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The People’s Pharmacy: Will peppermint oil repel mice?

Q. You wrote recently about the dangers of using mothballs to repel mice. I have a safer suggestion. Mice despise the scent of peppermint oil!

Place a few drops on a cotton ball and put it where mice are a problem. Refresh the cotton every week or so when the scent fades. This method also will repel other rodents, roaches and raccoons. Peppermint oil does not have the side effects you described for mothballs.

A. There appears to be controversy about the effectiveness of peppermint oil as a mouse deterrent. We could find no scientific studies, however.

The advice that makes the most sense to us is to put peppermint-oil-soaked cotton balls in the crevices that mice use to get into the house. Once they are inside, peppermint oil might move mice away from the smell but not necessarily drive them back out.


Q. Three years ago, my blood work showed cholesterol of 292, and my blood pressure was up. My doctor wanted to keep an eye on both.

At my next visit, my cholesterol had dropped 44 points, and my blood pressure was down to 120/68. The only change in my life was that I eliminated dairy products.

I take a calcium supplement (400 mg) and feel fine. I figure that cow’s milk is intended for baby cows. Someone should investigate the possibility that our nation’s overconsumption of milk products could be contributing to health problems such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes and maybe even osteoporosis.

A. Your report is fascinating. We found studies suggesting that cheese (International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, December 2014) and yogurt (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2014) do not raise cholesterol levels.

On the other hand, it will not hurt you to forgo dairy products. Years ago we spoke with Dr. Walter Willett, chair of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He told us that drinking milk was neither necessary nor particularly helpful in preventing osteoporosis.


Q. When you discussed chronic-pain management, you flubbed the polarized subject of marijuana use for pain. The proper strains of marijuana work well and are extremely cost-effective in pain management. Come to Colorado and talk to doctors who prescribe medical marijuana for patients; talk to patients and the dying, who don’t care what capsule they take if it works.

I recently was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and three doctors recommended narcotics. In my retirement community, opioids are dispensed like candy. Elders fall or suffer the cognitive loss associated with these drugs. I went to a local retail dispensary here in Colorado. The person I spoke with recommended a CBD-to-THC formula of 8 mg to 0.7 mg of THC. It works. You are doing a grave disservice if you continue to ignore this ancient medicine.

A. Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and Washington, D.C. Scientists have found it hard to study, though, since the plant produces hundreds of compounds.

Some of those compounds are being utilized medicinally. CBD stands for cannabidiol, a compound that does not make people high. THC is tetrahydrocannabinol. It contributes to the euphoric feeling recreational users seek. Doctors are beginning to take this botanical medicine more seriously (Annals of Medicine online, Feb. 25, 2016).

To learn more about this topic, you may wish to listen to our hourlong interview with Dr. David Casarett, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and author of “Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana.” Show No. 1027 can be found at The People’s Pharmacy radio broadcast airs at 2 p.m. Saturdays on WBFO-FM 88.7.