Monday, March 30, 2009

Badminton and anti-depression

While playing badminton with kids today, I came up with an idea about depression or treatment of it. If you're an artist, how would you draw a picture of a very depressed person, or as an actor, act as a poor depressed fellow? He must be drooping his head, closing or barely opening his mouth, with a sad expression. If you want to cheer him up, what would you like to see him behave? Just the opposite, raising his head, opening mouth, smiling. Well, the three elements representing the opposite of depression are naturally satisfied with some entertaining sports such as badminton and kite flying. Think about it. You must look up to play (which, incidentally, also benefits your neck), and open your mouth to relax the skin and muscle under the chin. If the mouth is open like that, it's hard to have a sad facial expression even if you want to. Needless to say, any sport for entertainment (as opposed to competition) is generally good to mental health.

In psychology, the term suggestion means "the process of inducing a thought, sensation, or action in a receptive person without using persuasion and without giving rise to reflection in the recipient". I think the upward head direction and open mouth serve as perfect psychological suggestion to move away from depression. Badminton, as well as flying kites, should be an ideal sport for those suffering from this mental ailment.

Disclaimer: This is only my hypothesis. Its efficacy or lack of can only be ascertained by good control studies.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Omega-3 or fish oil and arthritis

A newsletter from Walgreens points out the benefit of fish oil to rheumatoid arthritis. I searched on Google for '"omega-3" arthritis' (double quotes included):
and got 1.15 million hits. There's no point in repeating the published research here. But I want to point out that I've had pain on my right wrist once in a while in the past, oh, perhaps ten years. I've never figured out the cause. The first doctor used a term tendinitis to describe it. Ever since my Mom suspected it was gout, I relayed that suspicion to subsequent doctors and they always gave me I think prednisone, an anti-inflammation drug, which seems to kill the pain fine, and I was told to avoid mushrooms, some fish, animal organs, etc. Nevertheless, wrist pain still comes and goes a few times a year. Oddly, a detailed blood test did not reveal any sign of gout (e.g. high uric acid) and eating mushrooms didn't correlate with flare-up. In fact, the year while I lived in China, mostly 2007, was actually worse when I had better discipline on diet. Now when I come to think of it, that was also the year I had not taken any fish oil. Back in the US, I started to take Omega-3 fish oil again and had much less frequent pain. I have to say this anecdotal evidence is quite consistent with the theory that fish oil goes against arthritis.