Joe and Teresa Graedon

Q: Some people have told you that they think gin-soaked raisins only work through a placebo effect. I don’t care!

Arthritis runs in my family; I and my five siblings have it. We are all in our 80s. I started on a drug many years ago and then switched to raisins as soon as I heard about them. I haven’t taken any drugs for my joint pain since.

I live in a retirement community now, and am one of the few who can still go up and down the stairs from my second-floor apartment. I boycott the elevator, and I still do fine hand sewing, get in and out of my car easily and take long, pain-free walks.

My siblings, all unwilling to give the raisins a try, are on many different drugs and are very limited in what they can do. I couldn’t care less if the raisin remedy is all in my head. What’s more, raisins, even with gin, are much less expensive than the drugs my sibs have taken over these many years.

Answer: We first heard about gin-soaked raisins for arthritis more than 25 years ago. Since then, hundreds of people have told us that this home remedy is surprisingly effective against joint pain.

As far as we can tell, researchers have shown no interest in this approach. There have been no clinical trials to test the effectiveness of gin-soaked raisins.

To learn more about this and other nondrug approaches for aching joints, you may wish to consult our eGuide to Alternatives for Arthritis. This online resource contains instructions and a video on how to make gin-soaked raisins. It is available in our Health eGuide section at

Q: I follow a potassium-rich diet to manage my blood pressure. However, a recent blood test showed a high level of potassium. My doctor said this could be a health hazard.

By cutting back on fruits and limiting the amounts of nuts and beets I eat, I got back to a normal level. It goes to show you that too much of a good thing can be harmful.

Answer: The body generally keeps potassium within a fairly narrow range. You are smart to pay attention to how your diet affects your blood level of this crucial mineral, since too much and too little potassium are both dangerous. Quite a few medications can also disrupt levels of potassium.

Q: After reading about green tea having a positive effect on vision, I wondered if there were any adverse interactions between green tea and prescription drugs. I take several heart drugs since having stents inserted in 2012.

My Google search found an article suggesting it might interact with drugs. I’ve recently started drinking green tea, but I’m worried that it could interact with the beta blocker metoprolol I need to take. Should I not drink green tea at all?

Answer: Luckily, green tea and its active ingredient, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, do not appear to interact with metoprolol (European Journal of Heart Failure, May 2008). It does have other interesting interactions, though. Green tea can lower concentrations of the beta blocker blood pressure drug nadolol (European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, June 2018). This could make the drug less effective.

In addition, green tea compounds might affect blood levels of the cholesterol-lowering drugs simvastatin and rosuvastatin (Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, April 2018).

Q: You’ve written about putting keys on the back of the neck to stop nosebleeds. That makes the issue sound mysterious, but it really isn’t.

Keys are commonly cold. I was taught in medical school to apply a cold face towel, preferably with ice cubes, at the back of the head or even directly on the nose. This usually works. The common element is “cold.”

Answer: We have heard from many people that dangling keys down the back of the neck can help stop a nosebleed. These reports mostly date from a time when keys, even car keys, were made of metal and would usually be cold. Others told us of keeping a butter knife in the freezer to apply to the back of the neck in the event of a nosebleed.

A study published in the American Journal of Rhinology (July-August 2006) reported that “ice collars” significantly reduce blood flow to the nose. The authors note that this “may provide the basis for the clinical observation that ice collars are helpful in the treatment of nosebleeds.”

King Features Syndicate

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