Health & Family

People’s Pharmacy: Will peppermint oil repel mice?

Q. You wrote recently about the dangers of using mothballs to repel mice. I have a safer suggestion. Mice despise the scent of peppermint oil! Place a few drops on a cotton ball and put it where mice are a problem. Refresh the cotton every week or so when the scent fades. This method also will repel other rodents, roaches and raccoons. Peppermint oil does not have the side effects you described for mothballs.

A. There appears to be controversy about the effectiveness of peppermint oil as a mouse deterrent. We could find no scientific studies, however.

The advice that makes the most sense to us is to put peppermint-oil-soaked cotton balls in the crevices that mice use to get into the house. Once they are inside, peppermint oil might move mice away from the smell but not necessarily drive them back out.

Giving up on dairy products

Q. Three years ago, my bloodwork showed cholesterol of 292, and my blood pressure was up. My doctor wanted to keep an eye on both. At my next visit, my cholesterol had dropped 44 points, and my blood pressure was down to 120/68. The only change in my life was that I eliminated dairy products. I take a calcium supplement (400 mg) and feel fine. I figure that cow’s milk is intended for baby cows. Someone should investigate the possibility that our nation’s overconsumption of milk products could be contributing to health problems such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes and maybe even osteoporosis.

A. Your report is fascinating. We found studies suggesting that cheese (International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, December 2014) and yogurt (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2014) do not raise cholesterol levels.

On the other hand, it will not hurt you to forgo dairy products. Years ago we spoke with Walter Willett, M.D., DrPH, chair of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He told us that drinking milk was neither necessary nor particularly helpful in preventing osteoporosis.

Joe and Teresa Graedon: