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Q. I have been struggling with brittle nails. When one cracked, I tried taking powdered gelatin. This worked for me.

A. Taking gelatin has been a home remedy for brittle nails for decades. Although there is no recent research to support this home remedy, we discovered an article in the AMA Archives of Dermatology (September 1957). In cases of brittleness not caused by psoriasis, thyroid imbalance or fungal infection, the clinicians running this test found that gelatin (one package daily) was helpful within three months.

Readers of this column also have reported that taking Knox Gelatine can help ease arthritis. One wrote: “Gelatin worked well for me and my aging best-buddy canine. We both had joint problems and were beginning to limp slightly. I make a variety of Knox Gelatine natural-fruit smoothies for myself and mix it plain into my dog’s food daily. It has been a couple of months since I began using it, and both my buddy and I have had remarkable success with the gelatin.”

If you are interested in other non-drug approaches to treat arthritis, you’ll find them in “The People’s Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies,” available in libraries, bookstores and online (www.PeoplesPharmacy.com).

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Q. I started taking turmeric to fight inflammation and got a nasty surprise. I began bleeding at the slightest scratch.

It took me a while to figure out that the herb was interacting with the Plavix I take to prevent a blood clot. I often didn’t even feel the scratch, but it would bleed profusely.

I was taking high-grade turmeric capsules. I wish I could use turmeric instead of Plavix, since I can’t take NSAIDs for my arthritis. I hope this information helps someone else.

A. We have heard from readers taking the anticoagulant warfarin (Coumadin) that turmeric can increase the risk of bleeding. Yours is the first report we have received of a possible interaction between turmeric and Plavix.

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Q. What oil would you recommend for cooking? I just read that safflower oil is high in linoleic acid and could increase the risk for heart disease.

Olive oil is great for salads and some cooking, but not for everything. I’ve been using canola oil when I don’t use olive oil. Is that the best choice?

Is there an oil that would not be high in omega-6 fats? I am still confused.

A. For decades, nutrition experts have been recommending oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as safflower or corn oil. PUFAs lower cholesterol and were assumed to prevent heart attacks.

A new analysis of old data shows that we should not rely too heavily on vegetable oils high in linoleic acid. That’s because of the Sydney Diet Heart Study. In this randomized trial, men eating safflower oil instead of butter and other saturated fat had higher rates of death from cardiovascular causes (BMJ online, Feb. 5, 2013). Breakdown products of linoleic acid may be oxidized into compounds that clog coronary arteries.

Olive oil is rich in the heart-healthy monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. So is peanut oil, which is more suitable for high-heat cooking. Other options include rice bran oil or cold-pressed organic canola oil. According to Mary Enig, Ph.D., author of Your Fats,” the best approach is to “use a mixture of natural fats in moderation.”

Joe Graedon, M.S., and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D.