Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Mighty Quin(ine)

Men fall into two groups where seeking medical help is concerned.

The first group are convinced that every cough, sprain, strain, lump or bump is evidence of a combination of Lou Gehrig’s syndrome, Ebola virus and BSE. These people will book doctor’s appointments in advance for every Monday afternoon, and ring up and cancel in the unlikely event they feel OK on a particular Monday morning.

The second group, if they were hit in the head with an axe actually outside the medical centre, still wouldn’t seek help. They’d walk home and have an aspirin and a bit of a lie down (with the axe still firmly embedded in their skull).

I was certainly a fully paid-up member of the second group, but while I was ‘resting’ between jobs I haven’t been able to use work as an excuse for not getting seen to.

My issue has been night cramps. Most evenings, my calves would tend to tighten up and go into spasm. Which meant I had to beg my family to pummel my legs until the tension let go. Which they both found really quite amusing.

I’ve suffered with this for years, but it’s one of those things that you just get used to. Five minutes with the doctor and she had me down for blood tests and gave me something that’s stopped the pain.

Quinine, of all things. It cures malaria, but it has a side-effect is that it stop shivers, shakes and spasms. Actually, it more likely to be the other way round. It’s an extract from a tree bark (like aspirin) and was discovered by ancient Peruvians that it stopped them shivering when they were on cold hunts.

It’s fairly well known that it’s in Tonic Water, but did you know it was in Irn Bru too? They have less than 0.5% of the concentration that would do you any good though, especially if you put gin in the tonic or vodka in the Irn Bru.

It’s one of those little things that changed history. Would there have been a British Empire without a malaria cure?

Quinine: drug of imperialist oppression.

And blooming good in a cocktail.

Although I’m a little concerned my urine might now glow – quinine fluoresces even without UV light (see pic).


ArcticFox said...

That sounds like a right good fix you've got there!! I think I fall into a category of people who just google my own aches and pains and save everyone the bother!! Glad your pains are subsiding though!!


Kenny said...

I didn't see a doctor for 10 years -- look where it got me!

I must confess the prospect of a glow-in-the-dark Stan is a tad unnerving.