Q: My 54-year-old husband has severe pain and swelling in his feet after a long day at work. This morning I gave him a 4-ounce glass of tart cherry juice with his breakfast.
When he got home from work, he was in a great mood and told me he felt great and nothing hurt. When I told him it was the cherry juice, he was amazed. Now he wants it every day.
A: Tart cherry juice contains natural compounds that have anti-inflammatory activity and can ease pain (Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, August 2013). Other readers have reported similar benefit. One wrote: "I used tart cherries to cure a gout attack, and it worked. The real news is that the pain from osteoarthritis of the hip joint also diminished.
"I've been able to reduce my use of Celebrex by half and still have less pain."
Anyone who would like to learn more details about cherries and other natural approaches for gout, arthritis, fibromyalgia or plantar fasciitis may be interested in our book "The People's Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies" (online at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com).
Q: You wrote about Dead Sea salts as a cure for warts. In my experience, the salts don't need to be from that far away.
I live in Florida. Several years ago, I used to go dig for clams with my hands in the sand just south of the Sunshine Skyway (Tampa Bay). A prominent wart on my pinkie gradually disappeared and has never returned.
A: This sounds like a very pleasant wart cure. We could not find any research that relates to using sea-salt brine on warts, but it fits our favorite criteria: won't hurt, might help and, in your case, doesn't cost much.
Q: My acid reflux was so severe that I was on four prescription acid suppressors a day. I could not sleep more than an hour at a time because the reflux would wake me. If I did sleep, I'd have a bad headache upon waking from reflux.
Then I ate some Thai hot sauce. I thought the hot-sauce pain would be better than the constant reflux, but to my surprise, the reflux went away!
I now consume about 4 ounces of the spicy hot sauce a day to keep the acid reflux away, and I feel great. I don't need acid fighters any longer, and all my stomach pain is gone.
My 80-year-old dad told me vinegar would cure the heartburn. I ignored him because that sounded counterintuitive, but he was so right. I wish I had listened before the acid reflux hurt my esophagus. The good news is that my doctor says it is healing now. He cannot believe how hot peppers cured it.
A: Hot sauce for heartburn definitely sounds counterintuitive. Researchers in Mexico City, where they know about hot peppers, studied the effect of chilis on heartburn symptoms (Revista de Gastroenterologia de Mexico, 2010). They found that capsaicin, the compound that gives hot peppers their zing, caused heartburn in most subjects with reflux and about a third of healthy subjects.
Those with Barrett's esophagus, however, were less sensitive to subsequent heartburn triggers after exposure to capsaicin. Barrett's esophagus is a condition in which chronic reflux has damaged the cells lining the esophagus.
Another reader wrote: "Here in the U.S., I get acid reflux about every other day. Even bland food can set it off. I treat it occasionally with ranitidine.
"When I'm in Thailand, however, I eat the spiciest food I've ever put to my lips. For some odd reason, I get no heartburn whatsoever."
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is "Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them."