Saturday, August 27, 2011

Correlation Games

Building a Better Antipsychotic Drug by Treating Schizophrenia's Cause: How Drugs Act On Dopamine-Producing Neurons

The classic symptoms of schizophrenia -- paranoia, hallucinations, the inability to function socially -- can be managed with antipsychotic drugs. But exactly how these drugs work has long been a mystery.

Now, researchers at Pitt have discovered that antipsychotic drugs work akin to a Rube Goldberg machine -- that is, they suppress something that in turn suppresses the bad effects of schizophrenia, but not the exact cause itself.

Grace hypothesizes that it's the schizophrenic brain's dopamine system working overtime. "Our recordings of dopamine neurons suggest that the dopamine system is turned up too high," says Grace. "That fits with human imaging studies in schizophrenics showing the dopamine system is overreacting."

Currently available antipsychotic drugs work by blocking dopamine receptors and stopping dopamine neurons from firing. "Using these drugs, we're fixing the overreactivity by causing the neurons to be inactive," says Grace. "It would be better to fix overreactivity by correcting what causes it.

"It's like fixing a car that's going too fast by taking out the engine instead of lifting your foot off the gas."

"What we're doing today, using antipsychotic drugs currently available, is putting a sort of patch several steps downstream from where we think the problem is," says Grace. "By using these animal models, we can start to work backwards to figure out why the drugs are having the effects they do. The next step to look further back and try to fix the problem at its source"

In the schizophrenic brain, it's not just the dopamine system that's hyperresponsive. The hippocampus is also hyperactive. Grace's research shows that this hippocampal hyperactivity probably causes the dopamine system to go into overdrive.

"This is consistent with the hypothesis that the hippocampus is overdriving the system, and antipsychotics are just pushing it over the edge to shut it down," he says. "This gives us an idea of where to go to make a better antipsychotic drug."

My turn-

Although I really am heartened to see someone admitting their drugs don't address the cause of mental illness- these results are also consistent with two or more distinct yet interactive pathologies. The dopamine responsiveness can easily be explained by streptococcal autoimmunity. The drugs reduce symptoms because they shut down the receptors. The antibodies have nothing to bind to. If you treat these people's infections, the agonist activity really will be fixed at it's source.

The hippocampal activity may be related to gluten or casein autoimmunity.
And there is probably something else going on too. Some influenza or other viruses.

Free your mind. Stop thinking this is caused by one thing.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thoughts on Obsession

When it is good it is very, very good-
But when it is bad it is horrid.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Have Mercy

Now that the laws are so strict, I wish businesses would build adequate smoking shelters in appropriate places. We went to a beach resort, and they had tons of amenities- even an indoor pool and big exercise room with lots of equipment. The smoking area was a bench next to the dumpster.
Listen, I don't mind going outside, really I don't. I hate the indoor haze as much as anyone. I would just appreciate some common decency.
Especially from the hospitality industry.

Value Village blew my mind

I shop at thrift stores a lot. It's one of the few places I feel comfortable. I've been going to VV since 1997. The thing I loved about it was they sorted the clothes by color. I didn't have to look at the red and yellow stuff- I could go directly to the blue and green. This pleased my obsessive sensibilities to no end. Well, they stopped doing it. I understand- it's a lot easier to rack the stuff now, they seem to have instituted a number of changes to save time. But I walked around for an hour yesterday and just felt lost and confused. They totally rocked my world.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Two of these things

I only have a couple maybes on the Vegas trip. You people need some motivation.

Here- the Top Ten reasons Narcolepsy Network thinks their members should go to their conference:

10. It's Vegas, Baby!!!!

9. You'll get another tote bag to add to your collection.

8. Annual Yoga and NIA fix.

7. See how much your old N friends have changed since the last conference.

6. You'll have the chance to bid on our awesome Silent Auction items.

5. Cookies!!!!!

4. You'll have the opportunity to participate in more support group sessions than Vegas has lights.

3. If you're new, you'll finally be able to say that you've met someone else who has narcolepsy.

2. You'll actually be the "normal" person in the room.

and the number 1 reason to go to the NN Conference .... ... ...You'll get a yummy piece of 25th Anniversary cake at the 26th Annual Membership Meeting!

Look in the Mirror

This is why:

About ten years ago a really sanctimonious prick asked me:
"How can such a smart person be so stupid sometimes?"

Let me count the ways...

Yo Doctors

A couple observations.

Ordinary people understand this concept easily: teeth infections can cause mental illness.
Crazy people do too... it makes complete sense to them.
Doctors seem to need to think about it.

People younger than me- love these ideas. They are sharp, they already figured you were full of shit. It gives them hope.
People my age and older- it really pisses them off.
Old people- can't accept it. Can't even think about how different things might have been. They really do go into denial.

I find it interesting that you guys always predict the need for more health care. It's like you never expect to actually cure anything....

You have some serious recalibration in your future.

Monday, August 22, 2011

See the Pathology

When I was really sick this last winter, I obsessed on the Egypt and Libya revolutions. Really bad. Constantly refreshing Twitter feeds and live blogs.

In honor of the thrilling Libyan success, I offer Exhibit A.
That man is clearly sick in the head.

Best Wishes for a saner tomorrow.

Friday, August 19, 2011

An offhand hypothesis

There is a lot of research into the differences between men and women's mental health problems. In general, women tend to have more issues, and they tend more towards depression than men.

The array of theories I have seen explaining this is a fascinating study in itself. These authors assert women suffer more than men from depression, because "women ruminate more frequently than men, focusing repetitively on their negative emotions and problems rather than engaging in more active problem solving."

That's not an explanation. Those are effects, not causes.

A lot of is it estrogen. The presence of estrogen alters the function of many neurotransmitters. Here's a new study on the topic.

I would just like to add- this effect is amplified in society because women restrict their diets more often than men....

Girl Stuff

A recent study demonstrated increased rates of celiac disease in women who present with unexplained infertility. Among the 188 patients who completed testing, the prevalence of undiagnosed celiac disease was 2.1%. While this rate was not significantly higher than the expected 1.3%, the diagnosis of celiac disease in women with unexplained infertility was found to be significantly higher at 5.9% (3 of 51 women). Interestingly, all 4 patients found to have celiac disease conceived within a year of adopting a gluten-free diet. Though the study numbers are small, the findings suggest that, at least forsome women with infertility, dietary measures may help bolster fertility.
I bet those numbers would be higher if they tested for non-celiac gluten intolerance too...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Things that make me twitch

I usually try to watch recorded TV, so I don't have to see the commercials. They tend to freak me out. This place advertises on my forensic shows. They claim to be a 10 day cure for alcoholism and drug addiction. I just looked it up for the first time.

From their brochure:
Schick Shadel Hospital is a multi-disciplinary treatment for chemical dependency. Out treatment combines the usual counseling and group therapy with medically supervised and controlled aversion counter conditioning and rehabilitation interviews.

The aversion conditioning is accomplished with a degree of nausea induced by a medication presented in association with the sight, smell and taste (not ingestion) of the addictive drug. The conditioned aversion achieved in this manner provides the opportunity to be free of the craving for the addictive drug. It also breaks the conditioned responses that tend to push one towards drinking or using drugs. Permanent abstinence from addictive drugs is the goal of our treatment program.

The second relatively unique treatment approach in our multi-modal therapy involves giving a sedative medication in order to take the patient from a wide-awake state to a state of drowsiness. At this time we ask psychologically oriented questions that enable us to obtain, in a brief time, information that might otherwise require many weeks of counseling interviews. The rehabilitation interviews also allow the medical staff to monitor the level of aversion for all types of addictive drugs including alcohol.

Wow. I can't even count how many ways that program exploits their patients' symptoms.
And I didn't see any ways they alleviate them.
But I had to stop reading after the sedative part...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Four Years?

Today is my official glutenversary. But I think I need an asterisk*.

I did do gluten experiments, and ate some Chile Rellenos in Mexico this year. In my defense- they ARE the best in the world.

and that's all the cheating I've ever done...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Peculiar Symptoms

Referred Itch (scroll down a bit)
About one person in four or five is conscious that scratching an irritation may produce an itch elsewhere.

I had a number of these most of my life. Very specific too, my wrist-bone was connected to my rib-bone, for example.

They all disappeared after I started taking acyclovir.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Same old Song and Dance

Antidepressants became the third most commonly prescribed class of medications in the United States thanks in part to non-psychiatrist providers prescribing the drugs to individuals without any psychiatric diagnosis, according to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"We’ve seen a marked increase in antidepressant use among individuals with no psychiatric diagnosis. Nearly four out of every five antidepressant prescriptions are written by non-psychiatrist providers," said Ramin Mojtabai, MD, PhD, MPH. He was lead author of the study and an associate professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Mental Health.

Between 1996 and 2007, the number of visits where individuals were prescribed antidepressants with no psychiatric diagnoses increased from 59.5 percent to 72.7 percent (!!!) and the share of providers who prescribed antidepressants without a concurrent psychiatric diagnosis increased from 30 percent of all non-psychiatrist physicians in 1996 to 55.4 percent in 2007.

Considering they don't even work for people who DO have mental illness- this is just appalling.

Brain Eating Zombie of the Day

Rahul Parikh

The Real Reason Hypochondriacs Drive Doctors Crazy

Knowing what I know now about the nature of hypochondria, all of this was easy to foresee. The mother of this child wanted, desperately, to get her daughter a diagnosis, a grand unifying explanation for what was likely nothing more than a bunch of random ailments strung together. Had I ordered that lab test and given her this false diagnosis of Lyme disease, I would have sentenced her to 6 months of intravenous antibiotics through a surgically placed central line.
That's quite an assumption you're making there. But even so, why don't you treat those random ailments and see what happens?

Dismissing our symptoms is the cause of hypochondria. By not treating our illnesses, we get sicker.
See how that works?

Sunday, August 7, 2011


This is one of the most heinous crimes that has occurred in recent history. I have followed the story since it first broke. What was done to Brian Wells was depraved.
The fact that it was made into a comedy film is even more so.
"Neither the filmmakers nor the stars of `30 Minutes or Less' were aware of this crime prior to their involvement in the film," Steve Elzer, the senior vice president who handles media relations for Sony Pictures' Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, said in a statement. "The writers were vaguely familiar with what had occurred and wrote an original screenplay that does not mirror the real-life tragedy."
That is absolutely not true. The plot line mirrors exactly what happened. Marjorie Diehl concocted the whole sordid scheme because she wanted money to hire a hit man kill her father. The case was on the FBI top ten for years. I find it very hard to believe that nobody in the entire production of this film knew this was a real story.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Make it go away

It's nasty and it doesn't work.

Study shows colon cleansing may be risky
Mishori found 20 studies published in the last decade. Although the reports show little evidence of any benefit, many studies reported side effects. These include cramping, bloating, nausea, vomiting, electrolyte imbalance, and kidney failure.

A spokesman from the International Association for Colon Hydrotherapy (IACT) took issue with the report.

I find it interesting that there is an International Association for a procedure that has never been shown to be effective.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Correlation Olympics

I was going to do this earlier but had important things to do and needed to be sane for a while.
Last night I put on my hazmat suit and waded into the articles presented at the Sleep 2011 conference.

Update: here's my favorite:

Timing, Extent, and Incidence of Sleepiness during College Lectures

Introduction: College students are reported to have excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) attributable to suboptimal duration, timing, or quality sleep. EDS is associated with poor academic performance and under­standing of the underlying causal pathways is needed. The present study investigates fluctuations in level of sleepiness among college students during lectures. Attending a lecture is a ubiquitous college student ex­perience that often involves sitting quietly in a comfortable setting with the lecture as the predominant source of stimulation. This circumstance likely unmasks sleepiness. The aim of this report is to describe the tim­ing of sleepiness changes across lectures as well as the extent and inci­dence of increased sleepiness.

Methods: Data were collected from students during lectures presented in 5 different classes taught by different instructors. Starting at the begin­ning of a > 50 min lecture, students were signaled at 10-min intervals to rate their level of sleepiness (using clickers) with the Stanford Sleepi­ness Scale (SSS). The Epworth Sleepiness Scale was used to create low, medium, and high Epworth-Sleepiness groups.

Results: Data from two classes were dropped because of lecture inter­ruptions (exam reviews, etc). ANOVA of data for 104 students revealed that SSS sleepiness was lowest at the beginning of the lecture and high­est 30 minutes into the lecture (p < .001). This same quadratic function was observed for all 3 classes and all 3 Epworth-Sleepiness groups (all ps < .05). At the 30-min time point, 40%, 33%, and 23% of the high, moderate, and low Epworth-Sleepiness groups were very sleepy.

Conclusion: Sleepiness may substantially impair ability to benefit from a lecture. This exploratory study suggests that sleepiness among college students is unmasked by lectures and consistently reaches a peak about 30 min into a lecture.

Not-so Fun Fact

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most recent data available indicate that the national suicide rate increased from 2008 to 2009, when suicide became the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S. There were 36,547 deaths attributed to suicide in 2009, which was more than twice as many deaths as those that were attributed to homicide.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I need a man in a uniform

Drugs Found Ineffective for Veteran's PTSD
Drugs widely prescribed to treat severe post-traumatic stress symptoms for veterans are no more effective than placebos and come with serious side effects, including weight gain and fatigue, researchers reported on Tuesday.

The new study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, focused on one medication, Risperdal. But experts said that its results most likely extend to the entire class, including drugs like Seroquel, Geodon and Abilify.

A team of researchers affiliated with the Veterans Affairs medical system had 123 veterans with the disorder begin a regimen that added Risperdal to their treatment. Some of the patients served in Vietnam, others in Iraq or Afghanistan; all had tried courses of antidepressant treatment and found little relief.

After six months of treatment, these veterans were doing no better than a similar group of 124 veterans, who were given a placebo.

“We didn’t find any suggestion that the drug treatment was having an overall benefit on their lives,” said Dr. John H. Krystal, the director of the clinical neurosciences division of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD and the lead author of the study.

Brains of vets with PTSD can change as they age
Combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder are more likely to have dementia, cardiac problems and structural changes in the brain as they get older than veterans without PTSD, according to new research.

For example, veterans with PTSD are two to three times more likely to develop heart disease than those who do not have the disorder.

Seriously, if you are a veteran in Seattle and want to try my experiment- I will set you up with all the gluten-free food and mouth rinse you can use...

Sounds like depression to me

A signaling system in the brain previously shown to regulate sleep is also responsible for inducing lethargy during illness.

To determine the cause of illness-induced lethargy, Marks and colleagues studied the brains of rats, the neuroactivity of which closely mimics human brains. They determined that acute and chronic inflammation-induced lethargy is brought about by a specific population of inflammation-sensitive neurons located near the neurotransmitter system that controls physical activity and arousal, known as the orexin system. When the researchers injected the rats with orexin, they were able to restore orexin signaling and, thus, restore motivated behaviors and movement.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Duh Science

Starved Brain Cells May Cause Diets to Fail

When a dieter starves themselves of calories, they starve their brain cells as well. New research finds that these hungry brain cells then release "feed me" signals, which drive hunger, slow metabolism and may cause diets to fail.
That's self-evident. That's how the feedback mechanism works.
Not to mention- ANY twenty-five year old woman could have told you this.

For the record- the way to lose weight without restricting calories is to just restrict your carbohydrate intake. Eat as much protein and fat as you want.

My 100th Post

This is why:

Because seventeen years ago I laid on my floor and cried for three solid weeks. Hysterical uncontrollable sobbing accompanied by constant suicidal ideation. I had wallowed in self-pity plenty of times, but this was different. This was the most agonizing thing I had ever experienced. It was not my imagination. And it was not voluntary. I wanted it to stop.

And when it finally did, I decided I was going to figure out what the hell it was. Because I knew nobody knew. I had studied their stuff obsessively since high school. I already knew for sure their shit didn’t work. Their theories did not explain that neurological short-circuit. Or the ones that came after it.

The only reason I’m alive is because I was a convenient and willing test subject.
Otherwise I would have put myself out of my misery a long time ago.

I only wanted to find an answer. Nothing else really mattered to me. I just wanted to know how it worked. I never even imagined that I would find relief. I thought it was way too late for me.

Now that I do feel better, I cannot take that blessing lightly. Every day I wake up and don’t want to die only reminds me that there is someone out there who does.

Sometime last year I read this story about a suicide pact. Don’t click on it. You will be haunted forever. It made me want to drive around in the middle of the night looking for houses with lights on. To find every one of us before it happens again.

That’s crazy. I can’t do that.
So I stay up and do this instead.

Just an observation

Politicians sure tend to be a self-righteous lot.