Scabies is an intensely itchy and highly contagious inflammatory skin condition that is common worldwide-including in the US. It develops when an eight-legged parasitic mite called Sarcoptes scabiei burrows under the skin and lays eggs, triggering an allergic reaction and leaving bumpy tracks on the skin.

Problem: The mite is becoming increasingly resistant to topical and oral medications yet unless patients are successfully treated, they can develop secondary bacterial skin infections...or a scaly version of the infection called crusted scabies, which covers large portions of the body. Now there is an encouraging new study from Australia and Wright State University in Ohio.

Researchers placed scabies mites in petri dishes, then added various essential oils at different concentrations to see what effect each oil might have.

Result: Clove oil killed all mites—both drug-resistant and nondrug-resistant—within 15 minutes, even at concentrations as low as 6.25%. The active component appears to be eugenol, a substance that makes up 80% of clove oil.

Essential oils contain components that may be toxic at high doses, even to humans. So, researchers said, before clove oil could be recommended as a home remedy for scabies treatment, human studies are needed to determine a safe and effective dose. In the meantime, ask your doctor about dabbing a tiny amount of clove oil, mixed into a neutral carrier oil, on scabies-affected skin to see if it helps.

Lower Your Chances of Getting Osteoarthritis with Garlic

Researchers analyzed diet questionnaires from 1,000 older female twins alongside X-rays of their hips, knees and spines.

Results: Those with diets high in fruits and vegetables-especially the allium vegetables garlic, onions and leeks—had significantly lower rates of hip osteoarthritis.

Theory: Allium vegetables contain diallyl disulphide, a compound that represses cartilage-damaging enzymes.

Delicious Juice Eases Insomnia

Fifteen adults with chronic insomnia drank 16 ounces of tart cherry juice daily for two weeks and then a placebo drink for two weeks.

Results: When subjects drank the juice, they experienced 17 fewer minutes, on average, of awake time when they were trying to sleep than when they drank the placebo.

Theory: Tart cherries contain melatonin, which regulates the body's sleep-wake cycle.

If you have insomnia: Try tart cherries (dried, frozen or in juice). If you have prediabetes or diabetes, ask your doctor before increasing your intake of fruit juice.

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