Posts Tagged ‘youth’

Absinthe drinking makes Homer something something

// January 15th, 2010 // 6 Comments » // Drugs, Poisons

When I was but a lass, freshly ID’d and able to finally hit the local tavern, there was a rumour around that Absinthe was THE drink if you wanted to get drunk fast, and as a bonus, if you could get the proper stuff, it causes hallucinations. OMG terribly exciting. I could feel jolts of electricity down my spine as I tremulously ordered (with much nudging from my friends) a round of Absinthe.

And oh, the DRAMA of it all! Green liquid, a sugar cube on a special spoon, and all of it on fire! We could only afford one each, before our pockets resolutely returned us to ordering jugs of Sangria. The bitter licorice taste lingered on though, and we were rollickingly tipsy.

Ah, the folly of youth. ‘Tis all a lie!

At the core of the myth is that Absinthe contains essential oil from the Wormwood plant, which is psychoactive and hallucinogenic. It’s true that Wormwood does contain thujole, which is a GABA antagonist (it blocks the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA), but it’s more likely to cause seizures than hallucinations. Also the amount of thujole in Absinthe is very low because of the way the spirit is made, and nowadays there are rules about what percentage of thujole is allowed. People have studied old bottles of the stuff too, and it wasn’t found to be super-thujolated. It was very popular with poets and artists; they said the green fairy helped them be more creative.

More creative, or more deadly? One tale tells of a man who killed his family in 1906 and claimed Absinthe drove him crazy. He was actually excessively drunk from a number of drinks, and was found guilty. After this and the subsequent public outcry, Absinthe was prohibited in Switzerland. France and the USA followed suit. Nonetheless, it’s the remarkably high alcohol content in Absinthe that makes it a dangerous drink, you’d definitely die from alcohol poisoning before dying from Wormwood poisoning.

The scariest story by far is the one in Eurotrip where a guy makes out with his sister after an Absinthe bender. “Dude, you kissed your sister!” That’s way worse then killing your family!

So by all means, if you like Absinthe (I’m not a fan) then drink it, but any mind-alterations are probably just your imagination. You’re supposed to mix it with water to let the flavours come out. Has anyone actually done this? Apparently it makes the clear green liquid go cloudy, because the essential oils are not soluble in water. Now that’s science.

Rejuvenated hopes for an anti-aging pill

// July 9th, 2009 // 2 Comments » // Recent Research

Meet rapamycin, our latest hope for the fountain of youth.


Check out all those chiral centers, it’s freaking cyclical and everything!!! Can you BELIEVE it???

As published in Nature, the experiment went thusly: Researchers fed rapamycin to 20 month old mice (they were going to start earlier, but had apparently had some issues) and found that they lived much longer than the controls – 14% longer for females and 9% for males. This probably means Jack to you, so let me put it in human terms.

The treatment started when the mice were the equivalent of 60 years old, and it added an average of 13 years to their life. In the words of yon media release “this would be greater than the predicted increase in extra years of life if cancer and heart disease were both cured and prevented.” Wowzers. You couldn’t make that sound more dramatic if you TRIED!!!

As you would expect for something that looks so intricate, it’s made by a microbe. In this case, by a soil-dwelling bacteria called Streptomyces hygroscopicus. It is also known as sirolimus, and was first discovered on Easter Island in stunning want-to-go-there Polynesia.

Yeah, I think I'll do my research here...

The study of aging is called gerontology, and I was interested to read that one method to slow down the aging process is caloric restriction. Eat less, live longer. Now I feel bad about the giant bowl of pasta I had for dinner. Delicious though it may have been, was it really worth a week of my life?

Rapamycin inhibits cell division and the functionality of certain T-cells, and as such is used as an immunosuppressant to prevent post-transplant organ rejection, and is considered a potential chemotherapy agent. It’s also an antifungal. Interested in chemical synthesis? Who isn’t! Check it out here, yet another shameless Wikipedia plug brought to you by Captain Skellett 🙂

Now before we all get overexcited and start racing for old age, remember that mice are not little people! There are plenty of biological difference between people and mice, and the success of this trial does not mean that the road to a therapeutic will be easy. In fact, seeing as it’s currently being used as an immunosuppressant, it would actually be dangerous. That said, to quote Randy Strong, (love the name) Ph.D. “we believe this is the first convincing evidence that the aging process can be slowed and lifespan can be extended by a drug therapy starting at an advanced age,” and it represents a big-ass milestone on the road, rocky though it might be.

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