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    Housecall: Herbal supplements

a close-up of two wooden spoons on a burlap background, one containing dried medicinal herbs, the other clear capsules of a homeopathic supplementTHIS WEEK'S TOP STORIES
Herbal supplements: What to know before you buy
Herbal supplements, sometimes called botanicals, aren't new. Plants have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. But herbal supplements generally haven't been subjected to the same scientific scrutiny and aren't as strictly regulated as medications. Yet all herbs, including herbal supplement products labeled as "natural," can have medicationlike effects and, potentially, serious side effects when combined with other herbs, over-the counter medications and prescription medications. Here's what you need to know.

Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping
The holiday season often brings unwelcome guests: stress and depression. And stress and depression can ruin your holidays and hurt your health. Here are some tips for finding peace and joy amid the holiday hustle and bustle.

Are ankle weights a good idea for fitness walkers?
Although ankle weights can increase the energy you burn while walking, they may strain the ankle joints and leg muscles, which could increase your risk of injury. Learn about better ideas for adding to your walking workout from Dr. Edward Laskowski, a Mayo Clinic physical medicine specialist and co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center.

Is a laser retina scan necessary?
A laser retina scan can complement a traditional eye examination, but it's usually not necessary. And although laser retina scans can detect some retinal abnormalities, the scans have limitations. Learn more from Dr. Alaina Softing Hataye, a Mayo Clinic optometrist.

Life after a colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy
Itchy skin (pruritus)
Urine color
High potassium (hyperkalemia)

Butternut squash and apple salad
Turkey and broccoli crepe
Turkey or chicken stovetop casserole over toast
Black bean quesadillas

Create a family health record
Prepare for a family emergency by gathering important details about your family's health. For each person, gather the following information: medical conditions, allergies, medications, blood type, health care provider's name and phone number, and insurance information. Also, include advance directives — the legal documents that outline your decisions about health care, such as whether to use life support machines

Need practical advice on diet and exercise? Want creative solutions for stress and other lifestyle issues? Discover more healthy lifestyle topics at mayoclinic.org.

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