Q. I’m a female distance runner. About 15 years ago, I had knee pain. An MRI showed a torn meniscus. I limped out of the doctor’s office after he gave me alternatives that included surgery, a shot of hyaluronic acid and physical therapy. I selected the PT, which I still do on my own.
My knee pain resolved, but recurred with less intensity when I started training for a marathon. My husband brought home some CBD cream, a non-hallucinogenic form of cannabis ointment.
I did not believe it would do a thing, but it definitely does.
I’ve gained back some speed and now consistently run, hike and bike pain-free.
A. Cannabidiol (CBD) is, as you suggest, derived from cannabis. This is a compound that does not have psychoactive properties. It has been used to control seizures.
The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a highly purified form as the brand-name epilepsy medicine Epidiolex.
Researchers have been examining the use of CBD for pain, with some promising results in dogs with arthritis (Frontiers in Veterinary Science, July 23, 2018).
We have heard from other readers that CBD oil can be helpful in managing pain, but there are few well-controlled clinical trials to support this approach. We’re glad you have gotten such benefit and look forward to more research.
Q. I have been taking Synthroid since my thyroid was removed two decades ago.
I’m not happy with it and have been hoping to lower the dose. But my last test showed an elevated TSH, so my doctor wants to increase the dose. I would prefer a natural treatment. Is that possible?
A. With no thyroid gland of your own to produce thyroid hormone, you have to take it in pill form. Doctors usually prescribe synthetic levothyroxine (T4). However, some are willing to prescribe desiccated pig thyroid (Armour Thyroid, Nature-Throid). This dried gland provides T3 as well as T4. Many people prefer desiccated thyroid (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, May 2013). However, your doctor may not be familiar with its use. Research shows that people do equally well on synthetic and natural therapies (Southern Medical Journal, June 2018).
You can learn more about Armour or other desiccated thyroid in our online “Guide to Thyroid Hormones.” You’ll find it in the Health Guides section at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.
Q. I am a teacher, and students in my room get frequent nosebleeds. Our school nurse drops her keys down the backs of these students, and it works perfectly!
I have even done it in the classroom to avoid disruptions. It has worked every time.
A. Thank you for the reminder. Putting cold keys against the back of the neck is an old-time remedy to stop a nosebleed. We’ve heard from many teachers that they have used this trick. Here is what another reader had to say:
“I have suffered from nosebleeds since I was 4 years old. Dry air or blowing too hard would trigger one.
“I read that car keys down the neck would stop bleeding. I tried it this morning, actually. I blew my nose and immediately noticed blood. I quickly grabbed a bunch of keys and tapped them on my neck for about two minutes. Within one minute, there was no more bleeding. I suffer from very bad nosebleeds, so this information is VERY helpful.”
As far as we can tell, there are no clinical trials involving keys or other cold objects on the back of the neck for nosebleeds. Some people use a package of frozen peas or ice.
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. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”