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HRF strongly believes in the public's right to have access to herb information that is unbiased, truthful, and not misleading.  With that in mind, HRF provides herb information for educational purposes only.  This site is in the spirit of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act in that the information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any health or disease conditions.  In answering readers' questions, we note whether the information is science-based or based on traditional herb usage.  Please be aware that individual responses to herbs and dosages may vary.  If you have a serious health condition, please consult your health practitioner before self-treating with herbal remedies or products.

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Your question may have already been asked and answered here in our forum. Please look through the answers and replies in our archives and on our Q & A Main Page before submitting your query. We have categorized the archives by topic to make searching easier. You may want to jump directly to one of the following categories instead of scrolling through all posts. (Some entries appear under more than one category if they address more than one issue or question).


 

  OUR RESPONSES - Archive Topics N - Z

Nervous System/MS

Q: Are there any herbal supplements that help with nerve pain? Following a case of shingles, I have post herpetic neuropathy of the trigeminal nerve root. Thanks-

Elizabeth Fulton <elizabeth_fulton@hotmail.com>
TX USA - Sunday, September 02, 2001 at 20:33:54 (PDT)

A: You may wish to try Evening Primrose oil, which has been shown to help with diabetic neuropathy. You can purchase capsules at your local health food store. The effective dose from clinical trials is 8-12 capsules per day, each containing 320 - 480 mg GLA.


Q: I am looking for information on Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola) pertaining to adrenal support, fibromyalgia, altzeimers, action on the blood-brain barrier. research or clinical experience would be appreciated. i have used Centella for it's ability to strengthen connective tissue, and improve circulatory problems. Lately, a naturpathic physician told me that it was helpful for these other conditions i mentioned. i have been using it in a formula for a couple patients with fibromyalgia who seem to be doing well. is this because of it's known effects on circulation and connective tissue or something else. i looked on medline and couldn't find any research in these other areas. thanks! jade pierce, L.Ac.

Jade Pierce <dreamdance@juno.com>
Saxapahaw, NC USA - Monday, August 06, 2001 at 12:23:59 (PDT)

A: Gotu Kola is a wonderful herb for supporting the health of a number of body systems. Our extensive information packets on this herb and Fibromyalgia can answer many of your questions. For in-depth research costs for primary scientific articles, see our Research section on our website, or call us at (303) 449-2265.


Q: My husband has been diagnosed with nerve seizures, probably brought on by childhood abuse. He was told he can control them himself but might need psychiatric help. I was told that ginseng was good for nerve health. Is this true? Is there anything that would help with a nerve problem? He also has an extremely bad temper.

Wanda Brummett <hutton.brummett@verizon.net>
London, Ky USA - Sunday, July 15, 2001 at 17:33:32 (PDT)

A: It indeed sounds as if therapy would be useful. Ginseng would not be the herb of choice here. There are many useful nervine herbs, such as hops, wild oat, and scullcap (check our packet on Anxiety/Stress), but if he sees a doctor who decides he needs prescription medication, do not combine with herbs.


Q: my sister has multiple sclerosis, what herbs will help her? thanks maria

maria <m_glab@yahoo.com>
calgary, ab canada - Friday, June 15, 2001 at 12:27:39 (PDT)

A: This is a complicated health condition with a variety of symptoms. I suggest getting our information packet on M.S. or a lengthy book on the subject. One thing that has shown great promise is the incorporation of essential fatty acids into the diet such as evening primrose, borage, flax or black currant oils.


Q: I cut my hand off and am interested in herbs that might help my circulation and also help with nerve regeneration.

Diane Feldkamp <Di4travl@aol.com>
Freeport, IL USA - Monday, May 14, 2001 at 17:50:52 (PDT)

A: Classic nerve tonic herbs include St. John's wort, skullcap and wild oat. Herbs that support circulation include ginkgo, bilberry and hawthorn. We have comprehensive packets of information available on each of these herbs. Click here for more information.



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Pain/Inflammation

Q: My friend recently fell in the shower and really hurt her back. She is in a lot of pain and on a prescription drug but still is in pain. Is there a herb she could take to relieve some of her suffering? I f so please write immediately to me. Thank you God Bless :)

Cyrilla <www.CMotley@TampaBay.rr.com>
Lakeland, FL USA - Thursday, September 20, 2001 at 23:46:08 (PDT)

A: Turmeric can be used to alleviate pain and inflammation and is also a powerful antioxidant. We do offer an entire packet of information on herbs for Pain/Inflammation. Please click the link for more information.


Q: what herbal medicine can I take to prevent muscle cramps?

Beth <bethalpert@att.net>
Hackensack, nj USA - Monday, July 16, 2001 at 17:53:29 (PDT)

A: Black cohosh, kava and black haw are effective antispasmodics. You may want to check out our information packet on the Musculo-skeletal System. Also, making sure you are getting enough magnesium in your diet or through supplementation can be helpful.


Q: Can you suggest anything for muscle pain, especially between the shoulder blades?

Judy Kasfeldt <MamaJKas@aol.com>
New Berlin, wi USA - Thursday, May 24, 2001 at 22:01:19 (PDT)

A: There are some effective herbal anti inflammatories such as ginger and tumeric, but I suggest getting our full packet on Pain and Inflammation that goes into detail about these disorders. You did not say anything about the cause of this pain, which may determine which herb is best for you.


Q: what would be good to take swelling down in the lower lumbar area and dics of that region,

connie_gillland@ <hotmail.com>
hanston, kansas USA - Friday, May 04, 2001 at 18:40:09 (PDT)

A: There are a number of effective herbal anti-inflammatories such as ginger, boswellia, cayenne, and turmeric. Some are used externally and some internally. For more information see our packet on Pain and Inflammation.


Q: Which herb (or herbs) are most effective in controlling sustained muscle cramps in legs?
D. Halperin <dorothea15@juno.com>
Lancaster, CA USA - Tuesday, April 17, 2001 at 11:54:51 (PDT)

A: Anti spasmodic herbs include black haw, chamomile, valerian and kava. You may also benefit from a magnesium supplement and Epsom salts baths. We have an Information Packet available on the Musculo-skeletal System. Click the title for more information.


Q: I am hoping that you can help me. I have back pain from an old injury that comes and goes. I have taken a lot of aspirin over the years and am concerned about the effects this could have on my liver. I am wondering if you know of herbs that can help with pain relief for these types of problems.

A: Back pain is an extremely common and debilitating problem, costing the US an estimated $16 billion a year in medical treatment and $80 billion in lost wages and productivity.

Willow bark (Salix spp) has traditionally been used as a general pain and fever reducer, and some recent clinical studies support its use for relieving back pain. The herb contains a compound called salicin, a chemical precursor to salicylic acid, from which researchers first synthesized the active ingredient of aspirin. Researchers believe that like aspirin, white willow works by inhibiting the activity of prostaglandins and histamines involved in pain and inflammation.

The African herb devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is another herb with potential in the treatment of back pain. In at least two recent clinical trials, devil's claw was effective in relieving low-back pain, and another new study shows that the herb helped relieve the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis of the knee and hip.

Preliminary research suggests that kava (Piper methysticum) may have muscle-relaxing and pain-relieving properties. While no clinical studies have yet investigated kava's analgesic effects, numerous studies have shown that it is effective in reducing anxiety.

For topical treatment of pain, some of the most promising studies have been performed on capsaicin, the chemical compound that puts the heat in cayenne peppers (Capsicum annuum). Research shows that a topical cream containing capsaicin is helpful in relieving many painful conditions, including post-surgical pain and some types of arthritis. Researchers have found that capsaicin depletes local supplies of a neurotransmitter called substance P, which transmits pain signals from the nerves to the brain. Capsaicin cream may cause a temporary burning sensation the first few times you apply it, but with frequent application this sensation diminishes in most people - along with the pain. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) also blocks substance P and may be useful externally as a compress, in a cream, or as an essential oil (a few drops mixed with teaspoon of almond or olive oil and applied to the back).

In addition to the herbal therapies just discussed, exercise can be extremely helpful in preventing and treating back pain. According to exercise experts, weak muscles are responsible for 80% to 90% of back problems.



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Parasites

Q: I have been diagnosed with pinworms. Is there an herbal remedy for this or a preventative herb supplement I and my family can take?

Leni <Lenimeac@netscape.net>
Canada - Sunday, September 30, 2001 at 22:17:06 (PDT)

A: There are several herbs that can be helpful against a variety of parasites, including garlic, black walnut, Oregon grape, wormwood, and ginger. We do have detailed information on the use of herbs, nutrition and pro-biotics for the prevention and treatment of pinworms and other parasites in our packet on Parasites. Please click the link for more information.


Q: is there anything that I can add to my diet that would make me less desirable to mosquitoes?

Jae
middleboro, ma USA - Monday, July 02, 2001 at 12:57:17 (PDT)

A: Garlic, B-vitamins and nutritional yeast are what the diet experts say.


Q: I am looking for a pin worm remedy that is reliable that children would somehow be willing to take. My hope is to find something that will not be harmful to the children and that doesn't cost too much as I have 10 kids and everything else I have looked into costs too much. Thank you for your help.

julie neale
USA - Friday, May 18, 2001 at 12:30:53 (PDT)

A: Most health food stores carry a number of good anthelmintic remedies in the form of syrups for children. Cheaper alternatives include making a tea out of wormwood leaf, but it is very bitter (as are all worm remedies) and most kids will not drink it. You could try sweetening it with honey and adding some cherry juice concentrate. However, the commercial syrups have a more exact dosing. Pinworms are highly contagious, so the whole family should be treated together; and remind everyone to wash their hands often. HRF also has a packet on parasites that you might find useful. Click the link for more information.



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Pets

Q: healing herbs for pets, specficly a dog. can you give herbs to your dog to help with sickness or aliments, and which herbs?

sheila <sjchilipepper@aol.com>
USA - Wednesday, October 03, 2001 at 15:27:00 (PDT)

A: There are two books on herbs for pets that you may want to add to your personal library: All You Ever Wanted to Know About Herbs for Pets by Mary Wulff-Tilford and Gregory Tilford and Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats by CJ Puotinen.



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Pregnancy/Breastfeeding

Q: is it harmful to your baby to smoke marijuana while breastfeeding?

Rita <atiera@hotmail.com>
whs, nj USA - Thursday, November 29, 2001 at 18:23:02 (PST)

A: It is important to realize that whatever the mother takes into her body can potentially be passed through the breast milk to her baby. The use of marijuana is illegal (except for a very few medically prescribed instances), not to mention potentially harmful to your baby.


Q: I have recently found out i am pregnant, in the early stagers about 6weeks, i am looking for a alternative solution to termination. apparently there is a herb that will naturally terminate a pregnacy or is it a combination of herbs, please help Yours sincerly Korina, Auckland N.Z

Korina BrayTaylor <Korina79@hotmail>
Auckland,, New Zealand - Sunday, November 04, 2001 at 16:59:32 (PST)

A: We do not advocate the use of herbs for termination of pregnancy.


Q: I am trying to get pregnant. Last month I had a very early miscarriage. I am wondering about taking the herb Vites. I am past ovulation and wondering if it's safe to start now? Is it something you should use throughout pregnancy?

Cindy <cindybernas@hotmail.com>
edmonton, ab Canada - Saturday, October 27, 2001 at 08:11:03 (PDT)

A: Vitex Agnus-castus has been shown in clinical trials to regulate the female hormone system and alleviate many of the symptoms associated with PMS. A frequent outcome of the trials is that a significant number of the participants become pregnant during the trials. Vitex is best when taken for 6 months or longer, but should be discontinued during pregnancy. For a comprehensive packet of information on Vitex, click the link.


Q: I Have heard that Raspberry Tea is good for menstrual cramps. I do want to take it however I'm concerned at the same time it might have a negative effect on trying to have a baby i know it is good to take during the late stages of pregnancy but is it o.k to drink if you are not pregnant but are trying???

SOPHIE VORILLAS <SOPHIE.VORILLAS@COMPAQ.COM>
SYDNEY, NSW AUSTRALIA - Monday, October 22, 2001 at 19:28:17 (PDT)

A: Raspberry leaf tea is considered very safe and has a long traditional use as a uterine nourisher, even before and during pregnancy.


Q: Hello. I am currently taking Prozac & nursing an 8 month baby. I would like to know if Valerian is compatible with Prozac and the nursing? Who or where could I find out this info?

Cara Chang <cara440@home.com>
Fairfax, CA USA - Monday, July 16, 2001 at 14:33:29 (PDT)

A: Valerian should not be combined with that drug. Alone, it is not contraindicated for nursing, but check with your doctor about the prozac and breastfeeding.


Q: I am an exhausted new mom who is breastfeeding my 8 month old. I am looking for an herb that will give me a boost (as opposed to caffeine) and my acupuncturist recommended ginsing. Is their any problems taking this while breasfeeding? Thanks so much for your help--I need some energy!

Cathy <theimershaw@earthlink.net>
Mill Valley, CA USA - Thursday, July 12, 2001 at 21:51:02 (PDT)

A: Ginseng is not a problem during breastfeeding, just don't overdo it. Another good herb would be either Siberian Ginseng or astragalus. We have packets available on each of these herbs. Click the links for more information.


Q: Can I take flax seed oil supplements while breastfeeding my 6 week old son. Does it cross over into breastmilk? Thank you

Rosemary <Rosemary@cfl.rr.com>
Orlando, FL USA - Wednesday, May 23, 2001 at 14:42:06 (PDT)

A: Flax seed oil is a very safe nutrient, and especially useful for infant development of brain and nervous system functions. Some companies are even considering adding it to infant formulas. It is also very important for a variety of adult body functions, especially for women. Take as much of the oil as you like, and eat the seeds freely. For a comprehensive packet of information on flax, click here.


Q: I have a history of preterm labor and irritable uterus. I heard there was an herbal tea that could help prevent preterm labor by relaxing the uterus. Do you know of any such thing? I'm expecting my third child and am anxious to avoid medication and months of bedrest.

Shelly Howard <geoffshelly@juno.com>
Ashburn, VA USA - Wednesday, May 09, 2001 at 11:22:40 (PDT)

A: There are a number of herbs, such as raspberry leaf, that are useful in pregnancy, and many to avoid as well. I suggest ordering at our information packet on Pregnancy for choosing the safest herbs. Also, there is an online newsletter from Midwifery Today that you may find helpful. Check them out at http://www.midwiferytoday.com/


Q: i wanted to know if there are any herbs that are especially dangerous to take during pregnancy. i heard there are actually some that can cause you to miscarry. is this true, and if so which herbs would cause this?

stephanie <toodoo1@yahoo.com>
mesa, az USA - Friday, May 04, 2001 at 15:07:08 (PDT)

A: Some herbs are known to stimulate the uterine muscle, and are therefore not recommended during pregnancy. One would have to ingest much more than the normal quantities, but it is always best to err on the side of caution in taking anything during pregnancy. On the other hand, some herbs such as raspberry leaf or nettle help support a healthy pregnancy. You may want to get our full information packet on Pregnancy, which contains a lot of valuable information on using herbs during this delicate time. Click the link for more information.


Q: I want to start taking a product called OPC-3. It's an isotonic mixture of the oligomeric proanthocyanidins grape seed extract, red wine extract, pine bark extract, bilberry extract, and citrus extract, each at 25mg for the standard dose. I am breastfeeding my 13 month old and I don't want to take anything that would be harmful to her. Do you know anything about the safety of these herbs for nursing babies, or if you don't, could you point me in the direction of someone who might? I'm sure there hasn't been any studies done on breastfeeding and OPCs, but any information you have about the general risks and benefits of these would be helpful. Thank you. Karen Gasiorowski
Karen Gasiorowski <baby3march@aol.com>
Bel Air, USA - Sunday, April 15, 2001 at 20:19:07 (PDT)

A: OPC's are a large class of flavonoids. These are food-based supplements and as such, are not contraindicated in pregnancy, however individual reactions vary with any supplement. If you have been taking them already and your baby is not showing any signs of digestive distress (such as can occur with normal consumption of some foods such as onions or broccoli), it should not be a problem. To be sure, I suggest contacting the consumer division of the company who manufactures this product and ask them for safety information. If the product was contraindicated for lactating women, that should have been stated on the label. We do have information packets available on Bilberry and Grapeseed/Pine Bark. Click the titles for more information.


Q: I have received a lot of conflicting information about the herb ginger. I am three months pregnant and am having terrible morning sickness. I was told by an herbalist to take ginger tea to quell my nausea, but my doctor says it is dangerous for pregnant women and should be avoided even in food! I am really confused and still nauseous! Can you help?

     (Question from a caller to the Natural Healthcare Hotline)

A: There is no evidence that ginger is harmful to pregnant women or their babies. In fact, millions of pregnant women throughout history have safely consumed ginger as a food. Today, even orthodox obstetricians increasingly recommend it as a safer alternative to standard drugs for morning sickness, which can be associated with serious risks including a higher rate of birth defects. The FDA considers doses of ginger up to 5 grams to be safe for consumption as a food. In a double-blind clinical study, a much smaller dose of ginger (1 gram per day, taken in divided doses) was found to be safe and effective for reducing both the severity of nausea and the number of morning sickness attacks during the first trimester. This study was particularly impressive because it was conducted with women suffering from the most severe form of morning sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum. To prevent nausea during those first few months, remember to eat enough complex carbohydrates and high-quality protein. Vitamin B6 has also been shown to be helpful and should be taken as part of a complete B-complex vitamin supplement.



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Questions on Specific Herbs

Q: Hi, i am doing a research paper on an herb: Grape-seed extract. I don't seem to find a lot of info on it i need to know what are it uses, how exactly it works within the body, side effects, toxicities, contraindications and how they interact with other conventional herbs??? also what is the general cost of this herb to consumers. Thank u very much i would greatly appreciate any information u can share. Damaris Santana

Damaris santana <Dakotaredding@aol.com>
NY, NY USA - Saturday, November 10, 2001 at 22:33:42 (PST)

A: Grape seed extract is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from free-radical damage and reinforces the collagen structures of skin, blood vessels, ligaments, tendons and cartilage. Grape seed extract is considered nontoxic and has been extremely well tolerated in clinical trials. For more complete information on how it works, see our information packet on Grape Seed.


Q: What is the benefit of tea made from dandelion root? Is this any different than using dandelion leaves to make a tea?

joseph parker <josephparker@educationalexcellence.com>
newtown, pa USA - Wednesday, November 07, 2001 at 06:50:48 (PST)

A: Dandelion root has been traditionally used as a liver tonic. It stimulates the secretion of bile, and thus can help aid digestion and elimination. Dandelion leaves have a different action. The fresh young leaves are often used in salads, as their bitter properties help aid digestion. The dried leaves made into a tea have a diuretic effect. You may be interested in our comprehensive packet of information on Dandelion.


Q: What do you know about gotu kola - a healing Herb? a standardized extract - non alcohol base. I have read where is good to mix a drop or two with jojoba butter(or moisturizing cream containing the jojoba oil) for a firming complexion - lessening wrinkles etc. - I cannot find anything on this herb - where does it come from etc.? can you send me info. on this herb? Thank you.

Beverly Guile <lguile>
Portland, Or USA - Thursday, November 01, 2001 at 15:55:27 (PST)

A: Gotu kola is an herb that is used both internally and externally for its tissue healing properties. We do offer a comprehensive packet of information on Gotu kola.


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: 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.


Q: I want to know the medical use of the apricot oil and what is the chemical componant of it thank you?

hana <timalangill@hotmail.com>
riyadh, saudi arabia - Tuesday, October 16, 2001 at 03:42:21 (PDT)

A: Apricot kernel oil is most commonly used in natural cosmetics and body and bath products for its soothing effects on the skin. The chemical composition is too complex to list here, but you may wish to use our Custom Literature Services to acquire this information.


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: What is FUCUS and what is it used for?

Ramona Gomez
Carlsbad, NM USA - Monday, October 08, 2001 at 10:29:43 (PDT)

A: Fucus vesiculosus is a seaweed also known as Bladderwrack. It is commonly found in weight loss products since it contains high levels of iodine which can help moderate weight gain associated with hypothyroidism. It is also used in many beauty treatments for its topical cleansing properties. You can find more information on this and other seaweeds in our packet on Seaweeds. Click the link for more information.


Q: I' m a member of HRF. In Sept issue of "Better Nutrition", pg 62 there is an article on "Need more Memory?". It is addressing the benefits of an herb whose active ingedient of "VINPOCETINE". The picture sort of looks like periwinkle but there is no hint as to what it actually is, where it is grown, or how to obtain....poor journalism! Can you clarify for me what herb contains "VINPOCETINE" ? Thank You!

Connie Henry <nursenellie@mac.com>
Alb, NM USA - Sunday, September 30, 2001 at 20:58:22 (PDT)

A: In the second paragraph of said article it states: "…Of the many memory-enhancers on the market, vinpocetine, a derivative of the periwinkle plant, is considered a powerful and natural memory-boosting supplement that can improve concentration, attention span, alertness and cognition." Further on, the article states "It is sold as a drug in Europe, although in the U.S., it is sold as a dietary supplement in vitamin, food and drug stores." I hope this answers your questions. Just an additional note: Although we do have Better Nutrition as part of our library collection here at HRF, it is not one of the membership magazines we offer. The 2 magazines we offer as member benefits are HerbalGram and Herbs for Health.


Q: Our mountain property has a veritable sancutary of Blue Cohosh nestled beneath its trees. In my beginers herbal training course our instructer told us that she didn't know of any uses for this beautiful plant. She did tell us that it ahs in the past been used during labor but has since shown it's self to possibly increase fetal heart rate. But in defense of my little friends I must find a use for it. Is there any research on other uses of Blue Cohosh? Much thanks, Sierra

Sierra Tarinelli <ezekielsmama>
Huntington, VT USA - Sunday, September 30, 2001 at 06:57:51 (PDT)

A: The only information available on this plant is folkloric. It was commonly used by Native Americans for "women's complaints", most notably cramps and delayed menses, as well as for a variety of other complaints. It does contain chemicals that constrict the blood vessels of the heart and increase blood pressure. It is not advisable to use this plant for self-medication. I think the best thing you can do for these plants is enjoy their beauty without disturbing them.


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: 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: is Yerba mate ( Ilex paraguariensis )really free from toxic/poisonous constituents?

seaforth, c <c4rag@tstt.net.tt>
port-of-spain, trinidad and tobago - Tuesday, September 18, 2001 at 02:46:37 (PDT)

A: Yerba Mate is generally considered to be a safe and nutritive beverage. It contains potent antioxidants and a variety of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. It contains a mild stimulant called mateine, which is usually well tolerated even by those sensitive to caffeine. For more detailed information, you may be interested in our comprehensive packet of information on Yerba Mate. Please click the link for more information.


Q: Have you any information on a Chinese herbal tea jiaogulan. It is reputed to boost the immune system, reduce stress,and lower cholesterol. One researcher on this is a Michael Blumert.

Paul Fontana <cfontana@hevanet.com>
milwaukie, or USA - Monday, September 17, 2001 at 20:11:29 (PDT)

A: Jiaogulan, whose botanical name is Gynostemma pentaphyllum has a history of traditional use as a medicinal and energizing tea in regions where it grows wild, namely China and throughout Asia. It is considered to be an antioxidant and adaptogenic plant that helps overall health by normalizing the various body systems. We do have an article on this plant written by Michael Blumert in our information packet on Adaptogenic Herbs. Please click the link for more information.


Q: A friend of mine in New Mexico has offered to send me some osha root. I have read that it closely resembles hemlock. How can one tell the difference and what are the properties/warnings of both? Thank you.

Caillean Fae <Caillean_Fae@hotmail.com>
Belleville, IL USA - Tuesday, September 11, 2001 at 06:25:52 (PDT)

A: Thank you for asking this important question. It is critical to know the difference between these two plants, as Hemlock, also known as Poison Hemlock, can be very dangerous, even deadly. Osha root is dark brown with a hairy appearance. When rubbed, the root smells a lot like celery. Hemlock, on the other hand has a hairless root, and the stem has purple spots. If they are found growing in close proximity, it is probably best not to use the osha from that area. Osha has a long history of use for lung ailments, but please be aware that it is endangered in many areas and is difficult to cultivate. Hopefully your friend engages ethical wildcrafting practices, so that the plant can continue to flourish. If in doubt, it may be better to use an alternative plant. For more information on Osha and Endangered Plants, you may want to check out our information packets. Click the links for more information.


Q: are the mint leaf and flower used in the same way?

LIZ
USA - Saturday, September 08, 2001 at 14:32:44 (PDT)

A: Typically, the beneficial properties of peppermint are found in the leaves, which contain the highest concentration of volatile oils. We do offer a comprehensive packet of information on Peppermint. Please click the link for more information.


Q: What is the current latin name being used for Solomon's Seal? Our suppliers have conflicting information on this. We've checked numerous books also. We'd appreciate this information. Thanks! Jodi, In Harmony Herbs & Spices

Jodi Shagg <herbspirit@home.com>
San Diego, CA USA - Thursday, August 23, 2001 at 11:22:52 (PDT)

A: Part of the problem is there are many varieties of this plant, including False Solomon's Seal (Smilacina). The definitive text, though old, is Uphoff's Dictionary of Economic Plants, which lists it as Polygonatum officinale Moench. Hortus Third from Cornell lists no less than 14 species and equates officinale with odoratum and Thumbergii. Hope this doesn't further confuse you.


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: dear staff, I need your help!! Is there a herb or herb extract "Huperzine serrata"? If so, I need to know what it is used for? What it can be combined with? Any toxicity? Any contraindications? Help!!! Thank you

conny <connyodds@hotmail.com>
sarasota, fl USA - Saturday, August 18, 2001 at 13:58:28 (PDT)

A: Huperzia serrata, also known as club moss (Lycopodium) is gaining popularity for the treatment of senility and other related disorders. Huperzine is the identified active constituent. Check out our packets on Alzheimers or Mind/Memory for more information.


Q: I am looking for information on Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola) pertaining to adrenal support, fibromyalgia, altzeimers, action on the blood-brain barrier. research or clinical experience would be appreciated. i have used Centella for it's ability to strengthen connective tissue, and improve circulatory problems. Lately, a naturpathic physician told me that it was helpful for these other conditions i mentioned. i have been using it in a formula for a couple patients with fibromyalgia who seem to be doing well. is this because of it's known effects on circulation and connective tissue or something else. i looked on medline and couldn't find any research in these other areas. thanks! jade pierce, L.Ac.

Jade Pierce <dreamdance@juno.com>
Saxapahaw, NC USA - Monday, August 06, 2001 at 12:23:59 (PDT)

A: Gotu Kola is a wonderful herb for supporting the health of a number of body systems. Our extensive information packets on this herb and Fibromyalgia can answer many of your questions. For in-depth research costs for primary scientific articles, see our Research section on our website, or call us at (303) 449-2265.


Q: I understand that MILKTHISTLE is good for your liver, I have alot of milkthistle growing in my back yard. Can I eat it or make tea? what can I do to ingest it?

April Cancade <cancade@nrtco.net>
Beachburg, ON Canada - Friday, July 06, 2001 at 16:16:19 (PDT)

A: The young spring leaves are edible (cut off the spiny edges), raw or cooked. The seeds are most often used in herbal medicine. It is a lot of work to remove them from the prickly seed heads, but you can grind them and add them to food, or make tea or tincture from them. For more information on milk thistle, you may want to order our information packet.


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 drink a lot of ginger tea, sometimes up to five cups a day, because I like the flavour rather than for health reasons. Could this be doing me harm? I vary between using pre-packed teabags by Freshfields and Traditional Medicinals, to making my own tea by combining shredded licorice strick and ginger (fresh or dried). Thanks.

Akwe Amosu <akwe@allafrica.com>
Washington, DC USA - Thursday, June 28, 2001 at 02:07:57 (PDT)

A: Ginger is a very safe herb, but you can overdo even a good thing. Two to three cups per day seems more reasonable. Long-term use of licorice may cause blood pressure problems in some people, but is generally not a problem with occasional use.


Q: What are the medicinal uses and benefits of the herb called strawberry?

Niina Taatila <ntaatila@hotmail.com>
Tampere, Häme Finland - Wednesday, June 20, 2001 at 12:18:56 (PDT)

A: I am assuming you mean the fruit. Strawberry is in the rose family and the leaves can be used like the more popular raspberry leaf. It has mild astringent properties useful for diarrhea and the flowers are also edible. There are no known toxic effects when taken by healthy people in reasonable amounts.


Q: Recently, on a radio program, I heard a discussion about an herb called 'boswelia' (unsure of spelling) that is apparently quite successful in treating painful conditions that result from inflammatory processes. Could you tell me more about this remedy? I have interstitial cystitis and have tried a variety of natural substances in an attempt to control the unbearable pain as well as the urinary urgency and frequency. Can you reco. something to try? I.C. is not an infectious process; it is an abnormality in the lining of the bladder. Thanks for your time! Sooz

Sooz <sooz@knology.net>
xxxxx, xx USA - Monday, June 18, 2001 at 14:53:09 (PDT)

A: Our packet on Boswellia serrata, a resin related to frankincense, has detailed information on the anti-inflammatory effects of this plant. You may also benefit from our packet on the Urinary Tract, which has a long article written by a naturopathic physician on interstitial cystitis. You can click the links for more information.


Q: Could you give me any ideas on what I could mix liqiud Kava Kava extract with to help with the taste? I can't handle it straight. Thanx Skye

Skyelia Raine Riese <riesegsj@wcta.net>
Staples, MN USA - Friday, June 15, 2001 at 18:58:51 (PDT)

A: It is masked pretty well in pineapple/coconut juice.


Q: Is there any long term bad effects after using the herb Salvia divinorum?

lorraine
USA - Saturday, June 02, 2001 at 08:55:12 (PDT)

A: This herb is psychoactive and not recommended for any therapeutic purpose.


Q: what is yerba mate's safety dosage or recommeded dosage? How about the indication? Will there be any side effect if we take too much yerba mate?

sam <samman7477@hotmail.com>
ASIA - Monday, May 28, 2001 at 20:23:51 (PDT)

A: Yerba mate, also known as mate tea, contains about 5 to 10 mg of caffeine (less than tea and much less than coffee), but it still has mild stimulating qualities. It is not sold as an herbal supplement in any form other than tea. How much is too much? It depends on your personal constitution and how many other forms of caffeine you are ingesting. I would suggest no more than one or two cups a day. Excessive amounts of any stimulant can result in insomnia, restlessness or anxiety. We do offer a comprehensive packet of information on Yerba mate. Click the link for more information.


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

BIRGITTE TAN-COLEMAN <BDCOL6@CS.COM>
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: What are the benefits of flax oil,and how much should a 180lb. man take?
Howard Burdg <hgburdg@pldi.net>
Enid, Ik USA - Monday, April 30, 2001 at 12:13:11 (PDT)

A: Flax oil is high is essential fatty acids, which are so important to healthy skin, eyes, nerves and connective tissue. Research shows that these critical nutrients also help immune function, reproductive and cardiovascular health, athletic performance and energy levels. New research shows that there are dangers associated with a diet too low in fat, but more important is the kind of fat that you include in your diet. One could include one to two tablespoons of good fats such as flax oil per day. For more information check out "Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill" by Udo Erasmus (alive Books 1993) or you can order HRF's Information Packet on Flax.


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: Can you tell me if pure Oregano Oil is helpful in treating Sinusitis and IBS?
Chris Petersen <candpete@aol.com>
Madison, Wi USA - Monday, April 09, 2001 at 05:55:31 (PDT)

A: Oregano oil has very potent antibacterial activity. I have not seen anything relating it to sinusitis or IBS, but there is very good evidence of using enteric coated peppermint oil in the treatment of IBS. As far as the sinusitis is concerned, I am not sure how the oregano oil is being employed as it is very irritating to mucous membranes. We do have packets of information available on Allergies/Sinus and Colitis/IBS. Click on the packet titles to read summaries of the information contained in these packets.


Q: Is there any way to have fenugreek without its unpleasent smell which comes in the body sweat?
abdullah <ashaya7@hotmail.com>
riyah, n/a Saudi Arabia - Thursday, April 05, 2001 at 14:49:56 (PDT)

A: No, but I have never heard it called unpleasant. Most people describe it as vanilla-like.


Q: I was recently in Austria and found some Ginko Biloba cream aat an apothecary. I have not been able to find what the purpose of it is? In their boken english, they said it was for your face(skin).Do you have any more specific information? Thanks for your help.
sonja ross <smr30@att.net>
batavia, il USA - Wednesday, April 04, 2001 at 15:20:35 (PDT)

A: Ginkgo biloba is often added to cosmetics for it's skin smoothing and circulatory tonic effects. It is very safe in this form.


Q: Can you give me some information on lavender for a research paper?
Christy <nesser82@hotmail.com>
Highland, IL USA - Monday, April 02, 2001 at 19:09:17 (PDT)

A: Lavandula officinalis, lavender flowers, are used medicinally as a mild relaxant, digestive aid, or for flavor by the pharmaceutical industry. The essential oil is employed extensively in the perfume and cosmetics industry, and in aromatherapy as a remedy for burns, pimples, insect bites or skin irritations. We do have a comprehensive packet of information available on Lavender. Please visit this page of our website for more information: http://www.herbs.org/herbinfopack.html


Q: what do you know about "stink weed" and "sour dock" write the anwers to me right away please.
Roy <rtocktoo@szgambell.gambell.bssd.schoolzone.net>
Gambell, AK USA - Wednesday, March 28, 2001 at 12:56:37 (PST)

A: Identifying herbs by common name is unreliable. Many herbs share the same common name but are not the same plant. It is possible that stink weed might be skunk cabbage (Spathyema foetida) or skunk weed (Croton texensis), and that sour dock is sorrel (Rumex spp.), but it is likely erroneous to make these speculations. Retrace the source of these names and if you can find a Latin binomial we can provide more information.



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Respiratory

Q: I was wondering if there is any herbs that could help my breathing, I have broncial scaring, and mild emphazima. I am using an inhailer now, Atrovent, it works but is very costly. Thanks,Jim I got your web addy. from the artical in Womans Day Mag., June issue.

Jim Hirschfelt <JRHLJH@CS.COM>
Campbell, CA USA - Sunday, June 03, 2001 at 18:03:15 (PDT)

A: There are a great many respiratory tonic herbs for different conditions. Among them marshmallow is very demulcent, mullein is soothing and elecampane is expectorant. I suggest getting our pre-prepared information packet on the Respiratory system to be more fully informed of the different types of lung herbs that could help your condition. Click the link for more information.



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Sexual Vitality/Fertility

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 am trying to get pregnant. Last month I had a very early miscarriage. I am wondering about taking the herb Vites. I am past ovulation and wondering if it's safe to start now? Is it something you should use throughout pregnancy?

Cindy <cindybernas@hotmail.com>
edmonton, ab Canada - Saturday, October 27, 2001 at 08:11:03 (PDT)

A: Vitex Agnus-castus has been shown in clinical trials to regulate the female hormone system and alleviate many of the symptoms associated with PMS. A frequent outcome of the trials is that a significant number of the participants become pregnant during the trials. Vitex is best when taken for 6 months or longer, but should be discontinued during pregnancy. For a comprehensive packet of information on Vitex, click the link.


Q: I have been trying to conceive for nearly 3 years and although I ovulate my periods are not very regular (28-36 days). I currently take pre-natal multi vit, zinc and Agnus Castus. I have heard that Siberian Ginsing may regulate periods more, can I take this with the other pills or can you recommend something else. All my initial fertility tests are ok and I am have appointment at hospital to start taking Clomid. Thanks for your help.

Joanne O'Connell <joendazo@ntlworld.com>
Salisbury, UK - Saturday, September 29, 2001 at 12:41:13 (PDT)

A: Vitex Agnus-castus has repeatedly shown effectiveness in the regulation of menstrual hormones and the alleviation of PMS symptoms. Interestingly, there seems to be a significant number of women who become pregnant during the clinical trials of Vitex, even though the studies are usually related to the treatment of PMS symptoms. The effective doses for Vitex from clinical trials are one 650 mg capsule up to 3 times daily, or 40 drops of a standardized extract once per day. Vitex should be taken continually for no less than 6 months. Siberian ginseng has been shown to be effective as an overall body tonic that increases stamina and endurance and stimulates the immune system. So, while it supports the overall health of the body, there is no scientific evidence thus far that it regulates the menstrual cycle. We do offer a comprehensive packet of information on Infertility which discusses herbal and nutritional considerations for both men and women who are trying to conceive.


Q: I have heard of herbs that act as aphrodisiacs. Do you know of any that have the opposite effect - of lessing the sex drive?

Larry <TanZannier@cs.com>
USA - Saturday, September 22, 2001 at 20:52:45 (PDT)

A: A healthy libido is a sign of good health. An overactive libido is largely a subjective judgment call, but may be associated with anxiety, emotional problems, or imbalanced hormones. We do offer a comprehensive packet of information on Sexual Vitality that discusses a variety of herbal and nutritional considerations for maintaining healthy sexual function.


Q: I'm trying to find holistic medicines to replace all of my traditional medications. I am having trouble finding a form of birth control. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

Bethany Johnston <Dabble000@aol.com>
Chattanooga, TN USA - Saturday, September 22, 2001 at 18:48:28 (PDT)

A: You may find the following article interesting: Bitter melon seed extracts shown to have male anti-fertility effects


Q: What herbal therapies are there for killing the HPV (genital warts) virus? Oral as well as topical.

Ezekiel <ezekielstone@hotmail.com>
Canton, IL USA - Saturday, September 08, 2001 at 03:27:59 (PDT)

A: If you have genital warts, it is important to have regular cervical smears to monitor changes in the cervical cells, and to engage in safe sexual practices, as it can be transmitted between partners. Herbs that support overall health and the health of the immune system in particular can be helpful, such as: echinacea, astragalus, burdock, dandelion root and nettles. Thuja is a specific homeopathic remedy for warts and may help also. If the warts are visible, you can also apply topically: tea tree oil, thuja tincture, lemon juice, or raw garlic. For more information on this topic, you may want to purchase our information packet on Vaginitis. Please click the link for more information.


Q: Do you have any recommendations for lack of sexual desire? I was told to try Yohimbe, but I researched it and read about many side effects. Please give me any ideas. Thank you.

Audrey Johnston <audreyjohnston@yahoo.com>
Atlanta, GA USA - Sunday, July 22, 2001 at 13:17:39 (PDT)

A: Good sexual health follows overall physical and emotional well-being, so checking in with yourself on those things is a good idea. Our information packet on Sexual Vitality mentions Damiana, Maca, and ginseng as good candidates. Check out the packet for a complete understanding of this issue.


Q: I read that ginkgo is a remedy for sexual dysfunction for people on antidepressant meds. Is it beneficial to use alone, or is it better to combine it with other herbs? Which would be most effective? Thanks

Dawn <myhounds@warwick.net>
Highland Lks, NJ USA - Thursday, June 21, 2001 at 12:52:59 (PDT)

A: Ginkgo improves microcirculation to all areas of the body, but it has not been thoroughly studied for sexual dysfunction. You can read about the most recent findings by clicking here. HRF has an information packet on Sexual Vitality that you may find helpful.


Q: I resently herd about a natural formula to increse sex drive in both men and women. said to be better than Viagra, with no side affects . this formula contains; Avena Sativa (Green oats) ,Nettles,and Saw Palmetto. said to free Testosterone in the body. here is my ?s does this work and can I get these herbs at my herb store and what would be the mix of the formula be . reason being is they cost so much to order from the store, I figure why can't I just make it my self can you PLEASE help me thanks soooooooooooo much
Steve Sloan <sssloan@bendcable.com>
Bend, or USA - Wednesday, April 18, 2001 at 17:17:55 (PDT)

A: The herbs you mentioned have some research for sexual health, and whenever the reproductive system is healthy, there should be adequate sex drive. These herbs may be purchased in extract or whole herb form at any good natural food store. We do have a comprehensive Information Packet available on Herbs for Sexual Vitality. Click the packet title for more information.



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Skin Afflictions

Q: Could you tell me if there is something to use to get rid of warts on the back of the hands? Thank you

Lori Green <LULUBISQUE@webtv.net>
Allegan, Mi USA - Sunday, November 18, 2001 at 13:17:55 (PST)

A: Thuja is a traditional remedy for warts. You can find a homeopathic preparation for internal use and you can apply the alcohol extract topically.


Q: I have had a problem with cystic acne for a few years now. Every time I have a break out (it goes and comes) they want to put me on antibotics. (which does clear it up)They also reccomend getting on birth control to level out the hormones to hopefully prevent the occurences. The issue is I do not want to take any medicine if there are natural remidies that may help. My question is .......is there any natural herb tht help with hormones?

Erica Nickel <nickelerica@hotmail.com>
Gaithersburg, MD USA - Thursday, November 15, 2001 at 07:56:05 (PST)

A: The treatment of cystic acne usually involves an approach that includes dietary considerations, hormonal regulation, immune system support, and detoxification. There are many herbs that can be used for the various aspects of this treatment approach. I recommend that you get a copy of our information packet on Acne so that you can decide which treatment regime would be best for you.


Q: I have many great recipes to make astringents for my acne, lotions & masks for my eczema & dry skin, etc. The problem is, none of these recipes specify how long such things keep, or if they don't have a shelf life, if there's anything I could add to make them last a little longer. I use them regularly, & thus would like to be able to make bigger batches at once. Can you at least direct me to a resource that would explain these concepts to me in relation to herbs? My many books never note the shelf life in the recipes, nor have I had luck on the Internet. Thanks

Monica
USA - Wednesday, November 14, 2001 at 18:51:26 (PST)

A: There is a book you may be interested in by Aubrey Hampton called Natural Organic Hair and Skin Care. In this book, he details many natural ingredients that can be added to products to extend their shelf life.


Q: elderly male with Hyperhydrosis (sweating) - wake up at night the bed is soaking wet from sweating, also during the day at any time and any where. Is there a herb remiedy ?????????

Mark Streiff <mstreiff@yahoo.com>
St. Petersburg, Fl. USA - Wednesday, May 30, 2001 at 08:47:28 (PDT)

A: The common culinary herb sage was historically used for excessive sweating. You can make a tea from the fresh or dried herb using one teaspoon dried or one tablespoon of the fresh herb per cup of boiling water. Let steep, covered, for 5 minutes and drink three cups a day. There are also many natural deodorants with sage that are available at the health food store. You might also want to check with a naturopathic physician in your area to see what nutritional supplements might also help you.


Q: I would like to try a herbal supplement for acne, can you please suggest one-adult acne since late twenties and want to stop rx of Minocycoline. Thanks

Susan Reichert <susan_reichert@bluecrossmn.com>
Farmington, MN USA - Monday, August 20, 2001 at 09:23:56 (PDT)

A: Acne has potential roots in many body systems including liver, kidney, digestive and hormonal. Our packets on Acne, Skin, Beauty Aids or Detoxification would provide some good suggestions. As it is always useful to cleanse the liver you could safely begin with herb teas of burdock and dandelion or use a mild brew of them as a soup stock. An herbalist or nutritionist could set you up with a full regimen to address your problem.


Q: Hi, I am seventeen years old and I was hoping you could recommend some herbs (for external and/or internal application) for lessening or controlling acne. I know that this is a common problem for adolescents, and my case is not too severe. But I have had it for almost five years and I just want to feel confident without make-up. I am fair skinned as well, so it just looks worse. Thanks.

Jessa Jones <JessaGirl32@hotmail.com>
USA - Friday, August 03, 2001 at 17:33:15 (PDT)

A: Adolescent acne is often driven by hormonal surges that increase sebum (oil) production and may contribute to breakouts around the menstrual cycle. There are a number of herbs that help cleanse the blood stream, liver and skin (an eliminative organ), such as burdock, dandelion and milk thistle, to name a few. These can be made into teas to steam and wash the face, and taken internally. Vitex is very specific for hormonal acne. Of course, staying away from fried foods, soft drinks and junk food in general eases the toxic load on the body. For more information you can order our packet on Vitex, Acne or Beauty Aids.


Q: Sir, Can you suggest any plant of Indian or Tropical Origin that would help overcome wrinkling on face? My age is 41 with little extra pounds.

Bharat Thakkar <bhebem@bom8.vsnl.net.in>
Mumbai, India - Saturday, July 28, 2001 at 05:57:34 (PDT)

A: Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) has many dermatologic benefits. Our information packet on Beauty Aids also has information on other herbs for wrinkles.



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Urinary System

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..


Q: Recently, on a radio program, I heard a discussion about an herb called 'boswelia' (unsure of spelling) that is apparently quite successful in treating painful conditions that result from inflammatory processes. Could you tell me more about this remedy? I have interstitial cystitis and have tried a variety of natural substances in an attempt to control the unbearable pain as well as the urinary urgency and frequency. Can you reco. something to try? I.C. is not an infectious process; it is an abnormality in the lining of the bladder. Thanks for your time! Sooz

Sooz <sooz@knology.net>
xxxxx, xx USA - Monday, June 18, 2001 at 14:53:09 (PDT)

A: Our packet on Boswellia serrata, a resin related to frankincense, has detailed information on the anti-inflammatory effects of this plant. You may also benefit from our packet on the Urinary Tract, which has a long article written by a naturopathic physician on interstitial cystitis. You can click the links for more information.


Q: ARE THERE ANY KIND OF HERBS/HERBAL MEDICINE I CAN TAKE TO HELP MY KIDNEY STONES PASS FASTER THAN WHAT THEY ARE NOW? I'M IN ALOT OF PAIN TRYING TO PASS THEM. I DRINK A HALF OF GALLON OF WATER A DAY AND NOTHING HAS HAPPEN YET. THANK YOU
PATRICIA <Wheatonsawjoy@aol.com>
FORESTVILLE, MD USA - Monday, April 30, 2001 at 09:43:58 (PDT)

A: Antilithic herbs such as gravel root, golden rod, nettle and lovage have historically been used for this condition. For more detailed information check out our packet on Kidney Stones. Click the packet title to read a summary.



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Weight Loss

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: What is FUCUS and what is it used for?

Ramona Gomez
Carlsbad, NM USA - Monday, October 08, 2001 at 10:29:43 (PDT)

A: Fucus vesiculosus is a seaweed also known as Bladderwrack. It is commonly found in weight loss products since it contains high levels of iodine which can help moderate weight gain associated with hypothyroidism. It is also used in many beauty treatments for its topical cleansing properties. You can find more information on this and other seaweeds in our packet on Seaweeds. Click the link for more information.


Q: hi, do you know what kind of herbs they use in body wraps at those fancy spas. I know they cause you to sweat off weight. thanks.

Corey Schilling <muffy_spacebtch@hotmail.com>
Penticton, bc canada - Wednesday, July 25, 2001 at 23:38:10 (PDT)

A: Spas often employ seaweeds and diuretic or alterative (cleansing) herbs, but it is important to note that loss of water weight alone is a very temporary weight loss measure. Our packet on Weight Loss will provide more ideas.


Q: I am interested in purchasing the "Diet Patch" which contains an herb extract called: FUCUS VESICULOSUS Can you give me some information on whether this is safe or not? Thank you

Mirella Wiesinger <cwiesinger@earthlink.net>
Anaheim, CA USA - Sunday, June 03, 2001 at 09:49:53 (PDT)

A: I have not heard of this product, though seaweeds are often a suggested inclusion in a weight loss program. If it is sold as a dermal application only, I would ask the company for information to substantiate its effectiveness. We also have herb information packets available on both weight loss and seaweeds. Click the links for more information.


Q: Hi, Are there any herbs that can help me in my quest of loosing weight. I have at least 30 kg to loose. Thank you
Cinthia <cchukee@hotmail.com>
Mauritius - Tuesday, April 10, 2001 at 05:32:45 (PDT)

A: There are no real short cuts to weight loss beyond sensible dietary management and exercise. Though there are a number of studies done on using ephedra, with over 60 lbs to lose, I suspect you may have high blood pressure problems. In any case, ephedra should be used with caution, and you should be closely monitored by your primary health care worker no matter what substance you choose to incorporate into your weight loss regime. Other supplements for weight loss include chromium picolinate and Garcinia cambogia. We do have an information pack available on herbs for weight loss. Please visit this page to read a summary of this packet: http://www.herbs.org/herbpacketsummariesR-Z.htm



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Women-Specific Issues

Q: Is there any herbal medicine which can be taken for ovarian cysts?

Joanna <joojoom@hotmail.com>
Hollywood, Ca USA - Sunday, December 02, 2001 at 22:31:47 (PST)

A: The treatment of ovarian cysts has not only herbal, but nutritional and lifestyle considerations to address as well. One herb that can be helpful as part of this whole body approach is Vitex, which can help balance the hormones. We do have a comprehensive packet of information on Ovarian Cysts that outlines various treatment options. Click the link for more information.


Q: My mother in law has been feeling very depressed for the past few weeks. This is not like her at all. She says she thinks it has to do to with menapause and was wondering what herbs might help with this. Thank you very much

jean geary <jtg204@msn>
erie, pa USA - Thursday, November 29, 2001 at 13:31:03 (PST)

A: Some women do experience a feeling of depression during menopause due to hormonal changes. Black cohosh has been proven in clinical trials to help balance the hormones and alleviates many of the uncomfortable symptoms including hot flashes and night sweats. We do offer packets of information on Black Cohosh and Menopause that may be quite helpful for your mother-in-law.


Q: Hi, 1. My name is Natalie, In Barbados we have a few Health Foods and Herbs Shops. I bought some red clover, chapparal, and chaste tree berry, could I mix these together, to achieve the result of shrinking my friboid. 2. How much of these leaves do I ceep in hot water, 2 teaspoons, 1 tablespoons or how much.

Natalie Griffith <natbrath@yahoo.com>
Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies, ---- Barbados, West Indies - Monday, August 27, 2001 at 09:09:03 (PDT)

A: The general way to make tea is 1-2 teaspoons of herb to one cup of boiling water. Chaparral is very bitter tasting! HRF has an information packet on Uterine Fibroids that discusses herbs and dietary suggestions for this condition.


Q: what kind of herbal medicine do you take for hot flashes?

karen <mpoet23667@aol.com>
mechanicsburg, pa USA - Monday, August 20, 2001 at 16:15:00 (PDT)

A: The most thoroughly researched herb for hot flashes is black cohosh. Our packet on Menopause will offer more information.


Q: I just had a myomectomy, if that's the wrong spelling I mean the removal of fibroid tumors from my uterus. I also have a FSH level of 14. I am trying to get pregnant and would like to know if there are any herbs to take to hinder the growth of more fibroids and to help my FSH level. I have tried Vitex, but it made me fell strange (that's the only way I know how to describe it), so I stopped. If Vitex is the answer should I keep using it?

Charlene
USA - Monday, August 06, 2001 at 16:04:42 (PDT)

A: Vitex is one herb that has been used to both decrease fibroids and increase fertility. Possibly starting with a lower dose, or changing the form you are taking would be better tolerated. TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) suggests that a "stagnant liver" can also contribute to this problem. HRF has extensive information packets on all of these subjects. Click the links for mroe information.


Q: My question is about taking a combination of four different herbs: Saw Palmetto, Wild Yam, Feunugreek, and Fennel Seed. The combination is suppose to build breast tissue. My question is regarding hormonal balance-which I have a good one. I have light periods, virtually no PMS or cramping, etc. etc. Since these herbs have estrogen could it disturb my hormones and throw them out of wack?

Sasha <smoffat@strome.com>
Santa Monica, CA USA - Thursday, July 26, 2001 at 08:25:24 (PDT)

A: No real unbiased research has been done on these types of products. Most contain phytosterolic compounds, many of which are found in common foods such as beans and alfalfa sprouts. They are generally not harmful if you follow the label dosage suggestions. If you decide to take it you should monitor your physical responses carefully and discontinue use if you experience unpleasant changes.


Q: ARE THERE ANY HERBS THAT COULD REDUCE ENDIOMETREOSIS/OVARIAN CYSTS? PLEASE CAN YOU ADVISE. THANKS!

LB <ICY.CALM@BTINTERNET.COM>
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - Thursday, July 19, 2001 at 11:19:20 (PDT)

A: This is a complicated issue that requires an overall treatment program. There is no one herb to address these disorders. A good start to understanding useful herbs for this can be found in our packets on Gynecology and also, Ovarian Cysts. It would also be important to work with an herbal practitioner in your area. For a referral to a practicing herbalist, visit the web site of the American Herbalists Guild: www.healthy.net/herbalists


Q: i have had trouble regulating my period & before i make the decision to go back on birth control pills to do so, i thought i would try the herbal approach. i had heard black cohosh & chaste tree berry would be beneficial to me in my situation. can you tell me the benefits of these two herbs and the amounts i may want to take in order to help maintain a normal menstral cycle?

patti b <baringer@prontomail.com>
alliance, oh USA - Tuesday, July 10, 2001 at 14:27:30 (PDT)

A: This can be a complicated condition that may take several months to balance with herbal therapies. Chaste tree (Vitex) is the first herb to consider in this situation. Our packet on women's herbs, or any good book will help answer your questions more thoroughly. Check out our website under Resources and Recommended Reading. There is a large section devoted to women's health. You can also get our packets on Vitex, Women's Herbs and Menstruation.


Q: Do herbal supplements really help women's breast to grow? If they do, which ones work best? Are commercially marketed herbal supplements better than buying your own? Thank you for your attention to my questions.

Deborah Rice <Deborah.A.Rice@irs.gov>
Philadelphia, PA USA - Friday, July 13, 2001 at 15:37:26 (PDT)

A: We get a lot of questions about this. There have been no independent scientific research studies conducted to support claims of herbal breast enlargement products, though the anecdotal testimonials are many. Some herbs do contain phytosterolic compounds, plant constituents that are similar in chemical structure, though very much weaker, than hormones that are produced by the body. I do not know of any place to recommend that has reliable information on these "breast enhancement" products. The Herb Research Foundation sells an information packet on Phytosterols, (plant hormones) what they do in the body and in what plants they are found. Click the packet title for more information.


Q: I suffer terribly from PMS and as an added bonus get migraines for almost two straight weeks during this time. I recently starting taking Feverfew for the migraines and am wondering about combining that with Vitex. Woudl there be any problems with combining Feverfew and Vitex?

Colleen Bruce <cbruce@buffalo.edu>
Buffalo, NY USA - Wednesday, June 06, 2001 at 12:04:30 (PDT)

A: There are no known contraindications for using these two herbs together. If your migraines are hormally related, the vitex could also be very useful. We do have information packets available on PMS, Headaches/Migraines, feverfew and vitex. Click the links for more information.


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: Which herb is most recommended for PMS?

shelby Moseley <ssm1282@bellsouth.net>
cumming, ga USA - Monday, May 28, 2001 at 09:06:03 (PDT)

A: There are a variety of herbs that are employed in the treatment of PMS, such as vitex, crampbark, ginger, raspberry, wild yam and even essential fatty acids from flax, borage, or evening primrose oils, as well as many others. PMS can manifest in a variety of symptoms and from a variety of causes. Our packet on this subject has 40 pages of information that would be helpful in determining the best herbs for your type of PMS. Click the link for more information.


Q: My 10 year old granddaughter started her menstrual cycle five months ago. With each month her moodiness at menstrual time has gotten worse. I know from experience that mood changes at this time are normal. I want to know if a lemon balm tea might be helpful in reducing these mood swings? I don't want to give her an over the counter PMS product. Any information or help on this subject would be appreciated. Thank You Nancy

Nancy Broerman <nbroerman@cinci.rr.com>
Cincinnati, OH USA - Saturday, May 19, 2001 at 07:56:38 (PDT)

A: Lemon balm would certainly be safe and it has some calming effects, but you might want to also include vitex (Vitex agnus castus), also called chaste berry or chaste tree. It helps to normalize a wide range of gynecological complaints and is a safe herb for long term use, as is lemon balm. It works through regulating the pituitary, rather than by phytosterolic (hormonal) action. I suggest lemon balm as a tea, as it is very good tasting, and vitex as a tincture. We offer comprehensive packets of information on lemon balm, vitex and PMS. Click the links for more information.


Q: Hi, I was wondering about the validity of a claim I have heard many times...which is that Wild Yam, Fennel (seed), Fenugreek and Saw Palmetto are main ingredients in promoting a natural breast enhancement. Is this true, and do you know of any place I could read up on this information? Thank you, Jen
Jen Pierce <Jenny080@aol.com>
Albany, NY USA - Wednesday, April 18, 2001 at 10:53:31 (PDT)

A: We get a lot of calls about products such as these. There is little scientific research to support claims of breast enlargement, though the anecdotal testimonials are many. Several of the herbs you mentioned do contain phytosterolic compounds, plant constituents that are similar in chemical structure, though very much weaker, than hormones that are produced by the body. I do not know of any place to recommend that has reliable information on these products. The Herb Research Foundation sells an information packet on Phytosterols, (plant hormones) what they do in the body and in what plants they are found. Click the packet title for more information.


Q: Are these new "breast growth" herbal combinations legitimate? Do they really work? How long would one have to take them? Would this herbal combination be safe: blessed thistle, dandelion root, damiana, dong quai, kava kava, saw palmetto, wild yam, red raspberry, and senna. Is senna dangerous? Why would it be in this particular combination? Does this combination really do other things claimed, such as make menstrual flow less heavy and reduce mucus and relieve post-nasal drip? Thank you.
Kathleen <MarjTusu@juno.com>
USA - Saturday, March 31, 2001 at 07:51:33 (PST)

A: There may be some anecdotal results, but these breast enhancement products are not really scrutinized with scientific testing. The herbs in this formula do contain some phytosterolic compounds, but the use of herbs such as dandelion, kava and senna in this formula is a mystery, at least as far as the breast enhancement claims are concerned. As with any laxative ingredient one can become dependant on senna if it is used in large quantities or for long periods of time. There are a number of herbs in this formula that are known as emmenagogues (help regulate and balance the menstrual cycle) but there are no respiratory tonics to speak of for the claim on mucus or post natal drip. As a consumer, you may wish to call the manufacturer of the product and ask for scientific substantiation (not just testimonials). We do have a bit of information available on these so-called breast-enhancing herbs in our Information Packet on Herbal Beauty Aids. Please visit this page to read a summary of this packet: http://www.herbs.org/herbpacketsummariesA-C.htm


Q: I am 28 years old and have been suffering from migraine headaches every month before my period for the past two years. I am wondering if there are herbs that might help me. My doctor recommended that I take birth control pills in hopes that regulating my hormones might help, but I would prefer a more natural approach. Any suggestions?

A: Many women experience migraines during or around the time of their menstrual period. Though no one really knows the underlying causes of migraines, one theory is that they may be caused by fluctuating levels of estrogen prior to menstruation. Although your doctor's suggestion is a logical one, the pill does have side effects and may even cause migraines in some women. For a more natural approach to hormonal balancing, many women turn to vitex (Vitex agnus-castus). Vitex (or chaste tree berry, as it is sometimes called) works indirectly to modify the body's balance of estrogen and progesterone, rather than having a direct hormonal effect. In one clinical study, vitex was more effective than placebo in reducing symptoms associated with PMS, including headaches. For long-term results, many practitioners recommend taking vitex for six months to a year, though many women notice a change within a few menstrual cycles.

For more direct effects on migraines, feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is generally considered the herb of choice. Feverfew appears to be most helpful when taken as a preventative treatment for at least two to three months. In several well-controlled clinical studies involving chronic migraine sufferers, feverfew leaves greatly reduced the frequency of migraines as well as pain intensity and accompanying nausea and vomiting. A standard dose is 275 mg of standardized extract per day, 300 to 400 mg capsules or tablets up to three times per day, 15 to 30 drops of tincture per day, or two to four fresh leaves a day. Feverfew is not a good choice for tea because many of the plant's constituents are not water-soluble. For relief of acute migraine attacks, some healthcare practitioners recommend taking a dose of feverfew every 15 minutes (a maximum of four doses) until symptoms subside.

In addition, increasing your intake of omega-3 essential fatty acids, such as those found in flax seed and fish oils, may provide relief by blocking the release of prostaglandins. Research suggests that many Americans are deficient in essential fatty acids, "healthy" fats that are important in maintaining good health. Flax oil tastes great on a variety of foods, including salads, grain dishes, and potatoes (added at the end of cooking). Be sure to keep it tightly sealed and refrigerated to prevent rancidity.



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