Q. Your suggestion of coconut macaroon cookies for diarrhea was a godsend for me. I'd had diarrhea for three years, and it was controlling my life. I tried various medicines, but none helped.
I stopped eating when I was out. If I had an appointment in the afternoon, I didn't eat until I got home. This made for a long day.
When I read about the macaroons, I tried them. They worked so well, I couldn't believe it. I could even go out to dinner and not be embarrassed.
I told my doctor about the remedy, and she said she would pass it on. Later she told me it helped two of her patients.
A. Thank you for sharing your story. Many people have found that eating two coconut macaroon cookies daily can combat chronic diarrhea.
We first heard about this remedy from Donald Agar in Pittsfield, Mass. His powers of observation and his report of his experience have helped countless folks afflicted with Crohn's disease or other conditions causing chronic diarrhea.
We can't explain why some people get such relief and others don't. We suspect that coconut is the relevant ingredient.
Q. I am 62 and have been on Premarin for 10 years. I'd like to come off the Premarin because four relatives have died of breast cancer. The doctor says I need this pill for my bones and my heart.
I've tried to get off Premarin three different times over the years. After about two weeks, I go crazy with hot flashes, night sweats and lack of sleep. Someone suggested black cohosh. I've started taking it, but I would like to know more about it. Could you please send me information on this and other supplements that would help with hot flashes?
A. When your body is suddenly deprived of its accustomed estrogen, it might respond with hot flashes and night sweats that can awaken you. As you have discovered, this might happen after years on Premarin as well as at menopause.
Gradual tapering of the dose over many months might help. You will eventually adapt, and the hot flashes should become less frequent and finally disappear. In the meantime, there are studies supporting the use of a standardized black cohosh extract like Remifemin to reduce hot flashes.
Soy products like powdered protein or milk substitute contain plant estrogen. In one study, the women consuming soy had fewer hot flashes. As an additional benefit, cholesterol levels dropped, which should be good for the heart.
We are sending you our Guides to Osteoporosis and Estrogen: Benefits, Risks & amp; Interactions, which has more information on the link between estrogen and breast cancer. It also contains recommendations on other ways to keep your bones strong, foods rich in phytoestrogen, and herbs used to fight hot flashes. Anyone who would like copies, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. WU-52, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Q. I've enjoyed your combination of common sense and medical knowledge since I read your book in 1980. Back then you warned about the dangers of medicines containing camphor, yet you now recommend Vicks VapoRub for toenail fungus. Why did you change your mind?
A. Camphor is toxic when ingested, which is why Vicks VapoRub should NOT be used internally. Very little, if any, camphor is absorbed from Vicks smeared on toenails.
X In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them at email@example.com or via their Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.org. Their newest book is "The People's Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies" (St. Martin's Press).
& copy; 2002 King Features Syndicate, Inc.