Work With Doctor To Treat Hypertension

People's Pharmacy

People's Pharmacy Joe And Teresa Graedon

August 17, 2009|By Joe and Teresa Graedon

Question: : I was diagnosed recently with borderline hypertension. My internist has prescribed the diuretics HCTZ and spironolactone. My reactions to those have been headache, nausea and intestinal upset.

We also have tried Coreg, Norvasc, Accupril and lisinopril. My reaction to those medications has been severe migrainelike headaches. Are there any alternative therapies for treating hypertension?

Answer: : There are many ways to treat high blood pressure, but you will need to work with your doctor to make sure the tactics you adopt work for you. As one reader of this column has noted, "losing a little weight (even just 10 pounds) could bring blood pressure down to normal with no drugs, no expense and no side effects."

Another reader had success with alternative approaches: "I am a 65-year-old female, and my blood pressure was going up. I started drinking beet juice (I make it myself), and I do breathing exercises for 15 minutes every morning. I breathe slow and deep (less than 10 breaths a minute) for 15 minutes. It took me two months, but my pressure is normal."

Question: : My kids and I have a major problem with lice. We have spent lots of time and money fighting them, but it doesn't seem to be doing any good.

Nix and Rid (at $10 an ounce) are supposed to kill lice, but the lice are still alive after using these products. Then we wait another week or 10 days to spend another $70 to $90 to do it all over again. Two of my daughters have long, thick hair that requires two bottles each.

A friend has recommended kerosene, but that freaks me out. Isn't there a more natural way to free us from nit-picking?

Answer: : DO NOT use kerosene to kill lice. It is toxic and a fire hazard.

Lice have developed resistance to many of the common treatments used against them. The Food and Drug Administration has just approved a new prescription lice medication. It will take multiple bottles to treat your daughters' long, thick hair.

The new treatment, Ulesfia, contains benzyl alcohol as the active ingredient. This compound interferes with the critters' respiration, so lice are unlikely to develop resistance.

Many parents tell us that Listerine works against lice. It contains ethyl alcohol along with a number of herbal oils that seem to kill lice. One reader reported: "I recently found lice and nits in my 7-year-old's hair. When I tried the product the school nurse recommended, it did nothing.

"I tried soaking the hair with Listerine and rinsing with vinegar. IT WORKED! I wish I had known sooner."

Neither Ulesfia nor Listerine kills nits, so the treatment needs to be repeated after they've had a chance to hatch.

Question: : I am 51 years old, and my doctor says I can't take estrogen or other hormone replacement therapy because I am very prone to blood clots. Do you have any recommendations for natural remedies for hot flashes and insomnia?

The hot flashes for the past few weeks have been every 15 to 30 minutes, day and night. I'm not getting enough sleep, and I am tired all the time. I work full time, so I need to be able to rest! Any information you can send would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: : Although hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be effective against hot flashes, it is not for everyone. Estrogen increases the chance of blood clots, so it is too risky for women like you. Even bioidentical hormones from natural sources could be dangerous.

There are other approaches, both natural and pharmaceutical. Antidepressants such as Effexor, Paxil or Pristiq can ease hot flashes, but they have many side effects and might be difficult to stop. In Europe, doctors prescribe St. John's wort together with black cohosh for hot flashes. A different herbal extract, Pycnogenol, may also be helpful for these symptoms.

Question:: Recently, someone complained to you of excessive sweating. That person might have an endocrine problem. I used to sweat so much that I would ruin my clothes. This stopped once I had my hyperactive thyroid removed.

Answer: : Excessive sweating can be a symptom of too much thyroid hormone. We hope that girl's doctor has checked her thyroid function.

Question:: Two weeks after I suffered a thighbone fracture that had started as a hairline stress fracture, a friend alerted me to your column citing an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Feb. 18, 2009).

I showed it to my doctors, and we all agreed that my fracture was caused by long-term use (12 years) of Fosamax. My surgeon said that this was the strangest fracture he had ever seen; that the femur looked normal, but that it had broken in a location and at an angle that was extremely odd.

There is no warning on the Fosamax label of such a possible side effect. I think it is important for women taking osteoporosis drugs to get more information about side effects. My surgeon is seriously considering doing a hip replacement at the first sign of another hairline fracture.

Answer:: When an article was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (March 20, 2008) suggesting that drugs intended to strengthen bones might cause fractures instead, it created quite a stir. The controversy rages on, and experts are still arguing about the risk.

Some scientists speculate that long-term use of drugs like Actonel, Boniva, Fosamax and Reclast may suppress bone turnover and could lead to brittle bones and stress fractures. Anyone on such medications who experiences thigh pain should be evaluated.

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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