Q: Years ago, I used to wake up every morning with “face aches,” aka sinus pain. I went to many different doctors, all of whom prescribed antibiotics for a sinus infection. Then I became allergic to these drugs.
An article I read said that many sinus issues are caused by an allergy to the milk protein casein. As an experiment, I stopped drinking milk and never had face aches again. I use unsweetened almond milk for my morning oatmeal, and all is well.
A: The role of milk protein allergy in causing sinus inflammation is controversial. Allergies sometimes can cause nasal congestion as well as hives, rash or swelling. Some research has linked cow’s milk protein allergy to ear, nose and throat problems in young children (Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, August 2012). There has been little if any research on whether this also holds for adults. We don’t see any trouble in avoiding cow’s milk if you find it makes you feel better.
Antibiotics are often overprescribed for sinus congestion. A review of research in the New England Journal of Medicine (Sept. 8, 2016) concluded that antibiotics are rarely helpful for acute sinusitis.
Q: After I started using ashwagandha for my own stress and lack of restful sleep, I recommended that friends try it. They not only are using it now but have come off their antidepressants at the same time!
It’s important to taper down gradually on any drugs for anxiety or insomnia. My husband was taking sertraline for anxiety. When he no longer needed it, his doctor told him to take the medication every other day for a week, then every third day for a week, every fourth day for a week and then eventually quit.
A: Ashwagandha is part of the Indian ayurvedic-healing tradition that stretches back thousands of years. It has a wide range of uses. Ashwagandha can be helpful in easing anxiety and insomnia, and has anti-inflammatory activity.
Some people have reported digestive distress, including nausea and diarrhea. Other side effects include drowsiness or headache. One visitor to our website reported an alarming drop in blood pressure.
To learn more about the pros and cons of ashwagandha and many other nondrug approaches, you may wish to read our eGuide to Favorite Home Remedies. You will find this online resource in the Health Guide section of peoplespharmacy.com.
Q: I got a huge splinter in the end of my big toe. I couldn’t get it out and neither could my physician assistant or her nurse.
On the recommendation of a friend who is also a nurse, I put duct tape around the toe. The next morning when I took the tape off, there was the hunk of wood stuck to the tape. I am seriously grateful for the tip and want to share it with your readers.
A: Using a needle or a tweezer to get a splinter out of your skin can be tricky. What’s more, it’s often painful. After a time or two, children become unwilling to submit to this kind of first aid.
In addition to duct tape, we have heard about using a salicylic acid plaster of the sort sold for warts. After a day or two, the splinter works its way to the surface, according to an article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (April 1989).
White glue is another splinter-removal tactic. The trick is to let the glue dry over the splinter. Then pull it off in the opposite direction the splinter took going in.