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Interview With Dr. Andrew Weil

Aired January 13, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: The doctor is in, Dr. Andrew Weil, here for the hour with your phone calls, answering your questions, solving your problems. The doctor will see you now. Dr. Andrew Weil next on LARRY KING LIVE.
One quick note. Governor Ann Richards will be with us Thursday night. And next Monday night, the Iowa caucuses. We'll have two editions of LARRY KING LIVE, both live. Normally, we repeat the program at midnight. We'll have two live shows at 9:00 PM Eastern and midnight, and we'll checking in with Bob Woodward, the Pulitzer Prize- winning writer of "The Washington Post," will be with us as our special analyst, along with Wolf Blitzer and the entire political team.

Andrew Weil -- it's always good to welcome him. He's co-author of the No. 1 best-seller, "The Healthy Kitchen." It is now out in paperback. I have it in front of me. It's a terrific read and a very important book, co-written with Rosie Daley. He's a renowned expert on integrative and alternative medicine, clinical professor of medicine at the University of Arizona, currently working on a book about aging.

Health is everywhere. "Newsweek" this week -- "Diet and carbs: What you really need to know, living longer and better, preventing Alzheimer's, the power of sleep, Viagra babies." "Time" special issue: "How love life keeps you healthy." We're always involved in health, or as someone once said health -- money's not the only thing, health is 3 percent.


KING: All right, first thing's first. Mad cow disease -- should we worry?


KING: Really?

WEIL: Yes. And I think the real -- the fundamental problem here is that our agricultural practices have changed immensely. Family farms have disappeared. They've been replaced by factory farms. Farming has become industrialized, and a lot of the practices permitted there are simply -- should not be. You know, we take -- we wean baby cows, give them a formula that contains the blood of slaughtered cows. We have turned cows into cannibals. We have turned vegetarian animals into carnivores. These are violations of the order of nature. It is not surprising that this is coming back to bite us. You know, all of these things have to be cleaned up.

KING: Are you saying, then, don't order a steak tonight?

WEIL: I think you should not eat a cow a month, as some people do. You know...

KING: In other words, modify?

WEIL: Modify. I think the less beef the better. That's probably one of the greatest changes for health that Americans could make. We eat too much of it. It's unhealthy for a lot of reasons. But some of this is manmade. It's our creation.

KING: How about organic beef?

WEIL: If you're going to eat beef, I would certainly try to get organic beef. That eliminates a lot of the problems of feeding cows stuff they should never have been fed.

KING: The Atkins diet, the South Beach diets, have these defeated your purpose?

WEIL: No, I think, the fact is, people will lose weight on any diet, if they stick to it. It really doesn't matter what the diet is.

KING: You mean, if you ate cucumbers all day.

WEIL: You would lose weight. But the real problem is that these are quick fixes. You know, what we need are real changes in eating habits that will work for you long-term. You know, we're seeing an epidemic of obesity in this country that we've never seen before. We're seeing fatter and fatter kids. We're seeing more and more type 2 diabetes. Our quality of food eaten has gotten worse and worse. This is not fixed by the South Beach diet and the Atkins diet. People really need to inform themselves about nutrition and health to make lifestyle changes.

KING: You appear to enjoy eating, no?

WEIL: I like to eat.

KING: I mean, you are not a slim guy.

WEIL: I am not a slim guy. I consider myself healthy. I work out. I exercise. I eat healthy food.

KING: But yet why are you a little overweight, then?

WEIL: You know, in this research that I've been doing for my aging book...

KING: Yes...


WEIL: ... one of the things that I found is that people who have somewhat more weight in middle age live longer than people who are leaner in middle age. Now...

KING: Really?

WEIL: This is a clear piece of research that comes out of gerontology. I was talking to you earlier, before the program. You know, weight is insurance. It's energy. If you have a severe infection, it's not a bad idea to have some insurance on your body, in terms of weight. I think there's a difference between being somewhat overweight, according to actuarial tables, and being grossly overweight.

KING: If we ever defeated cancer and heart disease, how long would we live?

WEIL: You know, it looks as if the maximum human lifespan is somewhere around 120, maybe 125. It is not at all clear that by defeating these kinds of diseases, we're going to extend lifespan any longer. There is -- there are a lot of people out there telling us that we could live to incredible ages. There's really no research basis for that.

KING: I asked you before we went on -- we ought to ask this again -- what food is absolutely not healthy? In other words, that you would tell everybody watching, Don't eat this.

WEIL: Well, I would say it's the refined and processed food. It's all the stuff you find in convenience stores. It's all the chips, crackers, you know, all that kind of stuff that's got bad carbohydrates, bad fats, that is...

KING: In other words, go to the 7-Eleven, have a soda, a coffee, and go out and pump the gas and go home.

WEIL: All of that.

KING: No potato chips...

WEIL: All of that food is not very good.

KING: No potato chips.


KING: French fried potatoes?

WEIL: All that stuff is not great. Now, the other problem is that some of the foods that look good in the past, now there are really questions about.

KING: Like?

WEIL: The one that's been in the news recently is salmon.

KING: Yes, I want to get to that. Good omega 3 fatty acids, worries about farm-raised fish. We like omega 3, right?

WEIL: Not only do we like them...

KING: That's fish.

WEIL: ... I think you can't be optimally healthy if you don't get these. Yes, they're in a few other things. They're in walnuts and flax seeds, but the main source of these is the oils in oily fish.

KING: OK. And these are oils that are good for you why?

WEIL: They're good for you because they protect your immune system. They have anti-cancer effects. They protect you from heart disease. Most of us are not getting enough of them. It's very important to get them in the diet.

KING: But I want to get this right. Recent news reports cite a new study that says farm-raised salmon have significantly higher concentrations of PCBs, dioxin and other cancer-causing contaminants than salmon caught in the wild.

WEIL: This is a...

KING: Now, what percentage of the salmon we eat is caught in the wild?

WEIL: Not much anymore. In fact, if you go into a restaurant, almost certainly, what you're going to find there is farmed salmon. Anywhere you see the words "Atlantic salmon," that's foreign salmon. There are no wild Atlantic salmon left. We've overfished them.

KING: And they're bad for me why? I shouldn't eat farmed salmon?

WEIL: I would not buy farmed salmon anymore, based on this report. The concentrations of these chemicals is very alarming, many times what you find in wild salmon. Again, this is a problem that shouldn't be. This could be cleaned up. The salmon farmers could clean up their act. They could feed the fish feed that was free of these contaminants. But that's not being done. So you know, what -- the people that did the study, a very good research team, said that some of the samples they tested had so much of these contaminants in them that they recommended eating no more than one half to one meal a month...


KING: But the FDA center says, We've looked at all the data, and our advice to consumers is not to alter their consumption of farmed or wild salmon.

WEIL: Well, I think they're...

KING: The contaminant levels are very low.

WEIL: This is not true. I don't think they saw this recent report. It just came out last week, and it's shocking. This was a test of a lot of samples of farmed salmon. I wouldn't eat it. KING: So it comes down to this, Doc.

WEIL: Yes?

KING: What the hell do you eat? In other words, if I eat just walnuts and blueberries, I'm going to be healthy, but I'm going to wind up looking like a walnut with a blueberry face, right?


WEIL: I mean, what's good to eat?

WEIL: You want to eat salmon, if you can get it. You know, wild Alaskan salmon is good. You can get canned sockeye salmon. All of that is wild. There's a great resource untapped in Alaska, pink salmon, which many people think of as being an inferior kind of salmon...

WEIL: How about fish like tuna, swordfish?

WEIL: The problem with these fish is mercury content. Again, a real worry. There are some fishermen in Alaska now buying small tuna. The smaller the fish, the lower the concentration of these contaminants. There was a terrible article -- I don't know whether you saw this on the front page of "The LA Times" today about the Greenland Inuit.

KING: Yes, I saw that.

WEIL: You know, Eskimos. You know, these are people living in a pristine environment near the North Pole. They have higher concentrations of PCBs in their bodies than any people on earth, and it's from eating these marine mammals that concentrate these toxins.

WEIL: Your book has "Foods to maximize health, healing and longevity," more than 150 recipes. You did it with Rosie Daley...

WEIL: Yes.

KING: ... who used to be Oprah's show. "What is organic? How to buy organic foods? How to read labels," et cetera. It's very timely, right?

WEIL: It is very timely, and it's especially important because your physician has not learned this in medical school.

KING: Why not?

WEIL: We don't teach nutrition to doctors. It's considered a soft subject. I think it's thought of as something like home economics. It's not as important as pharmacology.

KING: How many hours in med school do you get of nutrition?

WEIL: You know, really, essentially none. And if there is nutrition there, it's mostly biochemistry that's forgotten as soon as the exams are taken. My colleagues and I are presenting -- this March, we are organizing a conference on nutrition and health for health professionals. So for you doctors out there or other health professionals, you want to learn this stuff you didn't get in medical school...

KING: Where do they contact you?

WEIL: ... please come and do that.

KING: Where -- what's your...

WEIL: You can -- my Web site, And that'll direct you to the University of Arizona Web site, which'll tell you about this conference.

WEIL: You are a Harvard-educated doctor, though.

WEIL: I am.

KING: You're an MD, right?

WEIL: Right. But I didn't learn nutrition there.

KING: We'll be right back with Dr. Andrew Weil. "The Healthy Kitchen" is now in trade paperback. We'll, of course, be including your phone calls, as we always do. Don't go away.


KING: With Dr. Andrew Weil. Let's talk about the newsweeklies. Did you read the "Newsweek" story on diet and carbs?

WEIL: No, but I've read plenty of things like that.

KING: And your overall estimate?

WEIL: I think there is a piece of truth in these low- carbohydrate diets that mainstream doctors have ignored, which is that there are good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates. And in general, the refined carbohydrate products, all the things made from flour...

KING: Rice?

WEIL: Rice, less so. It's actually wheat -- it's pulverized...

KING: Bread.

WEIL: Bread. Bread, chips, crackers, pizza crust, pastries -- all of that has a huge impact in some people, maybe half of us, on blood sugar that promotes obesity, that increases risks of type 2 diabetes. And mainstream nutritionists have ignored all this. I think this is one of the things that Atkins brought to public attention.

KING: To his credit. WEIL: To his credit. So I think we're -- it's not just that -- it's not that carbohydrates are bad, it's that we have to learn to choose carbohydrates wisely.

KING: By the way, can food affect autism...


WEIL: Yes, and in fact, I think some of the most interesting research is showing that supplementing with omega 3 fatty acids can have a tremendously beneficial effect.

KING: Really?

WEIL: Now, given what we just said about it fish...


WEIL: ... I would recommend fish oils. And there are purified...

KING: The pills.

WEIL: ... fish oils. Yes. These are distilled, so they're free of these contaminants that we...

KING: Omega 3, right?

WEIL: Omega 3 fatty acids.

KING: Can you prevent Alzheimer's with diet?

WEIL: I think there are things you can do. You know, Alzheimer's begins as an inflammatory process in the brain, and diet plays a role in inflammation. At our program in integrative medicine in Tucson, we frequently put people on anti-inflammatory diets. That means not eating margarine, vegetable shortening, anything...

KING: Butter?

WEIL: No, butter is better. It's partially hydrogenated fats.

KING: Butter's better than margarine, right?

WEIL: Butter is better than margarine. Eating the right -- eating omega 3 fatty acids, eating lots of your favorite blueberries, which have...

KING: I love blueberries.

WEIL: ... anti-inflammatory properties. So you can -- you can choose an anti-inflammatory diet. In addition, you can take supplements, things like Motrin, ibuprofen, which has a beneficial effect in preventing Alzheimer's, and the spice turmeric, the yellow spices that's -- it makes curry yellow and mustard yellow also looks to be good... (CROSSTALK)

KING: Grape juice is good.

WEIL: Grape juice is good.

KING: Power of sleep, important?

WEIL: Very important. I think as we age...

KING: I'm discussing the lead article...

WEIL: No, I think the nature...

KING: ... in "Newsweek.

WEIL: The nature of sleep changes as we age. I always ask patients, How well do you sleep? If they say they don't sleep well, I'm interested, Do you have problems falling asleep, which is usually an overactive mind. Is that you fall asleep and then wake? That could be a result of not sleeping on the right mattress, of using too much caffeine, of having aches and pains in your body.

KING: Why is sleep important?

WEIL: You know, I don't think we really know why people have to sleep. We don't know why...

KING: What if someone says...

WEIL: ... people have to sleep.

KING: ... All I need is four hours and I'm fine?

WEIL: People are different. There are some people that do well on four hours sleep, some people need nine hours sleep. I think you need to know what your pattern is.

KING: Now, there's a -- one of the stories here is "Viagra babies." Are they making a study of babies born after men take Viagra?

WEIL: This is -- this is news to me. That one I haven't read.


KING: All right, "Love life and health: How sex and the brain work to help keep you healthy." You buy it?

WEIL: Yes. I think sex has a powerful effect on consciousness, on the body. I think that healthy sexual expression is part of a healthy lifestyle. I think it's very important, when you go to a physician, to be able to discuss this with him or her, and I think it's important for physicians to ask their patients, as well.

KING: Masturbation the same as sex health-wise? WEIL: Well, there was an interesting study that came out of Australia recently suggesting that men who masturbated most frequently when they were young have the lowest risk of prostate cancer. So this is an interesting piece of evidence for the health-protective effects of masturbation.

KING: What about what you learned in medical school now is the biggest myth? Was it three square meals a day? Was that a myth? Was...

WEIL: You know, I think there's so much that's different. First of all, as I said, I really didn't learn much nutrition, but there was an awful lot that -- you know, I think when I was in medical school, I learned that coronary heart disease was irreversible.

KING: And you shouldn't exercise...

WEIL: We know that it...

KING: ... right?

WEIL: Now we know -- right. We also...

KING: You have heart disease, stay in bed.

WEIL: Stay in bed. Also, the treatment for ulcers was to drink cream.

KING: That's right! I remember that.

WEIL: Coat the stomach.

KING: I had an ulcer once.

WEIL: Right. To drink cream.

KING: That's now no good, right?

WEIL: Not a good thing.

KING: Trans-fatty acids.

WEIL: These are unnatural fats that are created in the chemical process of making partially hydrogenated fats and vegetable shortening. They promote heart disease. I think they also promote cancer. We are now fortunate in that the manufacturers are going to have to list these on the label. Up to now, it's been very difficult to tell whether foods contain these trans-fatty acids. It's going to say so on the label. You want to avoid them. But avoiding processed foods...

KING: When I see a label that says non-fat...

WEIL: Yes.

KING: ... is that good for me automatically? WEIL: Not necessarily because you know, one of the things we've seen in this country is that as non-fat foods have become more and more common, people have gotten steadily fatter. And one reason is a lot of these non-fat foods are very high in sugar and in the refined carbohydrates that promote obesity in a lot of genetically susceptible people.

KING: What about non-sugar?

WEIL: I think all of these...

KING: Very low in sugar.

WEIL: Yes. I think that the artificial sweeteners are things to be careful of.

KING: Nutrasweet and...

WEIL: The one that's on the market, the newest one, that looks safest is this product called sucralose. That to me looks better than Aspertame and the ones that we've had previously.

KING: But generally.

WEIL: Generally, I think people...

KING: Low sugar is better?

WEIL: It's just that people eat sugar so immoderately in this culture.

KING: Immoderately?

WEIL: Yes, I mean, big gulps of sodas and kids that are eating candy and getting it in school vending machines. I think you want to be conscious of where you're getting sugar in your diet and try to cut down on it.

KING: We talk about candy, yet you read a report chocolate can be good.

WEIL: Well, chocolate is not the same as candy. You know...

KING: Chocolate's in candy.

WEIL: We're talking about pure chocolate, you know, chocolate, not chocolate with butter and lots of other things. You and I said earlier, chocolate's a good thing. Dark chocolate, good quality dark chocolate in moderation, not a whole slab like this, it's a good thing. A very high anti-oxidant activity. It's comparable to red wine and green tea. And the fat in chocolate, cocoa butter, is handled by the body like olive oil.

KING: Should you raise your kids early with good diet habits?

WEIL: Of course. KING: I mean really early.

WEIL: Of course. And I think one of the best ways to do that -- and this is something that Rosie Daley and I suggest in "The Healthy Kitchen," is to involve kids at an early age in food preparation. You know, let them participate in the making of food, to watch it being done. I think that's a good way to get them interested in where food comes from, how it's made. Good (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: How about chicken without skin?

WEIL: If you're going to eat chicken, eat it without the skin and try to get organic chicken.

KING: We'll take a break. We'll ask about the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine shortage. We'll take your calls, as well. "The Healthy Kitchen" is now out in paperback. Don't go away.


KING: Back with Dr. Weil. Got a lot of calls. We're going to get to them momentarily. Just a couple of quick things. MS -- any hope in that area? Multiple sclerosis.

WEIL: There is. I mean, not only are there new drugs coming out from standard medicine, but I think there's a lot of cases of people that have done very well using integrative medicine, in particular...

KING: Like?

WEIL: ... Ayurvedic medicine, the medicine from India, herbal treatments, following an anti-inflammatory diet of the sort that I mentioned earlier, using mind-body methods. I have worked with many MS patients. I've seen a lot of good results.

KING: Integrative doesn't discount...


WEIL: No, that's the whole point.

KING: You don't discount the pharmaceutical industry.

WEIL: Absolutely. It's training doctors and patients to use conventional medicines selectively and to combine it selectively with other kinds of medicine.

KING: People with high mercury and high lead in their diet -- can they cleanse that?

WEIL: I think if you stop putting it in, the body begins to remove it. So the -- with any kind of pollution, contamination, toxic issues, the first thing is to stop eating it, you know, to stop getting sources of it.

KING: Where did we go wrong on the -- reading the wrong flu vaccine this year?

WEIL: Well, it's...

KING: Although now it seems to be controlled.

WEIL: Yes, but I think this flu epidemic peaked early, so it has not been as bad as people thought. I think a lot of unnecessary fear was created about it. But every year, the scientists at the CDC -- it's a gamble. They're trying to guess...

KING: Their guess...

WEIL: ... what strains are coming on. This year they got it wrong.

KING: All right, let's go to calls for Dr. Andrew Weil. "The Healthy Kitchen" is now out in trade paperback.

Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, for Dr. -- for the doctor?

WEIL: Yes?

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: When we purchase omega 3 fat oils at the health food store, how do we know we're actually getting the amounts stated on the label?

WEIL: Well, you know, you raise an interesting question because, in general, these dietary supplements are not regulated. I think we need much better regulation in this area. So all I can tell you is that you want to buy reputable brands that provide you with information guaranteeing that they are free from toxic contaminants. But I think if you buy fish oils from reputable companies, large companies that tell you how they produce them, you can be assured that you're getting what the label says.

KING: Bring fruit and vegetables home -- my mother always washed them. Should you wash them?

WEIL: I think first -- no, she washed them. I would recommend peeling those that you can and definitely washing all produce and preferably trying to get organic versions.

KING: Carrots good?

WEIL: Carrots are good.

KING: Fresno, California. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Thanks for taking my call.

KING: Sure. CALLER: Dr. Weil, I'm 46 years old. I was just diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and I was not very thrilled with the news. What is the first thing you would recommend doing diet-wise...

WEIL: OK, before...

CALLER: ... to get started on taking better care?

WEIL: Before you even go to diet, I think the most important thing to understand is that this disease can be reversed by changing lifestyle. And the most important thing I'd recommend to you before diet is exercise. You want to start a really conscientious program of aerobic exercise. That's most important. In terms of diet, I would recommend informing yourself about the glycemic index, which is a way of measuring carbohydrate foods so you can identify those that have a big impact on blood sugar. There's a good book out there called "The Glucose Revolution" by a group of scientists that explains this to you. You can find it on the Internet. And there are some supplements that can be very helpful to you, as well.

KING: Now, I have type 2. Sometimes you need sugar.

WEIL: Sometimes you need sugar. Absolutely.

KING: Boy, you can get a rush where you're going to faint if you don't have it.

WEIL: Absolutely. But you know, you really want to inform yourself about which carbohydrates are OK for you and which are not. And you want to stay away mostly from the refined carbohydrate foods.

KING: There's good pharmaceuticals in that area, too.

WEIL: There are good pharmaceuticals, but a surprising number of people can avoid them if you just attend to lifestyle.

KING: And you can reverse it.

WEIL: Absolutely.

KING: Murfreesboro -- as opposed to type 1.

WEIL: Right.

KING: Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: Hi, Dr. Weil.


CALLER: I have a question for you this evening. I'm 39 years old, and recently, I had a partial paralysis and then complete paralysis of my right knee. I took pharmaceutical drug, bakstra (ph), and an anti-inflammatory, and my knee still clicked and I couldn't walk. I had to sling it. After going to the orthopedic doctor and looking at the MRIs and the X-rays, it was concluded that my kneecap was angled downward, and so when I walked, there was an impingement. And there was also some wearing down of my cartilage. He gave me an injection directly into my knee, and it should last for a couple of weeks.

But my question and concern is, what should I be doing with my diet so that I'm not -- so that I won't experience this again? And what can I do to strengthen my bones and my joints? I just started taking calcium, 600 milligrams a day.


WEIL: I would recommend -- you know, one thing you might experiment with is glucosamine, which is a supplement widely available that may help rebuild cartilage in your knee. I would recommend working out with a bicycle or a stationary bicycle, which builds up the muscles and helps stabilize the knee joint. Acupuncture can be a very effective symptomatic treatment...

KING: Really?

WEIL: ... for knee problems. That's one of the things that it does very well. In terms of diet, I would inform yourself again about the anti-inflammatory diet that I mentioned. You can find this information in "The Healthy Kitchen" or on my Web site.



KING: Las Vegas. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. Can you give your opinion regarding umbilical cord banking?

WEIL: I can. I think this is a very...

KING: Banking?

WEIL: ... smart thing to do, that you take some of the umbilical cord blood, and this is frozen and stored. It's a source of stem cells, which can be used in case that baby, you know, ever develops the kind of problem that requires stem cells. So if that baby develops leukemia, for example, it might be cured if they have those stem cells.

KING: Would all hospitals do this at birth?

WEIL: All hospitals should be able to do that. It's simple thing just to take a sample of cord blood and store it.

KING: Why wouldn't it automatically be done?

WEIL: I think because people aren't demanding it and asking for it, and this is relatively new information.

KING: Never heard of it.

WEIL: It's a new procedure. It's a good thing to do.

KING: What do you think of the future of stem cell research, as a total?

WEIL: Well, I think that this is one of the most exciting frontiers of medicine, you know, the possibility that we will be able to cultivate these cells, which can go right to target organs and regenerate tissue. The question is, Where are we going to get them? You know, there's a lot of ethical issues about getting them from fetal tissue, but I think there are ways of harvesting adult stem cells and getting them from embryonic -- from umbilical cord blood is one source.

KING: We'll be right back with Dr. Andrew Weil. "The Healthy Kitchen," co-written with Rosie Daley, is now out in trade paperback. More calls right after this. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Dr. Andrew Weil. "The Healthy Kitchen" is out in trade paperback. And we go to Buffalo Grove, Illinois, hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: Dr. Weil.


CALLER: I'm a 76-year-old man. I have been diagnosed almost a year and a half ago with bilateral interstitual (ph) bronchial sclerosis. Now, I feel like my condition is going downhill. I can't find anything that helps me. They did a research, I know, in Mayo on a drug called, I think it's called bosentan, Tracleer bosentan.

WEIL: And you're out of breath, is that the main problem you have?

CALLER: Yeah, I run out of breath.

WEIL: Yeah.

KING: What do you do?

WEIL: I'll just give you one -- you know, that is a difficult medical problem, it really needs to be managed by standard medicine, but there are some other things you can try. There is a Chinese mushroom that you can easily get here.

KING: Where do you come up with this?

WEIL: I know all of this stuff, you know, I do a lot of research. There's a mushroom called cordyceps.

KING: Get it in health food store?

WEIL: Get it in health food store. It's c-o-r-d-y-c-e-p-s. It's used in China, long history of use for people who are debilitated by chronic illness. It has a beneficial effect on the respiratory system. It will not interact with any of the medical drugs you're taking. I would start on that, see what results you get from it.

KING: Tulsa, Oklahoma, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Dr. Weil, I suffer from severe tinnitus, which is ringing in the ears, and it's extremely aggravating.

WEIL: I'm sure it is.

CALLER: As a result of noise exposure. What warning would you give young people who are exposing themselves to excessive decibel levels of noise...

KING: Does that cause it?

CALLER: ... and recommend anything nutritional?

WEIL: That's certainly one of the things -- yeah, OK, that's certainly one of the things that causes it. And you know what, it is such a shame to see people who lose hearing or develop these problems from something that's so preventable. I mean, it is not good to be exposed to noise. It hurts your ears. It's that simple. And you lose the ability...

KING: It's a low ring, though, people have it.

WEIL: Yeah, it's true.

KING: You don't think about it until someone tells you.

WEIL: Now, however, many cases of tinnitus may be caused by an imbalance of blood circulation in the head and neck, and some of that can be related to muscle tension. So I always recommend that people that have this condition give a try to various forms of body work, massage, to relax muscles...

KING: Really?

WEIL: ... in the head and neck, to do therapeutic yoga. Sometimes this can make a great difference.

KING: Massage good?

WEIL: Absolutely. KING: Boston, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Dr. Weil, in addition to your previous recommendations made on the anti-inflammatory diet, for auto-immune disorders, such as sarcoidosis, can you suggest other foods to avoid or include in the diet?

WEIL: You know, sarcoidosis is an interesting auto-immune disease. It has a very high potential to go into remission and disappear on its own. So always keep that in mind. And I would say more than simply dietary recommendations, I would do something in the mind/body area, either work with a clinical hypnotherapist, try guided imagery, try mindfulness meditation. You want to bring the healing power of the mind to bear on the immune system, and you can often make this thing go into remission.

KING: Brussels, Belgium. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. I am calling and I'm a lawyer in Brussels, and I watch your show every night.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: And like you, I get just four or five hours sleep. I've been taking a product, a nitro-oxide product developed by a Nobel Prize winner called Lou Ignarro, from America, put out by Herbalife, and I'm waking earlier and feeling better. And I reckon I've got less chance of heart attacks and coronary. What I'd like to ask Dr. Weil is about nitro-oxide being introduced into the system and why it's so effective.

WEIL: You know, I'm sorry, that's one that I'm not familiar with. I will have to read up on it.

KING: Is this in Europe only?

WEIL: I do not know that product.

KING: This is only in Europe?

CALLER: No, it's not in Europe yet. It's just been put out in America, it's called Night Works (ph).

WEIL: I will investigate it. I have to tell you, it's one I do not know.

KING: To Monroe Township, New Jersey, hello. Hello?

CALLER: Hello?

KING: Go ahead, New Jersey.

CALLER: Yes, doctor?

WEIL: Yes. CALLER: Yes, I'm a 66-year-old retired woman. I do walk two miles one day, the next day I'll do the treadmill for 40 minutes, or I'll go swimming three times a week.

WEIL: Good for you.

CALLER: Doing -- doing 20 lapse, and I feel wonderful. Six days ago, however, I started with shortness of breath, followed by a yawn, and I'm trying to get enough air into my lungs, but I still resume my daily routine.

I've had a cardiogram. They said it was fine. They felt my lungs with the stethoscope. Everything was clear, and yet, tomorrow, I'm going for a nuclear stress test to see whether the heart is impaired in some way.

KING: What's the question?

CALLER: My question is, if it is not the heart, could -- what else could this possibly be, anxiety?

WEIL: It is not uncommon for anxiety to cause shortness of breath, but I think what you're doing is very wise. Whenever you have a sudden or alarming symptom that could indicate a serious disease, you want to get it checked out thoroughly. So you're doing that.

You know, get that. I hope that the results of the nuclear stress test will be good, and in that case, maybe you want to practice some of the breathing exercises that I recommend. They're very simple to do. Again, you'll find these on my Web site,, or in my books. They take very little time. And if anxiety is the problem, that's the best way to deal with it and it will help your breathing.

KING: February "Reader's Digest" has a cover story, "Ten Diseases Doctors Miss." The article says disease and disorders sometimes develop stealthily, presenting no obvious warning signals, and they conclude them, hepatitis C, lupus, celiac disease, aneurysm, Lyme disease, sleep apnea.

WEIL: I would agree with that. I think these are often diseases where the symptoms are vague or unclear. Doctors may not ask the right questions. Patients may not report the right things. Sometimes someone you're living with with sleep apnea, for example, it's a sleeping partner. This is holding the breath or losing the breath during the night. It can be serious, and often it's the person's sleeping partner who observes it. Often goes with heavy snoring.

KING: It's like SIDS, can you die of it?

WEIL: You can die of it.

KING: To Chicago, hello. Chicago, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi. CALLER: Hi, Dr. Weil.


CALLER: I was recently diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica.

WEIL: Yes.

CALLER: I'm on 20 milligrams of Prednisone. My said (ph) rate was 105. I'm told this disorder can take anywhere from six months to like a year to leave your body. What alternative can you suggest in place of the steroids?

WEIL: Oh, a lot of things. First of all, you don't want to get off the steroids, but it is possible to wean down on them if you do other things.

One supplement that might help you is whole licorice root. Licorice has steroid-like effects and it may enable you to cut down on the dose of prednisone. It's very important for you to follow the anti-inflammatory diet that I mentioned earlier. I would do, again, mind/body work with a practitioner of hypnosis or guided imagery.

If you look up auto immunity in my books or on my Web site, you will get more detailed information. This is a good example of a disease that's handled well by integrated treatment, using both conventional and alternative methods.

KING: Can diet help in depression?

WEIL: I think diet can help in depression. Again, you know, I hate to sound like a broken record here, but the Omega 3 fatty acids have a very good track record in helping depression.

KING: Should everyone take an Omega 3 fatty acid pill every day?

WEIL: Well, I think everyone should think about where they're getting these in their diet. If you are not eating oily fresh, if you're not eating plenty of walnuts, if you're not eating the right oils, then it might be a good idea to add a fish oil supplement.

By the way, you can get these for vegetarians. There are Omega 3 supplements made from algae that are not made from fish.

KING: Really?

WEIL: Yeah.

KING: A vegetarian wouldn't eat fish?

WEIL: Some vegetarians will not eat fish.

KING: We'll be right...

WEIL: Fish don't grow on trees.

KING: OK. To get fish, who knows. We'll be right back with more calls. Don't go away.


KING: A couple of quick things before we go back to the calls. What about if the statins don't help you and you have high cholesterol?

WEIL: There's a great alternative to the statin drugs.

KING: Statin drugs are amazing.

WEIL: They're amazing but this is something I take myself. It's Chinese red rice yeast extract. You can get this in health food stores. This is a natural source of statins but it's a family of statins rather than a single one, and almost everybody that can't tolerate pharmaceutical statins can tolerate this, red rice yeast extract.

KING: Migraines.

WEIL: I think there are very good pharmaceutical treatments for migraines now but, you know, there are some simple measures to take. You want to eliminate all caffeine from the diet. There's an herb called fever few that reduces the incidence of migraines. Vitamin B2, Riboflavin in high doses, reduces the frequency of migraines.


WEIL: The cocktail drugs that we have now have completely changed the face of HIV treatment. They have turned this into a chronic disease. They're not problem-free but anyone with HIV infection if can you take these drugs, have access.

KING: Magic Johnson takes them. You don't get AIDS. And Lyme disease.

WEIL: This is an interesting one. It is both underdiagnosed and overdiagnosed, a real problem in certain parts of the country. I've seen very good results with Chinese herbal medicine.

KING: You like the Chinese?

WEIL: I do.

KING: Dalesburg, Pennsylvania, hello.

CALLER: Hi Larry and Dr. Weil. Recently I heard that there may be some connection between aluminum and Alzheimer's. I'd like to know if it's harmful to drink soda from aluminum cans.

KING: Aluminum.

WEIL: There have been findings that there are higher concentrations than normal of aluminum in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. But we have no evidence whether that's causative. By the way, you know what the major source of aluminum in people is. It's not aluminum pans. It's antacids.

KING: Really? Antacids?

WEIL: Yes, a lot of these antacids.

KING: Tums.

WEIL: Not Tums. Tums is calcium but Maalox and a lot of these, they're aluminum based. There's no need for them. Anti-perspirant deodorants. There's no need for aluminum in the body. You don't want to be taking it in but I don't think it causes Alzheimer's.

KING: By the way, the book is "The Healthy Kitchen." It's the number one nationwide bestseller. It's now in trade paperback. It's by Andrew Weil and Rosie Daly. There you see its cover. Foods to maximize health, healing and longevity. And we go to Philadelphia, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Dr. Weil. Hi, Larry.


CALLER: I'm 50 years old. I was recently diagnosed with H. Pylori which I'm on a course of antibiotics for now and (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I want to know what you recommend to treat these problems holistically.

WEIL: H. Pylori. This is the bacterium that was discovered relatively recently that seems to be in most instances the cause of ulcers, and probably a major cause of gastric cancer as well. It is easily eradicated by a course of antibiotic treatments usually with three different drugs.

So I would certainly urge you to do that treatment and complete it. However, this has associated you with esophageal reflux and esophageal problems. A couple of suggestions. I use a supplement called DGL, it's a licorice extract that increases the mucus coating in the stomach and esophagus. Very useful for this kind of problem.

This is something you can just stay on. Also, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) esophagus, there's a higher risk of esophageal cancer. Aspirin reduces the risk of esophageal cancer. So I would recommend that you take a low dose of enteric-coated aspirin which will pass through the stomach and not irritate.

KING: Is aspirin the true wonder drug?

WEIL: Aspirin is quite the wonder drug.

KING: No one knows why it works.

WEIL: Well, I think we're closer to knowing. We know that it works on hormones called prostaglandins that control inflammation and cell proliferation. Aspirin has so many effects.

KING: Amazing. WEIL: I take two baby aspirins a day. I think it's a very good thing.

KING: I take two baby aspirins every day, too. Lake Isabella, California, hello.

CALLER: I was diagnosed with duodenitis. I suffer from severe acid pain, and upper back pain and behind my rib cage. I was given Protonix. I have lost about 15 pounds. I'm 98 pounds as we speak. My doctor would like to do biopsies next. I would like to know, Dr. Weil, what you would do if I was your patient?

WEIL: Well, I'd take a full history. More than just listening to a few words on the telephone, but I would want to really go carefully into your diet. I might make suggestions as to how you eat, the amounts that you eat, the timing of meals. I would want to make sure you're not eating irritants like coffee, decaf, alcohol.

I would probably put you on that DGL, that licorice extract that I mentioned earlier. I would teach you relaxation procedures, probably the breathing exercises that I talked about earlier. There's so much that can be done to affect problems of this sort in the gastrointestinal system. The Protonix, these acid suppressive drugs are useful short term. You can't rely on them as a long-term solution to this problem.

KING: Point Elgin, Ontario.

CALLER: Thanks for taking my call. I was diagnosed several years ago with carpal tunnel syndrome. I have had it for about eight years now. Would you suggest the surgery as a good thing, Dr Weil, or is there some other alternative I can think of?

WEIL: This is where the ligament and the wrist thickens and causes pressure on the median nerve. I think there's a lot of things you can try before you do surgery. Everything from physical methods like acupuncture to using natural anti-inflammatory agents of the sort that I mentioned. I would say surgery is the last resort but if you have exhausted all other remedies, and by the way, one of them is really resting the wrist, because it's often repetitive motion that aggravates this.

KING: What do you make of HGH? A wonder pill?

WEIL: Yes, and all of the anti-aging doctors are into giving growth hormone. I would not do that myself. I have concerns about the side effects of growth hormone. It's expensive. It may increase risk of heart disease. It may increase risks of prostate cancer. I'm nervous about giving people hormones if they don't need them and I don't think there is a chemical fountain of youth that's going to make people younger or live forever. Sorry.

KING: OK. It's sad. You'd like to live forever, wouldn't you? I would. Wonder who is going to win the World Series. We'll be back with more of Dr. Andrew Weil. Don't go away.


KING: The book "The Healthy Kitchen," the guest, Dr. Andrew Weil.

Halifax, Nova Scotia, hello.

CALLER: I have been diagnosed with Meniere's or vertigo which makes my life quite miserable.

Is there any supplement to take for the dizziness?

WEIL: It's worth a trial of Ginko.

KING: Really.

WEIL: Ginko increases blood circulation in the head and neck. It may work. It's something that I...

KING: I had it once. Boy it's that's weird. The room turns.


WEIL: Right, that's something I would try.

KING: It's labyrinthitis.

WEIL: Yes. Yes.

KING: Oceanside, New York, hello.

CALLER: How are you tonight?

KING: Fine.

CALLER: I'm a 36-year-old female. I've had Crohn's disease for 16 years. October of 2002 they removed 90 percent of my colon due to pre-cancer being found in my secum area. The Crohn's disease also narrowed the whole colon. I have two questions. The first is what can I eat to possibly slow down my digestive system, and the second would be what can I do to prevent the Crohn's Disease to keep returning?

KING: What is Crohn's Disease.

WEIL: Well, Crohn's Disease is one of the main varieties of inflammatory bowel disease. It's like ulcerative colitis. I would consult with practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine who has good track record with inflammatory bowel disease. I've also just seen some very good research going on at my institution at the University of Arizona looking at the termeric (ph) again, and aspect of it called curcumin. This is the yellow spice that makes mustard yellow and curry yellow. It seems to have very protective effect on inflammatory bowel disease. And I would certainly use mind/body methods here. Hypnosis, guided imagery. A lot -- if you go again -- please go to my Web site,, look up Crohn's Disease and you'll get a lot of information.

KING: Chinese do they (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because keep mentioning them right? Do they live along time?

WEIL: They -- there is -- the Chinese traditionally have had very low rates of coronary heart disease until recently as they have begun to adopt our eating practices.

KING: Piedmont, Quebec, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Good evening Mr. King. thank you for take my call.

Dr. Weil, I respect your judgment immensely and I want to know what you think of Dr. Robert O'Young's theories on diet expressed in his books, "pH Miracle and Sick and Tired." As you know, he has a company, I believe it's multilevel called Inner Light and I'm just curious, it seems pretty drastic some of it.

KING: Do you know them?

WEIL: I don't know the company. But I have to tell you in general I'm biased against multilevel marketing companies.

KING: What you do you mean -- pyramids.


WEIL: ... pyramid schemes and usually the claims made for the products are outrageous. Also, from what you've said about this being centered on pH, there are a lot of products out that there that tell you you're too acid and you have to alamos (ph). I think that's nonsense. The Ph of the blood and body fluid is constant. The body can't take chances with that, so it's very tightly regulated. I just don't believe a lot of that nutritional philosophy.

KING: Downington, Pennsylvania, hello.

CALLER: Dr. Weil, what's the best thing for constipation, because I have been using ice therapy for my hemorrhagic. And I've been putting ice cubes up there. This might sound strange but this is type of chronoer (ph) therapy...


KING: Sounds little chilling.

CALLER: ... takes the swelling down.

WEIL: I'll tell you what I recommend, there is an herbal to product from India. It's one of the most famous...

KING: Not from China.

WEIL: India. From one of the most famous herbal drugs (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it's called Triphala, T-R-I-P-H-A-L-A, it's a mixture of three fruits. It's a bowel regulator, not a laxative. It's something you stay on regularly. You get it in the health foods store. Give that a try. It can be very helpful to you.

KING: Shillington, Pennsylvania, hello.

CALLER: Hello Larry and Dr. Weil. I have a question about the link between stress and overeating.

WEIL: Uh-huh, this is a very interesting subject. There have been a few books that have come out on this recently. You know, stress -- the main hormone that mediates stress is called cortisol, and cortisol has a lot of effects on metabolism. There seems to be a real connection, and probably more in women than in men between stress and weight gain. So I think this is a -- look up some of the books on it. It can be useful for to you know about.

KING: And the herbs that curb appetites?

WEIL: The herbs that curb appetites are stimulants and they are undesirable in long-term usage. So, no, there is no magic pill to curb appetite.

KING: One more call quickly, Crystal Lake, Illinois, hello.

CALLER: Thank you, Dr. Weil and thank you Larry. I have a have high platelet condition. My platelet count at this point is 900,000. I'm within 1.5 of Argylan, A-R-G-Y-L-A-N.

KING: We are running short on time.

WEIL: OK. You have to be under the care of a conventional hematologist, because this is a bone marrow problem that has to be watched.

KING: What does it mean?

WEIL: It means that her marrow is making too many of the elements in the blood that cause clotting. So this can predispose to clotting problems. It has to be monitored carefully. But I work with patients with these kinds of problems. I would certainly use a mind/body method here. I've seen good results in people uses guided imagery, hypnotherapy to effect the marrow production of platelets.

KING: Always great to have you here.

WEIL: Pleasure to talk to you.

KING: Dr. Andrew Weil, one of my favorite people. The book, "The Healthy Kitchen: Foods to Maxamize Health, Healing, and Longevity," 150 recipes. Andrew Weil and Rosie Daly, new features in the edition include fat and carbohydrate sections, new vegetarian menus as well. "The Healthy Kitchen."

I'll be back to tell you about tomorrow night after this.


KING: Tomorrow night an update on the Peterson trial with Johnnie Cochran back at these friendly cameras.


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