Headache? I'll Drink to That

"KidLife: Small Headache, Big Problem" [March 4] was very interesting. I was surprised, however, that you didn't mention the No. 1 cause of headaches in our house: dehydration. Whether it's my husband, me or my daughter coming home from school, we almost always banish our headaches by drinking a full glass of water, or two glasses if it's gotten bad.

Molly Weems


KidLife columnist Jennifer Huget replies:

You know, I've heard about a dehydration/headache link for a long time, too. But headache expert David Haas of SUNY Upstate Medical University (check his headache Web site: /www.upstate.edu/neurology/haas/ ) points out that such a link hasn't been medically established. And even if it had been, he says, your body would have to lose way more than could be replenished by a few glassfuls of water before you'd feel such a drastic effect from dehydration. Still, Haas sees no reason to stop drinking water if it makes you feel better. "I'm not saying a glass of water doesn't help," he says. It's just that there's no science to prove that -- or how -- it does. In any case, Haas adds, "It's good she's drinking water, not Coke. Better for her teeth."

A Prescription for Permission?

"Drugs at the Ready?" [March 4] suggested that schoolchildren in Virginia are allowed to carry prescription medicine with them so long as they have a doctor's prescription. Are you saying state law take precedence over school district rules? My child takes Ritalin and sometimes an extra dose is needed and she knows when that is necessary. School policy does not allow this.

Liz Scribe

Hallieford, Va.

Editor's note: The statement in last week's story was incorrect, according to a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Education. She says the only children allowed to carry prescription medication in schools in Virginia are children with asthma, who are allowed to carry their inhalers. Other children taking prescription medicines may be allowed to keep them in school, but they must be left in possession of school authorities, and the drugs can only be administered by school personnel.

All Herbs Are Not Created Equal

Our reference to Asian ginseng in last week's Give Me 5 item left reader Gerard Field with a question:

"There is Korean, Chinese, Indian and other ginseng. Are they all to be considered 'Asian' and equal? Is there non-Asian ginseng? Perhaps there is California or New Jersey ginseng. Please advise which ones are the good ones."

Sally Squires replies:

The study found Siberian ginseng to have no effect. Unfortunately, as I recall, the study did not get more specific than that. But if you'd like to search for more information on ginseng, you might check IBIDS, the database run by the Office on Dietary Supplements. You can search peer-reviewed scientific data or all studies on ginseng at http://ods.od.nih.gov/showpage.aspx?pageid=48 .