Q.Are there any natural herbs or foods that would have the same effect as Viagra? I am 60 and sometimes have a problem maintaining an erection. I think the trouble is due mostly to the long hours and pressures associated with owning a business.
A.Before there was Viagra, there was yohimbine. This natural product from the bark of an African tree had a reputation as an aphrodisiac. Scientific studies support some benefit, not in stimulating desire, but in helping impotent men achieve and maintain erections.
Yohimbine is not as effective as Viagra, but it may be worth a talk with your doctor. Yohimbine can cause side effects such as changes in blood pressure, anxiety, headache and palpitations. Dizziness, weakness and digestive upset may also occur.
Don't overlook the importance of counseling or relaxation therapy to control stress.
Q.I saw your article about a home remedy with Certo helping arthritis. I have been using this mixture for about three months and it is working to relieve my knee pain and swelling. I'd like to know what is in Certo and how it works. I've previously had surgery, which didn't relieve the pain, so I am confused but grateful that this remedy helps so much.
A. Certo contains water, fruit pectin, lactic acid, citric acid, potassium citrate and the preservative sodium benzoate. Pectin comes from the cell walls of plants and makes them rigid. It is used to thicken jellies. Pectin is a soluble fiber that can lower total cholesterol and triglycerides.
We have no idea why Certo might help relieve arthritis pain. The remedy has been kicking around for at least 50 years, but we haven't been able to locate any scientific studies supporting this use.
Readers have recommended two teaspoons of Certo in three ounces of grape juice three times a day. Others take one tablespoon of Certo in eight ounces of grape juice once a day. Certo can be found in your local supermarket, in the canning section.
Write to the Graedons in care of The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or e-mail to pharmacindspring.com.
King Features Syndicate
Pub Date: 10/04/98