Herbal diet pill, medicines clash

Q. I bought an herbal diet pill and checked its Web site. It is said to be safe, containing konjac glucomannan and citrus aurantium.
I take Zocor, a multivitamin, fish oil, flaxseed oil and nine golden raisins soaked in sloe gin. (They help my osteoarthritis hand pain.) Is there any interaction between the herbs and my medicine?
A. Glucomannan is an insoluble fiber (derived from konjac root) that is sometimes used to fight constipation. It also slows down the absorption of carbohydrates eaten at the same time. This can even out blood sugar and help keep it from spiking after a meal. It might interfere with the absorption of Zocor or vitamins and should not be taken at the same time.
We are at least as worried by the citrus aurantium, though. From the peel of the bitter orange, this citrus fruit can interact with dozens of drugs in a similar manner to grapefruit.
Zocor blood levels might rise, increasing the possibility of side effects. The "grapefruit effect," which increases the blood levels of many medications, lasts all day long.
Q. We have been using Mennen's green Speed Stick deodorant for mosquito bites for 21 years. Our granddaughter's pediatrician recommended it when she was a baby.
She and I are both very susceptible to mosquito bites. Applied soon after a bite and repeated for up to three days, the deodorant gets rid of the itch as well as reduces the swelling we sometimes experience.
A. We cannot imagine how this deodorant relieves itching from mosquito bites. It has no magic ingredients. Perhaps others will try it and let us know whether it works for them, too.
Q. I read about the man who was looking for relief for leg cramps. My mother also had awful leg cramps.
She tried quinine and found that it harmed her hearing. Then she tried the herb valerian. It totally relieved her leg cramps, allowing her to sleep.
I, too, have used valerian for relaxation, and it works very well. I suggest the capsules rather than valerian tea, as the smell is too strong for many tastes.
A. Valerian has been used for centuries to help people relax and get to sleep. People have taken it for stomach cramps and menstrual distress, and it is promoted for easing muscle cramps.
Q. I had sweaty, smelly feet in my late teens. My aunt told me to go to the drugstore and get some tannic acid powder. I did so and added it to warm water for soaking my feet. After several nights, the problem disappeared and has not come back since. I am now 89 years old.
A. Dermatologists also have told us that soaking feet in a tannic acid solution (strong tea) can help control excessive sweating and foot odor. Use five tea bags in a quart of water and let steep for 10 minutes. Once it cools, soak feet a half-hour.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of The Vindicator or e-mail them via their Web site: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.
& copy; 2006 King Features Syndicate Inc.

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