Q: I have severe diabetic neuropathy. The pain is intense, but it lasts only a short time and can occur anywhere: on the left big toe one time, right little finger the next, left testicle, right earlobe, etc.
None of the drugs my doctor prescribed worked very well, and they all took weeks or months to have any effect. Even then, the dosage had to be increased, and the side effects worsened.
Someone suggested I try something that never occurred to me — marijuana. I took two puffs, waited about 20 seconds, and the pain was gone for three days! That was the fastest and longest relief I have ever gotten. More research is needed, but it’s very promising.
A: Sixteen people with painful diabetic neuropathy that had not responded well to other treatments participated in a placebo-controlled trial of inhaled marijuana at various doses (Journal of Pain, July 2015). This small study showed that their neuropathy pain was significantly reduced at several doses.
We agree that more research will be very helpful. People interested in learning about research that has already been done on medical marijuana may wish to listen to our hourlong interview with David Casarett, M.D., author of “Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana” (available at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com).
Q: I have suffered from moderate to severe plaque psoriasis for more than 40 years. I have tried every possible remedy and medication, with at best short-term success from steroid creams.
Recently, I read that the vitamin biotin is good for skin, hair and nails. Biotin combined with resveratrol has completely cleared my skin of all plaques and psoriasis. (I was already taking resveratrol.) This took place over a period of about 30 to 45 days.
I have been on this regimen for more than six months, with no recurrence of psoriasis whatsoever. My nails also are very strong now. I wanted to share this discovery of good fortune with others who may benefit.
A: Thank you for an intriguing testimonial. We have not been able to find studies demonstrating that biotin improves psoriasis.
There are other natural products that have been studied, however, including resveratrol (PLOS One, May 12, 2015), glycyrrhizin from licorice (Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry, March 2015) and curcumin from turmeric (PLOS One, June 25, 2013). One study found that taking oral curcumin (Meriva) improved the response to topical steroid treatments (BioMed Research International online, May 18, 2015). Perhaps biotin improved your response to the resveratrol you were already taking.
Q: My doctor told me to drink eight glasses of water each day now that the weather is hot. Is that really necessary? I prefer coffee, tea or beer. Does that count?
A: All the fluid you drink counts. There is a popular belief that drinking eight glasses of water daily is essential for good health, but thirst is a good guide to how much water you should be drinking.
Athletes who exercise long and hard (marathon runners, for instance) often concentrate on getting enough water so they don’t become dehydrated. Drinking too much also is a danger because body sodium levels can drop too low. Here again, thirst is the good guide, and added electrolytes may be helpful.
Thirst is not always as reliable in older people, so they may need to pay attention to fluid intake, especially during hot weather.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Email them via www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is“Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”