People's Pharmacy

The Baltimore Sun

Some time ago, I read in your column about someone who had success removing skin tags with a liquid bandage. I have several of these growths around my neck and have been considering having them removed by a dermatologist, but would like to try this remedy first.

We have heard from many readers who tell us New-Skin Liquid Bandage works: "I used it twice a day for three days, and the skin tags came off!" Others tell us it may take a few weeks.

Another approach some readers have tried involves a wart remedy: "I found Compound W works just as well for getting rid of skin tags."

There is also an old-fashioned approach to skin-tag removal: "I had a rather large one on the side of my neck. My dermatologist said to just ignore it. Soon after, I mentioned to a friend (an orthopedic doctor) how much I hated it, and he promptly tied and knotted a piece of thread around it and cut the ends off real close. You couldn't even see it. He said that would shut off the blood supply to the tag and it would fall off very quickly. It was gone in three days."

I have suffered with constipation for more than a year and have had little success finding relief. Someone suggested that I eat an entire red pepper daily. I am feeling desperate and would try it if it would help. I take Bentyl, digoxin, Norpace, Tegretol, Coumadin and prochlorperazine. Is there any way to alleviate this problem?

Some of the medicines you are taking could be contributing to your constipation woes. Although your doctor might not be able to substitute alternatives, you should discuss this problem with her before trying to counteract this drug-induced complication.

It is unlikely that a red pepper would solve your constipation problems. Chewing sugarless gum might help. You might also try "Power Pudding." Mix 1 cup coarse bran, 1 cup applesauce and 3/4 cup prune juice. Take one or two tablespoons daily with plenty of water. Refrigerate the remainder. Do not take this within two hours of digoxin, however, since the extra fiber could interfere with proper absorption of your heart medicine.

I have had great trouble stopping the antidepressant Effexor. I tapered off this medicine as instructed, but I still have a feeling like electrical shocks going through my brain.

Many readers report difficulty stopping antidepressants such as Effexor or Paxil suddenly. The electric-shock sensation is a common symptom. Discontinuing such drugs requires medical supervision.

I noticed your article about coconut macaroon cookies stopping diarrhea. I am a hospice nurse, and one of my patients was literally dying of diarrhea. None of the medical treatments was helping.

After reading about macaroons stopping diarrhea, I asked my patient's daughter if we could try giving her mom coconut milk and rice milk. She had nothing to lose. The diarrhea stopped in 24 hours, and the patient began to eat again. As a result, she began to thrive and had to leave our hospice program.

We are so glad this suggestion inspired you and was so helpful for your patient with life-threatening diarrhea. We have heard from many readers that coconut is a traditional remedy for diarrhea.

I have spent more than a year trying one kind of blood pressure medicine after another. I have suffered from all sorts of side effects, including heart palpitations and dizziness, but the worst was depression. What kinds of natural approaches are there for controlling blood pressure?

You might be surprised to learn how many nondrug approaches can help against hypertension. Learning to breathe more slowly - for example, with the help of a feedback machine called RESPeRATE - can lower blood pressure. The DASH diet (rich in calcium, magnesium and potassium) can also help. Dark chocolate and grape juice make blood vessels flexible to adjust blood pressure.

I have suffered from restless leg syndrome all of my life, and I am over 50. When I read about putting soap under the bottom sheet, I thought it was the silliest thing I had ever heard of. To my great surprise, it works. I never would have guessed I would enjoy such pure, wonderful sleep just by trying this odd remedy.

Putting a bar of plain soap between the bottom sheet and the mattress pad certainly seems bizarre. We have no idea how it may work, but we have heard from many happy readers that it does.

Here is a cure for hiccups. The person with hiccups plugs up both ears with her fingers and drinks water. This is easiest with the help of another person holding the ears, but by using a bottle of water you can accomplish this by yourself.

Thanks. It does help to have someone else press on the little flap (tragus) that covers each ear canal.

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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