Complementary and alternative medicine

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.

Yoga could slow the harmful effects of stress and inflammation

Marlynn Wei, MD, JD

Contributing Editor

Because stress and inflammation are so harmful, researchers have been studying how yoga might help ease them. If you’re looking to de-stress, this breathing exercise is simple and can be done anywhere.

3 things parents should know about complementary and alternative medicine

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Many treatments fall under the term “complementary and alternative medicine,” and many of those treatments are helpful. Yoga, meditation, and acupuncture are a few examples, but parents should be careful and consult their child’s doctor when using these approaches.

Yoga improves treatment-related symptoms in men with prostate cancer

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Men who participated in yoga classes twice a week while being treated for prostate cancer reported less fatigue and better urinary and erectile function, compared to other men in the study who did not do yoga.