Gin-raisin remedy for arthritis

The Baltimore Sun

My mother read somewhere that vodka-soaked white raisins might be good for arthritis. She is now eating nine a day.

Mom has taken quite a bit of ribbing from the family. What is the benefit from this formula? Can you provide any written details about how to prepare them and how often she should eat them, how they should be stored, etc.?

We first heard about a gin-raisin remedy in 1994. Some folks tell us it is worthless, while others sing its praises. Here is just one example:

"This remedy has worked for me for over two years. When I forget to eat my raisins for several days, my arthritis gets much worse. I can't believe how much better I feel when taking them. Since I do not tolerate medication for inflammation at all, the raisins are my only relief."

This recipe calls for golden (aka white) raisins. Put them in a shallow bowl, then pour just enough gin over them to cover them. Allow the gin to evaporate, a process that might take as long as a week. Then keep them refrigerated in a covered container and eat nine raisins daily.

My doctor insists I must take statins to lower my cholesterol even though I experience pain with all of them. He says I should accept what he calls "a little discomfort" because studies show statins reduce heart disease. He gets angry if I refuse to take them.

Who is ultimately responsible for my health, me or my doctor? He says this pain is rare, but I know a lot of people who have had the same severe muscle pain.

We also have heard from many patients who experience debilitating muscle pain as a side effect of statin-type cholesterol-lowering drugs. One reader wrote: "I have had problems with Lipitor and Vytorin. I had severe muscle and nerve pain. My doctor said he didn't believe it was from Vytorin. I stopped the medication and slowly got better. It took seven weeks."

Some doctors don't believe that statins can cause side effects such as muscle or joint pain or memory problems. Others have seen so many cases, they have developed different strategies for lowering cholesterol. If your doctor isn't taking your complaints seriously, you might need to see another doctor.

I'm surprised you haven't mentioned an important issue asthmatics face. The Food and Drug Administration has decided that generic albuterol inhalers should be taken off the market. The result is that these stalwarts of asthma relief will no longer be available.

Instead, the generic inhalers are being replaced by the exact same medicine with a different delivery system. That means it will cost substantially more. How could a generic magically turn into a more expensive brand-name drug?

The FDA has determined that asthma inhalers may no longer contain CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). These propellant gases damage ozone, and the U.S. agreed years ago to eliminate them from spray cans, air-conditioning units and refrigerators. This means that lower-cost generic albuterol inhalers will disappear. People with asthma might have trouble finding such products even before the 2008 deadline.

They are being replaced by alternatives that use HFA (hydrofluoroalkane). Brand names like ProAir HFA, Proventil HFA and Ventolin HFA all contain albuterol, but they do cost more than the old, generic CFC-powered inhalers.

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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