Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Are You An Insomniac?

“I remember when staying up until midnight was hard to do - now it's a bad habit”

Insomnia is a symptom, not a stand-alone diagnosis or a disease.  By definition, insomnia is "difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or both" or the perception of poor quality sleep.  Insomnia may therefore be due to inadequate quality or quantity of sleep.  Insomnia is not defined by a specific number of hours of sleep that one gets, since individuals vary widely in their sleep needs and practices.  Although most of us know what insomnia is and how we feel and perform after one or more sleepless nights, few seek medical advice.
Insomnia affects all age groups.  Among adults, insomnia affects women more often than men.  The incidence tends to increase with age.  It is typically more common in people in lower socioeconomic (income) groups, chronic alcoholics, and mental health patients.  Stress most commonly triggers short-term or acute insomnia.  If you do not address your insomnia, however, it may develop into chronic insomnia.
Insomnia is generally classified based on the duration of the problem.  Not everyone agrees on one definition, but generally:
·         symptoms lasting less than one week are classified as transient insomnia,
·         symptoms between one to three weeks are classified as short-term insomnia, and
·         those longer than three weeks are classified as chronic insomnia

Insomnia Causes
Insomnia may be caused by a host of different reasons.  These causes may be divided into situational factors, medical or psychiatric conditions, or primary sleep problems.  Insomnia could also be classified by the duration of the symptoms into transient, short-term, or chronic. Transient insomnia generally last less than seven days; short-term insomnia usually lasts for about one to three weeks, and chronic insomnia lasts for more than three weeks.
Many of the causes of transient and short-term insomnia are similar and they include:
·         Jet lag
·         Changes in shift work
·         Excessive or unpleasant noise
·         Uncomfortable room temperature (too hot or too cold)
·         Stressful situations in life (exam preparation, loss of a loved one, unemployment, divorce, or separation)
·         Presence of an acute medical or surgical illness or hospitalization
·         Withdrawal from drug, alcohol, sedative, or stimulant medications
·         Uncontrolled physical symptoms (pain, fever, breathing problems, nasal congestion, cough, diarrhea, etc.)

Causes of Chronic or Long-Term Insomnia
The majority of causes of chronic or long-term insomnia are usually linked to an underlying psychiatric or physiological condition.
Psychological Causes of Insomnia
The most common psychological problems that may lead to insomnia include:
·         anxiety,
·         depression
·         stress (mental, emotional, situational, etc),
·         schizophrenia, and/or
·         mania (bipolar disorder)
Physiological Causes of Insomnia
Physiological causes span from circadian rhythm disorders (disturbance of the biological clock), sleep-wake imbalance, to a variety of medical conditions. The following are the most common medical conditions that trigger insomnia:
·         Chronic pain syndromes
·         Chronic fatigue syndrome
·         Congestive heart failure
·         Night time angina (chest pain) from heart disease
·         Acid reflux disease (GERD)
·         Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
·         Nocturnal asthma (asthma with night time breathing symptoms)
·         Obstructive sleep apnea
·         Degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease
·         Brain tumors, strokes, or trauma to the brain
High Risk Groups for Insomnia
In addition to people with the above medical conditions, certain groups may be at higher risk for developing insomnia:
·         Travelers
·         Shift workers with frequent changing of shifts
·         Seniors
·         Adolescents or young adult students
·         Pregnant women
·         Women in menopause
·         People who use abuse drugs
·         Alcoholics
Medication Related Insomnia
Certain medications have also been associated with insomnia. Among them are:
·         Certain over-the-counter cold and asthma preparations.
The prescription varieties of these medications may also contain stimulants and thus produce similar effects on sleep.
·         Some medications used to treat high blood pressure have also been associated with poor sleep.
·         Some medications used to treat depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
Other Causes of Insomnia
·         Common stimulants associated with poor sleep include caffeine and nicotine.  You should consider not only restricting caffeine and nicotine use in the hours immediately before bedtime but also limiting your total daily intake.
·         People often use alcohol to help induce sleep, as a nightcap.  However, it is a poor choice. Alcohol is associated with sleep disruption and creates a sense of non-refreshed sleep in the morning.
·         A disruptive bed partner with loud snoring or periodic leg movements also may impair your ability to get a good night's sleep.

Insomnia Symptoms
Doctors associate a variety of signs and symptoms with insomnia.  Often, the symptoms intertwine with those of other medical or mental conditions.
Some people with insomnia may complain of difficulty falling asleep or waking up frequently during the night.  The problem may begin with stress.   Then, as you begin to associate the bed with your inability to sleep, the problem may become chronic.
Most often daytime symptoms will bring people to seek medical attention.   Daytime problems caused by insomnia include the following:
·         Poor concentration and focus
·         Difficulty with memory
·         Impaired motor coordination (being uncoordinated)
·         Irritability and impaired social interaction
·         Motor vehicle accidents because of fatigued, sleep-deprived drivers
·         People may worsen these daytime symptoms by their own attempts to treat the symptoms.
·         Alcohol and antihistamines may compound the problems with sleep deprivation.

Primary Sleep Disorders
In addition to the causes and conditions listed above, there are also a number of conditions that are associated with insomnia in the absence of another underlying condition.  These are called primary sleep disorders, in which the sleep disorder is the main cause of insomnia.  These conditions generally cause chronic or long-term insomnia. Some of the diseases are listed below:
·         Idiopathic insomnia (unknown cause) or childhood insomnia, which starts early on in life and results in lifelong sleep problems.  This may run in families.
·         Central sleep apnea. This is a complex disorder.  It can be the primary cause of the insomnia itself or it may be caused by other conditions, such as brain injury, heart failure, high altitude, and low oxygen levels.
·         Restless legs syndrome (a condition associated with creeping sensations in the leg during sleep that are relieved by leg movement)
·         Periodic Limb movement disorder (a condition associated with involuntary repeated leg movement during sleep)
·         Circadian rhythm disorders (disturbance of the biological clock) which are conditions with unusual timing of sleep (for example, going to sleep later and waking up late, or going to sleep very early and getting up very early).
·         Sleep state misperception, in which the patient has a perception or feeling of not sleeping adequately, but there are no objective findings of any sleep disturbance.
·         Insufficient sleep syndrome, in which the person's sleep is insufficient because of environmental situations and lifestyle choices, such as sleeping in a bright or noisy room.
·         Inadequate sleep hygiene, in which the individual has poor sleep or sleep preparation habits

Insomnia Medications and Medical Therapies
There are numerous prescription medications to treat insomnia.  Generally, it is advised that they should not be used as the only therapy and that treatment is more successful if combined with non-medical therapies.   In a study, it was noted that when sedatives were combined with behavioral therapy, more patients were likely to wean off the sedatives than if sedatives were used alone.
Herbal Remedies for Insomnia
St. Johns Wort and chamomile have not shown any real benefit in treating insomnia.
Valerian is a popular herbal medication used for treating insomnia with possibly some benefit in some patients with chronic insomnia.

(valeriana officinalis)

Available as

Most commonly taken as tablets per specifications
Up to 3 grams of dried plant, equivalent to 700mg of standardized extract
As tincture, 20 drops in a cup of hot water, four times a day for anxiety, or half an hour before bed time for insomnia

What is it?
Valerian is an attractive perennial with pretty pink flowers.  It grows throughout Europe and is now well established in North America.  As far back as the 1st century AD, the physician Dioscorides used it, as did Hippocrates before him, and Paracelsus after that.
In the Middle Ages, valerian was used for many medicinal properties, though proof of its efficiency in the treatment of epilepsy has never been substantiated.   While the ancient Greeks and Romans understood the herb’s value as a gentle sedative, it wasn’t until the middle of the 18th century that it became widely accepted in the treatment of anxiety and insomnia.  Valerian contains many active constituents, including volatile oils, iridoids and alkaloids.

What it does
Prolonged periods of stress lead to a state of constant heightened arousal, and overproduction of the activity hormone adrenaline.  This is the hormone that prepares the body for the “fight or flight” – the heart rate increases, blood pressure rises and mental faculties are sharpened so that mind and body are prepared for instant action.
Valerian can break this vicious cycle.  Taken in small doses, its action is calming without causing drowsiness.  Larger doses become mildly sedative and help to restore regular sleep patterns in those suffering from insomnia.  As a bonus, valerian is an effective anti-spasmodic which helps to relieve colic, stomach cramps and irritable bowel syndrome.

“Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds”

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Prayers for the Victims of Hurricane Sandy

“This storm is not yet over," Obama said during a visit to the headquarters of the American Red Cross in Washington, warning that some northern states could still face flooding and high winds. "Do not figure out why we can't do something. I want you to figure out how we do something," Obama said. "I want you to cut through red tape, I want you to cut through bureaucracy, there is no excuse for inaction at this point. I want every agency to lean forward."

How Superstorm Sandy unfolded:

The misery of superstorm Sandy's devastation grew on Tuesday as millions along the US East Coast faced life without power or mass transit for days, and huge swaths of New York City remained eerily quiet. The US death toll climbed to 39, many of the victims killed by falling trees, and rescue work continued.

The storm that made landfall in New Jersey on Monday evening with hurricane force cut power to more than 8.2 million across the East and put the presidential campaign on hold just one week before Election Day.

New York was among the hardest hit, with its financial heart closed for a second day. The storm caused the worst damage in the 108-year history of the city's subway system, and there was no indication of when the largest US transit system would be rolling again.

"This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

But the full extent of the damage in New Jersey was being revealed as morning arrived. Emergency crews fanned out to rescue hundreds.

A hoarse-voiced New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave bleak news at a morning news conference: Seaside rail lines washed away. No safe place on the state's barrier islands for him to land. Parts of the coast still under water.   "It is beyond anything I thought I'd ever see," he said. "It is a devastating sight right now."

The death toll from Sandy in the US included several killed by falling trees. Sandy also killed 69 people in the Caribbean before making its way up the Eastern Seaboard.

Airlines canceled more than 12,000 flights. New York City's three major airports remained closed.

Most major tunnels and bridges in New York were closed, as were schools and Broadway theaters.

Latest Updates

• Death toll reaches 39 across US and Canada
• Obama tells East Coast: America is with you
• Governor Christie: devastation 'unthinkable'
• New York's stock markets to reopen Wednesday
• More than 8.2 million people without power
• Fire rips through Queens destroying 50 homes
• Levee breaks in New Jersey causing evacuations

Global Prayer and Intention Circle for those Affected by Hurricane Sandy

Replay of a global prayer for those in the path of the Hurricane at:

You Wealth Revolution

“The great thing about America is when we go through tough times like this, we all pull together,” Obama said Monday afternoon as the television cameras rolled. “We look out for our friends. We look out for our neighbours. And we set aside whatever issues we may have otherwise to make sure that we respond appropriately and with swiftness.”

Monday, 29 October 2012

Today is World Psoriasis Day

A common genetically determined, chronic, inflammatory skin disease characterized by rounded erythematous, dry, scaling patches. The lesions have a predilection for nails, scalp, genitalia, extensor surfaces, and the lumbosacral region. Accelerated epidermopoiesis is considered to be the fundamental pathologic feature in psoriasis.

What exactly is psoriasis?
Let’s start with what it’s not. It’s not contagious and it’s not just a skin disease. Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition. The exact cause is unknown; however, researchers believe that psoriasis has hereditary and environmental components and is mediated by the immune system.
Normally, skin cells that are formed in the deepest layers of your skin make their way to the surface. They mature, are sloughed off the body’s surface, and replaced with new skin cells from below. This cycle takes approximately a month.
In people with psoriasis, however, once the immune system is accidentally activated, an abnormally rapid skin cell cycle occurs. This means the cells move from the deepest layers of your skin to the surface in about four days. Since the cells move to the surface so quickly, they don’t have time to properly mature. Instead, they accumulate on the skin's surface, forming raised, red patches or “lesions.”

Psoriasis symptoms
While plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis, the disease appears in a variety of forms that can occur on different parts of the body. Each has a unique set of symptoms.

Plaque psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris)
Plaque Psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis and affects 90% of people with the disease. Psoriasis vulgaris appears as dry, slightly elevated, red patches, known as plaques, which are covered with a layer of silvery white scales. They tend to start out as small bumps that grow together and are typically found on the elbows, knees, scalp and buttocks.
If you have plaque psoriasis, you may also experience changes to your toenails and fingernails – in fact, this occurs in about half of people with psoriasis. There are four changes to be aware of: pitting, thickening, discoloration and loosening of the nail from the nail bed.
Although the cause of plaque psoriasis is unknown, it is believed that hereditary factors, environmental factors and the immune system all play important roles.
There are a variety of treatments for plaque psoriasis. Some are available over the counter at your local drugstore; others are available only by prescription. Unfortunately, no one treatment works for everyone. The best approach is to talk to your dermatologist about your treatment options, and then you and your dermatologist can decide together which one may be right for you.

Guttate psoriasis

Guttate psoriasis appears as small, pinkish dots that can spread to cover large areas of the upper body, legs and arms. This type of psoriasis commonly appears in adolescence. It often occurs suddenly and sometimes in response to a respiratory infection such as a streptococcal infection (“strep throat”).

Inverse psoriasis

This form of psoriasis appears in the folds of the skin as smooth, red, dry patches without the scale found in plaque psoriasis. It may also be accompanied by itching. Inverse psoriasis may appear in the genital area as well as under the breasts and in the armpits.

Pustular psoriasis
Pustular psoriasis appears as small, white, fluid-filled blisters (pustules) surrounded by swollen, reddish skin. It tends to appear primarily on the palms and soles of the feet. While these localized lesions are difficult to treat, they pose no real threat to the body. However, pustular psoriasis that covers the entire body can result in fever, fluid imbalances and infection. The majority of people with the more generalized form of this psoriasis need to be hospitalized.

Palmo-plantar pustulosis

One type of pustular psoriasis is known as palmo-plantar pustulosis. Small pustules form on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. The pustules appear within the plaques and eventually turn a brownish colour, peel and develop a crusty surface.

Once established, it may last for decades. Significant morbidity can impair dexterity or mobility, and cause pain, pruritus and embarrassment

Erythrodermic psoriasis
This form of psoriasis occurs sporadically, often covering almost the entire body. The skin appears bright red with extensive scaling. It can be quite painful and severe itching may also be present.
Because symptoms are widespread over the body, this form can be extremely serious. If you have a flare-up of this type of psoriasis, you should see your doctor immediately. The resulting protein, fluid loss, and decrease in body temperature can lead to severe, life-threatening illness and may require hospitalization

Scalp psoriasis
Plaque psoriasis of the scalp is one of the more common forms of the disease, affecting at least half of all people who have psoriasis. Plaques appear on the scalp and may spread to the ears, forehead and the back of the neck. Hair loss may result in severe cases where the entire scalp is covered. Plaque psoriasis of the scalp can occur without the appearance of plaques on the rest of the body.

Nail psoriasis
Psoriasis affects the fingernails in approximately 50% of people with psoriasis, and approximately 35% in the toenails. Nail changes vary, but the most common are
  • Severe thickening of the nail
  • Shallow or deep holes (pits) in the nail
  • Nail discoloration, such as yellow-brown
  • Nail separation from the nail bed

Psoriatic arthritis: a related condition
Seven to 42% of people with psoriasis have psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory disease that affects both the skin and the joints. Skin symptoms usually appear before the joint symptoms which typically affect the tendons and ligaments surrounding the bones of the knees, lower back, fingers, toes or a number of other joints. The "hinge" joints of the hands and feet may also become swollen and stiff, taking on a sausage-like appearance, resulting in tendonitis.

While the skin symptoms and the joint symptoms frequently appear at different times, often years apart, psoriasis is usually diagnosed first. The skin lesions have a distinct, raised border and are bright red and covered in a silvery white scale. Other symptoms may include pitting and ridges in the fingernails and toenails. Both dermatologists and rheumatologists (doctors who specialize in joint disease) treat psoriatic arthritis; however, each focuses on different aspects of the disease. Dermatologists focus primarily on evaluating and treating disorders of the skin, nails and hair. Rheumatologists specialize in treating patients with arthritis.

Causes of psoriasis
Over time, our understanding of psoriasis has changed. Long considered a skin disease, increasing attention and scientific information has indicated that psoriasis has genetic and environmental components and is mediated by the immune system. Researchers believe that the disease may occur when your immune system (your natural protection against bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders) is accidentally activated, triggering an acceleration of the normal skin cell cycle. This in turn causes an accumulation of skin cells on the surface of the skin.
While no one knows what triggers this response, heredity plays a part in it. If you have one parent with psoriasis, you have a 25% chance of getting it too. If both your parents have it, your chances are more than 50%.
On the other hand, some people with no detectable family history have psoriasis. There are various environmental factors, such as stress, injury to the skin, etc. that can trigger psoriasis. For this reason, it is believed that both genetic and non-genetic factors may cause the disease.

Diagnosing psoriasis
The classic symptoms of psoriasis are thick, raised red patches of skin covered with a dry, silvery white build-up of scales. The patches can appear anywhere on the body. While a doctor can diagnose psoriasis, it is typically done by a dermatologist – a physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions that affect the skin.
Psoriasis can have a large impact on your quality of life. Knowing how various areas of your life and daily routine have changed since you began experiencing symptoms may be helpful for your doctor to determine the severity of your psoriasis.

Who gets psoriasis?
If you have psoriasis, you’re not alone. Research indicates that up to 10 million people in North America have psoriasis (1-3% of the population). It affects men and women at equal rates, affects all age groups, and is most common in people of European ancestry.
I suffer from Palmo-plantar pustulosis, mainly on my feet. At first I thought I had chronic athlete’s foot but when it spread to my hands, I went to see a dermatologist.  I guess I am one of the fortunate ones that do not have it all over my body.  With the correct treatment I keep it under control and the main discomfort is wearing socks all the time due to the paraffin base ointment that I need to apply.

You can visit for more information.

When we visit with Congressional offices, we are told again and again about the historic doubling of biomedical research funding that has occurred in the last decade. But for the as many as 7.5 million Americans with psoriasis, this doubling of funding at NIH is a cruel joke, because psoriasis research has actually been decimated during this time. People with psoriasis, and their loved ones, must step up and make their voices heard to get this reversed, or this incurable and often debilitating disease will continue to devastate lives for generations to come.
Michael Paranzino

Awakening to the Call of the Cosmos

"By allowing us to step directly beyond the mind and ego, authentic meditation provides us with both a direct experience of the goal and context of spiritual life and an opportunity to ground our being in that ultimate reality"
Craig Hamilton

Silent meditation has always played a central role on the spiritual path. By allowing us to step directly beyond the mind and ego, authentic meditation provides us with both a direct experience of the goal and context of spiritual life and an opportunity to ground our being in that ultimate reality.
In its deepest form, meditation is about disengaging entirely from the world of time, action, and becoming, and resting freely and effortlessly in “non-dual awareness” or what has often been called “the natural state.”
Yet, although meditation is about discovering this “natural state,” in practice it is often anything but natural. Left to our own efforts, many of us find meditation to be either a constant struggle or merely a moderately relaxing practice with no clear connection to the lives we are living every day.

An invitation to a free online meditation gathering:
In response to the growing need for deep meditation instruction and support, we’re pleased to announce that Integral Enlightenment Founder Craig Hamilton has offered to host a free monthly meditation gathering online.
One Sunday morning each month, we’ll gather from around the world online and by phone to participate in this collective journey in consciousness.
Each 90-minute event will begin with a brief talk about meditation, followed by a 45-minute guided meditation and a 30-minute Q&A session during which you can ask your questions about meditation and receive direct guidance from Craig.
Awakening to the Call of the Cosmos

We’ve been offering guided online group meditation as part of our Integral Enlightenment courses for the past two years, and the impact on participants has been nothing short of life-changing. Many find that, in this supportive “collective field,” they are able to gain access to a depth of meditation that has previously eluded them—often despite years or even decades of meditation practice.
So, we’re delighted to now be able to share this experience free of charge with anyone who wishes to tune in.
About Craig Hamilton:

Integral Enlightenment founder Craig Hamilton is a pioneer in the emerging field of evolutionary spirituality. In his inspired writings, talks, and teachings, he calls us to awaken beyond the confines of the separate ego and dedicate our lives to the further evolution of consciousness itself.
As the guiding force behind Integral Enlightenment, Craig offers spiritual guidance and teachings to a growing international community of thousands of students in 36 countries around the world. Through his online Academy for Evolutionaries, he teaches a series of experiential telecourses guiding participants through a process of spiritual awakening into an “evolutionary relationship to life.”
Craig’s work at Integral Enlightenment integrates decades of intensive spiritual practice with insights gleaned during his eight years as Senior Editor of the award-winning What Is Enlightenment? magazine. For 13 years, he participated in the dynamic living “laboratory of evolution” known as Enlighten Next, under the direct guidance of its founder, Andrew Cohen, ultimately playing a key role in the leadership of this thriving international spiritual community. In his current work, he is helping to articulate an authentic evolutionary spirituality—an “integral enlightenment” which illuminates the vital relationship between individual transformation and collective evolution.
Craig is a founding member of Ken Wilber’s Integral Institute, a member of Deepak Chopra’s Evolutionary Leaders Forum, and was a participant in the Synthesis Dialogues, a 35-person interdisciplinary think tank presided over by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His celebrated conversations with other luminaries form the basis of the acclaimed webinar series’, “The Great Integral Awakening: Pioneering A New Spiritual Path,” and “Awakening the Impulse to Evolve: The Birth of Evolutionary Spirituality.” He has also been a contributor to Shift magazine and co-authored IONS’ 2008 Shift Report. Craig lives with his wife, Claire, in San Rafael, California.

“Stay true to your deepest intuition that an extraordinary and miraculous life is possible”
Craig Hamilton

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Should Cannabis Be Legalised?

“I used to smoke marijuana. But I'll tell you something:
I would only smoke it in the late evening.
Oh, occasionally the early evening, but usually the late evening - or the mid-evening.
Just the early evening, midevening and late evening.
Occasionally, early afternoon, early midafternoon, or perhaps the late-midafternoon.
Oh, sometimes the early-mid-late-early morning. . . . But never at dusk.”
Steve Martin

Cannabis is a derivative of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa.  Cannabis contains a chemical called THC (Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol).  THC is a mind-altering drug.  People usually take it for the effects it has on their mood and their feelings.  THC is also a depressant drug, that is, it slows the brain down, particularly if taken in high doses.  It can give people hallucinations, make them feel sedated or sleepy or it can act as a stimulant.

Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant.  It may range in colour from green to grey or brown. It may be fine like dried tea, or leafy.  Marijuana is usually smoked as a rolled cigarette, but it can be eaten if combined with food, most commonly cookies.  Other names for marijuana include dope, pot, grass, spliff, dak, buds, ganga, hooch, zol and weed.
Hashish, commonly referred to as hash, is made from the resin of the cannabis plant.  Hashish is often sold in hard cubes and may be brown to black in colour.  It is usually smoked with tobacco (rolled into a cigarette) but can be eaten as well.  Hashish is more potent or powerful in its effects than marijuana.
Hashish oil is a concentrated form of hashish.  It is very potent and small amounts can produce marked effects.  Marijuana, hashish and hashish oil are often taken through a pipe or bong which cools the smoke through water.  Sometimes hashish oil is taken by a process called spotting.  Spotting involves heating implements to combine with hashish to produce smoke - often cutlery knives are used on a stove.  Burnt tips of knives are usually a sign they have been used for this purpose.
How cannabis works
When smoked, cannabis is rapidly absorbed through the lungs into the blood, its level peaking in the blood about 30 minutes after being taken. However, cannabis is highly lipid soluble - that means it is attracted to fat cells. It is quickly taken from the blood and stored in fat cells. The THC is then released very slowly, and unevenly, back into the blood.
Different figures are sometimes quoted about how long THC can remain in the body's fat stores. The general answer is that it stays in the body for a very long period compared with other drugs, potentially for several months.
Effects of cannabis use
It is not possible to accurately summarise or predict the immediate effects of using cannabis because each person may experience individual and different effects.
These effects will depend on:
·         how much cannabis is taken, the way it is taken and the form in which it is taken
·         how strong it is
·         how experienced the user is
·         the general physical health of the user
·         the mental health of the user
·         the user's mood when they start taking the drug
·         the setting in which they take the drug
·         whether other drugs are taken as well.
Short-term effects
Although cannabis is a depressant or brain-slowing drug, people often say that being intoxicated (stoned, wasted, out of it) is a very stimulating experience.  The user feels very happy or high, loose or uninhibited.
Some people find that using cannabis is a negative experience.  They may feel anxious, self-conscious or have paranoid thoughts.  Some experience acute anxiety and panic.
People who are intoxicated on cannabis usually feel more sensitive to things around them and sensations can seem different. For example, time can seem to slow down, colours seem brighter and richer and new details and meanings can be seen in things.  People concentrate less well, often talk and laugh more than usual and can have problems with their balance.
If large doses of cannabis are taken, the resulting toxicity can cause symptoms of confusion, paranoia, panic attacks, hallucinations and feelings of unreality.  New users may also experience acute paranoid experiences which usually stop after intoxication wears off.
Cannabis also often impairs short-term memory and attention and makes it harder to complete complex tasks, especially tasks which involve doing several things at once.
Longer-term and chronic effects
A number of longer-term effects have been seen in people who use cannabis heavily. Some New Zealand researchers define heavy use as using 10 times or more in a 30-day period.   Heavy cannabis use effects can include the following.
·         An increased risk of developing cancer of the respiratory tract.  These risks are more likely to do with smoking as the method of taking cannabis, rather than the properties of the drug itself.
·         An adverse effect on people with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, since cannabis use significantly raises the heart rate.
·         A risk of developing chronic bronchitis, possibly irreversible obstructive lung disease, possibly lung cancer and cancers of the aero-digestive tract.
·         Heavy use of cannabis is sometimes associated with a reduction in energy and drive.  This has been referred to as "amotivation".  This problem is more likely to be an acute effect which will go away if cannabis use stops.  There is poor evidence of this syndrome existing even among heavy, long-term cannabis users.
·         Heavy cannabis use affects the ability to learn.  This is related to decreased concentration levels, reduced short-term memory and difficulties with thinking.  These problems go away if cannabis use stops.
·         Chronic, heavy cannabis use can reduce sex drive in some people.  It can lower sperm count in males and lead to irregular periods in females.  This problem goes away if cannabis use stops.
·         People can become dependent on cannabis.
·         Many people with mental health problems also use cannabis.  Generally, it is not a good drug for such people to use.  People with mental health problems need to try to keep their brain level or stable.  Cannabis excites and then slows the brain down.  In particular, it can make anyone who has ever been paranoid, more paranoid.
Signs and Symptoms of Cannabis or Marijuana Use:
If someone is intoxicated by Cannabis:
·         They may have balance problems and have trouble walking.
·         Their eyes may appear red and bloodshot and dilated pupils are common.
·         They may exhibit memory difficulties.  
·         The user can become hungry  -often referred to as getting the munchies
·         When the effects start to wear off they may become sleepy.

Getting hooked
As with other drugs, dependence on cannabis is influenced by a number of factors, including how long you’ve been using it, how much you use and whether you are more prone to becoming dependent. 
Compared to other widely used drugs like alcohol, tobacco and opiates, a smaller percentage of cannabis users become dependent.  Dependency is also less severe compared to many other legal and illegal drugs.  Adolescents are much more susceptible to marijuana dependence and to problems related to marijuana abuse than adults.  Researchers found that pot has a 9% addiction rate, which is low when compared with the legal substance of nicotine, which has a 32 % rate of addiction.  Heroin's addiction rate is 23 %, but the study found that about 10 % of pot smokers become daily users.
You may find you have difficulty stopping regular use, and you may experience psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms when you do stop.  Withdrawal symptoms can include cravings for cannabis, irritability, mood changes, appetite disturbance, weight loss, difficulty sleeping and, in some people, sweating, shaking and diarrhoea.
If you've only been using for a short while there should be no problem stopping, but after continued regular use of cannabis, stopping can become more difficult.  You’re also at risk of getting addicted to nicotine if you roll your spliffs with tobacco.
The active ingredient of cannabis, THC, is detectable in urine for typically 14 to 28 days for frequent use of the drug or around 5 days for a one-off use, at a cut-off level of 50 ng/ml.  The reason for this long retention time is that THC binds with the body's fat reserves - and leaches out over a number of days.  You will also undoubtedly have patients who claim that they are positive due to passive smoking.  Let us assure you that this is not the case.  The cut-off level of the test is set at a level much too high for passive smoking to affect the test results.
Check this world map for legal areas of cannabis use.

“Federal and state laws (should) be changed to no longer make it a crime
to possess marijuana for private use.”
Richard Nixon
What do you think?