Blueberries Have Good Effect On Brain

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY

April 27, 2009|By JOE AND TERESA GRAEDON

I've heard that blueberries have a beneficial effect on the brain. Can you tell me more about this? Is the research recent and credible?

James Joseph, Ph.D., at Tufts University is a leading neuroscientist and expert on the effects of berries on brain function. He has done a number of studies in both aging rodents and humans demonstrating cognitive benefits from blueberries.

We see this research as highly credible (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Feb. 13, 2008). Joseph recommends frozen berries as an economical way to get the antioxidant potential of this fruit.

I began losing sleep about three years ago due to chronic pain. I've tried everything I can think of but get no more than an hour and a half of sleep at a time. I usually crash from exhaustion around 6 a.m.

I've started sleepwalking and often wake up suddenly somewhere in my house after hurting myself by falling. This is frightening and frustrating. What suggestions do you have for me to get some sleep?

Sleep is crucial for good health, not only to function during the day, but to help keep immune function strong. Blood pressure, blood sugar, weight control and pain management are all better with a good night's sleep.

A hot bath an hour or two before bed can help reset your body clock through temperature change. A magnesium supplement before bedtime also may help. Melatonin is a natural sleep chemical that also can assist in overcoming insomnia. Some sleeping pills may be beneficial in helping restore sleep without a morning hangover.

I've been reading about people unable to take NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen for arthritis pain. I want to share a solution I devised for my mother.

The doctor diagnosed her with two types of arthritis and prescribed prednisone to reduce the inflammation. I looked it up and found some serious irreversible side effects. Even the doctor admitted it was a nasty drug, but it fights inflammation.

I did some research and instead gave her OTC pregnenolone with niacinamide. Pregnenolone is a natural steroid. Within only four days, her gnarled, crippled arthritic hand was back to normal. I was amazed.

She stopped taking the pills, but the pain has never come back. Her hand remains good. This combination was just short of a miracle.

Pregnenolone occurs naturally in the body as a precursor to hormones like progesterone and cortisol. Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B-3.

A recent pilot study suggested that the pro-hormone pregnenolone might be helpful against certain symptoms of schizophrenia (Neuropsychopharmacology online, April 1, 2009). Although pregnenolone is a fascinating compound, we could find no studies to support its use against arthritis. Your mother's experience was miraculous, but we don't know if anyone else would benefit.

My husband and I decided to take Chantix to help us stop smoking. Initially, we had side effects: daily headaches at the base of the skull, vivid dreams, talking in our sleep, severe exhaustion right after taking the pill, and sleeping for a few hours and then waking up at 3 or 4 in the morning. I had severe abdominal pain and vomiting when I took the pill with just a little food.

After the first month, we both decided to go off the medication. At that point, I had only been taking one pill in the evening, as I was too tired during the day if I took it in the morning.

The past six weeks have been awful. I no longer have side effects, but my husband is all over the place. He gets very angry, out of nowhere, and if he has consumed alcohol, look out. He had what I believe to be a psychotic episode.

Each time we would have drinks, he would flip his lid over very small things, in fact nothing at all. I was ready for legal separation after this last episode.

I can only hope that with time these reactions will disappear. Happy hour is gone, as alcohol intensifies the side effects.

We are now at 60 days without smoking. That is terrific, but the strain and anxiety have been difficult. I want my husband back, and I do not want him to feel this way. All I can say is these things did not happen before Chantix.

We have heard from more than 300 people who have posted comments about Chantix on our Web site (peoplespharmacy.com). Although some are very pleased that they were able to stop smoking, many have complained of unpleasant side effects like yours. Others have noted rage or violent behavior associated with drinking alcohol while taking Chantix. Most of these reactions occur while taking the drug, but the Food and Drug Administration has noted that some people experience symptoms after stopping Chantix.

Let me share my remedy for leg cramps. I find that Tums gives fast relief, better than a spoonful of yellow mustard. I keep a packet at the bedside and in my purse.

You are not the only reader to report that calcium supplements such as Tums can help counter cramps.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site.

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