Teething tablets may be linked to 10 children’s deaths, FDA says.

Ten deaths of children who used homeopathic teething tablets and 400 adverse events associated with the tablets have been reported to the US Food and Drug Administration, the agency said Wednesday.

The FDA warned caregivers to stop using the products, which parents use to soothe teething babies, and to take their child to a doctor immediately if the child experiences problems.
The agency is investigating the adverse events and the cases involving the deaths, as “the relationship of these deaths to the homeopathic teething products has not yet been determined and is currently under review,” according to a statement.
The American Academy of Pediatrics Safe to Sleep Campaign suggests that <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/01/health/crib-bumper-deaths-rise/">no soft bedding -- including bumpers -- be used in cribs</a>. <br />They pose a risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment. Mattresses should be very firm, and no toys or pillows should be used. Cribs with drop rails also should not be used. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers more guidance on how to choose a safe crib.<br />
The deaths and adverse events — including fever, lethargy, vomiting, sleepiness, tremors, shortness of breath, irritability and agitation — occurred over the past six years.
In an emailed statement, Hyland’s, a maker of homeopathic teething tablets and gel, said, “Hyland’s has not been made aware of any data that supports the claims in the warning against our teething tablets and gels. Our understanding is that the Food and Drug Administration’s investigation of these products is still ongoing. The fact is that we have not been made aware of any medical or statistical evidence to support a causal link between homeopathic teething tablets and adverse outcomes at this point. We continue to request any available information and statistics from the FDA.”
Hyland’s said this week that it will stop distributing the products in the United States.
The company said in a letter posted on its website Tuesday that it chose to discontinue US distribution of its teething products.
“This decision was made in light of the recent warning issued by the Food & Drug Administration against the use of homeopathic teething tablets and gels. This warning has created confusion among parents and limited access to the medicines,” the letter from Hyland’s employees said. “Putting you in a position of having to choose who to trust in the face of contradictory information is burdensome and undermines the FDA.”
Hyland's Baby Teething Tablets

There is no recall on the products, including Hyland’s Baby Teething Tablets, Hyland’s Baby Teething Tablets Nighttime and Hyland’s Baby Teething Gel. CVS, one of the drugstore chains that sold Hyland’s, Baby Orajel Naturals and its own version of the teething products, pulled all of them from the shelves after the FDA warning. Walgreens also confirmed that it has withdrawn homeopathic teething products that were subject to this FDA warning.
“We are confident that any available Hyland’s teething products, including those you already have, are safe for use,” the Hyland’s letter said. “Of course, parents who may have concerns should consult with their physicians before using any medicines, read labels carefully and follow all instructions.
“We look forward to the future of homeopathic medicines as we work in partnership with the FDA,” the letter said.
FDA warns parents against using teething tablets and gels

The FDA issued a safety alert about the tablets in 2010, and Hyland’s issued a recall at that time. After lab testing, the FDA said it found inconsistent amounts of belladonna in the tablets. The agency also had reports of adverse events related to using the products that were consistent with belladonna toxicity. The FDA also was concerned because the bottles didn’t have child-resistant caps.
Since 2010, Hyland’s said, it reformulated the product to reduce the amount of belladonna and revamped its production process. “We also improved our system to monitor, investigate and trend all safety reports on any of our products. We have not seen any trend to indicate that Hyland’s teething medicines pose any risk to consumers,” it said on its website.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ HealthyChildren.org has warned parents to stay away from teething tablets that contain belladonna and gels with benzocaine, citing the FDA warnings and the potential side effects.
Instead of teething tablets or gels, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that parents massage the child’s gums with a clean finger when a baby is in pain; use a solid teething ring or clean, wet washcloth that’s been chilled in the freezer; frozen bananas, berries or bagels. Parents can also give a weight-appropriate dose of acetaminophen, but should ask the child’s doctor about an appropriate dose.

Being homosexual is only partly due to gay gene, research finds

Study finds that while gay men share similar genetic make-up, it only accounts for 40 per cent of chance of a man being homosexual.

Homosexuality is only partly genetic with sexuality mostly based on environmental and social factors, scientists believe.

A study found that, while gay men shared similar genetic make-up, it only accounted for 40 per cent of the chance of a man being homosexual.

But scientists say it could still be possible to develop a test to find out if a baby was more likely to be gay.

In the most comprehensive study of its kind, Dr Michael Bailey, of Northwestern University, has been studying 400 sets of twins to determine if some men are genetically predisposed to being gay.

The study found that gay men shared genetic signatures on part of the X chromosome – Xq28.

The DNA double helix

DNA double helix: the study found that gay men shared genetic signatures on part of the X chromosome – Xq28

“But it is not completely determinative; there are certainly other environmental factors involved. “The study shows that there are genes involved in male sexual orientation.

“Although this could one day lead to a pre-natal test for male sexual orientation, it would not be very accurate, as there are other factors that can influence the outcome.”

Dr Alan Sanders, associate Professor of Psychiatry at Northwestern University, who led the study said that it was it was an ‘oversimplification’ to suggest there was a ‘gay gene.’

“We don’t think genetics is the whole story. It’s not. We have a gene that contributes to homosexuality but you could say it is linked to heterosexuality. It is the variation.”

The study builds on work by Dr Dean Hamer from the US National Cancer Institute in 1993 who also found an area of the x chromosome that he believed was linked to male sexual orientation.

Last year Canadian scientists found that the more older male siblings a man has, the greater change he will be gay.

They believe that the immune response produced by a pregnant mother increases with each son, increasing the odds of producing more feminine traits in the developing brain of the foetus.

Each older brother raised the odds that a man was homosexual by one third.

Researchers at the University of California believe that homosexuality can be explained by the presence of epi-marks — temporary switches that control how our genes are expressed during gestation and after birth.

Daryl Bem, a social psychologist at Cornell University, has suggested that the influence of biological factors on sexual orientation may be mediated by experiences in childhood. A child’s temperament predisposes the child to prefer certain activities over others.

Interestingly no similar genes have been discovered which influence female homosexuality.

“No-body has found something like this in women,” he added.

Dr Bailey said environmental factors were likely to have the biggest impact on homosexuality.

He added: “Don’t confuse “environmental” with “socially acquired.” Environment means anything that is not in our DNA at birth, and that includes a lot of stuff that is not social.”

Richard Lane, of Stonewall, said that while studies into the origins of homosexuality have yet to produce firm evidence, they do to point to a biological root.

He said: ‘The thing that’s consistent across all of them is that they all point to sexual orientation being something fundamental to a person rather than the lifestyle choice some opponents of equality repeatedly suggest.’

Doctors Significantly Better Than Google, According To New Research

Symptom-checkers like WebMD made the wrong diagnosis in two out of every three cases.

In a head-to-head comparison, human doctors with access to the same information about medical history and symptoms as was put into a symptom checker got the diagnosis right 72 percent of the time, compared to 34 percent for the apps.

Doctors are much better than symptom-checker programs at reaching a correct diagnosis, though the humans are not perfect and might benefit from using algorithms to supplement their skills, a small study suggests.


In a head-to-head comparison, human doctors with access to the same information about medical history and symptoms as was put into a symptom checker got the diagnosis right 72 percent of the time, compared to 34 percent for the apps.

 The 23 online symptom checkers, some accessed via websites and others available as apps, included those offered by Web MD and the Mayo Clinic in the U.S. and the Isabel Symptom Checker in the U.K.

“The current symptom checkers, I was not surprised do not outperform doctors,” said senior author Dr. Ateev Mehrotra of Harvard Medical School in Boston.

But in reality computers and human doctors may both be involved in a diagnosis, rather than pitted against each other, Mehrotra told Reuters Health.

The researchers used a web platform called Human Dx to distribute 45 clinical vignettes – sets of medical history and symptom information – to 234 physicians. Doctors could not do a physical examination on the hypothetical patient or run tests, they had only the information provided.

Fifteen vignettes described acute conditions, 15 were moderately serious and 15 required low-levels of care. Most described commonly diagnosed conditions, while 19 described uncommon conditions. Doctors submitted their answers as free text responses with potential diagnoses ranked in order of likelihood.

Compared to putting the same information into symptom checkers, physicians ranked the correct diagnosis first more often for every case.

Doctors also got it right more often for the more serious conditions and the more uncommon diagnoses, while computer algorithms were better at spotting less serious conditions and more common diagnoses, according to the results published in a research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“In medical school, we are taught to consider broad differential diagnoses that include rare conditions, and to consider life-threatening diagnoses,” said Dr. Andrew M. Fine of Boston Children’s Hospital, who was not part of the new study. “National board exams also assess our abilities to recognize rare and ‘can’t miss’ diagnoses, so perhaps the clinicians have been conditioned to look for these diagnoses,” he said.

“Physicians do get it wrong 10 to 15 percent of the time, so maybe if computers were augmenting them the outcome would be better,” Mehrotra said.

“In a real-world setting, I could envision MD plus algorithm vs MD alone,” Fine told Reuters Health by email. “The algorithms will rely on a clinician to input physical exam findings in a real-world setting, and so the computer algorithm alone could not go head to head with a clinician.”

Computers may be better suited to amend or reorder diagnoses based on new information in certain settings, like the emergency room, he added.

“Patients need to know that most (symptom checkers) have limited accuracy, and should not be considered a substitute for a history and physical examination by a healthcare provider,” said Dr. Leslie J. Bisson of the University at Buffalo department of orthopedics in Amherst, New York, who was not part of the new study.

The Over-The-Counter Cancer Cure You’re Not Supposed To Know About

It’s no secret that cancer treatment has become its own thriving industry and the money to be made from prescribing cutting edge pharmaceuticals, chemotherapy and radiation treatment is immense. Profit is the paradigm for modern medicine, but as our knowledge of cancer continues to grow we continue to be reminded that many verifiably effective and affordable treatments for cancer exist, but seems to be unwanted or outright prohibited by the medical establishment.

Mebendazole (MBZ) is a commonly found, over-the-counter anti-parasite medication, used most often to rid the body of pinworms. It came into use in 1971, and now retails under a number of product names including Vermox, Ovex, Antiox, Combantrin and Pripsen. Found in most pharmacies and even available online, the drug is widely used, yet very few are aware of the effect it is seen to have in fighting cancerous tumors.

In the fight against cancer, the main attempt is to isolate then attack specific cells with poisons or by surgically removing body tissue. Radiation and chemotherapy are dangerous to the entire body, killing much more than just cancerous growths. MBZ, on the other hand is a unique treatment because it does not seek to kill cancerous cells with poisons, targeting instead the reproductive process of cells that have been replicating beyond their natural limit.

Known as micri-tubule inhibitors, this class of drugs prevents the replication of cells who’ve overgrown their capacity to reproduce correctly, which is the very nature of cancer.

Human cells have a maximum number of times that they can reproduce themselves before the accumulated errors finally prevent reproduction — it’s called the Hayflick Limit. Most scientists agree that this number is around 60 times.

This “programmed” lifespan of a cell is determined by the length of a benign string of molecules attached to the ends of the DNA coils. Like leaders on a movie film, these break off or become misaligned during the replication process and provide a buffer zone, protecting the real DNA code. The longer a cell’s leader, called a telomere, the more it can reproduce and the longer an organism can live.” [Source]

First synthesized in the late 1960’s subsequent research has revealed more about the drug’s potency in stopping cancer cells without causing collateral damage. A 2014 study entitled, Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO)—mebendazole as an anti-cancer agentconcluded MBZ holds great promise in treating tumors, especially when used in combination with other existing cancer treatments.

Mebendazole, a well-known anti-helminthic drug in wide clinical use, has anti-cancer properties that have been elucidated in a broad range of pre-clinical studies across a number of different cancer types… Based on the evidence presented, it is proposed that mebendazole would synergise with a range of other drugs, including existing chemotherapeutics, and that further exploration of the potential of mebendazole as an anti-cancer therapeutic is warranted.” [Source]

Taken orally as a chewable tablet or in liquid form, the medicine has appeared in a number of cancer studies, including this study that looked at the effects of MBZ on cancerous tumors of the lungs:

“Oral administration of MZ in mice elicited a strong antitumor effect in a s.c. model and reduced lung colonies in experimentally induced lung metastasis without any toxicity when compared with paclitaxel-treated mice.” [Source]

This commonly found over-the-counter medicine stops the growth of cancerous tumor cells.

This commonly found over-the-counter medicine stops the growth of cancerous tumor cells.

The last manufacturer of mebendazole in the United States was Teva pharmaceuticals who for unstated reasons discontinued the product in 2011, however, foreign-sourced brands are available for sale in pharmacies and at Amazon.com in the US. It is not yet recognized by the medical establishment as an anti-cancer drug, however, it many physicians are able to recommend its usage for reasons other than treating worms.

Add mebendazole to the growing list of so-called ‘alternative’ cancer treatments which are affordable, effective, widely available, yet broadly ignored by the cancer industry.

Google and Facebook to build 8,000-mile undersea internet cable

Google logo
Google has invested heavily in undersea cables 

Google and Facebook have teamed up to build an 8,000-mile undersea internet cable between Los Angeles and Hong Kong, the longest and fastest internet cable across the Pacific.

The project, a collaboration between the two internet giants, as well as Pacific Light Data Communication and TE SubCom, two telecoms companies, is intended to improve connection speeds between the two continents.

It is one of a number of mammoth undersea cables that Google and Facebook have invested in as they attempt to boost the speed and reliability of their own internet services. Both are also investing heavily in projects to bring internet access to far-flung areas of the world with ambitious projects such as solar-powered internet drones and gigantic balloons.

Facebook and Google's internet cable's proposed route
The cable’s proposed route 

The Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), set to be launched in the summer of 2018, will have an estimated capacity of 120 terabits per second. To put that into perspective, it would be able to transport every book ever written in the space of a few seconds.

It is twice as fast as the quickest trans-Pacific internet cable currently available, which is also backed by Google.

While there are already hundreds of undersea internet cables, technology and telecoms groups are investing heavily in long-distance ones as internet users increasingly rely on high-speed connections and cloud computing, where information must be quickly relayed between computers and enormous physical data centres.

Boats laying undersea cables 
How undersea cables are laid

As well as improving direct speeds, they also mean more reliability for internet users, increasing the number of lanes down which data can travel. Google, Microsoft and Amazon are competing fiercely in the fast-growing cloud computing market, which allows companies to outsource infrastructure to them.

“PLCN will bring lower latency, more security and greater bandwidth to Google users in the APAC region,” said Google’s Brian Quigley.

While both companies have a presence in Hong Kong, they are absent in China, which censors the internet strictly.

NASA Has Released The Largest Image Ever Taken. What It Shows Will Blow Your Mind

NASA and ESA released the largest image of our galactic neighbor, Andromeda that has ever been taken.

Andromeda galaxy is the closest galaxy to us. The image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. They took 411 images and put them together to create the largest image ever taken. It’s a whopping 1.5 billion pixels and requires about 4.3 GB of disk space!

Each tiny dot of light in the picture represents one of 1 trillion stars in the galaxy; many with their own expansive planetary systems. The image will blow your mind.

As you watch this video and contemplate Andromeda’s mind-boggling size, remember that this is just a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the universe. As large as this galaxy is, it is only one out of 200 billion galaxies in the known universe.

Now, sit back, watch and enjoy having your mind blown.

Facts about the largest image to keep in mind:

1. Each tiny dot in the image is a star, that could have its own solar system. Don’t bother counting. There are an estimated 100 million stars in this image alone.

2. The Andromeda galaxy is about 2.5 million light-years from Earth, which means it takes light 2.5 million years to span the distance. Compare that to light from the sun, which takes only 8 minutes and 17 seconds to make the trip to Earth.

3. Scientists estimate the Milky Way and Andromeda are two of the universe’s 200 billion galaxies.

4. The Hubble Space Telescope is powerful enough to show individual stars in this 61,000-light-year-long stretch of the galaxy. NASA scientists compared it to photographing a beach and showing individual grains of sand.

For a second, take a moment and think of how big our universe is. Where are we? Where do things begin? And where does it stop? We don’t have to answer this literally, but simply picture it in your mind. What you are about to see in this video will likely rock whatever you just imagined in your mind. 

Watch the video. URL:https://youtu.be/udAL48P5NJU

Scientists have identified a virus with DNA stolen from a black widow spider.

A recent effort to sequence the genome of an unusual virus has led to a bizarre discovery: one-third of the virus’s genes are animal-like, and match up with the DNA of a toxin found in black widow spider venom.

It’s not yet clear how the virus acquired this spider DNA – and that of other animals too – but researchers suspect it co-opted the genes to make its day job easier: infecting bacteria that live within spiders and insects.

“Discovering DNA related to the black widow spider toxin gene came as a total surprise because it is the first time that a phage – a virus that infects bacteria – has been found carrying animal-like DNA,” says biologist Seth Bordenstein from Vanderbilt University.

Bordenstein and his wife, microbial ecologist Sarah Bordenstein (also at Vanderbilt), have been studying the virus in question for 15 years now, but never guessed that by sequencing its DNA, they would find this never-before-seen trait.

Usually, viruses stick within established biological boundaries, infecting just one kind of organism: either bacteria, archaea (single-celled organisms without a nucleus), or eukaryotes (animals and plants).

But this virus – called WO – bucks the trend. Being a bacteriophage, its primary target is the bacteria, Wolbachia, but it’s somehow developed a way to infiltrate animal cells too.

“It’s the first report of a virus infecting multiple domains of life,” biologist Elizabeth McGraw from Monash University in Australia, who wasn’t involved with the research, told Ed Yong at The Atlantic.

And WO’s broader perspective on life seems to come with plenty of perks. McGraw says the virus’s chimeric arsenal makes it a kind of “Frankenphage that may be better at infecting animals than its ancestors that contained only phage genes”.

While we don’t know for sure how WO pulled off this genetic heist, the Bordensteins think doing so must have been necessary for the virus to both infect and then escape from its bacterial focus, Wolbachia.

These bacteria infect arthropods – insects, spiders, and crustaceans – by wrapping themselves in the animals’ cell membranes. Therefore, for WO to do its thing and get at Wolbachia, it has to punch through two layers of membranes: bacterial and animal.

To infect the bacteria, the phage’s native DNA would be sufficient. But first it has to perforate the arthropod layer to get inside.

This is where animal genes are likely to come in handy, because the spider venom incorporated in WO’s DNA matches up with the genes that code for latrotoxin – a deadly neurotoxin that’s effective because it pokes holes in cell membranes.

While that ability is useful for subduing the black widow’s prey, it also seems to double as an effective break-and-enter kit for the nimble WO.

“We suspect it makes pores in the membranes of the arthropod cells that surround Wolbachia, thereby allowing the phage to overcome both the bacterial and arthropod membranes that surround it,” Seth Bordenstein explains in a press release.

In addition to the genes for latrotoxin, the researchers also found evidence of other animal genes in WO’s DNA, including sequences eukaryotes use to sense pathogens and avoid immune responses – all good things to know for an enterprising bacteriophage.

“Viruses do this,” Sarah Bordenstein told The Atlantic. “It’s like a buffet. They take bits from different genes and put them together to form this super gene.”

The Mindblowing Secret Behind The Numbers 3, 6, and 9 Is Finally REVEALED! 

Nikola Tesla did countless mysterious experiments, but he was a whole other mystery on his own. Almost all genius minds have a certain obsession. Nikola Tesla had a pretty big one!

He was walking around a block repeatedly for three times before entering a building, he would clean his plates with 18 napkins, he lived in hotel rooms only with a number devisable by 3. He would make calculations about things in his immediate environment to make sure the result is devisable by 3 and base his choices upon the results. He would do everything in sets of 3.

Some say he had OCD, some say he was very superstitious.

However, the truth is a lot deeper.

“If you knew the magnificence of the three, six and nine, you would have a key to the universe.” – Nikola Tesla

His obsession was not simply with numbers, but especially with these numbers: 3, 6, 9!

He did have an extreme case of OCD and he was superstitious, however, he chose those numbers for a reason.

Tesla claimed that these numbers were extremely important. Nobody listened.

He even calculated nodal points around the planet linked to the numbers three, six and nine!

But why these numbers?


NOTE: Things will get a lot stranger below!

First, we must understand that we didn’t create math, we discovered it. It’s The Universal language and law. No matter where you are in The Universe 1 + 2 will always equal to 3! Everything in The Universe obeys this law!


There are patterns that naturally occur in The Universe, patterns we’ve discovered in life, galaxies, star formations, evolution, and almost all natural systems. Some of these patterns are The Golden Ratio and Sacred Geometry.

One really important system that nature seems to obey is “The Powers of 2 Binary System” in which the pattern start from one and continues by doubling the numbers. Cells and embryos develop following this sacred pattern: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256…


Some call these patterns The Blueprint of God.

Math, by this analogy, would be God’s Thumbprint. (leaving all religion aside!)

In vortex math (the science of torus anatomy) there is a pattern that repeats itself: 1, 2, 4, 8, 7, and 5, and so on 1, 2, 4, 8, 7, 5, 1, 2, 4, 8, 7, 5, 1, 2, 4…

As you can see 3, 6, and 9 are not in this pattern. Scientist Marko Rodin believes these numbers represent a vector from the third to fourth dimension which he calls a “flux field.”  This field is supposed to be a higher dimensional energy that influences the energy circuit of the other six points.

Randy Powell, a student of Marko Rodin says that this is the secret key to free energy, something which we all know Tesla mastered.

The Secret Behind 3, 6, and 9 Coil


Let’s start from 1, doubled it is 2; 2 doubled is 4; 4 doubled is 8; 8 doubled is 16 which means 1 + 6 and that equals to 7; 16 doubled is 32 resulting in 3 + 2 equals 5 (you can do 7 doubled if you want to which you would get 14 resulting in 5); 32 doubled is 64 (5 doubled is 10) resulting in total of 1; If we continue we will keep following the same pattern: 1, 2, 4, 8, 7, 5, 1, 2…

If we start from 1 in reverse we will still get the same pattern only in reverse: Half of one is 0.5 (0+5) equaling 5. Half of 5 is 2.5 (2+5) equaling 7, and so on.

As you can see there is no mention of 3, 6, and 9! It’s like they are beyond this pattern, free from it.


However, there is something strange once you start doubling them. 3 doubled is 6; 6 doubled is 12 which would result in 3; in this pattern there is no mention of 9! It’s like 9 is beyond, completely free from both patterns.

But if you start doubling 9 it will always result in 9: 18, 36, 72, 144, 288, 576…


If we go to the Great Pyramid of Giza, not only are there the three larger pyramids at Giza, all side by side, mirroring the positions of the stars in Orion’s Belt, but we also see a group of three smaller pyramids immediately away from the three larger pyramids.


We find lots of evidence that nature uses threefold and sixfold symmetry, including the hexagonal tile shape of the common honeycomb.

These shapes are in nature, and the ancients emulated these shapes in the building of their sacred architecture.

Is it possible that there is something special about the mysterious number three? is it possible that Tesla uncovered this profound secret and used this knowledge to push the boundaries of science and technology?

THE MAGNIFICENCE OF 9!The magnificence of 9

Yin Yang

Let’s say there are 2 opposites, call them light and dark if you want to. They are like the North and the South poles of a magnet.

One side is 1, 2, and 4; the other side is 8, 7 and 5; Just like electricity, everything in The Universe is a stream between these 2 polar sides, like a swinging pendulum: 1, 2, 4, 8, 7, 5, 1, 2… (and if you imagine the movement it’s something like the symbol for infinity)



However, these 2 sides are governed by 3 and 6; 3 governs 1, 2, and 4 while 6 governs 8, 7, and 5; and if you look the pattern closely it gets even more mindboggling: 1 and 2 equals 3; 2 and 4 equals 6; 4 and 8 equals 3; 8 and 7 equals 6; 7 and 5 equals 3; 5 and 1 equals 6; 1 and 2 equals 3…

The same pattern on a higher scale is actually 3, 6, 3, 6, 3, 6…

But even these two sides, 3 and 6 are governed by 9 which shows something spectacular.

Looking closely at the pattern of 3 and 6 you realize that 3 and 6 equals 9, 6 and 3 equals 9, all the numbers together equal 9, both ways excluding and including 3 and 6!

So 9 means unity of the both sides. 9 is The Universe itself!

The vibration, the energy and the frequency!

3,6 and 9!

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” ― Nikola Tesla

There is a deeper philosophical truth in this!

Just imagine what we can accomplish if we apply this sacred knowledge in everyday science…

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.” ― Nikola Tesla

10 things to keep in mind before that awesome solo trip.

When you have no one but yourself and the universe to rely on, things can get pretty intense. So, here are some tips to make sure you’re capable of handling even the trickiest of situations.

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What all should you take care of before going on your first solo trip? 

These days, there is no dearth of headlines and stories that urge you to travel alone. Why should there be? It’s something that should be done at least once in your life. Sure, there is the fear that one may not like it, but more often than not, the sheer challenge of travelling alone and then the sense of accomplishment that accompanies it is far beyond what anyone can imagine.

When taken in the larger context of one’s life, travelling solo is like a litmus test. Sail through a solo trip, and you know you’re equipped to brave and handle even the trickiest of situations that life throws at you. For most, alone travel is not only a life lesson but also ends up being spiritual as well. When you have no one but yourself and the universe to rely on, things can get pretty intense. In order to make sure the intensity is of the pleasant kind, there are some basic measures that you can keep in mind, for everything else… there are helpful strangers! No, really!

1. Convincing the parents: No matter how old you are, Indian kids are mostly still very much attached to their parents. Living at home or in a different city, there is likely to be a disapproving “hmmmm” when the subject of a solo travel is broached. In such a scenario, always give yourself time to ease them into the idea. Don’t just announce your plans. Take a while to make sure they get accustomed to the idea. It helps if you’ve done smaller day trips before, or you know of their friends who have done solo trips. Promise (and fulfil) to call them every day, or send lots of photos when you’re back to the hostel/apartment – that way they’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re safe and get an update. Do it the first time, and trust me, thereafter, it gets a lot easier.

2. Do a short trip first: There many times when you would have heard the advice to go the long haul in one go, but when it comes to taking on a solo trip for the first time, small is always better. Do a trip for two-three days. Not only does that give you an idea whether going on alone is for you or not, but also helps sort a lot of kinks along the way.

3. Choose an unknown destination: This is where you push yourself. This gives you a nice balance of putting yourself out of your comfort zone, but not too much. If you go for a short while, then it would give you confidence to research a place from scratch. Going to a place you’ve been before might give you a sense of comfort, which defeats the purpose of adventure.

4. Research thoroughly

Make sure you do a thorough research about the place and local culture before you embark on the trip. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

Make sure you do a thorough research about the place and local culture before you embark on the trip. 

Love the idea of going with the flow, and want your trip to just take you along? Great! But not the first time. Remember that you’re not really going to have anyone to fall back on should things go awry, so the best way to make sure you see many more such trips is to be well prepared. Know where you’re going; the key locations; the best way to go around; familiarise yourself with the major tourist spots and their areas so that you don’t get lost; keep a plan ready for each day; etc.

5. Finalise your accommodation smartly: A lot about how your trip goes and that sense of safety comes with choosing the right location for your stay. Always, and I really mean always, choose a place that’s central. Even if you have to pay a bit more. It’s always worth the extra buck. If you’re out late at night, or even if you need to duck in for a quick change or snooze in the middle of the day, if your apartment/hotel/hostel is centrally located, not only can you get to it sooner, but it will always be better connected to rest of the city. The buzz around will always be till much later, which means you don’t have to do a Cinderella, ever!

6. Multiple copies of documents: When you’re travelling alone, it’s always smart to have copies of your basic IDs and documents. Not only do you have multiples for cards, etc., but should you lose something, it’s easier to lodge complaints and get your details if you have a copy of everything, especially if you’ve travelled abroad. Also keep two copies of all your credit/debit cards. In fact, be prepared for tech malfunction and keep physical documents for everything. At least one copy, if not more.

7. Get the transport sorted: Part of figuring out solo travel is to get the travel part sorted. So, even though it’s understandable that you’d want fluidity, know the working times of all the public transport systems. Keep an offline map on your phone, and/or grab a map from a station. Mark your accommodation on the map for convenience. And for your first trip, book your return tickets in advance. Leave the last-minute ideology for later.

8. Get a local SIM card: If you’re travelling abroad, no matter how short the trip, always get a local SIM card with a data connection. You can skimp on the talk time, but data is of paramount importance. This would ensure you’re always connected and there is always an opportunity to check directions, reviews and even people, on the move.

9. Keep a bunch of knick-knacks handy

Keep things like a pocket knife and pepper spray handy for your safety. (Source: Pocket Knives Daily, Unicorn Marble/Instagram)Keep things like a pocket knife and pepper spray handy for your safety. 

When travelling alone, it’s important to travel light because it’s highly likely you’d end up carrying everything yourself. But there are some things you should always have on you — a Swiss knife (or each of those components separately), needle-thread, pepper spray (if you’re a woman traveller), an additional purse/wallet to keep your cash hidden, a medicine kit with the basics and any personalised medicines you may need, one feature phone if it’s a longer trip and your smartphone battery runs out, pack of tissues (and some loose ones in your pocket), extra socks (it’s insane how handy they are), but most of all, stay alert at all times.

10. Have fun, but be safe: A solo trip is a great lot of fun only if you stop worrying and go with the flow. There will be upsets and detours — that’s all fine. Meet people, be open to ideas and trust the energy of the universe, but keep a keen sense for signs and vibes. When travelling alone, stay alerted at all times, but let yourself loose just that much more that would ensure you have a great time. This may not happen on the very first trip — and most travellers tend to go on either of the extremes — but the more you travel, the better you will be at attaining that balance.

DEA Drops Ban on Herbal Supplement Kratom.

The agency faced a fierce backlash from users who call the plant a safer alternative to opioid painkillers.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has reversed a plan to temporarily ban a plant that some users suggest could be an alternative to powerful and addictive opioid painkillers.

In a notice set to be published Thursday in the Federal Register, the agency said it was withdrawing its plan to add two psychoactive components of the plant, known as kratom, to the list of the most dangerous drugs.

Advocates urging the DEA to leave kratom off its list of controlled substance have argued that it can be used as a nonaddictive painkiller or can help wean people off other, addictive pain medications. Some lawmakers also complained that the DEA wasn’t being transparent in its effort to ban the plant.

Adding kratom to the DEA’s list of schedule 1 drugs would define the plant as a drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

In a letter to the DEA last month, the American Kratom Association said the agency was being overly aggressive in categorizing kratom with other dangerous and highly addictive drugs, including a variety of synthetic drug compounds including synthetic marijuana and “bath salts.”

The association and the Botanical Education Alliance applauded the DEA’s reversal.

“Kratom is not an opiate. It is not addictive,” the groups said. “There is simply no basis whatsoever for the DEA to criminalize or regulate the responsible use by consumers of this product at a time when every federal effort targeting drugs should be focused on the ongoing scourge human of opioid addiction and death.”

Including kratom on the list of drugs that includes marijuana, heroin, and LSD would ban not only its use but likely strictly limit scientific studies for a possible medical use. Such a move would ban the plant for at least two years.

The drug agency said it will now wait for a recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration and take more comments from the public before deciding on kratom’s fate. The public has until Dec. 1 to comment.

For now that means that kratom, a little-known plant native to Southeast Asia, remains legal under federal law. Six states, however, have opted to ban kratom or its components.