Herb-drug reaction studies contribute to debate

June 24th, 2006

A Canadian study, whose findings were presented at the North American Research Conference on Complementary and Integrative Medicine in Canada last week, found few potential drug-herb interactions in patients with osteoporosis. While a report published in the March issue of Geriatric Nursing found that older women mixing herbal and prescribed medication could be risking their health.

In the first study, 1.3 percent of the 1069 patients assessed were using a contraindicated drug-herb combination.

“In this randomly selected, population-based sample we found a relatively low rate of potential drug-herb interactions, most of which were among subjects using specific cardiovascular medications”, the University of Calgary authors concluded.

The second study, at the University of Florida College of Nursing, looked at 58 women over the age of 65 who were taking both herbal and over-the-counter prescription medication. 74 percent of the study’s 58 participants were found to have a moderate or high-risk drug interaction.

“Many of these older women do not consider over-the-counter and herbal medications ‘real drugs’ and therefore don’t report them”, said the Florida study leader, Dr. Saunjoo Yoon, “However, it is clear that many healthcare providers are not following through to learn their patients’ complete medication history.”

Controversy over drug-herb reactions has come hand-in-hand with the growing popularity of nutraceuticals.

The US retail market for dietary Supplements was worth $8.3bn in 2005 – representing a growth of 6 percent over 2004 - estimates Euromonitor International. What makes critics wary is that such Supplements do not require pre-market approval in the US – instead it is up to companies to report adverse reactions.

The pendulum continues to swing back and forth between those who say the public does not carelessly combine medical and traditional remedies, and those who say they do and that resulting damage is not known.

One of the few points researchers and industry spokespeople seem to agree on is that adverse reactions can be prevented by consulting a doctor - a doctor who is open to Herbal Medicine that is.

“Cases of herb-drug interactions are extremely rare and, with a little medical supervision and with more knowledge of complementary and Alternative Medicine on behalf of more physicians and pharmacists, easily avoided,” National Nutritional Foods Association president Daniel Fabricant told NutraIngredients-USA.com.

Fabricant also hinted that the energy and fuss surrounding the drug-herb debate might be better redirected towards the issue of mixed prescription medications.

“The safety of Botanical dietary Supplements, based on the evidence, must be considered much more favorably than that of prescription medications (drug-drug interactions), so the risk should be attributed appropriately.”

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Warren Matthews of Xtend-Life comments: I am always a little bemused by some of these studies. Why? Because there is such a Focus on the potential negative effects of a natural product when combined with a drug, whilst the real problem is ignored! I am talking about drug-to-drug contraindication! This is where the serious stuff is!

Whereas the first study showed that 1.3% of the participants were using a contraindicated drug-herb combination, this is nothing when compared to drug-to-drug interaction when there are 2 or more drugs involved. But in these cases we are talking about major life threatening risks, not minor ones which are generally the case with herb/drug interaction.

Over recent years the number of people who are taking more than 2 drugs at the same time has increased dramatically. So have the deaths related to drugs. The reality is that once you are taking three drugs or more the interaction between them is very much guesswork and is not even understood fully by most bio-scientists let alone a doctor who relies on the published literature from the drug company.

Often people will contact us regarding possible interaction of drugs with our Supplements. Usually there is not a problem so long as they leave a three hour gap between their drugs and the Supplements. However, sometimes we have to advise against taking a supplement because of a potential interaction with some drugs.

But, in many cases we cannot advise at all because the potential customer is taking three or more drugs, and in some cases as many as seven. This is dangerous stuff so we have to ‘pass the buck’ and refer them back to their physician…who unfortunately is no better equipped to advise than we are…but we cannot advise on something that is so crucial and unknown.

My only further comment on this subject is that if you are taking three or more drugs work with your physician and ideally try and get off all of them, or, at the very least get back to two drugs only. Question the real need for each drug and ask to see all the spec sheets.

Herbal Bath Recipes

June 24th, 2006

For tired muscles: Pine, Juniper, Thyme, Lavender, Rosemary

For relief from depression: Rose, Geranium, Lavender, Patchouli

For Stress relief: Lemon Balm, Rose, Jasmine, Sage, Lavender

For stimulation: Basil, bay leaf, Citronella, oregeno, lemon verbana

For relaxation: Catnip, Chamomile, Rose Petals

For oily skin: mint, witch hazel, Yarrow, Rosemary, lemon Verbena or lemon grass

For dry skin: Camomile, Rose Petals, Orange flowers, clover flowers or honeysuckle

To soften skin: Rose Petals, honeysuckle Petals

To moisturize: equal parts Rose Petals and Camomile.

Note: To make an herbal bath, simply tie the desired Herbs into a piece of cheesecloth or an old sock and let the bathwater run through.

Clay: The Medicinal and Cosmetic Benefits

June 24th, 2006

Clay has been used around the world for centuries by indigenous people as an important medicinal and cosmetic tool. Recently, medical research has emerged which supports the efficacy of clay, and it is now becoming increasingly popular as a rediscovered treatment for many different health and Skincare conditions.

Externally, clays are used to absorb excess oil, dirt, and toxins from the skin while simultaneously Exfoliating and improving skin circulation. Some clays, such as Bentonite clay, are primarily ingested for medicinal purposes such as Detoxification or mineral deficiencies.

Other clays, such as French Green clay and Rhassoul clay, are used externally for Skin Conditions and for cosmetic purposes. Clays come in a variety of colors such as red, green, white, gray, and can range in texture from coarse and heavy to fine and fluffy. The different colors of clays occur because of their natural mineral content.

Bentonite Clay

Bentonite clay (also known as Montmorillonite) is an edible clay from naturally occurring volcanic ash sediments, and contains over 70 trace Minerals. This clay is one of the most effective and powerful healing clays used to treat both internal and external maladies. The largest and most active deposits come from Wyoming and Montana. (Mountain Rose Herbs stocks a Wyoming variety).

Bentonite clay is traditionally used as an internal supplement to assist with mineral deficiencies, and to help bind toxins making them more soluble. Externally, Bentonite is used as a clay poultice, mud pack, in the bath, and in Skin Care recipes. Bentonite clay has the ability to absorb toxins, impurities, heavy metals and other contaminants from the body, and is ingested to treat mineral deficiencies, anemia, stomach ulcers, diarrhea, intestinal problems, hemorrhoids, and for general organ health.

For internal use, the typical preparations and general guidelines are:

Large physical stature: Take one tablespoonful of Bentonite and add it to about eight ounces of liquid and thoroughly mix until the clay is completely combined with the water.

Medium physical stature: Take one heaping teaspoon of Bentonite and add it to about eight ounces of liquid and thoroughly mix until the clay is completely combined with the water.

Light physical stature: Take one level teaspoon of Bentonite and add it to about eight ounces of liquid and thoroughly mix until the clay is completely combined with the water.

French Green Clay

French Green Clay (Also Known as Illite Clay or Sea Clay) is very absorbent, and literally “drinks” oils, toxic substances, and impurities from your skin. Its toning action stimulates the skin by bringing fresh blood to damaged skin cells, revitalizing the complexion, and tightening pores. Mined from bedrock quarries in France, it is sun-dried, completely natural, unscented, and fragrance free.

Green clay is a bio-mineral, and contains decomposed plant matter as well as many trace Minerals, such as: silica, aluminum, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, copper, zinc, selenium, cobalt, manganese, phosphorous, silicon, micro-algaes, kelp, and phyto-nutrients. Green Clay has analgesic and Anti-Inflammatory properties which make it beneficial for muscular pain, swelling, and Arthritic or rheumatic conditions.

Cosmetically, French Green clay is revered for its ability to stimulate blood and lymph circulation, remove Dead Skin Cells, absorb impurities and fats, and tone and strengthen connective tissues. After using French Green clay, skin feels fresh, smooth, radiant, and soft. French Green Clay is also marvelous for helping to clear problem skin areas, and is gentle enough to use weekly, or even daily on problem spots.

Fuller’s Earth Clay

Fuller’s Earth clay is a naturally occurring sedimentary clay composed mainly of alumina, silica, iron oxides, Lime, and magnesia. It has been widely used as a skin-lightening agent, and it produces a lightening effect on the outer epidermal layer of the skin.

Because of its enormous drawing capabilities, Fuller’s Earth clay literally draws and absorbs oil from the skin, and is the number one choice for those with oily skin or those who are prone to Acne. This clay is highly recommended to those with Acne problems, blemishes, and people prone to oily skin. It is also a useful base ingredient in facial recipes for those with oily skin. Traditionally, Fuller’s Earth clay was used to remove oils from sheep wool because of its oil absorption properties. It has also been used in kitty litter, and in autobody shops to help absorb and remove grease and oil spills.

Rhassoul clay

Rhassoul clay is a truly exquisite Spa quality clay from ancient deposits unearthed from the fertile Atlas mountains of Morocco where it has been used for over 1400 years as a skin conditioner, Soap, and Shampoo. This clay has a long history, and was used in ancient Rome and Egypt by those of nobility. Rhassoul is a mineral rich, reddish/brown clay that blends extremely well with water making its application to the face and skin a smooth and delightful experience.

Today, upscale spas and resorts across the globe utilize the toning and enriching benefits offered by Rhassoul clay. It is very high in trace Minerals such as silica, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium and sodium, making it truly one of the finest treasures for pampering your skin. Because of the high mineral content, astringent properties, and absorption properties, Rhassoul clay is a wonderful and effective clay for cleansing, Detoxification, and for general Skin Care treatments.

In clinical tests, Rhassoul has been shown to be effective on skin elasticity, clogged pores, removes dead skin layers, removed surface oil from skin, improves skin clarity and appearance, and reduces flakiness and dryness of both the scalp and skin. Try using Rhassoul clay in Soap recipes, Facial Masks, body wraps, clay packs, shampoos, and conditioners for a luxurious and decadent experience.

White Cosmetic clay

White Cosmetic clay (also known as Kaolin clay) is one of the most versatile clays, and is also the mildest of all cosmetic clays. It is commonly found in Skincare preparations and cosmetics because of its gentle nature, mineral content, absorbent properties, and ability to ‘fix’ scents. White clay is made up of fine clay particles, and has a lightweight fluffy consistency. This clay is more widely used than any other cosmetic clay, and is frequently found in powders, body packs, Skin Care products, deodorants, Soaps, Scrubs, poultices, cosmetics, Facial Masks, and toiletries. This clay will gently draw impurities from the skin without removing natural oils while simultaneously Exfoliating, cleansing, and stimulating circulation. White clay is suitable for all skin types, whether it be oily, blemish prone, normal, sensitive, dry, or mature skin.

General Use Instructions

Baths: Add 2-3 ounces of clay to your bath water, and thoroughly mix in. Soak and enjoy. Feel free to add Essential Oils or an herbal infusion to enrich the experience.

Body Packs: Add one part clay to three parts water or until the desired consistency is reached. Mix thoroughly to an even paste, and then apply to skin area.

Face Mask: Mix a small amount with water until a smooth paste is obtained. Apply a thin layer of the paste to your face. Leave for 10 - 15 minutes or until dried before rinsing with warm water. If you have dry or sensitive skin, you may rinse the treatment off after 5 minutes, before it is completely dried. All skin types may use an herbal infusion or flower waters instead of water to increase the healing action, or may add a small amount of Essential Oil to the clay mixture. In addition, those with normal-Dry Skin may use honey, yogurt, cream, milk, or vegetable Glycerin instead of water, or can add pureed Avocado, cucumber, or a few drops of a Carrier Oil (such as Jojoba oil) to the mixture.

Those with oily skin may add Witch Hazel extract, vinegar, lemon juice, or an egg white to the clay mixture. Those with Acne prone skin can add vinegar or lemon juice to the mixture, and 1-2 drops of Tea Tree or Lavender Essential Oil.

First Aid: Mix a small amount of clay with water, Aloe Vera gel, or flower water, and stir until a smooth paste is achieved. Apply directly to cuts, minor burns, stings, bites, or Rashes.

Poultice: Add one part clay to three parts water or until you reach desired consistency, mix thoroughly to an even paste. Spread paste onto a piece of gauze and apply directly to the affected area, securing with a bandage. Leave in place for up to 2 hours but do not allow the paste to dry. Discard the poultice and re-apply a fresh one if needed.

Six Ways to Say So Long to Slugs

June 24th, 2006

Slugs and snails are a huge problem in many gardens, especially those with tender-leaved plants that have lots of folds or large sheltering leaves low to the ground, such as lettuce, hostas, and tender seedlings. Luckily, there are many ways to stop these critters.

Try these six ways to say so long to slugs!

  1. Ammonia and water. Mix equal parts non-sudsing ammonia and water in a spray bottle. Visit the garden on a rainy morning or cool evening and spray the slugs as they feed. This technique is most effective on baby slugs, which thrive in the crowns of hostas and daylilies. As an added bonus, the ammonia converts to nitrogen and acts as a foliar food for the plants (Note: Some ferns and seedlings may suffer leaf burn from this spray. Test on a single leaf first.)

  2. Vinegar and water. Mix two parts vinegar and one part water in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture directly on slugs you see or as you find them under boards or in the crevices of rock gardens. Be careful not to let the spray come in contact with plant foliage.

  3. Wood ashes. A ring of wood ashes from your fireplace will discourage slugs from climbing up the stems of plants. Sprinkle the ashes in a band a few inches wide, but don’t let them actually touch the stem of the plant. Caution: If your soil is alkaline, as it is in many parts of the West and Southwest, avoid putting ashes on your soil or in your compost heap. They can raise the pH even higher.

  4. A window screen. Cut an old window screen into long strips at least 6 inches wide. Sink the strips 3 inches into the soil so that a fence surrounds your most vulnerable plants.

  5. Clay pots. Lure slugs away from your plants to where you can find and destroy them. Set out small clay flowerpots turned upside down and propped up on one side with a flat rock. These traps are attractive enough to use in container plantings.

  6. Damp cardboard, rolled-up newspaper, Grapefruit rinds, or damp burlap. Position these materials around your garden to collect slugs. Gather the items each morning and destroy the slugs. Or move the slugs, “hotels” and all, to your compost pile.

Anti Aging Natural Supplements - Beating the Ravages of Time

June 24th, 2006

Crow’s feet, Wrinkles, Arthritis — all these and more are the hallmarks of aging. And with a large part of the baby boom generation starting to reach retirement age, anti aging natural Supplements are in high demand. Aging is a natural process, and most of us want to reach a ripe old age in a healthy condition.

What we don’t like are the effects that we see and feel as the cells become less healthy and as the organs decrease in function. And this is why many of us think popping a pill or several pills becomes necessary as we grow older.

One thing you have to remember is that anti aging natural Supplements are not magic solutions that will keep you looking eternally youthful. What they will help do is help keep the cells healthy, promote intracellular communication, so that the body functions smoothly and become resistant to diseases. You will still age, but you will look good as you do so — and in a lot of cases, you may even look young for your age.

Most importantly, you will look and feel healthy. Just remember that anti aging natural Supplements will work best if you eat nutritious foods, Exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and follow a healthy lifestyle. Many anti aging Supplements contain Antioxidants, which play a major role in keeping us healthy and looking young. Everyday we are exposed to substances called free radicals, which damage the cells and cause the emergence of diseases.

Vitamins and Minerals play a key role in defending the body from these free radicals, and many Supplements provide us with the Vitamins and Minerals that are missing from our daily meals. Vitamin E, for instance, is a powerful antioxidant that keeps the skin looking supple and young, and it protects the body’s fatty cells from free radicals as well. Vitamins C and B are likewise important Antioxidants which we should be getting in adequate amounts each day.

The members of the family of B Vitamins are especially helpful in battling Stress; and anyone knows that the less Stressed you are, the younger you look and feel. Remember, however that some Vitamins can cause side effects if taken in excessive doses; you should read the supplement labels and consult your primary physician regarding appropriate dosages for you.

Some natural Supplements contain herbal ingredients that have been proven to be very effective in countering the effects of aging. Green Tea extract, for instance, is particularly helpful since certain studies show that it is more potent as an antioxidant than Vitamins C and E combined.

It contains substances like flavonols and catechins, which are very good for disease prevention. Some Supplements containing Herbs like golden root or rhodiola rosea belong to a category called adaptogens, which are effective in relieving Stress and promoting a more youthful aura.

Ginseng is another herb that can be called an adaptogenic herb. Many other Herbs have anti-aging benefits. These include polygonum, which promotes the body’s production of an antioxidant called superoxide dismutase; Schisandra helps the liver flush out toxins and is another anti-Stress agent; and gynostemma, a Chinese tonic herb, promotes cardiovascular health and blood flow to keep the skin looking young and healthy.

Another popular ingredient in many anti aging natural Supplements is a hormone called Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). DHEA occurs naturally in the body, but levels decline sharply with age. Once this happens, a condition known as metabolic syndrome may occur. Some symptoms of this disorder include an increase in cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which can lead to complications such as Diabetes, stroke, and myocardial infarction.

Taking a DHEA supplement will result in numerous anti aging benefits over time. It can relieve Stress, increase lean muscle mass and strength, boost the Immune System, sharpen mental clarity, promote weight loss, increase antioxidant enzymes in the liver, and enhance Sexual Performance.

Anti aging natural Supplements are available in pill, liquid, or powder form and sold under many brand names. Most of them have a preventive effect in addition to keeping the body’s systems functioning in optimum condition and to hold back the negative effects of aging. But just because they are readily available does not mean you can indiscriminately just buy any that takes your fancy.

Be an informed and wise consumer; talk the subject over with your physician first and become informed about the advantages and disadvantages of certain Supplements before you make your choice.

About the author

Supplement-info.com provides you with information on (herbal) nutritional Supplements, weight loss, bodybuilding, and anti aging natural Supplements. http://www.supplement-info.com/

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