Q. When I was very small (late 1950’s) there was a great children’s cold salve called “Save the Baby.” It was rubbed on the chest to help clear congestion. Do you know if this product still exists?

A. When we last wrote about Save the Baby several years ago, a reader told us that it is a regional remedy available in Massachusetts. We have not seen it for years, but you might find it on the Internet.

Save the Baby was promoted for coughs, colds and congestion. It contained camphor, which gave it a distinctive aroma. Not only did people rub it on the chest, they were also encouraged to administer it internally. Such advice was dangerous because camphor can be toxic when taken orally.

You can still find products with camphor. Vicks VapoRub is one of the most well known. Heed the warning: “For external use only, avoid contact with eyes. Do not use by mouth, with tight bandages, in nostrils, on wounds or damaged skin.”

Q. I think I read something about skin flaps in your column. Is there anything that will get rid of these annoying and unsightly growths?

A. Skin tags are not dangerous, but as you point out, these fleshy growths can be bothersome. They often appear in skin folds such as under the arms, in the groin area or on the neck.

Several weeks ago a reader recommended applying New-Skin Liquid Bandage to a skin tag or flap to remove it. We have since heard from several readers that this approach worked.

Here’s one testimonial: “I have had five skin tags removed in the past by a dermatologist and was about to call for an appointment to have another removed when I read about the ‘liquid bandage’ in your column. I bought the spray. WOW, the skin tag was gone in a week.”

Q. I am very concerned about my mom. She has high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. Her doctor has her on atenolol and clonidine for the blood pressure and Pravachol to control the cholesterol. Her aches and pains are worse than ever and she has no energy. Could her medicine be contributing to her symptoms?

A. Beta blockers like atenolol may make it hard to control cholesterol and can also cause fatigue. There is some question as to whether such drugs prevent heart attacks or strokes, which is the whole point of the exercise. Many European experts now believe beta blockers should not be first choice treatments for hypertension (Lancet, Oct. 29, 2005).

Statin-type cholesterol drugs (Crestor, Lipitor, Pravachol, Zocor) sometimes cause aches and pain in muscles and joints. Your mother should discuss her symptoms with her physician and never discontinue any medication suddenly.

We are sending you our new book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy (Rodale Books) with information on alternative approaches to blood pressure and cholesterol control. Others can find it at a local bookseller or on the Internet.

Q. My husband, a 45-year smoker, is now addicted to Nicorette. He chews this gum constantly and uses it in places he never smoked, such as work, stores, home, etc.

Is this common? What are the long-term health effects? He has high blood pressure.

A. Nicotine is clearly addicting in any form. Others have reported difficulty stopping Nicorette. Side effects may include nausea, throat irritation, indigestion and irregular heart beat. Nicotine may also increase blood pressure.

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  1. Brian

    Verna, my grandmother was lois’s secretary for years. I lived next-door to where save the baby was made, nahhh, the smell of that neighborhood. Fond fond memories and we would never get sick.

  2. Stormy

    Lee’s Save the Baby was a product of the William W Lee Co., Inc. of Watervliet New York, near 10th and 24th streets. It was manufactured in the basement of a large residence and is no longer available in its’ original formula. It was a liquid in a small bottle, not the salve as shown in many sites around the internet. Esther Lee, widow of the last of the original Lee Family passed away in 1974. The formula was not passed on to her last survivor, a foster son. The foster son attempted to copy the formula but never quite got it right. Therefore, the original formula, as marketed since the mid 1800’s is lost.
    When I was a child and living in Watervliet, my Mother would go to the house to purchase the product, which was administered to us on a teaspoon with some white sugar, as a remedy for colds.
    My present wife bottled the product for the family and was at the wake for Esther.

  3. NSRoss

    Oddly, Save The Baby is now reformulated for use for pets – and this means it’s animal use only, not humans. Not that I haven’t been tempted when I had a cold – the stuff is so wonderful. The product is VetRx. In the poultry magazines, the company states that it used to be Save The Baby. The ingredients include: “Canada Balsam, Camphor, Oil of Origanum, Oil of Rosemary and more” according to them.

  4. VERNA C.

    i too am looking for the product “save the baby”. does anyone know where i can find it? google search has no results for the william w lee co inc. we have five children, w/the youngest being 32 yrs; we used it with all of our children. now that we have grandchildren, we can’t find it anywhere, or so it seems. any well intended replies are welcome. thanks.

  5. Jennifer Townsend

    I put New Skin Liquid Bandage on skin tags, after reading your article and my skin immediately became inflamed and very painful. Then I read on the package, if you need to remove it, you can use nail polish remover – which we know to be toxic. I definitely recommend NOT using the liquid bandage.

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