Resource Guide for Health Professionals

Health is a rising concern in modern society. The more we learn about illness, the more overwhelming it can be for the average person to keep tabs on all the advancements and innovations in the medical world. This resource guide aims to provide readers with a list of thirty high quality resources that are accessible whether you are a medical professional or not. The list is broken up into five categories consisting of General Health, Fitness, Nutrition, Mental Health and Happiness, and Medical Health.

General Health

  • Harvard Health Publications is responsible for printing Harvard journals, magazines, and creating web content for the purpose of disseminating practical health information and research.
  • World Health Organization publishes a wide range of journals, newsletters, and magazines addressing major global health issues. The subjects range from practical application and travel safety to in-depth research and statistics.
  • The National Institutes of Health website is devoted to providing readers with important information on every aspect of health. The NIH is the foremost organization responsible for helping to fund research projects.
  • Centers for Disease Control is responsible for controlling the outbreak of infectious disease and other public health risks. The website contains useful information for staying healthy. The CDC is one of the leading research organizations for public health related risks.
  • Prevention Magazine is focused on general health and is one of the oldest, best known health magazines available today. The magazine runs articles covering everything from healthy recipes to staying healthy as you age.
  • The Mayo Clinic website is one of the best general health resources available with everything from a symptom checker to access to some of the leading treatment research for many of the nation’s deadliest diseases.


  • Livestrong Fitness is a sub-section of the Livestrong organization which promotes a healthy, well rounded lifestyle. The website offers insights into how the average person with all the pressures of life can still find time to be fit and healthy.
  • Runner’s World is a website all about running, the go-to form of cardiovascular exercise for many. There is a science behind running that includes strategies for long term success which includes running under the right conditions, how to maintain consistency, and choosing the right equipment for the style of running you prefer. This website covers it all.
  • Fitness Magazine is available both in print and online. The website offers shorter articles while the longer form articles are more likely to be published in the print edition. The magazine covers primarily fitness, though it does include articles on the importance of proper nutrition when embracing a fitness routine.
  • Men’s Fitness features articles that cover nearly every aspect of a man’s life. From the effect of physical health on the sex life, to strength training routines, cardio routines, proper eating, equipment reviews and more.
  • Shape is all about helping women be healthy and feel good about themselves. The magazine focuses on more than just fitness routines but fitness is still the primary subject matter in the magazine and most, if not all articles deal with various issues from a fitness perspective.
  • Ace Fitness features web tools geared toward helping you create a personalized fitness routine. Now, just having a routine doesn’t necessarily make you more likely to stick to it, but they also provide an easy way to look up Ace certified trainers in your location.


  • features content consisting of everything the government believes you need to know about nutrition. The website offers readers diet guidelines, recipe suggestions, shopping advice, and research.
  • Eat Right, offers strategies for getting those reluctant eaters to eat healthy foods. The advice on the website spans all age brackets from children to the elderly.
  • Harvard Nutrition is a website of the Harvard School of Public Health. The website features material on a wide range of nutrition issues. The articles are based on in depth research, but are written to be accessible to a broad audience.
  • Senior Journal is a valuable and rare resource that covers the myriad unique health issues faced by senior citizens with a particular focus on nutrition. Senior Journal is a great resource for the elderly, their loved ones, and caretakers.
  • Guy Gourmet is the nutrition section of the Men’s Health magazine website. The site deals with nutrition from a man’s perspective and features articles on creating healthy foods that still taste good and satisfy the nutrition needs of men.
  • Women’s Health Nutrition is the nutrition portion of Women’s Health magazine and approaches the subject with an understanding of the unique health needs of women.

Mental Health and Happiness

  • Psychology Today is an important mental health publication, devoted to bridging the gap between scientific research, academically oriented journals, and the average person. The magazine features useful tips for improving mental health, publishes longer form articles on pressing mental health issues, and shares advice and research with a broad audience.
  • Scientific American-Mind takes a scientific approach to mental health and happiness. The magazine deeply examines mental health trends, the effect of modern innovations in technology and the sciences on mental health, and delves into the innermost workings of the mind.
  • Psychologies is a UK based publication devoted to exploring the impact of every day decisions and circumstances on mental health. The magazine offers insights into everything from combating depression to building confidence in your personal life and the workplace.
  • Find Treatment is a government service offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Find Treatment is a tool for locating mental health services in your region.
  • Delivering Happiness isn’t your average corporation. The goal of this organization is to advance the cause of happiness around the world. The founder of Delivering Happiness is determined to prove that companies devoted to helping their employees achieve happiness will be more successful on all fronts.
  • Mental Health America is the premier advocacy organization for mental health policy. The organization is also devoted to researching the impact of mental health trends and educating the world about the impact of mental health on society and culture.

Medical Health

  • Discover Magazine has a portion of their website devoted to health and medicine. The articles featured are focused on everything from fighting cancer to preventing outbreaks. The website takes many complex issues of health and medicine and communicates what can be done about them on an accessible level, making the magazine a quality resource for professionals and laypersons alike.
  • Science Daily features news and articles on some of the most prevalent medical issues, advancements and innovations of our time.
  • Medscape is a medical news website that categorizes its past articles according to what medical issues they address, making it easy to look up information on a wide variety of medical matters.
  • WebMD is famous for its main function which is to help people identify what kinds of illnesses go with which symptoms. The site is not intended to be used for self diagnosis, but is intended to help people determine whether or not a doctor visit is warranted. The site also features articles on various issues in the medical field.
  • Health Central approaches medical issues from many different angles. From educating people on little known symptoms of well known illnesses and medical events to highlighting some of the best preventative measures available to those seeking to stave off specific health issues, Health Central has a plethora of medical information available.
  • Medline Plus is a website of the National Institutes of Health and is devoted to educating people on major medical issues in accessible language. The website is easily laid out so that users may look specifically for information on things that affect seniors, children, men, women, or all of thee above.

Top 30 Health Blogs of 2012

health blogs badgeHealth is a growing concern in western culture as our lifestyles become less healthy, even with significant advances in our understanding of the human body. There are many blogs featuring commentary from professionals and laypersons alike on various health strategies and aspects of health, whether it be medical, physical, mental, or all of the above. These are the 30 top health blogs of 2012 and they offer a great variety of subject matter and perspective on the topic.

Best Health Blogs

1. Food Politics is a health blog devoted primarily to providing commentary and analysis on developments in the realm of food regulation and health policy on local, state, and federal levels.
Highlight: Food Safety Problems Can Happen Anywhere

2. The Body Odd is an NBC health news blog written by Melissa Dahl, a health writer and editor for MSNBC and Today. The blog covers a wide range of health issues including diet and exercise, mental health and a variety of modern health issues.
Highlight: Why a Good Deed Sometimes Leads to Bad Behavior

3. Breaking Muscle is a collaborative blog sharing knowledge gained through experience and empirical research. The main goal of the magazine is to promote programs that strengthen both body and mind. Breaking Muscle offers readers a variety of programs designed to benefit a wide range of readers including power lifting, olympic lifting, yoga, functional fitness, and mind/body modalities.
Highlight: A Little Laughter Goes a Long Way

4. Dr. Frank Lipman’s Blog focuses on healthy living and provides tips and strategies to improve both mental and physical health. From diet suggestions and resources, to creating a place in your life for meditation and reflection, Dr. Lipman takes a comprehensive approach to personal health.
Highlight: Reclaim Balance, Sleep, Sex Drive, and Vitality Naturally

5. Mark Bittman’s Blog covers a range of food health related topics from sharing scrumptious and healthy recipes to providing readers with tips on turning their lawns into gardens that can become a source of fresh and healthy produce.
Highlight: Lawns into Gardens

6. Mark’s Daily Apple is all about empowering its readers to take full charge of and responsibility for their own health. The blog is dedicated to providing every day people with research and resources that will enable them to make practical, healthy decisions that will stay with them the rest of their lives.
Highlight: Primal Blueprint 101

7. Shots is NPR’s collaborative health blog featuring the insights of contributors from all walks of life and aspects of the health industry. The blog covers health news across the board including physical, mental, nutritional, and medical health.
Highlight: Bioethics Panel Warns Against Anthrax Vaccine Testing on Kids

8. Well is the health blog of the New York Times. The blog addresses a wide array of health related subjects, from sharing gluten free recipes, to stressing the importance of wearing a helmet in appropriate circumstances.
Highlight: New Approach to Hip Surgery

9. Precision Nutrition is devoted to making research driven nutrition coaching accessible to every day people. Precision Nutrition’s team consists of highly qualified collaborators, each of who has at least a graduate degree in their field.
Highlight: A Busy Man’s Guide to Getting in Shape

10. Quantified Self is devoted to sharing with readers the secrets of self tracking, the practice of recording one’s moods, diet, sleep patterns  exercise, and other important factors that contribute to our overall well-being or lack thereof. Quantified Self does not just extol the virtues of self tracking, it shares the available methods, as well as techniques for understanding and interpreting the numbers that one will invariably garner from the practice.
Highlight: The State of Self Tracking

11. Q, by Equinox has a large staff of highly qualified professionals within the health industry–many of whom have multiple graduate degrees in health related fields, and an advisory board consisting of six medical doctors and other health industry professionals that review the merits of the blog’s content.
Highlight: May We Present: Grain Free Bread

12. Born Fitness is the blog of Adam Bornstein, a health industry writer who has been featured in major publications such as the New York Times and Men’s Health. The focus of the blog is on filtering the white noise in the fitness industry and getting down to the business of improving people’s health, and therefore their lives, by helping them master the fundamentals.
Highlight: The Protein Guide: How Much Protein Do You Need?

13. The Renegade Rules is the blog of Jason Ferruggia, a personal trainer that is considered by many to be one of the best fitness coaches in the business. Jason has been in the fitness industry for 18 years, he has written articles for Men’s Health, Muscle and Fitness, MMA Sports Magazine, and Maximum Fitness, among others and is currently the Chief Training Advisor to Men’s Fitness Magazine.
Highlight: Five Surprising Reasons You’re not Gaining Muscle

14. Strength Running is an in-depth blog about running. While most fitness sites address some of the basic, generic strategies for successful running, Strength Running pushes these to the side and devotes itself to developing and researching methods designed to help people achieve long term success in their running.
Highlight: 5 Actionable Ways to Improve Your Running

15. Elephant Journal is a collaborative blog that takes a holistic approach to health issues. The blog views various health concerns such as physical, medical, and mental health as parts of a whole and believes that if any one of these is suffering, it can throw the others out of balance. Because of this belief, Elephant Journal covers a wide range of health topics but addresses each topic within the context of the whole person.
Highlight: Are Doctors & the Pharmaceutical Industry Creating Addicts?

16. Less Doing is a blog about productivity and health. One accusation often leveraged at western (especially American) culture is the stress inducing busyness of modern life. Less Doing focuses on sharing strategies for cutting down the busyness while increasing productivity through the automation, outsourcing, and optimizing of mundane tasks, thereby reducing stress, improving quality of life, and improving health.
Highlight: Checklists vs. To-do Lists and How I Manage Big Projects

17. 101 Cookbooks is the blog of Heidi Swanson, a cookbook collector that realized she had dozens of cookbooks, but was still cooking the same recipes over and over. This blog chronicles her journey through her cookbooks as she branches out, trying new recipes and adding healthy variety to her life and the lives of others.
Highlight: Soups Worth Making

18. Eat, Live, Run is a foodie blog started by a culinary student five years ago to share her food related experiences with friends and family. Since then the blog has grown into one of the most prominent food blogs on the internet. The blog focuses on using quality ingredients to create healthy and delicious meals, and also sometimes cake.
Highlight: Thai Red Curry Chicken

19. Gluten Free Goddess is an increasingly relevant blog devoted to helping gluten allergic people, and those cutting gluten out of their diet for other health reasons, find healthy, tasty alternatives to one of the most commonly used ingredients in our culture.
Highlight: Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

20. Lunchbox Bunch is a vegan blog featuring healthy vegan recipes. The blog stresses that you don’t have to be vegan in order to take advantage of the recipes on this blog, which can benefit the health of all people.
Highlight: Nutrition 101: Nutrient Rich Recipes for Spring

21. My New Roots is a food/cooking blog devoted to the use of whole foods in creating delicious and healthy meals. The author is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, Registered Nutritional Consultant Practitioner, and Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner.
Highlight: Superfood Nut Butter Cups

22. Nom Nom Paleo is a blog devoted to providing its readers with resources and methods for the adoption of the paleo diet, which stresses eating a diet mirroring that of humans living before 10,000 BCE and the advent of modern agriculture.
Highlight: Smashed Steak Skewers With Cherry Barbeque Sauce (Inspired by the Croods)

23. Hyper Lipid is a blog about the benefits of gaining calories from much maligned fats instead of carbohydrates. The perspective offered by the author is one that is gaining more traction in health related fields–the idea that natural fats are a better nutritional source and easier for a body to break down than the often highly processed carbohydrates we find in breads and so many other foods.
Highlight: From Agra to Hong Kong

24. Primal Toad is a blog about the health benefits of living a “primal” lifestyle. The primal lifestyle focuses on introducing foods with more natural qualities into our diets, shying away from heavily processed foods or eating animal products that are produced in unnatural ways, and all that’s just the beginning.
Highlight: Beware of Bread: An Eating Disorder Uncovered

25. Fit Bottomed Girls is a women’s fitness blog that posts content focusing on healthy fitness routines for women whose goal is to be healthy. The blog focuses on honesty, openness and attainable goals.
Highlight: The Movie that Motivates Me to be Fitter

26. Green Lite Bites is the blog that chronicles the adventures of a wife and mother as she strives to create healthy, delicious meals for her family. She shares strategies and insights into how to go about doing so in a practical, sustainable manner.
Highlight: Produce Pick: Pepino Melon

27. Let Them Eat Meat is the blog of former vegan Rhys Southan. The blog focuses on the healthy aspects of veganism, but exposes the potentially unhealthy aspects of a vegan diet and explains why a healthy, well-rounded approach can be more beneficial than skewing to an extreme.
Highlight: The Trouble With Being a Pro-Choice Vegan

28. Deliciously Organic is a blog focusing on the health benefits of eating organic foods. Author Carrie Vitt shares her experience of converting to organic foods, how it solved some major health issues, and her struggles with the change in lifestyle, particularly her journey of discovering how to cook with organic foods to achieve the same levels of taste and appeal as non-organic foods.
Highlight: How to Take Action

29. 100 Days of Real Food started as a blog meant to chronicle a family’s experiment of going 100 days without eating processed or refined foods. The family never looked back. The blog recognizes the often high cost of eating unprocessed, unrefined, organic foods and so shares not only the strategies and benefits of such a lifestyle, but also budgeting tips to help others achieve this lifestyle.
Highlight: Misleading Food Product Roundup II: Don’t be Fooled

30. Science Based Medicine is a blog devoted to disseminating news and information gathered from the science based medical community and making it accessible to the every day person. From busting common myths, to featuring research that few in the media understand, the blog covers some of the most important aspects of science based medicine.
Highlight: Smoking: the Good News and the Bad News

Top 10 iPhone Apps for Health Professionals

The life of a health professional can be mentally and physically taxing. Fortunately, health professionals can use their iPhones to gain access to apps specially designed to make their time more manageable. The following list comprises the top ten iPhone apps that health professionals can use to help them in their career.


hd icd9 for iphone

1. ICD9 Consult 2013

This app contains the entire ICD9 medical billing code index, fully updated for 2013. With ICD9 Consult 2013, health professionals can instantly access any medical code that a situation calls for, without the need for thumbing through a bulky, cumbersome printed handbook.



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2. Medical Spanish

A rapidly growing Spanish-speaking population requires health professionals to have a firm grasp on Spanish medical phrases. This app can search for any phrase needed and has a conjugation function to ensure correct word use. The Medical Spanish app even has audio functionality to let the user hear a phrase as it is supposed to be spoken.



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3. Rx-Writer

Writing prescriptions by hand can become time-consuming. Rx-Writer instantly sends a prescription through a secure connection to a fax machine in any pharmacy. The app can also store up to 250 patient entries, allowing the user to simply click on the appropriate file and order a prescription refill in an instant.



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4. ARUP Consult

Health professionals must retain a vast amount of knowledge to make accurate diagnoses. ARUP Consult stores over 300 topics regarding diseases and clinical topics. The app developers issue regular and comprehensive updates to keep the app up to date.



hd medimath for iphone

5. MediMath Medical Calculator

Health professionals frequently have to compute complex math problems. For example, they must calculate amounts in both standard and metric configurations for injections or dosages. MediMath Medical Calculator provides 139 individual calculators and scoring devices to make on-the-spot calculations more accurate and easier to accomplish.



hd first consult for iphone

6. First Consult

First Consult is an app that stores a large repository of accurate clinical data on the user’s iPhone. This lets health professionals search for the medical information they need at the point of care when they don’t have access to a WiFi hotspot or a data connection.



hd ecg for iphone

7. ECGsource

This app was developed by the designers of the largest electrocardiogram information database on the Internet. It provides a searchable index of all of this information, as well as diagnostic criteria. It even provides high resolution images and video tutorials to familiarize users with proper ECG use.



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8. Monster Anatomy HD – Lower Limb

This app provides high-definition, 3D images of lower limb structure and anatomy that can be viewed from three anatomical planes. It can display over 500 labels to identify different lower limb structures and has a dedicated view mode for bones, joints, muscles, blood vessels and nerves.



hd paramedic protocol for iphone

9. Paramedic Protocol Provider

This app is designed with paramedics in mind. It provides offline access to over 300 field treatment procedures so that paramedics can quickly and accurately select the appropriate course of action when responding to an emergency call.



hd medpage today for iphone

10. MedPage Today Mobile

MedPage Today delivers the latest news in medical developments like treatments, medications and clinical data to the user’s iPhone. It updates over 30 different topics daily and brings coverage of over 60 medical conferences straight to the user’s iPhone each year.

Top 10 TED Talks For Health Care Professionals

In these intriguing TED talks, you will find a compendium of the latest research and treatment strategies for some of our oldest diseases as well as some of our newest conditions. From breakthroughs in medical imaging and robotics to the impact of the sun’s UV light on our hearts, these talks promise to be fascinating and illuminating as experts from across the scientific disciplines demonstrate and discuss the problems we face and the potential to revolutionize patient care.


Alanna Shaikh: How I’m Preparing to Get Alzheimer’s

Global health leader Alanna Sheik gives a moving account of her father’s daily battle with Alzheimer’s disease and details both her methods of prevention and the latest research on living with dementia. She then also discusses how she is preparing to meet the disease should she fall victim to it.


Anders Ynnerman: Visualizing The Medical Data Explosion

In this talk, Anders Ynnerman, a scientific visualization expert, delivers advanced information on the latest technological breakthroughs in the field of medical imaging. The challenges of data collection and interpretation are also explored as new ways to gain even deeper knowledge of patient injuries and diagnostics.


Aditi Shankardass: A Second Opinion on Developmental Disorders

Aditi Shankardass discusses the inherent difficulties in studying mental disorders by behavioral observation alone. Together with a team of Harvard researchers, she developed and spearheaded an effort that focused on using EEG medical imaging technology to see what was going on inside the brains of children previously diagnosed with some type of mental disorder.


David Agus: A New Strategy in the War on Cancer

Oncologist David Angus discusses why the death rate for cancer has been the same for 50 years, and his revolutionary new approach to treating it. Using a new type of diagnostic procedure, an atypical diet and better cellular identification, he outlines a new strategy to fight the disease.


Atul Gawande: How Do We Heal Medicine?

Surgeon Atul Gawande discusses the prohibitive costs of healthcare, why it has exploded, how far medical science has come in treatments, and why the best care is not necessarily the most expensive.


Catherine Mohr: Surgery’s Past, Present and Robotic Future

Surgeon Catherine Mohr discusses the history of surgical science and catapults the audience into the future of the craft where nimble robotic arms are performing some of the most complicated surgery procedures in medicine. In this talk she demonstrates these robotics which may prove a bit uncomfortable for the squeamish.


Bonnie Bassler: How Bacteria “Talk”

Bonnie Bassler discusses her discovery of the chemical language bacteria use to communicate with one another. By studying a marine bacterium called Vibrio Fischeri, she observed their use of bioluminescence in groups and concluded some of the greater implications of bacterial communication.


Daniel Kraft Invents a Better Way to Harvest Bone Marrow

Daniel Kraft has invented a new method of harvesting bone marrow called Marrow Minor. In this talk, he demonstrates his new device and explains how it is a lot less painful than traditional methods, and how harvesting the stem cells found within marrow can potential aid in the fight against many genetic diseases.


Hadyn Parry: Re-engineering Mosquitoes to Fight Disease

In this talk, Hadyn Perry explores the widespread disease causing phenomena of the mosquito and also proposes the idea of sterilizing male mosquitoes and releasing them into the wild in an effort to control the spread of diseases such as Malaria and Dengue Fever.


Richard Weller: Could the Sun be Good for Your Heart?

Dermatologist Richard Weller discusses the benefits of UV light, heretofore unknown in medical science. Besides Vitamin D, studies suggest that sunlight can help our bodies release a chemical transmitter called nitric oxide and greatly benefit our cardiovascular systems.


Top 10 iPad Apps for Health Professionals

We all know how useful iPads can be for personal use, but what about in the doctor’s office? With the ease-of-use and variety of apps available, healthcare professionals are increasingly using the iPad for patient care. Below are the ten top apps currently used by medical and healthcare professionals.


hd merck for ipad

1. The Merck Manual – Professional Edition

The Merck Manual app includes all the text of the print edition. No internet connection is required for use. The Professional Edition lists thousands of diseases and treatments and includes references for patient evaluation and clinical approaches. Bonus features include quick email of topics and complete history of everything reviewed.




hd stat icd for ipad

2. Stat ICD-9 Coder

The Stat ICD-9 Coder app is great for medical coders and independent practitioners. The app has a keyword search function that includes over 14,000 codes and descriptions. No subscription service is required after downloading the app. Quick retrieval and specific descriptions and diagnoses make this one of the best coding apps available for the iPad.




hd pocket body for ipad

3. Pocket Body

This preeminent medical education app has nine layers and several possible views, including cranial and plantar. This is an excellent app for medical students, informing patients and continuing education for medical professionals. All content is included in the app so no internet connection is required for full functionality.




hd epic canto for ipad

4. Epic Canto

Epic Canto works with Epic’s Electronic Health Record. For organizations with this service, the iPad app provides access to records. Access includes clinic schedules and patient information such as health summaries and test results. This app only works with the Electronic Health Record so check with administration for availability before downloading.




hd nimble emr for ipad

5. Nimble EMR

Another electronic records app, Nimble EMR provides comprehensive patient information for medical staff including patient scheduling, charts, ability to order and review lab results, and electronic prescriptions and refills. This app does require WiFi access.




hd mediquations for ipad

6. Mediquations Medical Calculator

Mediquations is a powerful medical calculator app. For a small fee, access is available on all Apple devices. The app includes 230 formulas and scores and easily switches between US and SI units. Easily store favorite equations and print or email results. This app also displays multiple results for each query.




hd medigram for ipad

7. Medigram

Medigram is a collaboration and communication tool. This HIPAA compliant app allows sensitive text and image sharing among colleagues. Every message is sent over SSL and encrypted to ensure security of patient information. Automatically review previous conversations and instantly know when messages have been received.




hd nursing central for ipad

8. Nursing Central

This award winning nursing app includes a database of over 5,000 drugs, 60,000 dictionary entries, comprehensive information on lab and diagnostic tests, as well as descriptions of diseases and disorders. Also included is access to Medline journals and abstracts and exam prep tools. This app requires a paid subscription but downloads, updates and website access are included.




hd mobile mim for ipad

9. Mobile MIM

A powerful medical imaging app, Mobile MIM allows viewing, fusion and display of medical images. Capabilities include ultrasound, X-ray, CT, MRI, SPECT and PET. Review contours, DVH and isodose curves. 3D depth-shaded images and MIP movies as well as secure data transfer make this an excellent healthcare app.




hd medibabble for ipad

10. Medibabble Translator

This medical translator tool makes it easy to communicate with foreign language patients. The free app includes thousands of recordings of translated medical questions and instructions. High quality audio and a physical exam feature are easy to use during patient consultations. No internet access is required for use.



10 Most Bizarre Medical Conditions on Earth

most bizarre medical conditions

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While the human body is a wonder of evolution and biological complexity, things are not always perfect. When the body malfunctions or is attacked by other organisms, we end up with physical conditions that range from the commonplace (such as sore throats and upset stomachs) to the downright bizarre – like the ten mind-boggling medical conditions listed below.

10. Proteus Syndrome

Proteus Syndrome

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This rare disorder likely only affects 120 people who are alive today. Recently discovered to be caused by a mutation in a particular gene, the disorder causes many tissues of the body to grow more than is expected, including skin, muscle, blood vessels and bones. The disorder is not normally visible at birth, but as the child ages various asymmetrical tumors and growths begin to develop, leading to a bizarre appearance. The famous “Elephant Man” Joseph Merrick is thought to have had a form of Proteus syndrome, possibly in association with other conditions. His sad story proved that behind physical irregularities there is often a strong and courageous soul.

9. Methemoglobinemia (The Blue People of Kentucky)


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While royalty were once thought to have blue blood running through their veins, medical science made clear that they’ve got the same runny red stuff as the rest of us. However, if you have the genetic condition known as congenital methemoglobinemia then your blood will be brown, due to an enzyme deficiency. Along with the risk of fatigue, exercise intolerance and other symptoms, methemoglobinemia can also lead – among Caucasians sufferers, at least – to one’s skin being blue. The Fugate family of Kentucky famously had a high incidence of this genetic condition, leading them to be known as the Blue Men of Kentucky.

8. Werewolf Syndrome (Hypertrichosis)

Werewolf Syndrome

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We all have bad hair days from time to time, but for those with hypertrichosis it’s a whole other story. In the most severe cases of hypertrichosis, the entire body can be covered with hair, from the face down to the toes, with only a few areas such as the palms unaffected. First recorded in the 17th century, hypertrichosis can be a congenital condition caused by genetic mutations or one that is acquired later on in life – due to the side effects of drugs, or as an accompanying effect of cancer and other conditions. Many of the most famous sideshow performers in history, such as “Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Man,” have had hypertrichosis.

7. Aquagenic Urticaria (Water Allergy)

Aquagenic Urticaria

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For most of us, there is nothing as relaxing as a nice hot shower or a dip in the ocean. Yet for those with aquagenic urticaria, something as simple as that – or even getting caught in the rain – could be an agonizing experience. Sufferers of this condition are allergic to water, with even their own sweat causing hives, itching and burning! Drinking water can cause difficulty breathing, and the pain and discomfort can continue for up to two hours. It is thought that those with this condition are allergic to a part of their own skin that dissolves in water and then causes histamine to be released from the skin. They certainly have no cause to be singin’ in the rain…

6. Lobster-Claw Syndrome (Ectrodactyly)

Lobster-Claw Syndrome

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The opposable thumb may be what has allowed humans to succeed in the making and using of tools. Indeed, some people get along just fine with only a thumb and one finger. Ectodactyly describes the condition where some of the fingers of the hands or feet are missing or fused, leaving the appendage looking similar to a lobster’s claw. Caused by a variety of genetic factors, ectrodactyly may look strange but often has very little effect on the life of those with the condition. For instance, the guitarist for the French black metal band Noctural Depression has the condition, as did Mikhail Tal, a skilled pianist and chess world champion!

5. Double-Muscle Mutation (Superhuman Strength)

Double-Muscle Mutation

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The substance myostatin is produced by our bodies to inhibit the growth of muscles. When the secretion of this substance is itself inhibited or the body fails to respond to it, muscles grow far larger than might otherwise be expected. Recently, two children were found to have been born with such superhuman strength. One, a German boy, had a genetic mutation that interfered with his production of myostatin, while Liam Hoekstra, an American boy, had a defect that stopped his muscles responding to it in the normal way. It’s not surprising that the world’s strongest toddler has got quite a lot of attention from documentary crews. Both these children are far stronger than their peers – real-life supermen in the making.

4. Progeria (Accelerated Aging)


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Most of us would not expect to have to deal with hair loss, wrinkles, stiff joints and poor eyesight until well into old age, but for sufferers of progeria, a rare genetic condition, the symptoms of old age start appearing in infancy. Those with the condition have a characteristic appearance consisting of a large head, beaked nose and narrow face. Sadly, those with this rare condition rarely live past their early twenties. The disease was first described in 1886, and scientists believe that its study could give us insight into the process of aging.

3. CIPA (Inability to Feel Pain)


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Next time you stub your toe, be thankful that you are able to feel the pain. Those with CIPA (which stands for congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis) have a congenital disorder that means they simply do not feel pain, hot or cold. They also do not sweat, meaning that they can easily overheat without even being aware of the temperature. Sufferers often injure themselves without even knowing it, especially as the condition is present from birth and small children will have no idea that they are harming themselves. Even just rubbing at eyes or chewing on gums can lead to serious infections and scarring. As with progeria, those born with this condition are unlikely to survive beyond 25, mainly due to complications caused by overheating.

2. Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis (Human Tree)

Epidermodysplasia Verruciformise

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Many cultures have tales of sentient trees, and if you saw someone with epidermodysplasia verruciformis you might well believe that one of them had walked out of folklore and into real life. Those with the condition are genetically disposed to be prone to the effects of HPV, an infection that causes growths to appear on the skin. Eighty percent of us have such an infection, but do not display any symptoms. Those with the disorder can have so many lesions on their hands and feet that they can appear to be half-man, half-plant. This picture shows one of the most well known sufferers of the condition, Dede Koswara, who became famous after images of him were posted on the Internet. He has to endure twice-yearly surgeries to remove the growths, and on one occasion had 6kg (13 lbs) of warts removed from his body!

1. Human Seminal Plasma Hypersensitivity (Semen Allergy)

Human Seminal Plasma Hypersensitivity

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The immune system can be a funny thing, with such benign substances as flowers, dust and certain foods causing allergic reactions. Some people’s bodies have even decided that semen is a substance that requires a serious immune response. Those with the condition experience blisters, swelling, hives and even problems breathing within 30 minutes of coming into contact with semen. Men can even develop an allergy to their own semen, with flu-like symptoms lasting for up to a week. But it’s not all bad news. Women suffering from the condition may build up a tolerance to their partner’s semen – provided they spend some quality time in bed together several times a week!

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