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PEOPLE'S PHARMACY

Vitamin D and turmeric for allergies

Also: vitamin B12 for tingling in extremities

May 11, 2009|Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon

I suffer from allergies and asthma. I started taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily several months ago. I am also taking turmeric capsules.

This spring I have had no allergies, sinus infections and asthma problems. Perhaps these supplements are keeping my immune system from overreacting to pollen.

In animal studies, turmeric prevents the release of histamine from mast cells (Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, September 2008). If it works similarly in humans, this would prevent allergy symptoms from developing.

Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory effects on smooth muscle cells in the airways (British Journal of Pharmacology, September 2008). This might help counteract asthma.

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My fingers and toes started tingling unpleasantly about three months ago. My internist did blood work and found no diabetes or other abnormalities. When the nurse asked me if I was taking my usual medicines and vitamins, she mentioned B12. I had discontinued it. The tingling began about the [same] time.

The doctor wanted to refer me to a neurologist. I asked if I could delay that until I began taking B-12 again to see if the tingling disappears. I've begun; it seems to be working.

Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, "peripheral neuropathy," is a fairly common complication of diabetes. Some medications -- certain cholesterol-lowering drugs, cancer treatments or antimicrobials -- can cause it. Inadequate vitamin B12 also can contribute.

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Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. www.peoplespharmacy.com

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