ADVERTISEMENT

Q. I am 55 years old and suffer from arthritis in my knees. One day I decided to try some unflavored gelatin with tart cherry juice because my nails were not growing as well as they used to, and gelatin is said to help with that. Tart cherry juice is supposed to be a good anti-inflammatory.

Much to my surprise, the pain in my knees subsided substantially within a week! I had tried OTC pain relievers before, to no avail.

I now swear by this gelatin mixture I drink every morning. I find that if I miss my morning concoction, I feel pain before that day ends.

Drinking it helps me so much that I go to the gym more often and have much relief from both the gelatin and the exercise.

A. We love your story! Anything that helps people exercise is worth a try.

Many readers report that tart cherry juice can help alleviate the discomfort of gout or arthritis. Others tell us that unflavored gelatin helps ease sore joints. You are the first we have heard from who has combined the two remedies.

We are sending you our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis, with details on these and other home remedies for joint pain. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (70 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.

...

Q. Decades ago, I had one of those annoying, tickly, nonproductive coughs that kept me up ALL night. An old-timer I knew told me to put a heating pad under my butt. I went to bed convinced that it would not help, but I slept very soundly that night.

Recently, a friend of mine had a terrible cough from bronchitis. Cough syrup with codeine was useless. I told her about the heating pad remedy, and she had the same excellent results I did. Please tell your readers about this.

A. This is a very unusual cough remedy. It seems even stranger than putting Vicks VapoRub on the soles of the feet, a popular though peculiar approach to quelling nighttime coughs.

We can’t think of a scientific explanation for why a heating pad would stop a pesky cough, but it seems fairly benign and might be worth consideration.

...

Q. You’ve pointed out that coconut macaroons are great for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and moderate colitis, but they’re pretty expensive, not easy to find and a little hard to make from scratch.

I’ve found something cheaper, easier and just as effective: a daily Mounds candy bar! (I remind myself that the dark-chocolate coating is healthful, too.) Two cups of peppermint tea round out my daily gut-soothing regimen.

A. You are not the first one to tell us that Mounds candy is an easy and appealing way to take a daily dose of diarrhea-controlling coconut. The downside, of course, is that the candy bar has sugar (21 grams) and calories (230).

Some people have found that simply adding unsweetened shredded coconut to their breakfast cereal also is an effective and affordable substitute for coconut macaroons. A recent review in the Journal of Medicinal Food (December 2013) determined that the fatty acids in virgin coconut oil can slow the growth of nasty gut bacteria called Clostridium difficile (C. diff).

The essential oils in mint also have antibacterial activity (BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Nov. 28, 2013). Peppermint oil has been identified as a safe, effective short-term treatment for IBS (Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology online, Oct. 4, 2013).

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”