Medicare has a lot more to offer than just medical coverage.

Each provider is different and has benefits that others may not. So where can we find the right information and make intelligent decisions?

One of the more helpful sites in Contra Costa County is HICAP at The site is informative and covers a multitude of options and answers. The main site is and has links to almost anything related to Medicare. This information is in response to one of my readers.

Finding different venues that are trustworthy on the internet can be tricky, so I have several websites I check myself on and use as reliable sources for verification and information I can pass on to my readers.

I recently started using cinnamon capsules to hopefully assist me in maintaining a decent glucose level. I’m not sure if it is working yet, but on my next visit to the doctor and the lab, I am hoping it will make a difference. I was told about this by a friend who had a substantial reduction in his numbers.

As always, I check with my doctor to make sure this is okay for me, and then begin my online Sherlock Holmes wannabe journey. is a good source for just about anything to do with health, but especially about supplements and vitamins. They give a clear and direct evaluation without too wordy of an explanation. They agree that just like anything else, you should check with your doctor first.

Cinnamon may help to reduce glucose numbers for some, but not for everyone. It should not be mixed with any other medications that can lower sugar, since too low is just as bad as too high. People with diabetes or prediabetes are especially urged to consult a physician first. If you have a liver issue, cinnamon sprinkled on foods for taste is alright per this site, but should be used sparingly. As with anything you start taking, read the label and watch the dosages.

Ginger root was yet another suggestion by a friend. Here I go again to look for the pros and cons, since I will always look for a natural alternative to avoid medication. The main reason for me investigating ginger is the benefits for inflammation, which causes pain just about anywhere in the body.

According to my resource, ginger will not take away muscle pain or inflammation right away, but over time and with daily usage, it will help alleviate and tame swelling, soreness and muscle aches. It can be taken orally either by eating it or consuming capsules, or it can be applied topically with a patch. I opted to try the pill form, and after a few weeks, I will know if I reap any benefits. Since ginger is loaded with antioxidants, it may help your body fight off chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease and diseases of the lungs, plus promote healthy aging. You got me here, too. I am your guinea pig!

Certain chemical compounds in fresh ginger help your body ward off germs. They’re especially good at halting growth of bacteria, which may also help to brighten your smile, since these bacteria are the ones that cause periodontal diseases.

I remember when I was a kid, my mom gave me ginger ale if I felt queasy. Within moments I was no longer nauseous, and to this day I use it if I get that feeling. I even drank some when I was traveling on a cruise, because seasickness is no fun on vacation for sure.

Additionally, some of us have daily indigestion, which ginger may help. Taken prior to eating, it may help your system empty faster, leaving less time for food to sit and cause that gas buildup.

It is recommended for nausea related to chemotherapy, and some studies indicate that bioactive molecules in ginger may slow down the growth of some cancers like colorectal, gastric, ovarian, liver, skin, breast and prostate cancer. But much more research is needed to see if this is actually true.

They have not proven if ginger helps your body use insulin better and lower your sugar count, but I am willing to try, since it may help some of my other issues. If I can lower my bad cholesterol (LDL) with a daily dose, I am all in for that, too. Studies show that taking five grams of ginger a day for three months lowered people’s LDL by an average of 30 points! Again, I’m willing to try.

Natural remedies are hit-and-miss. I ask, ask again and then ask some more. I read and research, and then test out the ones that may help me, and hopefully help you, too. Again, it is imperative to talk to your primary physician, since even over-the-counter natural products can interfere or negate your current intake of medications.

Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. Email her at