Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Birth month and risk of disease

A Columbia University research on the data of 1.7 million patients in a New York hospital shows that 55 diseases are associated with birth month. Averaged on all the diseases, people born in October and November have the highest risk and those born in May have the lowest.

Breaking down to specific diseases: Born in March you have a higher risk of nine types of heart disease. Born in December, higher in reproductive diseases. Born in November, higher in respiratory and neurological diseases. See the bar graphs in the Washington Post article.

But the strength of correlation with birth month varies too. See the circle at the bottom of the Columbia University article where the distance of the dot from the center represents the strength of correlation. Thus, acute bronchiolitis is very strongly associated with a birth at the end of November, viral infection strongly associated with a birth in mid-November, ADHD somewhat associated with a birth at the beginning of November, and hypertension rather weakly with a birth month in mid-January.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Centipedes in TCM contributes to passing through blood-brain barrier

Chinese Central Television aired a video about a touching story. In 2009, a Henan-province doctor, Song Zhaopu, went to Hotan, Xinjiang, to treat young children suffering cerebral palsy, where the disease is widespread due to under-developed economy and people's lack of knowledge of health of newborn babies. In addition to massage or physical therapy and acupuncture, Dr. Song used the following TCM medicines in the treatment: 龟甲 (tortoise shell), 鳖甲 (turtle shell), 蜈蚣 (centipede), 党参 (codonopsis), 鸡内金 (membrane of chicken gizzard). The main ingredients are the first two. Codonopsis is for nourishing yin and promoting qi, and membrane of chicken gizzard is for improving digestion. What interests me is the centipede, which, according to Dr. Song, acts as the transport agent carrying the medications into the brain, because it can go through the blood-brain barrier (see the snippet near 3:10 of the third video page). This is apparently a TCM concept interpreted in the terminology of modern medical science and Dr. Song acknowledged that. If the centipede or the molecules in the blood as a result of it are literally capable of passing through the blood-brain barrier, it is a wonderful gift from mother nature because many other diseaes such as depression, dementia and Alzheimer can benefit from it. Because of the blood-brain barrier, delivering the medication to the brain is always a challenge, even though it's not the major obstacle. I did not find any research article studying the effect of dried centipedes in passing through the blood-brain barrier. But such research may be worth the effort.