>Q. I would like to tell you about a remedy for leg cramps or spasms. One evening we were playing cards with some friends, and suddenly my husband bent over with a severe leg cramp.
Our host went to the refrigerator, got the jar of pickles and poured 1/4 glass of pickle juice. He told my husband to drink it, and the leg cramps eased almost immediately. Have you ever heard of such a remedy?
A. We have heard from many other readers that pickle juice can ease leg cramps. Scientists at Brigham Young University recently tested this remedy on 10 college students. A mild electrical current was applied after exercise to induce a muscle cramp. The volunteers were given water or pickle juice. Water did nothing, but pickle juice relieved the cramps about 40 percent faster (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, May 2010). Pure vinegar may work just as well, if not better.
>Q. I've been clipping articles from your column for years. I checked them recently to find how to relieve severe lower back and hip pain. I used some turmeric on food, and 30 minutes later I noted an internal warming sensation in the affected back area and a reduction in pain. I later took turmeric capsules and completely cured all of the pain.
About a month later, my wife suffered from severe pain and loss of the use of her left arm and hand. Just lightly touching certain areas caused her to cry out in pain. Years ago, she suffered from shingles in that same arm. We therefore suspected that she had postherpetic neuralgia. Since this is an inflammation of the nerves, we decided to try turmeric.
A couple of hours later, on our way to our family doctor, my wife said that her arm felt hot, and the pain was not as severe. Our doctor wanted to schedule an MRI, but it was unnecessary after continued turmeric use. She was completely free of pain after about two weeks.
Have you ever heard of this use of the spice? Maybe this information can help other sufferers.
A. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties (Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, February 2009). Readers have found that this yellow spice has helped with nerve pain, osteoarthritis and psoriasis. Instead of clipping articles, you may want to consult our book "Favorite Foods: Mother Nature's Medicine," with more details about using food as medicine. It is available online at www.peoplespharmacy.com.
>Q. After reading about using milkweed juice to get rid of warts, I wanted to put in my two cents. My husband and I have both had success with milkweed juice to cure warts.
I got rid of a plantar wart by exfoliating the surface layer of skin with a pumice stone to expose the wart and applying the milkweed juice, then covering the wart with a bandage. My husband had an outbreak of warts on his arm and applied the juice once, then forgot about it. Two weeks later, he realized his warts were gone.
Something in milkweed is poisonous. When monarch caterpillars eat the plant, they, too, become poisonous to their predators. Maybe this is what makes it work on warts? Both of us had warts disappear with only one application!
A. Milkweed latex (juice) is a time-honored wart remedy. You are right that milkweed plants contain natural poisons (cardiac glycosides) that make the butterflies taste bad to predators. How milkweed works against warts remains a mystery.