Sneezing regularly

A potpourri of common ailments and possible herbal remedies. 

I HAVE been suffering from sneezing and runny nose for three years. It occurs two to three times a week. Every time I consult a doctor, they tell me it’s only an allergy. Only one doctor recommended me to take medication. It’s effective but it is too costly in the long run as it’s not meant to cure but just to alleviate it.  

I’ve stopped taking it since. My condition worsened when I started to sleep in an air-conditioned room. My nose will be blocked and I will have difficulty in breathing. I’m having sleepless nights due to this. Is there anything I can take to cure it completely? 

Your symptoms strongly suggest the underlying cause of your complaint as an allergy of some kind. Unfortunately, we do not have any idea of what that might be. Common causes of allergy include some food which upsets you, (such as eggs, shellfish and some other seafoods, dairy products), too much stress, even a change in temperature (which seems to affect you). 

Whilst antihistamines can help reduce the symptoms, they will not affect a cure, and in fact they only protect you from the source of the allergy – while you are taking them, which as you note, is expensive. 

I suggest you keep a food diary and write down everything that you eat or drink, and note whether the symptoms are better or worse. This may give you a clue as to the cause of your allergy and may help you to eliminate it. Extra vitamin C has a powerful anti-allergic effect and may help reduce the symptoms for you too. However, the real cure will be to find the cause, and try to eliminate it – if you can.  


I have been taking health supplements for many years now. Presently, I’m taking B complex, calcium and sometimes, evening primrose oil. However, I still feel lethargic and sleepy. Are these supplements enough for me? I’m in my 40s. 

It is difficult to explain why you are feeling lethargic and sleepy. You do not mention your diet, and this may be the underlying cause. 

Diets high in fat and sugary foods tend to make people feel lethargic and sleepy. So it is important to have a balanced intake of carbohydrates, proteins and some fats. But if you suspect an underlying cause, which you have not mentioned in your letter, you should have a thorough medical check-up to confirm that you are not suffering from iron deficiency or some other problem. 


What are the benefits of lecithin? Can I take it with evening primrose oil? 

Lecithin is a combination of compounds called phospholidpids. It is an important nutrient for the body, and is found in every cell. 

It is useful because it helps metabolise fats so that they can be transported around the body to the cells. It also helps control blood fat levels, particularly cholesterol and assists in the transmission of nerve signals around the body. 

It is a good idea to take it in combination with evening primrose oil, since both substances are beneficial. Generally, those who take evening primrose oil get better results when they combine it with a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement. This is because the effectiveness of evening primrose oil depends on the availability of some vitamins and minerals. 

Therefore, it is a good idea to take a good vitamin and mineral supplement in combination with evening primrose oil and lecithin. 


I am 33 years old and have been taking a variety of supplements, including antioxidants and vitamin C, from different manufacturers for one year. Is this alright or should I stick to one good brand? 

There is no problem with taking a variety of supplements from different manufacturers. However, you must ensure that you are getting the quality that you are paying for.  

The supplements you are taking at present are suitable. My only suggestion is to include a comprehensive multivitamin and mineral as part of your daily diet to make sure you don’t miss out on some of the important micronutrients. You should also follow a balanced and sensible diet.  

Also, check the ingredients of the tablets to make sure that the levels of vitamin A and D are not excessive. As a general rule, unless you are pregnant, a maximum of 1,000 international units (25mg) of vitamin D, and 10,000 units (8.3mg) of vitamin A per day is enough. 

Some American products tend to be high in these two vitamins. So be careful not to exceed the levels recommended if you take these products. 


My daughters, aged nine and 11, are small for their age. My wife is also small-built. She weighs 45kg and stands at 1.5m tall.  

Though they hardly fall sick and are lively and active, they are sent for check-ups regularly by their school nurse. We give them vitamins, fresh milk and milk formulas. Should we try something else? 

Given your wife’s petite stature, it is unlikely that your daughters will be very tall since they probably take after her. Although some medical conditions result in dwarfism, it is clear from your daughters’ regular check-ups that they have no health problems.  

Since they are young and growing, it is important to look after their nutrition. A daily intake of multivitamins and mineral, especially those that contain good levels of zinc, is recommended.  

The normal requirement of zinc for children of this age is around 11mg to 15mg of elemental zinc per day. This can be obtained from the diet in the form of meats and some other foods.  

A good specialised multivitamin and mineral supplement, is also helpful. The recommended dosage is one tablet daily. 



n Shailer Cottier is a member of the New Zealand Nutrition Society and is a professional member of the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology. This article is courtesy of Cambert (M) Sdn Bhd. 

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