WD-40 not a recommended remedy for relieving joint pain

The Baltimore Sun

I received a list of "helpful hints" in an e-mail recently stating that if you have arthritis or joint pain, you should spray WD-40 on it. Could this possibly be true? It seems that it might be more harmful than good.

WD-40 is made of petroleum products and is designed to lubricate stiff or squeaky metal hinges or joints. People have tried putting it on their own stiff joints, but we cannot recommend this tactic. There have been reports of people developing chemical pneumonitis, an inflammation of the lungs, after accidentally inhaling WD-40.

A physician told us several years ago that a patient of his developed muscle breakdown after repeatedly applying WD-40 to his joints. He had to be hospitalized.

Does Topamax cause complete lack of sexual desire? And I do mean complete!

Topamax (topiramate) is prescribed for epilepsy, but it also is used to prevent migraine headaches. Your short question implies a lot of frustration and sent us hunting for an answer.

"Decreased libido" is reported as a side effect of Topamax in the prescribing information provided for doctors. It seems not to be very common, though, affecting just a few patients in a hundred.

Doctors have also described cases in which Topamax completely blocked women's ability to achieve orgasm (Neurology, Oct. 25, 2005). About five days after discontinuing the Topamax under medical supervision, the women were once again able to climax.

Never stop an epilepsy drug suddenly without your doctor's approval. An unexpected seizure could be devastating.

I have been hearing that something called CRP may be more important than cholesterol when it comes to heart disease. I don't know much about it. What are normal CRP values?

My doctor says everything's fine and that he does not have time to "chat." But there was an opportunity to have blood work done at my college recently, and my CRP was 6.7 mg/L. Isn't that high? Is there any way to lower CRP other than taking Crestor?

Recent research showed that the statin-type cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor lowered CRP, or C-reactive protein, and reduced cardiovascular events even in people who started with normal cholesterol (New England Journal of Medicine, Nov. 20, 2008).

Before this hit the headlines, many people had never heard of CRP. This marker of inflammation should ideally be at or below 1, so yours is elevated. Many cardiologists believe that CRP above 2 calls for treatment.

Crestor can lower CRP, but it is expensive, and some people experience side effects. You may be able to fight inflammation with exercise and weight loss. Supplements such as fish oil and Coenzyme Q10 also may help. Your doctor should monitor your CRP level to keep track of your progress.

We are sending you our new "Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health," in which we discuss CRP and offer a list of anti-inflammatory foods and nondrug approaches for heart health. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (59 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. C-8, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our Web site.

A reader recently reported using zinc oxide to treat hemorrhoid symptoms. I just wanted you to know that I have been using zinc oxide for this purpose for years. I thought no one else knew about it!

It's something I just tried on my own after little or no relief from such ointments as Preparation H. Zinc oxide provides almost instant relief. I told my doctor years ago, but she had never heard of using zinc oxide for hemorrhoids.

Zinc oxide appears to be a safe, inexpensive alternative to other external hemorrhoid creams. When we looked for it at the drugstore, we found it sold as a diaper-rash cream.

I've suffered with Raynaud's disease in my hands for two years. There is no underlying cause for it, such as lupus.

My doctor has prescribed various blood pressure medicines that are supposed to work for this condition, but nothing seems to help. Is there a natural remedy that might help? Would acupuncture possibly work? Any suggestions would be most appreciated, as cold weather makes it very hard for me to function.

People with Raynaud's syndrome really suffer in the winter. In this condition, blood vessels in the hands and feet constrict. Fingers may turn white or blue and be painful or numb. The colder the temperature, the worse the symptoms.

Acupuncture may be somewhat helpful. One small study found that acupuncture reduced attacks by 63 percent, compared with a 27 percent reduction in the control patients (Journal of Internal Medicine, February 1997).

A reader of this column reported that taking cinnamon capsules alleviated her Raynaud's symptoms. In Chinese medicine, both cinnamon and astragalus have been used for circulatory problems of this sort.

I was having trouble with my nails. Although I tried a number of remedies, some very expensive, nothing seemed to work. Then my daughter told me to try castor oil.

I put it on my nails and leave it on for 15 or 20 minutes, then rub in as much as possible and wipe the residue off. It has made all the difference. I'm glad I found something so effective and yet so simple. I don't get hangnails anymore either.

Thanks for the tip. Others have found almond oil also can be helpful.

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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