Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Once born, people like to be able to see, and losing one's vision is a terrible experience. Age-related macular degeneration is an increasingly common form of vision loss, but it is one that could be preventable. A pair of small American studies seem to confirm earlier findings that regularly eating fish may help protect against age-related macular degeneration. Now if we could only get the fish sans mercury!
Some people also like to see things ... differently. Mystics and hippies (not to mention plain old junkies) have long sung the praises of psilocybin, the active ingredient in Magic Mushrooms, for opening up new spiritual doors and expanding consciousness. Hopkins researchers have 'confirmed' that the drug causes spiritual experiences, in that many subjects claimed that taking the drug lead to them.
Now, I'm firmly in favor of studying the stuff, as its effects can clearly show us a great deal about how the brain works and how chemicals can affect it, but this study rubs me the wrong way.
There seem to be too many confounds, especially people's preconceived notions of the drug including fears of a 'bad trip' or of 'flashbacks.' Also, 36 is an extremely small n. But I am thrilled that the research got done, and the DEA hasn't had anyone's head for it (yet). Small studies with promising results lead to bigger ones.