Certain fruits can trigger allergies


September 27, 2001|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,SPECIAL TO THE SUN; King Features Syndicate

Q. I have fig trees in my back yard, and they were especially fruitful this year. I love fresh figs, but lately I have been experiencing a scary reaction. My lips tingle, and my tongue swells up. Could this be a fig allergy?

A. Food allergies can be serious. Those who are sensitive to nuts or shellfish might suffer life-threatening reactions to even the smallest exposure.

Fruit allergy is usually less serious, but if your tongue swells it could interfere with breathing. Some people, especially those who are allergic to latex or tree and grass pollens, might also react to kiwi fruit, figs, papaya, passion fruit, bananas, peaches and nectarines, to name just a few.

Numbness and tingling in the mouth or lips, itching and swelling are all red flags that shouldn't be ignored. But you might not have to give up figs altogether. Peeling the fruit sometimes solves the problem, and cooking might destroy the protein responsible for the allergy.

Check with your doctor before experimenting, however, because he might want you to do this in his office or have an adrenaline injection on hand in case things get out of hand.

Q. I am an avid golfer and use the game to get my exercise. (No golf cart for me.) Lately, though, my knees have been bothering me. The doctor says it is arthritis and offered to prescribe Vioxx, but my insurance doesn't cover it.

I have tried ibuprofen, but it gives me a stomachache. I know I've seen arthritis remedies in your column, but I don't have the formulas. Would you send me your recipes for grape juice and vinegar, please?

A. There are many different home remedies for the aches and pains of arthritis. One reader from Germany shared the following:

"Here is a recipe I started using four months ago for knee arthritis. Mix 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon honey into one glass water. Drink three times daily with meals. So far it is working so well, I never take the painkillers like ibuprofen that my doctor recommended."

Sam Houston (remember the Alamo!) is said to have used 5 parts grape juice and 3 parts apple juice mixed with 1 part apple cider vinegar. Other recipes combine fruit pectin (Certo) with grape juice or golden raisins with gin.

Q. I've had diarrhea on and off for years as a result of chemotherapy for cancer of the blood. I recently discovered I cannot tolerate milk products, and avoiding them has given me good results.

I also started eating one Archway Coconut Macaroon cookie a day as a result of reading your column. I'm finally back to normal. Thanks for this simple solution.

A. Lactose intolerance can result in bloating, flatulence and diarrhea. This is the consequence of an inability to digest milk sugar. Adding the enzyme lactase to dairy products or taking it with a meal containing such foods is often helpful. Look for lactase pills such as Lactaid, Lactrase, SureLac or Dairy Ease in your pharmacy or health food store.

Many readers tell us that coconut macaroons are helpful in combating chronic diarrhea.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them via their Web site (www.peoplespharmacy.com) on the HealthCentral.com network, or at pharmacy@mindspring.com.

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