Q.I live in “the bird dog capital of the world,” where a common add-in to dog food is a sprinkling of garlic powder to repel fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. It seems to work, as many handlers and kennels do not give the dogs a flea and tick treatment before going into the field trials.
A.Readers of this column have been recommending garlic to combat fleas for years. Then we received this message: “I heard that garlic could keep fleas from biting, so I put some in my dog’s food for about a week. He became lethargic and couldn’t even climb the lowest stairs. My vet said that garlic is toxic to dogs. It causes something called Heinz body anemia. Please warn other readers.”
Veterinarians tell us that garlic does not protect dogs from fleas or ticks. They have found, however, that garlic and onions may cause dangerous anemia in dogs (Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, April 2010). It is not worth the risk.
Q.I am a 63-year-old female who always had perfect blood pressure. Suddenly I’ve developed hypertension. My doctor wants me to start on lisinopril, but I fear side effects. What are some natural remedies for high blood pressure?
A.You should not fear lisinopril or similar blood pressure medications such as benazepril, enalapril and ramipril. These medications are highly effective, and most people do well on them. Side effects to be aware of include rash, digestive upset and headache. If you developed a bad cough, you and your doctor would need to use a different method to control blood pressure.
We are sending you our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment with information about many other medications plus nondrug approaches. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (64 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. B-67, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoples pharmacy.com. You will find details about alternatives such as the DASH diet, pomegranate, beet and grape juice, celery, kefir, dark chocolate and deep-breathing exercises.
Q.Many people have trouble with acid reflux and find it hard to get off reflux meds such as Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec. I, too, had a rough time with acid reflux until my doctor suggested flaxseed tea.
I made a batch and drank it daily for one week. My reflux is gone. You may need a follow-up batch for a day or two, depending on your diet and circumstances.
To make flaxseed tea: Boil 1/2 cup of flaxseeds in 4 cups of water, just until white foam forms. Cool the drink; the seeds will settle somewhat. Drink the tea. You can eat the seeds if you like. The tea has a nutty flavor and is rather thick. Experiment to get the consistency you like. Thicker is better but less palatable.
One week. Pain-free! I love it – no meds.
A.Flax (Linum usitatissimum) is a plant used to produce linseed oil and linen. It also is the source of flaxseed, which has been used for easing digestive distress as well as lowering blood sugar and cholesterol.
We could not find any scientific support for its use against reflux, but the tea you describe sounds simple and worth consideration.
Another reader offered a different herbal approach to reflux:
“Fennel seed capsules have almost totally eliminated my heartburn. I tried Prilosec, but it did not suit me. I take one fennel seed capsule with each meal and hardly ever have acid reflux anymore.”
Persistent reflux can be a sign of a more serious condition, so be sure to follow up with your doctor.
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