Q: I have been using turmeric for more than a year for arthritis in my hands and have had really great results.
I have an elderly large-breed dog with hip problems. The pain was so severe, the vet suggested we might put him down.
I started him on turmeric capsules, and within 24 hours, there was improvement. Within a week, he was playing like a puppy again.
I break open the capsules and add them to his canned dog food. Perhaps this will help others.
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A: There is a significant amount of research demonstrating the anti- inflammatory activity of the yellow spice turmeric and its principal ingredient curcumin. Although most of the clinical studies have been done in humans, there has been some research in dogs. The investigators for one study wrote: "The results would suggest that curcumin offers a complementary anti-inflammatory support for osteoarthritis treatment in dogs" (Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, June 30, 2012).
You will find other natural approaches to easing the pain of arthritis along with more detailed information about turmeric in our book "The People's Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies" (PeoplesPharmacy.com).
Be sure to check with the veterinarian before giving a dog any human food or spice. Turmeric in large doses can harm the liver (Medicinal Chemistry, March 2009).
Q: My vitamin D levels are not as high as I would like (under 30 ng/ml). I try to get at least 15 to 20 minutes of sun every other day, and I do take a supplement occasionally.
I recently heard that if you shower after sun exposure, you will wash the vitamin D off your skin before it can be absorbed. Is there any truth to this? If so, how long do I need to wait before showering?
A: There is not much research on this topic. One of the leading vitamin D experts, Michael Holick, M.D., Ph.D., suggests that vitamin D is made inside skin cells and therefore would not be washed off during a shower.
If you use sunscreen, that will keep your skin from making vitamin D. Try exposing your skin to the sun for 15 to 30 minutes before applying sunscreen. If that doesn't work, you may need to be more conscientious about taking vitamin D supplements on a daily basis.
Q: My mother taught me an easy trick for hiccups that always works for me. Get a glass full of water and bend forward from the waist into a right angle. Start drinking the water as you slowly rise up until the glass is empty when you are fully standing again. This always works for me and others I've told about it.
A: Your mother's remedy sounds similar to another time-honored hiccup remedy: drinking water from the far side of the glass. You have to bend over to manage this.
Another reader recommends: "I am a retired teacher, and this is what I taught my students to do to stop hiccups. It worked every time.
"A hiccup is a spasm of the diaphragm in your chest. If you happen to be swallowing at the time of the spasm, you counteract it. So note the amount of time between hiccups, and just before another hiccup is due, start taking continuous small sips of water.
"If you don't happen to be swallowing when another hiccup occurs, wait and try again. It may take a time or two, but as soon as you can swallow when the hiccup is happening, the hiccups stop."
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."