How to Make Majoun, Modern Civilization’s Oldest Edible

Humans have been eating cannabis for well over a millennium, but society’s love for edibles has seriously ramped up over the past decade, as legal pot has become more mainstream. Today you can snack on much more than weed brownies in Colorado, with dispensaries offering candy bars, gummies, coffee and plenty of other food and drink options.

But the grandaddy of all cannabis edibles doesn’t get the same love. Majoun, the Persian creation containing dates, nuts, spices and hash, has been enjoyed in the Eastern hemisphere for centuries, and gained international notoriety in the ’50s, when Alice B. Toklas accidentally published the recipe in her legendary cookbook. Good luck finding it at local dispensaries, though: I’ve yet to walk into  a pot shop with majoun on the menu.

So we decided to make our own.

The majoun recipe, which later become bastardized into the weed brownies we know today, is easy, inexpensive and delicious — and also has some pretty rich roots when you dive into Persian history. We re-created the recipe for about $ 40 at home (and it’s much cheaper once you stock up on the right spices).

Majoun (with thanks to Alice B. Toklas)
makes fourteen balls; around 80 milligrams of THC per serving

Marijuana Deals Near You

One stick of butter
Twelve pitted dates
Twelve figs (stems cut off)
2 grams of hash
10 ounces of chopped nuts (your choice, but make sure almonds are in the mix)
1/2 cup of honey
3 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 ounce of powdered spice mixture (a combination of ground black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, coriander or cloves, mixed to your taste)

In an oven or on a stovetop, combine your hash and butter (regular cannabutter will also work, but the majoun will taste much more like weed) and cook at around 250 degrees or medium heat for about twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.

How to Make Majoun, Modern Civilization's Oldest Edible

Herbert Fuego

Dice the figs and dates. If you have a food processor, use it to grind the nuts — but a sharp blade and some elbow grease will work, too. Set aside 1/3 of ground nut mix for later.

How to Make Majoun, Modern Civilization's Oldest Edible

Herbert Fuego

Remove the hash butter and pour it in a medium saucepan over low heat, then add the flour. Whisk the mixture while it simmers for about five minutes. Remove when the butter is slightly browned, and add salt.

Combine the fruit, nuts, honey, butter and spices in a large bowl. Knead the ingredients with your hands until they’re well-mixed. Add more flour, fruit and/or spices if it feels too soupy, but continue taste-testing to make sure the majoun doesn’t get too zesty.

Refrigerate for twenty to thirty minutes.

Remove the mixture from the fridge, and roll it into balls: fourteen single-serving portions. Rub the majoun balls in the remaining nut mix. Keep the majoun in the fridge for a couple of weeks, or freeze it for a rainy day.


Toke of the Town

Watch: Netflix Dates ‘Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling’ Global Launch

Following the news that global streaming giant Netflix had snapped up the highly anticipated Nickelodeon movie, fans around the world can now look forward to reconnecting with Joe Murray’s O-Town gang when Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling premieres on the platform August 9. The movie brings back the classic characters of Nickelodeon animated series Rocko’s Modern Life (1993-1996) in an all-new culture shock adventure.

Synopsis: After being in space for around 20 years, Rocko and his friends attempt to conform to an even more modern life in O-Town, where coffee shops are on every corner, food trucks offer multi-layered tacos, touch-screen O-Phones are being upgraded on a near-constant basis, an instant-print kiosk has replaced Rocko’s old job at Kind-of-a-Lot-O-Comics, and radioactive energy drinks turn their consumers into mutants.

Original series voice actors and newcomers make up the energetic cast: Carlos Alazraqui, Tom Kenny, Charlie Adler, Mr. Lawrence, Jill Talley, Linda Wallem, Steve Little, Joe Murray, Cosmo Segurson, Tom Smith, and Dan Becker

The movie is written by series creator Joe murray with Doug Lawrence and Martin Olson; Murray also directs, with Cosmo Segurson, and exec produces. Lizbeth Velasco is producer. Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling is a Nickelodeon production.

Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling

Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling

Animation Magazine

‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’: The Modern Rebirth of the Kaiju

***This article originally appeared in the June/July ‘19 issue of Animation Magazine (No. 291)***

Japanese giant monster movies, known as kaij?, have captured the attention of international cinephiles for many decades. The latest addition to this popular subgenre, first introduced in 1954, is director Michael Dougherty’s (Krampus) summer epic Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Serving as the visual effects supervisor on the project was Guillaume Rocheron (Ghost in the Shell) who previously worked on Godzilla (2014) on behalf of MPC.

“It was a great experience because you don’t often get the opportunity to work on a movie where the protagonist is a visual effect,” states Rocheron. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters is more like a science-fiction film than the 2014 version which was more grounded in reality. You get to travel around the globe and see all of the Monarch bases that are monitoring the titans situated around the planet.”

Overall, 1,535 visual effects shots needed to be produced; MPC handled 600, DNEG looked after 150, Rodeo FX was responsible for 115, Method Studios created 110, and Ollin VFX did 400 involving set extensions and skies, while The Third Floor and Day For Nite visualized most scenes for the project.

According to Rocheron, the film’s director would often say that these creatures were like ancient gods, and that’s the way he treated them. “We created wide and far-away shots called tableaux with a high contrast of the monsters that resemble Renaissance paintings of Greek mythology,” says the vfx supervisor.

“We looked at the previs stage as being our shot design stage — not only in terms of when we need a wide shot and close-up, but to figure out the placement of camera and details of the lensing, animation, performance and lighting,” notes Rocheron. “Because the creatures are so big, you have to use some trickery in terms of how you light and frame to keep things moving at a decent pace without breaking the sense of scale. Initially, we had upwards of 30 animators before actually shooting the movie. We turned over the shots along with the Maya files to the vendors. There was still an enormous amount of work to do in post-production, because we had to animate everything realistically and give personality to these creatures.”

Of course, live-action photography takes center stage when the film’s cast members Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn and Ken Watanabe appear in the frame. “We sent a visual effects team that shot aerial tiles and photogrammetry from rooftops in Boston for the finale,” recalls Rocheron. “For most of the movie you’re in a digital world; that’s why for us it was important to be so precise in pre-production and visualization, because then you know exactly what needs to be shot. Also, the actors are acting against fairly minimal set pieces, so we have to give them the tools to understand what is happening and how they fit in the world that we’re creating.”

A Lizard Revisited

Much of Godzilla’s character design was retained from the 2014 Hollywood reboot directed by Gareth Edwards (Rogue One). “Mike wanted fins that were closer to the 1954 Godzilla, and we did some small cosmetic tweaks to him,” states Rocheron. “The head is slightly smaller, he’s leaner and has more aggressive claws. We looked at our ability to create more nuanced facial expressions — which is hard to do on a giant lizard. You want to find what is going to create an emotional response from those creatures. Is it the breathing? Breathing causes ripples through the scales and eyes of Godzilla. On a human face, a vibration under the eyes and around the eye sockets means that there’s tension. You translate subtle details like this onto our creatures.”

It was a given that the facial and physical reactions of the giant reptile could not be entirely human. “If you go too far into the human side these creatures look like a man in a suit,” says Rocheron. “We generally did a 95 percent animalistic behavior and five percent injecting spurts of human facial expressions and attitude.”

Rocheron says one of the first scenes tackled by MPC was the one depicting Godzilla getting revived by a nuclear explosion. “There’s a series of shots of him looking at one of our human characters. By using subtle facial shifts, we show that there’s an understanding between the two,” he recalls. “It gave us a good understanding of what does and doesn’t read, and what is too much. We did a lot of exploration from that standpoint.”

MPC had to reengineer its pipeline and rigging technology in order to have a trio of facial rigs placed onto the archenemy and primary antagonist of Godzilla. “Mike was adamant that Ghidorah shouldn’t look like a Western dragon,” reveals Rocheron. “We did a lot of design iterations with the necks behaving more like cobras, and his movements would be fluid.”

Three heads meant figuring out three brains and personalities. “There’s the alpha head in the center that is the controlling one, the left head is more reckless and curious, and the right head is more aggressive and vicious,” he further explains. “We spent quite a lot of hours looking at footage of wolf packs. A breakthrough for us was when we shot mocap of three performers, each one driving one of the heads and necks, and put them next to each other, and said, ‘Walk as a pack, look around and suddenly Godzilla appears in front of you.’ The three performers reacted to the same action but each in their own way; their mocap performances were retargeted to a mocap rig of Ghidorah and gave us ideas for his body language.”

Complicating matters is Ghidorah’s ability to generate his own weather system. As Rocheron explains, “Getting close to him was like being in the eye of the storm. We did a lot of practical effects because the elements were so intense that you needed to put strong rain and wind on the actors It gave us a photographic grittiness that you can’t add in a computer.”

There was also the business with the insectoid Mothra, which needed to be designed as a larva that transforms into an adult. “We tried to show a gracefulness and femininity, which is not the easiest thing to do when you’re looking at a giant larva or moth,” says Rocheron. “For the adult version we looked at moths, praying mantises for the front legs, as well as the body and curves of wasps. It was a balancing act trying to keep her lines elegant, but at the same time, Mothra needed to look deadly because she’s a killer.”

Rocheron explains that audiences really get to appreciate Mothra’s full size and scale in her first reveal, when she unfolds her wings behind a waterfall. “We created an elegant tableaux through her colors and bioluminescence,” he notes.

Another visual treat is Rodan, the flying monster that hibernates in a cave. “Rodan is covered with molten and calcified lava; his design was easier from that standpoint because his role in the film is as a destroyer,” says Rocheron. “The sonic wave that Rodan leaves behind as he flies can level a city. There is an air-to-air battle between fighter jets and him. He’s incredibly fast, agile and deadly, so we relied on good references of eagles and vultures that helped us design his eyes and beak.”

Warner Bros.’ Godzilla: King of the Monsters is now in theaters.

Guillaume Rocheron

Guillaume Rocheron

Animation Magazine

Sneak Peek: O-Town’s Undead Outbreak in ‘Rocko’s Modern Afterlife’ from BOOM!

BOOM! Studios is ready to get creepy with one of your favorite Nicktoons in a new limited series, Rocko’s Modern Afterlife. The four-issue arc from writer Anthony Burch (Borderlands 2) and artist Mattia Di Meo (Adventure Time/Regular Show) finds the beloved wallaby created by Joe Murray trying to survive a zombie outbreak that has overrun his home of O-Town!

Rocko’s Modern Afterlife #1 will hit comic-book shops and the BOOM! Studios webstore in print on April 3, 2019. Digital copies will be available for purchase through outlets including comiXology, iBooks, Google Play and the BOOM! Studios app.

Rocko’s Modern Life has always been laced with hilarious social commentary, but now we’re taking things up a notch by infusing that humor with a dose of the undead,” said editor Matthew Levine. “Anthony and Mattia are crafting a Rocko story like never before and one that can’t be missed.”

Synopsis: Too much screen time was already making O-Town’s citizens mindless, but now something is turning them into mindless zombies, and Rocko wants nothing to do with it. He barricades himself and his pup Spunky in their home, determined to outlast the hordes. But desperate times call for desperate measures when Rocko’s best friend Heffer becomes infected. Rocko will have to risk everything to save his friends and his city!

Issue #1 features a main cover by Ian McGinty (Adventure Time, Invader Zim) and a preorder variant cover by illustrator and artist Joey McCormick (Teen Titans GO! To the Movies). Rocko’s Modern Afterlife is the latest release as part of Nickelodeon’s partnership with BOOM! Studios’ award-winning KaBOOM! comics imprint for middle grade and younger readers.

Stay tuned for further announcement at or by following @boomstudios on Twitter.

Rocko’s Modern Afterlife

Rocko’s Modern Afterlife

Rocko’s Modern Afterlife

Rocko’s Modern Afterlife

Animation Magazine

Modern Times May Mean Weaker Biceps for Women

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 29, 2017 — A life of hard farm work apparently gave ancient women stronger arm bones than modern women, even today’s elite rowers.

That’s the finding of British researchers who compared the bones of a wide range of present-day women with the bones of women who lived in Central Europe during the first 6,000 years of agriculture.

Women from 7,400 to 7,000 years ago had similar leg bone strength as modern-day women who are high-level rowers. But their arm bones were 11 to 16 percent stronger for their size, and nearly 30 percent stronger than typical female university students, the study found.

Women from 4,300 to 3,500 years ago had 9 to 13 percent stronger arm bones than modern elite rowers, but 12 percent weaker leg bones.

The strong arm bones in ancient women who farmed were likely due to activities such as tilling soil and harvesting crops by hand, as well as grinding grain for hours a day to make flour, according to the researchers from the University of Cambridge.

“This is the first study to actually compare prehistoric female bones to those of living women,” said study lead author Alison Macintosh, of the archaeology department.

“By interpreting women’s bones in a female-specific context, we can start to see how intensive, variable and laborious their behaviors were, hinting at a hidden history of women’s work over thousands of years,” Macintosh explained in a university news release.

“It can be easy to forget that bone is a living tissue, one that responds to the rigors we put our bodies through,” she said. “Physical impact and muscle activity both put strain on bone, called loading. The bone reacts by changing in shape, curvature, thickness and density over time to accommodate repeated strain.”

The study was published Nov. 29 in the journal Science Advances.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more on bones.

© 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2017

Recommended for you – Daily MedNews

‘Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling’ Special Brings Back Classic Cast

Rocko's Modern Life

Rocko’s Modern Life

Nickelodeon has confirmed that a cavalcade of cast members from the original ‘90s series will reprise their roles for the brand-new, original, hour-long TV movie Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling. Written and executive produced by the hit toon’s creator, Joe Murray, the special will premiere in 2018.

Reuniting for Static Cling will be Carlos Alazraqui (The Fairly OddParents) as Rocko, Spunky, and Leon; Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants) as Heffer Wolfe, Chuck, and Really Really Big Man; Mr. Lawrence (SpongeBob SquarePants) as Filburt Turtle and Maitre D’; Charlie Adler (Blaze and the Monster Machines) as Ed Bighead, Bev Bighead, Mr. Dupette, Grandpa Wolfe, and Mrs. Fathead; Linda Wallem (Nurse Jackie, executive producer) as Aunt Gretchen and Dr. Hutchinson; Jill Talley (SpongeBob SquarePants) as Nosey; and Joe Murray as Ralph.

Newcomers Steve Little (Adventure Time) and Cosmo Segurson (who is directing Static Cling) join the cast as Cowboy and Pillow Salesman, respectively.

Following up on Rocko’s Modern Life, which ran from 1993 to 1996, Static Cling brings Australian wallaby Rocko and his pals Heffer and Filburt back to Earth after being lost in space since ‘96. While Heffer and Filburt embrace all the modern-day technology, social media experiences and endless food truck diversity they find on their return, Rocko has trouble accepting the 21st century and believes his nostalgia for the past can protect him from the tortures of modern life.

Announced last summer, Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling is one of Nick’s three planned revamps of classic animated properties from its millennial-friendly portfolio. Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie will debut this fall, also featuring original voices and picking up where the series ended in 2004. The latest addition is a 90-minute Invader Zim TV movie.

Animation Magazine

Modern Extracts: A Visual Guide to Today’s Concentrates

Yeah, this is NOT your grandpa’s hashish. As marijuana’s acceptance and popularity in the U.S. continues to cultivate true believers from coast-to-coast, connoisseurs of today’s strains have been blessed with a wide spectrum of ingenious consumption techniques. As the legal sale of marijuana is anticipated to hit the $ 6.7 billion mark this year, few in the […]

Modern Lifestyle Primary Culprit for Obesity Epidemic: Study

TUESDAY July 5, 2016, 2016 — It looks like the primary culprit behind the obesity epidemic may be the modern-day environment, and not genes, new U.S. research suggests.

Americans were more likely to pack on more pounds if they were born later in the 20th century, regardless of whether they had a high genetic risk for obesity, said senior researcher Maria Glymour. She is an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.

People with a greater genetic risk for obesity did appear to be more affected by modern developments that promote obesity, such as wide availability of cheap, high-calorie food, neighborhood designs that present fewer opportunities to walk, and couch-potato leisure activities, Glymour added.

“Some people are especially responsive to environmental conditions that encourage obesity,” Glymour said. “Specifically, people with greater genetic risk of being heavy appear to be more influenced by living in settings that foster obesity.”

But even people whose genetics ought to have kept them at a healthy weight have become more flabby, on average, over the decades, Glymour and her colleagues found.

“Even people with very low genetic risk of obesity appear to be heavier since the obesity epidemic,” Glymour said. “This indicates that the environment affects everyone, but people with high genetic risk are even more affected.”

For their study, the researchers relied on data from nearly 8,800 adults participating in a nationwide health and retirement study who were born between 1900 and 1958.

The research team calculated each person’s genetic risk score for obesity, based on whether they carried any of 29 genetic variants linked to obesity. The investigators then compared the risk score to the person’s actual body mass index, or BMI (a measurement based on height and weight).

Most previous studies focused on just one aspect of the environment when looking at a person’s genetic risk for obesity, Glymour said. Her research team decided to instead examine when a person was born, with their age serving as an umbrella marker for all the many factors that promote obesity.

The presence of obesity-linked genes did not increase in the population over time, the researchers found. However, the effect that these genes had on a person’s BMI did increase in subsequent decades, as the modern environment changed in ways that promote obesity.

“The fundamental explanation for the obesity epidemic must lie in environmental changes,” Glymour concluded, though the study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

“The genes that are linked to obesity were just as common in people born earlier in the century as in people born later in the century, although those same genes had larger effects for people born later in the century,” she explained.

On their own, obesity-related genes had a very small average effect, accounting for only about 1 percent of the variation in BMI among whites and about 1.4 percent for blacks. By comparison, a person’s age accounted for 4.3 percent of the variation in BMI among whites and 4.5 percent among blacks, the investigators found.

The findings were published July 5 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

There are many ways in which the modern environment could interact with a person’s genetics to make them more at risk for obesity, Glymour said.

“One possibility is that genetic factors influence hunger and whether eating makes you feel satisfied,” she said. “It may be that people who have genetic variants that make them persistently hungry and live in settings with easy access to calorie-dense foods gain the most weight. We don’t know this for sure, but it’s one of the most promising possible mechanisms.”

Another explanation might be that modern conveniences have caused people to become more sedentary, said Anthony Comuzzie, a genetic scientist with the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio.

“When was the last time you got out of the car and opened your own garage, or got off the couch to change the TV channel?” asked Comuzzie, an expert for The Obesity Society. “I’ll send an e-mail to a person two offices down rather than getting up and sticking my head out of the door,” he added.

“We tend to forget in general that weight gain is a two-sided equation — the number of calories we eat versus the number of calories we burn,” he continued. “People have more money to spend on easily available fast food, and they are less likely to engage in physical activity. It’s a double-edged sword.”

Comuzzie called the new study an “interesting paper” that confirms long-held suspicions.

“The prevalence of those genes didn’t change. It was just the environment,” he said. “The environment is what is causing the genes to have a bigger effect on this outcome, obesity.”

More information

For more on obesity, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Posted: July 2016

View comments – Daily MedNews

‘Pete’s Dragon’ Trailer Is a Modern Flight of Fancy


Disney has released a new trailer for its update on classic hybrid kids flick Pete’s Dragon, landing in theaters August 12. The spot sets up the story of Pete, a semi-feral child found living in the woods. But Pete wasn’t as alone in the wild as he seemed, and the trailer offers a glimpse at the furry green dragon who happens to be the boy’s best friend (and some of the creature’s magical abilities).

Pete’s Dragon is directed by David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints), who, with Toby Halbrooks, also penned the screenplay inspired by the original story by Seton I. Miller and S.S. Field. The film stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence and Robert Redford. Jim Whitaker (The Finest Hours, Friday Night Lights) produces with Barrie M. Osborne (LotR: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Great Gatsby) as executive producer.


For years, old wood carver Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford) has delighted local children with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. To his daughter, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who works as a forest ranger, these stories are little more than tall tales…until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley). Pete is a mysterious 10-year-old with no family and no home who claims to live in the woods with a giant, green dragon named Elliott. And from Pete’s descriptions, Elliott seems remarkably similar to the dragon from Mr. Meacham’s stories. With the help of Natalie (Oona Laurence), an 11-year-old girl whose father Jack (Wes Bentley) owns the local lumber mill, Grace sets out to determine where Pete came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this dragon.

Pete's Dragon

Pete’s Dragon

Animation Magazine

Hemp as Modern Medicine

Are you getting enough hemp in your diet?

For years as cannabis battled it out in the political system, the courts and in the eyes of public opinion, its health-nut, exercise-loving, extremely good for you cousin hemp made its debut onto supermarket shelves and into the healthy hearts of consumers everywhere.

Hemp, of course, has many of the same great qualities as cannabis except for one significant difference, you can’t get high on it. Nevertheless, for decades hemp had to deal with the same stigma that the marijuana community works to erase, but in 2014, the US Government finally recognized hemp as being distinct from cannabis which slowly helped the floodgates open.

Now there is a river of hemp products in your local food store including hemp seeds, hemp hearts, hemp oils and various other extracts. Most of these products are made specifically from the seeds themselves, but what about the incredibly useful cannabinoids in the stock and leaves? For years, that was still a no-no but today products are coming out with whole plant utilization. Cut to the drink manufacturer Tinley Beverage Company, who makes a tasty thirst-quencher called Hemplify, filled with hemp extract-infused products.

“I’d been involved with several Canadian medical marijuana companies over the past few years. I felt that it would be healthier for patients to consume cannabis via health drinks rather than via sugary or fatty edibles – and far healthier than by inhaling smoke into their lungs.” said Jeff Maser, CEO of the company.

“While developing the initial products, I quickly realized that portions of the hemp plant contain many of the non-psychoactive cannabinoids that patients and everyday consumers are seeking. Products made with extract from these parts of the hemp plant could therefore be positioned next to popular functional drinks such as Kombucha, curcumin, probiotic, omega and vitamin drinks. This created an opportunity to bring these wonderful ingredients to mainstream consumers, which creates a larger addressable audience than cannabis-specific distribution channels.”

Thankfully when it comes to the stigma of hemp and marijuana products, Jeff is doing things at a time where there is growing national and international acceptance of these plants, as opposed to hitting a wall twenty years ago. “Both hemp and marijuana are enjoying increased acceptance by mainstream consumers. Hemp seed products are being widely distributed in mainstream grocery channels and are very much accepted as omega-rich health products rather than merely products for cannabis enthusiasts. As for hemp stalk products, I’ve been amazed at the significant level of consumer awareness, particularly in California, and I believe this awareness will expand across the country fairly quickly.”

Marijuana reform has also been a factor for the growing promotion of hemp as a healthy product, which will no doubt help Hemplify. “There have been several excellent hemp seed drinks on the market for years. Popular brands include Hemp2O and Rocky Mountain High. Drinkable products made with parts of the hemp plant that contain cannabinoids – notably the stalk – have just been starting to hit the market, though oils and capsules containing these cannabinoids have been available for some time. I believe that marijuana reform has helped bring attention to many cannabinoids other than THC, which in turn has created interest in products such as Hemplify that contain these ingredients.”

As for the future of the company, Tinley is doing a larger roll-out of Hemplify shortly and no doubt similar drinks like it will be following as well. “We have a distributor and several salespeople in California and Colorado, and we have received orders from retailers and wholesalers in several other states. We plan to hold tasting events in stores and music festivals in these states, and our web store should open for pre-orders soon.”

Whether your love for cannabis is all about the buzz or all about your health, there’s no reason why you can’t marry the two. The next time you enjoy some Mary Jane, instead of reaching for the orange soda, try a drink like Hemplify and do your body a favour.

Photo Courtesy of Nebraska Hemp Association


Modern science detects disease in 400-year-old embalmed hearts

In the ruins of a medieval convent in the French city of Rennes, archaeologists discovered five heart-shaped urns made of lead, each containing an embalmed human heart.

Now, roughly four centuries after they were buried, researchers have used modern science to study these old hearts. It turns out three of them bore tell-tale signs of a heart disease very common today.

“Every heart was different and revealed its share of surprises,” anthropologist Rozenn Colleter of the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research said on Wednesday.

“Four of these hearts are very well preserved. It is very rare in archaeology to work on organic materials. The prospects are very exciting.”

One heart appeared healthy, with no evidence of disease. Three others showed indications of disease, atherosclerosis, with plaque in the coronary arteries. The fifth was poorly preserved.

“Only one heart belonged to a women, and was totally degraded, permitting no study,” said radiologist Dr. Fatima-Zohra Mokrane of Rangueil Hospital at the University Hospital of Toulouse.

One of hearts belonged to a nobleman identified by an inscription on the urn as Toussaint Perrien, Knight of Brefeillac, who died in 1649.

His heart had been removed upon his death and was later buried with his wife, Louise de Quengo, Lady of Brefeillac, who died in 1656. Her wonderfully preserved body was found in a coffin at the site, still wearing a cape, wool dress, bonnet and leather shoes with cork soles.

The earliest of the urns was dated 1584. The latest was dated 1655.

Mokrane said an important aspect of the study was the finding that people hundreds of years ago had atherosclerosis.

It is a disease in which plaque made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances builds up inside the arteries. Plaque hardens over time and narrows the arteries. Atherosclerosis can trigger heart attacks and strokes.

“Atherosclerosis is not only a recent pathology, because it was found in different hearts studied,” Mokrane said.

The researchers cleaned each of the hearts, removed the embalming material and examined them with MRI imaging, CT scans and other methods.

Archaeologists excavated the Jacobins convent in Rennes from 2011 to 2013. It was constructed in 1369 and became an important pilgrimage and burial site from the 15th to 17th centuries. About 800 graves were found, Colleter said.

The research was presented at a meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Labyrinths: Ancient Aids for Modern Stresses

Labyrinths: Ancient Aid for Modern Stresses

More than a relaxing pastime, walking a labyrinth can be good for your health, too.

By Karen Leland
WebMD Magazine – Feature

What Is a Labyrinth?

A labyrinth is a pattern of pathways that weave in a circle around a central point. You walk through the pathways to get to the center.

Labyrinths are about the journey, at least as much as the destination. They can be calming, as they slow you down while you wind your way through the path. 

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A labyrinth is not a maze. There is only one way in and one way out, so you don’t need to think about where you’re going.

They’ve got ancient roots. They’re found on Greek pottery, on Spanish petroglyphs or rock carvings, and, in walkable form, on the floors of medieval cathedrals in Europe.

Now there are thousands of labyrinths, in places like public parks, houses of worship, and medical centers. More than 100 hospitals, hospices, and health care facilities in the U.S. have walkable labyrinths.

Labyrinth Walking Benefits

Strolling through a labyrinth can help you feel the relaxation response, which is the opposite of the stress “fight or flight” state, says Herbert Benson, MD, founder of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of Relaxation Revolution.

More than 30 years of research shows that the relaxation response brings slower breathing, a slower heart rate, and lower blood pressure, among other things, Benson says.

Lorelei King, RN, former director of surgery at Mercy Hospital in Grayling, MI, says she’s seen firsthand the impact on patients who walk the hospital’s labyrinth. “You can visually see them relax. Afterward, when I take their pulse, it’s often slowed down dramatically. I’ve also had many patients tell me that their pain has decreased after walking the labyrinth.”

When Liza Ingrasci was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer at age 52, she faced the stress of her own treatment, plus her sister’s treatment for lung cancer at the same time.

“I was stretched emotionally and physically thinner than I’d ever been and needed to reduce the fear and anxiety about my own life-threatening illness as well as my sister’s,” says Ingrasci, chief executive officer of a nonprofit foundation in San Rafael, CA. She decided to make part of her healing a weekly walk through a labyrinth in a church in a nearby city.

More than 7 years later, and cancer-free, she still occasionally walks the labyrinth “to acknowledge important passages. It really helps.”

How to Use a Labyrinth

Curious whether walking a labyrinth might ease your stress? King suggests these tips to get started.

Before entering. Consider a contemplative question, prayer, or favorite image to hold in your mind before you step into the labyrinth and begin walking.

While walking. Just follow the path. As you concentrate on your steps, everything else can melt away.

Upon reaching the center. Sit or stand with your eyes closed or looking downward. Take three deep breaths, and in silence ask yourself: What am I feeling right now?

Walking back. Bring to mind again the contemplative question, prayer, or favorite image you began with.

After walking. Try journaling about your labyrinth experience. What did you discover? What changed from the time you entered to the time you exited the labyrinth?

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From Dunphys to Duggars: Modern Families

Far more diverse than the “Leave It to Beaver” bunch, this is what one of America’s most popular television families looks like. In 2012, the cast of “Modern Family” swept the Emmy Awards, demonstrating not only their knack for comedy but also the broad-reaching, 21st-century shift in how viewers conceptualize the meaning of family. And for all of the show’s fictionalized hijinks, the unconventional branches of its family tree reflect a growing number of real-world, contemporary households.

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Korean shamanism finds new life in modern era

INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA | Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:20am EDT

INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA (Reuters) – Colorful flags snapped in the sea breeze as more than a dozen Korean shamans, dressed in bright colors, danced and chanted prayers in front of a huge cow’s head stuck to a trident.

The ceremony on a ship was designed to exorcise demons that threaten fishermen and bring good luck to everybody on board. The presence of several hundred spectators underlined how the ages-old trance rituals were going strong again, having been shunned as recently as 30 years ago.

“People are trying to understand more, learn more, and see more. They are very interested in this,” said Kim Keum-hwa, one of South Korea’s most famous shamans, who led the ceremony.

Though an ancient practice, Korean shamanism – in which singing and dancing are used in trance rituals addressed to specific gods, often to get an answer to specific questions – had long been suppressed in Asia’s second most Christian nation.

In leaping from poverty to rapid modernization, the county’s dictatorship in the 1970s tried to eliminate shamanism, claiming that shamans deluded the world, while some Christian missionaries demonized them and their followers.

But today, visiting a mudang – shaman priest or priestess – is so common that politicians consult them seeking answers to questions such as whether they should relocate their ancestors’ remains to ensure good luck in the next election. Shaman characters have also featured in popular television shows.

“Public perception towards shamanism has improved a lot, with popular TV dramas contributing to shifting these views,” said Park Heung-ju, an authority on mudang at the Kut Research Institute in Seoul.”You can find repose by meeting with mudang.”

Much of this is due to the pressures of modern life in South Korea’s high-stress society, said Shin Kwang-yeong, a sociology professor at Chung-Ang University in Seoul.

“Nowadays, many Koreans feel strong uncertainties and life seems unstable in many ways, so they want to find something that can give them a sense of security,” he said. “The same things have also created a dramatic increase in the number of people who follow religions here in Korea.”


To start the on-board ceremony, the shamans light a bundle of straw and float it on the water with offerings of food to exorcise evil spirits.

Later they go into a trance, speaking directly to spectators to wish them good luck and good health to the accompaniment of lively music from pipes, flutes and drums.

At the end, shamans and spectators mingle as one group, dancing in a circle to the fast-paced music.

“Shunning shamanism is not right. Today’s event is meant to be for praying for the sake of families,” said Lee Sung-soo, who said he was a Buddhist but danced with the group nonetheless.

In one sign of how mainstream shamanism has become, one mudang shaking bells in front of the laden altar was Hendrikje Lange from Switzerland, who credits shamanism with lifting her out of a debilitating depression.

Lange, 45, encountered shamanism as part of her studies of Korean percussion instruments, but resisted actually taking part in a possession ritual until several accidents and visions convinced her she needed to change her life.

Now, she is one of dozens of shamans initiated by Kim, including a handful of foreigners.

“All I can say is that something is happening with energy. I feel that the longer it keeps going, the stronger the energy is,” she said.

Shin, the sociologist, said an additional part of the mudang’s appeal was the sense that it was personal.

“People may have faith in other religions, but those religions seem vague and not tailored to them personally,” he said. “People go to see shamans because they all believe their stories and situations are unique.”

Jung Mi-soon, a participant in the ceremony, said that shamanism spoke to her directly.

“I felt something from my heart. This ritual has everything in there – happiness, sadness, anger and fun,” said the 46-year-old housewife who has had more than 10 surgeries which she attributes to spiritual sickness.

“Sometimes tears pour out from my heart. Sometimes it’s just fun when everyone is dancing and bowing. And, it’s healing.”

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Elaine Lies and and Bob Tourtellotte)

Reuters: Oddly Enough

5 Modern Parenting Tips from Freud

Although 21st-century moms and dads might be hard-pressed to find direct Freudian references on parenting message boards, the Austrian doctor’s psychoanalytic principles are closely interwoven in the best-selling parenting advice book of all time [source: Sullivan]. Pediatrician Benjamin Spock’s 1946 best-seller “Baby and Child Care” was, in fact, fundamentally based on Sigmund Freud’s theories of childhood psychosexual development. The chapter titles and index make no reference to penis envy and Oedipal complexes, but the book’s sunny admonishments are surreptitiously laced with Freud. In fact, Spock’s relatively lax approach to bringing up baby –- which includes doing away with feeding schedules and eschewing punishment, for instance — drew directly from his studies at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute in the late 1930s [source: Sullivan]. Generations of parents who’ve poured over the multiple editions of Spock’s approachable manual have been, unknowingly, raising their children on Freudian principle to protect their young psyches from repressive damage [source: Sullivan].

Unlike those Spock devotees, whose understanding of childhood revolves largely around the advice of others, Freud conceptualized those formative years from his own experiences. Based on the relationship with his father in particular, Sigmund Freud’s 1900 book “Interpretation of Dreams” outlines his cornerstone theories — five distinct and eyebrow-raising childhood phases that theoretically determine how infants eventually manage their conscious and unconscious identities in adulthood. According to the father of psychoanalysis, babies come into the world in their oral stage, fixated on feeding, then transitioning around 18 months into the anal stage that culminates with toilet training [source: Burton]. Then, from ages 3 to 6, things get dicier during the phallic stage, in which their sexual identities take shape around parental attachment; Oedipus and Electra emerge during that time, pandering for the opposite-sex parent’s affection. And finally, after a period of latency in the tween years, pubescent youths navigate the genital stage, when parents’ previous permissiveness or repression manifests in either healthy or maladjusted behavior [source: Burton].

Since Spock so successfully wove together those Freudian phases with practical parenting advice, it would be interesting to project how Freud might regard the myriad parenting methods practiced today. In other words, as Spock injected Freud into his famous parenting manual, how might Freud inject himself into more contemporary parenting models? Perhaps the groundbreaking neurologist-turned-shrink — and father of six — might offer the following five critiques to millennial moms and dads.

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