Health & Family

People’s Pharmacy: Can you overcome heartburn with coconut water?

Q. When I read about proton-pump inhibitors possibly harming the kidneys, it got my attention. I only have one kidney and want to do all I can to preserve it. I quit taking Nexium and switched to Zantac. It did not work as well as the PPI, but I managed my heartburn with Tums in the afternoon and evening. After reading your article on coconut water for heartburn, I started drinking a rather small amount. The results have been excellent. Even after cutting my Zantac dose in half, I have no symptoms.

A. Research linking acid-suppressing drugs (PPIs) to kidney damage has been accumulating (Journal of the American Society of Nephrology online, April 14, 2016). Different heartburn medications (H2 blockers) like cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid) and ranitidine (Zantac) do not appear to pose the same risk.

Many readers have reported that coconut water seems helpful for indigestion. One Australian visitor to our website noted: “Over the last several weeks, I have been mostly free from heartburn. It occurred to me just tonight that I’ve been drinking a couple of glasses of coconut water a day, so I believe that is doing the trick. The bonus is that I love drinking coconut water.”

Stings and remedies

Q. Is there a difference between the venoms from yellow jackets, wasps, honeybees and hornets? I have heard that a cut onion might take away the pain from a sting, but I wonder whether it would work equally for different stings.

A. There are substantial differences between the chemical ingredients found in the stings of various insects. No one has done research on the effectiveness of home remedies against various venoms.

Many people report that applying a freshly cut onion helps ease the pain of both wasps and bees. Others insist a paste of meat tenderizer works well for wasps and fire ants. Vinegar also has been reported to be helpful against fire ants. Your idea that various stings might respond differently to home remedies is reasonable.

Ice cream for migraines

Q. I get nauseating, throbbing migraines that make it excruciating to bend over, cough or do much of anything. If I quickly eat one bowl of ice cream, the pain is gone. This works faster than taking a pill. In my experience, this remedy that I read about on your website is definitely worth the try!

A. You are not the first person to report that eating ice cream quickly can sometimes ease a migraine headache. One reader wrote:“I have been doing this with milkshakes for years. Coffee/mocha is my favorite.”

Research has shown that when something cold (ice cream, ice pop, slushie or Frappuccino) touches the roof of the mouth, it can induce“brain freeze.” This induces rapid blood-vessel constriction and then dilation, which may explain why something cold can sometimes stop a migraine before it takes hold. If you want to avoid the extra calories, you might experiment with ice water instead of ice cream.

Joe and Teresa Graedon: