Illegal Aliens Redux

HOW SHOULD THE CHURCH TREAT ILLEGAL ALIENS IN 2016?

**Note: This was previously published in November of 2011. I have only done minor editing.  My intended audience was and still is the Church. I am not directly addressing the issue of the executive orders that President Trump has signed.  However, I think the Church should set our default to mercy.  When the battle over the current immigration directives subsides the church should still ALWAYS act with love and mercy.***

Deuteronomy 10:18-19

18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.

There is no basis in scripture for granting someone mercy or not showing them mercy because of their legal status.  No matter how we feel about immigration on a personal level it is clear that we are to act with kindness and compassion when dealing with illegal aliens. When dealing with old or young people finding themselves here without documentation we ought to be extra sure we act with the kindness of Jesus.

Deuteronomy 24:19-22

19 When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. 21 When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. 22 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.

God specifically calls us to share with the alien.  As Christians, if mercy toward the alien isn’t our first inclination, a spiritual check up is more than likely in order.

What it comes down to is understanding that we as Christians are called to show mercy (James 2:13, Proverbs 21:13.)  I am a proud American.  However, if I have to choose between my personal political beliefs and following the counsel of Jesus I will always do my best to be in step with Jesus.  It is an issue of our hearts.  I am not asking any of us to do anything else than to make being ourselves a mirror of the grace of Jesus.

This is a short thumbnail glance at a complex issue.  Christians are called to welcome the alien; to comfort the alien, bind up their wounds, feed them, etc.

Oh, one thing I am sure of: God is not pleased when He sees his followers putting up signs, billboards, internet posts that make it seem like illegals are not welcome and will be hunted down, all in the guise of “law and order!”  The vast majority of the time that is an excuse for bigotry. We can be wise about possible threats to our nation while still being people who reflect the mercy of Christ.

A Prayer For Our New President

As we prepare to inaugurate the 45th president of the United States we echo this prayer that Billy Graham prayed at the inauguration of George H W Bush.
“And now we come to a new era in our history. In Thy sovereignty Thou hast permitted {Donald J. Trump} to lead us at this momentous hour of our history for the next four years. As he today places his hand upon the Bible and solemnly swears before Thee to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, give him the wisdom, integrity and courage to help this become a nation that is gentle and kind. Protect him from physical danger, and in the lonely moments of decision grant him Thy wisdom to know what is morally right and an uncompromising courage to do it. Give him a cool head and a warm heart. Give him a compassion for those in physical, moral and spiritual need. O God, we consecrate today George Herbert Walker Bush to the presidency of these United States with the assurance that from this hour on, as he and his family move into the White House, they will have the presence and power of the One who said, “I will never leave thee or forsake thee. [Hebrews 13:5]”—Billy Graham, 1989 inaugural invocation

Pot and PTSD

It is usually not my practice to  republish articles that others have written but Prakash Janakiraman has written a very educational and well-researched position paper for the Marijuana Times.  This article deals with the medical efficacy of cannabis for PTSD. I hope you enjoy it.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that occurs when an individual is exposed to one or more traumatic events such as sexual assault, combat, etc. PTSD is sometimes accompanied by other psychiatric disorders, such as obsessive compulsive disorder. PTSD patients suffer hyperarousal with insomnia, social isolation, negative flashbacks, avoidance and anxiety. Chronic, untreated PTSD leads to disrupted brain chemical turnover and the patient becomes hyper-responsive to stressors. PTSD patients may exhibit dissociative behaviors or arousal, emotional or dysphoric symptoms, or a combination.

PTSD affects approximately 8 million Americans per year and is particularly prevalent among war veterans and low-income individuals.

Currently, no effective, approved or specialized treatments are available for PTSD patients, and instead they are being treated with conventional psychiatric drugs. Recently, clinicians have slowly begun to realize the ill-effects of these drugs and also looking into research studies on how cannabis might help PTSD.

The Neurobiology of PTSD

The dysfunctional neurobiology of PTSD encompasses neurotransmitters’ imbalance, including noradrenergic and serotonergic mechanisms in addition to neuroanatomical disruptions. These pathobiological events contribute to dysregulation of the endocrine, cardiovascular, immune and autonomic nervous systems – which collectively leads to PTSD. Due to the involvement of multiple factors, PTSD patients present with a broad range of symptoms that further complicate the treatment approach.

Neuroimaging studies have elucidated the key role of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the management of central neurobiological pathways. For example, CB1 receptors are upregulated and low CB1 receptor occupancy by anandamide is common in the amygdala-hippocampal-cortico-striatal neural circuits of PTSD patients. These events contribute to dysregulation of threat-related processing in response to previous traumatic exposure, resulting in a cascade of neurological changes and amygdala hyperresponsivity. These anomalies are responsible for increased vigilance or attention to trauma-related stimulation and hyperarousal, which are common in individuals with PTSD.

Exposure to stress events triggers certain neurons in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus and also the release of the adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), and the latter stimulates the release of stress-causing corticosteroids (glucocorticoids). These hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis abnormalities deleteriously affect the brain and immune functions, as well as the brain’s ability to manage the stressors. Persistent release of corticosteroids leads to impaired hippocampal neurogenesis, reduced dendritic branching, behavioral problems, and addictive and memory disorders. Endogenous ECS signaling is critical for stress adaptation and intrinsic regulation of HPA axis.

Endocannabinoids and PTSD: Connecting the Dots

Physiologically, the endocannabinoid system plays a vital role in the function of the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in information processing, the subcortical arousal system and regulation of cholinergic inputs. The ECS may also be involved in the disruption of conditioned fear and facilitating adaptation to aversive situations. Modulation of hippocampal memory and plasticity via the ECS could be the best therapeutic option to treat PTSD.

Dysfunctional ECS architecture has been reported in depressive disorder patients with characteristic changes in CB1 receptors and its ligands.

Altered ECS signaling negatively affects the functions of the HPA axis. Although short-term HPA axis activation is beneficial to cope with stressors, persistent or long-term activation may lead to neuropsychiatric disorders with negative effects on metabolism, mood and cognition. Activation of cannabinoid receptors in the prefrontal complex could augment serotonergic neurotransmission and elicit antidepressant effects. Regulation of HPA output might be achieved by retrograde ECS signaling in the hypothalamus, and administration of cannabinoid ligands, such as phytocannabinoids, could activate the HPA axis indirectly by stimulating the noradrenergic and serotonergic neurotransmission. Phytocannabinoids act on both limbic and paralimbic centers, and reduce the activity of the hypothalamus and amygdala.

Higher rates of suicidal behavior have been reported in PTSD patients, which could be due to negative mood and anxiety. Researchers believe that altered G-protein signaling (CB1 receptor mediated) in the prefrontal cortex may contribute to the suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

We know that medical cannabis has antidepressant-like properties which may be useful for treating mood disorders, suicidal behaviors and PTSD. According to one report, reduction in frequency, severity of, and even complete cessation of suicidal behaviors were observed in most of the patients in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program for PTSD.

It is clear that the activation of the ECS contributes to the disruption of aversive memories, anxiety, and improves stress-coping behaviors and reactivity to threat signals. In this way, cannabinoids might help PTSD patients to effectively manage their symptoms, and also to prevent the relapse of symptoms, after exposure to a stressor or stressful event.

PTSD War Veterans

It’s no secret that many veterans return from war with PTSD, and many of them self-medicate with cannabis. Those who have a hard time getting access to cannabis may turn to alcohol and other illicit substances, despite knowing about their harmful effects. Unfortunately, the reality is that current rules governing Veterans Affairs stop doctors from prescribing medical cannabis to PTSD veterans.

If we look closely into the motives of cannabis use by PTSD vets in an unbiased manner, we can see the coping-oriented cannabis use to (self) treat fears, poor sleep quality, negative associative memories, emotions and anxieties.

Yes, cannabis does help to relieve depression and facilitate sleep onset in short-term users, but long-term abusers may suffer sleep disturbances. In low doses, cannabinoids could elicit anxiolytic effects through their effects on hippocampal memory and plasticity.

How Does Weed Help PTSD?

Research evidence points out the inverse relationship between the lower levels of anandamide and occurrence of PTSD.  In normal humans, the endocannabinoid (anandamide) activates the same receptors that are activated by phytocannabinoids. The underlying cause of PTSD is an endocannabinoid deficiency, in which the body lacks production of adequate levels of endocannabinoids to activate innate receptors that are associated with the regulation of mood perceptions, flashback memories, behaviors, metabolism and digestion. In such cases, medical cannabis comes into the play, binds with respective receptors and relieves the PTSD symptoms.

If we have normal CB1 receptor signaling, our brain has the ability to fade away all our traumatic memories, which we can consider as ‘gifted’ and beneficial forgetting. If we suffer impaired CB1 signaling or endocannabinoid deficiency, we are more prone to impaired fear extinction, negative or aversive and repetitive flashback memories with chronic anxiety, which are the cardinal features of PTSD. In response to, or to compensate for, the endocannabinoid deficiency, the body produces more endocannabinoid receptors, which actually have no agonists to bind with.

According to a Brazilian study, THC is more potent than CBD in attenuating fear memories. In combination, THC and CBD could potentially relieve PTSD symptoms with minimal – but very tolerable – side effects.

Emerging evidence has pointed out that CBD has the potential to treat neuropsychiatric disorders by interacting with serotonergic receptors and dopaminergic systems. A pre-clinical study found that cannabis treats these problems by influencing the nucleus accumbens VTA circuit of the mesolimbic system, which is responsible for positive neuronal and behavioral effects and also for the disruption of formation of negative associative memories. CBD achieve this via functional interaction with 5-HT1A receptor signaling mechanisms. However, the exact mechanism of emotional processing modulation is still unknown.

In an experimental induced-fear test, in which animals were previously exposed to painful sensation and potential electric shock, CBD-treated laboratory animals exhibited less stress when they were nearing the electric maze. This study demonstrated the fearful sensation alleviating benefit of CBD, which could be helpful in treating PTSD veterans who are exposed to life-threatening situations in battles.

Studies have suggested that THC-mediated activation of CB1 receptors present in the medial prefrontal cortex could lead to memory reactivation or retrieval. However, CBD could counter this effect as well as other negative psychotropic effects of THC, and help to effectively manage PTSD symptoms. Even in sub-effective doses, a combination of THC and CBD could mitigate dysfunctional aversive and fear memories, locomotor activity and anxiety-related behaviors.

Phytocannabinoids are also helpful for treating alcoholism, which is highly common in PTSD patients. A patient survey study found that PTSD patients prefer cannabis over alcohol and other illicit substances because the side effects are minimal and temporary.

Medical cannabis use tends to reduce aggressive behaviors, which is also common in PTSD patients. Additionally, these patients report significant reductions in anger and irritability. Cannabis strains containing both THC and CBD in equal ratios may prevent psychotic-like behaviors.

Conclusion

Even with co-occurring psychiatric illnesses, cannabis treats PTSD by influencing the neurobiological pathways and modulating the neurotransmitters, bringing these anomalies back to normalcy. Due to Schedule I classification and legal barriers in conducting controlled clinical trials, treatment safety information is still lacking.

It could be a decade or more before we see the FDA’s approval of cannabis-based drugs for the treatment of PTSD. With the mounting evidence, psychiatrists and clinicians should recommend this simple solution for PTSD management, at least in states where marijuana is currently legal.

This article is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information, not to provide medical advice.

 

A Meal Fit For A President

Every four years I love to read and comment on the menu that the big daddies will eat on inauguration day.  This is truly bipartisan.  All you have to be to enjoy most of these dishes is human.  Bon Appetit!

First Course-Main Lobster and Gulf shrimp with saffron sauce and peanut crumble

Wine-J. Lohr 2013 Arroyo Vista Chardonnay

Second Course-Grilled Seven Hills Angus Beef with dark chocolate and juniper jus and potatoes au gratin

Wine-Delicato Black Stallion 2012 limited release Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Third Course- Chocolate Souffle and cherry vanilla ice cream. Korbel natural “Special Inaugural Cuvee”

Amazing! Or just another lunch for President DJT.

 

 

 

 

cocolate souffle cherry vanila ice cream

MLK Still Has Much to Say

No one will make fun of you!  No one will think your stupid!  In fact,  no one will even know that you have never listened to the best modern speech ever to be given in the United States.  If you have never heard this speech I posted the 5-minute version.  No hyperbole here at all- this speech and the principles it contains turned the world upside down once and is very capable of doing it again.

On Being Sick

I am forty-five years old and have had more than a few physical maladies as I have gotten older.  The very painful scars that people can see actually don’t hinder me as much as a simple sickness.  I have been sick for two days and it feels like 10,0000 days!  Ya know the people at work that have the ability to push through sickness?  Of course, you do!  LOL….I envy those people that can push through.  My wife can do it.  My kids can do it.  I cannot.