Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Features

People’s Pharmacy: Heartburn medicine cures plantar warts

March 14, 2023 Updated Tue., March 14, 2023 at 6:25 p.m.

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review) Buy this photo
By Joe Graedon, M.S., and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D. King Features Syndicate

Q. I had a painful, swollen plantar wart on the bottom of my foot for more than a year. I had it removed surgically, but it came back with a vengeance. The pain became unbearable and made it hard to walk.

Then, I read that the heartburn medicine cimetidine might work. I took it morning and night.

After two weeks, I felt such relief! The pain and swelling disappeared. Cimetidine really works.

A. For decades, doctors have treated warts topically. They either froze them, removed them surgically or applied caustic chemicals such as salicylic acid or cantharidin (extract from the blister beetle).

Systemic immunotherapy might be another option for hard-to-treat warts. An article in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association (November 1995) reported several anecdotal reports of success with cimetidine (Tagamet). The authors called for large clinical trials to verify the benefits of this heartburn medicine against warts.

Since then, only a few clinical trials have been conducted (Indian Journal of Dermatology, March-April 2015). Effectiveness ranged from 10% to 80%.

The dose for wart treatment is higher than that for heartburn. That’s why a health care professional should supervise this off-label use. Cimetidine also interacts with other drugs such as the blood thinner warfarin.

Q. I’ve been taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily for many years, along with several other supplements and vitamins. I am the oldest and last survivor of my family. My siblings all were in either memory care or assisted living when they died.

I give a lot of the credit to my vitamins, but I also have lived an active life. I’m 88, still manage all my affairs, read a lot and walk a mile or two a day, depending on the weather.

A. It sounds like you are doing everything right. Many people would like to know how to ward off dementia. Staying active physically and mentally is a great first step.

Vitamin D may also be beneficial. Studies have shown that people with low blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D are at greater risk of developing dementia (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Aug. 4, 2022).

Recent research indicates that people who take vitamin D supplements are 40% less likely to develop dementia (Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, March 1, 2023). People who start the supplement before they notice cognitive decline seem to get the most benefit.

Your dose of 2,000 IU/day is above the recommended dietary allowance for people your age (800 IU, which might also be stated as 20 micrograms). It is comfortably below the tolerable upper limit for adults of 4,000 IU (100 micrograms). To learn more about the pros and cons of this supplement, you may wish to read our “eGuide to Vitamin D and Optimal Health.” You’ll find this online resource under the Health eGuides tab at

Q. When I had knee replacement surgery, I was prescribed gabapentin to help control pain. It caused brain fog, imbalance, sleepiness and depression. Why wasn’t I warned about these complications?

A. Gabapentin (Neurontin) is Food and Drug Administration-approved for the treatment of epilepsy. It is also used to help control the nerve pain that may linger after shingles.

Doctors are increasingly prescribing gabapentin to reduce opioid use following surgery. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine (Nov. 1, 2022) indicates that older people may not tolerate this drug well. They often report side effects similar to those you experienced. Doctors should warn patients about such adverse reactions.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, Fla., 32803, or email them via their website: Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.