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Tea bag eases hemorrhoid itch

Joe And Teresa Graedon

Q. I was visiting my daughter out of state and woke up in the middle of the night absolutely tormented with rectal itching from a hemorrhoid. I could find nothing that helped.

I remembered reading in your column that a soaked tea bag would relieve sty inflammation, so I soaked a green-tea bag in hot water for one to two minutes, squeezed out some of the water and applied it to the site. The relief was almost immediate.

I held it in place until the tea bag was no longer warm, at least 10 minutes. The excruciating itch was gone and did not come back. I repeated this once, in the morning, to ensure the itch did not return.

My doctor confirmed later that I did have a hemorrhoid, but I had never been bothered before and have not been bothered since. The green-tea bag was a great home remedy. I was careful not to burn myself. Perhaps someone else will benefit.

A. Thanks for sharing your experience. Although there is nothing in the medical literature about this technique, we did find numerous references online to the idea of applying a warm tea bag to painful hemorrhoids.

Other readers have shared that a dab or two of zinc oxide to the area can be helpful. We also have been surprised to learn from some people that eating a teaspoon or two of blackstrap molasses brings relief after a few days.

Q. A while back in your column, you offered a homemade cough remedy, which I lost. It might have had ginger or thyme in it.

Now that I am suffering with a nasty cold, I would greatly appreciate your sending it to me along with any other suggestions for easing cold symptoms.

A. There are several teas that can help with coughs and congestion. Peel about an inch or so of fresh ginger root and grate it into a mug. Cover with hot water and steep for five minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey.

We are sending you our Guide to Colds, Coughs and the Flu with details on lots of other natural ways to calm a cough and ease cold symptoms. 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. Q-20, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website:

Q. I have had many episodes of depression during the past 40 years. I have been on seven antidepressants, only one of which worked without unacceptable side effects. It took two weeks to kick in.

Recently, I had another bout. I read that inositol could help depression and started taking it. Within two days, I was no longer suicidal, and in a week, I was back to feeling good.

A. Inositol is a natural compound that is found in numerous foods, especially fruit. It plays a role in several physiologic processes, including modulating the neurochemical serotonin.

Studies of inositol for treating depression have been inconclusive (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, April 19, 2004). We’re glad it helped you so quickly, though we have no idea whether it would help others as effectively.

Q. I’ve had bursitis in my shoulders and hip for years. Then I tried Certo (from the canning section of the grocery) mixed with 64 ounces of white grape juice. I take half a cup daily. The pain disappeared like a miracle in just four days. No pain meant my hip relaxed, and my massage therapist was shocked. I am in awe.

A. Thanks for your report. Many people find that a packet of Certo plant pectin (sold to stiffen homemade jams) dissolved in a half-gallon of grape juice eases joint pain.

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