Combat warts with juice from milkweed plant or peel of banana


December 01, 2008|By JOE AND TERESSA GRAEDON

Is there any way to get rid of warts other than duct tape? I have more than 20 of these ugly things on my hands, and I can't imagine trying to get on with daily life with that much duct tape on. I have had these warts frozen off, burnt off and surgically removed, but they still grow back. I am desperate, but I must say the duct tape really does not appeal to me.

There are many home remedies for warts besides duct tape. We will skip some of the stranger ones.

That still leaves taping a piece of banana peel to the wart, with the inside of the peel against the skin. Or instead you might try soaking the wart in vinegar or painting it daily with Listerine.

Some readers have suggested using the juice from a milkweed plant or putting castor oil on warts. There is also the option of taking over-the-counter cimetidine (Tagamet HB). Although studies of cimetidine have had mixed results, some readers report that this heartburn medicine works when all else fails.

In a recent column, you mentioned that yohimbe might be useful in treating impotence. Speaking from personal experience rather than extensive knowledge of the literature, yohimbe treats only what the pharmaceutical companies so coyly call "erectile dysfunction." As far as I could tell, again from personal use, the effect is most likely achieved by vasoconstriction. I could feel my heart race every time I took a dose. This suggests to me that the bark is yet another herb that should be used only under medical supervision, and not by anyone who suffers from either hypertension or heart disease.

You are quite correct that the bark of the African yohimbe tree or yohimbine derived from it can raise blood pressure. Other potential side effects include palpitations, anxiety, headaches, dizziness or digestive distress. This natural product should be used only under medical supervision.

Before the development of drugs to treat erectile dysfunction, doctors sometimes prescribed yohimbine. It appears to help one-fourth to one-half of the men who use it to achieve an erection.

In one study, 50 percent of men having trouble achieving orgasm did better with yohimbine (Asian Journal of Andrology, May 2007). Erectile difficulties deserve medical attention, since they may signal a serious condition such as diabetes or heart disease.

As a teenager, I was blessed with relatively few blemishes. Now in my mid-20s, I have developed large, deep pimples that heal slowly and have eroded my self-esteem. I had tried everything, from expensive department-store skin-care regimens to acid peels at the salon. Nothing was wholly effective, and I had been considering seeking a dermatologist's help when I heard MoM mentioned on your radio program. I tried milk of magnesia, and my skin hasn't looked better in years! I apply a thin layer with a cotton ball three to four times a week, let it dry, and then remove with a warm cloth before applying my normal cosmetics in the morning. My skin keeps a matte finish longer through the day, and I have been developing fewer and less severe blemishes. MoM works better than anything else I've tried, and the price is certainly right!

We've heard from many readers that milk of magnesia can be helpful for a variety of skin problems. One reader offered this: "MoM controls my seborrheic dermatitis very well, and it is much cheaper than prescription Nizoral cream. I am a retired physician who has had seborrheic dermatitis for many years. My sense is that doctors are prescribing highly potent, pricey prescription agents. It is good to learn of cheaper, effective alternatives."

Once there was only one Robitussin cough medicine. Now there are lots. The one with DM almost killed me. I had such a hard time breathing, I thought I was going to die. I reported this to my pharmacist, and was told that I might be allergic to the "DM" in Robitussin. He warned me to read all labels on cough medicines from now on. People need to be warned, especially parents who might give this to their children.

Dextromethorphan (DM) is the leading ingredient in most OTC cough medicines. Its effectiveness has been controversial, particularly in children. Parents have been warned to avoid cough and cold medicines for kids 4 years old and younger.

Reviewers for the Cochrane Collaboration (an international organization that evaluates medical treatments) concluded: "There is no good evidence for or against the effectiveness of OTC medicines in acute cough."

Although allergic reactions to DM seem quite uncommon, there are reports in the medical literature of serious breathing difficulties triggered by this cough medicine (Allergy, August 2004). Follow your pharmacist's advice to read labels carefully.

My boyfriend was recently released from prison and believes there was saltpeter put in the food. How do you remove the effects after numerous years?

Saltpeter (potassium nitrate) is falsely believed to lower libido. Youngsters in boarding schools and summer camps, as well as men in the military or in prison, have perpetuated the myth that they are being fed saltpeter.

If time and support don't overcome your boyfriend's sexual difficulties, counseling may help. Hormonal assessment also may be needed.

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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