Rat Dissection

This week, as part of our biology AS I dissected a rat. As someone who is vegan, this was morally quite difficult for me, however once I had overcome my initial emotions, I learnt a lot from the practical – both about anatomy and ethics.


I found it incredibly interesting to look at the ratio of the length of the rat and its small intestine, which was easily 2 if not 3 times longer than the rat itself. We focused initially on the digestive system, locating the stomach, ileum and large intestine. This was incredibly useful in realising what we have learnt about the surface area and ‘coiling’ of the small intestine, and how this helps absorption. What was also particularly apparent was how large the liver of a rat is, while not surprising due to its vast number of functions such as deamination, it was by far the largest organ inside the rat.

I then went on to dissect the chest cavity of the rat, removing its ribs using sharp scissors and a blunt nosed seeker. I was surprised with the positioning of the lobed lungs, as I found a particularly large right lung but a  considerably smaller left lung. However, this makes a lot of sense as the heart is slightly angled towards the left hand side of the rat, and the left side of the heart is larger than the right – therefore a smaller lung compensates for the larger side of the heart.


I drew a scientific drawing of the chest cavity of my rat (left), representing what I could see in the clearest way possible. This was a good opportunity to practice this skill, however the direction skills I learnt were of much more importance. The significance of making a clean incision and angling your scissors up, to keep the insides intact, but as I progressed through the dissection I also found I was picking up the right tools more frequently – those which would do the least damage to the organs.




While I can’t say I’m an aspiring surgeon, this was an incredibly interesting experience and a huge personal achievement. I do believe that I would find operating on a human, who could consent, much less morally conflicting, than on an animal bred for dissection. Although, this experience has allowed me to partake in something I may find hard to agree with, it has taught me to put my feelings aside to do what is important (in this case, for my learning). This is something which applies easily to a medical professional, and a realisation I will take with me into my future career.

(I hope no-one is offended by these photos, and if you’d rather me take them down please don’t hesitate to leave a comment)


Marie Curie

Recently, as I’ve walked through my town and through London, I’ve seen several people selling yellow daffodils – a symbol for the Marie Curie charity. I thought I’d take a look at what it is they do, the support they provide and how such a phenomenal charity has influenced lives.

The Marie Curie charity logo.

The Marie Curie charity logo.

Marie Curie is a charity which is committed to providing care to everyone based on need, without taking into account their diagnosis [1]. They pride themselves in helping terminally ill people stay at home until the end of their lives, making the process more comfortable for many. They work with hospices, charities and the NHS, reducing the need for emergency hospitalisation and while most importantly benefitting people, they also help to cut hospital costs [1].

The research which Marie Curie undertakes focuses on finding the best ways possible of caring for terminally ill people, and improving their quality of life. This is a goal proven to be increasingly achieved as 99% of patients rated their overall experience as good or very good and 96% said they were involved by the staff as much as they wanted in decisions about their care [1].

Charities such as Marie Curie are so important in caring for terminally ill people, and relieving the NHS of some demand. When one of my best friends mum was being treated for cancer, she had a Macmillan nurse and I know that she supported them all through the process. It is integral to remember that these charities run on donations, and the care they can provide depends on the money donated. Without these funds they cannot function, so it is not enough to just admire a charities work, but important to support it too. They are great for offering help to everyone possible, regardless of age, income, or any other factor. While before I have realised how important these charities are in providing care for many terminally ill people, I did not previously consider the benefits provided to our healthcare system. Next time you see a donation box, please be sure to spare your loose change.

[1] https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/who/our-history [accessed on 12/03/17]


Making applying to Med School a little less daunting…

I thought I would do something a little different and more relaxed this week, and share with you what I’m doing towards application to medical school, and where I’m currently at with it. Suddenly, UCAS has been sprung on us at school, with lessons on how to use ‘Unifrog’ – a website which helps categorise universities and helps you see what each university can offer,  the booking of open days and study skills lessons about how to avoid plagiarism. It has taken me a while to realise how I think is best for me to progress with my application, and I thought I would share it in the hope it will at least help somebody consider their own!

Something I have been doing for a while, and would recommend to everyone, is keeping a word document with prospective ideas of what to include in my personal statement. Any interesting thoughts, articles or books I’ve read and found fascinating, alongside events I’ve attended I have kept a record of here. Just incase I forget about how interested I was, or exactly how many things I have been dong related to medicine. However most importantly, I have kept a log of my work experience, and for each day written a little on how I found it, what I thought and learnt from it, and then what I want to take away with me, and perhaps apply to future situations. For me, this has been crucial, as each time I add to this document I reread what I have previously written, and it reminds me of everything I have forgotten I’d learnt.

Similarly, it is never too early to be taking a look at University websites and league tables, and booking for open days are also now (mostly) available. I know that at the moment, I’m not entirely sure where I want to end up, and am incredibly keen to ‘feel’ a university and city as opposed to scroll through a website. I live surrounded by fields and farms, and I know that potentially moving to a city will be a big change for me, one which I’m excited for, but I definitely feel like I want to end up living and working somewhere I’m comfortable. Consequently, I think visiting universities is important, and am more than happy to miss a few days of school in June/July to ensure that I am happy with my choices! Having said that, I don’t think my Dad is too keen on all the petrol…

Another thing I think is important to mention, is that you don’t have to know. Everyone is new to this process so take your time getting to grips with new lingo, the application process and being confident in your decisions. Personally I would rather take longer over a decision and make sure I feel its the right one for me, than rush into something because all my friends are doing it. Take your time and read around – starting early means that you’re in no rush to make important decisions.

Please don’t take this blog post as gospel, and don’t suddenly panic if you haven’t started thinking about  applications. This is just what I’m doing and what I feel is working for me, and I have shared it only in the hope that it may help other people. I am not ready to apply for medical school by any means, just merely dipping my toe in the water to see what exactly the process I have to undertake in the future is. I want to wish everyone good luck with their future applications and with their journeys towards becoming a doctor. :)



Nature’s Medicine Cabinet – from Root to Remedy lecture

At the Cambridge Medicine Masterclass earlier this month, I listened to a lecture led by Sonja Dunbar, and was truly intrigued. If I’m honest, it was the lecture I thought I would be least interested in, as I expected it to focus on herbal remedies and the likes, yet it was much more medicine focused.

66% of all drugs have their origins in nature, and infant 80% of people in underdeveloped countries rely on traditional remedies from plants. Thus, their used simply cannot be ignored. Yet, what was a really interesting proposition was why are so many compounds in plants beneficial to humans? It is absurd to think that plants exist for our benefit, there are abundant defences to stop us using them. Spikes, thorns, bristles and chemical poisons all with the intention of helping the plant live longer, and protect the plants form those who are likely to eat it. A key example of this is the classic stinging nettle. These contain histamine, responsible for the itching felt after a sting and acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. These are contained in a trichome, a specialised ‘hair’ in plants which is very similar to a hollow needle. Alongside this, stinging nettles contain Leukotriene, which promotes information and causes blood plasma to leak out of the membrane and lysosomes to swell, and serotonin. All of these chemicals are pumped in you your body when you are stung by a nettle.


This leads us to the scarcity-accessibility hypothesis, where a plant in an environment where it is more likely to be eaten, for example when other plants are scarce is likely to have the most defences. Examples of such plants  are Holly and cacti, both of which have visible mechanical defences – holly with its spiked leaves, and cacti with their needle-

cacti-needles_3cc3cf1c0f513010like spikes.

An interesting example of a plant which attempts to deter you form eating it, is the chilli. Chill is detected by TRPVI, the same receptor as vanilla, and vanillin and capsaicin are in fact structurally very similar. However, vanillin cannot get through the cell membrane, yet capsaicin can, and therefore binds to the receptor and tigers the brain into thinking you’ve eaten something hot. For most humans, this would not be a pleasurable experience and would put you off eating a chilli again. However, it gets better. Chilli’s receive no benefit from being eaten by mammals, as we grind and crunch seeds up due to our molars. Their seeds are therefore broken apart and cannot germinate to produce more plants. Although, birds eat chilli’s and don’t seem to find them hot. Why? Because birds don’t crush or grind the seeds, simply pass them through their digestive system and disperse them. They can travel great distances in a short space of time meaning that very little competition between the plants remains, and so birds do not find chilli’s hot, as the plant benefits from being consumed.

So, what are some examples of plants used in medicine? Foxgloves, contain digitoxin which helps to controlyour heart rate. It is a cardiac glycoside which interferes with sodium-potassium pumps, calcium ions and polarisation. In a high dose, it causes irregular heart rates, yet in a low does, it is very useful. Thus, from digitoxdigoxinstructurein digoxin has been developed, with less side affects and thus less associated dangers than the ‘pure’ substance, but with a very similar chemical structure.

Similarly, Aloe Vera contains 98.5% water, mannose-6-phosphate sugars and a collagen triple helix. It can be used in the treatment of thermal and radiation burns. It has been known to reduce swelling, stimulate faster tissue synthesis and help keep the wound clean and hydrated due to the high water content. Thus, it is used in many suncreams, after suns and in a gel to help prevent wounds from infection.

The lecture also spoke about the 2015 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. In 2013 there were 198 million cases of malaria, and is a disease which can easily escape detection due to the life cycle of the parasite. Theparasite enters liver cells where it can replicate for 2 weeks without detection. Eventually, the liver cells rupture and release the parasite, which consequently goes on to infect red blood cells. Here, the parasite escapes detection by wrapping itself in the cell membranes of cells from the organism – which will not be recognised as something harmful by the immune system. Cinchona  is an example of an early malaria remedy, which was so heavily sought after the plant nearly went extinct. Artemisinin also treats the fever of malaria, and with cold extraction, reduces 100% of the parasite load in monkeys and mice – incredible. Consequently, the death toll form malaria in the past 15 years has declined by 50%, and it is great to see the Nobel Prize being awarded for a medicine being developed for disease in underdeveloped/developing countries. This is because it takes around 12 years and £1.2 billion to take a drug to market, not something which is affordable to such counties, but malaria is a disease which takes millions of lives, and so any advancements could save countless lives.

What I learnt from this lecture is that biodiversity mattersin the hunt for new drugs. There are still plants we don’t know exist, and plants we do know exist but don’t yet recognise their uses. In destroying the biodiversity of our world, for example by deforestation, we could potentially be destroying cures for diseases. The ecology of the world we life in is important to allow us to survive, and while plants don’t exist for out benefit, they are incredibly useful.

(Source: Sonja Dunbar, Nature’s Medicine Cabinet Lecture, Cambridge University)


A Pharmaceutical Lecture by Gwenan White

Hello!! A couple of days ago I attended a pharmaceutical based lecture at my school, spoken by a woman who works for the company AbbVie, a comparatively small company specialising in virology, immunology, neuroscience and oncology. It was far more interesting and relevant to me than I initially thought it might be, and I took away some key lessons which I thought I would share with you.

It typically takes around 12 years to bring a medicine to life – over a decade of isolating compounds and mixing constituents and clinical trials. What interested me within this process was the use of animal testing. Animal rights are something I feel strongly about and if I’m honest, I’ve always been opposed to their use in science. However, recently I attended a lecture on the ‘naked mole rat’ (hopefully a blog post to follow!) and then this lecture, which has made me consider the benefits and boundaries of using animals in science. While I won’t dwell on the use of the naked mole rat too much as it is something I’d like to write about later, it was a talk which demonstrated to me a clear ethical and moral use of animals in research. In the pharmaceutical industry however, it is not always clear how these animals may react to the drugs within their systems. Although, it was emphasised to me that as few a animals as possible are used with the most effecting but least affective (in terms of side affects) treatment option primarily. Or surrogate models can be used preventing the need for animals. This showed me the diverse range of steps needed to take a medicine to market, and that medicines must not only be effective and ethical but also cost effective.

The ethos of the AbbVie  in the talk was that they aim to combine the expertise and stability of traditional pharma with the focus, culture and innovative spirit of biotech. This really summed up the state of modern science and medicine for me, we are in a stage where we a gradually moving away from the reliable treatments and options for those which may be slightly more risky but give patients better quality of life post treatment. For instance, when watching the BBC documentary ‘Hospital’ last week I was captivated by the innovative treatment of a 98 year old man. He first, had a compressed heart valve inserted into his heart through a blood vessel in his leg, which was then synchronised with the contraction of his heart using a screen. However, the incredible surgical techniques didn’t stop there, he later had a wire mesh inserted into an artery which led to his brain to remove a clot causing him a stroke and possible brain damage. This being a thrombectomy, which if carried out within 6 hours of a stroke results in full blood flow and a reduced risk of brain damage. Similarly, in the same documentary a new treatment method was used to treat an 18 year old girl with Sickle Cell disease, where her immune system was depleted using chemotherapy and radiotherapy allowing her to engraft bone marrow with a match of only 50%. This is an incredible feat. Linking this back to the lecture, it is through combining new ideas and treatment methods with the stability of old ones which medicine can and is advancing.

Like much of the news these days, the talk did also mention that out current healthcare system is not sustainable – we have an ageing population and more than 1/4 of people in the UK have a chronic illness. All of which need treatment and all of which costs money. A statistic which was raised is that every 36 hours 1,000,000 people pass through the NHS, and we do not have a healthcare system which can deal with that demand. What we do have however, is new means of empowering patients to look after themselves – who hasn’t seen an advert for an online GP? Or advice from the NHS website? What is crucial is that doctors need recognise the role of the patient in their own treatment – diet and lifestyle choice can hugely influence what treatment a person may later need, but also knowing when and when not to see a doctor of GP is crucial. The NHS does not, essentially, have time to waste. Having said that, there should be no ‘fear of finding out’ what the doctor has to say, and people should not avoid the GP Surgery because they are scared they are ill – they should act quickly and potentially save their own live, or give themselves years. If not, at least just peace of mind.

So these are some of the key ideas I took from a pharmaceutical lecture I thought would just be about the development of drugs, which was actually much more patient focused for an industry which is not allowed direct patient contact – charities and organisations on patient’s behalf must be used instead. Therefore, I would encourage everyone to attend some science or medicine based lectures, and not to be afraid to take notes. Taking notes is what I’ve found has really allowed me to write up and reflect on what I’ve learnt, and that’s definitely worth more than a few snide comments. I hope you’ve found this interesting and hopefully I will write more reflections on lectures in the future.


Delays in the NHS

Today, I read a rather shocking article by the BBC, entitled ‘The 10 Longest Hospital delays exposed’. The NHS is obviously a system which needs revamping, reorganising and millions of pounds invested in it to help it run. However, I found this article a very negative approach to what is happening. While yes, there is a chronic bed shortage and hospitals are overrun, there are still millions of people being treated each day.

The article does however, highlight again what I became aware of after watching the BBC documentary ‘Hospital’. This being, that many patients are occupying a bed in a hospital when waiting for a place in a care home, cottage hospital or specialised clinic. Consequently hospitals are ‘filling up’ as patients keep being admitted each day, but few being discharged. The links between these healthcare services are shown to be fractured, as sometimes communication between clinics, hospitals and care homes is not as frequent as necessary.

Aside from this however, the article does present key issues in the NHS. The greatest rise reported being 449 in a mid Yorkshire hospital. The graph clearly shows that the number of patients who see themselves as ‘stranded’ in hospital with nowhere to go for care when discharged, is on the rise, as has been clearly on the rise since 2014, and doubling the number of patients delayed in 2016 compared to that 2010.

For me, this highlights that many older patients who require access to care packages, including nursing home places and help in the home for daily tasks, such as washing and dressing, aren’t receiving this help. Quite possibly in the time that it takes for these links to be made, lives could be saved if other patients had access to these beds. The article also states that ‘Over the past four years, the number of older people getting help from councils has fallen by quarter, while the NHS district nursing workforce has shrunk by 29% in the past five years.’ To me, this screams lack of funding, and is an example of how cutting funding of the NHS has caused a cut in services, which has hindered the functioning of not only hospitals.   Aside from this, its is incredibly important to remember that these elderly people should also have dignity, and lives as independent and healthy as possible – this is not just being confined to a bed in hospital, unstimulated.

Restoring faith however, the article does mention that councils will be spending £16 billion this year on social care. This should help to reinstate the links between the services provided and provide those who should not be in hospital with adequate care elsewhere, and those who need hospital care access to that. Initially, this article sparked my anger, because I believe that the NHS is an incredible service which saves millions of lives, and to pick out the negatives is not necessarily representative. However, I am not naive enough to think that it is without its problems, but a system which deser

ves saving. Thank you for reading :)

This is the link to the BBC article…



Medicine Masterclass – Cambridge

For me, yesterday was a truly inspiring day. I attended the Cambridge masterclass for Chemistry (natural sciences) in November, and can honestly say while an interesting day it proved that Chemistry is definitely not what I want to pursue. The recent medicine day however contributed greatly to my desire to be a doctor, with 3 medicine based lectures. It was entirely useful as it gave a quick taster of the ‘science’ aspect of medicine, what information lectures may contain and even how to approach studying medicine.

Lecture 1: How blood goes around the body (Dr Dunecan Massey)

Lecture 2: Nature’s medicine cabinet: from root to remedy (Sonja Dunbar)

Lecture 3: Pain and lessons from the naked mole rat (Dr Ewan St. John Smith)

We experienced 3 scientific lectures and an admissions lecture. While the day was a little daunting as I went alone, it was easy to meet likeminded individuals and learn about why they want to study medicine, alongside what they thought of their work experience. I also found the Q&A sessions with students useful in asking the ‘real’ questions and hearing the honest answers from people with first hand experience of the process. What did I learn from the day? While a lot about naked mole rats and intestines and the interesting aspects of botany, these were not the most significant aspects. It confirmed that I will happily walk into a day of lectures on medicine, and that it is truly a career I am interested in. Not only because of the people I will meet but because of the science behind it. Having the knowledge to be able to improve and save lives is an incredible opportunity and one I’m certain that as a future doctor, I will cherish.

I recommend the Cambridge Masterclasses to any student considering medicine or Cambridge, as they are an incredible opportunity to experience both the course and the city. I think the University has an incredible and unique teaching style, and it is definitely one I would to to consider further in the future. I am hoping to decipher the notes I made in the lectures and blog them in the future, so keep a look out!


Travel and Disease

This blog post is mainly allowing me to put together ideas and research I have found, and to make sure I understand the concepts I will be talking about tomorrow at my schools Biology Discussion Group (BDG) however I thought it was an interesting topic. The biology discussion group from my school meets fortnightly to discuss scientific and ethical topics. In preparation for our session tomorrow, I have been reading up on ‘travel and disease’ which is this weeks topic. I can’t say it’s something I had given much thought to before trying to find some articles to read for this weeks discussion, however, the way epidemics are now predicted is somewhat fascinating.

I always believed that diseases spread from country to country through an infected person jumping on an aeroplane, train or bus to go on holiday. Thus, I thought that if you wanted to predict the spread of a disease, you would look at how many people from one country travelled to another, and how many of those individuals were likely to be infected. Take the Zika Virus, if lots of people were to travel to Rio for the olympics, I would have thought it would spread quickly as each athlete or spectator returned home potentially carrying the disease. I have found however, that it is much more than this.

How quickly a disease can spread depends on two factors – population distribution and human-mobility networks [1]. Thus in a sense, I guess my initial theories were half right. How easy it is for a person to move from place to place is a factor. Consequently, it is not if one person travels from one country to another, but how many people they meet along the way. If an infected person walks into a shop, you then have to consider how busy the shop is likely to be at that time, and how many people the shopkeeper is likely to encounter between the time of infection and the time at which they are potentially unable to work anymore (say at diagnosis). Similarly, if an infected person sneezes on a £10 note and that therefore becomes infected, how many people are likely to encounter that note until it is no longer infectious? The contact goes on and on.

Here are some key points to consider when modelling epidemics:

  • Modern pandemics spread more quickly and less uniformly than those in the past e.g. The Plague. Why? Due to the global air transportation network and and the complex, integrated nature of much of our society.
  • To model the spread of an infectious disease, you must take into account the biological and physical principles alongside social and behavioural factors.

Therefore, what the spread of disease comes down to is actually very minimally air time, but in fact human behaviour. If you know what a population is likely to do, i.e. how many different people may encounter another in a day, the spread of disease is much easier to predict. The more research into human behaviour there is, the more likely it is that we are able to predict the spread of disease accurately [1].

Similarly, a disease is not going to spread across the entire world or even Europe, at the same rate. It may spread between certain cities or countries quickly due to large amounts of human mobility networks and an interactive society. Yet for others, there may be very little contact between two cities and very few people may move from one to the other, meaning that disease would likely spread at a very slow rate.  So, this theory doesn’t work unless we move from analysing small social groups in individual towns or cities, to analysing social aggregate states made up of millions of people [1] – in order to gain a mean activity.

The problems we face with this is that people’s lives are essentially non-conformal. Not everyone does the same thing every day, and each person has their own agenda. As a result of this, standard deviations (the spread of data) are typically extremely large, and there are no typical values for many of the quantities – e.g. the amount of times a person eats out a week.

Consequently, predicting epidemics is no easy feat. There are so many factors to include that it is very rare we will be able to pinpoint the exact spread of a disease. Having said that, techniques allowed scientists to predict the peak in the swine flu pandemic in the USA between late October and November 2009. Whats to learn from this? That the spread of disease is largely due to human behaviour, and that in understanding more of human behaviour we could open many doors to new methods of predicting pandemics and epidemics.

[1] The Flu Fighters – Physics World  – as of February 2010

I will link the podcast to this BDG session here once it has been edited :)



Ethics – A man and Australia

On a Tuesday evening, 4-5 aspiring medics from my year meet to discuss medical issues, and what could help us achieve our goal of getting into medical school. Something my mum likes to refer to as ‘Doctor Club’. This week, it was ethics. A series of information on cards was given to us in stages, and we were to decide what action we would take if we were the patients doctor. It went a little like this:

  • The patient was a 65 year old male, who after recent tests you have discovered has cancer. It is untreatable and slow growing. He is also planning and excited about an upcoming trip to Australia.
  • You learn that he recently lost his wife after a long battle with cancer, and has a history of struggling with clinical depression. This is particularly apparent when he hears of serious health issues. He is still very excited about his trip.

We had to make numerous decisions with different amounts of information, and it was based on a real case. Ultimately, the final question was would you tell the patient he had cancer before his trip to Australia, or wait for him to return? What do you think?

For me, this was incredibly difficult but an incredible insight into the factors which doctors need to consider on a day to day basis. It all came down to patient care. Here, the most prominent issue is not the mans cancer, but the probability of a serious bout of depression. I believe that in not telling him before his trip, but similarly not lying to him, you would be providing better patient care than if you were to tell him beforehand. Here in the UK, he has access to support and family members to help him accept his diagnosis, but in Australia there would be very little capacity for this. Also, we were told he would experience no symptoms of his cancer, and it would have no impact on his quality of life.

I found this interesting, as without knowing the man had a history of depression I know my answer would have been completely different – complete honesty. This highlighted for me the importance of medical teams and hospitals working together to produce accurate and up to date patient notes, and collaborations between GP surgeries, hospitals and clinics for example. Interestingly, the answer that the 3 medics who attended on Tuesday came to the conclusion the same as that of the doctor who made the decision themselves. It was only the aspiring vet who thought they would tell the patient before his trip. While the doctor themselves was questioned about their decision, and the case was deemed exceptional, it shows how guidelines have to be interpreted differently for each patient, in order to provide the key patient care. Here, in withholding information for perhaps a couple of weeks longer, the patient was cared for more than if he was told straight away.


Oestrogen and PTSD

The role of oestrogen in the maturation of the female body alongside reproduction and pregnancy is well known. However, oestrogen has the potential for further physiological effects.

Existing research suggests that women are more prone to developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than men, despite the fact that women experience fewer traumatic events than males, on average. A new study indicates that oestrogen may place a crucial role in the development of  PTSD. This is a subject I am particularly interested in due to my interest in the military, and a topic I have begun loosely researching for my EPQ.

Different levels of oestrogen have been associated with the brains response to stress, via the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands. However, a key piece of information from other studies is that women who experience trauma seem to have more trauma related flashback episodes in a particular phase of their menstrual cycle.



This phase occurs around a week after ovulation, where the female body produces more progesterone and less oestrogen. Blood samples from 278 females were examined, and they participated in the Grady Trauma Project. [1] This is a large scale study that investigates the role of genetic and environmental factors in the development of PTSD among African-American females. [1]

At childbearing age, women’s levels of oestrogen go up and down depending on where they are in their menstrual cycle, whereas menopausal and postmenopausal women have lower levels of oestrogen. [2] Those involved in the study then assessed DNA methylation of blood, which is an epigenetic mechanism. It modifies the DNA in a way that suggests that some genes are “turned off.” It was found that a form of oestrogen, serum estradiol, is associated with DNA methylation across the genome.

This is potentially a single gene that is associated with the brain’s fear response, found to be affected by oestrogen levels. Researchers also examined brain functionality using brain imaging techniques.

Research has also been performed with experiments in mice to see if their findings would replicate in rodents. The mice experiments suggest that oestrogen can protect against the formation of PTSD. The authors add that in addition to its role in modulating the fear response, previous studies have also suggested that oestrogen alters pain perception. Scientists have also noted that their findings suggest that oestrogen could be used as a preventive treatment for PTSD. [2]

While this hypothesis still has a long way to go in terms of the evidence to provide oestrogen as a treatment for PTSD. I thought it was an interesting set of research. While the sample size was small and those who participated had very little variation, alongside the fact that side affects of the treatment have not been considered, I hope that the evidence for the use of oestrogen in the treatment of PTSD prevails.


[1]  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315383.php 

[2] https://psychcentral.com/news/2017/01/20/estrogen-levels-influence-susceptibility-to-ptsd/115390.html