Tuesday 11 September 2012

The Miracle Medicinal Herb

Hey! You can't say this in public!
A medical student claims to have cured himself of a debilitating disease by taking up smoking.

Formerly a non-smoker, Stephen Pendry, 23, struggled with crippling pain, tiredness, shortness of breath and dehydration since he was diagnosed with bowel disease ulcerative colitis four years ago.

He had to rush to the toilet up to 15 times a day but is now completely symptom-free, thanks to a new four-a-day cigarette habit.
All coupled with the chappie's thrilled face as he is about to light up.
He said: 'Smoking was my last option. I didn’t really want to wear a colostomy bag at the age of 23.

'Colitis is a condition which is constantly on your mind. It holds you back from doing a lot of things.

'Now, thanks to smoking, I do not suffer with the symptoms anymore and I can finally move on with my life.

'I know it’s controversial to say smoking can have positive effects, but doctors don’t always know best.'
Seems quite reasonable, but isn't it incredibly risky?
Despite well-known links between cigarette smoking and cancer, Mr Pendry balanced the decision to take up the habit against equally well-established links between ulcerative colitis and bowel cancer.

He said: 'The colitis, and the drugs used to treat it, can themselves cause cancer.

'I’m only smoking three or four cigarettes a day, so I don’t believe I am at risk.'
Well, it looks like the lad has done his research and made a risk/benefit analysis which appears to be quite sound. But what do the experts say?
Dr Sean Kelly, Consultant Gastroenterologist at York Hospital, who has written on the subject in the British Medical Journal, said: 'It is a well-established medical fact that smoking protects against ulcerative colitis.

'Rarely, we use tobacco as a bridge to conventional medical therapy.

'We sometimes get an ex-smoker to start smoking again - for a short period - to settle the colitis and then allow medicines, such as azathioprine, to maintain remission after they have stopping smoking completely.

'Around 20 years ago there was a lot of interest in using nicotine patches to treat ulcerative colitis, but the research was not terribly effective.'
Mr Pendry's approach is backed up by clinical research too, then. Therefore, if it works for him - and hasn't cost the taxpayer a penny in drugs - it's a happy outcome all round, good luck to the fella. Who could possibly object?
Martin Dockrell, Director of Research and Policy at charity Action on Smoking and Health said: 'The evidence doesn’t come from smoking, it comes from nicotine.

'There are ways of getting safe pharmacological nicotine in patches. We advise talking to a doctor about the benefits of going on nicotine replacement therapy.
Ah, of course.

Are you by any chance talking about the patches that York's Consultant Gastroenterologist described as "not terribly effective", Martin?

ASH, eh? Big Pharma's loyal salesmen even when the circumstances are piled high against them.

H/T Anna Raccoon


junican41 said...

ASH is an advertising agency for all intents and purposes. Its purpose is to bring media manipulation to bear by use of advertising phrases and slogans. Dockerell knows nothing about the medical aspects of tobacco or of nicotine.

Jax said...

I bet ASH are furious that this story has run before they could come up with a convenient “study” linking smoking (negatively) to UC. Pretty much the moment any medical website or journal links any ailment in a positive way to smoking – Alzheimer’s, dementia, ectopic pregnancy, post-menopausal uterine cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, gout, eczema, psoriasis, now even lung-cancer in ex-smokers – there miraculously appears an ASH-inspired “study” citing the exact opposite, which hits the mainstream media with lightning speed. Funny that.

So I bet they’re hopping mad and spitting blood down the telephone to the Mail Online’s editor for daring to run this story without asking their permission first so that they could come up with something. Obviously caught on the hop, Dockerell’s defensive response doesn’t even make grammatical sense: “'The evidence doesn’t come from smoking, it comes from nicotine.” Such a blustering statement is indicative of someone who’s had to come up with a response really, really fast, and is most unlike the usual media-comfy, carefully-scripted ASH “comment.”
Tee hee! Just what they didn’t want in the run-up to their final “make or break” campaign.

Christopher Snowdon said...

I never knew that. Fascinating. And according to Wikipedia, one cause of the disease is "recent cessation of tobacco smoking". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulcerative_colitis#Diagnosis

cfrankdavis said...

Rose asked me to post this for DP:

Could you please tell Dick, http://dickpuddlecote.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/the-miracle-medicinal-herb.html

- that it's not nicotine like Martin Dockrell says, but it appears to be Carbon Monoxide that does the trick, before sufferers start plastering themselves in nicotine patches.

Ulcerative Colitis

Nicotine: does it have a role in the treatment of ulcerative colitis?

CONCLUSION: Nicotine cannot be recommended as adjunctive or single therapy for the treatment of ulcerative colitis and will not alter current treatment options."

Carbon Monoxide Soothes Inflammatory Bowel Disease

"Doctors have long known that smokers rarely suffer from a common form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) called ulcerative colitis, but they didn't know why.
A new study in the December 19 issue of The Journal of Experimental Medicine might help explain this apparent resistance. Scott Plevy and his colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh now show that carbon monoxide (CO), a component of cigarette smoke, helps shut down the intestinal inflammation that causes ulcerative colitis."

"But recent scientific studies have shown that CO -- at least at low concentrations -- has a redeeming quality: it acts as an anti-inflammatory agent"

"The group traced the action of inhaled CO to a protein that is produced by immune cells called interleukin (IL)-12. IL-12 is normally produced during infection and helps activate the immune cells that fight off the invading pathogens.
But chronic production of IL-12 in the gut also drives the inflammation that causes ulcerative colitis.
Inhaled CO inhibited the production of IL-12, short-circuiting the disease-causing inflammation."

Carbon monoxide plays role in orchestrating digestive tract function

"Farrugia and an associate, Dr. Joseph Szurszewski, headed the study, which focused on carbon monoxide's role in orchestrating movements of muscles in the digestive system. The results were published in the prestigious journal of the National Academy of Sciences, which is based in Washington and advises the federal government on science and technology.

They showed that cells in the digestive system manufacture tiny amounts of carbon monoxide, which then regulates muscle contractions. The contractions occur with great precision to properly move food ahead through the stomach and intestines"

"Farrugia pointed out that carbon monoxide probably orchestrates other body processes, since the biochemical apparatus for making it also exists in brain, heart, liver, kidney and other cells.

Carbon monoxide works as a so-called neurotransmitter, a chemical that carries signals from one nerve cell to another. It joins nitric oxide as an oddball in that genre.
Other neurotransmitters are proteins -- huge, complicated molecules built from many atoms."

Because I don't do disqus.

Right, now I really am turning off this machine. : )


Bill said...

Worth a read?

StumpyBear said...

I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis about 15 years ago. It is a dreadful, debilitating disease. A doctor at Kings College Hospital suggested that I smoke tobacco as it is known to alleviate the symptoms. He also suggested a little of the other miracle herb wouldn't do me any harm either. I took his advice and am now completely free of colitis and the revolting drugs that are prescribed to manage the disease.

ASH, it seems, can only ever be blinkered with total idiocy.