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Just the Facts

Herbal Remedy Alert

Mother Nature has a limitless bounty of goodness to share, but if you're dabbling in her garden of medicinal herbs, you should use caution. When certain herbs are taken with prescription drugs that have similar effects on the body, the combination can be dangerous.

St. John's Wort: Avoid serotonin re-uptake inhibitors such as Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. A heightened reaction to caffeine, delirium, instability, and coma can occur. Therapies for HIV and heart transplants also pose risks.

Kava-kava: Never mix with alcohol, Valium, or other central nervous system depressants. Extreme sluggishness and delayed response time can occur.

Ginseng: Stay clear of diet pills, cold medicines, and caffeine. Hypertension and jitters can result.

Ginkgo biloba: Do not take with vitamin E, garlic, aspirin, anti-inflammatories, or anticoagulants. The combination can cause internal bleeding, excess bleeding during surgery, and stroke.

What They're Saying about Genetically Engineered Foods

"Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech foods. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job."

—Phil Angell, Director of Corporate Communications, Monsanto

"Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety."

—Statement of Policy, Food and Drug Administration

The Whole Foods grocery store chain says it is actively seeking to establish mandatory labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients and is working to remove them from all Whole Foods brand items.

Beef "Nutrition" Campaign Aimed at Health Care Professionals

In an attempt to increase sales, beef industry leaders are running ads touting beef's "nutrient bundle" of protein to help busy moms get through the day. Placed in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Journal of the American Medical Association, and other professional publications, the ads aim to persuade physicians, nurses, and dietitians to recommend beef to their patients.

Health Professional Influencers Subcommittee chairperson Dee Lacey says that health professionals are a "key conduit to the industry's target audience" of moms aged 25 to 54.

The ads highlight beef's zinc, iron, and vitamin B12 content, but neglect to mention that its fat, cholesterol, and chemical content has been linked to chronic diseases such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Got Soymilk?

The USDA projects that cow's milk will bring the lowest profits in nine years. Now the National Milk Producers Federation has filed a petition urging the FDA to force soymilk producers to take the word "milk" off their labels.

Why? "The soybean beverage makers don't got milk—never had, never will—and shouldn't be allowed to claim otherwise. We're trying to protect the franchise," said group spokesmen.

Last year, the FDA did approve labels promoting the ability of soy protein to reduce heart disease. With sales for non-dairy milk substitutes up to $244 million this year, it's no wonder folks over on the dairy farms are getting nervous.

Stressed Out? Spend More Time with Your Animal Friends

There's nothing better than coming home to a house full of wagging tails and wet kisses after a long day at work. And getting out for brisk walks is another great side effect of living with a dog. But did you know that significant decreases in heart rate and blood pressure have been measured in people who are touching and playing with their beloved furry friends?

In fact, researchers found that cardiac survival rates were higher for patients living with animals and that elderly people with animal companions made fewer visits to the doctor. Rest assured hamster-, fish-, and turtle-lovers, positive mood changes were found across the species spectrum.

It's a Good Time to Be in the Restaurant Biz

Here is a figure that will make any restaurant owner smile: 47 percent of food expenditures are now spent outside the home—the highest number in history. So give a copy of PCRM's Vegetarian Starter Kit for Restaurants to your favorite restaurateur. It is full of great tips for tapping into the vegetarian market, including a variety of healthful recipes.

USDA Provides More Milk Money

USDA Secretary Dan Glickman provided $125 million in direct cash payments to dairy farmers to "help keep many small- and medium-sized dairy producers in business until prices stabilize," he said. All dairy farmers who produced milk during the last quarter of 1998 are eligible for the program, and those who collected some of the $200 million that was distributed last summer are automatically set to receive money—no application necessary.

Antibiotic Resistance: Not the Answer We Were Hoping For

Patients in Wales who can't be cured with antibiotics are getting a little help from…maggots! Researchers at Princess of Wales Hospital have addressed antibiotic resistance by using maggots and their talent for cleaning wounds. More than 400 health centers in the U.K. have reintroduced this archaic method. There has been no comment from this side of the pond.



Spring/Summer 2000 (Volume IX, Number 2)
Spring/Summer 2000
Volume IX
Number 2

Good Medicine

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