17 posts in the category “PTSD”

The benefits of just a bit of exercise (+”forest bathing”?)

Posted 11 months ago by

If frequent, long workouts aren’t in the cards, here’s some good news: A new research analysis based on decades’ of studies shows the potential mental health perks of even just a smidgen of light exercise. Also, see the results of a Japanese study on something called “forest bathing.”

Exercise linked to good vibes

“Even a Little Exercise Might Make Us Happier,” a recent New York Times headline proclaims. It might sound obvious, but it’s still positive news — especially for those who may not be able to meet physical activity guidelines for the general population (30+ minutes of exercise on most days).

“According to a new review of research about good moods and physical activity, people who work out even once a week or for as little as 10 minutes a day tend to be more cheerful than those who never exercise. And any type of exercise may be helpful… The type of exercise did not seem to matter. Some happy people walked or jogged. Others practiced yoga-style posing and stretching.”

For the published review, researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed the results of 23 studies since 1980 that explored the links between physical activity and happiness. The studies were mostly observational (not strict clinical trials) but they involved a total of 500,000 people ranging from adolescents to the very old and from a variety of ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

The Times notes that happiness is a rather “subjective, squishy concept,” and it’s not clear from these studies if working out causes happiness or if the two commonly occur together. But overall, the results are notable because “the amount of exercise needed to influence happiness was slight… In several studies, people who worked out only once or twice a week said they felt much happier than those who never exercised.” Exercising even more frequently may bring even greater happiness, the researchers say. From what my friend tells me, since he started getting Boston Tennis Lessons to ease him back into exercising, he has felt happier.

Talk with your doctor about healthy ways for you to squeeze in physical activity — ideas you’re likely to enjoy and stick with. For some people with Parkinson’s disease, it’s walking to their favorite tunes, and for those living with cancer, it may be chair yoga.

In general, try not to stress about not getting enough exercise — other recent research shows that dwelling on it isn’t good for your health.

What’s “forest bathing”?

Here’s another headline that caught our eye: “Just being outside can improve your psychological health, and maybe your physical health too.”

Quartz summed up about $4 million of Japanese research on the benefits of something called “forest bathing” (essentially, it’s just sitting or standing in the woods).

“Just be with trees. No hiking, no counting steps on a Fitbit. You can sit or meander, but the point is to relax rather than accomplish anything,” Quartz reports. “The Japanese practice of forest bathing is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of wellbeing.”

Inhaling the essential oils of a forest, generally called phytoncide, appears to give (healthy) people an immune system boost and reduce stress. Even getting a “dose of nature” in an urban park setting can help with stress relief, studies have shown.

Some health conditions may make it difficult to spend time outdoors, such as lupus (which can bring sun sensitivity — check out these photosensitivity tips). Connect with members of your community on PatientsLikeMe or talk with your doctor about ways to safely spend time outside, considering your particular condition.

How do you squeeze in a bit of activity or outdoor time these days? Join PatientsLikeMe today to swap ideas with the community!

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Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and product FAQs: Fad or effective? Legal or not?

Posted 11 months ago by

Trending: Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, gummies, tinctures and more. Why are cannabis products gaining popularity as medical treatments and in general? As more states have legalized medical marijuana, more people have shifted their views on cannabis treatments (like former Speaker of the House John Boehner’s recent change of heart). And last month, an advisory panel at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unanimously recommended a medication made from CBD for some forms of epilepsy.

CBD comes from cannabis/marijuana but has some key differences. So, let’s take a closer look at CBD products and some FAQs, like, do they work and are they legal?

What is CBD?

Short answer: Cannabidiol (pronounced canna-bid-EYE-ol) or CBD is a chemical found in cannabis plants that does not produce a “high.”

More info: Cannabis plants can produce more than 100 different types of cannabinoids, a type of chemical that reacts with receptors in the brain. The two most common cannabinoids found in medical marijuana are THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is responsible for producing the mental and physical effects of medical marijuana. CBD has many of the same therapeutic qualities as THC, but without psychoactive effects. (For even more info, read our report called “Weed 101: How and why patients use medical marijuana.”)

Products made purely from CBD (without THC) do not produce the psychoactive high of other medical marijuana or some CBD/THC combination products. But, as a JAMA report and some in the medical cannabis industry have pointed out, many CBD products sold online are not accurately labeled (containing much more or less CBD than the label claims, or even containing some THC when it’s not mentioned on the label).

CBD is not regulated or approved by the FDA — but they have issued warning letters to some CBD producers with misleading labels.

Many doctors (in the U.S. and internationally) are hesitant to recommend smoking cannabis or inhaling any burned plant material but may be more open to CBD products that are not smoked. (Has your doctor or provider weighed in about medical cannabis or CBD products? Make a comment below.BD products can be pretty expensive so search around for things like discounted CBD vape juice. You’ll find some great deals! I often buy my wholesale vape supplies online or in a store near me.

Are CBD products effective?

On PatientsLikeMe, members have reported trying CBD for about 160 different reasons, including specific conditions (ALS, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and fibromyalgia — to name a few) and symptoms (from anxious or depressed mood to stiffness/spasticity). Below is a list of CBD or cannabis products members have reported as treatments on the site — remember to discuss your treatments with your healthcare provider, and keep in mind that treatment responses vary:

Join PatientsLikeMe to see more details through the links above and to connect with other members about their treatment experiences.

Note: CBD industry insiders advise avoiding splashy websites that offer a “free trial” of the product — by filling out a form, you may be signing up for an unwanted subscription.

Is CBD legal?

Short answer: CBD is legal under some state laws but not under federal law — so it’s pretty confusing (even to healthcare providers).

More info: As of May 2018, there are 17 states with laws specifically about legal CBD. Most state laws allowing some CBD use tend to be very specific (for example, limiting a CBD product’s THC content) and are not the same as state medical marijuana laws.

Under federal law, cannabis products (including CBD) are illegal and classified the same as marijuana (and heroin and ecstasy) as a Schedule I controlled substance. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) made headlines in Indiana (where some CBD is legal) a few months back when DEA spokesman Rusty Payne told the local news that CBD is illegal under federal law, but is not the DEA’s main focus. “We are in the middle of an opioid crisis in this country,” Payne said. “That’s our biggest priority right now. People are not dying from CBD. Some would argue lives are being saved by CBD. Are we going to get in the middle of that? Probably not.”

Last year, U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith introduced a bill called the “Compassionate Access Act” to encourage the federal government to remove marijuana from “Schedule I” classification, exclude CBD from the definition of marijuana in order to allow better medical access, and regulate CBD products to ensure they’re low in THC. So far, the bill has only bounced around to various congressional subcommittees.

Have any questions, comments or feedback on CBD products? Make a comment below or — even better — become a PatientsLikeMe member to discuss this topic in the forum and see more treatment evaluations from people living with your condition.

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