Question: Last year my granddaughter caught lice at school. I read about using petroleum jelly and told my daughter about it. Well, the whole family tried it together. What a nightmare! Wisk will not wash it out. Nothing will wash it out!
The whole family had to go to work and school with jelly in their hair and I felt awful because I was the one who told them about your article.
Answer: Guilty as charged. We feel terrible. Petroleum jelly is a mess to remove.
Here's how this remedy evolved. A reader responded to a plea for help from another mom. She wrote: "Our pediatrician consulted Dr. Neil Prose of Duke University, who recommended applying petroleum jelly to the children's hair. I applied petrolatum to each child's hair and scalp, then put a plastic shower cap on each child while they slept. The next morning I washed the Vaseline out (pouring baby oil on the hair helped with this chore). The lice were gone."
We were amazed and contacted Dr. Prose, a pediatric dermatologist. He said that he occasionally recommended this treatment as a last resort after desperate parents tried everything else. Another mom suggested diluted Wisk to aid in removal. In truth, petroleum jelly is nasty stuff to get out of the hair.
Q: I read somewhere about using NutraSweet for joint pain relief. Is this for real? I've tried white grape juice and pectin and saw some results. Have you ever heard of this remedy?
A: This is one of the few home remedies that has actually been tested in a double-blind, placebo-controlled manner and published in a reputable journal, Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (May 1998). The researchers discovered that doses of 76 and 152 mg eased arthritis pain measured during walking and climbing stairs.
Some readers have complained aspartame gives them headaches. It may also increase bleeding time, so it is probably inappropriate for people taking blood-thinners such as Coumadin. By the way, the remedy we have heard about calls for purple grape juice and Certo rather than white grape juice. We don't know if the color of the juice matters, but you might want to try it.
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa Graedon holds a doctorate in medical anthropology and is a nutrition expert. Send questions to them at People's Pharmacy, care of King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017, or e-mail them via their Web site: http://www.peoplespharmacy.com.