having mild hypothyroidism,” they noted.

The rationale for such a shift was some evidence of increased coronary heart disease, albeit from conflicting studies and with poorly documented health hazards, Asvold’s group pointed out.

With the larger and better-powered meta-analysis findings suggesting no influence on that risk, “increased coronary heart disease risk does not appear to be a reason for lowering the upper thyrotropin reference limit,” they argued.

 Their analysis included individual participant data on 55,412 individuals from 14 cohorts with thyrotropin levels in the upper part of the reference range (0.45 to 4.49 mIU/L) and no known pre-existing thyroid or cardiovascular disease at baseline.

There was a possible U-shaped relationship of FT4, another thyroid marker considered less sensitive, with coronary heart disease in the analysis, but the researchers argued this was likely not causal.

“First, FT4 measurements may be affected by low albumin levels, which have been associated with increased coronary heart disease risk and use of specific cardiovascular medications, such as aspirin, heparin, and furosemide,” they wrote.

“Second, the lack of robust statistical evidence, as expressed by P values for the squared value of FT4 levels, suggests that the U-shaped association of FT4 levels with coronary heart disease risk may be a chance finding,” they concluded, calling for further study of that possible link.

Limitations of the analysis included availability of only one thyroid function test at baseline and no thyroid peroxidase antibody data.