Researchers have been investigating the antioxidant spice saffron for its ability to protect the retina.  (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times)

Researchers have been investigating the antioxidant spice saffron for its ability to protect the retina. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times)

Q: I was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration in 2014 and immediately read up on what I could do to prevent blindness. In addition to taking AREDS 2, I found that there is a supplement that can reduce, prevent and even IMPROVE this condition.

The supplement is saffron. Clinical studies have shown that it is anti-inflammatory and helpful for macular degeneration.

I started taking saffron soon after diagnosis, and in six months my eyesight IMPROVED. It has been stable since.

I order mine from New Zealand. Some eye vitamin supplements also have been adding saffron to the formula because of this research.

A: Your story intrigued us because we weren’t aware that saffron is being used to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This condition leads to a loss of sharp vision in the center of the retina (the macula). As a result, people find it hard to focus on the details of items in front of them — faces, signs or pages in a book.

Researchers have been investigating the antioxidant spice saffron for its ability to protect the retina. So far, the clinical trials have been promising but small (Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, July 18, 2012; Journal of Translational Medicine, Sept. 25, 2013; Medical Hypothesis, Discovery & Innovation Ophthalmology Journal, Spring 2016).

These studies demonstrate that saffron as a supplement can stabilize the retina for up to six months in people with early-stage AMD. We’d love to see larger, well-designed studies on this interesting supplement.

Q: As a pharmacist in New England, I had a customer who was an elderly physician. He overheard me talking with a client about her arthritis. He interjected politely that none of his patients are bothered with arthritis because they take a kitchen remedy of apple cider vinegar and honey.

I told my mother about this because she suffered with arthritic pain. She mixed up a potion of apple cider vinegar and honey and started taking it. Within three days the pain went away. This works, but it does have a peculiar odor.

A: Apple cider vinegar and honey has long been a favorite New England home remedy. Dr. D.C. Jarvis wrote about it in his best-selling book, “Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health.” He recommended a daily drink of 8 ounces of water with 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and 2 teaspoons of honey mixed into it. Dr. Jarvis didn’t take credit for the remedy, though. He said he had learned it from his patients.

 

Q: I’ve heard that rosemary oil is good for treating acne on the scalp. Is this true? I need an alternative to antibiotics.

A: Rosemary extract has been shown to possess both anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activity. In particular it can inhibit the inflammation caused by the bacteria that cause acne (Journal of Medicinal Food, April 2013).

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