Q: Is it safe to take aspirin at the same time I take my vitamins? Will they counteract each other?
Taking aspirin with vitamin C (100 to 250 mg) might actually be a good idea. Research has shown that vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can help protect the digestive tract from the irritating effects of aspirin (Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, February 2004; Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, November 2006, Suppl. 5).
Withdrawing from laxatives
Q: I have relied on daily laxatives for more than 50 years. I am working at ways to stay healthy without taking laxatives, but it is a challenge if I want to have a regular bowel movement. What can you suggest to help me get over my laxative addiction?
You are not actually addicted to laxatives the way someone might be dependent upon strong pain relievers. After decades of regular use, however, your digestive tract may have become ”lazy.” Stopping strong stimulant laxatives cold turkey could indeed lead to severe constipation for prolonged periods.
Gradual laxative withdrawal can be helpful in combination with additional fiber, fluids and stool softeners. We are sending you our “Guides to Digestive Disorders and Constipation” with 10 tips for overcoming this problem and recipes for power pudding and dynamite pumpkin-bran muffins. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (65 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. GG-33, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Sugarless gum containing sorbitol or mannitol often can be helpful. Bulking agents such as psyllium, polycarbophil and methylcellulose are a much better choice than stimulant laxatives.
Onion for wasp sting
Q: It seems that red wasps are the worst! I had my left arm hanging out of the car window while waiting on someone to come out of the shopping plaza. The wasp flew up my sleeve without me knowing it. As I drove off, I felt a very bad stinging pain.
I pulled my shirt off, and wow, a red wasp came flying out. It escaped without meeting its maker. I was stung twice.
I remembered the onion remedy, but I didn’t apply it until two days later. Voila! It works.
We first heard the idea of applying a freshly cut onion to the site of a wasp or yellow-jacket sting decades ago. When we checked into the basis for it, we discovered research showing that onions have enzymes that break down prostaglandins, the body chemicals that cause pain and swelling.
If someone is experiencing symptoms of a severe allergic reaction such as hives, itching, shortness of breath, feeling faint, swollen throat or tongue, emergency treatment is essential.
Soap for leg cramps
Q: I have been plagued with horrible leg cramps at night for years. I read about putting a bar of soap under the bottom sheet to prevent them and used the same bar for three months. Suddenly I had cramps again for three nights in a row. I read that Ivory soap works best, so I placed a fresh bar at the bottom of the bed, and the cramps went away.
We can’t explain why soap under the sheet helps some people ward off nighttime leg cramps. We have heard from several other readers that the effect can wear off after a few months. Replacing the bar of soap seems to renew the effect.
King Features Syndicate
Write to Joe and Terry Graedon via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”