The Shocking Reasons Behind The Opioid Epidemic

According to the CDC, 91 people die everyday from opioid overdose. Deaths have increased since 2010. The root cause is debatable, yet since 1999, 400% in opioid prescriptions have increased.

In 1995, the Purdue Pharmaceutical Company released the drug, OxyContin. It’s an extended release oxycodone formulation branded for treatment of chronic non-cancerous pain. From 1996-2002, Purdue contributed to a large campaign to encourage chronic use of opioid prescriptions for pain. Not only that, but they asked doctors and nurses to include pain as another vital sign. Purdue financially supported the American Pain Society and other groups. They supported the message that long-term opioid use for pain was safe. In patient’s best interests, OxyContin became the best selling painkiller prescribed in the country.

Opioids are known for their analgesic ( pain ), sedative, and euphoric effects. They were originally derived from the poppy flower. Natural and synthetic opioids have since been formulated. Natural occurring opioids are Morphine and Codeine. Semi-synthetic opioids are Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Heroin, and Hydromorphine. Synthetic opioids are Fentanyl, Methadone, and Tapentadyl. The CDC names Oxycodone, OxyContin, and Hydrocodone as the top prescription opioids implicated in overdosed deaths.

Since 2007, IV Heroin usage increased over other drugs of abuse. The DEA reported 200% increase of Heroin overdosed deaths from 2000-2014. Since 2013, overdoses involving Fentanyl has affected the opioid crisis in North America. Fentanyl is used as an anesthetic as well as an analgesic in the medical field. It is the most potent opioid narcotic available. It is 50-100 times more potent than Morphine. The problem is the non-pharmaceutical Fentanyl is being manufactured illegally overseas, primarily China, and trafficked to the US, Mexico, and Canada. This powder is mixed with heroin and made into pills that looks identical to the common prescribed opioid medications. The high potency is equivalent to a few grains of salt. The short term effects are respiratory depression and decreased levels of responsiveness that leads to overdosed deaths.

When using opioids, the reward center in the brain is stimulated. Once individual moves beyond the early stages of pleasure and reward seeking, a more complicated neuro-biological process takes over. The more exposed to the drug, the more the drug is needed to achieve the same affect. Once individual acquires escalating doses of opioids to achieve pleasure and analgesic affects, the person has developed a tolerance. Tolerance results when the receptors in the brain cells become less responsive to opioid stimulation. Opioid dependence occurs when the body has adapted to presence of drugs and will suffer physical symptoms  in drug’s absence. They will suffer withdrawal symptoms if drug stopped suddenly. The withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, jitteriness, dilation of pupils, muscle cramps, insomnia, GI upset, and Tachycardia.

It is important in this opioid epidemic to decrease the access and exposure to the opioid drugs.

Bright Red Sun

I woke up this morning to the smell of a fire. The sun was bright red and the air smoky. Ashes covered my deck. As I looked around, ashes were falling from the sky. I turned on the news and found out 410 hwy. was closed because of firefighters containing a fire at Crystal Mountain area. There was already a forest fire in Cle Elum. The wind carried the smoke and ash over the mountains and into Auburn and surrounding areas.

This has been the driest summer Washington has ever had.

Bring On The Good Skin

There are several good food choices to help retain healthy skin. Here are a few:

  • Avocados: They have healthy fats that lock in moisture and strengthen skin cell membranes
  • Beets: They support healthy liver function which contributes to glowing skin
  • Berries: The skin of the berries have anthocyanins in them which strengthens skin elasticity.  They are also a good source of antioxidants.
  • Leafy greens and spinach: They help heal skin and support collagen production. They have Vitamins A and C in them also.
  • Lemons: They cleanse and balance the body’s pH. They are a good source of Vitamin C.
  • Sweet potatoes: They help repair and smooth your complexion.
  • Salmon: They help protect skin from UV damage and are a good source of protein which aides in healing.

Some spices also help with good skin. Turmeric is packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidants. This helps with healing and anti-aging. Cinnamon helps moderate blood sugar spikes caused by sweet foods. It also is an anti-inflammatory which helps in healing. Also drink plenty of water to retain healthy skin. With summer upon us, slab on that sunscreen. Too much sun can lead to skin cancer and wrinkles.

The Balance Act of Stress and Diabetes

Stress can sabotage the best efforts at controlling blood sugar. When we are stressed, the body releases higher levels of the hormone, cortisol. This hormone together with adrenaline places the body in a fight or flight mood. This creates a dominos effect by increasing the concentration of glucose which interferes with the activity of insulin, leads to higher levels of A1C, and increases the risk of complications. When cortisol rises, it damages brain neurons associated with mood. It’s no wonder that people with diabetes suffer from depression 3-5 times more than the average person. Brain cells can regrow if the cortisol levels are decreased. However, if those levels stay at a constant high due to stress, medical problems will happen.

When people are stressed, they will reach for comfort foods. Those high-carb foods are the worst thing a diabetic can eat.  It is a daily juggling act to decide what they can or can’t eat. Diabetes is  challenging because it requires attention and discipline. So what can a person do?

  • Find out the cause of your stress. If it’s your job, you need to decide if it’s worth staying there or move on. If you can’t leave, take a time out.
  • Find reasons to laugh. Humor is a great reducer of stress and it lowers your cortisol. Go to a comedy club or watch a funny movie.
  • Working out helps the body burn up excess cortisol produced by stress.
  • Meditate. Focus on a picture in your mind of something peaceful.
  • Concentrate on your breathing, slow and easy, in and out for a few minutes.
  • Stretch or go for a walk.
  • Find a nutritionist to help you plan a balanced diet. Some people are overwhelmed with a diagnosis of Diabetes and have a hard time with planning meals.
  • Seek help for depression if you find yourself lacking interest in things you once enjoyed.
  • Contact the local Diabetes Association for help and questions.
  • Talk with friends or family. Sometimes just talking about the stressors in your life with someone releases the burden.

Stress-reducing techniques can lower your cortisol levels and stabilize your insulin thus reducing the risk of complications with Diabetes. Also you will feel better.


Who knew those women libbers that burned their bras years ago had the right idea all along? According to medical anthropologists, Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer, a bra-covered breast can actually cause cysts, pain, cancer, as well as lead to stretched-out, droopy breasts. Perhaps your mother, like my own, preached the importance of wearing a bra to prevent sagginess. Wrong! A fifteen year study, done in France, concluded that eliminating the bra doesn’t promote sagginess of the breast. In fact, bras constrict the natural lymph fluid from flowing much like a rubber band cuts off the circulation. Backed-up fluid results in pain and cysts. Stagnant lymph fluid, not flushed away, concentrates waste products and toxins in the breasts. THIS can lead to cancer! So what are you waiting for ladies? Toss the bra.

Bone Up

Most people, especially in America, fail to meet the current guidelines for calcium intake; despite advertisements that promote dairy products to help build stronger bones and teeth. The lack of knowledge between calcium consumption and bone disease contributes to the high rate of fractures and disability due to osteoporosis. Inadequate calcium intake during the growth phase leads to calcium removal from the inside of  bones which support longitudinal growth, thus resulting in thin, porous bones. A shortage of calcium affects how well the teeth develop from infancy through age twenty until the last teeth are formed.

Calcium allows us to support our weight as we stand, stop bleeding when we are cut, and contract our muscles when we run. It also helps regulate our blood pressure and other bodily functions. Calcium is released from the bones into the blood as the need arises. It binds with proteins and is a cofactor for many enzymes, resulting in their activation for specific functions. Proteins, assisted by calcium, regulate muscle contractions and relaxation, assists in blood clotting, transmits nerve impulses, signals glandular secretions, activates enzymatic reactions, and moves and divides cells. Isn’t that amazing?

During menopause, there is a sharp decline in estrogen levels that contribute to a change in calcium balance and accelerates bone loss, especially in the first three years. Estrogen replacement therapy is recommended by some doctors to slow down the bone loss. However, long term use of hormone therapy has been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer and stroke. Women should weigh the pros and cons of hormone replacement before making a decision.

Pregnancy increases calcium need in order for support of fetal development, which places a significant stress on the mother’s skeletal balance. These needs are greatest during the third trimester when 200 mg of calcium a day are required for fetal growth. When a woman is pregnant, her body adjusts to the increased demand by increasing absorption and altering excretion. It also begins to store calcium in preparation for the demands of the lactation period. When calcium intake is low, the fetus is protected, but the mother’s skeleton is compromised to meet the demands. Drink yor milk, ladies!

Maintaining calcium balance is determined between calcium intake and calcium absorption and excretion. Absorption refers to the amount absorped from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. Excretion refers to the amount eliminated from the body i urine, feces, and sweat. The challenge with calcium absorption is to break it down well enough for the body to absorb it and utilize it. There are several factors that can decrease calcium absorption, such as Vitamin D inadequancy, menopause, decreased stomach acid, and diseases of the small intestine, liver, and pancreas. Calcium excretion can be increased by dietary sodium, alcohol, and aluminum-containing compounds.

Vitamin D is one of the most important factors influencing calcium absorption. Without sufficient Vitamin D, inadequate calcium is absorbed which may weaken bones and increase the risk of fracture. Vitamin D needs can be met by exposure to sunlight and through diet. Sunscreen can block Vitamin D production. In the USA, several states do not get adequate amounts of Vitamin D because the exposure to sunlight is limited. Therefore, they will need to consume Vitamin D from food and supplements to assure an optimal level.

Sodium increases loss of calcium in urine. For every teaspoon of salt or 2300 mg, the loss of calcium increases by 40-80 mg. A typical American adult consumes an estimated 4000-5800 mg of sodium in a day. The dietary requirement limits 1200 mg of sodium a day.

A diet high in animal protein may also contribute to a calcium deficiency because the body goes into a state of mild acidosis that forces the body to leach alkaline substances to restore balance. Calcium is one of the most plentiful alkalizing agents and the bones are the primary storehouse for calcium.

Most aluminum absorbed in the body is deposited in bones. Excessive aluminum-containing substances can contribute to bone disorders. Watch your anti-acid consumption.

Alcohol in excess has an impact on most nutrients because it displaces food from the diet as well as interferes with how the body metabolizes nutrients. Liver cells can lose their efficiency in sctivating Vitamin D which reduces calcium absorption.

Optimal calcium intake varies according to age and gender. In relationship to body size, calcium needs are greater during infancy than any other period of life. The teen years are critical to achieving optimal peak bone mass and in adults, it’s to minimize bone loss. According to the Norh American Menopause Society, a woman over the age of 65 should ingest 1500 mg of calcium a day. The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily dose of 1000 mg for women aged 31 to 50. The Recommended Dietary Allowances breaks it down according to age and gender based on the intake of calcium necessary to support the maximum calcium retention in the bone.

Sources of dietary calcium: Milk and diary products are primary source. Other food sources are sesame seeds, greens, okra, baked beans, oranges, almonds, black-eyed peas, green peas, sardines, and salmon. Fortified foods such as cereals and breads as well as juices must contain at least 200 mg of calcium per serving to be rich in calcium and 100 mg to be a good source of calcium. Read your labels.

Suggestions for calcium supplements:

  1. Calcium citrate has best absorption rate
  2. Read labels before purchasing
  3. Avoid natural sources such as bone meal, dolomite, and oyster shell which contain lead or heavy metals
  4. Divide large amounts of calcium into smaller doses throughout day-individual doses shouldn’t exceed 500 mg
  5. Take tablets with meals to maximize acid secretion
  6. Individuals with anemia should take iron and calcium at different times of the day
  7. Those on thyroid medications should take calcium at least 2 hours afterwards to prevent the interference of the absorption of the thyroid medication