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Q: I have not had a "normal" big toenail on my left foot for the last seven years. It came off when I was removing nail polish. Since then, the toenail has grown back (with fungus) over and over and then repeatedly fallen off.

A podiatrist prescribed me paint-on medication that made no difference at all. The toenail continued to grow back rough and a yellow-brown color. It was unsightly and embarrassing.

In the summers, I covered it with a Band-Aid or a fake nail glued over my ugly toenail. My toenail was annoying and bothersome.

A friend's mom told me about tea tree oil. I tried it for a few months and thought the toenail was growing in clear, but then it fell off again. I gave up on tea tree oil.

I finally went online and found your Web site with home remedies. I was skeptical, but it was worth a try. I bought Listerine, Vicks VapoRub and white vinegar at the beginning of June. Since then, I have soaked my toenails for 30 minutes a day in a mixture of equal amounts of Listerine and vinegar.

At night, I put Vicks on my toenails and then socks (the Vicks does stain!). Because I have been using both Vicks and Listerine, I don't know which is curing my toenail, but something is working.

My big toenail has grown out almost completely, and it is completely healthy. I cannot believe that it has worked so well. I honestly thought that I would never have a pretty toenail again.

A: Treating toenail fungus takes a lot of patience, because the nails grow slowly. Thanks for letting us know about your success.

We discuss this and other home remedies for nail fungus in our Guide to Hair and Nail Care. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (59 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. H-31, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our Web site:

Using coconut to calm a case of diarrhea

Q: My husband had been in the hospital for several weeks with a virulent form of pneumonia. After multiple courses of IV antibiotics, he developed serious diarrhea. He was very weak and actually fell twice trying to get to the bathroom.

When my daughter brought him homemade coconut pie, the diarrhea disappeared, only to reappear when he did not eat any coconut. I wish I'd known about this when I was raising my children!

A: We've received enough stories about coconut calming diarrhea to be convinced that this remedy often works. On the other hand, too much coconut can be constipating.

Garlic's effect on blood pressure uncertain

Q:An old doctor told my husband that Kyolic garlic capsules might bring his blood pressure down. I started taking them myself, one in the morning and one at night. Now my blood pressure is lower than normal most of the time. My doctor has taken me off the atenolol and lisinopril I used to take.

A: You did this experiment properly, with your doctor's supervision. People should not stop blood pressure medication on their own.

There have been many studies on garlic and blood pressure, but the results have been mixed. A recent review and meta-analysis from Australia concludes that garlic works better than placebo in lowering blood pressure.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa Graedon holds a doctorate in medical anthropology and is a nutrition expert. Write to them via their Web site: