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Medicine Science

The Medical Benefits of Carbon Monoxide 177

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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  • Gee whiz! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcsnee ( 103033 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @01:31PM (#29778575)

    Something that is bad for us in high doses may be beneficial in low doses?! Next they'll be telling us that exposure to radiation and toxins can help cure cancer, or that the same stuff that rusts away unprotected steel and iron is actually necessary for animal life!

  • not a paradox (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @01:33PM (#29778591) Homepage Journal
    Almost anything is lethal in large doses, and many things are fatal in even small doses. Those same things are often of some benefit in very small doses. For instance, Botulinum toxin. We use small and weakened versions of virus to immunize ourselves. Most medicines can kill children who ingest a moderate overdose. A little alcohol can be antiseptic, which is why many places in the world used to drink with their food, but too much alcohol is lethal.
  • Re:Gee whiz! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imsabbel ( 611519 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @01:38PM (#29778621)

    expicitely no.
    Homeopathy means not low dosage, but NO dosage.

  • Cigarettes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jellybear ( 96058 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @01:42PM (#29778645)

    Can cigarettes be good for you in small doses then?

  • Re:Gee whiz! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xTantrum ( 919048 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @01:43PM (#29778655)
    seriously people this isn't that "paradoxical". Chem 101. As (arsenic) is also deadly but its also an essential biological trace element. Its about moderation.

    Sometimes i can't believe i still surf this place.

  • Re:Cigarettes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nxtw ( 866177 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @01:56PM (#29778753)

    Can cigarettes be good for you in small doses then?

    Nicotine is a stimulant. If you consider a stimulant's effects "good for you" (for example, if they help you perform better on an exam), then cigarettes in small doses could be good for you.

  • Re:Gee whiz! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MindlessAutomata ( 1282944 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @02:05PM (#29778805)

    Mod parent down to the depths of Hell.

    Homeopathy DOES NOT WORK. And this is not homeopathy. Homeopathy is wrong for two reasons--one, it postulates that chemicals/herbs/medicines that cause a symptom will cure that symptom, and second, it postulates that water or whatever solvent they use will retain the "memory" of that chemical/herb/medicine, even if it is diluted to the point of receiving even one molecule of solute is statistically improbable. And they think the greater the dilution, the greater the effect! I wonder what all the homeopathic dinosaur urine we're drinking is doing to us!

    Homeopathy is bizarre quackery. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

  • Re:Digitalis, eh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @02:09PM (#29778841) Journal

    or tylenol, botulinum toxin, carboplatin, warfarin and many others. Just because a chemical is deadly toxic at some level doesn't mean it can't be useful at lower concentrations.

  • by Jonah Hex ( 651948 ) <hexdotms@NospaM.gmail.com> on Saturday October 17, 2009 @02:25PM (#29778919) Homepage Journal

    I wonder how this gels with the research into the dangers of giving oxygen when resuscitating people from death. I have a feeling we'll be seeing the new standard procedure in what gasses to give change radically over the next few years. HEX

  • Most all posions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @03:00PM (#29779157) Homepage Journal

    Have their medicinal values. Most medicines become poisonous at a certain level too, so there is some symmetry to it all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 17, 2009 @03:22PM (#29779283)

    you aren't wrong in your current mindset but you are missing the point: a substance which we did not previously thought any small dosage to be helpful in any way is now seen as being potentially helpful!

  • Toxicology 101 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by niko9 ( 315647 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @03:50PM (#29779453)

    As any toxicologist will tell you: Dosage is everything.

  • Hrmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @04:14PM (#29779599) Homepage Journal

    From TFA:

    But given the deeply entrenched fear of carbon monoxide as a toxin, he said it is unlikely that the gas would be directly given as a therapy to many people. Instead, research into the mechanism by which carbon monoxide works could allow scientists to design a drug that could act in the same way.

    REALLY? Because CO has a scary reputation we'd rather give patients a new expensive patented drug that we think works just like CO rather than just give them a well controlled dose of a well understood, inexpensive, and easily available gas?

    No wonder nobody can afford health care.

  • Mod way up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wurp ( 51446 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @04:31PM (#29779679) Homepage

    Congress & the prez are talking about bad incentives in the health care system. IMO this is one of the most obvious wrong incentives: the fact that there is no research into and marketing for cheap, widely available remedies, because you can't get a government-sponsored monopoly on them.

  • by treat ( 84622 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @05:01PM (#29779865)

    Take water and eat 10lbs of it. You could get hospitalized or worse.

    Or this could be the amount you need to drink in a day to be healthy, if you're physically active in hot weather.

  • Re:Gee whiz! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gabrill ( 556503 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @11:16PM (#29781683)

    Because multicellular organisms like homo sapiens can survive a poison that virii or bacteria cannot. Hasn't that been the basis of a great deal of medicine for over a century now?

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @07:15AM (#29783165) Journal
    Actually, that makes it worse. Sweat is not pure water, it is water with a lot of salt and other chemicals that your body needs. If you replace the sweat that you lose with pure water, then you will become short on salt very quickly, which can kill you in a very short amount of time.
  • by x2A ( 858210 ) on Monday October 19, 2009 @12:00AM (#29789735)

    Cuz only idiots make "whoosh!" posts, so you can bet that a fair % of the time the "whoosh!" is going to be idiotic as what they think they are "whoosh!"ing.

    Yep that's right, saying "whoosh!" is not inventive, imaginative, funny, insightful, helpful, and just makes you look like a dick saying "hey everyone else, look, I got something that this person didn't, haha look I'm not stupid because he didn't read something the way I did, please look, mommy please look at how high I can swing, please mommy, why won't you look?".

    Your Mommy needed a break from having to deal with you constantly, she's seen people on swings before, get over it.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982