People's Pharmacy

January 05, 2007|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,

I had a terrible experience with Ambien about a month ago. I took the drug at bedtime, then had hallucinations and got in my car to escape. I don't remember a thing, but the police stopped me, and my boyfriend had to bring me home.

I tried taking Ambien again and also had hallucinations and got in my car and drove. I don't remember a thing about it, but I was arrested and spent 24 hours in jail. I had to get an attorney and have lost my job as a registered nurse. Have you heard of other people who have had such serious problems with Ambien?

There are reports of hallucinations, sleepwalking and sleep-driving associated with the sleeping pill Ambien. In one case, a woman (another nurse) walked out of the house on a cold Colorado night wearing just a thin nightie. She got into the car and drove until she had an accident. When she was being arrested, she became violent with the officers but later could remember nothing about the event. Sleeping-pill-induced amnesia has been reported for years.

About five years ago, I discovered a treatment for hangovers: a few activated charcoal capsules with a lot of water at bedtime and then a few more capsules in the morning with another glass of water. Within a few hours you are not feeling perfect, but much better than if you just drank water.

Activated charcoal is frequently used to absorb toxins. It is also an important component in water- and air- purification systems. Activated charcoal capsules also are sold to help relieve flatulence. There is little evidence that activated charcoal can absorb alcohol or lower blood levels, so we're not sure how it could possibly help a hangover.

I have been taking statins for more than 10 years to control my cholesterol. I have always been warned that grapefruit and grapefruit juice inhibit the effectiveness of the drugs. I was shocked to read that you said someone could eat grapefruit while taking Lipitor.

You and dozens of other people were quite upset by the column in which a reader asked if he could cut his Lipitor in half and take it with grapefruit to save money. We recommended that he check with his doctor and pointed out that grapefruit raises blood levels of statin-type drugs such as Lipitor.

The idea that grapefruit interferes with the effectiveness of these cholesterol-lowering drugs is mistaken. It actually boosts concentrations in the blood. This might increase the risk of side effects if the dose is not adjusted properly.

A man told my daughter that a bar of soap at the foot of the bed between the sheets would help arthritis. I have arthritis, so I tried it. After about four weeks, my arthritis seems to be much better. Is there something in the soap that helps?

We have been writing about a home remedy for leg cramps that calls for a bar of soap beneath the bottom sheet, near the legs. We have no idea why it might work. If others experience pain relief from soap, we'd love to hear about it.

I have been wondering why you never mention the wonders of broccoli. I have had heartburn as long as I can remember. Broccoli, three or four times weekly, has been a godsend. Studies have shown it even destroys the stomach bugs I have. I no longer have to take Prilosec for nighttime reflux.

Broccoli is certainly a nutritious vegetable, loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, folate and fiber. As you note, it also contains a natural compound that can destroy Helicobacter pylori, a type of bacteria that lives in the stomach and causes ulcers.

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University reported their research on sulfurophane from broccoli and broccoli sprouts in 2002. In test-tube studies, sulfurophane was able to kill Helicobacter inside cells, even when the bacteria had developed resistance to antibiotics.

Other researchers subsequently tested broccoli sprouts on infected humans. Three out of nine people who ate sprouts twice a day for a week were cured of their Helicobacter infections (Digestive Diseases and Sciences, August 2004).

You recently shared a nurse's "Power Pudding" recipe of bran, applesauce and prune juice for constipation. How much of this mixture do you recommend as a daily dose?

Did we goof up when we described Power Pudding for constipation! We wrote that nurses seem to know about this recipe that calls for 1 cup of bran, 1 cup of applesauce and 3/4 cup of prune juice. Sadly, we failed to mention the dose. We were overwhelmed by requests for information on how to use this remedy.

It is our understanding that you take one or two tablespoons daily washed down with lots of water. The glop, which is quite stiff, should be kept refrigerated.

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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