Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Home remedies rarely get scientific attention or respect. The lack of double-blind trials means that it can be difficult to determine whether a specific suggestion will be helpful.
Sometimes we get enough testimonials about a remedy, though, that we conclude it may be worth investigating. One of these is a slightly odd recipe purported to lower high blood pressure.
Several years ago, a reader asked us the following question: “Have you ever heard of this remedy for high blood pressure? Wash but don’t peel a medium eggplant. Dice it into 1-inch cubes.
“Place the cubes in a glass gallon jug and cover the eggplant with distilled water. Put the jug in the fridge for four days.
“Drink one ounce of the water per day, taking your blood pressure daily. After a week or so, the eggplant will begin to disintegrate; discard the cubes but keep drinking the ounce of water daily.
“Be sure to check your blood pressure, as it may begin to drop dramatically. Once your blood pressure is at a good level, you will need to experiment to determine how often to drink the eggplant water. It may be every other day or less often.”
At first we were skeptical. How could eggplant water do anything? But a search of the medical literature revealed that there just might be something to this remedy after all. Researchers have discovered that eggplants contain ingredients that affect ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme). This is the same enzyme blocked by popular blood pressure drugs such as captopril, lisinopril and ramipril (Bioresource Technology, May 2008).
So far as we know, there are no clinical trials testing the power of eggplant water to bring blood pressure under control. But we have heard from a number of readers who have done their own personal experiments.
Leni shared the following story: “This is an ancient remedy used in my country of origin, Cuba. I’ve known about it since childhood, as I would hear the adults talk about it. I have a friend who lowered her blood pressure by drinking eggplant water.
“I had totally forgotten about this natural way to control hypertension, cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as excess body weight and fat. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
“I’m glad I remembered it because I will start drinking this water every day. My people drink it as you would regular water, throughout the day. In other words, you can drink most or all of your daily water intake in the form of eggplant water. It’s also a natural diuretic. You’ll see how well you will feel.”
Not everyone has found this remedy helpful: “I tried this, but it didn’t lower my blood pressure. I drank at least a cup a day for three weeks, and there wasn’t any change at all in my pressure.”
We include many other nondrug approaches to getting blood pressure down to normal in our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (66 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. B-67, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Q: My husband and I both started taking Chantix last year so we could quit smoking. My husband is one of the calmest people I’ve ever met. He never even spanked my kids.
On the drug, he began losing his temper with me, getting angry and yelling at me over little things. I told him I thought the drug was causing him to have rage issues. He couldn’t understand what I was talking about because he felt justified for being mad.
There also were kidney problems. I was peeing all the time. He went in for a regular checkup and was diagnosed with kidney disease. He almost lost his job, since he is military.
I told him I thought it was the drug. He thought I was crazy. Then one day my teen daughter talked back to him. He pushed her into a wall — not real hard, but it was still a push, from a man who had never been violent in the 16 years we have been married. That night he finally saw what the drug was doing to him, and he broke down and cried.
He quit taking it the next day. His kidneys returned to normal within a week, and everything is back to normal.
Never again will I take that drug. I almost lost the man I love to it.
A: Chantix (varenicline) is prescribed to help people stop smoking. Many find it works, but others discover that the side effects are intolerable. Hostility or depression may be a problem. Frequent urination, as you experienced, is a common side effect of the drug. Acute kidney damage is rare. How wise of you to recognize the ways this medication was affecting your relationship.
Q: I have spent the past several years slightly overweight and in a mental fog, with no energy. Last year I looked in the mirror and realized I was missing the outer third of my eyebrows. I seldom felt hungry and ate little but never lost weight. What the heck happened to me? I’m only 50!
I ran across an article about iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism, and I began taking iodine. I felt more energetic by the end of the week. Four months out, my hearing is improved! That was a surprise. I am finally losing the excess weight.
Years ago, I had stopped buying iodized salt and replaced it with sea salt. I robbed myself of crucial iodine. I won’t be doing that anymore.
A: Iodine is essential for thyroid function. Switching from iodized salt to sea salt may have set you up for trouble. New research from China shows that thyroid disorders are more common in people who don’t use iodized salt or drink milk (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 2013).
Your symptoms (including loss of the outer third of your eyebrows) are typical of an underactive thyroid gland. Readers can learn more about such symptoms and the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders in our Guide to Thyroid Hormones. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (66 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. T-4, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
The improvement in your hearing is a fascinating development. Iodine deficiency and low thyroid function may contribute to hearing loss (Nutrition Research Reviews online, June 11, 2013).
Q: Years ago, I read in your column about using plain old yellow mustard for leg cramps. When I get cramps in the calves of my legs at night, they are so severe that I just about break my neck trying to get out of bed as quickly as possible. Standing up and walking around does help a bit, but the cramps still leave me in agony.
Once I swallow a tablespoon of French’s mustard, it generally helps me within a minute or so. My daughter suffers from occasional leg cramps as well and also has found relief by taking a spoonful of mustard. When I’m traveling, I make certain that I have a small bottle of mustard in the car with me.
A: We don’t know why mustard works so well against muscle cramps. It may be the turmeric included for its yellow color, or it could be the vinegar or the salt. However it works, many readers agree that this remedy has rescued them from excruciating leg cramps.
Here’s one story: “Several doctors have run full metabolic panels on me but never found an electrolyte imbalance to explain my horrible leg cramps. One doctor prescribed potassium just in case, but it didn’t help. Another suggested calcium — also no help.
“I took quinine tablets for 10 years until the Food and Drug Administration banned its use for cramps, but it gave only partial relief. Luckily, a friend had read about mustard the same month I stopped quinine, and the years since then have been wonderful.
“The People’s Pharmacy with Joe and Terry Graedon” airs Saturday at 7 a.m. on WVTF (89.1 FM) and at 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays on RADIO IQ (89.7 FM). Joe and Teresa Graedon’s column runs in Tuesday’s Extra.
Weather JournalRain is here; no snow