Joe and Teresa Graedon

Q: I used to have very painful canker sores until I started taking red raspberry leaves in a once-a-day supplement. After about six months I realized that I was not getting canker sores anymore.

It has been 20 years, and I still do not get them. I am still taking a red raspberry supplement. It was also helpful for a dear friend of mine suffering mouth sores from chemo.

Answer: The name that physicians give canker sores is “aphthous ulcers.” There is no obvious cause for these mouth sores, though there are a number of possible contributing factors.

Biting your cheek or eating rough foods like pretzels or chips can trigger an attack. Toothpaste with SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) also may bring on canker sores.

Red raspberry leaves (Rubus idaeus) have been used by herbalists and natural healers for centuries. Although there are no scientific studies to support its use for canker sores, some naturopaths recommend a tea or mouthwash made from the leaves, swished in the mouth for canker sore relief.

Other options include sauerkraut juice or buttermilk (swished and swallowed several times daily). Many readers sing the praises of kiwi fruit for painful mouth sores. They put a slice of kiwi against the aphthous ulcer for a minute or two before chewing and swallowing.

Q: I suffered for over five years from anal itching. I tried different diets, creams, pills, wipes — you name it. Nothing worked until I tried something called Pranicura ointment. I am now completely itch-free and have my life back!

Answer: Anal itching, aka “pruritis ani” or “itchy bottom,” can be incredibly disruptive. Good hygiene is essential. The French have used bidets for this purpose for decades. A cheaper alternative would be to gently wipe with witch hazel after a bowel movement.

Pranicura contains glycerin, calamine, kaolin and menthol. Some other readers have also sung its praises. A forklift driver who complained of anal itching once shared that the face cream Noxzema was very helpful when applied externally to that sensitive area.

Q: I had toenail fungus for a number of years. I had tried one prescription (a topical paint-on type), which didn’t help. Then I tried painting my nails with vinegar with no result. Then I tried Vicks VapoRub on the affected nails. That worked like a miracle!

My result may be uncommon, but I’m a believer! Can’t hurt to try it. Vicks costs next to nothing!

Answer: We first heard about using Vicks VapoRub topically for toenail fungus over 20 years ago. A professional foot care nurse reported that she used this old-fashioned herbal ointment on her patients, and it was surprisingly effective.

Vicks contains menthol, camphor, eucalyptus oil, cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, petrolatum, thymol and turpentine oil. A number of these ingredients have antifungal activity, which may explain its success against nail fungus. A small study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine (January-February 2011) reported surprising success with Vicks VapoRub. Nurses have also reported this remedy to be safe and effective for nail fungus (Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, January-February 2016).

We write about many more approaches for nail fungus and other common conditions in our book “The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.” It is available for purchase online at

Q: You’ve written about Voltaren gel for arthritis pain. I cannot use this drug, as it causes me severe stomach pain and acid reflux. I wish I could use it for my sore joints.

My aunt died from using an NSAID. It gave her an ulcer that led to infection and death.

I can’t believe we can buy NSAIDs without a prescription in this country. They can kill you and are known to cause ulcers even when people are unaware of the damage until it is too late.

Answer: You are correct that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as diclofenac, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), meloxicam and naproxen (Aleve) can cause stomach ulcers (Expert Review of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, June 2016). Such complications can indeed be deadly.

For most people, occasional use of ibuprofen or naproxen is not highly dangerous. Many people take these medicines daily, though, to ease the pain of arthritis. We discuss safer options to manage arthritis pain in our eGuide to Alternatives for Arthritis. This online resource is available at

King Features Syndicate

Questions for Joe and Teresa Graedon can be emailed via their website: www.Peoples

Load comments