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People's Pharmacy: Winter help for eczema

January 03, 2011|By Joe Graedon and Theresa Graedon, Special to the Los Angeles Times

Do you know of any home remedies for help in relieving symptoms of eczema? When humidity is low, my skin condition is aggravated something awful.

This time of year is rough on skin conditions such as eczema or dry skin. Some readers report that old-fashioned Noxzema skin cream can ease symptoms. Another moisturizer, CeraVe, also has supporters. One reader has had success by putting Pepto-Bismol on the itchy patches.

Oral supplements also can be helpful. Cod liver oil and brewer's yeast have provided some people with good results; others use probiotics as well as fatty-acid supplements such as borage oil or hempseed oil. Oolong tea has been tested scientifically and found to be effective in treating eczema, according to a 2001 report in Archives of Dermatology.

I frequently have heartburn when I eat spicy foods. Recently, a bartender offered a concoction of six drops of bitters mixed in a shot glass of club soda. It worked instantly. I now keep bitters and soda at home, and it is effective every time.

Bitters have been used for hundreds of years to improve appetite or relieve indigestion. They contain an extract of herbs and barks. Bartenders use a few drops of bitters in mixed drinks such as Bloody Marys, Manhattans and mojitos.

I have suffered from restless leg syndrome for nearly 35 years. A friend mentioned that pie cherries had helped her leg pain and thought maybe they would help my RLS.

I was skeptical, but RLS was troubling me day and night. I started eating pie cherries (about two dozen with their juice) each day. I have not had RLS for two weeks since I began.

Thanks for sharing your story. People also tell us that pie cherries may sometimes ease gout pain.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition.

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