Category Archives: Drugs

Penecillin Molecule

Penicillin molecule original model
Penicillin molecule original model

Penicillin was discovered in 1928 by Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming and used to treat the first patient in 1942, for streptococcal septicemia. Half of the total world supply at that time was used on that one patient.

Dorothy Hodgkin, who determined the chemical structure of penicillin
Dorothy Hodgkin, who determined the chemical structure of penicillin

In 1943, a worldwide search for the best strain of penicillin mold selected one found growing in a moldy cantaloupe in a grocery store in Peoria, IL. By the spring of 1944, the United States had produced 2.3 million doses, using mold sourced from that melon, in time for the invasion of Normandy.

During World War II, chemists cultured molds in pans and stacked them floor to ceiling in many labs to produce tiny amounts of penicillin, the only known antibiotic at that time. In spite of all they could do, it remained in such short supply that unmetabolized remnants of it were recycled from soldiers’ urine.

This 3D model of a penicillin molecule was made by Dorothy M Crowfoot Hodgkin, in England, in 1945, by interpreting patterns refracted by x-rays, known as x-ray crystallography. Having this model made it possible for John Sheehan at MIT to devise a method for synthesizing the antibiotic in 1957.

Hodgkin won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1964 “for her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances”.



Gasping for Breath

Asthmatic Students Need Their Inhalers

beg for inhalerWhen I was in school, I suffered chronic headaches; so I carried a tin of Anacin in my pocket all the time. Of course, that was 60+ years ago. If it were now, I’d have to suffer.

Now schools take medicines away from students — even life-saving, emergency, prescription medicines — and students suffer and sometime die. It’s outrageous, and it must stop!

Read the article at the link below. Randy Cassingham says it far better than I can in this article from his weekly newsletter, This Is True.

I’ve been a subscriber for more than 20 years, and a Premium subscriber for most of that time. It’s one of the best reading investments I’ve ever made.

Randy describes This Is True as “a newsletter that uses ‘weird news’ as a vehicle to explore the human condition, and bring up questions about society — in an entertaining way.” After the article, he invites you to “consider scrolling up to the top of the page for a free e-mail subscription.”

Do it. You’ll be glad you did. If you enjoy it as much as I do, you might want to upgrade to the Premium Edition sometime, but that’s optional.

No, he doesn’t pay me a commission. It’s just a great source of well written, thoughtful, and thought-provoking information and entertainment. It’s well worth your time. And maybe your money.

This Is True

Marijuana Doesn’t Cure Everything


The first comprehensive analysis of research on the benefits of medical marijuana has shown the drug is not proven to work for many illnesses, despite states approving it to treat those illnesses. There is strong evidence that marijuana can alleviate chronic pain and muscle stiffness in multiple sclerosis, but there is weak evidence for positive effects on anxiety, sleep disorders, and Tourette syndrome.

The Daily Beast

I stopped reading before I got to the end. I had to go back and finish it later. When I read, “There is strong evidence that marijuana can alleviate chronic pain …”,  that was all I wanted to know. Well, not really. I am concerned about other diseases, too. And safety. But chronic pain affects me directly. You see, I’m 75 years old; and I’ve been hurting for more than 60 of those years. I hate  hurting.

I commented once before in this blog that if marijuana were legal, I would have tried it long ago to see if it would alleviate my pain. But it’s not legal in Texas; and it’s still against federal law everywhere in the country, although the federal law is not currently being enforced in states that have legalized it.

My pain isn’t constant. I actually have some relatively pain-free days. But right now, it’s hard to remember that. My legs have been hurting like hell for about 40 hours.

I see my pain doctor in a few hours, and I’ll probably feel a little better by tomorrow. Maybe. I also take pain meds that dull the pain a little.

There are literally tens of millions of Americans who suffer chronic pain. I read the figure recently. I think the most recent estimate was 30 million; but I didn’t know I was going to be writing about it, so I didn’t save the reference. Some hurt worse than I do.

I’m not in favor of legalizing all drugs, by any means; but legalization of some of them would make things better for all of us. Not just for those of us who can’t get the relief we need legally.

I’ve thought for a long time there would be a lot less crime on the streets if certain drugs were legal. The abominable “War on Drugs” makes it dangerous and difficult to set up shop as a supplier. That drives up prices, and makes the stuff profitable enough to be worth fighting over. Can you imagine how much safer our streets would be if marijuana were as cheap as lettuce? It could be, you know. It grew wild here until our government decided to wipe  it out. If it were any other plant, it would now be on the endangered species list!

Besides that, about half the prisoners in our jails and prisons could be freed. Certainly not the dangerous ones. Just the ones who are there only because they either used or sold marijuana and got caught doing it. It’s criminal the way we lock people up for almost nothing. Not only is there no good reason for it, but it breaks up families and leaves children with no father (usually) or mother at home. And I wonder how much money it costs us to keep 600 thousand non-violent prisoners locked up? A couple of billion dollars a year maybe that could be spent a lot better? Three billion?


Note: Nope, not even close. It’s a lot more. Just since I published this a couple of hours ago, I ran across this statement on Alternet. “… we spend more than $80 billion each year on prisons.” Approximately half our prisoners are incarcerated on non-violent drug charges, so that’s about $40 billion annually we should be spending on something more useful. In rough figures, of course. Or maybe we could use it to cut your income taxes, but of course no politician would ever think of that.


It’s time our federal government stopped trying to destroy all marijuana and lock up users and dealers alike. They’re supposed to be helping us. Not hurting us.



Long Overdue Marijuana Bill


Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Rand Paul announce a new medical marijuana bill at the US Capitol on March 10, 2015 in Washington, D.C. This is a step that is long overdue.

For decades federal law has simply declared that Marijuana is a medically useless and dangerous plant and sought to eradicate it, even where it grows wild. Medical researchers have been all but forbidden to even check to see if it has any true medicinal properties.

In recent years, several states have legalized the plant for medical purposes, but users there were still in danger of arrest and prosecution by federal authorities. Even this semi-legal medical use relies mostly on anecdote, rather than research to determine need, dosage, etc.because the federal government and many states have hindered research.

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker (L), and Rand Paul
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker (L), and Rand Paul

This bill needs to be passed so people with glaucoma, cancer, chronic pain, and many other diseases and conditions can safely benefit from the drug. If it were legal, I myself would have tried it long ago in an attempt to seek relief from my own chronic pain. Because of federal and state laws, I never have been able to.

Of course, even if this becomes federal law, state law here in Texas may still prevent my trying it.

Marijuana: a powerful medicine

This is just one of the reasons we need to change our draconian marijuana laws, both at the state and national levels. I personally have never once used the drug in any form, but I’ve often wished I could try it legally to see if it would help the chronic pain I’ve suffered for the past 60 years. Our laws in Texas and most other states won’t even let scientists and doctors experiment with it to see if it could be useful. See what we’re missing out on as a result?