Why Being a ‘Night Owl’ is Bad

So, you have all probably heard of the phase ‘night owl’ – these are people who prefer to stay up late, and to some extent this is due to our genes.

However, a lifestyle that doesn’t fit with the workings of our society (aka having work / school from 9 to 5) can cause several problems to ones health, including disruptions in metabolic processes, lipid and glucose metabolism, and blood pressure.

People who are ‘night owls’ are more likely to:

  • eat less vegetables and grains
  • eat less often but have bigger meals
  • have type 2 diabetes
  • be at risk of suffering from sleep deprivation
  • be susceptible to suffering from depression

However, scientists have actually discovered a number of benefits to being a night owl. It has been suggested through research that night owls may be able to perform and function significantly better than morning people 10 hours after being awake. More research is being done to test for more pros, but I think it is safe to say that it is a lot more beneficial to go to sleep at a decent time.

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Ancient Roman Medicine

The Ancient Romans heavily contributed to the progress in many areas of the Medical Field. Many of their Medical theories were adopted from the Greeks, which still remained popular until the 17th century.

Most Roman surgeons got their surgical experience by treating soldiers on the battlefield. They used instruments like arrow extractors, catheters, scalpels, and forceps. They knew the basics of sterilisation as they would put their instruments in boiling water before use. They did not, however, have effective anaesthetics. But this wasn’t a problem as they didn’t operate deep in to the body.

Roman physicians liked to carry out thorough physical examinations of the individual, however the problem was that doctors tended to develop their own theories and treatments – progress in this was a slow process. Like the Egyptians, a wide range of herbal remedies were used. For example, fennel (treatment for nervous disorders), unwashed wool (treatment for sores), egg yolk (treatment of dysentery – inflammatory disease of the intestine), sage (a ‘religious’ treatment), garlic (treatment for the heart), willow (used as an antiseptic), and fenugreek (treatment for lung diseases, especially pneumonia).

The Romans took a lot of care in maintaining their high standards of public health by the use of public baths, hospitals, and a good water supply. The Romans are known for their Roman Baths as they were constantly vigorously inspected to enforce proper hygiene standards.

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Ancient Egyptian Medicine

I’ve decided I’m going to start a new segment of these blogs where I talk about what medicine was like at a particular point in time. Today, I’m going to start by talking about what medicine was like in the Ancient Egyptian Times.

The Egyptians believed that diseases was mainly used by the gods, demons and spirits – they affected the normal functioning of the body by blocking channels in the body. This is what caused priests, or healers, to be given the name “doctor of medicine”. Because of this, a typical treatment of illness was using a combination of prayer and natural remedies. Archaeologists found a number of written records left by the Egyptians, containing over 700 remedies and spells in order to ‘repel the demons that causes disease’. These ‘documents’ are among some of the oldest preserved medical documents in existence. The documents also included some awareness of the workings of the brain, liver, heart, mental illness, family planning, skin problems, dental problems, eye disease, intestinal disease, parasites, and even tumor treatment. Finally, there is evidence that the doctors of the time knew how to treat burns, fix dislocated joints, and set broken bones.

Interestingly, the Egyptians provided a foundation for the recording of medical research, but having an organised economy and system of government that came up with a system of letters and numbers – this allowed for the development of ideas and calculations.

Because the Egyptians were traders, they were also able to travel long distances and bring back a variety of herbs and spices to use in their remedies.

As said earlier, treatment tended to reply more on natural herbs. For example, common remedies for dentistry problems included cumin, incense, onion and even opium to treat excessive pain.

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When Do We Burn the Most Calories?

A recent study on seven people has shown that at different times in the day, our body can burn more calories than at other times, especially at later hours in the day.

The human body utilises calories in order to provide the body with energy to properly function. This is done by burning calories, and this occurs no matter what you’re doing, even while taking a nap.

The study found that metabolic rate was lowest late during their biological “night,” and highest around 12 hours later, in the biological “afternoon and evening.”

This information has now made researchers question whether we should now be making lunch our biggest meal of the day instead of dinner. As said by Jeanne Duffy:

“It is not only what we eat, but when we eat — and rest — that impacts how much energy we burn or store as fat. Regularity of habits, such as eating and sleeping, is very important to overall health.”

The team next plan to try and figure out the relationship between appetite and time of day, and find a way to make appetite and time of most calorie loss coincide.

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Broken Heart Syndrome

New research has shows that people who go through cariogenic shock due to broken heart syndrome have an increase death risk, both short-term and long-term.

Broken heart syndrome is scientifically known as takotsubo cardiomyopathy or stress-induced cardiomyopathy. People who suffer from it claim to feel intense chest pain and very sudden shortness of breath. It is a relatively rare condition that very much resembles the symptoms of a heart, and is much more common in women than men.

Fortunately, most people can fully recover within weeks, even though 1 in 10 people do develop more serious complication.

The leader, Dr. Christian Templin, and his team found that physical stress was more than twice as likely to have caused broken heart syndrome. As said by Dr Templin himself:

For the first time, this analysis found [that] people who experienced broken heart syndrome complicated by cardiogenic shock were at high risk of death years later, underlining the importance of careful long-term follow-up, especially in this patient group.”

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Spine Surgery… In The Womb

“In a United Kingdom first, a team of specialists from University College London (UCL), University College London Hospitals (UCLH), and Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) performed surgeries on two different babies with spina bifida while they were still in their mothers’ wombs.”

The surgeries occurred during the summer being the first of its type, and it has been reported that both the mothers and babies are doing well. The surgery was only possible because the condition ‘spina bifida’  stops the spinal canal from closing completely in the womb. This means that the spinal cord is exposed from an early pregnancy stage. Trying to cure this condition after birth could lead to additional surgical interventions later in life, so tacking the problem as early as possible (aka pre birth) seems to be the best way forward.

Lead surgeon Ja Deprest had this to say:

“Operating in the womb involves opening the uterus, exposing the spina bifida without delivering the baby, closing the defect, and then repairing the uterus to leave the baby safely inside. Closure of spina bifida in the womb using this method is an alternative to postnatal surgery, and has been shown to improve short and medium-term outcomes. While neither intervention is fully curative, in fetal surgery, the defect is closed earlier, which prevents damage to the spinal cord in the last third of pregnancy.”

As this surgery has worked so well, the procedure will be available for free for the first few expectant mothers who need it – this is due to a generous amount of funding by many UK nonprofit organisations, particularly GOSH Children’s Charity and UCLH Charity. Hopefully as time goes on, many more ‘post birth’ surgeries will become available to expectant mothers and their babies/

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5 Strangest Medical Conditions

Today, I’ve decided to write about something a little different to usual – I, for one, am fascinated by unique and unusual medical conditions. So, I’m going to share 5 of some of the strangest ones…


This rare condition actually causes people to experience intoxication and hangovers, without having even drank any alcohol. Another name for this syndrome is ‘gut fermentation’ syndrome, due to the fact that pure alcohol is produced in a person’s gut after eating foods that are high in carbohydrates. The yeast that causes this is called ‘Saccharomyces cerevisiae’, and usually doesn’t cause a person to become fully drunk, but get to the pleasant, tipsy stage. However, there have been cases where the syndrome can cause people’s liver to not function properly and allow the alcohol to accumulate and linger in the system, causing dizziness, hangovers, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Treatments to this condition are: dietary changes (low carbohydrate and high protein content), taking antibiotics, or anti fungal therapies.


Foreign accent syndrome is a speech impediment, usually as a result of a stroke or traumatic brain injury, that causes a person to suddenly acquire a foreign accent. There are recorded accent changes going from Japanese to Korean, British English to French, American English to British English, and Spanish to Hungarian. It has been found out through research that this syndrome is more likely to be suffered by from women between the age range of 25-49 years. There is currently no cure.


This syndrome is due to a person emitting an unpleasant body odour that resembles the smell of a rotting fish due to a specific mutation of the FMO3 gene – this gene produces more of an enzyme that causes the body to break down organic compounds (e.g trimethylamine), thus releasing the unpleasant smell.. As it can probably already be insinuated, this syndrome can have a drastic fatal effect on a persons mental health, causing anxiety, loneliness, and a negative impact on academic performance.


This is genetic degenerative brain disorder that causes a person to have an increasingly severe form of insomnia, leading to more and more significant physical and mental deterioration. It can cause severe problems to a person’s ability to move and feel as a too many proteins are accumulated in the thalamus (a region of the brain). Currently, there is no cure .


This condition causes different types of tissues to grow disproportionately on the body – including the bones, skin, tissue of arteries, and tissue of organs, due to a mutation in the AKT1 gene in the womb. There are no visible signs of this syndrome at birth, but over time this condition gets progressively worse and can cause health problems such as intellectual disability, poor eyesight, seizures, noncancerous tumours, DVT, and abnormal formation of blood clots.

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What is a Pre-existing Medical Condition?

New Molecule Could Treat Heart Failure

When the heart is contracting effectively, calcium is able to circulate efficiently in and out of the cells in a process known as “calcium cycling”. If this process becomes impaired, calcium becomes dysregulated and the rate at which cardiac muscle can pump out blood decreases – this can therefore lead to development of heart failure.

The team that underwent research to find new treatments for failure found that DWORF (a micropeptide known as “dwarf open reading frame”) could displace a molecule called phospholamban, which inhibits SERCA activity – SERCA is a target molecule that transports calcium ions, ensuring the relaxation of the heart muscle – when SSERCA doesn’t function properly, heart failure occurs. This means that DWORF is able to help boost SERCA, which ultimately means the heart can regain its ability to contract and relax efficiently.

The researchers tested this molecule on rodents, and they found that ‘By comparing genetically engineered rodents with normal ones, the scientists noticed that the mice with higher DWORF levels had better calcium cycling than regular mice.’

This new discovery will hopefully be developed on in the future, making it an attractive candidate for a gene therapy drug for heart failure.

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Aspirin as a Treatment for Cancer

More and more studies have started to show that aspirin improves the outlook of cancer treatment by 20-30%. Peter Elwood, from the University of Cardiff, said that “The use of low-dose aspirin as a preventive in heart disease, stroke, and cancer is well established, but evidence is now emerging that the drug may have a valuable role as an additional treatment for cancer, too.” After his research, his analysis revealed that the chances of surviving a cancer diagnosis were 20–30 percent greater among people who took aspirin compared with those who did not. This was true at any given point after receiving the diagnosis.’ There was also evidence to show that aspirin can reduce the risk of dying from colon cancer by 25%, the risk of dying from breast cancer by 20%, and the risk of dying from prostate cancer by 15%.

Another point Elwood wanted to emphasise was the importance of allowing patients to access evidence – if patients know the evidence from recent studies they are more likely to make more informed and beneficial decisions about new treatment options.

Thank you for reading this weeks blog. It has been quite some time since I wrote my last blog, but I’m back from taking a break and I will start to write my blogs weekly / fortnightly again.



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The Effect of Religion on the Brain

Religion has been believed by humans for as long as can be remember, but have you ever considered the effect religion has on the brain scientifically? Well, today you are going to find out.

I’ll start off by saying that the effect of religion on the brain is truly astonishing – people who have religious belief can benefit from an increased lifespan and better coping of disease. In fact, a religious experience can activate the same circuits / initiate the same enjoyment as sex and drugs.

As you probably would have expected (or maybe not), different religions actually have different effects on the brain. Christians and Buddhists have increased activity in the frontal lobes of the brain, but, other religious practices can have the opposite effect on the same brain areas. For example, Islamic prayer reduces the activity in the prefrontal cortex and the frontal lobes connected with it, as well as the activity in the parietal lobes.

The final topic I want to talk about is if it would be possible to create a ‘God’ on demand. The answer to this is very well put out by Medical News Today:

“This is not just a theoretical question because in the 1990s, Dr. Michael Persinger — the director of the Neuroscience Department at Laurentian University in Ontario, Canada — designed what came to be known as the “God Helmet.”

This is a device that is able to simulate religious experiences by stimulating an individual’s tempoparietal lobes using magnetic fields.

In Dr. Persinger’s experiments, about 20 religious people — which amounts to just 1 percent of the participants — reported feeling the presence of God or seeing him in the room when wearing the device. However, 80 percent of the participants felt a presence of some sort, which they were reluctant to call “God.””

So, I think its safe to say that its possible for people to believe they have found God just due to the passion, eagerness and devotion they have. Hopefully as people continue to research into this, we will find out just how far the human brain can go to find the presence of something spiritual.

Thank you for taking the time to read this weeks short blog, if you found it interesting feel free to comment down below!



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