Q: For more than two decades, a friend has been plagued with daily diarrhea that may have been caused by years of chronic antibiotic use. Doctors eliminated Crohn's and celiac disease as the cause. They suggested a fungal infection might be the source but were never able to cure it.
Every year when in Japan on a business trip, he was not bothered by diarrhea. This year, it occurred to him that perhaps the difference was the miso (fermented soy) soup he always consumed at least twice a day in Japan.
On his return to the States, he purchased miso soup paste, and has consumed miso soup at least once each day. To his delight, the terrible diarrhea has not come back. Has anyone else reported a similar result?
A: Miso is a fermented soybean paste that is used as the basis for one of Japan's most popular soups. Although we could find no research showing that miso soup counteracts diarrhea, the probiotic effect might help normalize gastrointestinal function. We'd be interested in hearing from others who have experience with this remedy.
Q: I'd like to learn more about natural ways to lower LDL cholesterol. I can't take niacin or statins because my liver enzymes are elevated. My doctor and I are concerned that my LDL has been rising. Do you have any recommendations?
A: Another reader was able to lower her LDL cholesterol 44 points in five weeks by changing her diet. She stopped eating before bedtime, added cruciferous vegetables, started drinking green tea, used fish as her primary protein and olive oil as her main fat. She also added soluble fiber and eliminated refined carbohydrates.
There are more details on Laura's dietary
approach and heart-healthy foods such as nuts, chocolate and grape and pomegranate juice in our book "Best Choices From The People's Pharmacy" (available online at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com).
Q: My wife and I have tried resveratrol several times and had to stop because it triggered itchy, bug-bite-like feelings.
I'm 100 percent sure it's the resveratrol. I recently tried taking half a capsule of the resveratrol, and the itchy bumps are back. So I think I'm done with resveratrol.
A: Resveratrol is a naturally occurring compound found in the skin of red grapes and red peanuts. It is promoted as an antioxidant that can help protect the heart and brain from the effects of aging.
Other readers also have reported an itchy rash that resembles bug bites as a reaction to resveratrol. New research has cast doubt on the benefits of resveratrol as an anti-aging agent (JAMA Internal Medicine online, May 12, 2014).
Q: I was fascinated by a recent report in your column that black tea can counteract headache. On any given day, I can wake up with a headache that I describe as burning. The headache lasts into the day, if not several days.
So I started drinking a cup of black tea daily since reading about this. Though it hasn't been very long, I have excellent results.
A: We are sure that drinking black tea won't prevent headaches in everyone. Nonetheless, we are pleased to hear that this simple and safe approach is giving you such benefit.