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BY NANCY TULLIS


Published: Fri, March 24, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
PULASKI, Pa. -- Go ahead. Have some coconut macaroons along with that glass of red wine. They just might be good for what ails you.
Red wine, coconut macaroons and gin-soaked raisins were some of the home remedies offered by Dr. Linda Spanos of Primary Health Care, Hermitage, who spoke on natural approaches for women's health at Villa Maria Community Center.
Spanos has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and a doctorate in biomedical science and pharmacology. She stressed safety and balance in the use of supplements and natural medicine practices to assist in treating diseases and symptoms.
Women should work with their doctors to determine the best medications to take and what supplements and natural remedies and practices can be used along with them, Spanos said.
Some herbal remedies, for example, are good for people who are at risk for high blood pressure, she said. Some should not be taken, however, if people are already taking prescription medication.
For instance, hawthorne berry is a good herbal remedy for high blood pressure but should not be taken with prescription blood pressure medications, she said. Dandelion tea or capsules a few times a week are good therapy for high blood pressure, but they should not be used in excess, she said.
Drink to your health
A glass of red wine a day or a cup of green tea can lower cholesterol, she said. The combined number isn't as important as knowing HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels separately.
It's good to ask doctors to check the levels of homocysteine along with cholesterol, Spanos said.
Homocysteine is an amino acid that can cause heart disease if levels are too high, she explained.
Heart disease is a critical health concern for women, Spanos said, noting that women have the same rates of heart disease as men but more women die of heart attacks than men.
Women with or at risk for heart disease should walk 30 minutes per day, eat a banana a day for potassium, eat foods with garlic and eat two raw carrots a day to drop cholesterol by 50 points in 21 days.
Water is important
She also recommends drinking five glasses of water per day to improve blood flow. Eating at least 40 grams of fiber a day is also essential. Spanos said in most cases she found that her patients eat only about 6 grams of fiber each day.
Spanos said many people have written that eating coconut macaroons helps relieve severe diarrhea, but she does not promise the sweet treat will work for everyone. A man who suffered from severe diarrhea associated with Crohn's disease found out by accident the cookies helped far better than any medicine had, she said.
She said gin-soaked raisins seem to help relieve arthritis pain, though no one knows why or how the combination works. Eating about nine raisins a day seems to do the trick, she said.
Cover a bowl of golden raisins with gin and let the gin evaporate for about a week. Then place the moist raisins in a jar with a lid.
She said acupuncture is a great remedy for menopausal symptoms, relieving anxiety and hot flashes.


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