Alternative & Complementary Medicine

Alternative & Complementary Medicine Articles

Alternative remedies

Many pharmacies and health food stores sell herbal and homeopathic remedies over the counter. Although these substances are often grouped under the label "natural remedies," herbals and homeopathics are very different. Herbal supplements are made from plants and may contain active ingredients — substances that are biologically active and affect the body. Homeopathic remedies are highly diluted substances that often have no active ingredient. These products are immensely popular, legal, and in some cases may have value, but they have not been proven to be effective. Neither herbal nor homeopathic remedies are carefully regulated by the federal government in the same way that pharmaceutical medications are regulated. Instead, they are classified as dietary supplements, and so can make broader claims on their labels and package inserts with little or no solid proof. That means it's important to be cautious about natural products or nutritional supplements that claim to increase mental performance, slow aging, improve alertness, prevent cancer, or cure disease. More »

Ask the doctor: Acupuncture for knee pain

Acupuncture has been promoted for many conditions, but clinical studies to confirm the benefit for knee arthritis have been mixed. The risks are minimal, but most insurance providers do not reimburse for acupuncture. (Locked) More »

Botox: It isn't just for wrinkles

Botox has FDA approval for treating uncoordinated eye movement, eyelid spasms, upper limb spasms, chronic migraine, excessive underarm perspiration, overactive bladder, and head-wrenching neck spasms. It is used off-label for other conditions. (Locked) More »

Can calming your mind help your heart?

Meditation involves quiet, focused attention on breathing, an object, or a word or phase known as a mantra. Meditating regularly can modestly lower blood pressure and may offer other cardiovascular benefits, including improved heart rate variability (a sign of a healthy heart) and a dampening of the body’s “fight or flight” stress reaction. Meditation may also help reduce depression, anxiety, and pain, which are common in people with heart disease.  (Locked) More »

Tea: A cup of good health?

Tea contains substances that have been linked to better health. For example, tea, particularly green tea, is rich in substances called polyphenols. They have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that hypothetically could have health-promoting effects in the body. Large studies that observed groups of nurses and doctors over time show that tea drinkers are less likely to develop diabetes and may have a lower risk of heart disease, compared with people who drink less tea. Drinking tea is consistent with a healthy dietary pattern that lowers risk of disease. Drinking coffee has also been linked to health, although the research is not conclusive. More »

What meditation can do for your mind, mood, and health

Meditation is an effective way to reduce stress, anxiety, pain, and depression. There are many different forms of meditation, including transcendental and mindfulness. Women are encouraged to experiment until they find the meditation form most effective for them.  More »

The benefits of probiotics bacteria

In a society of anti-bacterial warfare, who would have thought that anyone would tout the benefits of bacteria? Living microorganisms found in yogurt and other cultured foods may help improve your body's bacterial environment inside and out. They're called probiotics, a name that means "for life." More and more people are using probiotic products to treat or improve illnesses or to maintain overall well-being. In fact, a 2017 report estimated annual global sales of probiotic supplements at $3.7 billion in 2016, and that is expected to rise to $17.4 billion by 2027. Our bodies are home to a mix of good and bad bacteria. They're pretty much everywhere — the mouth, gut, and skin. Probiotics may help More »

The arguments against dietary supplements

The Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) was intended to meet the concerns of consumers and manufacturers to help ensure that safe and appropriately labeled products, including dietary supplements, remain available to those who want to use them. The assumption behind the Act is that there may be a "positive relationship between sound dietary practice and good health." Has the dietary industry gone well beyond any reasonable definition of dietary practice in the promotion of products? Do Americans think that a diet includes St. John's wort, ginseng, guarana, saw palmetto, blue-green algae, bee pollen or horny goat weed? The reality is that dietary supplements have not lived up to the promise of the DSHEA. Here are some reasons why the well-intended DSHEA legislation does not go far enough:   More »