Garlic is a great seasoning, and may repel bugs, too



Q. Bug season is here, and the biting critters seem to like me more than others in my family. I'm popular at picnics because I am a magnet for mosquitoes.

A friend tells me that garlic supplements work as a natural bug repellent. I have also heard there may be a vitamin that makes humans less tasty. Is there any proof these remedies work? What is the proper dose?

A. We have heard for years that taking garlic capsules or vitamin B1 (100 milligrams) keeps mosquitoes at bay, but there is very little scientific evidence of their worth. Readers report mixed results.

There are a number of repellents containing natural ingredients, including Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard products and Bite Blocker, a repellent with soybean oil, coconut oil and geranium oil. In one study, Bite Blocker offered 97 percent protection for more than three hours. It is carried by chains such as CVS Pharmacies and True Value Hardware.

Q. My hands are a mess. The skin is dry and rough, and my nails are in terrible shape. They are brittle and break easily. My cuticles are ragged, and I often get painful hangnails.

I know it's partly my own fault because I hate to wear gloves in the garden. And I don't always use rubber gloves to wash the dishes.

I've misplaced a column you wrote on hands and nails. Can you send me some information?

A. You already know the first step to take to improve your hands and nails. Protecting them from harsh detergents is crucial. Wearing gloves for dishes and gardening is definitely a good idea.

You need to moisturize your hands regularly. The least expensive moisturizer is also the strongest -- petroleum jelly. Put it on after washing your hands and patting them dry. It seals the moisture in.

Petroleum jelly can be greasy, though. A barnyard beauty aid like Udder Cream by Redex is an excellent moisturizer and not too expensive.

Nails need moisturizing as well. Going without nail polish is advisable because polish removers dry out nails, leading to chipping and cracking.

Q. Recently you wrote about Certo and grape juice as a remedy for arthritis. I now use it all the time as I find it actually helps my joints better than drugs do.

What I want to know is whether purple grape juice is better than red or white juice, or does it matter?

A. This home remedy arrived in our mailbag over a year ago. It involves liquid pectin (Certo) sold as a home canning aid for jams and jellies.

According to the recipe: "Take 2 teaspoons of Certo dissolved in 3 ounces of grape juice. Do this three times a day. Cut back to 1 teaspoon Certo in grape juice twice a day after joints quit aching."

The formula does not specify the color of grape juice. Home remedies are rarely tested scientifically, and we do not know whether red, white or purple grape juice would be superior. If you do the experiment, please let us know the results.

Write to the Graedons in care of The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St. Baltimore, Md. 21278, or e-mail them via their Web site:

King Features Syndicate

Pub Date: 06/06/99

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.