Medical Hotline: January 2005


Caffeine Alternative

Many find that caffeine drinks, including softdrinks laced with the drug, will keep them awake at night and make them twitchy. A simple and enjoyable caffeine alternative is dandelion tea. It’s available by the jar or in simple dunk sachets. Caffeine-free, it is made from roasted dandelion roots, and is a soothing, pleasant-tasting drink. Sweeteners are usually unnecessary.

Nits To You, Too!

With thoughts turning back to school, nits may be a problem. Nits are the eggs of lice, which are stuck to the shafts of hair. Nits are also crawlies on the scalp. They are quickly transferred by close body and head contact. Ideally an entire class should be treated simultaneously with one of many readily available over-the-counter treatments available from a pharmacy. Often re-applications are needed to break the cycle. However, nits are innocuous, with the worst result being some scalp irritation.

Sore Thumb Cures

A sudden onset of pain at the base of the thumb, which may extend into the wrist, may be the onset of arthritis. Gradually other joints may succumb. Cold weather will aggravate the conditions. But paracetamol, ginger capsules, feverfew and meadowsweet are simple remedies that will help. Doctors often prescribe the NSAIDs, Celebrex and Vioxx for severe cases. Heat always gives relief from pain.

Safe Foods

Mad cow disease, scientifically known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is a fatal condition affecting the nervous system of cattle, and can be transmitted to humans in infected meat. To avoid this, simply stop eating meat. However, your body still requires a replacement in the form of some other high-level vegetable protein. The best substitute is beans, of which there are more than 100 different kinds. Other legumes, such as chickpeas and lentils, which now come precooked, with garnishings, are very palatable and risk-free.


Some young mothers despair when their infants won’t eat, but are addicted to their bottle of milk. Many kids initially decline solid foods. Most picky eaters gradually learn that food is necessary—especially if the bottle is denied them—and they learn to like it. Occasionally a child will be intolerant to a certain food, which should be investigated, as their body may be telling them there is a problem.

Orthotic Devices

The pads of fat on the feet gradually thin with age. This leads to irritation when walking. Wearing innersoles is helpful, but orthotics only partially help. It’s worth a visit to a podiatrist, who can prescribe footwear, which can gives beneficial relief.

Elbow “Grease”

One of the first signs of ageing is dry, cracked skin on the elbows. Apply a moisturising cream each night at bedtime, as they are generally too greasy to have on when dressed. Creams containing aloe vera, tea-tree oil, pawpaw, and vitamins E and A are also soothing. Use a non-alkaline soap when bathing, and dab dry with a soft towel. Very weak tar creams may also help.

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