Dietary Supplements: Needed or Not? (cont.)

DORFMAN:
You need to see a healthcare practitioner for a condition that's this complicated, but you could certainly do more reading by checking out Burton Goldberg's Alternative Medicine Guides.

Concerning St. John's Wort, it looks like a mild MAO inhibitor, which stands for monoamine oxidase. MAO inhibitors are an old class of antidepressants that had a lot of side effects. So I would be concerned that if you have problems with many medications that this might cause problems also. There are other alternatives that don't work on these pathways that may be useful, but you will need professional help.

Another resource is a company called Neuroscience. They train doctors and practitioners to use nutritional supplements for neurological and pain conditions.

MEMBER QUESTION:
I have tried many brands of multivitamins with minerals and they all upset my stomach. I have now selected certain vitamins (B-Complex, C, E, folic acid, zinc, calcium). I wanted to know if my body was getting enough of the essential vitamins taking certain ones than a complete multivitamin?

DORFMAN:
It sounds to be like you are getting almost everything but iron, and iron is the component of multivitamins that most often causes stomach trouble. So it sounds to me like you've done a pretty good job of working out the problem. You may want to look for ferrous sulfate in multivitamins if you have stomach problems. It often causes constipation or stomach distress.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Since becoming menopausal, I have experienced dry eyes, nose, dry mouth, and my skin is dry. My doctor said to drink more water. I now drink eight 12-ounce glasses of water a day with no improvement. Would taking essential fatty acids help?

DORFMAN:
You may want to consider either ground flax seeds (which should be kept in the freezer) or flax seed oil.

Dry skin after menopause is often a result of diminishing hormones. Estrogen and progesterone are both steroid hormones. That means they come from fat. Secondary production of these hormones can sometimes improve by providing the raw materials needed to make them. So many women report that essential fats help ameliorate some of this dryness.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Does taking psyllium for part of one's daily fiber consumption affect vitamins or medications that one is currently taking?

DORFMAN:
In studies with fiber they found that people adjusted to a higher fiber intake, so I would say over time there should not be any appreciable problem. However, you should ask your doctor to double check about any medication that may have special interactions.

"A number of studies...found garlic could be useful in part of a balanced program for controlling hypertension and lowering cholesterol."

MEMBER QUESTION:
What about female libido enhancers like the ones from GNC?

DORFMAN:
You might want to ask your doctor about the use of small amounts of testosterone, because emerging studies have found this hormone to be important for women. It may also help bone density.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Kelly, my son is one of your patients. He recently had a bout with hives that lasted about a week. The only thing that I gave him out of the norm was a sip or two of Miracle 2000 dissolved in orange juice. Could the sea algae be the reason for the hives (by the way, they would come back at night in force, fading by morning and through the day)?

DORFMAN:
Hives occur shortly after exposure to something, within two hours, so it would have to be something he was exposed to very recently. The only way to test it is to stop the suspect items, both the orange juice and the vitamin, wait a week and re-introduce one, then the other.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Can lack of magnesium be linked to anxiety?

DORFMAN:
Possibly. Magnesium is the mineral that regulates the sodium potassium pump. If you remember your biology, the sodium potassium pump moves electrolytes so that you can send nerve transmissions. In magnesium deficiency the nervous system gets jumpy and you can have symptoms, like heart arrhythmia or eye twitching. Because of magnesium's calming effect on the nervous system, and because the average American diet tends to be low in magnesium, it is possible that supplemental magnesium could help some types of anxiety.