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The People’s Pharmacy: Vacation cured psoriasis

Q: I developed psoriasis when I was 16, mostly on my legs. It was painful and unsightly, so I wore pants to cover the plaques.

Throughout my 13 years of marriage and 10 years of single motherhood after that, the psoriasis persisted. The stress of working two jobs and caring for my children made it worse.

After I remarried, my husband took me on a vacation to Hawaii. We both loved to swim and snorkel, so we spent as much time as we could in the sun and warm water. When I got home, I realized the psoriasis had disappeared. Forty years later, it has never returned.

A: Dermatologists have long known that exposure to sunlight can produce impressive results for psoriasis lesions. Doctors replicate phototherapy benefits with ultraviolet light in the clinic (Dermatologic Clinics, January 2015).

A study published in the European Journal of Dermatology (May-June 2015) found that people taking the active ingredient in the spice turmeric (curcumin) got even more benefit from phototherapy.

We’ve never heard of such a long- lasting response to sun and salt water. That must be the best vacation you ever took.

Q: Ten years ago, I started snoring when sleeping on my back. It was not deep sleep apnea, but it would generally wake me up. Rolling over onto my side solved the problem.

Then I started snoring on my side as well, which pretty much ruined my sleep cycle. I searched your website for solutions and found a reference to using a wristband with a button to press on an acupressure point about three fingers up from the wrist joint.

That sounded goofy, but in desperation I tried it. I got immediate relief! I have essentially NO snoring now, and I’ve got my sleep cycle back.

A: We’d almost forgotten about using acupressure wristbands to quiet snoring. These are the same wristbands that are used to prevent motion sickness; the acupressure point (“Inner Gate”) is between the two tendons on the inner wrist, three finger-widths above the joint.

We’ve not seen any research on acupressure to relieve snoring. There are a number of studies on this technique for treating insomnia. Research suggests this nondrug approach can be helpful in adolescents (Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment online, Jan. 24, 2013); in geriatric patients with Alzheimer’s disease (Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, February 2015); in menopausal women (Iranian Journal of Medical Science, July 2015); and in heart patients in intensive care (Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, October 2015).

Since we don’t know of any side effects from this therapy, others may want to try this low-tech approach to snoring.

Q: Your advice for toenail fungus works. I’ve been soaking my affected toenails daily in a Listerine/white vinegar mixture. After four months, they look normal and have almost grown out. I will continue with the soaks until they are totally clear.

I tried many tubes of antifungal prescription ointment that did not work. This approach takes persistence and devotion, and at least 30 minutes daily, but seeing these results is very rewarding.

A: We are glad to hear you are getting benefit. Listerine contains several herbal oils that have antifungal properties (eucalyptol, thymol, menthol). The alcohol also may discourage fungal growth. Vinegar, because of its acidity, creates a hostile environment for fungi.

There is more information about this and many other remedies for toenail fungus in our Guide to Hair and Nail Care. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (71 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. H-31, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: