Q: My wife was a closet alcoholic, drinking mouthwash. After I got wise to that, she switched to hand sanitizer. I gave her an ultimatum that she had to go to Alcoholics Anonymous. Much to my surprise, she agreed to go. We have been going to meetings together for two weeks. She now has a sponsor and is working through the steps. This is the first time since I realized why the mouthwash was disappearing so rapidly that I have real hope that we are moving on a different path. Your thoughts? A: Some mouthwash contains as much as 27 percent alcohol. That's more than beer or wine. The ethyl alcohol in mouthwash or hand sanitizer is not intended for drinking, however. In addition, there are other ingredients in such products that could make people ill. We're glad you realized that there was a problem and that your wife is getting help with her alcohol dependence. Q: I take a prescription called Elmiron for interstitial cystitis. My current insurance company will not pay for this prescription until I have reached a $6,500 deductible. The pharmacy says I'd have to pay over $1,000 per month for my prescription. I would like to try ordering from Canada, but I do not know which pharmacies are legitimate. Can you help? A: Pentosan polysulfate (Elmiron) is used to ease the discomfort of interstitial cystitis. This condition causes urinary urgency, frequent urination and pelvic pain. Elmiron costs about a third as much in Canada as in the U.S. That's still pricey, but substantially less than $1,000 a month. To help you find a reputable Canadian pharmacy, we are sending you a link to our online resource, "Saving Money on Medicines." Access to this guide can be purchased at PeoplesPharmacy.com. CanadaDrugs.com, JanDrugs.com and ADVPharmacy.com all would be able to supply your medicine. Keep in mind that anything you purchase from a Canadian pharmacy will not count toward your deductible. Although the Food and Drug Administration does not approve of drug imports from abroad, U.S. Customs rarely interferes with purchases for personal use. Q: My mother was just released from the hospital. She went in when her potassium dropped to 1.2. She could have died, and doctors were surprised that she didn't. I looked online and found a case study of a man who ate a lot of licorice cough drops; his potassium dropped to 1. I asked my mother and found out that she has been taking a licorice root supplement for quite some time. The doctors never asked her about anything she was taking. They just pumped her full of potassium. Three days in a hospital could have been avoided. A: Normal potassium levels in the blood should range from 3.6 to 5.2. If potassium drops below 2.5, it is considered a medical emergency. Symptoms may include weakness, muscle cramps, irregular heart rhythms and confusion. Licorice is known to deplete the body of potassium. Too much also can lead to high blood pressure, fluid retention, headaches and hormonal imbalance. Q: Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition, and capsaicin fights inflammation. I use chili oil on the psoriasis on my elbows. Apply it with a cotton swab every night (not your fingers!). The itching goes away almost immediately, and the dry patch fades in about two weeks. A: You have discovered something dermatologists have been writing about for decades (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, September 1986). Topical capsaicin (the hot stuff in chili peppers) can help ease psoriasis and its itch. A recent review of botanical treatments for psoriasis confirmed this (American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, August 2017). Your method of applying capsaicin is unusual, though. Some people utilize a drugstore product such as Capzasin-HP or Zostrix, used to ease the pain of arthritis, muscle strain or shingles. The hot oil you found in the Asian market is toasted sesame oil infused with hot peppers. We've never heard before of anyone using it for the itch of psoriasis.