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Originally published November 4, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 4, 2007 at 2:02 AM


The People's Pharmacy

Don't give the kids a hot toddy

Q: I think you do your readers a disservice by failing to mention a very old but effective cough suppressant. The pediatrician told my mother...

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Q: I think you do your readers a disservice by failing to mention a very old but effective cough suppressant. The pediatrician told my mother about it in 1960, and I have used it on myself and for my own children — nighttime only — when no one can sleep.

The recipe: equal parts bourbon, honey and lemon juice. One teaspoon for a 10-year-old, and calibrate from there. I realize this is susceptible to abuse, but used appropriately it is safe, effective and cheap.

A: Hot toddies and other remedies containing alcohol have been popular treatments for coughs and colds for years. Most pediatricians nowadays discourage the use of alcohol in any treatments for children. They are especially susceptible to low blood sugar after consuming alcohol.

Some parents report that Vicks VapoRub on the soles of the feet can ease nighttime coughs. Socks protect the sheets.

Tea made with thyme or fennel can also calm a cough.

Q: I've read that resveratrol is good for us, but I don't know the right dose. I know it is found in red wine, but more than one glass a day is over my limit. Are there any other sources that are beneficial?

A: Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in grapes.

For those who would like to get more resveratrol but don't want to drink too much wine, muscadine grapes are a great source. Juice or wine from this grape has five times more resveratrol than other wines. There are also muscadine supplements.

Q: I find many prescription-drug commercials to be totally inappropriate. My kids and I are watching TV when suddenly we see a commercial for Cialis for erectile dysfunction.

I am also fed up with all these initials! ED? RLS? Who on earth ever heard of restless leg syndrome? Are they for real? What's next — AIW for age-induced wrinkles?

A: People have been complaining about restless legs for decades, but "RLS" didn't become a familiar abbreviation until a drug was developed to treat it. We agree with you that prescription-drug commercials are annoying. Only one other industrialized nation (New Zealand) permits prescription-drug advertising directly to consumers.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them c/o King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or via their Web site:

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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