Q. I have uncontrollable gas, and it sucks! Being in my last year of high school, I have exams. That can mean a fail for me because I don’t turn up due to my tummy issues. I’m afraid to go to school and humiliate myself in front of the whole class. What should I do?
A. There are a number of herbs that can be helpful against gas. Try sipping a tea made of fennel or anise seeds, ginger root or peppermint leaves. One teaspoon of seeds or spice steeped for several minutes in boiling-hot water makes a tasty tea that helps to fight flatulence.
It also may be useful to figure out if something in your diet is causing the problem. Many people react badly to milk or dairy products. Avoiding milk or taking a lactase enzyme pill such as Lactaid could help with this.
Others report that a low-carb diet can be beneficial. Here’s one story: “I went on a strict low-carb diet a year ago, and mysteriously all flatulence disappeared. If I eat any highly refined product or sugar-containing food, boom: The gas returns.”
Q. During a stressful period of life as a young mother of two and finishing chiropractic school, I pushed further into a vegetarian diet. During exams (more stress), I developed angular cheilitis. I immediately realized it was the vitamin B deficiency! It cleared up amazingly quickly on resuming moderate meat consumption.
A. Cracks at the corner of the mouth are called angular cheilitis, perleche, cheilosis or angular stomatitis. Although it is not always clear what causes this painful condition, nutritional deficiencies are sometimes contributing factors. A lack of vitamin B-2 (riboflavin) is often blamed, but other B vitamins (such as B-12) also may play a role. Vegans are frequently low in vitamin B-12.
Q. I was just at a routine prenatal visit and complained about a very painful external hemorrhoid. My nurse practitioner suggested scraping the inside of a banana peel and mixing it with a little petroleum jelly to make the mixture stick to the site. I tried it last night and got far more relief than the witch-hazel pads I had been using.
A. Other readers sing the praises of banana peels for hemorrhoids. One man offered this formula:
“Cut the stem off a bunch of bananas (the part where all the bananas in the bunch are attached). Remove the outside skin so you have a cube of stem. Pulse the peeled banana-stem cube in a mini food processor along with 1 tablespoon of witch hazel.
“Pour the mixture in a dish and dip a gauze strip into the mixture. Apply to the area of the hemorrhoids. Repeat 30 minutes later with a fresh-dipped gauze strip. This is a powerful natural astringent and pain reliever. I do this twice a day if I have an outbreak. If hemorrhoids persist, see your doctor!”
If that sounds too complicated, here’s another reader’s suggestion: “Ready-made banana cream is much easier and more convenient to use than actual banana peels. Just Google ‘banana peel extract cream’ to find sellers.”
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or email them via their Web site: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.
2013 King Features Syndicate, Inc.