Q: Is there a natural way to get rid of seborrheic keratosis? I have heard that putting hydrogen peroxide on these spots might be helpful.

A: Seborrheic keratoses are tan, brown or black skin growths that may be rough. They are benign, and we tend to get more as we grow older. You should always have a dermatologist check such growths, especially if they change, to make sure that they are not anything more serious.

You are correct that topical hydrogen peroxide can be used to treat these unsightly growths. It is not a natural treatment, however, and it is not a do-it-yourself project. Over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide is 3% H202.

The Food and Drug Administration approved 40% hydrogen peroxide under the brand name Eskata to be administered by a health care provider. The solution is applied to the spots four times, with a minute between, during a single office visit. After the treatment, people may experience redness, burning, stinging, swelling, blistering or itching. The success rate is modest, ranging from 4% to 23% clearance.

Q: You recently had a letter from a woman whose doctor told her to use glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis pain relief. I have an arthritic thumb, and nothing had helped. I’d tried tart cherries, CoQ10 and turmeric with black pepper.

After reading the column, I tried glucosamine and chondroitin. That provided much more relief from pain and more mobility in my thumb than anything else I had tried.

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A: There are a number of clinical trials that have found the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin helpful in treating the pain of osteoarthritis (Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine, July 25, 2022; Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Medicine, Jan. 13, 2022).

An unexpected bonus of this regimen is that it reduces the risk of stroke. Spanish researchers analyzed a primary care database and found that patients prescribed this combination were less likely to develop clotting strokes (Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease, July 26, 2022).

You can learn more about the pros and cons of glucosamine and chondroitin as well as other natural approaches for easing joint pain in our eGuide, Alternatives for Arthritis. This online resource is available under the Health eGuides tab at PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q: You’ve written about the possible benefits of vitamin D to boost immunity and protect people from infection. So perhaps you won’t like this at all. There are studies showing that vitamin D does not help prevent COVID-19! What do you think?

A: Thank you for bringing this research to our attention. Both studies were recently published in The BMJ.

One of the studies included 6,200 British adults who had not been taking vitamin D (BMJ, Sep. 7, 2022). The researchers tested blood levels of the study volunteers and assigned them on a random basis to get vitamin D supplements or not. During the six-month follow-up period, people taking vitamin D were no less likely to come down with a respiratory tract infection, including COVID.

The other study was conducted in Norway (BMJ, Sept. 7, 2022). The scientists recruited more than 34,000 people who were not taking vitamin D supplements. Half of them were given cod liver oil and the other half placebo, taken daily during the winter. Cod liver oil contains vitamin D (10 mcg or 400 IU per daily dose). These supplements did not reduce the participants’ chance of contracting the coronavirus or other respiratory infection.