What's better with pills -- orange juice or water?



Q. Do we lose any potency from medicines or vitamins if we swallow them with orange juice? I take Vasotec for blood pressure, vitamin E and a multivitamin. One pharmacist told me I should take them only with water. Another said juice was fine.

A. While orange juice may affect some medications (certain anti-biotics and aluminum-containing antacids), it does not interfere with Vasotec.

Vitamins will be absorbed well whether taken with juice or water, and minerals such as iron are actually integrated into the body more efficiently with vitamin C found in orange juice.

Q. Recently in your column, you gave some information concerning toenail fungus. A reader said that some item common to everyone's medicine cabinet seems to get rid of the fungus, but I can't remember what it was. Can you help me?

A. There are many popular remedies for nail fungus, but we think you may be referring to Vicks VapoRub. This old-fashioned ointment contains camphor, menthol, eucalyptus oil, cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, thymol and turpentine oil. It has been used for generations to relieve chest and nasal congestion.

More recently we heard that some of the essential oils in this product may have anti-fungal activity. One reader suggested it might be helpful when applied to fungus-ridden nails.

Another shared her experience: "I never had a problem with nail fungus until a can fell on my foot in the grocery store a few years ago. I began using the Vicks VapoRub I read about in your column, and my nail is growing out clear."

Write to the Graedons in care of The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or e-mail them via their Web site, which is at www. peoplespharmacy.com.

Q.I have been taking Ginkgo biloba since I read the report on its benefit for Alzheimer's patients. I don't have Alzheimer's, but I felt this study "legitimized" ginkgo and showed there were minimal concerns about side effects.

I feel that it has definitely helped my memory. Before taking ginkgo, I was constantly frustrated at my inability to remember things, even important things about work, like meeting times. Since I have started taking ginkgo, I now remember almost all meetings. I rarely have "fits" of frustration anymore because I forgot something important. This is not very scientific, but I believe it works.

A.Thanks for sharing your experience. There isn't much scientific evidence to suggest that ginkgo can relieve normal forgetfulness associated with aging. Nevertheless, we have heard other anecdotes similar to yours.Ginkgo may be fairly benign by itself, but this herb can interact dangerously with other drugs. We recently heard a tragic story about a man taking ginkgo and aspirin. He experienced a serious brain hemorrhage which has resulted in weakness and inability to speak normally.

Q.I have enjoyed reading about coconut macaroon cookies for chronic diarrhea. I could not find that brand and so just started eating some shredded coconut. The symptoms went away after the first day. Thanks for the tip.

A.We don't know why coconut seems to be helpful for diarrhea, but you are not the first to share your success.

King Features Syndicate

Pub Date: 07/04/99

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