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Health Care

  • Katy Vine for Texas Monthly writes:

    Perhaps, instead of destroying the bacteria directly, the venom’s effect is indirect, kick-starting the immune system. Bee venom studies have shown promise in combating symptoms for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. According to Justin Schmidt, an insect venom expert at the Southwestern Biological Institute, in Tucson, it’s possible that when the immune system begins attacking itself, an injection of bee venom may help by providing an alternate target—“something to chew on,” he said, “and this tends to regulate the immune system so it does what it’s supposed to be doing, which is attack toxins that are getting into your body.” While Lyme is a bacterial infection, it sometimes mimics autoimmune disorders, and so maybe, somehow, similar rules apply.

    It’s also possible that the pain of the stings plays a role. “Maybe the venom is doing something to kick off pain receptors,” he said. Anecdotal evidence suggests that other types of venom may also work this way. A brief article in the Lancet, from 1983, described a 43-year-old woman in Arizona who had MS and went into remission for two months following a scorpion sting on her right foot. An immunologist in Houston told me she was contacted by a physician experiencing progressive MS who said he’d been stung by a sea anemone and went into temporary remission.

    This piece from Texas Monthly was mind-blowing. For one I had no idea that bee venom had a use for treating Lyme disease. The viability of the treatment is still unknown. The entire ritual of using bee-stingers has an Eastern-medicine quality to it (never mind the fact it kills our precious bee friends in the process). But, whatever works for treating the pain of Lyme is a win in my book. Even if it is a placebo, pain management is hard.

  • Joshua Hunt for Pacific Standard Magazine writes:

    The name of the restaurant was 注文を間違える料理店, which means “The Restaurant of Mistaken Orders.” While its chefs are young professionals, the wait staff is made up entirely of elderly people living with dementia. One of the silver-haired waitresses, who has advanced Alzheimer’s disease, occasionally forgot what she was doing there.

    “What do I do?” She asked one young couple.

    “You’re here to help us order food,” the man said.

    “Ah, yes,” she said, then laughed gleefully while covering her mouth with one hand.

    It’s striking to witness such a jovial scene surrounding an issue that people tend to resist discussing openly in Japan, where 4.6 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia. The country’s rapidly aging population means that, by 2025, the figure will rise to 7.3 million people, or one out of every five Japanese citizens over the age of 65.

    Here’s a brief clip of the restaurant in action from TBWA\HAKUHODO, and some of the community reactions as well:

    I don’t know about you, but Dementia and Alzheimers are two of my greatest fears. I imagine, I’m not alone in that regard. The self-destructive neurodegenerative attack of the nervous system is largely caused by prions. Which are terrifying, and still a bit of a mystery.

    As such, treatment techniques are still largely hit or miss and based on the severity of the disease progression, and many of the treatments still aren’t fully understood either. For now, the best thing we can do is fund Alzheimer’s Research non-profits and support ethical treatment centers such as the Hogewey in Amsterdam, which is essentially an entire town of medical professionals devoted to caring for 150+ patients.

    Places like The Restaurant of Mistaken Orders in Japan, keep the conversation of vital treatment and research alive, and unconventional concepts like this give those suffering a reprieve from the social frustrations these sorts of neurodegenerative diseases can create. It’s a charming and lovely restaurant concept that I hope stays afloat for as long as possible. I think we can all take a page out of their playbook and bring dignity, patience and respect to everyone in our lives. Wether they are afflicted with Alzheimers or just Arthritis — a little patience goes a long way.

    Photo: @rebelvisual