People's Pharmacy


September 01, 2006|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon

I live in a very tropical, hot and humid place. For the past year, I have had recurring yeast infections. My problem is not so much the yeast infection (which I think I have under control), but the itch that has remained.

I have used nystatin with zinc (it seems to stay on well) and Lotrimin. Do you have any suggestions?

You may find this bizarre, but men have told us that applying Listerine to the groin area can help control jock itch. This old-fashioned yellow mouthwash contains 26.9 percent alcohol plus the herbal oils eucalyptol, menthol, methyl salicylate and thymol.

These oils have antifungal activity, especially in concert. Be careful how you apply it, though. The alcohol and other ingredients might sting if the Listerine lands where it doesn't belong.

After months of using Nexium for stomach ulcers with little relief, I started using DGL licorice, two or three pills before meals and at bedtime. I felt better within days. Have you ever heard of this?

DGL is short for deglycyrrhizinated licorice. This is an extract of the licorice root with one active ingredient, glycyrrhizin, removed.

This treated licorice has long been used to treat ulcers. In one study, it proved as effective as cimetidine (Tagamet) in treatment (Gut, June 1982). This form of licorice is less likely to cause the complications (fluid retention, potassium loss, hypertension) associated with regular black licorice.

I am interested in trying the gin-soaked raisins for joint pain, but I have a question about the safety of eating the raisins and taking anti-anxiety medication. Is it safe to eat nine raisins and take Xanax the same day? I have to take Xanax sometimes and have read that alcohol should not be used while taking it.

You are absolutely right that alcohol and sedatives such as Xanax (alprazolam) do not mix. We had the alcohol content of nine gin-soaked raisins analyzed and learned that it amounts to about one drop. That should not be enough to cause problems, even when you need to take Xanax.

Shortly after I read about using toothpaste for fire-ant bites, I was bitten by a fire ant. I started spreading toothpaste twice a day over my swollen ankle. It has been three days, and the inflammation and itching has mostly gone away. Normally, I would have been in the doctor's office receiving antibiotics by now.

Readers have applied many remedies to fire-ant bites. In addition to toothpaste, they report success with tobacco juice, Vicks VapoRub, Listerine, apple-cider vinegar or meat tenderizer mixed into a paste with water.

You have had several suggestions about remedies for plantar warts. I had one on each foot when I was a kid in the late 1950s. They were removed with two sessions of spot radiation. The radiation was on the same wart each time, and a week or so later, the wart cone fell out and the hole shrank. It was totally painless.

During the first half of the 20th century, dermatologists used X-rays to treat a wide variety of skin conditions. Not only was radiation used against plantar warts, it was also employed in the treatment of psoriasis, eczema and fungal infections of the skin.

This type of treatment would be considered reckless today. Skin cancers sometimes developed at the site that was irradiated. There are much safer treatments available against warts.

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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