Archive for the ‘People's Pharmacy’ Category

PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Is it safe to put Vaseline in the nose?

Q: I get nosebleeds when the furnace runs a lot in the winter. I think it is the dry air.

My doctor recommended that I use Vaseline in my nose to keep it moistened.

I think I read in your column that you should not put too much Vaseline in your nose because it could irritate the lungs.

Is this really true?

A: We recently saw a suggestion in Consumer Reports (March 2010) that “a pea-sized dollop of petroleum jelly inside the nostrils” could prevent nosebleeds. Used rarely, this approach might not be dangerous.

We have heard from lung specialists that petroleum jelly can migrate from the nose to the lungs. As it builds up, it could cause an inflammatory condition called lipoid pneumonia.

If you look at the label of Vicks VapoRub, a product containing petrolatum, it states clearly “Do not use in nostrils.” A water-soluble moistener such as K-Y Jelly might be a better choice.

We heard from another reader: “Please reprint the article about not using Vaseline in …

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PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Relief for a charley horse?

Q: I have had restless legs and charley horse cramps for years and tried everything I could. I did not want to take the prescription drugs I see advertised and found something else that works.

I take a magnesium tablet at bedtime (30 milligrams calcium, 134 milligrams magnesium, 5 milligrams zinc). I have little RLS and can stretch my legs in the morning without cramping.

A: Thanks for the recommendation. This should cause no trouble and might help somebody else. People with kidney problems should avoid extra magnesium.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. 
E-mail them via their 
Web site: www.peoples
pharmacy.com. They can be reached at peoplespharmacy
@gmail.com.

Become a fan of AJC Health Care on Facebook and follow ajchealthcare on Twitter for more health care news and health advice.

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PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Is my apartment infested with bedbugs?

Q: How can I tell whether my apartment is infested with bedbugs?

How can you tell if an army of these nasty creatures have invaded your home? Photo by Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com.

How can you tell if an army of these nasty creatures have invaded your home? Photo by Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com.

A: Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) were once rare in the United States but are now making a dramatic resurgence. These pests are very hard to eradicate, but researchers at Rutgers have come up with an easy and inexpensive way to detect them. Put 2.5 pounds of dry ice in a 1/3 gallon jug, such as a Coleman cooler with a flip-up spout. The spout should be left slightly open, so the carbon dioxide can leak out. Place the cooler in a plastic pet-food dish and tape a piece of paper to the outside of the dish as a gangplank for the bedbugs to climb. To make the plastic even more slippery, dust the dish with talcum powder. Within 12 hours, the carbon dioxide will lure bedbugs to the trap, and you will see them in the bottom of the plastic dish if you have any.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and …

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PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Natural remedies for stubborn cough?

Q: I’ve had a cold and have been coughing and stuffed up for days. I have read that using nasal sprays can be addictive. Cough medicines are not helping much either. I would prefer some natural approaches that don’t cause rebound congestion. What can you suggest?

A: The usual ingredient in cough syrup, dextromethorphan, is no better than placebo for kids and only modestly effective for adults (Journal of Family Practice, October 2009).

Natural alternatives that may provide some relief include tea made of thyme or ginger.

Elderberry and Chinese herbs such as andrographis or astragalus also might be helpful.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. 
E-mail them via their 
Web site: www.peoples
pharmacy.com. They can be reached at peoplespharmacy
@gmail.com.

Become a fan of AJC Health Care on Facebook and follow ajchealthcare on …

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PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Remedies for dry hands?

Q: I am a preschool teacher and have to wash my hands dozens of times a day in the attempt to avoid colds and flu. I am suffering the worst case of dry winter skin I can remember, with deep, painful cracks around my fingernails. I’ve tried everything under the sun. My hands are still a mess. Help!

Hopefully your skin isn't quite this dry, but winter can really wreck havoc on the flesh. Joey Ivansco/AJC Special

Hopefully your skin isn’t quite this dry, but winter can really wreck havoc on the flesh. Joey Ivansco/AJC Special

A: Cold, dry air and frequent hand-washing are guaranteed to cause dry-skin misery. Readers tell us that using lip balm on the cracks is sometimes helpful. Another approach for cracked fingertips is instant glue. A safer solution might be liquid bandage, such as New-Skin or the Band-Aid brand. Wearing cotton or disposable vinyl gloves over a greasy moisturizer overnight can also help heal dry, cracked skin.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters …

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PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: More praise for odd underarm odor cure

Q: I just tried milk of magnesia (MoM) as an underarm deodorant, and it works great! I couldn’t believe it. I teach step and hi-lo aerobics for a living, and I get very sweaty and stinky. The MoM worked through three straight hours of weights and aerobics, and I smell fresher than when I use deodorant.

A: We have heard from many other readers that milk of magnesia can be helpful as an underarm deodorant. It contains no aluminum and may be less likely to irritate delicate skin. One person reported: “Even so-called mild deodorants irritate my armpits. Milk of magnesia doesn’t. I just apply with my fingertips, and a little goes a long way. It’s been very effective for up to 24 hours and sometimes longer, even when I’m doing a lot of perspiring. It takes a few minutes for it to dry, but it leaves no residue on clothes, which surprised me. I’m sold.”

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. In their …

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PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Nut allergies can surface suddenly

Q: My partner ate just one Brazil nut, and within minutes his tongue swelled to five times its thickness and doubled its width. He could barely talk. He took an antihistamine (chlorpheniramine), and we called the doctor. The doctor said that if the reaction worsened, he should go to the hospital. He has no allergies to anything else and never knew he was allergic to Brazil nuts.

A: Your partner will need to avoid Brazil nuts in the future. Allergic reactions to these nuts are not uncommon, and they can be life-threatening. Some people experience a reaction that requires emergency medical treatment with epinephrine.

The traditional holiday nut bowl may lead to unexpected exposures. Here is a report from another reader: “For years at Christmas, my eyes would get irritated and watery. One holiday season, I was at my friend’s house, and his children needed some nuts cracked. I picked up a Brazil nut and cracked it.

“Within seconds, my eyes started watering, so I rubbed …

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PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Help for severe insomnia?

Q: I’ve had chronic, severe insomnia all my life. All I get from well-meaning people is the advice to stop drinking coffee. All I get from doctors are more and more drugs, which work for a while, then quit.

I go days at a time without sleep. My brain is so fried. Any suggestions would be really welcome.

CHRIS HUNT/AJC Special; Styling by Sarah Cox

CHRIS HUNT/AJC Special; Styling by Sarah Cox

A: Although yours is an extreme case, you are not alone. Millions of people also have great difficulty falling asleep. Others awaken in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep. Regardless, sleep deprivation can contribute to a range of health problems, from hypertension and forgetfulness to impaired immunity and weight gain.

Some tricks to try include vigorous exercise early in the day, a hot bath an hour before bedtime or a high-carb snack half an hour before climbing into bed.

Nondrug approaches such as relaxation CDs, magnesium, melatonin or herbs like valerian, hops or lemon balm also may be helpful.

Joe …

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PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Sauerkraut juice helps heal canker sores?

Q: I have had dry mouth for years because of medication. Recently, with my diabetes diagnosis, it has gotten much worse. It is hard to talk and hard to swallow.

In the past week, I have had painful sores inside my mouth and on my tongue. My doctors were no help, but my mom referred me to the People’s Pharmacy, and I read about sauerkraut juice. I purchased a can and took it home, not really thinking it would help. Within a minute, the pain was gone! The relief lasted hours.

A: We heard about sauerkraut juice for canker sores more than a decade ago. A listener to our syndicated radio show shared his mother’s remedy. She worked as a dental assistant during the Depression and learned this remedy from the dentist, who recommended swishing the mouth with sauerkraut juice several times during the day. Swallowing about a tablespoon of juice each time may help.

We are not aware of a scientific explanation for why sauerkraut juice would help heal canker sores. We have heard …

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PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Alcoholic abusing mouthwash?

Q: My 31-year-old sister is an alcoholic. She has been to two rehab facilities within the past year. She finally got a job, and then about two weeks ago she started sleeping all weekend.

Those severely addicted to alcohol may turn to seemingly benign household products like mouthwash to satisfy their cravings. PARKER C. SMITH/AJC SPECIAL

Those severely addicted to alcohol may turn to seemingly benign household products like mouthwash to satisfy their cravings. PARKER C. SMITH/AJC SPECIAL

I couldn’t find any alcohol in the house, but we bought a blood alcohol content detector, and it would read off the charts. She’d say she wasn’t drinking, and she would have this wild-eyed drunk look.

I saw a huge bottle of Listerine in her bathroom yesterday, and today it is gone. She always smells of it, and it broke my heart when I realized what she’s doing.

A: Your sister might need more help than you can give her. As you have realized, she might be abusing Listerine for its alcohol content. Only a desperate and addicted person does this.

We heard from another reader who reported that her mother died of liver failure, kidney …

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