Q. My doctor has encouraged me to take baby aspirin daily to reduce my risk of heart problems and colon cancer. Both run in my family.
I prefer natural remedies. It is my understanding that aspirin comes from willow bark. Would willow bark be gentler on my stomach and as effective as aspirin when it comes to protecting against heart attacks or cancer? Would it work for arthritis, too?
Thousands of years ago, Chinese and Egyptian healers were using willow bark to lower fevers, ease inflammation and reduce pain. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, told women in labor to chew willow bark to ease the pain of childbirth.
In 1828, a German pharmacologist isolated the active ingredient in willow bark and called it salicin (later renamed salicylic acid). It is a chemical cousin to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid).
Scientists believe that it is the acetyl addition to salicylic acid that provides the anti-clotting benefits of aspirin. Although willow bark can ease the inflammation of arthritis, it may not protect you from a heart attack, stroke or cancer, and it can be irritating to the digestive tract. We would suggest following your physician’s suggestion to stick with low-dose aspirin.
Nail fungus options
Q. I have been plagued with the ugliest fungus-infected nails you have ever seen. My podiatrist removed several nails surgically last year, but the fungus is now back. Please help with a remedy that is less drastic.
Readers of this column insist that foot soaks help cure their nail fungus. Here is just one story: “My 5-year toenail fungus made it painful to walk because the nail curled inward and was ugly as sin! The blue-black thick nail is being replaced by healthy pink new growth thanks to Listerine-and-vinegar soaks every night.”
Write to Joe and Terry Graedon at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”