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Health Items from 2011:
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Blood pressure and drinking water Olive oil cough Alone but
not lonely Breakfast Undiagnosed celiac EHEC Grief myths
The anti-fat lobby Goat cheese
Epilspsy First Aid
High Blood Pressure non-drug treatments Nano dangers Even the rich Are we in danger from the internet?
It has been a long time since I wrote
anything about dyslexia and there have been some recent developments:
- An area that processes words as whole units has been found
in the left visual cortex (the orthographic lexicon or the visual word
form area). "Previous studies have shown that this brain area is
affected in reading disorders such as dyslexia, but it is unclear what
the mechanisms involved are. Our data suggest that looking at the
neuronal selectivity in this area might provide new insight. For
instance, we would expect reading difficulties if neurons never become
well tuned to words, making reading a slow, arduous process, just like
it would be if reading all nonwords."
- Developmental reading disabilities including Dyslexia and
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder appear to share some genetic
correlations. The main result of the common genetic influences is
slower mental processing speeds.
- It may be possible to predict how much dyslexics will
improve from brain scans. “But children with dyslexia who at baseline
showed greater activation in the right inferior frontal gyrus during a
specific task and whose white matter connected to this right frontal
region was better organized showed greater reading improvement over the
next two-and-a-half years.” There were indications that gains in
reading for dyslexic children involved different neural pathways than
gains for typical children.
- There are dyslexic children in Italian which is
straightforward in the converting of sounds to letters. In this
situation improvement is selective and based on knowledge of vocabulary
– not that noticeable in English.
- There is a type of dyslexia where the letters are
identified correctly but appear to jump between words. It is called
attentional dyslexia. Here reading is improved when only one word at a
time is visible.
have been found in connectivity in dyslexic compared to typical brains.
“Evidence links dyslexia to structural
differences in an important bundle of white matter in the
left-hemisphere language network. White matter is made up of fibers
that can be thought of as the wiring that allows communication between
brain cells; the left-hemisphere language network is made up of bundles
of these fibres and contains branches that extend from the back of the
brain (including vision cells) to the front parts that are responsible
for articulation and speech. When you are reading, you are essentially
saying things out loud in your head. If you have decreased integrity of
white matter in this area, the front and back part of your brain are
not talking to one another. This would affect reading, because you need
both to act as a cohesive unit. The course of an important white matter
bundle in this network and discovered that it ran through a frontal
brain region known to be less well organised in the dyslexic brain.
They also found that fibers in that frontal part of the tract were
oriented differently in dyslexia.”
- Music therapy does not work for dyslexia. It was tried
because music training help with sound identification, including
is a genetic variant which influences whether a person with dyslexia is
more skilled with either the left or right hand. The finding identifies
a novel gene for handedness and provides the first genetic evidence to
support a much speculated link between handedness and a
language-related disorder. “The
scientists found a strong link between a variant of a gene called PCSK6
and relative hand skill in these children with reading difficulties.
Specifically, while most people are better at using their right hand,
those who carried the variant in PCSK6 were, on average, more skilled
with their right hand compared to the left than those not carrying the
variant. This result was also seen in two independent groups of
children with reading difficulties. The protein product
of the gene PCSK6 is known to interact with another protein called
NODAL. Previous experiments have shown that NODAL plays a key role in
establishing left-right asymmetry early in embryonic development. This
suggests that genetic variants of PCSK6 may have an effect on the
initial left-right patterning of the embryo that in turn influences the
development of brain asymmetry, and thus handedness.”
The 1998 paper in the Lancet by Wakefield that implied a link between
the MMR vaccine and autism has been found to be a fraud. The British
Medical Journal' chief editor says, “the MMR scare was based not on bad
science but on a deliberate elaborate fraud”. There is “clear evidence
of falsification of data.” This was not sloppiness, not honest error,
not bad luck; it was deliberate fraud. The BMJ also reports that
Wakefield planned to make money from his fraud. He thought a diagnostic
test (for an invented condition) would make him $112 million a year
plus a newly invented replacement vaccine would make him $43 million a
year. He has also been shown to have been unethical in his treatment of
Award winning journalist, Deer, has investigated the scam behind the
scare for 7 years and the BMJ reviewed the paper and confirmed
extensive falsification. There is no doubt that it was Wakefield who,
with great planning and skill drafted the paper so as to misreport
results. His clinical and academic credentials are now gone.
But the terrible damage Wakefield has done to public health continues.
Rates of vaccination fell due to his lies and have not yet returned to
normal levels. It has effected all vaccines not just MMR. The frequency
of measles and other diseases covered by vaccination have risen.
Measles was almost eradicated by immunization but has returned.
Outbreaks of whooping cough due to avoiding an unrelated shot have
risen dramatically. Children have died needlessly. But it is not just
death: mental retardation caused by measles, children left deaf by the
mumps, blinded by rubella, pneumonia caused by Hib (Haemophilus
influenzae bacterium), the crippling effects of polio and more.
Money was diverted from improving immunization and its delivery to
simply trying counteract the anti-vaccine movement. It was also
ironically diverted from research into probable causes of autism to
research into the vaccine link hypothesis dead end.
But despite the proof of deliberate fraud and the real damage to public
health, there are people who still believe in him. He will be
responsible for illness and even some deaths for years to come. Does he
apologize? No, he continues to spread lies. Perhaps he should be
prosecuted; many stand trial for much less harm.
My doctor has given me a new med that I really like – live
Saccharomyces boulardii. It is a cousin of baker's yeast, it does not
colonize or form an infection, it can withstand gastric acid and many
antibiotics, it does not change the normal flora in the gut or
interfere with other 'probiotics'. I take it when I need it and not
continuously and it works to give me a more healthy gut. It is used for
diarrhea (chronic, infectious, traveler's, from antibiotics etc.),
irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease,
ulcerative colitis, Lyme disease, C difficile colitis. And there are of
course stories of it working for other things outside the gut, but who
knows about them. The effect on the gut has been tested in double-blind
It was first isolated from lychee and mangosteen fruit in southeast
Asia in 1923 when Henri Boulard saw natives chew the skin of these
fruits to help control cholera. How does it act? S. boulardii secretes
a particular protease enzyme that attacks toxin A and B of Clostridium
difficile so that they are inhibited from binding to gut cells. S.
boulardii has mannose on its surface and this binds E. coli and
Salmonella typhimurium to it. Again this stops those pathogens from
binding to the gut cells and so they are eliminated in bowel movements.
S. boulardii has the ability to lower chloride secretion and to protect
the gut from leaking at the tight junctions, both reduce the
over-secretion of water into the gut. Polyamines produced by S.
may stimulate healing in the gut during recovery from diarrhea. It has
a number of documented anti-inflammatory effects. It is thought to help
the gut absorb nutrients even when it is affected by diarrhea.
The only side effects are gas and constipation in some people. However,
people who are allergic to yeast cannot use it at all.
Blood pressure and drinking water
My hypertension medicine includes a
diuretic and this has always seemed a little odd to me – it is like
high blood pressure is due to too much liquid in my body, and that
sounds slightly childishly simple. But I know it works because I was
first prescribed medication without diuretic and it didn't work.
The osmolality of the blood is measured
by neurons around the body, part of the nervous system that is
separate from the central nervous system. One of the corrections that
is made to counteract the watering down of the blood is to increase
This relationship is not that
noticeable in younger, healthier people but when we are old or sick
we have to think about how much and how fast we drink liquids. A
large drink of water will stimulate the metabolism of a healthy young
person but will raise the blood pressure of an older person.
The opposite is true. If someone has
low blood pressure so that they often feel faint when they stand up,
a big drink of water can help get rid of the faintness.
Who-da-guessed that the movie scene with someone running for a glass
of water for the lady who has fainted, actually has some sense to it.
Olive oil cough
How do you judge quality olive oil?
Well, good olive oil can be felt in the back of the throat and
connoisseurs appreciate the little cough that follows the slight
sting. This is not quite unique as liquid ibuprofen gives the same
feeling. In the case of olive oil the irritation is due to
oleocanthal, a anti-inflammatory chemical found in good extra virgin
olive oil. Ibuprofen is a non-steroid anti-inflammatory. Although
they are chemically unrelated, they both inhibit COX enzymes which
gives them their anti-inflammatory effect. Both activate a chemical
receptor in the back of the throat (TRPA1) and it is that which
causes the cough. TRPA1 also reacts to irritating toxins in the air
and triggers the cough to protect the lungs. The little cough may be
useful in identifying other anto-inflammatory chemicals in food and
It is interesting that people have come
to value the pungency of extra-virgin olive oil.
Alone but not lonely
It is well established that loneliness
is bad for one's health. Chronically lonely people show harmful
changes to their cardiovascular, immune and nervous systems, have
shorter life expectancy, and increased risk of many diseases.
Loneliness is as risky as smoking and more risky than physical
inactivity or obesity.
The loneliness is subjective and its
harm depends on the amount of stress (cortisol and epinephrine) and
inflammation that it produces. Being susceptible to the dangers of
loneliness is partly inherited. Whether we are prone to loneliness or
not, we are social animals that, by and large, are better off with
mates, friends and collaborators available when we need company.
But many of us also need our solitude.
We are not socially anxious, or bored or alienated - we just find
that being alone is pleasant and efficient. Not too much but regular
solitude. Some things are better alone: certain types of creativity,
forming memories, changing moods. Being alone allows a feeling of
relaxation, control and freedom. We can interact with others with
more enthusiasm and positive attitudes if we get the amount of
'aloneness' we naturally need. The line between healthy aloneness and
unhealthy loneliness is a personal thing for all of us. I am one who
needs my solitude and only rarely feels lonely; but I think my mother
was often lonely as opposed to enjoying solitude.
I have been told by many people and publications that if I want to loss
weight, I must eat a good breakfast. And I have been suspicious of the
advice although I often followed it. There I would be, eating breakfast
although I was not a bit hungry that time of day and knowing that in a
couple of hours I would be ravenous and it would be some time until
lunch. Also knowing that if I missed breakfast, I would not be hungry
until I smelled lunch.
Here is the latest word on breakfast:
“Dr Volker Schusdziarra, from the Else-Kröner-Fresenius Center of
Nutritional Medicine, conducted a study on over 300 people who were
asked to keep a journal of what they usually ate. Within the group
sometimes people ate a big breakfast, sometimes small, and sometimes
skipped it all together.
Schusdziarra said that "the results of the study showed that people ate
the same at lunch and dinner, regardless of what they had for
breakfast," this means that a big breakfast (on average 400kcal greater
than a small breakfast) resulted in a total increase in calories eaten
over the day of about 400kcal. The only difference seen was the
skipping of a mid morning snack when someone ate a really big
breakfast, however this was not enough to offset the extra calories
they had already eaten.”
In my experience, I have energy just after I eat and when the last food
was a longish time ago. But between these from about a half hour after
I eat for two or three hours, I have a trough in energy and a hungry
feeling. So for me to eat a good breakfast sets me up for a day of
eating more, having less energy and/or being hungry. And in added
irony, I have to stuff that breakfast down without much enjoyment.
There is a recently published study that used stored serum taken in the
late '40s and early '50s from about 9000 young healthy adults at Warren
Air Force Base. Serum was taken today from matching people with either
the same birth year or a similar age when the sample was taken – giving
3 sets of serum samples. Abnormal transglutaminase and specific
antibodies were measured on the sera.
In the 45 years from the first sampling to a follow-up on the health of
the subjects, the 0.2% that had undiagnosed celiac had a 4 fold
increase in risk of death from any cause. The second sampling showed an
undiagnosed celiac frequency of about 0.9% showing an increase in
undiagnosed celiac over the time period on about 4 to 4.5 fold.
The criteria is a rather high bar for gluten problems. There are people
with severe gluten intolerance that would not necessarily have either
or both the abnormal transglutaminase or the specific antibodies that
were tested for. Therefore the frequency of undiagnosed gluten
intolerance/celiac may be higher than quoted in this report. The
increased risk of death and increased frequency of the disease are
Here in Europe the big news is the new E.coli. It has the name
Enterohaemorrhagic Esherichia coli 0104:H4. It is either a brand new
strain or has never caused an outbreak before. It causes bloody
diarrhea and, more seriously, a kidney condition which is what kills.
Treatment with antibiotics make it worse, which makes its high
resistance to most antibiotics not as important as one would think. The
diarrhea is caused by the having acquired the gene for
entero-aggregation, the HUS kidney problems are caused by Shiga toxin
gene and the antibiotic resistance by acquiring the gene for a
particular enzyme ESBL. So a few genes have changed a relatively safe
bacterium into a killer. How do genes move between bacteria?
One way is by phages, or viruses that attack bacteria rather than
plants or animals. Genes can hitch-hike on viruses. Shiga is a toxin
made by the Shigella bacterium and it is carried to other bacteria by a
phage. When the virus is replicated so is the toxin and it is released
with the virus. The antibiotic resistance probably occurred in the gut
of farm animals with low levels of antibiotics in their feed. In fact,
all of the creation of this bacterium would have happened in some gut,
human or more probably animal. The shiga toxin is an advantage to
bacteria in manure piles.
This strain in E.coli is going to find its way into water and
agricultural produce by bad luck and bad hygene. This would not matter
for food that is cooked and would not be that dangerous in food that is
well washed in clean water but eaten raw. But what happened was that it
found its way into the production of bean and other sprouts. A farm
producing sprouts has a fairly high turn over – it doesn't take very
long for seeds to sprout and be shipped out. On the other hand, the
symptoms of the infection in humans started in 8 days plus. By the time
the sprouts were suspected, the farm had worked its way through the
seeds that were contaminated.
The farm got seeds for all over Europe and the world, various beans and
peas, alfalfa and other grasses, all from multiple suppliers. It was
impossible to trace the supplies from the time of the infections back
to the fields they came from. It did not appear to be the water or an
employee. This was a dead end. But it has been decided that the sprouts
were the source as they were the only source that explained all the
Besides that, seeds sprout in damp warm environments – a perfect
environment for bacteria to survive, even grow.
Meanwhile German governments, at various levels, created a political,
economic and public relations mess of enormous proportions – they
really have a 'black eye'.
Update: After 3500
hospitalizations and 44 deaths in last seven weeks, the facts are
known. 33,000 lbs of Fenugreek seeds from Egypt were shipped from
Damietta by ship to Antwerp and by barge on to Rotterdam. They were
trucked to Germany and then distributed to wholesellers: 10 German
companies, one each in Spain, Austria and England. From those companies
they were sold on. Fenugreek is used as a spice, a herbal medicine,
garden seed, and seed for sprouting. The batch is now throughout Europe
take time to eliminate.
For 30 years people have been using
five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and
acceptance. The theory has never been tested or proven to be anything
We do not grief in stages:
A study, published in the Journal of
the American Medical Association in 2007, found that most
respondents accepted the death of a loved one from the very
beginning. On top of that, participants reported feeling more
yearning for their loved one than either anger or depression. Other
studies that discredit stages have been published since then. But
despite this "stage theories of grief have become embedded in
curricula, textbooks, popular entertainment and media because they
offer predictability and a sense of manageability of the powerful
emotions associated with bereavement and loss."
We don't need to express it rather
than repress it:
Expressing negative emotions can
actually prolong grief. Studies have shown that repressive coping
actually has a protective function. Grief is not a process that must
be tackled in order to prevent psychological problems – Freudian
silliness. This also applies to other trauma. A follow up to 9/11
that people who did not express their initial reactions actually
showed fewer signs of distress later on, while people who did express
their reactions had a harder time adjusting.
Grief is not harder on women:
Nup – it is dependent people who find
grief more difficult, independent of gender. It is women who have
never driven a car and men who have never cooked a meal who have an
Grief never ends:
The worst of grief is usually over
within 6 months for most people. They miss their loved one but have
no problem with normal life. A small percentage take longer to
adjust. A feel of loss is forever but grief is not.
That is not proven and would be
difficult to prove. But 60 controlled studies found no evidence that
counseling helped most bereaved people. With or without counseling
most people just get better. Some individuals with specific problems
may benefit from counseling.
The last summary read, “As a society, we will most likely be
unable to face grief without some sort of script. "No culture
before has abandoned all recommendations as to how to mourn,"
notes sociologist Tony Walter of the University of Bath. But it
certainly seems time to move beyond our current habit of using
untested theories to create unnecessarily lengthy — and agonizing —
models for coping with grief that have created more anxiety about the
experience instead of alleviating it. Losing someone is hard enough
as it is.”
The adage 'you are what you eat' is true in a trivial sense but
not the way many people think. If you eat a lot of protein, you do not
end up with that amount of protein; if you eat a lot of carbohydrate,
you do not contain that amount of carbohydrate; ditto fat. What the
body does with food is to digest and take in what it can and/or needs.
is largely broken down into a small set ingredients (amino acids,
simple sugars and fatty acids mostly). These building blocks can be
changed to a large extent into each other. The little molecules are
then used for energy, building tissue and storage molecules.
For some reason there is an anti-fat climate. The idea is that
if you eat fat then you will get fat and the fat will clog your
arteries and poison your liver. Far more useful an idea is that of
'everything in moderation'. Of course it is bad for you to eat too much
fat but it is also bad to eat too little. The same is true of more of
less any food type. The anti-fat climate has a moral air – fat is evil,
fat is disgusting, eating fat is immoral. Carbohydrate and protein –
good; lipids – bad. People are being misled by this atmosphere and
their health suffers – they become deficient in fat soluble vitamins
and essential fatty acids and they gain more weight from carbohydrate
calories then they would from lipid ones.
Here is some recent evidence about dietary fat:
Aslibekyan & Baylin – there is no link between consumption
of dairy products and risk of heart attack. Either the saturated fat is
not a heart risk or the other nutrients in milk are protecting the
heart: calcium, vit D, potassium, magnesiun, conjugated linoleic acid
(a particular unsaturated fatty acid). They compare milk to eggs, once
thought dangerous due to cholesterol content but now seen as healthy
because of the other nutrients.
Garbarino - "too much cholesterol and the membrane becomes too
rigid; too little cholesterol and the membrane becomes too fluid,
drastically increasing permeability. As such, cholesterol is a key
factor behind what gets into cells and what does not, such as nutrients
or signals from other cells. One must consider cholesterol as a
molecule of utmost importance...The speed at which cholesterol is
transferred to and from its carriers, the variety of carriers for
cholesterol (including many different proteins and little capsules
known as vesicles), the fact all these carriers act simultaneously and
the sheer number of cholesterol transfers that occur at any given
moment makes it near impossible to visualize the individual steps of
the cholesterol transport process.”
Astrup, Willet & 17 others – They reviewed, discussed
research and wrote a paper with conclusions (1) coronary disease risk
is slightly reduced when polyunsaturated fats replace saturated, but
not when carbohydrates replace saturated fats. Not enough evidence
about monounsaturated fats. (2) the ratio of saturated fat to refined
carbohydrates does not affect the risk of insulin resistance and
diabetes. (3) you cannot predict a foods' effect on heart disease by
looking only at saturated fat. Foods should be studied as a whole not
their components alone. (4) health of individuals and types of heart
disease need to be taken into consideration. Carbohydrates may have
more negative effects than lipids in those who are overweight, inactive
or insulin resistant. (5) all saturated fat is not the same: long chain
fatty acids are more dangerous. Stearic acid has some protective
qualities. (6) high intake of processed meat products are a heart risk
but dairy produces are not. Dairy is beneficial in type 2 diabetes. (7)
trans fats are dangerous. (8) dark chocolate which has high content of
stearic acid, oleic acid and polyphenols reduces the risk of heart
Stewart – low carb dieters with moderate exercise do not need to
worry about the fat in the program will harm their arteries.
Browning – treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (to
reduce risk of diabetes, insulin resistance, inflammation, cirrhosis)
is better done by reducing carbs then reducing calories or fats.
Danci and others – extreme low carb diets can be detrimental to
learning, memory and thinking.
Swithers, Ogden & Davidson – the synthetic fat substitute,
olestra, contributes to weight gain (as do artifical sweeteners). They
upset the ability to regulate food intake; in order words, they make
people hungrier. In fairy-tale style: the substitute fools the mouth so
the stomach expects x amount of calories, the calories do not arrive,
so stomach insists that the mouth eat until it has furnished the
calories that it tried to cheat the stomach out of.
Stix – received knowledge about cholesterol is HDL good &
LDL bad. Lowering LDL with statin does lower heart disease risk. But
raising HDL fails to do the same.
Riechman – LDL is not all bad. Muscles and other tissues need
cholesterol and LDL is how it is delivered. To build muscles, LDL is
needed. HDL cleans up afterwards. High LDL means that cells are needing
a lot for repair – a sign that something is wrong not the cause.
Wang and 17 others – part of heart risk that had thought to be
genetic is due to differences in bacteria in the gut. Lecithin and
choline are lipids found in a wide variety of foods, supplements and
vitamin pills. Some intestinal microbes convert them to a product that
promotes fatty plaque deposits in arteries. Choline is a vitamin that
should not be taken in excess through multi-vitamines. Choline, beaine
and TMAO are found in healthy amounts in fruits, vegetables and fish.
Moore – on the other hand, another similar lipid, dilauroyl
phosphatidylcholine, found in lecithin preparations, increases
sensitivity to insulin, reduces fatty liver and is protective against
Ailhaud – humans do not make omega 6 or 3 polyunsaturated fatty
acids – all of them come through diet. The ratio of these is important
to health, 5 of omega6 to 1 of omega3. That actual ratio (instead of to
the 5 to 1) is 15 to 1 in France and 40 to 1 in the US. Omega 3 is
in linseed, canola/rapeseed and fatty fish; omega 6 is found in maize,
meat and dairy. Both are important to have in the diet but when the
ratio is off, there is risk of obesity.
Samieri – extra virgin olive oil is protective against stroke,
heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
So what is the takeaway message? MODERATION is important.
Metabolism is complex and by and large there is more ignorance than
knowledge about nutrition. Many unqualified individuals write nonsense
on the subject in magazines and newspapers. If in doubt use the
Mediterranean model –
heavy on the olive oil, fish, red wine, garlic, complex carbohydrates,
cheese, tomatoes, other veg and fruit; including but light on the
animal protein/animal fat
and refined carbs. Avoid fat substitutes and sweeteners if trying to
lose weight. Avoid trans fats at any time. Don't listen to the anti-fat
emotional crap – fat is not bad, evil, disgusting or immoral. In
moderation, it is good healthy food.
Goat cheese has become one of my very
favourite foods. There is always some in
the frig and I eat some everyday. The kind I like is shaped like a
sausage and covered in a white mold, and I like it partly affected by
the mold but with an unaffected center. I have only tasted goat's
milk a few times and found it so-so, but from the first time I tasted
goat cheese I liked it (and that cheese was not even moldy).
I find that goat's milk has many health
advantages over cow's milk. I hope some also apply to the cheese.
Here are the advantages:
Goat's milk is hypoallergenic
compared to cow's because it has less alpha 1 casein in its casein
fraction. In this it resembles human milk. Alpha 1 casein is what
causes most allergies to milk.
Goat's milk has more
oligosaccharides (again similar to human milk). These are usually
undigested and reach the large intestine where they help probiotic
bacteria compete with pathogenic bacteria.
It has lower lactose than
cow's milk so that some people with intolerance to milk sugar can
tolerate goat's milk. (I would not think this is important for most
Compared to cow's, goat's
cheese has higher essential omega-6 fatty acids, linoleic and
arachidonic. It has a high proportion of short chained fatty acids
which are used for quick energy rather than stored a fat in the body.
It is recommended for heart patients because it helps reduce
cholesterol and maintains transaminases.
The milk is high in calcium
and phosphorus in a very bio-available form. It is also rich in zinc
It does not interfere with
So it is recommended for those
allergy or intolerance to cow's milk, malabsorption, high cholesterol
levels, anemia, osteoporosis, and those taking prolonged treatments
with iron supplements.
I am so glad to find something I like
so much is good for me.
And that is without the good that mold
does me – I'm pretty sure some fungus is good in the diet: yeasts,
molds, mushrooms. Deep down it offends me when I see people cut the
mold away from a classic moldy cheese.
goat cheese showing the 3 layers (mold fuzz, affected cheese,
I have twice been with someone who had
a seizure. The first time I didn't know what to do and was very
frightened. So frightened, in fact, that I did not do anything and
therefore did not do any of the bad things that I had heard over the
years. The second time was different. I had just read a little first
aid manual about two weeks before and therefore was not frightened
and also was able to be somewhat helpful. I knew both these people
for a while but had no idea that they might have a seizure – it's
something you may do know about people, so it is a good idea to be a
little prepared. Epilepsy Action has just updated their advice about
a week ago. Here is how it now reads.
The person goes stiff, loses
consciousness and then falls to the ground. This is followed by
jerking movements. A blue tinge around the mouth is likely. This is
due to irregular breathing. Loss of bladder and/or bowel control may
happen. After a minute or two the jerking movements should stop and
consciousness may slowly return.
- Protect the person from injury - (remove harmful objects
- Cushion their head
- Look for an epilepsy identity card or identity jewellery
- Aid breathing by gently placing them in the recovery
position once the seizure has finished (see pictures)
- Stay with the person until recovery is complete
- Be calmly reassuring
Call for an ambulance if...
- Restrain the person’s movements
- Put anything in the person’s mouth
- Try to move them unless they are in danger
- Give them anything to eat or drink until they are fully
- Attempt to bring them round
- You know it is the person’s first seizure
- The seizure continues for more than five minutes
- One tonic-clonic seizure follows another without the
person regaining consciousness between seizures
- The person is injured during the seizure
- You believe the person needs urgent medical attention
Sometimes the person is not aware of
their surroundings or what they are doing. They may pluck at their
clothes, smack their lips, swallow repeatedly, and wander around.
- Guide the person from danger
- Stay with the person until recovery is complete
- Be calmly reassuring
- Explain anything that they may have missed
Call for an ambulance if...
- Restrain the person
- Act in a way that could frighten them, such as making
abrupt movements or shouting at them
- Assume the person is aware of what is happening, or what
- Give the person anything to eat or drink until they are
- Attempt to bring them round
- You know it is the person's first seizure
- The seizure continues for more than five minutes
- The person is injured during the seizure
- You believe the person needs urgent medical attention
Here is a new eating disorder,
orthorexia, the obsession with healthy food taken to unhealthy
extremes. Of course it is a good thing to eat healthy foods and
healthy amounts. But this is taking 'picky' eating to the extreme.
Over time the orthorexic cuts more and
more foods out of their diet because they are not perfect until they
finally suffer from nutritional deficiences.
Their self-esteem becomes involved in
how well they avoid imperfect foods. Moderation does not figure. They
can only feel clean, pure and virtuous if they follow their routine.
Hours are spent studying food labels, the nature of ingredients and
so on. All the food has to be prepared themselves because they cannot
trust others to wash food throughly enough or cook it long enough.
This means they tend to isolate themselves – no restaurants or
eating at others houses or even being embarrassed by feeding people
their restricted meals. They are prone to nutrition fads. They suffer
feelings of failure when they find that a food that they have been
trusting has some fault.
It cannot be good for their digestion
to find food a source of anxiety rather than comfort. There are
better things to be compulsive-obsessive about.
High Blood Pressure non-drug
Drs. Woolf and Bisognano from Rochester
Medical Center have published a review of the published scientific
evidence available on non-drug treatments for high blood pressure.
Here is what they found.
Recommended life style changes: low
salt DASH diet (lowers systolic blood pressure by 11.4) with an
exercise routine and weight loss if over-weight (lowers SBP an
additional 3.7), only moderate alcohol and no smoking are cardiac
- there are benefits from exercise
- benefits from weight reduction
- benefits from salt restriction
- there are probably benefits from
- there are benefits from reducing
heavy drinking but light drinking is beneficial
- there are benefits from DASH diet
(high fruits & veg, high fibre, low fats)
The DASH diet in the recommended
life-style can be strengthened with these supplements/foods.
However many supplements have recently been shown to shorten life. "All
of the women, in their 50s and 60s, were generally well nourished yet
many decided to take supplements. Multivitamins, folic acid, vitamen
B6, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron in particular appeared to increase
mortality risk." Calcium and Vitamin D do not shorten life. "Some
people. like the elderly, might need to take certain supplements. For
example, vitamin D is recommented for people over the age of 65."
- benefits from potassium
supplements and dietary potassium
- benefits from calcium supplements
if dietary intake is low
- benefits from Vitamin D
- possibly benefits from folate
supplements if dietary intake is low
- benefits from Coenzyme Q10
- small but well established
benefits from fish oil in supplements or diet
- garlic probably be very beneficial
but studies had some flaws
- benefits from soy protein in diet
and even more benefit if replacing some animal protein
- benefits from flavonoids (cocoa,
Some herbs raise blood pressure and
should be avoided: St John's wort, ephedra/ma huang, yohimbine,
- Hawthorn extract has results in
the right direction but not statistically significant
- Coleus forskohlii extract (an
Indian plant) has promise but has not been tested enough
- Mistletoe extract (Chinese
traditional medicine) has promise but has not been tested enough and
it is toxic in high doses
- Rauwolfia extract works but has
very pronounced side effects
- Acupuncture has given mixed
results and no conclusive evidence
- Mediation depends on type with
transcendental appearing to work; Zen & Qi Gong promising
Here is a table of results. Note that
they are not necessarily additive (most of the life-style changes
are somewhat additive but the others have not been tested for this –
note that conventional medicines of different types are additive in
(implantable barareflex stimulator) works very well but requires a
not trivial operation
Catheter (renal sympathetic devervation) works very well but still
(paced breathing using biofeedback) works
- Zona Plus
(isometric handgrip exercises) works
Nanoparticles are small, so small that
they cannot be seen with a light microscope and in the air they do
not form any 'mist'. We just will not know when we encounter them
except when they are labelled in produces. I have never seen such
labels but they may exist.
The carbon nanoparticles are generally
considered fairly safe. They are found in electronics, medicines and
cosmetics. They are manufactured in factories, shipped about, used in
other factories, sold in products and discarded in waste. How much
are we exposed to CNPs? – nobody knows.
The problem with CNPs is that they do
not respect biological barriers. Our bodies have barriers against the
outside – skin, gut lining, lung lining, Then we have internal
barriers – the urine-blood barrier in the kidneys, the blood-brain
barrier and others. It seems CNPs can pass through these barriers as
if they weren't there. They are not large enough to notice the
filters and barriers of the body. Is this dangerous? - nobody knows.
note that these incredibly strong particles, visible only under an
electron microscope, perform useful functions including roles in drug
delivery and are responsible for many advances in electronics such as
the impressive colors seen on plasma televisions and computer
monitors. What they worry about is when CNPs enter the air and the
environment and eventually the human body from inappropriate disposal
or from manufacture of products containing the particles. “These
particles are so small that when they get into various organs or
systems they can bind to many things. We need to further study what
they look like in various parts of the body, how they affect protein
expression, as well as what they do when they cross a barrier or are
excreted," said F. A. Witzmann of Indiana University. He is part
of a group that have shown that low concentrations of CNP cause
leakage in the cellular lining of the renal nephron, tubes inside the
kidney that make urine.
of titanium dioxide are used in many products including paint and
sunscreen. The French Atomic Energy Commission investigated these
particles when breathed in by rats. The nanoTiO2 particles were found
in the brain having passed through the blood-brain barrier. They
caused inflammation and had effects in the activity of some proteins.
about this before. Here is a link to coming in under the radar.
Even the rich
Micheal Prowse wrote in the Financial
would deny a link between health and inequality must first grapple
with the following paradox. There is a strong relationship between
income and health within countries. In any nation you will find that
people on high incomes tend to live longer and have fewer chronic
illnesses than people on low incomes.
Yet, if you
look for differences between countries, the relationship between
income and health largely disintegrates. Rich Americans, for
instance, are healthier on average than poor Americans, as measured
by life expectancy. But, although the US is a much richer country
than, say, Greece, Americans on average have a lower life expectancy
than Greeks. More income, it seems, gives you a health advantage with
respect to your fellow citizens, but not with respect to people
living in other countries….
Once a floor
standard of living is attained, people tend to be healthier when
three conditions hold: they are valued and respected by others; they
feel ‘in control’ in their work and home lives; and they enjoy a
dense network of social contacts. Economically unequal societies tend
to do poorly in all three respects: they tend to be characterised by
big status differences, by big differences in people’s sense of
control and by low levels of civic participation….
societies, in other words, will remain unhealthy societies – and
also unhappy societies – no matter how wealthy they become.
societies are unhealthy for their members, even members of the
highest strata. Not only do these societies score worse on all sorts
of indicators of social well-being, but they exert a toll even on the
Are we in danger from the internet?
There is a famous scientist, Susan
Greenfield. She is a professor at Oxford (neuro-physiology), former
head of the Royal Institution, member of the House of Lords since she
was made a baroness, and holds many other appointments (I won't list
them – the list is too long, but impressive). She has presented
some very good television, written books and of course scientific
But now she is the center of
controversy and her reputation in some quarters has fallen like a
stone. I know that occasionally great people can go a little weird
but it is always sad. As many of her critics have pointed out, all
she has to do is produce evidence for her theories (ie do the
experiments or talk someone else into doing them) or except the
evidence that exists that does not support her ideas. Critics point
to statements she has made that are at odds with research results.
She seems to answer with the idea that unpopular ideas are always
There are a number of related
- Greenfield says computer use is
changing people's minds and this is especially dangerous for
children. Critics answer that everything changes minds (learning to
drive, falling in love, traveling, reading books, just living) so
the question is: are the changes good, neutral or bad. There are over
3000 scientific studies published on effects of new technologies on
minds and Greenfield ignores all but 2. Most people who have looked
at the evidence come to the view that computers, smart phones,
social networks, video games etc. are basically neutral or good and
only rarely bad (mostly because of violence). For example, “New
research suggests that far from disengaging young people from real
life, virtual worlds can provide unique environments that can help
them learn and negotiate new situations.”
- Greenfield made statements that
computer use as linked to autism and ADHD. Dorothy Bishop answered
this: “you mention the rise in autism as evidence for your
concerns about the impact of the internet on children’s brains.
Previously I’ve read that you've made similar comments about ADHD.
You may not realize just how much illogical garbage and ill-formed
speculation parents of children with these conditions are exposed
to...Except that here, at least, parents will be able to detect the
flaw in the logic. A cause has to precede its effect. This test of
causality fails in two regards. First, demographically - the rise in
autism diagnoses occurred well before internet use became
widespread. Second, in individuals: autism is typically evident by 2
years of age, long before children become avid users of Twitter or
Facebook.” Greenfield made the mistake of answering with, “I
point to the increase in autism and I point to internet use. That's
all. Establishing a causal relationship is very hard but there are
trends out there that we must think about.” This resulted in a
storm of jokes called greenfieldisms. The first was ' I point to the
increase in esophageal cancer and I point to the The Brady Bunch.
That's all.” After many funny examples there finally was 'I point
to the increase in Greenfield's paper's citations and I point to the
increase in autism. That's all. Autism is caused by Greenfield
herself.' More seriously, the autism organizations were very angry
and disappointed in her remarks and pointed out that aside from
ignorant remarks on cause of autism, social networks were very
useful to many autistic people and their use should not be
- Greenfield claimed to be
misrepresented and attacked because of the press headlines and what
people said she said, not what she has actually said. This resulted
in a number of long lists of verified quotes and excerpts showing
that she did make the connections she was now denying. The argument
lost its politeness and scholarly atmosphere and became very personal in
I view Greenfield as an example of
those people (in their late middle and old age) who are sure the
world is going-to-hell-in-a-hand-basket. The society is failing,
education is going down hill, the language is being killed, kids are
acting badly and on and on. This is very common. Greenfield's problem
is that people get to hear her grumpy-old-ladygrumbling and take it seriously. My
advice is to take remarks by Greenfield with a grain of salt and to
ignore nasty personal remarks made about her.