Q. I enjoy reading about Noxzema in your column. I have used this product on my hemorrhoids for years.
I used to work for General Motors as a power fork truck driver. I sat on a leather seat, sweating, for hours. Five or six days a week I drove all over the plant delivering materials. You can imagine how that aggravates hemorrhoids.
Many of my friends had operations for this problem, but I resolved mine more easily with Noxzema.
A. Thanks for telling us about this unusual use for Noxzema. This cleansing cream contains camphor, menthol and eucalyptus and was originally developed, around the turn of the 20th century, as a sunburn remedy.
We suspect that the herbal ingredients may be soothing. Camphor should only be used externally, as it can be toxic if absorbed.
Q. How would I know whether I am low in vitamin D? I always use sunscreen, and I heard that it interferes with vitamin D formation. I am lactose intolerant, so I don’t drink milk, which I know is a good source.
If I take a supplement, how much is safe? I read that too much can be toxic.
A. It is hard to tell if you are deficient without a sophisticated blood test (25-hydroxy-vitamin D). Millions of Americans are low in this crucial nutrient, which is formed in the skin when it is exposed to sunshine. Sunscreen can block vitamin D manufacture.
Not only is vitamin D essential for calcium absorption and strong bones, it is also crucial for healthy muscles, heart and nerves. It contributes to blood pressure control, and there is tantalizing evidence that it may reduce the risk of breast, prostate, colon and other cancers.
Michael Holick, M.D., Ph.D., is an expert on vitamin D. He recommends getting vitamin D from sun exposure when possible. The usual recommendation of 400 IU in oral form supplies about 40 percent of an adult’s daily requirement.
Dr. Holick discussed the many benefits of vitamin D, as well as the risks and guidelines for safe sun exposure, in an hour-long radio interview with us. For a CD of this session, please send $15 in check or money order to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. CD-502, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. To avoid toxicity, limit daily intake to 2,000 IU.
Q. I am a 57-year-old woman. I wanted to break my daily habit of drinking wine from the late afternoon until bedtime, so I decided to try kudzu. It worked perfectly right from the start, although it causes constipation. What else can you tell me about kudzu?
A. Physicians prescribe several drugs (Antabuse, Campral, ReVia, Zofran) to help people overcome a craving for alcohol. An extract from the root of the notorious creeping vine kudzu (Pueraria lobata) may also prove helpful. It has traditionally been used in China for the treatment of alcoholism. Although research in the United States is inconclusive, kudzu root extract is available in health food stores.
Q. I am thankful to you for recommending green beans for canker sores. I am plagued with them for some reason. I started rinsing my mouth with the juice from canned string beans. That was about four days ago, and now the sores are almost gone. The bean juice does not burn, and it does soothe the sores. Where did you learn about this remedy?
A. Another reader wrote in about the value of Gerber’s strained green beans against canker sores. Other remedies for this malady include green peas or sauerkraut juice.
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