Soil Degradation and Human Demise

Soil Degradation and Human Demise

Soil Degradation and Human Demise

Soil degradation and retrogression are two regressive evolution processes associated with the loss of equilibrium of stable soil. So we think that soil degradation and human demise are the end results if this kind of soil condition continues. 

Retrogression is primarily due to soil erosion and corresponds to a phenomenon where succession reverts the land to its natural physical state. 

  • Soil is lost due to erosion from wind and water— for example, rivers washing upland or wind blowing dirt away.

Degradation is due to the replacement of primary plant communities by secondary communities. This replacement modifies the humus composition and amount and affects the formation of the soil. 

  • It is directly related to human activity. 

What is Soil?

The definition of soil is “The unconsolidated mineral or organic material on the immediate surface of the Earth that serves as a natural medium for the growth of land plants.” [1].

Soil is one of the world’s most needed resources. We think about animals and this idea of going “plant only” but don’t understand that this might not be the best thing for ourselves and our environment. 

When was the last time, if ever, we thought about soil health? It isn’t something that comes to mind as necessary, even when we think about human survival. Ask yourself what do humans need to survive? Water and food.

Water is found in natural bodies of water, but where do you get food from? Soil is required for plants, animals require plants, and as humans, we need to eat animals and plants. 

The Soil Profile

As soils develop over time, layers (or horizons) form a soil profile. Most soil profiles cover the earth as two main layers—topsoil and subsoil.

Soil horizons are the layers in the soil as you move down the soil profile. A soil profile may have soil horizons that are easy or difficult to distinguish. [2]

Most soils exhibit 3 main horizons:

  • A horizon: humus-rich topsoil where nutrient, organic matter, and biological activity are highest (i.e., most plant roots, earthworms, insects, and micro-organisms are active). The A horizon is usually darker than other horizons because of the organic materials.
  • B horizon: clay-rich subsoil that is often less fertile than the topsoil but holds more moisture. It generally has a lighter color and less biological activity than the A horizon. Texture may be heavier than the A horizon too.
  • C horizon: underlying weathered rock (from which the A and B horizons form).
  • Some soils also have an O horizon, mainly consisting of plant litter accumulated on the soil surface.

The properties of horizons are used to distinguish between soils and determine land-use potential.

What is in the soil we use?

Soil contains air, water, minerals, and plant and animal matter, both living and dead. These soil components fall into two categories. 

  • In the first category are biotic factors—all the living and once-living things in the soil, such as plants and insects. 
  • The second category consists of abiotic factors, including all nonliving things—minerals, water, and air. 

The most common minerals found in soil that support plant growth are phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen gas. Other less common minerals include calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. The biotic and abiotic factors in the soil make up the soil’s composition.

Minerals

The most significant component of soil is its minerals, accounting for about 45% of its volume. The most common ones are phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. While the less common ones are magnesium, calcium, and sulfur. 

Water

Water is the second essential component of soil. It makes up approximately 2% to 50% of the soil volume. It is vital for transporting nutrients to growing plants and soil organisms and facilitating biological and chemical decomposition. Soil water availability is the capacity of a particular soil to hold water available for plant use.

Organic Material 

Organic matter is the next primary component found in soils at levels of approximately 1% to 5%. This matter is derived from dead plants and animals and has a high capacity to hold onto and provide the essential elements and water for plant growth. An organic matter has a tall “plant available” water-holding ability and CEC, which can enhance the growth potential of soils. 

Gas

Gases and air are the following essential component of soil. They make up approximately 2% to 50% of the soil volume. Oxygen is necessary for root and microbe respiration, which helps support plant growth. 

Carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas are also crucial for belowground plant functions like nitrogen-fixing bacteria. If soils remain waterlogged (where gas is displaced by excess water), it can prevent root gas exchange, leading to plant death, a common concern after floods.

Microorganisms

Microorganisms are the final fundamental element of soils. They are present in the ground in high numbers but make up less than 1% of the soil volume. An estimate is that, one thimble full of topsoil hols more than 200,000 microbial organisms.
 
Earthworms and nematodes are the largest organisms found in soil. The smallest are algae, fungi, actinomycetes, and bacteria. Microorganisms are the primary decomposers of raw organic matter. Many decomposers eat up organic matter, water, and air. This is to recycle natural organic matter into humus, rich in plant nutrients [3].

Nutrient Depleted Soil

Nearly 99 percent of the world’s daily calorie intake can be traced back to the soil. The plants and animals we eat require soil to grow. Soil is vital for human survival, yet modern farming and agricultural practices quickly destroy it. 

Worldwide, one-third of the Earth’s soil is at least moderately degraded, and over half of the land used for agriculture has some soil degradation.

Due to intense, mismanaged farming, soil nutrients are declining. 

  • Nitrogen stores have decreased by 42 percent
  • Phosphorus by 27 percent
  • Sulfur by 33 percent. 

Plants require these nutrients for photosynthesis, enzymes, protein synthesis, and more to grow optimally.

As a result of declining soil fertility and selective breeding, the nutritional contents of some fruits, vegetables, and grains have also been compromised. 

  • In a 2004 study using USDA data, 43 garden crops were analyzed to compare nutritional content in 1950 versus 1999. Some nutrients were unchanged, but calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin C were lower in 1999 compared to 1950, ranging from a 6 percent to 38 percent drop [4].

The protein content in corn declined from 30 percent to 50 percent from 1920 to 2001, while the starch content increased [5].

The magnesium content of vegetables and wheat has declined by up to 25 percent. There are trace minerals in vegetable crops. Minerals like manganese, zinc, copper, and nickel, have decreased over the last decades. Toxic minerals like aluminum, lead, and cadmium have increased [6].
 
Grains, soy, and corn are low on the nutrient density scale. Far below organ meats, meat, eggs, dairy, vegetables, and fruits.

Modern Agriculture and Soil

The current agriculture methods produce higher yields but deplete and erode soils. Currently, industrial agriculture is destroying the soil. It is being destroyed at 100 to 1,000 times the rate where it is replenished. It is according to the United Nations estimates. According to their report, we only have 60 years left of harvest in many farming regions.

What contributes to soil degradation and human demise?

Monoculture

Many industrial farms grow one single crop, year after year after year. This kind of practice depletes the soil and contributes to carbon loss and soil erosion. Agricultural farms must include perennial crops, legumes, and forages in rotation. This returns the organic matter in the soil, prevents decay, and replenishes nutrients.
  • For example, legume crop residues can be converted into nitrogen by soil bacteria, reducing the need for synthetic nitrogen-based fertilizers.

Additionally, monocropping can threaten food security. With a single crop species on millions of acres, one disease could potentially wipe out an entire food system.

Synthetic Fertilizers

Instead of using organic fertilizers, including crop rotations, cover crops, and manure, modern farms require massive amounts of synthetic fertilizers to grow crops continually. 

  • Nitrogen-based fertilizer production has increased by 9.5-fold since 1960. Fertilizer production consumes fossil fuels in a very energy-intensive process, with non-negligible environmental consequences. 

Not all the fertilizers applied are used up by the crops. Fifty percent or more of the nitrogen leaches into the environment. Many inorganic fertilizers destroy soil microbes that have roles in soil homeostasis.

  • Ammonia, nitrate, and other nitrogen residues make their way to groundwater, rivers, and eventually, the ocean. They reduce oxygen levels, increase algae growth, and damage or death to aquatic life. 

Tillage-Based Farming

Farms today till fields to remove crop residues, flatten the land, and generally mix up the topsoil. However, tilling reduces microbe populations in the soil, promotes soil erosion, and releases greenhouse gases. Today, 93 percent of the world’s cropland uses tilling-based methods for production.

Herbicides, Pesticides, and Fungicides

Herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides can help increase crop yield. By keeping weeds and harmful organisms under control. The benefits come with costs. And when this problem continues soil degradation and human demise is going to be our future. 
 
Pesticides destroy the microbial populations in the soil too. It can also disrupt honeybee and butterfly populations, impacting pollination.
  • Additionally, pesticide residues make their way into water systems and food. Many health problems have been linked to pesticide exposure, including asthma, neurological issues, and even cancer. 
  • The most well-known herbicide is glyphosate, which is applied to crops for hundreds of millions of pounds each year. Glyphosate has profound environmental and health consequences, covered in this article.

Mismanaged Grazing

Cows and other ruminants have the unique ability to convert grasses and other plants that are inedible for humans into nutrient-dense, edible animal products.
 
Best practices dictate that ruminants should rotate among different fields, allowing sections of grass to rest and regrow
 
But when cows graze on the same land as in many conventional farms, it contributes to soil erosion. It lowers soil carbon reserves. Overgrazing contributed to the loss of about one-fifth of the world’s grasslands

[7].

  • Unfortunately, the importance of ruminant animals has been almost forgotten. Due to rocky terrain, hills, and climate, much of the world’s land isn’t even conducive for growing crops. 
  • In contrast, cows, sheep, and goats can often thrive on these marginal lands. Yet these areas aren’t being fully utilized to raise ruminants for food and to sequester carbon properly. Instead, we have concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFO, where grazing is limited, cows are fed grain residues from an outlying farm.

Unity Between the Human Body and Soil

Our body is from soil and water. Without those 2, there is minimal to no possibility of human life. The quality of soil impacts the quality of our physical, spiritual, and mental selves. 
 
Think about evolution or spirituality – if we stem from one at one point. We were the soil or some component of it, so now we are forever bound to the ground. In that soil, there is life, and from that life, there comes bigger life. Not only does it help in a physical sense but spiritual sense too.
 
When you eat bad food, you feel sick. This sickness manifests physically, mentally, and even spiritually. If you have food poisoning, how do you move? How does it then change your thinking? How does it influence your beliefs? Soil connects to us.
 
We are treating soil like some infinite disposable thing. Now take a look at how some humans treat other humans? How toxic people in power treat people below them.
 
The word human stems from the word “humus” in Latin, which means soil. As translated to “living soil” – as in the ground needed for growth. Less and less nutrient-dense foods can lead to the shunting of human growth and function.
 

To learn more about soil degradation and human demise, watch the full Episode 96 in this video 👇

SHOW NOTES:

00:00 Intro
00:52 Plugs
02:08 Soil Degradation and Human Demise
07:25 What is soil?
09:54 The layers of soil
12:35 The essential life-building blocks in soil
16:43 Nutrient Depleted Soil
20:37 Soil Erosion: Monoculture
21:58 Soil Erosion: Synthetic Fertilizers
24:21 Soil Erosion: Tillage-Based Farming
25:19 Soil Erosion: Herbicides, Pesticides, and Fungicides
27:35 Soil Erosion: Mismanaged Grazing
30:14 Unity Between the Human Body and Soil
35:20 Wrapping up the episode

Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Russian Invasion of Ukraine

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine

In our latest episode, we will be talking about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and their attempts to seize control over this country. 

A Story in History

We all want to know what is the reason behind this attack, so we did a little digging and found out interesting facts regarding Ukraine and Russia’s conflict:

Ukraine

Ukraine is the second-largest country in Europe after Russia. The country also shares boulders with Poland, Slovakia, Hungry, Romania, and Moldova. The government also has a coastline along the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. 

After the Russian Revolution, a Ukrainian national movement for self-determination emerged and was internationally recognized as the Ukrainian People’s Republic on 23 June 1917. 

In 1922 the Ukrainian SSR helped establish the Soviet Union. Ukraine then regained its independence in 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. 

Kiev

Kyiv is said to be the birthplace of Russia. So naturally, Ukraine’s move toward the Western bloc has made the Russian establishment feel betrayed in the name of having a democratic state. 

The national identity and history of Kyiv are more linked to Russia than Turkic states in Central Asia or Baltic states in Eastern Europe. 

In addition to that, Moscow’s ruling establishment feels so emotional because the first Russian state was called Kievan Rus, which was established in Kyiv 12 centuries ago. 

Even the name of Russia originated in the name of this loose confederation of Eastern Slavic, Baltic and Finnic nations. 

Rurik, the founding leader of the Kievan Rus dynasty, has been considered one of the godfathers of the Russian state. Interestingly, Rurik did not have Slavic origins, but he had Viking blood in his veins.

Russian Aggression 

Russia has been aggressive with shifting its borders for the past decade. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the breakdown of the KGB, rumors started circulating. The story was that Russia wanted to regain its lost lands, and this began with Crimea in 2014. 

Crimean Peninsula became a part of post-Soviet Ukraine in 1991, of which Crimea was a part since 1954. In 2014, Russia annexed the peninsula and established two federal subjects there, the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol. 

However, the territories are still internationally recognized as being part of Ukraine. In 2022 Russia again stepped into Ukraine, this time with unknown goals. 

Why did Russia attack Ukraine?

There is much speculation about the rationale for Russian President Vladimir Putin to launch an invasion of Ukraine. No one knows what is going on, and it is hard to tell. We live in the age of the internet and the age of information. 

The problem with that is that there is so much information that it is hard to tell what is correct and false. We know that the U.S. has been involved in Ukrainian politics for many years now. 

Ukraine’s natural resources may be a reason for this Russian invasion

Ukraine has an abundance of some of the most valuable resources. The extraction of natural gas in Ukraine accounted for one-third of the Soviet Union’s total output in the early 1960s. Although largely unexploited, the country also has the second-biggest known gas reserves in Europe, apart from Russia’s gas reserves in Asia. 

Ironically enough, Ukraine depends on gas imports primarily because the USSR began extracting gas on a large scale in Siberia in the 1970s. Germany is also a big consumer of Russia’s natural gas. The country gets 55 percent of its natural gas from Russia, and the bulk of it goes through Ukraine, which earns a transit fee equivalent to $7 billion. 

Much of the gas exploration and production have been transferred to Russia, due to which Ukraine’s resources remain untapped. Presently, Russia supplies 40 percent to 50 percent of Europe’s gas consumption via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline and the Ukrainian network. 

Apart from natural gas, Ukraine is rich in minerals such as iron, coal, titanium, and other non-metallic raw materials. It’s the leading nation for reserves of titanium, iron, and non-metallic raw materials. Many believe that Ukraine’s abundance of minerals could also be one of the probable reasons for this Russian invasion. 

Ores such as iron, titanium, and non-metallic raw materials are some of the country’s major exports, iron ore ($3.36 billion), corn ($4.77 billion), semi-finished iron ($2.55 billion), and seed oils ($3.75 billion). Ukraine was the fifth largest exporter of iron ore in the world in 2019, and in the same year, iron ore was the third most-exported product in the country. 

Lithium and titanium are some of the precious metals on earth today. The Dobra and Donetsk mines were up for grabs, and there has been cut-throat competition between Chinese Chengxin Lithium and Australia-listed European Lithium. Both the companies want a foothold in the European lithium industry. Some estimates indicate that up to 20 percent of the world’s titanium reserves are situated in Ukraine [1]. 

Fear of Ukraine Entering NATO and the E.U.

Relations between Ukraine and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) started in 1992. Ukraine applied to begin a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) in 2008. However, plans for NATO membership were shelved by the country following the 2010 presidential election, where Viktor Yanukovych won. He preferred to keep the country non-aligned with NATO.

Following the Russian military invasion in Ukraine and parliamentary elections in October 2014, the new government prioritized joining NATO. ​​According to polls conducted between 2005 and 2013, Ukrainian public support for NATO membership remained low. However, since the Russo-Ukrainian War and Annexation of Crimea, public support for Ukrainian membership in NATO has risen dramatically. 

Since June 2014, polls showed that about 50% of those asked supported Ukrainian NATO membership. Some 69% of Ukrainians want to join NATO. According to a June 2017 poll by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation, it was compared to 28% support in 2012 when Yanukovych was in power. 

President Putin has made clear that he sees the country’s aspirations to join the group as a threat to Russia’s borders and its sphere of influence. “Ukraine is an inalienable part of our history, culture, and spiritual space. These are our comrades, those dear to us – not only colleagues, friends, and people who once served together but also relatives, people bound by blood, by family ties.” [2].

Putin’s speech from 2/24/2022 mentions how NATO has broken treaties and international law, instead emphasizing the circumstances they interpret as they think necessary. One reference is the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, and the airstrikes lasted from 24 March 1999 to 10 June 1999. 

NATO’s intervention was prompted by Yugoslavia’s bloodshed and ethnic cleansing of Albanians, which drove them into neighboring countries and had the potential to destabilize the region. Then he mentions Iraq, Lybia & Syria. The illegal use of military power against Libya and the distortion of all the U.N. Security Council decisions on Libya. 

Syria is another example of the combat operations conducted by the western coalition in that country without the Syrian government’s approval. He quoted, “In many regions where the United States brought its law and order, this created bloody, non-healing wounds and the curse and international terrorism and extremism.” 

The U.S. Sanctions that they gave to Russia

Banks/Financials

U.S. President Joe Biden announced sanctions on VEB bank and Russia’s military bank, referring to Promsvyazbank, which does defense deals. The Treasury Department said, “All assets under U.S. jurisdiction will be immediately frozen, and U.S. individuals and entities are prohibited from doing business.”

  • According to Russia’s central bank data, total Russian banking foreign assets and liabilities stood at $200.6 billion and $134.5 billion, respectively.

One of the harshest measures would be to disconnect the Russian financial system from SWIFT, which handles international monetary transfers and is used by more than 11,000 financial institutions in over 200 countries.

Individuals

The U.S. imposed sanctions on working directly with individuals based out of Russia. They also imposed sanctions against Russian elites close to Putin.

Energy Corporates & Nord Stream 2

America and the E.U. already have sanctions on Russia’s energy and defense sectors, with state-owned gas company Gazprom, its oil arm Gazpromneft and oil producers Lukoil, Rosneft, and Surgutneftegaz facing various types of curbs on exports/imports and debt-raising.

  • Nord Stream is a system of offshore natural gas pipelines in Europe, running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.

Chips

The White House has told the U.S. chip industry to be ready for new restrictions on exports to Russia if Moscow attacks Ukraine, including potentially blocking Russia’s access to global electronics supplies [3].

Final Thoughts on This Russian Invasion

We don’t want another world war to erupt at this point. The ongoing crisis has left many of us on the edge of our seats. Hopefully, it can still be resolved so that we can all live in peace.

And if you want to watch the full episode on this, click here for more:

TIME STAMPS:

00:00 Intro
00:41 Plugs
01:54 Episode Beginning
06:04 About Ukraine
09:54 Is the birthplace of the Russian Empire in Ukraine?
12:57 When did Russian aggression start?
13:58 Possible reasons why Russia attacked Ukraine
16:39 Ukraine has a lot of natural resources
19:32 Russia’s fears of Ukraine entering NATO and the EU
25:52The Hypocrisy of the West
29:54 The sanctions only affect innocent citizens
36:00 The Financial Sanctions
39:44 Cryptocurrency dragged into war. Is it good or bad?
43:20 The dangers of the government abusing its authority
47:42 Wrapping up the episode

 

 

How Dental Health Affects Overall Health

How Dental Health Affects Overall Health

How Dental Health Affects Overall Health

In this episode, we would like to talk about dental health. Many people don’t know that dental health provides valuable information on someone’s overall health.

Today we know that most chronic illnesses are not down to coincidence, bad luck, or bad genes. Instead, they are the result of constant, silent inflammation in the body and the resulting chronic stress. This kind of inflammation often occurs in the mouth.

It can be found hiding in the tips of inflamed tooth roots, gingival pockets, around implants, in dead teeth, or in the cavities that are left behind whenever a tooth has to be removed.

Although research is constantly revealing new relationships between teeth and the body, doctors and dentists work in two different spheres, our medical care system is structured such that we can’t see the forest for the trees.

Importance of Dental Health

Looking inside someone’s mouth gives clues to their overall health. Did you know that many problems can stem from poor oral health? Good oral health gives a person the ability to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow, and impacts facial expressions to show feelings and emotions.

Just like in other parts of the body, the mouth houses a lot of beneficial bacteria. But remember that the mouth is the initial entry point into the rest of your body and sometimes these bacteria make a home elsewhere where they can cause damage.  Proper oral hygiene keeps these bacteria in stable conditions.

What Contributes to Poor Dental Health

Untreated tooth decay. More than 1 in 4 (26%) adults in the United States have untreated tooth decay. Gum disease. Nearly half (46%) of all adults aged 30 years or older show signs of gum disease; severe gum disease affects about 9% of adults [1].

The main factors that cause oral health are:

  • Poor hygiene
  • Diet high in sugar
    • Sugar changes the acidity in your mouth.
      • There are 2 bacteria, streptococcus mutants, and streptococcus sobrinus. These bacteria feed on sugar and create plaque on your teeth. When you get your teeth cleaned your dentist removes this plaque. If left unchecked this plaque will eat away at your enamel.
      • Sugar also attracts bacteria that eat away at your gums and cause gingivitis and gum disease [2].
  • Alcohol use
    • Alcohol drinks are usually high in sugar like beer, liquor, and mixed drinks. This leads to the breakdown of enamel, long-term tooth decay, and gum disease.
    • Alcohol also decreases the amount of natural saliva that acts as a natural antibacterial agent. 
    • Depending on what alcohol you consume it can stain your teeth. 
    • Normal Saliva PH: 6.2-7.6
  • Smoking 
    • Smoking weakens your body’s infection fighters (your immune system). This makes it harder to fight off a gum infection. Once you have gum damage, smoking also makes it harder for your gums to heal.
      • You have twice the risk for gum disease compared with a nonsmoker.
      • The more cigarettes you smoke, the greater your risk for gum disease.
      • The longer you smoke, the greater your risk for gum disease.
      • Treatments for gum disease may not work as well for people who smoke.

Prevention

  • Proper oral hygiene
  • A well-balanced diet low in free sugars and high in fruit and vegetables, and water as the main drink;
  • Stopping the use of all forms of tobacco, including chewing
  • Reducing alcohol consumption
  • encouraging the use of protective equipment when doing sports.

What Conditions are Linked to Oral Health

Your oral health might contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:

Endocarditis

This infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves (endocardium) typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to certain areas in your heart.

  • The study looked at 94 participants where participant’s portal hygiene, gingivitis, and periodontitis statuses were evaluated. 
  • The authors found that oral hygiene and gingival disease indexes were associated significantly with IE-related bacteremia after toothbrushing.
  • Participants with a mean plaque and calculus scores of 2 or greater were at a 3.78- and 4.43-fold increased risk of developing bacteremia, respectively.
  • The presence of generalized bleeding after toothbrushing was associated with an almost eightfold increase in the risk of developing bacteremia [3]. 

Cardiovascular Disease

 Although the connection is not fully understood, some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.

There are a few theories on why this can occur, according to Harvard: 

  • The bacteria that infect the gums and cause gingivitis and periodontitis also travel to blood vessels elsewhere in the body where they cause blood vessel inflammation and damage; tiny blood clots, heart attack, and stroke may follow.
  • Supporting this idea is the finding of remnants of oral bacteria within atherosclerotic blood vessels far from the mouth.
  • Rather than bacteria causing the problem, it’s the body’s immune response – inflammation – that sets off a cascade of vascular damage throughout the body, including the heart and brain.
  • There may be no direct connection between gum disease and cardiovascular disease; the reason they may occur together is that there is a 3rd factor (such as smoking) that’s a risk factor for both conditions.
  • Other potential “confounders” include poor access to healthcare and lack of exercise – perhaps people without health insurance or who don’t take good care of their overall health are more likely to have poor oral health and heart disease [4].

Pregnancy and birth complications

Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.

  • Nearly 60 to 75% of pregnant women have gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease that occurs when the gums become red and swollen from inflammation that may be aggravated by changing hormones during pregnancy.
  • If gingivitis is not treated, the bone that supports the teeth can be lost, and the gums can become infected. Teeth with little bone support can become loose and may eventually have to be extracted.
  • Periodontitis has also been associated with poor pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth and low birth weight. However, how periodontitis may lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes is not yet fully understood [5].
  • One systematic review looked at periodontal status looked at 22 totaling about 17,00 subjects and concluded that “The present systematic review reported a low but existing association between periodontitis and adverse pregnancy outcomes.” [6].

Pneumonia

Certain bacteria in your mouth can be pulled into your lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.

  • A study looked at over 122,000 participants with no history of pneumonia with a median age of 52.4.
  • The mean systolic blood pressure and fasting glucose were 125.5 mmHg and 96.7 mg/dL. While 49.6% of participants had periodontal disease, 2.7% and 6.0% had five or more dental caries and missing teeth, respectively. 
  • According to the self-reported questionnaires, 45.0% of participants brushed their teeth three times or more per day, and 26.0% replied having professional dental cleaning at least once per year.

It concluded that:

The risk of pneumonia was higher in groups with more dental caries and missing teeth. In contrast, the risk of pneumonia was lower in the frequent tooth brushing group and the regular professional dental cleaning group. 

  • There was no significant difference in the risk of pneumonia between groups with and without periodontal disease. 
  • A number of dental caries and missing teeth, and the frequency of tooth brushing and professional dental cleaning, were associated with the incidence of pneumonia. 
  • The risk of pneumonia was significantly higher in the group with a higher number of dental caries and the group with more missing teeth. 
  • Risks of pneumonia decreased significantly in the frequent tooth brushing group and the regular professional dental cleaning group [7].

Fluoride: Is it the best means of fighting tooth decay?

Fluoride is considered an essential part of dental care. Almost all toothpaste contains it. Roughly 73.0% of the U.S. population with public water access in 2018 received water fortified with fluoride. In Germany, however, no fluoride is added to drinking water—and yet rates of tooth decay have dropped.

Fluoride can store and lock calcium and other minerals in tooth enamel, which sounds like a beautiful, helpful attribute. But just like many things, it also comes with unwanted side effects.

There are ongoing studies linking fluoride to chromosomal changes, bone cancer, and impairments to intelligence, while many other studies declare its innocence of these allegations.

The concept of holistic dentistry is based on avoiding overburdening the body with artificial substances as far as possible. If we eat well and get all the nutrients we need, there is no need for additional fluoride. Saliva’s job is to store minerals in teeth. That is its natural function, and it does not require extra fluoride to get the job done.

Tough Foods Make You Tougher 

Chewing food is easier to digest. But did you know that adequately chewing our food can protect us from infections? Researchers recently discovered this when they took a closer look at what is known as Th17 cells in our mouths.

These cells are part of the immune system and can ward off harmful bacteria to our health while leaving friendly bacteria in peace.

Furthermore, Th17 cells form in the mouth, so the more we chew, the more cells are produced. In addition to this, eating foods with a more rigid consistency, or simply chewing well, ensures a better immune defense in the mouth.

Good Dental Hygiene Practices

Taking care of your oral health may take a lot of effort. However, if you add them to your daily routine and practice them daily, it will not feel like a chore but more of a natural habit. Here’s how you can practice good dental hygiene:

  1. Brush your teeth twice a day
  2. Use mouthwash daily
  3. Floss daily
  4. Drink more water
  5. Eat more crunch fruits and vegetables
  6. See your dentist twice a year

Watch the full episode on this by clicking here:

TIME STAMPS:

0:00 Introduction
1:00 Sponsor Ads
2:15 Cup of Nurses Introduction
4:04 Episode Introduction
6:36 Importance of Dental Health
10:44 Statistics About Gum Disease
13:28 What Contributes To Poor Dental Health
13:39 Sugar changes the acidity in your mouth!
15:42 How Alcohol Affects Dental Health
18:08 How Smoking Affects Dental Health
21:59 How to Prevent Poor Dental Health
22:45 Conditions Linked to Bad Oral Health: Endocarditis
23:23 Study About People with Endocarditis
25:13 Conditions Linked to Bad Oral Health: Cardiovascular Disease
28:24 Conditions Linked to Bad Oral Health: Pregnancy & Birth Complications
31:51 Conditions Linked to Bad Oral Health: Pneumonia
37:36 Fluoride: The best means of fighting tooth decay?
44:13 Tough Foods Make You Tougher

Cannabis as a Treatment For COVID-19?

Cannabis as a Treatment For COVID-19?

Cannabis as a treatment for COVID-19?

For full disclosure, this certainly isn’t to say that smoking marijuana will protect you from COVID-19. It’s not the reason why a person gets COVID either. Generally, it doesn’t have anything to do with cannabis. Regardless of your view on cannabis, the results are intriguing. But can cannabis be used as a treatment for Covid-19?

SARS-CoV-2

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) or the COVID-19 pandemic includes at least 272 million cases worldwide. It has resulted in 5.3 million deaths, and over 600 000 new cases daily as of December 2021. Its crown-like protrusions on its outer surface characterize it. 

SARS-CoV-2 features RNA strands that encode its four main structural proteins. It has a spike, envelope, membrane, nucleocapsid, 16 nonstructural proteins, and several “accessory” proteins. 

These proteins bind to the host cell by recognizing the receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). ACE2 is a homolog of ACE. It then converts angiotensin I to angiotensin 1–9. The ACE2 is distributed mainly in the lung, intestine, heart, and kidney, and alveolar epithelial type II cells are the principal expressing cells. 

ACE2 is also a known receptor for SARS-CoV. The S1 subunit of the SARS-CoV S protein binds with ACE2 to promote the formation of endosomes, which triggers viral fusion activity under low pH [1].

Is it possible to use cannabis as a treatment for COVID-19? 

This study was published in the Journal of Natural products. The Oregon State University (OSU) research shows hemp compounds prevent coronavirus. It shows that it prevents it from entering human cells. 
 
Findings of the study led by Richard van Breemen at OSU found a pair of cannabinoid acids. It binds to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. It is blocking a critical step in the virus’s process to infect people [2]. 
 
The compounds are cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, CBDA, which inhibit the same spike protein
 
This compound is the drug target used in COVID-19 vaccines and antibody therapy. These cannabinoid acids are abundant in hemp and many hemp extracts. But, it doesn’t have any controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana
 
Richard van Breemen demonstrated through research that they were effective against variants of SARS-CoV-2. It also includes variant B.1.1.7. It was first detected in the United Kingdom, and variant B.1.351 was first seen in South Africa.”
 
When researchers created antiviral interventions, any part of the infection and replication cycle is a potential target. It targets the spike protein means cell entry inhibitor. It blocks and shortens infection by preventing virus particles from infecting human cells. In addition to that, binding to spike proteins will prevent the spike from binding to ACE2 enzymes

The Research Method

Van Breemen’s team used affinity selection–mass spectrometric (AS-MS). It is a discovery of natural ligands to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. It ranked these cannabinoid ligands by affinity to the spike protein. As two CBDA and CGBA have the highest relationships and proves to block infection.
 
AS-MS involves incubating an important receptor like the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. This protein with a mixture of possible ligands such as a botanical extract. 
 
The ligand-receptor complexes separate from nonbinding molecules using one of several methods. These are ultrafiltration, size exclusion, or magnetic microbeads. The ultra-high-pressure liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS) was used to characterize the affinity-extracted ligands.
 
“Our earlier research reported on discovering another compound, one from licorice, that binds to the spike protein too,” he said. “However, we did not test that compound, licochalcone A, for activity against the live virus. We need new funding for that.” Licorice is an herb that grows in parts of Europe and Asia.
 
Fun fact: In November 2017, The World Health Organization announced that CBD showed no evidence of abuse or dependence potential in humans. There is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with using pure CBD. 

In January 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its prohibited list, no longer banning its use by athletes.

Cannabis and the Cytokine Storm

One of the main events that occur in patients with COVID-19 is a “cytokine storm.” A cytokine storm is when your body releases pro-inflammatory cytokines, leading to increased inflammation. 

Cytokines are small proteins released by many different cells in the body. This includes those of the immune system, which coordinates the body’s response to infection.

Unfortunately, excessive or uncontrolled levels of cytokines are released in some patients. Similarly, it activates more immune cells, resulting in hyperinflammation. It can seriously harm or even kill the patient.

What happens is COVID patients suffer from lung fibrosis. It is an untreatable condition that leaves lung tissue scarred. This makes it more difficult for them to breathe. 

C.Sativa is a type of cannabis in a cytokine storm study to reduce multiple cytokines and pathways related to inflammation and fibrosis.

Two of the cytokines that C.Sativa facilitated were TNFa and IL-6. These are the main targets when trying to block a COVID-19 cytokine storm.

A 2020 mouse-model study found that CBD, an active cannabinoid compound found in cannabis, the results suggests a potential protective role for CBD during ARDS.

It can extend CBD as part of the treatment of COVID-19 by reducing the cytokine storm, protecting pulmonary tissues, and re-establishing inflammatory homeostasis [3].

How Else Could Cannabis Benefit COVID-19 Patients?

The symptoms of COVID-19 include body aches, sore throat, headaches, and pain. Research shows that Cannabis can help treat these symptoms.
 
In a study in 2018, 2,032 medical cannabis users have examined. These ranging from 21 illnesses treated with Cannabis showed promising results. It has shown significant potential as a pain reliever. Its potency showed its ability to increase serotonin effects, a neurotransmitter that can induce pain relief [4].
 
The endocannabinoid system distributes throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. It is a part of the inflammatory and pain processing. It also plays physiological regulatory roles across every organ system. 
 
This system interacts within its pathways and major endogenous pain pathways. It includes inflammatory, endorphin/enkephalin. THC is 20 times more anti-inflammatory than aspirin. It is also twice as anti-inflammatory as hydrocortisone. It has well-documented analgesic and anti-inflammatory benefits. This includes arthritic and inflammatory conditions.

The CB1 and CB2 Receptors

The CB1 receptor is the most abundant G protein-coupled receptor in the brain. It is also one of the most productive in peripheral and central nervous systems.
 
CB1 receptors connect to the presynaptic peripheral and central nerve terminals. They’re found through the anatomical pain pathways. These receptors are also present in other neurological central and peripheral locations. The CB1 receptor with the “high” felt with some cannabis strains.
 
These receptors are within the peripheral tissues and immune cells. It helps the release cytokines, chemokines, and cell migration, including neutrophils and macrophages. Some are present in the central nervous system. It may also contribute to pain relief by dopamine release modulation.

Anxiety 

For many COVID-19 Patients and patients in general, hospitalization can be stressful. As WHO stated, there aren’t any physical dependencies associated with CBD. They believe that the compound could help reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Besides that, CBD can increase serotonin activity and lower cortisol levels.
 
Reducing these chemicals is helpful for anxiety management as serotonin reduces anxiety. Cortisol is a stress hormone at higher levels in patients with anxiety and depression [5]. In a 2019 Double-blinded placebo trial with CBD. They took 37 18-19 Japanese teenagers with social anxiety disorder.
 
One group (N=17) took 300mg of CBD for four weeks, the other group took a placebo (N=20). The results state that CBD could be a practical option to treat social anxiety.

Watch the full Episode 86 and learn more about how CBD can help Covid by clicking here 👇

TIME STAMPS:

0:00 Introduction
0:52 Sponsor Ads
2:01 Cup of Nurses Introduction
3:35 Episode Introduction
10:29 SARS Cov-2 Update
13:38 Is it possible to use cannabis as a treatment for COVID-19?
14:57 The Research Method by Van Breemen’s Team
21:23 How We Should Deal with C19 Vaccines
24:34 Fun Fact About the Use of CBD
25:08 Cannabis and the Cytokine Storm
31:48 What is C. Sativa? The compound in the Cytokine storm.
33:03 Mouse-Model Study of CBD
33:54 How else could Cannabis benefit COVID-19 Patients?
42:12 The CB1 and CB2 Receptors

 

 

The Science of Blood – Nurse Edition

The Science of Blood – Nurse Edition

The Science of Blood – Nurse Edition

In this episode, we will talk about the science of blood. It is precisely what it comprises, its different types, administer it, and what to watch out for.

What is Blood?

When people think of blood, it’s usually the red liquid that comes out of your cut, or what you see in gore movies. But blood is more than just that. For one it has three different components:

  • Red Blood Cells: 44%
  • White Blood Cells and Platelets: 1%
  • Plasma: 55%

Many people are not familiar with how blood works or what it is even made of. If you are interested in blood or work in this field (blood banks, labs, etc.), this episode will teach you everything you need to know about it. 

Red Blood Cells

Red blood cells are also called erythrocytes, and they account for 44% of your blood. These cells are round, flat, and look like a donut.
 
Hospitals check for red blood cells’ size, shape, and health when a person is in the hospital. It is also the first thing that doctors look into to identify a person’s health condition.

The RBCs have two crucial functions:

  • Takes oxygen from the lungs and delivers it to the rest of the body.
  • Removes carbon dioxide from the body, breathe it out, and returns it to the lungs.
RBC works with the help of hemoglobin, maintaining acid-base balance in the body. The red blood cells can live for 120 days and produce by the bone marrow. After 120 days, the spleen breaks them down, while the liver turns them into amino acids.
 
For RBCs to function they need nutrition to stay healthy. These cells survive and stay healthy with the help of Vitamins B12, B2, B3, folate, and iron.

Anemia

The biggest problem that occurs with irregular red blood cells is anemia. This condition is when the RBC has low oxygenation. It leads to developmental delays in children. In severe cases, anemia leads to heart failure. The most common symptoms of anemia are tachycardia, lethargy, pale skin, and chills.

Common Types of Anemia:

Iron-deficiency Anemia – happens when your body does not have enough iron to produce red blood cells. It is also the most common form of anemia. The most common causes of iron deficiency are when you have:

  • A diet low in iron
  • Sudden blood loss 
  • Menstrual periods
  • Inability to absorb iron from food (ex. post-surgery)

Sickle Cell Anemia – is an inherited disease where the red blood cells look like a half-moon or sickle. This cell does not flow well in the blood vessels and causes blockage in the blood vessels. It can lead to organ damage, pain, and infection. Sickle cells also die after 20 days compared to normal RBC which is 120 days.  

Normocytic anemia – the RBC is normal in shape, but the number produced doesn’t meet the body’s needs. It usually causes long-term conditions in the body like cancer, kidney diseases, or rheumatoid arthritis.

Hemolytic Anemia – is a condition when the RBCs are destroyed even before their lifespan is over. When this happens, the body does not have enough red blood cells to function as your bone marrow cannot meet the demand. 

Fanconi Anemia – is the rarest form of anemia and is an inherited disorder like sickle cell. Anemia like this happens when the bone marrow cannot produce enough blood components. Red blood cells are also part of this blood component. Children born with this condition often develop leukemia [1].

Blood Types

There are eight blood types from the four blood groups. These are A, B, AB, and O. All red blood cells, positive or negative, have Rh factors except Type O.
 
The proteins can elicit an immune response when they contact their corresponding antibody. They stimulate the antibodies in the plasma to defend the body.
 
The antibodies in the blood protect your body from foreign invaders. Blood types have antibodies except for Type AB.
 
Type AB is in the plasma surrounding the RBCs. The recipient’s plasma antibodies must be the opposite of the antigen found on the donor’s red blood cell.

Blood Groups and Types

A blood type: has only A antigens on its surface but B antibodies in the plasma

  • Donates to: A and AB
  • Recipient of: O and A

B blood type: has only B antigens on its surface but A antibodies in the plasma

  • Donates to: B and AB
  • Recipients of: O and B

AB blood type: has both A and B antigens on its surface but NO antibodies in the plasma

  • Donates to: AB
  • Recipient of: O, A, B, and AB
  • UNIVERSAL RECIPIENT

O blood type: has NO antigens on its surface but has A and B antibodies in the plasma

  • Donates to: O, A, B, AB
  • Recipient of: O
  • UNIVERSAL DONOR

Rh Factor

  • These factors are either found on the surface of a red blood cell or not. Either a person has them, or they don’t!
  • If the factors are present on the RBC, the person is Rh POSITIVE. If the elements are absent on the RBC, the person is Rh NEGATIVE.
  • Example: A+ (has factors present) or A- (no factors present)
  • IMPORTANT! If a patient is Rh-positive, they can receive either Rh+ or RH- blood. On the other hand, if a patient is Rh-negative, they can only receive Rh- blood.
The same RBC antigen and antibody cause an immune response called agglutination. This is when RBCs stick together and the donor’s red blood cells will lysis. When this happens, a reaction called hemolytic transfusion occurs. A donor’s RBC is then compared to the patient’s antibodies.

White Blood cells and Platelets

White blood cells account for 1% of your total blood. The main difference between leukocytes and RBCs or platelets is that they have a nucleus. White blood cells are responsible for your immunity.
 
You’d think there would be more than 1% of total blood for such an important role. There are also different types of blood cells with extra responsibilities [2].

Types of White Blood Cells

There are five main types of leukocytes.

  1. Neutrophils
    1. 62% of leukocytes are neutrophils. They are responsible for fighting off bacteria and fungi.
    2. They live for about 6hrs – to a few days.
  2. Lymphocytes
    1. 30% of leukocytes are lymphocytes. There are different types of lymphocytes.
      1. B cells: responsible for antibodies and activating T cells.
      2. T cells: are made in the thymus 
        1. Cytotoxic T cells: destroy infected cells (viral or cancer) through the use of granule sacs that contain digestive enzymes.
        2. Helper T cells: activate T cells, macrophages, and B cells.
        3. Regulatory T cells:  suppress the actions of B and T cells to decrease the immune response.
        4. Memory T cells protect against previously encountered antigens and provide lifetime protection against some pathogens.
        5. Natural Killer T cells: destroy infected or cancerous cells and attack cells that do not contain molecular markers that identify them as body cells.
  3. Monocytes
    1. 5.5% of leukocytes are monocytes.
      1. It is made in the bone marrow and travels through the blood to tissues in the body, where it becomes a macrophage or a dendritic cell. Macrophages surround and kill microorganisms, ingest foreign material, remove dead cells, and boost immune responses.
      2. During inflammation, dendritic cells stimulate immune responses by showing antigens on their surface to other immune system cells.
      3. A monocyte is a type of white blood cell and a type of phagocyte.
  4. Eosinophils
    1. 2% of all leukocytes are eosinophils. They are responsible for fighting off larger parasites and are part of the allergic inflammatory response. 
    2. They live for about 8-12 days.
  5. Basophils
    1. 0.5% of leukocytes are basophils. They are responsible for histamine release during inflammation. 

Platelets

Platelets are thrombocytes produced by the bone marrow. They are responsible for coagulation which is crucial to wound healing. If one of your blood vessels gets damaged, it signals platelets. The platelets then rush to the site of damage and form a plug, or clot, to repair the damage  [3].

  • An average platelet count is 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood.
  • The risk for bleeding develops if a platelet count falls below 10,000 to 20,000.
    • Thrombocytopenia: IIs a condition when your bone marrow makes too few platelets, or your platelets are destroyed. If the platelet count gets too low, bleeding can occur under the skin. This is seen as bruising, inside the body as internal bleeding, or outside the body through a cut that won’t stop bleeding or from a nosebleed. Thrombocytopenia can be caused by many conditions, including several medications, cancer, kidney disease, pregnancy, infections, and an abnormal immune system.

Some people make too many platelets and can have platelet counts from 500,000 to more than 1 million.

  • Thrombocythemia – is a condition when the bone marrow makes too many platelets. The symptoms can include blood clots that form and block the blood supply to the brain or the heart. However, the cause of thrombocythemia is unknown.
  • Thrombocytosis –  is a condition caused by too many platelets. But platelet counts do not get as high as thrombocythemia. It is also more common and is not caused by the abnormal bone marrow. It is often caused by another disease in the body that stimulates the bone marrow to make more platelets. Those affected with thrombocytosis often have cancer, infections, inflammation, and reactions to medications. The symptoms of thrombocytosis are not usually severe, and the platelet count becomes normal again once the underlying condition becomes better. 

Plasma

Plasma makes up 55% of the total blood volume. It contains water, protein, glucose, clotting factors, hormones, electrolytes, carbon dioxide, and oxygen. Generally, it carries nutrients, hormones, and proteins to different parts of the body. It also carries the waste products of cell metabolism away from tissues. Other than that, plasma is also the vehicle for blood cells to the blood vessels [4].

In addition, plasma is the vehicle for transporting blood cells through the blood vessels.

  • Coagulation – many essential proteins, such as fibrinogen, thrombin, and factor X, are present in plasma and play a vital role in the clotting process to stop a person from bleeding.
  • Immunity – blood plasma contains disease-fighting proteins, such as antibodies and immunoglobulins, which play a crucial role in the immune system by fighting pathogens.
  • Blood pressure and volume maintenance – a protein present in plasma called albumin helps maintain the oncotic pressure. This pressure prevents fluid from leaking into the body and skin where less water is present. It also helps ensure blood flow through blood vessels.
  • pH balance – substances present in blood plasma act as buffers, allowing plasma to maintain a pH within normal ranges, which helps to support cell function.
  • Transportation – plasma transports nutrients, electrolytes, hormones, and other essential substances all over the body. It also helps to remove waste products by transporting them to the liver, lungs, kidneys, or skin.
  • Body temperature – plasma helps maintain body temperature by balancing heat loss and heat gain in the body.

Blood Product Administration

Nurses should always follow the best standard practices when administering blood transfusions. They must also follow the standard policies and procedures of the healthcare facility.[5]

Blood transfusion consent, blood typing, and cross-matching are all needed before administering blood. But these are not required if the situation is an emergency. Checking blood products against the order and using two patient identifiers is critical. Blood must be given to patients within 30 minutes after being taken from the blood bank.

  • The patient and family members are informed about the procedure including what to expect during and after it is done.
  • Before administration, two licensed personnel must verify the correct blood product and patient. 
  • Blood products need a dedicated line for infusion and filtered intravenous tubing. Normal saline flushes the intravenous line, with no other solutions or medications. 
  • Need to take vital signs before initiating the transfusion. The nurse stays with the patient for the first 15 minutes of the transfusion. This is done to check for any immediate reaction. 
  • Vital signs are monitored for 15 minutes once the transfusion starts. It’s monitored during, after and one hour after the transfusion is complete.

Blood transfusion can create adverse reactions in the patient. The signs and symptoms of blood transfusion reactions for hemolytic and non-hemolytic reactions include:

  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Hematuria
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Pruritus
  • Rash or hives
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory difficulties (common for non-hemolytic reactions)
The symptoms mentioned above, plus hypotension, bleeding, and oliguria shows hemolytic reactions. Blood transfusion should stop immediately but keep an IV line open for normal saline.
Patients are monitored by the healthcare provider and physicians must be noted immediately. The remaining blood products and tubing are then taken to the laboratory to be tested.

Want more blood? Click here 👇 to watch the full Episode 81:

SHOW NOTES:

0:00 Introduction
3:16 Episode Introduction
5:12 Red Blood Cells
11:20 Common Types of Anemia
19:50 Blood Types
26:45 Types of White Blood Cells
36:24 Platelets
47:00 Plasma
53:01 Blood Product Administration