Q: I have been sleeping with soap under my bottom sheet for years and have had no leg cramps since I began doing so.
I also suffered for years from a terrifying condition known as laryngospasm, during which the vocal cords suddenly seize up and close when taking in a breath, blocking the flow of air. Although the spasm only lasts for a minute or two, the time seems to move so slowly that death feels imminent.
Once during an episode of laryngospasm, I rubbed soap onto the base of my throat. I hoped it would end the spasm, and it did! The laryngospasm eased within two seconds after I rubbed soap directly onto my neck.
Ever since then, I’ve worn a silver chain around my neck with a net pouch containing a small piece of soap. Because I made the pouch with pretty netting, I get compliments on my necklace. I always explain what it is and why I take it off only when I shower or go swimming.
Q: I was very congested with a nasty cold. The cough was so bad that I thought I had bronchitis.
I tried over-the-counter cough medicines, but nothing worked. At the end of the week, my son gave me a cup of hot water with cayenne pepper in it at bedtime.
The next morning when I woke, I was not at all congested. My cough was gone.
A: We were fascinated by your story. Inhaled capsaicin, the hot stuff in cayenne and other hot peppers, triggers the cough reflex. So how did a cayenne infusion soothe your cough?
Scientists found that people who took capsaicin powder orally had reduced cough symptoms (Respiratory Medicine, January 2015). We appreciate you sharing your remedy.
Q: I’m a 41-year-old woman with hypertension. I watch my salt intake, but stress sometimes gets the better of me.
When I saw my doctor recently, he found my blood pressure was 160/98. That is high enough to require medication. He started me on metoprolol, but in two weeks I was a sobbing, tearful mess with despair and depression.
I was switched to lisinopril, but now I feel tired and dizzy. The prospect of changing to yet another blood-pressure drug is daunting.
Are there any natural alternatives to address high blood pressure? I’ve always been hyperreactive to medicines, so I’d really appreciate learning some natural ways that may help me.
A: Relieving stress through deep breathing, meditation or exercise may help. A home blood-pressure monitor may be useful in tracking which tactics work best for you.
A DASH diet rich in vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy lowers blood pressure. You also might want to consume foods such as beet juice, dark chocolate and pomegranate juice.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or email them via their Web site: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”