The People's Pharmacy

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

Q. My husband and I will be spending two weeks in Italy soon. Most of the driving in the area around Naples to Rome to Florence will be by tour bus. We’ll take a high-speed train to Venice.

I get motion sickness easily, especially in hilly, mountainous areas. What can I take for this that won’t make me drowsy? I’ve tried stretchy pressure-point wristbands, but I didn’t find them really effective.

I read about a product called QueaseEASE. I believe it is an aromatic inhaler. What can you tell me about it? Do you have other recommendations?

A. QueaseEASE contains four essential oils with distinctive fragrances: peppermint, ginger, spearmint and lavender. A study published in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia (September 2013) reported that aromatherapy including spearmint, peppermint, ginger and cardamom was superior to placebo at relieving post-operative nausea. Other studies have shown that sniffing isopropyl alcohol from a gauze pad can alleviate nausea within 10 minutes (Annals of Emergency Medicine, July 2016).

Another option is taking ginger by mouth, either as an extract, in capsules or as crystalized ginger candy. Some research shows that this can have an anti-nausea effect (European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, April 2015).

Q. More than 20 years ago I had chronic smelly feet. I soaked my offending extremities in an inch of common white vinegar. This took about 15 minutes and cost me a dime. The odor went away and has not returned. Do you have any idea what caused the odor and why the vinegar was so effective?

A. Your results are better than average. Most people report that it takes several weeks of soaking for 15-30 minutes a day before foot odor goes away.

Bacteria and fungi that can cause foot odor thrive in warm, dark, moist environments. Vinegar changes the pH of the skin and makes it less hospitable to these microbes.

Q. Years ago, my oldest child had head lice, and I was completely unfamiliar with the situation and the best treatment. As a result, I went the chemical route and spent a fortune on nasty, stinky chemicals that eventually worked.

Years later, when my youngest contracted the nasty critters, I had learned a quicker, cheaper and far healthier alternative, which was totally successful. I coated the hair very liberally with olive oil, massaging it through and through. Then I put a tight shower cap on the kid and put a towel on the pillow before she went to bed. In the morning, all the creepies had suffocated and the hair was very nicely conditioned!

A. People have been looking for home remedies to treat lice because many of the OTC insecticidal shampoos have lost effectiveness. Lice can be smothered with mineral oil, petroleum jelly or Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (PLOS One, June 10, 2016).

Olive oil has not been shown to be as effective, though one study reported that an olive-oil based soap was roughly 76 percent effective in killing lice (Semergen, March 2017). The suffocation methods require retreatment, since they don’t always kill lice eggs (nits).

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In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email them via their website: Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”

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