Home Grown Remedies that Work

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Q: If I feel a canker sore coming on, I put a wad of chopped sauerkraut on the area, hold it there for a minute, then chew and swallow. I do this three or four times a day for two to three days.

A: Trauma to the mouth from sharp food can trigger a canker sore (aphthous ulcer). So can immune suppression or a deficiency of folic acid, vitamin B-12 and iron. A 1930s remedy recommended swishing sauerkraut juice in the mouth several times a day. Perhaps the bacteria that ferment cabbage into sauerkraut provide helpful nutrients.

A 2009 study demonstrated improvement in canker sores from 1,000 micrograms of vitamin B-12 daily (Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine).

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Q: I get nosebleeds when the furnace runs a lot in the winter. My doctor recommended Vaseline in my nose to keep it moistened.

A: We recently saw a suggestion in Consumer Reports (March issue) that "a pea-sized dollop of petroleum jelly inside the nostrils" could prevent nosebleeds. Used rarely, this approach might not be dangerous.

We have heard from lung specialists that petroleum jelly can migrate from the nose to the lungs. Buildup could cause an inflammatory condition called lipoid pneumonia. The label of Vicks VapoRub, a product containing petrolatum, states "Do not use in nostrils." A water-soluble moistener such as K-Y Jelly might be a better choice.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. www.peoples pharmacy.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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