The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 864: Summertime Remedies

Find out what summertime remedies can help you stay healthy on summer vacation.
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Summertime Remedies

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Summertime offers great opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, but sometimes there are risks that might be hard to avoid. Chiggers, ticks and mosquitos can make you miserable. What can you do to avoid them or manage the itch that results?

Summertime Remedies:

This summer has broken heat records in many places. Is your medication putting you at risk for heat stroke? We’ll find out how to recognized the signs and what to do.

Watch Out for Sunburn:

Going out in the summer sun can result in a painful sunburn. Little children, with their delicate skin, are especially vulnerable. And there may be serious consequences years later, in the form of skin cancer. How should parents be protecting them?

We explore the stories behind the health headlines and entertain listeners’ summertime remedies.

This Week’s Guest:

Alan Geller, RN, MPH, Senior Lecturer, Harvard School of Public Health

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I learned this the hard way! I am now suffering from a poison ivy-like rash all over my mouth and chin from chewing on the rind (I know, sounds bad, but it was fun at the time! :( A warning for all those who are sensitive to the plants – mangoes will provide a skin rash just as bad!

I got a bee sting on my neck when I pruned the laurel bush on Monday. I knew I wasn’t allergic so I wasn’t worried. I looked for a quick remedy online to see if I had anything on hand to deal with it. The remedy I tried? Taped a copper penny over the sting for a couple of hours. It worked great! No swelling, no pain. The stinger came out when I remembered to remove the penny on my way to do errands. If you’ve got a penny in your pocket and scotch tape, you’re in business!

Does a list of home remedies for mosquitoes exist? if yes, where can I find it? I have been looking for it but I can’t find it. Thanks.

You had a caller asking about remedies for jock itch. Years ago, my OB/GYN said that one way to keep summer genital itching under control was to make sure all areas between the legs were thoroughly dry after a bath or shower. He said the best way to ensure that the areas were totally dry was to use a hairdryer. He also said…..tell you husband this will also control jock itch. It’s the moisture that’s part of the issue. My husband has been using the hairdryer to dry the genital area and has not had any issues with jock itch in years.
Be careful…VERY CAREFUL…not to have the heat on high. We do not want anyone burning delicate areas!

In response to Alan Geller’s views on sunscreen, I think you should interview Marianne Berwick, PhD, MPH, Division Chief & Head of Cancer Epidemiology & Prevention, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
According to Dr. Berwick there is no proof sunscreens prevent cancer.
Thank you,

Joe and Terry,
What is the name of the product mentioned by Chris from Roseland VA. for allergy reaction recovery (specifically stinging insects)? It was mentioned around 21 minutes into the Saturday, July 14, 2012 program, 864 Summertime Remedies. She was talking very fast and the name was not repeated or spelled out. I’ve replayed it several times from the web site, but still can not understand what she mentioned.
Sounded something like Opus Mylithica from Hylands and Standard. But, I have not been able to find out anything about it.
It will be extremely helpful for me – if it works – for my very severe reactions to stinging insects.
If you have a name source for the product, that would also be very helpful.
Thank you in advance – and I am anxiously awaiting – for your timely response.
Don S.
A suggestion for a future program – Processed Foods – they are talked about all the time (negatively) – they don’t seem to be good for us – What are they? And, what does “Processed” mean? What should we look out for? How do we tell if a food is “processed” or not? How do we avoid them?, etc.
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: Chris was talking about a homeopathic remedy made from bee venom called Apis mellifera. We have not seen studies showing that it is effective.

I have tried a lot of topical remedies for poison ivy. In my experience none of them worked well and I was hesitant to take corticosteroids even briefly. Poison ivy rash is a cellular allergy. The oil from the plant results in migration of lymphocytes to the affected area which induces the rash. Corticosteroids are lympholytic (destroy lymphocytes) which is why they work in making the rash subside sooner. I am an Internist and also know that high fever is lympholytic.
I decided to apply heat, in the form of hot water to one of my wrists when they both were affected by the poison ivy rash. I did not treat the wrist with the lesser amount of rash. I ran very hot water over one wrist for about 5 minutes and repeated this there or four times a day. The water was not hot enough to scald the skin but it left the skin red for a while like a 1st degree burn but subsiding in less than an hour. The itching was relieved after a couple of these treatments.
By the next day the itching and rash had cleared for the most part on the wrist that received the hot water treatment but was still present on the wrist that I had not heated up. I decided to use running hot water from my bathroom faucet because I could maintain the heat consistently yet not burn the skin plus a warm pad really takes too much time to heat up and a bath rag in a ziplock does not maintain heat long enough.
I did not check the temperature of the water but it would have been too hot to shower but not hot enough to actually burn. I was always taught that cool compresses would relieve the itching but they really don’t. Epson Salts, Calamine lotion and topical steroids never worked for me but very warm/hot water did. Just don’t burn yourself. 5 or 10 minutes is long enough and just to a local area and one area at a time. I have been lucky enough to not need this treatment in several years but I repeated it successfully 3 or 4 times. I got poison ivy from digging up the roots in the early spring. Keep this in mind and also never ever get in the smoke of burning poison ivy.
Another good program. Thanks

I only managed to catch part of the show in the car, but I was intrigued by the many home remedies for stings. My grandmother used to put Absorbine Jr (the ‘green death,’ as my brother called it) on mosquito bites to relieve itching. It worked! I’m not sure if it was the high alcohol content or the menthol, but it alleviated itching quickly.

My Grandfather taught me a bee sting remedy. Get tobacco from a cigarette and put it in your mouth and make a spit\tobacco ball. Put it directly on the sting and it will draw the poison out in no time. Hold the ball on the sting. It will get kinda hard. A friend of mine got bit at a NASCAR race and he was very allergic. I did this to him and he didn’t even swell up.
Toe fungus…rub Vick’s Vapor Rub on it after every shower and it should start improving within a week or two. My friend had this problem for many years and went to many doctors. He heard this rumor about the Vick’s and used it. Within a year the fungus had grown out of his toe.

Remind people that the clear sap found on mango skin is related to poison ivy and can cause severe reactions if you are allergic. Always remove the skin, leaving a thin layer of the colored fruit, to make sure there is no sap that will come in contact with you.

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