Popping Pills

A lot of it goes on and sometimes we have to wonder why. To take an example, many people pop glucosamine in the form of glucosamine sulphate tablets. The reason for this appears to be entirely logical.

‘Glucosamine is a compound found naturally in the body, made from glucose and the amino acid glutamine. Glucosamine is needed to produce glycosaminoglycan, a molecule used in the formation and repair of cartilage and other body tissues. Production of glucosamine slows with age.’ (About.com)

Ball and stick model of glucosamine ((2R,6R)-6...

Ball and stick model of glucosamine ((2R,6R)-6-meth,-2-ol) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As people get older cartilage repair decreases and signs of arthritis begin to appear. So if the body is producing less glucosamine it must be a good idea to make good the shortfall by taking a glucosamine supplement, right?

Well, maybe it is, but the process by which this would work is not clear to me. We pop our glucosamine tablets which shortly reach the stomach, where they are broken down by various agents including digestive enzymes and gastric acid, including hydrochloric acid. Passing on to the bowel, if their contents make it that far, they are further broken down by alkali. Like nearly everything we swallow, the body hits them with both barrels – acid and alkali. Apart from digestive efficiency this also provides us with an excellent defence against possible food poisoning.

So does the glucosamine we swallow survive this process and then, supposing some of it does, how do we know that it then travels to the hips, knees and other joints in need of repair? I cannot find answers to these questions and wonder why that it is.

The companies that sell dietary supplements make few claims for them in their marketing. In fact, they do not even indicate what the products are supposed to be for. The farthest they will go is to praise the quality control that goes into their manufacture. So that fills us full of confidence.

To take another example, many people in my part of the world are known to be lacking in Vitamin D (we don’t get so much sunlight as some) and various studies suggest that this is not a good vitamin to be light on. For example, a recent study of 155,000 people found that Vitamin D reduced blood pressure, so for those of us affected by hypertension taking a Vitamin D supplement might be a good idea. If taking the supplement worked. After all, vitamin D tablets are hit by both barrels too.

It is not difficult to find people who report that since taking glucosamine they have begun to leap from crag to crag like mountain goats, or others who believe that Vitamin D is helping to reduce their blood pressure to the point where they can give up ACE inhibitors, or whatever prescription medication they are on. And maybe they are right. But here we have to take account of the power of the mind. Perhaps the same would have happened if they’d been popping glucose pills and the ‘active ingredient’ is actually their belief in the tablets rather than glucosamine or vitamin D.

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Therapy and the lightbulb

How many psychotherapists does it take to change a lightbulb?
Only one, but the lightbulb has to want to change.

How many group therapists does it take to change a lightbulb?
None. Group therapy doesn’t change anything.

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?
One, provided the lightbulb is fully compliant with all components of treatment. Otherwise, it’s the lightbulb’s fault that it doesn’t get changed.

How many clinical psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?
Well, they’ll be able to change it quickly and efficiently, once they’ve figured out the correct DSM-V diagnosis. Until then, how do we know it needs changing?
(The DSM is the diagnostic ‘bible’ of the American Psychiatric Association)

How many depressed psych patients does it take to change a lightbulb?
Who cares?

These are my favourites from a longer list of psychiatric lightbulb jokes posted by Dysthymia Bree. This is a link to her blog.


The lure of hypnosis

Shortly after I published Time to Talk, which features a fictional therapist and several equally fictional examples of therapy, the offers arrived in my in-box. How could this be, I wondered, were the marketing people on to me already? Did the NSA have a hand in this, or GCHQ?

The first encouraged me to undertake an on-line course in CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) at a greatly reduced cost.

The second encouraged me to undertake an on-line course in hypnotherapy, also at a greatly reduced cost. I really wondered about the second. I was tempted. According to a therapist whose course I recently attended, I might have some talent in that direction, evidenced by an ability to put myself to sleep while waiting for dental treatment. (She called it ‘dissociation’ but I prefer to think I was hypnotising myself out of pain’s way.)

I then began to wonder how hypnosis could be taught and learned online. Would the student have a subject on screen whom he could then hypnotise with his honeyed tones, references to balmy breezes, ocean waves, cup cakes and so on? My mind was invaded by a series of cartoon images – I really wanted to give it a try.  ‘Hi, Mildred.’  ‘Hi, Rod.’  ‘About your credit card details . . . .’

I remember a Chuck Jones cartoon where Wile E Coyote tries to hynotise the Road Runner, but the Road Runner – prescient as always – has equipped himself with a mirror and bounces his hypnotic rays back into Coyote’s eyes. Coyote, holding out his arms in front of him, duly obliges by walking off the edge of a cliff.

Seriously though, do we think an online hypnotherapy course could work?

‘Today’s deal from the Hypnotherapy Centre of Excellence will give you the tools you need to become a hypnotherapist. With training from highly skilled professionals, two certificates upon completion, scripts to help with your sessions and marketing tips. •£39 (regular price £599) for an online hypnotherapy practitioner course •Includes full course materials, a course manual, hypnotherapy scripts, e-books, free monthly practice groups and ongoing help and support •Upon completion you’ll receive 2 certificates from the Hypnotherapy Centre of Excellence and IANLPC •You can also receive a third certificate from the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) for an additional cost •To view the course details please click here’

[A reblog of my previous , this time with a title]

Healthy living

Two pieces of research have caught my attention lately. The first is that the resting pulse of young people here in the YUK has been gradually increasing over the years. I was surprised to learn that it is over 80, which seems high to me. The researchers did not know for sure why this was, but perhaps we could guess that televisions, video games, tablets and smart-phones are implicated.

The other concerned men, walking and strokes. It seems that men can decrease the risk of a stroke by walking several hours a week. In fact, if they spent 22 hours a week walking they could cut the risk of a stroke by two thirds. So they might, for example, spend seven hours a day walking every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Or three hours a day walking every day of the week. Either way, that is a lot of time to spend walking, though the good news is that the walking did not need to be vigorous. What mattered was the time spent doing it, so if men could find something they could usefully do while walking they might have it cracked. Composing chapters of a novel into a pedometer?


If these are the symptoms, what is the condition?

These are not all of the symptoms, just some of them, but enough to be going on with.  And I am not making any of this up.

1) Stopping frequently in her tracks when walking along

2) Refusing to wear her glasses with the stated aim of reducing ‘sensory overload’

3) Frequently relieving herself in anything to hand despite having a toilet on the same floor (anything to hand including what you might be drinking from next)

4) Frequently thinking of suicide over a twenty year period

5) Mild self-harm

6) Often stated fear of not being able to communicate, so often with a pen and paper at the ready

7) Difficulty breathing which she attributes to panic attacks

I am asking in the hope of enlightenment, since an assessment is coming up which may result in compulsory treatment.

Right, but treatment for what?

Homosexuality as a disease

According to DSM II (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), homosexuality was a mental disease. It was listed as a ‘sexual deviation’ and so found itself an unwilling bedfellow of paedophilia.

How did this change? Was it, for example,  as a result of painstaking research?

It was changed in 1974 at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (publishers of the DSM). When the issue was put to the vote 5854 psychiatrists voted to remove homosexuality from the list of mental diseases, 3810 voted to retain it. As a result, homosexuality was not listed as a mental disease in DSM III or subsequent editions.

So there we have it. What constitutes a mental disease or disorder can be decided by a show of hands. There’s nothing like democracy, right?

Keeping your own teeth

Conventional wisdom has it that this is a good thing, it certainly makes eating apples and nuts a lot easier.

There are other advantages too, such as not choking on your dentures when you go to bed and forget to drop them, with a satisfying plonk, into the topped-up leaded crystal glass you keep by the bedside for that purpose. (The glass no doubt contains whisky or a sterilizing solution of some sort.)

But here is a problem. I know a woman who has kept her own teeth and is now 97.
She doesn’t leave her house any longer, so what happens if she needs dental work?
I’ve come across traveling opticians, foot-doctors and so on, but surely a dentist couldn’t easily transport what he/she requires to do his work?

Have pliers, will travel. Don’t like the sound of that.