The People's Pharmacy

Joe Graedon, M.S.,and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D.

Q. You have written about people arguing over the contamination of coffee cup lids when the barista touches them. As I see it, germs are everywhere, and your best defense is a healthy immune system. That would mean many people would need to live a healthier lifestyle. Why not promote that instead of germaphobia?

A. When a server handles money and then touches a coffee cup lid, there’s an opportunity for pathogen transmission. Money carries hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of bacteria and viruses.

Norovirus is especially easy to transmit. It causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and extreme misery. Hundreds of schools have been closed recently to control the spread of this illness.

Q. Two decades ago, my mother’s orthopedic surgeon said rheumatologists are good for their business. The arthritis doctors often inject joints with corticosteroids. Then their patients find themselves consulting an orthopedic surgeon for joint replacement due to the destruction of cartilage in the injected joint.

I, too, have osteoarthritis, but for the past 10 years I’ve opted to treat mine with daily curcumin supplements. Annual X-rays show the destruction of cartilage in my joints has been arrested, and I am pain-free with full mobility.

A. Your mother’s orthopedic surgeon was ahead of the curve. Just last June, a study demonstrated that corticosteroid injections into the knee are associated with more rapid progression of knee osteoarthritis (Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, June 2019).

Curcumin is the active ingredient in the yellow spice turmeric. A review of randomized controlled trials concluded: “... these RCTs provide scientific evidence that supports the efficacy of turmeric extract (about 1,000 mg/day of curcumin) in the treatment of arthritis” (Journal of Medicinal Food, August 2016).

To learn more about medications and nondrug treatments for joint pain, you may wish to read our eGuide to Alternatives for Arthritis. This online resource is available in the Health eGuide section at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q. I had a total hysterectomy 21 years ago. Needless to say, my libido was adversely affected. A year ago, I found a wonderful doctor who prescribed estrogen, progesterone and transdermal testosterone. What a remarkable difference! My desire returned in a big way.

The downside is that my husband isn’t as supercharged as I am. As a result, I’ve cut back on the number of times per week that I apply the testosterone cream. I have not noticed any serious side effects from using testosterone. If I use too much, I might get a small pimple on my face. Why isn’t this treatment more widely used?

A. A recent review concluded that “placebo-controlled trials show an improvement in sexual function with low-dose testosterone therapy in select postmenopausal women with HSDD (hypoactive sexual desire disorder, aka low libido) (Journal of Women’s Health, online, Nov. 5, 2019). The authors point out that most studies are fairly short term and don’t tell whether testosterone supplementation would make women more susceptible to heart disease or breast cancer. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved oral or topical testosterone for women.

(In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, Fla. 32803, or email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.)

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