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Rhinitis: Why does running make my nose run?

If you’re prone to getting a runny nose during or after a workout, we’ve got some good – and some bad – news about why exactly this happens.

You’re out for a walk or a jog when your nose starts dripping like a tap. It’s irritating, distracting, and makes for an uncomfortable run to the finish line. It might even continue hours after you’ve wrapped your workout.

Beyond being annoying, it is actually a diagnosed condition called rhinitis, which causes the nose to drop when we exercise.

„Nonallergic rhinitis involves sneezing or a stuffy, drippy nose. It can be a long-term problem,“ the Mayo Clinic says.

You might even start sniffing and coughing while tucking into a spicy dish. That’s rhinitis too.

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Julie Moore, clinical respiratory physiotherapist at the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health in the UK tells Stylist there’s more to rhinitis than just your nose dripping mid-run or walk.

It’s an inflammation of the nasal passages, and Moore says it’s important to strengthen your ability to nose breathe if you want symptoms to improve.

How do you do this? Cease mouth breathing while you exercise, she says. “Not treating rhinitis will make you avoid breathing through your nose, which is detrimental to your breathing pattern,” she says.

“Breathing through your mouth is OK for short periods of time, but the nose has the essential job of filtering air and protecting the lungs and body.” Moore says, “The more you use your nose to breathe, the stronger and clearer it will get. Avoiding breathing through your nose is not the answer.”

Though it is tempting when you’re fending off the dreaded drizzle mid-workout.

Another benefit of breathing through your nose when you exercise is the safeguarding of your throat and lungs.

“The nose also warms the air, and because the lungs are mostly water, they can dry out very quickly due to chronic mouth breathing. This can lead to irritability and sensitivity in the throat and lungs, as well as causing a cough and tight sensation in the upper chest,” Moore explains.

The bad news is, breathing through your nose 24/7 won’t stop rhinitis in its tracks entirely if it is an allergic variant caused by pollution, dust, fumes, weather conditions, swimming, or medications.

“Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent this common condition, which affects up to 74 per cent of athletes,” she says.

And most importantly, see your doctor.

“Those who suffer from allergic rhinitis are advised to take antihistamines to help reduce the effects of the condition. Nasal decongestants are also recommended, but only for short-term use, as they can cause rebound congestion,” Moore concluded.

Read related topics:Exercise

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Postnatal depression: US approves the first postpartum depression pill

A new pill that’s proven to significantly reduce depressive symptoms postpartum has been approved for use in the United States.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Zurzuvae (zuranolone) as a once-daily pill taken for two weeks to treat postpartum depression (PPD), and it will hit the American market later this year.

“Postpartum depression is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition in which women experience sadness, guilt, worthlessness – even, in severe cases, thoughts of harming themselves or their child,” Tiffany R. Farchione, MD, director of the Division of Psychiatry in the FDA’s Centre for Drug Evaluation and Research said in a statement.

“Postpartum depression can disrupt the maternal-infant bond, it can also have consequences for the child’s physical and emotional development,” so “having access to an oral medication will be a beneficial option for many of these women coping with extreme, and sometimes life-threatening, feelings.”

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Participants in a trial showed an improved mental state within three days of beginning their course of Zurzuvae.

This was demonstrated in two randomised, placebo-controlled studies using women who showed symptoms of PDD in the third trimester or within four weeks post-delivery.

In the first study, the women either received 50mg of Zurzuvae or a placebo once daily in the evening for 14 days.

In the second study, the women received another product using 40mg of zuranolone or a placebo once daily in the evening for 14 days.  

“Patients in both studies were monitored for at least four weeks after the 14-day treatment,” the FDA said. “Patients in the Zurzuvae groups showed significantly more improvement in their symptoms compared to those in the placebo groups.”

What’s more, the treatment’s effectiveness was maintained four weeks after the last dose of Zurzuvae.

Zurzuvae’s side effects

According to the FDA, users might suffer from:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • The common cold
  • Urinary tract infection

More worryingly, the FDA noted that Zurzuvae may cause suicidal thoughts and behaviour, and even foetal harm.

According to the Black Dog Institute, one in seven Australian women experience postpartum depression, or postnatal depression as it’s commonly known. For around 40 per cent of those suffering, their symptoms begin during pregnancy.

Symptoms of postpartum depression

According to Black Dog Institute, sufferers may experience:

  • Loss of enjoyment in usual activities
  • Loss of self-esteem and confidence
  • Loss of appetite and weight, or weight gain
  • Difficulty with sleep (irrespective of the baby’s routine)
  • A sense of hopelessness and of being a failure
  • A wish not to be alive
  • Suicidal thoughts or ideas
  • Panic attacks
  • Loss of libido
  • Fears for the baby’s or partner’s safety or wellbeing.

If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 131 114, Beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800. In an emergency, call 000. For a correct treatment plan, book an appointment with your GP.

For more information on mental health and treatment options, visit Beyond BlueBlack Dog InstituteLifelineRUOK or Headspace.

Read related topics:Mental Health

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Covid-19: Does picking your nose increase your chances of getting coronavirus?

Your chances of contracting the virus are much higher than the average person if you pick your nose, recent research has found. 

Are you partial to picking your nose? Well, it might be making you sick. Researchers have discovered that nose pickers are more prone to picking up Covid-19.

The study, which was conducted on health workers at two medical centres in the Netherlands, found that 84.5 per cent of the 219 participants picked their noses. 

What’s more, researchers found they were more susceptible to contracting SARS-CoV-2.

This says a lot about the virus swirling around our healthcare system, and how it can be transmitted to the general public. It also gives us some perspective. If almost all healthcare workers in the Netherlands pick their noses, chances are ours do too. 

Just like face masks, hand washing and social distancing, the researchers suggested a nose-picking ‚ban‘ be added to the list of infection control measures.

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„Nose picking among HCW (health care workers) is associated with an increased risk of contracting a SARS-CoV-2 infection,“ the study noted, explaining that more than 17 per cent of those who like to rummage around in their nostrils caught Covid compared to about 6 per cent of those who don’t.

Interestingly, there was no significant association between nail biting and Covid-19 infection, but men with beards did show a spike, too.

„Nose picking has not been reported before as a risk factor for contracting SARS-CoV-2. Our findings highlight the importance of the nasal cavity as a main transit port for SARS-CoV-2.

„Nose picking may facilitate viral entry by directly introducing virus particles present on the hands to the nose, thus facilitating infection. The viral load in the nasal mucosa is high in the days after contracting a SARS-CoV-2 infection, even before the onset of symptoms and in patients that remain asymptomatic.“

„Subsequently, nose-picking HCW who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 could contaminate the work environment, potentially leading to further transmission,“ the study concluded, adding that transmission from healthcare worker to healthcare worker appears to be a serious problem in hospitals. „Perhaps the role of nose-picking is underestimated in this regard.“

„We recommend health care facilities create more awareness, for example by educational sessions or implementing recommendations against nose picking in infection prevention guidelines.“

So how will this play out in hospitals? Will we start seeing „no nose picking“ posters plastered around health facilities alongside hand washing and mask-wearing information and guidelines? Likely not, but it’s a good reminder all the same.

Read related topics:Coronavirus

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Should DNA kits come with health warnings?

While at-home DNA testing kits are touted as a savvy solution for the genetically curious, research shows the findings can hit harder than expected. So, do manufacturers owe their customers a caveat?

By nature, your DNA is the most personal thing about you. Containing genetic information passed down from your parents, there is no greater marker of who you are than your genome. For that reason, many are understandably curious to find out more – for clarity around their family lineage, or to know what they’re up against when it comes to their health.

But while DNA kits are useful and often entertaining, what happens in the scenario where someone unexpectedly discovers details about their family or health they don’t like? Or wishes they never knew the truth about their biology in the first place?

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It’s a thorny issue that’s becoming even more relevant in our information-obsessed age. So what motivates us to go digging?

In 2019, Professor Susan Moore from Swinburne University of Technology, along with Professor Doreen Rosenthal AO from The University of Melbourne, carried out research on 775 hobbyist family historians to examine the motivations for investigating ancestry. The study found that while nearly all respondents experienced joy or pride at their results, nearly two thirds (63 per cent) also experienced strong negative emotions. “There seems to be little attention given to the ethical boundaries around home DNA testing kits, or preparing people for the potential emotional and psychological risks that may be evoked,” says clinical psychologist, Dr Alissa Knight.

“No matter what type of information is revealed, this type of unexpected discovery will trigger some type of emotion for most people, whether that’s sadness, happiness, anger, shock, anxiety or panic. Depending on the individual’s level of emotional resilience, this could have detrimental consequences.” Moore and Rosenthal identified five common triggers from at-home DNA kit findings; ancestors behaving badly, ancestors treated cruelly, sad stories, family secrets and betrayal, and moral dilemmas caused by the findings. Yet nowhere in these at-home kits does it provide a warning that a person’s discoveries could impact them long after the report lands in their inbox.

Accredited testing facility, DNALabs, on the other hand, does issue a health warning – on their pamphlet and application form. “The result of DNA testing may have a significant impact on the people being tested,” it reads. “We recommend you consider these matters carefully and discuss them with a trusted healthcare professional.” According to spokesperson Emma Solly, “Testing is highly emotive and can change peoples lives.”

Some testing kits also analyse bioinformatics, genetic predispositions and personality traits. Sophisticated versions of these tests claim to accurately indicate risk of developing conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as the BRCA gene, linked with breast and ovarian cancer. While arming people with health information can’t be undervalued, experts say results are often hard to interpret without proper guidance, and can open the door to potential misinterpretation.

The other thing to note? A genetic predisposition isn’t as dramatic or certain as it seems, and lifestyle factors can alter whether it actually comes to fruition. “It’s a statistic based on probability,” explains Dr Knight. “It doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen, because no genetic testing is 100 per cent accurate.”

So do you opt for enlightenment or blissful ignorance? Of course, it’s a personal choice. But anyone considering delving into their genetic make-up should be adequately warned. After all, once Pandora’s box has been opened, it can be tricky to shut.

How to deal with a health curve 

Be kind to yourself 

If you’ve discovered information you weren’t expecting, this is a time to be extra kind to yourself, suggests Dr Knight. Inject some self-care into your routine, whether that’s yoga, running, the gym, whatever works.

Carve out space 

Keep things in perspective. You may need to create some distance from the results for a while, until you’re eventually ready to read them again – if ever. The timeline is completely up to you, adds Dr Knight.

Reclaim your power 

Despite the results, remember you choose what information you accept, and what you do with it. Lifestyle changes like diet and exercise can have a positive impact on reducing the risk of many genetic conditions.

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AI can conduct breast cancer screenings in half the time, study finds

According to new research, artificial intelligence can help increase the detection of breast cancer by 20 per cent while almost halving the workload of radiologists.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Australia. The best early detection tool to date has been the mammogram, a low-dose X-ray that captures the intricacies of breast tissue to detect subtle changes that are often imperceptible during a routine physical examination. But it often eludes detection.

A new study published in The Lancet Oncology, on the other hand, has opened a new chapter in the detection of breast cancer. That’s right; AI has entered the chat, increasing breast cancer accuracy detection rates by 20 per cent more accurately than traditional radiology screenings.

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In a recent large-scale study in Sweden, researchers examined mammograms of 80,000 women aged 40 to 80 to highlight the potential of AI to detect breast cancer accurately. And the results? AI demonstrated its abilities by identifying 244 cancers through screening and prompting 861 recalls. In comparison, traditional screening methods detected 203 cancers and resulted in 817 recalls.

The AI detection rate was 6 per 1,000 women screened, which met the lowest safety threshold. Traditional screening methods, on the other hand, yielded a detection rate of five per 1,000 women screened. Importantly, the rate of false positives — a critical factor in determining the effectiveness of a screening technique — was 1.5 per cent for both AI and conventional methods.

Beyond the numbers, there is a more profound reassurance for anyone concerned about using AI in health screening. This study confirms that combining AI and mammography is effective and safe.

Dr Kristina Lang, the study’s lead author, told the BBC that while the preliminary results are promising, more research is needed to fully understand the role of AI in mammograms. But added that AI’s most significant potential may be its ability to alleviate radiologists‘ heavy workload.

„The excessive amount of reading“ is a constant strain for these medical professionals, she observes. If AI can shoulder some of this burden, it could be critical in relieving the strain on our healthcare system.

The study’s findings support this claim even more. According to the Radiological Society of North America, as tested in this study, AI technology reduced radiologists‘ screen-reading workload by 44 per cent. This is a significant step forward, not only in terms of technological advancement but also in terms of supporting the healthcare system.

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MDMA and magic mushrooms have arrived: Australia lets psychs find a new way for happy to fight sad

Australian medical practitioners can now prescribe MDMA and psilocybin for the treatment of some mental health conditions. Here’s everything you need to know.

As the clock struck midnight to herald the start of the 23/24 financial year, Australia’s ability to legally prescribe through qualified medical practitioners MDMA (ecstasy) and psilocybin – the active ingredient in magic mushrooms – became a reality.

A surge in recent research is demonstrating that psychedelics-assisted therapy holds great promise for helping people with a range of existing-treatment resistant conditions.

The products are now legitimised by the Australian federal government as a proven aid in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and other mental health issues in what could well be the future of therapeutic aids for these types of ailments – and possibly more.

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MDMA is typically prescribed for PTSD and psilocybin for depression, anxiety and alcohol use disorder, while both also have potential uses in the field of palliative care, for patients in the end stages of terminal disease.

In preparation for this fairly momentous day, a handful of ASX-listed medicinal providers have diversified and readied themselves to help supply and service this relatively brand new industry, including Melodiol Global Health (ASX:ME1)Incannex Healthcare (ASX:IHL)MGC Pharmaceuticals (ASX:MXC), and Bioxyne (ASX:BXN).

But first, some facts

In an updated announcement, the Australian Therapeutics Administration (TGA) has stated that psychiatrists can be authorised to prescribe products containing 3,4‑methylenedioxy‑methamphetamine (MDMA) and psilocybin for use in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to treat specific mental health conditions.

“MDMA may be prescribed for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) [and] psilocybin may be prescribed for treatment-resistant depression (TRD),” the federal government body wrote.

“For these specific uses, psilocybin and MDMA have been listed as Schedule 8 (controlled drugs) medicines in the Poisons Standard.”

This is backed up outside Australia by, among others, ground-breaking research in the US by John Hopkins University that said while recent data has been limited by time constraints in recent years, there were undoubtedly positive outcomes for the use of both MDMA and psilocybin in treating depression and post-traumatic stress.

It’s not new

A mere ~60 years ago – and for thousands of years before then – humanity has grown exponentially due to our across-the-board curiosity and experimentation with drugs such as psilocybin or more recently MDMA as medicinal treatments.

It’s been proven, and again reported here recently by the New York Times, that early humans used psychedelics such as ergot and magic mushrooms – both of which contain psilocybin – for ritual use.

Some researchers believe that use of these psychedelics enabled early humans to harness and modernise tools for hunting and gathering, and other scientific progression.

In more modern times, especially in the wake of World War II, there was a boom in productivity across many sectors such as science, communication, medicine, technology and more, and that era of prosperity in the West helped burgeon experimentation with different types of drugs for therapeutic use.

Rightly or wrongly at the time, governments and psychiatrists across the globe experimented with and even legally prescribed substances such as MDMA and psilocybin during that era.

Then the ‘war’ began

At the same time, the beginnings of what we now call the War on Drugs were rumbling out of the White House, with US President Richard Nixon quite famously demonising what could have been a major step forward in pharmaceutical treatment.

That’s a long, and aggravating, story – but the gist of it is that Nixon and his cronies used their political might to turn the US, and by extension most of the developed world, against certain substances in order to divide communities.

Before he was President, Nixon led the establishment of the Drug Enforcement Administration to unite all law enforcement agencies for an “all-out, global war on the drug menace” in 1973 based on perceived political threats.

The doors to labs around the world were effectively slammed shut, with scientific investigations into the beneficial aspects of certain compounds essentially outlawed, and the research ground to a halt.

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and Black people,” former White House Counsel under Nixon, John Erlichmann, said.

“You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or Blacks, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and Blacks with heroin, and then criminalising both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.

“We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

It’s been 50 years since then, countless trillions of dollars have been spent suppressing access to substances like MDMA and psilocybin, but the black market sales and unregulated abuse of them didn’t stop.

MDMA became a mainstay of the party scene during the 1990s, leading to a further crackdown from governments around the world, hampering research efforts as there were very few people in positions of power who were willing to appear “soft on drugs”.

However, over the past decade, the “all drugs are evil” mantra has begun to lose its power.

Most of us reading this were already adults when discussion around about the legality and yes/no beneficial properties of marijuana’s active ingredient THC for a plethora of life-changing and life-saving applications really took off.

Fast forward to today, and those developments in the field of cannabis have paved the way for a broader acceptance that compounds like MDMA and psilocybin aren’t just for hippies and loved-up ravers.

The floodgates are opening. Scientific research has been revisited from 60 years (and even more) ago, reinforcing the historical data of the efficacy of the now importable, licensable and prescribable therapeutic benefits from psilocybin and MDMA.

As the changing perceptions and acceptance of cannabis has shown, a well-informed population will happily embrace things that were once heavily demonised.

At the time of writing, 23 US states – the birthplace of the War on Drugs – have legalised cannabis use, and in another 8 US states it’s been decriminalised.

Australia is yet to follow suit, but for many who believe it should be legal, their once “impossible dream” has turned into a waiting game, with rumblings about sweeping changes to those laws domestically gathering steam.

It’s little wonder that the global cannabis market – for use by adults, and for use in therapeutic settings – has taken off.

And those shifting attitudes have flowed through to the field of psychedelic treatments as well, rolling out the red carpet for a burgeoning global market potentially worth billions of dollars a year.

What does the market look like?

While raw data about the market cannot be quantified just yet, Incannex director and psychedelic clinics business lead Peter Widdows said that it’s estimated to become a $2 billion industry in Australia alone.

“That’s working back from the number of people that suffer from certain conditions and then the number who will seek treatment from that and then the estimated pricing,” Widdows says.

“Globally, I think it’s probably closer to a $63 billion market.”

The treatment will likely be expensive, with the University of Melbourne’s Medicinal Psychedelics Research Network estimating that a round of psychedelic-assisted sessions may cost between $15,000 and $25,000.

Melodiol CEO William Lay says the practicality is, the number of patients who will be able to access these treatments in the near term may be very limited.

“This is due to the fact that only psychiatrists, authorised by the TGA and approved by a human research ethics committee will be allowed to issue prescriptions,” Lay says.

“Approved patients will only be able to access these medicines in a supervised setting combined with psychotherapy.

“Unless and until reimbursement options become available for patients, treatment costs will likely be substantial which will further restrict access for patients.”

Regulatory framework

Lay points to Switzerland – known for its very pragmatic approach to the use of psychedelics in clinical trials and in patients; which, as a result, has made it a leader in the research and use of psychedelics in psychiatry.

Whilst mainly prescribed by psychiatrists, with a congruent medical justification, psychedelics can theoretically be prescribed in Switzerland by any physician with a medical licence.

“The supervision of use can then be delegated to psychologists or other health professionals under the responsibility of the licence holder,” Lay says.

“This could also be a useful framework for Australian regulators to reference as it considers how best to facilitate greater access to these medications.”

Whilst the patients generally pay off the medication in Switzerland, the associated supervised psychotherapy sessions are covered by insurance.

“Again, this would be a helpful framework for accelerating patient access and we would encourage both health professionals and the regulators to look closely at the experience gained in Switzerland and use this to help develop policy in Australia,” Lay says.

Advocates gettin’ jiggy with it

Speaking at the recent Psychedelic Science 2023 convention in Denver, Colorado, actor Jaden Smith talked about the therapeutic benefits of using psychedelics, and how his own mother, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, introduced the whole Smith family to its benefits and how it brought them closer together, as well as his love of bees.

There’s also the world’s most famous podcaster Joe Rogan, who, for years, has advocated the benefits of a range of once-banned therapeutics including MDMA and psilocybin for self-improvement, by interviewing highly-qualified guests, including Rick Doblin and Paul Stamets, who are considered pioneers in the field of this type of treatment of mental illnesses.

Those of the mindset that some people “use and abuse” MDMA or psilocybin as a party drug to their own detriment are right. But they’re also wrong.

You wouldn’t have to look far to recognise the hypocrisy by googling any statistics of alcohol-related causes of deaths here in Australia alone to gain perspective on this so-called “mantra”.

Perhaps those suffering could use some psilocybin therapy?

Yes, it’s common sense that you probably shouldn’t cross a busy road without looking both ways, but you also shouldn’t eat a bunch of shrooms looking for a cure, let alone an instant fix to your problems.

And just because something invokes neuroplasticity changes in brain circuitry does not necessarily mean that it’s therapeutic for everyone – but studies prove that it can be. And that’s the crux of it all.

Now, back to the movers and shakers in this space.

Who’s leading the pack?

Innovators in health have always pushed the boundaries to reinvent the wheel so to speak and it can be tough to move into new areas of therapy.

These ASX-listed therapeutics businesses have chosen to be pioneers in their field and are confident that the investment and market opportunities are huge.

One early adopter in this space is Melodiol Global Health (ASX:ME1) (formerly Creso Pharmaceuticals), which has a worldwide network of business activities in recreational and medical cannabis, CBD, MDMA, psychedelics and plant-based consumer goods.

Its subsidiary Halucenex is currently conducting Phase 2 trials on the use of synthetic psilocybin for the treatment of PTSD, partnering with Dr Hysek AG in Switzerland, a leading manufacturer and supplier of MDMA and synthetic psilocybin.

In May this year, the company bought international cannabis distributor Health House International (HHI), providing it with all the licensing requirements necessary to meet TGA guidelines.

Melodiol’s Lay says that with supply structures in place and a history of dealing with regulatory frameworks across countries, the company is well-positioned to aid in the supply and distribution of these new therapies.

“Melodiol has already secured the necessary licences to import MDMA and psilocybin products to Australia and our current efforts are focused on roll-out in Australia in conjunction with local partners,” Lay says.

Another early adopter in this space is MGC Pharmaceuticals (ASX:MXC), which has positioned itself as a key player in pioneering psychedelic research and development.

As a result, the company is now able to offer accurate, pharmaceutical-grade products.

“We are excited by the new regulation that enables psychedelics to be prescribed to patients in Australia,” MD and CEO Roby Zomer said.

“MGC has positioned itself at the forefront of this industry with its ability to reach patients in need via companies dealing with psilocybin and backed by pharmaceutical standards.”

Additionally, MGC will look to expand sales in Australia through the company’s existing channels to provide psilocybin to those in need of treatment.

In March this year, after several months of negotiations, Bioxyne (ASX:BLS) was invited by Amazon, an exclusive invite-only CBD pilot program in the UK for the sale of its Dr Watson CBD brand, part of the company’s subsidiary Breathe Life Sciences (BLS).

BLS is focused on alternative medicines such as medicinal cannabis, MDMA, psilocybin, and “pre-pharmaceutical” consumer healthcare products such as mushrooms, nootropics, and novel food supplements sold to businesses and direct to consumer.

“We are in a unique position in Australia, which has become the most exciting and progressive country in the world to be involved with novel medicines such as cannabis and psilocybin,” Bioxyne CEO Sam Watson said.

Then there’s Incannex Healthcare (ASX:IHL) with its psychedelics focused-subsidiary Psychennex, pioneering the Australian psychedelics sector via its clinical research programs and service delivery through its Clarion Clinics Group, gearing up to open its first clinic in Melbourne in Q3 CY23.

The company is about to launch Australia’s first psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy clinic in Melbourne this quarter.

“It’s a prototype clinic but it’s a commercial-scale prototype capable of treating 600+ patients in normal working hours per year – substantially more if we extend the hours,” Incannex’s Widdows said.

“Once we’ve got that running smoothly, we’ll roll out very quickly to other clinics, targeting Sydney first, then probably a second clinic in Melbourne, then Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Gold Coast etc, with an eye on the international market as well.”

Thankfully, for all those who will benefit from these treatments, there are companies out there willing to help make it happen now.

While Melodiol, Incannex, Bioxyne and MGC Pharmaceuticals are Stockhead advertisers, they did not sponsor this article.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.

If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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Does lying down after sex increase your chances of getting pregnant?

While the logic doesn’t sound that farfetched, the long-held belief that it’s easier for sperm to travel in the right direction if you’re horizontal isn’t necessarily scientifically accurate. 

There are a lot of tips out there about trying to get pregnant.

Some say that you should start taking prenatal vitamins, others that you should do it in a certain position, avoid peeing after sexual intercourse… the list goes on, but some of these are true and others not so much.

One piece of advice you may have heard is that you should lie down after sex to boost your chances of conceiving, but does it actually help?

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Lying down after sex to conceive: fact or fad?

We’ll go straight to the point with this one: it’s a fad. There’s no actual evidence that lying down after sex improves your odds of getting pregnant.

Sperm are incredibly quick swimmers and, before you’ve even thought about getting up, they’re already close to the finish line. In fact, it can take them as little as two minutes to reach your fallopian tubes, where they need to be for conception to occur.

“We don’t have trials that have investigated this specifically so the best evidence we have is from studies on intrauterine insemination (IUI) – this is when sperm that has been washed and concentrated is placed directly into the uterus,” says Dr Kirsty Wallace-Hor, a GP at Kin Fertility.

“A large study in the Netherlands found that there was no significant difference between women who rested after IUI and those who mobilised straight away. 

“Whilst IUI is different from natural conception, it makes sense that sperm shouldn’t need our help to work against gravity because that’s not how they work. They ‘swim’ through the cervix and uterus and are moved along the fallopian tubes with the help of cilia – small hair-like structures. Whilst some sperm may be lost along the way, we ultimately only need one sperm to reach the egg.”

That said, there’s no harm in trying. If you feel like relaxing in bed after sex, go ahead – just remember that it is unlikely to impact your chances of getting pregnant.

What if I hold my legs up – will that help?

Another myth, we’re afraid.

The logic isn’t all that farfetched: you elevate your hips, gravity does its thing, and it becomes easier for sperm to travel in the right direction. The thing is, those little swimmers don’t rely on gravity to get where they need to go.

If you’re worried about semen falling out, know that some leakage is perfectly okay. After all, it only takes one sperm meeting one egg for conception to happen, and some sperm will be rejected anyway, no matter what you do. And while we’re on this topic, peeing after sex won’t kill sperm or flush them all out of your vagina either. If you need to go, go (especially if you’re prone to getting UTIs).

What you can do to actually improve your chances of conceiving

The most important thing to remember when trying to get pregnant is that timing matters – a lot.

“Sperm can live up to five days, whilst an egg only survives for about 24 hours after it is released by an ovary. If you want to improve your chances of conceiving, it’s far more important to time sex so that sperm is ready and waiting when the egg is released,” Dr Wallace-Hor explains.

If you’re wondering how to know when you’re ovulating, the simplest thing you can do is track your cycle, either through an app or a good old-fashioned calendar.

“You can also use ovulation kits which help detect an increase in luteinising hormone in your urine – the surge in this hormone is a good marker that ovulation will occur in the next 24 to 36 hours,” Dr Wallace-Hor recommends. “Once you have a rough idea of when you’re ovulating, I recommend having intercourse every couple of days in the lead-up to ovulation.”

Of course, your lifestyle also affects your fertility, so make sure to exercise and eat well to maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking, limit alcohol and caffeine consumption, keep your stress in check, and consider taking a prenatal supplement.

“Ultimately, if you want to rest after sex, that’s fine. However, if you want to get up and move around, or if you need to get up to urinate, you can rest assured that you aren’t ruining your chances of falling pregnant. The only thing I’d advise against is bathing straight after sex or douching (you shouldn’t ever douche anyway due to the risk of infection),” she adds.

“If you have any concerns about irregular periods or ovulation, or if you have been struggling to fall pregnant, I recommend that you and your partner check in with your GP.”

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Scientists develop pill for cancer and tumour treatment

A groundbreaking „cancer-killing pill“ has been demonstrated to eradicate breast,  prostate, brain, ovarian, cervical, skin and lung cancer tumours — while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

Scientists at City of Hope, one of the largest cancer research and treatment organisations in the United States, have made a groundbreaking discovery in the fight against cancer. Researchers have developed a „cancer-killing pill“ that uses „targeted chemotherapy“ to combat solid tumours after two decades of meticulous research and development.

Scientists have made a breakthrough against the protein proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). Cancer repair and growth are aided by a mutated form of PCNA. AOH1996, a molecule designed by researchers, targets and kills the mutated PCNA.

AOH1996 has shown promise in preclinical research, effectively treating a wide range of cancers, including breast, prostate, brain, ovarian, cervical, skin, and lung cancers.

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The study, which was published in the journal Cell Chemical Biology, examined the protein in over 70 cancer cell lines. The results? AOH1996 neutralised cancer cells selectively by „disrupting the normal cell reproductive cycle.“ These findings encourage scientists to move the clinical trial to the next stage, human testing.

Dr Linda Malkas, professor in City of Hope’s Department of Molecular Diagnostics and Experimental Therapeutics, explains that „Data suggests PCNA is uniquely altered in cancer cells,“ she continues, „and this fact allowed us to design a drug that targeted only the form of PCNA in cancer cells.“

Dr Malkas likens PCNA to a bustling airport terminal hub with numerous gates for planes. As a result, the disruption caused by this protein can be compared to a snowstorm that shuts down a major airline hub, causing all flights to be halted. 

The enormous future potential of this „cancer-killing pill“ lies in „shutting down all flights in and out only in planes carrying cancer cells,“ Dr Malkas adds. Meaning the blockade only affects planes transporting cancer cells, leaving the rest unaffected.

Dr Long Gu, the study’s lead author and an associate research professor in the Department of Molecular Diagnostics and Experimental Therapeutics, explains why you haven’t heard of PCNA. „No one has ever targeted PCNA as a therapeutic because it was viewed as ‚undruggable,'“ Dr Gu said.

However, the ‚impossible‘ narrative is being rewritten. What the team has achieved is comparable to a health revolution. „The results have been promising,“ Dr Gu said. AOH1996 has been shown in cell and animal models to inhibit tumour growth as a single agent or as part of a combination treatment. The icing on the cake? This is accomplished without causing toxicity.

This experimental chemotherapeutic is currently being studied in a Phase 1 clinical trial in humans at City of Hope. The researchers discovered that PCNA could be one of the catalysts for increased nucleic acid replication errors in cancer cells. They now have a target to inhibit thanks to this new discovery.

„Now that we know the problem area and can inhibit it, we will dig deeper to understand the process to develop more personalized, targeted cancer medicines,“ Dr Gu added.

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Study finds one glass of alcohol is linked to higher blood pressure

A new study reveals it’s time to rethink the ‚just one drink‘ mindset because even moderate alcohol consumption is linked to higher blood pressure.

You exchange a knowing look with your friend across the table. „How about just one glass of wine?“ you ask. As the adage ‚everything in moderation‘ runs through your mind, you wait for that gentle nod of confirmation.

However, a new study published in the journal Hypertension reveals some sobering facts about the moderation theory. And with it, casts a very dark shadow on the ritualistic ‚just one drink‘ scenario.

The study suggests that even one drink per day can increase systolic blood pressure (SBP) — the force exerted when your heart pumps blood — even in people with no history of hypertension.

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Previous research has demonstrated the link between alcohol and elevated blood pressure. However, the discovery that even a single daily drink can have such a significant impact on blood pressure surprised the study’s researchers.

According to Marco Vinceti, senior author of the study, „We didn’t expect to find that an already-low level of alcohol consumption could be linked to elevated blood pressure changes over time, even when compared to no consumption.“

The research was extensive. It included 19,548 participants and a median follow-up period of five years, with a range of four to 12 years. And for those reaching for the calculator to determine how many of their favourite drinks they can continue to enjoy (we see you), a word of caution.

The study focused on the grammes of alcohol consumed rather than the number of beverages consumed. Another study co-author, Tommaso Filippini, explained the decision as „to avoid the bias that might arise from the different amount of alcohol contained in ‘standard drinks’ across countries and/or types of beverages.“

The study’s findings appear to highlight a clear and unbroken link: the more alcohol consumed, the higher the SBP reading. And it’s an association that doesn’t appear to have a starting or ending point. It’s an ongoing upward trend that appears regardless of the amount consumed.

Breaking down the findings even further, the study suggests a near-linear relationship between baseline alcohol intake and subsequent changes in SBP in both genders. So, regardless of how you identify, alcohol affects your blood pressure dynamics.

„Our study found no positive effects in adults who consumed a low level of alcohol compared to those who abstained completely,“ Vinceti explained. So, those hoping that the ‚one-drink‘ theory might hold some health benefits may need to reconsider.

The research suggests that individuals experiencing a slight upward trend in their blood pressure — even if it’s not officially categorised as ‚high‘ — could benefit most from reducing their alcohol consumption or even completely abstaining.

The research did hint that our genes might grant us a slight pass regarding alcohol’s impact on our health. Specifically, the study observed a varied relationship between alcohol consumption and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) — the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats — depending on sex and geographic location.

“Alcohol consumption was positively associated with blood pressure changes in both Asians and North Americans, apart from DBP in the latter group,” explained Vinceti. This suggests that genetic and environmental factors might interact with alcohol’s effects in complex ways.

Vinceti further advised that those wishing to maintain healthy blood pressure levels should consider limiting or even completely avoiding alcohol. “Alcohol is certainly not the sole driver of increases in blood pressure; however, our findings confirm it contributes in a meaningful way.”

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‘How I get through my worst weeks with endometriosis’

Living with endometriosis can feel like an endless uphill battle. Here, Laura Roscioli shares seven things that help her manage the physical and emotional pain, and expert-approved tips for addressing symptoms of endo. 

As one of the ten per cent of women who live with endometriosis, some months are total hell. I experience periods in a way that I’ve found hard to explain to anybody, even still. 

Each cycle is different. Some months I get excruciating cramps, nausea, lightheadedness and hardcore headaches during the days I bleed and nothing on either side. Other months, I have all of those symptoms in the week before my period, plus super sore boobs and back pain. Sometimes I have all of the symptoms either side of my period as well as during, and a nice dose of premenstrual dysphoric syndrome (PMDD) beforehand, too.

I remember the first time my period felt unfamiliar. I was eighteen, and in Venice with my parents. My stomach started to hurt in a way it never had before. I thought I might have food poisoning or a bladder/kidney/bowel infection. It was this stabbing pain in my lower stomach that radiated all the way through to my back. Panadol wasn’t helping. I was wearing high-waisted jeans and felt like they were going to burst. I begged my dad to take me back to the hotel so I could just curl up in a corner in the dark. 

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When we got back to the hotel, I went to the bathroom and realised I had my period. I’d had it for three years at this point, but I’d never experienced this level of pain. When I told my dad, he was relieved. “Oh is that all it is?” he asked. “Thank god.”

In a way I was relieved too, because at least I didn’t have to go to hospital, it was just my period. I knew people suffered with cramps, so this just must be it. But why did no one tell me they were this painful? 

I know now that extremely painful periods aren’t normal, but we’re not really taught about the inner workings of our reproductive system growing up. We’re taught how to make babies and what that looks like inside our bodies, but we’re not informed of all the wonderful and complex ways our bodies work, with hormones, genetics and all the different elements of our health that can impact how our body may respond to our menstrual cycle. 

Endometriosis has certainly taken me on a journey. At first I listened to my GP and went on the pill. The classic GP response goes that contraception can help with endo because it works to reduce your estrogen levels. And, while this may work for some people, it doesn’t for all. It certainly didn’t for me. 

“While endometriosis is a hormone-driven condition, it’s not just about your hormones,” says naturopath Freya Lawler, “it’s a chronic inflammatory condition.”

“We know this because if you’re put on the pill, it can work to calm the symptoms, but the endo lesions can still grow and develop.”

Endo lesions are like hormone-producing factories, Lawler explains, producing up to 400 times the amount of estrogen, making them highly inflammatory. But, if you’re someone who has endo and contraception hasn’t stopped the symptoms, it could very well mean that you have progesterone resistance.

“Progesterone resistance essentially means that synthetic hormones that are typically used to lower your estrogen will have the opposite effect – the synthetic hormone will actually behave like estrogen in your body.”

She says it can be caused by high levels of estrogen, inflammation and genetic causes. Symptoms can include chronic pelvic pain, subfertility, poor response to hormonal contraceptives and generalised inflammation.

Similarly, with the Mirena, I caved and tried it for three months as per my GP’s recommendation. Not only did my symptoms remain, but I had crippling anxiety and depression for the entire duration I was on it. I felt disassociated from my body and mentally numb. 

But perhaps we’re putting too much pressure on our GPs, Lawler suggests. “Doctors are there to diagnose disease and look for red flags,” she explains. “Subtle changes to your hormones aren’t a red flag.”

Plus, the conventional reference range is super broad, she adds. Basically, this means that if a doctor is doing your blood work, they’re only going to detect a major deficiency. If your estrogen is extremely high or low, it won’t be over the conventional reference range. GPs are not educated to comprehensively review your hormonal levels and what that might mean for your body.

Realistically, in a seven-to-15-minute consultation, they don’t have the knowledge, time or resources to make you feel seen. 

Through my own journey, I’ve often felt isolated by doctors. And truthfully, it’s not their fault. But there’s no denying that the experience of feeling not great, going to the doctor and being told that you’re completely fine – is lonely and stressful. You feel a little crazy, as though you’re not being taken seriously.

But equally realistically, we don’t all have the financial means or accessibility to go to an integrated GP, specialist, or amazing naturopath like Lawler herself. So, what do we do?

Having tried the “band aid fixes” that contraception can provide to people with endo, and finding that they didn’t work for me, I’ve built up my own little repertoire of things that help me get through my worst weeks with endo. 

And, while I’m not medically educated by any means, I think that a lot of my own personal health journey has been a mental health journey, too. 

A few weeks ago, as I went about an especially bad endo week, I started noticing all the little things I do to help myself and thought that maybe, they could help someone else too. Every person is different, every individual experience with endo is different and the things that we find to help us will certainly be different, too.

That being said, here are seven things I do to get through my worst weeks with endo – maybe you can try some of them too.

Drink fennel tea

Fennel is a natural anti-inflammatory and there’s really not much that is more comforting than a warm drink. Put the two together, and you have an incredible combo.

My nonna used to soak fennel seeds in hot water for me whenever I felt nauseous. I never knew why, but when I started to get cramping and nausea during my period, I thought I’d give fennel tea a go. It’s one of the only things that can instantly relieve my nausea during a bad bout of endo. 

You can buy fennel seeds from the supermarket, pop them in a tea strainer and brew your own (it’s definitely stronger this way), or you can buy ready-made fennel tea. I buy mine from the Mediterranean Wholesalers on Sydney Road in Brunswick, Melbourne – but you should be able to get some from any wholefood or health stores. 

Invest in Italian digestifs (and avoid gluten, if possible)

Another nonna classic is Italian digestifs. Spirits like Cynar or Averna are consumed in Italy after a big meal to help with digestion. They’re usually made from herbs and are super medicinal, plus generally good for your gut health.

According to Lawler, endo is very closely tied to gut health. “90 per cent of people with endo will have some form of digestive complaint,” she says.

“A lot of theories about endo come down to inflammatory bacteria, which could be due to gut health. Endo is a chronic inflammatory condition, so gut health is super important when it comes to managing and minimising your symptoms.”

I suffer from gluten intolerance, and I find that in the months I’m on top of keeping gluten out of my diet, my cramps are less extreme. This would be the same for any food intolerance you might have. In simple terms, intolerances make your body inflamed and work harder to digest. If you suffer from bad periods or endo, the less inflammation the better.

However, if you find that you’ve had a bit of a lazy month with food – you’ve eaten a few things that haven’t agreed with you or your general digestive system isn’t feeling great – an Italian digestif with some ice and lemon before bed should help.

Use neroli oil

I’m a huge fan of and advocate for essential oils. When I was little, my mum used to diffuse lavender and eucalyptus in my room when I was sick and I find them extremely calming.

Something I experience during my worst weeks of endo is quite a lot of anxiety. Some symptoms, such as brain fog, lightheadedness and nausea make me feel anxious, because I feel I don’t have any control over them and that stresses me out – especially in public or at work.

Neroli oil is my own little pocket hero. Produced from the blossom of an orange tree, it smells sweet, honeyed and a little spicy. When inhaled, it’s said to encourage the brain to release serotonin and reduce cortisol levels. Basically, it alleviates stress.

I dab some on my wrists and the base of my neck.

Keep ginger tablets on hand

Bad endo weeks often look like really intense nausea that comes on without warning in waves. I always make sure I’m stocked up with a specific ginger tablet called Travacalm –which is literally just 500mg of ginger in one small tablet. 

It’s designed for motion sickness but works an absolute treat for hormonal nausea.  I take two at a time when I’m super nauseous, and I’m yet to have it not work.

You can buy Travacalm from any mainstream chemist. There are two types – make sure you get the 100 per cent ginger one.

Natural supplements

For me personally, I’ve found that natural remedies work best when it comes to managing my symptoms. I lean on things like ginger and fennel to get me through my nausea, essential oils to manage anxiety etc. And recently, I came across some natural products that were specifically designed for period pain and reproductive health; and they’ve been super effective for me.

The brand is called The Fix and it was started by Kate Everitt and Julie Moulder during covid, when they had the shocking realisation that there were no natural products in market that were made specifically for period pain.

“How have we suffered every month for 40 years of our lives and gone without treating it?” Everitt asks, as a way of explaining the thought that began their business. 

The Fix has five products – XBloat, XCramp, XMood, XBreakout and XAll – that look to tackle symptoms aligning with different hormonal experiences, utilising only natural ingredients.

I’ve been using the XBloat and XAll together, which has been working super well for me. The XBloat is basically a natural anti-inflammatory, and has things like milk thistle, turmeric and fennel in it to support natural cleansing and help with inflammation (always read the label and follow directions for use if you are giving these a whirl!). 

“We’re coming full circle as a society and revisiting what had been common practise decades ago for pain,” Moulder says. 

“More and more women are coming off the pill and learning what synthetic hormones have been doing to their body, and it’s amazing to see that conversation happening.”

You can “shop by symptom” on The Fix’s website, and their platforms act as an educational resource too. The founders are behind all of the comms, so if you ask them a question via IG, they’ll be the ones responding. And they do so in an extremely considered, helpful and supportive way. 

Chocolate and tears

Honestly, sometimes it’s just good to cry. 

Hormones are connected to our emotions, and “Reducing stress can reduce inflammation directly,” Lawler says. 

I’ve found it useful to sit in my uncomfortable and unpleasant feelings, instead of trying to will them away. For me, a block of 70 per cent Lindt chocolate and a film that’s going to make me cry is an indulgent and necessary experience when I’m feeling heavy and sore. 

There’s no harm in trying it. 

Being brutally honest with those around me 

One of the biggest things about endo, for me is the shame surrounding periods and pain. I used to really struggle to be honest with those around me about how much pain I was in, because I was afraid they would roll their eyes at me, think I was being overdramatic, that I was a princess, that I couldn’t handle a little bit of extra emotional stress.

But it’s something I’ve been working on. Because period pain is valid and important, and chronic pain is extremely underrepresented. When we’re talking about a pain condition that others can’t see – especially when it’s gender-specific – it’s often misunderstood and not taken seriously. How can others empathise with something they’ve never felt and can’t see? Not to mention there’s minimal accessible information and education surrounding it.

It’s a fact that when we try to hide our pain, when we feel ashamed for feeling it at all – it just makes it worse. I’ve put myself in plenty of situations that have caused me great stress, anxiety and extra pain, just because I was too embarrassed to be honest about what I was going through.

But now I tell anyone who will listen. It doesn’t have to be extreme, if you’re having a painful day, you can just say “I just want to let you know that I have endo, and I’m having a bad day with it today” to whoever is around you – your work colleagues, friends and family. It’s actually considerate to let them know what’s going on with you, and a relief for you too – so you can be easier on yourself about how you might be presenting that day. Plus it helps to inform others of a very real experience that exists for one in ten people who menstruate.

Additional recommendations from Freya:

  • “Book a consultation with a specialist if you can afford one. Endometriosis can take ages to diagnose if you keep talking to people who aren’t specialised in reproductive health and endo itself.”
  • “Have an internal ultrasound. You can now be diagnosed with endo via a well-performed pelvic ultrasound by an endo specialist. It’s not a super affordable endeavour, but is a worthwhile investment to your future health. Go to an endo-related women’s clinic if possible.”
  • “Make sure you’re getting plenty of zinc, magnesium, Vitamin D and B12.”
  • “Avoid inflammatory foods like refined sugar, refined oils, alcohol and coffee where possible.”
  • “Look into hormone testing if you can.” It’s a way of reviewing your blood work that is focused on your hormone levels – however subtle – and can help you to understand your internal makeup better.
  • “Castor oil packs are amazing. Literally get a warm flannel, douse it with caster oil and hold it over your pelvis, or the pain area. It’s a bit more of a holistic intervention and can be messy. But there are zero side effects and my clients have seen incredible results. It’s worth a try.”

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