Health News

Mustard for leg cramps, psoriasis

Q: My husband is disabled by osteoarthritis and psoriatic arthritis. He experienced frequent muscle cramping and was eating extra yellow mustard for relief.

His psoriasis was treated for years by a dermatologist. After a few weeks of taking large amounts of mustard, he noticed his psoriasis was greatly improved.

After his muscles stopped cramping, he stopped eating mustard. His psoriasis started returning. He has now resumed taking mustard -- this time for psoriasis.

A: Many readers have reported that a teaspoon or two of yellow mustard eases leg cramps, but you are the first to suggest that this condiment might be helpful for psoriasis.

Your story led us to do some digging in the medical literature. A mouse study published in China demonstrated that when mustard seed was fed to rodents, it suppressed psoriasislike inflammation (Journal of Southern Medical University, September 2013). Japanese scientists concluded that the results of their research "provide a basis for mustard seed to be used as a promising intervention for psoriasis in the future" (Journal of Dermatology, July 2013).

Your husband's experiment with mustard appears to confirm the preliminary research carried out in animals. Thanks for sharing his experience. Perhaps others will benefit from his discovery.

Q: Your column mentioned using pineapple or banana skin as a topical treatment for plantar warts. The treatment of choice (unfortunately not well known among family doctors or even dermatologists) may be the daily topical application of vitamin A.

Vitamin A can be bought in capsules in any drugstore. Puncture a capsule of the vitamin with a sharp needle. Each day, squeeze a drop or

two of the vitamin A oil out of the capsule onto the wart and rub it in well.

Dr. Robert Garry reported 100 percent success within five months in 50 consecutive patients (New England Journal of Medicine, Oct. 14, 2004). I likewise had success with this treatment for a very stubborn plantar wart, although mine required applying the vitamin twice a day to get results.

No side effects have been reported. It just requires stubborn persistence.

A: We were delighted to learn about this simple wart therapy. Dr. Garry reported further success with topical vitamin A therapy in the treatment of a woman with a nine-year history of recalcitrant warts (Virology Journal, Jan. 17, 2012).

We are somewhat surprised that dermatologists have not pursued this unique approach to see if it holds up to rigorous research.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Email them via Their newest book is "Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them."