Posts Tagged Parkinson’s disease

All In For Coffee. Health Benefits Of Java.

Posted by on Saturday, 23 November, 2013
Humorous cartoon about why coffee is good for you

Coffee. It’s Good For You?


Coffee is a “guilty pleasure”.

Not like sneaking a smoke.

Oh no! Not nearly that bad! But nothing that good is good.

Here’s the surprise! Not only isn’t it bad, it’s a boost to your health.

Dr. Masato Tsutsui( Pharmacology Department, University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa) studied 27 people. His subjects let him noninvasively measure blood flow in a finger after drinking coffee. The results? A 30% improvement. Blood flow in a finger is considered a good proxy for how blood might flow in the smaller vessels of the body. And a particularly good proxy for how coffee might protect the blood vessels of the heart.

There’s more.

Several studies have shown that coffee supports liver function. Heavy drinkers got by longer without wrecking their livers.

There’s statistical (but not causal) evidence that coffee reduces the risk of type II diabetes.  Other studies showed  strong evidence for a protective effect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Basal cell carnoma (a type of skin cancer)? Yup. Coffee again.

And, if you’re a guy and you have a prostate, coffee again. It lowers the risk of prostate cancer. Quite substantially.

Lots of studies show coffee drinkers don’t get depressed as easily either.

Maybe it’s the atmosphere at Starbucks.


Why does it always come to this? There always some downside.

If you drink way too much coffee, you’re going to get frazzled nerves and jangled sleep. But you knew that. And certain coffees are high in a substance that’s not so good for your cholesterol. Pregnant people – especially women – should probably take it easy with the java too.

Weighing all the many pros and adjusting for the few cons, most people who enjoy a good cup of coffee – even two – can ditch the guilt. Coffee? It’s a good thing.

Don’t get too carried away. I don’t want to hear you’re drinking back-to-back coffees all day.

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The drawing is mine.







Parkinson’s Disease. Can It Be Stopped? Human Trials Now.

Posted by on Friday, 22 November, 2013
Funny Cartoon About Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s Treatment Now In Human Trials




Don’t get Parkinson’s Disease.

Here’s why.

Parkinson’s disease is when dopamine production in the brain falls off.  Dopamine, a “neurotransmitter”, helps to pass signals along the length of the nerves. When dopamine levels go down, people start to lose control over their movements.  Arms and legs become balky and hard to control. Even speaking can be hard. There’s other stuff too. Confusion, incontinence – a long list.  There are things you can do to make it more tolerable but there’s no cure.

Life’s a good thing. Even when it’s a miserable version of itself. But Parkinson’s does nothing to enhance it.

For about a decade, it has been possible to implant an electronic device, a deep brain stimulator or  (“pacemaker”) . The device stimulates the nerves – the ones that get screwed up in Parkinson’s –  getting them to perform better. The problem, (okay – other than the fact that this is brain surgery) is that the stimulator only helps for a while. Most people only see an improvement for a couple of years. Then it “wears off”.


Here’s the thing. Dr. Craig Van Horne (College of Medicine, University of Kentucky) has added something.  He takes a “spare” nerve from the ankle and implants it in the brain when the pacemaker goes in. Why do that? Because peripheral nerves can release neurotrophic growth factors – grow juice for nerves – which brain cells can’t. That’s why brain cells don’t regenerate. Dr Van Horne’s strategy, if it works in humans, would give the damaged nerves in the brain a chance to repair themselves.

What should we look for? Will the presence of a peripheral nerve with its release of growth factors give the deep brain stimulator more “oomph”? Will its benefits last longer? Is it possible that maybe the implanted nerve could replace the whole deep brain stimulator doohicky, allowing it to be turned off at some point?

We may not find out all this stuff right away. This is a “phase 1” trial. The main thing is to make sure the procedure to stick the nerve in there is practical and safe. However, if this trial is successful, there will be another.

It’s slow and frustrating. Too incremental. Besides. How could this ever be the ultimate answer. Brain surgery?

But it’s a step.

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The drawing is mine