Drug can boost blood pressure

The Baltimore Sun

My orthopedic doctor did not warn me that the anti-inflammatory drug he prescribed might raise my blood pressure. When it spiked to 172/92, I got scared. The doctor did not respond to my complaints, and a pharmacist said it was not a side effect of the medicine. When I stopped the NSAID, my blood pressure returned to normal (122/70). Can you relieve pain and inflammation without raising blood pressure?

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen or prescription drugs such as Celebrex, Mobic or Voltaren can raise blood pressure. Even acetaminophen (found in Tylenol and many other pain relievers) is linked to hypertension (Archives of Internal Medicine, Feb. 26, 2007).

I live in the U.K. My boyfriend had been using Champix for some months. On Christmas Eve, he was drinking and went berserk for no reason, assaulting me and destroying my apartment. I fled and waited in an ambulance for the police to come. They found him unconscious from taking an overdose of paracetamol (acetaminophen). He survived, but I have ended the relationship and pressed charges. As far as I know, he has no past mental-health problems or history of violence. Could Champix have contributed to his frightening behavior?

The stop-smoking drug varenicline is sold in the U.K. as Champix and in the U.S. by the name Chantix. It is impossible to determine whether this medication was responsible for your boyfriend's behavior, but the Food and Drug Administration has received reports of "suicidal thoughts and aggressive and erratic behavior in patients who have taken Chantix." Your story is reminiscent of a tragic event that took place in Dallas last year.

A musician named Carter Albrecht had been taking Chantix to quit smoking. One night he got drunk and assaulted his girlfriend. She ran away from him and locked him out. When he wasn't able to kick the door down, he went to a neighbor's house and started banging on the door. The frightened neighbor fired a gun through the door. One shot hit Albrecht in the head and killed him. No one has determined whether Chantix played a role in this incident.

My daughter has excessive nosebleeds. Do you have any herbal or home-remedy suggestions?

You may want to start in the pharmacy. There are three products to consider: Nosebleed QR (biolife.com and 800-722-7559), NasalCEASE (nasalcea se.com and 800-650-6673) and Seal-On (seal-on.com).

As for home remedies, our favorite would be to put a wad of cold keys down the back under the shirt. We cannot explain why this might work, but we have heard from many readers that it is amazingly effective: "When I was a little girl in rural North Carolina, my daddy knew to stop nosebleeds when someone in the family had one. He put a bunch of car keys down her back. The nosebleed stopped pronto. He was uneducated, but the remedies that he used worked for us."

A friend found a mention of nettle leaf for allergy relief in your book and passed it along. It works wonderfully. It has also worked for others.

A student in one of my college classes told me that he was unable to sleep the night before because of allergies. He took a dose of my nettle leaf extract. An hour later, he interrupted the class to say his symptoms were gone. On your Web pages you discuss nettle root for prostate health. Are the uses of the leaf and the root different?

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a common herb in Europe, where the leaves may also be eaten as a vegetable. In this country, few people know about it.

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: peoplespharmacy.com.

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