Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Why Some People React Badly to Marijuana

A jar full of marijuana with two joints in it.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
These days, everyone seems to be touting the benefits of marijuana. Those with anxiety say it helps them to relax. Those with depression say it elevates their mood. Some even say that marijuana relieves the symptoms of PTSD.

But for a small segment of the population, the effects of marijuana are more hellish than anything else. Do a quick search online and you’ll find countless forums on people who have had adverse reactions to it. Some of the most common complaints include terrifying hallucinations, paranoia, dizziness, vomiting, and panic attacks.

So why does marijuana produce euphoria in some and misery in others? Research points to genetics.

A recent study published in Translation Psychiatry identified a variation of the AKT1 gene as being the reason why some are more sensitive to the mind-altering effects of marijuana than others.

Dr. Celia Morgan, lead author of the study, says that while some studies suggest only 1-5% of the marijuana users end up experiencing a psychotic episode, it’s ultimately the ATKT1 gene that makes a person more susceptible to it. 

“We know relatively little about what makes certain people vulnerable to developing psychosis from smoking cannabis but this research suggests one piece in the puzzle might be this genetic difference,” Dr. Morgan stated. “Cannabis and its extracts are being increasingly recognized for their medical uses so this is another reason why it is key to keep trying to find ways of predicting who will experience negative effects from its use.”

However, Dr. Morgan was also quick to note that “much more work is needed” to fully identify what puts a person at risk, as it’s likely to be a large number of genes.

But not everyone believes that genetics are responsible for a bad trip. In fact, most marijuana websites and forums say that ingesting too much or using the wrong strain is the reason why people have bad trips. However, it’s worth noting that these are not medical experts, so take that advice for what you will.

What was your experience with marijuana? Why do you think some people react badly to it? Let me know in the comments below!   

Friday, July 7, 2017

Lab-Grown Meat: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

A piece of meat in a petri dish.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
The idea of lab-grown meat is enough to makes most peoples’ skin crawl. But a lot of the fear and negativity surrounding in vitro meat is due to a lack of understanding on the public’s behalf. If the public were made more aware of the benefits of cultured meat, then perhaps there wouldn’t be such a stigma around it.

Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t any downfalls to lab-grown meat, because there certainly are. However, for now I want to focus on the pros. I’ll touch on the cons later.

Perhaps the biggest case for producing lab-grown meat is how it could reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation of grazing land. According to a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “The farm animal sector is the single largest anthropogenic user of land, contributing to many environmental problems, including global warming and climate change.”

What’s worse is that the global production of meat has more than double since 1970. The good news is that cultured meat could provide the perfect solution to this problem.

According to foodandnutrition.org, “Researchers comparing the production of cultured and conventional meat found that producing 1,000 kilograms of cultured meat involves approximately 7 percent to 45 percent lower energy use, 78 percent to 96 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions, 99 percent lower land use and 82 percent to 96 percent lower water use.”

So what’s the catch, then? Cultured meat is expensivereally expensive.  

In 2013, a researcher by the name of Mark Post actually produced the world’s first burger made from bovine stem cells. It cost over $300,000 to make. So yeah, there’s that.

However, scientists do believe that the cost of producing in vitro meat will decrease as researchers refine the process. In other words, it’s going to take time.

Tell me: would you try lab-grown meat? Do you believe that the government should invest more money into sponsoring this type of agricultural development? 
Google