Q. I went through menopause early, at age 42, and was distressed to find my hair falling out. I read that MSM might reverse this problem and started taking it. My hair stopped falling out and has been fine ever since. I know this isn’t science, but maybe someone else can benefit from my experience.
A. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is found naturally in many plants and animals. Although it has a reputation for relieving arthritis pain and allergies, research supporting these claims is not strong. We could find no studies in the medical literature demonstrating that MSM can fight hair loss. On the other hand, we have heard from other women with experience like yours.
Animal studies suggest that MSM is generally safe. The PDR for Nutritional Supplements (2001) recommends that pregnant women and nursing mothers avoid taking it.
Q. Four weeks ago I developed uncontrollable diarrhea, totally unresponsive to Imodium. I was hospitalized for testing (colonoscopy, CT scan, etc.). All the tests were negative and I am home now, but I continue to have frequent loose bowel movements.
I plan to return to work next week but worry how I will function in this situation. Since the prescription medicines did not work, would a home remedy be helpful?
A. We have two suggestions, but we don’t know if they will work when drugs have failed.
First, check all your supplements to make sure you are not getting sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol or other sweeteners in anything you take daily. These sugar substitutes can cause diarrhea in sensitive individuals.
Second, consider coconut macaroon cookies. Many readers find that two or three a day can help control chronic diarrhea. Be careful: too much coconut can be constipating. This action of coconut on the digestive tract is recognized in some tropical countries.
Q. You recently had a question put to you by a reader about how to remove warts. I would like to add a tip used successfully by my husband. He had a wart on a knuckle. Despite many visits to the doctor to have it frozen off, it refused to go away.
He heard Dr. Dean Edell on the radio explaining that warts are caused by viruses that can be killed by heat. Dr. Edell suggested immersing the affected area in hot water (as hot as could be tolerated).
My husband tried this. (He had nothing to lose but a wart.) He soaked his hand in water that was about 115 degrees. (Skin burns at 117 degrees, so this has to be monitored carefully.) After soaking for about 15 minutes a day for a week, the wart disappeared. This was five years ago and he has been wart-free since.
A. The hot-water wart treatment advocated by Dr. Dean Edell was first published in a medical journal (the Cleveland Clinic Quarterly) back in 1962. More recently, Samuel Moschella, MD, tried it on patients with warts on the soles of their feet. As runners, they did not want to undergo surgery that would interfere with their exercise. Soaking their feet in hot water (110 to 113 degrees) for 30 to 90 minutes a week helped many of them.
Other approaches to treating warts can be found in our Guide to Home Remedies. 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. R-1, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

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