Q.I have noticed that my joints hurt less when I am using aspartame. At first I thought it was just a coincidence, but I am now convinced that Equal relieves my arthritis.
A.Aspartame (Equal) appears to have analgesic activity. A report in May's Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics demonstrated significant relief from arthritis pain with aspartame compared to placebo. Researchers gave arthritis sufferers either four or eight tablets (totaling 76 or 152 milligrams) of the sweetener.
Aspartame appears to have some aspirin-like effects on bleeding and fever as well. This means it may increase bleeding time and should be used cautiously by those on blood thinners. Unlike aspirin, aspartame does not irritate the digestive tract.
Q.My partner has been on Zoloft about five months. It has been wonderful. He used to get upset if the house was even a little untidy, and he would spend extra hours at work trying to get all his projects completed to perfection. Now he seems calmer, more understanding and much less moody.
My only complaint is in the bedroom. Although his desire for sex is still there, he seems unable to reach orgasm. Is there any kind of supplement or herb that could overcome this?
A.We consulted psychiatrist Valerie Raskin, who suggested trying ginkgo biloba.
Although research is lacking, some of her patients have reported that this herb has helped them overcome difficulties in achieving orgasm while they are taking antidepressants such as Zoloft, Paxil or Prozac.
Write to the Graedons in care of The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or e-mail to pharmacindspring.com.
Pub Date: 6/21/98