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The People’s Pharmacy: Arthritis remedy has constipation complication

Q. The grape juice and Certo remedy I read about in your column has helped lower my cholesterol. I have found it helps with my arthritis and would like to continue taking it. Unfortunately, it constipates me. Have you had this complaint before? Is there anything I can do to correct this?

A. Certo consists of plant pectin that helps home canners get their jams and jellies to the right consistency. Pectin has long been used to counteract loose stools. The original formula of the diarrhea remedy Kaopectate contained both pectin and kaolin, a type of aluminum silicate clay.

We first heard about using Certo in grape juice for joint pain in 1998, but the remedy is undoubtedly much older. Some other readers report constipation just like you: “I tried this arthritis remedy for a few days and stopped because things down south started slowing down.”

To counteract this effect, we could suggest that you try “hot lemonade” – hot water with lemon juice in it – preferably in the morning. A magnesium supplement also could be helpful, though you may have to experiment to find the right dose. Don’t exceed 300 mg or you might experience diarrhea.

Anyone who would like to learn more about the Certo and grape juice recipe for arthritis can find a video demonstrating its preparation at PeoplesPharmacy.com.

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Q. Do you know the names of labs that test for nutrients or provide a nutrient profile without a doctor’s prescription? You mentioned on the broadcast with Dr. Tieraona Low Dog that there are several, but you didn’t say what they were.

A. Many states now permit people to order their own laboratory tests to determine nutrient profiles as well as thyroid panels and other data. Some of the companies to look for include HealthTestingCenters.com, HealthCheckUSA.com and WellnessFX.com.

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Q. My fingernails just won’t grow! I tried taking biotin for more than a year, to no avail. The dermatologist had no suggestions.

I am on propranolol, verapamil, sulfasalazine, Mobic, omeprazole, fish oil, Caltrate with D and Ocuvite. I have tried many advertised nail lacquers and base coats. Can you help me at all?

A. We are not sure. It is possible that one or more of your medications is interfering with nail growth, but that has not been noted in the prescribing information.

You may find it helpful to moisturize your nails with almond oil or a cuticle cream. You also might want to try taking the supplement MSM, methylsulfonylmethane. This natural product is frequently used to ease joint pain, but some readers have reported that it can be helpful in strengthening nails and preventing splitting.

You’ll learn more about moisturizing and using MSM in the Guide to Hair and Nail Care we are sending you. 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 PeoplesPharmacy.com.

MSM is a component of a novel nail lacquer being developed by a Swiss firm, Polichem. Research suggests that this product, which also contains hydroxypropyl-chitosan and the herb Equisetum arvense (horsetail), can prevent splitting and make nails less brittle (Journal of Dermatology and Clinical Research online, Feb. 12, 2014). Unfortunately, it does not yet appear to be commercially available.

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