Q: I was diagnosed recently with borderline hypertension. My internist has prescribed the diuretics HCTZ and spironolactone. My reactions to those have been headache, nausea and intestinal upset.
We also have tried Coreg, Norvasc, Accupril and lisinopril. My reaction to those medications has been severe, migrainelike headaches. Are there any alternative therapies for treating hypertension?
A: There are many ways to treat high blood pressure, but you will need to work with your doctor to make sure the tactics you adopt work for you. As one reader of this column has noted, "losing a little weight (even just 10 pounds) could bring blood pressure down to normal with no drugs, no expense and no side effects."
Another reader had success with alternative approaches: "I am a 65-year-old female, and my blood pressure was going up. I started drinking beet juice (I make it myself), and I do breathing exercises for 15 minutes every morning. I breathe slowly and deeply (less than 10 breaths a minute) for 15 minutes. It took me two months, but my pressure is normal."
We are sending you our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment, with a discussion of the pros and cons of drugs and a range of alternative therapies. Anyone who would like a copy can send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (61 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. B-67, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Relief from rosacea
Q: I read about using milk of magnesia for treating acne. My skin condition is called rosacea. It is a painfully embarrassing problem, and no one seems to know what causes it or how to cure it. (W.C. Fields was the most famous rosacea victim, and people sometimes assume a red nose is a result of drinking too much.)
The pharmaceutical products my dermatologist prescribed failed to clear up my red bumps. So I tried magnesium sulfate in the form of a warm compress soaked in an Epsom salts solution. This worked beautifully, but nobody is making the rounds telling dermatologists about it.
A: Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) is an old-fashioned multipurpose remedy that is sold as a laxative and muscle soak. Why it might work for rosacea is a mystery, but some readers have gotten relief from their redness and breakouts with topical milk of magnesia (magnesium hydroxide).
Here is one testimonial: "I'm 52, and my acne (actually rosacea) is related to menopausal hormone changes. Since my mid 40s, I've tried many different prescription and OTC treatments. I like milk of magnesia the best, and it's by far the least expensive. I put MoM on my face at bedtime, and by morning my skin looks better."
A ground flaxseed fix
Q: I have been having constipation problems for more than a year. I tried everything, from increasing my activity level to adding more fiber to my diet. I took soluble fiber supplements and Chinese herbal medicine. Nothing really worked.
Then I finally tried flaxseed. I bought ground flaxseed before, and it did not work. Now I use whole flaxseed and grind them right before taking 2 tablespoons every day with yogurt.
It works like magic. I am no longer suffering constipation.
A: Ground flaxseed goes rancid quickly, so it makes sense to grind it just before consuming it. Flaxseed also is found in Uncle Sam cereal.
E-mail Joe and Teresa Graedon via their Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.com. Their newest book is "Favorite Home Remedies From The People's Pharmacy."
King Features Syndicate