Dr Sarah: Red nose and not a drinker
Q: For the past two years, I've developed a perpetually red nose, which gives the impression I am an alcoholic, though I drink very little.
My doctor says it is a form of infection, and can only be cured by a lengthy course of antibiotics.
A: Persistent redness and of the nose is a feature of acne rosacea, in which there is flushing, dilation of blood capillaries and sometimes enlargement of the nose (rhinophyma), due to enlargement of the sebaceous glands.
The cause of acne rosacea is unknown, but it has been linked with infection of sebaceous glands and prolonged treatment with antibiotic metronidazole gel helps to suppress the condition.
Topical application of oregano oil, or tea tree oil is also helpful in many cases. Applying Aloe vera gel, twice a day, reduces inflammation.
Taking a vitamin B-complex is often advised. Avoid factors that may trigger flare-ups such as stress, hot liquids, spicy foods, alcohol, vigorous exercise, heat and exposure to sunlight.
Son seems small for age
Q: Our three-year-old has been referred to a paediatrician, as he is small for his age.
Is there anything we can do to aid his growth?
A: Research from the US suggests that a probiotic supplement, supplying healthy digestive bacteria can help to boost immunity, and significantly improve weight gain and well-being, in a group of children who were failing to thrive, because of a serious infective condition.
There's no harm in giving him a daily probiotic drink, such as Actimel, Yakult or ProViva juice to see if this helps.
A vitamin and mineral supplement designed for his age group, is also a good idea.
Another supplement worth trying is colostrum - the milk produced by cows, within the first 48 hours after calving.
This is pasteurised and freeze dried to provide dairy protein, containing as much as 20pc immunoglobulins, plus growth factors and substances that boost general immunity and health.
Colostrum is available as Neovite, and is taken as one dessertspoon (5g) powder, mixed into a drink twice daily. For mail order tel 020 8674 6286 www.neovite.com).
As he has been referred, do check that your paediatrician is happy for him to take supplements, before starting anything, however.
Q: I am at university and looking for vitamins that can boost my memory.
A: Clinical trials have shown that two supplements can boost memory. Ginkgo biloba extracts (those used were Ginkgo One-a-Day 120mg), significantly improved short-term working memory within just two days - probably by improving blood circulation to the brain.
Phosphatidyl serine (eg Cognito; BioCare PS), improved all cognitive functions, including learning, recall, recognition and concentration by providing nutrients needed to synthesise brain neurotransmitters.
Although mainly used by the elderly, these can help younger people, too.
Q: I have osteoporosis and have been advised to take Didronel tablets. Can you explain what they do?
A: Didronel (disodium etidronate) belongs to a group of drugs known as biphosphonates. These help to prevent and treat osteoporosis by blocking the action of cells which break down old bone (osteoclasts) and stimulating the action of bone-building cells (osteoblasts).
Biphosphonates have been shown to increase bone density in the spine, wrist and hip to reduce the risk of a fracture by as much as 88pc in post-menopausal women.
It is given with calcium in 90-day cycles of etidronate for 14 days, followed by effervescent calcium carbonate tablets for 76 days. More information is available in my book, The Osteoporosis Prevention Guide (Souvenir £8.99) which you can order from your library.