Q: Long ago, I heard about using Vicks VapoRub at bedtime on the soles of the feet to calm a nighttime cough. Recently, my hubby developed a horrible deep cough that made him choke and gasp for breath. No cough suppressant he tried helped at all.
Out of desperation, we dug out the Vicks, applied it to his soles, and he put on socks. In less than an hour, his cough completely subsided. It didn't begin again until late morning the next day.
We followed this routine for 12 days until I finally convinced him to see a doctor. He was diagnosed with pneumonia. After 10 days of antibiotics and a week of prednisone, he is OK again. The doctor was surprised and maybe amused when I mentioned this home remedy.
A: We are impressed that Vicks VapoRub on the soles of the feet actually helped a serious cough that signaled pneumonia. We do NOT recommend toughing it out with a home remedy as long as your hubby did.
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Q: I need your advice about lowering my blood pressure. I have found online advice conflicting and confusing. My family doctor, I'm sorry to say, is not interested in anything other than prescription drugs. While I'm sure they have their place in treatment, I want to exhaust natural remedies first.
I am a 61-year-old male in very good health. My cholesterol and triglycerides are low to normal, but my blood pressure varies greatly. It has ranged from 142/86 to as high as 170/100. I average about 20 kilometers a week on the NordicTrack. Please help me figure out how to get my blood pressure under control.
A: Probiotics or yogurt with live cultures may be one helpful option. A meta-analysis of
nine studies found that probiotics with multiple species of bacteria could lower blood pressure modestly (Hypertension online, July 21, 2014).
You will find many other natural suggestions in our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment, from the DASH diet to minerals like magnesium and potassium and drinks such as beet, grape or pomegranate juice. 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. B-67, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Q: I have suffered from canker sores most of my life, and those on my tongue are very painful.
A few years ago, a reader got relief from acid reflux by eating jalapenos. I had avoided jalapenos all my life, but I gave them a try for heartburn.
The peppers work very well, but the biggest surprise was no more painful canker sores! Nothing else I've tried stops them. If I miss eating at least a couple of peppers a day for just a few days, the sores return.
But now, when one does occur, it is not very painful and heals quickly if I just get back to eating jalapenos each day. I have eaten these hot peppers many different ways, and all work for my acid reflux, but I need to feel some burn in my mouth to keep the canker sores away.
A: Some readers have written about using aloe vera gel, baking soda or buttermilk on canker sores to help them heal faster. Others find that eating kiwi fruit is an effective preventive measure. We've even heard that swishing sauerkraut juice around in the mouth a few times a day can help. But we have not heard before that jalapeno peppers have protective power against canker sores.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them viaPeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is "Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them."