Stories aside, hemorrhoid cream not a proven wrinkle stopper

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY

August 23, 1994|By Joe Graedon and Dr. Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Dr. Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

Q: I was astonished when my best friend told me that she uses Preparation H on her face. She says it helps smooth out the wrinkles around her eyes. Have you ever heard of anything like this? Do you know if it works?

A: Preparation H has been used for lots of things besides hemorrhoids. We have heard of it being employed for bed sores, itchy surgical scars, dry, cracked fingers, and yes, even wrinkles.

Despite enthusiastic testimonials, there is no scientific evidence for such novel uses.

The company that makes Preparation H has had a hard enough time proving that it's effective against hemorrhoids. Although this product has been marketed since the early 1950s, the FDA has never approved one of the original ingredients, live yeast cell derivative (LYCD).

Because the feds don't consider LYCD effective against hemorrhoids, Preparation H has just been reformulated. It will continue to contain shark liver oil, but LYCD has been dropped and replaced in the cream and ointment formula with a vasoconstrictor called phenylephrine.

Anyone who loved the original Preparation H had best stock up quickly, as the new product is already being shipped.

Q: My husband is quiet and reserved. Several people told him that Prozac would help him; so when he saw his doctor he asked about it. The doctor decided he was depressed and prescribed Prozac.

Soon after starting on this drug he found he was having a hard time sleeping and he felt jittery during the day. The doctor added Xanax sort of as a sleeping pill and told him he could take it for anxiety as well.

Now he seems different. He even snaps at the kids. He's tried stopping the Xanax but gets weird without it. Are these drugs a mistake?

A: If your husband were truly depressed, Prozac (fluoxetine) might be appropriate. This drug is not for making an introverted person outgoing, however.

The side effects you mention are not uncommon, but treating them with Xanax is controversial.

We are sending you our brochure on Psychological Side Effects. It describes reactions to Prozac and strategies for stopping anxiety pills like Xanax. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 with a long (no. 10) stamped, self-addressed envelope: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. M-822, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, N.C. 27717-2027.

Q: I am taking 1,500 mg of calcium carbonate daily for osteoporosis plus three to four glasses of milk. Is it harmful to take too much calcium? I seem to be constipated all the time.

A: You are getting carried away with calcium. An eight-ounce glass of milk contains about 200 mg of calcium, so when you drink four glasses of milk and consume an additional 1,500 mg in pill form, you are far exceeding the recommended dietary allowance. Too much calcium carbonate can cause a metabolic disturbance called milk-alkali syndrome. Constipation is one symptom, along with loss of appetite, nausea or stomach pain.

If you cut the dose of your calcium supplement by half, you would still be getting 1,500 mg plus. Calcium gluconate, calcium lactate, calcium citrate or tricalcium phosphate may be less constipating than calcium carbonate.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper.

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