Q. I am totally confused about floating poop. I had always heard that it was due to a high-fiber diet and not a cause for concern. Then I read in your column that it could be an early warning symptom of pancreatic cancer. Now every time I have floaters in the toilet, I wonder if I should worry.
A. Floating poop is a never-ending source of comments on our Web site. People seem fascinated with this topic.
Doctors have been arguing for years about why stool sometimes floats. One school of thought attributes this to gas. Other experts maintain that a high-fiber diet leads to floaters.
In most cases, floating stools are not worrisome. There are, however, some situations that require medical investigation. People with celiac disease (an intolerance to gluten in wheat, barley and rye), cystic fibrosis or short-bowel syndrome may produce stools that float.
Pancreatic cancer is a rare but deadly cancer. Randy Pausch filmed his “Last Lecture” and mentioned floating poop as one of his symptoms. Not surprisingly, this scared a lot of people. Most have nothing to worry about. If, however, the floaters are pale, bulky and greasy, and accompanied by abdominal pain, weight loss, jaundice or generalized itching, a person should seek medical care promptly. In fact, any major significant change in bowel habits calls for a checkup to rule out a serious problem.
Q. I’m an active 69-year-old man. I ride my bicycle, work out five days a week and do my own landscape work. I no longer play softball since my knee operations.
I have arthritis, and the left knee is close to bone on bone. I started taking liquid pectin this spring, and I no longer have swelling in my knee or pain at night. My knee is almost totally pain-free on a daily basis.
It’s got to be the pectin, as I’ve done nothing else different in my dietary or physical routines. I can’t believe how good my knees feel!
A. Pectin comes from the cell walls of plants and is especially abundant in apples, blackberries, plums and oranges. It is used to help thicken jams and jellies. This soluble fiber also has been shown to lower cholesterol levels (Current Atherosclerosis Reports, December 2008).
Liquid pectin such as Certo may be added to grape or pomegranate juice to ease joint pain. We include instructions for this and many other home remedies in 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 (61 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: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Q. You have discussed ways to control blood pressure, but not the one I use. I have found that eating celery and using celery seeds on my food reduces my blood pressure in minutes.
A. Celery and celery seeds have been used for many different problems, including gout, sore joints, headache and loss of appetite. No scientific studies show whether others would get the same blood-pressure-lowering benefit you do.
There is strong scientific evidence for the DASH diet, which is rich in vegetables and fruits and low in salt, fats, sweets and meat. Following such a diet can reduce blood pressure over time.
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.