Marijuana and its Green Glory!

Do you ever get the urge to rebel against something your told not to? I’m sure most of you would say “YES”! Most of us do it for the ‘high’ and adrenaline rush that we experience. Ever since we have been children, curiosity grows in us to go against what we are told not too, this continues in to our adult lives as well. Especially, when it comes to ‘drugs’. Those are a big “NO NO” our parents, teachers and elderly would say. So the questions arises, is marijuana really as bad as it is said to be, or are there benefits that make this ‘gateway drug’ a positive addition to our health.

Source: Flickr Commons. Marijuana Plant

Surprisingly, there are 5 health benefits associated with Marijuana:

1) Suppresses Cancer

Source: Flickr Commons. Cancer Cells

A study that took place in 2012, found that marijuana had a compound within it that was able to suppress and kill aggressive cancers such as leukemia.

2) Reduces Blood Pressure

Source: Flickr Commons. Blood Pressure

A study from 2005-2010, showed that users of marijuana compared to non-users, had a 17% reduction in insulin resistance levels.

3) Treatment of Glaucoma

Source: Flickr Commons. Optometry Equipment

When marijuana is consumed orally or by inhalation, it helps to lower eye pressure that leads to blindness with people who suffer from glaucoma.

4) Alleviates Pain

Source: Flickr Commons. Pill

Marijuana has been successful in using its anti-inflammatory properties to treat illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and migraines.

5) Inhibition of HIV

Source: Flickr Commons. HIV

A study conducted with monkeys helped to show that a daily dose of the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, helps to stops the spread of the disease throughout the body.

Source: Flickr Commons. Marijuana Cigar

These are just a few of the benefits that marijuana possess. So if you are on the fence about trying this ‘green bud’, just remember its not as bad as we think it is!


By: Rubeen Sangha

The Return of the Woolly Mammoth?

What if it was possible to bring back the woolly mammoths? Should we do it, or would it be unethical to bring back a species that went extinct thousands of years ago?

From Wikipedia Commons

Woolly mammoths first appeared over 200,000 years ago and are similar to modern elephants but were adapted to the cold environment of the last ice age.

Recently scientists have found a female woolly mammoth that was about 2.5 years old buried in ice in Russia. This specimen was extremely well preserved due to the ice, which is remarkable since it was alive 39,000 years ago. The mammoth that they found still had fur and its internal organs mostly intact, most importantly scientist were able to extract mammoth blood.

The cloning process can only begin if the DNA is found to be useable and undamaged. Also since cloning is a relatively new process, methods would have to be created to do so and if scientists are successful in cloning the mammoth this could revolutionize the field of cloning. Also if it is possible, it could even be used to bring back endangered species.

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The main problem is whether or not we should do it because woolly mammoths had their chance and evolution selected against them. If scientists are successful in cloning the mammoth then that would be the only one of its entire species alive and in an environment that it is hardly even adapted to.

Marfan Syndrome: tissue disorder in tall people

Are you tall, thin, have flexible joints, flat fleet and crowded teeth? You may be a victim of Marfan syndrome. Marfan Syndrome is a genetic tissue disorder that affects the connective tissues of the body, specifically long bones. People with this disorder are born with it but the features are usually present later on. This disorder affects 1 in 5000 people worldwide although not many people are familiar with it, such as myself. An article I came across on this subject caught my attention because I have physical features such as a tall, thin build with flat feet, similar to the symptoms. There is however, many tall people with the physical features of the disorder but are not diagnosed with it, which is most likely my case.

Source: Flickr Commons Author: Michael Dorausch

The tissue disorder is caused by a mutation or defect in the gene that produces fibrillin-1, the protein involved in Marfan syndrome. This defect results in an increase in production of a protein known as transforming growth factor beta (TGF), which initiates defects in the connective tissue of the body. This disorder can affect many areas of the body since connective tissues are found throughout the whole body. Commons areas infected are bones, joints, the heart, blood vessels and the eyes. Because of this, it can be life threatening. Most deaths are cardiovascular related.

This videos goes over some physical signals of Marfan Syndrome:

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An eight grader from Urbana, Illinois was diagnosed with the disorder at six-years-old. At the age of 13, she was just over 5 feet and 10 inches. Luckily for her, she began treatment at a young age to prevent any serious complications. Treatment of this syndrome involves daily intake of beta-blocker medication and an echocardiogram once year. Unfortunately, her father was diagnosed in his late 20’s and after years of strenuous activities such as playing basketball and football, his heart had experienced too much damage to be treated. When undiagnosed and untreated, there is up to 250 times the risk of a tear or rupture of the aorta. The effects of this syndrome are therefore serious and should be better communicated to people in order to be aware of the condition.

So if you know anyone that is young and has any of these features, it might be worthwhile to mention the tissue disorder as it could possibly prevent further damage and save a live.

Jessy Duhra

The Age Old Question: “Why is yawning contagious?”

I am sure at one point or another all of us have yawned while watching someone else yawn. I can guarantee that by the time you finish reading this article you will have yawned at least once. So why is it that every time we see, read or hear someone yawning we are inclined to do so as well? In order to answer this question we have to first learn the science behind yawning.

Source: Google Images

Yawning is an involuntary reflex that is commonly associated with relaxation and fatigue. Physiologically, as our jaw drops there is increased blood flow to our neck, face and brain. The air that is inhaled during the yawn cools the blood, which is then cycled back to the brain. Why does cool air to the brain matter? Well studies have shown that a cooler brain may increase alertness and the ability to process information more efficiently.

Aside from the physiological aspect, yawning has a lot to do with the social environment surrounding us. Studies have shown that yawning is linked to empathy, which is the ability to understand what someone else is feeling and share in their emotion. This is the reason why we are happier when surrounded by people who are happy and why we are sad when surrounded by people who are sad. In the same way scientists have found that by the time we are four or five years old, we begin to recognize contagious yawning and partake in it as an emotional response. Additionally, studies also show that we are more likely to catch a yawn from people that we share a strong bond with, like family and friends, versus strangers. Interestingly enough this same behaviour has also been observed in chimpanzees and dogs. In following video, Michael from Vsauce gives a more in depth explanation on both the physiological and social aspects of yawning, as well as why it may be contagious.

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You may wonder why is research on yawning important? The answer to this question lies in the research being done to improve the behaviour of patients diagnosed with autism. Studies have shown that kids with autism are half as likely to yawn and kids with severe cases may not yawn at all. This is because they cannot form the empathetic link that individuals without autism can. This relationship between autism and yawning can be crucial in understanding and diagnosing a cure for autism.

After doing all the research, it was interesting to find that there are many theories about why yawning is contagious. I found that the wide belief is in consensus with Dr. Adrian Guggisberg’s hypothesis. His hypothesis states that  empathy is the main cause of contagious yawning and that physiological effects can be deemed negligible since they are far too subtle to be conserved throughout evolution. So the next you see someone yawn, know that it is only human nature to do so yourself.

Vishav Gill

Why do we kiss?

The action of two person’s lips touching: Kissing, has been widely accepted as a means of sharing affection. But, why do we touch lips amongst all other body parts?

Image of Max-factor-lips

First of all, to introduce some trivia, an average human being spends 20, 160 minutes of his or her life kissing. Also, the longest kiss recorded was 58 hours 35 minutes and 58 seconds.

A passionate kiss burns about 2-3 calories per minute, and pumps epinephrine and norepinephrine into the blood stream, making your heart pump faster. Kissing more often has also shown positive correlations with cholesterol reductions and perceived stress.

So, why does our brain equate this action of touching lips with someone else as positive? Evolutionists claim that the evolution of our current kiss is derived from “Kiss-Feeding”.

The action of exchanging pre-chewed food from one mouth to another. This action, most often shown in birds feeding their young, is a sign of love and sacrifice.

House Sparrow feeding the young

It wasn’t long ago that humans were feeding their young with pre-chewed food. Until the commercialization of baby foods, pre-chewing and mouth feeding infants were a popular activity amongst parents.

The brain, with years of evolutions, have learned to associate the touching of mouths with themes such as love and care. Eventually, the touching of the mouths has become the norm for expressing your love and affection for one another.

20/20 Vision

Wearing prescription glasses can be an inconvenience. Remember that time when you were cooking and they fogged up? Or that time it was raining outside and you forgot an umbrella?

Wet Eyeglasses
Source: Gravity of the Situation WordPress

There are several reasons why people choose to look into other alternatives. Among the alternatives, contact lens and laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery are popular choices.

Inserting Contact Lens
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Corrective Lenses
Unlike eyeglasses, corrective lens don’t interfere with daily activities and give an unobstructed view. Although corrective lens provide temporary 20/20 vision, opthamologists advise against wearing them for extended periods of time. Corneal damage can result from long-term use as well as improper cleaning. In fact, researchers at the Oregan Health & Science University found that long-term contact lens users, who wore contacts daily for 15 years, suffered a higher rate of vision loss than those who opted for laser eye surgery.

LASIK Procedure
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Laser Eye Surgery
LASIK is a surgical procedure where the cornea is reshaped. A microkeratome is used to create a flap in the cornea so a laser is used to reshape the underlying cornea. The cornea is reshaped to allow light to be focused on the retina for better vision, thereby correcting the patient’s vision.

After undergoing the LASIK procedure, successfully, patients are thrilled with their 20/20 vision. Patients are able to see naturally, and not worry about eyeglasses obstructing their view or having to insert their contacts. Although this procedure seems miraculous, there are many risks. There is the possibility of regression, which is when the patient’s eyesight worsens, difficulty seeing clearly in the dark, dry eye symptoms, and loss of vision. In that regard, it is critical that prospective patients be cautious and do their research. They should see if they’re good candidates for the surgery and they should research the best ophthalmologist to carry out the procedure.

This video outlines the LASIK procedure.YouTube Preview Image

As someone who has undergone the LASIK eye surgery procedure, I would definitely recommend it. I definitely had the procedure too young, so I am experiencing some regression. However, if I were to have the surgery again, knowing this, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Having to wake up to a blurry surrounding until I inserted my contacts or put on my glasses, I never realized how much of an inconvenience it was. The other positive thing I would like to note is that the procedure has since saved my parents a lot of money that we would have spent on eyeglasses and contacts.

Hopefully those considering this operation will consider the advantages and disadvantages and be cautious when deciding!

-Vy (Brenda) Nguyen