Complementary and alternative medicine

Treating constipation with biofeedback for the pelvic floor

Judy Nee, MD

Contributor

People with constipation caused by pelvic floor dysfunction may benefit from a course of physical therapy that uses biofeedback to detect the movements of various muscles, and provides guidance on how to retrain the pelvic floor muscles.

Brain-gut connection explains why integrative treatments can help relieve digestive ailments

Because of the strong connection between the brain and the digestive system, stress can cause or worsen many gastrointestinal conditions, and gut inflammation can have effects in other areas of the body. Mind-body treatments can improve digestive symptoms and decrease the stress response.

Alternative therapies for cancer

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A study of two million people receiving cancer treatment found that those who chose a complementary treatment along with conventional treatment had less successful outcomes (did not live as long).

Cryotherapy: Can it stop your pain cold?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Cryotherapy is a relatively new type treatment for sore muscles. It involves stepping into an extremely cold room or chamber for a few minutes. Some people say cryotherapy is effective and offers many benefits. But is it worth your time and money?

Digestive enzyme supplements for heartburn?

A digestive enzyme supplement can be helpful for people who have difficulty digesting certain foods, but taking one to treat a condition such as heartburn may or may not provide any relief.

Apple cider vinegar… for heartburn?

There is a lot of anecdotal information about people using apple cider vinegar to treat heartburn, but no published research examining the validity of it.

What patients — and doctors — need to know about vitamins and supplements

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

While certain groups of people, and those who have certain conditions, can benefit from taking vitamins or supplements, most people will do better obtaining the nutrients they need from eating a health, balanced diet.

Acupuncture for headache

Although acupuncture has been practiced for centuries, many people are still skeptical of its effectiveness. But in the past decade or so, a significant amount of evidence has accumulated from high-quality studies showing that acupuncture provides genuine pain relief, and can help with other conditions as well.

Medical marijuana

Peter Grinspoon, MD

Contributing Editor

Medical marijuana is controversial, in part because many people aren’t aware of how and why it is used. Most commonly it is used to ease pain, and doctors need to be prepared for the questions their patients will have about it.

Fish oil capsules: Net benefits for the heart are limited

At one time there was hope that omega-3 supplements in the form of fish oil capsules might prevent heart disease, but 15 years of research has found this belief to be untrue, and taking fish oil could even be harmful to some people.