Michael Greger MD

Michael Greger MD

Posted October 23, 2011

Published in Health

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Ask the Doctor: Q&A with Michael Greger, M.D. (Week 6)

Read More: aloe vera, chlorophyll, dates, fiber, greens, horse meat, kale, peppermint oil, sodium benzoate, spices, titanium dioxide, wheatgrass

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This is just a sampling of the more than 600 comments and questions I've responded to on (so far!). Please feel free to leave any follow-up questions here or on any of the hundreds of videos on the more than a thousand topics covered on And remember, there's a new video posted every weekday so make sure you don't miss any:

earthgypsy asked on Bowel Movements: the scoop on poop: Any opinions on aloe vera juice?

A recent randomized, cross-over, placebo-controlled study failed to find any benefit of aloe vera over placebo in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. There is, however, evidence that peppermint oil may help. In general, the available science suggests that the purported benefits of aloe are overblown, and given recent reports of aloe-induced hepatitis, I would recommend against ingesting it. Applied topically, though, to second degree (blistering) burns, aloe vera does seem to accelerate healing. Thank you so much for your question-I'm always happy to look things up for folks.

Sandra Unrat asked on Chicken's fate is sealed: Don't you disagree on feeding people with Horse-Meat!?

Meat originating from U.S. horses may indeed be more likely to contain residues of drugs banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in animals intended for consumption. In their landmark paper "Association of phenylbutazone usage with horses bought for slaughter," Tufts researchers suggest that horsemeat derived from American horses may "pose a serious public health risk."

Benjamin Stone commented on Are dates good for you?: Despite my best efforts I have never been able to source a halawi date, only medjool. Still looking!

I never liked dates. They were dry, desiccated and tasted, well, datey. But that was before I discovered there were all these heavenly plump, moist varieties that didn't taste like dates at all! Barhi dates used to be my favorite. I'd freeze them to turn them from wet to chewy (they never get hard) and then eat them with apples as one of my favorite snacks for the caramel apple taste of my youth. Locally, you should be able to find good medjool dates in middle eastern and Indian grocery stores (great place to also get cheap spices and amazing mangoes starting around April), but for the too-moist-to-be-sold-commercially varieties you have to go online. I have tried dates from most of the major online retailers and always go back to the Date People. I am averse to endorsements, but I've never tasted better dates from any other source. And their annual harvest is in! As my birthday present to myself I splurged and got the 12 variety sampler, and I'm glad I did, because I discovered my new favorite--khadrawi dates. They taste like butterscotch!

cuisinegourmet asked on Ask the Doctor: Q&A: I am a fan of wheatgrass shots. Everything I have read about their benefit points to the high chlorophyll content. So I am wondering, is there any difference between wheatgrass and just plain dark leafy greens? If it is the chlorophyll that we are after, then why not just use dark leafy greens which are more readily available rather than go to the extra trouble of finding wheatgrass (although yes I understand dark leafy greens are good anyway) - but my question specifically is : Is there some added benefit or reason why wheatgrass would be superior to any other green?

There appears to be little evidence in the medical literature (running this search) that wheatgrass juice has any special properties. In fact, because it can be consumed only by juicing, one is missing out on the bulk of the fiber and associated nutrients. If you want to juice greens, kale is cheaper. See my two dozen videos on greens here:

HereHere asked on Is Sodium Benzoate Harmful?: I can't believe this preservative is still allowed on store shelves!!! I am glad I refused to buy products with this additive in it, but it sure is ubiquitous. I notice that the vegan cheese by Daiya has titanium dioxide in it, and I'm concerned about how that might act within the body or react with other foods.

Great question! According to the World Health Organization's IARC, there do not appear to be any problems associated with the consumption of titanium dioxide as a food additive.

Drew commented on Meat Hormones & Female Infertility: Is there any way you can provide a pdf link to the articles you are referencing? I would love to read the full article.

Whenever available I always try to provide PDF links to the full-text of the papers in the Sources Cited section beneath each video. More and more journal publishers are joining the "open access" movement to provide unrestricted online access (check out this graph to see the trend). Since many studies are taxpayer-funded, it only makes sense that we should have access to the results, right? Unfortunately, there are some holdouts, journals that continue to charge readers exorbitant rates to view papers they publish. In this case, you're left with a few options: 1) You can check WorldCat to see if there are any local institutions that have the journal in question (such as university libraries). 2) You can also request a copy (so-called "reprint") from the author (usually they list a contact email address in the PubMed abstracts to which I link). 3) Worse comes to worst, you can pay on the journal website or order it for a fee through the federal Loansome Doc program. I'm privileged to live biking distance from the National Library of Medicine and so have easy access to just about everything, but unfortunately it's not legal for me to directly share copyright protected materials. Otherwise I would post all the papers on the site!

- Michael Greger, M.D.