Sage may live up to its name as aid to mental activity

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY

Health & Fitness

April 11, 2004|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

I recently read an interesting claim about the herb sage. It is said to increase mental acuity when taken orally.

Apparently this is not brand-new. Sage has been used this way since the Middle Ages, which might account for the herb's name.

Have you heard about this? Is there any evidence to support it? Should I be swallowing handfuls of the stuff right out of my wife's spice cabinet?

We were surprised to discover a number of scientific studies of sage relevant to the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, February 2003). This spice (Salvia lavandulaefolia) affects the same enzyme targeted by prescription dementia drugs such as Aricept, Cognex, Exelon and Reminyl (Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, October 2001).

Clinical trials have been limited but suggest there might be some benefit from this herb. We don't know if taking sage will enhance mental functioning in healthy people. Until there is more research, we'd discourage you from raiding the spice shelf.

I was having excruciating pain in my metatarsal area and great difficulty walking. After two weeks of using Certo and grape juice as you described, my feet are free of pain. Why isn't this remedy better studied and more widely known?

Most home remedies are passed down from generation to generation without scientific study. Some are worthless, but others seem to be helpful.

We cannot explain why a mixture of grape juice and Certo (plant pectin used by home canners to thicken jams and jellies) seems to relieve arthritis pain and inflammation. Although many readers report surprising success, others have not noted benefit.

I am a retired pharmacist, so I know what is meant by an essential oil. But my customers don't.

I've had people try to buy thymol or other oils thinking that they need a few drops or even a teaspoonful orally for good health. I've had trouble convincing some that "essential" does not mean "necessary."

Thanks for clarifying that essential oils are not needed by the body and, in fact, some are toxic if taken orally. "Essential" refers to volatile oils that contain the "essence" of the plant.

Last fall the ends of my fingers, especially my thumbs, cracked and bled. They were sensitive and sore.

I tried all sorts of hand creams and ointments without improvement. Then I read your suggestion to use A&D Ointment. I tried it, and less than a week later my fingertips were healed and without pain.

A&D Ointment contains vitamins A and D in a cod-liver oil and petrolatum base. This old-fashioned diaper cream is a good moisturizer and can help skin heal.

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, N.Y. 10019, or e-mail them via their Web site, www.peoplespharmacy.org.

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