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Hormones not entirely safe

>Q. I am surprised and disappointed by your answer to the lady asking for help with her hot flashes. Her doctor took her off hormones because of serious side effects, and she was suffering.

You should have recommended bioidentical hormones. They are completely free of side effects and are amazingly effective.

A. Although the Women's Health Initiative demonstrated the dangers of PremPro, no comparable studies exist for bioidentical hormones.

Researchers have known that the estrogen a woman makes herself has a significant impact on her risk of breast cancer (International Journal of Cancer, Oct. 15, 2010). The longer a woman has active menstrual periods, the higher the risk (International Journal of Epidemiology online, Aug. 13, 2011).

Since bioidentical hormones mimic a woman's own hormonal production, we cannot assume that this therapy would be entirely safe. Women who would like to learn more about other ways to manage hot flashes, such as yams, Pycnogenol or vitamin E, may find our Guide to Menopause helpful. Send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (64 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. W-50, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.

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>Q. I recently burned two of my fingers on a hot oven. They had already started to blister when I remembered reading about the soy sauce remedy. It was like magic: both the pain and the blisters went away quickly. The next day, I just had two small red marks.

I've been fascinated with this. When my son got his fourth huge mosquito bite of the week, I wondered if soy sauce might help reduce the swelling. His eye had swollen shut from a bite on his forehead, so when he was bitten on the cheek, I applied some soy sauce to it.

Within minutes, the swelling had receded, and it was completely invisible before he went to bed.

A. Thank you for the hint on mosquito bites. We've never heard that soy sauce might help.

Many other readers agree that applying soy sauce after cold water can be helpful for easing the pain and redness of kitchen burns. A serious burn deserves prompt medical attention.

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>Q. My 92-year-old mom began having excruciating ankle pain about four months ago. She has seen five doctors, including three podiatrists, and a chiropractor, and had an emergency-room visit. They all said her pain was due to osteoarthritis or plantar fasciitis.

While researching ankle pain, I discovered that gout can sometimes affect other joints besides the big toe, and that celery seed extract may be helpful. I bought some for my mother, and after a week or two, she says her ankle pain is gone, although she still has occasional pains into her big toe.

A. Gout can indeed affect other joints besides the big toe, and the pain can be excruciating. Many medications can raise uric-acid levels and increase the likelihood of developing gout. Drugs to lower uric-acid levels can help manage gout. Celery seed extract and tart cherries are home remedies for gout, and celery seed has anti-inflammatory effects (Inflammopharmacology, December 2003).

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