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Q: Since I started drinking hibiscus tea, I have seen my blood pressure drop. It used to run around 132/80, but now it’s about 102/70. I’m delighted!

I found the following recipe to be a good replacement for an evening glass of wine. I take strong hibiscus tea and add apple-cider vinegar, lemon juice, tart-cherry extract and a little stevia or honey to taste. It makes a deep-red sweet/tart/tangy elixir that’s delicious hot or cold, and every single ingredient has fabulous health benefits. It’s the best nightcap possible. The tart-cherry extract contains melatonin, so it’s great for getting to sleep.

A: Science supports your observation. One six-week study found that three cups of hibiscus tea daily lowered systolic blood pressure significantly, without unpleasant side effects (Journal of Nutrition, February 2010). We agree that hibiscus tea is delicious, though we usually drink it without the extras.

Hibiscus compounds act very much like blood-pressure medications called ACE inhibitors. Studies show the tea is nearly as effective as drugs like captopril and lisinopril (Fitoterapia, March 2013).

Another reader reported a side effect: “I started drinking hibiscus tea before bed because I wanted to reduce the amount of medication I take for elevated blood pressure. I started coughing at night, but had no symptoms of a cold or allergies. It took two nights for me to figure out that this could be the same ACE-inhibitor cough so many people report with prescription pills.”

Q: I have had fungus on one of my toes for a long time. I have been to the dermatologist and podiatrist repeatedly, and even had the nail removed. I was given strong pills, but they didn’t work. The podiatrist does not understand why the infection persists.

I started searching desperately for other things that might help and read about Listerine. This has given me the best results so far. The infection is almost gone, the nail has its nice pink color again, and it is not sore. Hooray!

A: Soaking an infected nail in amber Listerine alone or mixed 50/50 with white vinegar is a favorite remedy for nail fungus. You need patience, since it takes months for toenails to grow out, but this remedy is neither difficult nor expensive.

Q: Do you have any information about Garcinia cambogia? It is being touted as the next big thing for weight loss. Is there any research to back this up? Any concerns?

A: The data to support the effectiveness of this Indonesian fruit rind for weight loss are inconclusive. Any benefit appears to be modest.

According to a new report from, several of the Garcinia cambogia products on the market do not contain the labeled amount of active ingredient. Side effects may include digestive upset and headache. Some animal research suggests liver inflammation is possible (World Journal of Gastroenterology, Aug. 7).

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them c/o King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th floor, New York, NY 10019, or via their