Medieval ‘bloodletting’ could ease gout pain
Could the medieval bloodletting cure be a cure for gout? A review of studies involving almost 1,000 people suggests that the ancient therapy, largely abandoned in modern medical practice, may in fact be nearly 40% more effective at treating the disease than current painkillers and anti-inflammatories used.
Gout is estimated to affect over 2 million people in the UK – with cases increasing, due to changes in diet and lifestyle. But some researchers now think bleeding may ease symptoms, reducing inflammation and lowering uric acid levels, a known cause of gout.
Uric acid is produced by the body when it breaks down purines, compounds found naturally in the body but also found in red meat, some seafood and shellfish. High levels of uric acid in the blood cause urate crystals to form in the joints, causing severe pain and swelling.
Gout is estimated to affect over 2 million people in the UK – with cases rising, due to changes in diet and lifestyle
Gout, a form of arthritis, usually affects the big toe because it is furthest from the heart – uric acid is more likely to crystallize in the extremities where the body temperature is coldest.
Gout attacks are usually treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or with colchicine.
Bloodletting has been used for many ailments at the forefront of medicine for thousands of years, both literally and metaphorically.
A vein would be cut and the blood drained into a cup, with the site and amount left to the practitioner’s choice. Leeches were used for a less severe form of bloodletting.
It was based on the “humoral” theory, according to which the human body was made up of four key humors, or fluids: blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm. The imbalances of these, which could be corrected by bleeding, would be responsible for many diseases.
By the late 1800s, new technologies had pushed bloodletting out of Western medicine.
But now new research from scientists at the Hospital of Integrative Medicine in Sichuan, China, has found bloodletting to be 37% more effective in treating gout than drugs such as colchicine and NSAIDs – and that patients’ pain was also reduced by 13%.
Gout attacks are usually treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or with colchicine
The controversial review, published in the current edition of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, looked at data from 12 separate studies involving a total of 894 patients.
Blood was drawn from the patients using syringes and different types of acupuncture needles – the amount drawn varying.
In some trials, less than 10 ml of blood was collected, in others more. Bloodletting in these trials was also reported to cause 36% fewer side effects.
Researchers found it reduced uric acid levels by the same amount as standard medicine, but was more effective at reducing blood levels of an inflammatory compound, C-reactive protein (CRP) – discovered by previous research to stick to uric acid crystals, triggering the inflammation seen in gout.
“Blood testing is both effective and safe in the treatment of gout and may particularly relieve acute acute pain and reduce inflammatory levels of CRP in patients, with a lower risk of causing adverse effects,” state Researchers.
“The blood test was better than western medicine in improving gout symptoms.”
However, Professor Philip Conaghan, Director of the Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine at the University of Leeds, said: “This new review summarizes previous studies, and many had design flaws.”
Effective control of uric acid levels is key, he says, adding that current therapies to treat acute gout are “very effective” in most patients “if used appropriately.”
Meditation boosts immunity
Meditation is known to be good for mental health, but now scientists have shown how it also boosts the immune system.
Researchers from the University of Florida in the United States tested the blood of 106 people before and after an eight-day retreat with ten hours of meditation each day.
Using DNA analyzes of blood samples, they found that 220 genes related to the immune system were activated by the practice, including 68 involved in the activation of immune defenses.
Meditation is thought to alter cell behavior, including the response to inflammation, reports the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers will now see if shorter periods of meditation are also helpful.
Hum – it can curb viral infections. Researchers from MNR Dental Hospital, India, told The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice that research has found that low humming can increase levels of nitric oxide in the sinuses, which can prevent viruses from attaching. to the respiratory tract.
A “bionic” eye to combat vision loss
Scientists have developed a bionic eye to help with vision loss caused by problems with the retina, the light-sensitive area at the back of the eye.
In people with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease, cells in the retina gradually die.
The device consists of a pair of glasses with a camera that sends signals wirelessly to an implant under the ear and to the brain, bypassing damaged retinal cells. There is also a stimulator attached to the eye which prompts the remaining cells to receive light.
After successful tests on sheep, the device’s inventors, from the University of Sydney, Australia, hope it can soon be tested in humans.