I heard that there was a study about possible bad effects of low cholesterol in children. I am concerned about this because my teenagers have cholesterol levels of 103 and 110. What were the problems? I would like to know where this was published so I can share it with their pediatrician.
For years, there have been puzzling reports that low cholesterol levels may be associated with impulsive and violent behavior in adults. Animal studies (in dogs and monkeys) have also found a link between low cholesterol and aggressive behavior.
A new study of children and teenagers suggests that those with naturally low cholesterol levels may have more trouble in school (American Journal of Epidemiology, April 1). The researchers measured cholesterol levels of 4,842 children ages 6 to 16. Non-African-American children with the lowest cholesterol (below 145) were three times more likely than those with higher cholesterol to have been suspended or expelled from school. The investigators did not conclude that low cholesterol caused the behavioral problems, but they suggested that this connection deserves further study.
My father had a terrible problem with psoriasis of the scalp. A few years ago, a doctor told him to rub a small amount of Listerine (original formula) into his scalp each morning. He does this every day and hasn't had any flaking or itching since.
Many readers have shared their success with Listerine in fighting dandruff. This condition is often caused by a yeast infection. The alcohol and herbal oils in Listerine have antifungal properties that may control the infection. How Listerine might help psoriasis is a mystery.
I'm trying to find out what causes heartburn and how best to treat it. Is it caused by eating too fast? Can heartburn cause heart attacks? My boyfriend has discomfort nearly every night. A guy he works with has recommended vinegar, but that seems ridiculous.
Heartburn happens when stomach acid splashes back into the esophagus. The corrosive chemicals are irritating to the delicate lining of the gullet. Many foods and drugs can make heartburn worse. Eating rapidly or overeating may also aggravate it.
We agree that vinegar sounds like the last thing to take for heartburn, but we heard from a reader who found it helpful: "A doctor advised a family friend to take a tablespoon of vinegar for heartburn relief. I tried 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, and it worked. It tastes strong for a few minutes, and I thought the heartburn was worse. Then the pain went away for good."
Another unlikely candidate is a spoonful of yellow mustard. Several readers sing its praises.
I have allergies that result in postnasal drainage. As a result, I find I cough all night this time of year. Is there a good home remedy to help nighttime coughs?
Some readers report that Vicks VapoRub can soothe those coughs. But don't put it on your chest or under your nose. Here's one person's experience:
"My wife read your column on using Vicks VapoRub on the soles of the feet, covered with cotton socks, at night. I had been waking up every three hours with a coughing attack. I tried this remedy, and it works!"
Because of an enlarged prostate, I sometimes get up two or three times a night to go to the bathroom. Other nights it can be as many as seven or eight times. Needless to say, this interferes with my sleep. Are there any herbs that can be helpful?
Problems with urination should be checked by a physician to rule out prostate cancer or some other problem such as prostatitis. If you are suffering from benign prostate enlargement, your doctor could prescribe medicine to ease your symptoms.
You could ask your doctor about the herbs saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) or stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). Both have been tested in double-blind trials and found to help relieve symptoms of frequent urination in mild prostate enlargement.
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.peoples pharmacy.org.