Monday, 24 September 2012

Serendipity

How about this for craziness?  I spend ages meticulously planning, making and editing videos before uploading them to YouTube and they get single-figure views per week, on the whole.  Then, last night, on a whim i edit this:


into this:


...and it gets sixty views in eight hours!  Initially puzzling of course, because of the lack of effort put into producing it, though i am of course aware of how into burping some people are.  In that case, however, i would expect them to prefer something else - looked on YouTube and i'm not going there!

However, it turns out one of my contacts has posted it on Reddit, so there you go.  Mystery solved, and a lesson learned.

Here's today's video:



This is tangentially related to the above and is about blueberries, more specifically a famous giant blueberry, Violet Beauregarde from Roald Dahl's 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory', more specifically the 1971 film version called 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' due to Vietnam (long story, covered in the video).  The point of this video is really to illustrate a few points about blueberries and human physiology, but more importantly how safe herbs are compared to certain other substances and what counts as an overdose.  The recommended maximum dose of fluid extract of Vaccinium myrtillus is 8 ml, which amounts to 24 ml a day of course, and since fluid extracts are one unit of the remedy to each unit of the solvent, the dose is in fact only half that.  Nevertheless, the recommended intake of fluid per day is two litres, though this figure seems to have been plucked out of the same factoid space as the five portions of fruit and veg a day was.  Even so, two litres a day seems about right, and drinking two litres a day of blueberry juice wouldn't do you any immediate harm, although i suspect it would open your bowels a bit, something which would benefit a lot of us.  However, note the ratio involved.  Two litres is over eighty times the maximum recommended dose of the fluid extract, which is in any case half non-herb.  That kind of ratio rarely or never happens with popular over-the-counter or prescription drugs.  Paracetamol/Tylenol/Acetaminophen, for example, has a therapeutic ratio (effective dose to toxic dose) of only 2:1, which is admittedly unusually low for an over-the-counter remedy, but even ethanol, i.e. the main alcohol in wine, beer and spirits, has a ratio of 10:1.  There are much safer ratios out there than 80:1 (actually 166:1 or higher) in orthodox medicine, one example being the THC in Cannabis indica, but i presume you get the idea.

Having said that, there are also much more dangerous herbal remedies than Vaccinium myrtillus, one of the popular species of European bilberry which is widely used in herbalism, both in terms of dose and therapeutic index.  These are often restricted, though the policy of restriction seems to be both arbitrary and widely ignored.  It's easy to buy remedies over the counter which are technically illegal and no attempt ever seems to have been made to enforce this - not that it should be, but it is quite strange that this is so.