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Q. I tried to donate blood several months ago, but when they hooked me up, my blood was very thick and would not flow. After an hour of trying, they could milk only a quarter cup from me.

This has never happened before in years of donating blood. It was also the first time I was taking herbs: echinacea, goldenseal and CoQ10. I was taking the echinacea and goldenseal to keep from getting flu.

I stopped taking goldenseal and echinacea and tried again to give blood last month. This time my blood flowed freely, and they had a pint in less than 20 minutes. Is it fair to conclude that goldenseal can thicken the blood, making it difficult to donate?

A. There has been very little study of goldenseal with respect to this property, but it was traditionally used as a "hemostatic" -- an agent that slows bleeding. Your experience suggests there is a basis to this tradition. Goldenseal is also reported to counteract the anticoagulant Coumadin.

Coenzyme Q10 also can antagonize Coumadin. People taking this blood thinner should be extremely wary about adding herbal medicines to their regimens.

For dogs only

Q. Rimadyl is prescribed by veterinarians for animals suffering from arthritis or hip problems. It works wonders for my German shepherd.

I asked the vet why this drug wouldn't be good for humans who have the same difficulties (as I do). All he said was not to use it. Why not? Is there a drug of the same composition available for people?

A. Rimadyl (carprofen) was originally developed for human use, but toxicity problems kept it out of drugstores. It resurfaced as a veterinary medication to relieve aches and pains of arthritis. Side effects in dogs can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and liver and kidney damage.

We agree with your vet that it would be inappropriate for you to take your dog's medicine. It is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in the same category as ibuprofen or naproxen.

If stomach upset is a problem for you with NSAIDs, you may wish to talk to your doctor about the new COX-2 blockers like Celebrex or Vioxx.

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