Turmeric could be mustard's secret as cramp remedy

People's Pharmacy

Health & Fitness

July 04, 2004|By Joe Graedon & Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon & Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

At a social function last week, a lady stood up and was hit with a leg cramp so severe she could not move. The hostess rushed to the kitchen, returned with some French's mustard in a teaspoon and asked her to swallow it at once. The lady swallowed the mustard, and the cramp was gone in seconds.

The hostess said that her great-grandmother had told her about this remedy for leg cramps years ago. Have you heard about this? Can you explain it?

This is a new one for us. Other readers have reported that yellow mustard relieves heartburn. We have even heard that if you get cold yellow mustard onto minor kitchen burns, it can prevent pain and redness.

One possible explanation for these benefits is the turmeric in mustard. This yellow spice (also used in curry powder) has anti-inflammatory properties. Perhaps that is why it helped alleviate the leg cramps.

I just read that Vitamin D can prevent falls in elderly people. How much does it take?

In a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was found that 800 International Units was effective in reducing falls.

I have read about remedies for arthritis in your column, but I never paid much attention. I didn't think I'd ever have to worry about that, but of course I was wrong.

I remember that one remedy called for mixing grape juice and apple cider vinegar. Can you tell me how often you are supposed to take it, and how much of each you're supposed to use?

Many readers report that the mixture you refer to offers relief from joint pain. To make it, mix 5 parts grape juice, 3 parts apple juice and 1 part apple cider vinegar. The dose is 1/2 cup daily.

Is saw palmetto effective in shrinking the prostate gland? I have been using Proscar (finasteride), but the monthly cost -- more than $80 -- is hard to swing, since I have no insurance.

Saw palmetto extract doesn't shrink the prostate, but it does relieve symptoms of benign prostate enlargement. A review in the journal American Family Physician (March 15, 2003) concluded that "saw palmetto appears to have efficacy similar to that of medications like finasteride, but it is better tolerated and less expensive."

Health authorities have issued warnings against eating farm-raised salmon too frequently because of PCBs. "Wild" salmon can be eaten more often but is available only a few months a year. Is there any indication how often it is safe to eat canned salmon?

You can eat as much canned salmon as you like. Only wild salmon goes in the cans.

When you discussed good sources of potassium recently, you failed to mention honeydew melons. They have more potassium than bananas.

A medium banana has 451 milligrams of potassium. A cup of cubed honeydew melon has 461 milligrams. Thanks for the tip.

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 from their Web site, www. peoplespharmacy.org.

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