Saturday, September 24, 2011

Magnetic field inversely correlated with dream bizarreness

Sweet dreams are made of geomagnetic activity, published on April 1, 2009, doesn't sound like an April Fool's Day joke. The academic article associated with that mass media report is An association between geomagnetic activity and dream bizarreness, in the July 2009 issue of Medical Hypotheses[note].

So, this guy, a psychologist by profession, recorded his 2387 dreams and personally rated the bizarreness (how weird or unrealistic) each dream was, and correlated with the local geomagnetic index in Perth, Australia, where he lived. It turned out that the stronger the magnetic field, the less (not more!) bizarre his dream.

I'm curious about his finding and would like to expand on this research, by Internet search and book reading only though. It was documented before that if you take pills of melatonin, the hormone your pineal gland would naturally secrete during deep sleep, you'll have a very vivid dream or nightmare (see e.g. p.302 Dr. Rosenfeld's Guide to Alternative Medicine). If we consider a positive correlation between vividness with bizarreness, and combine the two correlations, we may conclude that magnetic field strength is inversely associated with the amount of melatonin. That is, the stronger the magnetic field, the less melatonin produced, and the less bizarre (or more realistic) the dream is. Since melatonin induces sleep (often used to fight jet lag as well as insomnia), it follows that the magnetic field disturbs sleep, and a vivid, bizarre dream is connected with the deeper sleep than a realistic dream or no dream at all.

The correlation I added as a hypothesis here, that magnetic field is inversely associated with endogenously secreted melatonin, can be easily tested, not involving any subjective measurement. I hope to see a study published by a researcher some day.

[note] While some researchers might reject articles in Medical Hypotheses as unworthy, they won't reject the fact that great discoveries in history often germinated from meer hypotheses, and the hypotheses in this journal definitely contain some science element to make further, well-controlled, research easier.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tibetan medicine: first impression

CCTV's Chinese Medicine program is excellent. This time it's about the amazing Tibetan Medicine (TM). I'm no stranger to Traditional Chinese Medicine's diagnostics (checking tongue, pulse, etc), acupuncture and moxibustion, herbs, ... TM has most of it, but some are modified. A TM doctor makes an extraordinarily long and detailed analysis on the patient's urine, checking its smell repeatedly, stirring it occasionally. Moxibustion looks more violent than in TCM; the skin will get burned, which is taken care of separately. Living at a high altitude causes elevated hemoglobin level, and an effective treatment is bloodletting, of the "bad" blood as they call it. Making the precious "seventy-component pearl pellet" involves mercury, and toxicity control is crucial.

Overall, TM has similarity to TCM, only more brutal, primeval, archaic. In spite of the effectiveness, smelling each patient's sample will have the problem of desensitizing the doctor's nose, limiting his accuracy in diagnosing the patients that come later in the day. Bleeding is, according to a Han-looking Tibetan doctor, the only way to cure hyperhemoglobinemia. I'm sure TM has certain authority on this disease but I wonder if it's really the only treatment. The most appalling scene to me is the use of a large quantity of mercury in preparing the pearl pellets. As far as I know, mercury is proved to have absolutely zero benefit and a great deal of harm to our bodies. I seriously doubt that the current science and technology has not had a replacement for it in the preparation process. Mercury's uniqueness lies in the fact that it's metallic and stays in liquid form at room temperature. If that's the property being made use of, gallium, if memory serves me right, does the same, with much lower toxicity. If I live in Tibet, I'll definitely refuse to take this traditionally highly cherished "sacred" medicine.

I believe TM and TCM will learn from each other more than ever, thanks to the Internet and much improved transportation between Tibet and the rest of China. Diagnostics by the smell of urine may be an important contribution to TCM, as well as the bleeding as treatment of hyperhemoglobinemia. One of the most urgent changes to TM, as far as what's shown in this program so far, should be complete removal of mercury in the pearl pellets, a commonly prescribed medication. Sadly, no mention of this change is made by anyone interviewed.