Q. I take the anticoagulant Coumadin and I have read that drinking cranberry juice may increase my risk of bleeding. Would that hold for cranberry sauce as well? I love it.
A. There is still no consensus that cranberries interact with warfarin (Coumadin), but British health authorities have issued a warning about this combination. It is likely to apply to cranberries and cranberry sauce as well as juice.
A small taste might not hurt, but we would discourage you from overdoing. The consequence could be a dangerous bleeding episode.
Q. My three-year-old son continues to have problems with ear infections, even though he got ear tubes when he was eight months old. He now has another infection with chest congestion and a cough.
I was looking for home remedies for coughs when I found your Web site. I read about putting Vicks VapoRub on the soles of the feet. Within ten minutes of applying it, he was asleep without a cough. Thanks!
A. We can’t explain how smearing Vicks on the soles of the feet could take away a cough, but many others have told us it works. Be sure to put socks on him to protect the sheets.
Q. A man who wrote in about terrible leg cramps was told about all kinds of wacky home remedies like soap under the bottom sheet. I can’t believe you didn’t tell him about the one thing that would work: quinine! It gives instant relief with one pill.
A. Quinine was once available over the counter to prevent leg cramps but now requires a prescription. The FDA decided that quinine pills are too dangerous for people to take without medical supervision.
Quinine can still be found in tonic water. One reader discovered the hazards, however: “One evening I drank 5 ounces of tonic water; the next morning I was in the emergency room with a frightening skin reaction. I was hospitalized for many days.
“My platelet count dropped to 1,000. Now it has gradually come back up to 266,000. I was diagnosed with ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), triggered by the quinine in the water. It nearly killed me.��?
Although ITP is rare, this life-threatening blood disorder can be triggered by quinine. We describe other ways to treat restless legs or cramps in our Guide to Leg Pain. You can download it for $2 from our Web site (www.peoplespharmacy.com) or send a check with a long (no. 10) stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ The People’s Pharmacy®, No. RLS-5, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Q. I take fish oil to lower triglycerides. I recently found it also helps with dry eyes. I used to have to put artificial tears in my eyes daily to help, but I don’t anymore.

A. There is now research demonstrating what you discovered by accident. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Oct. 2005) suggests that dry eye syndrome is less common in women who get more omega-3 fats. Fish oil is rich in these fatty acids. Women who consumed more tuna were less likely to complain of dry eyes.
Q. My doctor recently put me on lovastatin because my cholesterol is 245. I have read that taking red yeast rice can help lower cholesterol. Are there any risks in taking this product together with a statin?

A. Because red yeast rice also contains lovastatin, it would be inadvisable to combine these products. You might end up with too much statin in your system. Side effects such as muscle aches, weakness and joint pain might result.

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