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Old-fashioned face cream soothes itchy bottom

Q: I’ve been plagued with external hemorrhoids for years. They weren’t particularly painful, but the itch was unbelievable and kept me awake at night.

I tried every hemorrhoid cream on the market, sitz baths with vinegar, witch hazel and ice, but nothing took away that itch. I even tried medication intended for ringworm and yeast infections.

I was seriously considering surgery when I read your column about Noxzema. I had nothing to lose and got a jar the next day. I got almost instant relief and haven’t had a problem since!

It’s ridiculous to think that hemorrhoids could be such trouble, but I feel like I have my life back.

A: More than a decade ago we heard from a forklift driver: “I sat on a leather seat, sweating, for hours. Five or six days a week I drove all over the plant delivering materials. You can imagine how that aggravates hemorrhoids.

“Many of my friends had operations for this problem, but I resolved mine more easily with Noxzema.”

People have used this old-fashioned skin cream to relieve itching from eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and “mystery itches.” It contains camphor, menthol and eucalyptus.

Menthol is considered a topical analgesic, although some individuals develop sensitivity and irritation in response to it. Camphor seems to have a similar action, but it should only be used externally. It can be toxic if absorbed. Eucalyptus often is used with camphor and menthol in products such as Listerine or Vicks VapoRub and seems to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.

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Q: My husband is getting over a nasty cold, but he is still coughing nonstop. The cough syrup we had on hand isn’t working. What can you suggest? We are desperate.

A: Readers sometimes report disappointment with dextromethorphan-based cough medicines. Although approved by the Food and Drug Administration for OTC use against coughs, this compound is no better than placebo for children (Pediatrics, July 1, 2004). Perhaps some adults don’t get great results either.

We are partial to thyme in tea or chicken soup against a nagging cough. The Guide to Colds, Coughs and the Flu that we are sending you contains details on how to make thyme and ginger tea as well as use natural products for coughs and colds. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. Q-20, 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 heard your radio program about magnesium deficiency. I am 67, retired, and felt fatigued every day, all day. I would tell my friends that “tired is my way of life.”

After I heard your comments on magnesium, I decided to give it a try. I started taking it Sunday afternoon, and by Monday I was no longer feeling so fatigued. Now I don’t have to collapse for a nap at midday, and I’m not wiped out by the end of the day. It was an amazing transformation from such a seemingly small thing. Thank you.

A. We are delighted to learn of your success. Many people may not realize that they don’t have adequate magnesium. One study of multiple sclerosis patients found that those on low magnesium diets were significantly more fatigued than those getting adequate magnesium (Iranian Journal of Neurology, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2014).