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Ask Dr. Gott 8/5
Geographic tongue will heal on its own
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: I have recently been diagnosed with geographic tongue. It is very annoying, and I want to know if you can recommend anything for it. My doctor told me to try vitamin B complex, but it isn't doing much good.
    DEAR READER: Geographic tongue is a coating of white or yellow plaque. As the coating enlarges, it sheds cells in the center, leaving red patches surrounded by thick white borders that give a map-like appearance.
    The condition can be persistent and uncomfortable, lasting from a few months to a year. It is harmless, it isn't cancer, it doesn't represent any other disease, and it will usually disappear on its own without treatment. For people with unusually severe cases, a physician can prescribe topical analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs.
    Alcohol, tobacco and toothpaste with tartar-control additives, strong flavoring or whitening agents should be avoided, as they tend to aggravate the affected areas.
    If you are having a difficult time coping, ask your physician to prescribe something. Keep in mind that the condition will not clear up any faster with a prescription. The medication will simply make you feel better and should take care of the problem until it resolves on its own.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I'm a 71-year-old female with acid reflux, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and vaginal irritation. I read the letter where you advised a reader to stop wasting money on unproven alternative remedies. I've gone to doctors all my life for my ailments, but, in the last few years, their treatments didn't work or caused side effects I couldn't tolerate. That's when I heard about alternative remedies from a friend who was forced to retire from work because of his health. He went to a physician who used alternative methods and diagnosed him with a yeast infection. My friend was helped so much that he was able to return to work a new man. I approached several of my medical doctors about alternative treatments and received mixed reactions, but my primary-care physician consented and sent me to one.
    I believe in alternative therapy as a supplement to modern medical treatment, as it may pave the way to healing and wholeness.
    DEAR READER: Physicians are often reluctant to go the alternative therapy route. Foremost, there is no control over herbal remedies. Ingredients can vary from brand to brand. Doctors put more trust in Food and Drug Administration-approved prescription medications that have been tested and found to work.
    Having said this, more and more savvy patients have investigated alternative therapies and prefer to have a greater degree of control over their bodies. For this reason, naturopaths (doctors of natural therapies) have become very popular across the country. While they cannot prescribe medications, they can offer recommendations for natural treatments, and some work in conjunction with medical doctors to ensure the well-being of the patient.
    If you and your friend improved, I congratulate you. Remember that alternative therapy can work in some but not in all situations. Stay connected with your primary-care physician for the times you might need him or her.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Herbs and Healing Fads."
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