Hubble Captures Dynamic Dying Star

This Hubble image shows a dark, gloomy scene in the constellation of Gemini (the Twins). The subject of this image confused astronomers when it was first studied — rather than being classified as a single object, it was instead recorded as two objects, owing to its symmetrical lobed structure. via NASA

Recipe: Hydrating CBD Smoothie

Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your body. From brighter skin to improved brain function, even weight control, it’s obvious we need adequate fluids to maintain our health. Sometimes, you need more than just water, which is why electrolytes are so important.

Here’s a hydrating smoothie recipe I created to help your body keep doing what it needs to do. I’ve boosted it with hydrating vegetables such as cucumbers, and added electrolyte-rich fruits and coconut water to keep it cool and refreshing. The addition of CBD is like the icing on a healthy cake. 

Makes 1 smoothie

  • 1/2 cup cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1 banana, ripe and frozen
  • 1/2 an avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 1 medium lime, juiced (approximately 2 tablespoons of juice) 
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 personal serving of CBD
  • Ice (optional) 

Add all the ingredients, blend and enjoy.

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Wildfires in the Brazilian Rainforest Creating Cross Country Smoke

Amazon rainforest fires causing smoke to drift across the whole of Brazil. via NASA

Nearby Spiral Galaxy NGC 4945

Large spiral galaxy NGC 4945 is seen edge-on near the center of this cosmic galaxy portrait. In fact, it's almost the size of our Milky Way Galaxy. NGC 4945's own dusty disk, young blue star clusters, and pink star forming regions standout in the sharp, colorful telescopic image. About 13 million light-years distant toward the expansive southern constellation Centaurus, NGC 4945 is only about six times farther away than Andromeda, the nearest large spiral galaxy to the Milky Way. Though this galaxy's central region is largely hidden from view for optical telescopes, X-ray and infrared observations indicate significant high energy emission and star formation in the core of NGC 4945. Its obscured but active nucleus qualifies the gorgeous island universe as a Seyfert galaxy and home to a central supermassive black hole. via NASA

A View of the National Space Council

A member of the audience takes a picture with their phone as Vice President Mike Pence is introduced during the sixth meeting of the National Space Council. via NASA

The Orion You Can Almost See

Do you recognize this constellation? Although it is one of the most recognizable star groupings on the sky, this is a more full Orion than you can see -- an Orion only revealed with long exposure digital camera imaging and post-processing. Here the cool red giant Betelgeuse takes on a strong orange tint as the brightest star at the lower left. Orion's hot blue stars are numerous, with supergiant Rigel balancing Betelgeuse on the upper right, and Bellatrix at the upper left. Lined up in Orion's belt are three stars all about 1,500 light-years away, born from the constellation's well-studied interstellar clouds. To the right of Orion's belt is a bright but fuzzy patch that might also look familiar -- the stellar nursery known as Orion's Nebula. Finally, just barely visible to the unaided eye but quite striking here is Barnard's Loop -- a huge gaseous emission nebula surrounding Orion's Belt and Nebula discovered over 100 years ago by the pioneering Orion photographer E. E. Barnard. via NASA

SpaceX Dragon Crew Emergency Evacuation Rehearsal

A quick moving storm passes as teams from NASA and SpaceX practice procedures for medical emergency evacuation onboard the GO Searcher ship, Friday, August 15, 2019. via NASA

Synthetic CBD Can Be Dangerous—How to Tell if You’re Buying the Real Thing

With the explosion of products containing hemp-derived CBD in the last few years, many less-than-honest players found ways to flood the market with “CBD oil” that is a modern-day equivalent of snake oil—not necessarily dangerous but definitely ineffective. In some cases, a bottle labeled as CBD oil is just a few crushed vitamins and supplements mixed with olive oil

It seems impossible but there are some companies out there selling CBD oil, promising improved health, less pain and the myriad other claims they make, that is actually synthetic CBD oil—no different from the potentially lethal forms of synthetic cannabis sold on the street. 

In November 2018, Consumer Reports (CR) published an article about dangerous chemicals found in popular over-the-counter (OTC) CBD products. Based on testing conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University, CR reported that Diamond CBD, with locations in England and the U.S., sells CBD products made by three popular companies over the Internet that contain a compound called 5F-ADB, which is a synthetic form of cannabis also found in K2 and Spice

Drug Overdoses in the U.S. 

The Centers for Disease Control tracked all fatal drug overdoses from 1999 to 2017, and in that time it reported a four-fold increase in ODs. In addition to tracking the number of deaths due to overdose, the CDC keeps tabs on which drugs are responsible for them. Unheard of in 1999, overdoses from synthetic cannabis—both marijuana and CBD—is now keeping pace with ODs from benzos and opioids. Stories abound of swaths of peoplemost between the ages of 12 and 30being rushed to emergency rooms, suspected of overdosing on synthetic cannabis.

Mainstream media began reporting more widely about the increase of synthetic cannabis use in 2015, with an uptick between late 2017 and mid-2018 as usage really took off. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says synthetic cannabis use dates back to 2008. In fact, it claims 11,406 visits to emergency rooms in the U.S. during 2012 were the result of synthetic cannabis.

What Is Synthetic Cannabis?

Synthetic cannabinoids are created in a lab and bear no chemical resemblance to the cannabis plant. It’s a group of chemical substances that are supposed to mimic the effects of the natural cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. These synthetic products have been cleverly marketed as safe or harmless products, or even as safer alternatives to real cannabis. 

No two types of synthetic cannabis are the same, and in most cases the chemical makeup is unknown. It’s estimated there are hundreds of compounds that can potentially go into creating these synthetic products. To the untrained eye, it’s easy to see how someone could be fooled into believing a synthetic is the real deal. 

Synthetic cannabis is generally a mixture of different plants, spray painted green. Four telltale signs that your cannabis is fake include:

  1. The package has what looks like ground-up plant material rather than cannabis buds.
  2. You’ll notice a chemical smell. Cannabis—regardless of the strain—has a distinct smell and it smells like something you’d find in nature.
  3. Real cannabis has a stickiness to it, thanks to naturally occurring resin. After handling the fake stuff, your fingers won’t be sticky. 
  4. Synthetic cannabis is one or two shades of green. Conversely, natural cannabis is green with hints of yellow, red, orange, blue and purple. 

What Are the Risks Involved with Synthetic Cannabis?

Although the goal is to have these chemical substances mimic the effects of cannabis, the synthetic versions are highly dangerous and can cause many serious health issues. Because the list of possible chemicals can vary from one street-level manufacturer to another, the risks also vary and are ever-changing. Some health risks include: 

  • Severe anxiety, agitation and paranoia
  • Tachycardia (in excess of 100 beats per minute)
  • Hypertension
  • Muscle spasms and tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe bleeding due to blood not clotting
  • Poor coordination/gait
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Psychosis
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Coma
  • Death

In addition to being sold in “flower form,” synthetic versions of cannabis are also sold as e-cigarettes and extracts for vaping, such as waxes and oils. 

Common Names for Synthetic Cannabis

You’re probably familiar with the names K2 and Spice, but there are other names for synthetic cannabis, and they may vary depending on the region. In some cases the street name may be the same or very similar to real cannabis strains:

  • 24k monkey
  • Ace of Spades
  • Amsterdam Gold
  • Atomic Blast
  • Atomic Bomb
  • Berry Blend
  • Big Bang
  • Herbal Incense
  • Blue Berry Yum Yum
  • BrainFreeze
  • Buzz Haze
  • California Dreams
  • Cowboy Kush
  • Cobra King Kush
  • One Love
  • Orange Kush
  • Pandora’s Box
  • PEP Spice
  • OG
  • Potpurri (sic)
  • Purple Diesel
  • Purple Haze

Synthetic Cannabis: Just Say No

If you’re concerned about synthetic CBD, check out the below tips before making a purchase. As always, consult your doctor before introducing CBD to your wellness routine. 

Buy from a Dispensary 

The safest way to ensure you’re getting real cannabis is to buy from a dispensary. Dispensaries are required by law to sell extracts derived from cannabis plants. Dispensaries can lose their license to sell cannabis and face huge fines if caught. Manufacturers caught making extracts with anything other than cannabis are subject to prison time—even if no one was harmed. 

Request the Product Lab Report

No matter where you purchase CBD, you have the right to request a lab report. If the company is unwilling to provide one or insists the information is proprietary, that’s a big red flag.

If you or someone you are with has consumed synthetic CBD, don’t wait for symptoms to appear before seeking medical attention. 

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Animation: Spiral Disk around a Black Hole

What would it look like to orbit a black hole? Many black holes are surrounded by swirling pools of gas known as accretion disks. These disks can be extremely hot, and much of the orbiting gas will eventually fall through the black hole's event horizon -- where it will never been seen again. The featured animation is an artist's rendering of the curious disk spiraling around the supermassive black hole at the center of spiral galaxy NGC 3147. Gas at the inner edge of this disk is so close to the black hole that it moves unusually fast -- at 10 percent of the speed of light. Gas this fast shows relativistic beaming, making the side of the disk heading toward us appear significantly brighter than the side moving away. The animation is based on images of NGC 3147 made recently with the Hubble Space Telescope. via NASA

3D Printing and the Future of Aeronautics

Today is National Aviation Day and progress is ongoing in the next evolution of air mobility – all thanks to emerging 3D printing technology. via NASA

How CBD Changed My Life

Can CBD Treat Anxiety?

When faced with a stressful situation, our bodies respond by releasing a flood of stress hormones. These hormones produce a set of well-orchestrated physiological changes designed to help us cope with perceived threats to our safety and welfare.

Although we don’t normally think of fight-or-flight as a positive response, it’s a vital evolutionary adaptation for self-preservation, which helps us survive, make better choices and be motivated to act.

But the problem is that we’re now living in urban jungles, not wild ones. The threat of being eaten by a wild predator is pretty low. Yet many of us continue to experience a continued fight-or-flight response with persistent feelings of anxiety that can lead to anxiety-related disorders.

Anxiety Disorders and Treatments in the U.S.

In the U.S., an estimated 18 percent of people ages 18 and older, suffer from anxiety-related disorders. That’s roughly 40 million people.

For many, managing this anxiety means taking a cocktail of pharmaceuticals, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac and Zoloft, and tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax.

Although these drugs can be effective for many, not everyone has a good experience using them. For many patients, the range of debilitating side effects are often worse than the actual anxiety; others simply don’t see much improvement at all. In addition, especially in the case of tranquilizers that fall in the benzodiazepine class of drugs, these medications can be highly addictive, causing a secondary set of problems for many of these patients.

No wonder that many people suffering from anxiety disorders are looking for non-addictive, effective and more natural alternatives such as cannabidiol (CBD).

Cannabidiol for Treating Anxiety

A growing body of anecdotal evidence exists for using CBD to treat symptoms of anxiety and stress. The internet is full of reviews and comments along the lines of, “CBD helps me manage my anxiety” and, “Since using CBD I’m less stressed and anxious.”

However, there is also a growing body of evidence in scientific literature that suggests CBD does show promise as an anxiolytic, the scientific name for any compound that has anti-anxiety properties. 

For example, in a 2015 study, researchers reviewed 49 primary preclinical, clinical, and epidemiological studies to assess CBD’s potential as a treatment for anxiety-related disorders. They found that the data supported the notion that CBD is a potentially powerful anti-anxiety treatment when administered as needed—especially for the following conditions:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
  • Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

How CBD Works

To date, most of the research dealing with CBD for anxiety is based on pre-clinical and animal studies. However, an increasing body of data describing the anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects of CBD in humans is starting to emerge, giving scientists insight into how CBD might help people suffering from anxiety disorders. 

Scientists theorize that the anti-anxiety effects of CBD is due to:

  1. the way it interacts with the neurobiology of the brain
  2. the way it affects serotonin levels
  3. because it may have the ability to help regenerate neurons in areas of the brain often associated with anxiety and mood

Neurobiological Interaction

One way scientists believe CBD can help with anxiety is how it interacts with the limbic and paralimbic brain areas—the areas of the brain which are thought to be associated with mood and emotional processing. 

A small double-blind study of 10 participants suffering from social anxiety disorder (SAD) tested this theory by using single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) imaging that measures regional cerebral blood flow patterns in the brain. They found that, after the administration of a single 400 mg dose of orally administered CBD, participants reported a marked reduction in feelings of anxiety. Moreover, the SPECT imaging confirmed their hypothesis showing that the anxiolytic effects of CBD is associated with changes in the functional activity of brain areas implicated in the processing of anxiety.

A similar study looked at how participants with SAD performed in a simulated public speaking scenario after being given CBD. As in the other study, participants also reported reduced feelings of anxiety, and objective anxiety measures such as heart rate and blood pressure confirmed this. They concluded that CBD has the ability to significantly reduce anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort.

Serotonin Interaction

Scientists believe that the neurotransmitter serotonin is one of the major players in mood disorders. This is why medications called serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac and Zoloft are believed to help reduce feelings of anxiety. 

SSRI’s work by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, in turn increasing its availability in the synaptic space. This helps brain cells transmit more of the serotonin signals that reduce anxiety and boost mood.

In an animal study, researchers found that CBD boosts serotonin signaling via the same 5-HT1A subtype of the serotonin receptor that SSRI’s target. What’s more, they even found that CBD may affect serotonin faster than SSRI’s. “The fast onset of antidepressant action of CBD and the simultaneous anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect would solve some of the main limitations of current antidepressant therapies,” according to the study.

Hippocampal Neurogenesis

The limbic system, which includes the hippocampus, is thought to play a vital role in emotional processing and mood. Brain scans of patients suffering from anxiety often show that they have a smaller hippocampus, and the severity of the symptoms relating to the severity and duration of the disorder. 

Successful treatment of anxiety disorders is often associated with the birth of new neurons (neurogenesis) in the hippocampus. And because of its similarities with SSRI’s, CBD also shows the potential of helping to regenerate neurons in the hippocampus, which leads some scientists to believe this could be one of the mechanisms in which it can help treat anxiety disorders.

How to Use CBD for Anxiety

Because CBD can have some contraindication and doesn’t interact well with certain medications such as certain anti-epileptics and blood thinners, it isn’t a good choice for some. That is why, before using CBD for anxiety, it’s important to speak to your treating physician first.

It’s also important to use a high-quality product and figure out your personal ideal serving size. A study conducted in the ’90s found that servings starting at around 2.5 and going up to 5 and even 10 mg per kilogram of weight significantly increased the anxiolytic effect of CBD. However, CBD at a dose of 20 mg per kilogram was no longer effective, which means that more is not necessarily more. Using a CBD dosage calculator such as this one from ID Weeds or CBD Oil Users can help you figure out the right serving size for you.

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Supplement Fatigue? These Are the 4 Dailies You Should Know About

No question: CBD is the No. 1 supplement that I recommend in my practice. But it’s certainly not the only one. As a dietitian, my ultimate goal is for my clients to meet all their nutritional needs through food. It’s not always possible, so once we’ve optimized their diet—think lean protein, tons of greens, healthy fats and indulgences when needed—I also like to give them additional support with supplements.

I’ve learned both personally and professionally that too many supplements (pills, powders, tinctures, etc.) will lead to a cupboard of unused products.I’m very deliberate with my suggestions because otherwise it’s overwhelming. I’ve narrowed my list down to four favorite natural supplements. 

1. CBD

My top choice is CBD. I’ve found that most of my clients have positive experiences with a CBD supplement in the morning or evening. I only recommend a full-spectrum, organically grown product. 

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is another supplement I recommend often. This super cool vitamin has been linked to a boosted immune system, healthier bones and even increased brain health. 

Vitamin D is often fortified (meaning added to) certain foods such as milk. It’s also found in egg yolks, canned fish or even through sun exposure. But between the limited food choices and the challenge with getting enough healthy sun exposure (always wear sunscreen!), it’s hard to meet those needs. That’s why I recommend my clients supplement with vitamin D. 

3. Magnesium

I like to think of magnesium as my secret weapon. This awesome mineral does so much for our bodies yet so many people don’t get enough. 

Magnesium is a well-known natural relaxant. It helps calm your mind, relax your muscles and can help with digestive woes. It’s found in bananas, spinach and even chocolate. But, even with those with incredibly healthy diets, I still find that magnesium before bed can be incredibly beneficial. 

4. Probiotic

Last but certainly not least is a probiotic. It seems strange to add bacteria to our bodies, but the truth is that our gut is filled with bacteria. We want to have more “good” bacteria than bad.

Research shows that over 70 percent of your immune system is based out of your gut, so it’s a big enough reason to keep it as healthy as possible. Taking a probiotic doesn’t replace eating foods that are good for your gut, so I still ask my clients to eat good quality yogurts or kefir, kimchi or kombucha.

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5 Industry Insights on the Future of CBD

The CBD category boom has left a wide range of industry experts curious as to the future of business sectors that CBD has the potential to disrupt. Recently, Marijuana Business Daily Magazine debuted the Hemp Industry Daily Conference alongside its annual MJBizCon NEXT, both held in New Orleans from June 12-14, 2019.

Although the Hemp Industry Daily Conference sessions focused specifically on the hemp and CBD industries, MJBizCon NEXT 2019 also offered valuable insights into the fast-growing CBD sector. These insights primarily target business owners and industry professionals, but they also offer CBD consumers a glimpse into where the market, regulations and products are heading.

1. CBD industry growth has surged faster than regulators can keep up with.

The 2018 Farm Bill reclassified hemp as an agricultural product from its previous status as a Schedule I controlled substance alongside other cannabis genus plants. However, according to Michael Bronstein, president of the American Trade Association for Cannabis & Hemp, in his lecture session “Where Are We Now? The Hemp Legal Landscape,” the 2018 Farm Bill did not “legalize” hemp so much as it legalized the regulation of hemp.

This means states can now submit regulatory plans for approval to the federal government to create the framework under which CBD and hemp businesses can legally operate. But the industry and government still have catching up to do to better regulate new and existing CBD products and businesses as the sector continues to boom.

In one major step forward, the FDA held its first-ever public hearing on CBD products on May 31, 2019. There, industry experts, business owners, and CBD users came forth with their research, opinions and case studies. Attendees and FDA regulators discussed why certain regulations regarding CBD should or shouldn’t be put into place as this new regulatory framework takes shape.

2. The industry needs increased more accurate CBD testing and labeling.

Per federal regulations, hemp and its byproducts, including hemp-derived CBD, sold in the U.S. market cannot contain a THC percentage beyond .3 percent. But without proper regulations in place, CBD business owners have struggled with certain ancillary business needs, such as banking and product testing.

Lack of adequate product testing means that products have been flooding the market, but the label claims don’t always match the chemical makeup of the product itself. Although some mislabeling could be mistakes or careless errors, others could be more intentional. And, bottom line, all have the potential to be harmful to consumers if they are unaware of the quantity or quality of CBD and THC in these products.

3. Hemp laws still vary by state, which can impact CBD sales and regulations.

The 2018 Farm Bill paved the way for states to develop their own regulatory framework for hemp-derived CBD production and distribution. But this also leaves business owners and consumers to deal with a patchwork of regulations.

In other words, in one state, CBD regulations may amount to little more than lax enforcement of the federal rules currently in place. One state over, however, CBD retailers may face police raids and seizures of product even though their businesses operate legally by federal guidelines.

Throughout the conference, industry experts voiced concerns that this sort of state-by-state patchwork regulatory system could cause complications for interstate commerce on the business end. As for consumers, patchwork regulations could impact CBD consumption when traveling between states, as one Disney World visitor recently learned the hard way.

4. CBD will impact a wide range of industries, likely inspiring major corporations to jump onboard.

As regulators hammer out legal frameworks, more businesses are joining the CBD push—including major corporations in the food and beverage and consumer packaged goods spaces. Ben & Jerry’s has already announced its intention to develop a CBD ice cream, and retailers Kroger and CVS have announced they will carry CBD products in their stores in select states.

Fear that the industry will “sell out” is a common reaction to corporations joining the CBD movement. But on the positive side, involvement from major companies can bring a host of other benefits to this still fledgling industry:

  • Easier and increasingly wide-ranging access to CBD products at retail, both brick-and-mortar and online
  • Potentially more cost-effective alternatives, if mass-produced in existing corporate facilities
  • An influx of research and development capital into the industry, particularly for startups and corporate incubators
  • Increased lobbying influence for state and federal government agencies

As larger companies join the fray, the CBD industry continues to see new problems and solutions arise, while regulators—and consumers—work to keep up.

5. CBD has potential as an alternative treatment option to substance abuse and addiction, including opiates.

Opiates remain a common treatment option for individuals suffering from chronic pain and other ailments, but opiates have also become the leading driver of drug overdoses in the U.S. This has left survivors, victims, their loved ones and caretakers desperate for solutions to this potentially life-threatening addiction.

Born from this need for an alternative, many CBD-related success stories stem from individuals who experimented with and improved their quality of life by replacing opiates and other habit-forming medications with CBD products. Many CBD small business owners perusing the conference’s showfloor attended to gather the data and industry connections they needed to bring their products to market.

The first annual Hemp Industry Daily Conference united CBD industry enthusiasts from around the globe and brought forth an exciting array of industry insights to see CBD well into its bright new future.

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Hubble’s Portrait of Star’s Gaseous Glow

Although it looks more like an entity seen through a microscope than a telescope, this rounded object, named NGC 2022, is certainly not algae or tiny, blobby jellyfish. Instead, it is a vast orb of gas in space, cast off by an aging star. via NASA

The Elephant s Trunk Nebula in Cepheus

Like an illustration in a galactic Just So Story, the Elephant's Trunk Nebula winds through the emission nebula and young star cluster complex IC 1396, in the high and far off constellation of Cepheus. Also known as vdB 142, the cosmic elephant's trunk is over 20 light-years long. This colorful close-up view was recorded through narrow band filters that transmit the light from ionized hydrogen, sulfur, and oxygen atoms in the region. The resulting composite highlights the bright swept-back ridges that outline pockets of cool interstellar dust and gas. Such embedded, dark, tendril-shaped clouds contain the raw material for star formation and hide protostars within. Nearly 3,000 light-years distant, the relatively faint IC 1396 complex covers a large region on the sky, spanning over 5 degrees. The dramatic scene spans a 1 degree wide field, about the size of 2 Full Moons. via NASA

NASA and SpaceX: Dragon Crew Extraction Rehearsal

On August 13, 2019, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley, left, and Bob Behnken continue to work with teams from NASA and SpaceX to rehearse crew extraction from SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. via NASA

Studying How Arctic Wildfires Change the World

Standing among dead black spruce trees in a burned area near Delta Junction, Richard Chen dug soil sampling pits throughout the burned area. via NASA

Saturn Behind the Moon

What's that next to the Moon? Saturn. In its monthly trip around the Earth -- and hence Earth's sky -- our Moon passed nearly in front of Sun-orbiting Saturn earlier this week. Actually the Moon passed directly in front of Saturn from the viewpoints of a wide swath of Earth's Southern Hemisphere. The featured image from Sydney, Australia captured the pair a few minutes before the eclipse. The image was a single shot lasting only 1/500th of a second, later processed to better highlight both the Moon and Saturn. Since Saturn is nearly opposite the Sun, it can be seen nearly the entire night, starting at sunset, toward the south and east. The gibbous Moon was also nearly opposite the Sun, and so also visible nearly the entire night -- it will be full tomorrow night. The Moon will occult Saturn again during every lap it makes around the Earth this year. via NASA

The Future of Wellness Has Deep Roots in Our Ancient Past

For most of human existence—thousands upon thousands upon thousands of years—people have relied on the Earth’s natural medicines. We’ve used answers from the soil to help ward off disease, fight infection, ease pain and enhance well-being. 

It’s only more recently—in the last couple hundred years, really—that laboratory-manufactured medicines became a go-to source for health. The tide may now be shifting again. Along with a surge in individuals seeking to live more sustainable, ecological lifestyles has come a public awakening to the realities of the modern medical paradigm pushed by Big Pharma.

The response? Plant-based alternatives to pharmaceuticals are rising in popularity. Every day, more people are thinking outside the pill bottle and looking for remedies that are grown rather than manufactured in labs.

These natural answers may prevent health issues, save money and avoid the sometimes negatives effects of pharmaceuticals.

Nutritionists and health experts have been pumping new life into the age-old wisdom of using food as medicine and preventative treatments. Emerging studies of nutrigenomics seek to understand the causal relationship between nutrients and their effect on the human body.

Another attractive aspect of favoring natural remedies over manufactured medicines is cost savings. A recent report from QuintilesIMS revealed patients in the U.S. will increase their spending on prescription medicine by about 4-7 percent, totaling between $580 billion to $610 billion by 2021. Being able to use remedies found in local health food stores will drive savings for many families.

Often, plant-based remedies also come without the laundry list of side effects that often accompany prescription medicine. According to research published by Dr. Donald Light, a fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center of Ethics, “even properly prescribed drugs cause about 1.9 million hospitalizations a year. Another 840,000 hospitalized patients are given drugs that cause serious adverse reactions for a total of 2.74 million serious adverse drug reactions.” In fact, Light says, prescription drugs have a one-in-five chance of causing serious reactions after they have been approved.

The emerging field of ethnobotany seeks to pioneer new applications for plants to be used in the treatment and prevention of chronic illness and disease. Some of these applications are new discoveries, while others are centuries-old remedies. 

According to a 2016 article in the Journal for Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, “it is estimated that there are approximately 500,000 to 750,000 species of higher plants existing on earth and less than 10 percent of them are examined for their biochemical constituents.” In other words, Earth’s medicinal bounty is only beginning to be discovered.

Experts in the health field and wellness-minded families alike continue to gravitate toward alternative, natural remedies. In November 2018, market research firm Grand View Research reported that “complementary and alternative medicine market size is expected to reach a value of $196.9 billion by 2025.”

What does all of this mean for the future of medicine? Certainly, doctors and researchers are taking a closer look at the impact natural alternatives have on the human body as they pursue avenues toward greater public health. As science evolves, patients can be encouraged to explore their options as health care consumers to select the practices and products that most closely align with their individual needs and lifestyles.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of CBD Snapshot. Never miss a story; subscribe today

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Recipe: Dreamsicle CBD Smoothie

This smoothie recipe brings back childhood memories of eating creamsicles in the springtime. This easy-to-make version is a whole lot healthier for you, though. The oranges provide a significant amount of vitamin C, which can help boost your immune system, your skin and collagen production as well as support your endocannabinoid system. The CBD component can come in the form of oil or powder. Consult your doctor before beginning a CBD regimen.

Makes 1 smoothie

  • 2 oranges, peeled 
  • 1/2 banana (fresh or frozen), peeled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1 person serving of CBD
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes

Add all ingredients to a blender and mix until smooth. Add the ice and blend again for 15 seconds. Serve immediately. 

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of CBD Snapshot. Never miss a story; subscribe today

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Can CBD Help You Sleep?

Roughly 35 percent of Americans get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night, and about 30 percent of American adults have symptoms of insomnia, In other words, for many people, sleep doesn’t come easy. 

If you have problems with sleeping or struggle with symptoms of insomnia, you may have heard that cannabidiol (better known as CBD) could help you get a good night’s rest. We know that CBD has a variety of potential health benefits, including relieving the symptoms of anxiety and stress, which are often the root cause of many sleeping problems. But is CBD oil effective for helping treat insomnia, or could it make things worse?

Causes of Insomnia

According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common causes of insomnia is stress and anxiety. Worrying about work, health, finances and family can cause a great amount of distress, make your mind spin and make it difficult to fall asleep at night. Similarly, feelings of anxiety or even more serious disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder can cause insomnia, and things such as sleep apnea (periodic pauses in breathing) can all interrupt sleep.

In the long run, a lack of sleep can affect quality of life and lead to decreased performance, slowed reaction time and other mental disorders such as depression or anxiety that makes the situation worse. In some cases, long-term sleep deprivation can even increase the risk of physiological conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Can CBD Help You Sleep?

Although the scientific research regarding CBD for sleep is still in its infancy, with most studies thus far centering on animals, preliminary data shows potential for CBD oil as an effective natural remedy to help ease the symptoms of insomnia.

Scientists believe \ one of the main reasons why CBD helps with sleep is because of how it interacts with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and helps us deal with stress and anxiety. 

CBD and Anxiety

Because CBD has a balancing effect on the ECS, it may help modulate and maintain a state of homeostasis in the body. Additionally, CBD may also prevent the breakdown of anandamide (often referred to as the “bliss molecule”), one of the body’s major endocannabinoids synthesized in areas of the brain that are important in mood, memory, motivation and higher thought processes. Anandamide also exhibits both anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties, playing and important role in helping manage and reduce feelings and symptoms associated with anxiety disorders.

So, when our bodies are in a state of balance with an abundance of our own endocannabinoids, which produce states of heightened happiness, not only do we respond better to stressful situations, but we are also going to hit the reset button faster. 

That is why using CBD for sleep could be particularly helpful for people who experience sleeping difficulties due to anxiety. In a recent study, scientists investigated the potential clinical application of CBD as a treatment option for anxiety and difficulties with sleep in a sample of 72 adults suffering from these issues. They found that within the first month, anxiety scores decreased in as many as 79.2 percent of the participants and remained steady throughout the duration of the study. Similarly, sleep scores improved in 66.7 percent of participants in the first month, though they seem to fluctuate over time.

CBD and REM Sleep

A compounding issue, many people have feelings of anxiety and negativity about the sleep problem itself, which creates a vicious circle: the less you sleep, the worse you feel, which causes less sleep, and so on. The reason for this is due to something called rapid eye movement sleep or REM sleep for short.

REM sleep is the sleep stage that is thought to benefit learning, memory, physical and emotional health. Researchers have long theorized that REM sleep contributes to core features of cognitive dysfunction and anxious depression. A lack of REM sleep is therefore often associated with biased memory processing that can lead to negative self-judgements, anxiety and depression. In a recent review study, researchers found that CBD may not only have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia, but it may also promote REM sleep, reducing many of the negative psychological effects of sleep deprivation.

Should You Use CBD for Sleep Issues?

Ironically, many people actually take CBD to help them feel more alert and focussed. So how can you use CBD to help you fall asleep?

The secret seems to be in the amount of CBD you take. Although there is fairly little published research regarding serving sizes, what we do know is that it seems that higher doses of CBD have a calming effect, and lower serving sizes of CBD have a stimulating effect for the average person.

However, one aspect muddying the waters when it comes to measuring intake CBD for sleep disorders depends on whether the person has a normal sleep rhythm or a sleep disorder.

In an early study on the effects of CBD on sleep, researchers found that people who do not suffer from sleeping disorders required very high doses around the 600-mg mark to have a sedative effect. In contrast, participants with insomnia only needed doses of 150 to 160 mg to increase sleep duration and reduce disruption. 

Because we all have an individual and unique physiological makeup, we all respond to natural remedies such as CBD differently. In addition, the severity of your symptoms and underlying reasons for your sleep problems also play a role in not only how much CBD you may need for symptom relief, but also how effective it would be for you.

If you are considering using CBD as a natural treatment option for helping you to fall asleep and relieve the symptoms of insomnia and anxiety, start low and go slow. For sleep disorders specifically, start with a serving size of 40 mg, gradually working your way up to a serving size where you find relief with an effective serving somewhere between 150 to 600 mg.

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Recipe: Berry-Watermelon CBD Popsicles

Soak up the last bits of summer with these icy-cold refreshing treats.

Makes 10 popsicles 

  • 2 cups watermelon slices, divided
  • 1 handful of fresh blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut water
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 50 mg CBD oil

In a blender, puree 1 1/2 cups diced watermelon pieces, coconut water, lime juice, honey and CBD. Cut the remaining watermelon slices into cubes and mix with fresh blueberries. Evenly divide the fruit among the popsicle molds. Stir the popsicle mixture and fill each mold. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze for at least six hours. Enjoy!

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A Full Moon Over the Pacific

The crew of the International Space Station snapped this image of a full Moon as the orbiting complex flew 270 miles above the South Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America. via NASA

One Year of NASA's Parker Solar Probe

The Parker Solar Probe's WISPR instrument saw the solar wind streaming past during the spacecraft's first solar encounter in November 2018. via NASA

Hubble Spots Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

This new Hubble Space Telescope view of Jupiter, taken on June 27, 2019, reveals the giant planet's trademark Great Red Spot, and a more intense color palette in the clouds swirling in Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere than seen in previous years. via NASA

Seven Years After Landing, Curiosity Rover is Still Rock N' Rolling

Our Curiosity rover has come a long way since touching down on Mars seven years ago. It has traveled a total of 13 miles (21 kilometers) and ascended 1,207 feet (368 meters) to its current location. via NASA

Jupiter Engulfed and the Milky Way

This is a good month to see Jupiter. To find our Solar System's largest planet in your sky, look toward the southeast just after sunset -- Jupiter should be the brightest object in that part of the sky. If you have a binoculars or a small telescope, you should be able to see Jupiter's four brightest moons right nearby, and possibly some cloud bands. The featured image was taken about a month ago from the Persian Gulf. The image shows Jupiter just to the right of the nearly vertical band of the central disk of our Milky Way Galaxy. The unnamed rock formations appear in projection like the jaws of a giant monster ready to engulf the Jovian giant. When you see Jupiter, it may be interesting to know that NASA's robotic Juno spacecraft is simultaneously visiting and studying the giant planet. Saturn is also visible this month, and although it is nearby to Jupiter, it is not as bright. via NASA

Our Sun Today

NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory, or SDO, was the first mission to be launched for NASA's Living With a Star (LWS) Program, and is designed to understand the causes of solar variability and its impacts on Earth. via NASA

A Total Solar Eclipse Reflected

If you saw a total solar eclipse, would you do a double-take? One astrophotographer did just that -- but it took a lake and a bit of planning. Realizing that the eclipse would be low on the horizon, he looked for a suitable place along the thin swath of South America that would see, for a few minutes, the Moon completely block the Sun, both directly and in reflection. The day before totality, he visited a lake called La Cuesta Del Viento (The Slope of the Wind) and, despite its name, found so little wind that the lake looked like a mirror. Perfect. Returning the day of the eclipse, though, there was a strong breeze churning up the water -- enough to ruin the eclipse reflection shot. Despair. But wait! Strangely, about an hour before totality, the wind died down. This calmness may have been related to the eclipse itself, because eclipsed ground heats the air less and reduces the amount rising warm air -- which can dampen and even change the wind direction. The eclipse came, his tripod and camera were ready, and so was the lake. The featured image of this double-eclipse came from a single exposure lasting just one fifteenth of a second. Soon after totality, the winds returned and the water again became choppy. No matter -- this double-image of the 2019 July total solar eclipse had been captured forever. via NASA

Rumors of a Dark Universe

Twenty-one years ago results were first presented indicating that most of the energy in our universe is not in stars or galaxies but is tied to space itself. In the language of cosmologists, a large cosmological constant -- dark energy -- was directly implied by new distant supernova observations. Suggestions of a cosmological constant were not new -- they have existed since the advent of modern relativistic cosmology. Such claims were not usually popular with astronomers, though, because dark energy was so unlike known universe components, because dark energy's abundance appeared limited by other observations, and because less-strange cosmologies without a signficant amount of dark energy had previously done well in explaining the data. What was exceptional here was the seemingly direct and reliable method of the observations and the good reputations of the scientists conducting the investigations. Over the two decades, independent teams of astronomers have continued to accumulate data that appears to confirm the existence of dark energy and the unsettling result of a presently accelerating universe. In 2011, the team leaders were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work. The featured picture of a supernova that occurred in 1994 on the outskirts of a spiral galaxy was taken by one of these collaborations. via NASA

Dr. Oz Examines CBD: Here’s What You Need to Know

Look the patient in the eye. Empathize, but be honest. Speak clearly.

These are some of the most basic tenets of good bedside manner, and Dr. Mehmet Oz possesses them all. Except in this case, he’s looking squarely into the camera as he delivers the good news first.

“Here’s my thought,” Oz says of CBD. “It could work. I’m hearing from too many of you right now that are getting benefits.”

And then there’s the bad news. The industry is young. It is, at this point, mostly unregulated. Oz and his team have found that a certain number of the products currently on the market do not possess the amount of CBD that they claim. Others possess more psychoactive THC than they are supposed to. One product Oz’s team investigated actually contained a strain of dangerous E. coli.

He’s not down on the potential of CBD, exactly. Oz just wants to make sure patients know what they’re getting, and for CBD to undergo further testing, before he is ready to fully endorse today’s most talked about supplement.

“There are some reputable companies, I suspect, that are beginning to get into the medical community,” Oz says. “But we have got to make this happen.” 

This first checkup with Oz, just described, occurred last October, when he was joined on his nationally syndicated daytime show by Dr. Sanjay Gupta to discuss the state of the CBD industry. In the follow-up appointment, an interview with CBD Snapshot, Oz says that, frankly, his prognosis hasn’t changed much.

“Shockingly little work and research has been done, probably because of the regulatory environment,” he says. “But that’s all changed…. With the Farm Bill that passed [in December 2018] and other things that are occurring nationwide, the ability to do research in medical marijuana and CBD is dramatically eased. So you’re going to see more of it, and we’re going to be able to figure out the answer to the question: What works where?”

Oz, 59, is perhaps the world’s most well-known doctor. He is attending physician at New York Presbyterian – Columbia University Medical Center, and the author of seven New York Times best-sellers. He’s been named among Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Esquire magazine’s 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century, and as a Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum. He has won nine daytime Emmy awards for The Dr. Oz Show, which last year surpassed a decade on the air.

To succeed on the air for so long, Oz has always needed to take more than the clinical perspective. His relatability is his charm, and to be relatable, he has to come to his viewers—to take interest in the things they are interested in and talk about the things they are talking about. As often as not these days, they are talking about CBD. It’s not out of his realm. Oz has explored everything from preventing Type 2 diabetes and the importance of getting ample sleep to the best superfoods and tips for managing stress.

He may seem more open than a lot of doctors to the natural, holistic approach that many patients prefer. But that doesn’t mean he is any less concerned with efficacy.

Although the serving sizes and specific applications are still being researched to answer that “what works where” question, Oz says research has already shown that CBD has the potential to address inflammation, nerve cell life span, nausea, pain, appetite and sleep.

“And there are current studies investigating the efficacy of CBD in treating epilepsy, inflammatory diseases, anxiety, depression, drug addiction and schizophrenia,” Oz says.

For now, although the pathway to market and consume CBD has been opened by the 2018 Farm Bill, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has done little to clarify its position on the substance. The only FDA-approved drug with CBD as an ingredient is Epidiolex, a treatment for severe forms of epilepsy. That means that, like many naturally-derived remedies available today, the products you buy with CBD aren’t regulated by the FDA—yet.

With more and more people buying CBD, Oz recommends some common-sense guidelines to keep in mind. 

“Just make sure you’re working with legitimate producers,” Oz says. “If you buy products and they don’t tell you specifically what’s in it, that’s a bad sign.” 

He suggests choosing products that list the amount of CBD per serving. “A report from Consumer Labs finds products that list only ‘cannabinoids’ may contain some CBD, but you won’t have the precise amount. The products that list ‘hemp extract’ as an ingredient may have a fair amount of CBD, while those with the ingredient ‘hemp oil’ probably don’t contain very much CBD.

“So unless a friend of yours is using it with success or you can look on their label and see very precise information about what’s in it, you should be worried that it’s not made by a reputable person.”

It’s also worth keeping in mind that CBD can have negative interactions with certain medications, so you should always talk to your doctor before taking it. Oz suggests starting small: “Get as little as you can. Try it and see if it works. If it doesn’t, move on. If it does, keep going.”

Whenever the FDA formalizes its regulatory posture, Oz believes CBD will eventually become a common household remedy in the U.S. “I think that’s the case because it’s already a commonly used remedy in other countries,” he says. 

He’s excited by the entry of more professional oversight as the potential of CBD is developed. New laws will allow for the research that lets doctors get smarter, helps patients learn and teaches teens to understand the differences between CBD from hemp and THC-laden marijuana.

“Recreational marijuana has big-time side effects,” Oz says. “It does tend to dull people. These are not just rumors.”

But CBD is not recreational marijuana or medical marijuana. Oz says this clear distinction frees up the medical community to answer questions around the best serving and application methods for various conditions. 

“I predict that we’ll see an even bigger explosion in products that contain CBD,” Oz says. “The signing of the Farm Bill will open up the market for both research on CBD and development of personal care products that contain the CBD. 

“As more professional groups get involved in doing CBD research, you’re gonna find more and more specific data as you have now on childhood seizures… that’s a good example of what could happen in areas of sleep, anxiety, depression—maybe weaning off addiction.”

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of CBD Snapshot. Never miss a story; subscribe today!

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Mimas in Saturnlight

Peering from the shadows, the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Mimas lies in near darkness alongside a dramatic sunlit crescent. The mosaic was captured near the Cassini spacecraft's final close approach on January 30, 2017. Cassini's camera was pointed in a nearly sunward direction only 45,000 kilometers from Mimas. The result is one of the highest resolution views of the icy, crater-pocked, 400 kilometer diameter moon. An enhanced version better reveals the Saturn-facing hemisphere of the synchronously rotating moon lit by sunlight reflected from Saturn itself. To see it, slide your cursor over the image (or follow this link). Other Cassini images of Mimas include the small moon's large and ominous Herschel Crater. via NASA

Is CBD Safe for Children?

With the popularization of the story of Charlotte Figi—the little girl who successfully treated her symptoms of Dravet’s syndrome with cannabidiol (CBD) who has an entire hemp strain named after her—thousands of parents are exploring this cannabinoid as a viable treatment option for their children.

CBD has been touted as a panacea for everything from epilepsy to ADHD to autism, with many states green-lighting its use for children. But is it really safe? How do you decide on a CBD product for your child? What can it help your child with? How much CBD should you give them? 

Here we explore the answers to these questions, but the information presented here should not be considered medical advice, and you should always consult a pediatrician before introducing your child to CBD of any kind.

Is CBD Safe for Children?

The first obvious question most parents have is whether CBD is a safe treatment option for their child, whether for a serious or chronic illness, or simply as supplemental wellness option. 

The short answer is yes

Despite some concerns by organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) about the recreational use of cannabis in children and adolescents, these organizations are revising their stance on the use of CBD and medical cannabis. 

The reason for this change in consensus is largely due to an as yet limited but growing body of research that specifically investigates the use and safety of CBD in children. The results are promising, showing that well-monitored CBD usage may not only be effective for a variety of conditions, but also when administered correctly, it is also safe and well-tolerated by children.

One such example is a study published in Neurology that found that even increased servings of CBD oil in children ages 4 to 10 proved to be safe. Another 2017 peer-reviewed article also showed that, though there were some minor side effects such as changes in appetite, diarrhea and fatigue, compared to prescription drugs, CBD has a much better safety and side-effect profile. However, it’s noted that more and longer-lasting studies are necessary, as well as studies that focus on any potential hormonal effects in children. 

CBD Products for Children

CBD products can come from a variety of sources and in many different servings, types and forms. There is still a lot to be learned about CBD as an alternative treatment, and which one product is best for your child will depend on a number of factors. If you are considering trying CBD as a treatment option, it is vital to discuss this with your doctor to help you make a decision that is in the best interests of your child.

To help you start the conversation, we’ve put together a short list of questions you can ask your doctor when talking to him or her about using CBD for your child.

1. Is prescription CBD oil an option for my child? 

With pharmaceutically manufactured CBD such as Epidiolex hitting the market, getting CBD via a prescription might be an option for your child. Currently it has been FDA approved for use as a treatment for seizure control for children with Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. Unfortunately, if your child suffers from another condition or is experiencing the side effects of chemotherapy, this may not be an option for you.

2. How can I choose a safe over-the-counter CBD product for my child?

Ideally, you should speak to your doctor about finding a CBD product that is right for your child and his or her symptoms. Resist the urge to go online and buy the first or most-raved-about CBD product. Look for high-quality, third-party laboratory tested products that are THC-free or low-THC, and ideally specifically formulated for use in children. 

3. Will any of my child’s current medications negatively interact with CBD?

Again, it is important to speak to your doctor about possible drug interactions and CBD. There are some concerns about CBD being used with other anti-seizure medications.

Conditions That CBD Could Help Treat in Children

Although there is a lot of anecdotal evidence for using CBD to aid a wide range of children’s issues such as anxiety and attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), epilepsy and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are the most researched in children.


CBD has been shown to have powerful anti-seizure properties, often being as effective at reducing seizures as anti-epileptic medications. The evidence from three different studies in children show that especially in Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, CBD reduced all seizures by between 38 to 41 percent without many of the side effects of prescription drugs. Likewise, according to this survey of more than 155 physicians, CBD is now also increasingly being prescribed as a way to improve the quality of life of children with epilepsy. 

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Although the research is new, CBD for ASD is showing promise in helping to reduce many of the symptoms that make living with this disorder so difficult. In this review, scientists found that CBD may be helpful in promoting pro-social behaviors while helping to reduce the symptoms of comorbidities such as sleep difficulties, ADHD and anxiety.

Research Is Ongoing

According to this comprehensive review in The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics as well as this one published in Pediatrics, researchers reported a number of cases in which CBD oil has been documented to help children suffering from a range of medical conditions. These include the following:

  • Behavioral symptoms associated with ADHD
  • Other forms of epilepsy and drug-resistant epilepsy
  • Perinatal brain Injury 
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting

CBD Serving Sizes for Children

A major issue when it comes to CBD servings, regardless of age, is that every CBD product comes with different potencies, ingredients and therapeutic compounds, and everyone metabolizes CBD differently—there is unfortunately no known universal dose. Another issue facing parents who are considering CBD for their child is that serving size recommendations are created with adults in mind. 

Your child’s pediatrician or doctor can help you find a serving size that’s safe and effective for your child through a kind of trial-and-error methodology called dose titration. During this process, the amount of CBD administered starts off low (usually around 0.5 mg CBD per pound of body weight, split across three doses per day), and is then gradually increased over several days or weeks. During this time, your child’s physician will monitor symptoms and improvements to help estimate the optimal dose for your child.

Although CBD is increasingly considered to be an effective and safe treatment option for a variety of diseases, research specifically aimed at investigating these in children is still limited. Always speak to your child’s physician before using CBD for your child and try to work with him or her during treatment. Similarly, always be on the lookout for side effects such as diarrhea or a loss of appetite, and evaluate the side effects carefully in order to decide whether they’ve become severe enough to warrant discontinued use.

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Chamaeleon II Dark Cloud

A small constellation hiding near the south celestial pole, The Chamaeleon boasts no bright stars. Stars are forming within its constellation boundaries though, in a complex of dark, dusty molecular clouds. Some 500 light-years distant, the Chamaeleon II dark nebula inhabits this view where the cosmic dust clouds standout mostly in silhouette against the starry southern sky. The telescopic frame is about the angular size of a Full Moon and so spans about 5 light-years at the dark cloud's estimated distance. Scattered near center a telltale reddish glow from identified Herbig-Haro objects is seen in the sharp image, jets of shocked glowing gas emanating from recently formed stars. via NASA

Colonel Raja Chari: NASA Astronaut Candidate

NASA astronaut candidate Raja Chari climbs into a NASA T-38 aircraft. via NASA

Recipe: CBD Avocado Chocolate Pudding

What would you do if you heard a nutritionist tell you to eat some chocolate pudding? Well, that’s what’s happening here with this healthy chocolate pudding recipe. Not only is it filled with healthy fats and cocoa, both of which help keep your endocannabinoid system running the best it can, but it’s also really easy to add a boost of CBD into as well. It’s great as a dessert or even as an indulgent breakfast. 

Avocado Chocolate Pudding 

Makes 2 servings 

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate almond milk, at room temperature.
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter 
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted 
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 personal servings of CBD powder or CBD oil
  • Pinch of salt

Cut avocados in half and remove pit. Spoon avocado into a food processor or blender. Add milk, peanut butter, cocoa powder, vanilla, melted chocolate, bananas and salt. Blend until smooth. Add in CBD and blend again for 10 seconds. Spoon pudding into bowls and cover. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour and serve chilled. If the consistency is too thick, add additional almond milk until it reaches the desired consistency.

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This Week in NASA History: First Use of the Lunar Roving Vehicle – July 31, 1971

This week in 1971, Apollo 15 became the first mission to use the Lunar Roving Vehicle. via NASA

IC 1795: The Fishhead Nebula

To some, this nebula looks like the head of a fish. However, this colorful cosmic portrait really features glowing gas and obscuring dust clouds in IC 1795, a star forming region in the northern constellation Cassiopeia. The nebula's colors were created by adopting the Hubble color palette for mapping narrow emission from oxygen, hydrogen, and sulfur atoms to blue, green and red colors, and further blending the data with images of the region recorded through broadband filters. Not far on the sky from the famous Double Star Cluster in Perseus, IC 1795 is itself located next to IC 1805, the Heart Nebula, as part of a complex of star forming regions that lie at the edge of a large molecular cloud. Located just over 6,000 light-years away, the larger star forming complex sprawls along the Perseus spiral arm of our Milky Way Galaxy. At that distance, this picture would span about 70 light-years across IC 1795. via NASA

Viewing the Mediterranean Coasts of Tunisia and Libya from the Space Station

The Mediterranean coasts of Tunisia and Libya and the Italian island of Sicily across the sea are pictured as the International Space Station orbited 260 miles above north Africa. via NASA

Star Forming Region NGC 3582 without Stars

What's happening in the Statue of Liberty nebula? Bright stars and interesting molecules are forming and being liberated. The complex nebula resides in the star forming region called RCW 57, and besides the iconic monument, to some looks like a flying superhero or a weeping angel. By digitally removing the stars, this image showcases dense knots of dark interstellar dust, fields of glowing hydrogen gas ionized by these stars, and great loops of gas expelled by dying stars. A detailed study of NGC 3576, also known as NGC 3582 and NGC 3584, uncovered at least 33 massive stars in the end stages of formation, and the clear presence of the complex carbon molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are thought to be created in the cooling gas of star forming regions, and their development in the Sun's formation nebula five billion years ago may have been an important step in the development of life on Earth. via NASA

NASA Pilot Rich Rogers: "All Good Things ..."

For NASA Wallops Flight Facility research pilot Rich Rogers, July 26 brought an end to one of the things in his life that he has greatly enjoyed – flying Navy and NASA aircraft. via NASA

CBD Shows Early Promise for Aging Pets

Mandy was 16 years old, which would have made her 112, depending on which scale you use, when she tried something new for her crippling leukemia.

Chronic leukemia in dogs is heartbreaking to see. Its symptoms can include a loss of appetite, lethargy, anxiety, increased thirst and urination, and swelling in the abdomen. Mandy faced a hard end, which would’ve eventually made for a hard decision for her owner, Christine Leogrande, from Utica, New York.

Leogrande sought pet products that would ease Mandy’s discomfort and pain and help promote a healthy life so their cherished time together could continue. Looking for guidance from experts, Leogrande turned to her veterinarian, who mentioned CBD oil to her, as had people in a rescue group she belongs to. Hopeful for results, she ordered CBD oil drops and began trying them.

Leogrande says the difference in Mandy has been noticeable. “It has increased her appetite, and made her less restless and less anxious,” she says. “It may be helping with her mobility as well.”

Leogrande is not alone. A growing number of pet owners are looking for products infused with CBD. And a growing number of retailers are rising to meet market demand. These retailers, many of them online, offer an array of pet products with CBD, including tinctures, capsules, powders, chewies and treats. 

According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), in 1994, Americans spent $17 billion on their pets. By 2017, that number grew to $69.51 billion. The APPA estimates that spending could surpass $96 billion in sales by 2020, setting the stage for an increased demand in natural pet products.

Pet owners are hopeful CBD could be beneficial to help manage pain from arthritis and other conditions, reduce epileptic seizures, alleviate separation anxiety, expand mobility, improve cognitive function and lessen insomnia. As CBD breaks into the mainstream, some of the earliest adopters have been dog owners and their pups. They won’t be leading the pack for long, though. As more research surfaces, a variety of pets may benefit.

“Vets everywhere are dealing with pet parents reaching out to them for information,” says Dr. Casara Andre, a veterinarian and founder of Veterinary Cannabis Education and Consulting, based in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. “We were seeing this huge need and tried to address that need in our community. 

There are so many positive stories and anecdotal evidence about using cannabis in veterinary medicine.”

For many pet owners whose animals suffer from debilitating diseases or conditions, CBD-infused products may offer a shot at helping to alleviate their loved ones’ pain and discomfort. And new research is increasingly coming to light.

Emerging Evidence 

One example of such research is a new study called “Efficacy of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Epilepsy in Dogs,” led by Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. McGrath initially decided to pursue this line of research after receiving frequent calls from clients and other veterinarians with questions about CBD.

Based on her study, McGrath found that 89 percent of dogs who received CBD in a clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures.

Although more research may have been done on the benefits of CBD for dogs with seizures, these benefits may also project positively for our feline companions. Humans, dogs, cats and other animals all have common endocannabinoid systems in their bodies, which have receptors that are responsive to CBD. Seizures are caused by disrupted electrical activity in the brain, and CBD has been demonstrated to restore order to these neural pathways.

Although cannabis pet products come in a variety of formulations, Andre recommends choosing a tincture or liquid formulation to start. “Tinctures are the easiest products to work with because they allow pet parents and the veterinary health care team to start really low and creep up slowly in dosage based on how the pet responds,” she says.

How can pet owners get their pets to take CBD? Some early adopters use a CBD tincture or oil and apply a few drops under their pets’ tongues. This method of delivery is intended to optimize the CBD’s bioavailability, which means it will be more readily usable for the animal.

However, some pet owners may have trouble prying open their pet’s mouth and getting the pet to cooperate. In this situation, another option is to add drops of CBD oil onto the pet’s food. Pet owners can also give their pet a treat with CBD already incorporated. Keep in mind, however, that because CBD added to food or treats has to pass through the digestive tract, it may need longer to take effect. Consult your veterinarian before beginning a CBD regimen for your pet.

Stephanie Farrar, owner of The Canine Cookie Company, an online wholesale and retail operation with a brick-and-mortar store in McKinney, Texas, recently developed a dog treat that contains approximately 15 mg of CBD per cookie.

“People are giving me feedback that their dogs are moving again; they’re not in pain; their arthritis is not the issue that it was,” Farrar says. “The CBD pet product category is growing by leaps and bounds.”

And, Farrar says, that’s probably good news for aging pets.

“Our store does birthday cakes for dogs who are 12, 14, 15 years old and higher,” Farrar continues. “You don’t have to write your friends off.”

Longtime pet owners know the heartache of seeing pets aging with discomfort, particularly arthritis, which causes the animals to move slowly and with great difficulty. They can even hurt to the touch.

“Dogs age just like we do,” Farrar says. “They get arthritis, they get aches and pains; they get dementia too. They get some of the other problems that we get as humans. By calming them and relieving their inflammation and their pain, you are making for a happier dog. It’s about quality of life.”

Farrar’s own dog, Wally, is nearly 14 years old. “We thought a year-and-a-half ago we would have to put him down, because his arthritis was crippling,” she says. “We had a daughter in Colorado and we started buying CBD and bringing it home for Wally. We started to see vast improvement in Wally. That is when I became bent on making my own CBD pet product.”

Desperate to find something that could help Wally, Farrar was ecstatic with what she observed from CBD. 

“Your pet is your best friend,” Farrar says. “You won’t get that kind of unconditional love from anyone but your pet. We love our pets, and we would do anything for them. Just like they’d do anything for us.”

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of CBD Snapshot. Never miss a story; subscribe today!

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CBD and the Future of Skin Care

Morrocan Argan oil, coconut oil, activated charcoal: The beauty industry isn’t a stranger to buzzy products that promise natural solutions to everyday skin and wellness issues. It should be no surprise that CBD is the next not-so-secret ingredient to garner interest. 

Indeed, CBD has begun to stake a claim in the world of beauty and skin care. The hemp extract’s reputation is growing as a natural and gentle possibility with potential application for a wide range of skin conditions. People with acne, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea are giving it a try, as are those with dryness and others looking to prevent signs of aging.

As interest grows, retail behemoths such as Sephora and Neiman Marcus are granting shelf real estate for CBD and hemp seed oil-infused products. Entrepreneurial supermodels are even rushing to develop their own products.

Wall Street analysts predict enough growth that CBD beauty products now represent a standalone category rather than a subcategory of the natural beauty market. But word-of-mouth and early stage research is just that, and those who have been studying the natural benefits of CBD advise users to take caution as they would with any new beauty product.

Natural Solutions

A 2017 article published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that pharmaceuticals containing cannabinoids might be powerful weapons in the treatment of eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis. In one cited study, eight of 21 patients who applied a cream containing endogenous cannabinoids twice a day for three weeks found that it “completely eliminated” severe itching on their bodies.

“CBD is thought to be beneficial for beauty and skin care because of its anti-inflammatory qualities,” says Dr. Jeanette Jacknin, a board-certified dermatologist and author of Smart Medicine for Your Skin. “Cannabinoid receptors have been discovered in keratinocytes, or skin cells, and other parts of the skin, such as the sebaceous glands, hair follicles, small nerves and immune cells. CBD works on them as part of the skin’s endocannabinoid system.”

In other words, CBD may ultimately be proven to support health and beauty on multiple levels throughout the body. And by simultaneously delivering aid to your skin and enhancing your mood, according to some users, CBD has the potential to redefine what it means to look good and feel good. If confidence is sexy, then a beauty product that may also aid anxiety could be effective on multiple levels.

Of course, it’s always smart to be cautious and realistic when considering a new skin care product or adding it to your daily routine. Dr. Robert Dellavalle, a professor of dermatology and public health at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and co-author of the 2017 study, says CBD products for skin care are quickly entering the mainstream, but he fears that some people are viewing heavily hyped CBD products as almost a panacea for all skin diseases. 

“We’re getting to the point now where there’s so much enthusiasm that it might be a little bit of an overshoot in terms of what people are expecting,” says Dellavalle, who also works as a consultant for Altus Labs, which focuses on researching the relationship between the endocanna- binoid system and skin conditions. But, he adds, “I think there’s a lot of promise.”

Beautiful Possibilities

Although rigorous research regarding CBD’s role in the treatment of skin diseases is still largely forthcoming, CBD has also sparked excitement in cosmetic applications. Wall Street analysts estimate that cannabidiol-infused beauty products will represent 15 percent—or $25 billion in revenue—of the $167 billion skin care market. 

Similar to the reported results with various skin irritations and diseases, CBD has proposed benefits for those with acne scars, signs of aging and otherwise uneven or blemished complexions. Because of the omega-3 fatty acids found in hemp, from which CBD can be derived, Jacknin says, “users often find that their skin is beautifully moisturized and radiant” when using cannabidiol-infused skin care products.

Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, a board-certified dermatologist, adds that the properties of CBD can help prevent or reverse the signs of skin damage—such as premature aging or uneven skin tone—caused when stress, air pollution and UV rays break down cells and collagen.

For those with sensitive skin, CBD could be an alternative to traditional topical ingredients, Shainhouse says, such as alpha hydroxy acids (such as glycolic acid) and beta hydroxy acids (salicylic acid), which exfoliate dull skin layers, and topical retinoids, which can both exfoliate the skin and encourage creation of new skin cells.

“Those acids and retinoids can irritate our skin and can take time to tolerate,” Shainhouse says. “CBD causes no irritation and lacks a ramp-up time for tolerance.”

Among the beauty brands expanding into alternative ingredients is Evio Beauty Group, which is working with one of its investors, Aurora Cannabis, to roll out several CBD- and hemp-based products. Founder and CEO Brandi Leifso is optimistic.

“We’re noticing a rise in feel-good wellness that reduces anxiety and stress, and that makes you feel good,” Leifso says. “CBD has the ability to gently and effectively calm anxiety. It’s safe and well-tolerated by most people who are looking for an alternative.”

Proceed With Caution

When Rosemary Donahue, a digital wellness editor for Allure, replaced her regular skin care products with CBD-infused products for a month, she noticed less frequent breakouts and an overall more even skin tone. But anecdotal reports rarely tell the whole story.

“It’s just going to be up to the consumer to make smart decisions about the companies they want to support and the products they feel are intelligent buys,” Donahue says. “Personally, I look for products that are sourced as ethically as possible, and I want a product that has CBD in it for a reason, rather than just as an added gimmick.”

She and other experts foresee a healthy horizon for CBD beauty and skin care products as more people try them. With research in its beginning stages, for many, the effectiveness of CBD for their needs rests largely on trial-and-error.

Although the FDA has stepped up its scrutiny of CBD products, experts urge consumers to exercise caution with their purchases. Some retailers have been found inflating claims about their CBD products or even promoting CBD products that actually contain no cannabidiol at all.

“Be mindful of where you procure your products,” says Katie Sandler, a holistic wellness retreat organizer based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “With CBD flooding the market these days, you want to look for a trustworthy product. As always, do your research and ask for certificates of analysis to confirm a product’s bona fides.”

The industry is just getting started and there are kinks to be worked out by the FDA. Still, Jacknin remains hopeful for the staying power of CBD for the beauty world. 

“The future is wide open for the use of CBD beauty and skin care products here in the U.S. and internationally,” she says. “As more countries legalize CBD, I think we will see other exciting cannabinoids being used in beauty and skin care in new and different ways in the near future.”

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of CBD Snapshot. Never miss a story; subscribe today!

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Hubble Snaps a Galactic Potpourri of Particles

The sharply angled perspective in this Hubble image of spiral galaxy NGC 3169 makes it seem as if we, the viewers, are craning our necks to see over a barrier into the galaxy's bright center. In the case of NGC 3169, this barrier is the thick dust embedded within the galaxy's spiral arms. via NASA

This CBD Company Relies on Partnerships to Fuel Its Success

5 Ways CBD Could Help Your Pet

It’s not only in the world of humans that cannabidiol (CBD) is making waves. More and more pet owners are also starting to use CBD for their pets. Pet-specific CBD products are more commonly found on the shelves of vet offices and pet boutiques alike.

But is it safe? How can CBD help your pet? What do you need to look for when buying a safe CBD product for your four-legged friend? Continue reading to learn more. 

CBD for Pets: The Basics

Did you know that not only humans have an endocannabinoid system (ECS)? All vertebrates, including your cat and dog has one. This means that not only do their bodies produce their own endocannabinoids, but they also have all the cannabinoid receptors in place to interact with plant cannabinoids such as CBD.

Because of this, your pet can also benefit from all the potential health benefits of CBD that you do. Just as adding CBD oil to your health and wellness plan may help your body to create a sense of balance, so too does it create a sense of homeostasis in your pet’s body and potentially help treat a variety of different ailments.

Potential Benefits of CBD for Pets

Although research specific to using CBD for pets is in its infancy, the intended effects and benefits of CBD for many of the conditions listed below are well-recorded in both animal studies and human clinical trials. 

Because many of these symptoms manifest pretty much the same way in both humans and pets, the anecdotal evidence from pet owners and veterinarians makes sense. It’s just a matter of time before the scientific evidence bears out.

Let’s take a look at the different symptoms and ailments CBD can potentially help your pet with.

1. Anxiety

The anti-anxiety effects of CBD are commonly known and many pet owners are turning to CBD oil for helping their pets cope with things such as anxiety and reactivity. Although studies on treating canine anxiety with CBD are few, human trials have repeatedly shown that it can be highly effective with reducing the symptoms of anxiety, panic disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.

2. Arthritis

One area in which research has grown extensively regarding CBD for pets is with regard to osteoarthritis. One study in particular found CBD to be both effective and safe for treating this crippling disease in dogs. Not only did the study show a significant decrease in pain and an increase in activity in the dogs that were given CBD, but there were also no reported side effects. Researchers suggested a twice-daily serving of 2 mg of CBD per kilogram of weight to aid with pain relief and increased mobility. 

3. Epilepsy and Seizure Control

It’s estimated that up to 5 percent of dogs suffer from epilepsy or some kind of seizure disorder. For owners of pets with epilepsy, the condition can be incredibly distressing and debilitating to the animal. CBD for epilepsy and seizure control has been studied extensively, with evidence dating as far back as 1980 showing that CBD has powerful anticonvulsant properties. Luckily, researchers are now also investigating the use of CBD for canine epilepsy, with a preliminary study from Colorado State University in Fort Collins showing that CBD can significantly reduce the frequency of seizures.

4. Inflammation

Inflammation is a major cause of pain for many animals. In an attempt to help relieve symptoms of pain, veterinarians typically prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, these have recently come under the spotlight due to concerns around their safety, particularly in aging dogs that have compromised immune systems. Long-term use of NSAIDs are associated with a variety of side effects including issues with the gastrointestinal tract, liver function, renal failure and even death. The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD are widely reported in scientific literature, which can make it a safe and side-effect-free alternative to NSAIDs for many pet owners.

5. Pain

For many pet owners, CBD seems to be a safe and effective option for helping to relieve painful conditions. Just as with humans, pets can suffer from something known as Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency in which their bodies become deficient in cannabinoids. This causes the ECS to become unbalanced, not only reducing the body’s ability to effectively deal with pain signals, bu also inducing many of the ailments that cause pain. By supplementing with CBD, cannabinoid levels are increased, which helps to restore balance to the ECS system while simultaneously helping to reduce pain.

What to Look for When Buying CBD for Your Pet

CBD products for pets come in a variety of forms. These can range from CBD oils and tinctures, to CBD-infused treats and even topicals such as gels and creams. A topical might be great for localized relief, and a CBD treat might be the easiest way to give your pet a daily serving of CBD.

However, it is important to choose a product that is safe. Animals, in particular cats and dogs, are highly sensitive to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and it can actually be toxic to them. When purchasing CBD for you pet, take the following tips into consideration:

1. Buy a product made specifically for pets.

Human products can include other ingredients and flavorings that might be harmful to animals.

2. Buy organic.

Refined or poor-quality products can contain harmful toxins, heavy metals and pesticides that are sometimes used in industrial hemp farming.

3. Consider a high-quality broad-spectrum product.

As mentioned, even a little bit of THC can be toxic to animals, so avoid a full-spectrum extract. However, with all the THC removed in broad-spectrum extracts, your pet can still benefit from what is known as the entourage effect.

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