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A juicy remedy for arthritis

The Baltimore Sun

Years ago, you wrote about an enzyme in pineapple juice that helps with arthritis pain. At that time I was in my early 40s and already having pain in my hands and feet from arthritis.

I started drinking one glass of pineapple juice a day, and my symptoms cleared up.

Pineapple juice contains bromelain, which appears to have anti-inflammatory activity. One study found that a product containing bromelain (Phlogenzym) was effective in easing discomfort from hip arthritis (Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, January-February 2006).

A friend who is an internist recommended a mixture of milk of magnesia and Lotrimin AF to combat seborrheic dermatitis on my face and the backs of my ears. She suggested mixing roughly half a 12-ounce bottle with a whole tube of the Lotrimin AF cream.

The first application certainly had a positive effect on my skin. I did not follow through as I should have, so I don't know how well it works long term. Have you ever heard of this remedy?

We could find no research on this intriguing remedy for seborrheic dermatitis. This skin condition is characterized by itching, flaking, scales and redness. It frequently occurs on the scalp as super dandruff or even on the eyebrows, forehead, around the nose or on the chin. It appears to be an inflammatory response to yeast on the skin called Malassezia.

Dermatologists frequently treat this problem with anti-fungal creams (such as clotrimazole, the active ingredient in Lotrimin AF). Topical steroid creams such as hydrocortisone are also used. Dandruff shampoos containing ketoconazole, selenium sulfide or zinc pyrithione can be helpful.

Readers claim that applying milk of magnesia to the armpits is a gentle and effective way to reduce sweating and odor. Perhaps the drying effect and alkalinity together with the anti-fungal activity of Lotrimin AF discourage Malassezia yeast.

I have had a violent cough for several months and have been treated with four different medications, a chest X-ray and a blood test, all to no avail. I started taking lisinopril about the time this all began and noted that a cough was one of the side effects. When I asked my doctor, though, I was told that the drug was not the cause.

I have not been able to get restful sleep because of the constant coughing. Have you ever heard of such a reaction to this medication?

ACE inhibitors (benazepril, captopril, enalapril, fosinopril, lisinopril, quinapril and ramipril) are prescribed to lower blood pressure. They're very effective and usually well tolerated.

A persistent cough that doesn't respond to cough medicine is a common complication, however. One study from South Korea found that a daily iron supplement, ferrous sulfate, may help ease this symptom (Hypertension, August 2001). If not, your doctor might consider a different blood pressure drug.

I heard a woman call in to your radio show and say that her allergies went away when she maintained a gluten-free diet. I have had a similar experience.

I had battled allergies for most of my life. I was also diagnosed with lupus about 10 years ago. Since eating a gluten-free diet for the past two years, I have been essentially allergy-free. In the past nine months, I have had no lupus symptoms and have completely eliminated any prescription medicines.

Celiac disease is an inability to tolerate gluten, a protein found in barley, wheat and rye. The body reacts to gluten in the diet by attacking part of the lining of the intestine. Celiac disease is very serious. It is not usually linked to allergies, but may be associated with lupus.

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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