Q: I took glucosamine for a few years to ease stiff, painful joints. A blood test several months ago showed that my cholesterol level was 229, which is over the recommended 200 threshold.
I stopped taking glucosamine and substituted turmeric. Then I had my annual checkup, which included extensive blood work. My cholesterol level has dropped to 124.
I made no other changes in my diet, so I can only conclude that the glucosamine was raising my cholesterol. Others may want to know.
A: We have heard from other readers that the dietary-supplement combination glucosamine and chondroitin may raise cholesterol levels. There is no research we could find to support these case reports, though.
In your case, it is plausible that the turmeric you are now taking for your joints has lowered your cholesterol. A review of controlled trials found that turmeric or its active component curcumin can lower total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL (Nutrition Journal, Oct. 11, 2017).
If you would like to learn more about the pros and cons of turmeric and other natural flavorings, you may want to read our book “Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs & Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life.” It is available at peoplespharmacy.com.
Q: I’ve been suffering from migraines for nearly 20 years and max out all my migraine meds every month. Years ago, my doctor told me to try a Starbucks Frappuccino to stop a migraine. This worked for a while, but I think my body became resistant to brain freeze from mildly cold products. Even ice cubes stopped working.
Recently, though, I had a Sonic Slush. That slush gave me terrible brain freeze. At the time, I didn’t have a headache.
Then I got a migraine and the medication was not kicking it. I went and got myself a slush. I drank it fast, nonstop, until brain freeze hit. Bam, the migraine was instantly gone.
I’ve done this with my past two migraines. The migraine comes back within an hour or so, so I continue to drink the slush. It works like a charm.
Now when I get a migraine, I’m just going to induce brain freeze and see if I can stay away from the meds. Rather than an ice cube, I’ll try grinding the ice and see if I can save a trip to Sonic.
A: We suspect that this fascinating migraine remedy works through transient receptor potential (TRP) channels, specifically TRPM8. This channel helps nerves sense cold and is also sensitive to compounds such as menthol. Research shows that TRPM8 is implicated in migraines (Headache, October 2016).
If brain freeze can help you beat your migraine headaches, we applaud you. Here is a comment from another reader: “I just watched a video of a guy suggesting brain freeze cures migraines. Minutes ago, I held ice to the roof of my mouth. By the third piece, I was headache-free although I’d had this migraine all day. IT’S GONE.”
Q: Several years ago I developed gout. My physician prescribed allopurinol, but it made my kidneys feel like they were on fire.
I stopped eating shellfish and organ meats, but I continued to have intermittent gout flare-ups. Sour-cherry juice was a bust, but I found that pineapple juice really helped!
I tested this myself. Every day for a week I ate one or more of the forbidden foods, and every evening I drank a glass of pineapple juice. The result: no gout flares. It’s been four years.
A: Thanks for sharing this unique approach. We could find no studies on pineapple juice for gout, but it seems harmless.