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  OUR RESPONSES - Archive Topics A - M



Allergies/Allergic Reactions

Q: I have multiple chemical sensitivity and must waer a mask to enter public buildings . What remedy would help my fatigue, so I might function better?

Dawna Brunt <bruntdawna@hotmail.com>
Tilton, NH USA - Wednesday, October 24, 2001 at 15:48:22 (PDT)

A: Environmental and chemical sensitivity seems to be on the rise, which shouldn't come as such a great surprise when you stop to think about all the chemicals we are exposed to daily. One way to find relief is to alter your environment at home: use natural and chemical free cleaning agents and body products. Get rid of carpeting and replace with tile, wood or linoleum floors and use natural fiber rugs, curtains, bedding, etc. Get an air purifier and change the filters in your heating/cooling system. Also, you can buy organic foods, free from pesticides and chemicals. Finally, you can use tonic and adaptogenic herbs to strengthen your immune system like astragalus, ashwagandha, reishi and shiitake mushrooms, Siberian ginseng and schizandra berries. We do offer a comprehensive packet of information on Environmental Sensitivities that goes into a lot more detail than I can here. Click the link for more information.

Q: I've been experiencing a flu bug for a couple weeks now that has made it's way into my stomach causing stomach upset and diarrhea. For this discomfort, I began taking Ginger to try and ease this discomfort. Beginning on Monday, I started taking 2 capsules, 2 times a day with meals (530 mg per capsule). I also use the herb in my cooking because I love the taste. But on Monday, I began experiencing stomach upset, nervousness, insomnia, and diarrhea in excess - which seems to be the opposite of what the herb is supposed to provide to me. I also take St. Johns Wart, Kava Kava and Valerian Root which are herbs I use everyday and have never had issues with. I'm wondering if when I'm taking these relaxing herbs at night immediately after I take the Ginger.. that it's causing an adverse reaction sort of like when a Anesthetic is taken with Ginger. For instance, last night I took my Valerian, Kava Kava and st. Johns Wart before I went to bed after taking Ginger along with a meal that even had Ginger in it. I was extremely tired last night and just wanted to get some much needed rest but instead, I was tossing and turning all night, my heart and mind were both racing, I was sick to my stomach, nervous and I woke up in the middle of the night with diarrhea. Could you please e-mail me to give me a little insight on what could possibly be causing this? Whether it's the Ginger or not, I'd like to find out if this could be causing this discomfort. I plan on discontinuing the Ginger for a few days to see if this discomfort goes away.. but a professionals insight would be helpful, thanks.

Kristi <girlsoldier@mindspring.com>
USA - Wednesday, October 24, 2001 at 07:28:33 (PDT)

A: Ginger has a long history of safe use. Although ginger is an excellent remedy for nausea, it is a warming and stimulating herb, and actually increases bile excretion. Therefore, it is not recommended in medicinal doses for those with gallstones or bile duct obstructions. Typically, there are no adverse effects reported when ginger is consumed as a food other than occasional heartburn in sensitive persons. You might consider making a mild tea with some fresh ginger root as opposed to taking medicinal doses. It may be that you, as an individual, are sensitive to this plant.

Q: Would the herb Alfalfa cause a nose bleed?

Wanda J. Rutkauskas <wrutkauskas@wardclaims.com>
Chicago, IL USA - Thursday, October 11, 2001 at 05:51:51 (PDT)

A: Alfalfa is known to contain some constituents that have mild blood thinning activity. In certain sensitive individuals, this may cause a reaction such as a nosebleed.

Q: I noticed an allergic reaction after eating fennel, is this common? or not, an itchy blotchy rash appeared on my face & arms.

Coral Ann Gabriel <gabrielbears@hotmail.com.au>
Sydney, nsw Australia - Wednesday, September 19, 2001 at 03:25:42 (PDT)

A: Fennel has a long history of safe use, and consumption of fennel seeds is typically considered safe when taken in moderate amounts. Fennel is included in the FDA's list of herbs Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS). It is important to know that anyone can have a unique reaction to any substance, so your rash may indicate that although most people have no adverse reaction to fennel, perhaps as a unique individual, you do. The only way to be sure if the fennel is indeed causing this reaction is to stop taking it for several days and try it again, If the same reaction occurs, it may be concluded that your body is sensitive to this particular plant and it may be best for you to use an alternative.

Q: Subject: Hayfever I have been taking an herbal diet supplement that seems to dry up my nose a little and help my autumn pollen allergy. Can you suggest something similar that would target my allergy even more effectively? Thank you, Mary J.

Mary J. <mjj1@hotmail.com>
USA - Saturday, September 01, 2001 at 06:04:46 (PDT)

A: Mary, you did not mention the herbal ingredients in your current supplement. Nettle leaf has traditionally been used (usually in tea form) to help alleviate hayfever symptoms, especially when started before the allergy season begins and taken continuously. We do have an informative packet on herbs for Allergies. Click the link for more information.

Q: My mother has been taking valerian this past week. She has broken out in a rather severe, very itchy skin rash. The only thing she has introduced to her diet is the valerian. Is this possible? Can you have an allergic reaction to valerian???

Penny <penelope@enternet.com.au>
Melbourne, VIC Australia - Sunday, June 17, 2001 at 07:19:04 (PDT)

A: This is not a common side effect of this herb, though individual reactions to plants can vary. She could stop taking it and see if her symptoms improve.



Q: I would like to know if there are any natural approaches to helping ease the effects of panic attacks/anxiety attacks. I don't want to start taking antidepressants, and I thought there might be a good herbal alternative. I am involved in self-help and Cognitive-Behavioral Theoropy but wish to have a medication alternative. Please let me know if you are aware of any herbs or vitamins that help relieve the effects of panic or anxiety. Thank you for your time and consideration, Jane Katherine.

Jane Katherine Moxie <JaneMoxie@aol.com>
Knoxville, TN USA - Monday, June 18, 2001 at 16:49:05 (PDT)

A: Our packet on Anxiety/Stress discusses calming herbs such as passion flower, kava, valerian, wild oat, California poppy, hops, skullcap, lemon balm and more. You can order it from our website.

Q: I am currently taking 2 50mg doses of Zoloft for depression, and 2 1mg doses daily for anxiety, and depression. Unfortunately these medications are not keeping up. Many years ago I was taking amitriptolene, in the lowest dosage, and it suddenly quick working. I tried several anti depressants, before finding out I also now needed something for anxiety. Am scheduled to go back in next week to see what can be done. My family has a history of a chemical imbalance which sends us into very long deep depressions. We each take differant meds to try and control the imbalance. My question is if I stay with these two drugs, is there an herbal choice for these two conditions that I might try, which would be combatible, and in what dose?

Vincent Wattson <fwattson@juno.com>
Wichita, Ks. USA - Wednesday, June 13, 2001 at 16:40:52 (PDT)

A: It is never recommended that you combine herbal anti depressants with prescription ones.

Q: my husband is depressed and the doctor, of course, prescribed him to take Prozac for thirty days. I am in disagreement with Prozac and discouraged him not to fill the prescription or take it. What herbal treatments can I suggest to my husband to help wiht his depression?

Stephanie <stephr1522_@hotmail.com>
chicago, IL USA - Thursday, May 24, 2001 at 20:52:04 (PDT)

A: Herbal remedies are not usually appropriate for severe depression that requires prescription medication. Studies show that mild to moderate depression is helped by St. John's wort, but it should not be combined with prescription psychoactive drugs. We have packets of information available on both St. John's wort and herbs for Depression. Click the links for more information.

Q: My son is highly stressed much of the time, especially at work and he told me as I've suspected for a long time that he thinks he is having panic attacks. He is also obsessive compulsive to a mild degree in my opinion and his sisters. I do not want to send him to a doctor who might prescribe something to make it worse as he does function although with much effort. I know a doctor might put him on something too strong or wrong or might make it worse. I would like to try something natural first. He is 27 years old, healthy, 6'4" and a little overweight. Please advise me! I so appreciate it and am praying for the right answer.

Blessings and thank you
Claudia Somes <somes@hirschirealtors.com>
Wichita Falls, Tx USA - Wednesday, May 02, 2001 at 08:50:47 (PDT)

A: St. John's wort is a well studied herb for mild to moderate depression, and kava kava has been traditionally used for anxiety. They should not be mixed with prescription drugs, however. HRF has information packets on both of these herbs that will outline more detailed information. We also offer separate packets on Depression and Anxiety/Stress. Click on the links for more information. You can also look at our Top News Section for review articles on a variety of subjects that you can access for free on our web site.



Q: What is a natural remedy for osteoporosis?

Frances Escarrega <fescarrega@hotmail.com>
Los Angeles, CA USA - Wednesday, August 22, 2001 at 14:44:28 (PDT)

A: The holistic treatment of osteoporosis involves an overall program that addresses diet, exercise, and herbal and supplement therapies. A good start is the inclusion of bone building herbs such as nettle, oat straw, alfalfa and horsetail that must be taken long term, weight bearing exercises and a good calcium supplement with ipraflavone. Our information packet on Osteoporosis will provide more thorough information.

Q: HI I'm just righting in regards to my father. He has really bad arthritis. He's tried everything to calm the pain but hasn't been able to find one thing to help it. He was told about some herb called Be Power and I was just wondering if there is anyway you could explain to me what exactly it is, if it would help him in anyway and If there was anywhere close to where I live to get it?? It' would be great if you could get back to me by June 02, 2001 but if not I would understand totally!! Thanx

Danielle Sutherland <brooke_69_08@hotmail.com>
Gibbons, AB Canada - Monday, May 28, 2001 at 23:06:25 (PDT)

A: I think the product you are referring to might be a bee product such as pollen or royal jelly. There are also some excellent anti-inflammatory herbs that have been studied for arthritis: Devil's claw, ginger, turmeric, boswellia and guggul. Other supplements such as glucosamine and condroitin, or capsaicin creams from cayenne peppers, have also shown promise. Our packet on Osteoarthritis talks about all these products and would be very helpful in educating yourself on this condition, as would our packet on Bee Products. Click the links for more information.



Q: I have two members of my family with cancer and I wanted to know if there was any herbal remedy that would slow down/help the spread of the disease. 1. Boy aged 13 with multiple benign tumours along his spine 2. Woman aged 25 with malignant tumour in chest cavity. I should appreciate your help or if you can point me in the right direction of someone who could help. Thank you.

Michelle Emery <michelle.emery@lacim.co.uk>
Silver End, UK - Friday, August 17, 2001 at 06:09:07 (PDT)

A: Healthy nutrition and lifestyle is a good start in disease prevention. I suggest more extensive resources than can be provided in this medium. One such book is Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer by Donald Yance (in which herbs and diet are outlined) or Breast Cancer Prevention (title not exact) which includes many recipes, by Robin Keuneke. Have a local book store check under author name or type their names into an internet search engine. HRF also has several packets on cancer. Click the link for more information.

Q: I have a friend who has cancer. She's been put on the following herbs: artecin(sp); figwort; undecin(sp); and condurango(sp). What are these herbs and how do they relate to cancer treatment? Thank you.

Lynn Rivers <LLRIVERS@concentric.net>
Minnetonka, MN USA - Sunday, August 05, 2001 at 16:17:10 (PDT)

A: I do not recognize the first and third herb. There are studies on the anti-tumor activity of Condurango bark. Figwort (Scrophularia spp) studies show mostly antibacterial and anti inflalmmatory properties. HRF has a number of information packets on cancer that your friend may find helpful.

Q: where can i found out more about the herb remedy of essiac.

stephanie neal <sjesus2000637@cs.com>
cleveland, tx USA - Tuesday, June 12, 2001 at 21:02:33 (PDT)

A: We have an information packet on this subject called Cancer, Essiac. It has full ingredient disclosure and instructions for making your own tea. You can order the packet from our website.To read a summary of the packet, click the link. Also, the internet lists several companies who provide information on this product.

Q: Have you ever heard of the "black salve" that helps cure cancer tumors, etc.?

janet reynolds <jrdabank@aol.com>
Hampton, nh USA - Tuesday, June 12, 2001 at 16:23:42 (PDT)

A: Yes, for more information you can order our information packet on Bloodroot and check out the following website: http://www.cancersalves.com

Q: I have reently been diagnosed with stage D Prostate cancer, with a PSA of 86, that has microscopically spread to the lymph system but not into the bones. I am currently taking many herbal supplements such as cat's claw, saw palmetto, bovine cartillage, shark cartillage, aloe, garlic, omega 3 fish oils, and lycopene, to name most. I am on Lupron hormonal shots every 4 months. I am "dying" to know if there are any herbal supplements that I can add to my daily intake to continue to bolster my immune system while also surpressing the progression of the disease through my lymph system? I prefer capsules and tablets, and would also like to know if there is a web site that sell these remedies directly to the public at large. Thank you for you time and consideration and I look forward to your reply. Brien

Brien Kroeger <bkroeger@99main.com>
Brooklyn, CT USA - Wednesday, May 09, 2001 at 10:50:23 (PDT)

A: Your question requires too lengthy an answer for this forum, but we have a new information packet on Prostate Cancer that would be very helpful in answering your questions. You did not mention surgery, but another new one on Surgical Recovery would also be useful for any recovery process. Click the links to read summaries of these packets.



Q: my 9 month old baby does not sleep thru the night, wakes every 2-3 hrs. would you know of a safe herbal that i could give her to help her sleep better

melissa gallagher <webtoes11>
chicago, il USA - Thursday, June 07, 2001 at 17:07:10 (PDT)

A: Though this is not unusual for a child her age it can be stressful for everyone. The best approach for using herbs with infants is through the bath. Lavender, chamomile, catnip or lemon balm, are all useful herbs that are safe and gently calming. They can be used alone or in any combination. Make an herbal tea with about 1/2 ounce of dried herb to two quarts of water. Let steep, covered, until cool and add to the bath, given about 30 minutes before bedtime. The child should soak for about 15 minutes to get the full benefits. We also offer an information packet on Herbs for Children. Click the link for more information.

Q: Do you know anything about strawberry root? A friend told me it is good for diareha. Are there other good uses for it? Can it by used for children. Thank you for your help.

julie neale <lorne.neale@sk.sympatico.ca>
meadow lake , sk canada - Friday, May 18, 2001 at 12:28:11 (PDT)

A: Strawberry root is difficult to find, but the leaf is sold in most health stores in bulk. Other berries are also useful. The easiest form to obtain is blackberry root, but you could also use raspberry leaf or strawberry leaf. The root has a stronger action than the leaf. All are safe for kids and the leaf is usually strong enough for little ones. Make a tea from one teaspoon of the leaf or root to one cup boiling water; cover and steep for 5 minutes. Drink one to three cups a day. An added sweetener makes it even more tasty. It should work in a day or two. If not, see your doctor.


Cholesterol Regulation

Q: Herbs useful in hypercholsterolemia (per se)/ in an other wise very healthy active 50 yrs old non-obese, nondiabetic,nonsmoking ,psychologically balanced lady? thank you

Amin jamali/M,D. <drjamali 2001@yahoo.com>
tripoli, Lebanon - Saturday, November 10, 2001 at 06:32:49 (PST)

A: There are several herbs that have been shown to be effective in lowering cholesterol levels, including garlic, guggul, olive leaf, and artichoke. For more detailed information, see our packet on Cholesterol Regulation.

Q: What is guggul and its properties and uses?

Dawna Brunt <bruntdawna@hotmail.com>
Tilton, NH USA - Wednesday, October 24, 2001 at 15:45:22 (PDT)

A: Guggul is an herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Its botanical name is Commiphora mukul. Clinical research trails have shown guggul to be effective in lowering cholesterol levels. For more detailed information on guggul, see our information packet.

Q: Dear Sir/Madam I am a RN to BSN student and would like to know if there is additional herbs for managing cardiac deseace I am aware of garlic and Hawthorne but is there anything else? thank you for your help

eija wood <eija01@msn.com>
loxahatchee, fl USA - Monday, October 22, 2001 at 09:22:15 (PDT)

A: In addition to garlic and hawthorn, there are other herbs that can help prevent cardiac disease like guggul, which helps regulate cholesterol. Diet and exercise are also very important considerations for cardiac health.We do offer packets on the Heart and Cholesterol Regulation, Click the links for more information.

Q: How effective is Red Rice Yeast for lowering cholesterol and are there other herbs/non perscription drugs that are effective?

Yvonne <ykerr@mail.com>
Huntsville, TX USA - Friday, August 17, 2001 at 09:14:34 (PDT)

A: Red rice yeast is very effective, but the FDA has removed it from the market, claiming that manufacturers are using it as a drug substitute. Garlic is well known for its cholesterol lowering effects as is artichoke, ginger and green tea. Our packets on each of these herbs or packet on Cholesterol Regulation has information on cholesterol lowering effects of herbs.

Q: I have been diagnosed as having an over active liver that produces more cholesterol then my body can process. I have subsequently learned that Pictin is good at absorbing the excess cholesterol. Am I on the right track, what products are available and where can I learn more about this? Tom Stafford

T.G. "Tom" Stafford <tstaff@rain.org>
Oak View, CA USA - Sunday, June 24, 2001 at 00:39:43 (PDT)

A: Citrus Pectin is a very useful supplement that can be purchased at most health food stores. Garlic, adequate dietary fiber and red rice yeast are also good. Check out our info packet on Cholesterol Regulation for other herbs for this condition.

Q: How does artichoke oil help our chlosteral and how much should I take a day to lower it? Also are there any side effects?
Charline Dervishian <cdervishian@mediaone.net>
Fresno, Ca USA - Friday, April 06, 2001 at 20:07:30 (PDT)

A: The extract (alcoholic tincture), pressed juice or tea of artichoke leaves does have some clinical evidence that it lowers cholesterol levels. Several studies show a drop of 12-14 percent in total cholesterol after 6 to 12 weeks of treatment. Animal studies also support this outcome. Artichoke has also been shown to prevent oxidation of harmful LDL cholesterol, which is believed to play a major role in the development of atherosclerosis. We do have information packets available on Artichoke and Cholesterol Regulation. Click on the packet titles for more information.


Dental Health

Q: my gums are infected badly. i'am terrified of a dentist from a bad experence.is there anything you can recomend to me that will help. please help me.thank you nancy c garito

nancy c garito <ozznet16830@yahoo.com>
clearfied, pamy USA - Saturday, September 29, 2001 at 22:13:46 (PDT)

A: There are many herbs that can aid in dental health including calendula, goldenseal, myrrh, propolis, tea tree, and gotu kola. Proper nutrition and care of your teeth is also vitally important. We have a comprehensive packet of information on herbs for Dental Health that I think would be very helpful for you. It would probably be best to at least have an examination by a dentist, also. There are dentists who specialize in treating anxious and frightened patients, and there are also organizations that can give you referrals to holistic dentists in your area. Please click on the links for more information.



Q: does evening of primrose oil do anything for diabetic neuropathy?

clarence pagan <sunbud4@home.com>
sterling hghts, mi USA - Friday, August 31, 2001 at 06:41:09 (PDT)

A: Although research on this is still ongoing, there was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted in 1993 in which evening primrose oil led to a statistically significant improvement in symptoms of mild diabetic neuropathy. The study was conducted over the period of 1 year and the dosage from the study was 8 to 12 capsules per day containing 320 to 480 mg of total GLA.

Q: Please provide us all available information on "Gymnemasylvestre" herb, such as, is it known in USA with this name or any other medical name; does it need FDA's approval for use in any dietary supplement; is it being used by any pharmaceutical comapny in USA or any country, if so for which ailments;

Obaid or Zakia Siddiqui <herbs786@aol.com >
Houston, TX USA - Wednesday, August 22, 2001 at 21:00:59 (PDT)

A: This herb's common name is also its Latin genus, Gymnemma; sylvestre is the species name. All herb products are regulated under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. Research shows this herb helps regulate blood sugar. The plant is well known in the Ayurvedic medicine system of India, where it is also known as periploca of the woods, small Indian ipecac and gurmar. It is relatively unknown in the US. HRF has information packets on DSHEA, and gymnemma in the packet on Diabetes.



Q: I've been told that fenugreek assists in bowel regularity. Do you have information on what the dosage should be? Typically, the seeds are ground up and mixed with water, olive oil and honey. Is there such thing as consuming too much?

Colette <coolet@att.net>
Springfield, VA USA - Thursday, October 18, 2001 at 07:45:21 (PDT)

A: Fenugreek is generally considered quite safe for most people. Typical daily usage amounts are: ¼ -1/2 cup fresh seeds or 6-12 grams of dried seeds.

Q: Is there some thing I might take on a regular basis for on going diarhea. I have had it for several years and the Doctors have not come up with an answer. Thank you for you input.

John L. File <JohnofAPtos@Yahoo.com>
Aptos, Ca USA - Saturday, October 13, 2001 at 18:39:23 (PDT)

A: You can make a tea of 1 tsp dried raspberry or blackberry leaves per cup of boiling water to help with diarrhea. However, since this is a chronic problem, it would be best to discover the underlying cause. It may have a dietary cause, especially if you eat a lot of processed foods, fast foods, red meat and dairy products. You may want to seek the advice of a dietician or nutritionist who can work with you. Please visit the following page of our website to contact a practitioner: http://www.herbs.org/herborglist.htm

Q: My mother has crohns disease and irritable bowel syndrome. She is constantly having severe diarhea and abdominal cramps. Can you recommend some herbs to help with this. Thank you, Cheri

Cheri <cherilt@hotmail.com>
, USA - Sunday, August 19, 2001 at 10:50:08 (PDT)

A: HRF has information packets on both colitis/irritable bowel and Crohn's disease that can offer a variety of suggestions such as increased consumption of probiotics (acidophilus, bifidus, etc.). Common herbs for bowel disorders include ground or soaked flax, marshmallow, and slippery elm among others.

Q: I have sores all the way down my esphougas to my stomach. Need herbal cure, some tea or other herb that can help. I heard that honey has curative elements so I've been soothing my pain with spoonfuls. can u help

alma <almaojosverde@aol.com>
lyndhurst, nj USA - Friday, July 27, 2001 at 12:23:30 (PDT)

A: This is not much information to go on, but demulcent (slimy) herbs such as marshmallow, plantain and slippery elm are all safe and soothing to irritated mucous membranes. They can be made into tea for internal use. You can also drink the water from soaked flax seed. Our information packet on Ulcers can also provide some information on herbs that are soothing to the digestive tract.

Q: Are there any herbs that help with diverticulitis?

Anne Jones <hawhope@mindspring.com>
Columbus, GA USA - Saturday, June 09, 2001 at 11:23:00 (PDT)

A: This is an extensive problem that requires an over-all program. Our packets on other bowel disorders like colitis/irritable bowel syndrome suggest both nutritional and herbal approaches, including the use of probiotics (acidophilus), evening primrose oil and a detoxification program. Diet must be addressed along with lifestyle changes that reduce stress. Our book, The Encyclopedia of Popular Herbs also mentions the use of cat's claw and flax meal. These resource materials may be ordered from our website by clicking on the links. Working with a nutritionist that could guide you through this process would be most useful for you.

Q: On page 55 of the Womans Day magazine, it lists peppermint oil for irritable bowel syndrome. How is this taken ?? Thanks

Bob Davidson <BDavid2000@aol.com>
Winnemucca, Nev USA - Monday, June 04, 2001 at 23:16:55 (PDT)

A: Ask your pharmacist if they sell "enteric coated" peppermint oil capsules. The only company I know of that sells it as a dietary supplement is Enzymatic Therapy; it is called Peppermint Plus. You can order it through their website: http://www.enzy.com/products/display.asp?id=375&cpmid=407

We also have a comprehensive packet of information on Colitis/Irritable bowel syndrome that discusses several herbal treatment options, including peppermint oil. Click the link for more information.

Q: Do you know anything about strawberry root? A friend told me it is good for diareha. Are there other good uses for it? Can it by used for children. Thank you for your help.

julie neale <lorne.neale@sk.sympatico.ca>
meadow lake , sk canada - Friday, May 18, 2001 at 12:28:11 (PDT)

A: Strawberry root is difficult to find, but the leaf is sold in most health stores in bulk. Other berries are also useful. The easiest form to obtain is blackberry root, but you could also use raspberry leaf or strawberry leaf. The root has a stronger action than the leaf. All are safe for kids and the leaf is usually strong enough for little ones. Make a tea from one teaspoon of the leaf or root to one cup boiling water; cover and steep for 5 minutes. Drink one to three cups a day. An added sweetener makes it even more tasty. It should work in a day or two. If not, see your doctor.

Evelyn Lester <eve.gadget@bww.com>
grand rapids, MI USA - Monday, April 16, 2001 at 14:16:07 (PDT)

A: Crohn's disease is a bowel disorder. Helpful herbs include cat's claw, marshmallow root, flax, and slippery elm, though dietary considerations, digestive enzymes and other lifestyle considerations play a large role. HRF offers a more complete Information Packet on Crohn's Disease and Colitis/Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Click the titles for more information.

Q: I have been diagnosed as having IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). I understand that IBS isn't as serious as other inflammatory bowel diseases and that it is self-limiting but it still causes me great discomfort and I would like to do something about it. I have initiated some dietary changes but would like to add herbs to my program. Can you offer any suggestions?

A: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common digestive disorder seen by physicians. Conventional treatment generally involves the addition of fibrous bulking agents to the diet and the use of antispasmodic and/or antidepressant drugs. As for alternatives treatments, herbs have been used for centuries to help ease various bowel complaints, including IBS.

The herbal remedy most widely used in the treatment of IBS is essential oil of peppermint (Mentha piperita). In at least eight randomized, controlled clinical trials, peppermint oil has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of IBS. A main ingredient in peppermint is menthol, which relaxes the muscles in the small intestine. Most studies used a dosage of 0.2 ml (1 capsule) of peppermint essential oil three times a day between meals. Enteric-coated capsules seem to be the most effective, as these do not break down until they reach the intestines.

Traditional herbalists recommend herbs such as licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra), chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and hops (Humulus lupulus) in the belief that they perform the dual function of reducing pain and inflammation and soothing the nervous system. Supporting the nervous system may be especially helpful in cases of IBS in which chronic stress is a major contributing factor.

Adding a daily dose of bulk fiber to your diet, such as psyllium seed husk (Plantago ovata), can be helpful in regulating bowel movements and easing bowel discomfort. The commonly recommended product Metamucil is actually made with psyllium. People who have asthma may wish to use flax seed powder instead, as psyllium has caused reactions in some sensitive individuals.

Other dietary changes may also be helpful. Studies have shown that bowel problems are nearly nonexistent in cultures where the basic diet consists of natural unrefined grains, fruits, and vegetables, and that they are on the rise in technologically advanced countries where people eat less fiber and more refined foods.

Although no clinical studies have investigated its use, some therapists feel that cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa) holds promise for the treatment of IBS. There are anecdotal reports that the herb can be helpful in the treatment of various resistant intestinal disorders, including IBS and Crohn's disease. In its native home, the Peruvian Amazon, cat's claw has a long history of traditional use as a treatment for digestive problems and inflammation.


Drug Testing

Q: My husband is a triathlete and takes many vitamins and herbs. Do you know of any herbs that could make a urine drug test show up positive?

Susan <suezzen@aol.com>
Carol Stream, IL USA - Sunday, November 11, 2001 at 10:30:55 (PST)

A: There is a common misconception that the herb goldenseal will mask illegal drugs in a urine test, which is untrue. However since some people still believe this to be true, some drug testing companies do screen for the presence of goldenseal. Poppy seeds can sometimes create a positive result for opiates.

Q: What is golden seal? Is it bad? What is the reason that the military doesn't want me to take it.

tracee zale <traceezale@hotmail.com>
apo, ap KOREA - Friday, September 21, 2001 at 05:13:17 (PDT)

A: Many people think that goldenseal (botanical name Hydrastis canadensis) is a broad spectrum "herbal antibiotic" and/or that it can can mask or "flush out" the presence of illegal drugs in drug urinalysis. Both of these common beliefs are based on myths that lack scientific support. Some labs now screen for the presence goldenseal during drug urinalysis, presumably to catch those who think they can mask illegal drugs by taking this herb. The truth is, goldenseal is an effective medicinal plant for some very specific applications: as an antiseptic and astringent to the skin and digestive tract, as mucus membrane tonic, as an anti-inflammatory eyewash, to stimulate the flow of mucus in dry, irritated conditions, and inhibition of bacterial parasites in the digestive tract. Another important thing to know about goldenseal is that it is an endangered plant and it is advisable that one of the many alternative plants to goldenseal be used instead. For more information on goldenseal or Endangered Plants, click the links.



Q: Is there any herbal treatment for glaucoma?

Sumitte DE SOYZA <sumidesoyza@yahoo.com>
Yonkers, N.Y. USA - Thursday, September 27, 2001 at 09:36:44 (PDT)

A: There is some evidence that ginkgo may aid in the treatment of glaucoma by increasing blood circulation in the eyes, although further research is needed to confirm this. Also, bilberry contributes to overall eye health because of its antioxidant properties. For more detailed information, see or packet on Eye Health.

Q: I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had chemotherapy treatment and lost my hair. My hair is now growing back, but rather slowly. I was given herbal medicine which is designed to revilatise hair growth, and I would like to try it. However, I have slight reservation about taking it - my cancer is hormone receptive and I should not take anything which may produce hormonal effects. I hear that some herbs have natural hormone, and I would like to ask you if any of the followings have it: whey, magnesium stearate, thistle, zinc gluconate, kelp, calcium pantothenate, burdock root, nettle, muira puama, passiflora, guarana. Thank you very much for your help. Best regards

Kiko <kikonoda@ontel.net.uk>
London, UK - Sunday, September 02, 2001 at 16:15:37 (PDT)

A: None of the herbs you mentioned have phytoestrogenic effects, however some of them, namely muira pauma and guarana are quite stimulating. If this is a product to be taken internally, you may want to be cautious of the stimulating effects. You may want to choose a topical alternative instead. We do have a very informative packet on Hair/Baldness. Please click the link for more information.

Q: i have heard that taking saw palmetto for females with thinning hair helps by blocking dht. is this true? what are the side effects?

doretta morgan <doretta.morgan@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu>
elk grove, ca USA - Thursday, June 21, 2001 at 08:45:55 (PDT)

A: Saw palmetto, an herb that has great research in the treatment of prostate problems, is also a useful herb for women. It is considered a very safe herb. I suggest reading David Winston's book, Saw Palmetto for Men and Women…(1999) for a thorough answer to your question. You can order it through our online bookstore by clicking here.

Q: I was wondering are there any herbs that can aid in slowing down the growth of hair and lead to a holt in growth.

Courtney Jones <redfrga257@aol.com>
philadelphia, pa 19131 - Monday, June 18, 2001 at 05:23:43 (PDT)

A: Since hair growth is a natural, healthy process and most herbs promote healthy processes, there is probably not an herb that will do this. You did not mention if this is abnormal hair growth on unwanted areas. If so, see your doctor; it may be worth having your hormone levels checked, as this is a possible reason for excessive hair growth or loss.



Q: Can you suggest an herbal/vitamin supplement company that is reputable? Do you know of Sweet Annie's Herbs in Pa? Thank you Kitty Flinn

Kitty Flinn <gflinn@kc.rr.com>
Overland Park, KS USA - Monday, September 03, 2001 at 13:07:56 (PDT)

A: We do not recommend products, however we do provide a list of companies that sell herbs and herbal products on the following page of our website: http://www.herbs.org/herbsources.htm
When choosing a dietary supplement, talk to friends, family, and your local health food store for recommendations and testimonials. You can also call manufacturers and ask them about their quality control procedures and from where they source the raw ingredients for their products.


VICKI OLSON <woodensigns@yahoo.com>
CHRISTIANA, TN USA - Sunday, August 19, 2001 at 18:00:16 (PDT)

A: You have not provided much information. Cysts can be from several sources including sebaceous gland infections or simply a fatty growth. Dietary detoxification may be useful and blood cleansing herbs such as burdock or red clover are safe, but a watchful eye and communication with your doctor should be maintained. Treating it naturally would require a complete workup with a naturopathic physician or other holistic practitioner. Check the following page of our website for organizations that can give referrals to practitioners in or around your area: http://www.herbs.org/herborglist.htm


LEROY BURRELL <llejoy@msn.com>
SCOTTSDALE, AZ. USA - Wednesday, June 20, 2001 at 14:45:51 (PDT)

A: In our membership magazine HerbalGram, Issue # 44, an overview of the herb industry was published. If you would like to order a copy, please call us at (303) 449-2265. The top herbs included ginkgo, St. John's wort, ginseng, garlic, echinacea, saw palmetto, grapeseed, kava, valerian and aloe. We also sell and extensive report: Herb Market Trends and Statistics. Click the link for more information.

Q: Just for general health, just as one would take a mulitivitaman or eat a meal or take a prescritption pill, what herbs should be taken for general health? No remedies just be taken to be a healthier person all in all?

Michael Malacrida` <magnagei@usa.net>
Barnegat, NJ USA - Tuesday, June 19, 2001 at 19:21:12 (PDT)

A: There are many herbs, known as adaptogens, such as schizandra, Siberian ginseng or astragalus, that can be taken for improved health effects. There are also many herb-foods (sold as supplements) that provide health benefits, such as garlic, ginger, oregano, basil, cranberries, blueberries, grapes and more. It is a good idea to learn the local wild plant foods in your area and incorporate them into your diet. Wild herbs such as dandelion, chickweed and miner's lettuce, or cultivated herbs like basil, thyme, and nasturtium can be added to common recipes to boost the health benefits of a prudent diet. Use common sense; it is possible to overdo the healthiest habits.

Q: I'm doing an I-search for school ,and I need help ansering the question how do plants help provide medicine for people.

roxanne amad <hoodratchick0000>
hagerstown, MD USA - Sunday, May 13, 2001 at 17:35:57 (PDT)

A: Herbs have been used as foods and medicines by people of all cultures since before recorded history. Plants contain biologically active compounds that affect physiological functions in the body. For more information visit the following pages of our website: Research Reviews and Green Papers.

Q: Could you please tell me any manufacturing and regulatory information about herbal extractions? Thanks.
<ligaohong lgh@163.net.cn>
tianjin, china - Friday, April 27, 2001 at 06:23:46 (PDT)

A: Please visit the following page of our web site for these resources: http://www.herbs.org/africa/asnappresources.html

Q: Do herbs provide any nutrional value?
Maria Kagee <rkagee@aol.com>
Davenport, IA USA - Friday, April 20, 2001 at 20:06:59 (PDT)

A: Yes! Herbs contain many vitamins and minerals, usually in amounts equal or superior to foods, but should not be considered a substitute for a healthy and balanced diet. Some of the most power packed nutrient herbs include dandelion, nettle, alfalfa, calendula and chickweed. To learn more about the nutritional profile on many herbs, pick up a copy of Mark Pedersen's, "Nutritional Herbology," 1994 (1-800-421-2401).



Q: I have mountain ginsing for sale where do i go to get the highest price

carrol deckard <cdeckard3@yahoo.com>
clintwood, va USA - Tuesday, September 04, 2001 at 02:14:28 (PDT)

A: Carrol, you may be interested to know that there is an organization called the Herb Growing and Marketing Network that helps people like yourself by providing and abundance of information on how to grow and sell herbs in the world marketplace. Their website address is: www.herbworld.com


Aslam Khan <nafmak@khi.compol.com>
Karachi, Pakistan - Sunday, August 26, 2001 at 22:02:24 (PDT)

A: Do you mean asafoetida? This herb is used as a garlic substitute in cooking and is also referred to as Devils Dung, because it smells so unpleasant. There are numerous websites on it if you type it into a search engine.

Q: I am an herbalist from San Antonio, TX. I grow most of my own medicinal herbs. I am looking for a source for seeds or plants of Euphrasia officinalis, Eye Bright. I have been told it can not be grown here in the U.S. Can you help me in my search? Thanks, Dee Bailey

Dee Bailey <deesKitchen2000@yahoo.com>
San Antonio, Texas USA - Wednesday, July 11, 2001 at 19:20:10 (PDT)

A: It is true that eyebright is a very difficult plant to grow. It is a saprophyte (hosts off other plants) and needs an appropriate environment, often rare. I believe it can be found wild in some areas of Maine. Check out the following page of our web site: http://www.herbs.org/seedlist.htm

Q: When clipping herbs for cooking the first time. How much at a time do you clip for cooking.

Karolyn Hall <karolyn@webzone.net>
Tulsa, OK USA - Tuesday, June 12, 2001 at 13:59:52 (PDT)

A: The general rule is about 2-3 times as much fresh herb as dried. For example, when a recipe calls for one teaspoon of dried herb, use one tablespoon fresh. Fresh herb contains moisture and is not as strong as when it is dried.

Q: Could you give me any information on lemon grass? In particular its growing conditions, its uses, markets? I live in South Africa and I've got alot of Lemon grass that is ready for harvesting. I wonder if you can help from here? Your assistance would be greatly appreciated Kind regards Taryn

Taryn Armstrong <garmstrong@worldonline.co.za>
Durban, South Africa - Thursday, May 10, 2001 at 00:52:35 (PDT)

A: Lemongrass is a popular herb flavoring in Asian cooking and makes a wonderful beverage tea as a hot or cold infusion. I don't really know about its market prospects for your area, but perhaps you could find some outlets on our international development resource links page: http://www.herbs.org/africa/asnappresources.html


Heart/Blood Pressure/Circulation

Q: howdy to all- I have a few questions. I have very cold hands and feet. My body tends to chill very easily, do I have poor circlation? What is best to alleviate this? I also have been having excesive amounts of trouble with my memory. I have most trouble remembering what happened yesterday and such. I also become very confused recently. My final ailment has to do with my concentrtion level. I have a hard time focusing on something for more then 3 mintues. I would truly appreciate any suggestions on how to relieve my self of these problems. Thank you.

elizabeth <elizabethwarfield@hotmail.com/>
san fransisco, ca USA - Wednesday, October 31, 2001 at 13:04:52 (PST)

A: Ginkgo has been shown in clinical trials to both increase circulation to the limbs and brain and to improve cognitive (mental) function. We do have packets available on Ginkgo and Mind/Memory. Click the links for more information.

Q: Dear Sir/Madam I am a RN to BSN student and would like to know if there is additional herbs for managing cardiac deseace I am aware of garlic and Hawthorne but is there anything else? thank you for your help

eija wood <eija01@msn.com>
loxahatchee, fl USA - Monday, October 22, 2001 at 09:22:15 (PDT)

A: In addition to garlic and hawthorn, there are other herbs that can help prevent cardiac disease like guggul, which helps regulate cholesterol. Diet and exercise are also very important considerations for cardiac health.We do offer packets on the Heart and Cholesterol Regulation, Click the links for more information.

Q: Are there any interactions between hawthorne berry (tea) and coumadin?? thanks.

mfliegler <sroolik@aol.com>
montgomery vlg, md USA - Tuesday, October 02, 2001 at 18:35:41 (PDT)

A: Hawthorn is generally considered safe and has no blood thinning activity that would interact with or enhance the effects of blood thinning medications like Coumadin. However, persons taking medications for heart conditions, including high blood pressure should consult with their doctor before taking Hawthorn, as it can enhance the effects of certain heart medications, and you doctor may need to adjust your dosage.


RIVERSIDE, RI USA - Friday, September 21, 2001 at 13:01:14 (PDT)

A: No, it is not advisable to take ginkgo in combination with blood thinning medications, including coumadin and aspirin. There are other herbs that may benefit your memory, which can be found in our packet on Mind/Memory. Please click the link for more information.

Q: what herbs can be used for hemophilia patients?

Harriet <hr_smiles@hotmail.com>
Trinidad - Saturday, September 01, 2001 at 06:51:04 (PDT)

A: Of course, it is important that those with hemophilia avoid plants with blood-thinning activity like garlic and ginkgo. Often gentle, nourishing herbs can be helpful by supporting the overall health of the body. These include: oatstraw, nettle, reishi mushroom, dandelion root, milk thistle and schizandra berries. Yellow dock can also be helpful if there is low iron.

Q: Is there a herb or a natural substance for cumiden?

B.Hammond <Hammond@library.uta.edu>
Arlington , tx USA - Friday, August 24, 2001 at 08:21:55 (PDT)

A: Coumadin is a blood thinning prescription drug. There are a number of herbs containing a constituent with related effects, called coumarins. Anticoagulant herbs include dong quai, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, horse chestnut and red clover. If you are considering substituting herbs for your prescription drug you should discuss this with your physician, who should closely monitor the effects.

Q: Is there any type of natural help for bursitis or numbness and tingling of the arm and hands.

J Lau <jeffspooket@aol.com>
carlisle, pa USA - Tuesday, August 07, 2001 at 12:06:20 (PDT)

A: For increased circulation to your arm try applying a capsicum (cayenne) cream (available at any drug store). There are a number of anti-inflammatory herbs that can be taken orally such as ginger, turmeric and boswellia, all discussed in our packet on Pain and Inflammation.

Q: Hi, i'm really hoping that you could help me. My Mum is about 60 years old, she is Diabetic and takes insulin via injection, she has in the past 5 years suffered from two minor strokes. She is already in some blood thinning medication. I am so deppressed because she is loosing her memory, i am so desperate to find herbs to help her reatian her memory and feel better generally, she is very anxcious and deppressed also. i have heard that Ginko Biloba help bloodflow to the brain and aids memory but am wondering if it is suitable fir her as she is on the medication for her stroke and is on insulin....Please Please help Thanks

Sami Duck <samiduck1@yahoo.co.uk>
London, England - Thursday, July 26, 2001 at 02:40:08 (PDT)

A: Ginkgo has been thoroughly studied for increasing blood circulation to the brain, but since it can potentiate blood thinning medications, you should clear it with her doctor. Our packet on Mind and Memory also mentions huperzine (a supplement) and rosemary

Q: I was looking on the site for some information on an herb that might keep the blood from clotting. I suffer from blood clots and I am interesed in getting some information on something that might help to keep the blood thin. Thanks!

Crystal Harvin <crystalhw@hotmail.com>
Marietta, GA USA - Friday, July 13, 2001 at 08:59:27 (PDT)

A: There are a number of herbs that provide blood thinning properties. Angelica, dong quai, garlic, ginger and ginkgo are a few. Some herbs should not be combined with prescription drugs for this reason. Our packets on the Heart and each of the single herbs listed above will provide more information.

Q: Requesting listing of herbal remedies for high blood pressure, with references of published studies if any. Thank you for your assistance. Jeffrey S. Taylor

Jeffrey S. Taylor <Jeffreystaylordc@aol.com>
Otsego,, MI USA - Tuesday, May 22, 2001 at 16:35:14 (PDT)

A: Our book The Encyclopedia of Popular Herbs outlines a variety of herbs for high blood pressure such as garlic, Siberian ginseng and valerian. You may also find our packet on heart health very useful. Both can be ordered from our website. Click on the links for more information.

Q: Are there any herbs that are helpful with Raynauds? How does one determine which companies to purchase herbal remedies from?
Carol Worley <worley_carol@hotmail.com>
Redmond, wa USA - Wednesday, March 28, 2001 at 13:52:18 (PST)

A: Reynaud's disease adversely affects the circulatory system, apparently caused by constriction and spasms of the small arteries that bring blood to the fingers, nose or toes. Circulatory tonics such as ginkgo, garlic, ginger, cayenne or mustard will stimulate blood flow. Some studies also suggest supplementation with GLA such as Evening Primrose or borage oil. Purchase your supplements through a reputable company that has been in the supplement industry for a long time. Your store clerk should be able to help you choose a good brand. We do have a comprehensive Information Packet available on Raynaud's disease. Please visit this page to read a summary of this packet: http://www.herbs.org/herbpacketsummariesR-Z.htm


Hepatitis C


Herb Safety/Drug Interactions

Q: What are the adulterants? How they are used? Which adulterants are used in: 1. Aconitum 2. Artemisia anua/cina 3. Atropa belladona 4. Cinchona 5. Digitalis 6. Dioscorea 7. Podophyllum 8. Rauwolfia serpentina

Dr. Syed Tanvir Ali <sytali@yahoo.co.uk>
New Delhi, Delhi INDIA - Saturday, November 03, 2001 at 00:03:43 (PST)

A: Adulterants are potentially toxic herbs or other substances that accidentally get mixed in with another healing herb. Sometimes a plant collector will mistake the identity of a plant when collecting it. Other times, a mix-up occurs in the manufacturing process of a product. Companies with good quality control systems make sure that their raw plant materials are not contaminated (adulterated) with any other substances that should not be contained in the product.

Q: Can I take Vitex with Diane 35 birth control pill? I have hormone imbalance and took Vitex before. I have alot of acne not going away. I have been on Diane 35 for about 7 months, some improvement. I heard taking Vitex or progesterone cream could interact with the pill and I could become pregnant. Is this true? I have hair loss on my head as well. Since 96 acne, hair loss, kidney pain on cycle,pls help. Sonja

Sonja Strang <sonja_strang@yahoo.com>
London, Ont. Canada - Monday, October 29, 2001 at 08:06:36 (PST)

A: Vitex may counteract the effectiveness of birth control pills.

Q: I have been a long time subsriber to Herbal Research Foundation. As a woman's health practitioner who works with both allopathic and natural medicine I have a question re: use of daily coumadin ( a blood thinner) and Dong Quai and Vitex. Are either of those herbs going to act synergistically with coumadin? I couldn't find any literature on this. Thank you very much for your time.

Anna Keck-Tomasso RN, FNP <annakeck1@cs.com>
Aptos, Ca USA - Wednesday, October 17, 2001 at 09:53:09 (PDT)

A: Dong quai is not recommended for use in combination with anticoagulant medications such as Coumadin. It is also contraindicated in cases of excessive menstrual flow. Vitex, on the other hand, has no blood-thinning properties and therefore has no known reaction with anticoagulant agents. We do offer comprehensive packets of information on both Vitex and Dong quai. Click the links for more information.

Q: Which herbs possess anticoagulant properties? I am having surgery in January, and have been advised to discontinue any supplements which may inhibit coagulation. Many thanks, Kimberly.

Kimberly Miller <sleepyteachy@excite.com>
Lancaster, CA USA - Saturday, October 13, 2001 at 10:40:31 (PDT)

A: Some of the most common herbs with anticoagulant properties are garlic, ginkgo, dong quai, and alfalfa. It is wise to inform your doctor of any and all dietary supplements you are taking and to discontinue their use for at least 2 weeks prior to a scheduled surgery.

Q: Hello, Several Q&A postings on your page deal with Ma Huang. I would like to ask you to specifically address taking Ma Huang in weight loss products. I'm a 24 year old male with no serious obesity problem, but I wanted to lose around 25 lbs, and as a part of my diet regimin, I've been taking a product with 335mg of Ma Huang extract (stems) 2x a day. It is standardized for 200mg ephedrine. If I understand this correctly, that means I am taking 400mg ephedrine 4 days a week. (I skip weekends and one weekday, at the manufacturer's recommendation). I notice a nice energy boost, and don't suffer any negative side effects such as sweating, hr increase, increase in body temp, etc. Despite the fact I have no negative side effects, I am concerned about whether what I am doing will be negative in the long run. I am doing a 3 month nutritional challenge, after which time, I don't plan on taking the product. Do you think I need to be concerned about this level of use? Will this impact my metabolism once I'm off it? I would really appreciate your feedback. Sincerely, Dan Oltersdorf Tallahassee, Florida

Dan oltersdorf <danoltersdorf@yahoo.com>
Tallahassee, FL USA - Friday, October 12, 2001 at 05:22:10 (PDT)

A: The recommended dosage for Ephedra (Ma Huang) from the clinical studies is 12 to 25 mg total alkaloids (calculated as ephedrine) of a standardized product two to three times per day. This equates to a maximum of 75 mg of total ephedrine per day. Standardized products generally contain 6% ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. For a non-standardized product, the dosage is 500 to 1,000 mg two to three times per day, or a maximum of 3,000 mg per day. It is not recommended for long-term use.

Q: Are there any interactions between hawthorne berry (tea) and coumadin?? thanks.

mfliegler <sroolik@aol.com>
montgomery vlg, md USA - Tuesday, October 02, 2001 at 18:35:41 (PDT)

A: Hawthorn is generally considered safe and has no blood thinning activity that would interact with or enhance the effects of blood thinning medications like Coumadin. However, persons taking medications for heart conditions, including high blood pressure should consult with their doctor before taking Hawthorn, as it can enhance the effects of certain heart medications, and you doctor may need to adjust your dosage.


RIVERSIDE, RI USA - Friday, September 21, 2001 at 13:01:14 (PDT)

A: No, it is not advisable to take ginkgo in combination with blood thinning medications, including coumadin and aspirin. There are other herbs that may benefit your memory, which can be found in our packet on Mind/Memory. Please click the link for more information.

Q: I want to take panax ginseng extract at the recommended maximum dosage, but I do not know what the dosage is. I started taking the liquid extract, one vial each morning in tomato juice. Each 10ml vial contains panax ginseng extract 2000mg (minimum 3.5% Ginsenosides). Ingredients are listed in this order: Honey, distilled water, Panax Ginseng Extract, Alcohol. ---- Would it be safe to take 2 or 3 vials per day? Should they be taken with or separate from other vitamins and minerals such as calcium?

Dee Woodman <dwoodman@tisd.net>
Bloomington, TX USA - Thursday, September 20, 2001 at 07:37:14 (PDT)

A: The effective dosage for Panax ginseng from research studies is 1 to 2 ml per day of a 1:1 extract (equivalent to 1 to 2 grams of ginseng root). Ginseng is best avoided by those with high blood pressure, and it is not advisable to take large doses of ginseng in combination with other stimulants, including caffeine.

Q: who discovered the herbal medicine?

tereso <angel_terry16/@yahoo.com>
manila, philippines - Thursday, September 13, 2001 at 23:44:07 (PDT)

A: Plants have been used for food and medicine for thousands of years. Indigenous peoples all over the world discovered that the plants growing in the region where they lived could be used for various things, including food, medicine, clothing, and dyes. There are ancient records of medicinal plant use in many cultures, including Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Babylonian, and many more.

Q: Is it safe to use Artichoke Herbal Pills with an expiry date of 1999?

Barbara <pborys@home.com>
Kelowna, BC Canada - Thursday, August 23, 2001 at 05:50:59 (PDT)

A: You did not disclose a full ingredient list. Chances are, it has lost some potency, but may not be harmful just because it has expired, unless it contains rancid oils or other ingredients that might spoil. I suggest calling the manufacturer. It is generally suggested that an expired product be discarded.

Q: Should Silica be used if you have any type of heart ailments?

Wanda Norwood <broths1@aol.com>
Muskogee, Ok USA - Saturday, August 04, 2001 at 08:33:51 (PDT)

A: Silica is a mineral found in many foods and herbs and is vital to healthy skin, hair, nails and various body functions. You did not mention if you were taking it as a supplement or if you are on heart medication, but it is generally considered safe.

Q: I was wondering about the toxicity of some herbs found in a supplement that I am considering. They are horsetail, bilberry, ginko biloba and sabal serrulata. Any and all information you could provide would be most helpful. I'm unsure of the dosages, so even if toxicity only occurs with pounds of these herbs I'd still like to know. Thanks a lot for your input. Hope to hear from you soon. -DR

Darren Rich <drich139@aol.com>
Elkins park, pa USA - Wednesday, July 18, 2001 at 13:35:34 (PDT)

A: Horsetail may be irritating to the kidneys when taken for long periods or at high doses, for some individuals. Bilberry is very safe, as is saw palmetto. The ginkgo should not be combined with blood thinners, and if you are on prescription medications, check with your doctor. Dosage should always comply with label suggestions, as products may differ in concentration. For a more complete answer, refer to our book "The Encyclopedia of Popular Herbs", which has complete monographs for the latter 3 herbs.

Q: Where can I find information about various herbal meds and food interaction.

Helen Chung <tazette78@hotmail.msn.com>
USA - Friday, July 13, 2001 at 12:28:15 (PDT)

A: These studies are few and far between. Some have been published in JAMA and other medical journals. Some common food and drug interactions are with grapefruit, broccoli, dairy products, tobacco and alcohol. One of the membership benefits of joining the Herb Research Foundation is a subscription to Herbs for Health Magazine, which publishes a regular column on herb/drug/food interactions. The upcoming issue will have an article on foods of the Solinaceae family (potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant) and how they suppress the removal of anesthesia from the body. HRF also has a packet on Herb Safety.

Q: Without knowing the dangers, i had been taking an herb that was loaded with ephedrine....and it has come to my attention that this herb is dangerous for many reasons. One, being,great loss of memory. I have experienced several types of symptoms from this herb...most assuredly..loss of memory. However, with all the dangers I CAN find and the warning that go with them...NOBODY ever says that if you stop taking it, whether or not you will return to normal.....or are we dibilitated for life? Please answer this for me...Thanks so much.....

HS <cherub_31@hotmail.com>
Douglassville, PA USA - Sunday, July 01, 2001 at 03:15:43 (PDT)

A: You did not say why you were taking this formula, for how long or at what dose. Of all the studies on ephedra, none lists memory loss as a side effect. It is not a dangerous herb if taken in the correct dosage (following label instructions). Ephedrine is in many over-the-counter medications available at any drug store. You should contact the manufacturer of the product for safety information. Our information packet on Ephedra (Ma Huang) may put your mind at ease. Click the link for more information.

Q: I seem to recollect reading that taking echinacea can increase the risk of asthmatic attacks. Is this true? I have an asthmatic friend who is currently taking echinacea and who is finding he is having breathing problems after only the slighest exertion.

christine <christine.elsley@noie.net.au>
Canberra, ACT Australia - Sunday, June 17, 2001 at 18:48:25 (PDT)

A: There is little clinical evidence of this happening. However, the source of this information is probably the fact that Echinacea is in the Asteraceae family, which includes some common allergenic plants such as ragweed and chamomile. If your friend is concerned, discontinue using the product and see if the symptoms subside.

Q: I am currently taking 2 50mg doses of Zoloft for depression, and 2 1mg doses daily for anxiety, and depression. Unfortunately these medications are not keeping up. I tried several anti depressants, before finding out I also now needed something for anxiety. Am scheduled to go back in next week to see what can be done. My question is if I stay with these two drugs, is there an herbal choice for these two conditions that I might try, which would be combatible, and in what dose?

Vincent Wattson <fwattson@juno.com>
Wichita, Ks. USA - Wednesday, June 13, 2001 at 16:40:52 (PDT)

A: It is never recommended that you combine herbal anti depressants with prescription ones.

Q: I would like to know if you can take echinacea while on "the pill?"

Cora <bsg99@mainewest.com>
Farmington, ME USA - Wednesday, June 06, 2001 at 08:05:04 (PDT)

A: Yes, there are no known interactions between these two substances. Echinacea is most effective when taken at the first sign of an infection, and continuous use should be limited to no longer than 8 weeks.

Q: My doctor says Kava-kava can cause dependency/habit forming, scaly dermatitis, and stomach/intestinal problem, and that this herb calming/anti-anxiety effect is through sedation. Are all these true? Thank you. Birgitte Tan-Coleman

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA USA - Sunday, May 13, 2001 at 10:40:28 (PDT)

A: Kava is an anti anxiety herb that has been a traditional ceremonial herb to the people of the South Pacific to resolve disputes amicably. Long term use, or use at high doses can cause a dermal scaling that is reversible upon discontinuing the herb, but it contains no physically habit forming compounds. Kava compounds bind to GABA receptors in the brain, which are responsible for promoting relaxation; long term use does not cause dependence. It also helps prevent the uptake of noradrenaline, a hormone that initiates the stress response; it also relaxes muscle tissue. It is a very safe herb when used appropriately. Large doses can cause stomach upset or headache. It should not be used by pregnant women or combined with other psychological medications or alcohol. We do offer a comprehensive packet of information on Kava that you can read and then discuss with your doctor. We also have a packet on Anxiety/Stress. Click the links for more information.

Q: Hi, I was wondering do you know if its ok to take st-john wort and kava kava forever? Like just take one of each everyday, or take one of each every other day forever? would that be alright? or would that be had for your health? The reason I ask is I been taking both herbs for 2 years now and it has helped me soo much with some of my problems and i really dont want to ever stop taking them.... well gotta run, take care :) Jenn

Jenn <diefenbaker12@hotmail.com>
Athol, MA USA - Sunday, May 06, 2001 at 07:51:34 (PDT)

A: You did not mention how much is in each dosage you are taking, so it is difficult to answer your question. Generally speaking it is good to take an occasional break from any supplementation by pulsing its use: a period of time on the substance balanced with a period of time off the substance. The amount of time, of course, depends on what you are taking. Taking a break gives your body the opportunity to function un-aided, and you may find that you no longer need the supplement after a period of time. Ideally, one would want to take supplements only long enough to bring the body back to a state of health so that it can manage the stresses of everyday life on its own. Kava can cause some eczema-like skin problems with constant high dosages and both Kava and St. John's wort have contraindications with specific prescription drugs. We do offer comprehensive packets of information on both Kava and St. John's wort that detail their use, safety, dosage, side effects and known contraindications/drug interactions. Click the links for more information. You may want to consult an herbalist in your area. You can find one by going to the website of the American Herbalists Guild: http://www.healthy.net/herbalists

Q: Recently I was given a packet of herbal dietary supplement to try. It contains many herbs I have never heard of and I am currently taking Depakote for bi-polar disorder. I am wondering about the herbs listed:Chinese Ma Huang, Yerba Mate, Bladderwrack, Valerian, Fumaria officinalis, Popain, Dried salix purpurea, Chondrus crispus. If you could please let me know as soon as possible.
Deborah Barts <huffy58@juno.com>
DePere, Wi USA - Friday, April 20, 2001 at 16:12:45 (PDT)

A: You did not say why you were taking this herbal supplement. There are many contraindications for combining psychoactive prescription drugs with herbs containing stimulants (ma huang and mate). I suggest you check with a qualified herbalist before taking anything. To check for one in your area, look at the website for the American Herbalists Guild: http://www.healthy.net/herbalists

Q: MSNBC recently had the dangers of a number of herbs. My particular interest was in Primrose oil. My son takes ~1100mg/day. Please advise re: safe dosage and risks.
Lynne Simpson <lss2f@virginia.EDU>
Charlottesville, VA USA - Friday, April 13, 2001 at 06:10:13 (PDT)

A: You did not mention whether this news source listed EPO as a cautionary supplement, the age of your son or why he is taking it. Research shows this plant source of essential fatty acids to be very safe. There is scientific support for its use in diabetic neuropathy, breast pain, eczema, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, ADD and Crohn's disease. There are no known contraindications, but is not recommended with the use of phenothiazine epileptogenic drugs for schizophrenia. The standard dose is 6-12 capsules per day in divided doses. We do have an information packet available on Evening Primrose. Please visit this page to order: http://www.herbs.org/herbinfopack.html



Q: Sorry - I have sent this again because I had given you the wrong e mail address. Please ignore my last e mail. My question is: am I OK to take echinacea for colds if I have an auto-immune system disorder, (Grave`s Disease)?? I ask this because I became quite agitated after taking echinacea, and wondered if this was because the herb effects my condition. I would be very grateful for a reply. Many thanks.

Joanne Bellerby <joanne.bellerby@rusch.uk.com>
Middlesbrough, UK - Sunday, December 09, 2001 at 16:25:35 (PST)

A: There has been some controversy about the use of Echinacea in those with autoimmune disorders. Many people who have these disorders tolerate Echinacea quite well. Others prefer to take more tonic immune supportive herbs such as Astragalus, reishi and/or shiitake mushroom, ashwaganhda, or others. We do offer packets of information on both Echinacea (which discusses its use in autoimmune conditions) and Autoimmune Disorders, which gives more detail about tonic immune herbs.

Q: My daughter has had slow lymphatic drainage since she got bronchitis and chickenpox at the same time. Are there any herbs that are good to promote or speed up lymphatic drainage? thanks

Leslie <MelwinKoala@aol.com>
Vancouver, BC Canada - Sunday, November 18, 2001 at 16:04:30 (PST)

A: Two herbs that may aid lymph drainage are cleavers and calendula. You may want to check your local health food store for herbal lymph support formulas.

Q: I've heard milk thistle is not good for h.i.v.+ people to take.Is this true? And why?

Linda <ldp@sympatico.ca>
London, Ont. Canada - Thursday, October 18, 2001 at 20:00:32 (PDT)

A: Milk thistle has been safely used as a food herb and medicine for centuries. No side effects have been reported during clinical trials. Milk thistle may initially have a mild laxative effect in certain people because of its stimulating effects on bile secretion. People with diabetes who are taking milk thistle should carefully monitor their blood glucose as they may require adjustments to medications they are taking for blood sugar regulation. We do have comprehensive packets of information available on both Milk Thistle and Herbs for HIV/AIDS. Click the links for more information.


MASON, MI USA - Thursday, September 06, 2001 at 08:05:17 (PDT)

A: Proper diet, rest and exercise are essential for keeping the immune system strong and healthy. In addition, there are several tonic herbs that can help support the immune system, including astragalus, reishi mushroom, ginseng and Siberian ginseng. Echinacea should be taken for no longer than 8 weeks at a time. We do have very informative packets on Herbs for the Immune System and Adaptogenic Herbs that I think would be very helpful for you. Please click the links for more information.

Q: I understand that coptis chinensis has antibiotic properties. Is it ever prescribed for the use of hte common cold? Thanks.

Bruno Di Giulian <bdigiulian@cs.com>
Coral Springs, FL USA - Saturday, August 25, 2001 at 11:11:46 (PDT)

A: Coptis is sometimes employed as a substitute for golden seal, as both contain berberine (the antibiotic property). Both are used for colds, though little research exists.

Q: I am 39 a year old woman with lupus. My doctor who normally believes in using natural therapies with me has said that I should not be taking Echinacea. I always thought that Echinacea was safe. Do you have any information on this?

A: Echinacea is considered a safe and non-toxic herb, with no known drug interactions. However, many experts believe the herb is contraindicated (meaning it should be avoided) for people with autoimmune diseases. According to the German Commission E (a European regulatory agency), echinacea should not be taken by people with autoimmune conditions, including multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, leukosis, and collagenosis, as well as immune system disorders such as HIV infection and AIDS. (It may also cause an allergic reaction in those who are allergic to plants in the ragweed family).

In autoimmune conditions, the immune system attacks the body's own tissues. Some researchers theorize that echinacea may further stimulate an already over-active immune system, causing more damage. This theory may be unfounded and has been challenged by some experts, but there has been no systematic research in the area. Currently, there are no official reports that echinacea causes adverse effects in people with autoimmune conditions, but there have been anecdotal reports that echinacea causes exacerbations of autoimmune symptoms. Clearly, more research is needed before anyone can provide a definitive answer. At present, it is probably best to avoid using the herb or to work with a very knowledgeable practitioner who can closely monitor your progress until more information becomes available.



Q: I'm having a hard time sleeping. I wake up at least 3 or 4 times in an 8 hour night. Will Kava kava help me with a more restful sleep. Also are there any interactions with other herbal remedies I should be concerned about. I am also taking lecithin. Thank you
Angela <scooterpumpkin@home.com>
calgary, ab canada - Thursday, April 19, 2001 at 12:38:16 (PDT)

A: Kava is a good anti-anxiety herb, but the one with good research for sleep is valerian. You could also try other relaxing nervines such as hops, passion flower or skullcap. We do have Information Packets available on Herbs for Insomnia, Valerian, and Kava. Click the packet titles for more information.


Men-Specific Issues

Q: my husband is having a problem,he is going to the bathroom alot, peeing alot. sometimes he pees on hiself. the doctor gave him medication, and I think it effects him from getting hard (sex), is there herbs he can take.thank you.

mary ann <hernandez.marya.@worldnet.att.net>
hhillsborough, nj USA - Wednesday, August 22, 2001 at 14:43:28 (PDT)

A: Your husband needs a thorough diagnosis from his doctor, but if it is simple enlarged prostate the herb saw palmetto is thoroughly researched to help this problem. Our packets on Men's Herbs will provide detailed information on this subject..


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