Q. Some of your readers have asked about chronic diarrhea. One of the best things to take is pomegranate juice, which can be found in grocery stores. You can actually get constipated if you drink too much (as I found out!)
A. Although pomegranates are mentioned in Greek myths and the Bible, researchers are rediscovering their healing power. Studies suggest that this ancient fruit may help reduce the risk of blood clots and keep cholesterol from doing damage to arteries.
Pomegranate has traditionally been used to treat diarrhea and dysentery, though there isn’t any research to show this is effective. We’ll take your word for it, along with the warning not to overdo. Some people who have used coconut for chronic diarrhea have found that it too can be constipating.
Q. You sometimes say home remedies don’t work for everyone. You are right about that.
A year ago, a reader recommended Vicks VapoRub for toenail fungus. I tried it religiously for about a year without results. Last year someone else suggested vitamin E oil. Also no results.
My doctor has been reluctant to prescribe oral drugs like Lamisil because of the cost and potential side effects. I would dearly love to get rid of this toe fungus, but my luck stinks in using home remedies.
A. Home remedies don’t always work. Although some readers have reported success with Vicks, dilute vinegar soaks or applications of tea tree oil to the nail, others have not found any benefit.
A new remedy suggested by one reader involves soaking the toenail daily in Listerine. This mouthwash contains essential oils that may have anti-fungal activity.
If all else fails, you may want to consider dissolving away the infected portion of the nail. This can be done with a prescription-strength urea paste. It is less painful than surgical nail removal.
We are sending you our Guide to Nail Care with details on fungus remedies and urea paste so your doctor can supervise this treatment. 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. H-31, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Q. We see our young grandkids three or four times a year. They are 4 and 5. The 4-year-old is in daycare and the 5-year-old in kindergarten.
Every time we are in direct contact with the children, we catch something from them, usually a cold or upper respiratory thing. Is there anything we can take before we see the kids to guard against getting their bugs? We love those kids but hate their colds and coughs!
A. You might want to try an herb that can boost the immune system to fight off those colds. We’d try Kan Jang (Andrographis paniculata). Placebo-controlled studies have shown that this Chinese herb can shorten colds in people with early symptoms of runny nose or sore throat. It seems to work through the immune system, since it does not fight viruses directly.
Another herb with a reputation for strengthening immunity is astragalus root, traditionally taken preventively against colds. Relatively little scientific research has been done in the field of immune system support, but you have the opportunity to see if either of these work for you.

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