Posts in the Medicine category

Random Updates...

A few things to update on the posts I've made over the years...

Hangover Cures

The basic principal still stands, but throw in some Vitamin B6, and/or some Red Bull. Red Bull is actually surprisingly good as a hangover cure - lots of B vitamins in large supply, some amino acids, caffeine and sugar, so it replenishes lost nutrients, helps with the headache, and the sugar helps trick your system into creating more serotonin.

New info: SSRIs and nausea

Why do SSRIs make you nauseous on an empty stomach? Because the Vegus nerve runs right through there, and it gets affected first. The Vegus nerve is what gives you motion sickness, makes you feel nauseous, and handles a lot of digestive system communication tasks. Speaking of which...

New research: Morning Sickness Cures

I verified this with research from Johns Hopkins after coming up with the idea independently, because I started thinking about what nausea really is... Two good morning sickness cures are either Dramamine (quiets the Vegus nerve, which is causing your nausea), and it's tried and tested on a friend on mine who's going through horrible morning sickness (ends up she tried it before I mentioned it, so this might be pretty well known). The other is half a Unisom tablet plus 50mg of Vitamin B6 - which matches an old prescription-only morning sickness cure that has since been taken off the market. Yes, they'll make you groggy (basically, they're antihistamines, and put you somewhat to sleep), but they're a good cure for nausea. Pick your poison, basically.

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Want to avoid anxiety? Drink more fluids

Here's something I really should remember, but often don't.

If you want to avoid getting anxious, avoid panic attacks, avoid feeling depressed...

... drink more water. Heck, drink some Gatorade - it'll restore your electrolytes too. But mostly drink more water.

It's a stupidly simple thing. And so easy to forget. But if you're bouncing around on nearly empty, it'll make any bad feelings you're having worse. So drink plenty of fluids - at least 8 glasses of water a day.

And feel better.

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The Sudafed Test for ADHD

Warning: the following post is not provided by a medical practitioner. Follow it at your own risk, under guidance of your doctor. If you have high blood pressure, or a history of heart problems, you probably shouldn't do this. Follow all instructions on the packet. I don't assume any liability for any problems that this may cause - again, do so at your own risk.

Now that that's out of the way, here's how I found out that I had ADD. Or some form of anxiety that mimics ADD in nearly all of its symptoms, such that ultimately it's pretty much exactly the same thing. Or so my Doc tells me.

I had a cold for a week, so I was taking an over the counter cold remedy which contained a decongestant. The weird thing was that I noticed that at the end of the cold, I was a lot more alert and awake than I had been before I even had a cold. Which got me thinking...

I tried an experiment. At first, I tried taking it at night, figuring that - since I have cats, and I'm allergic to them - it might be a pretty good idea to rule out allergies as being why I was tired all the time. I added in a new-class antihistamine (the ones which don't make you drowsy) to the mix, and it seemed to help a bit. Not tremendously, but at least a little.

I did this for a few weeks, and then one day - I can't remember why - I tried taking Sudafed in the morning.

The results were startling. I was able to focus at work much more, wasn't as tired, and I was happier and more alert. I carried on with this for a month, just to check that what I was seeing wasn't just a one off (I'd had weird experiences like this before - one time I got really bad food poisoning from Denny's, and when I finally recovered, I felt better than I'd ever felt before, period - so I wanted to rule that out).

It worked. Not perfectly, but enough to make me sit back and wonder. I went for sushi with a friend one lunch, and he mentioned that he and his son both had ADHD - and that it was getting worse as he was getting older. This got me thinking - what if I had the same thing? The symptoms are about the same - lack of concentration punctuated by periods of extreme concentration and productivity - also known as hyperfocus.

A little research later, and all of a sudden I had a working theory. Sudafed, you see, works by flushing your system with norepinephrine - its main claim to fame is that it essentially tells your system to pump out as much of the stuff as it can muster. Now, you've only got a limited supply of this stuff hanging around, but your body can synthesize more from L-Tyrosine, an amino acid that you can get into your system in a variety of ways, but my hunch is that eggs and sardines are great sources. (And sardines are an excellent source of calcium and iron, so they're worth eating anyway). However, it does mean that you'll run out of it - which is partly why the Sudafed wears off (the Sudafed itself gets metabolized as well, of course, which also screws things up).

The latest research shows that ADD and ADHD can be helped by pumping more norepinephrine into the brain. This is why the Sudafed trick works - although, unfortunately, it's also a stimulant, so it has other side effects including a faster heart beat, and the jitters. This is why if you decide to go down the same path, you probably shouldn't do it for more than a week, just to see if it works for you or not.

There are better things than Sudafed to cure ADD though. Something a little more... shall we say, industrial strength! It's called Strattera, and it's a Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor - or SNRI. Unlike Sudafed, it doesn't flush norepinephrine into your system - instead, it prevents your system from breaking down the norepinephrine, allows your brain to basically stew in what you've got. Which means that you're not going to run out. Also, it only acts on the brain (well, and your mucus membranes - which means that for the first time since I was a teenager, I have permanently unclogged nasal passages - in fact, when they start to clog up, I know that I need to pop another Strattera pill).

Armed with this knowledge, I went to a doctor who specialized in ADD. We talked for a while, I presented my findings, and she agreed to put me on the more powerful stuff. My life has changed for the better - I'm no longer as impulsive, I don't have anxiety, and I can focus at work. I also don't get involved in stupid pointless flamewars online any more. I'm still as creative as ever - but my brain's working the way I always thought it should.

So if you think you've got ADD, you might want to give the Sudafed test a shot. And eat more eggs and sardines. ;-)

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Potential Snoring Cure

This one seems to help more if you've got anxiety/ADD than anything else; it can certainly alleviate a lot of snoring issues.

I discovered this a while back, when there was this whole new craze about getting more omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids into your system. I was taking vitamins morning and night, so I just added fish oil capsules bought at Walgreens to the mix.

And unexpectedly stopped snoring.

Or at least, I did for a while. It definitely got a lot better than it was. So I tried a few experiments. One friend of mine with sleep apnea... stopped snoring, pretty much saving his relationship (apparently his girlfriend didn't appreciate the constant sound of sawing wood at night). Another tried it, and got very worried when a few minutes after taking it, he felt like his nose (which was broken) was expanding internally. Very odd sensation - but it seemed to help. I reported this to the local Swedish medical center who have a sleep studies department about 2 years ago... ... and have never heard anything back.

So does this work? Why not try it and find out. You've got nothing to lose - and you probably don't get enough omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in your diet anyway. When you think about the fact that your brain - if you stuck it in a blender and then analyzed it - has about the same density, consistency and molecular make-up as a pat of butter, then maybe just maybe the fats that you push into it make a difference. (That similarity, by the way, probably explains the end of the movie Hannibal). You're supposed to get at least half of your fats in these omega-3 and omega-6 forms - most western diets only supply a tiny fraction of that amount.

If it helps, post a comment and let me know. If it doesn't...? Post a comment and let me know. Right now, I only have anecdotal evidence.

These days I just take Strattera which is a non-stimulant ADD med - like ritalin, but without the fun or street appeal. Apparently I have something with all the symptoms of ADD, but when you do the computer based tests, all my scores are flipped about the horizontal axis with those that a true ADD person would have - but if the symptoms are the same, and the drug works to alleviate them, I'm not sure there's much real-world difference. It also just so happens to completely open up my sinuses, making it possible for me to get snore-free, refreshing sleep.

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Hangover cures...

There's a reason this blog is called Accidental Scientist. I originally started it up to post things I'd discovered about life, the universe and everything else... but especially about the things that I like to call "stupid human tricks". So without further ado, it's time to get stuck in with the first little tidbit that I've found so far...

How to cure a hangover

As I've gotten older (and I hear that most people are like this), I've had more and more hangovers after a night on the town. Admittedly, as I've gotten older, I've started drinking a hell of a lot more (stress will do that to you), but that's beside the point. Some hangovers have been so bad that they've completely taken away my Sundays from me - as I've spent them wandering around in a daze going, well, ouch.

No longer. I think I finally figured out the perfect hangover cure.

You will need:

  • Two eggs
  • A bottle of gatorade
  • Eyedrops (preferably just natural tears - Genteal are pretty good)
  • Water
  • Caffeine, aspirin and ibuprofen (not acetaminophen or paracetamol)
  • Two multivitamin tablets.

NOTE: I am not a doctor, nor am I pretending to be one. This advice could help you, it could kill you, or it could turn you bright blue. I honestly don't know. Follow it at your own risk.

Here's how you use the ingredients.

Water

Drink this before you go to bed - as much as you can manage. Drink it while you're drinking, and it'll help too. But drink as much as you can - alcohol dehydrates you, and your liver and kidneys work much better at getting rid of toxins when they have water to work with. Drinking water is your first line of defence against a hangover.

Gatorade

You drink this the next day. It's basically sugar water, with electrolytes to rebalance your system a bit (because when you get dehydrated with alcohol, you're peeing out most of the salt in your system, and as your body is basically a large bag of salt water, you really need to replace it).

It's the best and easiest way to get fluid into your system, and has its own handy-dandy built in automatic rehydration indicator - if it tastes good, you need to drink more of it. Once it starts tasting unappealing, you've had enough - you're rehydrated. Sneaky, huh?

Eggs

Boiled, fried, poached, whatever. You just need them. You can try eating them the night before if you can stomach them - but that will depend on how drunk you are. (And cooking when drunk, like driving when drunk, is a recipe for disaster).

Eggs help a hangover in two ways. Firstly, and most importantly, they're one of the most nutritious sources of cholesterol you can get.

Yes, that's right, cholesterol. You know that thing that doctors tell you is bad for you? Welllll... you see, there's another side to that argument. Cholesterol is bad - when it's clogging your arteries. When you're drunk, however, it's a whole other story. You see, your liver runs pretty much exclusively on cholesterol, and it burns fat to metabolize alcohol. This is why, among other things, doctors now say that drinking will lower your cholesterol (it does - because your liver kicks it up a gear). It's also why hardened Russian vodka drinkers will eat very fatty foods while they drink - because it helps them metabolize the alcohol.

If you've ever wanted to drink someone under the table, eat a lot of eggs. Or other similarly high-fat foods. And keep eating them while you drink. You'll be able to carry on (relatively sober) while they slowly slip into oblivion...

Eggs don't just contain fat, they contain plenty of incredibly bio-available protein. Your body loves eggs - in fact, some people claim that eggs contain about the easiest protein for your body to digest.

Protein's really good when you have a hangover, because protein is broken down into amino acids in your body, and amino acids are used to build neurotransmitters - which you screwed up by drinking. Alcohol makes your body dump norepinephrine and dopamine into your system, rapidly depleting your supply (the lack of norepinephrine, by the way, is why you snore more when you've been drinking than when you're not... and if you don't naturally build your supplies back up fast it also can cause anxiety days afterwards). So if you really want to feel happy, you're going to need to replenish those guys - and eggs (and sardines - but let's face it, who can eat sardines with a hangover?) are probably one of the best ways of doing it short of spooning down one of those muscle-building amino acid gloopy concotions you can buy at the gym.

Alcohol, in case you're wondering, also screws with about 100 other neurotransmitters. Which is why you shouldn't drink if you're on any kind of psychoactive medication.

Eggs also contain vitamin C and B12, both of which are water soluble vitamins, which means that when you spent all that time the night before peeing your hard earned cash down the drain, you lost a lot of those too. You need to replenish them - and eggs are a great way to do this.

Eyedrops

Why eyedrops? Well, do you remember the film Withnail and I? Where Withnail says that he has "a real bastard behind the eyes"?

Nine times out of ten, the worst part of your hangover is caused simply by the fact that your eyes are dry. No, really. They're about the first thing to dehydrate in your entire body, other than possibly your T-zone.

The thing about eyes is that they're not exactly good at reporting problems to your brain. They have pain sensors, and touch sensors, but they're pretty lousy at what they do (and spread pretty far apart, so they're not that accurate). Not only that, but until you train yourself to recognize the difference between a real (vascular) headache and the pain that comes from dry eyes, you won't even figure out that the pain you're feeling is really in your eyes - because it feels like a band of pain behind your eyes, or across the front of your head.

Sure, sounds like a bad design, but it's like that because your eyes are busy doing other things - like seeing things - so nature skimped a bit on the pain receptor part. Either way, the pain that you get from a hangover is mainly this pain from your eyes. Try to visualize it next time you have a hangover, and the lightbulb will suddenly go on. By the way, when your eyes are in pain, they have an amazing ability to make you feel tired. It's automatic - nature's way of protecting them is to get you to shut them, and the easiest way to do this is to make you feel tired and go to sleep. It's half of why you feel like a slug after a night on the town. (The other half is probably real sleep deprivation).

How do you fix this? Really easy. Apply eyedrops frequently (once every 10 minutes or so) to each eye, until you've drunk enough Gatorade that it stops being a problem. Genteal are recommended by my eye doctor because they're preservative free in the eye. (And he's a great eye doctor - one of the best I've ever been to - if not the best).

Multivitamin tablets

As I said earlier, you pee out a good portion of all of the water soluble vitamins in your body when you're on a bender. Take one before you go to bed (if you can stomach it), and one in the morning when you get up (again, if you can stomach it - you might need to take it after eating the eggs) to replenish your system's supply.

Caffeine, Aspirin and Ibuprofen

In cases where the hangover's not too bad, you can skip the caffeine, aspirin and ibuprofen. (I skip the caffeine most times myself). However, if the other tips just won't shift it, aspirin, ibuprofen and caffeine will help. This cocktail is basically a version of Excedrin which swaps liver damage for stomach bleeding - frankly, I prefer to have a internal bleeding than risk shutting down my liver - and as Excedrin uses Acetaminophen/Paracetamol instead of Ibuprofen, it's a bit too risky to take after drinking.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a vasodilator - it opens up the blood vessels in your head. These blood vessels can constrict while drinking, causing a vascular headache (this is a true headache, unlike the eye-pain I mentioned above) - and the caffeine cures that. It'll also give you a bit of a buzz and perk you up - but I avoid it if I have a hangover - it just makes me feel weird and almost hollow, like I'm not really there. It's also a diuretic, which isn't exactly productive when you're already dehydrated.

Aspirin

Aspirin's an old folk remedy made good - people realized that taking willow bark made people feel better when they had a headache. Enter chemistry, and pharmaceuticals, and whaddya know, we have the refined version. It's mainly an analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent, shutting down production of pain transmitting chemicals in the body. Helps me anyway.

If you're taking aspirin, make sure you take the enteric coated ones, to avoid stomach problems.

Ibuprofen

Another anti-inflammatory/analgesic, but it appears to work on different pathways, and at least for me, will shift headaches that aspirin (or acetaminophen) cannot. It can cause stomach problems, so try to go for coated tablets.

What if all this doesn't work?

Well... either pray, or try more eggs and Gatorade. There's a reason people go to Beth's (home of the 12 egg omelette) in Seattle after a night on the town, you know...

[edit: Added the real Other reason for eggs than fat, which is protein. I missed it last time by accident - and believe me, while vitamins C and B12 are good for ya, the lack of them doesn't really make you feel that bad. Not on that time scale anyway]

[edit: fixed a badly structured sentence which made it look like I was saying that caffeine caused vascular headaches, not cured them]

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