Q. I have been plagued with restless legs and other sleep problems for years. The problems come and go, and I have been unable to understand why some nights I sleep soundly and other nights I have restless legs.
I exercise regularly and eat properly. I have low cholesterol and low blood pressure and am overall very healthy.
I read somewhere that low iron could cause restless legs. Somebody at work suggested molasses as a sleep remedy, and I tried it. For two weeks I have slept like a baby! I take two teaspoons at bedtime.
I do not know if this is coincidence or if there is something about the molasses, but for now it seems to be having a positive effect. Are there other reports of this as a possible remedy for restless legs?
A. Molasses contains iron along with manganese, copper, calcium and potassium. Perhaps that is why it has been so helpful for your nighttime troubles. You are quite correct that low levels of iron are associated with restless legs syndrome (Sleep Medicine online, Jan. 17, 2013). Thanks for letting us know of your success. We caution that molasses is a sugar byproduct and not appropriate for people with diabetes.
Q. Months ago, I heard about the benefits of vitamin D. I ran an experiment on myself and found that a persistent pain in my back went away after I took 2,800 IU of vitamin D three times.
Now a friend has sent an email message regarding the toxicity of vitamin D. I thought that this vitamin would be dangerous only at very high doses. Can you tell me, please, what amounts of vitamin D lead to toxic levels?
A. The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for vitamin D is 600 IU for most adults (800 for those over 70). The tolerable upper limit is 4,000 IU daily. That is the amount that the government considers safe.
It is possible to overdose on vitamin D supplements. Symptoms of trouble include digestive upset, confusion, weakness, irregular heart rhythms or kidney stones.
We are sending you our Guide to Vitamin D with tips on testing for deficiency plus the pros and cons about supplements. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (66 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’sPharmacy, No. D-23, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Q. I had a large plantar wart that persisted on my foot and toe for more than 20 years. It was treated unsuccessfully with freezing, acid, injection and lasers as well as home remedies.
I read about turmeric in your column and decided to try it on my wart. A single application convinced my wife it was just too messy.
I decided to take turmeric by mouth for its other benefits. After a while, my wart began to shrink. I took turmeric every day for months, and a year later there is no sign of the wart.
I did have some side effects: The bottoms of my feet dried out, and so did my ears. Once the wart was gone, I stopped the turmeric, and my feet and ears recovered. I no longer take turmeric regularly but do make it a point to consume it in food.
A. We sympathize with your wife. Topical turmeric is likely to stain everything bright yellow.
Oral turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Yours is the first story we have heard of successfully using turmeric capsules to banish a wart.