Beyond pharmacy blog
All posts by Hourglass PJ
Many of us may travel long distances across several time zones or do shift work and yet we have to be awake and alert while our bodies’ internal timekeeping (circadian) system is misaligned with the time in the outside world. So-called jet lag leads to poor quality sleep and reduced mental sharpness, often for several days, delaying the time when we again feel ourselves.
Almost 40 years ago, a young friend of mine died from epilepsy. Having taken a particular interest in new treatments for this condition since that time, I was interested to read about a potential new development in the form of a brain implant, research on which is being partly funded by the Wellcome Trust.
The birch is my favourite tree, which is perhaps a strange choice given that it grows almost like a weed across northern Europe. But I associate the silver birch (Betula pendula) with much interesting travel across the Baltic States and Russia, where many people believe in the healing power of the birch, particularly for wounds.
Garlic has been cultivated for thousands of years, both for culinary purposes and for its medicinal properties.
Although the benefits of physical activity are well known, the metabolic changes producing these benefits are less clear. However, researchers at the Harvard Medical School have recently demonstrated that a protein, PGC-1a (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha), regulates metabolic genes in muscle and contributes to the response of muscle to exercise.
Having researched the topic of dietary fibre fermentation in the gut more than 25 years ago, I was interested in a new Swiss study showing that fermented fibre might protect against asthma. The rationale is that gut bacteria ferment soluble fibre from foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans and lentils to produce short chain fatty acids.
If you are interested in growing potatoes you may be aware that National Potato Day falls on 26 January. If you are a member of a gardening club or rent an allotment, you may be involved in a local potato event, most of which seem to be designed to celebrate the variety of potatoes available in Britain as well as encouraging people to grow their own vegetables.
Resveratrol, a compound suggested to be responsible for the health benefits associated with red wine, is now in the spotlight as the basis of future treatments for Alzheimer’s disease in people carrying a specific gene.
Because I plan to visit Iceland next year, I am beginning to develop more than a passing interest in volcanoes. However, the earth’s biggest volcanoes may be found under the sea rather than above it. A mega-volcano found at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and described recently in Nature Geoscience, is being reported as the largest single volcano on Earth.
My continuing interest in the discovery of the remains of King Richard III (see also Hourglass, PJ 2013;290:580) caused me to stop to read a small article in The Lancet, which described some new findings that the king had been infected with roundworms.
“Apple-shaped” people — those with fat concentrated around the abdomen — have long been thought to be more at risk for conditions like heart disease and diabetes than the “pear-shaped” — those carrying weight more in the hips, buttocks and thighs.
Cognitive decline in older age is understandably the subject of a huge amount of current research.
I enjoy any story about chocolate, so I was interested to read a recent press release asking whether chocolate was behind the so-called “hysteria” displayed by nuns and other women in the 18th century.
If you are allergic to grass pollen you will not be spending the summer cutting your lawn. But you might still be interested to learn that 18 May 1830 was the date on which a man named John Ferrabee reached an agreement with British inventor Edwin Budding to acquire the rights to manufacture and sell lawn mowers and to license other manufacturers in their production.