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People’s Pharmacy: Solve foot odor by going barefoot?

Q.When you write about foot odor, allow me to recommend a simple treatment: Take your shoes and socks off!

The organisms that cause noxious foot odor thrive in warm, dark, moist environments and feed on dead skin cells sloughed off the feet. Deprive them of their sustenance, and they die off in short order. So whenever it’s socially acceptable, go barefoot. Not socks only, not slippers – barefoot.

A. You are quite right about the cause of foot odor. Your solution is appealing, but in some seasons and locales it is impractical. We imagine few people could walk around Chicago or Buffalo barefoot at this time of year.

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Q. A few years ago, my vitamin D was so low it was almost undetectable. I had widespread muscle and joint pain, and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. My feet would cramp so badly at night that I was unable to walk. My hands burned and ached, and I could not make a fist or spread my fingers without extreme pain. My elbows were so painful, I could not even lean them on a foam pillow. I was miserable.

My doctor said that women with fibromyalgia do not make enough vitamin D, no matter how much sun they get. I live in Florida and get plenty of sun! I was prescribed 50,000 units once a week, with 3,000 IU daily thereafter. My vitamin D level was still low, and the dose went up to 5,000 IU. I now take 7,000 IU of vitamin D daily.

Adding vitamin D to my daily multivitamin has been a lifesaver. Many of the fibro symptoms went away, and others have been mitigated. I advise women with fibromyalgia symptoms to have their vitamin D levels checked. It’s a simple test that changed my life.

A. The question of whether vitamin D supplements can ease the pain of fibromyalgia is a bit controversial. One small, randomized controlled trial (Pain, February 2014) found significant benefit.

A review by the advocacy group Vitamin D Council suggests that people with fibromyalgia should try to keep their level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, measured with the simple blood test you mentioned, at or above 40 nanograms/milliliter.

Our Guide to Vitamin D Deficiency has information on many of the symptoms of low vitamin D and how to increase this crucial vitamin. 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. D-23, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website, peoplespharmacy.com.

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Q. I have taken L-lysine for years to prevent cold sores. I still get them off and on, but they are tiny, and nobody else notices them. They last only a few days compared with weeks. I finally got my husband to use L-lysine too, and he hasn’t had a cold sore since he started taking it.

A. Many people agree with you that taking L-lysine tablets can help prevent cold sores or may speed healing. Unfortunately, there is very little research on this topic. A recent Cochrane review “failed to find any evidence of efficacy for lysine” (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Aug. 7, 2015). One bright spot: The reviewers also failed to find reports of adverse reactions to this supplement.

The People’s Pharmacy radio broadcast airs at 2 p.m. Saturdays on WBFO-FM 88.7.