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Kudzu vine extract could help those who drink too much


Some time ago, you had a letter from a woman who was drinking too much wine in the evening and wanted to cut back. You told her about a tea or an herbal concoction to diminish her desire to drink. She had tried it and was thrilled with the results. What was it?

She took kudzu-root extract (available in health-food stores). Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is famous as an invasive vine in the South. In its native China, kudzu has long been used to help people control their desire for alcohol.

New research (Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, May 2005) has found that young adults who were given kudzu pills for a week drank less than two beers at a simulated party situation. Those who had taken a placebo pill averaged 3.5 beers.

While kudzu extract won't magically turn alcoholics into nondrinkers, it might help others cut back on booze.

I have been on hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) since my 40s. Over the past few years, I have tried to get off the hormones a number of times, but the debilitating symptoms have driven me back on them. Do you have any recommendations for alternatives?

Doctors used to put menopausal women on hormones because they thought estrogen would protect them from heart attacks. When well-controlled studies such as the Women's Health Initiative demonstrated that HRT actually raises women's risk of heart attack and stroke, many women went off their pills.

Discontinuing hormones suddenly often results in symptoms such as hot flashes. Some women adapt over time; others find this too difficult. A recent study from Germany confirmed that the black cohosh extract called Remifemin alleviates hot flashes (Obstetrics and Gynecology, May 2005).

My husband tried Neosporin Pain Relief on a wound that was 99 percent healed. The area around the wound turned fiery red and looked inflamed. We assume he is allergic to Neosporin. Is there a safe product for him to use on scrapes and cuts in the future?

Contact dermatitis from neomycin (one of the active ingredients in Neosporin) is not rare. Uncomplicated cuts and scrapes may not need anything other than soap-and-water cleaning and then covering with a secure bandage to keep dirt out.

When I take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like Motrin, I experience a visual disturbance. Doctors are skeptical about this. Is it a reported side effect?

According to the official prescribing information, blurred or diminished vision has been reported with this drug.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them via their Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.org.

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