Magnesium could mean sweet dreams for insomniacs

People's Pharmacy

Health & Fitness

August 08, 2004|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

I suffered from insomnia for three miserable years during menopause. My doctor prescribed Sonata but could not guarantee more than four hours of uninterrupted sleep nightly. I decided not to spend money on a prescription for so little benefit.

Over-the-counter sleeping pills didn't agree with me. Then I read in a book on natural health that calcium and magnesium might help.

I started taking Citracal Plus with Magnesium. Ever since, I've been sleeping like a baby (a lazy one, mind you, not the colicky kind). These pills can be taken at bedtime on an empty stomach.

Thanks for the tip. European researchers have found some evidence suggesting that magnesium, in particular, might be helpful for sleep and sleep-related disorders such as nighttime leg cramps, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

Keep in mind, though, that too much magnesium can cause diarrhea. It is found in antacids and is the active ingredient in milk of magnesia.

Please warn your readers that citrus juice, such as lime or lemon, can cause a burn when dripped on the skin in sunlight. My 8-year-old granddaughter learned about lightening hair with lemon juice and tried it poolside.

Her skin got burned on her legs where the juice dripped. It made unsightly dark streaks. They are just now healing after four weeks. When I mentioned this, a friend told me she had been burned by drops of lime juice when making margaritas on her patio in the sun.

Dermatologists are quite familiar with this photosensitizing effect of citrus juice. It makes sense to keep lemon juice off the skin when you will be in the sun.

I heard somewhere that ginkgo together with something else could help sharpen memory, but by the time I found a pen, I had forgotten what the "something else" was. Can you help me out?

A randomized trial compared memory and learning in people taking a combination of the Chinese herbs dangshen and Ginkgo biloba with those taking just ginkgo extract and those taking a placebo. The combination product showed a significant advantage on a computerized test for memory of faces (Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, July / August 2004).

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 via their Web site, www. peoplespharmacy.org.

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