People's Pharmacy

The Baltimore Sun

Why don't they take Ambien off the market? I spoke to a friend who drove 20 miles at 7:30 in the morning and doesn't remember a thing that happened. Another driver saw him weaving around on the road and called 911.

The thing that bothers me is that not one doctor at the hospital asked him whether he had taken Ambien. They did many tests and sent him home, saying he had global amnesia (whatever that is).

He just found out about the new warnings that are going to be on the bottle.

We have heard from others who have also reported "sleep driving" while under the influence of Ambien. This has finally gotten the attention of the Food and Drug Administration. The agency will require new warnings on prescription sleeping pills such as Ambien, Lunesta, Restoril and Rozerem.

According to the FDA, "Sleep driving is defined as driving while not fully awake after ingestion of a sedative-hypnotic product, with no memory of the event." Many people can take such sleeping pills safely, so the FDA does not plan to ban these drugs. Nevertheless, it is hard to predict who will experience this unusual but scary side effect.

After months of nausea, my mom was diagnosed with a Helicobacter pylori intestinal infection. She has completed the two-week antibiotic course and is still sick. She had such hope that this would be her cure. How long does it take to recover from H. pylori?

Helicobacter pylori are bacteria that invade the stomach lining and cause gastritis and ulcers. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, bloating, abdominal pain about an hour after eating or at night, and bad breath.

Experts aren't completely sure how people "catch" this infection, and curing it can be tricky. Untreated, this infection may increase the risk of certain cancers.

This bug has become resistant to some antibiotics. That is why many doctors treat it with multiple medications and bismuth (Pepto-Bismol).

Thank you for telling a reader who wrote about eating ice chips excessively to see a doctor. I also was eating ice, but no one detected my problem until it was almost too late. Yes, I was anemic - because of colon cancer, which had metastasized to my liver. It has been 19 years since then, and I consider myself very lucky.

People who are anemic might develop cravings for ice or even certain foods. We have heard from readers who consumed huge quantities of radishes, carrots, tomatoes, popcorn or orange peels and were later diagnosed with an iron or zinc deficiency. Thanks for sharing your story. It demonstrates how important it is to get to the bottom of such cravings.

I read with great interest about your readers who have had good results using acupressure bands as a sleep aid. I, too, have had great results with the bands, but as a cure for nausea.

When I was pregnant, I suffered from nausea 24 hours a day. Finally, a friend sent me these new anti-nausea bands, called Psi bands, that are worn around the wrist and provide constant pressure on the Nei-Kuan acupressure point. I found that I felt so much better, I wore them for the duration of my pregnancy.

Even though I am no longer pregnant, I wear them on long car trips and when I travel by air.

Thank you for sharing your story. Others also have reported success with wrist acupressure for nausea or insomnia. Those who are curious can search the Web for Psi Bands (, Sea-Bands ( or Acubands (

I am a diet-controlled diabetic. I would like your opinion of a water extract product of cinnamon (Cinnulin PF). Is it safe and effective for lowering blood sugar?

Data suggest that a component in cinnamon can help control blood sugar. We worry that some of the cinnamon in the kitchen spice rack might be contaminated with coumarin, a compound that can be toxic to the liver when ingested in large amounts.

Because Cinnulin PF is a water-extracted cinnamon product, it appears to be safer than ordinary cinnamon. It is available in health-food stores or on the Web ( You will need to monitor blood sugar carefully and remain under medical supervision while trying this dietary supplement.

I have arthritis in my fingers, and I'm sure using the computer has compounded the pain. I can't take anti-inflammatory medication because of an ulcer, so would you suggest other supplements that might help?

There are many herbs and dietary supplements that can ease inflammation. One person offered the following: "The combination of boswellia and glucosamine-MSM replaces nonsteroidal pain relievers and works well for me.

"Nine years ago I was literally falling down occasionally because of the pain in my spine. I heard someone say that the herb boswellia had 'saved her life' because of back pain. That Saturday, I started boswellia. In two weeks the pain decreased, and after a month there was an enormous difference. At last I could sleep and I could walk. Several years later, the arthritis increased, and I added MSM, glucosamine and chondroitin. I take them with boswellia and get good relief."

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:

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