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People’s Pharmacy: Almonds worked for indigestion

Q. Your column helped me finally get off Prevacid. All my previous attempts failed until I learned to eat almonds to stop the indigestion. Now that I have eliminated the drug, I am hopeful my risk of bone fracture will disappear. Are there other ways to stop indigestion?

A. The connection between acid- suppressing drugs and broken bones remains controversial. Some studies suggest that there is a modest increase in the risk of fracture (Archives of Internal Medicine, May 10, 2010), while others do not (Osteoporosis International online, June 29, 2010).

As you learned, it can be difficult to stop powerful acid-suppressing drugs such as Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec and Protonix. Rebound acidity can be extremely distressing for weeks or months.

There are other approaches for heartburn including ginger, papaya or a low-carb diet. We are sending you our newest book, “Favorite Foods From The People’s Pharmacy,” with natural ways to treat many common conditions, including heartburn. It is available online at www.peoplespharmacy.com.

Another reader offered a different success story:

“For years I tried to get off Prilosec, but each time after only a day or two, my acid reflux returned badly. My doctor couldn’t advise anything better, so I kept taking it.

“Then online research suggested apple-cider vinegar. I started taking an ounce in water. It’s been 70 days so far without Prilosec, and I’ve had no acid reflux. (I need an occasional Tums, but not many.) As a side effect, it is helping me lose weight.”

Q. I was interested in the letter from a reader who applied tincture of iodine to his nails to fight fungus. He mentioned that it stains the nails brown. I am surprised you did not tell him that iodine also comes as a colorless liquid. My mother used it for years to control toenail fungus.

A. Many other readers hastened to tell us that we should have mentioned clear iodine. It is also called decolorized or “white” iodine and won’t stain the skin the way brown tincture of iodine does. It should be available in most drugstores, though you might have to ask the pharmacist to help you find it. Iodine is a good disinfectant and also has antifungal activity.

Q. I started taking vitamin D-3 supplements about a year ago when my doctor tested my blood and found out I was vitamin D deficient. Is it just a coincidence that my migraines and chronic headaches have almost disappeared? I’ve had them for more than 25 years, and I am glad not to be suffering.

A. There is not much research on this issue, but we found several case reports similar to your experience (Headache, September 2009). Some investigators have noted that migraines are more common in areas where vitamin D deficiency is widespread (Journal of Headache and Pain online, May 13, 2010).

Q. Early this summer, I got poison oak and couldn’t find the anti-itch cream. I was desperate, so I used my rosacea medicine, MetroGel (metronidazole gel 0.75 percent), hoping for any relief.

Not only did the itch stop within minutes, but by morning the redness and blisters were gone. Several other people have tried it with the same results.

My family doctor and my dermatologist are astonished. It works for me even though they say there is no reason it should.

A. Thanks for a fascinating report. We could find no mention of this use for metronidazole in the medical literature.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. E-mail them via their Web site: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.


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