Cinnamon can soothe hot flashes but hurt the liver

Q. I’ve been using a lot of cinnamon on my morning granola and yogurt. My hot flashes have ceased, and my cholesterol is down. Unfortunately, my liver enzymes are elevated. I was told to cut out alcohol and Tylenol.

Since I don’t drink much alcohol and never take Tylenol, the cinnamon might be the culprit. I’m cutting that out, too. If I’m lucky, the hot flashes won’t return.

A. Another reader recently reported that cinnamon helped ease her hot flashes. There is no published research to support this claim, but cinnamon has been used in Japan and China for this purpose.

We are sorry that this spice may have affected your liver. Some cinnamon contains coumarin, which can be toxic to the liver.

We usually suggest that someone who is taking cinnamon for medicinal effects (such as lowering cholesterol) use a water-soluble extract such as Cinnulin PF. Coumarin is not water-soluble and won’t be found in such an extract.

Q. Do you have any information about apple-cider vinegar mixed with honey for stiff joints? I have mixed a cup of vinegar with a cup of honey in a gallon jug and then filled it up with cold water. But I don’t know how much of this to take in a day. I would appreciate any other information about remedies for stiff joints.

A. Several recipes involving apple-cider vinegar date back more than a century. Famous Texan Sam Houston supposedly drank a daily half-cup of a mixture of 5 parts grape juice, 3 parts apple juice and 1 part cider vinegar.

Other remedies for stiff joints include pineapple, grape or pomegranate juice, spices such as ginger or turmeric and herbs such as boswellia or stinging nettle.

We are sending you our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis with more apple-cider vinegar recipes, plus other remedies for stiff joints. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (59 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. AA-2, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our Web site:

Q. I suffer from interstitial cystitis. I have tried prescription drugs, acupuncture and a dietary supplement called CystoProtek. I heard that Botox might be helpful in relieving symptoms. What are your thoughts?

A. People with interstitial cystitis (IC) have to urinate frequently, sometimes as often as every 10 to 15 minutes. They may also experience pelvic pain, bedwetting and a feeling that they have to get to the bathroom in a hurry. Sexual intercourse can be extremely painful.

Although doctors don’t know what causes IC, it appears to be related to inflammation of the bladder. The diagnosis is difficult, and IC may be confused with overactive bladder or other problems. There is no cure.

Doctors have tried many treatments, including inserting botulinum toxin (Botox) directly into the bladder (Current Urology Reports, Sept. 2008). Some patients benefit, but there is no guarantee of success.

A survey of 750 patients with IC found that certain approaches were more reliably associated with symptom relief than invasive treatments (Urology, January 2008). These were, in order of effectiveness, the dietary supplement Prelief (calcium glycerophosphate), the OTC drug phenazopyridine and prescription Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium).

XIn 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: Their newest book is “Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy” (Rodale Books).

2008 King Features Syndicate Inc.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.