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Ask the Herb Specialist
January - June 2004

I am wondering what is causing the ridges on my nails and what my body needs to make them go away. I was anemic in the past. Could it be that I am in need of a iron supplement?

Sincerely,
Jo

An iron deficiency is usually indicated by tearing of the nails. Vertical ridges tend to be a sign of calcium deficiency.

Nicole Bandes, 6/9/04

I was wondering if there is an herb or combination of herbs that will stem hair loss and/or actually promote hair growth? Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Doug

Hi Doug,

I recently receive a testimonial from a gentleman that was using Phyto-Soy successfully to prevent his hair from falling out. Chances are, the soy estrogen is balancing out the testosterone which can often be a cause of baldness.

Nicole Bandes, 5/24/04

 

I am using your Pro G Yam 500 cream…I am having problems regulating my menstrual cycle…I finished a period 10 days ago, started the cream on Day 8 of my last period, which was extremely heavy, not having had one for several months (but last one lasted for a full month), and have started to bleed again on Day 10 of using cream. Do I start the process all over again…wait another 7 days then try again. I’m using a pea size bit of cream morning and night. Is this enough? What is the normal amount of time (months) it takes to regulate a perimenipausal woman? Is there anything I should watch for that I should consult a doctor for?

You will want to use the Pro-G-Yam cream from ovulation to the onset of your period, though it is generally considered safe to use it all month long. Typically, ovulation occurs on day 14 of a 28 day cycle. If your cycle is not regular, you will need to determine, as closely as possible, when ovulation occurs. To determine when ovulation occurs, measure your body temperature (a sudden fall and subsequent rise can indicate ovulation). You may also determine ovulation by a change in vaginal secretion. From day 14 (ovulation) to day 18, you should use 1/8 tsp twice a day. From day 19 to day 23, ¼ tsp twice per day; and from day 24 to onset of period, you should use ½ tsp per day.

While there have been no reports of significant side effects or health concerns from using natural progesterone, it often causes break through bleeding. This should clear up in a few months of regular use. If it does not, consult a physician as break through bleeding can also indicate other conditions. You will also want to consult a physician if you experience persistent headaches or other progressive symptoms.

Natural progesterone can also cause increased thyroid activity. If you are taking thyroid supplements, be sure you work closely with your prescribing doctor.

You may want to consider supplementing with Menstrual Reg. This product is a combination of herbs designed to regulate the cycle and flow of menstruation. Once you have begun having regular cycles, you can decrease and eventually cease the use of the Menstrual Reg while continuing to use the Pro-G-Yam 500.

Nicole Bandes, 4/28/04
I have already tried the normal answer to sugar cravings like licorice root and magnesium. I have also tried chromium. No matter how hard I try to stay away from sweets I can't seem to. I am also over 100 lbs. overweight and cannot seem to loose. What should I do?

Not knowing very much about your particular situation and only knowing that you have tried the supplements (excluding Gymnema) that I would recommend for sugar cravings, I would suggest that your particular situation may be a result of an overgrowth of Candida.

Candida Albicans is yeast that is normal to our intestinal tracts. However, when we use antibiotics the good bacteria that we have in our bodies are also killed. This good bacteria (sometimes called flora or probiotics) is what keeps the yeast at a manageable level. If it is killed of by antibiotics, the yeast has a chance to grow out of control.

We may also get an overgrowth of candida from eating too much sugar or having an imbalance of intestinal flora.

The yeast feeds on sugar. When we get an overgrowth of yeast, it can often cause severe and intense sugar cravings among many other problems including inability to lose weight.

If you feel that an overgrowth of Candida is a concern to you, consider following the Candida Control Program and the Candida Diet.

Nicole Bandes, 4/20/04

Hi, I recently bought some Bifidophilus from a herbal store out of town. I was in a hurry and so I didn't notice that the lady's directions for taking the capsules were different from the directions on the bottle. She wrote on the top of the bottle to take 4 caps in the morning with a glass of water, on an empty stomach. The directions printed on the bottle tell me to take 1-2 capsules before each meal.
I was wondering if you could tell me what possible side effects could be caused by taking the capsules in the morning, as she directed, versus taking a couple with the meal. Also, would there be any benefits to taking the capsules one way instead the other?
I appreciate any suggestions you could offer!

Sincerely,
Kim Martin

Hi Kim,

The reason for taking probiotic capsules (Bifidophilus) on an empty stomach is because this is the best way for probiotics to repopulate the bowel. If you take them with food (or eat food shortly after taking them) the probiotics will work more on aiding in the digestion of the food. Because you won’t be taking 1-2 before each meal (for a total of 3 to 6) the dosage of 4 once per day makes up for the multiple doses.

Nicole Bandes, 4/9/04

I have some expired weight loss supplement that I would like to use, and I was just curious of worst case scenario. Will it not just work or will I get sick? The exp. date is 02/02. They are sealed and unopened and have been stored in my basement in a cool dry dark place. I have been taking herbal weight loss supplements for years with no problems, but was just curious if the exp. date just means it will not work, or does it mean it is now poisonous? Thanks for your help. Herbal products rarely become “dangerous” with age. I have never personally experienced or heard of a case where they have become dangerous. Usually it is just a matter of them becoming inactive. Even with that, an expiration of 02/02 will likely still provide at least some potency.

Nicole Bandes, 3/18/04

Hello,

Chinese Lung Support [Respiratory] is a Chinese combination of 16 herbs specially formulated to supplement the needs of a weakened metal constitution. The Chinese call this formula fu lei, which means to strengthen the weak and thin. Chinese Lung Support is considered a lung tonic formula.

What does this mean a weakened metal constitution. My husband is an electrician and he works with a lot of metal piping, besides the wires themselves. An ocassionaly electrical jolt is part of the hazzards of this line of work. I have often wondered if he needs an herbal formula for metal detox in his system. He had pneumonia this December and recently picked up a virus from one of our children. It seems to be hanging on in his Bronchical area. This viral occurance is 3 months after his bout with pneumonia, which he did recover from.

What advice can you give me.
Lynn

Hi Lynn,

In Chinese Medicine, there are 5 different constitutions; Wood, Fire, Earth, Water and Metal. These constitutions relate to the “nature” of a person, not how much metal they may have in their systems (for example). The Chinese believe that an individual’s constitution, along with their lifestyle and environment, determines one’s factors of health.

The Metal Constitution is important for our defense. Metal invokes images of substance, structure, and strength. The Metal constitution provides us with strength to protect ourselves. This constitution represents the lungs, skin, and mucous membranes (which line the respiratory system and digestive tract) which act as a shield to protect our body from harmful invaders.

A breakdown in the Metal constitution would be associated with weakened immune response, an inability to stand up and defend oneself, or an inability to express sorrow and grief. Excessive Metal may lead to defensiveness, rebelliousness, and an excessive need to assert one's own opinions. The emotions related to the Metal constitution are sorrow and grief.

Conditions traditionally known to arise from Metal imbalances include chronic infections of mucous membrane (sinus, lungs, colon, vaginal), chronic cough or sinus congestion, nausea, and skin cysts.

Based on this, the Chinese Lung Support may be very beneficial to your husband.
If you have not already, you may want to read the article Understanding Acute Bronchitis to better understand what products may be helpful.

Nicole Bandes, 3/09/04

At the advice of my doctor, I am starting to take prenatal vitamins for a couple months before actually trying to get pregnant (I also just went off the pill 3 weeks ago). I've had stomach problems in the past, so I haven't been retaining nearly the amount of nutrition I should get. I haven't been taking any other multi-vitamins until just a couple of days ago and I know something is definitely needed. After researching, I started taking the Rite-Aid brand of prenatal vitamins, but then I read your article on the preservatives, etc that they contain. A friend of mine mentioned that I also need to be looking at the absorption of vitamins, as some do not efficiently go through your system. How do I know if they do, and do the vitamins you supply do the job they are supposed to?

Thanks for your help!

Sarah from CA

Hi Sarah,

The questions you pose are very good ones. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Your friend is also correct in the fact that many vitamins do not absorb well. Primarily, these vitamins would be synthetic (man made) vitamins and not natural forms of the vitamins. NSP does not use synthetic vitamins in any of their products.

NSP, unlike many other manufacturers, also extensively test their vitamins to determine how readily absorbable they are. It is a company that is committed to quality and is willing to pull products from production if they do not meet their quality standards.

As far as knowing if a product is working for you, it is not easy to tell barring scientific lab tests. There are some individuals that will do a form of muscle testing called Kinesiology that can compare one type of vitamin to another for your specific body and needs. This technique (while seeming a bit “out there”) can be pretty convincing in which products your body likes and doesn’t. Outside of this, your best bet is to research different manufacturers and go with a company that performs a high number of quality checks and tests.

Nicole Bandes, 2/18/04

I have recently been diagnosed with slightly elevated BP which the doctor feels will be lowered through a few changes in lifestyle - this I am happy to do...

I did read however that CO Q10 and Hawthorn can be effective in assisting with lowering blood pressure. I also occasionally have Premature Ventricular Contractions... This in mind I also hear that Hawthorn can be good for heart beat regulation.

While these things may sound serious, I did see a cardiologist earlier this week and he has given me a clean bill of health, other than making a few lifestyle adjustments such as losing a bit of weight and quitting smoking, which I really want to do.

The main question I have is how long is it safe to take CO Q10 and Hawthorn for or could I take them from now on with no adverse effects? Are they ok to take at the same time?

Kind Regards

Leo Gregor

You are smart to begin your health program while you still have your health. To use an old billards phrase, if you don't take care of your health now, you will constantly be behind the eight ball.

Both Co-Q10 and Hawthorn are safe products to take indefinitely and will cause no problems interacting with each other. There are no known side effects with taking either product and are generally considered safe. As always, consult with your physician while on this type of a program.

Nicole Bandes, 2/8/04

I am experiencing menopausal symptoms. It was recommended to me that I take the following herbs: Flash Ease, Dong Quai, X-Action, Natural Changes, Gotu Kola and Vitamin E. Is it necessary that I take all of these vitamins? Will it harm my body in any way if they are all taken at the same time?

Errica Brown
Dallas, Texas

Hello Errica,

First of all, it will not harm your body to take all of the recommended herbs at one time.

The necessity to take all of the products is determined by your own situation. If you have not yet tried natural remedies and would like to start out slower, you may consider taking just a couple of the products and adding more if results are not achieved. Herbalists often recommend a "shotgun" approach in an effort to be sure that what is given is effective because most clients are still raised on the western ideals of medicine, "Take a pill and everything will be ok". Herbal medicine, as well as other forms of alternative medicine, usually works from the perspective that a body needs to be supported so that it can heal itself. When this happens, all the symptoms will naturally go away. This method, however, usually takes a longer period of time and results are not as immediate or noticeable. It may also take some time to find the right product (or type of therapy) for your situation. This is why many herbalists will attempt to recommend more products in an effort to be sure one of them will be the right one.

When working with herbal products, it is important to have patience. Your efforts will pay off in the end.

Nicole Bandes, 1/19/04

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