Dear Dr. Roach: I recently read that honey is good for lowering blood pressure. The article did not say how much honey is necessary to get benefit. Does honey also help with sleep? — PYH
Answer: Although honey is mostly sugar, it has small amounts of vitamins, probiotics, minerals, amino acids and enzymes.
Several studies have been done on the effectiveness of honey. Studies in rats showed that honey does have a modest effect on lowering blood pressure, but studies in humans have not shown a consistent, significant drop in blood pressure. One study used 20 grams, about 1 tablespoon, daily.
The effect of honey on sleep has much anecdotal evidence to support it, and I found an ongoing trial to determine its effectiveness. One expert argued that the sugar effect can keep people from getting hungry at night. One study found that a milk and honey mixture helped people with heart attacks in the ICU sleep better. No results have been published that really convince me it is better than a placebo effect.
Go ahead and try it, if you like. It’s inexpensive and unlikely to have any side effects, and a tablespoon of honey is not going to have a huge impact on the sugar levels in a person without diabetes.
Dear Dr. Roach: My girlfriend had a routine gynecological exam and a colposcopy, and was positive for HPV 6 and had something called CIN1. She was told to come back in a year. Do I need to worry about this? — AAP
Answer: There are many different subtypes of the human papillomavirus, some of which can cause cervical cancer. (HPV 16 and HPV 18 together account for 70% of cervical cancer.) The type she has (HPV 6) is one of the most common for genital warts, and warts on other body parts as well. It can cause CIN1, which is low-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, but it does not cause high-grade lesions (CIN2 and CIN3) or cervical cancer.
The vast majority of women who get HPV 6 are able to clear the infection within one year. As her sexual partner, you are at risk for developing a genital wart. The high-risk forms of HPV, such as HPV 16, can definitely cause serious disease in men, and can even lead to penile cancer, as well as head and neck cancer. Since HPV 6 does not cause these cancers, you are not at risk for these very dangerous complications from this particular HPV infection.
I would still recommend you use protection, especially condoms, for any sexual activity. You also might consider getting the HPV vaccine, which protects both men and women from serious disease associated with the virus. The vaccine is given through age 45 or in any age for a person with immune deficiency. Even though the vaccine works primarily against HPV types 16 and 18, it is also effective against type 6 and 11, which cause most genital warts.
Dear Dr. Roach: Regarding your recent column on distal esophageal spasm and gastroesophageal reflux disease, I found some techniques that greatly helped my symptoms when medications were ineffective.
— Eat small bites. Chew slowly and very well, and do not eat any more until completely finished swallowing.
— Be wary of soft food, which can go down too quickly.
— Eat slowly. Put your fork or spoon down between dicks. Avoid conversation when eating. Do not let anyone hurry you when eating. –AM
Answer: I appreciate the information and hope readers with DES or GERD will find some benefit from this commonsense advice.
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Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or send mail to 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.
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