Is the medieval remedy of bloodletting a possible treatment for gout The ancient treatment, which was largely ignored in medical practice today, may actually be more effective than current painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs in treating gout.

Gout is estimated to affect more than 2 million people in the UK — with cases rising, due to diet and lifestyle changes. Some researchers believe that bloodletting can help reduce symptoms. It lowers inflammation and levels uric acids, which are known causes of gout.

When the body breaks down purines (compounds that are naturally found in the body, but can also be found in seafood, red meat and shellfish), uric acid is created. Urate crystals form in the joints when there is high blood uric acid levels. They cause intense pain and swelling.

Gout is estimated to affect more than 2 million people in the UK ¿ with cases rising, due to diet and lifestyle changes

Gout is estimated to affect more than 2 million people in the UK — with cases rising, due to diet and lifestyle changes

Gout, a form of arthritis, typically affects the big toe because it is furthest from the heart — uric acid is more likely to turn into crystals at the extremities where body temperature is coolest.

Gout is usually treated by non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and colchicine.

For thousands of years bloodletting has been used to treat many conditions at the forefront of medicine, literally as well metaphorically.

The vein would then be cut, and the blood would be drained into cups. It is up to you as the practitioner where and how much. For a milder form of bloodletting, you could use leeches.

It was based on the ‘humoral’ theory, in which the human body consisted of four key humours, or liquids — blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm. These were suspected to cause many diseases, and could be fixed by bloodletting.

The death of bloodletting was eliminated in Western medicine by the end 1800s thanks to new technologies.

But now new research by scientists from Sichuan Integrative Medicine Hospital, China, found bloodletting was 37 per cent more effective in treating gout than medicines such as colchicine and NSAIDs — and patients’ pain was also reduced by 13 per cent.

Gout attacks are usually treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as ibuprofen, or with colchicine

Gout is usually treated by non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and colchicine.

This controversial review was published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. It examined data from twelve separate studies that included a total 894 patients.

Blood was taken from the patients using syringes and different types of acupuncture needles — with the amount taken varying.

Some trials required less blood than 10ml, while others needed more. These trials also revealed that bloodletting caused 36% fewer side effects.

Researchers found it lowered uric acid levels by the same amount as standard medicine, but was more effective at cutting blood levels of an inflammatory compound, C-reactive protein (CRP) — found by previous research to stick to uric acid crystals, triggering the inflammation seen in gout.

‘Bloodletting is both effective and safe in treating gout and can especially ease acute severe pain and reduce CRP inflammatory levels in patients, with a lower risk of evoking adverse reactions,’ the researchers say.

‘Bloodletting was better than Western medicine in ameliorating symptoms of gout.’

However, Professor Philip Conaghan, director of the Leeds University Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine, said: ‘This new review summarised previous studies, and many had design flaws.’

Controlling uric acid levels effectively is key, he says, adding that current therapies for treating acute gout are ‘highly effective’ in most patients ‘if used appropriately’.

Meditation can increase immunity

Meditation Although it is well known that it has a positive effect on mental health, scientists have now shown that it also boosts immunity.

The blood of 106 individuals was tested by researchers from Florida University, U.S.A. After an eight-day retreat that included ten hours each day of meditation and eight days of restorative yoga, the university also measured their health.

They used DNA analysis to analyze blood samples and found that 220 genes were activated in the immune system. 68 are involved with switching off immune defenses.

According to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, meditation is believed to alter the behavior of cells, as well as the reaction against inflammation. Researchers will examine if meditation for shorter durations can also be beneficial.

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Hum — it may curb viral infections. Research by MNR Dental Hospital in India found that low buzzing could increase the nitric dioxide levels in sinuses, which may prevent viruses from attaching to the lungs. 

‘Bionic’ eye to tackle sight loss

Researchers have created a bionic eyes to aid in sight loss from problems with the retina. This is the area that detects light and controls the vision.

People with retinitis pigmentosa (a genetic condition) experience a progressive loss of retina cells.

It consists of two glasses and a camera that sends wireless signals to an implant underneath the ear. The brain then receives the signal, bypassing any damaged retina cells. There’s also a stimulator attached to the eye that tricks the remaining cells into receiving light.

After successful tests on sheep, the device’s inventors, from Sydney University, Australia, hope it could soon be trialled in humans.