Q: I have essential high blood pressure, which means my pressure goes up and down without any discernible reason. One day I accidentally discovered the benefits of eggplant. A medium-sized eggplant made a good supper. It was delicious browned in olive oil with a gravy into which I put some onion, dill, arugula, basil, bay leaf, parsley and rosemary. Those were chosen simply because that’s what I have growing in pots on my porch!

After consuming the entire eggplant and some gravy, I took my blood pressure again. It had dropped quite a bit, from around 200 over 100 before I ate. When it got down to 80 over 50, I was beginning to wonder if I should go to the hospital, but I felt fine. The blood pressure leveled off.

When I searched the internet, I was stunned to find out eggplant can lower blood pressure! So now, in addition to my meds, if my pressure goes up, I eat a little eggplant. That works every time! I am not sure how important the herbs may be, so I’ve been very careful with the process of elimination.

A: Japanese researchers noted that eggplant is rich in acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter with an effect on blood pressure. When they conducted an experiment with hypertensive rats, they found that feeding them eggplant lowered their blood pressure (Food Chemistry, March 15, 2019).

Other Japanese scientists have experimented with eggplant powder to lower blood pressure in human beings (Nutrients, Nov. 16, 2019). Thank you for sharing your intriguing observation.

Q: Thanks for saving my bacon. You wrote about the diabetes drug metformin and vitamin B12 deficiency. The question was reversibility.

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I knew more than three years ago that my eyesight was deteriorating. Four different eye doctors could not tell me why I could read eye charts but needed bright light to read a book. This was a serious problem, as reading was my favorite pastime.

When I read about metformin, I stopped taking it and started taking high-dose vitamin B12. I am seeing significant improvement.

A: We trust you discussed the metformin with your doctor, so that you could switch to a different diabetes medication. Your story is fascinating.

Doctors know that metformin can deplete the body of vitamin B12. Such a deficiency could lead to optic neuropathy (American Journal of Pathology, January 2018).

Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include numbness or tingling in hands or feet, burning tongue, fatigue, dizziness, depression, weakness and changes in personality. You can learn more about correcting this deficiency as well as how other drugs may affect nutritional status in Dr. Tieraona Low Dog’s book “Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and More.” You should find a copy in your local library, or you can purchase a paperback copy at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q: While I was on a cross-country ski trip some years back, I had painful leg cramps at night. Another skier suggested I take a teaspoon of yellow mustard followed by clear water. This worked like magic, and the pain was gone within 10 minutes.

A: Yellow mustard likely stimulates TRP (transient receptor potential) channels in the mouth. We suspect this is how mustard reverses muscle cramps. Whether the action is due to the mustard, the vinegar or the turmeric that gives mustard its yellow color, we don’t know. It might be all three.

 

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”