Soothe skin with milk of magnesia

January 17, 2008|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon

My face looked like a dry, glazed doughnut for eight years, until I read your column about using milk of magnesia on the face and scalp.

My dermatologist had been treating my scalp, but I got nowhere. Both problems disappeared after one application of MoM.

Milk of magnesia (magnesium hydroxide aka MoM) has been used for more than a century as an oral laxative. More recently, we have heard from readers that if this chalky liquid is applied to underarms, it acts as a deodorant.

Someone else told us that topical applications of milk of magnesia on the face while showering could be effective for flakes. Another reader shared her success story: "I tried the milk of magnesia on my daughter's terrible seborrhea after using countless remedies and prescription shampoos, and it has made a real difference. We were already using Lotrimin and Nizoral shampoo (prescription strength). MoM has really helped, and it is inexpensive. Hurray!"

I'm 66, 6 feet tall, weigh 220 pounds and am in good health. A year ago, my labs showed a total cholesterol of 188 while using Vytorin. This is close to my average cholesterol reading for five years.

My most recent physical showed total cholesterol is 120 (a 36 percent drop!), with LDL at 49 and HDL at 56. I was stunned by the improvement. The only thing I've done differently is take a dietary supplement called resveratrol. Could it be the cause? And is a total cholesterol value of 120 too low?

Animal research suggests that the antioxidant in grapes and red wine, resveratrol, can lower cholesterol levels (Biochemical and Biophysical Research online, Dec. 31, 2007).

It is conceivable that adding resveratrol to Vytorin accounts for your very low lipid levels. Although many doctors believe cholesterol can never get too low, this issue has been controversial for years. One study has suggested there is a link between low LDL cholesterol and Parkinson's disease (Movement Disorders, Feb. 15, 2007). Scientists also have reported that people with naturally low cholesterol may have problems with concentration and word fluency (Psychosomatic Medicine, January/February 2005).

More recently, researchers have reported that aggressive cholesterol-lowering treatment with Lipitor might increase the risk of brain hemorrhage in patients who had previously suffered a stroke or transient ischemic attack (Neurology online, Dec. 12, 2007). We are sending you our Guide to Cholesterol and Heart Health, which discusses the importance of good HDL and the hazards associated with very low cholesterol.

When I was a child, my mother encouraged me to gargle with salt water when I had a sore throat. I just heard Dr. Oz on Oprah recommend salt water in a neti pot for improving sinus conditions. Are neti pots safe to use?

A neti pot looks a little like an Aladdin lamp. You put lukewarm salt water in this device, hold your head upside down and pour the solution in one nostril until it runs out the other. This ancient Indian practice helps wash out the nose and sinuses. It should be safe, though you can accomplish much the same effect with a saline sinus rinse found in most pharmacies.

I've read about the difficulties of disposing of unused drugs and want to share my solution. I poured Elmer's glue into the pill container to cover the pills and let it set before putting the container in the trash.

That sounds like an innovative solution for the problem of drug disposal. Thanks for sharing 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: peoplespharmacy.com.

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