Q. Please end an argument in our household. My husband is a coffee hound. He can't start the day without two or three cups, and he keeps the coffee pot going all day long. He works from home and usually keeps a cup of coffee on the desk right next to his computer. He must consume six or eight cups a day.
I prefer tea. Whenever I suggest he cut back, he says I drink as much tea as he drinks coffee. According to him, that means I'm getting just as much caffeine.
But I think tea is good for you and coffee is bad. I sure could use some ammunition for this discussion.
A.You have the best of this argument. Tea has less caffeine than coffee, so even if you are consuming the same number of cups as your husband, he is getting at least twice the caffeine -- up to 800 milligrams daily. That is enough to raise blood pressure and temporarily make his arteries stiffer.
Tea is rich in plant compounds called flavonoids. A recent study published in the journal Circulation showed that black tea improves blood vessel flexibility and reduces the risk of blood clots. And epidemiologists have found that people who drink tea are less likely to have heart disease.
Q. My mother has arthritis and takes Coumadin to prevent blood clots. She was told that ibuprofen is too dangerous because it could cause a bleeding ulcer with the Coumadin.
She can't afford the Vioxx or Celebrex her doctor prescribed, so she has been looking around for herbs and supplements. She takes ginkgo for her memory, garlic for her heart and ginger for the arthritis. Is there a problem with any of this?
A. Coumadin is a blood thinner that can interact with dozens of other drugs, many foods and lots of herbs. Ginkgo is a particular problem because it might increase her risk of hemorrhage. We also worry that garlic and ginger might make her more vulnerable to a bleeding problem.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them at their Web site (www.peoplespharmacy.com) on the HealthCentral.com network, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.