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Graedons' Pharmacy | Cowgirl swears by black cherry juice

Q: I am 53 and an aging old cowgirl. I've been beat up, banged up and thrown off livestock since I was 8 years old. Now all that has come home to roost.

I got my first signs of gout last year and went through hell with the doctors. I decided to give cherry juice a try and sent someone into town to fetch me back a bottle of black cherry juice.

It was 20 bucks for a quart jug. I took 2 tablespoons of it by mouth and also soaked my feet in an activated-charcoal solution.

I felt like I was 35 again by the time I got up. I was able to ride and rope again without pain in my feet. This really works for me.

A: Although the lore about cherry juice against gout was once thought to be an old wives' tale, studies now show that tart or black cherry consumption reduces gout attacks (Arthritis and Rheumatism, December 2012).

This is presumably because consuming cherries or cherry juice lowers the level of uric acid circulating in the body (Journal of Nutrition, June 2003).

Your activated-charcoal foot soak is a new one on us. We are glad it helped you get back in the saddle!

Q: My daughter told me about a headache remedy she read about. I've had mild to moderate migraines for many years, but this remedy has worked for the past five.

This is cheap, safe and easy. Hold an ice bag on your temple or forehead and put your feet in hot water for a few minutes. Within an hour or so, the headache is gone! It is wonderful!

A: We've read about a lot of headache remedies, but have never heard this one before. For a migraine, applying a remedy at the first hint of a headache may make a difference in how well it works.

Some people like to stop a migraine by eating ice

cream or drinking ice water. Others prefer heat over cold and reach for hot, spicy soup. You can learn about these and many other remedies in our Guide to Headaches and Migraines.

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. M-98, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: peoplespharmacy.com.

Q: I read your article on yogurt for an itchy bottom and want to share a related experience. While I was in Mexico this winter, a woman in our party was having a terrible time with rashes on her arms, legs and torso. Two young Mexican women, friends who are healers, recommended putting plain yogurt on them. She got immediate results from the itch, and the rash quickly subsided.

Back in the U.S., I tried plain yogurt for an itch on my torso and also for a female itch. It worked great.

You use only a fingertip amount, so it's not at all messy. It feels like a water-based cream. Since it had been refrigerated, it also was cooling.

A: A few decades ago, there were debates about topical application of yogurt compared with eating yogurt as a way of treating vaginal infections.

In one study, Israeli scientists had women eat yogurt with live cultures or pasteurized yogurt to see if the live cultures would work better (Archives of Family Medicine, November-December 1996). Too few women finished the study to be sure.

We don't know how yogurt might work on a rash, but we'll take your word that it is soothing.

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."

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