Q. I recently read your column about using soy sauce on burns.
Vanilla does the same thing.  I have used vanilla for many years in my kitchen to soothe burns.

A. We always recommend that burns be treated with cold water immediately. Many people have reported that soy sauce can also ease the pain. Thanks for sharing your vanilla remedy.

Q. I need advice on coughs. My husband has been coughing non-stop and nothing seems to help him.  Can you offer a suggestion?

A. It is important for your husband to identify the cause of his cough. If it is related to an infection, his doctor will need to treat it appropriately.

Some medicines for high blood pressure (ACE inhibitors such as enalapril, lisinopril or ramipril) can trigger coughing as a side effect.

If there is no obvious cause, your husband may benefit from thyme tea. Just steep a teaspoon of dried leaves in a cup of hot water for five minutes. Sweeten to taste. Thyme has compounds that can calm a cough.

We also suggest putting Vicks VapoRub on the soles of the feet for a nighttime cough. Put on warm socks to protect the sheets.

Q. For several years I suffered from highly uncomfortable intestinal gas, particularly in the late afternoon and evening. I must have consumed a ton of Beano to help the discomfort.

Then I read a column of yours about sugarless gum and its link to that very problem in some people. I chewed a lot of sugarless gum while working on my freelance writing projects. I gave up the gum and haven't had a problem since. What a relief!

A. Your experience demonstrates how diet can affect the digestive tract. Many blame gas on beans, broccoli or onions. Some people react to bagels, pretzels or dried fruit.

Individuals with celiac disease can’t tolerate gluten from wheat, barley or rye. They may experience bloating or gas if they eat bread or pasta.

We describe some common culprits and tell how to identify foods that cause gas in our Guide to Digestive Disorders. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (63 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. G-3, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It can also be downloaded for $2 from the Website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.

The low-calorie sweeteners used in sugarless gum or candy are not absorbed well from the digestive tract. As a result, they offer bacteria in the large intestine an opportunity to produce quantities of gas. Diarrhea can be another consequence of these sweeteners. Thank you for reminding everyone of these embarrassing effects.

Q. I am writing about your article on hiccups.  Recently when I had a bad case of the hiccups, I remembered reading about eating a couple green olives.

I have to tell you I am a firm believer now. The hiccups were gone almost instantly after I ate the second olive. What a wonderful idea!

A. We appreciate your testimonial. We don’t know if it is the olive itself or the vinegar in the brine that does the trick by stimulating the phrenic nerve, but we are always pleased to learn that a hiccup remedy has helped.

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  1. Kelly M.

    Another inexpensive burn remedy is lavender oil. You can get it at any health food store for around 5. a bottle. Always cool a burn immediately with cold water, but then a few drops of lavender oil directly on the burn will instantly take away the pain. I have used it on steam burns which are extremely painful and it takes all the pain out right away. I always keep a bottle in my medicine cabinet, even good for sunburn pain.

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