People's Pharmacy

People's Pharmacy

October 13, 2006|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon

I ordered Acomplia online from the United Kingdom without a prescription. But when I ordered my second pack of 28 pills, the package was seized and all I received for my $158 investment was a letter from U.S. Customs. I was really disappointed because I had lost seven pounds in my first month on the drug, with only mild side effects.

Acomplia (rimonabant) is a new weight-loss medicine that has recently been approved in Europe. It is available in the U.K. and several other countries.

Acomplia is different from all prior weight-loss products. It blocks brain receptors that are activated by marijuana. This "anti-munchy" effect may partially explain the drug's ability to control appetite. In addition to weight loss, Acomplia increases good HDL cholesterol and improves insulin efficiency.

Side effects include dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, headache, anxiety and depression. It is still so new that some adverse effects might not be known.

It is unlikely that a reputable online pharmacy would sell Acomplia without a prescription. Taking it without medical supervision would be inadvisable.

We are just getting home after three weeks on the road with our RV. But yesterday I began to sniffle with a head cold and sore throat. It's been years since I've had a head cold. What should I take to shorten it?

If you act quickly, a Chinese herb popular in Sweden might help cut a cold short. Andrographis paniculata has been tested in a few clinical trials and was shown to shorten a cold by several days.

Zinc is another candidate for treating a cold. The research on zinc has had mixed results, though, and sucking on zinc lozenges can cause nausea.

Vitamin C, garlic, ginger tea and chicken soup might also be useful in easing cold symptoms. Sadly, the herb echinacea has not been proven very effective in recent clinical trials.

I understand that you can't eat grapefruit when you use Xanax. How long do I need to wait after drinking a grapefruit-flavored Shasta soda or a mixed drink with Smirnoff that also has grapefruit?

You don't need to worry about grapefruit interacting with Xanax (alprazolam), but we are concerned about the Smirnoff. Mixing an anti-anxiety agent such as Xanax with alcohol could cause excessive sedation. If you needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you might become dizzy and fall.

My grandson had a plantar wart on his foot for quite some time and was going to a doctor for treatment. His grandpa had him put a piece of raw bacon fat on the wart overnight, and in a couple of nights the wart was gone.

Plantar warts (warts on the soles of the feet) are notoriously hard to treat. Readers have suggested duct tape, castor oil and hot-water soaks. Bacon fat is a new one for our collection.

What is fenugreek? I have been diagnosed as borderline diabetic. The doctor said that with proper diet and exercise, I can beat the diabetes. My neighbor said this over-the-counter product helps keep blood sugar in check. Do you have any additional information?

Fenugreek is an herb used as a culinary flavoring in Indian cooking. Research in animals shows that it can help lower blood sugar.

There are many other natural approaches to controlling blood sugar, including cinnamon, bitter melon, oolong tea and vinegar. Several years ago a physician shared a patient's success with nopal cactus (prickly pear) tea.

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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