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These life-saving devices are everywhere. But could you find one when you need it?

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Sean Ferguson didn’t have a pulse for 11 minutes.

In the summer of 2016, Ferguson, then 23, went into cardiac arrest while playing pickup basketball with friends at the field house at Cape Breton University.

Ferguson doesn’t remember much of that day. He was a month away from his wedding. He tries to avoid thinking about how his wife might have had to plan a funeral instead. 

“I was told that for 11 minutes I was clinically dead, pronounced dead … that’s what the ambulance drivers and the doctors told my family and the boys that were there that day.” 

As he lay on the court, someone called 911 and another friend sprinted to a nearby rink to grab a defibrillator. Used along with CPR, the device’s shock helped stop Ferguson’s heart from quivering erratically — resetting it to a normal rhythm and keeping him alive. 

The Nova Scotia government is still working on ensuring people who call 911 for help during a cardiac arrest can receive directions to the nearest defibrillator.

Life-saving portable defibrillators are in schools, rinks, businesses and community centres across Atlantic Canada. But there’s a problem: Even 911 dispatchers often don’t know the locations. 1:24

In Ferguson’s case, he later found out there was an even closer defibrillator — less than 10 metres from where he collapsed. Luckily, his friends did chest compressions and were still able to bring a device to him in a matter of minutes

“In a scenario like that, you’re so scrabbly, your adrenaline is so high and your reactions may not be as composed as they normally are. For you to make one phone call and be told where it is, I feel like that is huge in being able to save lives,” he said.

A 2017 CBC News investigation found many defibrillators in Atlantic Canada are not registered with provincial authorities, and emergency dispatchers in Nova Scotia don’t even know where they are located, making it impossible to direct bystanders to nearby devices.

Since then, the Nova Scotia government has installed new software — but it hasn’t started using it. Staff are still getting rid of technical glitches, said paramedic Mike Janczyszyn, who co-ordinates a provincial registry of automated external defibrillators, or AEDs.

“We’ve encountered more delays than we’d like already … we are aggressively working toward that right now,” he said.

When it starts running, an alert will pop up in EHS’s communications centre when there’s a defibrillator within 1,200 metres of a cardiac arrest. That way, the dispatchers can tell people on the scene exactly where to find one. Similar programs have been running for years in other parts of Canada.

A newly expanded and renovated EHS dispatch centre opened in November in Halifax. The dispatchers are required to ask 911 callers if there’s a defibrillator in the area. Eventually, they’ll receive an alert notifying them when there’s one close to a caller’s address. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

The automated external defibrillator used on Ferguson is one of about 700 registered devices sprinkled across Nova Scotia.  

They’re often stationed in gyms, movie theatres, malls and rinks. Getting to them quickly is crucial when someone is experiencing cardiac arrest. 

When people go into cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, their survival rate is about five per cent, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Janczyszyn said the combination of calling for help, CPR and AEDs can dramatically improve people’s chances. Chest compressions and artificial respiration keeps blood flowing, ensuring people’s organs receive oxygen, keeping them alive. 

“Every minute that passes without an [automated external defibrillator], without doing CPR, your chance of survival go down by about seven to 10 per cent,” said Janczyszyn.

Paramedic Mike Janczyszyn co-ordinates EHS’s automated external defibrillator registry. (CBC)

When someone collapses, people often don’t reach for a defibrillator because they don’t know where to find one, he said. And research shows even when people are trained, they may not do CPR, which is necessary for a defibrillator to be effective.

“There’s no liability involved with using an AED as long as you’re using it properly,” said Janczyszyn. “It actually tells you exactly what to do. The most important thing with using an AED is grabbing it and turning it on.”

Janczyszyn has been trying to ensure all the devices in Nova Scotia are included in the provincial registry so directions to them will be available in an emergency. He’s helped doubled the number of registered devices since last December.

Not all of them are considered publicly accessible and Janczyszyn estimates the number of registered devices could be less than half of the defibrillators available.

“They need to be out in the public. They don’t need to be behind closed doors or locked doors but they need to be in publicly accessible areas to be effective,” he said. 

EHS has upped its promotion and has been holding information sessions in an effort to stress the importance of CPR and encourage organizations to sign up their devices. As of November, it was possible to do so online.

It’s possible to purchase a defibrillator that is enclosed in a heated case so it doesn’t freeze in the winter and the battery doesn’t die. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

When people register, they can decide whether to list their device as publicly accessible and also opt to be “responders,” meaning they will be notified when there’s a cardiac arrest within 1,200 metres of their defibrillator.

“You could get a text message or voice call that there’s a cardiac arrest nearby and respond with your AED. That kind of eliminates some of the time as opposed to someone just being at the scene and bringing it back,” said Janczyszyn. “The more people to help you out in that scenario, the better.”

So far, 78 people have signed up. 

“We’d love to have the numbers higher but it’s based on preference of anyone who registered. Seventy-eight is a great number when you look at it. That’s 78 additional bystanders or rescuers in Nova Scotia that are willing to help,” he said.

Alyssa and Sean Ferguson on their wedding date, almost exactly a month after Sean nearly died. (Anita Clements)

After Ferguson’s close call, he spent 22 days in hospital in Halifax and Sydney.  Due to a heart condition — hypertrophic cardiomyopathy subcutaneous — a type of defibrillator is now implanted in his chest.

Two and a half years later, he’s celebrating the holidays with his wife and young son. He recommends people experiencing heart issues get blood work done and an EKG, just in case. He always keeps an eye out for the devices that saved his life. 

“I say this to people and business owners and friends, it’s just so easy to have one,” he said. “I do everything I can to be positive, upbeat and educate people.”

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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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