Alison Cullen is a Nutritional Therapist with a special interest in Phytotherapy.
Ali will endeavour to give the best advice based on the information provided. However, it is always advisable to have a face-to-face consultation with a doctor or health care practitioner to obtain a diagnosis of any health matter which is concerning you.
Q With all the things in the newspapers about what herbs and vitamins can be dangerous, I wanted to check again about taking Ginkgo biloba. I take it for my memory and it is very good, but I read something about not taking it with medication.
A Ginkgo biloba is, indeed, very good for the memory, which is why the Chinese call it Memory Tree. It is also excellent for your circulation and can help deal with cold hands and feet. Some men find it helps with impotence too, so it really has a whole raft of beneficial effects.
One of the extra things that it does is to reduce the stickiness of the blood, so that you are less likely to have a stroke. If you are already taking Aspirin or Warfarin, which also thin the blood, then you shouldn’t take Ginkgo as well, as you would be doubling the effect.
Q I am constantly battling with my cholesterol level, which is not terrible but is higher than my doctor would like. Can you give me some advice? I eat healthily and exercise, but all my family have had high cholesterol.
A Inherited high cholesterol is terribly unfair, as you can do everything right and still suffer. I am sure that you are aware of not eating the unhealthy fats such as red meat, dairy produce and fried foods, but also bear in mind that your body can change excess amounts of refined sugar into fat, so refined carbohydrates may have a detrimental effect too. Avoid coffee and other caffeinated products and drink plenty of water. Take Cynara, a tincture of artichoke which helps the body to process cholesterol correctly and break it down more effectively. It also reduces the amount of cholesterol that the body itself makes, which can be very useful if you have an inherited tendency to high cholesterol. I would also suggest taking Choline and Inositol, as they help the liver to metabolise fats, as well as including garlic in your diet, as this is good for clearing cholesterol from the arteries and tissues.
Q What can I take to help me keep warm this winter?
A Ginkgo biloba is a top favourite, as it stimulates circulation. However, another herb that deserves more attention than it gets is Ginger. This boosts the circulation but also ‘warms’ the blood. The Chinese use it as a blood tonic and it certainly does have a warming effect. Other benefits include its anti-inflammatory effect and the stimulant effect it has on your digestion, reducing feelings of nausea and heaviness. It has no contraindications or side effects, so it is very easy and safe to use.
We regret that it is not possible for us to print answers to all the letters Ali receives. Remember that back issues of Healthy Way articles and Ask Ali are available on this website.