Q. My daughter is entering puberty and dealing with the usual underarm body odors. We tried many different deodorants and antiperspirants to no avail.

I figured if Listerine killed the germs that cause bad breath, it might kill the bacteria that cause underarm odor. I checked with the pediatrician first to make sure it would be safe.


Sure enough, Listerine works. She applies it after showering, lets it dry and then applies an antiperspirant. She can go just about the entire day with barely any odor.

A. Thanks for sharing this unique solution to a common problem. Listerine contains thymol, eucalyptol, menthol and methyl salicylate. These herbal oils have antifungal and antibacterial properties. Although it is not approved for this use, we’re glad to learn it works.

Q. I recently suffered about a dozen fire ant bites on my ankles. I was buying an OTC anti-itch spray, but the clerk told me to dab toothpaste on the bites and I would not get those hard little white blisters. She said it was the fluoride in the paste that worked. I did it, and 24 hours later, the bites were gone, with no sores or blisters. Only the two or three I missed still remained. Do you think that this is just placebo?

A. We doubt that placebo ointments would help much for fire ant bites, but we can’t explain why toothpaste would help.
Q. I heard that magnetic bracelets might help arthritis pain. My 85-year-old dad suffers terribly and has been taking Celebrex. I worry about that because of the danger to the heart, especially since heart disease runs in my family.
I want to find the bracelets for him if they will work. Others in our family have similar concerns. I had my knees replaced in my mid-fifties, and my son in his thirties is already miserable.
A. Magnetic bracelets for arthritis are highly controversial. An article in the Skeptical Inquirer magazine (July 2006) maintains that magnet therapy is based sloppy science.
“Randomized Controlled Trial of Magnetic Bracelets for Relieving Pain in Osteoarthritis of the Hip and Knee��? was published in the British Medical Journal (Dec. 18-25, 2004). These investigators used a bracelet with a weak magnetic field for placebo control. They reported that the “real��? magnetic bracelets helped ease arthritis pain.
We have considerable skepticism about magnet therapy, but we have heard from many readers who insist that such treatment helped them. One recently wrote, “I am here to tell you they work! The magnets cured me of arthritis.��?
Anyone who would like more information on magnets and other approaches may wish to order our Guide, “Alternatives for Arthritis.��? Please send $3 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (63 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. AA-2, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It can also be downloaded for $2 from the Website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Q. I used to get canker sores in my mouth when I was younger. My mother told me to hold a slice of banana tight against the sore with my tongue, and it works.
You have to hold it there until it stings, about four or five minutes. Riper bananas seem to work better. Seldom have I had a sore that lasted longer than a day, and it certainly tastes better than medicine.
A. A slice of banana certainly sounds like a pleasant treatment for canker sores. We don’t know how it would work.

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