Juice may help sore joints

Q. I am unable to take any of the NSAIDs for severe arthritis. I wanted to try the Certo-and-grape-juice remedy to see if it would help.

Unfortunately, Certo has dextrose (corn) as the first ingredient, as do most of the other fruit pectin brands. I’m allergic to corn in any form.

Is it the dextrose, the fruit pectin or gelatin in general mixed with the grape juice that helps? I can find apple fruit pectin, which avoids the corn problem, but it’s really expensive.

A. Grape juice has anti-inflammatory properties, but we suspect that pectin also may be helpful. Have you tried Pomona’s Universal Pectin? It is powdered citrus pectin rather than a liquid like Certo, but it has no dextrose or other corn products.

Mixing it requires a different approach, since it does not dissolve easily. One reader received these instructions from the company:

Mix 1 teaspoon Pomona’s Universal Pectin with 1/3 cup boiling water in a food processor or blender until the pectin is dissolved. This will give you a liquid pectin that is the same concentration as Certo. It can then be used as a replacement for liquid pectin/Certo. Refrigerate any portion not used immediately.

Q. When I do yardwork, what would you recommend I put on so I do not get chigger bites? They itch horribly.

A. Chiggers are the larval stage of tiny mites. Their bites create an intensely itchy, inflammatory response in susceptible people.

An insect repellent often is effective when sprayed on shoes, socks and pant legs. Other readers recommend the old-fashioned tactic of dusting with flowers of sulfur (sulfur powder). It can be found in hardware stores and some pharmacies.

Rubbing the body with a rough towel as soon as you come in from the yard and then showering also is helpful.

Q. I started using curcumin (as Curamed) in January 2017. I had severe knee pain and swelling from arthritis. My knee popped and crackled, and I limped.

The swelling went down the very first day. By day two, the pain was gone. I kept up a daily pill for two months.

Then I went on a long trip, and forgot my pills. By the end of three days, the swelling and pain had returned. When I got home I resumed the daily dose. In two days I was better.

In January of this year I dropped to a pill every other day. Now I take two pills a week, and I am pain-free. I have told several people at the gym where I work out, and they have similar results. Curcumin in Curamed works, period.

A. There is a lot of controversy about the effectiveness of curcumin, one of the active ingredients in the spice turmeric. Medicinal chemists have questioned its effectiveness (Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Jan. 11, 2017).

On the other hand, there is quite a lot of research demonstrating its anti-inflammatory activity. Many readers have found, as you do, that taking a high-quality curcumin product eases joint pain.

There are relatively few side effects, though some people report digestive upset or allergic skin reactions. Anyone taking an anticoagulant should avoid curcumin, as it may increase the risk of bleeding.

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