Q. Your column about using maggots medicinally for skin injuries brought back a memory of another long-ago treatment: leeches. More than 60 years ago, when I was growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., the pharmacy in my neighborhood routinely sold leeches to guys with black eyes acquired in bar fights.
I had a friend whose father sent him to the drugstore up the street to purchase a few after a fistfight. The father was the type of person who attracted lots of fists.
A. A black eye is a bruise to the soft tissue around the eye. A century ago, leeches were a common treatment because they sucked out the blood that caused the discoloration. Today, a cold pack is more available and appealing.
Q. What can I substitute for aspirin to ease pain without stomach problems? Will it thin the blood as well?
If inflammation in the body is a problem, what home remedy will help reduce it?
A. Aspirin is the gold standard for anti-inflammatory pain relief. Doctors often recommend aspirin for people at risk of heart disease. New research also suggests that aspirin reduces the likelihood of certain common cancers (Lancet Oncology online, March 21).
Despite such benefits, aspirin can cause trouble for many people. Bleeding ulcers are a potentially deadly complication.
Your doctor may be able to prescribe salsalate, which can fight inflammation but may be less irritating to the digestive tract. We are sending you our guide to Alternatives for Arthritis for more details about salsalate and anti-inflammatory foods that also can thin the blood. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (65 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. AA-2, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoples pharmacy.com.
Nondrug options for reducing inflammation include tart cherries, gin-soaked raisins, grape juice, dark chocolate, pineapple, ginger, turmeric and boswellia.
Q. My son has had multiple warts on his hands. He has tried everything, including getting them frozen off by the doctor with liquid nitrogen.
He developed a huge wart on the inside of his middle finger. The doctor said it was so big that it would require many treatments to make any visible difference.
My son tried drugstore wart removers, but nothing helped. Meanwhile, the wart became ginormous, black and cracked. He was miserable.
That’s when I read your column about wrapping a banana peel around warts to get rid of them. I cut the article out, but my son did not believe this would help.
A few more weeks went by before he became desperate enough to try the banana peel. Within a week, his huge, angry wart was nearly gone. He came to me and said, “Mom, we need more bananas!” After the second week of this, you could not see a trace of that wart.
I only wish I had taken a picture of that thing, because no one would believe that a banana peel could get rid of that huge wart. When he showed his friends the wart was gone, they were stunned.
A. Many readers tell us that taping the inside of a banana peel to a wart works wonders. More stories about banana peels and other wart remedies can be found at www. peoplespharmacy.com/.