Herbs & Supplements

The variety of vitamins and natural supplements available today can be confusing and overwhelming. The NorthStar blog on herbs and supplements provides the latest updates on what's out there, what works, what doesn't and why.

  1. Get all your future Ivy Leaguers on multivitamins!

    Kids taking multivitamins get a cognitive boost on tests. That’s according to a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

    This good news comes from researchers in England and Australia who studied the effects of taking a multivitamin on school children for 12 weeks.

    Scientists measured the children’s cognitive abilities three times during the study: once before supplementation began; another time several hours after taking the vitamin; and, one last time, after 12 weeks of daily supplementation.

    Any guesses on how well the kids responded?

    They did great. In fact…

    The kids showed an immediate and quantifiable boost in attention by taking vitamins.

    Not only did the kids perform better on cognitive and attention tests… they performed better right away.

    That’s right.

    The researchers noticed an immediate improvement in the children’s performance just three hours after the first dose on the first day.

    With such clear cut, positive proof that vitamins boost kids’ performance, we should make daily vitamins part of the school lunch program. Forget about mandatory milk. Give every child his or her multivitamin at lunch time (for maximum absorption, of course).

    In any case, make sure all the kids you know are getting their multis every day. It might just give them a mental edge.

  2. Forget about incontinence

    Despite the title of this article, I wish I had better news to share. It seems that several mainstream drug treatments for incontinence have been found to cause significant mental decline.

    U.S. Navy neurologist, Dr. Jack Tsao, decided to research these side effects after meeting with a 73 year old patient who’d started having memory problems and conversations with dead relatives shortly after adding an incontinence drug to her daily regimen.

    The incontinence drugs fall into a class of drugs called anticholinergics, which also include drugs for high blood pressure, asthma and Parkinson’s. They work by altering a chemical messenger called acetylcholine—a chemical responsible for nerve impulses (including those related to bladder control)…it’s also closely associated with memory and focus.

    In an analysis of 870 men and women with a mean age of 75 over the course of eight years, annual cognitive exams showed those who were using this particular class of drug had a mental decline rate that was 50 percent faster than those who weren’t using the drugs.

    Although the problems seemed to disappear once the drugs are discontinued, it begs the question, would it be better to control your bladder and give up memory and sharpness? Or wear a diaper and maintain your mental facilities?

    Prime time television ads for prescription drugs rattle off their potential side effects at the end. And it’s almost laughable how often the side effects are far worse than the problem they’re designed to treat.

    Obviously, I’m biased. But it’s been my experience that for just about every illness or ailment, nature has provided us with a remedy that comes with no side effects. A track record the mainstream would be hard-pressed to beat.

    But if you find yourself in a situation where your only option is a prescription drug, be sure to read the fine print…all of the fine print. And be sure to ask questions about anything that jumps out at you.

    Getting back to the topic of urinary incontinence, remember that the bladder is a muscle like any other muscle in the body. And that means there are both exercises and powerful muscle and nerve-supporting nutrients that have been shown to help strengthen the bladder and urinary tract.

    The herbs horsetail and crateva nurvala have an ancient history of use for toning and soothing the bladder. While minerals like calcium and magnesium play important roles in healthy nerve and muscle function.

    None of which have any known side effects! So, contrary to what the mainstream might have you believe…you can have the best of both worlds.

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