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Cinnamon toothpaste linked to sore mouth

Q. The inside of my mouth became very sensitive to salt, acid and anything spicy. When my wife looked, she said it looked like thrush.

I went to my dentist to have it checked out. After a visual assessment and asking about medications, one of his first questions was, “Are you using a cinnamon toothpaste?”

Stopping the cinnamon toothpaste and using a prescription medicated mouthwash called Magic Mouthwash cured the condition in about 10 days. I hope this will help other readers.

A. You are not the only person to experience problems with cinnamon toothpaste. Some people are sensitive to this ingredient and may develop irritation or chapped lips as a reaction to it (Journal of the American Dental Association, September 1995). Pharmacists compound Magic Mouthwash to ease oral irritation.

Q. I’ve been a victim of insomnia for the past two years. My doctor has tried me on three different drugs – separately, of course. The side effects were worse than the loss of sleep.

Melatonin popped into my head for some reason. I did some research and found it is a sleep aid. I bought some over the counter, and after two months of using it, I now fall asleep easily. Is melatonin natural? Are there any dangers?

A. Melatonin is natural. It is a hormone that our bodies make to help regulate our cycles of sleeping and waking.

Prolonged-release melatonin (Circadin) was approved in Europe as a drug in 2007. Studies have shown that melatonin is effective and does not cause rebound insomnia when it is stopped (Journal of Sleep Research, December 2007). In the U.S., melatonin is sold as a dietary supplement; the quality of dietary supplements is largely unregulated.

We discuss the pros and cons of melatonin and other nonprescription approaches to insomnia as well as sleeping pills such as Ambien, Lunesta, Rozerem and Sonata in our “Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep.” Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (61 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. I-70, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

Q. What can I use to help my dog with scratching? He scratches and bites at his leg all day. He has been to the vet and has even been on prednisone and antibiotics. Is there anything else I can do to give him some relief?

A. Many years ago, we heard from a fellow whose vet had suggested a solution for doggie “hot spots”: Listerine, mineral oil and water in equal parts. After we wrote about this approach, we heard from another dog owner: “This is the most fantastic solution I’ve read about in a long time! The minute my dogs start ‘worrying’ a spot, I get out my spray bottle, spray the area thoroughly, massage the solution into their skin, and the problem stops immediately. No more hot spots that involve trips to the vet.”

Hot spots sometimes result from allergies, so it makes sense to work with the vet to minimize allergic exposures. Some owners who use this Listerine solution put a shield on the dog – for example, an Elizabethan collar – to keep the animal from licking at the spot for a while.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa Graedon holds a doctorate in medical anthropology and is a nutrition expert.


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