When prescription drugs aren't effective, try foot soaks to get rid of nail fungus, odor

People's Pharmacy

Health & Fitness

September 26, 2004|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

My feet are a mess. I was diagnosed with onychomycosis (nail fungus). The doctor prescribed Sporanox, which I took for weeks. It did not work very well considering the high cost.

I do not want to go through another round of expensive treatment, but I would like a good way to deal with nail fungus and bad foot odor. I would like to try a home remedy but need directions.

Readers have shared a variety of strategies for both problems. The most recent involves soaking the feet daily in Listerine (original formula). The alcohol and herbal oils (thymol, eucalyptol, methyl salicylate and menthol) have anti-fungal activity. They might also help against foot odor.

Other options include dilute vinegar soaks, vitamin E oil, Vicks VapoRub and tea tree oil. For severely affected nails, prescription-strength urea paste (40 percent) can be used with medical supervision. It dissolves diseased nail, leaving healthy nail intact.

What can people do who are allergic to aspirin and think they are having a heart attack?

Call 911 immediately if you think you are having a heart attack. The ambulance may carry a clot-busting drug that would be even more effective than aspirin.

Prior skin reactions (itchy hives), breathing difficulties or anaphylactic shock are the kinds of allergic reactions that would preclude use of aspirin even in an emergency. Stomach upset is not. An allergist can verify whether you are truly allergic. Desensitization is possible for those who must take aspirin.

Are bipolar and bisexual the same thing? The "bi" confuses me.

"Bi" just means two. The term "bisexual" refers to people who are attracted to both men and women.

Bipolar disorder has nothing to do with sexual preference. It used to be called manic depression and refers to extreme mood swings, from euphoria to despondency.

When I was in England this summer I used something called Oruvail Gel for my tennis elbow. It was great, but I cannot find it in my drugstore. Is it available?

This is ketoprofen gel. It is an anti-inflammatory drug used topically. Ask a compounding pharmacist to make it for you.

After reading about turmeric in your column, I started using one teaspoon in my scrambled eggs each morning. My arthritis has greatly improved, and I have far less pain when I walk.

I work in my yard every few weeks, weeding, hoeing, mowing and pruning. Usually I am sore for days after this work. But this last time, since I started taking turmeric, I had no soreness the next day.

My doctor is quite skeptical. He has suggested that I would feel just as good without the turmeric. What do you think?

Turmeric is the yellow spice in mustard and curry. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. If your physician searched PubMed (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov / entrez / query.fcgi), he would find more than a thousand research publications on curcumin in the National Medical Library.

There is active research into curcumin's anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activity. Investigators are studying its potential role against cancer, Alzheimer's disease, psoriasis and cystic fibrosis.

Putting turmeric powder on cereal (as one reader did) or in scrambled eggs might taste a tad strange. One woman told us that she takes turmeric pills instead, and they relieve her arthritis pain. When she stopped temporarily, the pain returned. She resumed taking turmeric pills, and the pain disappeared.

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.org.

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