People's Pharmacy



One of our sons and one of our daughters have recently been diagnosed as having iron-heavy blood - hemochromatosis. They have been told that cooking food in cast-iron pots and pans would be unhealthy for them.

A scientist friend told our daughter that this was no longer true, as it has been determined that the amount of iron given off by this cookware is microscopic. Do you know which is correct?

Hemochromatosis, a state of iron overload, is usually the result of a genetic mutation that makes the body absorb too much iron. This can lead to liver damage, arthritis, diabetes and heart problems.

In addition to phlebotomy - medically supervised bloodletting that is used to treat severe cases - people with iron toxicity are often advised to avoid dietary iron.

Acidic food cooked in a cast-iron pot picks up extra iron. It might make sense for your children to use enameled or ceramic cookware for foods such as tomato sauce.

Tea, coffee, cocoa and walnuts are rich in tannins and can help reduce iron absorption. Your kids might want to include some of these foods in their daily diets.

When I took antibiotics for a sinus infection, my stomach problems went away. Before that, I usually had bloating, gas and an upset stomach. Can you explain this?

The antibiotics you took for your sinus infection might have knocked out a stomach infection as well. Some readers report that antibiotic therapy to eliminate stomach bacteria called Helicobacter pylori cures their digestive symptoms.

My 5-year-old has terrible hangnails. Do you have a simple remedy for this annoying condition?

One reader shared this: "I had a hangnail that had gotten very inflamed. A friend of mine from Iran told me to buy plain yogurt that had active culture and soak my finger in it. She said Iranians use plain yogurt for numerous things.

"I tried the yogurt, and my hangnail cleared up very quickly. Maybe the probiotics in yogurt have anti-inflammatory properties."

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site:

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