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Doctor Reacts to HARRY POTTER | Medical Scenes Review

hey guys welcome back to the channel if you're new here my name is Ali I'm a junior doctor working in Cambridge and in this video I'm gonna be combining two of my favorite things in life and I'm gonna be explaining some of the vaguely medical scientific scenes in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone let's jump into it and take a trip down memory lane sorry about so Hagrid Hagrid in the books and in the fin the films is famously a half giant and I suppose the closest medical / scientific correlate to that is two conditions the first one is called a gigantism and the second is called acromegaly both of these are caused by excessive growth hormone which unsurprisingly is the hormone that makes you grow and that's secreted from the pituitary gland which lies somewhere in the middle of your brain some people will have something called a pituitary adenoma which is a benign tumor that grows in the pituitary gland and if it's the right sort of cell type that can release an excess of growth hormone so if Hagrid existed in real life he'd probably have the childhood version of it called a gigantism and that makes you grow really really really tall so people with gigantism can be between seven and nine-feet according to Wikipedia and the reason that is is because when you're a child your bones still have the ability to grow so if you imagine a bone it's like a long stick and at the end of it you've got your kind of fist bits of the bone but in between those two bits there's something called a growth plate and when you're young your growth plates are where all the growth happens so it's like as you inject growth hormone and as time passes the growth plate expands and allows the cortex of the bone to grow whereas the growth plates fuse by the time you're an adult which means you can no longer get any further elongation of those bones so instead if you have circulating growth hormone excessively you tend to get the growth in the face in the hands and in the feet that grow with a different process maybe some of you have come to Hogwarts in possession of abilities so formidable that you feel confident enough to not pay attention new celebrity tell me what would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood okay so this is an absolutely iconic scene the first time Snape and Harry famously interact and there's actually quite a lot of scientific / medical stuff that's going on in the scene so I'm gonna try and break that down so firstly Snape asks what would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood so what do these mean so firstly asphodel is a plant and it's often associated in Greek mythology with Hades and the underworld so we've got some kind of connotations there back in the day it used to be thought to be some kind of cure for snakebites and even more interestingly it actually used to be classified under under the family of lilies before it got its own classification and it gets even better because wormwood is the common name for the plant Artemisia which is probably named after Artemis who is the goddess of the forest and the moon we'll come back to those in a second but a common symbol that's been associated with the goddess Artemis in mythology is the deer and as you might know both Snape and Lily's patronesses Ordos which are female deer and in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when Harry is chilling in the Forest of Dean he comes across the DOE which is the snake named Petronas on a moonlit night and if we make things a bit more medical the plant wormwood ie Artemisia is where we get the substance artemisinin from and that is the active ingredient in a lot of anti malaria drugs and this was discovered by the Chinese scientist – you knew who won the 2015 Nobel Prize in medicine so in this very first thing that Snape says to Harry we've got firstly a reference to Lily Potter secondly we've got some foreshadowing of events to come and thirdly it actually got some legit medical reference behind it well let's try again where mr. Potter would you look at if I asked you to find me a bezoar okay so a bezoar in the Hara in Harry Potter in the Philosopher's Stone the book they explained that a bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and in the world of Harry Potter has got the power to cure poison and how Harry famously deploys it twice in Harry Potter in the half-blood Prince firstly to show off in Slughorn's lesson when they're trying to build this fancy potion that Hermione gets really pissed off about but secondly Harry uses the bezoar to save Ron's life when Ron drinks the wine that Malfoy was trying to send to Dumbledore but ends up in Ron's hands anyway so bees are actually real things it's a term given to any trapped mass within the gastrointestinal system and you can get loads of different types of them they're caused by a buildup of certain food substances so for example within milk there's a protein called casein and that reacts with the gastric acid that you get from the stomach and that can form a certain type of bezoar stones so the question is do bees or actually cure poisons in real life and there's mixed evidence so on one side we've got an experiment that was done in 1575 by the French surgeon Amboise pate so his cheeky little experiment was that he found a cook who was a cook in the Kings kitchens and who was trying to steal some cutlery and apparently back in the day the penalty for stealing cutlery from the Kings kitchen was death so this cook was going to be hanged but Ambroise paré a managed to convince the guy to drink some poison instead of being hanged so he drank some poison and then Amboise fed him a bezoar stone and hoped that it would cure the poison unfortunately it didn't and the guy died in about seven hours after ingesting the poison would have been quite a slow and painful death but that N equals one study sort of showed us that bees ORS don't really cure every poison but on the other hand we do have some evidence that bees ORS can remove the toxic component from the poison arsenic and this is where I guess a little bit complicated so firstly arsenic contains the ion arsenate and the ion arsenic looks quite similar in its chemical structure to the phosphate ion and the phosphate iron is used in loads of different processes in the body but the most famous one is glycolysis which is the breakdown of glucose into energy and we need phosphate for that if you've been poisoned with arsenic then you've got this arsenate ion floating around in your body and therefore when your body is trying to glycol eyes glucose into energy or ATP instead of using the phosphate it uses the arsenate which means you get fewer molecules of ATP ie energy produced and eventually if you can't produce enough energy from glucose then eventually your body is going to be starved of energy and you're gonna die but this is where the bezoar stone comes to the rescue because bees ores have phosphate within their crystalline structure and if you put this bezoar in a solution containing arsenic then the arsenate ion in that solution gets swapped out with the phosphate in the bezoar so you're in activating the toxic arsenate by replacing it with phosphate from the bezoar stone so long story short in some cases perhaps Beezus might be useful in in activating certain types of poison but they're definitely not the catch-all magical cure that they were purported to be back in the day and apparently back in the day bees always used to use to sell for lots of money because people believed they had these magical healing powers unfortunately the evidence isn't quite there for those just yet and what is the difference between monkshood and wolfbane okay so this final part of Snape's assault on Harry is what is the difference between monkshood and wolfbane and in the book he explains that monkshood and wolfbane are the same thing and there are other words for the more common plant called aconite which is actually a real plant it's a poisonous plant and from it we get the toxin that's called aconitine and aconitine is very interesting because aconitine is able to bind to voltage-gated sodium channels that we have everywhere in our body and sodium channels are absolutely essential for the conduction of nervous impulses down our nerves so what aconitine does is that advises the sodium channel and causes it to stay open and because nerve conduction is based on the influx and efflux of sodium and potassium and other other ions the problem is that if your sodium channels are staying open you don't have the ability to regulate the influx and efflux of sodium ions which means you cannot conduct an action potential down that nerve so this means that your nerves don't work and if your nerves are not gonna work then you're going to lose sensation and motor control of pretty much every part of your body so you can die from that but also voltage-gated sodium channels are intimately involved in the generation of the cardiac action potential ie it's the generation of the electricity that makes your heart beat on its own so if your sodium channels get poisoned with monkshood and wolfbane as Snape calls them you're not able to generate a proper cardiac action potential which means your heart doesn't beat regularly like it should which means you can go into what we call a ventricular arrhythmia ie where the ventricles the big bits of your heart are not pumping properly and then you can die because of lack of blood flow to all of your walk to your brain and everything else so all three of these questions that Snape is asked Harry and the Harry's unable to give the answer to these are all associated with poisons of different types but the cool thing about that is that they've all got some kind of basis within medical science what a legendary substance with astonishing powers it Li transform any metal into pure gold and produces the elixir of life which will make the drinker mortal immortal it means you'll never die no one amazed alright let's talk about the elixir of life and this actually takes us into a really exciting field of medical and scientific research into prolonging life and reducing aging and unfortunately this is an area of research that not many people in the general public are very familiar with now there's this amazing YouTube channel called Curtis axe that you should definitely subscribe to I'll put a link in the description but here is a clip from their video introducing this getting old currently means spending more time in pain so scientists are trying to shift the attention of the medical community from optimizing lifespans to optimizing health spans the part of our lives during which we're disease free to do this we need to attack the root cause of almost all bodily defects aging itself so that's a bit from their video you should definitely check out the rest of it and I'll include some other links in the description if you're interested in getting an introduction to this whole idea of aging and why we should fight aging and how we can fight aging but in in in the olden days this whole quest for the Philosopher's Stone used to be called the magnum opus which is Latin I think for the great work so like a hundred year the hundreds of years ago people realized that actually this whole thing about aging and death did not have to be the inevitable thing that we now take for granted and I think it's very interesting how we're all very happy to pour billions of dollars into these massive fundraising campaigns for things like heart disease and cancer but also millions of dollars into very rare genetic conditions that affect a very few people and yet so few people relatively speaking have thought about contributing to anti-aging research because if we can cure aging as a disease then we won't need to worry about heart disease and for the most part cancer and Alzheimer's and dementia these are all diseases that tend to be strongly associated with aging going back to Harry Potter that's sort of what the elixir of life is it's trying to cure the process of Aging and that's how Nicolas Flamel our friend from the Philosopher's Stone who've recently featured in the fantastic beast film survived for that long drinking the blood of a unicorn will keep you alive even if you are an inch from death but at a terrible price okay for the record this unicorn blood thing probably isn't real there is some kind of talk about how maybe we can do blood transfusions into order people from younger people and that might help combat aging but again the evidence is very very sparse for that and I doubt that's what JK Rowling had in mind when she talked about unicorn blood being used to sustain life you'll get Gryffindor into trouble again oh you Neville I'm really really sorry about this Petrificus Totalus all right so Petrificus Totalus has a couple of vaguely medical things that it could possibly relate to if Harry Potter were real the first one is a film at a phenomenon called rigor mortis that you might have heard of and that is the third stage of death the first stage is palo mortis and the second stage is Algor mortis palo means you go pale and al gore means you go cold but in the third stage of death you go rigid and if we look on the scene we also see this like blue sheen appear on him so maybe that's a reference to the coldness we also see him looking quite pale but then he is quite pale anyway there are also a few diseases and drugs that can cause muscle rigidity like what happens to Neville you can get these things called upper motor neuron lesions which are diseases that affect certain parts of the central nervous system and that can be things like strokes or brain tumors or hemorrhages or spinal cord injuries and it's the interplay between the upper motor neurons and the lower motor neurons that causes our muscles to be able to move and it's the upper motor neurons are either ones in the central nervous system ie the brain and the spinal cord that provide an inhibitory effect so if we have a problem with our upper motor neurons ie a problem with the brain or the spinal cord then it's only the lower motor neurons that are able to function and therefore you get hyper activity of the muscles so you get rigidity and there are also some chemicals that cause this type of muscle rigidity type effect probably the most famous one is a poison called tetanus toxin which is the second most potent toxin in the world after botulinum toxin and what tetanus toxin does is that it makes you get this rigid type of paralysis and the way does that is that it gets into your bloodstream and it targets a protein called sign up to Brevan and cleaves it in half putting on half but it cleaves it in some way that inactivates the cyanide to brevin sign up to brevin is a protein that's involved in the release of the neurotransmitter gamma amino butyric acid also known as gaba gaba is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which means that much like the upper motor neurons that we just talked about it inhibits it stops the muscles from being over activated so if you get tetanus toxin into your body you don't get synaptic brevin working therefore you get less release of gaba from your inhibitory neurons therefore it causes your muscles to become hyperactive that's kind of what's happening to Neville in particular so tell us great wizard you really are me there is nothing medical in that at all I just think that's a really really nice and cute part of the film yes padang hi doesn't it look going home not really all right so that brings us to the end of the video thank you very much for watching that was a breakdown of some of the vaguely scientific / medical scenes within Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone big shout out to my friend and colleague dr. Edie hope I'll link his channel down below he does really good breakdowns of all the medical science within things like the Marvel films and anime and stuff like that so you should check that out if you enjoyed this kind of video if you liked the video please give it a thumbs up if you haven't subscribed to the channel yet then please consider doing so I usually make videos about medicine tech education productivity that sort of thing so if that's up your Diagon Alley you should definitely hit the subscribe button thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video goodbye

34 thoughts on “Doctor Reacts to HARRY POTTER | Medical Scenes Review

  1. Ali, thanks for the quality content with minute details like the Gryffindor scarf loool. You've actually inspired me to finally start my own blog/website, which is slowly pissing me off due to the limits of the WordPress theme and how I need to fidget with the html stuff. Do you have any free resources you'd like to recommend for web design?

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