Seeking an herbal cold shower

People's Pharmacy

December 23, 1997|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D. | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D.,SPECIAL TO THE SUN King Features Syndicate

I was fascinated to read that there is an herb that women can use to reduce sexual urges. Does it work for men?

My husband would like sex every day, which I find excessive. Would there be any danger in giving him chaste tree berry to cool him down?

Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) was once reputed to lower libido. In fact, the spicy berries were known as "monk's pepper" and used to season monastery food in the expectation it would help them stay celibate.

These days the extract of chaste tree berry is popular with women treating premenstrual or menopausal symptoms. Whether its hormone modulating action could be hazardous to men is unknown. We cannot guarantee that this herb would dampen your husband's desire.

Our family is taking a long overdue winter vacation in Hawaii. Unfortunately, we have only a week. I am very susceptible to jet lag and it takes my body a long time to adjust. I wake up at unreasonably early hours and have a hard time staying awake past 7 p.m.

My doctor has offered Ambien as a sleeping pill. I would rather try melatonin or some herbal remedies. What can you tell me about overcoming jet lag?

Ambien is a reasonably good sleeping pill, but it has not been shown to overcome jet lag or reset the internal clock. Melatonin, on the other hand, does appear to help people adjust to the new time more rapidly.

Researchers have shown that if melatonin is taken in the early evening (around 8 or 9 p.m.) in the new time zone it tends to push the body's clock forward. To speed up the process, take time to walk around in bright sunlight early in the day. (That should be easy in Hawaii.)

There are some herbs that are high in melatonin. They include feverfew and St. John's wort. Whether taking them at bedtime would assist in overcoming jet lag is unknown.

After reading that flax seed can help regularity, I went looking for some. I can't find it anywhere -- only the soft-gel capsules of flax seed oil, which didn't help. Where can I find some?

You aren't the only one who is interested in flax seed. We received this letter from another reader:

"I was able to buy a small bag of flax seeds from a natural food store the same day I read your column. I have also ordered a small grinder. The column mentioned using half a teaspoon daily, while the clerk at the health food store suggested two tablespoons. Is it up to the individual to determine the effective dosage?"

James Duke, Ph.D., author of "The Green Pharmacy" (Rodale), suggests one to three tablespoons of flax seed. If you take that much fiber, though, wash it down with a lot of water, at least eight glasses daily. You might start with a half-teaspoon flax seed and increase the dose until you find an amount that works for you.

Write to Joe and Teresa Graedon in care of this newspaper or e-mail to

Pub Date: 12/23/97

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