People's Pharmacy



My daughter is entering puberty and dealing with the usual underarm body odors. We tried many different deodorants and antiperspirants, to no avail.

I figured if Listerine killed the germs that cause bad breath, it might kill the bacteria that cause underarm odor. I checked with the pediatrician first to make sure it would be safe.

Sure enough, Listerine works. She applies it after showering, lets it dry and then applies an antiperspirant. She can go just about the entire day without any odor.

Thanks for sharing this unique solution to a common problem. Listerine contains thymol, eucalyptol, menthol and methyl salicylate. These herbal oils have antifungal and antibacterial properties. Although it is not approved for this use, we are glad to learn it works.

I recently suffered about a dozen fire-ant bites on my ankles. I was buying an over-the-counter anti-itch spray, but the clerk told me to dab toothpaste on the bites. I did, and 24 hours later, the bites were gone, with no sores or blisters. Do you think that this is just placebo?

We doubt that placebo ointments would help much with fire-ant bites, but we can't explain why toothpaste would help.

I heard that magnetic bracelets might help arthritis pain. My 85-year-old dad suffers terribly and has been taking Celebrex. I want to find the bracelets for him if they will work.

Magnetic bracelets for arthritis are highly controversial. An article in the Skeptical Inquirer magazine (July/August) maintains that magnet therapy is based on sloppy science.

"Randomized Controlled Trial of Magnetic Bracelets for Relieving Pain in Osteoarthritis of the Hip and Knee" was published in the British Medical Journal (Dec. 18-25, 2004). Investigators used a bracelet with a weak magnetic field for placebo control. They reported that the "real" magnetic bracelets helped ease arthritis pain.

We have considerable skepticism about magnet therapy, but we have heard from many readers who insist that such treatment helped them. One recently wrote: "I am here to tell you they work! The magnets cured me of arthritis."

I used to get canker sores in my mouth when I was younger. My mother told me to hold a slice of banana tight against the sore with my tongue, and it works.

A slice of banana certainly sounds like a pleasant treatment for canker sores. We don't know how it would work, though.

Why do blood pressure readings vary so much? Mine was 124/72 in the morning and went to 144/85 in the afternoon. I don't take blood pressure pills, just over-the-counter allergy medicine.

Blood pressure varies throughout the day, but decongestants in allergy pills may raise it.

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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