Tag Archives | illness

What Witchcraft Is Facebook? Social Media and Hysterical Illness

800px-hysteria-e1287956169986Laura Dimon (demon?) writes at the Atlantic:

“Eerie and remarkable.”

Those are the words that Robert Bartholomew used to describe this past winter’s outbreak of mass hysteria in Danvers, Massachusetts, a town also known as “Old Salem” and “Salem Village.”

Bartholomew, a sociologist in New Zealand who has been studying cases of mass hysteria for more than 20 years, was referring to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-1693, the most widely recognized episode of mass hysteria in history, which ultimately saw the hanging deaths of 20 people.

Fast-forward about 300 years to January 2013, when a bizarre case of mass hysteria again struck Danvers. About two dozen teenagers at the Essex Agricultural and Technical School began having “mysterious” hiccups and vocal tics.

“The Massachusetts State Health Department refuses to say publicly,” Bartholomew wrote in an email in late August, “but I have heard from some of the parents privately who say that the symptoms are still persisting.”

The location might be eerie, but Bartholomew is not surprised by the outbreak in the slightest.

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Study Links Processed Salt To Autoimmune Diseases

processed foods

Are processed foods disrupting our immune systems? Via True Activist:

The modern diet of processed foods could be to blame for a sharp increase in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, alopecia, asthma and eczema.

A team of scientists from Yale University in the U.S and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, in Germany, say junk food diets could be partly to blame. “This study is the first to indicate that excess refined and processed salt may be one of the environmental factors driving the increased incidence of autoimmune diseases,” they said.

The team from Yale University studied the role of T helper cells in the body. These activate and ‘help’ other cells to fight dangerous pathogens such as bacteria or viruses and battle infections. A subset of these cells – known as Th17 cells – also play an important role in the development of autoimmune diseases.

In their study, scientists discovered that exposing these cells in a lab to a table salt solution made them act more ‘aggressively.’ They found that mice fed a diet high in refined salts saw a dramatic increase in the number of Th17 cells in their nervous systems that promoted inflammation.

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Eight Cures That Did More Harm Than Good

Leeching-largeArallyn Primm writes at Mental Floss:

No one likes to be sick or suffering. Humans have tried to fight against disease and affliction since we could first comprehend “Hey, I ate that root, and now I don’t feel like death!” In the course of trying to find new cures for medical problems, or perceived medical problems, we’ve stumbled more than a few times along the way. Most of the time, treatments simply didn’t work, and were no more harmful than what they were meant to “cure.” Sometimes, though, the medicine was even worse than the condition itself.

1. To cure rabid human or dog bite

To his credit, Pliny the Elder discounted many purely-magical folk cures in his Natural Histories (not to mention writing entire chapters against the eating of infant brains), and was a proponent of several treatments which we now know to have some merit, such as aloe vera to dress burns.

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Wind Turbine Syndrome is Bullshit

Peter Sinclair writes at Climate Denial Crock of the Week:

All manner of vapors, demonic possession, bad juju, soured milk and frightened horses have been blamed on wind turbines, especially by phony, fossil funded “grass roots” organization that are, let’s say, tea party top-heavy in their views. If a fraction of it were true, we’d be seeing thousands of body bags coming out of Germany and Denmark.

Fortunately and, you already knew this – its all bullshit.

Guardian:

Sickness being attributed to wind turbines is more likely to have been caused by people getting alarmed at the health warnings circulated by activists, an Australian study has found.

Complaints of illness were far more prevalent in communities targeted by anti-windfarm groups, said the report’s author, Simon Chapman, professor of public health at Sydney University. His report concludes that illnesses being blamed on windfarms are more than likely caused by the psychological effect of suggestions that the turbines make people ill, rather than by the turbines themselves.

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There’s Someone Who Nose How to Sniff Out a Problem

Picture: CDC (PD)

“There was a programme on our TV sets called ‘Dogs with jobs’, right? Dogs with jobs?  And they used to put it on at 11.30 in the morning, right? I was unemployed at that time and I resented a programme called ‘Dogs with jobs’ being put on telly when they knew unemployed people would be watching. [...] Oh f—ing hell, even the dogs have got jobs!!”

- Russell Brand

There’s a doggy which has been trained to sniff out patients who have the ‘superbug’ C.difficile. It can clear an entire hospital ward in minutes with a recorded 80 per cent success rate, The Telegraph reports:

The dog, a beagle named Cliff, can sniff out the potentially deadly infection on samples taken from patients and even just from walking around the ward sniffing the air, according to a report published online in the British Medical Journal.

Dogs have been trained to sniff out a variety of diseases, warn epileptics of impending fits and can be trained to assist disabled people, but this is thought to be the first time one has been found to able to detect Clostridium difficile.

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Chemicals From Common Plastics Linked With Diabetes In Women

Consider going light on makeup? Causation has not been shown, but a strong correlative link has been found between diabetes and level of exposure to the phthalates that seep from synthetic household items, Scientific American reports:

Phthalates make plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible, and they are added to some cosmetics, perfumes and other personal care products to stabilize colors and fragrances. A wide variety of household goods rely on phthalates, including vinyl flooring, adhesives and shower curtains. More than 75 percent of Americans have phthalates in their urine.

Until now, most phthalate research has focused on reproductive consequences because these compounds seem to disrupt male hormones. Boys exposed to phthalates in the womb had signs of feminized genitalia, which may lead to fertility problems. Researchers also have found neurological effects, including reduced IQs and attention problems in boys.

The new study examined diabetes and phthalate concentrations in 2,350 women who participated in a national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2001 through 2008.

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