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Medicine Science

The Medical Benefits of Carbon Monoxide 177

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-garage-is-my-laboratory dept.
tugfoigel writes with this excerpt from the Boston Globe: "For more than a century, carbon monoxide has been known as a deadly toxin. In an 1839 story, Edgar Allan Poe wrote of 'miraculous lustre of the eye' and 'nervous agitation' in what some believe are descriptions of carbon monoxide poisoning, and today, cigarette cartons warn of its health dangers. But a growing body of research, much of it by local scientists, is revealing a paradox: the gas often called a silent killer could also be a medical treatment. It seems like a radical contradiction, but animal studies show that in small, extremely controlled doses the gas has benefits in everything from infections to organ transplantation."
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The Medical Benefits of Carbon Monoxide

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  • Re:Gee whiz! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Artraze (600366) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @02:52PM (#29779091)
    Actually, homeopathic remedies are surprisingly effective, and compete strongly with even the newest drugs. The story was posted here just recently:
    Slashdot: Placebos Are Getting More Effective [slashdot.org]

    Just because they're bogus science, not real medicine, etc. doesn't mean they don't work. The placebo effect can be very strong, and homeopathy causes in quite a lot of people. Take doesn't make it a replacement for real medicine, of course, but that doesn't mean it does not work.
  • Re:Cigarettes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by treat (84622) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @03:53PM (#29779477)

    Can cigarettes be good for you in small doses then?

    "cigarette" is not exactly drug. If you look at the component chemicals, there certainly are drugs in there that have differing effects in small doses. Nicotine has many effects, certainly some of which could have medical relevance.

    It's rare that a drug is "good for you". The criteria is improving one condition without undue risk of causing/worsening others.

    A person who smokes cigarettes for anxiety could easily be coming out on the positive end of things, if the anxiety was so severe as to risk the life of the patient. While there are usually drugs that are more effective, government restrictions on these drugs can be quite a significant influence on patients receiving care.

    If cigarettes cure a person's anxiety, possibly a safer version can be created by extracting the nicotine. But this increases the risk of being arrested and contracting HIV due to repeated prison anal rape.

    All medications are a balance of risk.

  • Re:Cigarettes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by treat (84622) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @04:02PM (#29779523)

    Morphine is little more than low grade heroin, with lots of harmful impurities. Heroin is clean and safe.

    Morphine is one molecule, heroin is another, similar molecule that is more efficient in the body.

    Neither contains any impurities by definition. Things advertised as such may contain impurities. But both are specific molecules and nothing else.

    Obviously the risk of a drug being contaminated with impurities can be greatly increased by the government's treatment of the regulation of that drug.

  • by FudRucker (866063) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @04:45PM (#29779745)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lYN_lXU9PA&feature=PlayList&p=557A85F6897EC8FC&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=6 [youtube.com]

    this video seems off topic but he does make an insightful comment about Hydrogen Sulfide being used with cold to slow down metabolism.
  • Re:Gee whiz! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Idarubicin (579475) <allsquiet@hotm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday October 17, 2009 @05:04PM (#29779887) Journal

    If the sugar pill with 0.00001% of some drug has the same effect as a plain old sugar pill, clearly you should just buy some damn sugar pills.

    The problem is that the effectiveness of placebos actually goes up when you increase their price: "Commercial Features of Placebo and Therapeutic Efficacy" [ama-assn.org].

    Oddly enough, the expensive sugar pills do work bette -- as long as the patients know the price.

  • Re:Gee whiz! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Biff Stu (654099) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @05:42PM (#29780131)

    With the trace amounts of all the disposed medicines in our water supply, how sure can we be that the water that we're using to dilute the homeopathic remedies is entirely free of medicines? After all, just one molecule out of ~10^21 is all it takes to completely screw up the remedy.

  • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @09:34PM (#29781341) Journal
    One of the final breakdown products of hemoglobin is carbon monoxide [wikipedia.org], which we produce constantly since red blood cells only live a few days and after they die, their contents are cut up to recover the iron. We only produce one molecule of CO per hemoglobin, so it's very tiny overall quantities. But, since we make it, it's not too surprising that our systems have optimized to cope with it in those same small quantities. The other main constituent of the broken-down porphyrin ring, bilirubin, is what makes feces brown.
  • Re:In a word no (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moz25 (262020) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @02:04AM (#29782207) Homepage

    Sorry, but this risk analysis just doesn't work out when put in numbers. The number of annual deaths attributed to smoking far outweighs the number of deaths in traffic.

    And, again, you're comparing an activity with only sporadic useful purpose with an activity that has a predominantly useful purpose (i.e. people being able to go from A to B). In fact, no modern economy can exist without the latter.

    But, okay, you can say: it's their choice, right? No, it's not. If they are hooked on a substance that's designed to be addictive, then they no longer have choice. Most smokers I've known actually want to quit, but they can't. Secondly, what choice do their children have? Why should one not care about the health of a fellow human being?

    As we've seen in recent years: even something as "simple" as smoking ban in certain public places has resulted in measurable health benefits in the overall population. This translates into economic advantages, which is to everyone's benefit.

  • by highways (1382025) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @04:10AM (#29782655)

    It doesn't surprise me. Whilst many substances are unsafe at any dosage (e.g. mercury), some things are downright deadly in large quantities.

    Like Paracetamol. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paracetamol_toxicity [wikipedia.org] Apparently, it's one of the worst ways to die.

    And warafin, an excellent anti-blood clotting agent is also used as rat poison.

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