Q. I have glaucoma, diagnosed about 35 years ago. I loved black licorice, but it raised my eye pressure nearly off the charts. A pharmacist friend was curious to see what caused it to rise so rapidly when it had been under control. It was due to the licorice. All people with glaucoma should be warned.

A. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has been used medicinally for coughs, digestive problems and inflammation. It is also used to flavor candy and chewing tobacco.
But licorice has some potentially serious side effects, including fluid retention, potassium depletion and high blood pressure. Thank you for the warning that it can also raise pressure within the eye.

Q. I was desperate about my itchy, flaky scalp, and you recommended Nizoral shampoo and old-fashioned Listerine. This weekend, I used the Listerine and Nizoral separately. I left each on my scalp for 10 minutes each day of a long weekend. Now it feels much, much better. I don’t feel like a leper today–for the first time in over a year. Thank you.

A. We are pleased to learn of your success. Nizoral is an antifungal shampoo that is often effective against the yeast that cause dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis. Old-fashioned Listerine contains alcohol and many herbal oils that also have antifungal activity.

Q. Several years ago, I went through a depression and was put on medication for several years. Finally I found a good job and stopped taking the antidepressant with my doctor’s permission.
While I was on the drug, I had NO desire for sex whatsoever. I would go to pieces if my husband wanted sex. I just couldn’t stand the thought of him touching me. My husband got upset and accused me of having an affair. All I was doing was eating and getting fatter.

I also take two different blood pressure pills, cholesterol medication and stomach medicine. After stopping the antidepressant my desire came back full force. I feel like a new person sexually.

A. Thanks for sharing your story. Many people don’t realize that many
medications can rob them of their sexual desire or ability. Certain antidepressants, blood pressure pills, stomach medicine and cholesterol drugs may cause problems.

Readers who would like to know more about dealing with such issues may wish to order our Guides to Sexual Dysfunction, Female Sexuality and Drugs that Affect Sexuality. Anyone who would like copies, please send $4 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. YPZ-962, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

Q. My husband refuses to wash his hands after using the bathroom or before eating. Instead, he uses a squirt of hand sanitizer gel. Your reaction?

A. Researchers at the University of North Carolina did a scientific comparison of various soaps and gels for hand washing. The subjects’ hands were deliberately contaminated with a mix of (harmless) bacteria and viruses and washed for 10 seconds. They were then tested for remaining germs.

The scientists found that the best approach is simple soap and water. Even rinsing in plain water can be effective. Your husband should save his alcohol gel for situations when he doesn’t have running water available. Most other times, he’s better off washing the old-fashioned way.

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