Rolling Out the Welcome Mat in Health Tech

#cbdfordogs #cbdforpets #cbdwellness #petcbd CBD

CBD and Your Dog: First Things to Know

Should you give CBD to your dog?

So you’re all in for CBD. You’ve used it for sleep, for relaxation, for weight loss, and for overall wellbeing. You’re thrilled with the way it’s enhanced your quality of life. And you’re spreading the good word. You’ve recommended it to your grandma for her glaucoma and to your co-worker for his carpal tunnel. Now you’re thinking about giving it to Fido. 

It’s a good idea to start by looking at the available research. Studies on the use of CBD for pets have been fairly limited, and are just beginning to appear in larger numbers due to the rapid increase in popularity of this medicine. These studies have focused primarily on the use of CBD for treating arthritis and epilepsy in dogs, as well as for canine pain relief. What does the research say, and what precautions should you observe when considering giving CBD to your companion animals?

Dogs and CBD:  Clinical Research

Clinical trials conducted at Colorado State University indicate early positive results using CBD to reduce the frequency of seizures in dogs, including some cutting-edge research which lends great credibility to this application. There is also strong evidence of the efficacy of CBD for treating pain and mobility issues related to arthritis. 

In the absence of a large body of research, though, and in response to growing numbers of pet owners who are curious about using it for their animals, some veterinarians are beginning to advise clients to try it if they want, while being guarded about giving a definitive recommendation.  It’s helpful to look at anecdotal evidence, including the experience of many dog owners who have had success in treating their dogs with CBD.   

What Vets Are Saying About CBD for Dogs

“There is a growing number of vets who are saying to their clients, ‘We don’t know much about it.  If you want to try it, try it,’” says Aidan Gannon, owner of Petz Love Food and Supply in Lone Tree, Colorado.   He bases his recommendations for his customers on the input of vets who have done detailed case studies and seen positive results with their clients, as well as his own investigation of various brands on the market.

Gannon became interested in CBD when customers began coming into his store asking about it for their animals.  “I started taking it myself, and I found that it worked extraordinarily well for inflammation for my lower back… and [when I used it for a few days] the quality of sleep was a lot better.”  Then he heard from holistic veterinarians who gave CBD to their patients. They were seeing positive results for a range of health issues, from anxiety to skin problems to cancer. What he learned was enough to convince him to begin carrying CBD in his store.

Many vets are uncomfortable recommending CBD, primarily because the research is still in the early stages.  The only studies have been conducted by Colorado State University.

“It depends on the veterinary outlook,” says Gannon.  The younger generation of veterinarians, he says, are more likely to use it for their patients and are more comfortable recommending it. Older vets tend to be more hesitant, mostly because CBD is not a part of conventional medical treatment.

Pointers for Starting Your Dog On CBD

When beginning CBD with your dog, keep a few things in mind.  

  • Don’t mix CBD and pharmaceuticals. If your pet is currently on medications, phase them out first (in consultation with your vet, of course) to avoid any interaction between the two.  There are two reasons for this. 1. You may be canceling out the effects of CBD with pharmaceuticals, or vice versa. 2. Combining CBD and pharmaceuticals may stress the animal’s liver. 
  •  Make sure that you’re buying CBD oil sourced from organically grown plants. Because the hemp plant pulls toxins out of the soil as it grows, using only organic material protects you and your fur baby from ingestion of those harmful toxins absorbed by the plants during their growth cycle.
  • Read the label. Be certain that you’re buying CBD oil and not hemp oil.  CBD products often contain hemp oil as a carrier, but do be certain that there is actually CBD in the product.
  • Read the COA (certificate of analysis).  The COA should be conducted by an independent lab and indicate that the product was given a “pass” rating for pesticides, heavy metals, and microbials.
  • Choose a full spectrum product (one that contains all of the original chemical constituents of the whole plant, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids) rather than an isolate.  Full spectrum is superior to isolate (CBD only, with THC removed) in terms of its healing properties. However, many find success with isolates, and these are definitely preferable to not using CBD at all. 
  • If you do go with a full spectrum product, especially one with a high THC concentration, watch carefully for any adverse reactions. Animals, like people, are highly individual in their responses to cannabis. If you notice any digestive upset or any kind of psychoactive reaction such as panting, pacing, or signs of anxiety, scale the dosage down and reintroduce more gradually, or try a different product.  Adverse reactions are highly unusual but they can happen, especially with puppies – possibly because their metabolism is higher than that of adult dogs.
  • Find out how the CBD oil was extracted.  Nathan Richer of Natural Pet Organics prefers CO2 extraction over other methods because this is the cleanest method, offering the highest quality of CBD.  Solvent extraction, by contrast, results in harmful residues in the product as well as a shorter shelf life. Since the extraction method is not always listed on the label, it is always best to ask the retailer.  If they can’t give you an answer, contact the manufacturer.
  • The product should be sufficiently potent, containing at least 250 mg of CBD per ounce.  Anything less than this is likely to be ineffective for your pet.
  • Start low and slow to find the correct dosage.  Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM, recommends 1 mg per 10 lbs of body weight when starting out. 
  • Beware of CBD oils that are priced significantly less than similar products from other manufacturers.  These, across the board, are inferior products. Don’t waste your time or your money.
  • Stay in touch with your vet and have them reevaluate your pet on a regular basis, particularly if the animal has had elevated liver enzymes.  Blood tests should be performed periodically to make sure that they’re not in the danger zone.
  • CBD is not a cure-all.  As mentioned above, animals are highly individual in their responses.  Scale your expectations and be prepared to switch gears after a trial period of a few weeks if you don’t see any improvement.  

Keep all of these suggestions in mind when shopping for CBD oil for your dog, and you’re likely to find the best product for your canine’s needs. There are a lot of products to choose from, so have this list close at hand while shopping and researching.  Your reward may be a dramatically improved quality of life for your best friend. 

Loren Freed

Diabetes Health Tech Metabolic Health

For Diabetics, Continuous Glucose Monitoring Offers Many Advantages

Wearable Device Takes Guesswork out of Diabetes Management

CGM devices help diabetics and others learn about their metabolic health and make healthy lifestyle changes.

Bobbi M. opens an app on her smartphone. She looks at a graph that monitors her blood glucose levels through a wearable device. The dips and spikes on the graph show the changes in her levels over the course of the day. This information helps her determine how her diet and lifestyle affect her blood sugar.

A type 2 diabetic, Bobbi is a mom to three young children. She’s also a senior manager at a large tech company. The twin demands of her family and her job often make it challenging to give proper attention to her health. Several times she has had to miss sales meetings at work because she was huddled in the restroom with her finger stick kit. And when her kids need her, she sometimes puts off checking her levels for a couple of hours.

Her doctor told her that it’s important to be more regular in monitoring her glucose levels, and gave her a prescription for a continuous glucose monitoring device to make this task easier. Now, six months later, not only has the device made it easier to check her blood sugar – it’s changed the way she manages her diabetes.

Read on to learn about continuous glucose monitoring and whether it’s appropriate for your health needs.

What is Continuous Glucose Monitoring?

Continuous Glucose Monitoring, or CGM, is a health tech innovation that allows users to track their blood glucose levels. Most CGM systems are wearable devices with an embedded sensor that provides real-time readings of blood sugar levels. Depending on the type of CGM, readings are available multiple times a day, and the data shows the changes in your levels over that time period.

Developed as an aid to diabetes management, the CGM device makes it easier for type 1 and type 2 diabetics to track their blood glucose. In contrast to conventional finger sticks, which can be inconvenient and time-consuming, the CGM provides ongoing monitoring without the need for much intervention from the user.

The devices represent a leap forward in diabetes management for people living with this condition, and that is a game-changer for many.

Understanding the Big Picture of Your Metabolic Health

There is much variability in the way people respond to different foods and lifestyle choices. Dr. Ronesh Sinha, a physician who specializes in insulin resistance, sees the CGM as an opportunity to “get personal feedback on all of the different lifestyle interventions from diet to stress to sleep.”  

When used over a period of weeks or months, a CGM can teach you about your own metabolism. Having individualized input on how you respond to that ice cream cone, hamburger, bowl of oatmeal, or green salad can help you to make lifestyle decisions tailored to your individual needs. And for those who may stress out about a single glucose spike, CGMs provide a big picture look at metabolic health that puts that spike in the context of other factors.

Uncontrolled high blood sugar is tied to a host of serious health complications. That’s why learning about the personal factors that cause glucose to spike or drop is a valuable tool to have in your health toolkit.

A variety of factors influence the way our blood sugar levels shift over the course of a day.

  • Diet
  • Exercise type and duration
  • Sleep quality
  • Stress
  • Alcohol consumption

…all contribute to changes in glucose levels.

But these are highly individual.

“Bananas,” says Bobbi. “That’s what surprised me the most. I thought that eating them would make my blood sugar spike. But I was just fine. The CGM showed that my body tolerates them really well, which is great because they’re such a handy snack when I have a busy day.  

“Another surprise was exercise,” she adds. “I know that it’s a big part of managing my diabetes. But I thought that I needed to sweat for it to make a difference. It turns out that taking a walk is better for my glucose levels than going for a run or going to the gym.” 

Not Just for Diabetics

Since CGMs were developed with the needs of diabetics in mind, these devices fit into a broad program of diabetes management. As such, they are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and require a doctor’s prescription. Most companies that manufacture CGMs – including Levels, Freestyle Libre, Dexcom – sell them in this manner.

However, continuous glucose monitoring devices can be a boon to non-diabetics as well. Blood glucose variability is a risk factor for health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Metabolic health specialists like Dr. Sinha find that CGMs provide insights into these and other conditions that conventional lab tests often miss.

Nutrisense is a company that has made its CGM available to a broader population. They have medical personnel on staff who take care of the prescriptions for customers.

Can a CGM Replace Finger Sticks?

Not entirely. According to the Cleveland Clinic, most diabetics who use a CGM device will still need to use finger sticks. There are several reasons for this. Finger sticks provide an additional data point when setting up or adjusting a CGM device. When physical symptoms of high or low blood sugar don’t match a reading, they can show a bigger picture of your health status and give clues that your doctor can use for diagnosis.

Finger sticks also provide information about blood glucose in real time, whereas CGM devices have a lag of 5 to 10 minutes.

However, CGM users can dramatically reduce the number of finger sticks they need to do each day. And that’s a welcome bonus.

How to Use a CGM

CGMs aren’t overly complicated, but they do have a learning curve. They are as much an educational tool as they are a health management tool, as opposed to a watch or other electronic device that you can slap on and forget. It’s a good idea to take some time to learn how to use your device and get a sense of how it works with your lifestyle in order to maximize your investment and the benefits you can derive from it.

CGM’s are worn directly on the body, usually on your belly or the back of your arm. Most CGMs consist of a sensor and a transmitter. The sensor is inserted under your skin to measure your interstitial glucose levels, found in the fluid between the cells. Once inserted, you activate the sensor using a wearable device or cell phone app, and the transmitter sends your results to that device (or to an insulin pump if you use one).

Once you have applied the CGM, it stays on for 7 to 14 days. During that time, it sends data about your blood glucose levels multiple times a day. You can use these results to track how your daily habits impact those levels.

Creating Healthy Habits That Stick

What works for Bobbi may not work for everyone. The way we respond to certain exercise regimens has a lot to do with our level of metabolic health. High-intensity exercises like weight lifting, long-distance running or interval training may cause glucose to spike. This is reason for caution for those whose metabolism is less than optimal.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring users like Bobbi love the support the devices provide for healthy lifestyle change. Bobbi herself has seen the difference in her health since she started using them. “When I eat something that’s outside my diet, I see how my blood sugar spikes on the app, and I also notice that I don’t feel so great. And I know darn well that eating a piece of cake affects my levels. But there’s something about seeing that graph go up that makes me sit up and pay attention.”

“It’s got me to behave better,” she laughs.

Tags: #continuousglucosemonitoring, #continuousglucosemonitoringdevice, #metabolichealth, #diabetes, #diabetic, #diabetesmanagement, #healthylifestylechange, #bloodglucose, #bloodsugar, #healthtech, #healthtechnology

Gut Health

What is Gut Health and Why Does it Matter?

How Healthy is Your Gut?

If you are reading this, chances are better than average that you suffer from poor gut health. And you are by no means alone. It’s a widespread complaint that has been implicated in many of the ailments that plague modern humans, from digestive issues to hair loss, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, Parkinson’s disease and sleep disorders, to name just a few.  

The gut, although technically part of the digestive system, is responsible for much more than helping you digest that sandwich you had for lunch. Bacteria that live in the gut affect not only digestion but also the immune system, hormonal balance, the skin, the brain, and the adrenals.  Those bacteria number in the trillions, and collectively they make up the human microbiome, the foundation for our immune system.

“Good” bacteria exist in a delicate balance with “bad” bacteria in the microbiome. The good ones play many important roles in keeping us healthy, whereas the bad ones compromise our health by preventing the good bacteria from doing their job. When the good bacteria outnumber the bad ones, we generally feel healthy, focused, and energetic. When the opposite is true, a cascade of health issues is usually in store for us. Compromised gut health is associated with higher risk for many chronic diseases.

Let’s take a closer look.

Gut balance and the immune system

It may come as a surprise to learn that 70% of your immune system is located in your gut. That’s how important the gut is to overall health. The bacteria in our gut are the foot soldiers in our bodies’ war against toxins and pathogens. Without them, our immune systems would be unable to protect us against disease.

These microscopic inhabitants of the intestinal lining have an important job. They make up what is known as the gut barrier. The gut barrier allows nutrients to flow into the bloodstream from the food we ingest, while at the same keeping harmful pathogens locked inside the gut where they can do no harm. Beneficial bacteria are essential to the gut barrier.  They help digest food, produce vitamins B and K which are essential to many metabolic functions, produce short-chain fatty acids that regulate the function of immune cells, and protect against pathogens.

The other side of the coin is bad bacteria, which in a healthy gut live in balance with the beneficial ones. These bacteria produce toxic byproducts such as lipopolysaccharides. Also known as LPS toxins, these molecules normally live in the gut and are quite large. However, a damaged gut barrier opens up larger spaces in the gut barrier which allow them to cross over into the bloodstream. When this occurs, they are able to roam free, wreaking havoc by promoting infection throughout the body.

In the face of these threats, the immune system springs into action with one of the primary responses in its defensive toolbox: inflammation. This is the means by which the immune system destroys pathogens and protects against infection, and is normally a limited time, short term occurrence that lasts only until the threat is no longer acute. However, when the gut barrier is breached, the threat is ongoing and so is the inflammation response. The result is an immune system on constant high alert, laying the foundation for a number of autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, arthritis, and type 1 diabetes.

The enemies of gut health

Diet and lifestyle factors play a central role in creating a healthy gut – or its opposite. The list includes many familiar culprits.

  • Processed foods. The high levels of saturated fats and sugars that characterize conventional Western diets pose hazards for healthy gut bacteria. High sugar intake causes harmful bacteria to proliferate while starving out beneficial organisms.  Saturated fat is hidden in the menus of fast food chains and nutrition labels on foods lining the outer aisles of grocery stores. Common offenders include hamburgers, French fries, breads, cakes, lard, cured meats like salami and bacon. These foods increase LPS levels and contribute to poor gut health. 
  • Antibiotics, antidepressants, laxatives, proton pump inhibitors, NSAIDS, and others. Many commonly prescribed and non-prescription medications can impact gut health in a variety of ways, especially in patients with pre-existing gastrointestinal disease. Over 1000 drugs currently on the market have been found to suppress multiple strains of gut bacteria. 
  • Pesticides and other environmental toxins. Studies show that chlorpyrifos, a common pesticide used worldwide on vegetable crops, golf courses, in treated wood, and in ant, mosquito and roach treatments, damages the gut barrier in. The resulting low-grade inflammation leads to insulin resistance and obesity. Widespread use of pesticides may be implicated in the global epidemic in inflammation-related diseases..  And thousands of environmental chemicals that have been connected to a variety of cancers and other diseases are now known to affect the microbiome as well. 
  • Stress, social isolation, and childhood trauma. Loneliness and social disconnection are powerful contributors to mental and emotional distress, but the factors that connect these to changes in physical health is becoming clearer. Higher than normal inflammatory responses have been linked with social isolation, childhood trauma, military service, and a variety of common life stressors.
  • Smoking. Although few large studies exist on the causal relationship between smoking and gut bacteria, we do know that cigarettes and cigarette smoke contain many pathogens that cause immune system suppression. This in turn changes the gut microbiome in ways that could allow harmful gut bacteria to proliferate. Significant changes in gut bacteria have been observed both in people who start smoking and those who quit, making it clear that smoking has profound effects on the microbiome.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.  Couch potatoes take note: lack of exercise is associated with increased inflammatory responses and higher levels of harmful gut bacteria. Studies have demonstrated that individuals who did not exercise, compared to those who had regular exercise routines, had lower ratios of healthy bacterial strains to unhealthy ones, in addition to higher obesity rates. The link between inflammation, sedentary routines, and changes in gut bacteria is still being studied but early results point to a strong connection.
  • Insufficient sleep. Intestinal metabolism and brain function are closely connected. A Japanese study found that depletion in gut microbiota had the effect of wiping out serotonin, which regulates sleep. The study builds on previous research which established a strong link between cognition, brain development, and gut health.  

How to heal your gut

If that list gave you pause, it should. The tiny inhabitants of our gut are involved in our health in far-reaching ways. But the good news is that you can improve your gut health (and your health overall) with diet and lifestyle adjustments.

Ready to embark on a gut healing journey? Here are the essentials.

Add prebiotics to your daily regimen.  Prebiotic foods are an essential part of a gut healthy diet. Found in such foods as apples, garlic, asparagus, leeks, green bananas, chicory and almonds, prebiotics supply fiber that feed your good bacteria.

Luckily for you, prebiotics are also found in chocolate that’s high in cocoa solids.

Prebiotic fiber, although indigestible, provides nutrients that your healthy bacteria ferment into short-chain fatty acids which help to repair the gut barrier and prevent inflammation. Eat a wide variety of these foods, because bacteria can be as picky as humans when it comes to what’s on the menu.

Probiotics are different from prebiotics, although both are important contributors to a healthy microbiome. Probiotics are living bacteria, yeasts and other microorganisms that help increase the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are sold as supplements, but certain foods are good sources of probiotics as well. These include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi, and fermented soy products including tempeh and miso.

Substitute whole foods for refined sugar and snacks high in trans fats. Fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and grassfed meats and dairy nourish the microbiome and prevent inflammation which is so damaging to gut bacteria.

Clean up your home environment. Replace toxic chemical-laden cleaning products with safer alternatives such as vinegar and baking soda. If you smoke, quit. If you live with a smoker, set aside a room in the house for smoking or have your smoker go outside.

Get enough sleep. Move to an earlier bedtime and get at least 7 – 8 hours per night.

Adopt an exercise routine. Regular moderate exercise supports your microbiome by nourishing good bacteria.

Address your stress. Take some time for yourself daily. Keep your social relationships healthy, even at a distance. Indulge in a favorite hobby. Get out in the fresh air. Exercise and sufficient sleep fall under this category too! 


Improving your gut health takes some effort, but the results are well worth it. When you make diet and lifestyle changes that support the beneficial bacteria that call your body their home, you will find improved resistance to illness, better sleep, increased energy, and clearer thinking. Take care of your gut bacteria and they will take care of you!

Brain Fog Menopause

Menopause Speaks: Brain Fog

Brain fog in menopause
Brain fog in menopause can be improved with exercise.

You’ve lost your car keys. Again. The carrots are in your sock drawer and your purse is in the fridge. Some days you can’t remember your best friend’s name, or what that nice-smelling hot brown liquid is that you drink each morning. You flit from one task to another all day long – like a lovely butterfly — but can’t accomplish anything because nothing gets finished. You make out a shopping list, put it in your pocket, forget about it, and then find it a week later after your jeans have gone through the wash. Sound familiar?

Hello, brain fog.

“I was studying for my Menopause Practitioner Certification and I would finish reading one paragraph and had no idea of what I had just read,” says Teresa Isabel Diaz of MenopausED. “I had to read the same paragraph over and over.” I bet you’ve been there. And when you can’t concentrate on daily tasks, it makes life a lot harder — i.e. more stressful. Who needs more of that?

What can you do? Suffer through it and wait until post-menopause, when things usually improve? Nah, we’re not big fans of suffering. But we are fans of brain exercise. If a weird gif of your brain lacing up its sneakers and going for a run comes to mind, you’re actually not far off the bat. Brains need oxygen in order to function at their peak, and any kind of physical movement that you enjoy will fit the bill, whether it’s jogging, dancing, yoga, biking or plain old-fashioned never-goes-out-of-style walking. So will cognition-enhancing activities such as meditation, visualization, games that involve memorization and strategizing — and that old standby, the crossword puzzle.

Try this. Next time you get fog on the brain, try taking a 30 to 45 minute movement break. It can be as simple as a walk around the neighborhood. Then notice how you feel afterward. 

What’s your favorite way to exercise your brain?


Menopause Speaks: Hair Loss

Hair Loss in Menopause
Hair loss in menopause can be devastating. But it’s usually temporary.

Hair in the sink. Hair on the floor. Hair in your clothes, in the car, in your food, on the cat. Everywhere, it seems, but on your head. It feels as though you’re losing your crown, one strand at a time.

Hair loss is one common symptom of perimenopause. It can deal a devastating blow to your self-image and your self-esteem.  A result of hormonal changes, namely the decreased production of estrogen and progesterone, it happens to many women at some point during this life stage.

If you’re lamenting the loss of some of your luscious locks, consider this: it’s usually temporary. And perimenopausal hair loss can, for the most part, be addressed with lifestyle adjustments. Move your booty. Eat more fresh fruits and veggies. Check your iron levels. Drink enough water. Don’t forget the big S: stress. Manage it with some of these stressbusters. 

  • Take some time for yourself daily. 
  • Keep your social relationships healthy, even at a distance. 
  • Indulge in a favorite hobby. 
  • Get out in the fresh air. 
  • Get enough sleep. 
  • Have sex (which does double duty for making you feel more sexy and alive!). 

It doesn’t matter what method you choose, as long as you commit to doing something!

Snakes shed their skin as an entry to a new phase of life. They discard the old husk that doesn’t fit them anymore. This is more than a feel-good metaphor. Use the occasion of dealing with hair loss to consider the wisdom therein. What no longer fits you? What do you need to leave behind?

Press Release Teen Homelessness

Press Release

CountyWide Community Health Center Adds Teen Shelter  

Teen Haven Hopes to Reduce Teen Suicide Through Housing, Health, and Counseling Services in Smythe County  

March 3, 2020 – Smallville, Illinois  CountyWide Community Health Center is pleased to announce the addition of a shelter for at-risk teenagers. Teen Haven will enable the Center to reduce teen suicide rates by providing services to vulnerable teens in the community who may be at risk for homelessness, delinquency, or child abuse.  

For kids navigating the turbulent teen years, appropriate and stable adult support is crucial. When that support is intermittent or absent altogether, community programs can literally provide a lifeline. Studies suggest that targeted community support programs such as teen shelters can significantly reduce teen suicide, drug abuse, and school deliquency. Smythe County ranks highest in the state for teen suicide, and second highest for illegal drug use. 

“Teens today represent the most depressed generation in decades,” says Sarah Woods, executive director of Teen Haven. “Social pressures, fractured families, unrealistic expectations for their lives from pop culture and social media, lack of sunshine due to increased screen time — all of these play a part. And depression can be very serious for kids. It increases their risk of substance abuse, and it heightens the chances that they will attempt suicide.”

Family dysfunction can increase the pressure. Teens who lack parental support are also at increased risk for dropping out of school or being involved in criminal activity. 

Teen Haven’s mission is to interrupt the cycle by giving teens the tools and support they need to live happier, healthier lives. It provides an individualized approach to the needs of youth in crisis. 

The teen shelter has 10 beds for kids needing a safe place to stay for a few nights or longer term. It makes basic necessities of food, clothing, personal hygiene products, and medical and dental care available on site. A nurse practitioner is part of the staff. For kids just needing someone to talk to, a licensed social worker is on site three days a week.  

Teen Haven offers group programs for kids who are dealing with substance abuse, as well as certified drug abuse counselors. Volunteer tutors from the community help with schoolwork, and also support teens in finishing high school. A job counselor comes to the shelter on a weekly basis to work with teens who want to find employment. 

Similar programs in other communities have resulted in reduced teen suicide rates, and Woods has similar hopes for Teen Haven.

“Far from a one-size-fits-all approach, we treat them as the awesome individuals they are and give them the tools they need to grow into healthy, independent adults,” she says. “Teen Haven is a much-needed addition to our community and we are thrilled that it’s finally up and running.”

The addition of Teen Haven to the CWCHC network of community health clinics continues and extends the CWCHC commitment to improving the health of our community through equal access to quality care in all stages of life. 

Teen Haven is funded by a Youth Wellness grant from the Lapidus Foundation. 

CountyWide Community Health Center provides a full range of primary and comprehensive healthcare services to underserved rural communities in Smythe County, Illinois. Services offered included well child care, mental health counseling, immunization, contraceptive services, health screening, obstetrics and gynecological care, dental services, and elder health care. The Center is supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and a Healthy for Life grant program initiative from the Sizemore Foundation.

Keywords: Teen suicide, teen shelter, teen homeless, teen substance abuse

CBD CBD for Sleep Sleep Health

Ebook: A CBD Bedtime Story

CBD and sleep
CBD, in combination with adaptogenic herbs, can help alleviate stress and support healthy sleep.

Stressed and Sleepless

Jenelle flung herself on her friend Trina’s couch and threw an arm over her eyes.  She was exhausted.  The pressures of nursing school were taking their toll and the stress was getting to her.  She hadn’t slept well all week.

 Trina plumped herself down next to her friend.  Jenelle caught a glimpse of mismatched socks: purple with tiny pink frogs on the left foot, black and white checks on the right.  Trina inspected her.

 “Girl, you’ve had enough todaying for today,” Tiana told her.  I’m giving you a Dream Cap.  You’re gonna get some rest.”

Top Kush CBD Dream Cap to the rescue

 Jenelle opened one eye.  “A what?”

 “A Top Kush CBD Dream Cap.”

 Her friend regarded her skeptically.   “You know I don’t take pills.” 

 “And you know I don’t give out drugs.”

Trina left the room. She came back with a small bottle and a glass of water.  She set the glass on the end table and handed the bottle to Jenelle who squinted at the label.  The print swam before her tired eyes.

“Here, let me read it to you.” Trina took the bottle back.

“Top Kush CBD Dream Cap:  25 mg CBD, 3 mg melatonin, 80 mg proprietary blend of passion fruit flower extract, licorice root extract, and jujube fruit extract.”

A Science Bedtime Story

“Let me ‘splain to you.  Gonna tell you a little science bedtime story.”

 Jenelle suddenly remembered that her pal, for all her kooky exterior, had degrees in neurochemistry and plant biology, and when she got to explaining things – look out.

“Need my nerd glasses for this.”  Trina grabbed a pair of thick black frames from the end table and put them on.  Jenelle noticed that they didn’t have any lenses.

CBD:  Goldilocks and the Science of Sleep

“So, once upon a time there was a girl named Jenelle who wanted to be a nurse.  She was going to be a wonderful nurse because she worked so hard at taking care of her patients.  But she didn’t know how to take care of herself! 

“Then her best friend Trina came to the rescue and told her about Top Kush CBD Dream Cap.

“You know what CBD is, right?”

“Uh, I know that it comes from marijuana.”

“Half a point, sweetie.  CBD is derived from the industrial hemp plant which is related to marijuana.   Hemp and marijuana are both in the cannabis family.   CBD is one of a family of substances known as cannabinoids that occur naturally in many plants.  You’ve heard of some of them:  echinacea, black pepper, even chocolate!   But the CBD that is used in products such as Dream Cap is derived from industrial hemp.

The Endocannabinoid System

“What makes CBD so great for humans is something called the endocannabinoid system, or ECS.  It’s a biological system in the human body that is responsible for maintaining homeostasis — so not too hot, not too cold, etcetera.  The Goldilocks zone, if you will.  

“The ECS is composed of a system of receptors in our bodies that activate cannabinoid molecules.  You can think of them as puzzle pieces.  Each receptor interlocks with a specific type of cannabinoid molecule.  So endocannabinoids are part of our basic biological design.

“You with me so far?”

Jenelle blinked sleepily.  She nodded.  She didn’t remember learning about any of this in her college biology classes.

Endocannabinoids, CBD, Melatonin, and Sleep

“Our bodies produce endocannabinoids naturally.   They help to keep our circadian rhythm in a state of balance, among other functions.  When we don’t get enough sleep, those endocannabinoid levels decrease.  That’s when we get all of the side effects of sleep deprivation – decreased cognitive performance, carb cravings, weight gain, increased insulin resistance, low energy, increased impulsivity, irritability, exhaustion, and generally looking the way you do right now, sweetie.  

“All of these symptoms mean that our ECS system) is out of tone.   We go into big-time metabolic dysfunction.  I could go on about the biochemical mechanisms but you’ll probably be asleep by the time I’m done so I’ll cut to the chase, and here’s where CBD comes in.

CBD Help Regulate Our Metabolism

“Introducing CBD has the effect of reversing the deficit in the ECS system.  It helps that system get back to doing what it’s designed to do – regulate our metabolism and generally make us feel well and enable us to function in a healthy fashion.  And that includes sleep!

“Current scientific research has found two ways that CBD can help with sleep: by reducing anxiety and also directly by interacting with the receptors in the ECS system that I’ve mentioned.  Anxiety is a HUGE factor in sleeplessness.   You’re on overdrive now and you might know a thing or two about anxiety.  But CBD can definitely help to turn that around.

“And when you add melatonin, you’ve got an unbeatable combo.  Melatonin is produced naturally by our bodies to regulate our sleep/wake cycles.  When we get too much artificial light, the body is signaled to produce less of it.  That’s when supplementation can be helpful, ‘cause melatonin supports natural sleep.

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire

“So let’s talk about the herbs in Dream Cap.

“Passion flower and sleep go together like peanut butter and jelly, or Ernie and Bert, or Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, or — well, you get the idea.

“And here’s why.   Passion flower increases GABA – or amino-butyric acid — a neurotransmitter that helps to reduce feelings of anxiety by sending messages between the brain and the nervous system.   GABA actually reduces the activity of nerve cells in the nervous system.  So naturally, when those cells are less active, you’re going to feel more relaxed and less anxious.   One study in which participants drank passion flower tea showed statistically significant sleep improvement. 

“Passion flower also contains the flavone chrysin, which is a mild sedative.   So passion flower is a great herb for anxiety and sleep.

“But not only that – it’s great for inflammation, ADHD, menopausal symptoms (not that you have to worry about that just yet), lowering blood pressure, and reducing insulin levels.  It’s also a really gorgeous flower.   They grow wild on my grandma’s farm in Tennessee.  So pretty!

Jujube Fruit and High Quality Sleep

“Jujube fruit works in a similar way. So here’s the lowdown on jujube and sleep.  Jujube contains two types of phytochemicals: saponins and flavonoids.  One of these saponins (jujuboside A) helps to quiet activity in the hippocampus region of the brain.

“The seeds of the jujube fruit are rich in essential fatty acids, which are associated with higher quality sleep in clinical trials.   They’re also loaded with vitamins and nutrients – especially vitamin C – and have can even kill tumors!  They’re great for digestion too, and help normalize blood pressure.  Plus, they’re delicious eaten raw or juiced.  What’s not to like?”

Jenelle’s eyes were glassy.  She stifled a yawn. 

“Don’t fall asleep on me yet.  I’m not done!” Trina laughed.

Licorice Root Enhances Sleep Combination

“So, licorice root.   Licorice has been used to support the adrenal glands, which regulate the body’s stress response.  So it’s definitely an important adaptogen. 

“But here’s the thing about the way it works in Top Kush CBD Dream Cap.  Licorice is called a “guide” in Chinese medicine because it shows the other herbs where to go, letting them know where their effects would be most beneficial.  It enhances the other herbs in a combination. 

“I love licorice – I have this image of it in my mind waving its little arms and saying.  ‘Over here, guys!’   So licorice in the Dream Cap helps to make the other herbs work more effectively.   Pretty cool, huh?”

Jenelle nodded.  The soothing rhythms of her friend’s voice and the mental pictures she was painting made her feel that everything was going to be okay.  


“What’s special about Top Kush is that they’ve been out in front of the CBD market for years now – since 2014 (which is practically an eon in the CBD world) – and they were one of the first companies to get on board with lab testing, regulation and quality control.  Girl, there are so many CBD products out there and I’ve probably tried 100 of them!  Top Kush gets my vote, though. The COA tells the story.”

“COA?” asked Jenelle, groggily.  

“Certificate of Analysis.  It’s a report compiled by an independent lab which tests for the presence of various cannabinoids – most importantly CBD and THC.”

“THC!” Jenelle almost jumped a foot into the air.  She knew what THAT was. “We get drug tested every semester!  If that shows up on my test, I’ll get kicked out of school!”

“Girlfriend, relax!  I’m getting to that.   Dream Cap is broad spectrum, which means no THC.  You can see that on the COA. Ok?  So calm down. 

“CBD products aren’t required to be tested, since there’s no Federal or state regulation – yet.  But Top Kush does it voluntarily.  Their test results are available to consumers, too.  All you have to do is ask their customer support.

“I’ve read tons of COAs – that’s how much of a nerd I am – and let me tell you, Top Kush is one of the cleanest companies out there.  That’s another reason why I trust their products.

“One more thing.  This is a standard dose capsule.  You don’t have to fuss with drops or worry about how much to take.  The experts have already figured it out!  You get the right dose every time – 25 milligrams of CBD.  One cap a day and you’re done.”

Sleeping Happily Every Night

Jenelle’s heart rate was returning to normal.  Her eyelids were drooping.  She stifled a yawn.

“You’re going into nursing because you want to help people get well, correct?  Here’s a newsflash.  Wellness begins with you.”  Trina pointed a polka-dotted fingernail at her.  “You can’t be well if you don’t sleep well. 

“Top Kush CBD Dream Cap supports natural healthy sleep.   And with the herbs and melatonin, it’s an easy all-in-one solution for wellness.”

Trina opened the Dream Cap bottle, shook out one capsule, and handed it to Jenelle along with the water.  Jenelle swallowed the capsule and emptied the glass.

Trina pulled a knitted throw over her, slid a couch cushion underneath her head, and turned out the lamp.  

“And she slept happily every night.”  She planted a kiss on Jenelle’s forehead.   “Sweet dreams.”

“Thanks,” mumbled Jenelle.  She was already half asleep.  Trina tiptoed out of the room.

Kiss your stress goodbye.   Say hello to your daily wellness solution.

Meet Top Kush CBD Dream Cap.

Loren Freed, Health and Wellness Writer

Children Vaccine COVID Vaccine

When will the COVD vaccine be available to kids?

Return to daily life in the COVID-19 pandemic hinges on children getting vaccinated.

The effects of COVID-19 have been extreme for children, parents, and teachers. School closures across the country — 55.1 million students affected in 124,000 public and private schools, at the peak of the pandemic — have impacted lives, interrupted learning, forced work-from-home arrangements, required parents to learn how to homeschool on the fly, and challenged educators to make learning relevant when they can’t be in the same room with their students. 

Return to normal life hinges on the COVID-19 vaccine, who gets it, and when. To date, three vaccines have been approved for emergency use by the Centers for Disease Control: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson. 

Children are last in line for the vaccine

The priority list puts children last in line to receive the vaccine. Why?

There are several reasons. 

  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, vaccine priority has been assigned to healthcare workers, essential workers, and individuals at high risk due to underlying health conditions. Families who include someone in one of these groups can also get the vaccination. Families who don’t fit this criteria may have to wait until spring of 2021. For children under 16, the wait may be a few months longer, even as late as fall 2021. However, teens 16+ who are at high risk due to preexisting health conditions or who are essential workers may be closer to the front of the line.  
  • Vaccine development takes time. In normal times (if anyone can remember back that far), it takes as long as 10 – 15 years to research, develop, test, trial, approve, and license a vaccine. The speed with which the first set of vaccines were created and put into distribution in late 2020 gives the impression that this can happen essentially in the same timeline as any consumer goods manufacturing process. That rate of speed is, in fact, highly unusual in this sector. And once the vaccine is developed, distribution presents another set of logistics with its own time frame. 
  • Children are not legally able to consent to the vaccine on their own. Parents must consent on their behalf, both for participation in trials and for vaccination itself. Although this constitutes a layer of protection for this vulnerable group, it also means that vaccine development for children will take more time. 
  • Kids’ immune systems are different from those of adults, and are in a constant state of flux as they develop. Dr. Frank Esper, a specialist in pediatric infectious disease at the Cleveland Clinic, says, “Children’s immune systems are growing up just as they are. We often split kids up by age groups and stages. We can’t just say all kids’ immune systems are the same at any given age.” The wide variation in childrens’ immune responses  needs to be taken into account in the process of vaccine development. 

Why can’t children receive the same vaccine as adults?

Kids have certain protective factors in the form of natural antibodies that are more agile and ready to respond to environmental threats. This makes them less likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19, but it doesn’t remove the risk that they may transmit the virus to others. Therefore, it is important for them to be vaccinated, but the vaccines for young children and infants need to go through more extensive trials before they can be determined to be safe. 

Pfizer has a vaccine that has been approved for teens 16 and over, and Moderna has one that is authorized for use in those 18 and over. Both companies are currently conducting clinical vaccine trials for children as young as 12. 

The results of these trials are eagerly anticipated. 

“Both adults and children will need to be vaccinated for things to return to some sort of normalcy,” says Dr. Esper. 

Children and COVID COVID19 Teaching Compassion

Lessons From the Pandemic: Teaching Compassion to Kids in the Time of COVID

teaching compassion to kids COVID
Children learn compassion by watching the adults around them.

Some of the many lessons that children have had the opportunity to learn over the last year have nothing to do with Zoom school.  

In any year but 2020 (and for many, continuing into the early months of 2021), parents and kids normally see very little of each other during waking hours. The upside down reality that we have come to inhabit has given children a front row seat, to a greater degree than ever before, to their parents’ interactions with all manner of individuals, from delivery drivers to grocery clerks to people in stores, on the street, and in their neighborhoods. 

Today, after doing my grocery shopping, I was waiting in front of the store for my Uber ride. There was a man in the parking lot asking people for gas money. He had a slight limp and was walking with a cane. He approached shoppers getting into their cars, getting out of their cars, walking into the store. Most turned him down. A few (I would estimate less than ten percent) gave him a dollar or two. 

One woman got out of her car with two children, a boy who looked to be about 10 and a girl around six years old. The man approached her and made his request, and she told him that she didn’t have any money. As the family walked to the store entrance, I heard her daughter ask her why the man had asked for cash. The mother replied, “That’s what you use to buy gas.” 

Children learn compassion by observing adult role models. Parents teach their kids all day long, whether they’re aware of it or not, and, according to cross-cultural behavioral studies, kids are hard-wired to copy them. And those lessons are profound and long-lasting. 

That young girl will remember her mother’s action — or lack of action — with the gentleman in the parking lot. It will likely shape the way she behaves when asked to help someone else when it’s not convenient or appealing to her. And when she learns, at some point in the not-too-distant future, that half-truths are a way to evade the suffering of others, she may decide that fibbing is an easy way to avoid practicing compassion. 

COVID-19 has brought an enormous number of teaching moments in its tumultuous wake. So many of these moments, however, boil down to taking the time to recognize the humanity of those around us. A small gesture like paying for someone else’s gas with a credit card, buying coffee for the person behind you in line, meeting another’s eyes above their mask to make human contact, taking a moment to reflect before typing out a harsh comment on social media, are small things that make a cumulative difference. 

When life is hard, practicing compassion can help us. It reminds us that we always have something to give others, even when we feel depleted. And this is an essential understanding for kids — that even when they are feeling fearful, uncertain or sad, they have resources to draw on to help themselves as well as those around them. 

Teaching compassion to children is a way to help make their lives happier as well as making them better neighbors and citizens. Adding compassion to the curriculum can make the world a better place, one kind gesture at a time. 

Loren Freed
Health and Wellness Writer 615-578-8873