Thumb suckers take the bitHere's a solution to thumb...


July 21, 1992|By Universal Press Syndicate

Thumb suckers take the bit

Here's a solution to thumb sucking that comes direct from the horse's mouth. Two Kentucky dentists have fashioned what they call the Bluegrass Appliance, patterned after a steel bit used to calm irritable horses.

Dr. Bruce Haskell and Dr. John R. Mink, of the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky, fitted 24 little thumb suckers ages 7 to 13 with this small, movable roller, which rests in the top of the mouth near the front teeth and is attached to braces by orthodontic wire. The children learned to calm their thumb sucking urges by spinning the rollers with their tongues. When the dentists removed the rollers after about six months, all 24 children had been weaned of the habit. The dentists don't say whether the appliance interfered with the children's speech.

More bad news for smokers:

The risk of cancer and heart disease may not deter smokers, but maybe this news will: Smoking cigarettes can contribute to male impotence. A recent Boston University study of young impotent men shows that men who smoke a pack a day for five years are 15 percent more likely than non-smokers to develop clogged arteries in the penis, which can in turn cause impotence. In other words, where there's smoke there may be no fire.

Aloe vera debunked:

The spiny, succulent leaves of the aloe vera plant are filled with a clear gel that has been used for thousands of years to relieve the pain of wounds and burns. Over the past couple of decades, potted aloe plants have multiplied on the windowsills of natural-healing enthusiasts, and bottles of aloe vera moisturizer have crowded the supermarket shelves. Health claims for this African plant are legion, but not always well-tested. Researchers at Women's Hospital in Los Angeles County were interested in whether aloe vera gel would help speed surgical healing. They worked with 21 women who had just had either Caesarean sections or gynecological surgery. Dividing the women into two groups, they gave standard medical wound treatment to all 21 and added aloe vera gel for one of the groups. Aloe vera caused no negative reactions or complications, but that's about the best that can be said about it. The women who received no aloe vera took an average of 53 days to heal, while those treated with the gel took a whopping 83 days. In other words, aloe vera's only significant effect was to prolong the healing process.

The cure stinks:

Garlic's medical reputation goes back at least to 1550 B.C., when it was listed on Egyptian papyrus along with 800 other herbal remedies. The bulb has been recommended as a treatment for high blood pressure and all manner of other ailments. But does it really work? Peter Mansell and John P.D. Reckless, of the Royal United Hospital in Bath, England, offer a tentative yes, at least when it comes to garlic's effects on the blood and circulation. In a review summarizing the most recent laboratory research on garlic, they report that substances in garlic lower blood pressure, reduce levels of artery-clogging triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, prevent blood clots, and dilate blood vessels. These effects point to a possible role for garlic in preventing heart attacks and strokes. One problem could discourage further research, however. The cure stinks. Garlic's main active ingredient, allicin, is also the stuff that makes it smell. According to Mr. Mansell and Mr. Reckless, "odorless" garlic preparations either lack allicin or generate the sulfurous compound -- and its odor -- during digestion. Also, to get real cardiovascular benefit from garlic you'd have to eat seven to 28 fresh cloves a day. That's enough allicin to keep not only vampires away, but maybe your best friends, too.

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