Since ITV’s News at Ten anchor and friend of the royals Tom Bradby disappeared from his nightly show five weeks ago, fans have been wondering where he is. It turns out he has been off sick with a bout of insomnia. The presenter is far from alone – 30-50% of the UK population suffer with symptoms of insomnia, which range from short-term bouts of sleeplessness to chronically broken sleep. So, what can you do if you’re in a sleepless rut? Here are some options to help you drift off …
Create the right sleep environment
Keep your bedroom quiet, use effective window shades and only use your bed for sex and sleep. If you like to read or listen to music before bed to wind down, do it in another room, then go to bed when you feel drowsy. The blue wavelengths in light from laptops and phones supress melatonin, a natural hormone that controls your sleep cycle, so keep these in another room, too.
Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia has been shown to work for 70-80% of patients. Initially, you restrict sleep. So, if you’re lying in bed awake for half an hour, get out of bed and do something for 40 minutes that is not mentally engaging and doesn’t require bright lights. Then go back to bed and repeat the process if you don’t fall asleep. Make sure you get up at the usual time the next day, and repeat the process the next night. Most insomniacs see a difference in between seven to 10 days.
Stay away from stimulants
Caffeine and nicotine interfere with the process of falling asleep and affect your ability to reach deep sleep. Studies have shown that smokers typically have more fragmented sleep and spend fewer hours in the deep-sleep phase. Avoid drinking alcohol late at night; this will disrupt your sleep as your body metabolises it.
These can act as a natural insomnia remedy as they decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol and help with muscle relaxation. Magnesium also binds to a neurotransmitter in the brain called Gaba in the same way as over-the-counter insomnia medications.
The healthier you are, the better your sleep will be – about two and a half hours a week of moderate aerobic exercise, such as swimming or jogging, is recommended. However, don’t hit the gym too close to bedtime – give your body three to four hours after exercise to allow your heartbeat and adrenaline levels time to stabilise.
For people with severe chronic insomnia – lasting more than a few months – medication can be an option. Many of these work by altering the activity of chemicals in the brain that are responsible for keeping you awake. Drugs that have been clinically approved for long-term use include eszopiclone, ramelteon, zaleplon and zolpidem, but they can be addictive, and cause side-effects such as drowsiness, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about using them.
CLINTON, N.Y. — In the days after her son Graham hanged himself in his dormitory room at Hamilton College, Gina Burton went about settling his affairs in a blur of efficiency, her grief tinged with a nagging sense that something did not add up.
She fielded requests and sympathy notes from the college, promising the dean of students a copy of his obituary “so you can see how special Hamilton was to him.” This was why his suicide “makes no sense,” she added in a puzzled aside. The next day, Burton accepted condolences from the college president, and assured him “how right a choice Hamilton was” for her son.
But two weeks later, she read her son’s journal and everything changed. Graham Burton, a sophomore, wrote that he was flunking three of his four classes and called himself a “failure with no life prospects.” He had struggled to sleep, missed classes, turned in assignments late. The college had known of his difficulty, he wrote, but had been slow to offer help and understanding.
“Would you care to shed some light on this?” Gina Burton asked in an angry email sent at 2:53 a.m. to the academic dean, with copies to the president and the dean of students. “If this is what drove Graham, I don’t think I’ll be able to cope.”
Every year, parents send their children to college, trusting that they will be well, or that word will come if they are not. Burton had lived every parent’s nightmare: a child flunking out, sinking into despair, his parents the last to know. Her discovery set off a wave of pain and soul-searching but also a campaign to strip away some of the veils of confidentiality that colleges say protect the privacy and autonomy of students who are learning to be adults.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death, after accidents, for college-age adults in the United States. The number of college students seeking treatment for anxiety and depression has risen sharply over the past few years, and schools have in turn stepped up their efforts in mental health research and intervention. Even so, families have continued to put pressure on them to take greater responsibility for students’ well-being.
In a case that was closely watched across the country, Massachusetts’ highest court ruled Monday that MIT could not be held responsible for the 2009 suicide of a graduate student. But the court ruled that a university might be liable under limited circumstances, such as when a student expressly tells college staff members of plans to commit suicide.
“I think everybody should be on notice that schools can’t hide their head in the sand,” a mental health lawyer, Carolyn Reinach Wolf, said. “They can’t say, ‘Students are on loan to us.’”
Professors at Hamilton College, in upstate New York, had expressed concerns about Graham Burton for much of the fall term and knew he was in deep distress, according to a report on his death that was shown to The New York Times. More than a month before his death, his adviser, Maurice Isserman, wrote the academic dean the strongest of many warnings: “Obviously what’s happening here is a complete crash and burn. I don’t know what the procedures/rules are for contacting parents but if this was my kid, I’d want to know.”
Isserman struck at the heart of what mattered to the Burtons: whether the college had a responsibility to tell them what it knew.
College officials say they are constrained by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, a federal law governing student privacy, in reaching out to parents. A Hamilton official cited it at a recent student assembly meeting, when students asked about the Burtons’ contention that they had not been told of their son’s troubles. The law views students as adults and bars parents from even the most basic student records, like a transcript, without their child’s consent.
There are exceptions: Colleges can release any student record to parents if the student signs a consent, if the college knows that a parent claims the child as a dependent on tax forms, or in a health or safety emergency. Even so, federal law allows colleges to use their discretion. They are allowed, but not required, to release the records or let a family member know if a student is suicidal.
Colleges use the law not only to protect students’ privacy but also to shield the college from conflict with parents and other forces in society, said Brett Sokolow, a risk management consultant to universities.
“There is an ethos of maintaining privacy and confidentiality — which sometimes is very beneficial,” Sokolow said. “But when somebody’s dead, do you wish you’d worked to maintain their privacy, or do you wish you’d worked to keep them alive?”
As colleges contend with how involved to be in students’ lives, parents, too, often struggle with their responsibility to recognize when their children need help. Some Hamilton administrators said that they did not want to encourage helicopter parenting, and that parents were sometimes part of the problem.
“There’s a concern that if the school has too low a threshold for contacting family or suggesting a student take a leave of absence, it will actually discourage kids from coming forward for help,” said Dr. Victor Schwartz, chief medical officer at the Jed Foundation, an advocacy group for student mental health. “So you’re basically walking a tightrope.”
No matter how close parents are to their children, there is so much, especially of their internal lives, that they may not know about them.
Many parents are astonished to realize that they may never see a transcript of their child’s grades. If they are lucky, the college might send home a congratulatory note, to be tacked onto the refrigerator, about the child making the dean’s list. But parents, often referred to as “authorized payers” on tuition bills, are not likely to get a similar notification if a child is flunking, or seeking help for distress.
Even when the suicide threat is explicit, colleges have been reluctant to bring in parents.
In spring 2016, Olivia Kong, a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, had been barely sleeping, worried about not being able to drop a class she thought she would fail.
Kong called the university counseling center on April 7 and told the on-call psychiatrist that she was thinking of killing herself, according to a lawsuit filed by her parents last month against Penn, where 14 students have committed suicide since 2013. Later that day, she filed an electronic petition for late withdrawal from her class, writing: “I have had thoughts of suicide.”
That weekend, she went home to her parents, who live nearby in Philadelphia, and spoke to the same on-call psychiatrist. In his report, the psychiatrist wrote, “I offered that the cost of ER visit is likely less than cost of funeral arrangements.” He added, “Said that she had actually planned to return to campus Sunday and kill self.”
Kong did return to campus, and her parents went to check on her at about midnight Sunday, meeting her outside her dorm. Her mother felt her daughter’s forehead for fever and gave her some dumplings she had cooked for her.
The next morning, April 11, Kong walked into the dark tunnel of a commuter rail station and lay down on the tracks. The conductor could not stop in time.
“We still feel shocked,” her mother said last month in their lawyer’s office in Philadelphia. “The university, they know everything, but they didn’t tell us anything.” A spokesman for the university, Ron Ozio, declined to comment.
The warning signs in Burton’s case were murkier, all the more reason, Wolf, the mental health lawyer, said, that colleges should have a clear protocol for responding.
Burton’s father, Stewart, an investment banker, and mother, Gina, who stayed home to raise their two boys and did volunteer work, had taken him to Hamilton with high hopes his freshman year, making the five-hour drive from their home in Toronto.
His nickname was Savage, and friends gravitated toward his humor and nonconformist style. He embraced his Canadian origin by wearing a plaid jacket and a red maple-leaf cap. In his last weeks, one friend recalled, he brought down the house at a student cafe with a hilariously dreadful rendition of the indie rock song “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.”
He spent hours playing guitar and talking about life with his close friend, Max Phillipps, who lived across the hall their sophomore year. Phillipps recalled that Burton seemed extraordinarily creative at the time, writing plays and short stories and filling journals. But he also wore the same clothes every day and had erratic sleeping habits. “His expression was pretty melancholy,” Phillipps said. “I had to work to make him laugh.”
In hindsight, Phillipps added, “There were definitely signs.”
Some professors thought so, too. The report on Burton’s death showed that three of his four professors, his adviser and the academic dean had exchanged emails about his frequent absences from classes. The three professors submitted four academic warnings. Burton sometimes replied to their emails, opening with a polite “Hello,” always sounding distracted.
The youngest, Anne Feltovich, a Latin teacher in her 30s, was the most persistent and appeared the most empathetic. “Dear Graham,” she emailed him on Oct. 24, “You’ve dropped off the radar. How are you doing?” Later, she offered to give him an incomplete and to tutor him in Ovid and Livy by Skype over break. “Sending you support and strength from afar,” she wrote.
His adviser, Isserman, at first dismissed Burton’s inattention to his studies as “his MO, I’m afraid.” But he soon escalated his warnings.
On Nov. 2, Isserman wrote to the academic dean, Vivyan Adair, that he had not been able to reach Burton, who he said was going through “a complete crash and burn.” About two weeks later, Burton wrote to Feltovich that he had been meeting with the dean.
Asked about Burton this past week, Adair said in an email that she had urged him “to speak to his parents about his academic issues and to seek help from the counseling center if he felt depressed.”
But she said that when she met with him, he appeared engaged in college, in his writing and in his social life. “My job was to work with him to resolve his academic issues, which I did,” Adair said. “If I had perceived that he was at risk, I certainly would have taken additional steps.”
The report said there was no policy or practice that prevented staff from contacting the parents. But, it said, “The pervasive impression of faculty and staff is that the college’s overall philosophy is to treat students as adults and allow them to take ownership of any issues they are facing.”
At about 1:30 a.m. on a day during finals week, Phillipps came back to his dorm from studying and found Burton wanting to talk. But Phillipps had a final exam in the morning and asked if it could wait.
When he returned from his final, at about 11 a.m. Dec. 14, he opened Burton’s door and found him hanged by his belt, his feet inches from the floor.
“Every day of my life I think about it,” said Phillipps, who was given Burton’s guitar. “I do feel guilt at not being there at 1:30 a.m., maybe keeping him alive for another day.”
Four business cards were found on Burton’s desk: one for someone at the counseling center; two from the academic dean, with the names of psychiatrists written on them; and one from a peer counselor.
He had never been placed on the college’s list of “Students of Concern,” the report said. “He was not on anyone’s radar, including the counseling center, other than through academic warnings, and had never been brought to the weekly SOC meeting for discussion.”
A wall of privacy
The Burtons said they deserved at least the chance to try to save their son. “I can assure you that I would have been far more aggressive in getting Graham the help he needed,” Gina Burton wrote to Hamilton’s president, David Wippman, after reading her son’s diary.
The Burtons were not totally unaware. In her emails to the college after his death, Burton said that she had made doctor’s appointments to look into his insomnia and that she had been talking to him about visiting the Amen Clinics, a psychiatric center, for brain scans. But she said he had talked about his classes and was looking forward to the future: going on a family ski trip, buying a used Subaru, getting a summer job.
Still grieving more than a year after their son’s death, the Burtons wrote an open letter to the Hamilton College community in March. Noting a second suicide nine months after their son’s, they said, “We do not believe the college has done enough in the wake of our son’s death to safeguard other students.”
Students shared the letter via email. One, Ian Lunn, said he thought the wall between the administration and parents was too rigid. “A lot of people feel, sure, tell my parents, I just don’t want to die,” said Lunn, who is doing an independent study of suicide on campus.
Drew McArthur, a classmate and friend of Burton’s, said he would resist signing a blanket waiver of his privacy. But, he added, “I would sign something that said, ‘In the event that people are worried about you.’ That may be subjective, but I would trust the college with that.”
The report recommended that the college adopt a more centralized case management system for students in distress. It also recommended “workshops on empathy.”
College officials declined to comment on Burton’s death but said they had taken steps recommended by the report. They created a position, the associate dean of student support, filled by someone with mental health credentials. Faculty members are being trained to help recognize students in distress, with a separate committee following up with students of concern. The college also formed a coalition of faculty, staff and students, led by the associate dean, to try to reduce stress at the college.
Despite the changes, faculty members still are expected to contact a dean, not parents directly, when they are concerned about students, Terry Martinez, the dean of students, said.
In their open letter to the college, the Burtons asked for a mandatory process to notify parents “in circumstances where a professor, coach, adviser or other community member has concerns about a student’s well-being.”
They could not get over not knowing what the college had known. “The question that will haunt us forever is why didn’t she call us?” Gina Burton wrote in an email to the college president, invoking the academic dean who had met with their son.
Hamilton was just a five-hour drive away, she wrote. They would have gone the same day, reassured him. They would have taken him home.
Samantha Pratt was in her second year of teaching in Liberty City when she decided to start each class with an open discussion, asking students to talk about whatever was on their minds.
Because many of Pratt’s students come from impoverished backgrounds and difficult neighborhoods, they had a lot to talk about: gunfire, drug use and chronic illnesses affecting their families.
“A student came in one day and said they saw someone die in front of their house,” Pratt said. How could they learn with such heavy hearts? she wondered.
She began letting students record their emotional well-being on an iPad — and an idea for an app was born.
Research revealed that Miami-Dade schools have just one mental health counselor for every 533 students. That means that a high school with 1,000 students has just two emotional support staff.
“Children in Miami-Dade are being under supported,” she said.
Her app, KlickEngage, is aimed at helping students clear their minds and helping teachers understand how to work with them more effectively.
KlickEngage won third place in the 2018 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge. Judges said the app addressed a clear, urgent need. Pratt, a Teach for America alumnus, has participated in several business accelerators, and is partnering with major nonprofits and national organizations to help the business grow.
Here’s how the app works: Each morning, students check in on KlickEngage and rate their level of emotional well being. Depending on their response, they are directed to mindfulness and coping strategies. Teachers are also alerted to kids showing up as “red,” or in the highest state of stress, and can thus give them more one-on-one attention. The app will let teachers track student’s progress over time, enabling them to be proactive with students most at risk.
Related stories from Miami Herald
“It’s about students being able to self-regulate — to name their emotions,” Pratt said.
This year, Pratt tested the concept with a fourth-grade class. The feedback from students was so overwhelming that other teachers now want to give it a try.
“This pilot demonstrated that students not only enjoyed participating in KlickEngage, but also came to rely on the consistency,” she wrote in her original pitch for the Challenge. “Students have expressed a desire to be able to re-report their feelings throughout the day as they change. They also wanted to be able to digitally engage with coping tools.”
She is now developing the app with the help of Miami-based Bushido Lab, a boutique coding firm, and working with another business partner she met through Teach for America.
The plan is to sell the app to schools and school districts, which would distribute the app quickly and be more manageable than individual sales. Individual teachers also will be able to download the app.
She is seeking seed funding to commission Bushido Lab to create a basic prototype to be launched by the coming academic year. A full-scale prototype will cost approximately $40,000.
Now in her third year with Miami-Dade schools, Pratt will attend Harvard’s graduate school of education next year and continue developing KlickEngage.
“We need to be reaching every single student in low income schools every single day,” she said.
Three years ago, William Mamel climbed a ladder in Margaret Sheroff’s apartment and fixed a malfunctioning ceiling fan. “I love that you did this,” Sheroff exclaimed as he clambered back down.
Spontaneously, Mamel drew Sheroff to him and gave her a kiss. “I kind of surprised her. But she was open to it,” he remembered.
Since then, Mamel, 87, and Sheroff, 74, have become a deeply committed couple. “Most nights, I’ll have dinner with Marg and many nights I stay with her overnight,” Mamel explained.
And yet, despite the romance, these North Carolina seniors live in separate houses and don’t plan to move in together or marry. Demographers call this type of relationship “living apart together” (LAT).
“It’s a new, emerging form of family, especially among older adults, that’s on the rise,” said Laura Funk, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Manitoba in Canada who’s written about living apart together.
Questions abound about these unconventional couplings. What effects will they have on older adults’ health and well-being? Will children from previous marriages accept them? What will happen if one partner becomes seriously ill and needs caregiving?
Researchers are beginning to focus on these concerns, said Susan Brown, chair of the sociology department and co-director of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. “It’s really remarkable that older adults are in the vanguard of family change,” she said.
How many older adults are in LAT relationships? According to a 2005 survey by the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, 7% of individuals between 57 and 85 years old described themselves as living apart together. (Some experts contend the measure used in this survey was too broad, allowing couples who are dating to be included.)
Last month, at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America in Denver, Huijing Wu, a graduate student in sociology at Bowling Green State University, presented an analysis of nearly 7,700 Wisconsin adults age 50 and older surveyed in 2011. Married couples accounted for 71.5% of that group, single people accounted for 20.5%, and people who were “partnered but unmarried” accounted for 8%.
Of the partnered group, 39% were in LAT relationships, according to a more focused definition of this arrangement, compared with 31% who were dating (a less committed, shorter-term relationship) and 30% who were cohabiting.
Jacquelyn Benson, an assistant professor of human development and family science at the University of Missouri, is among a handful of researchers who have studied the experiences of older people in LAT relationships. “Older adults really see this as a lifestyle choice, not a relationship of convenience,” she said.
Benson’s 2016 study of 25 older adults (from 60 to 88 years old) in LAT relationships found various motivations for these partnerships. Seniors wanted to have “intimate companionship” while maintaining their own homes, social circles, customary activities and finances, she discovered. Those who’d been divorced or in unhappy earlier marriages didn’t want to tie themselves down again and believed a degree of distance was preferable to day-to-day togetherness.
Also, several women who’d cared previously for sick parents or husbands wanted to avoid assuming caregiving responsibilities or the burden of running a household again.
“It’s a been-there-done-that attitude,” Brown explained. “I took care of my husband, I reared my children, and now it’s my time.”
Caregiving is a thorny issue, on multiple fronts. The only known study to look at caregiving in LAT relationships, out of the Netherlands, found that about half of partners planned to provide care, if needed — a sign of ambivalence. But when illness entered the picture, partners offered assistance nonetheless.
“People in LAT relationships forget there’s going to be this emotional entanglement and they won’t just be able to walk away,” Benson said.
Other complications can arise if adult children resent or fail to recognize their older parent’s outside-of-marriage relationship. “In some cases, when a partner wants to step in and have a say, they’ve been pushed out by family members,” Benson noted.
One older woman in her study learned that her partner had been placed in a nursing home by his family only when she couldn’t reach him at home anymore. “They didn’t include her in the conversation at all,” Benson said, “and she was pretty upset about it.”
Only a few studies have evaluated the quality of LAT relationships, which has implications for seniors’ well-being. One found that older adults in these relationships tend to be less happy and receive less support from partners than people who are married. Another, presented at last year’s Population Association of America meeting, found that the quality of LAT relationships isn’t as strong as it is for marriages.
That hasn’t been true for Luci Dannar, 90, who’s been involved with James Pastoret, 94, for almost seven years, after meeting him at a dance at a Columbia, Mo., senior center.
“The first feeling I had for Jim was sorrow because he seemed to be grieving from his wife’s death five months before,” said Dannar, whose husband and oldest daughter both passed away 19 years ago. “I thought maybe I could be helpful to this man because I’d been through those deaths.”
After getting to know Pastoret and realizing she liked him, Dannar laid down her terms. “I told him, I don’t ever want to get married and he said ‘I don’t either,’” she remembered. “And I said if you have a jealous bone in your body, don’t darken my door again. Because I lived 53 years with a jealous husband, and I never want to go through that again.”
Neither wanted to give up their apartments in a retirement community, about 300 steps from each other. “I like my independence,” said Pastoret, who taught in the school of natural resources at the University of Missouri for 33 years. “When I go home at night after supper with Lucy, I’m very happy to be by myself.”
“He comes over at 5 every evening and leaves here about 9, and then I have two hours by myself — my private time,” Dannar said. “We really like our space, our time alone, and we don’t need to be together 24 hours a day.”
Unlike some other older LAT couples, they’ve talked about the future and toured assisted living centers together. “Someday, if he needs me to help him or I need him to help me, we will probably rent an apartment together, with our own bedrooms, and hire extra help,” Dannar said. “Our plan is to take care of each other until one of us is gone or we go into a nursing home.”
William Mamel is already making good on a similar promise to Margaret Sheroff, who had a mass removed from her gallbladder late last year and recently was hospitalized with complications from chemotherapy.
“With her in the hospital, I spend most of my days there,” said Mamel, who was a good friend of Sheroff’s with his wife of 37 years, Betty Ann, who passed away 2½ years ago. “Being caregivers for each other isn’t even a question.”
Their situation is complicated by Sheroff’s guardianship for her husband, John, who has advanced dementia and resides in a nursing home. “Marriage isn’t in the picture for us, but that doesn’t matter,” Sheroff said. “We’re taking one day at a time and enjoying being together.”
“Just to be able to have someone that you can wake up with in the morning and talk to, someone to have coffee with and see the smile on their face, is such a blessing,” she continued. “At this time of life, it’s really, really important to have someone in your life who’s there for you.”
Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
A salmonella outbreak linked to a massive egg recall expanded last week when 12 more people reported contracting the foodborne illness after eating the popular breakfast food item.
A total of 35 people from nine states were sickened with salmonella after eating eggs that were traced back to the mid-April recall. The Food and Drug Administration previously announced more than 207 million eggs produced by Rose Acre Farms in Seymour, Ind., were being recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. Initially, 22 people were sickened.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday those infected with salmonella had reported feeling ill between November 16, 2017 and April 14. Most of the cases, including 11 people hospitalized, were reported in New York and Virginia. People in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Colorado were also affected.
At least 16 people who were ill said they ate egg dishes from different restaurants. Another 22 people said they ate shelled eggs before contracting salmonella, the CDC reported.
Officials said more illnesses could be reported from people who ate the bad eggs after March 23.
A total of 35 people contracted salmonella linked to the massive egg recall that was announced in mid-April.
Rose Acre Farms announced the voluntary recall of 206,749,248 eggs that were sold under several brands and distributed to retail stories and restaurants. Days later, Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. issued its own recall for 23,400 dozen eggs that it bought from the farm.
FDA officials inspected Hyde County farm, a facility in North Carolina that produces 2.3 million eggs a day, after initial reports of illnesses. The possibly tainted eggs were distributed from the farm between Jan. 11 and April 12.
People with salmonella may develop symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. At times, infections could be fatal, especially in young children or elderly people. The bacteria can also cause arterial infections, endocarditis and arthritis on rare occasions.
Salmonella can contaminate the breakfast food product when infected chickens transfer the foodborne bacteria to the eggs before the shells are formed, the Centers for Disease Control reported. The bacteria can also pass through chicken feces getting on the eggs.
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (AP) – A glut of legal marijuana has driven Oregon pot prices to rock-bottom levels, prompting some nervous growers to start pivoting to another type of cannabis to make ends meet – one that doesn’t come with a high.
Applications for state licenses to grow hemp – marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin – have increased more than twentyfold since 2015, and Oregon now ranks No. 2 behind Colorado among the 19 states with active hemp cultivation. The rapidly evolving market comes amid skyrocketing demand for a hemp-derived extract called cannabidiol, or CBD, seen by many as a health aid.
In its purified distilled form, CBD oil commands thousands of dollars per kilogram, and farmers can make more than $100,000 an acre growing hemp plants to produce it. That distillate can also be converted into a crystallized form or powder.
“Word on the street is everybody thinks hemp’s the new gold rush,” said Jerrad McCord, who grows marijuana in southern Oregon and just added 12 acres of hemp. “This is a business. You’ve got to adapt, and you’ve got to be a problem-solver.”
It’s a problem few predicted when Oregon voters opened the door to legal marijuana four years ago.
The state’s climate is perfect for growing marijuana, and growers produced bumper crops. Under state law, none of it can leave Oregon. That, coupled with a decision to not cap the number of licenses for growers, has created a surplus.
Oregon’s inventory of marijuana is staggering for a state its size. There are nearly 1 million pounds (450,000 kilograms) of usable flower in the system, and an additional 350,000 pounds (159,000 kilograms) of marijuana extracts, edibles and tinctures.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which regulates the industry, says some of the inventory of flower goes into extracts, oils and tinctures – which have increased in popularity – but the agency can’t say how much. A comprehensive market study is underway.
Yet the retail price for a gram of pot has fallen about 50 percent since 2015, from $14 to $7, according to a report by the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. Growers and retailers alike have felt the sting.
“Now we’re starting to look at drastic means, like destroying product. At some point, there’s no more storage for it,” said Trey Willison, who switched his operation from marijuana to hemp this season. “Whoever would have thought we’d get to the point of destroying pounds of marijuana?”
That stark prospect is driving more of Oregon’s marijuana entrepreneurs toward hemp, a crop that already has a foothold in states like Colorado and Kentucky and a lot of buzz in the cannabis industry. In Oregon, the number of hemp licenses increased from 12 in 2015 to 353 as of last week, and the state now ranks No. 2 nationally in licensed acreage.
Colorado, which is No. 1 in hemp production, and Washington were the first states to broadly legalize marijuana. Both have seen price drops for marijuana but not as significant as Oregon.
Like marijuana, the hemp plant is a cannabis plant, but it contains less than 0.3 percent of THC, the compound that gives pot its high. Growing industrial hemp is legal under federal law, and the plant can be sold for use in things like fabric, food, seed and building materials.
But the increasing focus in Oregon is the gold-colored CBD oil that has soared in popularity among cannabis connoisseurs and is rapidly going mainstream. At least 50 percent of hemp nationwide is being grown for CBD extraction, and Oregon is riding the crest of that wave, said Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for pro-hemp legislation.
“There are a lot of growers who already have experience growing cannabis, and when you’re growing for CBD, there are a lot of the same techniques that you use for growing marijuana,” he said. “Oregon is definitely a hotbed of activity around this.”
CBD is popping up in everything from cosmetics to chocolate bars to bottled water to pet treats. One Los Angeles bar sells drinks containing the oil, massage therapists use creams containing CBD, and juice bars offer the stuff in smoothies. Dozens of online sites sell endless iterations of CBD oils, tinctures, capsules, transdermal patches, infused chocolates and creams with no oversight.
Proponents say CBD offers a plethora of health benefits, from relieving pain to taming anxiety. Scientists caution, however, that there have been very few comprehensive clinical studies of how CBD affects humans – mostly because the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration still considers cannabidiol a Schedule 1 drug, and the government requires special dispensation to study it.
Pre-clinical studies have shown promise for treatment of chronic pain, neuro-inflammation, anxiety, addiction and anti-psychotic effects in animals, mostly rodents, said Ziva Cooper, an associate professor of clinical neurobiology at Columbia University who focuses her research on the therapeutic potential of cannabis and cannabinoids.
The Federal Drug Administration next month could approve the first drug derived from CBD. It’s used to treat forms of epilepsy.
Christina Sasser, co-founder of Vital Leaf, isn’t waiting for government action to market CBD products in stores and online. She sells about 500 bottles of Oregon-sourced CBD oil a month and ships only to customers living in states with state-run hemp pilot programs, to better avoid the possibility that federal agents will go after her for selling something the U.S. government considers illicit.
“Everybody in the CBD world has recognized the risks involved, and I would say the vast majority of us really believe in the power of the plant and are willing to operate in this, sort of, gray area,” she said.
Willison was selling marijuana clones to pot startups when he realized last spring he was selling way more clones than Oregon’s market could support. The two-story building where he grew 200 pounds of weed a month sits nearly empty, and a greenhouse built to expand his pot business is packed with hemp plants instead.
He breeds hemp plants genetically selected for their strong CBD concentration, harvests the seeds and extracts CBD from the remaining plants that can fetch up to $13,000 per kilogram. His future looks bright again.
“The (marijuana) market is stuck within the borders of Oregon – it’s locked within the state,” he said, as he took a break from collecting tiny grains of pollen from his plants. “But hemp is an international commodity now.”
Flaccus is a member of AP’s marijuana beat team. Follow her on Twitter at @gflaccus. Follow complete AP marijuana coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LegalMarijuana
The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link “Have a Disqus Account?”. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German biotech firm Medigene has secured a wider remit under a collaboration with U.S. peer Bluebird Bio on a technology that boosts the immune response to cancer, increasing the pool of potential milestone payments to $1.5 billion.
The number of projects in the alliance, which has Medigene contributing screening tools to identify promising T-cell receptors (TCR), will rise from four to six, Medigene said in a statement on Monday, sending its shares 8 percent higher.
“If successfully developed and marketed through several indications and markets, Medigene could receive up to $250 million in milestone payments per TCR program in addition to tiered royalty payments on net sales up to a double-digit percentage,” Medigene said.
Medigene agreed its alliance with Bluebird in September 2016, working on modified T cells, one of the immune system’s main weapons, to better target specific tumor cells.
The extended collaboration contract validates Medigene’s technology platform, analysts at Baader Helvea said, confirming their “buy” recommendation.
Bluebird is best known for its progress in a class of customized cancer drugs known as chimeric antigen receptor T-cells, or CAR-Ts.
Other companies working on T cell receptor (TCR) technologies include GlaxoSmithKline, Britain’s Immunocore, which is backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, or U.S. biotech group ImmunoCellular .
As part of the broadened contract, Medigene will receive an additional one-time payment of $8 million plus increased research and development funding.
Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by John Stonestreet and Maria Sheahan
People have been running barefoot ever since, well, forever, which might make you think you can bin your highly cushioned shoes, slip-on wafer-thin minimalist or “barefoot” kicks, head out for a jog and let nature do its thing. However, this would almost certainly be a big mistake because it’s easy to get injured if you rush the change. It takes most people a long time to make the transition to barefoot shoes because their feet are accustomed to the cushioning and narrow toe-boxes of most modern running shoes.
If you do want to try barefoot running for whatever reason – whether you’re getting injured a lot in regular shoes or just finished reading Born To Run – then check out the advice below from Mark Esteban, coach at barefoot-shoe brand Vivobarefoot. And if you’re not getting injured or experiencing any other issues with cushioned running shoes, then carry on as you are – sticking with what has worked in the past is a golden rule that most runners would benefit from following.
How are barefoot shoes different to other running and lifestyle shoes?
Simply put, barefoot shoes are designed to put as little shoe between the ground and your feet as possible. Barefoot shoes are different to other running and lifestyle shoes – they are wide, thin and flexible. For example, nearly all Vivobarefoot shoes have a 3mm sole, meaning that they have no padding compared with regular lifestyle or running shoes.
Thick, cushioned soles don’t allow your feet to feel the ground, reducing sensory feedback to the brain, which can result in clumsy, unskilful movement. But thin, puncture-resistant soles allow the nerve-endings in our feet to provide your brain with the sensory feedback you need to move with skill.
Barefoot shoes also have a wide toe box – the front of the shoe – which allows the toes to splay. Most running and lifestyle shoes are toe-sprung where the end of the shoe is turned upwards. This elevates the toes off the ground and is usually combined with a tapered, narrow or pointed toe box.
How long does it take to transition to barefoot? Can everyone run barefoot?
It really differs for everyone. There is no average amount of time and there are some people that will never be able to run barefoot, while others will adapt quite easily and quickly. This depends on the extent of the impact of shoes on your foot shape and flexibility or range of movement. What’s most important is that this is never forced or rushed and that people listen to their bodies.
It’s important to note that barefoot shoes are not only for runners, and whether you are a runner or eventually want to lift, cross-train, swim-run or take part in obstacle course races, the sage advice is to walk before you run. In other words, barefoot shoes should be the shoes you spend the most time in – standing and walking.
So should you start by walking in barefoot lifestyle shoes?
Absolutely. Get rid of your chair if you can at work – stand up straight and spend as much time on your feet as possible to let gravity do its thing. By walking in these shoes and being barefoot at home or in the office, you are essentially putting your feet through rehab – conditioning your feet and improving mobility. Try wearing barefoot shoes for five days out of the week.
What potential issues and injuries should you watch out for when you start using barefoot shoes?
Some people find that initially they have some soreness in their feet. They may well ache a little, because you are awakening muscles that have been weakened over time by cramming them into stiff, cushioned shoes that don’t allow your feet to move. Think of taking your shoes off or replacing them with a pair of barefoot shoes as a little like taking your feet to the gym. It will take time for them to adjust, not to mention adapting your running style, but over time the long-term benefits outweigh any initial soreness or discomfort. Just remember that people shouldn’t just switch to barefoot shoes and start running straight away.
What should you look for in non-barefoot shoes in terms of similar features?
You should look for as little shoe as possible and one that is as close to the shape of your foot as possible. If you want to stay in a cushioned world then get a shoe with a wide toe box and flat sole – meaning zero drop. You should avoid shoes with toe boxes turned upwards or a narrow, tapered fit.
How much space should you have between your toes and the front of the shoe?
Getting good fitting advice is an essential part of buying a shoe because making sure your feet have enough room is key. For your feet to start changing you will need between a small finger’s width and a thumb width of space at the end of your shoe – your fitter can advise you. I estimate that around 80% of us are wearing shoes that are too small. Your foot shape will not improve or work if your toes are against the end of the shoe. Your feet need space to flex and recoil.
Is it easier to transition to barefoot running on trails than it is on roads?
This depends on the surface and how hard it is. Contrary to popular belief, runners are more likely to injure themselves on soft ground, because this reduces the efficiency of our elastic recoil due to excessive muscle activity. As the saying goes, “If you ain’t gripping, you’re slipping!” Your footwear has a big impact when running on softer ground. For example, our Primus Trail SG shoes (£120, pictured above) have been designed to provide enough grip to remain stable when your feet connect with the ground.
There are transition benefits to running off-road to do with the variability of surface which shares and changes the load as you move. Start by gradually adding in a variety of surfaces as you transition, and if it is muddy wear a shoe with plenty of grip and take a shorter stride.
Sir Steve Bloom, a professor leading the research and Imperial’s head of diabetes, endocrinology and metabolism, hopes that the therapy will be available within five years as a painless monthly injection.
“It is going to be the most exciting agent for improving health that has yet been discovered,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
The research involved 20 patients who were given three hormones through a patch and a pump over 28 days. Scientists reported that patients naturally ate 30 per cent less food after having the injection. All participants lost weight, with most losing between 1.8kg and 2.2kg during that time. They also had success with patients suffering from diabetes, with sugar levels reduced so drastically that some were even able to stop taking medication.
Of course, further research will need to be undertaken to make sure that the weight doesn’t pile back on after injections are complete. Researchers are also yet to determine the long-term effects these hormone jabs may have on the body. In the meantime, we’ll stick to exercise and a balanced diet to keep weight off.
The opioid crisis has taken what the FDA calls “many new and troubling turns,” and and this is one of them. Opioid addicts are buying a popular diarrhea medicine, loperamide, sold under the brand name Imodium — to get high or as a way to taper off off opioids.
The FDA is taking steps to change the packaging of loperamide to help deter abuse of this drug. It’s safe at approved doses but when taken at 100 times the recommended amount, as some addicts do, it can be deadly, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a recent article for the agency.
“The drug acts locally, inside the gut, to treat the symptoms of diarrhea. But when loperamide is abused and taken at extremely high doses, some of it can cross the gut lining, giving users an opioid like ‘high,’” Gottlieb said.
Some opioid addicts are also taking large amounts of loperamide as a bridge to help them gradually withdraw from opioids or to treat symptoms of withdrawal, which include diarrhea. The medicine has been dubbed the “poor man’s methadone.”
The FDA has been aware since June 2016 of some people taking far higher amounts of loperamide than is recommended on the packaging. But at these high doses, the drug has been associated with severely-abnormal heart rhythms and even death.
To combat this, the Food and Drug Administration began in January proposing methods to encourage safe use of the drug, including by ensuring that negative side effects are clearly written on packaging and that the medicine is not sold in huge amounts. The agency is working with large retailers like Walmart, Amazon and eBay toward changing their packaging, Gottlieb said.
Currently, the maximum dose recommended for over-the-counter loperamide is 8 milligrams. If it is given by prescription, the maximum dose is increased to 16mg daily for treatment of conditions like Crohn’s disease. When it is sold in bulk, some packages contain up to a thousand 2-mg tablets. This makes taking dangerously-large doses easy and affordable.
The FDA commissioner said reasonable packaging limitations “may reduce medication overdose and death.”
Chantel Strachan, MD is a second-year internal medicine resident at the University of Connecticut, working with ABC News Medical Unit.