Q: As a kid and into adulthood, I was susceptible to athlete’s foot. I finally got rid of it with advice from a World War II vet I knew. He said that in the Navy, the men were advised to pee on their feet while showering.
I did this off and on for a few months and haven’t had a recurrence of athlete’s foot since then. (It’s been about 30 years.) However, within the past few years, I contracted the dreaded toenail fungus.
I went back to the old Navy advice, but am doing it one better. I save up about a liter of urine and pour it into a plastic container that is the right size. While showering, I simply soak one foot and then the other while shampooing and washing my body. Then I wash my feet. The nail fungus cleared up in weeks, but I still do the treatment about once a week just to make sure it doesn’t come back.
A: You are not the first person to try out this bit of military lore. Urine contains urea, which is used at high concentrations to remove fungus-infected toenails (Dermatology, online, May 2013). The concentration of urea in urine is far weaker, but we have heard similar stories from other readers. It may take months of foot soaks to get rid of nail fungus.
You can read more about this and many other tried-and-true treatments in our book ”Quick & Handy Home Remedies.” You can order it online at peoplespharmacy.com.
Q: I suffered frequently with cold sores, starting when I was a teenager. One day, although the pain was excruciating, I felt the urge to sting it with a nettle. When the nettle sting wore off, I stung it again and again.
Surprisingly, the symptoms began to subside. Every time thereafter I felt the beginnings of a cold sore, I stung my lip. I no longer suffer from cold sores. I must have found a way to kill the herpes virus.
A: What a fascinating story! As it turns out, in central Italy stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is part of a traditional treatment for the herpes infection chickenpox (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, April 26, 2005). Stinging nettle extract appears to have antiviral activity, especially when it is combined with extracts of licorice and lotus (Virology Journal, July 26, 2012). It may prevent the virus from attaching to cells (Antiviral Research, April 2011).
The remedy you devised is likely to cause pain, and we doubt that anyone else would want to try your experiment. There are effective antiviral drugs for treating cold sores.
Q: I was blending boiling hot soup. The blender cover has a removable cap in the center that was off (dumb!). I had my hand on the lid when I turned on the blender, and the soup splashed through the hole and burned my hand.
I immediately put the hand in cold water, but since I had to go on cooking, I wiped off my very painful red palm and applied soy sauce. Thanks to The People’s Pharmacy for that home remedy! I reapplied the soy sauce several times because I could still feel the burn.
Then I forgot about it entirely. The soy sauce took all of the burning and redness away. I surely would have had a large, extremely painful blister had it not been for the soy sauce.
A: Thank you for sharing your success. Many readers report that cold soy sauce can ease the pain and redness from a household burn. Yellow mustard also may help.
Q: I received a call from my pharmacy that my blood pressure medicine, valsartan, was being recalled. They replaced it with a safer alternative. When I picked it up, I specifically asked the pharmacist if the valsartan was made by a U.S. company and if it had been manufactured in the U.S.
She was emphatic that the Macleods valsartan was from a U.S. company and the pills were made in the United States.
When I got home I got out my magnifying glass and discovered that the pills were “manufactured for Macleods Pharma USA, Inc.” The address was Plainsboro, N.J. That was reassuring until I looked a little closer. The label also stated that my pills were “Manufactured by Macleods Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Damon (U.T.) India.” Shouldn’t the pharmacist have told me the truth?
A: It is not unusual for foreign pharmaceutical companies to have U.S. subsidiaries. According to the company, Macleods Pharma USA is the U.S. division of Macleods Pharmaceuticals, LTD, based in Mumbai, India.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, this company’s valsartan products are “not currently recalled.” That means they should be considered a safe alternative. We do think the pharmacist should have been truthful and told you that the parent company was in India and the pills were made there. Perhaps she had not taken the time to look it up, so she just assumed “Plainsboro, N.J,” meant “Made in the U.S.”
Q: I took Zyban to quit smoking in 1997. Other than it slowing me down, I had no side effects. After about two weeks on it, I had no desire for any more cigarettes.
I’ve been tobacco-free since then. Prior to that, I had smoked for more than 30 years. Why are people still taking Chantix, which is known to cause side effects, when older drugs that work are still available? My guess is that Zyban also would cost less than Chantix.
A: The active ingredient in Zyban is bupropion, the same compound found in the antidepressant Wellbutrin. Bupropion was tested against placebo or nondrug treatment in 44 randomized trials for smoking cessation (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Jan. 8, 2014). People taking Zyban were 60 percent more likely to have quit after at least six months.
Despite their success, a more recent review of real-world smokers found that neither Zyban nor Chantix made a significant difference in long-term smoking cessation (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, June 2018). The authors of this analysis suggest that the support and counseling provided in clinical trials may account for the discrepancy.
Q: My doctor wrote a prescription for a pricey medicine. I am interested in buying it from Canada to save money, but I don’t know where to start. I don’t know a reliable pharmacy in Canada. Thanks for any information you can provide on where I should turn.
A: The FDA frowns on patients buying prescription medicines online from Canada even if they are made by the original brand-name manufacturer. Nevertheless, it often is possible to save quite a bit on brand-name medicines if you purchase them from a legitimate Canadian pharmacy. Most will accept prescriptions that are mailed or faxed.
Some possibilities include planetdrugsdirect.com, qualityprescriptiondrugs.com and ADVpharmacy.com. We have listed websites and phone numbers for these and other valid Canadian drugstores in our “eGuide to Saving Money on Medicines.” It is available at peoplespharmacy.com.
Contact the Graedons via peoplepharmacy.com.