Health

Childhood Trauma Can Last Forever

Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris has an amazing TED Talk available right now that parents, caregivers, teachers and anyone who has children in their lives should watch. If you've experienced trauma in your life, you may want to watch it, too. The discussion is about how childhood trauma affects us our whole lives. Did you know that the risk of heart disease and lung cancer triple in cases of heavy trauma? 

Teenage girl produces four pound hairball

Kids, don't chew your hair.

A 19-year-old-girl in Indore, India went to the hospital last month complaining that she "hadn't been able to eat or drink for a few days." Doctors performed an examination and discovered a massive blockage filling her stomach and small intestine.

The girl was rushed into surgery, and doctors removed a four pound hairball from her GI tract. The girl reportedly "had a bad habit of eating her hair and chalk while in class," and the resulting impaction created a truly stunning mass.
 
Formally known as a "bezoar," these impacted masses have been removed from people and animals for centuries. Bezoars can be formed from either organic or inorganic materials. In people they are often caused by pica (a psychological or medical condition which compels the sufferer to eat non-food items, such as hair or chalk). A bezoar composed mainly of hair is called a Trichobezoar. Premature babies fed formula will often form bezoars made from dried up lumps of formula powder, called a Lactobezoar.

Cat ladies more likely to commit suicide?

Toxoplasmosis infection correlates to higher suicide rate in women.

As a cat lady myself, I have long been fascinated with the strange puzzle that is the toxoplasma parasite. Alarmingly, a new study shows a strong correlation between toxoplasmosis in women and suicide attempts. Odder still, women with toxoplasmosis are more likely to commit suicide by violent means (stabbing, gunshot, jumping) than non-infected women.

Scientifically known as Toxoplasma gondii, this parasite is communicated to humans through the cat's waste, typically by cleaning the litter box. (Not only is it a gross job, it's also potentially parasitic!) In its normal life cycle, the toxoplasma parasite infects rats and mice. It makes them unafraid of the smell of cat urine, and more likely to take crazy risks. By subtly controlling the behavior of infected rodents, toxoplasma positions them to be eaten by cats, which are crucial for its next life stage.
 
But when cats came to live with us, so did the toxoplasma parasite. Clinically, toxoplasmosis (the disease caused by infection with the parasite) is relatively harmless in non-pregnant adults with a healthy immune system. (Because it can cause spontaneous miscarriages in pregnant women, women who are or wish to be pregnant are advised to stay away from the litter box.) You might come down with vaguely flu-like symptoms for a little while. No big deal.

George Michael wakes from coma with odd accent

Last December, famed pop star George Michael fell desperately sick with pneumonia. He ignored the symptoms for too long, and pushed himself too hard, and ended up in the hospital for five weeks - with fully three weeks spent in a coma. Michael and his medical team were fighting for his life, and he is very lucky to be alive. 

But strangely, when Michael awoke from his coma, his English accent had changed.

Corpse medicine: dead people keepin' us living

Although almost entirely out of practice now, many people in history depended on remedies for the living, made from the dead.

So here’s one for well after dinnertime: corpse medicine. Yes, in our less educated and far-more violence-tolerant past, we often used body parts as a salve or remedy for every kind of affliction one could imagine. Almost all of these ancient cures were pure superstition (i.e. desperation), but people no doubt believed in them because they were, suffice it to say, plentiful. Our past is full of violence and depravation (there were some good things too), and a human body, even a long dead one, was often not very hard to come by.

Mummies in Egypt are as archetypal to our thinking of that area of the world as castles and Europe, samurais in Japan, or overalls and America. According to io9, from the 12th century to the 17th century, mummy powder was considered a valuable remedy for everything from stomach ulcers and headaches. Plaster casts of ground up ancient Egyptian were thought to cure skin ailments and broken bones. They were even given to sick hawks, which were popular for hunting in the Middle Ages.

Also hailing from the ancient times, ancient Rome to be exact, were the restorative powers of gladiator blood. Widely considered a cure for epilepsy, blood and liver would be harvested from fallen gladiators, and would even be administered directly from the fallen warrior’s arm. In fact, the gore was even sold at stands outside the coloseums directly after a fatal fight.

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