An advertisement for a trip to Yellowstone National Park

Hallelujah, the end of our interminable two-year election season is in sight. Within a week, those surly, scary, scurrilous negative campaign ads will be consigned to the dustbin of dirty tricks, where they’ve belonged all along. For a while, at least, perhaps the ever ugly rumor mill will cease its grinding, and we can focus on Thanksgiving with renewed vigor. The economy might be in the tank and we could be eating pork ‘n beans instead of turkey and dressing, but at least we can give thanks that another sordid season of electioneering is over.

While searching for some offbeat news to cleanse my mental palate, I learned that researchers at Johns Hopkins University have shown that hydrogen sulfide — the stinky compound that gives human flatulence the odor of a late-season campaign ad — can also lower blood pressure.

It turns out that the same gas that puts the “deadly” in “Silent But Deadly” is also produced by cells that line blood vessels. An enzyme called CSE is responsible for producing the chemical, which relaxes the walls of the blood vessels and thus lowers blood pressure. Mice that were genetically engineered to be deficient in CSE were shown to have blood pressures about 20 percent higher.

For me, the delightful image of a technician adjusting the little cuff to take a mouse’s blood pressure made reading the article worth the time invested. For medical researchers, the discovery offers the promise of new treatments for lowering blood pressure.

For the record, researchers did not suggest that flatulence-prone people have lower blood pressure, or that people accused of being “anal retentive” are more likely to be hypertensive.

Even so, maybe serving beans for Thanksgiving isn’t a bad idea after all.

[Image from OSHA.gov]

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