Complementary and alternative medicine

Can light therapies help with bipolar disorder?

One approach to treating bipolar disorders is manipulation of the body’s circadian rhythms. A recent review of research found that such therapies may help, often in combination with medications and psychotherapy.

Mind-body therapies can reduce pain and opioid use

Researchers looking for ways to help people manage pain without drugs found that the practice of mind-body therapies was associated with reduced pain intensity, and may also assist some people in reducing their use of opioid medications.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: When marketing puts your health at risk

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Can health marketing be harmful? Watch out for health ads that make misleading or even dangerous claims that an unproven product or treatment is better than a proven one.

Why are women using CBD products — and do they work?

Many products containing CBD claim to help women with various health issues, including sleep, mood, symptoms of PMS or menopause, and sexual pleasure. Currently, very little evidence supports these extravagant promises, and there are concerns about the quality and safety of CBD products.

Curcumin for arthritis: Does it really work?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Could a naturally-occurring substance derived from a common spice provide relief from osteoarthritis of the knee? A new study suggests curcumin might help, but the research has some important limitations.

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

Senior 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

Senior 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.