Q. I’ve had IBS with explosive diarrhea since my 30s, decades ago. As a result, I was afraid to go out unless there was a restroom close by. Then I read your article about the folks in New Zealand who used a raspberry powder remedy for Montezuma’s revenge while traveling.

I decided to try it, and I’ve only had two diarrhea episodes in the past month! I found an electrolyte raspberry powder drink mix online, and I use it once a day, after dinner. I also take psyllium husk capsules morning and evening. Now I’m no longer afraid to leave home!

A. Thank you for sharing your experience. IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) can be extremely challenging. Some people, like you, have severe diarrhea. Others may suffer from chronic constipation or a mixture of the two.

We have found regrettably little research on raspberry fruit to treat diarrhea, although the leaves are a traditional anti-diarrheal remedy (Current Medicinal Chemistry, June 2004). A related plant that grows as brambles in Mexico and Central America, Rubus coriifolius, contains compounds that are active against diarrhea caused by the parasite Giardia (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, February 2007).

You can read more about treating chronic diarrhea and constipation with medications and home remedies in our eGuide to Overcoming Digestive Disorders. This online resource can be found in the Health eGuides section at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Some other approaches for diarrhea include probiotics, plant pectin, berberine, psyllium and coconut. The person who told us about coconut suffered from Crohn’s disease, which can also cause severe diarrhea. Coconut macaroon cookies changed his life.

A possible explanation involves lauric acid, a component of coconut oil. This fatty acid has antimicrobial activity against dangerous gut bacteria that have been associated with chronic diarrhea (Cell Transplantation, December 2019).

Q. I forget where I first heard of Lp(a) but it worried me, so I had mine tested. I had to cajole my family doctor, who didn’t know about it. To get it covered by insurance, she referred me to a heart doctor for high-risk patients. He required an EKG before he would even speak with me, but then he was great.

As it turns out, my Lp(a) is very high, despite years of good diet and lots of exercise. My LDL is borderline high, my HDL is high (good) and my triglycerides are low (also good). The cardiologist and I sat together at his computer researching Lp(a).

I won’t take statins. He did recommend baby aspirin. He still evaluated my risk of heart disease at 3% over 10 years. What else can I do?

A. Lipoprotein(a) — abbreviated Lp(a) and referred to as “Lp little a” — has been a recognized risk factor for heart disease for decades (European Heart Journal, December 2010). It is associated with clogged coronary arteries and blood clots.

People who inherit high levels of Lp(a) are at significant risk for heart attacks and strokes. Statins that lower LDL cholesterol may actually raise Lp(a) levels (European Heart Journal, June 21, 2020). Many cardiologists discount the clinical importance of this effect.

Doctors often recommend low-dose aspirin, as your cardiologist has. There is also some data to suggest that niacin can lower Lp(a) levels (Atherosclerosis, June 2010).

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.

— King Features

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