Health Advice



At the Heart of the Problem: Money

Scott LaFee on

Phobia of the Week

Erythrophobia: fear of blushing

Best Medicine

People with claustrophobia think better outside the box.

Food for thought

Brominated vegetable oil is a food additive sometimes used to keep citrus flavoring from separating out in sodas and other beverages. It's banned in some countries, but not the U.S. Health concerns about BVO revolve around one its ingredients, bromine, which can irritate the skin and mucous membranes of the nose, mouth, lungs and stomach. Long-term exposure may cause neurological symptoms like headaches and memory loss. Bromine is also used in insecticides, dyes, agricultural chemicals and flame retardants.



"We use 10% of our brains. Imagine how much we could accomplish if we used the other 60%." -- Comedian Ellen DeGeneres

Medical History

This week in 1966, chemist James M. Schlatter applied for a patent for "peptide sweetening Agents," which would eventually result in the marketing of aspartame under the brand name NutraSweet. Schlatter made his discovery accidentally. To pick up a piece of paper, he had licked his finger, tasting an unexpectedly sweet trace of a substance that had, he realized, earlier splashed onto the outside of a flask he had handled. The taste derived from L-aspartyl-L-phenylalanine methyl ester, a dipeptide of amino acids that is 200 times sweeter than sucrose or table sugar.


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