Reader’s Question: I suffer from mucus buildup, constipation, and an iron deficiency. I’ve tried to avoid drugs. Can you suggest any natural alternatives that might make me feel better?
Dr. Glenn Rothfeld: First of all, I applaud you for not making the direct leap to drugs to alleviate your ailments. Many times, symptoms could be a sign of something else going on in your body – and if you just put a band-aid over them rather than addressing the underlying cause, conditions won’t necessarily just go away on their own.
For instance, when my patients are eating plenty of iron-rich foods (like liver from organically raised animals, which is the best dietary source) and are still deficient, I’ll take a look at their stomach acid, since low levels can cause poor absorption of iron.
Age can hinder your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the food you eat, so you may need to take iron supplements. But don’t do this without the help of your doctor – because an overload of iron can damage your cells and cause major issues in your organs.
The best thing to do is to visit a doctor well-versed in integrative medicine who can look at the entire picture of your health to determine which root cause might be manifesting in these ways.
In the meantime, while you wait for an appointment, there are a few natural cures that may make you feel better:
• Goldenseal: Also known as yellow root, goldenseal dries up and soothes the mucous membranes throughout the body. This quality makes it useful in alleviating congestion and excess mucus, both in the respiratory system and in the digestive tract. It’s usually sold as capsules (taken 2 to 5 times a day) and a tincture (1/2 to 1 teaspoon a day). You also can put it in powdered form, from which you can make a tea by pouring a cup of boiling water over about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the powder (taken twice a day).
• Aloe: Prepared as a tincture, aloe relieves constipation – but be aware than it can also stimulate your appetite and make you feel hungry. Aloe leaves are known to stimulate flow of bile, absorb toxins, and to generally promote growth of healthy colon bacteria. And finally, aloe can also be taken as a powder or powder capsule as a digestive aid.
• Dandelion root: The dandelion root has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine to help support the digestive system and even clear up constipation. It’s loaded with a fatty substance called lecithin that helps your liver and gallbladder produce and distribute more bile. And adequate bile levels are critical for having regular bowel movements. You can grab dandelion supplements or even dandelion tea online or at most health stores.
Keep those great questions coming in! Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you might see yours in the next edition of eTips.Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing