Q. My father has been plagued with hiccups at all hours of the day or night. His physician gave him samples of medications to try, but none worked.A friend of mine told me many years ago that a teaspoon of sugar stops hiccups. This is the only remedy that has worked. It is immediate and can last for hours. Sugar packets are easy to carry, too.
A. We found this simple remedy published in the New England Journal of Medicine (Dec. 23, 1971) and have been recommending it ever since. Anyone who has prolonged hiccups, however, should have a diagnostic work-up to rule out a serious medical condition.
Q. I often read about people having trouble getting a good night's sleep. Perhaps my story will help someone.My pharmacist recently told me to take my magnesium tablets at bedtime instead of with breakfast. What a shocker to find such a difference in falling asleep. I no longer need to take melatonin or Tylenol PM.
A. Another reader shares your enthusiasm for this mineral: "Magnesium is like a tranquilizer for me. I enjoy deep sleep like when I was a teenager now that I take a hot magnesium-citrate 'tea' called Natural Calm before bed."Although other readers have also reported benefit, we could find no scientific support for the claim that magnesium eases insomnia. Too much can cause diarrhea. Magnesium should be avoided by people with kidney problems.
Q. Gin-soaked white raisins have kept me pain-free for over a year. I ran out of gin, and went one week without this treatment.At the end of the week, the pain and stiffness in my knees came back, and it was very uncomfortable to sit down or get up from a chair. Needless to say, I went out that day and bought more gin.
A. Recent studies show that many popular prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers pose an increased risk of heart attack. As a result, many people are looking for alternatives to alleviate arthritis.
The gin-and-raisin remedy has been kicking around for decades. Although there is no scientific research behind it, many readers report good relief. Juniper, which is the flavoring in gin, was once used to ease arthritis pain.To make this remedy, pour gin just to cover golden raisins in a shallow container and allow the gin to evaporate. Eat nine daily.For more details on this and many other natural approaches to arthritis, we offer our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis. Anyone who would like a copy, 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. AA-2, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
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; 2005 King Features Syndicate Inc.