Q. During a discussion of possible remedies for eczema on your public radio program, someone mentioned that drinking oolong tea reduced his symptoms.
I suffered for years with a spot of eczema on my ankle about the size of a softball. At times it was raw, and at other times it was a little better, but it was a constant presence for years.
I had tried every over-the-counter treatment with no luck and had completely given up hope that it would ever go away.
I had no expectation that oolong tea would work, but I started drinking it a couple of times a day for about a month. The eczema disappeared. That was more than a year ago.
I stopped drinking the oolong tea long ago, and the eczema has not returned. I am simply amazed, and I cannot thank you enough for that home remedy.
We are disappointed that no studies have been done to follow up on the original Japanese research suggesting that oolong tea is helpful for hard-to-treat eczema (Archives of Dermatology, January 2001). Drinking a few cups of oolong tea daily seems like a low-cost, low-risk way to deal with atopic dermatitis, the medical term for eczema.
Basil for bug repellant
Q. You’ve written about natural ways to repel bugs. I use basil, the strongest member of the mint family and one I grow in my yard. At home, I just brush the leaves on one of the plants, and I have no trouble from bugs while eating outside. I take a couple of leaves to an outdoor concert and brush them on my arms and legs. I am bug-free for two or three hours of enjoyment.
Thanks for the suggestion. Thai scientists have tested herbal oils as mosquito repellents and found that basil oil is effective for about 2 1/2 hours (Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health, July 2010).
Q. Cholesterol-lowering drugs like simvastatin and pravastatin make my muscles weak and my brain foggy. Without statins, my brain works fine, but my cholesterol climbs.
My doctor agrees that I can’t tolerate statins, but he hasn’t offered me anything but Welchol. I eat no red meat and almost no fat. My cholesterol is over 230, and that is too high. What else can you recommend?
Perhaps you need a little more fat in your diet. Anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats from fish (salmon, sardines, tuna) or nuts (walnuts) can help control cholesterol and fight dangerous inflammation in the blood vessels. That may be almost as important in preventing a heart attack as lowering your cholesterol.
Write to Joe and Terry Graedon at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”