Tag Archives: cure

Sunday Express MND campaign: Give us the funds so we CAN cure Motor Neurone Disease

Our Fund The Fight To Cure MND crusade is backing a group of causes that are already battling for the cash ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s next spending review. We are adding our voice to the push for the money already started by a coalition of charities in the United To End MND campaign, being run by the Motor Neurone Disease Association, MND Scotland and My Name’5 Doddie.

There are currently no effective treatments or cures for this devastating terminal disease. The campaign aims to make it “treatable”.

The Government claims it has spent £54million on MND in the past five years, but campaigners suggest most of the funding has gone towards general neurological research, rather than targeted studies.

They argue a more accurate estimate of targeted Government funding to be under £5million per year, less than the charities themselves contribute.

Motor Neurone Disease describes a group of diseases that attack nerves that control movement, so muscles no longer work.

READ MORE: Pfizer vaccine: Three delayed side effects to spot

In 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge raised £7million in the UK alone, kickstarting multiple advances in potentially life-changing new treatments.

Mr James described this as a critical moment for MND research. He added that with resources to run trials there could be a treatment for the disease in the next five to 10 years. “We are talking about making MND a treatable disease,” he said. “This would be a world-leading drug and discovery development and trials platform.

“We are at this important moment for MND because there’s been a lot of progress in recent years in research. We think we can really develop strong therapies for particular types of MND.

“With extra investment from the Government we will begin to see trials for treatments and therapies in the next few years and certainly some very exciting developments for particular types of the disease, which could see real treatments in the next five to 10 years.

“As a charity we can only do so much, so what we need is government and industry to come on board. We have felt MND is something of a forgotten disease when it comes to funding and research. We can only make progress with increased support.

“The Government looks at MND as a rare disease, which we don’t believe it is. There is a lifetime risk of one in 300 but because the prognosis can be very short, and many die within a year, you don’t get a growing number of people. This is game-changing for MND research. The institute will make all the difference.”

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“MND is a horrific disease, it is the most common reason people seek assisted suicide. We see people with cancer or other illnesses go on trials and it is incredibly frustrating that there isn’t anything there for us. Just being given the opportunity to try would mean everything to us.”

Parliament debated MND funding last week after a petition reached 100,000 signatures, while the official bid was given to the Government on Monday.

This proposal has been developed with the backing of global pharmaceutical companies, with letters of support from Biogen, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Eli Lilly and PrecisionLife.

It is hoped that increased investment from the Government and the resources this could bring, will spark even more interest from the pharmaceutical industry and establish the UK as the leading player in the extremely valuable global field of neurological disease research. Andrew Lewer, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Motor Neurone Disease, said: “I think there is the appetite in Parliament for this. There have been some major breakthroughs recently and now is the time to capitalise on that.

“There has been a change of tone, and scientists are saying they have found the key – they just need funding to bring it out.

“I don’t need to spell out why this is important. It is a ruthless disease. This is something that can make a massive difference and we could look back in a few decades saying ‘look, we ended up with a cure’.

“Britain is a leading country in this sector, this is a huge opportunity. We have done it with Covid, we played a huge role in HIV/Aids, and this could be the next massive British breakthrough.”

Prof Ammar Al-Chalabi, Neurologist and MND researcher, King’s College London

Motor Neurone Disease research is at a tipping point. When I started working on it, nearly 28 years ago, it was seen as a rare, hopeless disease that could never be cured. Now we know it is not really rare – it’s just that it usually kills people within a couple of years so there are never many around with it. More importantly, we now know it is possible to cure MND with the right tools.

For example, gene therapy, a type of treatment that edits someone’s DNA, works in a childhood condition similar to MND. Gene therapy trials for MND are happening now. But even if that treatment works, it will only cure about 10 per cent of people with the condition – those who have a genetic predisposition. The other 90 per cent still need an effective medicine.

Thankfully, we are making huge strides and we know more than ever before about what causes the disease, why the nerve cells die off, and how we might keep them healthy.

But we need proper investment. Diseases such as MND, dementia and Parkinson’s will become more common in the future because of the way the population is changing. MND often strikes people in the prime of life, just when they have families, when they are at their career best.

Around a third of sufferers die within a year of diagnosis and half within two years. This dreadful outlook is a tragedy for those living with it, but this rapid disease progression also means we can learn about what might treat it quickly. And what we learn can be applied to dementia and Parkinson’s because they are caused by similar problems in the nervous system.

Every clinic day, I have to give people the devastating news that they have MND. I have to tell them it is a terminal illness and there is no effective treatment.

I find those conversations emotional and very difficult.

But it is absolutely nothing compared to what receiving that news is like, to what those individuals are going through and will go through.

The only way to really help is to find a cure, and that takes more and better research.

This is what motivates me and the thousands of other health professionals and scientists researching MND across the world.

Charities do what they can. Their investment in targeted MND research in the UK outstrips that of the Government. But it is not enough. We need the Government and the life sciences industry to step up. That is why we started the United To End MND campaign. We know what even a little extra can do.

In 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge brought an additional £7million to MND research in the UK. About £5million of that was used to accelerate research programmes, bringing them forward by about five years.

As a direct result, we have discovered new genes linked to the condition and new ways to measure its progression using blood tests – both vital steps towards a cure.

MND scientists are fantastic at working together. Now we need the Government to work with us. Our vision is a virtual MND Research Institute, bringing together centres of excellence across the country to work together to find a cure.

This institute will be a partnership between patients, charities, scientists, health professionals and industry. With government on board, we could dramatically accelerate the search for a cure. We can see that targeted state funding like this helps. The Government already has similar schemes for dementia and cancer. Let’s do it for MND.

By creating a platform like this, we can make real progress. We can develop a research pipeline starting with understanding what happens in the patient, through to finding possible treatments for testing.

We can put those treatments into better clinical trials more quickly with a national, co-ordinated effort.

But that takes considerable investment up front. At the moment, only about one in 12 people with MND takes part in a clinical trial. We want to be able to offer that opportunity to everyone with the disease, giving them hope and scientists like me more of the information we urgently need. Conducting trials in this way is fast – that’s what worked in finding a vaccine for Covid.

Our ask, as a coalition – patients, neurologists, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, MND Scotland and My Name’5 Doddie Foundation – is simple.

We want the Government to pledge £50million over five years to fund a national co-ordinated research effort in MND.

That will be matched by funding from charities and industry. £50million will be like a rocket booster for MND research.

The UK already has many of the world’s top MND researchers, best universities and top MND specialists. Let’s give them the lift they need to crack this scourge and accelerate the search for a cure.

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Life and Style
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Best ways to cure a hangover – 4 things to do before bed and in the morning


After you drink alcohol your body is dehydrated so it produces hormones that make your kidney hold on to water.

This increases your blood pressure and can give you a headache, one of the worst symptoms of a hangover.

The TikToker explained: “Your liver is also actively trying to break down the alcohol from last night, creating chemicals called thromboxanes in the process.

“It’s this increase in thromboxanes that leads to flu-like symptoms like nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

“When you drink alcohol you also get dehydrated and lose electrolytes which can lead to a headache in the morning.”

To solve this problem, Octavian recommends drinking plenty of water with salt or electrolytes before, during and after the party to rehydrate and prevent or stop a headache.

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Inventor Says His New Straw Will Cure Hiccups

A Texas doctor says you don’t have to breathe into a paper bag, suck on a lemon, or use other Mom-endorsed remedies when you’ve got a case of the hiccups.

Instead, you can sip water through an L-shaped, hard plastic straw marketed as the HiccAway, says inventor Ali Seifi, MD.

How does it work? According to instructions on the HiccAway website, you stick the straw into a glass of water and suck in water two or three times, immediately swallowing after each sip.

You must suck hard because there’s a valve in the end of the straw, which has two settings: adult and child.

The L-shaped, hard plastic straw marketed as the HiccAway

The scientific explanation on the website is that all that sipping “lowers the diaphragm while opening first, and then closing the epiglottis (the leaf-shaped flap in the throat that keeps food out of the windpipe). Doing so stimulates at the same time the ‘Phrenic’ and ‘Vagus’ nerves, allowing the brain to ‘reset’ and stop the hiccups.”

Seifi is an associate professor of neurosurgery and director of the neurological intensive care unit at University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. He said he invented the HiccAway after noticing patients who had hiccups while getting chemotherapy and other treatments.

Seifi and associates did a study in which 249 volunteers used the invention. About two-thirds of them said they got hiccups at least once a month.  According to results published in JAMA Open Network, 92% of the volunteers said the HiccAway worked for them.

Rhys Thomas, MD, an epilepsy neuroscientist at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, told The Guardian that the device probably will work, but noted, “I think this is a solution to a problem that nobody has been asking for.”

He said his own way of curing hiccups was plugging his ears while drinking water through a normal straw.

Seifi is seeking a patent for the HiccAway.


HiccAway website: “Your Questions, Answered!”

JAMA Network Open: “Evaluation of the Forced Inspiratory Suction and Swallow Tool to Stop Hiccups.”

The Guardian: “Drinking straw device is instant cure for hiccups, say scientists.”

This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News Headlines

Can tripping on ketamine cure PTSD? I decided to try.

This story originally appeared in the Calm issue of Popular Science. Current subscribers can access the whole digital edition here, or click here to subscribe.

The first time I get high on Ketamine, I’m not sure I’m doing it right. The setting is nice enough: I’m tucked beneath a gray weighted blanket, reclining on a creamy leather chair. Headphones deliver the sort of playlist you’d find by searching for “meditation” on Spotify, and a mural of a gorgeous forest is the last thing I see before putting on a silky sleep mask. A therapist sits a few feet away, ready to provide reassurance if I need it. Down the hall, a friendly nurse practitioner is on call with Tylenol and gluten-free pretzels if I feel a little peaky when the session finishes, plus anti-anxiety medication if the sensation crosses into a little more than peaky. I am warm, safe, and supported.

Am I high enough, though? Should someone be saying something? Has it started? Am I ruining things by expecting something to “start”?

I came to Field Trip, a psychedelic clinic in midtown Manhattan, to try to vanquish post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from an abusive relationship that ended years ago. Ketamine’s on-label use is for surgical anesthesia, but over the past two decades, neuroscientists and psychiatrists have found it remarkably effective in treating symptoms of depression. Subsequent studies have also shown its promise with other mental health problems such as anxiety, substance abuse disorders, and PTSD.

In operating rooms, anesthesiologists characterize the drug as dissociative—distorting perception of sight and sound to the point of temporary oblivion—yet when it’s shot into my arm for the first time I remain decidedly associated. I feel woozy and relaxed, and the vague patterns of light and color I’m used to seeing when I squeeze my eyes closed are more vivid than usual. Still, all I can think about is that I’m supposed to be viewing my trauma with a new lens: seeing what I did and what was done to me from some great protective height. Turning inward will, I hope, empower me to banish whatever monsters I might find there. But right now, all my inner self has to say is, I am probably doing ketamine wrong.

After about an hour spent debating whether I should speak my misgivings out loud, my therapist gently invites me to “return to the space.” Over a cup of turmeric tea, I sheepishly admit that I fear I wasted my first of six prescribed “experiences.”

They assure me that this is common among their clientele so far. Field Trip opened its first clinic, in Toronto, in March 2020, to treat depression and other mental health problems, and has operated in New York City only since the following July. With my sessions straddling the turn of 2021, I’m working through a protocol the team there is still studying and adjusting.

To the average person, what Field Trip is doing may seem like a fringe practice, but it isn’t, strictly speaking, all that new. Research on how psychedelic experiences may relieve mental health conditions dates to the middle of the 20th century and stems from spiritual and cultural practices centuries older than that. Ketamine’s ability to cure patients let down by traditional antidepressants and therapy emerged in the late ’90s, and since then, investigators have worked steadily to hone their understanding. It’s helped a lot that the drug, approved as a general anesthetic in 1970, is easy to get—unlike more heavily regulated compounds like LSD or psilocybin. That availability, though, has also made it possible for commercial use to outpace scientific consensus. Online directories indicate that at least 75 US clinics offer the substance to the public.

[Related: What happens with psychedelics make you see God?]

While evidence for ketamine’s antidepressant effects is strong, questions remain about exactly how it should be administered, to whom, and how often. And only in the past few years have researchers begun to test it in Field Trip–like regimens—taken in trip-inducing portions in conjunction with talk therapy. If the outcomes are positive, that would align with similar findings for other psychedelic substances.

In my own search for healing, I have tried antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, and cognitive behavioral therapy. The existing data told me that ketamine might help and, even if it didn’t, was unlikely to do any harm if my practitioners are careful and trustworthy. I decided to take the risk.

In 2006, when I was 14, an episode of House M.D. gave me a glimpse into ketamine’s potential. It’s good TV: After a gunshot wound, the medical drama’s titular drug addict and diagnostic supersleuth emerges from surgery to a confusing series of hallucinations and stretches of lost time. He blames his colleagues for dosing him with ketamine as an anesthetic. They counter there’s research suggesting that a single infusion could alleviate his chronic leg pain. Plot twist! It’s all been a dream, and he’s still bleeding out from his bullet wound. As he’s rolled into the ER, House gasps, “Give me ketamine.”

Later episodes portray a man reborn without pain or strife, albeit temporarily. I remember being amused at the suggestion that just one IV drip might rewire your brain for the better. But when writers scripted the show, real-world research on ketamine had implications beyond easing nerve pain. That same year, scientists at the National Institutes of Mental Health released the results of a trial in which 17 patients with depression received IVs of ketamine while 14 with a similar profile got saline drips. Nearly 75 percent of those receiving the drug showed marked improvement in their depression symptoms the day after; more than a third of them still felt the effects a week later. A quick infusion seemed to accomplish what years of therapy and traditional medication had not.

Meanwhile, the notion that tripping can be a lasting cure for mental illness has been around since the 1950s. Early tests combining LSD, mescaline, or psilocybin with talk therapy delivered promising results. But the Nixonian war on drugs made the substances illegal in 1970, stymying progress for those psychedelics and eventually MDMA as well. Decades of lobbying from academics and the nonprofit research group Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) eventually led the Food and Drug Administration to recommend in the early 1990s that studying MDMA could continue under strict oversight.

That, coincidentally, is about the same time ketamine came into the conversation, as neuroscientists began to suspect it might affect depression. While all mental illnesses have complex causes, we know that the balance of certain chemicals called neurotransmitters—which facilitate communication between nerve cells—plays a part in regulating symptoms of depression. Common medications such as Prozac and Lexapro primarily act by boosting happy-making serotonin to spur the brain to increase its interconnectivity over the course of weeks or months. Though the exact mechanism by which these drugs work is still rather murky, eventually, researchers at Yale became intrigued by the potential role of another, more abundant brain chemical: glutamate.

If drugs that target serotonin help, they posit, then compounds that zero in on glutamate might help even more. They theorize that depressive symptoms arise when receptors in the brain that handle glutamate—what Gerard Sanacora, director of the Yale Depression Research Program, describes as the “gasoline” of the brain—aren’t being stimulated and can’t do their thing. That causes some synapses, the junctions between neurons, to wither. Ketamine reactivates those glutamate receptors, which may then create a sudden boom of new brain cell connections as the system goes back to normal. They suspect that this superbloom of neural networks represents a quicker, more reliable version of the same process by which more mainstream antidepressant meds work.

It seems far-fetched that something as complex as trauma, which can come from any number of sources, could disappear with a single shot.

While the precise mechanism at play remains unknown, when ketamine is effective, it can be like flipping a switch. “In psychiatry, we just generally don’t have treatments that work quickly,” says David Feifel, who was a professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego when he read the 2006 NIMH ketamine study. “I thought, If this is even half as good as it appears to be, it’s going to be a blockbuster.” Consider the potential impact: More than 264 million people on Earth are affected by depression, according to the World Health Organization, which makes it a leading cause of disability and a major contributor to suicide, which kills nearly 800,000 people globally each year. Knowing the stakes, Feifel set out to look into ketamine for himself.

With the drug readily available as an anesthetic, he opened an outpatient program at UCSD in 2008 and began collecting data, though he recalls that some of his colleagues acted as if he were the one in need of psychiatric help for starting the practice. “It was very controversial,” he says, but the effort maintained the university’s approval by treating only the most desperate. “We started with the patients who had tried everything and failed and were suicidal if we didn’t do anything,” Feifel says.

In 2014, psychiatrists and neuroscientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai published the first randomized trial on ketamine for chronic PTSD in JAMA Psychiatry. They had found a marked reduction in symptoms in their 41 subjects after a single dose. Three years later, Feifel published his own findings in the Journal of Affective Disorders—the first report on how ketamine patients fared outside the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and one that confirmed the drug’s efficacy in treating depression. Since then, a handful of other small studies have supported Mount Sinai’s results, and some suggest that repeat dosing may help sustain improvements in mental health over time.

Convinced that academia was moving too slowly, Feifel opened a private clinic offering ketamine and other therapies in La Jolla, California, in 2017. While he agrees that more work is needed to fully harness the drug’s potential for depression and other conditions, he has no qualms about carefully monitored use in private facilities. “There’s too much suffering out there,” Feifel says. “We’ve got to help people, because their lives are ticking away.”

Field trip’s practitioners ease me into higher doses with each visit, and it’s around the halfway point in my regimen that I go from feeling slightly not-lucid to knowing what it means to be high on ketamine. My “journeys” are at first unfamiliar but easily described: a feeling of deep contentment, of being held close, with rapid-fire thoughts that seem somehow more profound than they would otherwise, and perhaps a slight sense of disconnection from my body. By the fourth session, the experiences become almost impossible to articulate.

Under the influence of 85, 90, 100 milligrams of ketamine (Field Trip set my max dose at around 1 milligram per kilogram of body weight), my perception of time and sound warp in irreproducible ways. I see colorful patterns. Not swirly like clichéd lava lamps and black-light posters, but tessellated or jagged like pyrite. The shapes collapse in on themselves and cycle in time with the music from my headphones, which also collapses in on itself and becomes quite atonal. I frequently feel as if I’m sinking into heaps of soft grass. The world and everything in it is made of shades of green.

Somewhere in this emerald whirlpool that looks like pixelated glass but feels like a cloud, I hope to find and slay my demons.

Living with PTSD has been like living in a haunted house. It’s not inherently untenable. I’ve met ghosts capable of tormenting me for a few hours or days, but most are benign. Still, I never know when a bubble bath will remind me of the nights I spent floating in my ex’s tub feeling as if I might as well die. I lose time and expend a lot of emotional energy occasionally ruminating on my past self’s inability to leave an abusive relationship. Sometimes it feels as if jump-scare-loving ghouls have settled into my sock drawer and under my desk, and I have no way of knowing when they’ll choose to pop out.

Then there’s the existential threat. To live with PTSD, for me, is to know that there is always the possibility that I will be scared to death. That a memory will emerge that I cannot recover from. That I will become mired in helplessness and despair in a way that nothing—not the happy marriage and comfortable home of my current life nor the years of therapy I’ve absorbed—will be able to counteract.

Unfortunately for me and upward of 8 percent of the US population, PTSD is even less understood than major depressive disorder, though the two often tend to darken the same halls. Early research like the 2014 Mount Sinai study suggests that the same kind of miraculous plug-and-play IV therapy that makes ketamine a game changer for depression might help PTSD patients, but the effects on both can be temporary. As difficult as it was for psychiatrists 20 years ago to believe that ketamine might turn depression around in a day, it seems even more far-fetched that something as complex as trauma, which can come from any number of sources and manifest in infinite ways—from violent flashbacks to emotional detachment—could disappear with only a single shot.

But the practitioners at Field Trip don’t promise quick fixes. My treatment protocol, informed by the work laid out by the MAPS research group and similar organizations, is far from a fast infusion in a doctor’s office. It begins with a psychiatrist’s evaluation and an hour-long initial session with the licensed therapist who will guide me through the process, which consists of two ketamine experiences a week for three weeks. Before each, I meet with my therapist to set intentions. I talk about my history of eating disorders and my recurring memories of abuse, and how I would like to find some kind of healing. A nurse practitioner takes my vitals as I settle in. Then it’s into the dark, curated streaming playlist void, and I feel the dull punch of the drug being shot into my tricep.

I’m aimless and out of it for about an hour at most. Though I occasionally zero in on some profound realization under the swirling green, it’s in the integration phase—the 20 or so minutes I spend talking with my therapist as I wake up and the hour I spend talking to her over video chat the following day—that the real magic is happening. Feeling soft and open (“expansive” is the word I often write in my journal), I experience a mental quiet I have never known before. I’m able to have one single thought at a time. I luxuriate over each notion like it’s a piece of chocolate melting in my mouth. I am achingly kind to myself in these moments, and I ache to be so kind to myself at all times.

This course of treatment—a high-intensity trip bookended by shrink sessions—is known as psychedelic-assisted therapy. The evidence has piled up that this approach works with other drugs, but no one’s stringently tested it yet with ketamine. A 2020 overview, authored by several experts in association with the American Psychiatric Association Council of Research, concluded that, based on existing clinical trials, MDMA seems to be effective against PTSD when combined with tailored therapy. The same is true for psilocybin as a remedy for depression and cancer-related anxiety. Results are more scant, but promising, for LSD.

[Related: 8 common misconceptions about drugs]

Although ketamine has the most data backing its use in addressing depression out of the whole bunch, it’s gotten the least academic attention in terms of developing treatments that combine it with therapy. “The issue with ketamine now is that it’s already out there,” Feifel says. “It’s approved for anyone to use in any way, which makes it hard to set standards.” Any physician with a controlled-substance license can administer the stuff. That means clinics can make up their own ways of using it—ranging from IVs of the drug administered by anesthesiologists to lower repeated doses. There’s even an FDA-approved ketamine variant, Spravato, which shows great promise in fighting treatment-resistant depression and isn’t intended to induce psychedelic experiences at all. The question for places like Field Trip, Feifel says, is how to determine if therapy provides an added benefit and whether psychedelic experiences are a crucial part of the process. Those answers require more research.

When the FDA clears other psychedelics specifically for treating depression and PTSD, Feifel expects to see more standardization in how they’re used. Advocacy groups like MAPS envision a future where people struggling with their mental health can work with practitioners to decide which mind-altering compound might assist them and how they should combine the experience with therapy to best achieve long-term healing.

Because of the lack of existing data on ketamine for psychedelic-assisted therapy, there’s no clear endpoint at which I’ll be able to say it’s “worked” for me and that the benefits won’t slip away in time. More than three months after my last treatment, I still feel improved, though perhaps not as radically as I did a few weeks ago. I will keep going to talk therapy. I will keep meditating. If I start having more “bad” days than “good” ones, my therapist might recommend a “booster” appointment a couple of times a year or as often as every six weeks. Maybe I’ll try other drugs too.

In the course of my reporting for this article, more than one researcher told me they would just love to see how I’d do on MDMA, which, if current trials stay on track, could get the FDA greenlight as soon as 2023. Field Trip, for its part, is working on developing more long-term solutions that don’t necessarily require more drugs; the company plans to create group counseling options for people who’ve been through the experience. Regardless, I do feel the ketamine sessions helped me. With nothing to compare them to and a sample size of just one Rachel, I can’t draw any broader conclusions.

[Related: Oregon voted to legalize mushrooms. Here’s what that means.]

For me—despite the fact that science can’t yet explain precisely why—having taken ketamine helps me see that I’m not trapped in a haunted house. I am the haunted house.

It’s like this. Somewhere in the midst of my fourth treatment, when I’ve decided to focus on seeking respect for myself and my body, my abuser finally appears. My dose is high enough at this point that thinking of anything, including my own name, leads me to lazily roll the word around in my brain as an abstract concept: What is a “Rachel,” really?

At last, the pathological narcissist who coercively controlled me all those years ago floats through my hazy green space. I immediately grasp that he is physically a part of me. By that I don’t mean I’m mulling over the great oneness of all living things. When I emerge from the trip and enter the integration phase of my treatment, what I write in my journal is not that we are universally connected. I write that the memories and horrors and ruminations that make up my PTSD are not my ex. They are me. I do not have to fight and struggle to excise them, but rather to love and cherish and heal them.

On my way home from my final session, I think I see the man who abused me. My Lyft idles at an intersection where I might once have expected to run into him, and someone in the crosswalk lights up my brain like a parade. His face is turned away, but his clothes, his swagger, the flip of his hair. Could it be? No, as it turns out. The hands are all wrong.

As we coincidentally follow this stranger from stoplight to stoplight, crawling in rush-hour traffic, I ask myself what this soft, enlightened, expansive Rachel would do if it were the man who’d pitted and scarred me inside and out. Would I simply close my eyes and wish him well? Would I lower the window and shout forgiveness?

No, I decide. I would still tell him he could go rot in hell. My sense of connection and empathy didn’t change how I would confront a bad man standing right in front of me. Nor did it quiet the protective instincts that had long left me on edge whenever I passed through his old stomping grounds. But I do feel better able to put the ghosts in my head to bed. I settle back into the folds of my rideshare’s leather seat and close my eyes the rest of the way home.

This story originally appeared in the Calm issue of Popular Science. Current subscribers can access the whole digital edition here, or click here to subscribe.

Author: Corinne Iozzio
This post originally appeared on Science – Popular Science

Viagra could have been a groundbreaking cure for period cramps

What’s the weirdest thing you learned this week? Well, whatever it is, we promise you’ll have an even weirder answer if you listen to PopSci’s hit podcast. The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week hits Apple, Anchor, and everywhere else you listen to podcasts every-other Wednesday morning. It’s your new favorite source for the strangest science-adjacent facts, figures, and Wikipedia spirals the editors of Popular Science can muster. If you like the stories in this post, we guarantee you’ll love the show.

FACT: Viagra might be a secret weapon against period cramps

By Purbita Saha

Sildenafil has only been on the market since the late ‘90s. In its brief history it’s helped tens of millions of people and made billions for Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies.

But Viagra (the brand-specific name for the drug) wasn’t always meant to treat erectile dysfunction. It works all over the body, relaxing the muscles and dilating blood vessels, which could either lead to a boner or help with a slew of other conditions. The first clinical trials involving sildenafil were actually for angina and hypertension. Throughout the course of those studies, the attending nurses discovered that the pill had some… conspicuous side effects on people with penises.

[Related: How a Victorian heart medicine became a gay sex drug]

The drugmakers saw a major money making opportunity and changed the drug’s focus. That’s a story plenty of folks have heard before. But what’s less known is that the medication also had soothing effects on study subjects experiencing pain from uterine cramping. A more recent clinical trial, run by Penn State University and the National Institute of Health from 2007 to 2011, followed up on this neglected result. It only included 25 participants, with a few receiving Viagra and a few receiving a placebo, so we have to take them with a grain of salt. But those patients did indeed experience massive relief from primary dysmenorrhea, a.k.a. period cramps, within just four hours. (It’s important to note they got the dose vaginally, not orally, which may have maximized the effectiveness and minimized other side effects.)

Those findings were reported almost eight years ago now, and for some reason there hasn’t been much research or buzz around Viagra and period cramps since. Which might point to a larger pattern in medicine—that there just isn’t a big appetite when it comes to understanding and treating reproductive issues that don’t have to do with penises.

FACT: Cats once dropped out of planes to help fight an army of rats

By Sara Kiley Watson

Weird stories tend to keep getting weirder over time—and the true-story turned urban-legend tale of public health officials who parachuted cats to a remote island to prevent a resurgence of the plague has certainly acquired some mythical add-ons over the years. 

Basically, back in the 1950s, Borneo was having a bit of a mosquito problem. What was customary in the day (and still is in some places), was to knock out those nasty biting bugs with DDT. This thorough spritzing had some unexpected consequences, including that enough predatory creatures died off to cause a massive upswing in thatch-eating caterpillars. But the real problem was that cats kept keeling over.

To regain control over a now precariously poised situation for potentially disease-carrying and predator-free rats, the British Royal Air Force allegedly dropped 20 cats over the island in parachuted baskets to “wage war on rats which were threatening crops.”

Over time, the story has picked up multiple spins. Some sources claim that thousands of yowling cats were involved, while others say that the plague had already broken out amongst the people living there. The most popular fabrication is that this is a story of biomagnification. Listen to this week’s episode to separate feline fact from fiction.

[Related: You’re probably petting your cat wrong]

FACT: In the future we might be able to breathe through our butts

By Rachel Feltman

On one of the very first episodes of Weirdest Thing, I did a whole exhaustive history of something called a smoke enema. You’ll have to go back and listen if you want all the grim details, but the gist is that throughout history and until the early 1800s, people sometimes tried to resuscitate, revive, or otherwise treat ailing humans by blowing smoke up their anuses. 

Now, I’m not quite issuing a correction here. I’m not retracting my fantastic smoke enema expose. But I’m here to say that, while I wish it weren’t so, there may have been more to the idea than I thought back when that old episode aired. In May, researchers released a study that showed at least some mammals—mice and pigs, to be precise—can be saved from suffocation with the help of oxygen-rich enemas

Lead researcher Takanori Takebe, of the Tokyo Medical and Dental University and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, was inspired by non-mammalian animals that we already know can absorb oxygen through their intestines. Sea cucumbers, for example, suck water through these branching tubes just inside their anuses, expelling the liquid and absorbing the oxygen. There are also fish called loaches that, in addition to breathing through gills like most fish, can pop their heads out of the water to get gulps of air through their mouth, which are then absorbed by their intestines since they have no lungs.

So, it wasn’t totally far-fetched to think mammals might be able to get oxygen from their rear ends, but we obviously don’t just breathe through our butts every time we go swimming or anything as simple as that. Listen to this week’s episode to hear how Takebe and his team managed to turn a bunch of hypoxic mice and pigs into happy and healthy butt-breathers.

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Author: Rachel Feltman
This post originally appeared on Science – Popular Science

Fuser's Next DLC Adds New Tracks From Billie Eilish, The Cure, Soft Cell And More

This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

Harmonix’s track-mixing rhythm game Fuser is being treated to a new selection of songs next month thanks to its latest DLC.

The DLC’s called ‘Flavour of Love’ and will introduce new songs from artists like Billie Eilish, The Cure, and more. You can see the full list of songs for yourself right below (Some Lover’s Days Head, Days Behind will actually be given to all Fuser players for free):

New DLC Tracks Coming in May:

– Billie Eilish “Therefore I Am”
– The Cure “Friday I’m In Love”
– Dirty Vegas “Days Go By”
– Disclosure ft. Sam Smith “Latch”
– Haddaway “What Is Love”
– J. Cole No Role Modelz
– Soft Cell “Tainted Love”
– Some Lover “Days Ahead, Days Behind”

That’s not all, though, as also arriving in May is Faint Shadow Loop Pack 01, a new and free release that will be the first in an upcoming series of Promoter Packs. This first loop pack gives you access to a collection of mellow, meditative loops and sounds from Faint Shadow’s personal collection to play around with, so if you’re looking to add some chill beats to your tracks, this should come in handy.

Make sure to give our Fuser review a read if you’re yet to try the game out, and let us know if you’ll be checking out any of these new tracks in the comments.

Baba Vanga 2021 predictions: Tsunami warning, end of the world and cancer cure in New Year

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Weird Feed

Baba Vanga’s followers believe the Bulgarian mystic predicted before her death in 1996 many world-changing events such as the rise of ISIS and the September 11, 2001, terror attack on New York. Baba Vanga was born Vangeliya Pandeva Gushterova in northern Macedonia in 1911, though she spent most of her life living in Bulgaria. During her life, she gained notoriety due to her supposed powers of foresight and ability to contact the dead.

According to reports from her childhood, she traded her physical vision for the ability to see the future after being confronted by an angel.

In The Weiser Field Guide to the Paranormal, author Judith Joyce said people would reach out to Vanga to learn more about their future.

The book reads: “Baba Vanga never wrote any books, but many books have been written about her, her abilities, and her prophecies.

“She claimed to receive information from invisible beings and said that, if someone stood before her, she could see the person’s life as if it were a movie, from beginning to end.

“Baba Vanga asked visitors to give her a sugar cube, which she then used as a crystal to focus energy and receive information.”

Her reputation is even said to have caught the attention of Communist leaders with rumours of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev himself consulting the medium on more than one occasion.

READ MORE: Nostradamus 2021 predictions: Outbreak of WW3 and natural cataclysms

Read on below to find out what Baba Vanga may have predicted for 2021, including claims of natural cataclysms and a long-awaited cure for cancer.

Craig Hamilton-Parker, a popular psychic and medium who runs Psychics.co.uk, has also shared with Express.co.uk his thoughts and predictions for the new year.

1. Tsunamis and natural cataclysms in the new year?

One of Baba Vanga’s more worrying predictions is that of a cataclysmic tsunami that would strike Asia.

Vanga is said to have first warned the world of the deadly 2004 tsunami that killed more than 220,000 people in southeast Asia.

She is then said to have warned of another similar cataclysm in the future, followed by earthquakes and meteorite strikes.

The good news is, however, that this tsunami was supposed to strike in 2020.

2. Will the end of the world arrive in 2021?

Baba Vanga predicted the world would be gripped by “three giants” and a “strong dragon” in the future.

Although incredibly vague, many believe the blind mystic knew when the world as we know it would end.

She said: “We are witnessing devastating events that will change the fate and destiny of humanity.”

Vanga’s followers, however, will be glad to know the world is not predicted to end, by the mystic’s estimates at least, before the year 5079.

Should you believe in Baba Vanga prophecies?

Most sceptics agree there is very little evidence back claims of Baba Vanga’s prophetic powers.

Although her followers claim she had an 85 percent success rate with her predictions, there is no real written record of these prophecies.

Consequently, the validity of these predictions cannot be checked and a 2012 investigation found many appear to have been penned by Russian trolls and not the blind mystic.

The website Skeptics.com, for instance, states: “Vanga was illiterate or semi-literate, and she apparently did not write any books herself, with staff members financed by the Bulgarian government capturing what she allegedly said.

“Those of Vanga’s predictions quoted seem to all be apocalyptic visions of the future of the world – particularly Europe – and even Mars, where a war will break out in 3005 and change the trajectory of the planet.

“On a more positive note, she predicted that in 2028 mankind will fly to Venus to search for new sources of energy – she must not have seen the toxic and corrosive atmosphere of the planet – and that by 2130 civilisations will live underwater with the help of aliens.”

What else could happen in the new year?

According to Mr Hamilton-Parker, 2021 promises to be a much better year than 2020 on many fronts.

First of all, the psychic predicts the chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic will start to lose its grip on the world in the new year.

He said: “In the UK we will beat the virus by August. Life will return to normal for vaccinated people.

“People refusing the vaccine will face restrictions on International travel.”

The psychic has also predicted the UK will strengthen its economy in the months and years after Brexit.

After an initial dip when the Brexit transition period ends with 2020, Mr Hamilton-Parker said Britain will only go from strength to strength.

He said: “Government support will encourage significant investments in the UK from the USA, Japan, India and the European Free Trade Association.

“The USA will do a huge trade deal with the UK without having to compromise health standards for chlorinated chickens etc.

“Britain will become a world leader in Quantum Computing and Artificial Intelligence.

“This will be spearheaded by targeted government investment into the intelligence services and the military.”