Here are some interesting remedies for common problems that have a holiday theme. Please note, these are not specifically for those with diabetes and like all remedies, you should check with your doctor before trying any of these. I hope everyone has a joyous and blessed holiday. Here's Dr. W.
The holidays are in full swing, and what better time to share a few holiday-themed cures with you. Read on to see how peppermint, frankincense, and an extract from pine tree bark can help treat a variety of health concerns.
Peppermint for IBS and Digestion Woes
Candy canes may only surface around the holidays, but peppermint is something you should keep in your medicine cabinet year round—especially if you suffer with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Peppermint oil is a proven remedy for relieving pain, gas and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and other symptoms of this common condition. Italian researchers gave patients with IBS either peppermint oil or placebo capsules twice a day. After four weeks, three quarters of the patients taking peppermint reported a greater than 50 percent improvement in symptoms, compared to just 38 percent of those in the placebo group.
Peppermint oil can cause heartburn in some people, so I suggest taking only enteric-coated capsules, which don’t break down until they’ve passed through the stomach. The dose used in most studies is one to two capsules containing 0.2 mL of oil twice a day. I also recommend a cup of fragrant peppermint tea after meals to aid digestion. Look for peppermint oil capsules and tea in your health food store.
Frankincense for Arthritis
In biblical times, frankincense was as valued as gold. This fragrant resin has also been treasured for its many medicinal uses, and it remains a staple in Ayurvedic medicine. The bulk of modern-day research focuses on an extract from the Indian frankincense tree, Boswellia serrata. Scientists have discovered that this extract mimics the anti-inflammatory effects of NSAIDs and helps relieve arthritis pain—without any negative side effects.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined the effects of Boswellia serrata on patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Those who received the supplement daily for three months reported significant pain relief, some in as little as one week. They also experienced improvements in function and stiffness. In addition, the group receiving boswellia had markedly lower levels of an enzyme that breaks down cartilage. Boswellia extracts are safe and well tolerated. To ensure potency, go with a supplement standardized for 65 percent boswellic acids. Good brands include Solgar and Nature’s Way. Look for them in your health food store and use as directed.
Pycnogenol for Asthma
More than 30 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma, and its prevalence in children is particularly disturbing, as it has increased nearly 75 percent over the last 25 years. The usual treatments for this chronic condition are oral or inhaled corticosteroids or other drugs that reduce inflammation, and inhaled bronchodilators, which increase the diameter of the airways and are often used during attacks.
Recent research suggests that pycnogenol, an antioxidant-rich extract from the bark of pine trees (Pinus maritime), also improves asthma symptoms and reduces drug requirements. Researchers enrolled 60 kids, ages 6 to 18, with mild-to-moderate asthma in a three-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of pycnogenol. They discovered that, compared with those taking placebo, children taking pycnogenol had significant improvements in pulmonary function and asthma symptoms as well as reductions in leukotrienes, a marker of inflammation. They were also able to discontinue or reduce their frequency of use of “rescue inhalers.” A previous study showed benefits for adults with asthma as well. The dose used in these studies was 1 mg per pound of body weight in both children and adults, up to 200 mg per day. Pycnogenol is sold in health food stores.
I hope these “holiday cures” are helpful to you or someone you know. Feel free to pass this eNewsletter along to friends and family, and enjoy the season and all it has to offer.
Julian Whitaker, MD
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