Sunday, 20 January 2008

ArchaeoDog Scrapbook

My new online scrap book to keep all those interesting articles I encounter that do not necessarily relate to palaepodiatry, but none the less I believe they add to a complete holistic view of knowledge that we can gleam from the past, titled ArchaeoDog, in memory of those I have witnessed lying in the dust around Karnak.

Cinnamon for type 2 diabetes

An eastern spice has been used over the centuries by ancient civilisations research has indicated beneficial effects at lowering blood pressure in addition to its analgesic properties . A recent study by
Dr Khan et al, published in Diabetic Care (26:3215-3218, 2003) , he researched a total of 60 people with type 2 diabetes, 30 men and 30 women aged 52.2 ± 6.32 years, they were divided randomly into six groups. Groups 1, 2, and 3 consumed 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon daily, respectively, and groups 4, 5, and 6 were given placebo capsules corresponding to the number of capsules consumed for the three levels of cinnamon. After 40 days, followed by a 20-day washout period all three levels of cinnamon reduced the mean fasting serum glucose (18–29%), triglyceride (23–30%), LDL cholesterol (7–27%), and total cholesterol (12–26%) levels; no significant changes were noted in the placebo groups. The results of this study demonstrate that intake of 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon per day reduces serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes and suggest that the inclusion of cinnamon in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.


accessed 20th January 2008

Friday, 11 January 2008

Laetoli Footprints in danger

A recent article by Rex Dalton has brought to the forefront the concerns over the future damage and possible loss of these ancient footprints. The footprints have been covered by a protective mat, which is now suffering from the effects of weathering, for the full story follow the link below:

Source:NATUREVol 45110 January 2008

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

De Humani Corporis Fabrica...

Podiatrist discovered after New Year party! Happy New Year.

Anatomist: Andreas Vesalius(1514-1564)
Artists: Stephen van Calcar and the Workshop of Titian

Before Gunther von Hagens

Before plastination and the "show" of anatomy for public audiences,early 18th/19th century educationalist produced images with dissected muscles. There is an excellant example of extensor digitorum brevis at the front of his left foot!

Anatomia universale...
Florence, 1833. Overprinted and hand colored copperplate engraving.
Anatomist:Paolo Mascagni (1755-1815)
Artist:Antonio Serantoni (1780-1837)

Picture Source:National Library of Medicine.

Excavating Human Remains:By James Richards

The British Isles are really one huge cemetery. Think how many generations have lived, died and been buried over the time that our islands have been permanently inhabited. Many of these people lie in places that we can recognise, in churchyards and cemeteries, or under prehistoric burial mounds, but many more lie unrecognised, in places that were special to those who buried them, but have now faded from memory. Many of these burials are rediscovered and excavated each year, either because sites need to be developed for roads, housing or quarries, or for research purposes, to help in our understanding of the past. In either case, the excavations are carried out by trained archaeologists, the remains treated with great respect, and the results of both excavation and scientific analysis made available through publications and museums.

Coming across human remains may often be the most exciting part of a dig, but in many ways the most important (and time-consuming) part of the whole process is what happens after the excavation is over. This is the 'detective story', where the bones and other finds from the site are analysed to provide the clues that we need to build a picture of a person and their surroundings. The skeleton itself will provide the first clues. The question of whether the person is male or female can usually be answered by examining the pelvis and skull. Height can be calculated from the length of the femur (thigh bone) and age from teeth and other aspects of the skeleton's growth and degeneration.

Detective work

Injuries and diseases sometimes leave traces on the bones although the actual cause of death is often the most difficult to determine. Many injuries don't damage bone, their effect is just within the overlying soft tissue. Likewise many infections, without the aid of modern medicines, would have proved rapidly fatal, too swift to allow bones to develop tell tale signs and changes.
Radiocarbon dating, the analysis of ancient DNA and of isotopes locked into bones and teeth are all part of the scientific armoury that can be used to help build up a picture of our ancestors. Used together these techniques can tell us when a person died, their diet and family relationships and even their place of birth and subsequent travels.
Where the bones themselves allow it, facial reconstruction techniques can be used to allow us to come face to face with the past. The techniques used have been developed for forensic work in tracing missing persons through their often fragmentary remains and for surgical reconstruction. Both sculptural and digital images are used to create an image of a person from the past that, although not claimed to be a precise likeness, would most probably have been recognisable to that person's friends or relatives.

The excavation of human remains, of whatever date, from their place of burial, is regulated by law and requires a licence from the Home Office. But even after excavation has taken place there is the question of what happens to the remains. The divide is often between Christian and non-Christian, with Christians more likely to be re-buried while prehistoric burials more often than not end up in museum storage. With museum storage there is the advantage that these remains are available for subsequent study or for the application of new methods of analysis. There is also the consideration that, in the majority of cases, the original place of burial, which may have been of great significance to the person buried there, has been destroyed by development.

Source:BBC Archaeology.

Teaching podiatry from an evolutionary perspective.

The article, Medicine and Evolution by Bob Longworth and Andrew Horwood,[1] reports the comments by Paul O’Higgins, ‘…that teaching anatomy from an evolutionary aspect brings it alive and makes it a lot easier to understand.Teaching the origins of podiatric problems from an evolutionary standpoint may well do the same.’ It is noted that evolutionary studies within podiatry are provided as part of the undergraduate curriculum of the La Trobe University, in Australia.

They remind us that bipedal gait is unique to man and our locomotion is a relatively recent phenomenon when considering the time the Earth has existed. There is a considerable volume of research evidence that may be pertinent to podiatry practice and research that to date has remained within the professions of archaeology and anthropology. As a profession we are continually looking forward; perhaps it is time to take a retrospective approach to find those ‘nuggets’ of knowledge that may reintroduce or instigate new research that may be beneficial to our patients.

Understanding the changes that have occurred to the morphology of the foot reflects its use within the context of its environment.First, the action of standing on two feet,bipedality; Rodman&McHenry[2] state that bipedality may have been the result of an adaptation due to a resultant change in the distribution of the dietary requirements ofearly hominids. Around 3-4 million years ago the African forest environments were declining in favour of savannah, thereby forcing early hominids to travel over greater areas to exploit their environment. Standing in an erect stance enabled the hominids to see for greater distances for food and for dangerous predators.

As a consequence, bipedality has proved to be a more energy efficient process, acommodity essential to survival in the scavenging/gatherer clans. Comparative locomotion studies with our closest related relative the chimpanzee estimateb a75%reduction in energy use as a result of bipedality.[3]

As the tree of human life expanded over the millennia, there is physical evidence of
several distinct families of human species that have existed, sometimes co-existing, e.g.Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis.Looking at the skeletal evidence of later
human communities, changes of the foot structure can be observed from the fossilised evidence. An interesting interpretation by Professor Eric Trinkaus,[4] University of Pennsylvania, in which his work of comparative biomechanical analysis of the proximal pedal phalanges shows a marked reduction in the robusticity of the lesser toes in Palaeolithic humans. Should we be seeking to return to a more robust foot use?

Major sporting shoe manufacturers such as Nike and Swiss Masai have already made studies of bare foot running and have designed their footwear to function in a similar fashion, increasing the use of intrinsic muscles.[5] What implications could this have from a podiatric perspective – should we be designing the optimum effective footwear that will protect and strengthen our contemporary weakened foot structure?

It is not only the evolutionary process that is important but also the pathological
presentation of the structures that are found, which provides evidence of the
systemic disorders and traumatic stories that osseous remains provide.
One such example is that of an ancient prosthetic toe belonging to a mummified
Egyptian woman, discovered in the tomb of Merry, a priest of Amun in the reign of
Amenhotep II.[6] What does her story tell us of the psychosocial requirements that were
addressed as part of her treatment? When one considers that a psychosocial approach is thought to be a relatively new discipline, archaeological evidence suggests otherwise.

Examination of ‘Oetzi’, the Tyrolean iceman presently the oldest European mummified human body (5200 years old) has revealed 15 well-preserved tattoo groups on his back and legs; are there any podiatrists who practice accupuncture who are able to demonstrate any evidence to support or disprove the theory of the authenticity of such marks on his lower leg?
There are many opportunities for the podiatry profession to have an input into
other academic disciplines – after all we are the experts in the lower limb.
My interest within this area has instigated a ‘blog’, as an introductory educational resource for researchers in the field of human evidence, which may be of particular interest to podiatrists. I have coined the term ‘Palaeopodiatry’; here you
can view the subject matter that I have discussed earlier: if you wish to comment on the resources you can have your opportunity by visiting the site at

A dedicated website will be available soon for you to take advantage of full-text
research papers donated by leading experts in this area. Many of you may remember
Dr Robert Kidd, who lectured in podiatry within the UK. He is now the Associate Professor of Human Anatomy at the School of Biomedical and Health Science,
University of Western Sydney, and he has kindly donated several of his research
papers, available soon. The teaching of podiatry, therefore, from an evolutionary perspective may have its origins here. I hope you find interest in this resource and gain insight into the wider applications of our profession. There
is a contact email address if anyone finds any new and relevant articles of interest to the site and the podiatric community.

1. Longworth R, Horwood A, Medicine and
evolution. Podiatry Now 2007; 10(3): 32.
Available [Online] http://www.members.
2. Rodman P S, McHenry H M. Bioenergenics of
hominid bipedalism. American Journal Physical
Anthropology 1980; 52: 103-106, In Lewin, R.
Human Evolution: An Illustrated Introduction, 5th
Edition. Oxford, Blackwell Publishing, 2005.
3. Pontzer H, Raichlen D, Sockol M. Chimpanzee
locomotor energetics and the origin of human
bipedalism, 2007. Eurekalert press release.
Available [Online]
4. Trinkaus E. Anatomical evidence for the
antiquity of human footwear use. Journal of
Archaeological Science 2005; 32: 1515-1526.
6. Foster J B. Barefoot-like designs challenge
footwear conventions. Biomechanics online,
2007. Available [Online]http://www.
6. Nerlich A, Zinck A, Szeimies U, Hagedorn H.
Ancient prosthesis of the big toe. The Lancet
2000; 356: 2176-2179.

Source:Podiatry Now, December 2007.
Roger N Gregory DPodM, MChS, Podiatry Lecturer, Birmingham School of Podiatry