Q: One of your recommended remedies has been very helpful for my teenage daughter. She was having a lot of difficulty sleeping and was taking prescription trazodone most nights to sleep.
I read in one of your books that Sea-Bands could be a possible solution to improve sleep. It was very affordable, so we decided to try this nonchemical solution. She has been using them for three months and hasn’t had to take trazodone at all.
I am thrilled that she doesn’t have to take a drug anymore, and she wakes up much more refreshed! We shared our success with a group of friends. Another girl had similar sleep problems. She tried Sea-Bands and had the same type of success.
A: Years ago, we heard from a reader who taped a dry kidney bean on the inside of his wrist every night to sleep. The spot was between the two tendons, three finger-widths from the wrist crease. This is an acupressure point called the Inner Gate that is said to alleviate anxiety and promote sleep.
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Sea-Bands are elastic wristbands with a plastic button embedded in them. They are sold to ease motion and morning sickness. We are pleased to learn that this simple low-tech approach worked well for insomnia.
There are a number of other nondrug options for easing into sleep in our recently revised and expanded Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. Access to this online resource may be purchased at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.
Q: I was surprised to see in your column a question about asafoetida. I had just mentioned it the day before to a friend, and no one I know had ever heard of it.
I am 82 and was born and raised in Philadelphia. My brother and I were given these little sachets to wear around our necks in winter by a well-meaning little old lady. My mom used to say that if it didn’t keep the germs away, it would sure keep people away because of the strong smell.
We had no wonder drugs, so our parents practiced preventive medicine. In winter we always got a tablespoon of Father John’s Cough Syrup before bed. In summer it was sassafras tea. Once a month we were taken to the drugstore for a “physic” (laxative) of “prepared castor oil” in a milkshake or an ice-cream soda. A chest cold was treated with a chest rub of Musterole, then wrapped in flannel, and the soles of the feet were rubbed with Vicks.
My great-grandmother had been a slave and had lots of home remedies, I’m told. One was to peel a whole head of garlic and put it in a gallon of water. It was kept in the refrigerator, and anyone with hypertension would drink only that water.
A: We have heard of many of the remedies your family used. One of the ingredients in Father John’s Cough Syrup is cod-liver oil, which was traditionally used to boost resistance to respiratory infections in wintertime.
We are especially interested in your great-grandmother’s use of garlic for high blood pressure. A stringent review notes that garlic can lower blood pressure, though there is not enough data to tell if it reduces heart attacks and strokes (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, August 2012). More recently, a placebo-controlled trial found that a garlic supplement lowered blood pressure in people with heart disease (Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, Aug. 24, 2016).
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email them via their Web site: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”