Q: About 12 years ago I was diagnosed with prediabetes since my HbA1c was 6.8. I started measuring my blood sugar and also changed my diet: no more sweets, beer or wine.

My wife asked me to measure her blood glucose because she was always thirsty. It was 260, and her HbA1c was 13.6!

With such severe diabetes, she needed action. We went on a rigorous diet with no bread, rice, potatoes, macaroni, fruit juice or ice cream (grrrrrrr). Instead we focused on vegetables, fruit and some meat. We both lost weight. Needless to say, that didn’t happen overnight.

We measure our blood sugar to determine what’s good and what’s not. For example, sweet potato was OK for her but not for me. Normal potato was OK for me but not her.

We also figured out that eating food with high-fructose corn syrup is like eating poison for both of us. It takes three days until blood sugar levels go back down to the usual level.

After about six months, her A1C was under 7 and mine was 6.4. Today hers is 6.3 to 6.4, mine is 6 to 6.3.


A: You are living examples of how following a sensible diet and losing weight can help regulate blood sugar. Some experts concur that high fructose intake can make diabetes harder to control (Mayo Clinic Proceedings, March 2015).

In our Guide to Managing Diabetes, we offer a list of low-carb vegetables and discuss diet and other nondrug approaches to controlling blood sugar. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. DM-11, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It can also be downloaded for $2 from our website: peoplespharmacy.com.

Q: I have recently started using aloe vera gel for mosquito bites. It stops the itch immediately. I was desperate because I had multiple bites on my legs.

There is no odor or color. If I understand correctly, aloe vera is actually good for your skin.

A: Aloe vera has a long history of medicinal use, going back as far as ancient Egypt. The clear gel from the center of the leaf has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may protect the skin (Phytomedicine, June 20, 2019). Scientists have studied it as a complementary treatment to help heal wounds and prevent skin ulcers (Iranian Journal of Medical Sciences, January 2019). We haven’t seen any research on its benefits against mosquito bites, though. Perhaps if others try it, they will report on how well it works for them.

Q: I have been following a ketogenic diet for several months and have begun to notice strong underarm body odor. None of the usual antiperspirants have worked.

I found a half-used bottle of original formula Sea Breeze and have been wiping my armpits with it. This is working. The bottle states it deep-cleans down to the pores.

A: Sea Breeze Astringent Original Formula contains water, denatured alcohol, a number of herbal extracts, the preservative sodium benzoate and coloring. We assume that the benefits you’ve noticed come from the herbal ingredients: camphor, peppermint oil, clove oil, eucalyptus oil and eugenol (also from cloves). Perhaps they affect the microbes that thrive on the skin under your arms.