Q. I have heard that carob is a healthy substitute for chocolate. I don't like it as much, but if it really is better I would consider it when I crave chocolate. How healthy is it?
A. Carob is completely different from chocolate, although they both come from tropical trees. Carob may have gotten its "healthy" reputation back when fat was considered a dietary evil. Unlike chocolate, which is rich in fat, carob is predominately a carbohydrate-rich food.If chocolate is what you want, you're better off having a small piece. The flavor of carob won't satisfy a chocolate craving for most people.The most recent research (Hypertension, July 2005) shows that dark chocolate can lower blood pressure and bad, LDL cholesterol. It also makes blood vessels more flexible and reduces insulin resistance. Previous studies have shown that chocolate also helps keep blood platelets from clumping together to form clots.
Q. A few weeks ago my granddaughter spent two nights coughing. She didn't get any rest herself, and she kept both her parents awake with her coughing over the weekend. Sunday night I told them of your suggestion to smear Vicks VapoRub on the bottoms of her feet to stop her coughing. She resisted until her dad and older sister agreed to rub it on their feet, too. Lo and behold, the coughing child slept all night, and so did the rest of the family. We can attest to the fact that it works.
A. Thanks for sharing your story. We don't know why putting Vicks on the soles of the feet is so helpful, but it may have something to do with the anti-cough activity of menthol.We have collected many unusual approaches in our Guides to Home Remedies and Unique Uses for Vicks. Anyone who would like copies, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. RVi-77, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, N.C. 27717-2027.
Q. Thank you so much for writing about using vinegar and water on underarms. I have had a problem with smelly underarms most of my life and have tried almost every product on the market. When I read about vinegar, I gave it a try. It has been a miracle. I can now go out in the heat, exercise and go through the day without smelling at all. It is amazing and cheap.
A. Thanks for the testimonial. We heard this from another reader: "I had chemo treatment for breast cancer in 2002 and found that all antiperspirants caused redness and irritation. My doctor advised me not to use any deodorant, but that did not suit me. I tried plain white vinegar, and it worked so well I've kept it up ever since." Dilute vinegar should be applied only to unbroken skin (not after shaving), or it will sting. If it causes any rash or other reaction, it should be discontinued immediately.
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, N.Y. 10019, or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org or via their Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.org.
& copy; 2005 King Features Syndicate, Inc.