The Shmooze

Pill Makes Fasting Easier

By Nathan Jeffay

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Israeli Arabs may soon make your Yom Kippur fast easier.

It’s often said that Jews and Muslims have a lot in common when it comes to religious observance, and that’s rarely highlighted better than when it comes to fasting. Both religions require full-on fasting several times a year.

Now there’s a theory that a drug called etoricoxib (commercial name Arcoxia), if taken before a fast day, reduces the occurrence of migraines and headaches. Before Yom Kippur, doctors at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center gave 211 patients pills to take — some were placebos, others were etoricoxib. Those who took the real thing — which conveniently remains active in the body for 22 hours — reported an easier fast.

The same researchers are working with Muslims who are fasting through Ramadan to continue their research, and if all goes well, they may just find a cure to fast-related migraines. On their recruitment website, they present the participation in the research as a religious virtue, as it will test whether the drug will “decrease the incidence of people breaking their fast.” You can see more on the experiment in this piece in the Jerusalem Post.


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