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Does garlic repel mosquitoes?

Question: A cousin eats raw garlic every day, sometimes twice a day. He is never bothered by mosquitoes or any other insect. Just thought you would find this bug-repellent remedy amusing.

Answer: Your cousin probably keeps more than mosquitoes away. We can't imagine that too many people would get real close, either.

Over the years many readers of this column have confirmed your cousin's experience. One woman wrote that she was especially attractive to mosquitoes and couldn't go out without a heavy dose of DEET repellent. Then she read that garlic might keep fleas from bothering a dog: "I decided to try it myself. I put a small clove of garlic in both lunch and dinner, and all week long I was able to go out without spray. I have had not a single mosquito bite."

We have not seen any scientific studies to support this use of garlic, and we don't know why it works, but we see no reason to doubt our readers or your cousin.

Nighttime cramps

Question: Is there a remedy for nighttime leg cramps? They wake me up and drive me crazy, but I don't want to take strong drugs to treat them.

Answer: Some people tell us that a glass of tonic water, which contains quinine, can be helpful. One reader sent this unique use for Vicks VapoRub:

"I put Vicks all over the calf of my leg where the cramp is. Then I take a warm, wet washcloth, wrap the leg and gently wrap the whole thing in a long stretchy bandage. When I go back to bed, it feels so good, I fall asleep with no trouble."

Write to Joe and Teresa Graedon in care of King Features Syndicate, 235 E 45th St., New York, NY 10017, or e-mail them via their Web site: on the network. Their newest book is "The People's Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies" (St. Martin's Press).

King Features Syndicate Inc.