Q: Within a week of having a reaction to a bee sting (the skin was hot, red, swollen and blistered), the tremors in my right hand and jaw disappeared. I'd had them for three years and had just gotten a referral to see a neurologist.
My mother and her mother had Parkinson's disease, so I suspect that is where I was headed, though I hadn't been officially diagnosed. Have you heard of this before?
A: There may be scientific support for your response to bee venom. We were somewhat surprised to discover research demonstrating that bee-venom injections have benefit against Parkinson's disease (Parkinsonism and Related Disorders, September 2012).
The Michael J. Fox Foundation funded a study of bee-venom therapy in a mouse model of Parkinson's. The results were positive. French researchers are recruiting subjects for a clinical trial (MIREILLE) to assess the value of bee venom in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.
Q: I understand that no one would want to eat or drink dark cocoa. It is bitter and dry.
I add about 1/2 teaspoon of Hershey's natural unsweetened cocoa to my half-cup of coffee every morning. Milk and a touch of agave nectar make it even more palatable. This tastes like mocha and offers chocolate benefits without extra sugar or fat.
A: Cocoa flavonoids found in dark cocoa can reduce inflammation, improve the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure. They also make blood platelets less likely to clump together and form a blood clot, perhaps lowering the risk of a heart attack.
Although all these benefits have been established in studies, many health experts worry that people will overdose on candy. Your solution is a good way to get cocoa flavonoids.
To learn more about the practical health benefits of chocolate and many other foods such as almonds, blueberries, cinnamon, cherries, coffee and ginger, you may want to consult "The People's Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies" (sold online at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com).
Q: I have used a bar of soap under the bedsheets for the past nine months or so to get rid of leg cramps. I change the bar every three months.
Recently, I used a bar of Dove soap instead of the Dial I had been using. My husband and I both experienced leg cramps again.
Is there a reason why Dove soap doesn't work although Dial does?
A: We don't know why soap under the bottom sheet helps some people avoid leg cramps. One hypothesis suggests that the fragrance is key.
Popular folklore claims that Dial beats out Dove when it comes to preventing leg cramps.
Perhaps that's because Dove is not real soap, but rather a synthetic detergent bar.
Q: My husband suffered from frequent canker sores for years. I read in your column that eating kiwi fruit might help prevent canker sores.
When I passed it along to him, he was extremely skeptical, to say the least. He still decided that it couldn't hurt to try.
After getting on a regimen of eating one kiwi fruit every other day for breakfast, the canker sores stopped completely! On the rare occasions when he can't eat kiwis for an extended period because of travel, a sore starts up. Eating kiwis for a few days straight heals it up very quickly. This might not work for everyone, but it certainly helped him.
A: Others report that kiwi fruit is helpful against canker sores.