According to Mohri, Fumoto, et al. in the journal Pain 118 (2005) 35-40, the rhythmic behavior of chewing suppresses nociceptive [i.e., pain-sensing] responses via the 5-HT descending inhibitory pathway.
Researchers at Rice University are concocting a genetically engineered beer that could fight heart disease and cancers, ComputerWorld reports. The goal is to create a brew containing resveratrol, the same disease-fighting, natural chemical found in red wine.
The scientists are basing the premise of their project on research conducted by University of Wisconsin
in June. In that study, researchers found that adding small doses of
resveratrol to the diets of middle-aged mice signficantly extended
their lifespans and kept their hearts healthy.
Placebos are not 'ineffective'. In fact, when three condition trials
are run (no treatment vs placebo vs medical treatment), placebo
consistently out performs 'no treatment' and of course, not uncommonly,
the medical treatment condition as well.
Placebos are not a 'non-specific' treatment. A study
on people who take the dopamine-boosting drug L-DOPA for Parkinson's
disease but who took a placebo L-DOPA pill, showed almost identical
brain changes, as if they'd taken the real thing.
done in the 1970s showed that when heroin users inject water (sometimes
done deliberately to alleviate cravings when drugs are in short
supply), they can experience drug-like euphoria and have been observed
to show opiate-like physiological signs such as pupil constriction.
New research from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine
has revealed that dopamine strengthens and weakens the two primary
circuits in the brain that control our behavior. This provides new
insight into why a flood of dopamine can lead to compulsive, addictive
behavior and too little dopamine can leave Parkinson's patients frozen
and unable to move.
"The study shows how dopamine shapes the two
main circuits of the brain that control how we choose to act and what
happens in these disease states, " said D. James Surmeier, lead author
and the Nathan Smith Davis Professor and chair of physiology at the
Feinberg School. The paper was published in the Aug. 8 issue of the
According to Susannah Locke at Scienceline, surgeons in particular benefit from the colors green or blue as opposed to white for two reasons:
First, looking at blue or green can refresh a doctor’s vision of red
things, including the bloody innards of a patient during surgery. The brain interprets colors relative to each other. If a surgeon stares at something that’s red and pink, he becomes desensitized to it. . . .
Second, such deep focus on red, red, red can lead to distracting
green illusions on white surfaces. These funky green ghosts could
appear if a doctor shifts his gaze from reddish body tissue to
something white, like a surgical drape or an anesthesiologist’s
alabaster outfit. A green illusion of the patient’s red insides may
appear on the white background. . . . The distracting image would follow the surgeon’s gaze
wherever he looks, similar to the floating spots we see after a camera
The phenomenon occurs because white light contains all the colors of
the rainbow, including both red and green. But the red pathway is still
tired out, so the red versus green pathway in the brain signals “green."
An interesting report by Discovery's Jennifer Viegas on the "Dancing Plague" of 1518 (often attributed to ergotism) discusses the possible psychological roots of this mass behavioral phenomenon. Also mentioned was a more modern variety of psychogenic disorder -- an epidemic of hysterical laughter originating in a Tanzanian boarding school:
Perhaps the most unusual documented case of mass psychogenic illness
was the Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic of 1962. A paper published the
following year in the Central African Journal of Medicine described what happened.
Triggered by a joke among students at a Tanzania boarding school,
young girls began to laugh uncontrollably. At first there were spurts of laughter, which extended to hours and then days.
The victims, virtually all female, suffered pain, fainting,
respiratory problems, rashes and crying attacks, all related to the
hysterical laughter. Proving the old adage that laughter can be
contagious, the epidemic spread to the parents of the students as well
as to other schools and surrounding villages.
Eighteen months passed before the laughter epidemic ended.
Fresh watermelon has a similar effect to taking Viagra, according to scientists.
But men would have to eat at least six slices to have the same effect as one Viagra tablet - and it's not as 'organ-specific'.
Watermelons contain an ingredient called citrulline that can
trigger production of a compound that helps relax the body's blood
vessels, similar to what happens when a man takes Viagra.
Found in the flesh and rind of watermelons, citrulline reacts with the
body's enzymes when consumed in large quantities and is changed into
arginine, an amino acid that benefits the heart and the circulatory and
"Arginine boosts nitric oxide, which relaxes
blood vessels, the same basic effect that Viagra has, to treat erectile
dysfunction and maybe even prevent it," said Bhimu Patil, director of
Texas A&M University's Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Centre.
"Watermelon may not be as organ-specific as Viagra, but it's a great way to relax blood vessels without any drug side effects."
Studies have repeatedly linked schizophrenia to prenatal infections
with influenza virus and other microbes, showing that the children of
mothers who suffer these infections during pregnancy are more likely to
be diagnosed with schizophrenia later in life. In 2006 scientists at
Columbia University asserted that up to one fifth of all schizophrenia
cases are caused by prenatal infections.
Doctors have known for many years that microbes such as syphilis and Streptococcus
can, if left untreated, lead to serious psychiatric problems. Now a
growing number of scientists are proposing that microbes are to blame
for several mental illnesses once thought to have neurological or
psychological defects at their roots. The strongest evidence pertains
to schizophrenia, but autism, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive
disorder have also been linked to bacterial, viral or parasitic
infections in utero, in childhood or in maturity. Some of these
infections can directly affect the brain, whereas others might trigger
immune reactions that interfere with brain development or perhaps even
attack our own brain cells in an autoimmune mistake.
It's not a new idea either:
In 1896 Scientific American published an editorial entitled
“Is Insanity Due to a Microbe?” The question seemed logical, given that
microbes were starting to be implicated in other diseases. In the
editorial, two doctors described how they had injected cerebrospinal
fluid of mentally ill patients into rabbits, which later got sick. The
doctors concluded that “certain forms of insanity” could be caused by
infectious agents, “similar to typhoid, diphtheria and others.”
A 30-year-old male fire eater presented following aspiration of
hydrocarbon fuel during a performance. A plain chest radiograph carried
out 2 h after aspiration showed left lower lobe consolidation. The
patient subsequently developed worsening shortness of breath,
haemoptysis, fever and myalgia and a repeat plain chest radiograph
showed extensive bilateral pulmonary consolidation with mediastinal and
bilateral hilar lymphadenopathy. Computed tomography showed features
consistent with necrotizing pneumonia. The clinical course was
complicated by the development of large pleural effusions,
pneumatocoeles and a spontaneous pneumothorax. Early abnormalities on a
plain chest radiograph following suspected hydrocarbon aspiration
require close monitoring for the development of further