I was incinerating papers in the back yard one day when the wind changed and my hand was badly burned. I rushed into the house, and my daughter, who did not know anything had happened, handed me a glass of iced tea she had just made. I took it and put my hand down into it.
The pain of the burn soon eased, and the burn healed with no scarring. Without the treatment, I'm sure it would have left a scar.
I have tried this on other occasions with great success. I have also tried using ice water, but the pain lasts longer, and there is a scar. There must be something about tannic acid that heals as well as reducing the pain.
Ice water is a standard treatment for burns. It can minimize damage if applied early enough.
You are probably right that tannic acid has an added benefit. Although we've never heard of using iced tea for burns, tannic acid was once used to treat burns in hospitals. A product called Amertan was popular for home use.
Iced tea seems like a practical substitute for families who keep it in the fridge. Remember, time is of the essence. And really bad burns require medical attention.
You wrote that mercury is not a problem in fish-oil supplements even though some fish contain this dangerous metal. I have read, however, that many brands of fish oil contain high levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). These toxins accumulate in the fat of fish, the source of fish oil. Is there a manufacturer of these supplements that claims not to have PCB contamination?
Dr. Charles Santerre is a food scientist and environmental toxicologist at Purdue University. He has studied PCB contamination in farm-raised fish and fish-oil supplements and reports that some samples are indeed contaminated with PCBs.
One way to avoid such contamination is to seek out pharmaceutical-grade fish oil (Dr. Sears Omega Rx, OmegaBrite or Nordic Naturals ProOmega). Other experts suggest that wild Alaskan salmon oil might be relatively uncontaminated.
Can you tell me what foods might affect my medicine? I take hydrochlorothiazide and Plendil for blood pressure and Glucophage for diabetes.
I love licorice, and it is a low-fat treat. But I have read it might affect my blood pressure. I also love fresh grapefruit and drink grapefruit juice. Are these safe with my drugs?
Many drugs interact badly with certain foods. Licorice can raise blood pressure. In combination with a diuretic like hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ), it can deplete potassium, a potentially life-threatening complication.
Absorption of Glucophage is affected by guar gum, an additive in many low-fat foods such as salad dressings or frozen yogurt. Grapefruit is a problem with blood-pressure pills like Plendil. Blood levels can rise to toxic levels. Other drugs affected include Procardia (nifedipine) and Sular (nisoldipine), as well as Lipitor, Zocor, BuSpar, Cordarone and Sonata.
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 on their Web site, www.peoplespharmacy.org.