Q. Have you any experience with using banana peel to cure warts? I had a wart on my finger for months, maybe a year. It was painful and distorting my fingernail. I had tried several other remedies, with no luck at all. Out of curiosity and frustration, I took a banana peel and rubbed the inside on the wart, sometimes holding it on there for 10 minutes or so. The wart went away in about a week and hasn’t returned. Any thoughts or explanations?
A. We first heard about using the fleshy part of a banana peel as a wart treatment more than 17 years ago. The person suggested:
“Take a banana peel and cut a round piece the size of the wart. Put the inner side next to the wart and tape it on with surgical tape. Change this every day with a fresh piece of banana peel. It may take a week or so to see results.”
Not long after that we heard from one parent: “My son had a small wart on his left index finger. We applied a tiny piece of banana peel just once daily before bedtime. (Seven-year-olds need to bend their fingers during the day.) I didn’t expect to see results as quickly as we did.”
We do not have an explanation for why this approach might work any more than we can explain why other wart remedies seem helpful. They include applications of castor oil, iodine, a cut potato, rubbing alcohol, milkweed sap and vinegar soaks
Q. I switched from Benadryl to valerian root several years ago. It’s relaxing and provides a good night’s sleep. Does this herb have anticholinergic activity like the ingredient in Benadryl or similar drugs?
A. As far as we can tell, valerian root does not have anticholinergic activity. It should be less likely to cause a morning hangover, cognitive impairment or other problems than diphenhydramine, the ingredient in Benadryl and most PM sleep aids.
There are data to support better sleep with valerian root taken in the evening (Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine online, June 30, 2014).
Bleeding with turmeric
Q. My husband was taking turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties, and it gave him good relief from his daily nagging arthritis pain. Then he got a severe nosebleed that was hard to stop. We went to be seen at an urgent-care center but were eventually able to stop the bleeding on our own. As others have said, the only thing we could attribute it to was the turmeric. He has not had another nosebleed since stopping the turmeric.
A. The Indian spice turmeric used in curry and its active ingredient curcumin have demonstrated anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant activity (International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, November 2015). A number of readers have reported increased bleeding episodes after starting daily dosing with turmeric. They ranged from nosebleeds to heavy menstrual periods.
People taking prescription blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) together with turmeric may be especially prone to problems. Some have reported dangerous increases in their INR readings, a measure of the anticoagulation effect of the medicine. One person wrote:“I am taking warfarin. I had an elevated INR after I had two meals of curry in an Asian restaurant. After I stopped eating curry, my bloodwork returned to normal.”
Joe and Teresa Graedon: www.peoplespharmacy.com