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Toe fevers, nose fevers?

The Roman Celsus in the 1st century A.D. identified four classical signs of inflammation: Calor, dolor, rubor, and tumor; these are heat, pain, redness, and swelling. Some of the most annoying symptoms of influenza, for instance, involve vascular congestion of mucous membranes, from increased blood flow leading to tissue swelling […]

Fat fights back

Is fat a immune organ, vital for host defense? In 2015, an important study in Science suggested that fat has an important immune function that prevents invasion by pathogens From Dermal adipocytes protect against invasive Staphylococcus aureus skin infection: “Adipocytes have been suggested to be immunologically active, but their role […]

The PO challenge

While I worked a busy shift in the ER today I saw more than a dozen patients with flu symptoms. They complained of cough, congestion, headache, muscle pain, and often, stomach upset. It reinforced the idea that infection and fever are almost always accompanied by a loss of appetite, if […]

Killer vitamins

In 2008 the New York Times published an article, News keeps getting worse for vitamins. Since then, additional trials of vitamins have also spectacularly failed. The Cochrane review, a well-known publisher of meta-analyses, reviewed anti-oxidant vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and selenium, and concluded that while these compounds […]

Shock as a host defense

This is one of the most interesting ideas in (evolutionary) medicine. Is shock itself a host defense? Kathryn Maitland conducted the FEAST trial, a landmark study of fluid resuscitation in children with septic shock published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that we have discussed in a previous podcast […]

Do big eggs = sick chicks?

Veterinary medicine and agricultural biology have a lot to offer the field of evolutionary medicine. (See, for instance, Zoobiquity by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz.) Recently, Fred Madsen sent me a link describing research by Kirk Klasing of UC Davis that highlights those connections. Here is an excerpt: “The quantitative investment in immune […]

Evolutionary Medicine TV

Starting this Friday, I am teaming up with Kate Rusk on Inertia TV for a live discussion on my favorite topic: evolutionary medicine. Inertia TV describes itself as a new educational live-streaming network on @Twitch made by a bunch of fun-loving nerds. Sounds about right! I joined Kate previously on […]

Food, yogurt and the microbiome

Not too long ago, we thought we understood nutrition. Food could be broken down to its component parts: carbohydrates, protein, and fat along with micronutrients such as iron and vitamins. Dietary advice was based on calculations of our body’s needs for these nutrients. Malnutrition could be eliminated by meeting recommended […]

Revisiting evolutionary mistakes physicians make

Evolutionary mistakes physicians make fall in three main categories I. Misunderstanding of adaptation in human biology II. Acting as an agent of selection III. Failure to recognize how competition between genomes causes disease. These mistakes occur because most physicians are not taught to think (or communicate) in terms of natural […]