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Classrooms Without Walls

No, there is no longer any need to be physically present at any place for things to actually happen – thanks to the advances in technology. Now check how this, too, is what’s happening in the educational system.

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Alvin C., a micro-entrepreneur based in Davao City, wanted to “get the qualifications afforded by prestigious (universities in Metro Manila) – even though I have a degree from (a similarly renowned) university in Davao City, the way people look at (those qualifications from Metro Manila) is still very high (even if many are without merit), so that getting one is a god way to make it,” he says.

The immediate problem for Alvin C. is access. “I have a business in Davao City, which, aside from keeping my family alive, will finance my getting (further) education.” Not to worry, though, as this was easily remedied by eLearning, that “opportunity to pursue (further) studies despite the absence of classroom/residential learning.”

And indeed, as more weight is given to additional industry recognized skills and certification in the corporate world, bachelor’s degrees earned fail, on their own, to sufficiently guarantee climbing the corporate ladder. Thus, more people are considering getting an edge by obtaining further education.

eLearning provides an alternative way of doing this by eliminating the actual physical contact between students and teachers in the delivery of education. The approach allows for students to pursue higher education without having to give up their work.

CHANGING THE FACE OF EDUCATION

“eLearning has really changed drastically how we ought to conceptualize the design and use of learning materials and the learning environment. (It) has revolutionized the delivery of educational services, whether in terms of formal, non-formal, or informal education. eLearning has strengthened quite substantially the notion that the learner must take responsibility for his/her own learning,” Dr. Felix Librero, chancellor of the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU), earlier said to Enterprise Magazine.

Traditionally, eLearning involved all learning using various electronic means, including the use of radio and television. But recent developments have highlighted the use of computers and the Internet (officially referred to as digital learning), so much so that eLearning has come to be synonymous to learning using computers and the Internet.

With eLearning, people can get education or formal training without having to be in a classroom, with most, if not all, lessons and interactions between students and their teachers done online.

In the case of the UPOU, the Integrated Virtual Learning Environment (IVLE), the same information technology used by the National University of Singapore, is used. To empower students in their own learning process, the system has numerous tools and resources, including lesson plan and calendaring systems so students can schedule their activities ahead of time, discussion forum and chatrooms to encourage participation, FAQ and quiz systems for gauging the level of understanding of students, and work bins for electronic submission of assignments. Operating via the widely used Microsoft Windows system, IVLE simplifies students’ access to education irrespective of where they may be at any given time.

With the removal of the need for actual physical encounters between the students and the teachers, thus limiting disruptions in students’ professional lives, saving finances has been cited as the most obvious benefit of eLearning. But Librero says that the advantages go beyond the obvious, also including the easier access via the Internet to learning materials stored in various databases worldwide. Better yet, accessing knowledge from various sources can be done by the learner him/herself, which “strengthens quite substantially the notion that the learner must take responsibility for his/her own learning.”

QUALITY MONITORING

As a new development in the educational system, however, eLearning has also been questioned for, among others, its impersonal approach that destroys the relationship between teachers and students, and the students among themselves, as well as the inappropriate use of computers and the Internet.

Supporting the concept that the key to promoting improved Web-based learning lies more on how effectively the medium is used, Librero is more concerned with the need for more sophisticated instructional design of computerization and the Internet. “Most of those claiming to have adopted eLearning as a tool in Philippine educational institutions today has no training in instructional design. They do things in a trial and error approach,” he says. “It is extremely ridiculous for educational institutions (that) cannot even offer conventional programs to think that they can offer quality degree programs in the distance mode.”

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED), through the Technical Committee of Reviewers for Open Learning and Distance Education (TCROLDE), formulates the policies governing all forms of distance education programs in the country.

Issued in 2000, CHED Memorandum Order No. 35, or the Updated Policies and Guidelines on Open Learning and Distance Education, identified the standards for the offering of distance education programs. More specifically, the memorandum requires institutions offering open learning and distance education (OLDE) to prepare developmental and appropriate instructional materials for every course, identify qualified subject matter specialists, course writers and production designers, and provide course content and mode/s of instruction.

The TCROLDE evaluates the qualifications of institutions based on a quality assurance framework anchored on the principles of learning centeredness, rigor and sound instructional design, public responsibility and accountability, and quality and continuous improvement.

CHED’s power, however, is limited only to monitoring and evaluating higher education institutions offering OLDE, and encouraging voluntary accreditation.

“What worries me in this aspect is that if CHED is unable to impose discipline in the design, preparation, delivery, and evaluation of quality formal courses and academic programs through electronic means, then we shall have chaos in the educational system,” Librero says.

GROWING TREND

For UPOU’s around 1,500 online students, “hands down, courses on management and business administration are the most popular and common,” Librero said. This popularity is because of the availability of software and content coming from known universities in more advanced countries in degrees in management and business administration.

For online education, “one could easily spend as much as US$30,000 (about P825,000) for a master’s degree,” Librero said. UPOU charges around P65,000 for a similar degree.

“Overall, I’d like to believe that eLearning has introduced a phenomenon in Philippine education that encourages teachers to be more creative in their design of learning experiences, and students in their desire to learn more meaningfully,” Librero says. “Digital learning, which makes extensive use of computerization and the Internet, will continue to become popular to both students and teachers. More and more teachers in various schools will gravitate towards more use of computers and the Internet in the delivery of specific course content even under the conventional mode of instructional delivery. Because of this trend, more courses and academic degree programs shall become available and accessible through the Internet, which shall make mix mode of instructional delivery much more popular and common to various educational institutions.”

Alvin C. is expecting to finish the degree he is taking by eLearning in less than “a year and a half,” he says, “depending on how well I can balance my business with my schooling.” But even with this, “I am glad for eLearning. It allows for me to continue learning while running my business. Success times two, truly.”

Select Philippine HEIs offering eLearning:

University of the Philippines – Open University
Dr. Felix Librero, Chancellor
UPOU, Los Baños, Laguna
Tel: (049) 5366016 and 16
E-mail: UPOUC@laguna.net
The CHED Center of Excellence for OLDE pursues distance education through print-based, learning center enhanced courses, and courses offered online via a customized Integrated Virtual Learning Environment, adopted from the National University of Singapore.

De La Salle University
Bro. Rolando Dizon, President
Taft Ave., Manila City
Tel: 5214611-26
One of the private institutions in the Philippines exploring alternative and innovative modes in offering courses. DLSU implemented the Internet-Enhanced Master of Arts in Teaching Literature Program, funded by the CHED.

Ateneo de Manila University
Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, SJ, President
Loyola Heights, 1108 Q.C.
Tel: 4266001 local 4002
Having implemented the International eLearning for Professional Journalists, AdMU is one of the pioneers of online education in the country.

Polytechnic University of the Philippines
Dr. Ofelia A. Carague, President
Anonas St., Sta. Mesa, Manila
Tel: 7162644, 7161143

"If someone asked you about me, about what I do for a living, it's to 'weave words'," says Kiki Tan, who has been a writer "for as long as I care to remember." With this, this one writes about... anything and everything.

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Health & Wellness

No NELL2, no sperm motility; novel protein is essential for male fertility

Male infertility may arise from lack of communication between the testis and the epididymis and new research has uncovered a mechanism of this communication.

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Photo by Dainis Graveris from Unsplash.com

Newly produced spermatozoa within the testis are not fully functional until they mature in the epididymis, a duct that helps to transport and store sperm. Male infertility may arise from lack of communication between the testis and the epididymis and new research has uncovered a mechanism of this communication.

In a study published in Science, Dr. Martin Matzuk at Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Masahito Ikawa with Osaka University and their colleagues have discovered a novel testicular luminal protein, NELL2, that triggers in the epididymis a chain of events that matures the sperm and enables each one to be motile in females.

Sperm production

Sperm are produced in the seminiferous tubules of the testis and move through the epididymis, a long, convoluted tube linked to the vas deferens, the duct that moves sperm from the testicle to the urethra. When the sperm enter the epididymis, they are not motile and are incapable of fertilization. However, in their passage through the epididymis, the sperm are provided an appropriate environment for maturation and storage pending ejaculation.

It has been hypothesized that proteins released by the testis earlier in this process could act on the epididymis to mature the sperm as they arrive in the epididymis.

“Until now the proteins working through the lumicrine system of signaling have remained elusive. While it was known that the orphan receptor tyrosine kinase ROS1 expressed in the initial segment of the epididymis is necessary for its differentiation, neither the testicular factors that regulate initial segment differentiation nor the process of sperm maturation had been fully understood,” said Matzuk, professor and director of the Center for Drug Discovery at Baylor.

Photo by Dainis Graveris from Unsplash.com

Identifying NELL2

The researchers zeroed in on NELL2, a protein factor secreted by testicular germ cells, as a possible lumicrine regulator of fertility. “Using innovative genome editing technology, we generated knockout mice lacking the NELL2 gene and showed that these knockout males are sterile due to a defect in sperm motility,” explains lead author Dr. Daiji Kiyozum. “Moreover, their infertility could be rescued with a germ-cell-specific transgene, thus excluding other sites of expression. We also illustrated lumicrine signaling by demonstrating tagged NELL2 in the epididymal lumen.”

The research team observed that spermatogenesis proceeds normally in NELL2 knockout mouse testes but their epididymis was poorly differentiated, similar to Ros1 knockout mice. Following mating, neither NELL2 knockout nor Ros1 knockout spermatozoa can enter the uterine tubes or fertilize an egg. Further investigation showed that the Nell2 knockout epididymis is incapable of processing a specific sperm surface protein essential for male fertility.

Implications for male fertility?

Elaborating on their study, Ikawa and Matzuk, both senior authors, said: “We discovered a complicated cascade of events in which disruption of any point in this lumicrine pathway causes a male to be infertile. Our findings have important translational implications for diagnostic and therapeutic research in male infertility and male contraceptive development. This unique transluminal communication pathway between tissues and organs likely functions elsewhere in our bodies.”

Others who contributed to the work include Taichi Noda, Ryo Yamaguchi, Tomohiro Tobita, Takafumi Matsumura, Kentaro Shimada, Mayo Kodani, Takashi Kohda, Yoshitaka Fujihara, Manabu Ozawa, Zhifeng Yu, Gabriella Miklossy, Kurt M. Bohren, Masato Horie and Masaru Okabe.

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Travel

Netherlands to remove gender from identity cards

By 2024 or 2025, gender identity will no longer be contained in Dutch national identity cards. This move is expected to counter-check the potential harms caused by gender declaration – e.g. harassment, discrimination and violence – particularly when there is no justification to publish a person’s legal gender at all.

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By 2024 or 2025, gender identity will no longer be contained in Dutch national identity cards.

This after the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven, announced the decision in a letter to the House of Representatives. This move is actually part of a broader plan from the Ministry, which also includes limiting “unnecessary gender registration”.

This move is expected to counter-check the potential harms caused by gender declaration – e.g. harassment, discrimination and violence – particularly when there is no justification to publish a person’s legal gender at all.

Gender identity will, however, remain on Dutch passports due to European Union regulation.

The removal of information that used to be deemed “important” from IDs is not actually new.

Various countries, for instance, already exclude personal characteristics, such as race, religion or marital status, which could cause more harm than good.

The Netherlands is not the first EU country to do this. In 2013, Germany recognized indeterminate sex by permitting babies born with no clear gender-determining anatomy to be put on the birth register without a male or female classification.

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Travel

Thailand could become first Southeast Asian country to legalize same-sex civil partnerships

Thailand’s Cabinet approved a draft bill that will legally recognize same-sex civil partnerships while giving greater rights to same-sex couples. If/when passed into law, this could be the first for any nation in Southeast Asia; and the second in Asia to allow for the registration of same-sex unions after Taiwan legalized marriage equality in 2019.

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The rainbow rises in Thailand.

Thailand’s Cabinet approved a draft bill that will legally recognize same-sex civil partnerships while giving greater rights to same-sex couples. If/when passed into law, this could be the first for any nation in Southeast Asia; and the second in Asia to allow for the registration of same-sex unions after Taiwan legalized marriage equality in 2019.

This is a major step, but to clarify, it doesn’t endorse same-sex “marriage(EMPHASIS OURS). Instead, the Civil Partnership Bill allows same-sex couples to legally register their union.

The draft bill defines “civil partners” as “couples born with the same sex”. To register, couples must be at least 17 years old and at least one of the pair must be a Thai citizen; meaning that – similar to Taiwan’s law on this – foreign same-sex couples will not be able register their partnership in Thailand.

Those under the age of 17 must get permission from their parents/legal guardian.

Under the draft bill, same-sex couples will be allowed to adopt children, claim inheritance rights, and jointly manage assets such as property for the first time. However, partners would not be entitled to the same financial benefits that heterosexual couples get from the state.

The bill also covers rules for separations – e.g. unions could be ended by death, voluntary separation or court order.

While the Cabinet’s approval is a major development, process-wise, this is far from over as the draft bill still needs to go through a public hearing and then the House of Representatives (HOR) will debate and vote on it. If HOR passes the bill, it will then will go to the Senate for another vote.

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Lifestyle & Culture

Sticky wilds in slots explained

You may not think it at first, but studying gambling history is actually incredibly interesting, especially in the field of slot machines where there has been a pretty crazy amount of developments in a relatively short space of time.

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You may not think it at first, but studying gambling history is actually incredibly interesting, especially in the field of slot machines where there has been a pretty crazy amount of developments in a relatively short space of time. Seriously, it wasn’t much more than 100 years ago that Charles D. Fey was applying the finishing touches to the first commercially viable slot machine, and now they are everywhere.

One of the main developments in the field of slot gambling has got to be the discovery of the RNG – Random Number Generator. It was this that first enabled slot creators to make video slots, a version of the popular game at top10slotgames.com that didn’t have to rely on mechanical reels, and could therefore be pumped full of tantalizing bonus symbols and features. Read ahead for a lowdown on one of these – sticky wilds! 

What is a wild symbol? 

First things first: let’s do a little recap for those of us who are just starting their online slots journey and may not know what a wild symbol is, let alone a sticky wild symbol. In the vast majority of cases wild symbols end up being slot gamblers’ best friends, as these special bonus symbols can frequently swap with other icons on the reels in order to make winning combinations. 

As you might imagine, this means wild symbols can be a bit of a god send when you are spinning those reels, especially if you happen to be on a particularly drawn out losing streak. For this reason it is always worth checking what the wild symbol is before you start playing an online slot, they are often embroidered with some kind of “Wild” slogan, although a lot of the time you would not know until you checked. 

What is a sticky wild symbol? 

So then, what on Earth is a sticky wild symbol? Well, a sticky wild symbol isn’t actually that much different to a normal wild symbol, its function and affect on the reels is pretty much exactly the same, however the difference here is that sticky wild symbol can end up staying in the same place for several spins. 

This is why it is called a “sticky” wild symbol, as it has the ability to stick in place! This is incredibly useful because it means that there are way more possibilities to win money with a wild symbol when it appears on the reels. 

A history of sticky wild symbols 

As experienced slot gamblers will tell you, sticky wild icons have not been around for that long, and that is mainly because it is impossible to emulate a sticky wild symbol on a purely mechanical slot machine. It was only with the advent of video slots that developers could start playing around with sticky wild symbols, as the digital screen was so much more flexible than a mechanical set of physical reels. 

As you might imagine, sticky wild symbols can now be found everywhere too, testimony to how good they are.

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Lifestyle & Culture

Necessary to avoid e-gambling in Canada? All truth revealed!

Ferret out the possible ways how to choose the reliable and reputable casino to gamble at with no negative side effects ever.

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Should you avoid the online casinos in Canada?

The e-gambling universe is known to be one of the rapidly-developing branches of human expertise, and that’s why one should be always aware of the possible hidden threats standing behind the appealing bonus offers and steeping layout! Anyway, what can be a real obstacle on your gambling success path? 

Before we inform you about everything, just know that the best casinos are always possible to be at your disposal when in Canada (or—for French-speaking Canadians, les meilleurs casinos en ligne par NativeCasino sont ici). As a result, you’ll have no problems to read the most reliable and detailed information either in English or in French.

E-Gambling: Main Pros

When it comes to the benefits of playing casino games, no one would argue that along with the fabulous opportunities to win, it gets possible to evolve some strategy-building techniques and intuition. 

Are these pros truly effective if the casino online being chosen by a gambler is not meant to provide any payouts at all and all of RTP rates are nothing else but another fake? So, each time every gambler should be aware of the possible disadvantages. Also, they have to know the ways to fix the cons up!

We’re sure you’re interested in this point, and, so, we would like to ensure you know how to omit the irresponsible e-gambling platforms to get the biggest wins ever!

E-Gambling: Essential Threats

In compliance with RGC’s Standards & Criteria for iGaming, the main threat is of course, related to the matters of addictive behavior. Along with this, it is also possible single out some more side effects, like, for instance, psychological necessity to gamble or exposure to psychological side effects of losing. What’s more, the development of possible psychological/deviant syndromes can be enumerated, as well.

However, there is another point to be touched upon, which is even more significant than just that irresponsible gambling. That’s the unreliable gambling platforms. Of course, if a virtual casino website states they have a licence by the Curaçao Gaming Control Board or any other reputable authority, it’s a good sign. In many cases, the casinos do fool up the gamblers by claiming they have a licence.

So, no one can know for sure if the reliable casino is chosen, and if it’d be possible to win at least anything. That’s why one should always pay attention to the fact there are great ways to omit the issue by reading the casino reviews.

As a result, by choosing a fair casino that would ensure the honest gambling process, one would prevent oneself from the unnecessary psychologically negative effects. Besides, there’ll be a chance to take one’s gambling endeavors over to have clear vision of the winnings and loses’ balance.

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Lifestyle & Culture

Top 7 reasons why people use stones and crystals for health healing

Have you ever wondered about the health benefits of these stones and crystals and why are people interested in it in the first place?

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Traditionally, stones and crystals have been incorporated in the spiritual and emotional healing of the wounded soul, since times unknown.  Healing stones and crystals have been widely found its usage in the alternate healing method, dating back to the ancient Chinese and Indian cultures. The Egyptians were among the first people to wear stones like Lapis Lazuli to ward off the evil and negative energies. 

In the modern days, where some people are uncertain and unsure of pretty much everything in their lives, there are also some serious believers of spiritual healing processes. Hence, today crystals are not only used by the Zen masters, but are also incorporated by common people who believe in the physical and emotional healing powers of these precious gems.

While some spiritual enthusiasts wear the crystals and stones for their healing and calming properties, others wear them for ornamental purposes, making it their style statements. Therefore, we even see top notch celebrities sporting some breathtaking crystals and stone jewelry. From Victoria Beckham to Bella Hadid, everyone seems to be harnessing the healing benefits of crystals and stones. Katy Perry even sleeps with one in her hand during the night.

Have you ever wondered about the health benefits of these stones and crystals and why are people interested in it in the first place? 

In this article, we’ve articulated the numerous benefits of using healing stones and crystals for overall well-being of a person. 

Reasons for Using Stones and Crystals for Healing

Crystals and stones are not only used for the beautification purpose, but they also have healing properties and are known to cure some ailments. For example, Topaz can help bring clarity while Amethyst is good for improving intuition. Moreover, various colorful stones and crystals are associated with the chakras in the body. Thus, crystals and stones can be used in various ways for getting optimal benefits. 

Listed below are some of the most common health benefits of using stones and crystals for healing:

1. Stones and Crystals Help in the Emotional Healing

Emotions can create invisible wounds which apparently doesn’t immediately impact your physical well-being.  However, if left unresolved, they can manifest themselves in form of physical ailments. Nevertheless, you can still see the immediate impact of unpleasant emotions on your mental well-being. Hence, the healing crystals and stones can help in soothing and calming those emotional wounds. 

  • Aquamarine or Gold Topaz: For those, who feel a sense of abandonment, these stones are believed to help you connect to the universal feeling of motherhood. Thereby, it releases your sense of abandonment by connecting you to the higher being and the nature itself.
  • Sapphire: It may help in healing anxiety, depression and insomnia, 
  • Tiger’s eye:  It’s said to remove fear and self-doubt. 
  • Apache tears:  It’s a popular stone for emotional healing.

2. It Induces a Calming Effect

Most stones and crystals are said to create a calming effect on your soul and mind. Since crystals contain the healing energy of the earth, they have an energizing, stabilizing and calming impact on the wounded soul. When crystals or stones interact with the person, they allow positive energy to flow in the body while removing the negative energy. Hence, this creates a relaxing and calming effect. 

3. It Helps in Aligning Vibrations for Mental Clarity

 Each stone or crystal has a unique molecular composition, that projects in form of different vibrations. The stones’ vibrations are used to align your vibrations that further uplift one’s mood, impart mental clarity or simply help someone sleep better. Since crystals vibrate at the same pitch as humans, they can optimize the body’s own healing mechanism by clearing and energizing the energies. For instance, you can use Fluorite to improve mental clarity and focus. 

4. They’re Known to Improve Women’s Health

Crystals today are also being used to help women deal with issues like PMS, childbirth or infertility. 

  • Rose quartz is said to be the stone for love and heals the second chakra connected to the reproductive organs and menstrual cycles. 
  • Moon Stone is also used for regulating the menstrual cycle and balance hormones. In Chinese medicine, this stone is connected to the ren channel which is responsible for fertility. 

5. Crystals Harness the Healing Properties of Nature

All-natural stones and crystals carry within them the healing properties of earth, sun, moon and sometimes other planets, too. When you use a natural crystal, it can help you connect to the various energies of nature which benefits your physical, mental and emotional well-being. For example, 

  • Moonstone helps you harness the energies of the moon and helps stabilize emotions, reduce stress and promote calmness.  
  • Garnet can help you harness the energies of the sun and is said to detoxify the blood and keep the heart healthy. 

6. Crystals Help in Reducing Insomnia 

Lack of proper sleep can have an adverse effect on your physical and emotional well-being. Stones like Amethyst and Jasper can help you sleep better. Amethyst is said to remove the mind’s endless monologue that keeps you awake all night. It’s also effective for reducing nightmares. Place a piece of amethyst under your pillow to reduce restlessness and promote restful sleep. 

7. They are Known to Improve Digestive Health

Some crystals and stones have detoxing properties and can be used as preventive measures for digestive health. Carnelian helps with tissue regeneration and digestion. Carnelian is also used to improve liver, gall bladder, lungs, kidney, spleen, thyroid and pancreas. It can also help with certain eating disorders. 

Ways to Use Healing Stones and Crystals:

  • Set an Intention: You need to have an internal goal or intention to achieve through these crystals. This implies you must program your crystal. To program the crystals, hold the crystal in your hands, think about your intention. The intentions should be precise for the crystal to work and mentally convey the message to the crystal to perform as intended. 
  • Carry your Stones: For your stones to work optimally, they should be in direct contact with you. This way, you can tap into that tremendous natural energy for healing optimally. You can either wear the stone as a pendant or keep it in your pocket or bag. 
  • Meditate with Them: You can use your crystals to connect to your spiritual energy by holding them while you meditate. 
  • Create A Bath Ritual: You can put some healing and detoxing stones in your bath once a week for relaxation and rejuvenation. However, make sure to use appropriate stones as not all stones can be kept in water. To enjoy some self-love and healing, throw in a rose quartz the next time you plan a bath ritual.

Conclusion

Though there may not be any scientific evidence on the healing properties of stone and crystals, but they’ve been used since ages, for physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. While some stones have an energizing effect and others may be used to calm the nerves. Mostly all of them help remove negative energies and blockages, allowing the free flow of energy essential for one’s physical and emotional health. 

When buying crystals, remember to look for crystals that can be used to solve your specific problem. This way, you can get the maximum benefit from it. Ideally, you need to consult a spiritual master to guide you about the specific crystals and stones to help in your healing process.

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