"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia
was written by Pliny the Elder
between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian
, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum
, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb
on Dec 16, 2013 -
Ayurveda: Hoax or Science?
"'Western science identifies these systems as folklore. They don’t see it as an organised system of knowledge—this is an alien epistemology to them because their medical traditions only go as far back as the medieval times and renaissance.' There is also the very real problem of complexity in natural-product research. It is harder to develop a drug from Ayurveda than it is to build a synthetic molecule, because of the large number of compounds in each Ayurvedic herb. All these factors are responsible for the state of Ayurvedic medicine today."
posted by dhruva
on Mar 7, 2013 -
Scientists investigate the use of psychedelic drugs in end of life therapy
"Grob and his colleagues are part of a resurgence of scientific interest in the healing power of psychedelics. Michael Mithoefer, for instance, has shown that MDMA is an effective treatment for severe P.T.S.D. Halpern has examined case studies of people with cluster headaches who took LSD and reported their symptoms greatly diminished. And psychedelics have been recently examined as treatment for alcoholism and other addictions. "
posted by bookman117
on May 18, 2012 -
"I would point out to you that medical explanations are modern. That Americans today want medical explanations for things that in the 19th century would have been explained by hysteria, and in the 18th century would have been explained by religious conversion experiences in the context of the Great Awakening, when people were having these types of fits, and in the 17th century by witchcraft."
posted by empath
on Jan 30, 2012 -
A new malaria vaccine has been shown effective in large-scale field trials. After decades of disappointment, researchers think they're finally on track to unleash the first practical vaccine against malaria, one of mankind's ancient scourges.
In the world's first large field trial of an experimental malaria vaccine, several thousand young children who got three doses had about 55 percent less risk of getting the disease over a year than those who got a control vaccine against rabies or meningitis. [more inside]
posted by BobbyVan
on Oct 18, 2011 -
Last week Johnson & Johnson announced
that it is lowering the maximum daily dose for single-ingredient Extra Strength Tylenol from 8 to 6 pills per day (from 4,000 to 3,000 mg). [more inside]
posted by hat_eater
on Aug 4, 2011 -
injections have been used to reduce the likelihood of premature births in at-risk pregnant women for years. Up until now, the drug was custom-compounded by wholesale and specialist pharmacies, legally, but without federal approval. These injections cost between $5 and $15 a dose and were regularly reimbursed by insurance companies and Medicaid.
Last month, the FDA announced their approval
of a commercially produced version of the compound, to be marketed under the brand name Makena by a company called KV Pharmaceuticals.
No stranger to controversy and trouble, KV barely survived a rash round of layoffs and wrongful termination lawsuits
. Their former chief executive now faces criminal charges
surrounding the company's failure to notify the FDA that they were producing oversized morphine tablets. (He could also do for a shave, it appears.)
Now, KV has announced that the new drug will be available at a cost of $1,500 per dose
, bringing the total pregnancy term cost of treatment to $25,000-$30,000
, from its former cost of $250-$300, a 100-fold increase
—but it gets worse... [more inside]
posted by disillusioned
on Mar 9, 2011 -
The US Food and Drug Administration
started regulating the labeling of food, beverages, and medicines after the passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act
, and added food coloring and cosmetics with the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
. They have just released a new website, the FDA Notices of Judgment Collection, 1906-1963
, containing data from thousands of cases of mislabeled or misadvertised products and drugs, available in multiple forms (text, PDF, metadata XML, .TIF image, etc.), with searchable archives. Poking around in the data will yield information on cases ranging from misbranding methamphetamine tablets
, to quack "Film-O-Sonic" devices
, to bacteria-laden unproven abortifacients sold over the counter
, to purported "4-way" cures for baldness
, to hunks of radium sold for putting in your drinking water
to "stimulate the sex organs" (judged against for stating an unproven use, not for actual danger of product). Organized by the FDA's history office
, the new database is a fascinating resource for historians, public safety advocates, researchers, and librarians.
posted by Asparagirl
on Apr 6, 2009 -
Thirty-six years after
the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
recommended that "simple possession" of pot be decriminalised, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has introduced a bill
, co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), to remove federal criminal penalties for possession of up to 100 grams (about three-and-a-half ounces) of marijuana and the not-for-profit transfer of up to one ounce (28.3 grams). Drug reform advocates
lit up hailed
the legislation as "an important step toward bringing federal law into line with scientific fact, practical reality and public opinion." Is America, at long last, having a collective moment of sanity?
posted by kliuless
on Apr 20, 2008 -
When drug companies hide data. "The attorney general's civil suit accuses the drug giant GlaxoSmithKline of committing fraud by concealing negative information about Paxil, a drug used to treat depression. The suit says that the company conducted five clinical trials of Paxil in adolescents and children, yet published only one study whose mixed results it deemed positive. The company sat on two major studies for up to four years, although the results of one were divulged by a whistle-blower at a medical conference in 1999 and all of the studies were submitted to the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 when the company sought approval for new uses of Paxil. At that time it became apparent that Paxil was no more effective than a placebo in treating adolescent depression and might even provoke suicidal thoughts.
My Dad was on Paxil until 26 days ago..... that's when he shot himself.
posted by Lusy P Hur
on Jun 6, 2004 -
Nootropics ("smart" drugs)
- all wish to be smarter, correct ? And - while exercise, nutrition, learning, travel, and social interaction (the last 3 via release of neurotrophins
) effectively do this, Nootropic drugs have been researched since the 1950's and have been shown to cause at least short term cognitive function enhancement. Piracetam, the first of this drugs, shows promise
in the treatment of Alzheimer's and Attention deficit Disorder. Alas, as with poor little Algernon
, the effect seems temporary
. Nootropics can be a little difficult to acquire
in the US. Beer is not a nootropic, but sex on the other hand.....
posted by troutfishing
on Mar 5, 2004 -
Painkillers destroy hearing
- Looks like America's fascination with Vicodin, Oxycotin, and other hardcore painkillers has a lasting effect other than addiction. Studies are showing that "rapid hearing loss, even deafness, in some patients who are misusing the drugs". This is serious enough for Vicodin's manufacturer to add a "warning about the potential for hearing loss to the drug's label."
Is Rush Limbaugh's sudden deafness
and recent involvement in a painkiller drug investigation
simply a coincidence?
posted by Argyle
on Oct 3, 2003 -
- you need more brain cells
. Just take one of these
twice a day. New research
shows that antidepressants may not work as we thought
at all, rather they actually stimulate growth of cells in the hippocampus area of the brain. This may all be for the good - but it seems strange that we release millions of happy pills and market them as safe without knowing for sure what they do. Perhaps its the money
posted by grahamwell
on Aug 9, 2003 -
The Access to Essential Medicines Campaign
is an initiative by Medecins Sans Frontieres
that seeks to "lower the prices of existing medicines in developing countries, to bring abandoned drugs back into production, to stimulate research and development for neglected diseases that primarily affect the poor, and to overcome other barriers to access
is one target disease. The Campaign's press releases
, press clips
on HIV give a good picture of recent developments. In light of this evidence, does anyone care to step up and defend "big pharma
" and the governments of the wealthy North? Have we/they "done enough"? What would "doing enough" look like, given the scope of the crisis?
posted by stonerose
on Dec 1, 2002 -
And the top 200 prescriptions for 2001 are...
I see Claritin near the top of the charts, with zoloft and paxil not too far behind. Prozac is down, with viagra shooting up the charts like a... hmm. In total 3.1 b
illion prescriptions were filled in the US, which would be about an average of a dozen per citizen. Also interesting are the previous six years of data, allowing anyone to build a "Rx Zeitgeist" of the american hypochondriac.
posted by mathowie
on May 21, 2002 -
Utah Leads Nation in Rate of Anti-Depressant Use.
It is interesting (to me) in that the people doing the study credit a "Mother of Zion" syndrome of married Mormon women putting on the happy face regardless of how happy they truly are. My state is up at the top also. Could be all the rain I guess. . .*sigh*
posted by Danf
on Feb 20, 2002 -
Kava exporters in Pacific react to Western Kava bans
Pacific countries who export kava called for an
international review of its alleged health risks. They are reacting
to a recent spate of warnings on its use and, in some cases, bans on
its sale (1
Growing concern over a link between kava use and liver
toxicity has prompted Germany, Switzerland and France to ban
the sale of kava-derived herbal medicine
The US, Canada, and NZ are advising against its use, pending their
own reviews (1
Kava is cultivated and brewed to produce an narcotic
ceremonial drink in much of the Pacific. Recently it has become a
cash crop for an herbal-enthused Western market (1
), as well as part of
a growing drug-abuse problem (1
) in Pacific countries.
posted by rschram
on Jan 18, 2002 -
ADHD/ADD and Drug Abuse
They found a link between children with common 'behavioral' disorders and drug abuse later in life. Well what do you expect when we teach kids that the best way to deal with a problem is to turn to drugs (ritalin).
posted by crackheadmatt
on Dec 20, 2001 -
Memorial to those who died of heroin.
This is what I got in email today, after, I guess, they found my half-completed story on such a topic:
"I was looking on the internet on Google for heroin drug overdose. You can see my daughter's before and after picture on www.ourwall.net. Click on Cheryl Dean born July 11, 1979 overdosed on Oct 5, 1997. Cheryl didn't die but she can't walk, talk, move legs arms or hands is blind and on a feeding tube. She had a cardiac arrest and didn't get enough oxygen to the brain in time."
posted by Mo Nickels
on Oct 8, 2000 -