Vitamin E, onion extract for scars

Q. When I had knee-replacement surgery, the physical therapist recommended cocoa butter with vitamin E for the scar. It worked beautifully.

Since I had some left over, I began using it on my nail beds at night. This winter I had strong fingernails, no cuticle issues, and no split skin on my fingertips.

Now I have begun using it on my lips instead of Vaseline at night. Is this safe?

A. Cocoa butter is an edible fat, so it is definitely safe to use on the lips. Since you have already used the product with vitamin E on your skin and not developed a rash, it should be safe on your lips. Some people develop contact dermatitis when vitamin E is applied to the skin.

There has long been a controversy about the benefits of vitamin E for scars. A study at the University of Pittsburgh found that a lotion containing vitamin E, hydrocortisone and silicone (Scarguard) was better than placebo (Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, May 2010). So was an onion extract gel (Mederma).

Q. My doctor told me that my blood sugar level was one point away from requiring medication for type 2 diabetes. I was very concerned because diabetes seems to be such a chronic and painful disease.

I had read about taking cinnamon to lower blood sugar levels, so I went to the health-food store and got a good-size jar of ground cinnamon. I started putting about half a teaspoon in my morning health-food drink. To my surprise, six months later my blood sugar level is completely normal. Cinnamon worked!

A. You are not the first person to report success with cinnamon. Although further research is needed, data in the medical literature indicate that cinnamon can lower elevated blood sugar (Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, December 2009).

In our book “Recipes and Remedies,” we provide details on how to use cinnamon in coffee and oatmeal, along with foods like almonds, fenugreek, mustard, vinegar and bitter melon that help control blood sugar. Anyone who would like a copy may order online (peoplespharmacy.com) or send $11.25 (plus $4 S&H) to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy (Dept. R&R), P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

Q. One reader asked about wart treatments for his 7-year-old grandson. The banana-peel treatment you suggested works OK, but we found something that worked like a dream!

For two years, our 8-year-old daughter battled warts on her feet, hands, forearm and elbow. We used apple-cider vinegar and duct tape.

Apply the vinegar on a tiny piece of cotton ball, place it on the wart, cover it with duct tape and leave it on for a few days. Remove the tape and cotton ball, wash the spot with warm water and repeat if needed.

Our daughter only needed two treatments before all her warts were gone, never to return. She’s been wart-free for more than a year.

A. There are so many wart remedies we have lost count. What works for some may not always be effective for others. Here are just a few options our readers have shared: castor oil, milkweed juice, Listerine, garlic, potato, turmeric paste and cimetidine (Tagamet). Details on each are available at www.peoplespharmacy.com.

When all else fails, a dermatologist can freeze, burn or cut warts off. Whatever treatment is used, warts sometimes come back.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Email them via their Web site: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Recipes & Remedies From The People’s Pharmacy.”

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