People's Pharmacy

People's Pharmacy

December 15, 2006|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,

I've been struggling with body odor for years. I've used antibacterial soap, but it only helps for a short while. It's really affecting the way others look at me in my workplace, commute and outings. Once I thought this odor was because of a serious nail fungus. After taking oral Lamisil, I no longer have the fungus, but I still smell bad. Please help!

Only a physician can diagnose what's causing your problem. Some people have a metabolic disorder called trimethylaminuria. A defective enzyme allows a chemical to build up in the body that smells like dead fish.

If this were your problem, a particular diet might help. Avoiding eggs, milk, meat, beans, fish and cheese could reduce the odor. Some people report that chlorophyll pills also help. If a different condition is responsible, your physician may be able to come up with an effective treatment.

I have been on Prevacid for a few years for acid reflux. I am trying to get off of it, but whenever I cut back, my symptoms get worse. Are there any other ways to control reflux?

Medications that suppress acid formation in the stomach (Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix) are quite good at relieving symptoms of reflux and heartburn. When they are discontinued, however, people experience a phenomenon called drug-induced acid rebound. That means the stomach pumps out even more acid than it did initially. This effect can last for many months.

Gastroenterologists are debating the significance of this rebound hypersecretion of acid (Basic & Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, January). Some data suggest that the excess acid production may lead to prolonged heartburn.

My son and I have suffered yearly from allergies when we bring our freshly cut Christmas tree into the house. We have tried rinsing off the tree at home and letting it dry in the closed garage before setting it up, but the allergies still whacked us for weeks as soon as the tree came inside.

Last week, after we cut the tree and brought it home, we set it up in the stand and sprayed it thoroughly with Veggie Wash (a natural fruit and vegetable cleaner made of citrus, corn and coconut). We let the Veggie Wash soak in for five minutes before spraying it off with water and letting the tree dry overnight in the garage. We have had no allergies to the tree this week! The contrast to previous years is astounding. I hope your readers can benefit from this suggestion.

Some people can be allergic to pine sap or mold on the bark and branches of pine trees. Washing off the contaminants and letting the tree dry thoroughly was a brilliant idea and seems to have worked well for you. Perhaps someone else will learn from your experience.

Your column mentioned toothpaste as a cure for bites from fire ants. Several years ago, I was stung many times by yellow jackets.

My daughter saw a show on TV that mentioned toothpaste for stings. She called me, and after trying it I was surprised to find that it worked immediately. Since then I have used it on various bug bites and stings, including jellyfish stings, with great results. The program stated that it must be mint toothpaste. Perhaps it is the mint that does the trick?

A number of readers have told us that putting toothpaste on bites from fire ants can be very soothing. We have never heard that toothpaste would be helpful against other stings as well. No one seems to know whether it is the mint, the fluoride or some other ingredient in toothpaste that eases the pain.

Anyone who is allergic to yellow jackets, bees or wasps should get emergency treatment immediately and not resort to home remedies.

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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