Author Archives: Bix

International Day Of Peace

The Ship Of Tolerance

From Bing today:

To mark International Day of Peace, we invite you to look closely at the colorful sail in today’s homepage photo. It’s a composite of 120 small panels painted by children from different ethnic and social backgrounds — each panel offers a message of hope for a better world.

In years past, the United Nations has used International Day of Peace as an opportunity to create a world free of violence through ceasefires and truces. This year, amid the global pandemic, we’re asked to observe this day by encouraging compassion, kindness, and hope.

Homemade Clove Gel As Good As Benzocaine (Orajel) For Dental Pain

I have a toothache. My dentist can’t see me for a few weeks because of COVID. I made some clove oil. It helped. I didn’t think it would, but:

The Effect Of Clove And Benzocaine Versus Placebo As Topical Anesthetics, Journal of Dentistry, November 2006

The purpose of this study was to examine whether the natural herb clove can replace benzocaine as a topical anesthetic.

Topical agents were applied to the maxillary canine buccal mucosa of 73 adult volunteers. Four substances were tested in the study: (1) homemade clove gel, (2) benzocaine 20% gel, (3) placebo that resembles clove and (4) a placebo that resembled benzocaine. After 5 min of material application in a randomized, subject-blinded manner, each participant received two needle sticks. Pain response was registered using a 100 mm visual analogue pain scale.

Results: Both clove and benzocaine gels had significantly lower mean pain scores than placebos (p = 0.005). No significant difference was observed between clove and benzocaine regarding pain scores.

Their recipe:

The clove gel was prepared by grinding commercially available clove to fine powder and then mixing it with liquid glycerin in a ratio of 2:3 (clove: glycerin) by volume.

My recipe was about 15 whole cloves submerged in about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, in an old jelly jar.

How to Make Clove Oil, with photos.

How it works:

Clove oil contains the active ingredient eugenol, which is a natural anesthetic. It helps numb and reduce pain to ease a toothache. Eugenol also has natural anti-inflammatory properties. It may reduce swelling and irritation in the affected area. Dry Socket Paste, an over-the-counter treatment dentists recommend for teeth extraction pain, has eugenol.

A British study found that eugenol is more effective at reducing pain, inflammation, and infection than another type of analgesic. Study participants who used the eugenol-based paste also had better wound healing than study participants who used the other treatment or no treatment at all.

Thanks to Virginia.

The Original No-Knead Bread From Mark Bittman, 2006

Times Classic, No-Knead Bread, Mark Bittman, 6 December 2006


3 1/3 cups/430 grams all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed

Step 1
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons/390 milliliters water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Step 2
Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Step 3
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

Step 4
At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Some tweaks:
No Kneading, but Some Fine-Tuning, Mark Bittman, 6 December 2006

Smoke From US West Coast Fires Traveling Across The Country

This is a screen shot of NOAA’s “Vertically Integrated Smoke” from about an hour ago. Click to enlarge.

From NASA:

“Vertically integrated smoke” depicts all of the smoke in a vertical column, including smoke high in Earth’s atmosphere. That is the smoke you see at sunrise and sunset.

I live outside Philadelphia and we experienced brownish hazy skies this morning. Amazing how far this travels. It must be a nightmare for people living inside it.

For more detailed and up-to-date data, go here:
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Earth System Research Laboratory, High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) Smoke Model Fields

Anticholinergic Drugs (Antidepressants, Muscle Relaxants, Antihistamines: Benadryl, Tylenol PM) Linked To Cognitive Impairment – Again

Anticholinergic (AC) drugs cause cognitive impairment. If you already have cognitive impairment, they cause it to get worse. I wrote about a study a few years ago that found cognitively normal people who took at least one anticholinergic drug developed cognitive impairment. From that study: “The use of AC medication was associated with increased brain atrophy and dysfunction and clinical decline.”

Here’s yet another study – from last week. Again, none of these participants had any cognitive or memory problems before the study.
Press Release: Common Class Of Drugs Linked To Increased Risk Of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Participants with AD biomarkers who were taking anticholinergic drugs were four times more likely to develop MCI* than persons lacking biomarkers and not taking the drugs.

Persons at genetic risk for AD who took anticholinergic drugs were approximately 2.5 times more likely to develop MCI than those without genetic risk factors and who were not taking the drugs.

* MCI: mild cognitive impairment, “often a precursor to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease”

Study: Association Of Anticholinergic Medication And Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) Biomarkers With Incidence Of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) Among Cognitively Normal Older Adults, Neurology, 2 September 2020

Conclusions: Anticholinergic medications (aCH) increased risk of incident MCI and cognitive decline, and effects were significantly enhanced among individuals with genetic risk factors and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-based AD pathophysiological markers. Findings underscore the adverse impact of aCH medications on cognition and the need for deprescribing trials, particularly among individuals with elevated risk for AD.

What are anticholinergic drugs?

They work by blocking acetylcholine — a type of neurotransmitter or chemical messenger known to be critical for memory function — from binding to receptors on certain nerve cells. The effect is to inhibit parasympathetic nerve impulses, which are involved in a variety of involuntary muscle movements, such as those in the gastrointestinal tract and lungs, and bodily functions like salivation, digestion and urination.

There are many AC drugs. Here’s a list that I picked up from a few years ago:

Commonly used drugs with moderate to high anticholinergic properties:

Disopyramide – Norpace®
Procainamide – Pronestyl®
Quinidine – Quinaglute®, Quinidex®

Dimenhydrinate – Dramamine®
Meclizine – Antivert®, Bonine®
Trimethobenzamide – Tigan®
Prochlorperazine -Compazine®

Azatadine – Optimine®
Chlorpheniramine – Chlor-Trimeton®
Clemastine – Tavist®
Diphenhydramine – Tylenol PM®, Sominex®, Benadryl®
Hydroxyzine – Atarax®, Vistaril®
Promethazine – Phenergan®

Antiparkinson Agents:
Benztropine – Cogentin®
Biperiden – Akineton®
Procyclidine – Kemadrin®
Trihexyphenidyl – Artane®

Chlorpromazine – Thorazine®
Clozapine – Clozaril®
Mesoridazine – Serentil®
Olanzapine – Zyprexa®
Promazine – Sparine®
Quetiapine – Seroquel®
Thioridazine – Mellaril®

Atropine – Sal-Tropine®
Belladonna alkaloids – Donnatal®, Bellatal®, Barbidonna®
Dicyclomine – Antispas®, Bentyl®
Flavoxate – Urispas®
Hyoscyamine – Anaspaz®, Levbid®, Cystospaz®, Levsin/SL®
Oxybutynin – Ditropan®
Tolterodine – Detrol®

Skeletal muscle relaxants:
Carisoprodal – Soma®
Chlorzoxazone – Parafon®, Forte®
Cyclobenzaprine – Flexeril®
Methocarbamol – Robaxin®
Orphenadrine – Norflex®

Tricyclic Antidepressants:
Amitriptyline – Elavil®
Desipramine – Norpramin®
Doxepin – Sinequan®
Imipramine – Tofranil®
Nortriptyline -Aventyl®, Pamelor®

It’s not an exhaustive list. There are more antidepressants, sleep aids, drugs for asthma and chronic bronchitis, antacids like Zantac, allergy and cold meds, diuretics, drugs for bladder control, even eye drops like Atropine used to dilate pupils. Many can be purchased over-the-counter, without a prescription.

A Pocket Guide (click to enlarge):

That anticholinergic drugs cause structural and functional changes in the brain – of healthy people – and increase the risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s doesn’t get the airtime it should because … look at all these drugs! Drug companies sponsor airtime. They would be digging their own graves. And if people develop Alzheimer’s? No problem; there will be a drug for that too. This is what happens when industries, especially high-profit industries like pharmaceuticals, have too large an influence on regulatory bodies.

‘Strongest Evidence Yet’ Links Anticholinergic Drugs, Dementia, Medscape, January 2015

Cumulative Use Of Strong Anticholinergics And Incident Dementia, A Prospective Cohort Study, JAMA Internal Medicine, March 2015

Drugs With Anticholinergic Properties, Cognitive Decline, and Dementia in an Elderly General Population, The 3-City Study, JAMA Internal Medicine, July 2009