November 2010

Cordyceps, The Medicinal Caterpillar Fungus

Oh Chinese medicine, how you fascinate me with your wacky shenanigans!  I recently learned about the use of cordyceps fungus to treat all manner of seemingly unrelated ills.  This caught my attention, because previously I had only known of cordyceps as "the fungus that makes ants go crazy."

I first learned about the cordyceps ant attacks when I read Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonders, an outstanding 1996 book about the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles.  (Such a wonderful book that it's a shame how long it's been since I read it.  I have added it to my book-buying queue.) 

Among other insanities, author Lawrence Weschler discusses how the cordyceps fungus causes the infected ant to go mad.  In a bizarre example of fungal brainwashing, the ant is somehow directed to climb a tall blade of grass, and latch on for dear life.  Then the fungus consumes the ant's brain, mummifies its corpse, sprouts from the ant's forehead, and begins releasing spores. 

Sudden Shock: How to Treat

So, if you suddenly found yourself in a situation where you observed a victim suffering from shock, would you know what to do? If you take the necessary steps to educate yourself, you just may save someone’s life one day.

According to the American Red Cross, first you should identify the type of shock. Then you’ll know what to treat for. Refer to the five most common types of shock: Anaphylactic, Cardiogenic, Hypovolemic, Neurogenic, and Septic. (See previous stories on Sudden Shock for more information.)

Sudden Shock: The Three Stages

There are three stages of shock from cause to death. If we were to imagine a worst case scenario; a man was injured while out in the woods and is now severely bleeding out. He is many miles from any form of civilization. These are the stages of shock he would experience: The first stage of shock is called “Compensated” or “Nonprogressive”. In this stage, the body looses a lot of blood due to the injury.

An Rx for Every Child

When my daughter was in the NICU, I was fortunate enough to take a couple of parenting courses with the nurses who held them at the hospital. Most of them had been my daughter’s nurse at one point or another and knew my husband and me. They gave us such wonderful advice, and one recurring theme was to include fresh air in our daughter’s life every day.

It wasn’t just for the vitamin D, they assured us, though she would need that, too—it was more of a matter of being exposed to fresh air and sheer playfulness every day.

Sudden Shock: Five Different Types

Beyond three basic types of “Anaphylactic” shock, there are other types of shock that can occur. You should be aware of these as well. Though anaphylactic is probably one of the most common types of shock. There are four other types of shock that exist.

For example, did you know that shock can occur when a victim suffers from a heart attack? This type of shock is called “Cardiogenic”. According to the American Red Cross, this is where the heart fails to circulate blood around the body and to vital organs effectively. This shock is caused as an aftermath of the heart attack.

Sudden Shock: Allergy Reactions to Anaphylactic Shock

Imagine you’re walking down the street. You’re out shopping in the town square on a bright and beautiful, sunny day with some friends. You pass some flowers on the sidewalk. You watch as bees pollinate those flowers. When suddenly, one pops up from the flower it was pollinating and stings your friend. She screams in pain as the bee stings her and very quickly starts to break out in a rash. Not just on the patch of skin where the bee stung her, but all over her body. She collapses on a bench, nearby. Her breathing is ragged and she looks up at you with pleading eyes.

Is Schizophrenia Caused By A Virus?

Schizophrenia has proven to be one of the most difficult diseases for doctors to tackle, and one of the most misunderstood by the general public.  Its onslaught is mysterious, its causes only vaguely grasped, and there is no cure - although some medications can help alleviate the symptoms.

Now, according to an article in Discover Magazine, researchers believe it may be caused by a kind of retrovirus which stows away inside our own DNA. 

Thieves Oil: Who's The Thief Here?

Fear and snake oil salesmen go hand in hand.  So I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that a very, err, "enterprising" multi-level marketing company has come out with a concoction of essential oils which supposedly prevents you from getting the flu. 

The marketing materials claim that you just dab a bit on the back of your neck, and the flu will be banished.  At about $45 for a wee little bottle, you could afford to buy a flu shot, which actually DOES prevent you from getting the flu.  And with the money left over, you can buy a wee little bottle of Chanel No. 5, which works just as well to ward off disease, and no doubt smells a lot better.

According to the story given by the manufacturers, during a bubonic plague outbreak in the 15th century, a group of four thieves were caught robbing from the dead bodies.  Their secret to not getting the plague?  They wore a secret blend of essential oils: clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary.

Debunking The Hydration Myth

A hilarious article in The Independent this week, about the myths perpetuated by the Hydration Patrol.  I know someone who is so fanatical about hydration that she literally wears a Camelbak backpack everywhere.  At the office, during interviews, at the movies, everywhere!

In my more cynical moods, I see this as another manifestation of our collective inability to manage our own desires.  The same thing which drives our ruinous relationships with food and money.  If drinking some water is good, then drinking ALL THE WATER must be better, right?

Clearly, this societal hysteria is all about the fear of death, of illness, of decay, and of the invisible decline of organs which are unseen by us.  It's so secret in there, where your spleen nestles against your liver.  Who knows what's REALLY happening.  Maybe bad things!  You can't stop them!  UNLESS YOU DRINK LOTS OF WATER.