Q: I took turmeric to ease my arthritis. It worked wonderfully for the pain, but I had excessive nosebleeds that disappeared when I stopped the turmeric. I hated to do that, since the spice has so many healthful benefits!

Now I’m thinking of using pectin and grape juice to ease arthritis pain. I’d love to know about other natural options for pain relief.

A: You are by no means the only person to experience nosebleeds while taking turmeric. We received this note from another reader:

“I had a torn meniscus that eventually led to complex regional pain syndrome. I tried turmeric as an anti-inflammatory treatment. Then I started to get occasional nosebleeds.

“About three weeks in, I got a very heavy nosebleed in the shower. It took about 20 minutes for it to stop. Two days later, another nosebleed started in the shower.

“It was horrific, and I ended up in the emergency room. The doctor was able to stop the bleeding. When I saw the follow-up ear, nose and throat doctor, she confirmed that turmeric was the culprit.


“Turmeric is a natural blood thinner. Despite the benefits to taking turmeric, I will stay away because of my unfortunate experiences. I’m still looking for other natural anti-inflammatory healers!”

There is not a lot of research on the anticoagulant activity of turmeric and its active ingredient curcumin. One study in BMB Reports (April 2012) suggests that curcumin has both anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant effects. Other potential complications include nausea, diarrhea, headache and liver-enzyme elevations.

You can learn more about the pros and cons of turmeric and other ways to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis in our eGuide to Alternatives for Arthritis. It can be found under the Health eGuides tab at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q: I have had plantar warts for more than 10 years and have tried many treatments. They included painful chemicals applied at a podiatrist’s office along with freezing sprays. I even tried some of the suggestions you have offered: duct tape, tea tree oil, castor oil, iodine and vinegar soaks. Nothing worked until I tried using clear nail polish daily. My warts disappeared in less than a month!

A: Plantar warts can be notoriously hard to eliminate. What works for one person may be a complete bust for someone else. We have no explanation for why clear nail polish might be helpful, but others report similar success with such an approach.

Q: I have read that zinc lozenges are good against colds, especially if used together with vitamin C and quercetin. Is there any proof that this combination would be beneficial for the immune system?

A: There are data supporting the benefits of both zinc and vitamin C against upper respiratory tract infections, aka colds (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 2017). Quercetin has not been well studied for fighting infections. One study did not show a difference in rates of illness or symptoms (Pharmacological Research, September 2010).

On the other hand, a study conducted in China showed that quercetin has activity against influenza viruses in cell culture (Viruses, January 2016). We will need to see large, well-controlled clinical trials to learn whether this natural product can improve immune response and shorten the duration of colds or other viral infections.