Q: I cut my thumb while working as a cook. Two sisters who worked for the restaurant immediately came to my rescue.
They had me hold up my hand, put fresh coffee grounds on the cut and swaddled my thumb in gauze. It seemed counterintuitive to me to put coffee grounds on a wound.
But the sisters were so confident that I went with it. It worked beautifully to stop the bleeding, and the cut healed up just fine.
A: We have heard from many readers who have used coffee grounds to stop bleeding. An emergency-room physician also has pointed out that a serious cut that won’t stop bleeding deserves medical attention, preferably without contaminating the wound.
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Not everyone has an emergency room handy, however. We once heard from a person who told us about using coffee grounds in a veterinary emergency. His German shepherd had been badly injured by another dog in a remote area of Brazil. Veterinary care was hours away, so stopping the profuse bleeding with coffee grounds (offered by a local) probably saved the dog’s life.
Q: By fortunate coincidence, my total cholesterol was measured when I applied for an insurance policy one day before I started taking glucosamine and chondroitin for joint pain. I had a checkup a month later, and my cholesterol was measured again.
The first reading was 195. The second was 319. I immediately stopped the supplements, and two weeks later my cholesterol had dropped to 225. After another few weeks, it was back down to 205.
I am in good health except for my arthritic knees. I have avoided glucosamine and chondroitin since this experiment. Is there another supplement that might be helpful?
A: We have heard from many readers that the popular arthritis combination supplement glucosamine and chondroitin can raise cholesterol. Studies of glucosamine sulfate have not shown this reaction, however (Open Rheumatology Journal online, Nov. 29, 2011).
Even the effectiveness of glucosamine and chondroitin for alleviating joint pain has been called into question. Several well-conducted clinical trials have not shown that this combination works better than placebo for arthritic-knee discomfort. The latest is a four-year follow-up of the Osteoarthritis Initiative that found no symptom benefit among people taking glucosamine with chondroitin (Arthritis and Rheumatology online, Nov. 4, 2014).
There are several home remedies that could provide relief, including pomegranate juice, tart cherry juice or Certo and grape juice. The plant pectin in Certo can lower cholesterol as well as help ease painful knees.
Q: I have had good results using butcher’s-broom for restless legs syndrome. It doesn’t work immediately, but it’s nontoxic, inexpensive and effective long term.
A: Butcher’s-broom, Ruscus aculeatus, has been used for hemorrhoids and problems like varicose veins and leg cramps. It may be effective against chronic venous insufficiency because it reduces the pooling of blood in the legs and helps protect the lining of the veins.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them c/o King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th floor, New York, NY 10019, or via their website: www.peoplespharmacy.org