Q: You are worrying people unnecessarily about aluminum and Alzheimer's disease. This myth was debunked years ago. Why are you still flogging a dead horse?
A: The controversy over aluminum exposure and brain toxicity has not disappeared. Recent research suggests that aluminum is linked to neurotoxicity and even dementia (Immunologic Research online, April 2013).
Aluminum is found in higher concentrations in the brains of Alzheimer's patients (Journal of Alzheimer's Disease online, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2013). There is growing concern that aluminum is involved in the development of this devastating condition (Clinical Biochemistry, January 2013). A preliminary study found that drinking silicon-rich mineral water helps remove aluminum from the body and may improve cognition (Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Vol. 33, No. 2, 2013).
Q: I have heard for years that when your child has a cough, you should put Vicks VapoRub on his feet. I thought that was ridiculous. On his chest, yes, but feet? So I hadn't done that.
My son coughs until he starts to vomit whenever he gets even the slightest cold. He's 7 years old and has a nasty virus right now, as do I.
I decided to try Vicks on his chest. I didn't remember it working that well when I was a kid, so I hadn't tried it before.
My husband said to put it on his feet. Still thinking it was silly, I put it on my son's feet but not mine.
He slept all night with no coughing. I know because I would have heard him; I was awake most of the night coughing.
A. Camphor, eucalyptol and menthol, all found in Vicks, are approved OTC cough-medicine ingredients. Why applying this ointment to the soles of the feet could quell a cough remains a mystery.
Q: My doctor has recommended that I take enteric-coated aspirin to protect my heart without damaging my stomach. But I read that coated aspirin doesn't always protect the heart as well as regular aspirin. Would I be safer buying low-dose chewable aspirin?
A: The study you are referring to was published in the journal Circulation (Jan. 22, 2013). Researchers gave 400 volunteers either immediate-release regular-strength aspirin or a similar dose of enteric-coated aspirin.
Some of the people taking coated aspirin had a much-delayed anti-clotting response. This may not matter for daily aspirin users like you. However, doctors may recommend uncoated or chewable aspirin for people who suspect a heart attack in progress.
Q: My husband has had rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis, with facial redness, flaking and discomfort. Prescription creams did not help, and some seemed to make the facial redness worse.
We read in your column that washing the face with selenium sulfide dandruff shampoo (Selsun Blue) might help. After one month, his skin is smooth, healthy and normal-looking. He looks years younger, and the discomfort has vanished.
A: Thank you for the testimonial. Perhaps the anti-fungal properties of selenium sulfide are responsible for this success.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Send questions to them via peoplespharmacy.com.