June 2010

Inflammation: The New Health Hoax

A new watch word has hit my Snake Oil Radar: "inflammation."  I have noticed a distinct and suspicious trend in things - food especially - being described as "anti-inflammatory."  It's such a broad and sinister term, "inflammation."  And the claim that certain nutrients are anti-inflammatory makes you think, "Well I don't want to be inflamed!"  It can't hurt, right?  To buy the thing someone is advertising as being "anti-inflammatory?"  Only in the sense that it just encourages them.

Parasomnias - The Tragedy of Sleepwalking

Most people seem to consider sleepwalking to be sort of a joke, a silly thing that happens in cartoons and children's movies.  Even though most people have some sort of sleepwalking experience, they are able to brush it off as a one-time occurrence, or something that used to happen to them when they were young.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for adults who suffer from full-blown sleep disorders.  Including Tobias Wong, a promising young designer whose suicide last week may have happened unintentionally, in his sleep.

US Keeper Tim Howard Suffers from Tourette's Syndrome

In the opening match for the United States against England in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the US was credited with having a strong defense, which was in no small part due to the United States’ goalkeeper Tim Howard, “who made six saves in 90 minutes” . Born and bred in New Jersey, the US national team Goalkeeper stands out in one way from other soccer players and the public at large- Tim Howard suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome.

Earn Money by Taking Your Prescription Medication

I just read an article in the NYT about new incentive programs which pay people in order to take their prescription medication; the reasoning behind the plan is that up to a fourth of Americans who have prescriptions never bother to fill their prescriptions, but would take their medicine if there was a financial incentive involved. A Philadelphia program cited in the article gives patients who fill a prescription for a certain anti-blood clotting medication the chance to win cash for each day they take the medicine.

Yogurt: Medically Useful, or Marketing Lie?

In my experimentation with homemade yogurt (which is going really well, actually) I have been investigating the idea of cultures.  Yogurt, as we all know, is milk which has been partially digested by a collection of bacteria.  Gross, I know, but that's how the world works.  

We know that having bacteria digest your milk can make it easier to digest.  And tastier, and a much better base for smoothies.  We also know that these same bacteria are found naturally in your digestive system.  If you kill them off with a course of antibiotics, it can be very helpful to eat some yogurt in order to replenish their numbers.

Beyond that are what I would call "off-label uses."  Some of these uses are more reliable than others.  For example, countless women swear that plain yogurt can cure a yeast infection.  (Although in order to work, it must be applied topically, if you follow me.)  The acidity of the yogurt alone is probably responsible for most of this effect, since yeast infections are frequently caused or exacerbated by a disruption of the natural pH levels.

Raw Honey - Health Benefits?

I had never heard of raw honey until this weekend, when I was over at a friend's house for a Memorial Day barbecue.  When he brought out a little jar of honey to glaze the salmon, I was intrigued by its cloudy color and extra-thick texture.

 I picked up the bottle, only to find that it was printed with densely packed text, and rather odd stuff to boot.  One bit says "The last frontier WILDERNESS Fresh, Clean, Friendly, Alive, Bio-Eco System."  It reminded me of a bottle of Dr. Bronner's soap!

Honey, as I'm sure you know, is bee vomit.  Bees eat the nectar from flowers, then barf it up into their wax honeycombs for storage.  It's not very appealing, but it's the truth.  The bees store the honey against the winter, and for when the weather is too bad to fly.