With its nicotine, snuff can raise blood pressure
Q. We hear so much about the dangers of cigarette smoking, but you never hear about snuff. My husband and his mother live on the stuff, and I cannot stand it. Does the nicotine in snuff have an effect on blood pressure?
A. A pinch of snuff, inhaled through the nose, used to be a common way of using tobacco. It gets nicotine into the bloodstream through the blood vessels in the nose.
In the United States, "snuff" usually refers to a coarser tobacco designed to be put in the mouth between the cheek and the gum. In both cases, nicotine is absorbed and may constrict blood vessels and raise blood pressure.
Q. My 14-year-old son suffers from eczema. We see a dermatologist regularly, and he has tried many different prescription and over-the-counter lotions for different parts of his body.
It seems to be a losing battle. The condition flares up under his arms and behind his ears. His torso is becoming covered in dry bumps. Can you suggest a natural remedy that we might try?
A. Eczema is an itchy skin condition that is sometimes referred to as atopic dermatitis. One natural treatment approach is to have your son drink oolong tea. In a Japanese study, adults with atopic dermatitis improved after a month of drinking a liter of oolong tea a day. For a 14-year-old, two or three cups a day might be enough. This tea does have caffeine, though considerably less than coffee.
Another approach is to use Noxzema Original Cleansing Cream on the skin as if it were a moisturizer. This old-fashioned product contains a number of herbal oils that might be beneficial. You may be interested in the following testimonial:
"I am a nurse married to a pediatrician, and we try to use natural methods when we can. I read in your column that Noxzema helps eczema and told my friend at church. She tried it, and it is the only thing that has ever worked. She was thrilled!"
Q. Some time ago I read about a special seat cushion that traps odors from intestinal gas. Where can I find such a cushion? When I asked at my pharmacy, they thought I was joking.
A. You might be referring to a cushion containing activated charcoal called GasBGon that is sold by Dairiair ( 427-2466). You can find more information at www.gasbgon.com.
Q. I was recently diagnosed with an irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation. The doctor prescribed Coumadin and Toprol XL.
I would like to know if my vitamins and other supplements would interact with these drugs. In addition to a B complex and multivitamin, I take vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, garlic, Coenzyme Q10 and fish oil.
A. The blood thinner Coumadin (warfarin) can interact with dozens of drugs, foods and dietary supplements. For example, Coenzyme Q10 is also known as ubiquinone and is related to vitamin K. It may reduce the effectiveness of Coumadin and lead to a blood clot.
Vitamin E, garlic and fish oil have modest anti-coagulant activity. That means they might increase the risk of bleeding when combined with Coumadin.
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 email@example.com or via their Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.org.
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