graedons | people's herbal pharmacy Gin and raisins remedy
Q. I have read about taking seven raisins soaked in bourbon each day for arthritis pain. Please let me know if this is correct and if it really works.
A. We have been writing about this remedy for more than a decade, but there are no scientific studies to demonstrate whether it works. The actual formula is nine golden raisins soaked in gin, not bourbon.
One reader wrote to report: "I have tried gin and raisins for arthritis and have had great success. I am now pain-free and no longer require any medication.
"Why do you need to use the golden raisins? They are more expensive and sometimes are hard to find in the store. Please let me know if dark raisins work just as well as the golden ones."
Some folks do report that dark raisins also work, but the standard approach is to barely cover golden raisins with cheap gin, and allow the alcohol to evaporate.
We are sending you our Guide to Home Remedies for more details on gin and raisins and other natural approaches to arthritis relief. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. R-1, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Q. My husband had bypass surgery five years ago, and last year he had two stents put in. The heart doctor asked if he was taking vitamin E. We said he'd taken it for years, and the doctor said to stop it immediately. He claims studies show it is bad for the heart. Is this true?
A. We don't know of any evidence that vitamin E is bad for the heart, but most research suggests it is not helpful, either. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (July 26, 2004) analyzed data from seven studies involving more than 100,000 people. The scientists conclude that vitamin E neither benefits nor harms the heart.
Q. I like to drink about four cups of tea in the morning. I have hypertension, and I am taking atenolol for this. My blood sugar is also a little bit high. Will drinking tea affect my blood pressure and blood sugar?
A. A cup of black tea has about 40 or 50 mg of caffeine, depending on how long it steeps. So in your four cups you are getting roughly 160 to 200 mg, perhaps as much as two cups of coffee.
Recent research suggests that consuming green or oolong tea (which contain less caffeine than black tea) might help prevent high blood pressure (Archives of Internal Medicine, July 26, 2004). In general, however, caffeine can raise blood pressure somewhat, especially if a person is also under stress.
Another study shows that caffeine on an empty stomach does not have an impact on blood sugar, but taken with a meal, caffeine can raise blood sugar and insulin levels in type 2 diabetics (Diabetes Care, August 2004).
Q. I read that stinging nettle might help relieve sneezing and sniffling from allergies. What can you tell me about this herb?
A. Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is used in Europe to treat allergy symptoms. A double-blind study found that it was better than placebo for relieving runny nose.
A reader shared her success: "Everyone in our family has had allergies. My father suffered with severe sinus problems for years. But with stinging nettle leaves, we no longer have allergy problems at all. My father is free of sinus trouble for the first time in his life."
XIn 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or via their Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.org.
& copy; 2004 King Features Syndicate, Inc.