Q. I believe my friend has carpal tunnel syndrome from doing repetitive work at his job. Is there anything he can take for it that’s a natural anti-inflammatory?
A. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve in the wrist is pinched, often from repetitive motions. Symptoms can include numbness, tingling, burning and weakness in the hand or arm.
Doctors often recommend anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen. Acupuncture was shown in one small study to be as good or better than ibuprofen for relieving pain, numbness and tingling at night (Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, October 2015).
Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) has been a controversial treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. Some clinicians maintain that it is ineffective (American Family Physician, Dec. 15, 2016). Others say it works to ease symptoms (Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin, online, Aug. 20, 2013).
We offer a word of caution about this nutrient, though. Large doses or prolonged treatment can cause nerve damage, as this reader discovered: “I found out 30 years ago that taking vitamin B-6 helped me get rid of carpal tunnel syndrome. However, I made the mistake of continuing to take it for decades.
“I eventually developed B-6 toxicity. By then it was having the opposite effect of making my hands AND feet numb. It took me a long time to figure out what was going wrong, since my doctor insisted there was no such thing as B-6 toxicity. By trial and error, I found that stopping the B-6 made the numbness go away.”
Q. My husband is controlling his blood sugar with supplements, diet and exercise. The supplements work for a while, but then his numbers go up in spite of a good diet. Do you have any natural suggestions that could help?
A. A low-carb diet and regular exercise can be beneficial in helping control blood sugar, especially if these strategies lead to weight loss. Adding a water-extracted cinnamon (cinnamomum) product may help, though this approach remains controversial. Other dietary supplements that have been shown to facilitate blood sugar control include fenugreek, nopal (Opuntia), psyllium and ginger (Frontiers in Pharmacology, online, July 6, 2017).
Whatever tactics you employ to control your husband’s blood sugar require careful coordination with his physician. Daily glucose monitoring is essential.
Q. I have had a plantar wart for almost 20 years, which eventually turned into a cluster. I’ve tried everything: duct tape, vinegar soaks, banana peel, wart remedies, etc. The doctor even performed surgery, but the warts returned.
I was desperate. I read about Tagamet and gave it a try. Within two months of taking one pill in the morning and one in the evening, my warts are GONE! I am in disbelief. It’s amazing.
A. The heartburn drug cimetidine (Tagamet) has produced conflicting results against warts (Annals of Pharmacotherapy, July 2007). That said, we have heard from many readers that this drug seems to work when most other approaches have failed.