Q. More than fifty years ago when I was a child, my mother used “Save-the-Baby” on us when we had a bad cold. She rubbed it on our chests. I loved the smell and it seemed to work quite well.
In the early 1960’s, I used it on my own children. Recently I have mentioned it to friends in Florida and they look at me like I’m crazy. (I am from Massachusetts originally, so maybe it’s a regional remedy.)
Do you know if Save-the Baby is still made and where I could get some for my grandchildren? It was in a small rectangular bottle with a picture of a baby on it in black and white. Every time I visit a historical place where they have an old general store I look but have not seen it.
A. We appreciate your nostalgia, but it might not be such a shame that this old-fashioned remedy has become quite hard to find. It contained camphor (probably the smell you love), which can be toxic if ingested. The directions on that quaint label suggested giving it internally every half hour “until relieved, or until the doctor arrives.”
Such instructions aren’t relevant today since house calls are virtually extinct. In addition, the FDA warns against internal use of any camphor-containing product.
Q. My pharmacist said I should not eat grapefruit when I’m on cholesterol lowering drugs. Could you please explain why?
I love fresh grapefruit and drink grapefruit juice almost every day. I have noticed my back is hurting more lately and my memory has gotten much worse, especially for names and numbers. I have also been bothered by nausea. Is this why my pharmacist warned me about grapefruit? Thanks for any information you can send me.
A. Some cholesterol-lowering medications are affected by grapefruit while others are not. The side effects you are experiencing might be related to an excessive dose of a statin-type cholesterol-lowering drug caused by grapefruit.
Grapefruit contains a unique compound that changes enzymes in the body responsible for drug metabolism. This results in higher blood levels of certain medications, not just those prescribed for high cholesterol.
We are sending you our Guides to Grapefruit Interactions and Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs which will tell you more about such incompatibilities and suggest medications unaffected by grapefruit. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped, self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. JL-97, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Q. The coffee at work is served with a cream substitute, which contains partially hydrogenated soybean oil, corn syrup solids, sodium caseinate, mono- and di-glycerides and carrageenan. Would several servings daily be harmful? Is this better for us than half-and-half?
A. Partially hydrogenated oil contains “trans” fatty acids. Although an occasional serving is probably not a problem, a daily ration is not good for the heart. Dr. Walter Willett, Chairman of Nutrition at the Harvard University School of Public Health, has found that trans fatty acids are just as dangerous as saturated fats like butter. When possible, choose low-fat milk for your coffee. Even half-and-half may be better than hydrogenated vegetable oil.