Richters HerbLetter

Date: 95/09/08
1. Some Patients Better Off Not Taking Drugs
2. Oregano Hair Detangler?

1. Some Patients Better Off Not Taking Drugs
By Conrad Richter

In two articles appearing yesterday and today in the Toronto Globe and Mail, Wallace Immen reports that commonly used drugs can have unintended effects that may actually exacerbate the illness being treated.

Migraine sufferers may be impeding the brain’s own ability to kill pain when they overuse pain remedies containing codeine and ASA. According to Dr John Edmeads, neurologist and chief physician at the Sunnybrook Health Science Centre in Toronto, constant use of these medications can reduce production of the body’s natural pain killers leaving patients with a daily, grinding head pain.

As many as 40 per cent of Canadian migraine sufferers may be suffering from medication-induced headaches from both prescribed and over-the-counter drugs. Studies show that stopping the drugs can relieve the daily headache, although stopping is not easy because of withdrawal symptoms.

Six months after withdrawal, about 70 per cent of patients report that they are able to cope without painkillers. Debilitating migraine attacks can be controlled with other forms of medication or by controlling "triggers" such as foods, hormones, stress and sleep disorders. Migraine sufferers are often advised to stay away from foods that contain monosodium glutamate, tyramine (found in chocolate, cheese and yogurt), histamine and nitrates.

As one doctor once put it, pain killers, like ASA, don’t really solve problems, rather they poison the body’s ability to sense pain. If there is pain there is an underlying reason for it and pain killers should not be used to mask the problem. Typically, herbalists and other alternative health care givers look deeper for the source of pain and seek to alter the body’s functioning so that pain does not arise.

Sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis also develop problems from regular use of drugs to reduce swelling. One-quarter of patients develop ulcers from the use of common anti-inflammatory drugs like ASA, ibuprofen and others. A large international study involving nearly 9,000 arthritis patients who took daily inflammatory drugs showed that serious upper gastrointestinal complications such as bleeding and perforation could be reduced 40% by administering an artificial prostaglandin. Prostaglandin is a natural body substance that is involved in a myriad of functions in cells and tissues.

One of the natural prostaglandins, E-1, has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect, and is known to regulate the immune system, lower blood pressure, and inhibit cholestrol synthesis. PGE-1 however is normally produced in the body where it is needed and then quickly destroyed.

The body’s prostaglandin production can be boosted by natural means. Evening primrose oil works by supplying the body with one of the major precursors of prostaglandin, gamma linolenic acid. The body is able to utilize GLA to manufacture PGE-1 where it is needed. A large body of evidence exists now to suggest that evening primrose oil can treat a host of diseases including diabetes, cancer, and premenstrual syndrome, and it may well be useful in cases of rheumatoid arthritis.

2. Oregano Hair Detangler?
By Jackie White

KANSAS CITY, Sept. 7, Kansas City Star -- Do you sometimes get the urge to just trot into the kitchen and whip up, er, a little winkle lotion?

Philip B., a Los Angeles hairstylist who markets beauty products, contends you can mix up a batch of treatments somewhere between the fridge and the butcher’s block. He tells you how in a new book, Blended Beauty: Botanical Secrets for Body and Soul, published by Berkeley’s Ten Speed Press, $24.95 (U.S.).

He uses herbs, fruits, vegetables, baking soda and eggs for such things as Creamy Cucumber Facial Cleanser, and Rosemary Milk Tonic for feet.

Home-brewed beauty concoctions are not new. Almost everyone knows about cucumbers to reduce swollen eyes, oatmeal masks and milk baths. But Vegetarian Refried Beans Hair Masque, with sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts? He says he was inspired especially by a food tour with chefs to Italy. He began to add food to his products and found how to "nourish the exterior and awaken the senses."

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