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Will Old Fashioned Liniment Help Sore Muscles?

Posting Date: 11/21/2005

Q. Long ago when I was in high school, my baseball coach provided "oil of wintergreen" for our sore muscles. Is this approach still considered valid? Now that I?m pushing eighty, I have a few aches and pains.

A. Oil of wintergreen, also known as methyl salicylate, is a time-honored rub or liniment used for sprains, strains, aches, pains and arthritis. The odor is distinctive.

You will find this compound in products such as Ben-Gay Original Formula, Icy Hot Cream, Musterole Deep Strength Rub, Mentholatum Deep Heating Lotion and Thera-Gesic Crème. Such products stimulate pain receptors for heat or cold and interfere with pain messages from sore muscles or joints. They also increase circulation.

Q. I have considered taking fish oil supplements to lower my triglycerides, but I have read somewhere that it may raise blood glucose. I have pre-diabetes so now I'm afraid to take it. Do you have any information on this?

A. Studies of people with type-2 diabetes have shown that fish oil can help bring down triglyceride levels and reduce their risk of heart attack without throwing their blood sugar out of control.

A review in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (March 2005) concluded that people with pre-diabetes could benefit by cutting down on the amount of saturated fat and increasing the amount of omega-3 fats like those in fish oil. Making such dietary changes might help delay the development of actual diabetes.

Q. Every year about this time I start sliding into depression. Doctors have diagnosed this as seasonal affective disorder and prescribed a variety of antidepressants from Zoloft and Effexor to doxepin and Lexapro. These drugs help to a degree, but they have also caused weight gain and sexual difficulties.

My doctor is now suggesting Wellbutrin, but I would like to know more about this drug before trying it. I am tempted to go for a more natural approach like St. John?s wort or a light box. What do I need to know?