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Writing Sample: Ghost Written Article for Prime Women

CBD Oil and the Effects on the Brain


As we get older, we learn more about what our bodies need and how to heal our aching bones. Now many are turning to Cannabidoil, or CBD. It’s becoming so popular The New York Times even called it a “magical elixir, a cure-all now available in bath bombs, dog treats, and even pharmaceuticals.” And for those who have never tried and want to learn more, you’re not alone!


What is CBD oil? 

There are many questions about CBD oil: What is CBD? What is THC? Is it legal? Is it the same as marijuana? 


In a recent interview with Dr. Russell Zwanka, a Siena College Food Marketing Researcher and a published author on CBD oil, he broke down exactly what CBD is and what you need to know. According to Dr. Zwanka, inside the cannabis plant are more than a hundred of what are called “cannabinoids.” CBD is a one of the cannabinoids inside the plant with less than 0.3 percent THC. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is another cannabinoid inside the cannabis plant. Both CBD and THC have effects on the body and especially the brain receptors associated with thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination, and time perception, but in very different ways. THC is a psychoactive substance and causes the “high” feeling whereas CBD is not a psychoactive cannabinoid.  


What are the effects of CBD oil on your brain?


CBD has been known to provide relief for ailments such as inflammation, arthritis, help with sleep, bone growth, bone disease, seizures, anxiety, and certain types of cancer. With millions of these claims, it begs the question, what is it doing to our brains and our bodies? 


According to Leafly, when a substance reaches the brain after hitting the bloodstream, it will “influence brain activity by interacting with receptors and neurons.” 


When it reacts with a receptor such as dopamine, it can help the body produce more cannabinoids and regulate behavior and cognition. One of the main reasons CBD has gained notoriety is its ability to target the serotonin receptors which can help with disorders involving pain, depression, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, schizophrenia, and more. 



Dr. Zwanka says your body already naturally produces cannabinoids, but taking CBD can help to restore the body and brain to maintain “normalcy.” 


On top of that, when CBD reacts with opioid receptors, it can immensely reduce drug cravings or withdraw symptoms, which can be an organic way to heal your body rather than prescribing opioids. But the question comes into play of whether or not this is approved by the FDA and “legal.” That answer depends on what form the CBD oil comes in.


What form does CBD oil come in?


CBD oil comes in a number of forms from tinctures to salve, capsules, gummies and vaping. When using a tincture, you put it under the tongue and avoid the digestive system so it’s a quick reaction, going straight into the bloodstream. Meanwhile CVS and Walgreens will offer a salve over the counter. 


The form with the most controversy is CBD oil vaping. Dr. Zwanka says while there may be a stigma on pulling from a pen, the smoke form has an almost immediate effect that lasts longer. It’s one of the most controlled ways to take CBD oil.


Is CBD oil legal? 


The answer is yes and no. Different forms of CBD oil are different in legality. 


If it’s hemp derived, Dr. Zwanka says it is a federally legal product as long as it has less than 0.3 THC. That remains true unless the state wants to enforce their own rules. Anything derived from the marijuana plant and has more than 0.3 THC, then has to follow the state CBD regulations. 


According to the Federal Drug Administration, companies cannot claim CBD oil is a treatment for many ailments people say they use it for, but you can say it has shown “relief” for or helps with symptoms from these ailments. The FDA has not allowed sales of CBD infused foods at this time since they believe more research needs to be done. A hearing is expected to take place in May regarding these regulations. 


How much CBD oil should you take and how often? 


Most experts say it’s difficult to truly give a dosage. Each body and brain is different when it comes to chemical balances, sizes, and needs. As always, when it comes to taking a new substance to help your body, speak with your doctor or physician if you have any questions. 

Writing Sample: Ghost Written Article for Katy Trail Weekly Magazine

Dealing with Political Anxiety

The 2020 presidential election is coming. Even though we are over a year away from the actual election, things are starting to heat up on both sides. If 2016 is any sign, this 2020 election year has a chance to be just as ugly. That will trigger many debates, but also plenty of political anxiety.

Until the election takes place, there will be a slow build-up of more and more coverage around the clock, not allowing anyone to escape at times. Already worried about what it is going to be like?  Here is a look at political anxiety as the race gets closer and how to keep it out of your home.

Stay away from political commentary

It's important to keep up with local and national news, and of course, anything truly noteworthy leading up to the election. With that being said, actual news can only fill up so much of the airtime for television shows. Magazines and newspapers can only fill up their work with so much new as well. What do they add for some extra spice? Political commentary and creating "hot takes" on one side or the other.

While there are points made in some of these features from time to time, most of them are just going to add extra stress and anxiety. Every publication has at least somewhat of a bias, so what happens is many people seek out what they already believe in. Getting confirmation on beliefs is great, but it's unhealthy to consistently seek out the opposition to see what they have to say. What new point is a heavy left-leaning or right-leaning publication really going to break?

Views dictate the online world, and television channels are always trying for great ratings as well. People need to remember that when they see something controversial said on a channel. Do they truly believe what they are saying, or is it all a ploy to get positive and negative reactions from the two major political parties?  Most people will have an emotional reaction to this type of news and this gives these stories much more impact.


Ever since social media took off, there has been no shortage of opinions. In the beginning, most were innocent, but around election time, Facebook and Twitter turn into a war zone with some back-and-forth arguments.

Professionals are no strangers to sharing their thoughts on the election, but what adds to anxiety for many people is seeing family and friends constantly argue over stances. If your uncle and youngest cousin have opposite views and are calling each other names in comments, how's that going to affect the next family gathering?

Consider this when reading any political arguments on social media: when has anyone with strong opinions decided to change political parties based on what someone told them online? The odds of that happening are slim to none. Social media talk leads to a lot of wasted energy, and it can be very unhealthy for individuals.


Get involved with the community without taking a side

One of the biggest focuses going into the 2020 presidential election is increasing the number of voters across the board. Too many people use every excuse in the book not to take time out of their day to vote.

One vote might not seem like that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, but everyone can agree that the country needs more participation.

If volunteering in the right way, this is a positive overall. It helps spread a good message, and there is no need to take one side or another. It's one of the most positive things a person can do to help out with the upcoming election. Sometimes, the best way to deal with any type of anxiety is to do a bit of good.

Focus on Family and Friends

Whoever wins the 2020 election, there will be plenty of disappointed people. Instead of letting an election dictate the mood of a house, focus on those most important in your life.

No matter who is in office, people in the United States have a lot of control of their happiness and success. Embrace what you believe in, work hard towards your individual goals and don't let politics take up too much of your energy. 

One other important thing to remember is that others (including the people that you are closest with like your spouse, parents and siblings) may not have the same political views as you.  Remember, this is okay and political differences are not worth losing a relationship over.  Unfortunately, there are times that family members have such strong opinions against another’s views that it breaks a family. 

Remember that there is a checks and balances system in the United States for a reason. A president can't win the election and change everything in just a few years. Control what you can control, and don't let a win or a loss make a huge difference.

Writing Sample: Longer News Style Story

Students Compete in the LA NFTE Final Challenge for Seed Money and a Chance to Make it to Finals!

Three final businesses have made it to the NFTE Greater Los Angeles finals May 22nd! These young entrepreneurs are competing to win seed money and continue on the road to nationals in New York City October 16th. Digital Correspondent Sarah Strackhouse News reports on the steps NFTE is taking to kickstart the entrepreneurial mindset! 


Antonia Castro – Alumni Council Vice President of NFTE LA Metro 

Kim Small - Director of NFTE LA Metro 

Leo Gestetner - Chairman of NFTE LA 

Maynard Brown - Teacher, Founder of NFTE LA 


"I have a question for you guys. So how many of you guys drive?" 


Students from around the country are competing for a chance to win financial backing, to take their business from an idea to a product. The network for teaching entrepreneurship, or NFTE, youth entrepreneurship challenge is well underway in different regions across the U S, and in LA, alumni council vice-president Antonia Castro, says she understands the feeling. 


"I have come full circle," says Castro. "So I actually took the program back in. When I was in high school in 2013, and I went all the way to nationals." 


Creating a heat resistant, breathable slip resistant sleeve, which she sold to restaurants, hairstylists and airplane engineers was just one of the benefits of joining the program. 


"[I] grew up just where these students have grown up," says Castro, "in communities that have a lot of barriers and a lot of violence, gangs, drugs, and all of this type of situations. We literally lived right next door to a drug Lord who was kicked down by SWAT, maybe every two or three months. And it was just for us growing up, that was normal. And I say, Oh, the SWAT team is here. It's like, put on a show for us. But you realize that. And I see that and I was like, that's not normal. That's not something that a lot of our students should be seeing, but they do." 


"The importance of creating economic wealth and stability in our community and not looking for others to bring it in, but taking charge of our future, and it's urgent," says NFTE LA Metro Director, Kim Small. "The community needs to get involved, and the community needs to back with the students who are doing." 


Small says she sees the sense of ownership and pride, NFTE instills in these students. "It's so exciting. We've got such great kids and the confidence that they exude from going through the NFTE program has been inspiring, and definitely show stopping." 


"In the end, what we're really teaching, is how to think differently and how to have confidence. And that's why our [students] graduate on average 50% more than their classmates," says Leo Gestetner, Chairman of NFTE LA. "I mean, the difference you can make these kids' lives. You know, if you get the right start from now, makes a difference to the rest of your life." 


In just over 30 years, NFTE has reached more than a million students around the world. Its entrepreneurship curriculum is now in thousands of public, private and charter schools and community-based programs across the country. 


"If you can reach one. You've changed a life," says NFTE LA founder and teacher, Maynard Brown, "and in that one, it's kind of like you throw a pebble out into a Lake, and you watch the ripple effect." 


Castro says the ripple effect is real. "I have a four-year-old baby boy," she explains. "He was diagnosed with minor down syndrome when he was born. And to me, he is my biggest passion, my motivation. He is the love of my life. He is the reason that I do all these things, and there's a big insight here on the entrepreneurship world. And they're such a big movement going on with people who have disabilities. It's just so amazing to be impactful. I would not be the person that I am if it wasn't because of NFTE." 


The NFTE LA youth entrepreneurship challenge finals are May 22nd. Then the winners continue on the road to national finals this fall. 


For Real News, I'm Sarah Strackhouse.


About Me

28-year-old Donovan Ilseng was born deaf and is legally blind, which makes what he does at the Carpenter Park Recreation Center in Plano all the more impressive.


"He's very smart, but communication is not one of the things that he can do well," said Donovan's mom, Rita. "Drawing is an excellent way for him to express himself and so that`s the reason we started taking the class."


Four years later, and he's swapped out the pencil for the paintbrush.


While he can't fully see his paintings, others have a chance this weekend during an art show at the recreation center.


Rita says the show gives you a glimpse at his progress through the years. "We adopted him at four and a half, and he didn't even know about pens, crayons, colors, he had never held a crayon. I could tell when I gave it to him he didn't know what to do with it."


Rita wants his story to give others hope that progress is possible, and you just need to look for the light at the end of the tunnel, just like Donovan does.

VIDEO: POSTED 11:50 AM, APRIL 23, 2017

Writing Sample: Short News Style Story

Writing Sample: Short News Style Story

"Things will happen and we have to just dig in for the long haul and not let the terrorists terrorize us into changing our way of life," says the European Union Ambassador to the United States on his visit to San Angelo. Many say his visit couldn't have come at a better time after the deadly attacks in Paris on Friday.

All throughout the day, Ambassador David O'Sullivan answered questions giving the European perspective on current events and especially the Paris attacks. His message, all along, was do NOT be afraid.

On the heels of the explosions heard in Paris Friday, today, hundreds of Fort Concho Elementary students could hear a canon explosion, symbolizing a visit and a union of countries.

"Part of America that perhaps Europeans don't get to see very often is the west, this is the stuff of Western movies," says Ambassador O'Sullivan about his visit. He says three to four days of each month he tries to see new parts of the country, landing him in San Angelo for the day, and he wasn't the only visitor to the area.

"It's a wonderful great beautiful day," says Midland City Councilman John B. Love III, "different cultures, different countries, different people are coming together to share thoughts and ideals and I think that’s really wonderful."

"I think the economic and commercial ties between Texas, the U.S. and Europe are something that I'd also like to emphasize," says the ambassador.

"Oh, the Ambassador O'Sullivan," says Former Midland City Councilman Michael Trost, "oh my goodness, he's an intelligent man and he's obviously very accommodating because this is not an easy thing to do."

While Ambassador O'Sullivan encourages the support of an upcoming trade agreement intended to boost business and make it easier and simpler for both sides of the Atlantic, questioning today mostly circled around the massacre in France.

"I think the first thing is we should not give in to the tactics of the terrorists which is to make us panic, to make us overreact, to become hostile to certain people in our societies, to exploit divisions," says the ambassador. He says the divisions are recruiting tools for the terrorists.

On the other hand, a division, or rather distinction, he does want to see is between members of ISIS and refugees. "Not for me to tell the American people how they want to manage this and how many refugees they want to bring or whether they want to bring any refugees, but I would just point out and I think it is important that the American people understand this, the process by which you select the people who eventually would be granted resettlement in the United States is extremely rigorous."

All day, the ambassador stuck to his message: victory against the terrorists is NOT being afraid, to live.

VIDEO:  POSTED 10:06 AM, Nov 19, 2015  

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