You may be hearing that vitamin E increases the risk of prostate cancer. This was a surprise to many doctors, but is actually based upon reliable evidence. Continue reading
Treating premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is never easy. And, the reason is that few substances have been shown to be effective. Nevertheless, there are some natural medications that may help women suffering with PMS.
WebMD reported, “A supplement containing vitamin E and essential fatty acids may help reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS),” according to a study published in the journal Reproductive Health.
“Of 120 women with PMS or the more severe premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), those who took one- or two-gram capsules of vitamin E and a combination of gamma linolenic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, and other polyunsaturated acids daily showed marked improvements in their PMS symptoms at six months, compared to women who received dummy pills.”
Notably, “women who received the higher two-gram dose of the new supplement showed greater improvements in PMS symptoms than those who received the lower one-gram dose,” WebMD added.
Other natural medications (herbs, vitamins, or supplements) showing evidence of effectiveness in PMS, as rated by the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database include:
- BREWER’S YEAST
- PYRIDOXINE (VITAMIN B6)
- VITEX AGNUS-CASTUS
- EVENING PRIMROSE OIL
In my book, Alternative Medicine: The options, the claims, the evidence, how to choose wisely, in my chapter on antioxidants, I conclude, “The best advice is to meet most of your antioxidant needs through a healthy diet supplemented by a single multivitamin.”
However, there are some cases where taking antioxidant supplements may be helpful.
For example, a new report has found that men who take antioxidants while trying to get their partner pregnant are four times more likely to succeed than men who do not. And, the type doesn’t matter — vitamin E, zinc, magnesium all work. The researchers say they “just don’t understand why.”
After pooling “the results from 34 randomized controlled trials that included a total of 2,876 couples with male factor subfertility or unexplained subfertility who were undergoing assisted reproductive technology using their own sperm and eggs,” researchers found that “men taking antioxidants were over fourfold more likely than controls to get their partner pregnant and see a successful live birth.”
So, if you and your spouse are wrestling with infertility, talking to your doctor about the husband taking antioxidants may be worthwhile.
In a past blog I told you, “… a spate of high-profile studies published in the last few years shows that a variety of popular supplements — including calcium, selenium, and vitamins A, C and E — don’t do anything to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, or a variety of cancers.” Also, I said, “In the past few years, several high-quality studies have failed to show that extra vitamins, at least in pill form, help prevent chronic disease or prolong life.” Now there’s some evidence of harm, at least with vitamin E.
Vitamin E “raised the risk of a severe type of stroke by 22 percent, while it lowered the risk of a milder kind by 10 percent, according to the study,” published in the British Medical Journal. Prior “studies of the vitamin’s effectiveness have produced conflicting results, with some showing a protective effect and others seeing no effect and an increase in the risk of early death, the study said.”
Here are more details from BBC News:
Taking vitamin E could slightly increase the risk of a particular type of stroke, a study says.
The British Medical Journal study found that for every 1,250 people there is the chance of one extra haemorrhagic stroke – bleeding in the brain. Researchers from France, Germany and the US studied nine previous trials and nearly 119,000 people.
But the level at which vitamin E becomes harmful is still unknown, experts say. The study was carried out at Harvard Medical School, Boston, and INSERM in Paris.
Haemorrhagic strokes are the least common type and occur when a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain ruptures and causes brain damage.
Researchers found that vitamin E increased the risk of this kind of stroke by 22%. The study also found that vitamin E could actually cut the risk of ischaemic strokes – the most common type of stroke – by 10%.
Ischaemic strokes account for 70% of all cases and happen when a blood clot prevents blood reaching the brain.
Experts found vitamin E could cut the risk, equivalent to one ischaemic stroke prevented per 476 people taking the vitamin.
However, they warned that keeping to a healthy lifestyle and maintaining low blood pressure and low cholesterol have a far bigger effect on cutting the risk of ischaemic stroke than taking vitamin E.
More than 111,000 people have a stroke every year and they are the third biggest cause of death in the UK.
While none of the trials suggested that taking vitamin E increased the risk for total stroke, the differences were notable for the two individual types of strokes.
The authors concluded: “Given the relatively small risk reduction of ischaemic stroke and the generally more severe outcome of haemorrhagic stroke, indiscriminate widespread use of vitamin E should be cautioned against.”
Previous studies have suggested that taking vitamin E can protect the heart from coronary heart disease, but some have also found that the vitamin could increase the risk of death if taken in high doses.
Dr Peter Coleman, deputy director of research at The Stroke Association, said: “This is a very interesting study that shows that the risk of haemorrhagic stroke can be slightly increased by high levels of orally taken Vitamin E, although what is a high level has not clearly been ascertained.
“More research is required to discover the mechanism of action and the level at which Vitamin E can become harmful.
“We urge people to maintain a lifestyle of a balanced diet, regular exercise and monitoring their blood pressure to reduce their risk of a stroke but would be very interested in seeing further research into this study,” he said.
Patients and doctors are still looking for something that works and is safe for nocturnal leg cramps. Almost half of elderly patients have frequent leg cramps with no obvious cause. The problem is there are no proven treatments.
So, the experts at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD) advise healthcare professionals and patients:
- First look for possible causes such as diuretics or beta-agonists. Also check the blood for abnormalities in the serum potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
- Advise patients to try simple measures … calf stretches, hot or cold packs, hydration with electrolytes (Gatorade, etc).
- Recommend acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief … but explain they won’t prevent cramps.
- Some experts suggest B-complex vitamins and magnesium supplements … or low-dose prescription diltiazem … but there’s only weak evidence of a possible benefit.
- Don’t use vitamin E supplements, or prescription gabapentin … evidence suggests that they DON’T work for muscle cramps.
- Other prescriptions, such as anticonvulsants and baclofen, are sometimes tried for severe cramps, but they aren’t proven to help. NMCD tells prescribers, “Don’t use them routinely.”
- In addition, the NMCD says to not rely on prescription clonazepam or ropinirole for leg cramps, either. These can be helpful for restless legs syndrome … but there’s no evidence that they prevent leg cramps.
Of course the 800-pound gorilla is quinine … which has been used for decades for nighttime leg cramps. Of the quinine choices, the NMCD recommends:
- Don’t recommend Hyland’s Leg Cramps with Quinine or similar homeopathics. Their quinine content is miniscule and not proven to work.
- Tonic water has only 20 mg quinine/cup … not enough to help.
- Prescription quinine is still used a lot. But FDA questions its efficacy and says the risks are too high for leg cramps.
Qualaquin is the only FDA approved quinine. But its labeling warns not to use it for leg cramps … and it costs about $5 per cap.
NMCD tells prescribers, “It’s okay to prescribe Qualaquin off-label for leg cramps, but consider the risk of thrombocytopenia, arrhythmias, etc. Consider using a quinine consent form if you’re concerned about legal exposure. “
However, the FDA recently released new cautions against using quinine for leg cramps
The Los Angeles Times reported, “The Food and Drug Administration cautioned consumers against using quinine [Qualaquin] for “nocturnal” leg cramps, warning that the drug could cause severe side effects, including death.”
Indeed, “studies have shown that it can reduce the incidence of cramps by one-third to one-half.” However, “as many as one in every 25 users can suffer serious side effects.”
The FDA decided to issue the warning after reviewing data in its adverse-event reporting system, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Between April 2005 and October 2008, 38 reports had been submitted.
In those reports, “24 instances of serious life-threatening reactions” were noted, “including thrombocytopenia, electrolyte imbalance, hearing loss, cardiovascular problems, and hemolytic uremic syndrome,” MedPage Today reported.
“These adverse events resulted in permanent kidney impairment and hospitalization in some people, and death in two.”
“Under a risk management plan approved by the agency, the drug’s manufacturer,” AR Scientific, “will issue a letter to prescribers warning of the risk for hematologic reactions to the drug,” Medscape reported.”In addition, patients must be given a medication guide explaining what quinine is and is not approved for, and its potential adverse effects.”
Notably, the agency “issued a similar warning in 2006, but the agency noted today that the majority of quinine used in the United States is still for the prevention or treatment of leg cramps.”
So, what’s a sufferer to do. Try the several of the simple steps recommended above first.
I will have patients who, from time to time, ask about the various controversies that are swirling around concerning the differing claims of milk producers. What are the facts, and the myths, about milk? How do you decide between cow’s, goat’s, soy, almond, rice, or hemp milk? What are the pros? What are the cons? Continue reading
According to the LA Times, “a spate of high-profile studies published in the last few years shows that a variety of popular supplements — including calcium, selenium, and vitamins A, C and E — don’t do anything to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, or a variety of cancers.” And, the New York Times is reporting, “In the past few years, several high-quality studies have failed to show that extra vitamins, at least in pill form, help prevent chronic disease or prolong life.” But what about multivitamins? Are they helpful or harmful
More Information: Continue reading