Q. More than 40 years ago I worked in a Chinese restaurant. One day at work I somehow stabbed an icepick through the end of my thumb and it bled severely. I couldn’t get it stopped even long enough to put on a bandage.
Finally, I went into the kitchen to show it to my boss. He took just one took, then he reached for a can of ground sage and applied it to the wound. I never saw anything stop bleeding as quickly as that! Black pepper isn’t the only “home remedy” for bleeding found in the kitchen.
A. Thanks for this unusual remedy. We have had first-hand experience using black pepper to stop bleeding from a minor cut. It’s helpful to know that ground sage works, too. Of course, serious cuts require medical attention.
Q. My doctor prescribed Baycol to lower my cholesterol. It almost killed me. Then he put me on Lescol, which gave me terrible leg cramps. He agrees that I cannot tolerate statins, but my cholesterol is 268. My diet is prudent: fish, salads and oatmeal. I am interested in the Indian herb guggul and any other natural way to control cholesterol.
A. Guggul is a traditional Indian medicine approved in that country for cholesterol control. It comes from the resin of a tree, Commiphora mukul, native to India.
Scientists at Baylor University discovered recently that guggul prevents the re-absorption of cholesterol-containing bile acids, and this is how it lowers cholesterol. Their research was published in Science (May 31, 2002).
Guggul may also have anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting activity, although these are not as well established as its cholesterol-lowering ability. It is not appropriate for people with chronic diarrhea or overactive thyroid glands, and some people develop serious allergies to guggul.
We’re sending you our book, The People’s Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies, which has more detailed information on guggul and other natural remedies to lower cholesterol. This paperback book is available at local libraries or may be ordered by sending $8.99 to Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy (Dept HHR), PO Box 52027; Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Q. I am an avid walker in very good health. After a strenuous two-week walking tour of Europe, I got home and began experiencing increasing numbness and tingling on the bottoms of my feet.
When I developed similar sensations in my hands, I sought help from my orthopedist, expecting to learn my arthritis had gotten worse. Finding nothing to cause my symptoms, the orthopedist sent me to a neurologist who did all the routine tests, including a back MRI looking for spinal stenosis. He also ordered a nutritional analysis and discovered that I suffered from vitamin B6 toxicity.
My multiple vitamin supplement contains a lot more than the recommended dietary allowance for several B vitamins. They are supposed to be water soluble but somehow in my system, the B6 built up to toxic levels, causing the neuropathies. About a week after discontinuing that supplement, the symptoms disappeared!
A. Vitamin B6 is known to cause nerve damage at high levels. Most people tolerate doses up to 25 mg or even 50 mg a day without getting into trouble. But you may be especially vulnerable. The symptoms you describe (numbness and tingling in the extremities) are typical of neuropathy.

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