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Old & new remedies

October 16th, 2014

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Old & new remedies

Coenzyme Q-10, or commonly known as Co Q-10, is a quinine derivative that is found in living organisms, especially in the heart, liver and kidneys. It can be regarded as a vitamin. About half a century ago, it was found that Co Q-10 has anti-oxidant property and can prevent premature aging in cells. Co Q-10 can be found in a small amount in food such as meat and fish.

The level of Co Q-10 in our body will drop as we grow older or are under some condition, such as heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and asthma. The lower level of Co Q-10 is not caused by these diseases, and it doesn’t mean that taking more Co Q-10 will cure these diseases either. Some kinds of medicine, such as statin, beta blocker for high blood pressure, and some anti-depressants can also lower the Co Q-10 level, but that does not necessary mean undesirable effects.

Co Q-10 is said to help treat and prevent some diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, some types of cancer, lung disease, gum disease, migraine and chronic fatigue syndrome. Moreover, it is said to help with memory and have anti-aging property. These benefits are not yet recognized by the American FDA, but in Japan, Co Q-10 is used to treat heart and coronary diseases for sometime.

From studies done about 30 years ago, it was found that heart disease patients with heart failure had lower level of Co Q-10 in their heart. Some people believed that increasing Co Q-10 would cure the disease.  Many studies found that it’s true, while many found that it’s not. Recently, two major studies revealed that there was no benefit in Co Q-10 for heart failure treatment.  This kind of confusing medical information is always present in solely scientific process which relies solely on modern statistic method.  Bad side effect was also not found, except wasting money.

Small studies used Co Q-10 in Parkinson’s disease patients and it was found that high dose of Co Q-10 together with vitamin E could help keep Parkinson’s disease at bay. As for preventing side effects of statin (popular cholesterol lowering drugs) medicine, it wasn’t proven to be true.

Side effects from Co Q-10 include stomach ache, bloated stomach, dizziness and headache. More importantly, Co Q-10 can interfere with the effects of Warfarin.

Although Co Q-10 as discovered decades ago, studies have only been done recently. Heart disease and Parkinson’s disease patients would have to consult doctor first before using Co Q-10 to treat illnesses. Most importantly, Co Q-10 should only be used alongside other medications that are proven to work.

Healthy people who want to take extra Co Q-10 to prevent illness or delay aging should be reminded that there is yet no evidence (from statistical point of view) that it really works. Balanced diet and regular exercise, as well as a happy mind, is a time-tested way of living a healthy life. As for aging, it is only natural.

 

Ginseng

Ginseng (Panax species) has long been used as medicine, whether its roots, leaves or stalks. Each type of ginseng also has different effects. The most used ones are Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng), Siberian ginseng and American ginseng. The latter was on the verge of extinction but is now very popularly grown.

Ginseng comes in two varieties – red and white. The most important chemical in ginseng is Ginsenocide. But like any other plant, there are many chemicals and it is hard to know whether the “extracts” have all the greatness of ginseng suitable for treating illnesses.

Ginseng is believed to be able to prevent and cure diseases such as diabetes and common cold. It can also help improve memory, boost immune system, increase sex drive and give energy.

Modern day scientific research still cannot tackle the secrets of ginseng. Studies done in animals found that there are certainly great benefits, but the studies did not specify which type of ginseng was used. However, later studies show that ginseng cannot help improve athlete’s stamina. However, four years ago, a study done in Canada found that ginseng can relieve cold symptoms.

There are also side effects, such as nausea, insomnia and headache. More importantly, it counteracts with Warfarin, diabetes medication and many other medicines. So, in conclusion, there is no conclusion about ginseng’s benefits.  But please remember that it has been used for many years, much longer than modern medicine!.

Ginseng in the market comes in many types and prices. Therefore, to buy ginseng hoping to cure diseases, you have to think it through whether it will really work, especially if you are already taking some medicines. It is best to consult your doctor so that it does not clash with what you are taking.

If you cannot afford expensive ginseng, there is an alternative to treat diabetes, boost energy and increase sex drive just like ginseng. That magic potion is regular exercise, 30 minutes a day, 3-4 days a week, on a regular basis. There are fewer side effects (if any) and it doesn’t cost money. All it takes is some time. Just take a walk for 30 minutes and you won’t even need any herbs, except if it’s found that any herb can cure laziness.

 

Prof Nithi Mahanonda is consultant cardiologist and interventionist, Perfect Heart Institute.

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