People's Pharmacy

My sister took Zicam Cold Remedy zinc nasal gel recently and immediately lost her sense of smell. Her doctors say she will be lucky to get 30 percent back. She is a medical practitioner and knew how to follow the directions explicitly.

Next month's issue of Consumer Reports notes that "studies with animals and case reports suggest that nasal zinc may cause loss of smell, possibly permanent. Last year we [CR] unearthed more than 200 complaints to the Food and Drug Administration about an impaired sense of smell, taste, or both after using zinc nasal products."


People who want to take zinc to fight cold symptoms might want to stick with zinc pills or lozenges so that nasal passages are not directly exposed.

I run at least 30 miles a week, and I do strength training three times a week. I maintain a healthy weight of 125 pounds, and most of the time my blood pressure is about 110/60. Whenever I go to my doctor, it skyrockets, but soon afterward it goes back to normal. My doctor wants to put me on a diuretic indefinitely, but I disagree. Is there anything besides prescription medication that can keep my blood pressure down?


You are experiencing "white-coat hypertension." This happens in the doctor's office when someone wearing a white coat and carrying a stethoscope takes your blood pressure.

A study in Italy several years ago showed that most people (47 out of 48) experienced a boost in blood pressure within two minutes of the doctor walking into the room. For some people, that increase in pressure was enough to qualify them as hypertensive, even if prior blood pressures were within the normal range.

There are a number of ways to lower blood pressure without medications. Releasing stress through relaxation and avoiding situations that bring out hostile feelings are important tactics that are often overlooked. Eating lots of high-potassium, high-fiber vegetables and fruits can also help.

A recent article on menopause quoted a doctor saying virtually everybody can use topical estrogen. I was diagnosed with estrogen-positive breast cancer and was taken off all estrogens. I would like to try Premarin but am concerned about how much estrogen is absorbed into the body?

The estrogen in Premarin Vaginal Cream is easily absorbed into the body (Journal of the American Medical Association, Dec. 14, 1979). Discuss this issue with your oncologist, since this product could be inappropriate for you.

When my daughters got lice that were immune to all the lice shampoos, a friend said that the health department recommended mayonnaise. We left it on overnight covered with a shower cap.

The mayo killed all the lice, and a repeat treatment a week later took care of the hatched nits. As a nice side effect, the treatment left their hair soft and shiny.

This treatment works on the same principle as coating the hair with petroleum jelly, but mayonnaise is much easier to wash out. We're glad you had success with this home remedy.


In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site: Peoples