How to Setup Your Home

What You Need

You can eventually live a very successful life even if you start out with nothing more than the clothes on your back. It’s been done. But you should start out living on your own by being as prepared as possible. As you plan ahead, take into consideration all the worldly goods that are involved with setting up a home.

Fortunately, you can get along just fine without most of the stuff. There are things that you need and things that would be nice to have. You don’t have to come up with everything at once.

The Basics:

  • Mattress
  • Set of sheets
  • Blanket
  • Pillow
  • Towels
  • Frying pan
  • Sauce pan
  • Can opener
  • Large mixing spoon
  • Plate, bowl, glass, and mug
  • Lamp

Looking at the previous short list, you can see that if survival depended on it, we really could get by without most of the items. The same goes for the following expanded list of the things that would be great to have when you move into your own place. Don’t worry if you don’t have everything. You will eventually. Acquiring items can be something that you do over an extended period of time. Use the checklist here as a basic guide to making your own list of things you need.

Try to Acquire:

  • Baking dish (9 x 13)
  • Bath towels
  • Beach towel
  • Bed frame
  • Bed pillows
  • Blanket
  • Box springs
  • Bucket
  • Can opener
  • Clock
  • Coffeemaker
  • Cookie sheet
  • Dishes, set
  • Drinking glasses
  • Flatware
  • Sofa
  • Spatula
  • Table and chairs
  • Tablecloth or placemats
  • Hand towels
  • Kitchen knives
  • Kitchen towels
  • Mattress
  • Mattress cover
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Mixer
  • Mixing bowls
  • Mixing spoon
  • Muffin pan
  • Pot holders
  • Pots and pans
  • Salt and pepper shakers
  • Sheets, set
  • Toaster
  • Vacuum
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Washcloths

When your family and friends ask, “What do you want for your birthday?”, you know what the answer is. Letting the word out that you will soon be living on your own may bring household donations that you could really use. You can also find items that have plenty of use still in them at garage sales and thrift stores. Consider bartering as well as shopping at clearance and close-out sales.


In addition to household items, you should start collecting the basic tools you will need for your tool kit:

Minimum Tool List

  • Hammer and assorted nails
  • Pliers
  • Scissors
  • Screwdrivers: Phillips and flat-head, and assorted screws
  • Utility knife: with reversible, retractable blade

Extended Tool List

  • Duct tape
  • Hammer and assorted nails
  • Industrial-strength glue
  • Pliers
  • Plunger
  • Scissors
  • Screwdrivers: Phillips and flat-head, and assorted screws
  • Staple gun
  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife: with reversible, retractable blade
  • Wrench: adjustable

Where Will You Live?

The highlight of moving out on your own is the actual moving into your own place. You’ve planned, worked, and thought about it for such a long time, and the day finally arrives when you are ready to start hunting for your new home.

The city you choose to live in will most likely be dictated by your job, school, or family connections. The actual address you decide to call home will most likely be chosen on the basis of what you can afford.

We all want to live in as safe and as comfortable a place as our finances will allow. The first experience most of us have living on our own is not with home ownership, but with renting. So how do you know how much rent you can reasonably pay each month?

When you set about renting a unit, you must supply the owner or manager with some of your personal information. The rental application will ask your income. Your verifiable income (that which can be proven, such as from your employer) should be at least three or four times the rent you are considering.

This means you probably won’t be able to qualify for the unit if more than 25 percent to 33 percent of your monthly income is to be used for your rent. For example, if you bring home $2,400 a month, you shouldn’t consider spending more than $800 a month for housing.

Your verifiable income (that which can be proven, such as from your employer) should be at least three or four times the rent you are considering.

This rule is not etched in stone. You may find a landlord who doesn’t care how much you make as long as you pay the rent in full and on time. Perhaps you know you can easily go without spending money in one area, such as on entertainment, if it means you can afford to live where you really want.

Take your personal spending habits into consideration and arrange your priorities, keeping the 33 percent rule in mind. Once you figure out how much you can afford, don’t be tempted to spend “just a little bit more.” The amount of $830 sounds pretty close to $800, but reaching for that extra $30 every month might turn into too much of a stretch. Remember, starting and keeping your monthly rent payment as low as possible will be to your advantage.

It’s not uncommon for a young person to have some help with the first rental experience. If you cannot qualify for a rental unit due to lack of a credit history, for instance, a parent or other family member may be willing to cosign or be responsible with you. That person includes his or her financial and credit information in the application and enters into the agreement, even though he or she will not be living with you. If you get a cosigner, make sure you treat the agreement responsibly.

Take extra pains to pay the rent on time and in full. Someone has stepped out on a limb for you and you need to show that person that his or her trust and efforts were not misplaced.

Before Your Search Begins

After you have decided the maximum monthly payment you can afford, it’s time to prepare for the search. Before you begin looking at rental units, take the following steps to ensure your search goes smoothly:

  1. If you have a credit history, get a copy of your credit report. This ensures that you are aware of its contents. You do not want to be caught off-guard if there’s a negative item in the report. If the report contains a mistake, do what you can to correct it, by contacting each of the three main credit reporting companies. You can order one free credit report from each of the three companies every year.
  2. Obtain permission from two or three people to use their names and telephone numbers as possible references.
  3. In addition to references, have other information ready that will be requested, such as:
    • The name, address and phone number of your employer
    • Current pay stub
    • Previous employment information
    • Social Security and drivers
  4. Decide what you are looking for. What factors are the most important? How much room do you need? Do you need a place that allows pets? Do you want the responsibility of a yard? Having an idea of what your requirements are will help you focus your search.
  5. Check a street map of your town. Are some neighborhoods more convenient for your situation than others? Do you have favorite areas where you would like to live? For instance, finding a place that is close to your job or university may be important to you.
  6. Make a list of the available rentals which meet your needs. Today, even with online searches, often the best resource is still your local newspaper, especially the weekend real estate section. You can also obtain rental guides. They can be found at grocery stores, gas stations, colleges, real estate offices, and so on.

You may want to look into professionally run properties, such as those offered by a property management company or real estate office. Rental agents are paid their fee by the property owner, so you do not directly pay for the assistance. Professional property managers are typically very much aware not only of owners rights and responsibilities, but of the rights of tenants as well. Not all real estate offices handle rentals, but you may want to try to find one in your area that does.

What to Look For while Choosing the Place

In choosing the place that is right for you, knowing what to look out for is as important as knowing what to look for. Try to give yourself as much time as possible to make the decision that is right for you. Don’t be in such a hurry to move in that you overlook something important, such as realizing after it’s too late that you’ve moved into a building in which neighbors start to party just about the time you need to get to sleep. You cannot be passive in your search. You have to take the lead and ask the right questions. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Pay close attention to the neighborhood. Is it well tended? Do you feel safe? How far is it from your work, university, place of worship, and so forth?
  • Try to visit the unit in the daytime. This allows you to notice how much natural light the unit gets and helps identifying what kind of shape it’s in. You can see dirt, marks, and stains better in daylight.
  • If a unit becomes a real possibility, try to revisit it at night. Look at the neighborhood again. Look at the exterior lighting. Notice the lighting in pathways, alleys, hallways, and stairwells. Does the surrounding environment appear to be safe?
  • Once you think you have found the place that is right for you, don’t be shy about meeting your prospective neighbors. Ask them about their experiences with the buildings management and if they would recommend a move into the building. Ask about their experiences getting repairs taken care of. Ask about noise. Ask about bugs. Are the neighbors being friendly? You may find out more than you expected.
  • Take notes while you are searching. After looking at many different units for several days or weeks, it is easy to get confused. When you find the unit that is the one for you, and you think you are ready to commit, take detailed notes about the entire condition of the unit and what has been discussed with the owner or manager. For instance, if the carpet is stained, write a detailed description of the condition and have the landlord or manager sign the documentation. This acknowledgement may help prevent any disputes over responsibility when you move out. You can also take photos or make a video before you bring in your belongings. This will show the exact condition of the unit when you moved in.
  • Always look at the exact unit that you will be living in, not one similar to it, such as a model. Never sign a lease for a unit sight unseen.
  • Find out if any utilities are included with the rent. For instance, the water bill is often paid by the owner and not the separate tenants. You may want to ask what the average utility bills cost for heating and/or cooling to determine if your budget allows for this expense.
  • Make sure your questions and concerns are stated directly and to the point. It is considered misrepresentation if an owner or manager lies to you, but it is your responsibility to ask the questions that may be of importance. For instance, you should ask, “Has the carpeting been professionally cleaned since the last tenant moved out?” instead of asking, “Is the carpet clean?”
  • Find out the policy regarding your pet before you get too involved. Pets are forbidden from some units entirely. Some rentals allow pets only if an additional security deposit is paid. Check first.
  • Is the rent in line with comparable units?

If your first impression of the unit is positive, look a little deeper. Make sure everything works as it should. Don’t be shy. Ask questions and run some tests:

  • Does the shower have enough water pressure?
  • Run the water in all the faucets; check the pressure and determine if the water is hot.
  • Flush the toilet.
  • Open and close the windows; do they stick? Do they lock securely?
  • Do all the doors close as they should?
  • Try the locks. Find out if they have been changed or rekeyed since the last tenant. Ask if you can have this done.
  • Look for leaks and water damage on the ceilings and floors. Look under the sinks.
  • Do you smell mold or mildew?
  • Does the thermostat work properly? Heater? Air-conditioner?
  • Do the walls have holes, dents, marks, or cracks?
  • Do all the kitchen appliances work?
  • Are there smoke detectors in working order in the unit?
  • Where will you park your car?
  • What do the common areas look like? Are they clean and maintained? What kind of shape is the laundry room in?
  • If there are shared facilities, such as a pool, what are the hours of operation?
  • Is the prospective landlord or property manager friendly and responsive to your questions?
  • Does he or she appear to be someone whom you will be comfortable entering into a contract with?

Universal Basic Income

As income inequality increases in the United States, economists and politicians have proposed wide-ranging ideas for distributing wealth more fairly and ensuring that all Americans—rather than only the richest few—benefit from the nation’s resources, productivity, and technological advances. One proposal that has garnered support from diverse interest groups across the political spectrum involves establishing a universal basic income (UBI). Also known as a guaranteed minimum income or basic income guarantee, UBI provides all individuals in a nation or society with a periodic monetary payment that enables them to meet their basic needs. The payments are made unconditionally, meaning that individuals receive the money regardless of their employment status or income level and have full discretion to decide how to spend it.

Background of the UBI Model

The concept of UBI has existed in various forms for centuries. As early as the 1500s, the English philosopher Thomas More discussed the societal benefits of providing a guaranteed minimum income in his book Utopia. A number of influential economists proposed versions of UBI during the twentieth century, including Bertrand Russell, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Milton Friedman. In the twenty-first century, technology pioneers such as Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk have expressed interest in UBI as a potential solution to unemployment caused by increasing automation.

The US government provides various forms of assistance to help ensure that low-income citizens who are elderly, disabled, unemployed, or caring for young children can meet their basic needs for food, housing, education, and health care. Social welfare policies and programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provide a safety net for people whose annual income falls below the federal poverty level (FPL) ($25,100 for a family of four in 2018). Such programs have the same goals as UBI—improving the standard of living for citizens who lack financial resources—but recipients must meet strict qualification requirements to receive benefits, and the payments typically must be used for specific expenses. Proponents of UBI also argue that existing social welfare programs are inadequate to mitigate against income inequality because measures like the FPL do not accurately reflect the cost of living.

In an era of rising income inequality and stagnant wages for workers, millions of Americans with steady jobs still have trouble making ends meet. According to a 2018 US Federal Reserve Board survey, over 20 percent of Americans reported being unable to pay all of their current month’s bills in full and 40 percent reported that they would not be able to cover an unexpected expense of $400. Faced with a pressing health concern or a necessary home repair, these workers would have to borrow money, sell possessions, or go without basic needs. Proponents view UBI as a way to provide a measure of financial security for this segment of the population.

Benefits and Drawbacks of UBI

Supporters of the UBI concept argue that it offers many potential benefits to society. Guaranteed income may increase consumer spending and thus lead to economic growth. UBI may also increase the bargaining power of workers by providing a financial safety net if they choose to leave their jobs, which may promote higher wages. Proponents also claim that UBI would eliminate or reduce many of the negative health impacts associated with poverty, such as teen pregnancy, infant mortality, low birthweight babies, malnutrition, and obesity. Public health experts attribute these effects to the combination of greater access to food and health care and the easing of major stressors that exacerbate physical and mental health problems. A guaranteed income may give low-income parents the flexibility to spend more time with their families by eliminating the need for a second or third job and allow underprivileged children to achieve better educational outcomes. Supporters also assert that UBI may reduce crime and increase racial and gender equality, as poverty and economic insecurity disproportionately affect women, people of color, and other marginalized populations. Finally, some proponents say that freedom from financial peril may encourage people to pursue their passions and take risks, leading to increases in creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Opponents of the UBI model contend that it creates disincentives for people to work. Many Americans believe that poverty results from a lack of effort rather than circumstances beyond an individual’s control, and they object to rewarding the poor by providing free cash handouts. They argue that government assistance should be difficult to obtain in order to prevent people from becoming dependent on it. Some critics also express concern that low-income people will spend UBI payments on drugs or frivolous expenditures rather than basic needs. Opponents also claim that a national UBI program would be too costly to implement. Based on 2017 population estimates, providing every US citizen with a $10,000 annual payment would cost the government $3.2 trillion each year. However, the cost would be significantly reduced if the payment was not provided to wealthy people, dependent children, and retired people who receive Social Security. Critics also question how a UBI program would be funded. Many Americans resent proposals that involve a redistribution of wealth from rich to poor, arguing that the free-market capitalist economic system is based on competition and should reward those who do well.

UBI Experiments and Pilot Projects

The UBI model has been tested in many countries around the world, including Canada, the Netherlands, Finland, Scotland, and Kenya. One of the longest-running basic income programs was implemented in Alaska in 1976 when state lawmakers established a permanent fund for the collection of oil revenues. This fund began paying an annual, unconditional, monetary dividend to every resident of Alaska in 1982. In 2018 the payment amount was $1,600 per person. Proponents claim that the annual dividend reduced the state’s poverty level, increased consumer spending, and led to the creation of 10,000 jobs.

As of 2018, at least three UBI pilot projects were in the planning stages in the United States. Two projects, both in California, were privately financed by wealthy technology entrepreneurs who sought innovative ways to address the workforce displacement and job loss that could occur in the future due to automation of tasks using robotics and artificial intelligence software. An experiment funded by the venture capital firm Y Combinator Research proposed paying a UBI of $1,000 per month to a test group of 1,000 low-income residents of Oakland between the ages of twenty-one and forty for a period of three to five years. Researchers plan to collect data on participants’ spending as well as track changes in their physical health and social well-being. A smaller project known as the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration proposed paying a guaranteed income of $500 per month to 100 participants for eighteen months to gather information about the impact of UBI. Additionally, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel announced in September 2018 the creation of a task force to study a proposal that would pay $500 per month to 1,000 of the city’s struggling families, making Chicago the largest US city to consider implementing some type of UBI.

What is Sexting and Its Presence in Children

Sexting refers to the act of sending or receiving personal images, videos, and written text or audio files of a sexually suggestive or explicit nature through digital means. The term combines the words “sex” and “texting” and describes a trend that coincides with the introduction of cell phones equipped with text messaging in 1993 and those with built-in camera functions in 2002.

While the term is most commonly used in reference to taking and sharing nude or seminude photos and videos using mobile devices, a broader definition encompasses provocative exchanges of text and images via email, social media, online instant messaging, and video chat. Sexting often occurs between romantic partners, or between two people where one is making a sexual advance toward the other. The latter scenario may include cases of unsolicited sexting, which can result in criminal charges for harassment or civil lawsuits for causing emotional distress.

Attitudes about sexting vary in the United States, and studies indicate that sexting can have both positive and negative effects on relationships and individuals. A 2015 Drexel University study reported that 88 percent of adults between the ages of 18 to 82 sent or received a sext at some point in their lives. Three-fourths of participants who sexted with committed romantic partners reported that the practice provided greater levels of satisfaction in the relationship.

Rates of sexting among adolescents are comparatively low, but the practice is becoming more common, increasing as youth age, and most frequently involves the use of mobile devices. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, in 2016, 12 percent of students between the ages of 11 and 18 surveyed reported sending a sext containing a nude or seminude photo of themselves to someone else, while almost 19 percent received such a photo from another person. In 2018 the academic journal JAMA Pediatrics published a review of multiple studies conducted since the popularization of the cell phone in the 1990s through 2016. The authors’ analysis determined that approximately 15 percent of teenagers 12 to 17 years of age reported sending a sext to someone else and 27 percent reported receiving one.

Main Ideas

  • Sexting is the private sending of sexually explicit messages, usually images of oneself, to another person via an electronic device. A sexting message is referred to as a sext. While research indicates that private consensual sexting is fairly common, the digital nature of the communication makes sexts vulnerable to nonconsensual distribution beyond the original exchange.
  • Though sexting is a portmanteau (or combination) of the words “sex” and “texting” that originally referred to messages sent by mobile phones, sexting can occur using any type of digital communications device and is not limited to text-based messages. The most commonly recognized form of sexting is the sending and receiving of nude or seminude images.
  • Sexting between consenting adults is legal. In some cases, however, sexting can result in criminal and civil consequences, including charges of harassment in cases of unsolicited sexting. Similarly, pressuring someone to do something under the threat of sharing intimate content exchanged through sexting is a form of sexual extortion.
  • Minors who exchange nude or seminude pictures with each other may place themselves at risk of being charged with the production and distribution of child pornography, resulting in fines, incarceration, and placement on a sex offender registry. State laws regarding minors and sexting vary, and there is ongoing debate over the ethics of criminalizing consensual sexting between minors.
  • Several states have laws that target people who receive explicit photographs through sexting and then share those photographs without the sender’s consent, either among their friends or by posting them publicly on the Internet. The distribution of these pictures transforms an intimate exchange between two people into nonconsensual pornography, also known as “revenge porn.”

Sexting and the Legal System

Sexting among consensual adults over the age of 18 is legal and common, though publicly, it remains somewhat of a taboo subject due to the intimate nature of the practice. Possessing sexually explicit or obscene images of a minor, including nude or seminude photos, however, constitutes child pornography under the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act of 2003.

A person can be charged with child pornography for creating, distributing, or receiving sexually explicit content featuring a minor. This includes photos that minors have taken of themselves, even if those photos are not shared with others. Parents who allow minors to take and possess nude or seminude photos of themselves can also be held legally accountable.

State laws concerning sexting between minors vary significantly, and penalties can range from a warning and a fine to detention and home confinement. Connecticut state law considers it a misdemeanor for children between the ages of 13 and 15 to send illicit images of themselves. Texas allows minors to share sexually explicit photographs between two people in a datingrelationship as long as they are not more than two years apart in age, even if one partner is 18 years old or older.

In Alabama, a teenager who is 16 years of age or older may be charged in juvenile court for possessing sexually explicit images of minor and as an adult for producing them. If convicted of child pornography, he or she may face incarceration, significant fines, and be required to register as a sex offender.

Several criminal cases broadcast nationwide have involved illegal sexting. Former New York congressman Anthony Weiner was sentenced to twenty-one months in prison and a $10,000 fine, followed by monitored Internet usage and enrollment in a sex-offender treatment program, after pleading guilty in 2017 to sexting a 15-year-old high school student. In May 2018 a middle-school math teacher in Queens, New York, was sentenced to prison for sexting with a 15-year-old student.

Teenagers have also been charged with crimes related to sexting. In Fayetteville, North Carolina, two 16-year-olds in a romantic relationship exchanged sexually explicit photos and were charged with felony sexual exploitation in 2015, even though the photos were not shared with others. Both students served a year on probation, and the felony charges were dropped. In Colorado, New York, and Connecticut, authorities investigated “sexting rings,” large numbers of students who circulated explicit photos and videos of other students without their consent. Arrests were made in some cases, including those in which the images were sold for money.

Sexting among Children and Adolescents

Youth attitudes toward sexting vary, with some viewing it as a harmless exchange and others concerned about the legality of sexting and potential for public exposure, or a compromised reputation. In a 2009 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, teens aged 12 to 17 reported engaging in sexting as an experimental activity they considered safer than sexual intercourse, as a way to initiate a sexual or a romantic relationship, or as the result of peer pressure.

A secondary analysis of the 2009 study published in 2014 in the Journal of Children and Media reported that while boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18 years sexted the same amount, girls reported experiencing greater pressure to do so and worried they would be judged as promiscuous if they sexted, or prudish if they refused. Boys expressed far less worry about harsh consequences by peers for sexting. Girls were more likely to fear sexting would get them into trouble at school and were more likely to report sexting activity to a parent.

The impact of sexting on child and adolescent health and development, as well as appropriate ways of addressing sexting behavior, are concerns shared by parents, psychologists, and other experts. In 2014 the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that sexting is associated with higher rates of high-risk sexual behaviors among adolescents, especially when photos and images are exchanged.

Despite the association, however, a causal link has not been established to suggest that sexting causes adolescents to engage in such behaviors, which include having unprotected sex, which can result in unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases; having multiple sexual partners; and using intoxicating substances before sex.

Some psychologists defend sexting as part of normal adolescent exploration and healthy development in a relationship. However, they advise parents and educators to talk openly with teens about sexting to ensure that teens act responsibly and understand the risks of falling victim to coercion and other traumatic experiences involving sexting. On the other hand, some parents, religious organizations, lawmakers, and prosecutors advocate serious legal penalties for teen sexting, including cases involving consenting teenagers, to protect children from what they consider to be moral corruption and exploitation.

Some educators and parents advocate a “two-gated” approach, proactively addressing health and safety issues involving sexting by providing guidance both at home and at school. Advocates for safe sexting promote policies and laws that recognize the various degrees of sexting behavior, ranging from innocent exploration to criminal activity, and seek to protect victims of nonconsensual sexting rather than punishing them for engaging in sexting and taking nude photos of themselves.

Privacy experts have expressed concern over the security of sensitive images that may be misused in the long-term. They advise against sending unsolicited images; they encourage cropping out faces or any identifying marks when taking a nude or seminude photo; and encourage the use of encrypted services with greater levels of security to guard against hacking.

Sexting and Harassment

Communication through texts, social media, and file transfer services can often bypass consent. According to a 2017 report by the Pew Research Center, one-third of US adults have received an unsolicited explicit image without consent. Young women have been particularly affected, with over half of women aged 18 to 29 reporting that they received an unsolicited graphic image, based on a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2017. According to the market research group YouGov, in 2017, 27 percent of men between the ages of 18 to 34 reported sending a graphic image of themselves, and one-fourth admitted that the graphic image they sent was unsolicited.

Many believe that sending unsolicited nude images of oneself constitutes indecent exposure and sexual harassment, which refers to any form of verbal or physical unwelcome sexual behavior. Victims who receive unwanted, unsolicited explicit images often report feeling emotional distress and feelings of violation.

Electronic messages containing explicit content can be difficult or impossible to keep secure once they have been sent, and young people are particularly at risk for violations of privacy as a result of sexting. According to the 2018 analysis of studies published in JAMA Pediatrics, 12 percent of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 admitted to forwarding an intimate sext they received to others without the consent of the original sender. The study found that 8.4 percent had their personal sexts forwarded without their consent, though this may be more difficult to measure because it could have happened to many others without their knowledge.

Distribution of nude or seminude images might include forwarding the image to friends and acquaintances or posting it on a website. Known as nonconsensual pornography or “revenge porn,” the purpose is often to embarrass, humiliate, and retaliate against a former romantic partner. Teens may also face “sextortion,” or sexual extortion, when the threat of distributing their nude images is used to coerce or harass them. In 2016 the Data & Society Research Institute found that 10 percent of young women between the ages of 15 and 29 reported being victimized through sextortion.

Rates of nonconsensual image sharing and sextortion are 14 percent higher for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals than for those who identify as heterosexual. In 43 percent of sextortion incidents, the victim reported that someone gained unauthorized access into an account or computer to steal their nude or intimate images.

Prosecutors bringing charges for the crimes of revenge porn and sextortion have encountered numerous legal loopholes used in defense. In 2017 California senator Kamala Harris introduced the Ending Nonconsensual Online User Graphic Harassment (ENOUGH) Act, a bill that also garnered the support of technology companies, including social media giants Facebook and Twitter.

If adopted by Congress, the ENOUGH Act would make it a federal crime to distribute a nude photo or other sexually explicit images of an individual without their consent. Forty states and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting nonconsensual pornography, and many states have sought to update sexting laws to cover revenge porn. In 2017 Iowa changed its harassment law to inflict harsh penalties for revenge porn, including for offenders under the age of 18. Colorado created a tiered approach to laws against sexting between juveniles, with nonconsensual distribution garnering the most serious legal consequences.

Eating Disorders Types, Causes and Prevention

Eating disorders are a set of medical conditions marked by the persistent presence of abnormal eating habits that have detectable and serious negative impacts on a person’s physical and mental health. Disordered eating is a related term used to describe situations in which a person displays unbalanced eating tendencies but does not meet the accepted diagnostic criteria for any particular eating disorder.

According to a study published in the Biological Psychiatrymedical journal in 2018, about 0.8 percent of American adults will meet the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder marked by significant weight loss and extreme self-imposed calorie restriction, at some point during their lifetimes. Bulimia nervosa, defined by its alternating episodes of binge eating and purging, will similarly affect about 0.28 percent of American adults. An estimated 0.85 percent of Americans will be affected by binge eating disorder, which is marked by uncontrolled and excessive food intake.

A number of common misconceptions surround eating disorders, including the notion that they are a lifestyle choice. In actuality, eating disorders are diagnosable and treatable mental healthconditions. Physical appearance alone is also not indicative of the presence or absence of an eating disorder, as people of all body shapes and sizes can suffer from these conditions. While eating disorders are commonly perceived as primarily affecting young women, in actuality, they can affect people of any age, race, or gender. Though male patients constitute only about 10 to 15 percent of diagnosed anorexia cases in the United States, clinicians believe that this is because boys and men do not report or seek treatment for their symptoms due to a prevailing misconception that eating disorders are a problem experienced exclusively by women and girls.

Traditional assumptions about eating disorders are changing, however, particularly since research published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders in 2009 determined that binge eating disorder affects roughly equal numbers of men and women. Rates of anorexia and bulimia remain significantly higher among female populations, however. Adolescent girls and women under age twenty-five are still considered one of the highest-risk demographic groups for developing an eating disorder.

Main Ideas

  • Eating disorders are a set of diagnosable and treatable mental health conditions marked by persistent abnormal eating habits that impact a person’s physical and mental health negatively. The three most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosabulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Less common eating disorders include night eating syndromepica, and diabulimia.
  • Commonly held misconceptions can lead to mischaracterizations of eating disorders as simply severe diets or lifestyle choices rather than medical conditions. While girls and young women are among those most at-risk of developing one, eating disorders affect people of all ages, races, body types, genders, and socioeconomic classes. A person’s physical appearance alone cannot indicate whether they are suffering from an eating disorder.
  • Mental health professionals have identified strong links between self-image and a person’s risk of developing an eating disorder. Individuals with persistent negative feelings about their body or appearance have been found to develop eating disorders at higher rates than those with positive body images.
  • Psychological risk factors for developing an eating disorder include perfectionist tendencies, a strong orientation toward rule-following, and anxiety disorders. Biological risk factors include the presence of an eating disorder in a close relative, self-imposed weight control, and a tendency to expend more calories than consumed. Social and cultural risk factors include being bullied or traumatized, excessive exposure to “thinner is better” messages, and participation in activities or sports that require maintaining a certain body size or weight.
  • While health care providers use a range of therapeutic approaches, eating disorders are notably difficult to treat. Treatment strategies aim for a common set of patient objectives: coming to terms with the underlying causes of their eating disorder; developing skills to repair body image and improve self-esteem; developing healthy eating habits; and warding off relapses.
  • Many advocates for eating disorder prevention renounce the culture of dieting, weight loss, and thin-body normativity in the United States. Rejecting dieting as a means of losing weight is part of an emerging approach known as intuitive eating. This method encourages patients to overcome the tendency to use a food’s calorie-count to determine whether it is “good” or “bad” and instead recognize that virtually any food can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation.

The three most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition(DSM-V), anorexia nervosa is characterized by restricted calorie intake relative to a person’s energy requirements, leading to an abnormally low body weight.

People with anorexia nervosa also tend to experience intense, irrational fear about gaining weight or becoming overweight, along with distorted perceptions about their own weight and body shape. For example, a person suffering from anorexia nervosa may view him or herself as overweight, even if he or she is underweight by medical standards.

Bulimia nervosa is marked by a cycle of binge eating and purging. During this cycle, a person consumes a large quantity of food in a relatively short period of time, then compensates for it by inducing vomiting, abusing laxatives, fasting, or engaging in excessive amounts of intense exercise.

As with anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia nervosa also tend to have distorted body images while linking their senses of self-worth and self-esteem to their weight and body shape.

Binge eating disorder is defined by recurring instances of excessive food consumption within a compact timeframe, during which an individual consumes significantly more food than they would need to satisfy normal levels of hunger.

Sufferers also report feeling little to no self-control with regard to their food consumption, and will also exhibit at least three of the following five symptoms:

(1) eating much more quickly than normal,

(2) eating until achieving a physically uncomfortable level of satiety,

(3) eating large quantities of food despite not feeling hungry,

(4) eating alone to avoid embarrassment over the excessive quantities of food they are consuming,

(5) feelings of shame, guilt, or depression at the conclusion of the binging episode.

All three of these disorders are further classified by their levels of severity. With anorexia nervosa, severity is tied to the sufferer’s body mass index (BMI), which is a standard ratio-based weight range measurement calculated using factors including a person’s sex, height, and weight. Higher BMIs are associated with milder forms of the condition, and lower BMIs indicate more severe forms.

For bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, clinicians define severity according to episodic frequency. For both conditions, diagnostic criteria require that episodes occur at least once per week for a minimum of three months; the more severe the individual’s condition, the more often they will engage in the unhealthy behavior.

Clinicians have also identified several other, less common eating disorders including night eating syndrome and pica. Night eating syndrome involves excessive food consumption after the evening meal, or during nighttime binges after awakening from sleep. Pica is a rare disorder characterized by the compulsive consumption of substances that are not food and have no nutritional value.

Though the DSM does not yet formally classify it as an eating disorder, diabulimia has also gained increased attention from researchers and experts. Diabulimia occurs in individuals with type 1 diabetes, a disease characterized by the inability of the pancreas to produce adequate insulin and regulate blood sugar levels, who deliberately underutilize their insulin supplements as a means of losing weight. Researchers consider diabulimia extremely dangerous, as the condition has led to high mortality rates.

Researchers have uncovered strong links between a person’s self-image with respect to their physical appearance and their risk of developing an eating disorder. People with a positive body image have healthy and accurate perceptions about their body shape and size, accept themselves as they are, and feel confident about the way they look.

Conversely, people with negative body images experience distortions about their body shape and size, perceiving flaws where they may not exist and feeling as though those perceived flaws are magnified and highly conspicuous. Individuals with negative body images and strong, persistent feelings of dissatisfaction about the appearance of their bodies tend to develop eating disorders at much higher rates.

In addition to the influence of body image, known psychological risk factors include perfectionist tendencies, a strong orientation toward rule-following, and the presence of a comorbid anxiety disorder, which refers to cases in which a person has a diagnosed anxiety disorder in addition to an eating disorder.

Researchers also cite numerous biological risk factors, such as the presence of an eating disorder or mental illness in a close blood relative, a history of self-imposed weight control interventions, and a persistent, conscientious tendency to expend more calories than consumed.

Other risk factors are social, cultural, and environmental in nature. People who have been teased or bullied, emotionally traumatized, or exposed to excessive amounts of cultural messaging that “thinner is better” tend to develop eating disorders at higher rates. The same is true of victims of emotional or psychological trauma, and of individuals who participate in sports or activities that require them to maintain a certain weight or body size.

Many experts and stakeholders in eating disorder prevention are particularly critical of the culture of dieting, weight loss, and thin-body normativity prevalent in the United States. Proponents of these viewpoints express concern that eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are stigmatized, and widespread misconceptions characterize them as conscious lifestyle choices rather than medical conditions.

At the same time, popular culture and media tend to celebrate and reward weight loss and fad dieting. To this end, many researchers and advocates have argued that effective public awareness campaigns that seek to shift public opinion toward recognizing the medical nature of eating disorders are necessary preventative strategies.

Approaches to treatment differ, depending on the nature and severity of the individual’s eating disorder. Inpatient care is implemented in cases where clinical tests and observations determine that the sufferer is medically or psychologically unstable. Conversely, patients who are physically and psychologically stable and able to function, yet require periodic ongoing observation, are recommended to outpatient programs.

Temporary hospitalization is recommended in cases where patients require daily assessment to determine the progress of their treatment plans, as well as situations in which an otherwise stable individual displays impairments to his or her physical or psychological functioning.

Specific therapies used to treat eating disorders include acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), cognitive remediation therapy (CRT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), family-based treatments, interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), and psychodynamic psychotherapy. These techniques use a range of strategies to achieve a common set of objectives: to get the patient to understand and come to terms with the underlying causes of their eating disorder; to develop the skills needed to repair their body image; to improve self-esteem and self-acceptance; to develop healthy eating habits; and to ward off relapses.

Experts stress that eating disorders in general, and anorexia nervosa in particular, can be difficult to treat. Success requires commitment from the patient, as well as a genuine desire to get better. Patients who manage to break the psychological cycle of using diets to achieve ambitious weight loss goals tend to achieve better outcomes.

Rejecting dieting as a means of losing weight is a central part of an emerging treatment approach known as intuitive eating. This method seeks to help patients achieve a harmonious mental and physical balance regarding their relationships with food through mindfulness and physical fitness.

It also encourages patients to overcome tendencies to use calorie content as a means of defining specific foods as either “good” or “bad,” and instead recognize that virtually any food can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. While preliminary studies suggest intuitive eating shows promise as a methodological approach to preventing and treating eating disorders, critics point out that it does not fully account for the perceptual alterations commonly seen in people suffering from these conditions.

For instance, intuitive eating encourages participants to rely on their natural hunger cues, but eating disorders like anorexia nervosa distort natural hunger cues, thus making the approach fundamentally flawed and unreliable among some patients.

Obesity Causes and Effect on Individual life and Society

Obesity in adults is defined by a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above. BMI is calculated using a person’s weight and height to create an estimate of the amount of fat in a person’s body. For children and adolescents, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines obesity as “a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and sex.” Obesity in adults is not measured against a reference population.

Obesity is taxing on the body and can place people at a higher risk for a variety of health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, high blood pressure, infertility, gallbladder disease, depression, several forms of cancer, stroke, and sleep apnea. During pregnancy, obesity and excessive weight gain increase the likelihood of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and complications during labor. As stated by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, children born to obese mothers face an increased likelihood of birth defects, and may encounter related issues throughout their development and into adulthood.

The CDC has reported that more than one-third of adults (39.8 percent) and more than one-sixth of children ages two to nineteen (18.5 percent) in the United States were considered obesein 2016, leading many health care professionals to identify obesity as a national epidemic. Obesity rates have risen substantially since 1990, when no state had an obesity rate over 15 percent.

In 2016 forty-seven states had obesity rates higher than 25 percent, with the rates of five states exceeding 35 percent. In light of the growing incidence of obesity, health care professionals have warned against normalizing obesity, as doing so can deter obese people from seeking medical help. A 2017 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association(JAMA) stated that the number of overweight and obese Americans attempting to lose weight is decreasing.

In a study of more than 27,000 overweight and obese US adults, 55.6 percent reported trying to lose weight during the initial time period studied, 1988 to 1994, while only 49.2 percent were trying to lose weight between 2009 and 2014. Health care professionals discourage focusing too heavily on weight and body mass, stressing the importance of monitoring other health indicators. Some body positivity activists contend that a person can more effectively address health concerns by accepting their size and concentrating on improving overall health.

Though health care professionals, fitness experts, and nutritionists commonly use BMI to appraise how a person’s body size relates to overall health, the measurement possesses some limitations that can result in misleading conclusions because the way body fat is stored can vary depending on a person’s age, gender, and level of muscle or bone mass.

An adult woman who is five feet, four inches tall would have a BMI of 30 at 175 pounds, placing her in the obese category. In comparison, an adult woman who is five feet, seven inches in height and also 175 pounds would have a BMI of 27 and would be categorized as overweight rather than obese. People with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 are considered overweight, while people with a BMI under 18.5 are considered underweight.

Critics have argued against the use of BMI to determine the relationship between a person’s weight and health due to its failure to take into account such factors as the volume difference between muscle and fat. A pound of muscle is denser and takes about four-fifths of the same volume as a pound of fat.

This means that an athlete in good health could be classified as overweight according to his or her BMI. The BMI rating system also does not consider where fat may be concentrated within a person’s body. Therefore, a person with a BMI in the healthy range could still have excess fat in areas that carry higher risk, such as around the midsection, which could lead to health complications such as heart disease.

A BMI in the healthy range also does not guarantee that a person is protected from all physical health concerns. A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Obesity assessed the health of more than 40,000 adults by examining six different metrics for health, including blood pressure and cholesterol. Of these adults, 47 percent who were classified as overweight by their BMI and 29 percent of those classified as obese were found to be healthy when using the other metrics.

Over 30 percent of those classified as having a healthy weight were found to be unhealthy according to other metrics. Regardless of their overall health, individuals with high BMIs who receive health insurance through their employer may be ineligible to receive certain financial incentives, such as lowered premiums, offered as part of workplace wellness programs. Such incentive programs are only offered by a small percentage of large employers and must adhere to provisions within the Affordable Care Act.

Though obesity most commonly occurs when the body consumes more energy, typically measured in calories, than it expels through normal functioning and physical exercise, researchers have noted that obesity most often results from a combination of factors.

Researchers at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have found that risk factors for obesity include lifestyle and behavioral habits, unhealthy environments, race and ethnicity, use of certain medications, and genetics. A lack of sleep has also been known to slow metabolism and contribute to excessive weight gain. Men and women store fat differently, which can contribute to different susceptibilities to obesity. Additionally, transgender people face higher rates of being overweight or obese, with 72.4 percent of transgender people found to have BMIs equal to or greater than 25 compared to 65.5 percent of cisgender people.

Environmental contributors include a lack of access to affordable healthy foods and a lack of safe places to exercise. Communities with limited food options, commonly referred to as food deserts, experience higher rates of obesity than people in areas with more diverse options. Likewise, obesity rates are higher in food swamps, or areas where retailers selling fast food and junk food outpace those offering healthier options.

Sedentary work, including most office work, and other jobs with low physical demands contribute to a general lack of exercise. Additionally, long-term unemployment has been linked to obesity. Genetics have also been linked to obesity, but a genetic disposition does not mean someone is certain to become obese and rarely can be identified as the sole cause of a person’s obesity.

In addition to inherited genetic factors, researchers note that family food culture can affect the likelihood of obesity. Generally, families that eat together and eat without the television on have lower rates of obesity.

A 2017 study published in the research journal Obesity identified a link between chronic stress and excessive weight among British men and women age fifty and older. The study found that people report overeating and eating more foods with more sugar, fat, and calories during extended periods of stress. Additionally, cortisol, the stress hormone, can negatively impact metabolism and cause the body to store more fat.

Preventing obesity can be as complex as identifying the causes of the condition. Behavioral and environmental changes can help prevent excessive weight gain. Health care professionals recommend increasing physical activity, reducing the consumption of unhealthy foods, improving sleep, and reducing stress as means to combat obesity. Certain social and economic factors can also present challenges for overcoming obesity, such as a lack of access to affordable and nutritious foods.

A poor diet can also negatively affect brain functioning, leading to a dysfunction in how dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, reacts to food consumption, causing increased cravings for unhealthy foods high in sugar and fat content.

Negative social bias against people who are obese and overweight can commonly result in what has been termed body shaming, also referred to as fat shaming. While some people cite body shaming as a potential motivating factor to help people lose weight, evidence suggests that body shaming can have the opposite effect. In a 2015 study published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers reported that body shaming can increase the likelihood of developing mental health conditions that make it more difficult to lose weight.

In addition, increased social acceptance of diverse body types and the development of community initiatives that encourage self-advocacy and a focus on well-being have been shown to have better outcomes than programs that focus only on weight loss. A 2017 study published in Obesity concluded that people seeking treatment for obesity often internalize prejudices, which could result in an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.

The CDC reports that obesity-related conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, are among the leading causes of preventable death in the United States. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 2.8 million people die each year from complications related to being obese or overweight. The Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have predicted that more than half of the US population will be obese by 2030, leading to dramatic increases in the prevalence of obesity-related diseases and health care costs as well as significant losses in economic productivity.

To accommodate the increase in people with obesity, additional expenses need to be incurred. Hospitals must invest in equipment such as larger beds and toilets specifically for obese people. Schools and offices require larger seats and desks. According to the 2016 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, medical expenses related to overweight and obese adults in the United States contribute more than $142 billion in annual health care costs.

Compared to individuals with lower BMIs, people who are overweight pay an additional $378 in annual health care costs while people with obesity typically pay an additional $1,580 each year. People classified as obese also often face biases from health care providers and are at an increased risk of suffering from depression and anxiety.

In addition to the physical health ramifications of obesity, many obese people experience discrimination and encounter weight bias that limits their earning potential. By incorporating weight language in its 1976 civil rights legislation, Michigan is the only state that forbids employers from discriminating against employees or job applicants based on weight.

Discrimination in the hiring process results in obese people losing career opportunities and experiencing longer periods of unemployment between jobs. In the workplace, weight discrimination can result in lower wages for obese and overweight workers, particularly women. An analysis by researchers at the University of Florida and the London Business School determined that women who are obese or overweight may make between $9,000 to $19,000 less than women of average weight, while women who are perceived as thin could receive between $10,000 and $23,000 more annually.

Weight-loss surgery or medication can assist some people with obesity who wish to lose weight but are not able to do so effectively through diet and exercise changes. Physicians caution that both can lead to significant adverse events or side effects, however.

The once popular diet medication fen-phen, short for fenfluramine/phentermine, caused heart-valve disease and was pulled off the market in 1997, resulting in more than $21.1 billion in legal costs to American Home Products, the drug company that manufactured and distributed it. Orlistat, sold by prescription as Xenical or over-the-counter as Alli, can cause gastrointestinal side effects such as loose stools, particularly following the consumption of high-fat meals; therefore, a careful diet must be followed when taking this medication.

Other FDA-approved weight loss medications also carry significant risks. Phentermine-topiramate, sold by prescription as Qsymia, has been linked to birth defects. Increased suicidality has been reported in patients taking the combined drugs naltrexone-buproprion, sold by prescription as Contrave. Health care professionals caution that weight loss cannot be accomplished by medication alone and urge patients to follow the medicine’s instructions precisely while remaining in regular contact with their doctors.

Weight loss, or bariatric, surgery has become increasingly popular in the United States, with more than two hundred thousand surgeries performed in 2016, up from an average of sixteen thousand performed annually in the early 1990s. One of the most well-known forms of bariatric surgery is gastric bypass surgery, where a portion of the stomach is sectioned off into a small pouch and reconnected to the lower part of the small intestine to reduce the amount of food absorbed by the body.

Doctors recommend that patients make significant lifestyle changes regarding diet and physical activity after the surgery. A patient who undergoes gastric bypass and who makes the necessary lifestyle changes can typically lose between 65 and 70 percent of their excess weight in the first year following surgery. After the surgery, a patient’s stomach is so small that it can hold only a few ounces of food or liquid at a time.

In addition, patients cannot consume liquids and solid food within a half an hour of each other. Even moderate overeating can cause severe pain and nausea. Patients must follow strict guidelines to ensure they receive proper nutrients and hydration. Other forms of bariatric surgeries, including laparoscopic gastric band surgery and sleeve gastrectomy, also require the patient to make significant lifestyle and diet changes.

Homeopathy – The Way to Rapid, Gentle, Permanent Cure

Years ago, around the turn of the last century, the town doctor made house calls in his rig, riding out with horse and buggy. Traditionally, he carried a little black bag from which, as the story goes, he dispensed sugar pills to his ailing patients.

Now we are entering a New Age and some things from the good old days are coming with us. Among them are the sugar pills….

Through those decades of change, there has always been a small group of perservering and conscientious practitioners who have continued to bring health to their patients and clients by dispensing sugar pills. Of course, no one has ever gotten well eating sugar so you’re absolutely right if you’re expecting to learn more.

Although they can work like magic, these “sugar pills” are not magic, they are the milk sugar carriers of homeopathic remedies, the medicine of homeopathy. You will be surprised to learn that homeopathy is a formal branch of medicine recognized under federal law. Homeopathic remedies are FDA approved and available without prescription through health food stores and homeopathic pharmacies.

As a system of healing, homeopathy has been used in the U.S. for about 150 years. It is based on what is known as the law of similars: “Similia Similibus Curenter.” This means that like cures like symptoms; in other words, in order to produce a cure, you must treat the problem with something that will produce the same unhealthy symptoms in a healthy person. For ‘example, many of us have experienced the kind of cold that causes the eyes to water and the nose to run with a seemingly unstoppable flow of clear, thin mucus. This is the same symptomatology that we may have either observed or experienced when peeling raw onions. This type of cold would be treated using homeopathically prepared onion (Allium cepa). The actual word homeopathy is derived from the Greek words homoios (“similar”) and pathos (“suffering”).

The concept of like curing like symptoms can be traced back two thousand years to Greece and the origins of the saying “the wounder heals” which is attributed to the Delphic Oracle. Aspects of the philosophy can also be found in the writings of Hippocrates (C.400 B.C.) and Paracelsus, a Swiss physician who practiced in the 16th century.

However, as a system of healing, homeopathy came into its own with the work of Samuel Hahnemann. In 1790, Dr. Hahnemann was a well-known and highly respected German physician and medical author. About that time, he writes, “…I renounced the practice of medicine, that I might no longer incur the risk of doing injury.” Although he rejected the bleeding and purging practices of his day, he remained interested in the medical field. He began his own investigations into concepts of healing after reading an essay by a colleague on the healing mechanisms of quinine in the treatment of malaria.

Refuting the idea that quinine healed because of its bitterness, Dr. Hahnemann began to self-administer the herb cinchona (quinine), and soon found himself to be manifesting the same symptoms as those of malaria patients. Since Dr. Hahnemann was himself a scholar, he was knowledgeable about the precedents of both Hippocrates and Paracelsus. Working by himself and with other professionals who became interested in his idea, Dr. Hahnemann developed the homeopathic system of healing.

In 1810, after twenty years of intense work, Dr. Hahnemann published the Organon of Medicine, presenting the tenets of homeopathy, declaring that “the physician’s highest and only calling is to restore health to the sick,” and stating that “the highest ideal of cure is rapid, gentle, and permanent….” This book introduced a new and entirely different system of medicine, one that was totally opposed to medicine as it was being practiced in Dr. Hahnemann’s time. Of course, the European medical community was in uproar over it. However, because of its dramatic results, homeopathy was soon in widespread use throughout Europe and in other parts of the globe.

Homeopathy began to be used in American in 1832. Although it was considered as “unscientific” by part of the medical establishment, it was widely practiced here by the mid-1800s. The American Institute of Homeopathy was established in 1844, two years before the AMA, and by 1910 there were 22 homeopathic medical schools, 100 homeopathic hospitals, 1,000 pharmacies, and 14,000 homeopathic physicians (compared to 100,000 allopathic doctors). Unfortunately, homeopathy did not continue to flourish and by the end of World War I, it had largely been replaced by allopathic medicine.

During these last 65 years, homeopathy has not been a dormant science but has continued to grow all over the world. India, Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and South Africa all sustain numerous homeopathic practices. Homeopathy is widely embraced by the British where a homeopathic physician has traditionally been appointed to serve the royal family. The British carried homeopathy to India and today, there are some 40 homeopathic colleges located throughout the country.

Due to the impetus of the holistic health care revolution, homeopathy is definitely on the move again in America. At this point, it is not recognized by mainstream medicine’ however, Jonathan Harger, editor for the American Center for Homeopathy, states that as many as 5,000 allopaths and osteopaths practice homeopathy “to varying degrees.” (Medical Self-Care, Winter, 1983)

According to American Homeopathy, there are now 18 companies

selling homeopathic products in this country. In 1979, there were only 10. They further report that in 1982, the annual sales for homeopathic remedies reached $20 million. Though noting that this is but a fraction of the $15 billion spent on other non-prescription medicines, it represents an increase of more than 300 percent over the previous four years.

Homeopathic remedies come in three physical forms: liquid drops, little lactose granules or balls (these look like cake decorations and work as carriers for the liquid remedies), and special lactose tablets. These include individual remedies (only available through homeopathic pharmacies), cell salts[1], and combination tinctures and tablets. The cell salts and combinations are available at health food stores as well as through homeopathic pharmacies.

It is the remedies that are the real phenomenon of homeopathy. When Dr. Hahnemann first began to experiment with the concept of homeopathy, he used the symptom causing drugs and poisons in their crude form. Although he was able to cure his patients, these crude substances were very hard on them, causing intense aggravation of their symptoms before health returned. Dr. Hahnemann began to dilute the remedies with the inert substances which are still in use today: distilled water, alcohol, and lactose (milk sugar). The problem he encountered was that as the remedies became weak enough that they no longer distressed his patients, they also became too weak to cure them.

Then something remarkable happened…one of those coincidences of consciousness which have no reasonable explanation. Hahnemann discovered that if the dilute solution was shaken (succussed), the new substance not only retained its healing property, but actually increased its power (potency) and had no side effects. Thus the homeopathic remedy came to be.

Each remedy is prepared by a controlled process of successive dilutions called “potentizing.” The substances are diluted one part remedy to 99 parts inert substance, and then they are succussed or ground with lactose (triturated). The first time this process is completed the remedy is 1x potency and is called a tincture. The number beside the x tells you how many times the original substance has been successivley diluted and potentized. Potencies commonly used by the lay person are 3x, 6x, 12x, and occassionally 30x. The number also indicates the amount of original material remaining in ratio to the amount of inert substance: 3x is 1/1000th part remedy, while 6x is 1/1,000,000th part. The higher the potency or power, the smaller the actual amount of the basic remedy, and the greater the possible therapeutic effect.

The amazing thing about this phenomena is that past 24 dilutions there is no longer any trace of the molecular structure of the original substance, yet the remedy still cures. At this point, dear reader, you will begin to understand why many of those involved with orthodox medical practice find homeopathy so confounding. It is also at this point that the real fascination with the healing power of homeopathy begins.

There are several explanations for the healing phenomenon of the homeopathic remedies. One author gave this explanation, “…the remedies carry a message, or drug picture, to the brain. The drug picture for a remedy with a low potency will be less specific than the drug picture for a remedy with a higher potency.” (Natural Foods Merchandiser, May, 1983) It logically follows that the body’s defenses are then stimulated to react against the offender. However, the question arises as to how the brain will be stimulated by something which isn’t there? Or at least, it is not there in any form which we are capable of measuring.

Dr. Hahnemann himself understood the body to have a “vital force.” That vital force is the difference between life and death. Within the philosophy of homeopathy, disease is considred to be a dynamic state existing within the dynamics of the body. Since the potentized remedies are also dynamic, they work to remove the diseased state. According to George Vithoulkas, world-famous homeopath,

“Dr. Hahnemann had discovered that there lies hidden in every substance in nature some inner life, and that we can mobilize and use this force if we know how to process the substance.”

We are speaking here about energy, like gravity, electricity, and magnetism. And it is the energy, or vital force, of the substance which is transported by the remedy which stimulates, the healing energy, vital force, of the body. In these times of acupuncture, biofeedback, and Rupert Sheldrake’s M-fields theory, we can not only appreciate the machinations of energy levels, we can use them to our benefit even if they can’t be explained in terms that all of us find satisfying.

The homeopathic practitioner understands disease as an energy imbalance, a disturbance of the vital force. Just as with any natural healer, the practitioner also sees symptoms as an attempt by the body to heal itself and to signal distress. The homeopath doesn’t work with pathology (diseased states) as the allopath does. S/he believes that the organisms which accompany certain diseases invade after the development of a morbid physical environment. In other words, it is not these organisms which cause disease. They thrive in the diseased condition. The homeopathic remedy stimulates the body to return to a healthy condition, healing not by removing illness but by increasing health.

Two conditions are necessary for this healing reaction to take place. In the first place, the afflicted person must be using the right remedy. Secondly, that person’s vital force must be strong enough to produce a reaction.

The basic law of homeopathy is like-cures-like, not kind-of-like-cures-like. At best, the wrong remedy will cause temporary alleviation of symptoms, not cure. At worst, it will have no effect at all. You will again see the importance of the symptoms to the designation of a remedy. The correct remedy demands a complete diagnosis of physical, mental, and emotional factors. Since homeopathy recognizes no diseases as such, but only diseased, individuals, six people with colds might each be using a different remedy to regain health. (We mentioned colds with clear fluid runny noses; there are also remedies for colds when you’re stuffed up and can’t blow your nose; colds with fevers; colds that were caught when out in the rain…lots of different kinds of colds, each with a different remedy.)

Regarding the second condition, strength of the vital force, it is possible for the vital force to be so weak that the remedy will not be able to evoke a response. This can be the case with chronic disease when the person has been using powerful drugs or medications for relief. Longterm cancer or arthritis patients might fit this category. On the other hand, a remedy for an acute case can be overpowered by the immediate use of an over-the-counter drug or a strong or spicy food (like garlic). For example, you wouldn’t combine a homeopathic combination remedy for colds with the use of an OTC anti-histamine.

This individualized treatment requires extensive examination and observation on the part of the practitioner. A good homeopath could spend an hour or more interviewing you on the first visit. This might include questions about your attitudes toward life, do you prefer hot or cold, what kind of things cause you to feel irritated, what position do you take when you sleep? S/he will want detailed information about your health problems. No symptom is treated as inconsequential because each is considered as a part of the imbalanced state.

The right homeopathic remedy restores health on all levels, Although the homeopath doesn’t treat for disease, Susan Ellis reports, “There have been case histories of homeopaths treating and curing patients with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, eczema, and nephritis.” She also mentions colitis, bronchial conditions, dysmenorrhea, migraine, allergies, fatigue, and grief. The ability of the remedies to alleviate mental symptoms such as grief, anxiety, and depression is truly remarkable. (Health Express, December, 1983)

Symptoms will typically subside within a few days, often faster, and sometimes you will experience immediate relief (as with arnica in the treatment of certain kinds of pain). If the remedy is right, you can expect symptoms to heal in the following order: From the top down, from the inside out, from a more important organ to a less important one, and in the reverse order of their appearance.

The most commonly used homeopathic remedies right now are the combination remedies found in health food stores. The classical homeopath avoids using more than one remedy at a time. (This would make it impossible to determine which one had been effective.) However, these remedies represent a combination of those single remedies which have most often been helpful for that particular state. If the combination includes the right remedy, the person gets relief. If not, there will be no effect at all.

These combinations are often in liquid form and you administer them by the drop according to the instructions. Some combinations are in tablet form. These will also have label instructions. The labels on both these types of combination remedies will also carry a prominent listing of the symptoms (also called indications). The drops are placed under the tongue, while the tablets are allowed to dissolve in the mouth. They are absorbed without the aid of digestive juices. Sometimes you will experience an aggravation of symptoms before you get relief. This will be hardly noticeable in acute disorders but can be an actual healing crisis in chronic disorders.

The homeopathic concept was recently given an interesting application. The Winter, 1984 issue of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology offered an article entitled “A Homeopathic Model of Psychotherapy.” This interesting point of view was presented by Linda Riebel who suggested that a more effective way of dealing with feelings was to go with them (homeopathic) instead of against them (allopathic). She noted, “People commonly offer ‘assistance’ to friends in turmoil, exhorting them, ‘Don’t cry,’ ‘Think of how lucky you are,’ etc. (By attempting to assuage the feelings by banishing it)…. The underlying message is, ‘This feeling is not pleasant, so stop feeling it.'” Ms. Riebel advances the hypothesis that by asking the client to continue to have, repeat, or intensify the very experience he or she wishes to eliminate, a homeopathic approach is being applied, and through the experience the client can be healed, not left with residues of his/her mental distress.

If you are interested in learning more about homeopathy and how to use it, you might like some of the following books.

  • Homeopathy: Medicine of the New Man, George Vithoulkas
  • The ABCs of Homeopathy for Home Use, Evelyn Purser
  • A Doctor’s Guide to Helping Yourself with Homeopathic Remedies, James H. Stephenson, M.D.
  • Homeopathic Medicine at Home, Maesimund Panos and Jane Heimlich
  • If you would like to consult a homeopathic practitioner, they are now listed in the yellow pages in some states or you can write:
  • The International Foundation for Homeopathy, 1141 N.W. Market St., Seattle, WA 98107, $1.00
  • The National Center for Homeopathy, 1500 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Suite 41, Washington, D.C. 20005, $3.00

The information in this article is not intended as medical advice, but only as a guide when working with your health practitioner.

Energy Medicine

Over a century ago, the town doctor made house calls in his rig, riding out with horse and buggy. Traditionally, he carried a little black bag from which, as the story goes, he dispensed sugar pills to his ailing patients. Now, in the dawn of the 21st century as untold technology evolves, some things from the “good old days” are coming with us. The sugar pills are among them.

Through many decades of change, there has always been a small group of persevering and conscientious practitioners who have continued to bring health to their patients and clients by dispensing sugar pills. Of course, people don’t get well eating sugar. What’s the secret?

Although these “sugar pills” work like magic, they are not magic. They are the lactose (milk sugar) carriers of homeopathic remedies, Remedies are the medicine of homeopathy. You may be surprised to learn that homeopathy is a formal branch of medicine, recognized under federal law as a system of healing. It has been used in the US for over 150 years. Homeopathic remedies are FDA approved and are available without prescription through health food stores and homeopathicpharmacies.

Homeopathy is derived from the Greek words homoios meaning similar and pathos, suffering, Called the law of similars, the basic principle of homeopathy is Similia Similibus Curenter, This translates to “like cures like.” In other words, in order top effect a cure, the person’s symptoms are treated with a substance that, if given to a healthy person, would produce similar symptoms. For example, many of us have experienced the kind of cold that causes the eyes to water and the nose to “drip like a faucet” with clear, watery mucus. This symptom “picture” is similar to the one created during the peeling of raw onions. A cold with these symptoms is treated with homeopathically prepared raw onion. (The remedy is Allium cepa. All the remedies are known by their Latin names.)

The concept can be traced back 2000 years from today’s “hair of the dog” to an ancient Greek adage, “the wounder heals” (attributed to the Oracle at Delphi). However, it was a German physician who developed homeopathy as a system of healing. In 1790, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, a well-known and highly respected doctor and medical scholar, retired from the allopathic medical profession. He wrote, “…I renounced the practice of medicine, that I might no longer incur the risk of doing injury.”

Although he rejected the bleeding and purging treatments of his day, Dr. Hahnemann remained interested in medicine. After reading a popular hypothesis describing the healing mechanism of quinine as bitterness (quinine, or cinchona, is still used to treat malaria), he initiated his own investigation by taking quinine. Surprisingly, he found that he was manifesting the symptoms of malaria. This was the first breakthrough in the law of similars. In 1810, after twenty years of arduous work and having established the basic principles of homeopathy, he published his Organon of Medicine. (Not only have these principles stood the test of time, the book itself remains in print.) The Organon introduced a new and entirely different system of healing, one that was totally opposed to medicine as it was being practiced at the time. The established medical community was in an uproar. However, because dramatic results were frequently achieved, homeopathy was soon in widespread use throughout Europe and in other parts of the globe.

Homeopathy reached the United States around 1830, and was widely practiced here by the mid-1880s. The American Institute of Homeopathy was established in 1844 (two years before the AMA). By 1910, about 25 percent of all physicians were homeopaths. There were homeopathic medical schools, hospitals, and pharmacies. Unfortunately, homeopathy did not continue to flourish in the US. By the end of World War I, it had largely been replaced by allopathic medicine, (It did thrive in the rest of the world where it continues to be practiced.)

Today in the US, homeopathy is once again on the move. This dynamism is reflected in the number of American companies manufacturing homeopathic products, in 1978, there were 10. In 1984 (the year of the first Nutrition News homeopathy issue), there were 18. Currently, there are over 40.

The Remedies: Healing Magic

The remedies are the real phenomenon of homeopathy. Made of all kinds of substances: animal, vegetable, mineral, and even allopathic medicines, many are derived from poisons or other materials which are unhealthy in large doses. Considering the homeopathic law of similars, this makes sense: If the substance can’t initiate symptoms, then, it can’t cure.

When Dr. Hahnemann first began to experiment with the concept of homeopathy, he used the symptom-causing drugs and poisons in their crude form. Although he was able to induce healing, the substances (called causatives) were very hard on his patients, causing intense aggravation of their symptoms before health returned. He began to dilute the causatives with inert substances: water, alcohol, and lactose. (These carriers continue to be used today.) Unfortunately, as the causatives became weak enough not to distress his patients, they also became too weak to effect healing.

Then something remarkable happened…one of those historically significant serendipitous events. Dr. Hahnemann discovered that if the dilute causative solution was violently shaken (succussed), the new substance not only retained its healing properties, it actually healed more rapidly. This increase in power is called potency. Further, the ensuing remedies seldom caused any aggravation of existing symptoms. Dr. Hahnemann had achieved his goal of “rapid, gentle, permanent cure,” using homeopathic remedies.

Today, remedies continue to be prepared by a controlled process of successive, succussed dilutions called potentizing. Although some causatives require special handling, in general, they are prepared in the following way. Equal amounts of the causative materials (e.g., raw onion) and alcohol are put together for varied amounts of time. This pulls the characteristic properties from the material into the medium and preserves them. The liquid is strained off and is called a mother tincture. (A tincture is indicated by a zero with a slash through it, Ø).

The potentizing begins when one part of mother tincture is diluted by 99 parts of an inert substance (usually doubly distilled water but sometimes lactose). Liquid mixtures are succussed while lactose mixtures are ground, a process called trituration. This results in a remedy of 1x. The number beside the x indicates how many times the original tincture has been successively diluted and potentized.

Typical potencies are 3x, 6x, and 30x. A labeling method using c rather than x is also common. This indicates a different but similar and equally effective way of potentizing. These numbers (6c, 9c, 12c, etc.) are about twice the potency of the xs (e.g., 3c = 6x). At 6x (or 3c), the causative substance has become 1/one millionth part of the remedy. To further the paradox, the more times the remedies are diluted and succussed (or triturated), and the less actual causative remains, the more potent they become. To add to this phenomenon, past 23 dilutions, there is no longer any trace of the molecular structure of the original substance, yet the remedy still cures. Wonderful, isn’t it?

How Does It Work?

Symptoms of illness and disease are signs of an activated immune system. Generally speaking, allopathic medicine works by suppressing these symptoms until the condition subsides. Homeopathytriggers the body to fight the illness. The real question is, “How?”

Scientists have yet to identify the exact mechanisms; however, there are several theories. The most widely accepted theory among homeopaths is that the remedies retain an imprint of the causative (think hologram) which signals the brain to a specific immune response. The higher the potency, the more profound the response. The lower potencies work on physical conditions while the higher ones can also improve mental states.

For example, a lower potency of kali carb (potassium carbonate, well-known to cell salt fans) is the remedy for colds accompanied by thick yellow mucus. Very high potencies like 1M (the Roman numeral M denotes 1000x) are used for constitutional remedies. (These treatments relate to patterns of illness and personality structure.) High potencies of kali carb correspond to an underlying rigidity in the personality.

Perhaps you have wondered how the rapidly spinning particles within the atoms, which are the basic material of all materiality, can take on the appearance of solidity. Dr. Hahnemann discovered how to loose this “vital force” from its solid form while still retaining its nature. We are speaking here of energy, like gravity, electricity, and magnetism. Homeopathy is energy medicine. Illness is an energy imbalance, a disturbance of the vital force.

Two conditions must be met for a homeopathic remedy to stimulate healing. First, the correct remedy must be used. In other words, the vital force of the remedy must match the vital force disturbance in the patient. (Karl carb won’t cure your cold if you have a runny nose that calls for Allium cepa.) Second, the person’s vital force must be strong enough to produce a reaction.

Homeopathy recognizes no diseases as such, only diseased individuals. Selection of the correct remedy is all important. Although only the physical symptoms may be necessary for a simple problem in its early stages, many times the correct remedy demands a complete diagnosis including physical, mental, and emotional factors. Remember, the basic law of homeopathy is like-cures-like, not kind-of-like-cures-like. At best, the wrong remedy will cause temporary relief of symptoms. At worst, it will have no effect at all.

Secondly, it is possible for the vital force to be so weak that the remedy cannot evoke a response. This can be the case with chronic disease when powerful drugs or medications have been used for relief. Long term cancer or arthritis patients might fit into this category. In acute cases, a remedy can be overpowered by the immediate use of an over-the-counter drug or a strong or spicy food. For example, one wouldn’t combine a homeopathic remedy for colds with the use of an OTC antihistamine nor take a remedy immediately before or after eating garlic.

Difficult problems require the attention of an experienced homeopathic practitioner. Simple problems which you might normally address with OTC remedies or by putting off seeing the doctor can frequently be healed with a single remedy or combination remedy from the health food store or homeopathic pharmacy.

Visiting a Homeopath

Individualized treatment requires extensive examination and observation on the part of the practitioner. A good homeopath may spend an hour or more with you during the initial interview. The interview includes detailed information about your health history. In addition, there are unexpected questions. These might include inquiries about your attitudes, whether you prefer hot or cold, what kinds of things cause you to feel irritated, what position you take when you sleep. No symptom is treated as inconsequential because each provides clues to the selection of the correct remedy.

The correct remedy can restore health on all levels. It can be used to address an immediate health problem like hay fever, a chronic problem like menstrual cramps, or a pattern indicating a propensity to certain afflictions.

(This is the constitutional remedy, the most complex of the homeopathic cures.) Although the homeopath doesn’t treat for disease, there are case histories of patients recovering from problems such as asthma, diabetes, eczema, bronchial conditions, sinus problems, migraine, fatigue, and even prolonged grief. (The ability of the remedies to alleviate mental symptoms is remarkable.) Typically, symptoms will subside within a few days, often sooner, and sometimes relief is immediate. This is especially true with children.

Health from the Shelf

There are a number of individual remedies, as well as combination remedies, available at the health food store. Although the classical homeopath avoids using more than one remedy at a time, combinations are often helpful for acute or simple conditions. The combinations are a mingling of the single remedies which are commonly helpful for a particular problem. If the combination includes the remedy the person needs, relief follows. If not, there is no effect at all.

Since homeopathy is recognized by the FDA, labels can list the conditions for which the remedies are useful. Single and combination remedies are most commonly found in liquid (small bottles with droppers), pellets, and small lactose tablets, all of which are sublingual. Instructions for their use are on the label. Cold and flu remedies are very popular in the winter months while hay fever and allergy remedies dominate spring and fall. Many other kinds of remedies are available. These include remedies for pain and swelling from sports injuries and arthritis, teething discomfort, earache, digestive disorders, nervousness, morning sickness, menstrual irregularities, and menopause.

In addition, single and combination homeopathic remedies are found in suppository, topical, and spray form. Suppositories are useful for small children. Also homeopathic suppositories for hemorrhoids are reported to be particularly effective. Topical products are available in ointments, creams, gels, lotions, and liniments. Two of the most popular single remedy topicals are arnica (Arnica montana) and calendula (Calendula officinalis). Arnica is used to treat minor injuries, especially sprains and bruises while calendula is used to relieve minor cuts, burns, and skin conditions. (I have these in both ointment and cream.) They are also available in witch hazel and in oil. My personal favorite is a healing cream. It is a combination formula that contains many remedies, including arnica and belladonna (another popular remedy used for sudden onset of symptoms). Nasal sprays are mainly used for sinus conditions and have the advantage of not being addictive nor carrying the risk of overdose.

Cell salts are homeopathic remedies and flower remedies are prepared in a homeopathic manner. You can learn more about these in Nutrition News “The Cell Salts” and “The Bach Flower Remedies.” In addition, “Nature’s Medicine Cabinet” recommends several dozen natural healing substances to keep in your home for burns, scrapes, headaches, and other minor emergencies. Many of them are homeopathic.

When to Believe the Unbelievable

That was the title of the Nature editorial accompanying what may be the most controversial study ever published in the prestigious British journal.[1] The “unbelievable” was accomplished by five teams of medical researchers on three continents. The findings were so extraordinary that Nature held the study for two years and four revisions before braving publication.

Jacques Benveniste, respected French scientist, and his teams ran experiments using a strain of antibodies that react predictably with white blood cells. They used ever more dilute solutions of the antibodies to trigger a reaction. To their amazement, they found that solutions so highly diluted that no molecule of the original antibody could be present still reacted with the white blood cells. In an interview, Dr. Benveniste expressed his astonishment, “My initial reaction was, ‘I can’t believe it. It can’t be true.'”

According to the principles of chemistry, the dilution process should have completely eliminated all the molecules of the antibody after 23 dilutions. At 23 dilutions, there are a hundred trillion billion molecules of water to every molecule of antibody. Although the scientists were using solutions five times more dilute than that, 40-60 percent of the white blood cells reacted as though the original antibodies were present.

A series of 70 experiments were independently and concurrently conducted over five years in laboratories in France, Italy, Israel (two), and Canada. All teams experienced the same thing: A phenomenon which occurred only when the extreme dilutions were violently shaken. If there was no shaking, if the water was heated, cooled, subjected to ultrasound, or if it had never been in contact with the antibody, no reaction was produced.

In 1988, when this article appeared, some people anticipated that Jacques Benveniste would receive a Nobel Prize. However, because the number of controlled studies using homeopathy remains small, its effectiveness remains suspect (except to those of us who use it). When The Prize does come, it will be for bringing the healing mechanism of homeopathy out of the realm of theory. It seems that we are not able to do that within our current level of understanding. In fact, the editors of Nature commented, “There is no physical basis for such an activity.” A more accurate statement would have been, “There is no known physical basis for such an activity.”