Q: When I worked in a nursing home 30 years ago, the nurses often used a mixture of A+D Ointment and a packet of table sugar to heal any bedsores that cropped up. It worked like magic!

I have carried that idea with me ever since. However, I’ve heard that manuka honey is really better for wound healing. I bought a bottle to keep in my medicine cabinet in case it’s needed.

A: The history of honey for helping wounds heal dates back at least to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans (Bioengineering, June 14, 2018). When antibiotics were introduced, however, doctors lost interest in using honey for wounds.

A recent review acknowledges that “ … honey is used mainly in topical cutaneous wound care because of its potent broad-spectrum antibacterial and wound healing activities” (Drug Resistance Updates, May 2022). These scientists conclude: “Honey is a valuable alternative to conventional antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory therapies that can strongly reduce nosocomial [hospital-acquired] infections.”

A combination of povidone-iodine and sugar (known as Knutson’s formula) was tested in hard-to-treat wounds (International Wound Journal, August 2019). It was surprisingly effective.

Q: Your description of turmeric as a blood thinner was news to me. I am a retired medical oncologist who’s been taking 650 milligrams of aspirin for more than 40 years. I have a strong family history of colon cancer (one aunt and her two brothers), so I’ve taken it as prevention.


For the past several years, I’ve noticed I bruise easily. I had no idea why until I saw your description of turmeric.

Most mornings my breakfast is three fried egg whites sprinkled with turmeric. As soon as I cut out the turmeric, voilà, my bruising stopped. Thanks for this useful tip. I may add turmeric back but in a smaller amount.

A: Turmeric and its active ingredient curcumin have been studied as anti-cancer agents as well as antioxidants (Molecular Biology Reports, February 2022). Scientists report that curcumin has anticoagulant effects both in tissue culture experiments and laboratory animals (Nutrients, March 26, 2022).

We have heard from several readers that taking turmeric regularly resulted in unexpected bleeding. If you would like more information about the pros and cons of this important medicinal and culinary spice, we recommend our book “Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs & Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life.” Look for it in your local library or find it in the Books section of the store at PeoplesPharmacy.com. In combination with aspirin, turmeric might have increased your risk of bruising.

Q: This is not a question. It is a statement of fact. Milk of magnesia works in topical applications. I tried it not believing there was any chance it would help my ferocious rash.

A few messy applications and the rash was well on its way to healing. It also cleared up my husband’s poison ivy. Thank you so much for this important information.

A: Readers of this column agree with you. They tell us that this over-the-counter laxative can be used topically for relief of acne, poison ivy, diaper rash, underarm odor, under breast rash, seborrheic dermatitis and canker sores. None of these uses has been studied by dermatologists. Nevertheless, many people find this is surprisingly helpful.