>Q. The other day, someone wrote asking about kidney stones. To cut down on kidney stones, I drink several glasses of lemonade a week.
A. There is some scientific basis for your observation. Doctors often prescribe potassium citrate to disrupt kidney-stone formation. Lemonade also contains citrate, and some research shows that lemonade therapy reduces the rate of kidney-stone formation (Journal of Urology, April 2007).
Three or four glasses of lemonade per week are probably not enough to do much good, however. Studies of "lemonade therapy" have used one to two quarts of unsweetened or low-sugar lemonade daily.
>Q. Some time ago, I discovered the benefits of eating a banana when I was experiencing a reflux problem. A year or so ago, I decided that a proactive approach would be better.
I now eat half a banana every night prior to going to bed. I no longer experience reflux problems, though I eat anything I want. If I experience a bit of heartburn in the middle of the night, another bite or two of banana solves the problem.
A. Thanks for the recommendation. There is very little research on this, but dried banana powder is a traditional treatment for indigestion in India.
Other readers have found foods that help them with heartburn: "I remember a column in which you referred to apples and almonds for symptoms of GERD. I have tried it, and I think it helps. I want to send the information to a friend. Can you help?"
All of this information (and lots more) can be found in our book "Favorite Foods: Mother Nature's Medicine." It is available online at www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Another favorite for heartburn is persimmon punch: "I am using the persimmon punch, with great results. Is the sugar medicinal or just for flavor? I would like to reduce the amount used if possible." (The sugar is strictly for flavor and may be reduced to taste. The recipe is in "Favorite Foods.")
>Q. For a year and a half, my dermatologist has treated me for psoriasis. First I took cyclosporine and then CellCept.
As another reader stated, I, too, developed every side effect listed in the warnings I got with the medication: Hair loss, blisters, dry skin and scalp, and blurred vision. Worst of all, I got no permanent relief from psoriasis!
I then tried a turmeric capsule twice a day (one in the a.m. and one at bedtime), following your reader's example. Within two weeks, all my psoriasis patches disappeared, and my hair loss has all but stopped! I don't even have the 24-hour heartburn I had on both cyclosporine and CellCept.
I cannot believe that with all the possible side effects of the two pricey prescriptions I was taking, such as lymphoma, liver failure and even death, my dermatologist did not suggest turmeric. Maybe it is because this spice found in curry powder can be purchased without a prescription at any health-food store. I have not experienced any adverse side effects with the turmeric capsules.
A. Many people with psoriasis find that turmeric or its active component curcumin can be helpful. Not everyone gets benefit, however, and some people develop a severe rash. No one taking the anticoagulant Coumadin (warfarin) should take turmeric medicinally. We have received several reports of excessive bleeding or high INR values from people combining these therapies. INR is a measure of bleeding susceptibility.