What causes a fever?

When inflammation comes with a body temperature that is elevated above normal, we call it a fever or pyrexia. The change in temperature is not a defect, but an adjustment by the hypothalamus to a new set point. The set point is established in consequence of release of fever-producing factors called pyrogens, whether endogenous orContinue reading “What causes a fever?”

Getting high off endorphins

I used to listen to this incredibly motivated motivational speaker years ago who was always talking about how you need to exercise daily to “release endorphins”. The endorphins would make you high. Then you’d feel completely fantastic. And all your greatest creative ideas would enter your brain. What the heck are these endorphins anyway? Well,Continue reading “Getting high off endorphins”

Alternative treatment for Parkinson’s

How is it that a traditional Ayurvedic medicine like Mucuna pruriens can be more effective than regular synthetic levodopa for Parkinson’s? Many reasons, apparently. The botanical with natural L-DOPA appears to actually help restore endogenous levels of endogenous levodopa, dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin in the substantia nigra (1). And, unlike synthetic levodapa, it doesn’t produceContinue reading “Alternative treatment for Parkinson’s”

It’s finals week and you’ve got a tension headache

Got a tension headache? Don’t want to take an analgesic like aspirin or acetaminophen? You might try electroacupuncture. Sound like something out of sci-fi novel? Electroacupuncture is used widely in China; it’s just like acupuncture, but in which the needles deliver electrical pulses between therm. And according to a randomized, controlled, crossover trial in 2004,Continue reading “It’s finals week and you’ve got a tension headache”

Levels of consciousness (and no, I’m not Deepak Chopra)

Odd as it is to measure something like consciousness, it is a must to determine a possible medical condition, and the levels must be precise to give an accurate status before and after treatment (1). A state of consciousness can indicate a person’s wakefulness, awareness and alertness (2). Consciousness may “lower” a level or moreContinue reading “Levels of consciousness (and no, I’m not Deepak Chopra)”

Don’t depend on Glasgow Coma Scale

The Glasgow Coma Scale is easy to use for almost anyone to determine the state of a head injury. It includes eye, verbal and motor responses (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasgow_Coma_Scale). But it should be clear that it should not be the only test used. This was a hard lesson for the medics that treated Natasha Richardson afterContinue reading “Don’t depend on Glasgow Coma Scale”

Neural tube defects may not be related to high sugar intake

High glycemic load was previously thought to increase risk of neural tube defects after California researchers found that there appeared to be an association with maternal diets high in sugar in their state (1). However, the more recent National Birth Defects Prevention Study has found that the association does not exist among national population andContinue reading “Neural tube defects may not be related to high sugar intake”

MS patients can look forward to stem cell therapy

Stem cell therapy may be the treatment of the future for severe multiple sclerosis patients. Swedish researchers reported last February that bone marrow stem cell transplantation was successful for treating severe multiple sclerosis (1). The researchers found improvement in symptoms after testing the therapy for five years on nine patients with severe MS, ages betweenContinue reading “MS patients can look forward to stem cell therapy”

Feel down in the dumps? Could be Alzheimer’s disease

Lack of motivation may serve as a diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease. According to a discussion during the European Alzheimer’s Disease Consortium earlier this month, the apathy may be caused by functional impairment (1). The researchers noted that reduced “goal-oriented behavior, goal-directed cognitive activity and emotions” must persist over time, thought to be “at leastContinue reading “Feel down in the dumps? Could be Alzheimer’s disease”