Q. Golden raisins soaked in gin were ineffective against my arthritis pain, but raisins in sloe gin were immediately and totally effective. Thanks for the suggestion.
A. Thank you for the testimonial. Regular gin is flavored with juniper berries, while sloe gin is flavored with sloe berries from the blackthorn bush, which was traditionally used for digestive disorders. This isn’t the first time we have heard that sloe gin with raisins may be helpful against arthritis pain.
We’ve collected a variety of old-fashioned approaches to common problems in our Guide to Home Remedies. 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. R-1, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It can also be downloaded for $2 from the Website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.

Q. On your Web site I found some questions about how to remove Vaseline from hair. I have never tried this, but if I needed to, I would first rub in a lightweight oil (e.g. corn oil) — get it all thoroughly mixed, then squeeze it out — repeat several times — do you see the principle? Use the lightweight oil to remove the heavyweight oil, then use soap or detergent to remove the lightweight oil.

I have used vegetable oil to remove car grease from my hands. It works very well.

A. Thanks for the recommendation. Years ago, we passed along a suggestion from a pediatric dermatologist for killing lice by smothering them. He said that petroleum jelly left on the hair under a shower cap overnight was the last resort for desperate parents.
Many parents found that removing the Vaseline was harder than killing lice. Several people used your principle and cut the Vaseline with mineral oil first before adding cornstarch and then shampooing the whole mess out.
Q. The duct tape cure for warts you have written about is interesting, but it might be a bit messy. As a young boy I grew warts like some folks grow tomatoes. My mom would always paint them over with clear fingernail polish, and they always went away. She said the idea was to cut them off from the air. Whatever it was, it worked invisibly.
A. We do not think that warts “breathe��? so it is hard to imagine that cutting them off from air is the mechanism. Nonetheless, we have also heard from a reader who applied instant glue with the same effect: “I had a huge wart and used instant glue to smother it! It turned black after a few days. I used a small brush to get rid of the black layer, and reapplied instant glue until it was gone.��?
It is possible that such treatments activate the immune system so that it rejects the wart virus. If you try superglue, don’t let it get anywhere except the wart, since it could be irritating to the skin.

Q. I’ve been hearing about grape seed extract as an antioxidant. What do you know about it?

A. Grapes and their seeds are rich in antioxidant compounds such as flavonoids and proanthocyanidins (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 20004). Researchers at the University of California, Davis, reported this spring that grape seed extract lowered blood pressure among people with prehypertension. Systolic pressure (the top number) came down almost 12 points, and diastolic pressure (the bottom or second number) came down roughly 8 points.

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