Pharmaceuticals Anonymous

Saturday, April 25, 2009

India's "holy spice" reveals its secrets

"Let your food be your medicine" said Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine

"Scientists in Michigan are reporting discovery of the secret behind the fabled healing power of the main ingredient in turmeric — a spice revered in India as "holy powder." Their study on the ingredient, curcumin, appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

In the study, Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy and colleagues point out that turmeric has been used for centuries in folk medicine to treat wounds, infections, and other health problems. Although modern scientific research on the spice has burgeoned in recent years, scientists until now did not know exactly how curcumin works inside the body.
Using a high-tech instrument termed solid-state NMR spectroscopy, the scientists discovered that molecules of curcumin act like a biochemical disciplinarian. They insert themselves into cell membranes and make the membranes more stable and orderly in a way that increases cells' resistance to infection by disease-causing microbes."

More information: "Determining the Effects of Lipophillic Drugs on Membrane Structure by Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy -- the Case of the Antioxidant Curcumin," Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Source: American Chemical Society


Tardive Dyskinesia: Jen's Story

A charming young woman with some digestive problems was given psychotropic (antipsychotic) medications. Medical decisions made for her have permanently disabled her; she has Tardive Dyskinesia - TD - and is in a wheelchair - probably for life.
Jen's Pages
"Why is this young woman in a wheelchair?"

"Tardive dyskinesia is characterized by repetitive, involuntary, purposeless movements. Features of the disorder may include grimacing, tongue protrusion, lip smacking, puckering and pursing of the lips, and rapid eye blinking. Rapid movements of the extremities may also occur. Impaired movements of the fingers may also appear. For comparison, patients with Parkinson's disease have difficulty moving, while patients with tardive dyskinesia have difficulty not moving.
Other closely related neurological disorders have been recognized as variants of tardive dyskinesia. Tardive dystonia is similar to standard dystonia but permanent. Tardive akathisia involves painful feelings of inner tension and anxiety and a compulsive drive to move the body. In the extreme, the individual undergoes internal torture and can no longer sit still. Tardive tourettism is a tic disorder that can closely mimic Tourette Syndrome, sometimes to the point where the two can only be distinguished by the details of their onsets. Tardive myoclonus, a rare disorder, presents as brief jerks of muscles in the face, neck, trunk, and extremities."

- Wikipedia

Antipsychotics are not the only medications that can cause TD. You can also get this condition from antidepressants. Depending on where you live, your doctor may or may not be legally bound to tell you about side effects of medications s/he prescribes for you, This information is available from drug companies - pharmacists in the US can show you in the "Big Red Book" and in Canada in the "CPS" - and on package inserts.
This information is in the Merck Manual too. Another online resource, very amusing and factual, is here.

Get good information before you make a medical decision; mistakes can be very costly.

A Culture Soaked in Alcohol and Drugs - Daily Kos

From the diary:

"How many of you have been told you were stupid, lazy, no-good, a failure who'd never amount to nothin'?" Glodoski asked the students. Easily four-fifths of the students raised their hands.

"What the thinker thinks, the prover proves," I thought to myself.

Some of these kids will be lucky enough to escape this tiny town. Some will be resilient enough to endure it mostly intact . . . but they may still pass the same pattern down to their own kids, if only in a watered-down form. Most, sadly, will repeat the cycle unless something is done to save them. And no one is doing enough to save them. The underfunded school district, where teachers with master's degrees make only $35,000 a year, can't save them. Their families aren't equipped to save them. And unlike in the inner city, where at least a drop-in center or a street outreach program can make contact with thousands of children and maybe make a difference for a few dozen, here there is no such thing, because there's no critical mass of population to make such a thing possible.

No wonder Republicans are in a panic about the state of the American family. Get outside a large or medium-size metropolitan area, and the state of the American family is apocalyptic, a confusing mess in which stability is a fantasy, violence and verbal abuse are pervasive, and everyone resents someone for something. No wonder the residents of "red" counties flee to "family values" churches for security -- out here, it seems like church is the only force that can counter the disintegration, and even church can only do so much.

With jobs drying up, without money for the schools, without the population density for recreation and enrichment activities, what is there to relieve the bleakness of life? There's TV. There are video games. There's gossip. And there are drugs and alcohol.

This is America today.

This is what the flight of jobs has done to us.

This is what underinvestment in schools does to us.

This is what violence, despair and lack of empathy do to us.

This is what the loss of our dignity does to us.

This is the peril we're in.

What are our leaders going to do about it?

What are we going to do about it?


Study after study in prisons and schools have demonstrated that addictions, bad behavior, failure to learn, lack of productivity and poor social values are related to poor nutrition. So the first thing to do is - fix the food.