Salsalate Might Ease Pain Of Arthritis, Lower Glucose

People's Pharmacy

November 09, 2009|By Joe and Teresa Graedon

Question: : What can you tell me about the pain reliever salsalate? My doctor says that it will not only help ease my arthritis pain, but might help control my blood sugar. Diet has not controlled my borderline diabetes.

Answer: : Salsalate has been used for more than a century to relieve arthritis pain. The name indicates its chemical connection with salicylic acid, which is similar to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). Like aspirin, salsalate is effective against inflammation and pain, but it does not irritate the digestive tract as aspirin does.

Preliminary research suggests that salsalate may help control blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes (Diabetes Care, February 2008). Two studies are under way to determine how well this drug works.

Question: : As a registered nurse, I am often skeptical of herbs and home remedies. When I had a baby, I wanted to breast-feed, but I had a lot of problems with breast engorgement initially. My breasts were so swollen and painful, I couldn't even think of nursing the baby (though that would have resolved the problem). The pain and engorgement got worse and worse.

My mother called my grandmother, who is Native American, and she suggested using Mentholatum or Vicks VapoRub on the area around the nipple. Apparently, Native Americans and Hispanics have used mint for this purpose for generations.

My grandmother advised that the milk would come shooting out. I was thinking, "Yeah, right," but the throbbing from my chest prompted me to throw my reservations to the wind.

Almost immediately after I applied the ointment, a torrent of breast milk was released, to my huge relief. This treatment may be irritating or impossible for a woman whose skin is broken or cracked, but it worked wonders for me.

Answer: : The standard recommendations for breast engorgement include breast-feeding as soon as possible, hot or cold compresses, a warm shower before nursing, and manual expression or use of a breast pump. Some breast-feeding advisers suggest placing cabbage leaves in the bra for relief, although a double-blind study found no benefit from cabbage-leaf extract (Journal of Human Lactation, September 1998). We could find no research addressing the effects of menthol on breast engorgement.

Question:: My husband has had a setback in his Alzheimer's disease due to stress about my scheduled heart surgery. Recently, for the very first time, he ate Rainier cherries. The entire next day, I was once again with the man I first married! This is amazing!

Answer:: We are as astonished as you. We also were surprised to find research in rats showing that a peach-pit extract (Journal of Molecular Neuroscience, June 2006) acted in a similar manner to donepezil (Aricept), a prescription drug used to treat Alzheimer's.

Write Joe and Teresa Graedon in care of this newspaper or e-mail their Web site, PeoplesPharmacy.com.

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