Q. I have seen commercial after commercial for enhancing sex life. Personally, I think sex is a struggle for many men much of the time. They want it when they should not and they want it with people they should not have it with.
Is there a medication or natural remedy to lessen the male sex drive? I am not interested in a female hormone.
A. The female hormone progesterone can dampen desire, but it does have several side effects, including psychological depression, increased cholesterol, blood clots and headache. We can understand why you would not be interested in such an approach.
People who suffer from compulsive and inappropriate sexual activity (sex addicts) may be prescribed SSRI-type antidepressants. Drugs like Prozac, Serzone and Zoloft have been reported to reduce sexual compulsions and lower libido.
Two natural products are also reported to reduce sex drive. The herb Vitex agnus-castus, also known as chaste tree berry, may have progesterone-like activity. Licorice has been reported to lower testosterone levels, but regular consumption of licorice can raise blood pressure, deplete potassium and produce other serious side effects.
Q. I love gardening, but arthritis is slowing me down. It’s hard to get up and down to do planting and weeding. My fingers are stiff and my knees get sore.
I took Motrin to help with the joint pain and developed a really nasty rash. My doctor suggested Aleve instead, but the rash only got worse. She prescribed prednisone, which helped the rash for a while and even eased the arthritis pain. But they both came back when I phased off.
Now my doctor wants me to take more prednisone. It gives me insomnia and I worry about other side effects. What can you tell me about prednisone and what else can I do for my arthritis?
A. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren) and Celebrex are often used to alleviate arthritis, but they can cause rash in susceptible people. Once you develop such a reaction you will probably have to avoid all NSAIDs.
Prednisone can relieve many allergic conditions including drug-induced rash, poison ivy, eczema and asthma. But there are many side effects associated with long-term use. Cataracts, glaucoma, weight gain, high blood pressure and insomnia are just a few potential complications.
We are sending you our Guide to Alternative Treatments for Arthritis with much more information about benefits and risks of prednisone, NSAIDs and other options for arthritis treatment. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (63 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ The People’s Pharmacy®, No. AA-2, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Q. I am extremely sensitive to the chemicals in antiperspirants. They make my underarms itch. What else can I use?
A. We have heard that applying milk of magnesia (the antacid/laxative) to underarms can control sweating and odor. One reader wrote that “Your suggestion for milk of magnesia as a deodorant has been a lifesaver!��?
Q. I cannot digest dairy products. They give me gas, bloating and diarrhea. I believe I am lactose intolerant. Will this milk sugar cause an abnormal blood sugar reading?
A. Lactose (milk sugar) that is not digested can cause digestive distress, but it should have no effect on blood sugar.