People's Pharmacy

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY

July 21, 2006|By JOE GRAEDON AND TERESA GRAEDON

I have been using cinnamon to help control my blood sugar for the past four years. Using a quarter teaspoon in boiling water to make a cinnamon tea lowers my blood-sugar readings from about 185 to 135 in one hour.

Yellow mustard works even more effectively. I take about half a teaspoon per meal, depending on the amount of carbohydrates in the food.

There is research supporting the idea that cinnamon can lower blood sugar. Until your e-mail, we had not heard that yellow mustard could do the same thing.

A little digging revealed several animal studies showing that curcumin, the active ingredient in the yellow spice turmeric, lowers blood glucose. Since turmeric gives mustard its yellow color, perhaps this explains the benefit you have discovered. Diabetics must monitor blood sugar closely and check with a physician before trying such dietary strategies.

After I read about Listerine for scalp problems, I tried it. I had been using a prescription steroid lotion for 10 years, but applying Listerine and letting it dry did the trick.

This worked so well that I bathed my dog with it. He had been suffering with staph infections for years and had been on and off antibiotics and steroids for his skin problems. Letting the Listerine dry on him gave him immediate relief. It even healed two open wounds on his hind legs from biting and scratching.

We urge folks to check with a vet before trying out remedies on pets. In this case, though, we first heard about using Listerine for itchy scalp from a fellow who had been told to use it for hot spots on his dog.

I have all the symptoms of adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but I don't want to take a strong medication. Is there a natural remedy that can help me? I am unable to do my job because my desk is such a disorganized mess. My home is no better, and I am feeling overwhelmed.

Most people have heard of ADHD in children, but many adults also suffer from it. Although stimulant drugs can be helpful, they also have side effects.

Alternative approaches include lifestyle management, tutoring, coaching and some dietary supplements. Drs. Edward Hallowell and John Ratey discuss such approaches as well as medication in their book Delivered from Distraction.

Could you tell me whether some sugar-free foods would be the cause of diarrhea?

Absolutely. Sweeteners such as sorbitol, mannitol or maltitol are not absorbed well in the digestive tract. If you overindulge in sugar-free gum or candy, such sweeteners attract water and create loose stools.

My husband is on Vytorin to lower his cholesterol. He would like to try the natural product policosanol instead. Your opinion?

Don't let him do it. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (May 17, 2006) found that policosanol is no better than placebo for lowering cholesterol.

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: PeoplesPharmacy.com.

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