Natural approaches to combat arthritis pain

Q A year ago, my doctor said my cholesterol was way too high and wanted me to take simvastatin to lower it. Instead I made some changes.

I ate oatmeal every morning and quit taking the glucosamine and chondroitin I was using for joint pain. My cholesterol improved a lot, but my arthritis is acting up. Are there natural ways to relieve my sore joints and also keep my cholesterol under control?

A Many people tell us that glucosamine and chondroitin raise their cholesterol. Research shows no benefit from these supplements for joint or back pain (BMJ online, Sept. 16, 2010, and Journal of the American Medical Association, July 7, 2010).

Natural approaches for arthritis include foods such as cherries, curry, ginger, pineapple, pomegranates, gin-soaked raisins, and Certo and grape juice (see next question). To lower cholesterol, a low-carbohydrate diet may help, along with foods such as almonds, apple-cider vinegar, beets, cinnamon, fish and oatmeal.

Q I've had bursitis in my shoulders and hip for years. Then I tried Certo (from the canning section of the grocery) mixed with 64 ounces of white grape juice. I take half a cup daily. The pain disappeared like a miracle in just four days.

A Many people find that a packet of Certo plant pectin (sold to stiffen homemade jams) dissolved in a half-gallon of grape juice eases joint pain.

Q I have had many episodes of depression during the last 40 years. I have been on seven antidepressants, only one of which worked without unacceptable side effects. It took two weeks to kick in.

Recently, I had another bout. I read that inositol could help depression and started taking it. Within two days, I was no longer suicidal, and in a week, I was back to feeling good.

A Inositol is a natural compound that is found in numerous foods, especially fruit. It plays a role in several physiologic processes, including modulating the neurochemical serotonin.

Studies of inositol for treating depression have been inconclusive. We're glad it helped you, though we have no idea whether it would help others as effectively.

Q I had frequent nosebleeds for about 15 years. Then I started taking lutein and bilberry for my eyes. I've had no nosebleeds since. I believe bilberry keeps the capillary walls strong and flexible.

A Although there is no human research, animal studies suggest that bilberry, a close cousin of blueberry, has vascular benefits.

Q Is clindamycin a preventive drug? I was told to take it after intercourse to prevent vaginitis. What, if any, side effects should I watch for? Should I be concerned about it affecting my husband?

A Clindamycin vaginal cream is used to treat bacterial infections of the vagina. The prescribing information advises against intercourse for seven days after application of this drug. Please double-check with your doctor about sexual activity while using this medication.

The cream you are using is less likely to cause the severe diarrhea that can be associated with oral clindamycin. Nevertheless, some people do report diarrhea, vaginal yeast infection, headache or rash after using the cream.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Send questions to them via

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