Q: I am 62. Until 10 years ago, I was a teetotaler. Then I began having a glass of wine with dinner.
I didn’t put the two together, but I also began having sleep problems. I would go to sleep, then awaken after an hour or so to urinate. I often was not able to get back to sleep for hours. I’d repeat this process several times a night.
I saw a urologist who told me that the wine could possibly be putting me to sleep, then acting as a diuretic and breaking down into sugars, keeping my mind going.
I stopped drinking wine with dinner and now sleep much better and for longer periods of time between fewer bathroom trips. Even those have been reduced to twice a night. Now, I am able to get right back to sleep after the bathroom trip. While I miss the glass of wine, a good night’s sleep without drugs is priceless.
A: Many people believe that alcohol can help them get to sleep. While wine and other alcoholic beverages may help some people fall asleep, such drinks disrupt sleep later in the night (Alcohol, June 2015). Sleep experts generally recommend that people with insomnia avoid a nightcap. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Q: I had the flu four weeks ago and still have a cough despite taking Robitussin DM. I tried drinking thyme tea this afternoon, and it has calmed my cough. Others might want to know.
A: A cough sometimes lingers for weeks after all other symptoms of the flu have gone. Calming such a cough can be challenging.
An active component of thyme called thymol is helpful for reducing the urge to cough and the number of coughs in an experimental setting (Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology, June 1, 2013). Many people find that a cup of thyme tea made with a half-teaspoon of thyme leaves and sweetened with honey (if desired) is a pleasant way to control a cough.
You can learn more about this and other natural approaches to calming coughs and recovering from cold symptoms in our Guide to Colds, Coughs and the Flu. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. Q-20, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Q: About 20 years ago, I had guttate psoriasis, a rare kind. I had red spots from head to toe – everywhere on my body.
I went to several doctors who offered absolutely no help at all. Another gave me a course of prednisone that rid me of the red spots in my groin and under my arms. You can’t keep on taking prednisone, though.
I found that a month at the Dead Sea was the answer. I went to Israel three consecutive years for a month each time, and I’ve remained completely psoriasis-free since. It was expensive, but it healed me.
A: Bathing in the concentrated salts of the Dead Sea, then getting sun exposure that falls short of causing sunburn, appears to be an effective way of treating several types of psoriasis (Israel Medical Association Journal, February 2013). People who can’t travel to Israel might be treated in their dermatologists’ offices with a concentrated salt solution and controlled UVB radiation (Hautarzt, August 2010).
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Email them via PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”