Q: Dandelion root tea has helped me a lot with my acid reflux. I have used a PPI for just 14 days with a combination of apple-cider vinegar diluted in warm water for immediate relief.
Decreasing my alcohol consumption and eliminating coffee made a difference, as these are huge triggers for me. But dandelion root tea seems to rid me of any heartburn issues, so I've stopped all other remedies.
A: The recent news about serious side effects from long-term use of proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as esomeprazole (Nexium) and lansoprazole (Prevacid) makes nondrug alternatives appealing. Dandelion root has a reputation as benefiting digestive problems, though there is not much clinical research. The root of Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) does contain effective antimicrobial compounds (Phytotherapy Research, April 2015).
Dandelion root has prebiotic properties that encourage the growth of beneficial gut bacteria (Fitoterapia, December 2004).
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We are unsure whether these activities explain the good results you experience, however.
Q: I read your recent column about the aroma in soap being the secret cure for leg cramps. It dawned on me that I haven't been experiencing leg cramps or foot cramps at night for the past six weeks. This coincides with my recent purchase of an aromatherapy mister that I use at night in the bedroom with essential oils, e.g., lavender, tea leaf, lemon grass, eucalyptus and sweet orange. I used to get cramps almost every night so painful that they woke me with severe, excruciating pain.
I got the mister because I like the smell, but maybe it's the reason the leg and foot cramps have abated. If so, that's a great benefit. I'll try the bar of soap when I travel and don't have the mister with me.
A: Thanks for sharing your secret. Other people with nighttime leg cramps might want to try it.
We offer many other recommendations, from pre-bedtime stretches to mineral supplements, in our Guide to Leg Pain. Anyone who would like a copy, please send
$3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (71 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. RLS-5, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Responses to cramp remedies seem to be highly individual, so a person who is regularly awakened with painful leg cramps may need to try a few to find the best one.
Q: You recently ran a story about someone who suffered with psoriasis until she went to Hawaii on vacation. I, too, suffered with psoriasis for years, using creams, ointments, light treatments, etc., and have always loved sun and salt water.
My psoriasis always improved after a little sun and salt water, but it went away completely after I retired. Stress gone, psoriasis gone.
A: Thanks for pointing out the relationship between psychological stress and psoriasis (Dermatology Research and Practice online, Oct. 15, 2015).
Leading experts in dermatology and psychology recently convened a workshop on this topic (Frontiers in Psychology, Feb. 2, 2016). They agreed that cognitive behavioral therapy can be helpful, but also considered some online-based stress-controlling therapies as promising.
Joe and Teresa Graedon, answer letters from readers in their column. Email them via PeoplesPharmacy.com.