Archive for the ‘Health’ Category
Gout is a complex form of arthritis characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints, often the joint at the base of the big toe. An acute attack of gout can wake you up in the middle of the night feeling like your big toe is on fire. The affected joint is hot, swollen and so tender that even the weight of the sheet on it seems intolerable.
However, gout may also present as tophi, kidney stones, or urate nephropathy. It is caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood, which crystallize and are deposited in joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues.
Gout is caused by having higher-than-normal levels of uric acid in your body. Your body may make too much uric acid, or have a hard time getting rid of uric acid. If too much uric acid builds up in the fluid around the joints (synovial fluid), uric acid crystals form. These crystals cause the joint to swell up and become inflamed.
Gout has increased in frequency in recent decades affecting approximately 1–2% of the Western population at some point in their lives. The increase is believed to be due to increasing risk factors in the population, such as metabolic syndrome, longer life expectancy and changes in diet. Gout was historically known as “the disease of kings” or “rich man’s disease”.
Fortunately, gout is treatable, and there are ways to reduce the risk that gout will recur.
Diagnosis is confirmed clinically by the visualization of the characteristic crystals in joint fluid. Treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroids, or colchicine improves symptoms. Once the acute attack has subsided, levels of uric acid are usually lowered via lifestyle changes, and in those with frequent attacks allopurinol or probenicid provide long-term prevention.
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Morphine is a potent opiate analgesic medication and is considered to be the prototypical opioid. Named from the Greek God of dreams Morpheus It was discovered in 1804 by Friedrich Sertürner, first distributed by him in 1817, and first commercially sold by Merck in 1827, which at the time was a single small chemists’ shop. It became widely used after the invention of the hypodermic needle in 1857.
Despite its impressive pain-killing properties, morphine can cause psychological dependence and physical dependence as well as tolerance, with an addiction potential identical to that of heroin. When used illicitly, a very serious narcotic habit can develop in a matter of weeks, whereas iatrogenic morphine addiction rates have, according to a number of studies, remained nearly constant at one case in 150 to 200 for at least two centuries. In the presence of pain and the other disorders for which morphine is indicated, a combination of psychological and physiological factors tend to prevent true addiction from developing, although physical dependence and tolerance will develop with protracted opioid therapy.
However, a new study has found that a little-known morphine-like drug is potentially more potent, longer lasting and less likely to cause constipation than standard morphine. The drug, morphine-6-0-sulfate, has a similar chemical structure to standard morphine, but has far fewer side effects.
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Hormonal contraception refers to birth control methods that act on the endocrine system to prevent pregnancy. They are made up of female sex hormones: estrogen and progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone). Birth control pills—combined and progestogen-only—are the most common form of hormonal contraception in the world, especially in developed countries, where they account for 25% of contraceptive use. In fact, 4 out of 5 adult American women will take the birth control pill at some point in their lifetime.
The first birth control pill, Enovid, was launched in the United States in 1960. Many joyful women rushed to their doctors to get a prescription for this new “miracle pill,”, which offered them the unprecedented opportunity to exert real control over their reproductive lives. However, the first birth control pills contained high hormone levels, and came with a host of side effects, including significant weight gain, mood swings and even strokes. As a result, birth control pills have been tweaked and refined over the past half-century, and can now boast that they have far fewer negative side effects than the first oral contraceptives. However, fewer side effects do not mean there aren’t any side effects, as a recent German study appears to indicate.
According to a study of female German medical students published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, women taking non-oral and oral hormonal contraceptives were at highest risk of Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD). Researchers are not sure exactly why, but they believe that the hormones used to inhibit ovulation may also interfere with the production and release of the hormone testosterone, which regulates libido.
“This is a very important research investigation,” stated Dr. Irwin Goldstein, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Sexual Medicine. “There are hundreds of millions of women, in particular young women at the beginning of their sexual lives, who regularly use hormonal contraception for many years. The irony is that these women are provided a medication that enables freedom from reproductive worries but these same women are not provided information that there are significant adverse sexual effects that may ensue. Agents that interfere with the hormonal milieu of women may adversely affect their sexual lives.”
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At last count, there were 530 distinct phobias cited on the master “Phobia Index” list, including such gems as “Arachibutyrophobia” (the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth) and “Allodoxaphobia” (the fear of opinions). A phobia is generally defined as an irrational, intense and persistent fear of certain situations, activities, things, animals, or people. The main symptom of this disorder is the excessive and unreasonable desire to avoid the feared stimulus. However, what if what you are terrified of is objectively terrifying?
Take “Coulrophobia,” or the abnormal and exaggerated fear of clowns. How can anyone be any less than completely terrified of clowns? I believe I speak for many when I say that this so called “Coulrophobia” is actually just a completely sane reaction to the insanity that is clowns.
In fact, recent highly scientific social science research supports this assertion. The holy sh*% findings of a recent study of suggest that a majority of small children are, yes, terrified of clowns. This should come as no surprise to anybody who has ever been a child at a clown infested birthday party, which pretty much includes everybody.
The study, conducted by bored psychiatrists at the University of Sheffield, interviewed 250 kids for a report on hospital design for a children’s hospital ward. The responses to the survey indicated that children overwhelmingly found the clown motifs “frightening and unknowable” (not a direct quote from the children, I think).
These researchers hypothesized that the children’s fear may have less to do with clowns per se and more to do with being unsettled by something as unusual-seeming (and looking) as a clown. However, this theory doesn’t explain why children continue to be afraid of clowns despite their consistent exposure to them—after all, clowns are still a mainstay at birthday parties. One might suspect that popular culture is to blame, thanks largely to the undisputed master of terror, Stephen King.
“It”, King’s 1986 bestselling horror novel classic, features an “eponymous inter-dimensional predatory life-form that exploits the fears and phobias of its victims in order to disguise itself whilst hunting its prey.” (I just couldn’t top Wikipedia on that description). This amorphous beast, aptly dubbed “It” by the terrified children “It” tormented, primarily appears in the form of “Bob Gray” a.k.a. “Pennywise the Dancing Clown.” Unsurprisingly, Pennywise is even more terrifying looking than your average clown, and is variously described by characters as an goosebump inducing combination of Bozo, Clarabell and Ronald McDonald.
And it seems like it’s not just the little ones who admit to being terrified of clowns. In July 2006, the Bestival, a three-day music festival held in England, was forced to withdraw it’s request to festival goers to wear clown costumes to the concert, due to the unexpectedly high prevalence of coulrophobia among the potential audience.
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Red Clover is a species of clover, native to Europe, Western Asia and northwest Africa, but planted and naturalized in many other regions. It is a wild plant that is used for grazing cattle and other animals. It has also been used medicinally to treat a number of conditions. Traditionally, these have included cancer, whooping cough, respiratory problems, and skin inflammations, such as psoriasis and eczema. Red clover was thought to “purify” the blood by acting as a diuretic (helping the body get rid of excess fluid) and expectorant (helping clear lungs of mucous), improving circulation, and helping cleanse the liver.
Red clover is considered to be one of the richest sources of isoflavones (water-soluble chemicals that act like estrogens and are found in many plants). It is used for hot flashes/flushes, PMS, lowering cholesterol, breast enhancement and breast health, improving urine production and improving circulation of the blood. It is also used to help prevent osteoporosis, reduce the possibility of blood clots and arterial plaques and limiting the development of benign prostate hyperplasia.
Modern scientific tests have shown that red clover contains isoflavones, plant-based chemicals that produce estrogen-like effects in the body. Isoflavones have shown potential in the treatment of a number of conditions associated with menopause, such as hot flashes, cardiovascular health, and osteoporosis.
However, as researchers have become aware of the side effects of taking estrogen, there is also some concern about the safety of isoflavones. And the evidence that red clover helps reduce any menopausal symptoms — like hot flashes — is mixed. However, for women with normal estrogen levels, red clover isoflavones may displace some natural estrogens, possibly preventing or relieving estrogen-related symptoms, such as breast pain, that are associated with PMS.
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St John’s Wort, also known as Tipton’s Weed, Chase-devil, or Klamath weed, refers (with a few exceptions) to any species of the genus Hypericum. A popular herbal treatment for depression, it also commonly used to relieve anxiety, tiredness, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping. Unlike many herbal supplements on the market, St. John’s Wort might actually make good on its claims: scientific evidence indicates that it can be effective in alleviating symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
The exact mechanism by which St John’s wort functions in the body is unclear and subject to conjecture. The St John’s wort mechanism is believed to involve inhibition of serotonin (5-HT) reuptake, much like the conventional selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants. However, unlike widely prescribed antidepressants such a Prozac and Zoloft, St. John’s wort is inexpensive, available over the counter and has fewer unpleasant side effects, with one major qualifier…..
Women with a lingering case of the blues shouldn’t run to their local GNC just yet. St. John’s wort has attracted the attention of the medical community in the past few years, following several case reports regarding potential interactions with prescription medications, notably birth control containing estrogen.
A 2002 report described eight women who experienced abnormal menstrual bleeding while taking St. John’s wort and oral contraceptive pills. However, only three of these women returned to a normal menstrual cycle after discontinuing the herb, indicating that other unidentified factors may have contributed to the abnormal menstrual changes. Even worse, taking St. John’s wort along with oral contraception can actually lessen its ability to prevent pregnancy.
It is unknown in both the previous and current reports whether St. John’s wort lowers blood levels of the hormones in birth control pills, or whether it interferes in some other way with the action of these hormones. Researchers think that it may activate enzymes in the liver responsible for breaking down certain drugs, thereby causing a decrease of the concentration of these drugs in the blood. If blood levels fall too low, the drug may fail to have the intended action.
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Peyote, or Lophophora williamsii, is a small mescaline-containing cactus that grows naturally in the Southeastern regions of the United States and in Mexico. It is found primarily in the Chihuahuan desert and in the states of Tamaulipas and San Luis Potosi among scrub, especially where there is limestone.
The psychoactive substance in peyote, mescaline, typically has a duration of between ten to twelve hours and produces vivid hallucinations as well as increased wakefulness. The cactus has been considered a sacred sacrament by numerous Native American tribes for well over a thousand years and is still used in religious ceremonies. Well known for its psychoactive alkaloids, particularly mescaline, it is used world wide as an entheogen and supplement to various transcendence practices including meditation, psychonautics, and psychedelic psychotherapy. It flowers from March through May, and sometimes as late as September.
Unfortunately, in one case, the increased wakefulness caused by mescaline did not just last between ten to twelve hours; it lasted for two weeks.
According to a case report published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, in 2003 a 54-year-old Native American man experienced two weeks of psychosis after a traditional Native American ceremony involving peyote. Not long after ingesting peyote, “he became convinced that he was hunted by animal spirits, which prevented him from getting any sleep for the next 2 weeks,” as the authors of the case report explain.
The man had previously suffered from alcoholism and combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but had not experienced any symptoms for twenty years. Eventually, he was persuaded to seek medical care from a hospital. After being given the tranquilizer trazodone by the hospital staff, he slept uninterrupted for 15 hours, which completely resolved all of his psychotic symptoms.
Interestingly, it appears that this two week episode of psychosis was induced by the sleep disruption caused by mescaline, not because of its hallucinatory effects.
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