People's Phaymacy

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY

October 28, 2005|By JOE AND TERESA GRAEDON

Can terpin hydrate still be purchased without a prescription? I've never found another cough syrup that works as well.

Terpin hydrate was a popular cough medicine from the late 1800s until the mid-1990s. Then the Food and Drug Administration banned it on the grounds that it had not been proven effective.

As an expectorant, terpin hydrate was supposed to loosen mucus and relieve coughs. It was derived from natural sources such as oil of turpentine or compounds found in oregano, thyme and eucalyptus.

Terpin hydrate is not available in the United States. Instead, you may want to try Vicks VapoRub, which contains similar ingredients: oil of turpentine, thymol and eucalyptol. Don't take it internally. Instead, rub it on the chest or the soles of the feet to ease a cough.

Is there any upper limit on the amount of magnesium that is safe? I take about 700 milligrams spread out through the day.

The current recommendation is 320 mg for women over 30, with an upper limit of 350 mg. Too much magnesium can cause diarrhea or abdominal cramps. Those with kidney problems should take magnesium only under medical supervision.

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: peoplespharmacy.org.

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