Q. I am responding to a recent column about omega-3 fats changing hair color. When I was 30 years old, my formerly dark brown hair had turned completely gray. Now at age 63 I have a lot of my former hair color back. I have been getting omega-3 fats in the form of tuna, flax, walnuts and dietary supplements. This combination has worked for me for the past few years. Some people think I am in my 40s.
A. We heard from a couple in their 80s who saw a change towards their original hair color after adding more omega-3 fats to their diet. We couldn’t find any scientific studies to explain this phenomenon, and we still can’t. But we are fascinated to hear that you have also experienced a reversion to the hair color of your youth with an omega-3 rich diet.
Omega-3 fats are believed to be beneficial in preventing heart disease and fighting inflammation. Whether or not they will restore hair color, it’s a good idea to include tuna, mackerel or salmon along with walnuts, flax and dark green leafy vegetables on your weekly menu.
Q. When I eat certain hot peppers like jalapenos or crushed red pepper, the top of my head starts to sweat. Sometimes it sweats so much it runs down the side of my face. This is the only part of my body that sweats when I eat hot peppers.
I have no indigestion or heartburn from eating spicy foods. Can you tell me what’s happening?
A. You may be experiencing “gustatory sweating.” That is the medical term for profuse sweating of the face or head in response to eating. Of course, hot peppers make a lot of people sweat. That may be in part because capsaicin (the hot ingredient in hot peppers) causes blood vessels to dilate.
Some diabetic patients suffer from gustatory sweating at any meal, even without spicy foods. Doctors have found that injections of botulinum toxin in the affected area or topical application of glycopyrrolate (Robinul) might help with what can be an embarrassing condition.
Q. For years I have read questions in your column about nail fungus and various remedies to treat it. I found them amusing but did not need the information so I don’t remember any of them.
Now I notice that my nails are getting thick and harder to trim with nail clippers. A few of my nails are turning brown and I think that now I too am suffering from fungus.
Where does this stuff come from and what can I do about it? Also, do you have any tips on smelly feet? My family hates it when I take off my shoes.
A. We cannot diagnose your nail condition, but it sounds suspiciously like fungus. A dermatologist can tell for sure. No one knows where nail fungus comes from or why some are more susceptible than others.
Prescription drugs such as Lamisil, Sporanox or Penlac fight fungus, but they are quite pricey. Home remedies include applications of Vicks VapoRub, vitamin E or tea tree oil to the infected nail. A daily soak in a dilute vinegar solution can help control both fungus and foot odor.
We are sending you our Guides to Smelly Feet and Nail Care for more details on defeating fungus and how to use prescription urea paste to remove infected nails nonsurgically. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. HF-312, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

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