Hominy & Hash
THE DOCTOR SAYS
by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- The doctor was exasperated with me, I could tell. He definitely keeps tabs on my cholesterol levels and I've been through the best medicines yet discovered for keeping those levels on the healthy side of 190. But, the reading is not there yet. (What can I say? I love eggs.) As we worked through the first few prescriptions, I developed such muscle weakness I couldn't lift a cup of coffee. On to another prescription and then another until now, finally, I take one that has no side effects.
When I had lab tests done last month, he checked the results and complimented me on a five point reduction. "So, you're taking the pill twice a day and staying away from red meat, good for you."
"Well," I said, "not exactly. I usually forget the evening pill."
"You have to take these prescriptions exactly as I ordered them," he said, smiling. "This is a milder pill but you must take twice the dose." I countered with, "the five point reduction must be because of the cinnamon."
"Cinnamon!" he almost shouted. "We are to credit cinnamon for the lowering of your cholesterol?"
"I understand there's no scientific evidence that it helps, Doctor, but word is going around that people find dramatic results by putting a quarter teaspoon in their tea or coffee in the morning," I said with head-held-high confidence that I knew what I was talking about.
He put down his pen, leaned back in his chair, folded his arms in that professorial way and said, "My dear Mrs. Daley, you are well-insured so I'm sure you're able to buy the drugs I'm choosing for you and although they are not as cheap and readily available as cinnamon, they are doing the job and are valuable to your health and well-being. Further, I'm selecting these drugs for one reason: to prolong your life."
He spoke each syllable of every word. "Understand this, the drug companies have highly educated scientists working in state-of-the-art laboratories and, along with the medical community, endeavor to enhance the quality of your life. We are all scientists, my dear, not clerks in a health food store peddling nutritional facts about herbs and spices. Our walls are papered with diplomas from the finest Universities in the world." He picked up his pen and put it down again. He was frustrated, I'm sure.
He continued, "I prescribe medications I know will work in your best interest. The combinations are listed here in your chart. I know what you are taking. I know there is no interaction among them nor with the vitamins you're taking. But, I do not know if you're taking over-the-counter herbs. And there could be interactions from taking them." He spoke to me as a parent would to a child about to run into the street after a ball. Firmly!
I tried to steer him toward recognizing digitalis comes from foxglove and penicillin was discovered in a mold. Well, I was almost dismissed for that true but trite bit of information. I asked if any of his other patients were taking cinnamon regularly. He acknowledged some were and also that there is some anecdotal evidence of its being effective but nothing conclusive scientifically. He was relaxing his stance somewhat and becoming more conversational.
I like my doctor. He's been right on target in diagnosing whatever symptoms I've presented with. He gives me time and allows me to air my excuses for some weight gain before saying: "Mrs. Daley, it is calories, not fluid retention. Exercise, reduce your calories, and you'll reduce your weight."
As I got ready to leave, I said, "So, what's the bottom line on cinnamon?"
With one hand on the doorknob and the other holding my chart for filing, he looked at me, pursed his lips and said, "It can't hurt."