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Three random things I learned, or remembered, today

Archive for Medicine

Ludwig van Beethoven



Two things I learned about Beethoven today.

There is some evidence that listening to classical music may raise the mood of depressed patients. Beethoven’s 3rd and 5th piano sonatas were the pieces used in the study.

And, there is a great website for musicians dedicated to Beethoven.






Antioxidants can bind free radicals in the body. This is good because free radicals are damaging to cells using an oxidation process.

Current research suggests antioxidants can prevent or delay some serious medical conditions such as arterial disease or cancer.

Vitamin C found in fresh fruit and vegetables is an antioxidant. There are many others.

Vision aid overseas



I came across this website today after listening to morning TV.


It seems a practical, cheap way of bringing quality of life to a nation of people who simply need a pair of glasses, to read, to write and to thread a needle and allow them to keep working to earn money for their families.

The idea is to return old specs to an optician who participates in this programme.  It will make a huge difference to quality to a life and may bring a whole family out of extreme poverty by allowing a breadwinner to work again.

Often the simplest ideas are the best.




This was a tragedy.

And another 9/11 date.

On 11 September 1978 Janet Parker died from Variola Major (severe form of smallpox). She was exposed to the virus as a result of a laboratory accident in the University of Birmingham Medical School, UK.

She did not work in the laboratory, but was a medical photographer and worked in a darkroom above a laboratory where research with live smallpox vaccine was being carried out. It was thought she was infected because the virus spread in air currents from service ducts from the microbiology department below.

Her mother also contracted the illness but survived. There were no other victims from the disease although Professor Henry Bedson who was in charge of the microbiology laboratory later committed suicide.

He left the following note:

“I am sorry to have misplaced the trust which so many of my friends and colleagues have placed in me and my work.”

1920’s headache remedies



This was the first aid treatment for headache in the 1920’s.

“There are many remedies for this. Try going out into the fresh air or take a cup of tea. Half a teaspoonful of sal volatile in water often helps and so does a mustard plaster placed on the nape of the neck. A cold application is also good and aspirin usually brings relief.”

Taken from “The Modern Housewife’s Book” (1920’s)

Mercury poisoning



Louisa May Alcott who wrote “Little Women” and “Jo’s Boys” died of mercury poisoning.

She contracted this as a result of treatment for typhoid fever. In these days the drug calomel (mercurous chloride) was used to treat this condition.

Mercuric compounds were used in the 19th century as a diuretic and purgative and more recently in the 20th century in soaps and cosmetics as a skin lightening cream but these preparations are now illegal.

The term “mad hatter” may originate from the time that mercury was used in the process of curing felt used in hat making. Hatters inhaled the fumes. Over time, mercury poisoning leads to nervous stem damage sometimes manifest as psychosis and hallucinations.

Carmine allergy



Carmine is a beautiful shade of red and as well as an art pigment is frequently added as a dye to foods and cosmetics. It is obtained from the cochineal insect.

In Europe this dye is regulated under the food additives directive and is known as Cochineal, Carminic acid, Carmines and Natural
Red 4 or as additive E 120.

An individual may develop allergy to carmine because of sensitivity to the protein residues from the cochineal insect present in the dye.