Q: My son has cystic nodular acne We have spent thousands of dollars, to no avail. He has recently tried a home remedy: applying milk of...

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Q: My son has cystic nodular acne We have spent thousands of dollars, to no avail. He has recently tried a home remedy: applying milk of magnesia to his face at night before bed. He looks the best he has in four years. Can you tell us why this is working so well?

A: Milk of magnesia (aka MoM) is a solution of magnesium hydroxide and is best known for its laxative action.

We don’t know why MoM might combat acne, but we have heard that this laxative can help clear up seborrheic dermatitis. Here is one reader’s report:

“I have been using milk of magnesia on my face for the past two months, and my face flakes are gone! I massage it on my face (forehead, eyebrows, around the eyes, nose, cheeks and chin) while showering, and rinse it off. End of problem. It’s a great, cost-effective alternative to expensive Nizoral, and it works better, too.”

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Q: You recently offered a list of natural migraine remedies people have tried. The best thing I’ve found is ginger: Jamaican-style ginger beer (stronger than ginger ale) is good, though rather sweet; the pickled ginger sold with sushi is a godsend. It also helps with nausea.

A: Ginger is well-known for its anti-nausea activity, and there are a few mentions of ginger easing migraine in medical literature. Most suggest that ginger works best when taken at the first sign of a migraine headache.

Q: I awoke one night with the muscles and nerves in my legs feeling like fireworks. They were so active that they started twisting into cramps. The cramps were in all parts of my legs and feet — nowhere else in my body.

I read in your column about a man who was taking a diuretic and began having cramps in his legs at night. He found that low-sodium V8 juice stopped the problem.

Since I was taking a diuretic at the time, I thought I would give it a try. It stopped the cramping and severely curtailed most of the weird muscle/nerve activity.

A: Low-sodium V8 juice provides plenty of potassium. When this mineral is in short supply, many people develop cramps. Diuretics frequently deplete the body of potassium; that might be why low-sodium V8 helps some people.

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