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PEOPLE'S PHARMACY

Brazil nuts are rich in selenium

January 02, 2006|Joe Graedon, Teresa Graedon | The People's Pharmacy

What foods are high in selenium? I've been told this mineral may help prevent arthritis.

Research presented in November at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology showed that people with low selenium levels were more prone to osteoarthritis.

Brazil nuts are the richest food source of this mineral, with 544 micrograms an ounce. Don't overdo, though. More than 400 micrograms of selenium daily may be excessive.

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What can you suggest for chronic chapped lips? Castor oil works great, but it tastes terrible.

Perhaps the reason castor oil works for you is that it discourages lip licking. This habit can contribute to chronic chapped lips, especially when humidity is low. We sometimes suggest a product containing lanolin, beeswax or coconut oil to moisturize the lips and discourage licking. Some products to consider include Burt's Beeswax Lip Balm, Desert Essence Lip Rescue, Lip Trip or Un-Petroleum Lip Balm.

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With my high blood pressure, it's hard to find cold or cough medicine that is safe. My sister recommended black elderberry extract and zinc.

Elderberry-flower tea is a traditional remedy for colds and coughs. Many herbalists believe elderberry is more effective than echinacea.

Studies of zinc against colds have produced mixed results, some positive but others negative. Neither remedy should increase blood pressure, though.


Joe Graedon, a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon, an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition, can be reached at www.peoplespharmacy.com or care of this newspaper.

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