Ask The Pharmacist: Help for all things female

Question: Please help me and my daughter. I have hot flashes, what is the best herbal supplement to help with that? Are there any home remedies for UTIs (urinary tract infections), and finally, what can my daughter do for bloating during her monthly cycle? I’ve heard that drinking more water (not less) helps, but that seems opposite of common sense. H.T., Denver, Colorado

Answer: One terrific supplement for hot flashes is sage. You can drink it as a tea, use the spice or for a stronger effect, take it as a dietary supplement like a liquid herbal extracts (which I prefer over capsules because you can adjust dosage). Sage has long been valued as an agent for fevers. The German Commission E approves of sage for mild stomach upset and excessive sweating. It could help people with night sweats related to tuberculosis or babesia infections. As for hot flashes, there was a study published in 2011, in Advances in Therapy found that sage helped reduced hot flushes by about 50 percent within four weeks, and 64 percent within eight weeks! Sage is well tolerated. I think it could safely be used with any medication, or substituted if your doctor approves.

Moving on to this urinary tract situation. The burning sensation, frequency, urgency and pain often come out of nowhere. Chronic sufferers usually have an overgrowth of fungus, such as Candida. Probiotics, probiotics, probiotics! Chronic UTIs are often a sign of undiagnosed diabetes. Test properly for diabetes, including serum insulin and a thyroid profile (see my Diabetes Without Drugs book for complete testing information). Now, “Phenazopyradine” a red dye (medication) is sold over-the-counter and can temporarily relieve bladder pain. Baking soda is a popular, inexpensive home remedy for UTIs, heartburn and gout. It’s not a substitute for medical advice. The recipe is one teaspoon baking soda in one cup of cold water, just mix and drink. Baking soda is very alkaline, so it neutralizes your acidic urine which is what causes the pain/burning during a UTI. My column is educational, it’s not medical advice Ask your doctor what’s safe for you, and be aware, baking soda is contraindicated for people with high blood pressure, nor is it recommended long-term.

About your daughter’s bloating ... like many women, this annoying symptom provides the perfect excuse to wear sweat pants for 5 days straight. I would drink more water (not less), but I’d avoid carbonated water and soda pop. If you really want to beat the bloat, limit gassy foods like beans and cabbage during that week. Reduce salty foods. If you crave them that’s a sign of low adrenals. Don’t eat any foods that are “sugar-free.” Number one, I never recommend artificial sweeteners and number two, these sugar-free foods (even sugarless gum) might contain sorbitol and maltitol, and those are sugar alcohols. They’re poorly digested by most people, so they increase your symptoms of digestive upset, diarrhea and bloating.

Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Always consult your physician. Visit

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