Thursday, March 09, 2006

Coca: Breakfast of Champions

I was intrigued to learn that Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca wants to encourage parents to feed their children coca leaves for breakfast. In a 03/09/06 Washington Times article Choquehuanca is quoted as saying that “the coca leaf has more calcium than milk, and more phosphorous than fish.”

Bolivian President Morales came into office with a platform supporting private coca farming. The leaves have known benefits for those working in high altitudes. Others swear by their energy producing benefits. Apparently, their historic use in ancient civilizations reinforce that there are nutritional benefits too.
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According to Dr. Roger Sullivan (University of Auckland)
“People's diets may have been so poor that they struggled to produce enough chemicals to help the brain function normally. Consuming plants containing substances that mimic the role of these chemicals could have helped make up for the shortfall. For example, 100 grams of coca leaf contains more than the US recommended daily intake of calcium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamins A, B2 and E.
In addition, Dr Wayne Hall {University of Queensland) states:
"There is certainly evidence that plants evolved to mimic the neurotransmitters of mammals.

Uses of the coca plant for medicinal purposes were popular for many years. In 1961, after a study reported the toxic qualities of coca, its consumption was criminalized in an international treaty. However, some scientists questioned the results of that study.

In a 1981 report for the American Journal of Epidemiology, Andrew Weil stated that;
“Coca in leaf form does not produce toxicity or dependence.” He suggested that it had useful benefits for treating gastrointestinal ailments and motion sickness.

The World Health Organization branch of the United Nations sponsored an extensive study of coca/cocaine. For three years over forty researchers examined its use and effects throughout the world.

According to their press release in 1995, they concluded, “Use of coca leaves appears to have no negative health effects; and has positive, therapeutic, sacred, and social functions for indigenous Andean populations.”

It went on to state, “There needs to be more assessment of the adverse effects of current policies and strategies and development of innovative approaches.”

Due to political pressure (and threats to remove funding) by the United States the final report was never released.
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Every source I consulted agreed that consuming the leaf is unlikely to produce a high. The small quantities of stimulant in each leaf were not considered dangerous. Interestingly enough, Choquehuanca’s suggestion has merit. Some day we may be “Cuckoo for Coca Leaves” or hear alternative slogans such as “Coca, it’s not just for breakfast any more.”

Links to sources

Washington Times:

BBC (Auckland, Hall quotes)

TransNational Institute and UN/WHO Studies

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

We The People Need A Shelter

There is a good chance that you, or someone you know, have experienced abuse in a relationship.
I did.

My ex had me convinced that he deserved preferential treatment. He did a great job of blaming me or making me feel guilty about anything that went wrong in our lives. If I was concerned about a problem or an issue, he usually found a way to minimize its importance. I was over-reacting. Or his problems were always more profound and deserving of attention. He set the agenda for everything in our lives.
He was a master of manipulating me. Of convincing me to work long hours so he would have money to buy the things that he wanted. They were always for our greater good of course. Every day he found ways to point out how important he was to my life. How necessary having him around and following his agenda was to our personal safety and general prosperity. Posted by Picasa

He liked to gamble. He day-traded stock options, flew to Vegas regularly. There were times we were flush with money. Stayed in beautiful suites, had fabulous meals, saw great shows--all comped of course. There were other times we borrowed from one credit card to pay the other.
We were always juggling seven or eight projects--whether it was building a house or starting a small business (in addition to our regular jobs of course). Every day was a juggling act between crises of one sort, tasks of another, information gathering for a third, and putting out fires for a few others. All while trying to ‘live our own lives’.

As the years passed, I withdrew. My original independent and exuberant personality had disappeared. I was passive, withdrawn, anxious, always worried about something. I remember reading a book years ago called ‘I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can’. That is how I always felt.

He was good at wearing me down. Convincing me that my view of reality was flawed. We had to depend on him, because I was too emotional or confused. His ideas, his plans--and didn’t he always include me in discussing them?---were for our greater good. I had to trust him to know what was best.
There wasn’t always time to check other sources of information. We had to act now. He knew what he was doing. We have to stay focused. I was lucky I had someone so patient, so willing to spend time trying to help me understand why he was right and I was wrong.

Any time I tried to get off the rollercoaster that our lives had become, a major crisis would keep me in my place. Sometimes contrived, often genuine disasters, it was hard to keep up, to keep all the balls in the air.
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One day he pushed too far. We had been in major crises mode for several years, trying to keep several bad investments afloat. I was tired, ill, and depressed.
A calamity occurred; he was cocky and aggressive in the face of my anger. Instead of trying to placate me, he tried to steamroll me. Found a way to blame me. Used his usual tactics, trying to frighten me. Escalated his threats of what he might do if I didn’t go along with his plans. Something snapped, finally I was done.
When the floodgates opened, I was fortunate to have books and counselors, friends, and family help me to rebuild my life. Now I look back with amazement at all that I tolerated over so many years. As I pondered the irresponsible actions he took, and began to understand the blatant manipulation he practiced--I am amazed at how long it took me to say “STOP”. There were so many occasions, so many instances where I would have been justified in ending the relationship. A few where I might have had him prosecuted.

However, I have also learned that my reaction and behaviors were typical of a woman suffering from abuse. Withdrawal, avoidance, and an inability to be pro-active in my life were just a few of the symptoms.

When we look at the news from the past five years, how many times have we said the same about our government?

Crisis after crisis.
Mismanagement, lies, manipulation, secrets upon secrets.
Overwhelming calamities, multiple predicaments, incredible catastrophes.
Embarrassment, feelings of helplessness and inadequacies.
Expected, almost forced to trust the untrustworthy.

We the people have been suffering from emotional abuse. The signs are there. The behavior is evident.

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We need national therapy, some sort of shelter from it all so that we may begin to recover. And take our lives back. Take our country back.
I know it’s possible, because I did it.
The first step is defining the problem.
Let’s take it from there.