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Ginger may help ease cold symptoms

Q. Now that my son is in day care, I am constantly getting his colds and coughs. What can you recommend for easing the symptoms? I am not big on drugstore remedies.

A. Readers of this column are enthusiastic about ginger. Here are just a few anecdotes:

“I must testify what a wonderful hot drink one can make from grating about 1 inch of fresh ginger, putting it in a little wrap of cheesecloth or in one of those mesh spoons used for tea leaves and letting it steep in a mug of hot water. It is fantastic for combating colds … a refreshing and spicy tonic.”

Another reader says: “Someone just told me about drinking ginger tea for a cold. It’s miraculous. Within minutes after sipping the tea I got relief from my stuffy nose and scratchy throat. I just sliced some fresh ginger and poured hot water over it and added a little honey.”

Here is another variation on the ginger theme: “I make a tea with 1 inch fresh grated ginger, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, a pinch cayenne pepper and 2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup for my colds. This was taught to me by someone who studied ayurvedic medicine in India. I love the taste – it’s sweet and spicy. My measurements are rough estimates. I just add the ingredients to taste.”

Q. I read in your column a letter from a person whose cholesterol went from 180 to over 300 after taking glucosamine and chondroitin for sore knees. I think it is not the glucosamine, but the chondroitin that raises cholesterol.

I have been taking glucosamine alone for five years, and it works for me. I also take a handful of walnuts and drink a glass of pomegranate juice every day. My cholesterol went from 254 to 184 without drugs!

A. We have no research to verify that glucosamine and chondroitin independently or together raise cholesterol. We appreciate your suggestion, however. Not everyone gets relief from arthritis with these dietary supplements. Research suggests that neither is very effective for mild to moderate pain.

We are delighted to learn that you have been able to lower your cholesterol successfully without drugs. In our new Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health we offer many other nondrug suggestions and discuss the pros and cons of most medications. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (59 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. C-8, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our Web site:

Q. My husband got Super Glue on his glasses. (Don’t ask!) We tried everything to get it off until I read on your Web site about using the insect repellent DEET. I sprayed OFF! out of the can on them. One big glob is still soaking in a puddle in a saucer, but most of the Super Glue is gone already.

A. The recommended technique for unsticking fingers or removing Super Glue is acetone, found in some nail-polish removers. We were surprised to learn from a reader that OFF! insect-repellent wipes also work. Thanks for sharing your experience. Many people have insect repellent in the house but don’t always have acetone handy.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa Graedon holds a doctorate in medical anthropology and is a nutrition expert. Contact them by e-mail via their Web site:

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