Fennel seeds help relieve sinus problems, sore throat

The Baltimore Sun

In India, we offer fennel seeds after meals. This helps avoid flatulence. Fennel is also good for sore throat and sinus problems.

I use the following recipe for my sinus trouble: Combine 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger, 1 clove, 1/2 -inch piece of stick cinnamon and 1 teaspoon brown sugar in 2 cups of water. Boil it until there is 1 1/2 cups of liquid left, strain it and drink it hot with a little milk. You can substitute honey for the brown sugar.

In India, we use many such home remedies from our grandmothers to avoid overusing antibiotics. I also rinse my nasal passages with a homemade saline solution and find it very helpful.

Your recipe sounds delicious. Traditional uses for fennel include preventing flatulence and treating upper respiratory infections. Whether that extends to sinus congestion, we are unsure.

My life is so much better since I read your column about rinsing my hair with vinegar. I am 56 years old, and for the previous 30 years my scalp has itched intensely whenever I sweat. No anti-itching shampoo or skin specialist could cure me, but rinsing with vinegar did.

Itching and flaking can be caused by dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis. Dermatologists believe that these common conditions are caused by the yeast Malassezia, which grows on the scalp. A vinegar rinse apparently makes conditions unfavorable for this fungus.

One 80-year-old woman has used a solution of four parts warm water to one part apple-cider vinegar on her scalp for more than 50 years. Others prefer a more concentrated one-to-one water/vinegar mixture.

We discuss many other remedies for controlling itching and flaking (including milk of magnesia and Listerine rinses) in our new "Guide to Hair and Nail Care." It also can be downloaded for $2 from our Web site at peoplespharmacy.com. Go to "Buy In Depth Guides."

Why can't canned beets be used to reduce cholesterol? I had a significant reduction after only two weeks on the fresh beets, but they are expensive and time-consuming to prepare.

Until we received your question, we had no idea that beets might lower cholesterol. Research has shown that 2 cups of beet juice daily can help lower blood pressure significantly, by as much as 10 points (Hypertension, March 2008).

When we checked the medical literature, we found some animal research suggesting that beets may indeed lower cholesterol and triglycerides. We don't see why canned beets wouldn't work as well as fresh ones.

I experienced floating poop about seven years ago,and I ignored it because there were no other symptoms. Luckily for me, I ended up in the emergency room with a kidney stone. This is likely the first time ever you have heard anybody say he was lucky to have a kidney stone.

When they performed a CT scan to find the stone, they found the cause of my floating poop - pancreatic cancer.

One of the reasons the survival rate for pancreatic cancer is so low is that it is rarely found early. By the time most people are symptomatic, it has metastasized. The tumor had blocked the bile duct just enough to cause the floating-poop symptom.

I had a Whipple procedure and am one of the very few survivors of pancreatic cancer. Please tell the person with floating poop to see a doctor.

The late Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture, talked about "floaters" as a symptom of his pancreatic cancer.

There are other causes of floating poop, and many are not serious. Just the same, it makes sense to discuss this symptom with a physician.

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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