Question: : I was at a child's birthday party, and wasps and bees were flying all over while the food was out. Someone said to get self-sealing plastic bags (sandwich size is fine), fill them with water and put them on the table. The wasps disappeared. If I hadn't seen this with my own eyes, I never would have believed it.
I went to another party, and the host had put plastic bags of water all along her deck and anywhere people were sitting. There were no bees or wasps, and she lives out in the country. Apparently, the light reflecting on the bags of water hurts the insects' eyes.
Answer: : Thanks so much for this fascinating tip. We could find no scientific studies to support this approach, but that doesn't mean it won't work.
Some folks say that the same trick (with partially filled gallon-sized zippered plastic bags) may work to keep flies away, while others maintain it is an urban legend. Because it is really cheap and risk-free, we see no problem in giving this approach a try.
Question: : I have a toenail that is nothing but trouble. Four years ago, I tripped over a metal bed and shattered the nail. It won't grow out right and is infected with fungus.
I had the nail surgically removed more than a year ago, but it is still a mess. The nail stands up almost like a car trunk lid that's open. Getting on a shoe is next to impossible.
My doctor wants me to take a powerful antifungal medicine, but I am very sensitive to such drugs and worry about side effects. Are there any home remedies that might work?
Answer: : Removing a toenail surgically is pretty drastic. We're sorry it didn't work.
You may wish to try soaking your nails in a vinegar-Listerine (old-fashioned amber-colored mouthwash) foot bath.
Other readers tell us that cornmeal soaks also are effective. Applications of tea tree oil or Vicks VapoRub to the infected nail work for others.
Question: : I began taking celery seed extract capsules six months ago for gout. Within a day, all foot pain was gone. A blood test six weeks later showed normal levels of uric acid. I take two capsules each morning. It's a miracle, as far as I'm concerned.
Answer: : Gout is an inflammatory condition in which crystals of uric acid precipitate out of the blood and build up in the joints. This causes excruciating pain and swelling.
Celery seed was a traditional treatment for rheumatism. Ethnobotanist James Duke, author of "The Green Pharmacy," attests that celery seed extracts have helped him ward off gout attacks. Many other readers tell us that sour cherries also can help against gout.
Question: : A dear friend was put on Reglan for acid stomach and left on the drug for nine years. The therapy is only supposed to last a few weeks.
She now has tardive dyskinesia. Her tongue is enlarged, and she can no longer speak properly.
The side effects did not go away when the drug was stopped. Is there anything that can help her?
Answer: : Reglan (metoclopramide) was first approved for use in the U.S. in 1980. It is prescribed for digestive-tract problems such as reflux, delayed stomach emptying and nausea. Although doctors were warned early on that this drug could cause a neurological disorder, it took the Food and Drug Administration almost 40 years to issue a black-box warning about this complication.
On Feb. 26, 2009, the agency cautioned about metoclopramide: "Tardive dyskinesia is characterized by involuntary, repetitive movements of the extremities, or lip smacking, grimacing, tongue protrusion, rapid eye movements or blinking, puckering and pursing of the lips, or impaired movement of the fingers. These symptoms are rarely reversible and there is no known treatment. However, in some patients, symptoms may lessen or resolve after metoclopramide treatment is stopped."
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, PeoplesPharmacy.com.