Q. I have to correct something I sent you a while ago. I have rosacea and when I read that someone used cornstarch to control it, I tried it. I thought it was great and wrote to you. But I was mistaken.
At the time, I was on a prescription antibiotic, Trimox, for recurrent bladder infections. After about 6 months my bladder infections decreased and I was able to stop the Trimox. I started breaking out with rosacea again and realized it was the Trimox that had eliminated the redness, not the cornstarch!
A. Thanks for your complete report. Coincidences like this can fool people into thinking a home remedy works, especially for a condition that may wax and wane.
Symptoms of rosacea include skin redness and pimples on the nose, chin, cheeks or forehead. Dermatologists often prescribe antibiotics to treat it.
Some others reported temporary relief from rosacea by dusting the skin with cornstarch. We don’t know if this approach is truly helpful.
Q. I know there are studies showing that red wine has health benefits and that it may help lower a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease. But I don’t like wine and don’t want to drink alcohol. Is there any benefit in drinking grape juice?
A. Welch’s Foods recently helped fund a study demonstrating that Concord grape juice is a good source of antioxidants and helps strengthen learning and memory in aging rats. This is far from determining that grape juice could stave off dementia, but it is a promising beginning. And grape juice has no side effects except calories if you want to start drinking it regularly while we wait for further research.
Q. My girlfriend is a chocoholic but she feels guilty about eating it often. I want to get her some really delicious chocolate as a gift along with evidence that chocolate is healthy. That way, she won’t feel bad about indulging herself. Do you have any information?
A. Chocolate is a plant product rich in natural antioxidant chemicals, as well as a number of important minerals such as iron and magnesium. Scientists have found that cocoa compounds can reduce the risk of blood clots, relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
We have talked to the country’s leading experts about the health benefits of chocolate. We’re sending you a CD of this hour-long radio interview along with a 100-page book called Chocolate Without Guilt. It offers healthful, lower-calorie alternatives to some classic chocolate desserts. Anyone who would like this combination, please send $19.95 to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. CWG-476, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Q. My husband and I have been taking a dietary supplement to lose weight. It contains a Ma Huang extract. We sent a list of the ingredients to our doctor since my husband takes Toprol for his heart and Zocor to lower cholesterol. The doctor said it was OK, but we’ve heard bad things about Ma Huang, so now I am concerned. Is it safe?
A. The FDA is poised to pull all ephedra-containing products from the market. Ma Huang is another name for ephedra.
An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Jan 14, 2004) suggests that weight loss products containing ephedra and caffeine affect heart rhythm and raise blood pressure. This could be especially dangerous for your husband.

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