Q: When I was a child, I had sweaty feet. Taking off my shoes would clear the room. All through high school, I wore closed-toe sandals most of the year.
In the 1970s, I worked in downtown Chicago and commuted by train from a western suburb. Most of the winter, snow or slush on the ground meant I had to wear galoshes to protect my shoes. Train cars were heated with vents at the floor level, so the floor was almost hot. Needless to say, my feet did sweat.
The skin between my toes cracked and hurt. My toe pads were wrinkled and pure white, and of course my feet smelled bad.
I tried a lot of fixes, such as foot powder and a nightly foot bath. Nothing helped. The dermatologist prescribed a foot bath with some kind of purple medication that stained the feet. It was absolutely no help, either.
Then I read in Prevention magazine that smelly feet with cracks between the toes and wrinkled white toe pads could be caused by a zinc deficiency.
I started taking zinc tablets. Within the first day, the cracks between my toes closed up and the pads were no longer white or wrinkled. By the third day, the feet were completely cleared up: no sign of wrinkled white toes, the cracks completely healed and, as a bonus, no stinky feet. After about two weeks of zinc tablets, I began to notice a metallic taste in my mouth and decided it was time to stop taking the zinc tablets.
That revelation came in the mid-1970s. Since then, whenever my feet begin to smell, I take zinc tablets for a couple of days. I hope you can add this to your wealth of resources of home cures.
A: You are not the first person to tell us that systemic zinc may help control unpleasant odors. The NIH Office of Dietary Supplements suggests a daily intake of 9 mg for women and 11 mg for men. The “tolerable upper intake limit” is 40 mg.
Q: After I had surgery, the intensive-care-unit nurses gave me alcohol wipes to sniff for the nausea. It worked like a charm.
When I was sent to another floor for my last day, I asked for the alcohol packets. The nurse on that floor asked in shock, “WHY? Are you sniffing alcohol?” It’s funny how nursing staff from one department are unaware of the simple practices another department uses to help their patients. I explained to her that the ICU nurses had recommended it. She still looked skeptical but at least didn’t remove the packets.
I went home the next day with a few packets at the ready but was hardly bothered by nausea by then. I now keep some in our home first-aid kit.
A: Emergency physicians did a randomized placebo-controlled trial of sniffing alcohol wipes compared with the powerful antiemetic ondansetron (Annals of Emergency Medicine, August 2018). Their conclusion: “… aromatherapy with or without oral ondansetron provides greater nausea relief than oral ondansetron alone.”
Q: My doctor has found that my cholesterol is 250 and wants to prescribe a statin to lower it. I’ve read that cinnamon can lower cholesterol. Is that true?
A: A meta-analysis of 13 studies found that cinnamon supplementation can lower triglycerides and total cholesterol, although it may not affect LDL cholesterol (Journal of Clinical Lipidology, November-December 2017). To learn more about the benefits and risks of cinnamon, you may want to read our book “Spice Up Your Health.” It is available at PeoplesPharmacy.com.