Q: Years ago while eating in a restaurant, I started hiccupping badly. I asked the bartender for his suggestion, and he gave me a slice of lime with a few drops of Angostura bitters. I sucked on the lime as instructed, and the hiccups stopped immediately.
I hate hiccups, so since then, I have always kept a fresh lime and a bottle of bitters on hand. This remedy has never failed me. I have tried the lime alone and the bitters alone -- neither worked, but the combination works like magic.
A: Thanks for the recommendation. A wedge of lemon or lime with Angostura bitters is a favorite bartenders' remedy for hiccups. A spoonful of granulated sugar is another old-fashioned option.
More recently we have heard from people who favor chocolate for hiccups. One reader wrote:
"The chocolate cure really works. I was at a hair salon when a bout of hiccups started. I looked around me for anything that might help, and I saw a box of Hershey Kisses, milk and dark chocolate.
"I don't favor dark chocolate, so I took two milk-chocolate kisses. I ate them, but my hiccups continued, so I tried two dark-chocolate ones instead. I shoved them into my mouth quickly, and within a minute my hiccups were gone."
Q: When I read about gin-soaked raisins, I laughed all the way to the liquor store. When I told the clerk why I was there, he said he sells a lot of gin for that very purpose.
I was still skeptical, but I tried the remedy anyway. I had relief from my joint pain and stiffness within a week, but still thought it was probably just a fluke. When I stopped taking the raisins, I found out what a difference they had made! I now keep golden raisins and gin on hand for everyday use.
A: Quite a few people have had a similar experience with liquor-store clerks reassuring them that others also have bought gin for just such a purpose. This is one of the most popular arthritis remedies we have ever written about. There is a complete recipe and a page of FAQs about gin-soaked raisins in our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis. It is available online for $2 at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.
Q: For years, I suffered from chronic angular cheilitis (painful cracks at the corners of my mouth). I also had chronic irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Doctor after doctor dismissed any relationship between the two. I finally saw a nutritionist, and she correlated the problem with B vitamin malabsorption because of the IBS.
I started taking sublingual (under the tongue) B vitamins. This bypasses the GI tract and allows for absorption. I have not had any cheilitis for more than a year and a half. I also started a gluten-free diet that has stopped my IBS symptoms.
After 20 years of symptoms and countless doctors, one nutritionist knew the answers.
A: Angular cheilitis (also called perleche) can be extremely painful. We have heard from people who were healed when they corrected their vitamin D deficiency. Low levels of zinc, iron or B vitamins, especially riboflavin, also are thought to contribute to this problem.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or email them via their www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is "Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them."