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Archive for December, 2009

Blue moon

well, here it is…..a blue moon.
You weren’t expecting it actually look BLUE were you?
A blue moon is the second full moon in the same calendar month. This one just makes it – I took the photo at 3 minutes to midnight – so it was only a blue moon for three minutes longer!
Next blue moon on a New Year’s Eve? 2028!

blue moon

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When I arrived back at the flat, I saw this man lying in the wheelbarrow. “There’s been a MURDUR!” I heard Taggart growl in my ear! But, no, he wasn’t dead, just snoozing…….half an hour later he was up on the roof repairing broken tiles….

French roofer at lunchtime

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See what the sun can do? Four degrees difference between the two sides of this corner pharmacy today….

9 degrees or 13?

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remains of the day reflected in the pool

As the sun set on Christmas Day, the deepening blue of the sky was reflected in the round pool….

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windmills over the snowy roof

windmills in the clouds

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Robert Ader is the forefather of the whole area of study known as psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). It amazes me that so few current graduates of medical schools have even heard of the term. Although it’s quite a mouthful, it is, simply, the study of the inter-relationships between the mind, the nervous system and the immune system. Together with psychoneuroendocrinology (the study of the mind, nervous system and endocrine system links), these areas of scientific study begin to help us to understand how the human being functions as a whole organism and how it’s pointless to consider the body and the mind as two distinct, separate entities.

He’s just published an interesting study on the clinical use of placebo. Starting from the understanding of the placebo effect as being, at least in part, akin to psychological, behavioural conditioning, and that such conditioning can exert physical changes in the body, he and his colleagues studied a group of patients with psoriasis.

They split the patients into three groups. One group applied a specified amount of steroid cream daily to their lesions, a second applied 25 to 50% of the strength of the steroid cream daily, and a third group applied cream which 25 to 50% of the time contained the full strength steroid and the rest of the time was a placebo (no steroid present).

The results are interesting, showing in particular that the group which received the placebo some of the time did as well as those receiving the full strength cream all the time, and better than the group receiving the lesser strength cream daily.

So what? Well, Ader and his colleagues point out that using placebo in this way could significantly reduce the amount of a drug required to have a desired outcome. Less drug means less side effects and less cost.

This is a novel study. Can the same phenomenon be found when applied to patients with other conditions? And for those who are concerned about the ethics, this was a fully informed, fully consented trial. There’s no reason why patients clinically couldn’t be given the choice to have treatments in this way……especially if further research confirms that the clinical outcomes are as good as using higher doses of drug more frequently.

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Blue

blue balloon

Balloons with little lights inside……lovely!

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