Graedons' Pharmacy: Avocados help control cholesterol; vinegar-soaked raisins

July 26, 2011 

I have had high cholesterol for many years, mostly around 335. I have taken statin drugs to lower it, but I didn’t like the side effects.

I read about avocados lowering cholesterol in your column and decided to try it. I love avocados. So for two months I ate an avocado every week.

When I had my blood work done, the doctor even called me at home in the evening to give me the report. He was amazed at how well I am doing.

My cholesterol count is now 215. The doctor says to keep it up.

Seven months ago, we heard from a reader that eating an avocado every week helped lower his cholesterol from over 200 to 176. We are pleased to learn that this also worked for you.

Research in rats has shown that adding avocado to the diet can improve desirable HDL cholesterol (Archivos de Cardiologia de Mexico, March 2007). There don’t seem to be many studies in humans, but one demonstrated that an avocado-enriched diet could help lower total and LDL cholesterol while it raised HDL cholesterol (Archives of Medical Research, Winter 1996).

Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, the same type found in olive oil. You seem to have found a delicious way to control your cholesterol.

Several years ago, a friend recommended a remedy for arthritis and tendinitis. It was raisins soaked in apple-cider vinegar and honey INSTEAD of gin. When I found that it worked, I wrote you, and you printed the letter.

Lately, several people have written looking for alternatives to raisins in gin. I think it might be helpful to repeat the advice to substitute apple-cider vinegar. That way, more people would learn about a helpful approach for arthritis and still avoid liquor if they wish to. The “gin” routine seems to be widely known, but the alternative isn’t. Thank you for considering this.

Many people like the raisin remedy, but it’s not the only natural approach for easing arthritis pain. There are many other options in our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis. It can be downloaded for $2 from our website:

To make nonalcoholic raisins, pour 2 parts vinegar and 1 part honey over golden raisins and allow them to soak.

I recently spent an entire day weeding our overgrown yard. Unwittingly, I pulled a lot of poison ivy. During the next few days, my arms and shins were covered with itchy rash.

I did a search for poison-ivy remedies and found some people use banana peels for temporary relief. I always pack a banana as part of my lunch, so I had nothing to lose.

I was surprised to find it was effective. Right after rubbing the peel on the affected area, the skin turned red, and the poison-ivy itch subsided in a few minutes. The relief lasted about three hours. It worked as well as some of the over-the-counter remedies I was paying $9 for.

We’ve never heard of using banana peels for poison ivy, though readers have suggested using them for warts and hemorrhoids.

I am really allergic to cats. My nose gets stuffed up, my eyes start to itch, and I become very spacey.

My wife and I were visiting friends who have two cats. I forgot to take my allergy medicine in advance and realized I would be in trouble since we would be sleeping in the guest bedroom where the cats hang out. My friend offered me a Claritin-D to prevent problems. Shortly after taking this allergy medicine, I started having difficulty urinating. It got to the point where I feared I would have to go to the emergency room since I couldn’t empty my bladder. What was it about the Claritin-D that had this effect?

The D in Claritin-D and many other allergy and cold medicines stands for a decongestant called pseudoephedrine. It is found in Actifed, Allegra-D, Mucinex D, Sudafed and Zyrtec-D. This compound can aggravate symptoms of prostate enlargement and make it difficult to urinate

Men with enlarged prostates need to avoid decongestants.

Joe and Teresa Graedon, authors of “Favorite Home Remedies From The People’s Pharmacy,” answer questions via their Web site:

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