Q. I have suffered from foul-smelling armpits as far back as I can remember. I have tried every deodorant on the market to no avail — Dove, Lady Speed Stick, Soft & Dri, Degree, Suave, Mitchum, Ban, Crystal, vinegar, baking soda, milk of magnesia, alcohol, Arrid Extra Dry and Certain Dri. Certain Dri was the best of these, but there still seemed to be an underlying aroma to my pits.
I decided to try Listerine, as I’d seen it in some comments on your Web site. I was worried that I would smell before the day’s end, but I was actually fresh when I got home. That just doesn’t happen, trust me. Listerine is the way to go!
A. We are as surprised as you are that Listerine worked to control odor so well. This old-fashioned mouthwash has no antiperspirant activity, but perhaps the alcohol and herbal oils (thymol, eucalyptol, menthol, methyl salicylate) kill germs and fungi well enough to prevent an unpleasant smell for hours.
Q. Leg and foot cramps at night wake me from sleep. Sometimes I have to get up and walk them off. The ones in my legs are especially painful. What do you recommend?
A. Readers have shared quite a few remedies, ranging from bedtime stretching to yellow mustard. Perhaps the most bizarre is soap under the sheet.
One person wrote: “I am absolutely astonished by all of this soap-in-the-bed stuff. It works!
“I’ve suffered from such killer leg cramps that I can only cry. A friend told me about Ivory Soap in bed. When I tried it, I was amazed! NO leg cramps, and my legs feel better all day. It’s safe, it works, and I feel better.”
We are sending you our Guide to Leg Pain, with instructions on a wide range of cramp and restless-leg remedies. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (61 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. RLS-5, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Q. For about 20 years, I suffered with annual bouts of poison ivy, even though I knew how to identify it and never touched the stuff. Finally, I found a homeopathic remedy that has made my life much better every summer. It’s called Rhus tox. I take two small pills under my tongue twice daily for a week in March, then again for a week in April.
It’s an infinitesimally small dose (because it’s homeopathic) of poison-ivy extract, and it works like an oral vaccine. You take it before the leaves come out, so the timing depends on your climate. The hardest part is remembering to take it in the spring.
If I am exposed to poison ivy in the course of heavy weeding in my garden, I may get one or two small poison-ivy blisters. They don’t spread, and they go away quickly.
I used to need steroid shots, prednisone pills and cortisone creams a couple of times a summer. Tecnu soap helps, but the Rhus tox has been a godsend.
As a nurse practitioner, I knew homeopathic medicine would be diluted enough to be safe. I doubted it would be effective, but it has been very helpful for me.
A. We appreciate your testimonial. The efficacy of homeopathy, like that of home remedies, can’t be explained scientifically. As you noted, it should be safe. Avoiding poison ivy whenever possible is always the most effective solution.
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: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Favorite Home Remedies From The People’s Pharmacy.”
2009 King Features Syndicate Inc.