Herbal Danger

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Are herbal products dangerous?

Most herbal products have not been scientifically investigated the same way all western drugs on the market have been studied and tested. Not all herbal medicines are dangerous but a few have been shown to cause kidney failure, liver failure, cancer, clot blockages in the kidney veins, seizures, etc. Some of them have caused deaths. Not too long ago a Chinese herb known as Aristolochia fangchi or A. fangchi was linked to kidney failure and urinary cancer. This herb is used in Chinese medicine to treat asthma. A. fangchi is also an ingredient in a Belgian weight-loss formulation, where the linkage was discovered. This was not the first time where herbal medicines have caused severe, if not fatal, complications. The problem is that these herbal products are marketed as food supplements, thereby escaping the strict scientific scrutiny and testing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration routinely subject all drugs submitted for FDA approval before they are sold to the public. Hundreds of herbal preparations flood the market with medically unfounded and ridiculous claims (with money-back guarantee) as effective agents for practically all diseases known to man, weight reduction, sexual potency, anti-aging, enlarging female breasts, or penis, etc.Unfortunately, there are enough victims out there who are willing to part with their money, falling prey to the unscrupulous entrepreneurs of this multi-billion dollar industry.

Is jogging better than walking?

In the 60s and 70s, jogging was considered the best form of exercise to attain physical fitness. We have enough medical information today to show that jogging has many attendants injuries, to the hip joints, ankle joints, back, etc. from the constant jarring. From regular ambulation to brisk walking, depending on the ability and tolerance of the individual, is now preferred form of physical exercise for cardiovascular fitness. Walking confers the same benefits, minus the injuries seen among joggers. Check with your physician before embarking on an exercise regimen.

How can I sleep better?

Statistics reveal that over 100 million people in the United States do not regularly get a good night's sleep, and that about another 33 million have occasional sleepless nights. Sleep is very important for a healthy body and mind. Adults need 8 full hours of sleep and teenagers about 9-10 hours. Some helpful tips from the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorder Center: (1) Stick to a schedule; don't sleep late on weekends; (2) Don't eat or dink a lot before bedtime; (3) Avoid caffeine and nicotine; (4) Exercise in the afternoon; (5) Slightly cool room is ideal for sleep; (6) Sleep only at night; don't take afternoon naps; (7) Keep the bedroom dark and quiet, since darkness and silence is more conducive to sleep; (8) Make your bed comfortable; (9) Take a hot shower or bath before going to bed; and, (10) Do NOT rely on sleeping pills.

What are the risks for breast cancer?

Some of the important risk factors include: smoking; having a mother, sister or daughter with history of having breast cancer; having a first birth at age 30 or older; having had previous breast cancer; having breast diseases that predispose to breast cancer; laboratory evidence of a specific genetic mutation or change that increases the susceptibility to breast cancer. In the USA, about 180,000 new cases of breast cancer was diagnosed in 1997. The risk increases with age. About 80% of breast cancer occur in women 50 and older. It is uncommon under 40 but the risk is especially high among women who are over the age 60. Regular medical breast examination and mammography (yearly or every two years depending on your physician's advice) will help a lot in early detection and cure.

What is the commonest infection?

The commonest type of bacterial infection that affects half the people of the world is HP infection, caused by Helicobacter pylori, a small bacterium that infects the stomachs of children and adults, many leading to ulcer formation. These stomach ulcers were once thought to be caused by hyperacidity and spicy foods. Now, science knows better. Contaminated food or water, overcrowded housing, even sharing beds might explain why this H. pylori infection is transferred from person to person. Individuals with frequent upper abdominal burning or gnawing pains, pains with eating, nausea or vomiting, must be tested for H. pylori infection, by a blood or breath tests. Physicians can prescribe the proper antibiotics to cure this infection.

What are Vegans?

Vegans (pronounced VEE-guns) are vegetarians, people who do not eat meat or meat products, poultry or fish. Their diet consist mainly of plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits grains, legumes (peas and beans), nuts and seeds. This might be carrying it a bit too far. For a healthy meatless (no pork, no beef) diet, we suggest the addition of fish, which has Omega-3 oil that is good for the heart, and daily multivitamin-mineral complex. Those who do not eat red meat (pork and beef, etc.) and eggs, whose diet includes only fish, vegetables and fruits, have been found to have 50% lower death rates from cardiovascular diseases, and 25% to 50% lower death rates from cancer.

What causes Acne?

There are main risk factors that lead to the development of acne: hormonal changes, especially among teenagers; build-up of bacteria (lack of proper hygiene), overproduction of oil, and irregular shedding of dead skins cells, some birth control pills, fatty diet, stress, medications like cortisones, greasy cosmetics. Self care includes washing and keeping your face and skin clean with a lot of cool (not warm) water and using acne lotion but not astringents and facial scrubs; avoiding skin irritants like oily acne concealers, greasy cosmetics, sunscreens, masks; keep hair off your face; don't pick or squeeze blemishes. If your meticulous and careful personal regimen does not improve the situation after a couple of months, or if the problem is worse, seek dermatologic consultation.

©2003Raoul R. Diez, M.A.O.D.