Soy milk may be key to sex problem

Q: I'm a 49-year-old male in excellent health. I'm not overweight and run 35 miles a week. I've noticed a slight decline in my sex drive (mostly just my desire for sex).

I wonder if phytoestrogens in soy milk could be a factor, since I consume about 2 gallons a week in smoothies, on cereal and so forth. I do not drink regular milk. Could this quantity of soy milk affect my sex drive?

A:

Soy-based products are rich in estrogenic plant compounds called isoflavones. One popular brand of soy milk contains 20 to 35 milligrams of isoflavones per cup. Two gallons a week would mean that you could be consuming more than 1,000 mg of phytoestrogens.

We could find no specific research linking plant-estrogen consumption to lower libido in men. One study showed that a tofu-based diet did affect testosterone levels. When men are given estrogen compounds, sex drive often suffers. You might want to experiment to see if cutting back on soy milk restores your libido.

Q: I take Tenormin and hydrochlorothiazide to control blood pressure. It has taken me from 160/90 to 120/85. I eat carefully, exercise regularly and feel great. But my cholesterol has climbed from 212 to over 250.

My doctor wants to put me on Zocor, but I think my blood pressure medicine might be contributing to the cholesterol problem. Is that possible? How else can I get my cholesterol down?

A: Some blood pressure medications may have a negative effect on cholesterol levels. They include diuretics like hydrochlorothiazide and beta blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin) and metoprolol (Toprol-XL).

Since your medicine is controlling your blood pressure so well, do not stop taking it. Stopping beta blockers suddenly can be dangerous.

Ask your doctor whether other blood pressure medicine could control hypertension without affecting your cholesterol. We are sending you our Guides to Heart Health and Blood Pressure Treatment listing drugs that don't raise cholesterol plus other ways to lower lipids. Anyone who would like copies, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. BC-678, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

Q: When I was younger, I would drink gallons of orange juice without any problems. Now I'm in my 50s, and I can't drink OJ or anything else with a lot of acid without getting mouth ulcers, cracked lips and heartburn. Is there anything I could do to enjoy these citrus drinks and food?

A: Prelief might solve your problem. It is a dietary supplement containing calcium glycerophosphate. It neutralizes acid from foods like orange juice, coffee and tomato sauce. This product may be taken as tablets or mixed into food as a powder. For more information on Prelief and where to find it, you can call (800) 994-4711 or check the Web site: www.prelief.com.

Q: I have seen some ads on Rogaine for Women. Does this treatment really help? Once you start using it, do you have to keep it up? What if you stop?

A: Although Rogaine (minoxidil) was originally developed for male pattern baldness, it can be quite effective for women with thinning hair. Once you stop applying the solution to your scalp, however, the effects of the drug will wear off, and your hair will begin to thin once again.

Q: I want to thank you for saving me from a most embarrassing situation. I am president of a small corporation, and we were making a pitch to an important client. I had been suffering from a cold for about a week and blowing my nose a lot before this critical meeting.

Fifteen minutes before we were to start our presentation, I blew my nose and immediately developed a nasty nosebleed. No matter what I tried to do to stop the bleeding, nothing worked. Then I remembered reading in your column about putting cold keys down the back of the neck. By this point I was desperate and figured I had nothing to lose. Within seconds the bleeding stopped. I don't know how this trick works, but I sure am grateful!

A: We do not know how it works, either. But so many readers have written about their success, we are sure that this technique does work at least some of the time. Putting a large, cold metal key or ring of keys down the back of the neck to stop a nosebleed is a folk remedy that seems to have come to this country from Europe a long time ago.

Q: Do you have information on the popular hot drink rooibos? I love it and drink it in both its regular and green forms. Does green rooibos have the same health benefits as green tea?

A: Rooibos is a South African beverage from the leaves of the "red bush" shrub, Aspalathus linearis. Unlike standard tea (from the leaves of Camellia sinensis), rooibos has no caffeine or other stimulants. It does contain antioxidant flavonoids and a relatively large amount of vitamin C. Because it does not seem to contain the same compounds as green tea, it is unlikely to have the same benefits, but it is not toxic.

Q: A man who once owned the Dallas Cowboys gave me his arthritis remedy, and it's been a godsend. I stir 1 teaspoon of a half-and-half mixture of apple-cider vinegar and honey into a 6-ounce glass of water with a teaspoon of orange powder stirred in and dissolved. Exact measure of the three does not seem to be critical. I just eyeball them, stir and swallow.

Within a few weeks of drinking this mixture daily, I regained virtually 100 percent use of my knuckles. They had really become stiff, sore and painful to use.

A: Thank you for this remedy. Because of the apple-cider vinegar and honey, it resembles some other arthritis remedies we have collected through the years. But we have never seen a recipe that calls for orange powder.

We have prepared for readers of this column a Guide to Home Remedies that includes a number of "arthritis drinks," including Sam Houston's cider vinegar, apple and grape juice recipe. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. R-1, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

Q: We saw an article in your column about bad breath. My wife used to have bad breath until someone told her about parsley. As soon as she started taking parsley capsules, her bad breath stopped almost overnight.

A: Parsley is a time-honored approach to banishing bad breath. People used to chew the green leaves to cover up the odor of onions or alcohol. It is interesting to hear that parsley capsules can also help. Chlorophyll might be the ingredient that works this magic.

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