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Every society has its myths, and since people have always been afraid of diseases, there are many misconceptions about medicine. Many old ideas appear to us today as superstitions, which we have long since overcome.
Very few people today believe that mistletoe helps against epilepsy because it does not fall from the tree and therefore the “drop addict” also stops, and we think it is ridiculous if Chinese believe that eating turtles increases potency because her wrinkled head with the round head, which she straightens and retracts to remind of the erection of the penis.
But many false ideas persist, sometimes even among doctors, and new urban fairy tales are added.
The healthy nature
The notion that natural means healthy and artificially unhealthy is sometimes circulating in naturopathy. Organic and inorganic nature is by no means just remedies. Tuber agarics are just as natural as sage tea; the rabies virus is as much a part of nature as the poison of the rattlesnake.
Critics use countless methods to defend themselves against predators or to hunt prey, and millions of toxins are a successful way to survive. Nature can heal us as well as kill us.
Medieval healing was superior to modern medicine
A romantic idea of a Middle Ages is often rife among esotericists and sometimes even among serious naturopaths, in which wise men and women with the knowledge of the healing power of nature heal diseases that "conventional medicine" is at a loss to.
If people criticize the promises of the pharmaceutical industry and reject the anonymity of today's large clinics, this is all too understandable. Naturopathy can be an accessible and traditional correction to the "gods in white".
Unfortunately, many critics of the “apparatus medicine” myths about the Middle Ages are completely uncritical and ignore the findings of historiography. Life expectancy in today's Germany was half or even lower in the high Middle Ages than it is today.
Hunger and war did their part; however, the main causes were the catastrophic hygienic conditions, the wrong interpretations of diseases and the wrong methods of treating them.
That doesn't mean there weren't any capable doctors and herbalists, and certain strange-looking practices made sense. Doctors treated open wounds with sheep droppings, the mold of which has a similar effect to penicillin.
But, for example, viruses and bacteria were unknown, mental disorders were considered demon possession, and thinking in analogies led to therapies that were useless at best.
If forgotten medicinal herbs are rediscovered today, that's a good thing. Unfortunately, however, the wrong methods also find their supporters as an "alternative to conventional medicine".
We only use ten percent of our brain
No medical myth is as common as the fact that we only use 10% of our brains, mostly with fraudulent promises to pull the "hidden reserve" of those who fall for this trick out of the dark.
This fairy tale is often quoted on social networks as a quote from Albert Einstein, who never said this.
For anyone who has been neglected in life, or at least feels that way, the "unused brain" docks to the desire to be able to achieve everything, if, if only, if the real potential would only be activated.
Neurobiology disproves the myth of the unused brain: Magnetic resonance imaging shows that every area of the brain is active and that the brain also works during sleep. Anything else would hardly be possible biologically, because evolution cannot give anything away.
The human brain is an extremely developed organ, comparable to the neck of the giraffe. It consumes a large part of the energy that we supply to the body. Although living things sometimes keep rudiments of organs that have no meaning, like us the appendix or flightless birds, the useless wings - but the jawbones did not recede and the cranium did not expand to grasp a brain that did not is being used. In short, if we only used 10% of our brain, the other 90% would not have developed.
The "unused brain" is a biologized variant of neoliberal propaganda, according to which anyone who "really wants it" could achieve anything, regardless of social and societal conditions.
This propaganda is particularly effective if any connection to society is excluded and the unused biology is responsible: So if you suffer from living from Hartz IV and cannot buy your Christmas presents for your children, you are not using 90% of your brain.
However, the fairy tale about the unused 90% does not mean not doing brain training - on the contrary. If we engage our brains with advertising promises, the addiction to status symbols or suggested fears, then we lack the energy for meaningful things.
Our brain can be cleared out of our minds psychologically by throwing away useless things, separating ourselves from acquaintances who rob our energy, learning to say "no" when we mean "no", or not wasting our labor through unpaid overtime.
Instead of a "dormant potential", our brain develops patterns that it uses. It does not distinguish between real or fictitious experiences, nor between useful and harmful habits. On the contrary, our unconscious works extremely “conservatively”, which means it saves energy. It gets the usual patterns, whether they do us good or not.
This is probably where the wrong idea comes from that we don't use the mass of our brains. Our consciousness recognizes that we could do a lot more with our lives and, for example, is opposed to accepting the demands of the boss.
But if the unconscious has adjusted to this, we continue to do things that we consciously reject and hate ourselves for it.
The following also applies: Whoever does the same, stays in the same place, sticks to traditional life structures, not only rightly has the feeling that he is not using his potential, he is also not giving the brain the opportunity to do so.
The brain can and must learn new patterns, and we can control this consciously, even with simple activities: we can take a different route to work instead of using the bike instead of using the car in the evening, reading a book or reading Going for a walk in nature, dealing with a subject we have no idea about, visiting museums or traveling.
All of this brings us to different thoughts in the literal sense, meaning that the synapses build up new patterns that we will use later.
The unused brain, on the other hand, suggests that we could have everything and achieve anything if we tap into this resource. That is not true: Even "super thinkers" do not have infinite resources, but have learned to use their resources effectively.
Obama only had gray jackets in the closet to keep his brain from doing what he was attracted to, but to do more important things, and Churchill was notorious for not answering calls before noon. Einstein did not spread the fable of the largely unused brain, but was known for the fact that he also came on official occasions with the same old sweater; he also thought about something other than his wardrobe.
So it is not a question of activating the "sleeping" brain, but of making good use of the constant work of our "think tank". For example, by not chasing suggestions like the supposedly unused 90%, and stuffing our brains with senselessness.
Drugs are more dangerous than alcohol
The late political scientist Ingolf Ahlers said: "In capitalism, every drug is a commodity, and every commodity is a drug," and critical ethnology adds, "Every war against a drug is a war against one culture against another."
Separating legal alcohol from illegal drugs such as cannabis, cocaine or heroin is due to the cultural history of Europe, in which alcohol is established as a drug. This separation has nothing to do with the real danger, from physical dependency and harmful behavior to shortened life expectancy and substance-related illnesses.
If we were to set the same bar for alcohol as for illegal substances, then alcohol is a hard drug; the illegal cannabis products harm the organism to a much lesser extent.
Alcohol addiction is the third leading cause of death in the EU. Alcoholism destroys social relationships, causes financial problems to the point of ruin and has massive physical consequences: alcoholism destroys the liver and kidneys, is responsible for serious heart diseases, is associated with malnutrition and plays a role in both psychosomatic and psychological disorders.
Mental disorders that trigger alcoholism include memory loss, depression, unfounded aggressiveness, loss of control, extreme moods that resemble bipolarity, delusions like paranoid schizophrenia, listlessness and thoughts of suicide.
The alcoholic usually knows about the catastrophic consequences of alcohol, but is compulsively driven to add alcohol to his body.
Cannabis products, on the other hand, do not have such catastrophic consequences. Long-term users can become psychologically dependent on hashish, and the consequences may include listlessness, indifference and rarely paranoia.
However, cannabis does not have the physical consequences of alcoholism, even if joints made in cigarette tobacco contain a high amount of toxins and thus promote lung cancer.
Even morphine, such as morphine and heroin, which is notorious as a hard drug, is, taken in isolation, less harmful to the body than alcoholism. All morphines quickly lead to physical addiction, but the physical decline of the user is due to the side effects of the addiction, not the substance: contaminated injections lead to hepatitis and destroy the liver, malnutrition means that the body does not get the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients, Misery prostitution, crime and prison traumatize the sick.
Physical addiction not only characterizes morphine, but also alcoholism; So alcohol is no less dangerous than substances that fall under the Narcotics Act.
A mulled wine at the Christmas market, tea with rum while fishing? It is customary that alcohol warms from the inside. In fact, it only feels that way because that feeling is deceptive.
Alcohol "warms" us mentally by bringing us pleasant moods, which is why we also perceive cold less. In reality, alcohol not only does not warm you, it cools the body; Alcohol dilates the blood vessels in the skin.
In fact, as we feel warmer, we lose body heat. This misperception can have fatal consequences. So a little girl became a half-orphan because her father had drunk too much about thirst at the shooting festival in the village.
It was late April and there was still frost at night. Apparently the father had forgotten the key and was lying in the doorway with a warm feeling in his stomach. The mother found him there in the morning; the diagnosis was: he died of hypothermia.
So if you really want to warm up, you should have non-alcoholic hot drinks at the Christmas market, hot tea or non-alcoholic punch is a good choice. If this is still seasoned with ginger, chilli or cinnamon, all the better, because these spices promote blood circulation and the body actually stores heat instead of just feeling it.
Wisdom teeth have a bad reputation, and the rumor persists that they should be removed prophylactically. However, if wisdom teeth are healthy, there are just as few reasons to pull them as with other teeth. Even more: in rare cases, pulling the lower wisdom teeth causes the nerves in the tongue to remain disturbed.
The iron bomb spinach
If you suffer from iron deficiency, you should eat spinach - this myth has been going on for over a hundred years. In 1890, the doctor Gustav von Bunge examined spinach and found an iron content of 35 milligrams per 100 grams of vegetables, an amount that far exceeds other vegetables.
The doctor had measured correctly, but he was referring to dried spinach - the powder from which we make smoothies today. It contains ten times as much iron as fresh spinach.
The cartoon muscle man Popeye popularized this myth: he eats spinach in bulk, whereupon his muscles swell.
Spinach is healthy because of its vitamins, minerals and protein, but the body cannot even utilize the iron, which is not excessively present.
Germs seem to be ubiquitous, so worried voices advise not only to wash your hands with soap after using the toilet, but to use disinfectants. This is not only unnecessary, but harmful.
Disinfectants firstly dry out the skin, secondly they do tabula rasa: they not only kill the germs, but also all other bacteria and thus damage the skin in protecting itself.
Drink three liters of water a day?
The body needs water, otherwise we will die of thirst. Not only that, we suffer from headaches long before, we get tired, feel uncomfortable and spread a bad mood, we get dizzy. A glass of water in between is also good to lose weight, because often the cravings are actually a feeling of thirst.
But do we all drink too little and should drink at least three liters a day? Older people really often forget to drink, as do those who suffer from nervous and metabolic disorders: they no longer automatically receive the information thirst.
However, if you have a healthy organism, your body tells you whether you need water: we get thirsty. Then we should drink something so much that we are no longer thirsty.
Cold causes cold
When it comes to the common cold, the myth is in the name, because in itself it should be called “inflammation of the mucous membrane”. It is a virus infection. It is true that we contract these infections especially when it is cold and damp. This is because a north German February weather weakens the immune system and we are therefore more susceptible to the virus.
The myth is apparently borne out by the fact that cold feet are accompanied by a cold, and we think we have to wear thick socks to avoid "catching a cold". But the cold feet are already a symptom of a viral infection.
Fresh vegetables are healthier than frozen ones
In general, we should prefer freshly prepared foods to finished products because the finished products go through numerous processes in which nutrients are lost and contain additives that are neither nutritional nor particularly healthy. In particular, many finished products have too high a salt and sugar content.
This does not apply to freshly frozen vegetables without seasoning. If it is shock-frozen using modern methods, it remains fresher in the freezer than the “fresh vegetables”, which until it lands on the market counter, are much older than the frozen food at the time of freezing.
Raw vegetables are healthier than cooked ones
This rule sounds logical because vitamins are lost when cooking. That is also true, but we are far from being able to process all vitamins in raw food. Vitamins E, D, K and A are only soluble in fat.
Carrots in particular pass through the intestine without any effect if we eat them raw. They serve at most as fiber. The best way to eat carrots is to steam them with a little oil, not overcook them. The vitamins are retained, but are available to the body in a dissolved form.
Detox once a year?
Do we have to cleanse the body internally every year, with special cures and diets, laxatives and herbal tea? If our metabolism, kidneys, livers and intestines don't work. Because the task of these organs is, among other things, to cleanse the body.
Fasting, drinking vegetable broth and letting your soul dangle once a year, relieves stress, helps to concentrate on the essentials and thus has a positive effect. To "cleanse" a healthy body, however, it is pointless.
The situation is different with intestinal problems, liver diseases or kidney damage. Then a special diet is not only helpful but necessary. A medical diagnosis and a precise knowledge of the clinical picture are the beginning.
Early sleep is healthy?
A healthy life includes not only giving up alcohol, cigarettes and fatty food, but also going to bed early and getting up early. A few decades ago, going to church on Sunday morning would have rounded off the lifestyle.
The myth that sleep before midnight is healthier than later probably developed in Protestant ethics: those who went to bed late and therefore stayed in bed for a long time in the morning were considered lazy, and since work meant for Luther and Calvin, this was the case Idleness of all vices beginning.
Even more: The night belonged to the “dark figures” who, when “all cats are gray”, pursued their dark desires. So it was a moral judgment about a way of life.
Even in the early modern period, however, most people were unfamiliar with the night as pure bedtime. Peasants got up in the middle of the night, worked a few hours, and then went back to bed; Hunters and gatherers go stalking at night as well as during the day, unless they have solid reasons to avoid the dark, for example because lions are hanging around. Even then, they sit together for hours at night and tell stories.
Modern sleep research recognizes that there is no connection between bedtime and sleeping health. Rather, it is the regularity and duration of sleep that are decisive.
If you go to bed every night around 2:00 a.m. and then sleep until 9:00 a.m., you regenerate just like someone who generally falls asleep at 8:00 p.m. and wakes up again at 4:00 a.m.
The phases from falling asleep to rapid eye movement, in which the dramas of our symbolic dreams take place, are essential for the sleep rhythm, and so we train for everyday life.
However, if these phases are chronically disturbed, by constant interruptions or insomnia, then we actually lose our mental and physical stability.
Alternating early, late and night shifts quickly lead to chronic fatigue because the body has problems getting used to the changing sleep periods.
Pure night shifts can only affect well-being to the extent that they lead to a lack of sunlight, which in turn causes depression. These negative feelings have nothing to do with the time of falling asleep.
Who eats at night gets fat?
A common wisdom to lose weight is: eating at night makes you fat, often combined with the rule: have plenty of breakfast in the morning, eat a little less at lunchtime, eat early and little in the evening and preferably go to bed with an empty stomach.
A Swedish study seemed to prove this: overweight women ate significantly more at night than normal-weight women. But this study lacked important parameters: it did not examine what these women did during the day and at night, nor did it clarify what and how much the overweight women ate otherwise.
Perhaps they ate more overall, more often, higher in fat, carbohydrates and sugar, and also exercised too little.
In general, if the body receives and stores more energy than it consumes, people put on fat. So if you hit your stomach with fat, high-sugar food at night and then fall straight into bed, you gain weight. But if you hit your stomach with such food in the morning and then lie around in bed, you also gain weight.
But if you drag stones in the night shift after a late meal or dance your heels sore in the club, you will probably gain as little weight as someone who does a long run after a hearty breakfast.
Sport burns calories?
Exercise makes you slim, everyone knows that, and those who want to lose weight often plan to go cycling, jogging, or otherwise occupying their bodies after meals.
Exercise helps you lose weight, but not by consuming the calories you eat directly. Transferred 1 to 1, we would have to walk several kilometers for a light meal with bread rolls, ham and sweetened coffee to get rid of them.
The only way to permanently reduce your weight is to change your diet just as permanently. It is the same with sport: only regular sport promotes weight loss, but this even during sleep.
Exercise itself burns few calories compared to the ones we consume. Regular exercise still drives a diet: muscles use up to three times as much energy, i.e. calories, than fat.
So when we exercise our muscles through exercise, we burn more calories, even when we're at rest: even when we sleep, the muscles need the energy. Those who are well trained can eat more than someone who is overweight without gaining weight.
The decathlete Thorsten, for example, eats at least six sandwiches every morning so that he can even get the energy his muscles need.
Carbohydrates make you fat?
Lifestyle magazines are overflowing with new diet fashions. The fact that fat makes you fat is a commonplace - however, carbohydrates have been in the riflescope of the substances for years, which have to be avoided.
Sometimes those who want to lose weight should not eat carbohydrates in the evening, then none at all. It is true that people in the industrialized countries consume far too much sugar, which the finished products contain in high doses.
It is wrong that carbohydrates generally harm. On the contrary: carbohydrates, fats and protein are the three core elements that the organism absolutely needs. The carbohydrates are, so to speak, the gasoline without which the engine will not run; we need the energy from the carbohydrates to be able to perform at all; Therefore, some professional athletes eat pasta in large quantities before competitions.
When carbohydrates come on, it is because the body cannot implement them. On the one hand, this applies to simple carbohydrates, especially white flour and sugar, but on the other hand, if we don't exert ourselves physically and mentally.
First, for the body to efficiently convert the energy of carbohydrates, it must be able to process it. This works best with complex carbohydrates, for example in whole grain bread. Here, the organism needs about a day before it is available to him and he can then use it for physical activities. Simple carbohydrates, however, immediately “settle” and are stored.
Secondly, humans also have to consume the energy of the "fuel", otherwise it stays in the tank, that is, in the body's memory. The same applies to complex carbohydrates: if I eat whole-grain bread all day, but only doze on the sofa, I certainly won't lose weight.
Testosterone makes you aggressive
Young men are more involved in violent crime than older women. They are killed in risky car rides, they fight at village festivals and end up in hospital after alcohol abuse.
Every kitchen psychologist knows why: "There is nothing you can do, they are testosterone-controlled." It is true that the sex hormone testosterone is ten times more common in men than in women.
So far, however, there is no scientific evidence that testosterone and aggressiveness are related.
Cholesterol is poison
In the United States, the label "No Cholesterol" is used as proof of healthy food such as organic certificates in Germany, and cholesterol is also considered harmful in Germany. It is a half-truth.
The human body produces cholesterol itself and transports it with proteins, especially with HDL and LDL. The body not only needs HDL, the more of it, the better. Studies have shown that too much LDL, on the other hand, promotes cardiovascular diseases.
From then on butter and eggs were on the list of dangerous foods.
But new studies show that the link between LDL cholesterol and heart disease is ambiguous, and in any case much weaker than expected.
Raising your nose is harmful
In society we better not raise our noses and spit on the floor afterwards, that is not welcome. But is it healthier to snort into a handkerchief?
Doctors doubt that pulling your nose up is bad for your health. If the sniffy pulls up properly, it creates a negative pressure in the nose and even pulls the mucus out of the sinuses. You can even swallow the mucus, and the stomach acid then destroys the germs.
Fingernails and hair continue to grow after death
What was evidence of the existence of vampires for our ancestors cannot be killed in modern times. Corpses apparently continue to grow nails and hair after death. Open graves show dead people with claw-like nails.
In reality, nothing grows after death. The flesh decomposes faster than nails and hair, so that the nails protrude from the skin and bones. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)
Nancy L. Snyderman: Medical Myths that can kill you: And the 101 truths that will save, extend and improve your life. 2009.