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People's Pharmacy

The Baltimore Sun

My mother was admitted to the hospital recently for dehydration, bronchitis and pneumonia. When they checked her blood level of Coumadin, it was 10 times higher than normal. The doctors in the emergency room were shocked.

My mother was taking Cymbalta as well as Coumadin. The doctor who prescribed the antidepressant for my mother didn't know about this interaction. It is not listed in the prescribing information. Please warn others of this drug interaction, as it may save someone's life.

Taking the wrong combination of medicines can be lethal. Thank you for alerting us to the potential danger of mixing the blood thinner Coumadin (warfarin) with the antidepressant Cymbalta.

My doctor said that I should be taking an aspirin every day, but my pharmacist said that aspirin doesn't protect women the way it does men. Who's right, and what's the best dose?

A new study of almost 80,000 women who were followed for more than 20 years suggests that women do indeed benefit from aspirin (Archives of Internal Medicine, March 26). The nurses who participated had a lower likelihood of dying of a heart attack if they took aspirin regularly for at least five years. After 10 years, they were also less likely to develop cancer.

Doses ranged from one to 14 standard aspirin tablets a week. Some experts have suggested that the optimal dose to protect against heart attacks is about 160 mg daily - half a regular tablet. No one should take aspirin daily without medical supervision, since it can damage the digestive tract and interact with other medications.

I was diagnosed with depression and for several years I took antidepressants. The results were unsatisfactory, and I experienced many unpleasant side effects.

Then one year I was hospitalized for a different ailment and was found to be suffering from severe hypothyroidism. I needed Synthroid, not Zoloft.

If any of your readers are being treated for depression and have not had a thyroid test, they should ask for this immediately.

People with underactive thyroid glands may experience a range of symptoms, including depression, apathy and fatigue, as well as weakness, anemia, high cholesterol or mental slowness. Treating such symptoms with an antidepressant instead of thyroid hormone could be counterproductive. Certain antidepressants (particularly lithium, but also drugs such as Paxil or Zoloft in rare cases) have been associated with thyroid imbalances.

Like some of your readers, I get cracked fingers when it's cold. This year I decided to try something different. I had a split at the end of my thumb. I put Super Glue on it, held it together and let it dry. It worked beautifully.

Physicians have been using a product similar to instant glue to close cuts. The cyanoacrylate glue they use is called Dermabond. This is also available to consumers in Band-Aid brand Liquid Bandage. It may be less irritating to the skin than household instant adhesives such as Super Glue or Krazy Glue.

I am interested in purchasing flatulence filters. My mom has severe gas problems and is taking charcoal tablets, but the problem is still noticeable. I would like to try the filters. I have checked a couple of drugstores but have had no luck.

Search the Web for the GasBGon flatulence filter seat cushions ( It contains activated charcoal to trap odors from the digestive tract. The same company (Dairiair at 877-427-2466) also makes underwear with activated charcoal woven into the fabric. These carbonized undies reduce the problem of unpleasant smells.

Last summer you ran a letter from a woman who reported that gin-soaked raisins had helped both her arthritis and restless legs syndrome (RLS). I have RLS and have been trying this remedy after dinner ever since.

I am happy to report that those silly little raisins have gone a long way toward moderating the problem for me. I can once again watch a few hours of TV in the evening without wanting to crawl out of my skin.

We have been writing about gin-soaked raisins since 1994. We have no idea why some people find them so helpful for arthritis pain.

Last July we received this letter from a reader: "I read about your home remedy of white raisins soaked in gin to help arthritis pain. I tried this and found only a moderate improvement in arthritis pain. But after two weeks of treatment I noticed a marked improvement in RLS.

"Have others reported this seeming cure? I used to experience RLS two or three times a week, but have not had a recurrence since beginning the gin/white raisin treatment."

I am 70. When I was 13, my mother told me to use rubbing alcohol as a deodorant. It works. All my children use this cheap remedy, and now their families do, too!

Thanks for sharing your approach. We have also heard from readers who use white vinegar or Listerine under their arms to fight odor. Others are enthusiastic about topical milk of magnesia for this purpose.

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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