Monday, December 24, 2007

Short Answers to Complicated Questions

I have received several interesting questions. It being Christmas Eve Day I'm not going to spend a lot of time answering, because each one could be worth several blogs, and they each are very important. So I will give some short answers to these complicated questions and go into detail about them in the coming New Year.

For those of you expressing difficulty figuring out how to send a comment: At the end of the blog it says "__ of comments posted." Click on this and it will give you a space where you can make comments.

"My question involves my wife. She is 59 and is taking female hormones. She took them to prevent the swetting. If she quits will she start swetting again? Her Doctor has left the decision to her. she can continue or she can quit. What will be her experience if she quits? Is it good for her to continue to take the hormones at her age? Thank you for your assistance."

The most common use for female hormones is for hot flashes, which can range in the peri- and post-menopausal woman from none or minimal to very severe and extremely uncomfortable. The common misconception, however, is that if a woman takes the hormones for a few years until "the change" has passed, that she can then stop taking the hormones without any further hot flashes.

No one knows what truly causes hot flashes, though there are many theories. But hot flashes are usually more severe in women with a lot of stress, depression and/or anxiety in their lives. They can be affected by diet. If there is no hormone replacement, the majority of women stop having hot flashes or have them only rarely after about 2-5 years as the body adjusts to the change in hormone levels. However, if a woman is replacing the hormones that are naturally decreasing in her body, she will still go through the menopausal symptoms if she stops taking them in the future. I usually recommend that a woman who desires to stop hormone replacement therapy wean off gradually, decreasing the dose slowly over 6 months to a year to allow the body time to adjust to the changing levels.

Is hormone replacement good for your wife? It would depend on what kind she is using and how she is metabolizing them. That will have to be in another discussion. Also at another time I will talk about other things that can be used to reduce menopausal symptoms besides hormones, and the difference between Premarin and Provera vs. bio-identical hormones.

"This is the season of colds. What is the best thing to do for a cold? Do the homeopathic remedies available over the counter (Zicam, zinc tablets, Cold eaze, etc.) work? Or is it just rest, liquids, time, and a little chicken soup?"

The first thing to do for a cold is prevention. Though there are other reasons, the most common reason that people get colds is that they allow themselves to get run down by not allowing themselves enough down time, relaxation time and/or sleep. I like to imagine my body telling me, "If you don't take time to slow down a little I'll make you slow down!" And then if I don't listen and keep going full speed in spite of the cold, my body may say, "You made it through this time but it will come back again soon!" Or it may say, "Since you're not slowing down with this warning, I'll give you bronchitis or sinusitis or even pneumonia so that you'll HAVE to rest!"

Another common cause is eating a lot of sugar. Sugar reduces the activity of the phagocytes (the little pac-men inside our blood stream that eat foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses). The amount of sugar in one can of soda can reduce phagocyte activity for 4 hours! So if we are eating sugar all day, our immune system isn't functioning fully.

Once you get a cold, what do you do? The most effective treatment, the one that none of us have time for or want to do, is take a day off to rest. Rest and sleep, along with self-pampering, are the best healers. Beyond that, yes, studies show that Vitamin C, Zinc, echinacea, Vitamin A, and chicken soup all reduce sick time for the common cold. I usually recommend 500 to 1000 mg. of Vit. C every 1-2 hours while sick. If the cold starts with or is accompanied by a sore throat, sucking chewable vitamin C and zinc lozenges help. I usually recommend 50 to 75 mg. of zinc, and up to 100,000 IU of Vit. A (not beta carotene). If you are pregnant, don't use over 5,000 IU of Vit. A. These higher doses can be used for 3-4 days without any toxicity.

There are various somewhat expensive over-the-counter cold remedies with these combinations, and they often help reduce symptoms faster, especially if taken immediately.

Homeopathic occillococcinum has also been shown in studies to stop a cold or flu more rapidly than placebo if taken at the first sign of symptoms.

In the future I would like to write a column on the individual homeopathic remedies for colds and flu, and the indications to take them.

For those of you who commented on the design, you are right. I was in a hurry just to get the site up and didn't spend much time on it. However, my dear daughter Monica, the design expert, will be working on it. If anyone would like to see samples of her webpage designs go to I'm quite proud of her work!

Please send this site to your family and friends!

Until we meet again,
Dr. Judi


Valerie said...

I found this very interesting.
I have two other questions:

Is it better to exercise when you are sick or not?

What about stomach virus/food poisoning? How can you tell the difference? I had a bad case on Christmas just after reading your blog, and I know you recommended the BRAT diet once (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) for people who've recovered enough to eat solid foods. Any other pointers? I was bad enough I ended up in the emergency room (a first for me), and they rehydrated me with an IV and ordered a number of blood tests. I'm curious about what tests they would have ordered and specifically why passing lots of blood would make them so concerned (I know it concerned me, but I don't have a medical reason other than just knowing it's not normal).

B.J. said...

Hi Dr. Judi

I was just wondering if there are any natural ways to deal with post-pardum before it hits. Before I committ to having another child I would really like to know my options on preventing PPD. I have done the whole anti-depressant thing and am really looking for something to prevent it rather than cover it up after it has arrived. I went through a rough time for about a year after having my son and am hopeing there is a way to stop it before it happens so when i am finelly ready to have another baby it can be joyful experience.

Thank you

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