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Ask Dr. Gott 10/30
Hot water keeps things flowing
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: I would like to give your readers a simple and effective remedy for constipation.
    About 20 years ago, I had my gallbladder removed. It caused my bowel movements to be very irregular. While reading an old folk medicine book written by Dr. Jarvis one day, I came across a simple remedy. The doctor said to simply drink a mug of hot water one half hour before breakfast every day.
    Figuring it harmless and at worst would fill my bladder a little faster, I decided to try it. I could immediately feel the water emptying my stomach of the contents from the night before. Within just a few days, I was completely regulated. It was amazing.
    I told my doctor of this simple remedy, and he said it was one of the best. When I asked why no one ever mentions it, he responded that most patients and doctors feel that it is too easy. I guess in today's society, medication is king, and cheap and easy just isn't good enough anymore.
    DEAR READER: This is novel remedy I had nearly forgotten about until your letter arrived on my desk. The action of the hot water works to speed sluggish digestion similarly to how warmed apple or prune juices do. Perhaps the key is simply the temperature of the liquid and the time it is consumed.
    Other simple remedies include eating prunes, increasing fiber intake by consuming more whole grains or using Metamucil, using stool softeners or laxatives sparingly or using over-the-counter products such as Digestive Advantage for Constipation.
    To give you related information, I am sending you copies of my Health Reports "Gallbladder Disease." "Dr. Gott's Compelling Home Remedies" and "Constipation and Diarrhea."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: My husband is 82 years old and swims five to six times a week. At 15, he was a Marine and fought in World War II.
    For the past two or three years, he has had an itch primarily on his back and shoulders but sometimes all over. The dermatologist has tried many salves, creams, cortisone and other things. He also ordered a biopsy, which turned out normal. What do you advise?
    DEAR READER: Itchy skin can be difficult to treat. It is often caused by irritants and is accompanied by a rash. Your husband appears to have run the gamut of dermatologic causes and now needs to move on.
    First, I recommend that he stop swimming for two or three weeks. Many people experience skin dryness, itchyness and/or rash because of some of the chemicals in the pool. This is especially true for public pools, where chemical levels are often higher than in home pools because more people use it and more contaminants must be eliminated.
    Another possible cause could be an allergy. Perhaps a trial of over-the-counter antihistamines such as Claritin or Zyrtec is appropriate. If all else fails, your husband should see an internist, who can further test him and, if necessary, refer him to other specialists.
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