Beer as Medicine

Beer is delicious and it can be healthy to drink on its own. Apparently, back in the day, beer was used to deliver medicine. It turns out that this isn’t a crazy idea and can be a good way to deliver need medicinal ingredients to patients.

Another option was to add the herbs during the brewing process, either when boiling the malt, or just slightly heating them in the beer after the boiling has taken place. Van Lis mentioned over fifty kinds of herbs to prepare medicinal beer, ranging from ginger, lavender, cardamom, hyssop, cinnamon, aniseed, rosemary, nutmeg, gentian, juniper and lemon grass to plants such as absinth leaves, sweet flag, germander sage, and eye worth. He does not advise which kind of herb-infused beer should be used for particular ailments; this was after all supposed to be at the discretion of physicians. However, Van Lis does advice that ‘Joopen beer’ (which he says literally means ‘juicy beer’ in old Dutch) heats, moistens, and nourishes the body, but causes infected blood, bad digestion, sore eyes, fevers, and gout when drunken in excess.[1]

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A Cure for Multiple Sclerosis – Maybe/Probably

That’s right, you heard me. Though experts are warning people not to get their hopes too high just yet, the initial results are pretty impressive.

The initial studies done in Italy were small but the outcomes were dramatic. In a group of 65 patients with relapsing-remitting MS (the most common form) who underwent surgery, the number of active lesions in the brain fell sharply, to 12 per cent from 50 per cent; in the two years after surgery, 73 per cent of patients had no symptoms.

Read more at the Globe & Mail

Check Marks to Save Lives

An article on the CBC’s website today mentions that intensive care units in Toronto will be using a checklist to ensure the best medical care for patients. Yes, a checklist.

It’s one of three ICU checklists Dr. Damon Scales has adopted in his Toronto hospital.

“When I tell people about these things they sort of have the reaction of saying, ‘How could you ever forget that?’ said the clinical associate in the department of critical care medicine at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. “But this is a busy place with complicated patients and these are the kinds of things that can get lost in the shuffle.”

It’s such a simple solution that most people don’t think the checklist is real. In December the New Yorker ran an article on how checklists are the best thing to happen to medicine since, well, seemingly forever. The New Yorker article is a great read.

HIV/AIDS Drug Patent Revoked

Doctors WIthout Borders has released a press release that says that an HIV/AIDS drug can now be made generically. This will lower the cost of the drug allowing more people access to it, this is very important for people living in the developing world. The company that held the patent, Gilead Sciences, claimed to have invented the drug tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF), which has been discredited based on prior art.

In India, the Indian Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS opposed Gilead’s patent application in May 2006 on similar grounds to PUBPAT’s challenge in the US. The evidence on which the US based its decision could therefore lead to the Indian patent office rejecting the patent application. Similarly, in Brazil, a patent opposition filed by HIV/AIDS groups and a government pharmaceutical laboratory could also mean a patent might not be granted for TDF in Brazil.

If a patent is not granted in these countries, generic manufacturers could freely manufacture and export generic versions of TDF without restrictions, leading to greater competition and therefore lower prices.

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