Q. For the past several months I have been suffering with flatulence. It is extremely embarrassing. I worry every time I go out in public that I will pass very smelly gas.
I have tried over-the-counter medications like Gas-X, Beano, Tums and charcoal capsules. I try to avoid foods that might give me gas, but even so, the problem persists. Is there anything I can do? It’s getting so bad that I don’t want to go out anymore.
A. It sounds as if you have tried almost everything in the pharmacy. Here are some home remedies to consider:
* Fennel tea (one tsp fennel seeds, smashed with a spoon, steeped in hot water for 5 minutes)
* A teaspoon of Angostura bitters in a glass of club soda
* A dose of Pepto-Bismol to help control odor
If all else fails, you may be interested in a Flatulence Filter Seat Cushion. It contains activated charcoal which traps odors. The same company (Dairiair) makes carbonized undies that also trap smelly gas. For more information call 877-427-2466 or visit www.GasBGon.com.
Q. My husband says that his magnetic bracelet helps his arthritis pain. What do you have to say about that? Are there side effects?
A. Most scientists are skeptical that magnet therapy could bring any relief for arthritis symptoms. There is no theory to explain how magnets might work and any reported benefit is usually attributed to the placebo effect.
Nonetheless, a few studies suggest magnet therapy may actually help ease arthritis pain (British Medical Journal, Dec. 18-25, 2004). As far as we can tell, there are no side effects from wearing a magnetic bracelet, though people with insulin pumps, sleep apnea machines or pacemakers should probably stay away from magnets.
Anyone who would like more information on magnets and other non-drug 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. My Raynaud’s syndrome has suddenly seemed to disappear. The only change I’ve made is to start taking a cinnamon capsule about six weeks ago. My fingers used to turn white even in the summer. It’s in the 20s and I haven’t had a problem, even getting stuff out of the freezer. Is it the cinnamon?
A. Raynaud’s is a condition in which blood vessels in the hands and feet constrict, leading to pain and numbness. Sometimes fingers or toes even turn white or blue.
In Chinese medicine both cinnamon and the herb astragalus have been used to improve circulation and relieve symptoms of Raynaud’s. Be careful not to overdose on cinnamon, though, since the spice sometimes contains a compound called coumarin that can damage the liver. To be safe, look for a cinnamon supplement that is water extracted to eliminate the coumarin.
Q. Somewhere I read that chewing gum after a meal would prevent stomach acid problems. Since I have been chewing gum after dinner each day, I have had no problems. (Maalox used to be my best friend.) Wouldn’t this be better than taking a lot of prescriptions?
A. Chewing gum can often prevent heartburn. It stimulates saliva, which buffers stomach acid and washes it out of the esophagus and back into the stomach where it belongs.

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  1. Sheiila Henderson

    Mr. Graedon wrote:”Most scientists are skeptical that magnet therapy could bring any relief for arthritis symptoms. There is no theory to explain how magnets might work and any reported benefit is usually attributed to the placebo effect.(from Mr. Graedon’s answer).
    MOST scientists do NOT believe soap under the sheets helps/works, but it DOES!
    Sheila H.

  2. KathyH

    Add ginger to the list of gas remedies. I get a lot of gas. GasX helps but I worry about taking it most days long term. When I eat fresh ginger, I get a lot less gas than when I don’t. Of course, it’s too hot to eat plain, so I slice it thinly and eat it on thick whole wheat toast. With honey, it’s really good.

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