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It Isn’t All In Your Head: Depression Is Actually a Physical Illness Caused by Inflammation

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For years, the scientific community focused almost exclusively on brain chemistry as the likely cause of depression; but new research upends this longheld premise, suggesting inflammation sparked by an immune system in overdrive — a root, physical origin — is instead responsible for associated feelings of despair, distress, and hopelessness.

Chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine, and their balance and imbalance, long comprised the locus around which research into depression and its treatment to varying degrees of clinical and anecdotal success — but mounting evidence places the blame for unshakable despondence on an immune system refusing to shut down after serious illness or trauma.

“It’s pretty clear that inflammation can cause depression,” asserted Professor Ed Bullmore, Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, to a London audience, in no uncertain terms.

So convincing is the physical link between inflammation and the abject doldrums commonly experienced with depression, Bullmore imagines it won’t be long until the advent of a new field: “immuno-neurology.”

“In relation to mood, beyond reasonable doubt, there is a very robust association between inflammation and depressive symptoms,” Bullmore continued, quoted by The Telegraph.

“We give people a vaccination and they will become depressed. Vaccine clinics could always predict it, but they could never explain it.

“The question is does the inflammation drive the depression or vice versa or is it just a coincidence?

“In experimental medicine studies if you treat a healthy individual with an inflammatory drug, like interferon, a substantial percentage of those people will become depressed. So we think there is good enough evidence for a causal effect.”

Indeed, a 20-year study, concluded in June — which noted similar results — described the necessity for and promise of the same focus of study championed by Bullmore, stating,

“The field has burgeoned in the last few years, and we have now clear translational opportunities for psychoneuroimmunology and immunopsychiatry to help patients, delivering both predictive biomarkers to implement precision psychiatry and novel pharmacological agents that improves depression through an anti-inflammatory action.”

According to the Telegraph, scientists from Cambridge University and Wellcome Trust plan to investigate anti-inflammatory medication as a means to halt depression, since, the professor notes, “There is evidence to suggest it should work.”

Evincing further correlation, 30 percent of those experiencing chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis also suffer from depression — a rate four times that of the normal population.

Baneful though the symptoms, depression actually served a purpose. Scientists surmise the reflex to withdraw, rest, and cordon oneself from regular activity during an illness or recovery from injury would have prevented contagions from spreading to the healthy population.

Scientists clung to the idea of a blood-brain barrier — a distinct separation in function between the brain and immune system — but have been forced to relegate that to the dust bin as evidence mounts of their inextricable connection.

“All psychiatric and neurological disorders are based in brain and brain is not static but structurally and functionally responsive to a range of biological, psychological and social issues,” explained Dr. Alan Carson, Reader in Neuropsychiatry at the University of Edinburgh. “Yet institutionally we use an outmoded code which separates brain disorders into psychiatric ‘f’ codes and neurological ‘g’ codes which holds back both scientific and clinical progress.”

Revealing evidence inflammation can drive depression was the first step; now, scientists hope for more meticulous research to use that information for treating the ailment efficaciously.

It should be noted the connection now prominently featured in a growing body of research does not preclude or supplant additional causes of depression, nor current treatment models.

(Featured image: Pixabay, creative commons)

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Stroke Victims to Be Given Psychedelic Drug DMT in First-Ever US Clinical Trials

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The hallucinogenic drug DMT (dimethyltriptamine) could provide crucial aid to stroke victims by minimizing the damage inflicted on victims’ brains as they are rushed to the hospital, according to researchers.

Canadian company Algernon Pharmaceuticals has laid out plans to microdose participants in the first clinical trial of its kind in hopes to help stroke victims’ brains recover faster through a “rewiring” process, reports Metro.

A stroke occurs when blood supplies to a part of the brain is drastically reduced or interrupted, starving the vital organ of fresh oxygen and nutrients and setting in motion the death of crucial nerve cells. In some cases, stroke can even lead to death. About 795,000 people suffer from strokes annually in the U.S.

However, researchers at Algernon argue that DMT could play a key role in staving off the worst effects of stroke by sparking the growth of new neurons, effectively turbo-charging the healing process.

In the first-ever clinical trials of this kind in the U.S., DMT will soon be administered to stroke patients in the back of ambulances. While the doses will be far too small to trigger any sort of hallucinations, scientists are claiming that the microdoses will still be sufficient for conferring benefits.

The Phase 1 trials could begin as soon as next month, if they receive a green light from authorities. It could still take years before the drug receives approval for human use.

Algernon CEO Christopher Moreau is hopeful that the drug will prove its ability to help heal the brains of those who suffer from a stroke.

“Since we’re dealing with stroke patients, we will be using the sub-hallucinogenic dose, which in pre-clinical studies has still shown to improve neuroplasticity,” Moreau explained.

“It will help the brain heal even though patients aren’t having the psychedelic experience, and we really don’t want that if your patient has just had a stroke,” he continued. “The sooner you can start to treat post-injury the better.”

However, the drug could likely have its limits.

“DMT may not benefit hemorrhagic (stroke victims), we don’t know, but we’re hoping it won’t cause them any problems because then we don’t have to wait for the CT scan, we can treat in the ambulance,” Moreau added.

DMT – also known as the “spirit molecule” for its extremely potent hallucinogenic properties – is one of the main psychoactive compounds found in ayahuasca, a brew consumed in shamanistic rituals that has been used for centuries in South America before finding its way into North America and Europe as a recreational drug popular at music festivals.

Experts and users of DMT have said that the drug has a similar impact to such other psychedelic drugs as LSD and psilocybin or “magic” mushrooms. However, the psychedelic experience or so-called “trip” from DMT is much shorter in duration than either of the other psychedelic drugs.

Studies of DMT have shown that it does have the ability to improve motor functions, and in tests on brain-damaged rats it helped trigger the formation of new brain cells.

Moreau claims that studies have shown that within hours of a stroke, the brain attempts to rewire itself – and that DMT may potentially accelerate the process.

At present, patients have little recourse in the immediate aftermath of a stroke because doctors seldom know what type of stroke someone may be suffering from. While ischemic strokes involving blood clots require blood thinner as treatment, hemorrhagic strokes require more invasive treatment.

However, the wrong type of treatment for a stroke could be fatal for patients.

Algernon hopes that if the first phase of trials prove successful, regulators will approve the more widespread usage of the treatment. In the second and third phases of the trial, Algernon hopes to continue DMT treatments over the short and long term to prove the efficacy of the treatment.

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U.S. Files Lawsuit Against Walmart for Role in Fueling Opioid Crisis

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In a new lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Walmart corporation has been accused of helping to fuel the opioid crisis by knowingly filling out thousands of suspicious subscriptions and failing to report the orders to authorities. The DOJ says that the company could be facing billions of dollars in civil penalties if the court rules against them.

The lawsuit claims that Walmart was being investigated for years due to its lenient policy on opioid prescriptions. The company is being accused of violating the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) at its pharmacies and its wholesale drug distribution centers.

Walmart responded to the lawsuit and the allegations with a statement denying the charges, insisting that the lawsuit is based on “a legal theory that unlawfully forces pharmacists to come between patients and their doctors” and “cherry-picked documents taken out of context.”

The DOJ claims that Walmart “knowingly filled thousands of controlled substance prescriptions that were not issued for legitimate medical purposes.”

The company claimed that they did actually report cases to the DEA, and suggested that they were being blamed for the DEA’s own failures.

“In contrast to DEA’s own failures, Walmart always empowered our pharmacists to refuse to fill problematic opioids prescriptions, and they refused to fill hundreds of thousands of such prescriptions. Walmart sent DEA tens of thousands of investigative leads, and we blocked thousands of questionable doctors from having their opioid prescriptions filled at our pharmacies,” a statement from the company read, according to CNN Business.

This lawsuit is just the most recent of many actions that the DOJ has carried out against large corporations that played a role in the opioid crisis. Earlier this year, OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to three federal criminal charges for the role that it played in the ongoing opioid crisis.

Justice Department officials said that the company will be pleading guilty as part of a settlement worth over $8 billion. 

In the settlement, Purdue will pay $225 million directly to the government and will give up an additional $2 billion to the government through criminal asset forfeiture. The company also faces a $3.54 billion criminal fine, but this money may not be collected due to bankruptcy. Purdue also owes $2.8 billion in damages to cover lawsuits that victims have brought against the company.

The company will be pleading guilty to three federal charges, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating federal anti-kickback laws. The company admitted to pushing doctors to prescribe more opioids than they would have otherwise. Investigations into dozens of companies are currently ongoing, and more announcements are expected to come in the following months, with the potential of more charges against corporations that have yet to be named.

Some critics of the industry feel that the lawsuits do not go far enough, pointing out that most people would be facing harsh prison sentences if they were accused of selling drugs to the extent that these companies did.

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After This Mom Lost Her 1-Year-Old Son in a Car Crash, Health Insurers Left Her $175k of Debt

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Car Crash
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(TMU) — It’s no exaggeration to say that the United States health care system is in the grips of a major crisis.

Despite the country being the wealthiest in the world, over 34 million people are uninsured while even more are underinsured. Thousands of Americans die of preventable illness every year while many struggle to afford their expensive prescriptions, yet U.S. health care remains a multi-billion dollar industry that rakes in major profits year after year.

And while the crisis has been reduced by mainstream media to an election year talking point—or an issue of “the market” versus “socialism”—the health care system has a life-and-death impact on Americans from all walks of life.

Such was the case for Michelle DuBarry, a Portland-based writer whose tragic experience with U.S. health care reveals all that’s wrong with a system that upholds corporate profits rather than human life.

When DuBarry’s 1-year-old son died after he was struck by a careless driver along with his father Eric, rather than being left to mourn she instead “sat at his bedside, his tiny, stitched-together body hooked to a million incessantly beeping machines, straining to recall what our deductibles were.”

Doctors had attempted to save the baby’s life but after two surgeries and one night in the ICU, he succumbed to his injuries. However, his death was only the beginning of a bereaved mother’s unimaginable ordeal at the hands of heartless health insurers and the bureaucracy that serves it.

https://twitter.com/DuBarryPie/status/1231669877628256256

DuBarry was already in dire straits because she was a new hire at her job and having worked less than a year in her position, she wasn’t comfortable taking days off. After all, if she lost this job then she could kiss her health insurance goodbye.

But a week hadn’t even passed before the hospital where she lost her son served her and her husband’s home with a lien. Having just lost their son, DuBarry and her husband now had to look at the possibility of losing their home.

In effect, the hospital was saying “Sucks that your son is gone, but we did our best – time to pay up!” Additionally, DuBarry’s husband couldn’t receive any treatment from his primary care doctor because not only would his supposedly “good” health insurance not cover it, but his doctor wouldn’t accept payment from the auto insurance company either.

https://twitter.com/DuBarryPie/status/1231669880736190465

Eventually, they only had to pay $5,000 following the death of their child and they still had a bit of cash from the auto insurance company on behalf of the reckless driver who killed the child. But once the health insurers realized that DuBarry and her husband got $175,000 from the auto insurance company, they did what any good predator would do: they sent their legal team to seize the funds leaving the grieving parents penniless.

https://twitter.com/DuBarryPie/status/1231669882573377537

DuBarry and her husband had no option to go on family and medical leave, so they did what good Americans are supposed to do: they went back to work toiling away to cover their mortgage and bills despite the catastrophic loss of their baby boy.

https://twitter.com/DuBarryPie/status/1231669884666273792

And while the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” is often touted as a major benefit to millions of people who would otherwise lack health insurance, it did precious little to help DuBarry and her husband after their devastating hospital visit.

DuBarry told her story on her personal website, explaining:

“In 2010, my husband Eric and our son Seamus were struck by a careless driver in a crosswalk near our home. Eric sustained minor injuries, and Seamus died the next day after enduring two surgeries and a night in intensive care. Our hospital bills totaled $180,000, and though most of it was covered by health insurance, we still had thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket medical expenses.”

They “soon learned that our health insurer was entitled to reimbursement out of these funds, effectively reducing our settlement to $0.” Due to these experiences, DuBarry began organizing to fight for a bill that would match the laws in many other states where the injured party is “made whole” for all damages from the at-fault party’s insurance prior to the injured party’s medical insurer getting paid. The bill was finally signed into law last June and DuBarry sees it as her late child’s legacy.

https://twitter.com/DuBarryPie/status/1231669886604075008

Michelle has now joined the growing legions of Americans demanding a universal healthcare system. While the plan has been lambasted by the right, as well as by Democratic Party bosses, many experts have hailed the plan as far more practical and less expensive than the status quo.

People across the globe were floored by DuBarry’s exceptionally American ordeal.

One Twitter user commented:

“In Canada, all that would have been free, and not only that, you wouldn’t have even needed to think about it. Our complete medical is paid from our taxes.”

While another wrote:

“All public health care is free in Australia. Can’t understand why USA unwilling to do the same. It’s just a cost the government meets.”

While Americans on both sides of the political divide—both “conservatives” and “liberals”—often revel in patriotic pride over the alleged greatness of the United States and the supposed “freedom” that citizenship offers, this woman and her husband found out that there simply is no choice under a private health care model. Instead, the health insurance industry is out to squeeze every last dollar from those who are suffering.

Why is it so hard for so many people to imagine a model where our health and happiness is protected rather than the profits of a small handful of health insurance corporations?

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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