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Sunshine Vitamin Eases Joint Pain

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Q. For people who have general joint pain, and no specific diagnosis of arthritis, consider telling them to take vitamin D. Many more people are deficient than is generally believed, and one symptom is bone or joint pain. When I discovered this, I was able to relieve all the discomfort I had been experiencing.

A. Researchers have established that low levels of vitamin D are associated with bone and muscle pain. There’s not much data demonstrating that taking vitamin D relieves joint pain, but one small study suggested that correcting vitamin D deficiency diminishes discomfort (BMC Family Practice, Jan. 23, 2006).

Q. As a doctor, I don’t embrace all home remedies, but I like the duct tape idea with warts. It really works. In fact, I had one teenager with warts all over his finger and around the fingernail—which is very difficult to treat. He tried athletic tape, which looks a little better than duct tape, and the warts disappeared within a month. We think the tape causes some local inflammatory reaction that induces the immune system to kill the wart virus.

A. Ever since an article appeared in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (Oct. 2002) we have been hearing about the benefit of duct tape for warts. Some dermatologists remain skeptical, but if it works, duct tape represents an inexpensive and low-risk solution to a common problem. For more details, search our Web site (www.peoplespharmacy.com) for duct tape.

Q. The latest health craze seems to be bowel-cleansing products. I have many questions regarding this: is a cleanse really needed? Is it true that people have fecal material sitting in their colon for years?

I read in a magazine that you should have a BM twice or three times a day! Is this true? I sometimes have constipation problems, so I need to know.

A. “Regularity��? is something that varies tremendously from one person to another. Some people are perfectly healthy going to the bathroom two or three times a week. Others go that many times in a day. There is no set rule.

Gastroenterologists assure us that the colon does not collect material for months or years. The only time one needs a “cleansing��? is prior to a colonoscopy or other surgical procedure.

For a more detailed discussion of colon cleansing, a dynamite bran muffin recipe and our tips for promoting regularity, we are sending you our Guide to Constipation. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (63 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons' The People's Pharmacy®, No. GG-30, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It can also be downloaded for $2 from the Website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.

Q. I am going on a mountain biking expedition with the guys from work. The trouble is, I am susceptible to poison ivy. What can I apply to prevent it?

A. Readers tell us that spraying antiperspirant on exposed skin can prevent poison ivy from getting a foothold. There are barrier creams specifically designed for this purpose: Ivy Shield, IvyBlock and Tecnu. These keep the irritating oil away from the skin. A good product for washing the skin after exposure is Zanfel.

Be careful with your exposed clothing and shoes. Treat them like hazardous waste because they may carry toxic oil that can rub off and cause a rash weeks later.

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