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Woman to Woman.

Q: In the article you wrote recently on medicinal mushrooms, you mentioned an extract of cordyceps and reishi suggested by acupuncturist Janet Zand. What is it called and where can I find it? --J.N., address withheld

A: Dr. Zand wasn't talking about a specific product, just the qualities of both cordyceps and reishi mushrooms for lung problems. When I spoke with her and needed help, I ended up using a liquid Maitake D-Fraction extract (Maitake Products, Inc.), which was what I could find. It worked very well. Since then, I have successfully warded off colds and the flu using a powdered combination of cordycepts, reishi, and shiitake mushrooms daily.

Since many medicinal mushrooms are specific both for the lungs and the immune system, you can try taking either a powdered or liquid combination of several medicinal mushrooms. There are only a few growers of medicinal mushrooms in this country, and many appear to have excellent products.

Q: My daughter, age 6, was diagnosed with type I diabetes two years ago. Do you know of any cure? -- J.H., Portland, OR

A: Unfortunately, no. Type I, or juvenile diabetes, occurs when the beta cells in the pancreas (the cells that produce insulin) are damaged and become destroyed. This may be due to a hereditary predisposition, along with something that triggers the destruction of beta cells. It could be a virus, an allergen, or something else that hasn't been explored. For now, we don't know.

Without sufficient beta cells, the body has no way to regulate insulin. And insulin is needed to help our bodies handle all sugars. Ultimately, everything we eat -- even meats and fats -- turn into sugar. So insulin is vital to life. People with type I diabetes have to take insulin every day. They also need to watch their diet carefully. Good nutrition, not just regulating blood sugar and insulin, is important. An excellent book that explains the dietary aspects of both type I and type II (adult-onset) diabetes is: Everything You Need to Know About Diabetes, by Kathi Head, ND ($6.99, Prima Publishing, 1999).

Q: I am in my early 70s, in good health, eat lightly (very little meat), and take supplements. But I have a sharp body-itch problem on my back that comes and goes. Nothing I've tried helps this itch. I don't have a regular doctor, as most don't seem too enthused about alternative treatment and are too ready to hand out medications. Do you have any suggestions? -- P.T., address withheld

A: There are several possibilities. One explanation is that you may have an allergic reaction to something you're eating. By looking at your diet, you may find this itch occurs after eating a particular food. If so, eliminate this food for several weeks, then re-introduce it, and see if the rash comes back.

Another explanation is a rash caused by a yeast overgrowth. Any medical doctor or dermatologist can do a scraping of this rash to see if a yeast overgrowth (and eating too many carbohydrates) could be responsible for your itching. It's important to have a primary care doctor as we get older, even if he or she is not embracing complementary medicine. Some situations, like yours, may very well be able to be diagnosed by an MD. Once you have a diagnosis, you can decide what type of treatment you're willing to try.

Rashes from a yeast overgrowth may come and go, according to your diet. They are very persistent and do have a sharp, tingly feeling like the one that you describe. A skin rash linked to yeast may require a vigilant program of taking an anti-fungal (either Nystatin or a natural yeast fighting product found in health food stores). You might also need to reduce carbohydrates, and add probiotics like acidophilus and bifidus to help control any intestinal yeast overgrowth. In the meantime, you could get additional information by applying an anti-fungal cream. If it reduces the itching, yeast is probably the culprit.

Q: Your article, "How Safe is Soy" didn't mention soy milk. Is this a good source of soy? I use a scoop of soy protein on my cereal and drink soy milk with my lunch, but I don't eat tofu. Is this sufficient soy? -- E.S., address unknown

A: Soy milk is low in protein. Stephen Holt, MD, in his book Soya For Health (Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., 1996), points out that while 1/4 block of tofu contains 12.8 grams of protein and just one ounce of soya protein concentrate has 16.3, soy milk comes in at just 3.3 grams of protein for half a cup. However, it does contain the beneficial isoflavones and is a good addition to the diet. Along with your protein powder, you're getting a nice amount of soy protein along with isoflavones.
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Title Annotation:natural medicine questions and answers
Author:Fuchs, Nan Kathryn
Publication:Women's Health Letter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2001
Previous Article:Isoflavones -- More Than Soy.
Next Article:Estrogens and Progesterone.

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