This week, the People’s Pharmacy takes on the trouble with xylitol; plus: the benefits of spices, and an inside-out solution to latex allergy irritation.

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Q: The dentist recommended xylitol for my dry mouth. Wow, diarrhea city! What else can I use for a dry mouth?

A: You are not the only one to complain about the compounds in sugarless gum and some products recommended for dry mouth. Another reader shared your discomfort:

“Any of the sugar alcohols like maltitol, sorbitol and mannitol give me terrible diarrhea, even in very small amounts. Sugar-free gum and some mouth moisturizers contain xylitol and are out of the question for me.”

A different reader offered this alternative: “I recently discovered that extra-virgin olive oil works well for a dry mouth. I keep a small bottle of olive oil under my pillow. When I wake up with a dry mouth or have to go to the bathroom, I just put three to four drops on my tongue. It stimulates saliva production almost immediately and helps make my mouth moist. This lasts for a few hours.

“Olive oil is natural, excellent for health and quite economical. Other stuff has a LOT of chemicals in it and is very expensive.”

Q: According to some research, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, ginger and rosemary are spices that have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activity. Some spices also may help to prevent dementia and control blood sugar and blood pressure. Do you need to take them with food for them to be effective?

A: There are studies demonstrating that such spices do have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory power (Clinical Nutrition Research, October 2015). A pilot study demonstrated that a combination of sage, rosemary and lemon balm seemed to help people with word recall (Phytomedicine, Jan. 15, 2018).

You can learn more about these and many other flavorful plants in our book “Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs & Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life.” It is available at To order by mail, please send $15.95 plus $4 postage and handling to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, Dept. SUYH, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

We generally think that spices work best when used with foods. Traditional combinations such as curry contain ingredients (black pepper, ghee or coconut oil) that improve the absorption of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric.

Q: I finally figured out that the itch that follows sweating along my bra line is actually a latex allergy. Finding a latex-free bra has proved challenging, so now I wear all my bras inside out/outside in. Usually the latex is on the inside, and the outer covering is a smooth satiny fabric. This has made a wonderful difference!

A: We never thought of wearing a bra inside out, but it seems like a simple solution to your problem. Latex-free bras are available online.

Many women experience under-breast rash in hot weather. In some cases, the irritation may be caused by a fungal infection similar to jock itch.

Numerous readers have shared their remedies for this situation. One wrote: “I had a terrible rash last summer (both under my breasts and in the fold under my stomach). Someone told me to try Dr. Bronner’s tea tree liquid soap and Gold Bond medicated powder. Twice a day (morning and before bed) I wash the areas with the tea tree soap, rinse and dry well and then use the medicated powder on the areas. It has cleared up the rash completely, though I do not like the medicated aroma.”