Q. Would eating coconut oil every day help with diarrhea-dominant collagenous colitis? I have heard that eating coconut cookies helps with diarrhea, but I’m not sure if it is the fiber from the coconut or something else in the coconut itself that helps. I desperately need something other than Imodium that can help control the diarrhea.
A. Collagenous colitis is a form of microscopic colitis. In this condition, the colon looks normal on colonoscopy, but biopsy reveals inflammation that leads to chronic watery diarrhea.
Recent research shows that people with microscopic colitis often have a disruption of their gut microbiota, resulting in dominance of the bacterium Campylobacter concisus (Gut, Feb. 28, 2020; Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, July 15, 2020).
Scientists do not appear to have reached consensus on the appropriate treatment for this bacterial imbalance. A probiotic product called VSL#3 helped patients in a small preliminary clinical trial (BMJ Open Gastroenterology, online, Feb. 9, 2015). Perhaps coconut is helpful because it offers prebiotic support for beneficial bacteria (Journal of Food Science and Technology, January 2017). However, we could find no indication that coconut oil would reduce diarrhea.
In one very small study, scientists observed that Boswellia serrata reduced diarrhea in people with collagenous colitis (Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology, online, Feb. 27, 2019). You might want to try a very simple treatment. Psyllium (Metamucil, for example) can ease diarrhea and was helpful in a small case study (Southern Medical Journal, January 1991).
We discuss diarrhea and its treatment in our eGuide to Overcoming Digestive Disorders. It is available in the Health eGuides section at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.
Q. About three years ago, I regularly woke my wife with my snoring. She said I would also stop breathing during the night.
I read an article in the AARP newsletter that singing can stop snoring. I tried it. I sang for about 30 minutes a day. Result: I stopped snoring in about a week!
Now, if I don’t sing for six months or so, the snoring comes back. All I have to do is start singing again, and it subsides. The article said that singing strengthens the muscles in the throat. It also makes me feel better.
A. People who stop breathing in their sleep should see a doctor about possible sleep apnea. We love your solution for snoring, though! It sounds like a simple way to solve an otherwise tricky problem. Singing or playing a wind instrument seems to reduce snoring and sleep apnea (Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, June 15, 2020).
During the COVID-19 pandemic, make sure that you do your singing outside, away from other people. People singing in a shared space can easily spread the coronavirus.
Q. I have a lot of skin tags on my neck. What causes skin tags? Is there a safe way to remove them? I’d especially appreciate any home remedies.
A. Skin tags are small fleshy growths that occur in the armpits, on the neck or sometimes even on the eyelids. They may have a little stalk, and they are the same color as the rest of your skin.
Nobody knows what causes skin tags. Since you have a lot of them on your neck, you should ask your doctor to check for diabetes or metabolic syndrome (Annals of Medical and Health Sciences Research, March-April 2014).
Some readers have had success coating skin tags with liquid bandage. Others apply castor oil. One old-fashioned approach is to have someone tie a length of thread or dental floss tightly around the base of the skin tag. This is said to cut off the blood supply, and the tag falls off.
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: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”