Monthly Archives: December 2018

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Anxiety, depression lessened after a dose of magic mushroom hallucinogen: studies

The magic mushroom may have another magical property.

The hallucinogen psilocybin, which is found in magic mushrooms, has been linked to a lift in anxiety and depression in cancer patients.

READ MORE: Future uncertain for many HIV/AIDS networks after Liberals defund dozens

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New studies from John Hopkins and New York Universities show a majority of people who have cancer-related depression found “considerable relief” after consuming the hallucinogen.

Even more remarkable – the effects continued six months after the last treatment.

Both studies showed similar results: around 80 per cent of participants showed significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety.

“The most interesting and remarkable finding is that a single dose of psilocybin, which lasts four to six hours, produced enduring decreases in depression and anxiety symptoms,” Dr. Roland Griffiths, lead researcher and a professor of behavioural biology at John Hopkins said.

READ MORE: Planning to grow legal pot? Check real estate rules first

“This may represent a fascinating new model for treating some psychiatric conditions.”

It’s an important subject, he said, because people with cancer can be “psychologically challenging.” In fact, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network reports that up to 40 per cent of people diagnosed will experience a mood disorder.

“People with this kind of existential anxiety often feel hopeless and are worried about the meaning of life and what happens upon death,” Griffiths said in a news release.

Researchers at New York University (NYU) said the results were nearly instantaneous. In comparison, antidepressants can take weeks to have an effect, Dr. Stephen Ross, who led the NYU study told the New York Times.

And the effects are life changing, according to one patient.

READ MORE: Could a simple blood test predict whether you’ll be alive in 5 years?

Octavian Mihai, who had lymphoma in 2013, told the Times he participated in the NYU study and had an epiphany during his session.

He asked himself:  “Why are you letting yourself be terrorized by cancer coming back?”

“That’s when I saw black smoke rising from my body. And it felt great.”

Three years later, Mihai says he still isn’t anxious about his cancer, and he attributes it to the session.

The studies were both conducted in safe environments, with staff members supervising the sessions. Researchers say they  don’t condone using mushrooms for “self-treatment,” the NYT reports.

Both studies were funded in part by the Heffter Research Institute.

‘Fawlty Towers’ star Andrew Sachs dead at 86

Actor Andrew Sachs, best known for his role in iconic British sitcom Fawlty Towers, has passed away at age 86 after a four-year struggle with Alzheimer’s.

“My heart has been broken every day for a long time,” Sachs’ wife Melody told The Daily Mail, adding that her late husband faced the disease without complaint.

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“I never once heard him grumble,” she said.

Fans of Fawlty Towers will recall Sachs in his signature role as bumbling Spanish waiter Manuel, whose tenuous grasp of the English language resulted in hilarious misunderstandings — punctuated by what became his catchphrase: “Que?” The response typically earned him a smack on the head from lunatic hotelier Basil Fawlty, series star and creator John Cleese, who explained his waiter’s mishaps with the catch-all: “He’s from Barcelona.”

READ MORE: Monty Python’s John Cleese Blasts Editor After ‘Daily Mail’ Mocks His ‘Beer Belly’

Sachs was born in Berlin in 1930 to a Catholic mother and Jewish father, but moved to Britain at age eight with his family as they fled Nazi Germany. According to Sachs’s autobiography, he pleaded with Cleese to make the character German “because I’m not sure I can do a Spanish accent.” Luckily, Cleese prevailed and one of TV’s all-time great comedy characters was born.

While Fawlty Towers remains his best-known project, Sachs enjoyed a long and prolific career in the U.K., primarily on television, appearing in such TV series as The Saint, Doctor Who, Coronation Street and EastEnders, in addition to the 2012 feature film Quartet.

Upon learning of his former co-star’s passing, Cleese paid tribute to “a sweet, gentle and kind man and a truly great farceur” in a series of tweets.

Okanagan ski hill opens after closure

Ski hill openings are pretty normal at this time of year but Thursday’s opening at one Okanagan mountain is especially significant. After two and half seasons of being closed. Mt. Baldy near Oliver is finally opened.

“I’m speechless, big grin that’s all I can say,” skier Charles Wood said. “I am very happy to be here.”

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Other than a short and partial opening in 2015, the south Okanagan skil hill has been closed since 2013. The resort was owned by an American group but it had been struggling financially for some time. It went into receivership several years ago after the owners declared bankruptcy.

“It’s incredible,” Baldy Mountain Resort’s Managing Director Joey O’Brien said. “150 days ago we took this thing out of bankruptcy.”

O’Brien is part of a Calgary group that purchased the resort. He says the group has already spent a million dollars giving the resort a facelift.

“We have cleaned up a huge amount,” O’Brien said. “We spent gobs of money on all the lifts and the buildings. You would not believe how bad that building [day lodge] looked when we arrived, it belonged in a horror movie.”

The new owners are now breathing new life into the resort hoping to secure its future.

“We are spending the first two years stabilizing this business at a much higher user level than it ever had before.” Said O’Brien.

Part of the plan to attract more business includes keeping the resort open on weekdays unlike the past and offering deals like the one for seniors, who only pay $19 dollars for an entire season.

The ski hill celebrates its grand opening on Friday, Dec. 2 with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony and all kinds of activities.

Evergreen SkyTrain Line launched

The new Evergreen Line between Burnaby and Coquitlam has officially been launched.

The first train took off from Lougheed Town Centre Station en route to Lafarge Lake Douglas Station in Coquitlam at noon on Friday.

It is a total of 11 kilometres and will connect the Tri-Cities to Downtown Vancouver. About 70,000 passengers will ride the route each day by 2021, TransLink expects.

READ MORE: WATCH: Global BC gets exclusive sneak peek at soon-to-be-opened Evergreen SkyTrain line

The Evergreen Line was supposed to start operations in 2014. However, a series of construction problems forced the opening date to be pushed back.

While Clark’s government insists that the $1.4-billion project has been delivered between $70 million and $85 million under the budget set in 2008, NDP MLA for Vancouver Point Grey David Eby questioned the numbers.

The launch of the new line led to significant changes to the existing Millennium and Expo Lines.

READ MORE: TransLink rolling out large service change on Dec. 19, customers urged to plan ahead

The Millennium Line will no longer run to Waterfront Station, it will take you from VCC-Clark to Lougheed Town Centre and will continue onto the Evergreen Line extension when it opens.

The Expo Line will now have two routes: One travelling between Waterfront and King George stations and a second between Waterfront and Production Way-University stations.

Due to the opening of the Evergreen Line, 22 bus routes in the Tri-Cities will change as well, including the C24, 97 B-Line, 160, 188 and the 143.

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Seniors facility staff rally in Salmon Arm

Staff at six B.C. seniors facilities, including locations in the Okanagan and Shuswap, have voted in favor of strike action.

So far that type of job action remains only a threat. Their union, the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU), is still focused on reaching a settlement at the bargaining table.

On Thursday workers held a rally in Salmon Arm aimed at putting pressure on their employer, The Good Samaritan Society, ahead of upcoming talks.

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The workers’ previous contract expired at the end of March and so far the two sides haven’t been able to reach a deal.

The union complains that staff are leaving for higher paying jobs elsewhere and the society is either taking a long time to replace departing workers or not filling their positions at all.

“We are looking for a wage increase so we are closer to what the hospital gets and therefore we don’t keep losing staff to the hospital,” said HEU negotiator Debbie Kamal Ali.

In a statement The Good Samaritan Society said it remains committed to bargaining in good faith. The society, a registered charity, wouldn’t comment on the specific issues raised by the union saying it won’t bargain through the media.

The two sides are headed back to the negotiating table on Dec. 12. The union says it hopes a new collective agreement can be reached on that date.

The nearly 700 staff members impacted by the talks work at Heron Grove in Vernon, Hillside Village and Pioneer Lodge in Salmon Arm, Village by the Station in Penticton, Victoria Heights in New Westminster and Christenson Village in Gibsons.

Mountain View Village in Kelowna is also operated by The Good Samaritan Society but workers there are not part of these negotiations.

If staff did take strike action, they would still be required to maintain essential service levels.