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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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User shares corn meal remedy for nail fungus

Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon The Spokesman-Review

Q. I clipped your article on a cornmeal cure for nail fungus but mislaid it. Not knowing the proportions, I cooked some up and soaked my nails. Even done wrong, it helped mightily. Please forward the correct recipe, which my doctor and his nurse also want.

A. A listener to our public-radio show shared the following remedy for nail fungus: “Put about an inch of cornmeal in a plastic dishpan. Pour in hot water, stir it so the cornmeal gets dissolved, and when it is cool enough not to hurt, soak your feet for an hour. Done regularly, this will get rid of the fungus.”

There is no scientific data to suggest this recipe works, but gardeners report that sprinkling cornmeal around roses may discourage black-spot fungus.

Q. I read an article in your column about using Listerine for itchy scalp. It reminded me that 40-plus years ago, when I was a glue chemist, we kept a crystal of thymol in our pH buffers to prevent the growth of organisms like fungi and bacteria.

I tried sloshing Listerine on a paper towel and applying it to my scalp. It worked. I reasoned that since Listerine is OK in the mouth, it should be safe for regular skin. Listerine turns out to be wonderful for treating jock itch, smelly feet and the condition the British describe as “trucker’s bottom.”

A. We can only imagine what trucker’s bottom might be, but it certainly sounds unpleasant. Several of the herbal extracts in Listerine, including thymol, have antifungal properties and may be helpful against these fungal afflictions.

Q. After my last medical checkup, my doctor called to report that my cholesterol and triglycerides were slightly elevated. He suggested I start taking fish oil and niacin before considering a statin.

Niacin causes unbearable flushing. Some days it feels as if my entire body is on fire. What causes this, and is it dangerous?

A. Niacin is very effective at lowering cholesterol, and fish oil can bring down triglycerides, so your doctor’s suggestion is sensible.

It is not entirely clear why high doses of the B vitamin niacin can trigger flushing, tingling and itching. This harmless side effect is temporary, but while it is happening it feels terrible.

Some people find that taking an aspirin half an hour before the niacin helps diminish this reaction. Others take niacin with food, which may also help.

Timed-release niacin is less likely to cause flushing, but such formulations may increase the risk of liver damage. That’s why anyone taking niacin to lower cholesterol must be under medical supervision.

We’re sending you our Guide to Cholesterol and Heart Health for more information on niacin, fish oil and other natural approaches. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. C-8, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

Q. For years I was troubled with allergies. But I have discovered the following natural approach. I use a neti pot to wash my sinuses with salt water. I take stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) capsules, and I vacuum my bedding daily to get rid of dust mites.

A. Your approach combines several traditional remedies. Nose cleansing with salt water is popular from Scandinavia to India, where a neti pot, which looks like an Aladdin’s lamp, is used to pour water into the nostrils. Stinging nettle is widely used in Germany to ease allergy symptoms.

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