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Posted on Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 5 a.m.

Seaweed has its downside

By Dr. Gott


I read your recent column where one of your readers discovered the side effect of eating things with seaweed as an additive. Thank goodness I caught that particular item.

I thought I had begun to suffer from psoriasis and even discussed it with my doctor. He said to use hydrocortisone to control it. It didn't stop it. After reading your column, I checked and found that the heavy cream I was using in my coffee, sold in most supermarkets, had seaweed as a thickener. I stopped using that brand, went to natural cream, and the rashes slowly went away.

I have no problems now and wish to pass along the information and a thank-you. It's amazing and scary what is put in our food.

DEAR READER: Because I drink my coffee black and don't use heavy cream in cooking, I had no knowledge that some brands contain seaweed.

Seaweed has been used with success by botanical, industrial and pharmaceutical companies. Traditional Chinese medicine even utilizes saltwater extracts of specific seaweeds for the treatment of cancer. Wounds, burns and rashes have been treated with seaweed, despite the fact that limited information is available regarding its use as an anti-bacterial or anti-fungal agent. Contact dermatitis, goiter, gastrointestinal problems and rare cases of potent inflammatory reaction have been reported. I guess you are among those affected. This was a great pickup on your part and further reinforces my preaching regarding reading labels. You'll get quite an education.

Readers who would like related information on psoriasis can order my Health Report "Dermatitis, Psoriasis and Eczema" by sending a self-addressed, stamped No. 10 envelope and a $2 U.S. check or money order for each report to Dr. Peter Gott, P.O. Box 433, Lakeville, CT 06039. Be sure to mention the title(s), or print an order form from my website's direct link:

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I would like more information on cellulitis. What is affected by this, and what I should do about it.

DEAR READER: Bacteria can enter the body easily through breaks in the skin, insect bites and skin ulcers. Skin can split because of lymphedema, eczema, shingles, chickenpox, IV drug use and athlete's foot -- leading to an increased risk for bacteria to enter.

Cellulitis is a skin infection commonly caused by the staphylococcus or streptococcus bacterium. There is an increasing number of cases of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), and it is becoming a common cause of cellulitis. The condition can occur on any surface of the skin; however, the lower legs and feet are most commonly affected. Fungal infections of the feet may lead to recurring cellulitis. People with a weakened immune system are more susceptible than those who are healthy.

Diagnosis can often be made through visual examination. However, a physician may order blood tests or wound cultures if any questions remain.

Symptoms include fever, chills, skin that is warm to the touch, muscle aches and pains, and fatigue. Glands may become swollen. As the infection progresses, the area involved may enlarge and the skin may feel stretched. Left untreated, infection can spread rapidly to the lymph nodes and bloodstream, becoming a very serious issue.

Treatment is focused on controlling the infection, primarily with oral antibiotics. Improvement should occur completely within two weeks unless the individual has a diagnosis of a chronic disease such as diabetes.

It is extremely important you follow your doctor's instructions regarding the length of time you remain on the antibiotic. You should also revisit him or her for a follow-up to assure the drug's effectiveness.

Prevention involves maintaining good hygiene, keeping skin moist to prevent cracking and splitting, washing scratches or open skin areas with warm soap and water daily, applying an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment and dressing until a scab forms, trimming finger and toenails and watching for the telltale signs of infection.

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Dr. Peter H. Gott is a retired physician and the author of several books, including "Live Longer, Live Better," "Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Diet" and "Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Cookbook," which are available at most bookstores or online. His website is

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