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Dear Dr. Meinig: What is vitamin K? – L.W.
Dear L.W.: Vitamin K and its functions has been known for many years but its goodness is too often overlooked. The primary function of K is involved with the clotting of your blood. If you find it difficult to stop cuts and bruises from bleeding or if you have excessive hemorrhaging of any kind including in the eye, nose, or have menstrual problems or miscarriages, vitamin K is one of the key issues. Please remember there are other factors involved with each of these problems.
Vitamin K is obtainable from green leafy vegetables, oatmeal, liver, black strap molasses and yogurt. Bacteria in our intestines also make this vitamin. Harm to our friendly intestinal germs comes from use of mineral oil, antibiotics, aspirin, rancid fats and radiation, all of which play havoc with vitamin K production.
Pregnant women who are expected to have difficult births often are given prescriptions of this vitamin in order to minimize bleeding within the brain cavity and elsewhere as the new baby initially does not have sufficient bacteria in the intestine to supply the need.
People who are on anticoagulant treatment for heart and blood vessel problems (thinning the blood) should not take vitamin K without their physician’s approval. The drugs usually prescribed, Coumarin and Warfarin, are antagonists of vitamin K. The purpose of such medication could therefore be defeated were one to take it as a supplement.
Dear Dr. Meinig: I recently heard of a cactus plant that is good for burns. You have advised vitamin E and it works quite well but I was told this one is even better. Do you know what it is and is it all right to use? – B.W.
Dear B. W.: You are talking about “The Burn Plant.” Technically it is the Aloe Vera. It looks like a cactus but I understand it is a member of the lily family. Some people call it the miracle plant and others the trinity plant.
It may be obtained in nursery and garden supply stores. It is easy to grow in a flower pot or outdoors, but will die in temperatures below 30 degrees. When you burn or bruise yourself, cut off one of the spines and squeeze some of its jelly-like insides on the injured area. Save the rest of the piece of plant and from time to time reapply. You, too, will call it a miracle plant as pain and itching vanish in minutes and healing takes place rapidly.
Medicinally, it has also been used internally for stomach and intestinal problems. In larger doses it is an old time official cathartic remedy. History records its use by Chinese, Egyptians, Filipinos and Israelites so its attributes have benefited people for centuries.
Vitamin E cream or ointment or the oil of a capsule is mighty effective and easier to use for the same conditions, but I have found the Aloe plant to have a slight edge in effectiveness. Aloe preparations can now be obtained in many cosmetic and health food stores but in my experience the direct use of the gel right from the plant is more dramatic and dependable.