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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Blackstrap molasses treats hemorrhoids

Q. Several years ago, I had hemorrhoids so bad that I couldn’t even go to work. The only comfort I could find was sitting in a tub of warm water.

A friend who was into old folk remedies told me to get some blackstrap molasses. I was to swallow a couple of tablespoons every few hours.

Since I was desperate, I felt I had nothing to lose, even though it seemed like a silly remedy. To make a long story short, I went back to work the next day.

Regular molasses does not work for this problem, only blackstrap. Even blackstrap molasses will not work if the pain is caused by a fissure and not by hemorrhoids.

My elderly father took the test one step further: He took a couple of tablespoons of blackstrap molasses daily for several months. His varicose veins disappeared!

A. Blackstrap molasses is a byproduct of the sugar refining process. This thick, dark liquid sweetener is rich in minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, calcium and potassium.

Although there are reports on the Web of blackstrap molasses helping hemorrhoids and varicose veins, we could find no scientific studies to support these claims. Two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses have 32 calories, just like sugar, so people with diabetes should avoid using it.

Q. I’ve had chronic, severe insomnia all my life. All I get from well-meaning people is the advice to stop drinking coffee. All I get from doctors are more and more drugs, which work for a while, then quit.

I go days at a time without sleep. My brain is so fried. Any suggestions would be really welcome.

A. Although yours is an extreme case, you are not alone. Millions of people also have great difficulty falling asleep. Others awaken in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep. Regardless, sleep deprivation can contribute to a range of health problems, from hypertension and forgetfulness to impaired immunity and weight gain.

Some tricks to try include vigorous exercise early in the day, a hot bath an hour before bedtime or a high-carb snack half an hour before climbing into bed. Nondrug approaches such as relaxation CDs, magnesium, melatonin or herbs like valerian, hops or lemon balm also may be helpful.

We are sending you our “Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep” with more details on prescription sleep aids like Sonata and Lunesta as well as further details on nondrug approaches. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (61 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. I-70, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our Web site:

Q. I have had colitis for almost three years. Last month, a friend mentioned that she read an article in the newspaper about coconut macaroon cookies preventing diarrhea.

I was ready to try anything, so I bought some cookies. The rest is history. I now can go anywhere without worrying about my uncontrollable problem. I consider it a miracle!

A. We have heard from hundreds of readers about the benefits of dried coconut or macaroon cookies to combat chronic diarrhea. Whether the symptoms are from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or colitis, many people find this natural remedy helpful.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. E-mail them via their Web site:
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