The herbal way...
I read that raw milk is healthier than pasteurized or homogenized milk. If that is true, where can I obtain raw milk?
This is an excellent question. Fresh and unprocessed is important because uncooked food (milk) contains essential enzymes that are vital to life. The best book I have read explaining this theory is by Ron Schmid, ND, The Untold Story of Milk. If available, I recommend raw milk to my patients who have cancer, HIV, and chronic disorders. It is illegal in New York State to obtain raw milk, but there are web sites available that list which states and farms sell raw milk legally. Recently I went to a unique restaurant where they served delicious raw cheeses – cow, sheep, and goat. Try it and you will see why raw cheese is excellent for your health.
I am a 42-year-old female with insomnia. I have tried melatonin, valerian, and kava kava. I do not want to start taking prescription drugs to sleep. Do you have suggestions?
The two herbs and hormone that you listed are indeed used for sleep problems. In 1928, The British Medical Journal noted that valerian “was perhaps the earliest method of treating the neurosis.” I also suggest the European plant chamomile, which is different from the Roman variety. To assure a good night’s sleep sip some Chamomile tea before bedtime. A second benefit to Chamomile is it is a good digestive aid.
I have been plagued with frequent urinary tract infections since my teenage years, or rather the urgency to use the bathroom. I have had a battery of tests, all of which are negative. Is there an herb that may help? Most doctors tell me to drink more cranberry juice.
I agree with the cranberry juice; however, most contain sugar. This sugar will cause the normal ph of the urine to become acidic and may aggravate the condition. I would rather suggest that you take crangel capsules, which seem to be more effective. In my practice, I use D-mannose either in capsule or powder forms to help with urinary tract problems. Parsley is another excellent herb for the genito-urinary tract, due to its richness in vitamins A and C, also iron, calcium, potassium, and thiamine. It is easy to brew parsley tea by placing a fresh bunch of parsley in a saucepan and adding two pints of water. Bring to a boil and simmer no longer than ten seconds. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand until cold. I would suggest drinking 4 – 5 cups per day until symptoms subside. Some might prefer to use the herb, uva ursi since it has a long-standing history of being beneficial to the urinary tract. Its use dates back to the 13th century.
One of my friends said that everyone should take ginseng. Do you think it lives up to all people say about its effects?
I believe Ginseng, which is regarded as an adaptogen is one of the most highly prized botanicals available. There are several varieties available—Panax, American, and Siberian to name a few. In a 1992 published study, Asian ginseng was found to contain 28 of the active ginsenocides that act positively on the cardiovascular, nervous, and endocrine system. Ginseng promotes immune function and is said to have effects on anti-aging and relieving stress. Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a folk medicine from Russia and has been used to treat anxiety, depression, and fatigue as well as to enhance the immune system. Russian literature advises against taking Siberian ginseng under the age of forty. I have been unable to find any other data to support this statement, and I have used it effectively in my practice. You can find some interesting information on the subject of ginseng in a book by David Taylor, entitled “Ginseng, The Divine Root.” Keep in mind that all herbs are drugs and can interfere with conventional medications so be sure to consult a health care professional before self-prescribing.
I am a 56-year-old male and I have tried many anti-depressants. I have experienced most of the possible side effects from these medications. I want to know about other approaches in treating my depression.
Depression ranks fourth among the major causes of disability worldwide. There is no biological marker for depression and no chemical test. I use urine testing to discern the neuro-transmitters, serotonin and dopamine levels, but this is still very controversial. Once the test is performed, there are amino acid precursors, 5- hydroxytrytophan (5 HTP), and tyrosine to elevate serotonin and dopamine, respectively. Foods that are high in trytophan are sunflower, sesame seeds, eggs, and cheese. Tyrosine is found in grains, legumes, kidney beans, and peanut butter. The use of these amino acid precursors with conventional medication treatment should be approached with caution and under the guidance of a health professional. This is also true for using the herbs, Kava kava, valerian, and St. John’s wort, but all of these herbs have validated research for their benefit in treating depression.
My 85-year-old father has developed Alzheimer’s disease. His memory has been declining over several years. He is taking both Aricept and Namenda. I have read about different herbs and supplements that may be beneficial to memory. Can you suggest some supplements?
Dealing with Alzheimer’s is a family problem and it requires time, patience, and endurance. Although there are conventional medications with validated studies, I believe certain herbs and supplements that do not interact should also be used. A Chinese study conducted between Huperzine A (a reversible potent acetylcholinesterase inhibitor) with a conventional drug, Piracetan, also known as Nootropil or Myocalm revealed better results with huperzine A than with Myocalm. There are other similar studies using herbs such as gingko and ginseng, and with supplements such as phosphotidylcholine (lecithin), acetyl L- carnitine, vinpocetine, and phosphatidylserine. An excellent resource is the book, Herbal Medicines for Neuropsychiatric Diseases.
My 5-year-old son has had ear infections (otitis media) on at least seven occasions. What can I do?
One common remedy is chewing gum because it relieves some pressure in the ear. The gum sweetened with xylitol has shown success in reducing ear infections. It is sold as Spry gum. You should also encourage your child to yawn and to sleep propped up at night. There are two herbs used with success for otitis media, Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus) and garlic (Allium sativum). Mullein is a demulcent that can relieve congestion and inflammation due to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Garlic is one of the best herbal antibiotics especially when combined with grape seed extract. Currently, there are commercial eardrops that contain both of these ingredients. Sometimes prescription antibiotics are needed; however, bacteria can become resistant to certain antibiotics, and they tend to reduce the number of good or beneficial bacteria in the colon. As with all drugs good judgment should be exercised.
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"The herbal way..."
Patrick Fratellone, MD is the Executive Medical Director of Fratellone Medical Associates, LLP in New York City, New York. Before going into private practice, he was the Chief of Medicine and Director of Cardiology of the former Atkins Center for Com...