Vaping/Juuling

This blog requires to lay out a few basic structures to help understanding the difference between a scientific research of a specific product and the implications of such product (while disregarding the science knowledge) into an actual circumstance. 

In TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) we comb trough the history registered by many people that have documented their findings, ideas and results and within defined an early understanding of herbal powers. Rosemary, as example, had been documented as far back as 2000BC for its advantage in reducing leg- (muscle) pain amongst many other benefits. 

Druids agreed in all corners of the world throughout history, with doctors and monks that Rosemary oil-extract from this plant in bloom – harvested ideally in late Summer – comforts foremost lower-leg pain. Water-steam oil extractions were first documented in 1000BC… Roman soldiers praised Rosemary oils and today you can find it advertised in a yoga store claiming similar advantages.

Millions of people have used Rosemary remedies and scholars have past their refined wisdom down to pupils through modern generations. It is today applied for migraines, menstrual cramps and as concentration-remedy. Books are re-written about its benefit for hair restoration. Neurological research claims that it cures Alzheimer; although that is still questionable…(be wary of anyone using the word “cure”). Mediterranean chefs for centuries spiced their pasta dishes with this herb, following ancient tradition. Candle makers love Rosemary’s strong scent… its usage seems unlimited.

Today we can DNA fingerprint Rosemarinus Officinalis and compare current research on many levels with past scriptures. We confirm today that the human muscular cell structure and blood vessels react positively towards the anti-thrombotic effect towards these oils in preventing blood clots. Rosemary does seem to activate brain memory as claimed by Shakespeare.

Our nervous system and brain sensors react positively towards beta-amyloid plaques and hence, Rosemary suppresses acetyl-cholinesterase (AChE), which are primary causes of Alzheimer’s, ataxia and dementia.

We can pinpoint why we feel relieve when rubbing “healing-oil” on our skin – how it is absorbed, what human profiles tend to positively react to its smell, flavor and essence. We can even demonstrate why in the human body plant extract create reactions; like burns, numbness, hives or what causes blistering, discomfort. 

We now study Rosemary variations for potency with science unavailable before, including the understanding of where it is grown originally, how it is grown preferably, when it is cultivated best and how it could be genetically manipulated to produce vast amounts of concentrations as demanded. 

That’s all about one herb. However, as soon as we combine one with another plants essence we start a whole new chain of discovery… Triple or quadruple a TCM-mix and the potentiality become nearly endless. True herbology rarely uses a “single application” in successful prescription… Traditional Medicine furthermore respect that each body/person – at various states of age and health – reacts different. What might feel soothing to one could be life threatening to another. 

Throughout the history of “4000 years of Rosemary-emollient-investigation” and trial tested on billions of people, no significant study has ever suggested that smoking its oil would result in an adavantage. None of all the respected TCM scriptures suggest inhaling fumes into our bronchi treats ailments or is beneficial to human health.

And now, lets talk about vaping: basically an electronically heated substance we inhale for pleasure… that is fused with chemically designed oils or artificial flavors to trick our minds to believe it smells like rosemary, vanilla or citrus.

Vaping, or vaporizing, is the process of heating up raw plant matter or extracts, without combustion. Instead of burning weed, tobacco or hash, vaporizing quickly heats up various substances (mixes) to limit the release of harmful chemicals and to maximize the plant’s intended effects. Cannabis is typically  heated  between >285°F and  <450°F, and tobacco vapes between >250°F and <300°F. 

Vapor has more in common with a cloud of steam than with a puff of smoke. And even though vaping reduces the effects of secondhand smoke, it doesn’t mean you’re not experiencing a drug’s effects as bystander. Most plant oils “burn” and become unhealthy at different degrees of heat (below vapor level). 

The properties we absorb while vaporing differ depending on what you actually inhale. You can inhale tobacco, hash and endless combinations of substances including oils, plant-matter and synthetic additives. Sometimes these substances turn into gaseous form, and sometimes vaping means inhaling liquid particles suspended in air as they cool after evaporation. Either way, the method at first is the same: Drug molecules, after being inhaled, land on the interior lungs, which have an enormous surface area to catch them. The molecules then pass directly into the blood and bypass the digestive system. From there, the effects hit your brain in about five seconds, which is almost as quick as injecting the substance.

Lets skip how the lungs cope with getting rid of the “garbage” left inside; just read up on COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

So, Juuling (a brandname adapted verb) has been shown to be the foremost “goto” tool for teenagers in 2018. They annoyingly blow nicotine-steam lazed with oils and chemicals that “taste” like Vanilla,  Rosemary or fantastic flavors. Even Marijuana infused e-cigarettes come with chemical created additives. Although vaping is promoted foremost to a younger generation as a healthy alternative to smoking; statistically only 2% of cigarette smokers have actually quit through vaping. Actually, 9% admit smoking “real” cigarettes after starting with e-cigarettes. This five billion vapor-industry in the US fails to honestly communicate a science-based message about the known side effects that lack a long-term study and to accurately warn about the consequences of this modern diversion. We just promote until we know better…

In TCM we promote certain essences to be inhaled through steam; i.e. clearing your sinus – bent over the sink under a towel – inhaling Tiger-Balm (fumes) smeared onto the porcelain below while the hot water faucet is fully opened… This does not compare to circumvent what the nose is designed to filter out while inhaling medicinal substance before it coats the surface of our bronchi. Drawing in overheated artificial substances through your mouth without any true purpose seems questionable. I’m also not convinced that the vanilla-cloud puffing teen in a restaurant next to me looks particularly “cool” or hip…

Nicotine is addictive. >50% of all e-cigarette contain tobacco. The leaf-drying process had shown to prevent Tuberculosis in factory workers during the early 19thcentury. TCM respects the healing properties of Tobacco. Throughout South and North America, tobacco was consumed in a diversity of ways: it was chewed, sniffed, smoked, eaten, juiced, smeared over bodies, and used in eye drops and enemas. It still carries a mystic “smoke” of purification spirits after blessing fields and praising Gods.

Today, the same tobacco companies denying for decades that smoking caused cancer, now aim to hook teens on vaping. We adapted against their efforts that smoking was the foremost cause of lung-, bone-, gum-cancer and birth deformities but now allow to hold truth that inhaling steam derived essence is less dangerous. We have to willfully ignore modern studies that the use of smokeless tobacco include: Mouth, tongue, cheek, and gum cancer.

Surely, bi-products inhaled by burning wrapping papers and fillers is more unhealthy in comparison with flavored vapor steam. The new expensive studies claim that juuling is harmless are sponsored by the very companies that denied cigarette smoking caused cancer.   We are today smarter than we were yesterday, right? Nicotine addiction prevented smokers in the 80’s to give up their habit while dying of cancer in their hospital beds. The addiction to tobacco is the culprit here, not the method in which we ingest the essence! Got hooked?

Chef Raphael

Switzerland’s General Consulate Residence sold…

Today, December 8th 2018 the Residence representing the Consulate General’s Home of Switzerland in Los Angeles closed its doors for good. With the flag at half-mast and a very shabby “Estate Sale” a three-decade long history for us Angelino-Schweizer ended. This last rummaging in useless items was about as sad and odd as the political decision to transfer the Consular affairs of California’s Confederate representation to San Francisco.

A decision that’s disliked by every Swiss living in the LA basin. Who cares? It’s not like anyone in the history of the Mission actually listened and implemented what most of us expats expected from our Consulate.  Even getting a passport renewed was an unnecessary ordeal that now is extremely complicated for us: We are expected to fly to San Francisco to consult with you. We ponder how this could have happened?

The Swiss Embassy made many feeble attempts generating cultural outreach, well – mostly laughable, rather embarrassing ideas about how to bridge Swiss values with a very lax California culture. Our Consulate has utterly missed the point of generating an understanding of how to boost qualities that would enhance tourism to flock to our country of cheese, mountains, chocolate & watches. With the generous opportunities provided, the honorable people selected to take a job in California have a duty to show-off Switzerland’s best values. (it’s a privilege to be named Ambassador to LA – or you “know” someone in politics that owes you big time). Well, most of these characters failed to advertise to Americans that the Swiss precision mechanical and electrical engineering is amongst world leading businesses; That the Swiss produce most turbines used in Aviation. We are leading Europe in hydroelectricity, and about half of all quartz-crystal watches are fashioned in this tiny Nation of 7 million, yet unknown by most everyone. Uh, yes – most Americans still think we speak Swedish and are confused about the Life-Guards uniform or the American Red Cross connection… In California none of my friends seems to understand there is no snow in Locarno, although it looks just like LA.

The Estate Sale just showed one last time – that besides tons of cheap glassware and antique Roschti shredders (yup, you call it a hash-brown grater…) – the beautiful Spanish style home lacked modernity and a sense for contemporary flair. Instead I remember attending lame weekend movie gatherings, invited for screenings of stories with German subtitles; because the selection was in a dialect most Swiss can’t even understand themselves. My American guests were left clueless for two hours and resorted to sipping the cheapest white wine served; the simple glassware seemed more valuable.

I offered to cook for special events – never heard back from the Embassy; Clearly, a qualified chef with Hollywood connections was to far stretched for the imagination of any Bünzli… (That’s a Swiss prescriptive word for a hick limited to simple thoughts, incapable of comprehending a world beyond what he chooses to hold truth…) Instead, some foods prepared for Gala events really left me infuriated about the quality we served to foreign guests, representing the Nation with the worlds leading culinary and Hoteliers schools!

These “efforts” perfectly represented the overall narrow mindedness of people in charge of Swiss international affairs that come here and dislike the “difference” and surely promoted relocating the Embassy based on reasons that are absurd. The notion that Los Angeles with over 106 world respected Consulate Residences is lesser central in comparison with the demographics of San Francisco/Sacramento with merely 30 National Embassies’, is not sufficient an explanation why to abandon Hollywood. The truth is that people with zero understanding of how to adapt to the California mentality were in charge – or felt important to pretend to be in charge – and decided to purchase an overpriced new location on the edge of California. It would have been totally within the budget to hold on to the perfectly located Residency in Hollywood. I’ll gladly point out where Swiss money is squandered elsewhere in the world… Just ask!

To understand why we Swiss folks in greater Los Angeles are numb about this “transfer”, one needs a little education in how different the mentalities are of people raised and heeded in a nation where etiquette, decorum and title are a basic doctrine. Growing up in this little nation tugged away between Germany, Austria, French and Italy we pride ourselves for punctuality, cleanliness and regulation (yes, there is a tiny speck called Lichtenstein, sorry – I nearly forgotten…). For anyone brought up with “narrow Swiss views” arriving in America for the first time, they immediately feel a sense of insult; having to adapt to the personal form of “You”, the lack of acknowledging inherited or the absence of married-into title: As a wife of a doctor, you would be bespoken to as Frau Doctor (Mrs. doctor) at home… People here in the US don’t care much about your education. Americans are commonly unpunctual, unapologetically underdressed for any event and seemingly to blunt about money, inappropriate gestures or violate unknowingly your expected modesty.

It’s Hollywood. It’s about who you know (and why), what car you drive, how much money you make and how much you’re going to invest to make me feel equal. “What can I do for you…”

To be Swiss in America already sets the standard high. We have a reputation for being clean, born rich and special; no Ami really knows why – they just like everything Swiss! We are alpine exotic and liked by most, assumed to have inherited neutrality, blessed with wisdom and protected with free health insurance. Even our trains run on time! What a perfect preface to build relations from! Sending us a team of Consular mops that can’t relate with these expectations is about as useless as serving Maggie Sauce with Chamomile Tea. It’s frustrating trying to make a Swiss Embassy employee smile! This hereditatry world-view is not the result of Swiss efforts to advance our appearance; it is the direct result of expats balancing pride andour  need to escape narrow-mindedness.

In reverse; after living for over thirty years in Los Angeles I find Swiss people prejudiced about everything different, stiff and opinionated. (Yes, I realize the hypocritical perspective while writing this blog…) From the Consulate General to the secretaries that are send here through Bern, they all seem disconnected from the culture and lifestyle needed to invite, impress and promote some of the best Switzerland has to offer. Their apparent modesty is actually counter-productive. Who is responsible for sending us these clueless characters? They are not needed in Los Angeles nor helping in Sacramento!

Whomever signed off on closing the Swiss Residency in Hancock Park a year after moving the Embassy to Northern California made a big mistake. Stop trying to convince us that cultural outreach is better in San Francisco or Sacramento. Hollywood is the place to be! The Swiss could have at least kept the Home here. With the upcoming Olympics it is painfully clear to us that you in Bern really lost your marbles. It’s a shameful attest to the naiveté of people in administrative power to lack vision and comprehending what is needed in representing 150’000 Swiss-American souls trying for decades to be heard. Gosh, some of these boring Consular peeps are now relocating to San Francisco like the lackluster pieces of furniture that were not sold… You have failed here; wherever you go, there you are!

Being a dual citizen puts me in a complex reality; I should not speak up as an educated and “norm oriented” Swiss, but my “American-mind” can’t just sit in silence either… I’m fully aware of this dilemma. I feel as if a part of my Heimat-pride is ripped away in Los Angeles; what little there was of an assembly – although never fully utilizing a perfect representation – now left us abandoned. A classical Swiss maneuver; when administration fails, pack up and disappear. Unqualified to even amend the Wikipedia pages, or updating the meta-tag search engine info on the Swiss Embassy pages: The first twenty internet searches about “Switzerland in California” pull up outdated information claiming the Consulate General’s home is in Los Angeles and the “Swiss events in the US”-page never had an activity… Yup, most of the people I’ve met throughout the last thirty years representing my interests here, demonstrated no understanding in how to utilize today’s internet (or their cellphones). I’m sure their resumes are excellent…

Good Bye. My Swiss friends whisper secretly how terrible this decision is. Our Swiss Consulate has missed many opportunities in the past; unable to entertain on the level of Hollywood, incapable of reaching across nations. Failed to align traditions with US holidays. So we plead: Switzerland please, send people to the US that helm our foreign relations with fascinating personalities who actually understand and care about living abroad. Include us Angelinos; we know a thing or two about living in California. Don’t have bureaucrats deciding on our behalf – they don’t have a clue what’s needed here. Give us your best; we deserve it!

We all have/need a driver license; ’cause LA is big! …the minimum we expect from our Consulate General (hint…). Send us enthusiasts that embrace differences and enjoy ethnic fusion. People that are gregarious, truly curious, that speak English & Spanish, that love to entertain, respecting good Swiss/Spanish/American foods, happy folks who embrace a world beyond “Swiss-Boarders” and foremost – souls that relate to the issues that are important to our Nation, todays world in general & can promote modern Swiss culture. Our Embassy must compete with ideas that make us Helvetics proud. Send us motivated leaders that will further build upon thirty years of established relationships…

Shoot – (I lost my thread on reality for a minute…) – it’s far too late for that last hope, I guess – now that you sold our last piece of Swiss-land! What a waste!

I need a Kirsch!

chef Raphael