Bolivia campaigns to legalize coca

Four Loko, meet Coca Colla. CNN reports that Bolivia has launched a campaign to legalize coca, a native plant that has been used for medicinal purposes and as a mild stimulant by the indigenous peoples of the Andes for thousands of years. And yes, coca does contain trace amounts of cocaine. The leaves are used in purified forms of the narcotic, which is what led the United Nations to ban coca in the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs. The Bolivian government would like the ban amended to make coca a controlled, but not illegal, substance.

Coca leaf is considered saced amongst Andean peoples, and historically has been used to combat everything from altitude sickness to rheumatism (it has anaesthetic properties). The leaves are also used as a digestive aid, and to suppress hunger, thirst, and fatigue. Coca is traditionally chewed or used or as a tea, but now, coca-infused energy drinks are taking the market by storm. Las year, Coca Colla was introduced; it was such a hit that a new beverage, Coca Brynco, debuted this week.

Bolivian president Evo Morales–a former union leader for coca growers–is on a mission to convince the rest of the world of coca’s legitimate non-addictive uses. Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca has embarked this week on a tour of Europe, hoping to convince EU leaders to support the campaign. The U.S. is not onboard the coca train, and filed a formal objection to legalize it on Wednesday. January 31st is the deadline for all UN members to cast their votes.Bolivia is the third largest coca producer in the world, after Colombia and Peru. If legalized, it could provide a signficant economic, uh, stimulus to the country. In addition to energy drinks, Bolivia hopes to use coca in toothpaste, and even flour (I don’t understand that one, either).

I’ve chewed coca while trekking in the Peruvian Andes, and it definitely helps ease altitude-related symptoms. Quechua porters on the Inca Trail (who are employed to haul all of the gear) chew coca incessantly. I have no doubt that, in addition to genetic adaptability, coca aids their miraculous ability to carry loads nearly equal to their body weight, at high speed, even when barefoot. It’s said that coca is what enabled the Incas to build Macchu Picchu.

There are certainly pros and cons to lifting the coca ban, but hopefully world leaders can overlook the stigma long enough to evaluate the medicinal value of the plant.

Virgin Atlantic releases innovative mobile Jetlag Fighter app

Virgin Atlantic just released their newest mobile application – Jetlag Fighter. Last year, we took a look at the Virgin Atlantic “Fear of Flying” app, and the airline continues the trend of well designed applications with this newest application.

In Jetlag Fighter, you are offered an impressive array of tools to help battle jetlag, and anyone who has suffered through the symptoms knows that you need all the help you can get.

The first portion of the application is educational – and offers spoken articles on Jetlag and sleep in general. The information in this section comes from Professor Chris Idzikowski, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service – an expert in sleep and jetlag.

In the profile section, you provide some basic personal information about your sleep pattern, age, health and sex. This information is then used in the trip section to provide a personalized jetlag battle plan.

Once you enter your flight information, the app calculates the best way to get rid of your jetlag, including when to go to sleep, when to wake up and when to exercise.

The app takes some work to master – and you’ll need to go through the one-time step of creating an account, but if you already have an account created in the Virgin Atlantic Fear of Flying app, you’ll be able to use it in this app.

The Virgin Atlantic Jetlag Fighter costs $1.99 and is available in the App store through this link.


Create a snapshot of your sleep and fight off jet lag – Gadling reviews the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach

As part of the National Sleep Awareness Week, we’ve been taking a look at some gadgets and services that can help improve your sleep. Earlier this week, we introduced you to Sleeptracker, and today, we’ll show off a gadget that actually creates an exact snapshot of how well (or poorly) you slept.

The Zeo Sleep Monitor consists of three parts – the bedside clock, a headband sensor, and an SD memory card. The combination of these allows you to monitor your sleep down to the minute – the system knows when you are awake, in deep sleep, REM sleep or light sleep. At the end of the night, you can review your sleep on the display, and upload your sleep report to the Zeo web site.
The Zeo unit and headband

The Zeo unit looks really nice – it features a large display that shows the time, battery status of the headband and your sleep numbers. On top of the unit are buttons for changing settings and on the back is a small dock for the headband.

When wearing the headband, there is no denying that it’ll take a little getting used to – during my first night I was very well aware that it was on my head. But by the second and third nights I barely noticed it. The headband makes electrical contact with your forehead, and its sensors detect how well (or poorly) you sleep.

The alarm feature in the unit is fantastic – it can wake you exactly when you want it to, or it can wake you within a “window” when it feels you won’t be too groggy.

The online sleep log

When you wake up the next morning, you place the headband in the docking base of the Zeo unit, and it transfers your sleep data. Alternatively, you can enable wireless transfers – this constantly uploads your sleep data to the unit, allowing you to keep a close eye on it. This is handy if you regularly wake up in the middle of the night. Of course, you’ll still need to dock the headband to charge it.

Once the data has been loaded into the Zeo bedside unit, you can remove the SD memory card to upload your sleep data. The myZeo personal sleep coach is an extremely well built online sleep analyzer that keeps track of your sleep, and acts as your coaching hub.

The heart of your sleep report is your “ZQ” – this is a number between 0 and 120, calculated by Zeo to determine the quality of your sleep. The number is calculated based off how much sleep you got, your restorative sleep and whether your sleep was disrupted. In addition to your ZQ, your myZeo pages also report your “morning feel” – based on how well you slept, and when you woke up.

This is an hour-by-hour overview of how well I slept – you can see exactly when I fell asleep, how long it took me to fall asleep, and when I was in deep sleep, light sleep or REM sleep.

This information is great for two reasons – first of all, it is just plain fun to look back at your sleep, and get a very accurate overview of how you spent your night. Secondly, it gives you a great way to start work on getting a better night sleep. Combined with the coaching tools provided by Zeo, you really can take a close look at why your sleep

Zeo for travel?

Zeo is not necessarily designed to be travel friendly, but the alarm clock is not too bulky to carry on the road. Its included power supply works on 100V-240V, so it’ll be happy on any outlet you can find, no matter where in the world.

Sleep and travel normally don’t go to well together, but with the tools inside Zeo, you may be able to pinpoint why sleep is an issue when you travel, and adjust your routine. In addition to this, Zeo may be able to help snap you out of nasty jet lag symptoms.

Final thoughts

The Zeo system is an amazing piece of technology – being able to wake up in the morning, and see exactly how you slept is just plain cool. The system retails for $249, which includes the Zeo unit, headband, SD memory card and reader, as well as access to the myZeo site. For $349, you get the same package, along with lifetime sleep coaching, an extended warranty and replacement sensors for the headband. The unit comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.

If you have problems with your sleep, or if you’d just like to keep a closer eye on your sleep performance, I can highly recommend Zeo. Taking Zeo on the road can help you pick the best time to fall asleep, or when to wake up – this can greatly speed up getting used to a new time zone, or to fight off jet lag.

Product page: Zeo Personal Sleep Coach

Before you go, be sure to check out Gadling’s Travel Talk TV, in which the guys visit the Monterey Aquarium, interview the pilot who filmed his entire flight from the nose of his 747, and offer up international dating tips!