Q. I recently read that nutmeg can be poisonous in large doses when it is used as a folk remedy. Is the same true of cinnamon? I use a large amount of cinnamon on my oatmeal every morning, probably about a teaspoonful. Is this harmful?
A. Cinnamon sometimes contains a compound called coumarin. At high doses over a long period of time, coumarin may cause liver inflammation. It may also have blood-thinning activity and might interact with the anticoagulant Coumadin (warfarin).
Cinnulin PF is a water-soluble extract of cinnamon that does not contain coumarin. These capsules appear to be safe and may help control blood sugar levels.
Q. Do you have a book published with all the wonderful helpful information that you have in your newspaper columns? I would love to get some copies as presents for my family.
A. Our new book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy (Rodale Books), is just out. It is 494 pages and has hundreds of remedies along with evaluations of prescription and over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements. You can find it at your bookseller or on the Web.
Q. Do you have any information on bio-identical hormones?
A. The AMA House of Delegates recently adopted a resolution calling for FDA oversight of bio-identical hormones. These are supposed to have the same chemical composition as hormones made by the body. Compounding pharmacists customize the formulations, but there is concern about quality control. There is little or no evidence that custom-made agents are safer or more effective than conventionally manufactured hormones.
Q. In a recent column you wrote about a home remedy for toenail fungus. I can’t remember the product. It might have been Listerine or hydrogen peroxide.
I was excited about using it and thought for sure I’d remember it. Then when I was ready to start working on my dad’s nails, I forgot.
A. Some readers have used hydrogen peroxide from the drugstore. One diluted it with an equal amount of water and sprayed it on the toes twice a day.
Another reported: “I used it full strength. I saturated a cotton ball and let it sit on my toes for less than a minute once a day. I had tried many expensive products that had not worked. This cleared my toenails up in less than a month. I cannot believe that I have normal looking nails in such a short time.
“I had quit going to the swimming pool because I suspected I picked the fungus up there. Maybe I’ll return to my swimming now that I know I have found a cure.”

Q. The lice shampoo I buy in the pharmacy does not seem to work any more for my kids. I tried to find the products you mentioned in an earlier column, but my local pharmacy did not have either HairClean 1-2-3 or Cetaphil facial cleanser. Where can I find these products?

A. HairClean 1-2-3 contains coconut oil, anise oil, ylang ylang oil and isopropyl alcohol. Look for it at a health food store that features beauty aids or shop online. Many Web sites carry this natural lice treatment.
Cetaphil skin cleanser is widely available in pharmacies and other shops that sell skin care products. You can also find it online.
To treat lice, coat the hair with Cetaphil and leave it on for two minutes, then blow the hair dry. As Cetaphil hardens, the lice suffocate. After eight hours shampoo the Cetaphil out. One study showed this treatment was 90 percent effective (Pediatrics, Sept. 2004).

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  1. JB
    Reply

    I read in your column the suggestion of cinnamon and honey for a daily treatment against arthritis pain. I started this about 2 months ago and have had some relief in my hands but no noticeable effect in other joints. I am happy for the relief I have gotten and continue to take a teaspoon the cinnamon with 2-3 tsp of honey daily. My question now is could the cinnamon effect my hormones levels? I am 53 years old and have not had a menstrual period in over 4 years until mid-August and now (9-15-10) I have begun another!

  2. Lydia
    Reply

    Can too much cinnamon cause kidney failure?

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