Green beans can help heal canker sores more quickly

People's Pharmacy

February 23, 2003|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,Special to the Sun; King Features Syndicate

For more than half a century, my family has been curing our canker sores quickly and easily. Just this week, I bit my lip during sleep, and the spot kept growing. When the sore was 2/3-inch by 1/4 -inch, I decided to cure it. By the next day it had shrunk to a short, thin slit, and soon no sign remained. The cure is to eat a can of green beans. We used to have Gerber's strained green beans, but we can no longer find this product. Whatever the active ingredient is, it works really well and tastes a lot better than sauerkraut juice.

Green beans are about as innocuous as any remedy we could imagine. Gerber still makes strained green beans. Others have reported success with two tablespoons of sauerkraut juice swished and swallowed morning and evening. Another remedy is baking yeast. Put some powder on the sore and allow it to dissolve.

I never used to fuss about getting a good night's sleep. As soon as I went to bed, I was out like a light. Now I often have trouble falling asleep, or I wake up in the middle of the night and have a hard time getting back to sleep. I've read about how bad this is for my health, and it worries me.

My doctor prescribed alprazolam, and it helps me go to sleep, but I'm concerned about becoming addicted. I also take metoprolol for high blood pressure and Reglan for reflux. Are there any herbal approaches that would be safe with my medicines?

Sleep is essential for good health, though up to 70 million Americans are sleep-deprived. Accidents and weakened immunity might result.

Alprazolam (Xanax), like many sedatives, might lead to dependence. Stopping suddenly can cause anxiety and rebound insomnia. Metoprolol (Lopressor) and Reglan (metoclopramide) could be contributing to insomnia but should not be discontinued without medical supervision.

Some herbs that help with insomnia include valerian, hops, sage and catnip. A lavender sachet under your pillow might also be beneficial.

My daughter has a cold and cough that is keeping us awake. She hates the taste of cough syrup. We've tried cherry, grape and honey flavors, but she can't stand them. Are there any decent-tasting natural remedies that might work?

Dextromethorphan (DM) is the primary ingredient in most liquid cough medicines. Some people object to its bitter taste, even masked with fruit flavoring.

A research review of cough remedies in the British Medical Journal last year concluded: "Over-the-counter cough medicines for acute cough cannot be recommended because there is no good evidence for their effectiveness."

There is not a lot of research on herbal cough remedies, either, but ginger tea has a long tradition for easing coughs and congestion. Other herbs that might be used in tea or syrup to treat cough include horehound, sage and thyme.

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