Discerning Health Fads from Health Fact by Dr. Leia Melead

Discerning Health Fads From Facts by Dr. Leia Melead

Herbs and natural substances are not always “safe.”

The following are a few of the most popular herbs
and supplements which can easily be found in a health food store and department stores.

Please note that these substances
should not be taken with certain chemical drug prescriptions. Here are some guidelines:

Ginkgo Biloba

This is an herb that is used for improving memory and blood circulation.

Caution: Do not use it if you are on any blood pressure medications, circulatory, and heart drugs.

St. John’s Wort

This herb is used for depression, mood swings, and general well-being, and is not to be used with anti-depressant

Caution: If a skin rash appears on your body, and if you are exposed to excessive sun or sun bathing avoid.

Co Enzyme Q10

This substance is used for improving heart function and elevating muscle- energy levels.

Caution: Do not use with heart
medication. Statin drugs interfere with the body’s production of coenzyme Q 10.

Alpha-lipoic Acid

This substance is used to improve blood glucose or sugar levels, for promoting healthy liver function, and for increasing
post-meal fatigue.

Caution: Do not use with-out your physician’s careful monitoring of your blood sugar levels. It may
decrease your blood sugar too much and cause an extreme drop in your blood sugar levels.


Iodine is an important mineral for the functioning of the thyroid gland.

Caution: Do not take if you are allergic or sensitive to iodine, or have a diagnosis of thyroiditis or autoimmune

Black Cohosh

This is an important herb for menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats. A phyto-estrogen, or plant
estrogen. It does not contain estrogen, but may replace the estrogen molecules on the body’s cells and receptor

Caution: Do not take any phyto-estrogen herbs if you take an estrogen prescription.

Vitamin E

An important vitamin and anti-oxidant for increasing the circulation and for menopausal hot flashes. Do not take
more than 800IU each day.

Caution: If you take it, make sure that you take it every day, and not skip a day. In some people,
it causes a rise in the blood pressure and a burden on the heart and circulation if it is taken irregularly.

Vitamin C

A very common vitamin found in fresh fruit. Do not take a capsuleor tablet of vitamin C on an empty stomach.

Caution: To much in large doses
can cause an ulcer in the stomach because it is acidic. Because it is water-soluable, I recommend that you take a
smaller dose, ie, 250mg. several times a day, rather than 1000mg. once per day. It is excreted out in the urine.


These important minerals are necessary to prevent osteoporosis.The minimum daily requirement (MDR) is 1200mg. of
calcium per day. Magnesium should be 600 mg. or about ½ the amount of calcium

Not all calcium supplements are created equal. Most are not absorb-able. The best form should be citrate,
lactate, or malate. Carbonate is a drug, and not advised. Oyster shell and dolomite are contaminated with heavy metals
and should not be used. If you are big milk drinker, then you may need more magnesium than calcium.

Caution: Do not take calcium or magnesium supplements without drinking enough water each day. If you do not drink
at least 8 to 10 glasses of pure water each day, then your body will not digest the calcium/magnesium supplements and
may form kidney stones!

Calcium and magnesium are also physiological tranquilizers, and are extraordinary muscle relaxants, and are useful
to calm the nerves!


A substance which is used as a mood elevator. Studies have shown that it is as effective as a few known anti-depressants
for depression. It is quick acting, and in as little as four days, most people notice an improvement in mild to moderate

Caution: SAM-e should not be taken when you are on an anti-depressant drug prescription. It is an amino acid, which
has proven good for joint pain, and for cleansing of the liver. There are no harmful side effects!


A substance related to tryptophan, used for mood elevation. I do not usually recommend this supplement because I
feel that SAM-e is safer, and much more effective.

Caution: 5-HTP should not be take with any other prescription anti-depressant!


Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) has released a warning that albacore tuna, swordfish,
shark, king mackerel, and tilefish contain high levels of mercury. Therefore advising that these fish be limited
to one meal per week, and avoided for pregnant women and young children, because of the toxic effect of mercury
upon the developing brain. Safer fish include salmon, shrimp, canned white tuna, pollock and catfish. For the safer
fish, up to two 12 ounce meals per week can be eaten for its omega 3 fatty acid benefits.

Low Carbohydrate Diets

Recent studies show that eating a diet low in carbohydrate is more effective for lower
cholesterol levels and weight loss. Even more effective than low fat diets. Until the final verdict is in, however,
it would be safer to eat a diet that is lower in saturated fats and carbohydrates, while eating a diet moderate
in essential omega-3 fatty acids, which include vegetable oils, such as flax oil, fish oil, borage oil, olive oil.

Good examples of low carbohydrate diets can be found in reading the books:

“The South Beach Diet”, and “The Schwarzbein Principle. Both books are recommended for healthy
weight loss, and management of high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease.

Low Calorie Diets

Latest research shows that by restricting the caloric intake in mice allows the mice to live
twice as long as mice fed the standard diet if this diet is implemented early on in life. However, it also showed
that even in older mice, that if the restricted diet was started, it allowed the mice to live longer and their
quality of life was improved.


Increased soy products can interfere with the thyroid gland and its production of hormones. If you have low
thyroid function, it is best to eat soy sparingly, if at all. Even though it has been shown to have positive effects
upon the circulation and heart, it may have deleterious effects upon memory and memory loss.

Always choose organic soy,
because most of the soy in our country is genetically modified. Also, stay away from soy pills and powder. Eating
miso (low salt is advised) and cultured soy such as tofu and tempeh, is best because by culturing, it breaks
down the toxic chemical found in fresh soy products.

By Dr. Leia Melead