Author Archives: doris stratoberdha

Who’s this stranger starring at me?

Can you imagine if one normal day, as you are getting ready to leave the house, you take a glance at yourself in the mirror and see a complete stranger? That person looks just likes you, speaks the same way you do and has done the same activities in life as you have. The only problem is, you do not realize the fact that you are looking at your own mirror image because the person you see is an unknown intruder.

By State Library of New South Wales collection [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

A similar situation happened to an elderly man in France who could not recognize himself in the mirror and started conversing with the stranger he saw replacing his reflection. After his daughter took him to the hospital, doctors diagnosed this man with a rare condition called Atypical Capgras syndrome. While in the typical case of this syndrome, patients think that a family member or a friend has been replaced with an identical impostor, in the atypical case the patients’ delusions concern his own self.

By Andraž Blaznik (email) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

According to neurologists and psychiatrists, people who have this disease have impairments in two separate brain pathways. The overt pathway or direct pathway is impaired, prohibiting the patient from recognizing faces but allowing them to show emotion towards a particular face, and the covert pathway is impaired, where even though patients can identify a familiar face, they show no signs of familiarity related to that face. The Atypical Capgras syndrome causes patients to recognize themselves as strangers. The Youtube video below shows an actual case of the typical Capgras disease.

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By Canale di Cogmonaut

People who suffer from this disease can be helped by certain anti-psychotic medications. Due to the rareness of this disease further investigations on methods and drugs that can cure it are currently taking place.

All in all, apart from our brain being a miraculous organ capable of receiving, organizing and distributing information to make our bodies function properly, it can also work in reverse, preventing us from recognizing our own mirror reflections. So next time you look at yourself in the mirror, be grateful that you recognize that awesome person standing right in front of you because some have to face a scary reality where they start to question their own identity.

By Doris Stratoberdha.


I have two mommies and a daddy

You are probably now wondering if you read that title correctly. Well I assure you that you did. Science has yet again found a way to surprise us all by creating in vitro fertilized babies that have genetic material from two females and one male. The process is called ” three-parent in vitro fertilization” and it will be used as a technique to save the lives of millions of newborns.

By MartaFF ( [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

                 The main reason why scientists have even thought of creating such a method is due to defectuous mitochondrial deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that some women have. Since every embryo receives mitochondrial DNA only from the female parent, these women pass this DNA to their embryo. Thus, the fetus becomes vulnerable to many life-threatening diseases which can cause massive harm to vital organs such as the heart, liver, brain and central nervous system. Up till now the only fertility options for these women have been either adoption of a child or in vitro fertilization with an egg donor.

By Martin Strachoň / Wikimedia Commons.(], via Wikimedia Commons

Imagine what could happen if scientists can remove this faulty mitochondrial DNA and replace it with a healthy kind. The child would live! This is exactly what three-parent in vitro fertilization does. This mini transplantation process involves taking the nucleus of the mother’s egg and putting it in a female donor’s egg cell that contains healthy mitochondria. Then this egg cell is fertilized with the father’s sperm. Although the embryo does contain donor DNA apart from parent DNA, the phenotype of the embryo does not change. This method allows the baby to be healthy and live a normal life. It also gives parents the chance to have their own child who is genetically related to them.

By MyName (Imperfect chaosimperfect_chaos) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

                Unfortunately there are ethical issues which are delaying the incorporation of this technique in fertility laboratories. Many people debate that transplanting mitochondrial DNA into an egg can also lead the way to other possible genetic modifications that parents want to make to “improve” their children such as higher IQ, a certain type of eye color etc. This argument fails to make a strong point as to why the three-parent in vitro fertilization should not happen considering that it could save many fetus lives.

All in all, scientific discoveries have enabled a way for mitochondrial diseased fetuses to live and grow into healthy babies. Check out this short video which sums up the way the procedure is performed and the benefits of this method.

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Credit: NMANewsDirect

By Doris Stratoberdha

Birth Control and Grapefruit Don’t Mix

Ladies, we all remember the moment when the doctor is naming all the horrible side effects caused when starting new birth control pills: nausea, headaches, risks of blood clots, risks of breast cancer and many more.

L0059976 Model of a contraceptive pill, Europe, c. 1970 Credit: Science Museum, London. Wellcome Images Birth control was still a taboo subject before the 1960s. ‘The pill’ seemed an ideal contraceptive because it was effective, not messy, and did not interfere with sex. The oral contraceptive pill also empowered women to take greater control of contraception. However, the first pills had a far higher level of hormones than required. This caused heart problems in some women. Later pills rectified this. ‘The pill’ is still prescribed worldwide. maker: Unknown maker Place made: Europe made: 1965-1975 Published: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

L0059976 Model of a contraceptive pill, Europe, c. 1970
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

Although what most people do not know and what most doctors fail to mention is the effect that a simple fruit such as grapefruit can have on the metabolism of birth control pills.

By Citrus_paradisi_(Grapefruit,_pink).jpg: א (Aleph) derivative work: — raeky (Citrus_paradisi_(Grapefruit,_pink).jpg) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

To see how such a fruit affects the way a female body digests the birth control pills we have to look at the constitution of these pills. Birth control pills are made of hormones that cause changes in the female reproductive system to make it incompatible with gestationEstradiol is a form of the sex-related hormone “estrogen” that controls Vaginal, Fallopian tube and Uterus growth. It is a main component of the birth control pills.  During the process of pill digestion, most of the pill is absorbed in the intestine with the help of CYP3A4 enzyme that has the ability to break down drugs and dispose them from the body.

Häggström, Mikael. “Medical gallery of Mikael Häggström 2014”. Wikiversity Journal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.008. ISSN 20018762. (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit affects the enzyme’s activity directly by inhibiting its digestive function. The inability of the pill to be absorbed by the body, leads to a high percentage of the contraceptive’s main ingredient, estradiol, to be left in the bloodstream. Such a hormone can be very risky if found in high amounts in the bloodstream.

The most common side effects that will be felt are dizziness, nausea and breast tenderness. Meanwhile, long term exposure to this factor can be a main cause for blood clots and breast cancer.

Even though there are existing speculations that predict grapefruit  has the ability to completely reverse the function of birth control pills by exposing women to the risk of pregnancy, there is no current evidence to support these claims.

Take a look at this video that gives general information on the side effects of having grapefruit while being on different types of medication:

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Author: ABC News

So next time you’re using birth control pills to practice safe sex, please stay away from the “forbidden” fruit that literally has the ability to ruin your life.

Posted by: Doris Stratoberdha