Q: Does acupuncture really work?
A: Those little pinpricks can be an effective way to manage pain. Specifically, studies show that acupuncture can alleviate the debilitating symptoms of osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. There are several theories as to why acupuncture works. One is that it triggers the release of endorphins, part of the body's pain-control system. Another is that it increases blood flow to the areas of needle insertion. Regardless, find a practitioner who is certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
Q: What can I do to reduce my risk of Alzheimer's?
A: The same healthy habits that boost your overall brain function can also help ward off Alzheimer's disease. That means engaging in regular physical and mental exercise, and making sure your diet includes lots of leafy greens and foods rich in omega-3s (like nuts and fish). I'd also suggest eating more curry, because it contains the spice turmeric. Research shows that turmeric may help prevent the accumulation of plaques that build up in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and that can interfere with communication between neurons.
Q: Is there a natural way to ease my allergy symptoms?
A: One remedy I've long espoused is nasal irrigation, which can wash away allergens (like pollen) and excess mucus. When you experience a flare-up, fill a neti pot (a small, spouted dish) with saline water, then tilt your head to one side and pour it into the upper nostril. The water will then flush out of the lower nostril. Certain supplements can also help (consult your doctor before taking them): Bromelain may reduce inflammation inside the nasal passages, while some studies have shown butterbur to be an effective natural antihistamine.
Keep Reading: How to deal with allergens in your beauty products
Q: Does using a microwave increase my risk of cancer?
A: While it's true that microwave ovens emit tiny amounts of radiation, studies have shown that they're not nearly enough to cause cancer. A microwave could cause other injuries (like burns or cataracts), but only if it's been damaged and starts leaking large amounts of radiation—an unlikely occurrence. If you're worried your appliance may be faulty, replace it, or ask your state health department to test your level of exposure.
Q: My husband occasionally experiences erectile dysfunction (ED). Could this be a sign of a bigger health problem?
A: Yes. In fact, up to 90 percent of ED cases can be attributed to a physical problem (the other 10 to 20 percent of cases are linked to psychological issues). Often the condition is an indicator of early stage cardiovascular disease. Clogged arteries, for instance, can slow the flow of blood to the penis. And diabetes, over time, can damage the blood vessels and nerves that control erection. (The average man with diabetes will develop ED 10 to 15 years earlier than a man who doesn't have diabetes.) Impotence may also be the result of obesity. Fat cells in the belly help convert testosterone into estrogen, and low testosterone levels can decrease a man's libido or interfere with his ability to achieve or maintain an erection. Your husband should talk to his doctor, who can help him determine the cause behind his ED and come up with solutions.
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