Some arthritics certain about Certo


Q.I read your article on mixing grape juice with Certo for arthritis. It worked for me. I learned about this home remedy back in the 1970s from my mother-in-law. At that time my knee was swollen double even after taking Motrin and Clinoril, so I tried the grape juice and Certo. The knee returned to normal size within a month. I took one tablespoon of Certo in 8 ounces of unsweetened grape juice once a day. I still use this treatment if and when the occasion arises.

A.We had no idea the Certo and grape juice remedy went back so far. Certo is used to thicken homemade jams and jellies and is found in the canning section of the supermarket. It contains pectin, which is derived from the cell walls of plants.

We received a letter from a doctor of pharmacy suggesting that pectin is not the only relevant ingredient: "I am surprised at you for not reading the label on Certo. It's the citric acid and potassium citrate that does the job by alkalinizing blood and neutralizing the acids that cause some forms of arthritis."

Doses are variable. The recipe our original reader offered is, "Take 2 teaspoons of Certo dissolved in 3 ounces of grape juice. Do this three times a day. Cut back to 1 teaspoon Certo in grape juice twice a day after the joints quit aching."

Q.I take Coumadin to thin my blood, Zestril for high blood pressure, Glucophage for diabetes and Synthroid for a thyroid problem.

I would like to take vitamin E because I have heard it is good for diabetics, but I recently read this vitamin is not compatible with blood-thinning medicines.

A.Coumadin (warfarin) interacts with a number of vitamins and drugs. For example, aspirin and acetaminophen (Panadol, Tylenol, etc) may make Coumadin more dangerous by increasing the risk of bleeding. There is some data to suggest that vitamin E (over 400 IU) might also boost the anti-coagulant action of Coumadin.

Vitamin K is another problem for people taking Coumadin. This nutrient is found in many foods including broccoli, brussels sprouts, collards, kale and spinach. Vitamin K can counteract the benefits of Coumadin. If you use the artificial sweetener aspartame (Equal) as many diabetics do, be aware that it may increase bleeding time and blood loss. In combination with Coumadin, such an effect might pose a problem.

Q.Is there a home remedy for bed sores? I take care of my sister and the medicines her doctor prescribed are not working. What can I do to help her?

A.Please inform her doctor of the situation and ask if you can try an old-fashioned remedy recommended by orthopedic surgeon Richard Knutson. His experience with more than 5,000 patients over 15 years has been positive.

Knutson's recipe: Warm 1 pound Betadine antiseptic ointment in the top of a double boiler and allow to melt. Add 6.5 ounces Betadine solution, then stir in 4 pounds of granulated table sugar. The mixture will be the consistency of chunky peanut butter. Apply daily to a clean, dry wound to a depth of one-fourth inch. Cover with clean gauze and change dressing at least once a day.

Q. I been taking a low dose of Synthroid since having most of my thyroid surgically removed last summer.

The biggest problem since the surgery has caused my husband a great deal of anguish. I have absolutely no sex drive. My other troubles may not be related. I had not had a period for five years but have had several since the surgery. Also, although I have been on a low-fat diet, I can't lose weight.

A.Check with the doctor who is supervising your thyroid treatment. If you have too little thyroid hormone in your system, your libido could suffer. It could also make losing weight more difficult.

An excess of thyroid hormone such as you experienced before surgery can make menstrual periods lighter, shorter or even nonexistent. Inadequate thyroid hormone leads to longer, heavier menstrual periods. To feel your best, you need to have the dose of Synthroid adjusted carefully. This requires periodic blood tests.

This Q&A; is from the People's Pharmacy, by Joe Graedon, a pharmacologist, and Dr. Teresa Graedon, a medical anthropologist. Write to the Graedons in care of The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or e-mail to

Pub Date: 5/17/98

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