Monday December 16, 2019

Psychedelic drug helpful in curbing addiction to smoking: Study

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Irrespective of the substance a person is addicted to, curbing an addiction is tough. Many people around the world are addicted to smoking and it is known to be a difficult habit to get rid of.

Many remedies such as Nicotine patches, cold turkey and chewing gum are tried by people globally with hardly any luck. Matthew Johnson, a behavioral pharmacologist at Johns Hopkins’ Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, Baltimore, suggests a different alternative – psilocybin – a drug that has been illegal for years, in most parts of Europe and North America.

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Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic and is the active ingredient of ‘magic mushrooms’. Illegal, but if psilocybin is given to smokers a few times, in a carefully controlled way, Johnson says that it can be remarkably effective in helping smokers kick the butt.

The use of psilocybin spread from the labs (for research) to drug counter culture which is why it was completely banned and even research was prohibited. Johnson believes that the drug has been off limits for the wrong reasons.

Now, the research by the team at John Hopkins under Matthew Johnson, has shown promising results. More than 460 psilocybin sessions have now been conducted at Johns Hopkins alone, ranging from investigating its use by cancer patients, to its effects on meditation. The Smoking Cessation programme, which has just finished its pilot stage, has attracted a lot of attention.

The volunteers are first prepared during the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, and are asked to create their own mantra, which is like something they would like to remember later in life because it could be used as a motto, which would provide them with the necessary push towards achieving their goal and quitting the habit.

After CBT, they are given the drug in tablet form, and are allowed to self-administer. Post taking the pill, they are asked to lie down, plug in earphones and relax. They are not allowed to talk, but are asked to “go inward” into their thoughts and analyse.

[Research shows there’s a] 71% success rate for people who quit smoking just after they had a heart attack,” he explains. A heart attack would certainly qualify as a profound experience, but it’s not something you can go around triggering in people in order to stop them from smoking. Instead the aim is to use a powerful psychedelic trip to trigger a similar effect… an intense, abstract experience that changes the patient’s perspective. It’s this that the team refer to as a ‘mystical experience’,” Johnson was quoted.

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Air Pollution has Negative Impacts on Human and Animal Health: Study

Air pollution linked to heart issues in humans, animals

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Air pollution increases risks of deteriorating heart health in human and animals. Lifetime Stock

Researchers have found that air pollution is associated with detrimental impacts on human and animals health, including increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

The study, published in The Journal of Physiology, by researchers at The University of Manchester in UK, shows that the knowledge people have about how pollution harms the hearts of marine species can be applied to humans, as the underlying mechanisms are similar.

Around 11,000 coronary heart disease and stroke deaths in the UK each year are attributable to air pollution, specifically due to particulate matter (PM), or small particles in the air that cause health problems.

PM2.5 is one of the finest and most dangerous type of PM, is a compound for which the UK has failed to meet European Union limits.

“We know that air pollution can have a hugely damaging effect on heart and circulatory health, and this review summarises mechanisms potentially contributing to impaired heart function,” said study researcher Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation.

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Air pollution can have a hugely damaging effect on heart and circulatory health. Lifetime Stock

For the findings, the researchers looked across all vertebrates and particularly focused on a set of compounds that binds to the surface of PM, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) as its amount on PM is associated with the detrimental affects that air pollution has on the heart.

“Pollution affects all of us living on Planet Earth. Due to the conserved nature of cardiac function amongst animals, fish exposed to PAH from oil spills can serve as indicators, providing significant insights into the human health impacts of PAHs and PM air pollution,” said Holly Shiels, study senior author from the University of Manchester.

Studies after the ‘1999 Exxon Valdez oil spill’ showed that the ecosystem still has not recovered 20 years on.

Also Read- Southeast Asian Activists Pressurize Regional Govts to Offer Climate Action Plan

According to the researchers, in 2010, research on fish after the ‘Deepwater Horizon oil spill’, which released large quantities of PAHs into the marine environment, showed that the heart’s ability to contract was impaired.

“Reducing air pollution is crucial to protecting our heart health, which is why the British Heart Foundation, is calling on the next Government to commit to reducing air pollution to within WHO limits,” Pearson said. (IANS)