Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

Your Questions Answered - July 2009

Q1. A Rip Off In Last Months Newsletter?
This comes from a reader regarding a story in last month’s newsletter

'This clinically proven device meets all the essential requirements of European health, safety and environmental legislation and is safe to use with topical and oral cold sore medications. It costs £34.95 and is available www.anhealth.co.uk or 0870 350 1264 and comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.'

'Come on Michael as a Chartered Engineer I know this is a rip-off! I do love your articles and Talk Sport interviews of the past and I know you need to make a living as maybe you don't have adequate pension but you are really doing harm to common sense medical journalism by advertising overpriced cures.'

A1: I am happy to answer this in public. Firstly, I have a great pension thanks. Secondly, I make no money from any product I write about here, and never have endorsed pills, potions or gadgets.

Photo therapy is a massive part of modern dermatology, and there really is good clinical evidence for this light pen. I have asked the distributors to forward the technical data to you and would be really grateful for your views. If they have pulled the wool over my cold sores I will publish a retraction straight away.

Q2. During the last year I've been plagued by styes. They’re always in the same eye and within a week or two of getting better another one starts to develop. What can I do?

A2: These small boils develop in the hair follicles of eyelashes. Prevent them by keeping eyelids and lashes absolutely clean. Forget eye make-up for at least three months including powder or foundation near your eyes. Night and morning clean your eyelids with a quarter teaspoon of salt in half a pint of warm water. Use cotton wool balls dipped in the solution but don't put a used ball back in the water or use the same swab for both eyes. If a stye develops increase the salt to half a teaspoon and use a gauze pad soaked in the water as a compress left on the eye for 15 minutes and repeat every couple of hours.

The antioxidant vitamins A, C and E are your best protection, so eat broccoli, carrots, Swedes, sweet potatoes, for A. Eat Citrus fruits, peppers, kiwis and currants for vitamin C, and olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds for vitamin E.

For extra protection take one pill a day of Selenium with ACE for 3 months and use drops of the herb Eyebright (Euphrasia) to soothe irritation.

Q3. After two years of trying for a baby, we've finally discovered that I'm okay but my husband has a low sperm count. Is there anything natural we can do to improve our chances?

A3: Don't let your husband wear tight jeans or Y-fronts - baggy trousers and boxer shorts are best. Hot baths are out, especially just before bedtime. Even small amounts of alcohol damage sperm, so he's better off without any for four months. Caffeine is not great either. Give him lots of foods rich in zinc and vitamin E - pumpkin seeds, avocadoes, olive oil, seafood and oily fish. A daily dose of zinc and vitamin E should be added too.

American scientists found that a surprisingly high number - around 20 percent - of men with low sperm counts had suffered an injury to their testicles. Most of them happened when playing contact sports during adolescence so maybe the rugby scrum is not the safest place for would-be fathers.

The old wives tale says not to do it too often, but the good news is that a regular sex life encourages the generation of more sperm. Anyway, practice makes perfect!

Q4. After four courses of antibiotics and four attacks of thrush, I'm desperate. How can I stop it happening?

A4: I've always advised women with thrush to insert a little live yogurt into the vagina to encourage the growth of protective natural bacteria – it's easily done with a tampon inserter. Eat a daily carton of live yogurt whenever you're prescribed antibiotics, it prevents diarrhoea as well as protecting against Candida.

Wear 100 percent cotton knickers and stockings rather than tights. This prevents sweating and moisture which the thrush-causing yeast, Candida, loves. Thongs are an absolute no-no, they act like a wick and allow the bacteria to travel happily from back to front. Any way, trying to get sun bronzed cheeks is asking for trouble as the skin on your bum is highly likely to burn!

Don't have very hot baths or use perfumed salts or bubbles. You should also reduce your sugar consumption to discourage yeast growth.

Researchers in Canada treated a woman who'd endured 20 attacks of thrush in 2 and a half years. They gave her a pessary containing freeze-dried lactobacillus similar to that in yogurt and within two days her symptoms had gone. Two more suppositories over the following six months kept her free from infection.

Don't wait for your GP to prescribe this remedy, it could be years. If you've got thrush, try the yogurt treatment.

Q5. I bruise at the slightest bump and I'm sure my friends think I'm a battered wife. All the doctor's tests were negative and it seems I've got to live with the problem. Is there an alternative solution?

A5: Yes. In the absence of any underlying disease you may be slightly deficient in vitamin K. This is one most people don't know about but it's essential for blood clotting. The best sources are all green vegetables; eat lots of cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli and kale. Drink plenty of pineapple juice as the enzymes help disperse the bruises and speed up their healing with a compress of witch hazel and cold water.

Vitamin K is fat soluble and if you've got gallstones they may prevent bile getting into your digestive system so that you can absorb the vitamin. If the greens don't help, go back to your doctor.


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