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Over-the-counter pain patches, coconut water

Created date

May 22nd, 2012

Q. Are over-the-counter pain patches safe? I don t like to take a lot of medicine and have been looking for natural ways to relieve muscle and joint pain.

A. The active ingredients found in most over-the-counter pain patches are fairly safe and effective for minor aches and pains. Capsaicin is a common ingredient that is made from hot peppers it may cause problems if your skin is sensitive or if you can t tolerate the temporary burning sensation it causes. Methyl salicylate, also commonly found in patches, is a compound similar to aspirin. Unless your doctor says it s safe to use, avoid patches containing this substance if you are taking blood thinners or if you are allergic to aspirin. It may contribute to bleeding or other adverse effects. People with sensitivities or allergies to adhesives may experience irritation or rashes from using patches. If you have medical conditions or health problems, talk to your doctor before trying these remedies.

Q. Does coconut water really help lower blood pressure?

A.Coconut water is the liquid found inside immature coconuts. Some people drink it as a sports drink substitute because it contains carbohydrates and electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and magnesium. Some research suggests that drinking it regularly may help lower high blood pressure, but there is not nearly enough solid scientific evidence to support its use for this purpose. While it is generally safe for most people to drink on occasion, other research indicates that it may be harmful to drink coconut water before or after having surgery. Consult with your doctor before trying coconut water or any other supplements. 

Cheryl Ziemba, M.D. 

Medical Director,   Crest 

Pompton Plains, N.J.

Dr. Ziemba received her bachelor s degree in biology from Queens College in Flushing, N.Y., and her medical degree from Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Urena in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She completed her internship and residency at Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, N.J. Ziemba is board certified in internal medicine and geriatrics. She joined Cedar Crest in August 2011.