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  • Herbal Doctors

    Herbal supplements are now entering mainstream medical practice, with one in three primary care doctors recommending them to patients at least weekly, most frequently for people with mood and emotional complaints, according to a national survey released by Bruskin & Goldring Research.

    Doctors also practice what they preach, with the survey showing that one in four doctors personally consume herbal supplements. The herbal supplement doctors find most useful and effective is St. John's Wort (27 percent), which helps provide emotional balance, followed by ginkgo biloba (18 percent), which helps mental alertness.

    "Primary care physicians are not as resistant to herbal supplements as some might think and, in fact, are recommending herbs and using them personally to a surprising degree," said Derrick DeSilva Jr., MD, a practicing internist who teaches at JFK Medical Center in Edison, NJ, and is author of Ask The Doctor: Herbs & Supplements for Better Health (Interweave Press 1997). The survey of herbal attitudes among family practitioners, general practitioners and internists revealed that doctors most frequently recommend herbs for people seeking emotional balance (20 percent). About as many doctors recommend herbal supplements for fatigue and lack of energy.

    While patients seek advice about herbal supplements more frequently from younger doctors, it's the older doctors who are more likely to consume herbs themselves. Overall, 67 percent of patients ask doctors about dietary supplements at least once a week, with most questions directed at doctors age 50 and under (73 percent vs. 60 percent over age 50).

    At the same time, 28 percent of doctors personally use herbal supplements, with higher use among physicians over age 50 (35 percent vs. 20 percent age 50 and under). On average these doctors have been using herbal supplements for 5 years, and they are most popular among family physicians (39 percent vs. 25 percent for general practitioners vs. 18 percent for internists).

    Personal experience with dietary supplements strongly influences a doctor's willingness to recommend them to patients. Overall, 33 percent of doctors recommended herbs to their patients each week, with those who use supplements themselves twice as likely to suggest them for their patients (57 percent vs. 23 percent who do not use herbs themselves).

    (From Bruskin/Goldring Research)

    FYI: Viagra, African Style

    If you are a man who has not found glory with the American male anti-impotency drug, Viagra, then you should try the indigenous Zimbabwean version, Vuka-vuka. The traditional Zimbabwean herb is reputed to cure impotence among men. Vuka-vuka, a Ndebele term for "wake-up, wake up" is currently the most popular and top-selling drug in Bulawayo.

    Users of the herb say there is no American or European drug that can beat it. Vuka-vuka is available at a very cheap price at the local open markets and in surgeries run by traditional doctors (izinyanga). Most men who used the herb said Americans should forget about Viagra and come to Zimbabwe where traditional healers will prescribe them vuka-vuka.

    "Vuka-vuka performs wonders for men in bed. My clients always come back to me saying their batteries are now charging," said Vuka-vuka specialist, George Moyo. Moyo's surgery in Tshabalala is always full of clients who have become impotent. According to Moyo, white people who have not heard about vuka-vuka are not serious about improving their sexual problems.

    "If you drink Vuka-vuka, it will keep you awake all night. Ours is stronger than Viagra," said Moyo, who is also the chairman of the Matabeleland Cultural Society, Vukani Mahlabezulu.

    American tourists have been flocking to Mr Moyo's house to buy Vuka-vuka. The Americans say they saw a Zimbabwean program about Vuka-vuka on CNN two months ago. The program was filmed at Mr Moyo's surgery in Tshabalala. The Vuka-vuka program was screened more than four times by CNN and became a hit with Americans who started inquiring about Mr Moyo and the Zimbabwean Vuka-Vuka aphrodisiac. Vuka-vuka has been in existence for many decades but the herb only became popular after the much-publicized Viagra.

    At Makhokhoba market in Bulawayo, herbalists who sell Vuka-vuka have put up advertisements aimed at attracting American tourists who visit the township regularly. A bottled concoction of Vuka-vuka costs $10.00, compared with the single-pill price of $9 for Viagra. Moyo says he treats both men and women when they have sexual problems at home.

    Those who use Vuka-vuka say the drug has no known side effects and is only needed to be taken once for it to work for the whole month. There are times however when women complain about the excessive sexual appetites displayed by husbands who drink Vuka-vuka every week.
    Copyright 1998 EGW Publications

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