As kids, we were all warned about the things that we should avoid and many of us were instructed to “just say no” to any proposition that would have us doing otherwise. However, time and the basic human urge of curiosity eventually takes over and before you know it you’re smoking a joint or having a beer occasionally like the majority of your high school peers. By the time college rolls around, weed and alcohol are old news – mere child’s play to the riskier crowd who choose to dabble with DMT, LSD, MDMA, and even crazy experimental drugs that float around on campus.
Sadly, most drug-oriented students do in fact head down a perilous path with drug addiction, while only a small percentage are able to continue on in society as successful individuals. We all know the moral of the story here – “kids, don’t do drugs, don’t drink alcohol, don’t smoke cigarettes, don’t smoke pot, don’t have more than one intimate partner, and don’t ever gamble, fight or doing anything else risky at all, because it might kill you or ruin your life!” Well, such a warning certainly has its merits, but what if everything you thought was “bad” really wasn’t so bad after all? Here are at least seven things that have been excessively vilified in popular culture, yet may actually have health benefits when properly used.
Sure, if you’re smoking fat blunts of seeded street weed all day, you’re probably not going to have very great life experiences outside of your own imagination. Chances are you’ll also develop discolored teeth, resinous lungs, an addiction to the act of smoking, an addiction to tobacco if blunts are your thing, and a thinner wallet because everyone knows that weed isn’t cheap. But wait a second, who made the rule that cannabis is meant to be smoked?
Nowadays people are using CBD cannabis oil, vaporizers, and edibles more than ever before, and the scientific community seems to agree that cannabis has excellent health benefits when consumed in a healthy and responsible manner. It turns out that THC and other cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant carry a wide range of positive effects, including being anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective.
In fact, contrary to the popular myth about “weed killing brain cells” it has actually been shown to increase neurogenesis (the formation of new neural connections) by up to 40%. Yeah, it turns out those studies that recorded “fried” brain cells were actually only proving that smoke deprives the brain of oxygen, which has absolutely nothing to do with the substance that is being smoked.
Alcohol comes in many forms, some less toxic than others. Still, with moderation and discretion, even the most potent alcoholic drink can be tamed by restricting intake and diluting with other fluids. Let’s be clear here, chugging a pint of Jaeger at a party is not good for you, nor is the resulting hangover enjoyable. However, science has discovered that one glass of wine in the evening can actually have cardiovascular benefits because it acts as a blood cleanser.
You may also be aware of the fact that a light buzz can be very motivational and inspiring when compared to the debilitating intoxication you experience after going over your limit. An occasional beer is also said to have digestive benefits, helping to clear out the intestinal tract and promote healthy enzyme production in the liver. Yes, that’s right, a small amount of alcohol here and there can actually be good for your liver and heart. But remember, too much of it does just the opposite, so don’t use this as an excuse to get wasted tonight. Instead, use it as an excuse to become a responsible wine or beer connoisseur.
Let’s face it, STDs are nothing to scoff at. We can’t simply dismiss the fact that you could catch a serious disease and/or involve yourself in a whole lot of relationship drama just by getting too involved with the wrong person. Thus, it makes sense that we’ve always been told that we should try not to be promiscuous. But many of us could be missing out by keeping ourselves from having a healthy life in the bedroom.
While most people will eventually find that special someone who they choose to call their significant other, there are also hordes of people out there who just can’t seem to make long-term relationships work. If you’re one of those people, it may be wise to practice promiscuity responsibly by using protection and discretion, rather than simply giving up on the idea of having intercourse at all. Research has proven that regular intercourse is good for the body because it stimulates blood flow, releases tension and stress, and promotes a healthy hormonal balance.
Don’t ever go to a casino and bet on a game of blackjack. The end result is that you’ll inevitably wind up stumbling out of the venue at 4 in the morning with a hooker under one arm, a half-drunken bottle of liquor in the other, and your entire life savings dwindled by a night of hellacious gambling. Is it just me, or is that the kind of picture the mainstream media likes to paint about gambling? Meanwhile, in reality, most of us are perfectly fine betting on a game of cards here and there without it becoming the root of our financial demise.
As a matter of fact, some studies have shown that gambling can have positive effects on the brain, especially in people suffering from depression and senior citizens. First off, it encourages active thought processes and competitive thinking, which is good for building self-esteem and keeping the mind sharp. Plus, research supports the theory that people with a high propensity for risk-taking usually turn out to be more successful financially and socially.
Coffee is the big bad addictive morning brew that most of us drink, but “need to quit.” Indeed, people all over the world have become so dependent on this little bean for their energy that it has become the most popular beverage on Earth by far. It stains your teeth, makes your breath stink, and once you get addicted to it, you can’t get out of bed without it. Sounds totally unhealthy, right? Well, the truth isn’t so cut and dry.
Coffee, and the caffeine it produces, are actually considered adaptogens – substances that help the body adapt to stress and regain stability. Knowing that, it makes sense that humans seem to literally rely on it during times when focus, alertness, and energy are needed, because it helps us adapt to the demands and burdens being placed on us. When you’re racing against a deadline or trying to motivate yourself to make it to work on time, there’s nothing like a cup of coffee to give you a much-needed boost.
Smoking cigarettes is cancerous – there’s no denying that. But did you know that tobacco hasn’t always been the villain of cigarettes and cigars that it is today? Not too long ago, before the big tobacco companies made the plant synonymous with smoking, many cultures actually used it for medicinal and shamanistic purposes, and nicotine has long been considered a potent natural medicine.
Nicotine is anti-inflammatory and has shown promise in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Thus, it might sound crazy, but it seems you could actually benefit from having a light tobacco leaf tea from time to time. Tobacco also contains a number of harmala alkaloids, which act as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO-Is) that keep dopamine and serotonin from breaking down, thereby increasing the presence of these feel-good chemicals in the brain.
“Don’t ever get into a fight because you could hurt someone or get hurt! You could have your teeth knocked out or be knocked unconscious and get a concussion!” Or not. While we won’t encourage you to go out and pick street fights with random strangers, a bit of MMA training and sparring at the gym a few times a week can definitely do the body good.
There’s nothing wrong with being a fighter as long as you’re not using your fighting skills to be a bully or cause trouble. Consider taking up fight training and maybe even joining an amateur fighting league, as doing so could help boost your testosterone and improve your overall physique through intense exercise and competition.
Practice Moderation But Live a Little
Ultimately, there’s no denying that all of the above can get you into some pretty serious trouble depending on where you’re at, how responsible you are, and how well you’re able to control and discipline yourself. Obviously, things could get out of hand pretty quickly if your lifestyle revolves around these things alone. But with a reasonable approach and simple restraint you could definitely find some emotional and physical enrichment by using the above substances and activities to your advantage.