Q: I've always been susceptible to canker sores in my mouth, so when I heard that kiwi fruit could make them go away, I had to try. My canker sore was...

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Q: I’ve always been susceptible to canker sores in my mouth, so when I heard that kiwi fruit could make them go away, I had to try. My canker sore was gone in two days. Now I don’t wait for the canker sore to show up. I just eat a kiwi every few days.

A: Although we could find no scientific evidence that kiwi fruit helps heal canker sores, you are not the first to report this effect. Eight years ago, a reader wrote: “I have suffered with mouth ulcers all my life. I have tried many home remedies, over-the-counter cures and a few prescriptions. Eating one kiwi cures my canker sores as fast as the prescription steroid cream.”

Q: I found a recipe for a home cleaning spray — a mixture of white vinegar, water and a few drops of essential oil for fragrance. It does a great job on the stainless kitchen sink, microwave, countertops and bathroom sink.

I’m under the impression that vinegar will be enough to kill germs, especially bacteria. Is that true? Do I need to add something more caustic to get the germs?

A: Vinegar is a great cleaner, but we didn’t know how well it could kill germs. We asked germ guru Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He has done field studies on household germs.

Dr. Gerba said that vinegar is useful as a cleaner and has some antimicrobial properties, but it is not considered a sanitizer or disinfectant.

Q: A friend found a mention of nettle leaf for allergy relief in your book and passed it along. It works wonderfully.

On your Web pages you discuss nettle root for prostate health. Are the uses of the leaf and the root different?

A: Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a common herb in Europe, where the leaves also may be eaten as a vegetable. In this country, few people know about it.

You are correct that the nettle root extract is used to treat symptoms of enlarged prostate. The above-ground parts are used to treat symptoms of allergy (Alternative Medicine Review, September 2007).

Q: Why do you not recommend WD-40 for arthritis? I know a couple of older men who have used it and say it works.

A: We have heard from folks who have used WD-40, the lubricant for squeaky hinges and sticky mechanisms, on their stiff joints. We worry that people will spray it on the sore spots and inhale it accidentally. Inhaling WD-40 can lead to lung inflammation (chemical pneumonitis) that can be debilitating and difficult to treat.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them c/o King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or via their Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.org