Addict misuses Listerine

January 24, 2008|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon

We are at a standoff with our son. During his eight-day visit over the holidays, he used 3 1/2 bottles (1.5 liters each) of Listerine. We are concerned because it contains alcohol.

Our son went through detox treatment four years ago. He refuses to attend AA meetings where he lives. His other addiction is nicotine (in snuff).

He tells us he only rinses his mouth with Listerine after he finishes the snuff, but we have seen so many changes in his behavior (abusive language, attitudes, unsteady walk and speech) that we are convinced he must be ingesting the mouthwash.

Please write about repercussions from the misuse of Listerine.

No one could use more than 5 liters (5.5 quarts) of Listerine in eight days purely as a mouthwash.

If your son followed the directions on the label to rinse with two-thirds of an ounce morning and night, one bottle should have lasted him more than a month. The maker of Listerine states unequivocally, "Do not swallow."

Listerine lists alcohol as an "inactive" ingredient (26.9 percent). It also contains eucalyptol, menthol, thymol and methyl salicylate. Methyl salicylate can be toxic if taken internally. Combined with the alcohol, it might account for the symptoms you observed.

Your son needs professional help. There are several prescription drugs to help overcome alcohol and nicotine addictions (ReVia or Campral for alcohol; Zyban or Chantix for nicotine).

I am lucky to have insurance through my employer, but I need more medications as I grow older. Last month, my doctor and I discussed new drugs for two health problems. Because I have had serious negative reactions to many generics, we opted for name brands.

My insurance company refuses to pay Tier 3 ($70 for 90-day mail supply) for the brand-name medications that my doctor and I agreed would be best. As a result, my budget was blown to shreds. I had to pay $420 for two drugs last month. What else can I do?

Many insurance companies have created a multitier payment system to discourage the use of expensive brand-name medicines. This might seem reasonable, but we are concerned.

So many people have reported problems with generic drugs on our Web site that we are no longer confident of their quality.

People who need pricey prescriptions might want to shop comparatively using a service such as

Another option might be to buy brand-name drugs from reliable Canadian online pharmacies. Be aware, though, that some online drugstores masquerade as Canadian.

We are sending you our Guide to Saving Money on Medicine. I've always been susceptible to getting canker sores in my mouth, so when I heard that kiwi fruit could make them go away quickly, I had to try. Wow! My canker sore was gone in two days. I had another one about a week later and ate a kiwi. Again, it was gone in two days. Now I don't wait for the canker sore to show up. I just eat a kiwi every few days.

Although we could find no scientific evidence that kiwi fruit helps heal canker sores, you are not the first to report this effect.

Eight years ago, a reader wrote: "I have suffered with mouth ulcers all my life. I have tried many home remedies, over-the-counter cures and a few prescriptions. Eating one kiwi cures my canker sores as fast as the prescription steroid cream, and the kiwi doesn't come with warnings about the danger of putting it in your mouth. It has helped a few of my friends also."

Other canker-sore remedies include sauerkraut juice, powdered instant tea (or a wet tea bag), L-lysine, acidophilus and goldenseal.

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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