Q. My 11-year-old dog suffers from severe hip dysplasia and arthritis. I read in your column that gin-soaked raisins relieve arthritis pain in people, so I decided to try it on my dog. I am giving him 6 raisins a day. Within two days he was able to walk and run without whining.
A. We are sorry to tell you that raisins are toxic for dogs, so you’ll have to stop this remedy right away. Raisins and grapes can lead to kidney failure in susceptible breeds (Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Sept-Oct 2005). The mechanism is still unclear, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Q. I developed toenail fungus on both my big toes, but was reluctant to use harsh pharmaceutical treatments. So I blended a 1:1 ratio of tea tree oil (antifungal) and DMSO (penetrating carrier) and added a few drops of clove oil (which will kill anything–fungal or bacterial!). I shook it up well and dabbed it on my nails twice a day, making sure it was dry before putting on my shoes. It took three weeks, but my nails are now clear and perfect. I love home remedies that work, so I thought I’d pass it on!
A. DMSO is an interesting compound. It was popular back in the 1970s as an arthritis remedy. This solvent (dimethyl sulfoxide) carries other chemicals through the skin and it is used in some topical prescription products for this purpose.
Your formula is unique and might be irritating to the skin. Anyone who tries it should keep this mixture restricted to the nails.
We have discussed other ways to combat nail fungus in our Guides to Nail Care and Home Remedies. Anyone who would like copies, 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. HR-311, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Q. You recently wrote about serious muscle and memory problems some people have had when taking Lipitor to lower cholesterol. You did not mention that Coenzyme Q10 might help reduce the muscle pain. I started taking this dietary supplement years ago after reading about it in your column. I had been on Lipitor for several months at that time and had severe pain in my arms. After taking CoQ10 for a month, the pain disappeared and has not recurred.
Now all I need is something to perk up my memory. I’ve attributed my lapses to my age. Since I’ve never been 75 before, I don’t know exactly what to expect. But maybe some of my forgetfulness is due to the Lipitor. Any suggestions?

A. W don’t know of any good remedies to counteract the possible effect of cholesterol-lowering drugs on memory. The reaction itself is controversial.
We have heard from other people who have found that Coenzyme Q10 relieves muscle pain associated with Lipitor. Research has shown that Lipitor reduces blood levels of CoQ10 significantly (Archives of Neurology, June, 2004). We have not seen any randomized, double-blind trials of CoQ10 for statin-induced muscle pain.
Q. For years I have suffered with split and peeling nails on the first two fingers of my right hand. Nothing helped until I started taking B-complex vitamins with vitamin C a few weeks ago. My nails are now almost perfect.
A. Thanks for sharing your story. The improvement might be coincidental, but this seems like a low-risk remedy.

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