Joe Graedon and Dr. Teresa Graedon

Question: My pediatrician confirmed my suspicions that my daughter had lice. Needless to say, I was upset. She will soon be heading for camp, and I did not want her to suffer the humiliation of being diagnosed there or spreading lice to other kids.

The pediatrician warned me that lice have developed resistance to chemicals in lice shampoos. Instead, she recommended slathering mayonnaise on my daughter’s hair.

We tried this technique and covered her head with a shower cap for a few hours. Then I carefully combed her hair, rinsed and shampooed. Three treatments a few days apart solved the problem!

Answer: There are an amazing number of home remedies for lice. Many involve the suffocation approach, with things such as mayo, olive oil, mineral oil, petroleum jelly, Cetaphil cleanser, amber Listerine and dimethicones (Deutsches Arzteblatt International, online, Nov. 11, 2016).

But an article in Pediatric Dermatology (September 2016) states that “home remedies such as mayonnaise, and essential oils, have not been demonstrated to be safe and effective, and may carry potential for severe adverse events.” On the other hand, an article in the journal PLOS One (online, June 10, 2016) reported that a mineral oil shampoo was highly effective. Public health nurses always remind us that combing out nits (lice eggs) is essential for a successful cure.


Question: I am a physician, but traditional medicine has let me down. Knee surgery has not helped my sore knees. Neither have stem cell injections. I have tried oral supplements without much success. Any suggestions?

Answer: Have you considered a topical NSAID such as diclofenac gel? It should be less likely to cause systemic side effects than oral drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen.

Even though you have not had success with supplements, have you tried turmeric (curcumin), ashwagandha, boswellia, ginger, MSM, SAMe, tart cherry juice or pineapple (bromelain)?


Question: Some years ago I read an article that said not to discontinue daily aspirin use suddenly. The authors of this research warned that people were having strokes when they stopped taking aspirin two weeks before a surgery. I worry that blood clots could form if people stop taking long-term aspirin too quickly. Have you heard of this?

Answer: There is a surprising amount of controversy surrounding the question of stopping aspirin. Some doctors recommend discontinuing aspirin three days before surgery. Others tell patients to stop it five to 10 days prior to any surgical procedure. Many patients stop aspirin on their own without even consulting the surgeon or anesthesiologist. We discourage that approach. It is important to get a clear recommendation from the people who will be performing the surgery.

A Swedish study involving over 600,000 patients concluded that “In long-term users, discontinuation of low-dose aspirin in the absence of major surgery or bleeding was associated with a greater than 30 percent increased risk of cardiovascular events” (Circulation, Sept. 26, 2017). The authors speculate that a rebound effect may occur after aspirin discontinuation. In other words, there may be an increased risk of blood clots after stopping aspirin. If it exists, and how long it might last, is uncertain and remains controversial.


Question: I have found that my body reacts in a very predictable manner to my morning cup of coffee. Usually within five to 10 minutes I have to go to the bathroom. Is it the caffeine or something else in coffee that stimulates the bowels?

Answer: You are not the first person to notice this effect. We used to think the caffeine was responsible, but scientists have shown that both regular and decaf coffee stimulate colon activity (Gut, April 1, 1990). Caffeinated coffee does seem to have a stronger effect, however (European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, February 1998).

Recently, scientists tested coffee in rats and found that both decaf and high-test increase the power of intestinal muscle contractions. The coffee treatments also changed the composition of the rats’ gut microbes, though no one is quite certain what that means for digestive health. The investigators reported their research at the conference Digestive Disease Week.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist; Dr. Teresa Graedon is a medical

anthropologist and nutrition expert. Questions for the Graedons can be sent to them using their website,, or by writing to the following address: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.


Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist; Dr. Teresa Graedon is a medical anthropologist and nutrition expert.