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Herbs found in tea may aid bowel irregularity

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Dear Dr. Gott: My husband and I have a long history of bowel irregularity, although we eat sensibly. We have finally found an herbal tea that regulates us. It is composed of mild, lubricating compounds. Is it safe to continue with this product? 

Dear Reader: Many natural products make excellent laxatives: cascara, fiber, extract of buckthorn, psyllium, prunes and apricots to mention a few. Even additional fluid may ameliorate constipation. In addition, many herbs actually stimulate evacuation. In your question, you didn't mention the active ingredients in your tea. Therefore, I cannot give you more than a general recommendation: most herbal teas are safe provided they are used in moderation. You should check with your family physician about the specific product you are using.

Dear Dr. Gott: I am 93 years old, healthy and am a retired missionary, having served in Borneo for more than 50 years.

I have considered that my living in the tropics has caused me to have a grainy discharge from my eyelids. Can you suggest a safe treatment for this condition?

Dear Reader: Elderly folks often suffer from an irritating eye discharge that can be overcome by using artificial tears. The product is available over the counter. I do not believe that your exposure to a tropical climate has played a role. 

In fact, if the only medical problem you suffer at the age of 93 is grainy eyes, I want some of your genes -- or perhaps I should move to Borneo! You are a truly fortunate man. I hope that your remarkable health continues. ``` Dear Dr. Gott: With respect to your comments about vitamin C, haven't you heard of Norman Cousins, who was given up for dead by the medical professional, signed out of the hospital and began a regimen of large doses of vitamin C plus laughter and lived to a ripe old age?

Also, Linus Pauling worked himself up to 25,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily and died in his 90s. Hmmph! ``` Dear Reader: Hmmph yourself. It was probably the author Norman Cousins' penchant for laughter that kept scientist Linus Pauling going; I doubt that the vitamin did.

Vitamin C is necessary for tissue health and proper healing. There are no -- repeat, no -- valid scientific studies proving that huge doses (above 2,000 milligrams) prolong life or improve health. The Recommended Dietary Allowance is 60 milligrams for adults. In addition, mega-doses of C can cause diarrhea, nausea, interference with copper metabolism, elevated cholesterol levels, gout and diminished resistance to infection.

Excess vitamin C that is not used by the body is rapidly excreted into the urine and feces; therefore, if you consume large doses, you're simply wasting your money.

Newspaper Enterprise Association Write Dr. Gott c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave. 4th floor, New York, NY 10016

(C) 2004 Tulsa World. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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