Study Shows Marijuana Use On the Rise in Adolescents

Puff This study, “Trends Among U.S. High School Seniors in Recent Marijuana Use and Associations With Other Substances: 1976–2013,” (you can read it here… )  simply details the statistics of marijuana use and that of other substances from 1976 to 2013. There was also an association of marijuana use with both cigarette use and heavy episodic drinking that was found to be particularly high in recent years among black adolescents.

Oregon legalized marijuana, joining Colorado and Washington State to do so, and I’m certain many more states will follow. There are aspects of legalization that are attractive, especially the decriminalization. We don’t need to fill out jails and prisons with crimes that are related to recreational use of marijuana. Some states are very happy with the tax revenue generated. I hope they will save some for the drug treatment programs that will be needed. While it still remains to be seen what effect legalization will have on total use and early use by teenagers, which is known to be harmful to their developing brains, I worry that this trend shown here is just the beginning.

For those who feel marijuana is harmless, you are simply wrong. Alcohol is not harmless. The increased use of alcohol and cigarettes that comes with marijuana use is not harmless. When started young by teenagers, marijuana seems to have more damaging effects on brain function, motivations, and indeed, for some, can cause a permanent change placing them forever in the mental health world of anxiety, depersonalization, depression, and even psychosis or schizophrenia. Did it cause these things or just trigger what would have happened anyway? I suspect either way it is a trigger, without which you could have avoided untold suffering.

Parents who have experienced daily users who are motivated great students, making a future for themselves, will tell you it is harmless. I’ve yet to find such a parent, but I know by writing this blog some will appear, and good for you if you survived your experiment with your teen. Most aren’t so lucky. If you are predestined genetically to be an addictive type, but never pick up a drink or drug, the beauty is you don’t have to have these substances destroy your life. If you are not sure of your genetics, might you consider playing it safe anyway? The toxic world we live in now seems to put a greater percentage of our children at risk of negative brain effects.

If you are a parent who can make a choice about your own use, I would recommend you choose not to introduce marijuana into your child’s life. If you have lost the power of choice over cigarettes, drugs, marijuana, or alcohol, I would propose to you that your teenager is at high risk of losing control also, that is addiction. If you don’t like that term, then call it dependence, either way, you are a prisoner to your substance of choice and it is not promoting health and wellness.

Sorry that last paragraph sounded horrible (preachy) but I felt it needed to be said. I’ve watched too many in my family and in my addiction practice, struggle with cigarettes, marijuana, and alcohol and in my addiction clinic opiates and methamphetamine. Our brains are much more fragile and delicate than you might think. Many who have been struggling for their lives with addictions will say, “if I only knew what was going to happen to me, I would have never picked up that first drink or taken that first hit of marijuana or popped that first opiate pain pill”.  What feels like it is setting you free actually puts you in bondage and will ultimately have you fighting for your very life.

 

Dr. Paul

 

 

 

Varicella Vaccine and How it Has Changed the Chicken Pox Story

shingles rates  The study, “Impact of Vaccination on the Epidemiology of Varicella: 1995–2009,” in the periodical Pediatrics, found that, “between1995 and 2009, the overall incidence of Varicella in 5 to 19-year-olds decreased from 25.8 to 1.3 per 1000 person-years, a ∼90% to 95% decline.” You can read this here… They claim this was without a corresponding increase in Varicella disease in the elderly, which we now know to be false. There has been a steady rise in shingles and Varicella disease, in the elderly especially.

We live in this era of “vaccines are safe” when in fact we don’t fully know the long-term safety of the program since each time a new vaccine is added,  it can take decades to see the real end result on the population. Our growing experience with Varicella (Chicken pox) has some wondering if this program will, in the end, have been a good thing. While the vaccine is relatively safe and fairly effective, an unintended consequence is the rise of shingles in the elderly with huge increases in pain and suffering and deaths that may continue to grow as more and more people age that have not had the benefit of naturally getting their Varicella boosted by being around children with Varicella. In the study, “Herpes zoster-related deaths in the United States: validity of death certificates and mortality rates, 1979-2007,”  (which can be read here… ) authors report, “nationally, in the 7 years preceding the HZ vaccination program, the average annual number of deaths in which HZ was reported as the underlying cause of death was 149,” and go on to hypothesize that the true numbers might be half that . They mention the rising deaths from zoster in the elderly, but do not give the statistics.

The CDC reports about 100 shingles deaths a year in the elderly. (read more… )  The study, “Examination of Links Between Herpes Zoster Incidence and Childhood Varicella Vaccination,”   shows a steady rise in shingles cases by about 4 in every 1000 people over the past 20 years that we have been vaccinating. You can read this study here…

Here is just another example of the outcomes of our national vaccine program being complicated. The CDC states that Varicella used to cause about 100 deaths a year.

“From data provided by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the number of deaths with Varicella listed as an underlying cause has declined 78%, decreasing from 0.41 deaths per 1,000,000  in 1990-1994 to 0.14 in 1999-2001. The greatest reduction in mortality rates occurred among children aged 1 to 4 years.” Read more… Clearly, as we decreased the deaths from chicken pox we have increased the deaths from shingles.  I don’t see an analysis comparing these numbers, but it appears overall that our Varicella vaccine program may have made matters worse.

 

 

Dr. Paul

 

 

GABA Receptor Polymorphism Associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Abstract red atom (done in 3d, isolated)

Abstract red atom (done in 3d, isolated)

GABA is the main calming neurotransmitter in the brain. Those with autism, ASD, and indeed ADHD and anxiety might be expected to have issues with the GABA receptor. The study, “Association between GABA(A) receptor subunit polymorphisms and autism spectrum disorder (ASD)”, found:

  • Significant differences in allele freq. (ASD patients versus controls): rs1912960 GABRA4.
  • Significant differences in genotype freq. (ASD patients versus controls): rs1912960 GABRA4.
  • Haplotypes: markers rs1912960 (GABRA4) and rs211037 (GABRG2) overrepresented in ASD.
  • GABRA4 involved in etiology of ASD in Argentinean sample independently or with GABRG2.

You can read this study for yourself by clicking here…

As the hundreds of thousands or millions of polymorphisms are identified and associations are found, we will gradually learn more and more about what makes each of us more vulnerable to various disorders and diseases. These same polymorphisms may offer strengths that allow us to survive better under various stresses. The key to ongoing health and wellness will be determining which environmental stresses are most dangerous for which individuals. Someone who cannot handle a particular stress might be guided to avoid certain careers which have high exposures to which they genetically are vulnerable.

Some polymorphisms might make you more vulnerable to vaccine damage. We know that those with autism (ASD) are more likely to have the SNP MTHFR. The study, “Association of MTHFR Gene Variants with Autism,” showed, “increased frequency of the homozygous mutation 677CT allele (TT): 23% in the autistic children compared to 11% in the control population (P<0.0001).” You can read that study here…  When you have this defect, you cannot methylate folate to the vital methyl-folate making your ability to methylate (turn on and off genes) and your ability to get rid of toxins, impaired. These are children who would not do well with toxin containing vaccines for example.  If the researchers would look at these aspects, we could selectively shield those vulnerable to vaccine damage from getting certain vaccines, for example. We are still in the early stages of identifying polymorphisms. Determining their meaning and what we choose to study will determine whether or not this huge data base will lead to better health or just more drugs.

 

Dr. Paul

 

Vitamin A (Retinoic acid) Vital for Normal Gut Immune System Development

vitaminA  Our skin and the lining of the GI track from mouth to anus represent the two largest surface areas where our body comes into contact with the outside world. We have an intricate immune system that allows our bodies to absorb nutrients and avoid toxins. There is increasing awareness that the gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), which represents more than 50% of our entire immune system, is vital to health and normal brain function. What can we do to maximize our chances of having a vibrant and healthy GALT?

In the study, “Retinoic Acid Differentially Regulates the Migration of Innate Lymphoid Cell Subsets to the Gut,” authors point out that ILC1 and ILC3, Innate lymphoid cells, undergo a homing receptor switch to migrate to the gut. They show that this process is regulated by the gut-specific tissue factor retinoic acid (vitamin A). You can read the study here…

We have known that vitamin A is important in disease prevention, avoiding infections and is even a treatment for measles. In a recent review of the vitamin A role in our immune system, “The pleiotropic role of vitamin A in regulating mucosal immunity,” we see the role of vitamin A is extensive. They write, “the role of vitamin A on mucosal immunity is far beyond regulating the adaptive Th1-Th2 cell response, but is highly pleiotropic and more complicating, e.g., polarizing the phenotype of mucosal DCs and macrophages, directing gut-homing migration of T and B cells, inducing differentiation of effector T cells and Treg subpopulation, balancing mucosal ILCs subpopulation and influencing the composition of microbiota.” Indeed there is a vital role for vitamin A in regulating mucosal immunity. You can read the study here…

The natural sources of vitamin A are fish oil (cod liver oil being especially high in vitamin A) and the yellow vegetables, like carrots, squash, and cantaloupe, all of which are high in beta carotene that we convert to retinoic acid (vitamin A). Be sure you are eating these during pregnancy and while breast feeding, and consider supplementing your infant with a small amount of cod liver oil. Studies have shown that supplementing with cod liver oil (1/2 teaspoon before age 1 and 1 teaspoon after age 1) reduces infections. Learn more about the benefits of cod liver oil here…

 

 

Dr. Paul

 

 

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