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People’s Pharmacy: Coconut may relieve ulcerative colitis

Joe and Teresa Graedon

Q. Thank you for writing about coconut for treating ulcerative colitis. I was diagnosed with colitis in 1980 and had three feet of my colon removed. My condition was moderate to severe, and I was taking eight tablets of sulfasalazine every day to control it, along with Rowasa enemas daily.

I started ingesting shredded coconut twice a day after reading your article, though I had no expectation it would help. Within a few weeks, my symptoms had lessened, and in about a month, I had gone into complete remission. A year later, I had a colonoscopy showing a healthy colon.

I gradually cut back my medication and have not taken anything for the condition for five years. I feel well and have had no GI problems. I read that coconut has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties and think it must be true.

A. We have heard from others who suffered from severe diarrhea associated with inflammatory bowel disease that coconut macaroon cookies or shredded coconut alone can be helpful. We doubt that many people with ulcerative colitis would respond as dramatically as you have, but we certainly are delighted to learn that this remedy was beneficial for such a serious condition.

Q. Do you have any home remedies for eczema and seborrheic dermatitis? I can no longer afford the creams that my doctor has prescribed.

A. You may want to check for allergies. One reader shared her experience: “After seeing an allergist for a test that showed milk allergies, I was put on a dairy-free diet for life. My eczema cleared up within two weeks.”

One inexpensive option for seborrheic dermatitis (super dandruff that can also affect the face) is topical milk of magnesia. Here is a reader’s response: “I want to thank you so very much for delivering me from the scourge of seborrheic dermatitis, which I suffered for 30 years. Milk of magnesia was the cure!”

You will find more natural approaches for eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and dozens of other conditions in our new book “Favorite Home Remedies From The People’s Pharmacy.” Anyone who would like a copy may send $12.95 (plus $3.95 shipping and handling) to: Graedon Enterprises (Dept. FHR), P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be ordered online at

Q. My mother had memory loss for about two years before she died. She didn’t have Alzheimer’s, but it became fairly serious, and I put her on Ginkgo biloba.

Both my dad and I noticed an effect within two weeks, but the most remarkable effect was the improvement in her handwriting. She’d always had beautiful handwriting. As her memory declined, so had her handwriting.

On ginkgo, her handwriting improved in about six to eight weeks. Then my dad decided he would buy the gingko instead of me. My mother’s handwriting and memory started to slide again. I asked my dad where he was getting the gingko. It turned out he was buying cheap stuff. When I started supplying the ginkgo again (a standardized extract), her memory slide was arrested, and her handwriting improved again.

A. A recent long-term, placebo-controlled trial of ginkgo did not demonstrate any ability to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (Journal of the American Medical Association, Nov. 19, 2008). Despite this discouraging result, some smaller trials have been promising. Your observation is fascinating.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site:
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