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Study Finds Eating Chili Peppers Could Extend Your Life

People who regularly ate chili peppers were “associated with a 25% reduction in death from any cause.”

Justin MacLachlan

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Do you love eating hot chili peppers? It turns out you might be doing more than just pleasing your taste buds, according to early preliminary research.

A recent study carried out by the American Heart Association study took earlier research from multiple countries on chili peppers and analyzed it. The determination by the researchers was that people who regularly ate chili peppers were “associated with a 25% reduction in death from any cause.”

The paper, released last month, further found that frequent chili-pepper consumption may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 26% and “cause 23% fewer cancer deaths compared to people who never or only rarely consumed chili pepper,” the AHA said in a statement on the research.

The investigation for the research of the report included more than 4,000 studies from various countries which included at least 570,000 participants. Of these participants, they were geologically located in the United States, Italy, China, and Iran. The researchers compared the outcomes of those who consumed chili pepper to those who rarely or never ate chili peppers. Then compared individuals who rarely or never ate chili peppers, the analysis found that people who ate chili peppers had:

  • A 26% relative reduction in cardiovascular mortality;
  • A 23% relative reduction in cancer mortality; and
  • A 25% relative reduction in all-cause mortality.

The American Heart Association expected to find health benefits from the chili peppers. Its well known that chili peppers serve as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food, slowing damage to cells.

However, senior writer Dr. Bo Xu of the study, stated in the research they were “surprised to find that in these previously published studies, regular consumption of chili pepper was associated with an overall risk-reduction of all-cause, CVD [cardiovascular disease] and cancer mortality.”

A few research highlights according to the American Heart Association are as follows.

  • Consumption of chili pepper may reduce the relative risk of cardiovascular disease mortality by 26%, according to an analysis of diet and mortality data from four large, international studies.
  • Chili pepper consumption was associated with a 25% reduction in death from any cause and 23% fewer cancer deaths, compared to people who never or only rarely consumed chili pepper.

The study seems to prove what the AHA said was a “significantly reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer” from regularly eating chili peppers. Dr. Xu, nevertheless, expressed that the “exact reasons and mechanisms” for the results are unknown, and further research is needed to confirm the initial study. In other words, the researchers cannot say for certain that eating chili peppers will extend a person’s lifetime. But initial results seem to suggest that is the case.

The preliminary research was presented virtually at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2020 on November 13-17th. The event was seen as a “premier global exchange of the latest scientific advancements, research, and evidence-based clinical practice updates in cardiovascular science for health care worldwide.”

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Health

California Bill Backed by PTSD War Veterans Groups Would Legalize Psychedelics Statewide

Elias Marat

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California could soon decriminalize psychedelics statewide if one legislator’s new bill is passed, marking another step by the Golden State to do away with laws seen by critics as antiquated vestiges of the failed U.S. war on drugs.

On Thursday, Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco introduced Bill 519, which would comprehensively decriminalize the use of and possession of psychedelics, following the lead of such places as Oakland, Santa Cruz, the District of Columbia, and Oregon, which have all decriminalized the drugs to varying degrees.

Under the proposed law, a range of psychedelic drugs including psilocybin – the hallucinogen in “magic” mushrooms – psilocyn, 3,4-MDMA (also known as molly or ecstasy), LSD, ketamine, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline would all be decriminalized. Like a previous law passed in 2018 that expunged cannabis-related convictions from the records of Californians, Bill 519 would also wipe clean prior convictions for the use or possession of drugs.

While the comprehensive decriminalization measure would open the door to any sort of use of the drugs, not limited to medical, it would also be tied to measures that endorse the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of psychedelics which have gained increased recognition from health experts and researchers in recent years.

Given the severity of our mental health crisis, we shouldn’t be criminalizing people for using drugs that have shown significant promise in treating mental health conditions,” Wiener said in a statement. “People should be able to seek alternative treatment for diseases like anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and we need to make science-based treatments available to those in need.”

The bill has also been heavily supported by two groups, the Heroic Hearts Project and VETS (Vets Exploring Treatment Solutions), both nonprofit organizations that assist veterans in addressing mental health challenges stemming from trauma, such as PTSD.

The strategy tout the medical benefits of the drugs is one that has been used with success in past efforts by drug policy reform advocates.

“That’s how it worked with cannabis,” Oregonian drug policy reform advocate Anthony Johnson told the Guardian. Johnson helped lead efforts in his state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of basically all illicit drugs through Measure 110, which voters overwhelmingly approved in November.

“It’s definitely a way to help people that need it first and foremost, but also then to educate the public about these substances of how the drug war has been a failed policy and how there is a better approach,” Johnson added.

In the case of Oregon’s Measure 109, which cleared the way for the all-out legalization of psilocybin mushrooms, petitioners highlighted the need to end the prohibition of the substance as a means toward treating mental health challenges through alternative methods.

“Healthcare professionals, veterans, mothers, people struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction and end of life distress, community organizations, and so many others answered to call for a new option to help so many who are suffering,” a coalition of Oregon advocates said in a statement last November following voters’ overwhelming approval of the legal psilocybin therapy bill.

As has been the case in other states, however, the largest obstacle to decriminalization has been law enforcement, who cite concerns over public safety, and the private prison industry which enjoys generous profits from state contracts to incarcerate drug users. However, state Senator Wiener hopes that the testimony of veterans will help convince opponents of the need to shed their preconceptions and biases toward users of psychedelic drugs.

“There’s a stereotype of who’s using psychedelics, but it’s much broader than that and when you have veterans coming into the Capitol talking about how psychedelics help them with PTSD and help them get their lives back, that’s incredibly powerful for legislators,” Wiener explained.

Among those veterans is 38-year-old veteran Juliana Mercer, who spent 16 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including 10 years of active duty service over the course of one tour in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

As a four-year member of the wounded warriors unit, Mercer saw unspeakable horrors that left an indelible impression on her psyche – ultimately resulting in long-term trauma that she was largely unable to address.

“I lost quite a few friends and just saw a lot of a lot of damage and destruction along the way,” Mercer said. “I put all of that stuff away and kind of forgot about it for a while, and once I slowed down it was all just sitting there and I didn’t know what to do with it.”

While her first experience with psychedelics was recreational, she eventually gained a sense of connectedness that had been absent for years. She eventually reached out to the Heroic Hearts Project a year and a half ago to undergo ayahuasca therapy, which she said had completely exceeded expectations in allowing her to release “years of grief.”

“I kept hearing that when you do some of these plant medicines, you’ll be able to do 10 years worth of work in one session,” Mercer explained. “Just one of my sessions really brought out all of that pain and the grief that I didn’t even know was in there and allowed me to just completely release it and expel it, things that I had no idea were there.”

For licensed clinical social worker Lauren Taus, therapies involving plants such as ayahuasca and psilocybin are simply strong tools rather than cure-alls for mental health challenges. However, with the ongoing pandemic compounding a mental health crisis that has long been felt across the United States, Taus is adamant that such potent tools must be decriminalized.

“The causes of trauma are multiplying way faster than the solutions,” Taus said. “Current treatment is generally not very effective.”

“Psychedelic medicine has been engaged with globally for eons,” she added. “This stuff works and we deserve to have access to solutions that will be sustainable.”

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Good News

Michael Jordan Gifts $10 Million to Open 2 More Health Clinics For Uninsured In His Hometown

Elias Marat

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NBA superstar and Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan is making big philanthropic moves in his hometown community of Wilmington, North Carolina, by donating $10 million to help open a pair of new health clinics for uninsured, under-insured and generally poor members of the community.

The announcement came Monday morning and was made by nonprofit healthcare group Novant Health Clinics, whom Jordan has been working with to help bring much-needed access to primary and preventive care to low-income residents.

“I am very proud to once again partner with Novant Health to expand the Family Clinic model to bring better access to critical medical services in my hometown,” said Michael Jordan in a press release. “Everyone should have access to quality health care, no matter where they live, or whether or not they have insurance. Wilmington holds a special place in my heart and it’s truly gratifying to be able to give back to the community that supported me throughout my life.”

The latest move brings the number of new clinics Jordan has helped build in the Tar Hell State to four. In 2019, the 57-year-old former shooting guard unveiled the Michael Jordan Family Clinic in Charlotte, bringing much-needed access to primary and preventive care to low-income residents. Jordan himself contributed $7 million to the opening of the clinic at the time, which was also being operated by Novant Health.

During the October 2019 opening, the six-time NBA champion tearfully explained that “it’s a very emotional thing for me to be able to give back to a community that’s supported me over the years.”

One year later, Jordan opened the second clinic and expressed his family’s “great pride to know that we are making a difference in Charlotte.”

“We’ve been dealt with some very difficult cards in 2020,” he said at the time. “I hope 2021 is going to be much better.”

The Charlotte clinics have already seen over 4,500 patients while also providing crucial support during the ongoing pandemic.

“The regional health care system and Jordan previously partnered to open two Michael Jordan Family Clinics in Charlotte, N.C., bringing comprehensive primary care, including behavioral health and social support services, to the area’s most vulnerable communities,” the company said. “Jordan’s gift will help Novant Health bring this same integrated care model to more rural and rural-adjacent communities in his hometown, offering much-needed services to those who are uninsured or underinsured. The two new clinics are slated to open in early 2022.”

So far, the two Michael Jordan Family Clinics in Charlotte have administered almost 1,000 vaccines for the disease with plans to ramp up services in coming weeks.

“This pandemic has exacerbated health equity gaps across our state, making our efforts to close them even more emergent,” said Novant president and CEO Carl Armato. “We look forward to standing these clinics up as quickly as possible to ensure all members of the community have access to necessary medical care.”

Monday’s announcement came just one day after Sunday’s historic Daytona 500, which saw the Bulls legend and owner of the Charlotte Hornets make history as the first black principal owner in NASCAR in a half century as driver Bubba Wallace – the only Black full-time driver in the circuit – led by a lap before finishing 17th.

The Brooklyn-born Jordan, who grew up in North Carolina and was an avid fan of NASCAR, is worth $1.6 billion according to Forbes. During his time with the NBA, he earned $90 million as a player and $1.8 billion in endorsements, before taxes.

In recent years, the former pro basketball player has become a prominent philanthropist, donating to various causes including pledging $1 million to relief efforts in the Bahamas following September 2019’s Huricane Dorian. In September 2018, Jordan also donated $2 million to relief efforts in the Carolinas after Hurricane Florence devastated the region.

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Activism

Florida Man Uses Stimulus Check to Start Thriving Home Garden to Feed His Community

Elias Marat

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When millions of people across the United States received their federal stimulus checks to help them cope with the devastating economic repercussions of the novel coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdown, most people spent their checks on basic necessities like food, rent, mortgage, utilities, and other basic necessities

However, one man from East Tampa, Florida, decided to use his funds to invest in a much more long-term project: building his own garden at home and using it to help provide food for himself. He’s now teaching his community about the massive benefits of food independence.

Michael Chaney, who goes by the nickname “Spirit Mike,” has long been interested in gardening. It wasn’t until the pandemic struck and local supermarkets were struck by the crisis that he was able to muster the self-motivation and time to fully pursue what began as a hobby and now has turned into his passion.

When he received his first stimulus check, he immediately used the funds to purchase some pots and start growing his first tomato plant. He also spoke to seasoned gardeners at the nearby A Land of Delight Natural Farm to pick up some materials and advice that would enable him to begin growing his own food, he told local radio station WMNF.

Now, Chaney is growing not only tomatoes but also collard greens, ghost peppers, mustard greens, strawberry guava, eggplants, onions, papaya, cashew apples, sugar cane, lemon, yucca, and lettuce, among other plants on his .3 acres of land.

“I do biointensive gardening, which means planting as much as you can in a small space,” Chaney told Atlanta Black Star. “I specifically picked these types of fruits [dwarf plants] because they grow fruit fast.”

Chaney derives the most pride from his moringa trees, which he values for its high viamin C content and celebrated medicinal properties as well as its antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antidepressant qualities.

“That is the Michael Jordan and the Kobe Bryant together,” Chaney told WMNF with pride.

“If you were stranded somewhere and all you have his this and water you would not only survive, you would thrive,” Chaney added. “I don’t work out. All I did was add this to my diet and add flax seed fiber and I lost 65 lbs.”

Chaney also has nine chickens that he purchased for only $3 per chick.

“My aim is to make my food cost zero,” he explained. “So, my food scraps go into the soldier fly larvae bin, they eat that and produce more larvae. Those larvae get fed to the chickens. The chicken produces eggs, I sell the eggs and eat the eggs; life is good.”

Chaney made sure to meticulously plan his garden so that actually managing it and ensuring its success would be much easier.

“It’s very important that you plan your garden. Do your research before you put a dollar down because you want your dollar to go as far as it can,” Chaney said.

He is now upholding the garden – which he has named New World Growers – as an example of community self-determination and food independence at a time when food insecurity is sharply on the rise.

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