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Oolong tea helps eczema, may help with psoriasis

Q: Your readers did it again! I've been drinking oolong tea for more than a month now, and the patches of psoriasis have disappeared, along with the flaking. I still have a couple of areas that need some ointment now and then, but overall I can wear shorts now without being embarrassed about my skin. (My skinny legs are another matter.) Thanks.

A: A study long ago in Japan found that oolong tea was effective in easing treatment-resistant eczema (Archives of Dermatology, January 2001), but we have found no studies of oolong tea for psoriasis.

Several visitors to our website have reported that drinking oolong tea eased their psoriasis. Others have noted that turmeric or cilantro also can be helpful.

Q: My husband has suffered with polyneuropathy for three years. After his doctors said there was no cure, we located a cure at our vitamin store and want to share it with others.

He takes 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) daily. We are elated with the results. We have a neighbor who also began taking it, and he, too, is much-improved.

A: A randomized, placebo-controlled study in Russia and Israel showed that 600 mg of ALA daily can greatly ease the symptoms of neuropathy (nerve pain) such as stabbing or burning pain, numbness and "pins and needles" (Diabetes Care, November 2006).

A recent article points out that ALA is one of the few treatments that has shown promise for diabetic polyneuropathy and calls for more research (Diabetes/ Metabolism Research and Reviews online, Feb. 5, 2013).

Another nonprescription approach to this problem is benfotiamine, a synthetic form of the B vitamin thiamine. We learned about it from Dr. Charles Beauchamp several years ago, and recently heard this from a reader: "I appreciate the suggestion of benfotiamine for my foot pain. Within a month it has totally cleared up, and I am ready to move to a maintenance regimen."

Q: My daughter had head lice several times when she was very young and her hair was long. The lice shampoos did not work at all.

Finally, we used mayonnaise in her hair. We applied it from the scalp to the ends and then wrapped her head with plastic wrap. We left it on for at least two hours while she watched her favorite DVD. When we washed her hair, you could see the lice rinsing out. We did this every three days for two weeks to make sure that they were all gone.

A. Many readers report that smothering lice with mayonnaise, coconut oil, Listerine or petroleum jelly works better than lice shampoo. Adding vinegar to the rinse can help loosen nits.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Send questions to them via

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