Q. I have a question about the effects of saltpeter on erections. I have reason to believe my wife is feeding me saltpeter.
I am a very sexual person who has no problems getting and maintaining an erection. In the last three weeks, every time she cooks and I eat her food, I can’t get an erection. When I don’t eat at home for a few days, I am normal again. If I eat at the house, the same thing happens again.
How soon after eating saltpeter does it take effect? How long after you stop does it take to wear off? Are there any dangerous side effects?
I just think my wife wants a break, but I don’t want any bad side effects.
A. Saltpeter (AKA niter or potassium nitrate) has been used historically in fireworks, fertilizer and to cure meats. Sailors in the British navy may have started the rumor that saltpeter was put in their food to lower their libidos. This myth has been perpetuated in summer camps and boarding schools but there is no evidence to support it.
We doubt that your wife could even get easy access to potassium nitrate since it can be used in explosives. Side effects could include headache, stomach upset, kidney damage and anemia.
Please seek counseling, since it seems as if communication has broken down between the two of you. Your fears suggest a lack of trust.
Q. You invited readers to tell you if deodorant helps insect bites. I keep a stick deodorant in my first aid kit at all times. It has never failed to take the pain away immediately and reduce any after-effects of the bite.
A. Other readers have also found this trick helpful. A grandmother shared the following: “Usually if you rub the deodorant on the bite right away, it stops itching immediately. You are never bothered with it again.
“I have used Dove deodorant, both the solid and the roll-on. They both work. I read that deodorant could help bee stings so I thought it might help mosquito bites. I tried it on my grandchildren who were visiting, and it worked so well I have never used anything else.��?
Q. How do I lower triglycerides? My count is 195, and my doctor says that’s too high.
A. High triglycerides, like elevated cholesterol, can increase the risk of heart disease. Cutting back on carbohydrates can often lower triglycerides. Doctors also prescribe niacin or fibrate-type drugs (Tricor or Lopid).
Another option is fish oil. This natural product is very effective at lowering triglycerides. Researchers are also exploring whether fish oil canfight inflammation associated with arthritis, heart disease and dementia.
We recently discussed the health benefits of fish oil with some of the country’s leading experts. Anyone who would like a CD of this one-hour radio interview can order it for $16 from the People’s Pharmacy (CD-602), P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027 or from www.peoplespharmacy.com.

Q. For travel sickness, I find ginger to be the best treatment. I buy capsules of ginger at a health food store and have taken them with me on ten cruises. Candied ginger is also useful, for when it would be difficult to swallow capsules. It helps with sore throats too.

A. Ginger root has been used to prevent motion sickness for thousands of years. Placebo-controlled studies have confirmed its effectiveness.

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