Hello, dear readers, and welcome to the column of monthly letters. We continue to receive questions about the coronavirus vaccine and virus variants, and we will answer them soon in a separate column. This time, however, we will focus on non-virus issues and concerns.
• In response to a column on psoriasis, a reader asked about natural remedies. “I have severe psoriasis but I am terrified of taking a biologic,” she wrote. “Is there a safe anti-inflammatory herbal product that could help? Biologic drugs use biotechnology to act on a wide range of cellular processes. They can be very effective, but some people are uncomfortable using them. Since psoriasis is a skin disease rooted in inflammation, anti-inflammatory supplements may be helpful in some cases. Turmeric, a flowering plant used as a culinary spice, contains a powerful anti-inflammatory called curcumin. Along with ginger and omega-3 fatty acids, it has the best data as a natural approach to psoriasis management. Aloe extract cream and barberry, also known as Oregon grape, both have anti-inflammatory properties and may be helpful. Before adding supplements to your treatment regimen, consult your health care provider. They can help you decide which ones to try and how to use them.
• After reading a column about a regular blood donor who was turned down due to chronic anemia, another blood donor shared his own experience. “A few years ago, when I started taking calcium for osteoporosis, I started being deferred for donations,” she wrote. “When a technician at the blood bank found out that I was taking my iron and calcium supplements at the same time, she told me that the calcium blocks the absorption of iron. Since I stopped taking my iron with calcium, I was not postponed. ” It is true that calcium can interfere with the absorption of iron. We recommend that you take iron supplements with vitamin C, which improves absorption, and calcium supplements separately. But as we said in the column, when an elderly person develops chronic iron deficiency anemia, it is imperative that they be evaluated for occult bleeding.
• In a discussion on medication management for the elderly, we talked about the use of weekly pill organizers. One reader pointed out that this is not the answer for everyone. “These types of pill organizers, especially those that store three weeks of pills, can be dangerous for some older people,” they wrote. “They may be confused about the day of the week and run the risk of taking the tablets twice on the same day.” It is true that for people with cognitive problems, taking medication can be a challenge. One possible solution is an automatic pill dispenser. It is a locked portable device that is programmed to dispense a series of medications at a time. Most also include a visual and audible alert. These are somewhat expensive, in the range of $ 80 to $ 100, and, unfortunately, are not automatically covered by Medicare.
Thank you, as always, for taking the time to write to us. We like to know where you are writing from and we never use your names in our columns.
• Dr. Eve Glazier is an internist and associate professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Dr Elizabeth Ko is an internist and assistant professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Send your questions to [email protected]