Ground coffee can help stop the bleeding of small cuts



I have enjoyed reading about home remedies on your Web site and would like to share mine. Dip a bleeding (cut, nicked, sliced or whatever) finger in ground coffee and the bleeding stops. If, after the first dip, it still shows some blood, dip it in again and bandage it. A Lebanese friend told me that it is used all the time in his home. Maybe it's the caffeine. Regardless, it has always worked for me.

Thanks for surprising us with a brand-new home remedy for minor cuts. We have collected several others, including ground black pepper, cayenne pepper and ground sage.

I have bad leg cramps that wake me early in the morning. I read that a bar of soap placed between the sheets might help. Where precisely do you place it? I can't take quinine because it interacts with the tamoxifen I take to prevent a recurrence of breast cancer. The cramps are really painful.

Quinine is no longer available as a treatment for leg cramps, even if you weren't on tamoxifen. The Food and Drug Administration banned its use for cramps a few years ago.

Although we are hard-pressed to explain why soap under the bottom sheet would be helpful against leg cramps, many readers insist that it works. Here is just one example:

"I have been keeping a bar of soap under my sheet for quite some time. It does work, but I was never sure it did.

"Last night I had toe cramps. Instead of getting up to walk them off, I curled my foot as close to the soap as possible. The cramps went away in about five seconds.

"At the same time the calf in my other leg cramped. Again I moved the soap around near my leg, and the cramp was gone. Weird? You bet. Would I change this? No way. Who knows how this works, but it does."

Not everybody benefits from the soap trick. Others report success with yellow mustard, pickle juice or magnesium.

I've always had low cholesterol, but it has been rising for the past few years. First it went from 180 to 233, and then to 363. I tried to figure out what might be responsible and realized I had started taking glucosamine and chondroitin for sore knee joints in 2005. I thought perhaps that might have triggered the problem. My doctor is skeptical, and he would like me to take Crestor to lower my cholesterol. In the meantime, I have stopped the supplement. My knees hurt again, but soon I will have my cholesterol tested to see if it has come down.

Studies have not shown that glucosamine and chondroitin are effective for relieving mild to moderate arthritis pain (Arthritis and Rheumatism, October 2008). Nonetheless, many people take it and report benefit.

No studies have proven that glucosamine raises cholesterol, though many readers do report such an association. The dietary supplement does appear to increase insulin resistance, however, and could make treatment of Type 2 diabetes more difficult (American Journal of the Medical Sciences, June 2007).

I read in your column a while back that a person heard music after taking the antidepressant amitriptyline. My urologist prescribed a similar drug (imipramine) for a mild urinary problem. After a few days, I, too, started hearing music. My music was a wonderful male chorus each evening. After I pinned the music down to that antidepressant drug, I quit taking it. I did miss that wonderful male chorus, though!

Drug-induced auditory hallucinations are rare but documented in the medical literature. The person you refer to taking amitriptyline reported: "I hear music all day, both classical and rap." When the drug was discontinued, the music faded away.

One person taking an antidepressant heard a full orchestra playing dramatic classical music: "The final straw came when I was riding my motorcycle (not a quiet machine) and couldn't hear the sound of the engine and wind over the orchestra playing in my head! I took myself off the antidepressant, and the hallucinations disappeared."

I have been taking lisinopril for seven months to control my high blood pressure. Soon I developed a hacking cough. When it wouldn't go away, I saw an ear, nose and throat specialist. He shrugged and said this comes with age. When I complained to my regular doctor, he gave me a course of antibiotics, but there was no relief. I called back and was given a different antibiotic prescription. Eventually, my wife mentioned my cough to the pharmacist, who pointed out that this is a common complaint with lisinopril. When we brought this to my doctor's attention, he agreed and finally took me off the drug. How could this happen?

Lisinopril is an ACE inhibitor. Like other blood pressure drugs in this class (Accupril, Altace, benazepril, captopril, enalapril, ramipril and quinapril), lisinopril can cause cough as an unpleasant and common complication. This kind of hacking cough won't go away with cough medicine.

We are shocked that neither your lung specialist nor your regular doctor figured this out. Antibiotics are inappropriate for this kind of drug-induced cough.

There are other medications to control blood pressure. Angiotensin receptor blockers such as Avapro, Benicar, Cozaar and Diovan are less likely to cause a chronic cough.

My doctors were mystified by my anemia. The puzzle was solved after I read in your column that taking Nexium and other acid-reducing drugs can hinder the absorption of iron and other nutrients. Now I regularly take iron with my other supplements and am no longer anemic. Thank you!

Minerals like iron and calcium are absorbed best when there is acid in the stomach. Powerful acid-suppressing drugs like Nexium can interfere with this process and may also hinder absorption of vitamin B-12. Inadequate levels of this vitamin also can cause anemia.

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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