Ginger tea restores voice

Q. For two consecutive years after a prolonged, forceful cough that lasted one or two months, I totally lost my voice. My ear, nose and throat doctor diagnosed me with chronic laryngitis and prescribed medication and lozenges. They offered no relief, though.

Then I was told by the old women from our home place, the Philippines, to avoid cold drinks and to take “salabat.” That’s ginger tea in our dialect. My voice returned. Ginger tea also is good for sore throat and hoarse voice.

A. Ginger has a long history in treating nausea, vomiting, flatulence and other digestive disorders. It also has been used for congestion, cough and bronchitis. Thanks for letting us know how well it worked for your laryngitis.

Another reader had a great experience with ginger for a persistent cough: “Ginger is amazing! I had a really dry cough that went on for three weeks. I tried antibiotics, mucolytics, gargles and anesthetic lozenges, but they didn’t work. Then my father suggested that I chop some raw ginger root, chew the pieces like candy and suck the juice out of them. I tried it, and the following day, my cough was gone.”

Q. I am desperate to find a way to relieve my headaches. I have been prescribed at least a dozen different drugs for tension headaches and migraines. Here is a partial list of what I have tried in vain: propranolol, gabapentin, divalproex and nortriptyline. I have taken as many as 12 Motrin pills in a day.

Imitrex helps my migraines but does nothing for my daily tension headaches. I would love to have a more natural way to control my headaches. What can you tell me about feverfew and riboflavin?

A. Frequent use of pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen may actually result in rebound headaches. That is, the medicine may actually be setting you up for a vicious cycle of more frequent headaches.

The herb feverfew, the B vitamin riboflavin and the mineral magnesium all have been shown to be helpful in preventing migraines (Clinical Journal of Pain, June 2009). Other natural approaches include the herb butterbur and the supplement Coenzyme Q10. Acupuncture and biofeedback also can be helpful.

We are sending you our brand-new Guide to Headaches and Migraines with more detailed information on these approaches. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (61 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 Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.com.

Q. When I was growing up, my mother suggested I apply lemon juice under my arms at least once a week while I was taking a shower to avoid using deodorant. So I did.

I rubbed my armpit with half of the lemon and left the juice on for about five minutes while I washed. Before I ended my shower, I applied soap and water to remove the lemon juice.

I have never used deodorant and have never needed it. I know that milk of magnesia also is good.

A. Thanks for an unusual suggestion. We caution others that lemon juice should not be applied to abraded skin or scratches, so do not put it on right after shaving armpits. It could sting like crazy!

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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