Q. You have responded to many questions about curing toenail fungus with home remedies, but here's one you've never mentioned. Put about an inch of cornmeal in a plastic dishpan. Pour in hot water, stir it so the cornmeal gets dissolved, and when it is cool enough not to hurt, soak your feet for an hour.
If you do this regularly, it will get rid of the fungus. You also can sprinkle dry cornmeal on the dirt around roses to ward off black spot fungus infection.
A. Cornmeal has been used for centuries to make cornbread, hush puppies and muffins. Using this grain to fight fungus is a fascinating adaptation.
Gardeners also have tried cornmeal to fight fungus (black spot disease) on roses. They sprinkle cornmeal on the soil around the plant in the early spring and then water it in.
Soaking feet in cornmeal glop is certainly a low-tech, low-cost approach to nail fungus. We don't know how effective it is or how frequently you'd have to do it.
People who would like to know more about other approaches to nail fungus may want our Guides to Home Remedies and Nail Care.
Q. I was fascinated to read about the 79-year-old person with arthritis who is tap dancing again after drinking Brownwood Acres tart cherry juice. I too have been on Brownwood juice since December, when I was in the midst of a gout attack.
I have been drinking it ever since, in addition to watching my diet and cutting out shellfish. I have had no further attacks.
I've had my uric acid checked, and in mid-February it was normal. I got complacent and let up on the juice. Last week I felt a "twinge," so I went back to drinking cherry juice, and the pain disappeared.
A. We've received many anecdotal reports that tart cherries can help relieve gout. The brand you mention is available at www.brownwoodacres.com or (877) 591-3101.
You are smart to watch your diet. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine (March 11, 2004) confirms that people who eat a lot of meat and seafood are more inclined to gout attacks. Dairy products seem to be protective.
Q. My father has had a terrible time with psoriasis on his scalp. He has seen various dermatologists, but nothing they prescribed has been very helpful.
We've heard that the spice turmeric may do something against psoriasis, but we have no idea about the amount and application process. Can you tell us more?
A. Do NOT put turmeric on the scalp or skin. It stains everything a bright yellow!
This spice is found in curry powder and yellow mustard. A component, curcumin, has powerful anti-inflammatory activity, and preliminary studies suggest that it may have some benefit for psoriasis.
One reader wrote: "I took about 1,200 mg of turmeric a day for a month, and the psoriasis cleared up. I then took 400 mg for another month and discontinued it. I have not taken any more and have had no recurrence."
You'll find powdered turmeric in the grocery and capsules of turmeric in health-food stores. Some people report digestive upset as a side effect. Ask the dermatologist to check the medical literature so as to supervise your father's treatment.
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.
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