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People’s Pharmacy: Cutting out coffee dries out sweaty feet

Q. You have occasionally written about excessively sweaty feet. I had this problem for years, but it went away when I switched from regular to decaf coffee for other reasons.

Today, I can drink one cup of regular coffee in the morning with no problem. But if I have two cups, I have to keep a towel handy for both my hands and feet.

A. People with excessive sweating of their hands and feet (hyperhidrosis) are often desperate for relief. Some of the treatments used for underarms or hands (Botox injections, surgery) are not appropriate for feet.

Thanks for telling us about your solution. This has not been extensively investigated, but we found a study showing that caffeine increases sensitivity to sweating triggers (Journal of Medicinal Food, November 2011). We hope others will benefit from your experience.


Q. I have arthritis in both knees. I probably spent at least $100 on glucosamine and chondroitin for several years. Results? Zero.

Recently, I spent almost $1,000 on laser treatments, 12 on each knee. Results? Zero!

Other than injections, the only treatment that gives my arthritic knees relief is hyaluronic-acid capsules.

A. Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a natural compound found in connective tissue. Veterinarians inject it (Hyalovet) into horses’ joints to treat osteoarthritis.

Physicians also can inject this compound (Hyalgan) into human patients’ knees. A recent meta-analysis (Annals of Internal Medicine, Jan. 6, 2015) found that HA injections outperformed cortisone shots and were superior to oral NSAIDs (celecoxib, diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.) and acetaminophen.

Oral hyaluronic acid has been more controversial, but a recent placebo-controlled study from Germany found that an oral preparation containing HA (Oralvisc) “is safe and effective for the treatment for patients with OA [osteoarthritis]” (Rheumatology International, January 2015).


Q. My husband has canker sores in his mouth all the time. The doctors we have seen say it is not curable; he just has to live with it. What can you recommend for easing the pain?

A. We have collected many remedies for canker sores (aphthous ulcers) during the past few decades. They include L-lysine, buttermilk, sauerkraut juice and kiwifruit. One reader wrote about milk of magnesia: “My canker sores were so bad that it hurt to close my mouth and swallow. I would drool on myself.

“I went to a doctor who told me I needed to balance my digestive system. He recommended putting chewable milk of magnesia tablets directly on the sores. (Don’t overdo it – it’s a laxative.)

“Within six or eight hours, all the pain went away, and the sores themselves healed in a few days.”

Research shows that a gel containing aloe vera and myrrh extracts also can help heal canker sores quickly (Journal of Oral Pathology and Medicine, July 2014).