Health Notes

Mushrooms: Medicinal Confetti

Note: This article is not meant as a substitute for proper medical advice. Please consult with your medical practitioner before using any type of remedy, herbal or otherwise.

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by Robert Luby, MD

Mushrooms have been used for over 4000 years in Chinese medicine, but their value has only been recognized in the past few decades in modern allopathic, or mainstream, medicine. A significant reason for this delay concerns what I have dubbed the “Magic Bullet vs. Magic Confetti” conundrum.

Allopathic medicine is prone to develop therapeutic medications with a single, potent, and well-characterized “active ingredient”. Each of these agents tends to exert one of the following three effects 1) kill cells (e.g., cancer drugs and antibiotics), 2) block the function of a physiologic pathway (e.g., any of the “anti-drugs”, anti-hypertensives, anti-inflammatory, antacids, etc.), or 3) replace a deficient substance (e.g., thyroid hormone).

April's Health Genie: Sunscreen

Dear Health Genie,

SunEvery year I buy several different sunscreens thinking one may be better than the other. Even though I work outside, I end up with extra tubes left at the end of the summer. Some sunscreen has irritated my face but I didn’t have any way of knowing this until I’d purchased it. Now I choose a baby sunscreen because it doesn’t make me itchy or one for faces or one that sprays on because those feel lighter. I enjoy being tan so I choose a low or medium SPF, skip sunscreen some days, and around midsummer I stop using sunscreen except on the very brightest days. Is that ok once I am tan? Sometimes people who see my dark tan warn me that I should always cover up even if I don’t think I am getting burned. Is it safe to continue using the sunscreens I bought last year, this year? Will you advise me about what to look for on the label? I know about SPF. What else should I know? 

Thanks,
Outdoorsy Sun Lover

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March's Health Genie: Iron

Dear Genie,

IronWhat can you tell me about iron? My husband and I have a new baby. I feel I could be anemic. We could both use something to support our energy. I never took multivitamins until my pregnancy so I am unsure about what to take now that I am no longer pregnant. My husband’s doctor urged him to avoid iron supplementation. I have heard that too much iron can be harmful to children. Should I be cautious about how much iron I take while I am nursing? Should we try to get our iron from food alone?

Thanks,
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February's Health Genie: Zinc

Dear Genie,

ZincI want to help my family miss less school and work. There are so many products in the cold and flu section. I am unfamiliar with most.  My kids would appreciate it if I didn’t make them take so many different supplements every time a cold is going around. They get exasperated if I offer too many remedies. My wife won’t take anything that is not backed by research. Can you suggest one supplement that could help us this season?

Thanks,

Devoted Dad

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June's Health Genie

Dear Genie,
We have an outdoor wedding to attend in July (where we’ll be standing at the edge of a beautiful pond). My wife says she doesn’t want me to wear my favorite dark blue suit. She claims that I will attract mosquitoes and pledges not to sit next to me if I do. We choose not to use conventional bug sprays. If I take my chances and wear my favorite suit, do you have any suggestions on ‘natural’ bug sprays?
Thanks,
Got the Blues for Bugs

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