The Scientific Explanation for a Weird Remedy (Archive)
For years, we’ve been hearing from listeners who swallow a shotglass of pickle juice or a spoonful of yellow mustard to make a muscle cramp disappear. They often report relief within a few minutes. How could such a weird remedy work so quickly to alleviate muscle contraction?
Muscle Cramps Strike at Sea:
Neurobiologists Rod McKinnon (a Nobel Prize winner) and Bruce Bean were kayaking miles off Cape Cod when they were struck with muscle cramps. Neither of them was dehydrated or depleted of electrolytes. So why did cramps strike at such an inopportune time?
Once they got back to land, the pair started investigating the hypotheses of why muscle cramps happen and what can be done to reverse them. Dr. Bean explains on the show how they came up with an alternate hypothesis.
The Genesis of Hotshot:
After we hear from Bruce Bean, we’ll explore some other home remedies that are favorites of People’s Pharmacy listeners. We don’t have scientific explanations for most of them-yet. When will they be investigated? Do you have a favorite weird remedy you’d like to know more about?
We are interested in your stories and questions about strange remedies. When this show first aired, we took calls from listeners. This time around, you can listen and tell your story in the comment section below.
This Week’s Guest:
Bruce Palmer Bean, PhD, is the Robert Winthrop Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School.
Listen to the Podcast:
The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. They are posted the Monday following the broadcast. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.