Question: I was shocked to read the question from the fellow who wanted to give his depressed dog Prozac. That is not natural.
When our golden retriever was moping, we gave him St. John's wort. It worked very well. Herbal remedies are better for animals as well as for people.
Answer: While we are pleased that your dog improved, we cannot recommend home remedies for depression, even in animals.
Veterinarians tell us animals that appear lethargic or depressed should be examined. Underlying health problems often cause such symptoms. Simply giving an antidepressant, whether herbal or pharmaceutical, could delay a proper diagnosis.
There is a growing movement to treat pets with complementary therapies such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs and homeopathy. Jane Brody, health writer for the New York Times, reported that her arthritic dog benefited from glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
Rather than experimenting, we encourage people interested in natural remedies to seek a vet knowledgeable in such treatments.
Q: When I heard about the studies on tamoxifen and Evista reducing the risk of breast cancer, it made me wonder. They said the benefits were due to anti-estrogen effects.
I took birth control pills for many years and know they contained estrogen. I was on Premarin and am now taking Prempro. If anti-estrogen compounds are protective, will hormone replacement therapy increase my risk of breast cancer?
As a vegetarian, I eat a lot of soy products. I have heard they contain estrogen. Does this add to my risk?
A: Although estrogen has many benefits, there is evidence that it can raise the risk of breast cancer.
Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) and raloxifene (Evista) have both estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects. So does soy. The lower incidence of breast cancer among Japanese women may be due in part to an anti-estrogenic effect of soy-based foods.
We are sending you our "Guide to Estrogen: Benefits, Risks and Interactions," which discusses plant-based estrogens and the use of Evista against osteoporosis and breast cancer.
Q: My neighbor is enthusiastic about using magnets for arthritis. This seems wacko to me. Is there anything to it?
A: We, too, are skeptical about magnet therapy, but a small controlled study at Baylor College of Medicine did demonstrate improvement in the treatment of postpolio syndrome. We can't say whether magnets would work for arthritis.
* Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa Graedon holds a doctorate in medical anthropology and is a nutrition expert. Send questions to People's Pharmacy, c/o King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017, or e-mail PHARMACY@mindspring.com.