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Journeys : April May 2010
Salt is a leading cause of high blood pressure -- and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. The ideal intake of salt is 1-2 grams per day, but many Australians consume five or ten times that amount. The Australian Division of World Action on Salt and Health (AWASH) has developed some simple ways to pinch salt from our diet. They include limiting takeaways and fast foods, avoiding salty snacks or limiting them to occasional treats, looking for low-fat or no-fat options when shopping and using lemon juice, garlic, vinegar or herbs and spices instead of salt when cooking. The AWASH website w w w.awash.org.au provides other good suggestions on how we can drop the salt. -------- It's estimated that more than 50% of Australians regularly use some for m of complementary or alter native medicines -- but much of the advice offered by natural medicine practitioners really does need to be taken with a grain of salt. It's important to make a distinction between complementary and alter native medicines (CAMS). In complementary treatments, natural medicines are used together with conventional therapy -- while in alternative treatments, they take the place of medicines prescribed by a doctor or recommended by your pharmacist. In either case, there is the potential for problems to occur. 'Natural' is not always necessarily safe. But if CAMS are your cup of herbal tea, then there are ways of managing the risk. The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has produced the Complementary Medicines fact card. Available from all Self Care phar macies across Australia, it identifies the problems and pitfalls of CAMs and indicates which of the claims made for various CAMs can be supported by evidence. Recent studies have show n the herb Saw Palmetto, previously thought to be effective in treating non-cancerous prostate enlargement, may not be any better than a placebo; while Echinacea may not be of any benefit in preventing or treating colds. Of even greater concern is the fact that some commonly-used CAMs can cause serious side- effects. Following a safety review, the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia has concluded that medicines containing Black Cohosh should include a war ning statement that the plant extract may har m the liver in some individuals. St John's Wort, considered useful to treat mild depression, can interact with a number of prescription products, causing toxicity or a reduction in effectiveness. On the positive side, many people have gained some pain relief from osteoarthritis symptoms with glucosamine; and long-ter m use of cranberry juice or extract helps prevent the occur rence of urinary tract infection. Before self-selecting any CAM, especially if you are taking a prescription medicine, check first with your pharmacist. And ask for the Complementary Medicines fact card, call 1300 369 772, or check out the Phar maceutical Society's website at w w w.psa.org.au and click on Self Care Phar macy Finder. Of salt, spices and Saw Palmetto 37 April / May 10
Feb March 2010
RACT MNJ June July 2010