Q: Is there any truth to the theory that taking 2 teaspoons of red-wine vinegar at lunch and again at dinner reduces blood sugar? Do you have any suggestions for controlling blood sugar? My doctor says I have prediabetes.
A: There is some evidence that adding vinegar to a high-carbohydrate meal can help moderate the resulting rise in blood sugar (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2010). Adding a vinaigrette dressing to salad at the end of the meal, as the French do, might be an easy way to accomplish this.
Other strategies include avoiding highly processed carbs and sugar while increasing intake of vegetables and nuts. Supplements such as vitamin D and selenium, fenugreek, bitter melon and nopal cactus also may be helpful.
Q: You responded to a 17-year-old with osteoporosis, but you did not mention a remedy I find helpful.
I have been taking Knox Gelatine in my orange juice for more than 20 years to control joint pain. In addition, it has kept my bones strong. At almost 79, I need all the help I can get. So does that 17-year-old.
A: Gelatin is being used as scaffolding in bone engineering experiments (Pharmaceutical Research online, May 2013), but we were unaware that taking it orally would help. Animal research hints that this approach may be beneficial (Journal of Medicinal Food, May 2013).
Q: I am a 21-year-old female and swear I have a male libido. Most guys would find that desirable, but, of course, I had to fall madly in love with a guy who has a low libido.
Every time I let him know I'm in the mood, he pushes me away or groans, like "Not again!" I feel I'm constantly annoying him! I also can't help but feel that I'm unattractive or unwanted. We get into fights frequently, and I feel I'm the cause even though I can't help it.
I get so frustrated at him and at myself. I just wish my sex drive were gone!
I don't want to take pills, but I have heard sodas and licorice lower sex drive. I'm cramming in as much of that as I can, but is there anything else?
A: Please stop overdosing on licorice and soda! Although it is true that natural licorice containing the ingredient glycyrrhizin can lower libido, it has many other effects on the body. Too much of this compound can deplete the body of potassium, raise blood pressure, lead to fluid retention and disrupt hormone balance. Other complications include changes in heart rhythm, muscle damage, fatigue and weakness.
We hope you can encourage your partner to engage in couples counseling. That would be a far healthier way to deal with the frustration you are going through. Sex counseling also might be beneficial. The counselor may suggest ways for your partner to satisfy you even when he is not in the mood himself.
As for soda, the effects on libido are secondary to the long-term damage it can do to metabolism and weight.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Send questions to them via peoplespharmacy.com.