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‘It’s like a sober bar’: Windsor coffee shop that gives former addicts safe spot an inspiration for U.S. mom

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Distraught by watching her son nearly die of a drug overdose, a Pennsylvania woman and her husband drove seven hours to Windsor, Ont., to meet former addicts who now run a “sober bar.”

The Spiritual Soldiers Coffee Compound serves a warm dose of acceptance to anyone battling addiction, trying to stay clean. Debra Altland was so inspired after reading about its story, she told her husband they had to make the trek.

“Just the atmosphere in here. Just their story. I was like, I need to do this,” said Altland. “I need to bring this to the states. We don’t have something like this in the states.”

Within six months, she hopes to have a similar shop opened in her small community of Dillsburg, Pa. — a borough of roughly 2,500 people.

Watch Debra Altland talk about nearly losing her son, and what a ‘sober bar’ would do in Pennsylvania: 

Distraught by watching her son nearly die of a drug overdose, Debra Altland from Pennsylvania drove seven hours to Windsor, Ont. to meet the recovered addicts who now run a “sober bar.” 1:03

However, Altland’s future wasn’t always this clear. Four years ago, her 19-year-old son Tyler was hospitalized after having a drug overdose.

“At that point in time I was told he only had a less than five per cent chance of living,” said Altland. “They brought in a pastor and told us to start praying for our son.”

At that point in time I was told he only had a less than five per cent chance of living. – Debra  Altland ,  Tyler’s mother

This was the very first moment she discovered her son had an addiction to heroin. One of the most difficult moments was watching him “code right in front of us.” Medical staff rushed in to resuscitate the teen.

‘I couldn’t take him off the ventilator’

He survived and stayed in a coma for a few days while on a ventilator. Doctors even recommended the family stop life support.

“I held his hand and said to him, ‘I need to know you’re in there, or I have to let you go,'” said Altland. “And my son grabbed my hand so tight and sat straight up in bed, and I knew at that moment I couldn’t let him go. I couldn’t take him off the ventilator.”

Altland, left, was told by doctors that her son Tyler only had a five per cent chance of survival following an overdose. (Submitted by Debra Altland)

More than 20 surgeries followed, and Tyler nearly had both of his arms amputated. When he overdosed, he was found lying face down. That caused compartment syndrome, resulting in insufficient blood supply to his arms.

Her son is out of rehab, “but I can’t tell you that he’s sober.”

By bringing a “sober bar” to Pennsylvania, Altland is hoping it will not only help her own son, but the many others struggling with addiction in that state.

Mike Brown, Spiritual Soldiers Coffee Compound co-owner, said he’s humbled to have heard from people all over Canada and the United States about the ‘sober bar’ in Windsor. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Emotional meeting

Altland’s story from a parent’s perspective brought Mike Brown to tears. He co-owns the Spiritual Soldiers Coffee Compound and spent more than half of his life battling addictions with alcohol and cocaine.

“Her son’s story is very similar to mine. I’ve had a suicide attempt, and I’ve overdosed,” Brown said. “I always say my parents are the real soldiers. They stuck by me.”

Her son’s story is very similar to mine. I’ve had a suicide attempt, and I’ve overdosed. I always say my parents are the real soldiers. They stuck by me.– Mike Brown, Spiritual Soldiers Coffee Compound co-owner

“It’s like looking at my mom in the eyes right now,” he said, during Altland’s recent visit to Windsor.

Altland and her son at her wedding. (Submitted by Debra Altland)

Brown commends her and other parents in her shoes for sticking by their children while they battle addiction, and “not cancelling them out.”

The coffee compound’s story has travelled across North America, being shared on social media widely. Brown has gotten messages from people in Texas, California, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and even Australia.

Here’s one of the hundreds of messages the coffee shop has received: 

Coffee shop fills gap in community

The coffee shop started last summer as a way to fill a gap in the community — a place for people to feel vulnerable and safe after rehab or outside of group meetings.

“All of us should be dead, but we sit here today, and it’s a common problem that we all have — my friends and I, and her son,” said Brown. “To see someone extend their hand and say, ‘I want to bring this to our community’ is … I don’t even know how to put it into words.”

I don’t know if I would be sitting here if I hadn’t found this coffee shop.– Jay Arruda

Even in the first six months, many people have been helped inside the colourful cafe filled with positive messages written on the walls, stories of hope and understanding, and its “fun” sober atmosphere.

The happy place

People like Jay Arruda credit the shop for helping him stay on track.

“I don’t know if I would be sitting here if I hadn’t found this coffee shop. I wouldn’t actually,” said Arruda.

Jay Arruda is nearly nine months sober and attributes some of that to the Spiritual Soldiers Coffee Compound, which he describes as a fun environment with supportive people. (Jason Viau/CBC)

He’s just 21 years old and already lived a life of addiction. It started in high school with marijuana and spiralled out of control when that led to OxyContin and fentanyl.

“It brought me down pretty quick. I ended up getting kicked out of my house. I would steal from my parents, and it got really bad,” said Arruda, who has been sober for nearly 10 months.

After finishing a treatment program in May, Arruda works at the coffee shop, offering his story as a sign of hope to anyone who walks through the doors. 

He describes the shop as his happy place, full of smiles and filled with people with a common goal to stay sober.

“You don’t see anybody taking shots, and it doesn’t bring back old memories,” Arruda said. “There’s just no temptation in here. Everyone’s smiling. Everyone’s happy, playing cards. You’re dancing. It’s like a sober bar.”

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Herbal remedies: Saw palmetto for hair loss prevention

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(Natural News) Saw palmetto is a small, shrub-like palm endemic to the United States. Known for its medicinal properties, saw palmetto has been used for centuries to treat reproductive issues and hormonal imbalance.

Today, saw palmetto is used as an ingredient in many hair growth products and supplements, as it is thought to prevent hair loss. This could be due to saw palmetto’s influence on the hormones that dictate hair growth.

Saw palmetto for hair loss

There is evidence to suggest that saw palmetto can help treat hair loss and prevent its occurrence. According to a 2012 study, saw palmetto could inhibit 5-alpha reductase (5-AR). 5-AR converts testosterone, a male sex hormone, into a more potent hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

Research shows that high levels of DHT can shrink hair follicles and result in hair loss. DHT also makes it harder for hair follicles to grow new hair once the old hairs fall out. By inhibiting 5-AR, saw palmetto blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT.

In another 2012 study, researchers evaluated the effects of saw palmetto supplementation in men with mild or moderate androgenetic alopecia, or male-pattern baldness. One group received 320 milligrams (mg) of saw palmetto every day for two years, while another group took one mg of finasteride, a conventional drug used to treat hair loss.

The results showed that 38 percent of participants who supplemented with saw palmetto experienced improvements in hair growth, compared to 68 percent of those who supplemented with finasteride.

While the experiment showed that finasteride was more effective, the researchers noted that saw palmetto may be less likely to work in people with more severe cases of hair loss. More research is needed to confirm this.

Saw palmetto is available in several forms, including oral supplements and hair care products like conditioners and shampoos.

Due to limited research on the use of saw palmetto for hair loss, there is no official recommended dosage for it. That said, a study published in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery cited a recommended dosage of 160 mg twice daily for saw palmetto tablets. Researchers often use this dosage when studying with saw palmetto.

Take note that saw palmetto has been reported to sometimes cause mild side effects, such as headaches and stomachaches. If in doubt about using saw palmetto, consult a natural health practitioner.

Other natural remedies for hair loss

Hair growth depends on several factors, including a person’s genetic makeup. Still, some home remedies might help prevent hair loss and/or encourage hair growth. These remedies include:

  • Jojoba oil – Jojoba oil helps nourish hair follicles without leaving any residue behind. It also stimulates hair cells to grow faster.
  • Aloe vera – Aloe vera helps get rid of sebum buildup in the scalp. Sebum is a natural oil that helps keep the scalp moisturized. It can build up on the scalp and clog hair follicles due to poor hair hygiene.
  • Garlic – The pungent compounds in garlic help increase blood circulation in the scalp, which stimulates hair growth. These compounds also stimulate the synthesis of collagen, a protein that gives structure to hair.
  • Onion – Like garlic, onions boost blood flow in the scalp for better hair growth.
  • Licorice root – Licorice root helps relieve dry and irritated scalp. It also strengthens weak follicles.
  • Rosemary oil – Rosemary oil has antiseptic properties. It is ideal for treating scalp issues that slow hair growth, such as dandruff and bacterial infections.
  • Coconut milk – Coconut milk helps moisturize a dry scalp, which is a leading cause of hair loss.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Apple cider vinegar works as a clarifying agent, ridding the scalp of extra sebum and other residues that can clog hair follicles and inhibit hair growth.

Some hair loss is natural. But for mild to moderate cases of hair loss, it might help to use herbal remedies, such as saw palmetto, to strengthen hair or encourage hair growth.

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Scientist that condemned coronavirus lab leak theory admits he squashed it to protect Chinese scientists

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(Natural News) An American scientist who criticized theories that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) might have accidentally escaped or leaked from a Chinese laboratory has admitted that he was denouncing the idea in order to protect Chinese scientists.

Dr. Peter Daszak, the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nongovernmental organization that conducts scientific and policy research regarding emerging diseases, led an endeavor in February 2020 to quash any kind of suspicion that COVID-19 might have accidentally escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a research and academic institution supported by the Chinese state.

This culminated in a statement published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet that condemned the “conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 doesn’t have a natural origin.”

The Lancet article was written during the very early stages of the global pandemic, during a time when there wasn’t any kind of rigorous research on the origins of the virus.

Daszak further reiterated his support for China in a statement released on Feb. 6, stating that he stands with other scientists to “strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that 2019-nCoV does not have a natural origin. Scientific evidence overwhelmingly suggests that this virus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging diseases.”

In June, Daszak also wrote an opinion piece for the Guardian titled: “Ignore the conspiracy theories: scientists know COVID-19 wasn’t created in a lab.”

But on Friday, Jan. 15, Daszak’s spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that his statement, which has been used to silence anybody with a dissenting opinion regarding the origins of the coronavirus, was published to protect Chinese scientists from criticism.

The Lancet letter was written during a time in which Chinese scientists were receiving death threats and the letter was intended as a showing of support for them as they were caught between important work trying to stop an outbreak and the crush of online harassment.”

WHO team heads to Wuhan to probe virus origin

The situation surrounding Daszak’s initial statements and his sudden retraction are being compounded by the fact that the doctor is part of an international 15-member team of experts sent by the World Health Organization (WHO)to Wuhan to figure out the origins of the coronavirus.

According to the WHO, the team’s official mission is to determine how, where and when the virus crossed from animals to humans.

Daszak has been tweeting about the mandatory quarantine period he and his team are going through. During day four of quarantine, he said that the day, like the previous days, is “packed” with virtual meetings.

Day 6 of quarantine lockdown in Wuhan & it’s that special time for our friendly health care workers to swab for our PCR tests – they go deep, but they’re very cheerful about it. Xie xie! pic.twitter.com/QvKzgC0Lng

— Peter Daszak (@PeterDaszak) January 20, 2021

Peter Ben Embarek, team leader and WHO food safety and animal diseases expert, said that the team will be granted permission “to move around and meet our Chinese counterparts in person and go to the different sites that we want to visit,” once they’re done with the mandatory quarantine period.

It is unclear whether the WHO team will be looking into the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the theory that the coronavirus was engineered. Embarek has stated his desire to visit the “famous Wuhan market” to try and determine “everything that went in and out” of there in the weeks before the first confirmed cases.

Embarek is referring to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, where many wild animals were often sold. This place is being investigated as a likely setting for the supposed “animal-to-human jump” of the coronavirus, or a place where that jump was accelerated.

“We know the virus originated in bats at some point, and then we know that human cases appeared in Wuhan in December 2019,” said Embarek. “But what happened in between, how many other animal species were involved in between, and where, remain to be found in more detail.”

“We don’t really know what happened in that period of time, and that’s what we are looking out for.”

Questions will remain regarding the role of the institute in the initial outbreak; questions that will continue to linger if WHO team does not conduct its investigation.

Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even said that the government has reason to believe that several researchers working for the institute “became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.”

Pompeo said that this calls into question the claims made by Shi Zhengli, the institute’s senior researcher on bat-related viruses, that there had been “zero [COVID-19 or SARS-related] infection” among the institute’s student body and staff.

Pompeo noted that the possibility of an “accidental infection” in a lab is more likely than people might think, especially considering that such an incident has already occurred in China. In 2004, a SARS outbreak in Beijing that infected nine people and killed one originated in a research facility.

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California healthcare workers suffer severe allergic reactions following coronavirus vaccination

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(Natural News) Six healthcare workers suffered allergic reactions after getting a shot of Moderna coronavirus vaccine in San Diego, California. Their symptoms were considered severe and required medical attention.

The doses administered to the six healthcare workers were part of the Moderna Lot 041L20A distributed to 287 providers across the state earlier this month. That batch of shipment, which arrived in California between Jan. 5 and Jan. 12, is composed of 330,000 shots.

Moderna said in a statement that it is cooperating with California’s health department to investigate the allergic reactions.

“Moderna acknowledges receiving a report from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) that a number of individuals at one vaccination center were treated for possible allergic reactions after vaccination from one lot of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine,” the statement read. “The company is fully cooperating with CDPH in investigating these reported adverse events.”

Dr. Erica Pan, California’s state epidemiologist, said Sunday, Jan. 17, that providers should err on the side of caution and stop using the doses until federal, state and company officials finish an investigation.

“Out of an extreme abundance of caution and also recognizing the extremely limited supply of vaccine, we are recommending that providers use other available vaccine inventory and pause the administration of vaccines from Moderna Lot 041L20A until the investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Moderna and the state is complete,” she said.

Monterey, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz have already paused distribution while two Covid-19 vaccine clinics have been canceled in Stanislaus County following the allergic reaction reports.

The delay was a huge blow to California’s vaccine distribution efforts. California currently has the second highest number of coronavirus cases per capita in the United States, with Los Angeles being a particular hotspot.

All cases of apparent allergic reactions occurred at San Diego County’s drive-through mass vaccination site at Petco Park. No other providers have reported allergic reactions to vaccines administered from the same batch of doses.

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