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Inflammation Roundup

October 19, 2012

Scientists have identified a key to the soothing qualities of mineral baths.



New insights into a soothing folk remedy. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

For centuries, people with aches and pains have soaked in mineral baths,  claimed to have healing properties. And athletes soak sore muscles in epsom salts. Now scientists at the University of Manchester in England report in the journal Immunity that they’ve discovered how these treatments work: water that’s high in salt and some other minerals draws water out of cells, reducing their swelling. As the cells shrink, they deactivate a protein called NLRP3, which normally causes painful inflammation. The finding could lead to new treatments for inflammatory disorders.

In other news, scientists report in the Journal Nature that people with type 2 diabetes have a distinctive assortment of bacteria living in their intestines. It’s not yet known whether this is a cause or a result of the disorder, but understanding the correlation could provide new avenues for prevention or treatment. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Crabtree Hot Springs, Mendocino National Forest, Lake County, California. (Crabtree 13/Wikipedia)