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Radish Addiction Could Signal Deficiency

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Q. I have become addicted to radishes. If I don't have them, the withdrawal is the same as smoking. Is there a reason for this? Can it hurt me? Do you think that it will pass? Please help!

A. Ask your doctor to test for iron or zinc deficiency. Although we have never heard of a radish addiction, we have received many letters from people with unusual cravings. One woman couldn't get enough carrots. Another craved popcorn. Ice addiction is also a common manifestation of a mineral deficiency.

If your yearning for radishes has a nutritional basis, it should disappear once the deficiency is corrected. Eating too many radishes might increase your risk of kidney stones.

Q. My daughter got lice twice this summer. I used over-the-counter lice shampoos and nit removal gels, plus I combed through her hair daily to pull out the nits.

When they came back, I checked with her doctor and was told to use mayonnaise instead of OTC products. I coated her hair with it at night, and she slept in a shower cap. In the morning we shampooed it out with Dawn dish detergent and rinsed it with warm water and vinegar.

After about four days I could no longer find any nits on her head. (I repeated the treatment nightly for two weeks.) I was amazed at how well this very cheap treatment worked. The doctor said the mayo smothers the lice. Have you ever heard of this?

A. This is quite similar to another unconventional lice treatment we have discussed: coating the hair with petroleum jelly. It too smothers the lice, but it is very difficult to get the Vaseline out of hair. Mayonnaise should wash out much more easily.

Although this treatment has sometimes been recommended, a head-to-head comparison with the lice shampoo Nix and an alternative product called HairClean 1-2-3 found that mayonnaise did not kill all the adult lice. In contrast, the HairClean 1-2-3 was 98 percent effective and the Nix was 89 percent effective at killing lice. Parents who are willing to repeat the treatment as you did, and continue removing nits, may find mayonnaise as useful as you have.

Q. I read in your drug interaction book that guar gum reduces the effectiveness of Glucophage. As a type-2 diabetic, I have found that this is so.

This ingredient is used in many low-carb baked goods and ice cream. You might warn your readers of this.

A. Guar gum is a soluble fiber from a plant seed pod. It us used as a thickener in ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, cheese, low-fat salad dressings, ketchup, sauces and many other food products. Guar and similar products give low-fat foods a more appealing mouth-feel.

You have raised an important issue. Guar gum can reduce absorption of Glucophage (metformin) and make it harder to control blood sugar.

Many other foods can also have an impact on drug effectiveness. We are sending you our Guides to Food, Drug and Grapefruit Interactions for a convenient summary of significant problems. Anyone who would like copies please send $2 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. FJ-19, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

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