People’s Pharmacy on beet-juice powder to lower blood sugar, castor oil for painful cracks at the corner of the mouth and pickle juice for tingling or numbness in the hands.
Q: I take beet-juice powder, and it has dropped my blood pressure to normal levels. But I hear that beets can cause kidney stones in some people. If so, am I putting myself at risk by taking the powder daily?
A: Unless you have had a kidney stone, you may not be in any danger. If you are susceptible to oxalate-containing kidney stones, however, then beets, beet greens and beetroot powder could pose a problem. They are quite high in oxalates and may promote kidney-stone formation in susceptible individuals.
In that case, you would need to look for another way to keep your blood pressure under control. Beets make blood vessels more flexible, thus lowering blood pressure.
One of the best ways to prevent kidney stones is to keep fluid intake high. Experts recommend 2 to 3 liters of water daily.
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Q: After successfully using castor oil to heal those pesky fingertip cracks I get every winter (my cousin’s suggestion), I decided to try it on the corners of my mouth. They are always cracked and sometimes bleed.
Nothing I’ve tried previously — from switching toothpastes to topical and systemic antibiotics or antifungals — has made a difference, and this has been a problem for several years. After a single night using the castor oil, the cracks had healed significantly. After just one week of use, healing was complete.
A: Castor oil has been used for thousands of years orally as a laxative and topically to treat bruises and warts. Yours is the first report that it helps heal cracked fingertips or angular cheilitis (perleche). These painful cracks at the corner of the mouth may be caused by a fungal infection. Castor oil has antifungal activity (Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, December 2012).
Q: I work on a computer all day, and my workspace is far from ergonomic. For months, I have been waking up with tingling or “asleep” hands.
I have wrist braces for carpal tunnel syndrome. They help, but they’re not really comfortable, and I don’t want to wear them all the time.
The past few nights, I’ve had pickles and pickle juice with dinner on the advice of my boyfriend. On those nights, I’ve had no tingling at all!
I love pickles, and hope this keeps working. I have seen pickles recommended for muscle cramps and would like to suggest another kind of relief for those of us who aren’t star athletes.
A: You are the first person to tell us that pickle juice is helpful for tingling or numbness in the hands. On the other hand, we have heard from numerous readers that an ounce or two of pickle juice can ease leg or foot cramps. We also would encourage you to improve the ergonomics of your workstation as much as possible.