Q. After reading comments regarding the hot-pepper remedy for heartburn at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com, the scientist in me couldn't resist giving it a try. For several years, I have taken omeprazole, ranitidine or antacids to combat occasional acid reflux, especially after a large or fatty supper.
Nine days ago, as an experiment, I began adding hot peppers to my supper meals - a grilled hamburger patty with a bunch of onions and some sliced cayenne peppers. I was anxious the first night, but had no heartburn and needed no medicine. I have been adding hot peppers to scrambled eggs, meat dishes, macaroni and cheese and fried fish without problems.
I do have a burning-mouth sensation from the peppers, but I like that, and it goes away shortly. Still no heartburn, even when I eat late, which used to guarantee a maximum-strength antacid about 1 a.m.
This morning, I had fried eggs (and peppers), bacon and biscuits. Without peppers, this would usually cause me trouble by 10 a.m., but today, nada. I haven't given pizza and beer a try yet, but that is coming.
I will have to verify this by going off peppers to see if the heartburn returns, but right now, I'm enjoying this too much to go back. This is a continuing experiment on myself.
A. We agree that hot peppers seem like an improbable remedy for heartburn, but there is some scientific support for the idea. According to a study in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility (April 2010), hot peppers consumed regularly reduced symptoms of reflux.
Q. I cannot tolerate aspirin or other NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen. Just one dose gives me a bad bellyache. Tylenol makes my asthma worse, so my doctor says I should avoid it.
Would turmeric be an effective anti-inflammatory approach for my arthritis and bursitis? I worry that it might thin my blood too much since I am very susceptible to bruising. Are there any other remedies that might work without irritating my stomach or increasing my risk of bleeding?
A. Turmeric may indeed have some anticoagulant activity (BMB Reports, April 2012). If you are susceptible to bleeding, turmeric might not be your best choice for easing joint pain.
We are sending you our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis, which discusses a range of home remedies in addition to medications such as topical diclofenac that might be less likely to cause you digestive distress. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (65 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. AA-2, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
You may find that gin-soaked raisins, grape juice with Certo, or plant-based remedies such as bromelain, boswellia, tart cherry juice or stinging nettle offer pain relief that would be safe for you.
Q. I went to some of the best dermatologists in the U.S., even flying from Florida to Harvard/Mass General. They gave me all sorts of remedies for eczema, but I didn't get the benefit I wanted.
I saw your recommendation and started drinking oolong tea. I went off all the other creams, and it worked great. My eczema is 90 percent gone in 10 days.
A. A single study done a decade ago in Japan showed that a liter of oolong tea daily helped more than half of the patients with eczema that had not responded to other treatments (Archives of Dermatology, January 2001).