Joe and Teresa Graedon: Cilantro controls bad case of psoriasis

Jan. 16, 2013 @ 02:45 PM

Q. I have a home remedy that is amazing. I used to have severe psoriasis on my knees, elbows, eyes, forehead, wrists, feet and scalp. It would crack and bleed, itch and flake.
One day, a man commented on my raw patches and asked about the treatments I’d tried. I explained about the numerous prescription treatments that had next-to-no success. Steroids gave short-term relief, but the problem usually came back worse than before.
This man said that to cure my skin problem, all I needed to do was eat raw cilantro. He said I should eat enough to turn my stool green.
I found that it takes a bundle each day for 10 to 15 days. I mix it in a green salad with my favorite dressing and find it an interesting flavor. My skin has been completely clear for six years. If I notice a small patch starting to get rough once or twice a year, I eat a bundle of cilantro for two or three meals and have no more skin problems!
A. You’ve found a remedy we’ve not encountered before. We searched and were unable to locate studies pertaining to this herb for psoriasis, but it certainly is inexpensive and low-risk.
Not everyone likes the taste of cilantro (coriander leaf), but it is a favorite seasoning in Chinese, Indian and Latin cuisines.
Another possible natural approach involves turmeric. Readers have reported surprising success with this spice. Read their stories at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.
Q. What are the pros and cons of taking a supplement like red yeast rice to help lower LDL cholesterol? Are there side effects? Is it safer than prescribed medication such as atorvastatin?
A. Red yeast rice (RYR) contains statins, including lovastatin, the primary ingredient in the cholesterol-lowering drug Mevacor. Studies have demonstrated that RYR can lower LDL cholesterol about as well as some statin-type drugs (American Journal of Cardiology, Jan. 15, 2010).
Although there is evidence that many people tolerate RYR better than statins, there are others who are so sensitive that they experience side effects such as joint or muscle pain and weakness.
We are sending you our Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health for more details on red yeast rice, other nondrug approaches to reducing cholesterol and the pros and cons of statin drugs. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (65 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. C-8, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
The Food and Drug Administration does not oversee supplements, so there is no good way to assess quality. Some red yeast rice products have been contaminated with a toxin called citrinin, so you may want to check product recommendations from ConsumerLab.com.
Q. I have found that elderberry extract really helps against the common cold. If I start taking it soon enough, I can keep the cold from getting a foothold.
A. German researchers have found that a standardized elderberry extract is active against bacteria and viruses that cause upper-respiratory-tract infections (BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Feb. 25, 2011). Although the preliminary research is promising, more clinical studies are needed (Phytotherapy Research, January 2010).
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”