Natural Medicine Q&A
Ask Dr. P
by Kasra Pournadeali, ND
Natural Medicine Specialist
Q: Dr. P, when an individual quits smoking can you kindly inform me how long it would take for the nicotine to completely vanish from ones system? Thanks, Paula
A: Dear Paula, although you must want specifics to this question based on someone you know, people do have different metabolism for nicotine. This varies based on tolerance to nicotine, past usage of nicotine, liver and kidney function, and overall nutritional status.
Drug pharmacokinetics (or drug metabolism) however, is usually measured in what we call half-life. Half-life is the time it takes for the body to decrease the blood concentration of a drug by 50%. For nicotine, the half-life is 1-2hrs. This means that after nicotine is taken into the system, two hours later half of it is left in the blood, four hours later, 1/4, six hours later 1/8, etc.
If you are looking to help someone quit smoking, bear in mind that it's not just the physical effects of nicotine and the many other chemicals in smoke involved in the addiction, but also the many actions involved in the practice of smoking. In fact, smoking is really 25 addictions: one to light the cigarette, one to bring your hand to your mouth, one to hold the cigarette in your mouth, one to smoke after or before a meal, coffee, alcohol, sex, etc, etc. Because of this, nicotine patches and the smoking cessation drugs often provide limited results.
A drugless method designed to break each of the addictions one at a time is what I've found to be most effective. It takes six weeks, but it works, and people don't experience much withdraw like with the drug methods of quitting.
Q: Dr. P, my friend recommended the herb Kava Kava for my mood, and my M.D. is concerned it might interact with my medications. How can I be sure Kava Kava is right for me? Thanks, Ray
A: Ray, you need to consult a licensed Naturopathic Physician. Naturopathic Physicians are the only doctors who have had formal education in and passed board exams in pharmacology AND herbal medicine. This makes them uniquely qualified to tell you when alternative therapies are appropriate for you. I'm glad you spoke with your Medical Doctor about this, but realize that he/she will typically know little about alternative therapies, and is not required to pass exams in alternative medicine to become licensed. Mixing herbs and drugs can be unsafe, even life threatening in some situations. By the same token, the right herb(s) can often complement drugs. Bottom-line: always see an expert, but keep your primary doctor informed of all medicines you take whether prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal.
Q: Dr. P., I'm interested to know what you think about the homeopathic medicine Chamomilla 6x for teething pain. People in my mommy's group swear by it, but I am a little hesitant to try it. I know all the Orajel type products with Benzocaine aren't very good for the little tikes so I don't like to use that either. Poor Sidney, is only 3 1/2 months and is miserable teething. Thanks, Lisa
A: Dear Lisa; Homeopathic Chamomile 6x is non-toxic and has little or no side effects. I've seen it work in a few cases for teething pain; so Sidney might get some relief with it. Homeopathic Chamomile is also indicated for kids and adults who can't sleep or are otherwise irritable. Best case scenario, it will work wonders; worst case scenario, it will have no effect. A liquid is easier to use than pellets if you can find it. Follow the dosing schedule on the container, (usually 1-2 pellets or 1-3 drops every 10 minutes or until relief of symptoms). If it doesn't work after several doses, it probably won't work. Also, make sure it's pain from teething and nothing else by having Sidney examined by either a Naturopathic or Conventional Doctor.
Q: Do you treat cardiomyopathy patients? Could you briefly indicate whether they respond to Naturopathic remedies? Carla
A: Cardiovascular disease is one of my special interests which is why I practice with a board-certified cardiologist. He and I often work together to provide patients an integrated ND/MD approach to their heart health needs. People with cardiomyopathy significantly benefit from a naturopathic approach, although conventional medicine and drugs are usually needed in acute heart failure. After the acute phase, Naturopathic interventions are necessary to prevent recurrence of heart failure, and to strengthen the heart muscle. My patients have achieved excellent results using nutrients like magnesium, CoQ10, taurine, and carnitine. Herbs like Crataegus, Viscum, Ginger, and Ginkgo biloba may also be appropriate. Since specific recommendations and dosage will vary based on your individual situation, and medication usage, it's best to consult a Naturopathic Doctor prior to implementing any heart recovery or strengthening plan.
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