Health Briefs

COULD A DIETARY SUPPLEMENT spell relief from chronic-fatigue syndrome? Experts are excited about NADH, a food-based compound that boosts production of dopamine and other neurotransmitters, while helping cells produce energy. In a newly published 12-week study, researchers led by Dr. Joseph Bellanti, an immunologist at Washington's Georgetown University Medical Center, followed 26 CFS sufferers while treating them with placebo or ENADA, an over--the-counter NADH supplement. The supplement reduced their symptoms by 31 percent, compared with the placebo's 8 percent--a ""significant improvement,'' says Bellanti. A second, less rigorous study reported 83 percent improvement after 18 months. Maybe it's not too good to be true.

PSYCHEDELIC SMOKES MOVE OVER, Joe Camel. Kids are rediscovering Indian smokes called bidis (or ""beedies''), which are flavored with strawberry and chocolate and come in psychedelic packages. They're cheaper than most cigs and pack enough nicotine to induce a buzz. No wonder sales are growing. One survey of San Francisco high schoolers suggests that 60 percent have tried beedies--and that half don't know they cause cancer.

SLEEP FOR SALE THIS IS NO MERE PILLOW FIGHT. Mattress makers are mounting a ground war on insomnia. Select Comfort mattresses ( now offer air pumps to stiffen or soften either side of the bed by remote control (yes, this marriage can be saved). A queen-size set costs between $900 and $2,600--and no, they won't explode. Tempur-pedic ( says the billions of temperature-sensitive ""memory molecules'' in its mattresses conform to your special curves, resulting in 80 percent less tossing and turning. The queen-size set runs $1,600. Now, if you could only find a free eight hours to try it out.

INFECT YOUR KIDS? COULD COUGHS AND RUNNY NOSES make your baby stronger? That's the implication of a new study from Germany. Researchers studied 2,500 kids, ages 5 to 14, and found that those who'd started group day care at 6 to 11 months of age suffered fewer allergies--including asthma--than those who'd stayed at home. Writing in The Lancet, the researchers conclude that early exposure to viruses and bacteria may strengthen a child's immune system. Kids from large families didn't benefit from day care, apparently because they caught so many bugs at home.

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