Q. I usually get up several times during the night to urinate. I have noticed that when I eat raisins just before I go to bed, I don’t need to get up as often, if at all. Is there anything in raisins that might cause a decrease in urine production?
A. We searched high and low to find any scientific support for this observation. We could find none, but others have reported that eating raisins in the evening prevents bed-wetting. We would be interested to learn whether others have had a similar experience.
Q. I have chronic eczema on my ankle and have used corticosteroid cream with no success. Is there a natural remedy? Is eczema an autoimmune condition?
A. Eczema is not considered an autoimmune condition, but it is often associated with allergies or asthma. Irritants or allergens that cause inflammation can trigger the itchy red rash.
A number of home remedies seem to calm the inflammation. Sometimes probiotics may be helpful. Oils rich in gamma-linolenic acid have helped some readers. Drinking oolong tea has helped others, though just one study has been done (Archives of Dermatology, January 2001).
You will find many other options for easing eczema, psoriasis and dry skin in the Guide to Skin Care and Treatment we are sending you. 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. S-28, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Q. I have a friend with severe spinal stenosis who regularly takes powerful pain meds. She recently was hospitalized and could not follow her pain-control routine. When she came home, she was in excruciating pain.
When I heard she might have to go back to the emergency room, I stopped by and suggested a soak in very warm water to see if the pain spasms would stop. I also chipped a bar of soap, put the pieces in a sock and laid it against her lower spine. She had almost immediate relief from the pain and spasms. Anyone in pain should definitely try soap for relief.
A. You are not the first person to report that putting soap on a sore spot or a cramp could alleviate pain. After hearing from dozens of people that soap could ease muscle cramps, we found a report of an experiment conducted by an anesthesiologist. He found that soap-scented oil (SSO) on skin patches could relieve cramps (Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, July 2008). His further research led him to conclude, “It was found that the SSO skin patch consistently and adequately relieved muscular pain” (Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, September 2008).
Q. I read in your column that a man who had taken lecithin for 30 years had never had high cholesterol. This worked for me!
I was taking statins, but my joints hurt so I could hardly walk. I started taking lecithin, and now my cholesterol is normal. Thank you.
A. A French pharmacist discovered lecithin in the mid-19th century. It is a key component of egg yolks. Although it often is said to lower cholesterol, the European Food Safety Authority concluded in 2010 that there was inadequate proof to recommend lecithin or its active ingredient phosphatidylcholine for this purpose.