Archive for Thursday, March 14, 2002

High blood pressure strikes licorice lover

March 14, 2002


My blood pressure is vacillating between normal and high normal. I enjoy black licorice candy and eat no more than four sticks a day.

I know there is a connection between licorice and hypertension, but I don't know how much is too much. Any guidance would be appreciated.

If the candy you are eating has natural licorice in it, even four sticks daily could increase your blood pressure. An occasional treat is all right, but every day might well be too often.

You could figure out the connection between licorice and blood pressure with a home monitor.

Measure your blood pressure daily for a week while you follow your normal licorice routine. Then go cold turkey from licorice for three or four weeks and see if your pressure changes. That will tell you how much effect your favorite candy has.

My doctor gave me a small sample of Remifemin for menopause symptoms. I began using it and went to purchase more, but it is very expensive. I found the main ingredient is black cohosh and decided to purchase the generic version, which was much cheaper.

Remifemin has 20 mg of black cohosh. The generic version has 450 mg of black cohosh. Is this difference dangerous? What are the side effects, and have there been any studies of the effects of this herb?

The difference in dose is due to the distinction between the standardized extract, which is concentrated, and the dried root, given at a dose of 250 to 500 mg twice a day. Because your generic black cohosh falls within that range, it shouldn't be dangerous.

There have been nine studies of black cohosh, with eight demonstrating effectiveness. Side effects are generally mild: stomach upset, headache or dizziness.

What is the story on ibuprofen negating the benefits of aspirin? I need a low-dose aspirin for my heart and ibuprofen for tennis elbow.

The ability of aspirin to prevent blood clots is compromised by the regular use of pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Taking aspirin at least two hours before an occasional ibuprofen might not cause trouble. Regular daily use of both types of medicine together is not advised.

Vioxx, acetaminophen or diclofenac doesn't interfere with aspirin and might be a better solution for your sore elbow.

 Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa Graedon holds a doctorate in medical anthropology and is a nutrition expert. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, N.Y. 10017, or e-mail them via their Web site,

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