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People’s Pharmacy: Listerine may help keep kids lice-free at camp

Q. My kids love summer camp, but last year they came home with lice. We tried three different lice shampoos and special rinses, with limited success. It took us months of treating and re-treating to get rid of the bugs.

It is almost time for my children to go off to camp this summer, and I am dreading the possibility that they will come home with lice again. Is there anything they can do to avoid catching lice?

A. Whenever kids are in close quarters, the chances of catching lice go up. Encourage your children to avoid wearing hats or helmets that anyone else has worn.

Another option would be to send them off with old-fashioned amber Listerine and suggest that they use it as a rinse after shampooing, being careful to keep it out of eyes. Fourteen years ago, we received the following message from a mom going through a somewhat similar situation at school:

“My quick remedy to prevent a lice problem is Listerine. I have tried it and am convinced that it works. Put Listerine mouthwash all over a child’s head. It will smell strong until it dries, and then there is no smell. Do not rinse the hair.

“My child even slept in the same bed with another youngster who was later discovered to have lice. My child was unaffected.”


Q. My acupuncturist recommended the probiotic Lactobacillus GG for my recurrent depression. After a week, it seems to be making a difference. It also has helped with my intermittent nighttime reflux. Have you ever heard of probiotics for depression?

A. A new study in the journal Gastroenterology (June 2013) suggests that your experience could be based on science. Researchers randomized healthy women to take yogurt-containing probiotics, a nonfermented milk product control or nothing at all. The women ate the yogurt or placebo twice daily. Brains were scanned with a functional MRI imaging machine before and after the intervention.

The authors concluded that four-week intake of yogurt-containing probiotics by healthy women “affected activity of brain regions that control central processing of emotion and sensation.” There is growing recognition that the bacteria in our digestive tracts may play a key role in our emotional well-being and affect both anxiety and depression (Current Opinion in Pharmacology, December 2012).

To learn more about a variety of other nondrug strategies for coping with the blues, we are sending you our Guide to Dealing With Depression. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (66 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. E-7, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website:


Q. After reading about soaking smelly feet in urine, I told my 23-year-old nephew about this unorthodox approach. He had suffered with this embarrassing problem for many years.

After soaking his feet one time, the smell was gone. He has new respect for his old aunt.

A. Urine foot soaks are an old Army trick to get rid of athlete’s foot or odor. A mom once shared that after convincing her 17-year-old daughter to give this remedy a try, it worked: “Her foot odor is completely gone!”

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Email them via their website: