Tag Archives: Nature

Saffron a Safer Treatment for ADHD, Just as Effective as Ritalin, Says Study

Virgilio Marin
February 1st, 2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that around 62 percent of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are taking medications for the disease. One of the most common prescription drugs for ADHD is methylphenidate. The drug, commonly known as Ritalin, is a central nervous system stimulant linked to numerous side effects, including anxiety, nausea, difficulty sleeping, vision problems, increase in blood pressure and loss of appetite.

Fortunately, recent studies show that there may be a safe, all-natural alternative to Ritalin: saffron. In a study published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, researchers from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS) in Iran found that saffron is just as effective as Ritalin at treating ADHD.

Exploring saffron’s potential for treating ADHD

Corresponding author Shahin Akhondzadeh of the Psychiatric Research Center at TUMS’ Roozbeh Hospital said that his team has been studying the psychotropic effects of saffron since the early 2000s and found that the herb has antidepressant effects.

Given these optimistic findings, the researchers wished to explore the potential of saffron for treating ADHD, knowing that some patients do not respond well to Ritalin. To that end, the team compared the efficacy and safety of saffron capsules to Ritalin in a six-week randomized trial of 50 children with ADHD. Half of the participants received saffron supplements and the other half received the prescription drug. Their symptoms were assessed using the Teacher and Parent ADHD Rating Scale-IV.

The researchers found that both saffron and Ritalin were associated with significant improvements in the Parent ADHD Rating Scale at week three, with no significant difference between the two groups at week six. All but one child who received saffron experienced at least a 50 percent improvement in the Parent ADHD Rating Scale, while 21 of those on Ritalin experienced the same effect.

Both groups also garnered marked improvements in the Teacher ADHD Rating Scale as early as week three, with no significant difference between the two groups at weeks three and six. Ten of those who took saffron had a marked improvement of at least 50 percent, while 12 of those on Ritalin experienced the same improvement.

The researchers also found that both groups did not experience any serious adverse event, and the frequency of side effects did not differ significantly between the two groups. (Related: Exotic spice saffron found to be safer, more effective than antidepressants.)

Dr. Greg W. Mattingly of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who was not part of the study, was impressed by the results. “The fact that these improvements in ADHD symptoms were observed both by parents and teachers was especially encouraging,” Mattingly said.

He encouraged physicians to explore natural alternatives for treating psychiatric disorders like ADHD. “Imagine a world where the foods we eat and the role of natural compounds could improve the lives of patients struggling with a variety of mental health and cognitive conditions,” Mattingly added.

The researchers noted that the study was the very first randomized controlled trial of saffron for treating ADHD. That said, they recommended further research to confirm their findings and determine the best dosages for optimal results.

Mental health benefits of saffron

Saffron contains a variety of powerful antioxidants, such as crocin, crocetin, safranal and kaempferol. Studies suggest that these compounds may have antidepressant properties, protect brain cells against progressive damage and reduce inflammation.

In a review of five studies, researchers found that saffron supplements were significantly more effective than placebos at treating symptoms of mild-to-moderate depression. Other studies suggest that taking 30 milligrams of saffron supplements daily can treat depression just as effectively as conventional treatments like Fluoxetine and Citalopram for little to no side effects.

Add more saffron to your diet or take supplements of the powerful herb to improve your mental health. Be sure to buy saffron threads instead of powdered saffron to maximize the health benefits of this superfood.

‘Apocalyptic and Otherworldly’: Bay Area Wakes Up to Blizzard of Ash and Deep Red, Smoke-Filled Skies


ELIAS MARAT
SEP 9, 2020

Bay Area skies have been darkened and transformed into an apocalyptic red – drawing comparisons to life on Mars or perhaps even hell.

As California continues to struggle with an unprecedented scourge of major fires, Bay Area skies have been darkened and transformed into an apocalyptic red – drawing comparisons to life on Mars or perhaps even hell.

Residents of San Francisco, Oakland, and surrounding communities woke up to ominous pumpkin-orange skies on Wednesday, a result of toxic air overhead and massive plumes of smoking reaching high into the atmosphere, dimming the sunlight and creating an otherworldly ambiance.

What would have been a normally bright and sunny morning instead looked like dawn as the sun’s rays struggled to penetrate the smoky haze, reports SFGate.

As a result, many slept in because it remained dark outside, while one father joked to his children that they had been moved overnight to Mars, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

“It feels like the end of the world, or like Mordor. But I guess it’s just a weird mix of smog and smoke and haze,” local resident Catherine Geeslin told the Chronicle in between snapping cell phone shots of the blackened sky. “It was alarming to see it’s still dark. And it will be strange to have lunch in the dark. But you still have to get on with your day.”

The smoke is the result of the massive August Complex Fire near Mendocino National Forest, the site of a huge cluster of wildfires in Northern California, as well as similarly unprecedented fires across Washington and Oregon. The wind has pushed the fire southward from as far as the Pacific Northwest U.S. into the Bay Area.

“Extremely dense & tall smoke plumes from numerous large wildfires, some of which have been generating nocturnal pyrocumulunimbus clouds (‘fire thunderstorms), are almost completely blocking out the sun across some portions of Northern California this morning,” UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain wrote on Twitter.

In the meantime, a snow-like blanket of ash has also come in from the Bear Fire near Chico, California, which exploded overnight and sent a blizzard of ash into the region’s air.

The ash at Buchanan Field Airport in Concord nearly created sights rarely seen in the Bay, according to National Weather Service forecaster Roger Gass.

“They reported a significant amount of ash,” Gass said. “Almost to the point where it looked like moderate to heavy snow.”

However, Bay Area residents are fortunate because while the high-altitude smoke may create a dramatic scene, the toxic air remains hover above the marine layer from the Pacific Ocean, which offers literal breathing room to locals and a respite from the smoky stench of fire season.

“The marine layer is a stable area of air that does not rise, and so we’re continually pumping in cleaner air from over the ocean,” said ABC7 meteorologist Mike Nicco.

The surreal conditions underscore the bizarre and unnerving nature of 2020, a year that has been characterized by a pandemic, acute social unrest, and a brutal wave of wildfires across the Golden State.

“Pretty much all the customers have the apocalypse on their mind,” barista Leah Lozano said. “It’s a metaphor for our current plight,”

California Fires Burn an Apocalyptic Record of 2 Million Acres and It’s Not Finished Yet

Strange Sounds
September 8th, 2020

Wildfires have burned a record 2 million acres in California this year, and the danger for more destruction is so high the U.S. Forest Service on Monday said it was closing all eight national forests in the southern half of the state.

Two of the three largest fires in state history are burning in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The wildfire situation throughout California is dangerous and must be taken seriously. Existing fires are displaying extreme fire behavior, new fire starts are likely, weather conditions are worsening, and we simply do not have enough resources to fully fight and contain every fire.

Lynne Tolmachoff, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, said it’s “unnerving” to have reached a record for acreage burned when September and October usually are the worst for fires because vegetation has dried out and high winds are more common. The previous high was 1.96 million acres burned in 2018. Cal Fire began tracking the numbers in 1987.

A three-day heat wave brought triple-digit temperatures to much of the state during Labor Day weekend.

But right behind it was a weather system with dry winds that could fan fires.

One major blaze was ignited during a gender reveal party Saturday, and iconic landmarks are looking apocalyptic as fires approach.

Yes, California is burning like hell right now. And the fires are more visually menacing than usual, thanks to the rare pyrocumulus clouds the flames are creating.

Eco-Friendly Behavior In This Finnish Town Gets You Free Cake

Ailsa Ross 
Aug 31, 2020

One Finnish town is literally helping green-minded citizens eat cake as they reward eco-friendly behavior with various rewards: including free public transport tickets, swims, and yes, cake.

A little north of Helsinki, the city of Lahti has developed an app tracking the carbon emissions of local residents based on whether they get around by car, public transport, bicycle, or on foot.

Residents who volunteer their information in the CitiCAP app get a carbon quota for the week.

If they have some of their allowance leftover, they get ‘virtual euros’ to spend on things like bus tickets, bike lights, access to public pools, or coffee and cake at a local cafe.

In a city of 120,000, so far 2,000 residents have downloaded the app.

The project’s research manager, Ville Uusitalo, told Euronews, “You can earn up to two euros (per week) if your travel emissions are really low, but this autumn, we intend to increase the price tenfold.”

MORE: 2 Million People in India Gather to Plant 20 Million Trees Along the River Ganges—All While Social Distancing

Currently, about 44% of trips in Lahti are considered sustainable. The city, which is the EU’s 2021 Green Capital, plans to lessen its environmental impact even more over the next decade, so that by 2025 the city is carbon neutral. By 2030, the aim is that at least half of the journeys taken are done so by sustainable means rather than by car.

Changing Perspectives

City council worker Mirkka Ruohonen, told AFP that the app has helped changed her perspective in the seven months she’s been using it.

“I went for a hiking weekend and we did 15km of hiking, but I had to travel 100km by car,” she said. “After that I checked the app and I was like, ‘Was that a good thing?’ Maybe for me but not for the environment!”

RELATED: Downtown Sydney is Now Powered By 100% Renewable Energy Thanks to Historic Deal

CitiCAP’s developers are planning to create similar tools in the future that will help people with their consumption-related carbon emissions.

After all, as Uusitalo explained to Euronews, “Mobility is only part of our carbon footprint.”

Japanese Farmers Plant Specific Strains Of Rice To Grow Colorfully Illustrated Fields


JADE SMALL

August 26, 2020

Japan has strong traditions dating back many millennia and the people of Japan are known for their excellent craftsmanship and designing skills, many of whom still flourish today and are coveted because of their excellent quality.

Growing rice, a basic staple, was one such tradition and rice fields were found all over the country. But over time, rice fields became fewer in some areas as the pace of modern life intensified.

In 1993, the village of Inakadate, in Aomori Prefecture, were looking for ways to rejuvenate their village.

The realization that rice had been grown in the area for over 2,000 years led the people of the village to the decision to honor the age old tradition by starting a paddy field behind the town hall and use it as a canvas to create giant artworks, using a combination of heirloom and newer strains of seeds, all of which produce plants of various colors and hues.

Mount Iwak, a stratovolcano in the Aomori Prefecture, was their first creation. At the time, they may not have realized the scale of planning involved to create the art projects they had in mind, so they recreated the volcano for the first nine years.

Having honed their skills on the simple design of the mountain, they were ready to move on to more challenging projects.

Although the people of the village were initially divided on whether to create traditional or international art which would feature the likes of famous people, place or artwork amongst others, in the end, variety won the vote and a new tradition, known as Tanbo art, grew from the village rice paddies.

Inakadate turned into a tourist attraction with visitors arriving during July and August in anticipation of viewing the art of that season.

To improve viewing of the whole picture, best done from above, a 22m mock castle tower was built at the village office and another observation tower was built at the second Tanbo art location.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Napoleon Bonaparte, Marilyn Manroe, Gone with the Wind and Star Wars, as well as Japanese heroes, anime characters and scenes were just some of the iconic images grown at the village’s rice paddy art gallery.

Although Inakadate was the first, and only place to exhibit rice paddy artworks, like all good ideas, it has spread across Japan and to Korea and Taiwan with over a 100 places now offering Tanbo art galleries.

Majestic and Haunting Red Jellyfish Lightning over Texas Captured in Brilliant Photos

ELIAS MARAT
August 18th, 2020

THE MIND UNLEASHED

Scientists have been documenting rare phenomenon in recent years: streaks of red lightning that resemble the tentacles of a glowing crimson jellyfish hanging high from the sky.

These haunting spurts of lightning have been dubbed “sprites,” and are the product of super-fast electrical bursts that occur high up in the atmosphere some 37 to 50 miles in the sky, reaching toward space, according to the European Space Agency.

While sprites have been sighted over every continent besides Antarctica since their discovery in 1989, the phenomenon still isn’t very well known – they last mere tenths of a second, and generally are hidden from those of us on the ground by heavy storm clouds.

Stephen Hummel, an expert on dark skies at the Austin McDonald Observatory, managed to capture a perfect photo of these sprites on July 2 from his vantage point on a ridge on Mount Locke in the Davis Mountains of West Texas.

Hummel snapped the photo while he was recording dozens of hours of footage throughout the year. On that July night, he had already recorded four and a half hours of footage before capturing the sprite – and he had also recorded some 70 hours of footage and stills including 70 sprites this year, he told Business Insider.

“Sprites usually appear to the eye as very brief, dim, grey structures. You need to be looking for them to spot them, and oftentimes I am not certain I actually saw one until I check the camera footage to confirm,” Hummel said.

Sprites often resemble alienlike jellyfish-style creatures dangling from the ionosphere, or the layer that lies just above the dense lower atmosphere. In other cases, they look like vertical red pillars with thin, curling tendrils – and these are called carrot curls due to their resemblance to the root vegetable.

Sprites are difficult to see from the ground during massive thunderstorms because of the clouds, but also because they happen so far from the Earth’s surface – however, they are far easier to observe from the International Space Station.

Sprites were given their magical name by late University of Alaska physics professor Davis Sentman, who devised the name for this weather phenomenon due to it being “well suited to describe their appearance” and fleeting, fairy-like nature.

In some cases, the jellyfish sprites can be absolutely massive, with Hummel’s recent photograph depicting ones that tower “probably around 30 miles long and 30 miles tall,” he said. In some cases, the massive glowing tentacles be seen upwards of 300 miles away.

“The more powerful the storm and the more lightning it produces, the more likely it is to produce a sprite,” Hummel noted.

The red glow of the sprite is a result of nitrogen gas high in the atmosphere getting excited by the bursts of electricity resulting from lightning strikes.

As a sprite sparks, it turns red because of nitrogen floating high in Earth’s atmosphere. The gas gets excited by the burst of electricity and emits a red glow.

Ancient Tree Discovered With a Record of Earth’s Magnetic Field Reversal in Its Rings

Jade Small,
April 23rd, 2020

In March 2019, an amazing discovery was made on New Zealand’s North Island. An ancient tree, the first and perhaps only specimen that exists, shows evidence of a reversal of Earth’s magnetic field. The Agathis Australis, known as a Kauri tree in Māori, was unearthed during the expansion of a geothermal power plant on North Island.

The Kauri was buried 26 feet (7.92m) underground and is 65 feet (19.81m) tall with a diameter of 8 feet (2.44m) and weighs 60 tons. Carbon dating revealed that the tree lived for about 1,500 years between 41,000 and 42,500 years ago.

Alan Hogg, from New Zealand’s University of Waikato, said: “There’s nothing like this anywhere in the world. This Ngāwhā kauri is unique.”

The Kauri was alive during a period of time in Earth’s history when the magnetic field almost reversed. The magnetic north and south did not quite complete a full reversal.

The iron in Earth’s core is believed to generate the magnetic field. Earth’s movement causes electric currents which extend far into space, and the magnetic field creates a barrier to protect Earth from the solar wind. The solar wind, a stream of charged particles from the Sun could, could potentially strip away the ozone layer if it were to impact our atmosphere.

When the magnetic field reverses, successfully or not, more of the Sun’s radiation could get through. Scientists have linked previous extinction events to magnetic field reversals.

The Kauri tree is the first tree found that has lived through a near reversal of the magnetic field and the tree rings show complete evidence of the near reversal. “It’s the time it takes for this movement to occur that is the critical thing… We will map these changes much more accurately using the tree rings,” Hogg said.

Chris Turney, paleoclimatology and climate change expert from the University of New South Wales, is leading a of group of scientists that is analyzing samples of the tree. Understanding what happened to the tree during the near reversal event could be helpful. Hogg explained, “We will have increased cosmic radiation. It will take out satellites and it might take out other communication infrastructure.”

Turney said: “The precious thing is this huge, lonely tree grew for some 1700 years across a remarkable period in our planet’s history when the Earth’s magnetic field flipped some 42,000 years ago, a period known as the Laschamp Excursion. Funded by the Australian Research Council we’re undertaking detailed measurements of the radioactive form of carbon through the tree rings.”

According to NASA, magnetic reversals seem to have happened once every 200,000 to 300,000 years in the last 20 million years, and the last full reversal happened some 780,000 years ago. However, it could also happen randomly.

Scientist revealed as recently as last year that the magnetic north pole had moved unexpectedly. Tracking from the Canadian Arctic to Siberia is usually steady but it sped up so much researchers had to renew the World Magnetic Model (WMM) at the end of 2020 of what would have been the usual five year period. Used worldwide by GPS systems, the WMM is a representation of Earth’s magnetic field and its accuracy is crucial to ensure safe navigation for aviation and shipping particularly in the Polar Regions.

“Because the Earth’s magnetic field has a major effect on how much radiocarbon is formed in the upper atmosphere, these precious analyses will allow us to investigate the magnitude and rate of change when the magnetic field reversed during the Laschamp; something not possible before and of great interest given recent changes in the Earth’s magnetic field,” Turney explained.

The US Senate Passes Historic Conservation Bill, The Great American Outdoors Act

MASOOMA HAQ
June 17, 2020

The U.S. Senate passed Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R-Colo.) bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act, 73–25, making a historic investment into conservation.

“Years of bipartisan work have led to this moment and this historic opportunity for conservation,” said Senator Gardner. “Today the Senate passed not only the single greatest conservation achievement in generations, but also a lifeline to mountain towns and recreation communities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“I call on the House of Representatives to pass this bill without delay in order to provide jobs to the American people, economic stimulus to communities in need, and protections for the great American outdoors for future generations of Americans to cherish,” said Gardner.

Gardner urged his House colleagues to take up the bill, before a guaranteed signature by President Trump.

“I am calling on Congress to send me a Bill that fully and permanently funds the LWCF and restores our National Parks. When I sign it into law, it will be HISTORIC for our beautiful public lands,” President Trump said in March.

Many outdoor recreational organizations praised the passage of the Great Outdoor Act and also pushed for a vote in the House.

“The Great American Outdoors Act just passed the Senate! Now, wildlife needs your help: Ask your representative to pass the bill in the House of Representatives today,” posted the Wildlife Action Fund.

An advocacy group for the Adirondack Park, the Adirondack Council said Wednesday, “A bit of good news today! The Great American Outdoors Act was passed, with annual funding up to $2.8 billion allocated to wildlands, recreation, restoration, and public green spaces.”

Congressman Brian Mast (R-Fla.), a co-sponsor of the House version of the bill, called on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to bring the House of Representatives back into session to pass the Great American Outdoors Act as soon as possible.

“Speaker Pelosi should immediately call the House back into session so we can pass this critical bill ASAP!” Rep. Mast said.

Mast said the bill is critical to Florida’s economic health. He highlighted the fact that, if passed by the House, it would support a $58 billion industry and 485,000 direct jobs.

The bill will fully and indefinitely fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) as well as invest billions of dollars into national parks and public lands.