Joe and Teresa Graedon answer readers’ questions. This week: A reader considers zinc to combat facial hair.

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Q: I am a woman in my 20s, and I have a problem with facial hair. In researching this, I read an article suggesting zinc supplementation for controlling hirsutism in women. But I also found some articles that said zinc can be used by men to grow their beards. I found this confusing. What are your thoughts?

A: Your question sent us to PubMed to check the medical literature. We were fascinated to find a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of magnesium, zinc, calcium and vitamin D supplementation (Biological Trace Element Research, March 2018). In this trial, 60 women with polycystic ovary syndrome, which frequently causes hirsutism, took a placebo or a combination of 100 mg magnesium, 4 mg zinc, 400 mg calcium and 200 IU vitamin D for three months. At the end of the study, the women taking the supplements had significantly less facial hair and less inflammation. These doses are quite reasonable, so you might want to try this regimen to see if it helps you.

Q: I’ve read that spices like cinnamon, cloves, rosemary, turmeric and the like are anti-inflammatory and help to prevent dementia and control blood sugar and blood pressure. As I understand it, they should be taken in moderation (¼ teaspoon or less) with food but frequently. What can you tell me about this?

A: There is growing evidence that dementia is associated with brain inflammation (Human Molecular Genetics, April 19, 2018). Spices like sage, rosemary and lemon balm have been shown to improve memory (Phytomedicine, Jan. 15, 2018).

There also is research supporting the use of ginger or turmeric to help control blood sugar (Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Jan. 9, 2018; Pharmacological Research, February 2018).

You can learn much more about these and other health benefits in our book “Spice Up Your Health.” It is available at

Q: My primary reason for joining any health spa always has been because of the sauna. I was thinking I was a lazy sort. Now I read that sitting in the sauna is as good as the workout itself.

I do think most Americans are in too much of a hurry to enjoy a sauna bath. It’s unfortunate that we all spend too much time working and stressed out doing everything we are supposed to do.

A: Evidence keeps mounting that sauna bathing has health benefits. Spending 15 minutes a day in a Finnish-type sauna has been shown to reduce the risk of strokes (Neurology, online, May 2, 2018).

Other benefits may include lower blood pressure and reduced risk for dementia (American Journal of Hypertension, Nov. 1, 2017; Age and Ageing, March 1, 2017).

It’s a good idea to exercise as well as enjoy a sauna bath. Researchers have found that fitness due to aerobic exercise combined with frequent sauna bathing offers better health benefits than either alone (Annals of Medicine, March 2018).