Q. I read that eating pomegranates will lower one’s cholesterol. Is this true? If so, what is it in the pomegranate that causes the effect? I would prefer to avoid taking prescription medicine if there are other ways to control cholesterol.
A. Eating a single pomegranate might not provide much health benefit, but concentrated pomegranate juice does seem to have some cholesterol-lowering power. A small study of diabetics with high cholesterol found that this concentrate lowered total and bad LDL cholesterol (Journal of Medicinal Food, Fall 2004).
Other research has shown that pomegranate juice has other heart-healthy effects. It lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow to the heart and may even have anti-inflammatory properties that could relieve arthritis pain. What components of pomegranate are responsible for all these effects is unknown.
Q. Some elderly friends recently told a group of us that they were surreptitiously going to the liquor store and purchasing gin so they could soak golden raisins in it and eat a few daily. This was actually helping their arthritis!
Being skeptical, I wonder if there is any medical advantage to this. Is it the power of suggestion?
A. We first started writing about gin-soaked golden raisins more than a decade ago. Some readers have found this remedy amazingly helpful. Others tell us it is worthless.
There is no scientific research to resolve your question. Nevertheless, the amount of gin is small, and the raisins are tasty, especially in oatmeal.
Here’s the recipe: Put golden raisins in a shallow bowl and add just enough gin to cover them. Allow the gin to evaporate, and eat nine raisins daily.
For more details on this and other recipes, we are sending you our Guide to Home Remedies. 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. R-1, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Q. Is it safe to take St. John’s wort if I am not on any prescription medications?
A. You have identified one of the biggest problems with St. John’s wort. This plant extract is used to treat mild to moderate depression, but it can interact negatively with a wide range of medications.
A recent study (Journal of Psychopharmacology, October 2005) found that St. John’s wort worked better than Prozac for major depression. The investigators concluded that “St. John’s wort appeared to be safe and well tolerated.” Reactions reported included headache, dry mouth, digestive upset and sleepiness. There is concern that this herb might increase the risk of cataracts if the eyes are exposed to bright sunlight.
Q. My doctor had me take Prelief because he thought I had interstitial cystitis. It turns out I don’t, but I was plagued with canker sores in my mouth every time I ate something acidic, like salsa or barbecue sauce.
Since I started using Prelief, I have hardly had any. I take it before I eat an acidic food, and it really has helped me. I hope you will pass this information on to other canker-sore sufferers.
A. Prelief is calcium glycerophosphate. It is sold as a supplement to take the acid out of food, which can be helpful for people who suffer heartburn or bladder problems. We’re glad to hear it worked for your canker sores.
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