Home honey remedy poses risk of botulism for infants

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY

November 24, 2008|By JOE AND TERESA GRAEDON | JOE AND TERESA GRAEDON,peoplespharmacy.com

I appreciate you writing about home remedies for children when they come down with colds, but I am alarmed that you suggested lemon and honey for coughs. I feel this needs an urgent disclaimer!

Honey can be dangerous for a child under age 2. A friend's 6-month-old baby nearly died from infant botulism. Honey can cause this in infants. Even honey jars have a warning that it is not for small children.

Thanks for the reminder. Young children 1-year-old and younger should never be given honey. You are correct that this warning is designed to reduce the risk of infant botulism. Honey is occasionally contaminated with spores of the bacteria that cause botulism. Honey poses little risk for adults or children older than 1 year, but babies may not be able to fend off the bacteria.

I found that Certo and grape juice really works for my arthritis. However, it seems to make me constipated. Do you have any ideas to counteract the constipation so that I can keep taking the Certo and grape juice?

Certo is plant pectin, a soluble fiber. Home canners use this product to thicken jams and jellies.

We have heard for years that a spoonful of Certo in a glass of purple grape juice can ease arthritis pain for many people. We have not heard that this concoction is constipating. One reader reported that grape juice alone eased her child's constipation.

There are several options for combating constipation, including psyllium (Metamucil, Serutan, etc.), flaxseed (Uncle Sam Cereal) and sugarless gum.

We are sending you our "Guides to Constipation and Alternatives for Arthritis" with 10 tips to combat constipation, a recipe for dynamite pumpkin bran muffins and some less-constipating remedies for arthritis. Anyone who would like copies, please send $4 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (59 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. AAG-30, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. Each can be downloaded for $2 from our Web site at peoplespharm acy.com.

For years, I have had a yeast infection under my breasts, under my arms and in the groin. Nothing works. I know other women have this problem. I would be grateful for any remedies that might help.

Several years ago, we heard from men who suffered from jock itch that applications of old-fashioned amber Listerine was helpful against this fungal infection. Some women also report that applying Listerine daily to those areas is helpful.

If the skin is raw, though, Listerine would probably burn. Reducing sweating with an antiperspirant (or possibly milk of magnesia) applied every morning also may be helpful.

Someone was asking about natural migraine remedies and you mentioned spicy hot and sour soup, among other things. I've had migraines since before I was in kindergarten (I'm 58 now), and the best thing I've found is ginger. Jamaican-style ginger beer (stronger than ginger ale) is good, though rather sweet. The pickled ginger sold with sushi is a godsend. It also helps with the nausea.

Ginger has been documented as a migraine treatment for decades (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, July 1990). A small study testing a combination product (GelStat Migraine) containing ginger and the herb feverfew found that it could help alleviate migraines (Medical Science Monitor, September 2005).

When I buy plain aspirin, there is no country of origin listed. When I call the 800 number, I'm promised a reply to this concern, but the call is not returned. Is there any aspirin made in the U.S. with American ingredients?

An expose in The New York Times Magazine (Nov. 2, 2008) revealed that there are no major generic aspirin manufacturers in Europe or the U.S. Most aspirin is now made in China.

Many over-the-counter medications as well as prescription drugs now come from manufacturers in China, India or other parts of Asia. If country-of-origin labeling is important for clothing and food, why wouldn't it be even more critical for medicine?

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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