Sunday, December 31, 2006

Expert Advice Online On Alternative Medicine

As alternative medicine becomes more popular, a growing number of people are accessing the internet for information. The problem is sifting through tons of web pages, and deciding what is reliable and what isn't. Hence the creation of
SafeAlternativeMedicine was created at the end of 2005. It is a unique reference point on safe alternative medicine. Their features and articles are written by experts and professional journalists who have a particular interest in this area.

There are several dedicated sections in the website, including:

-- Anti Ageing
-- Aromatherapy
-- Beauty and Skin Care
-- ComplementaryTherapies
-- Complementary Therapy
-- Heart Health
-- Helping with Cancer
-- Herbal Health
-- Massage
-- Men's Health
-- Mental Health
-- Mind & Body Health
-- Nutrition
-- Sports Health
-- Women's Health

Opinion of the Editor of Medical News Today

I found it easy to navigate around this web site, the information is clear and useful. Of all the alternative medicine web sites I have seen on the internet, I would say this one, for me, is the best.

Source - Medical News Today

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Swedish Massage Benefits Osteoarthritis Patients

Massage therapy is a safe and effective way to reduce pain and improve function in adults with osteoarthritis of the knee, researchers at the Yale Prevention Research Center and at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) report in the first clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of this treatment.

The 16-week study conducted to identify the potential benefits of Swedish massage on osteoarthritis patients with pain, stiffness and limited range of motion was published in the December 11 Archives of Internal Medicine. Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that affects 21 million Americans and causes more physical limitation than lung disease, heart disease and diabetes mellitus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The 68 study participants, who were at least age 35 with x-rays confirming their diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the knee, were randomly assigned either to an intervention group that received massage therapy immediately, or to a wait-list control group that received massage after an initial eight-week delay. Both groups were encouraged to continue previously prescribed medications and treatments.

Participants in the massage intervention group received a standard one-hour Swedish massage twice a week for four weeks, followed by Swedish massage once a week for the next four weeks at the Siegler Center for Integrative Medicine at the Saint Barnabus Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston, New Jersey. After the first eight weeks of massage therapy, participants had improved flexibility, less pain and improved range of motion.

Source - Medical News Today


No long term benefits of baby massage

A gentle massage appears to lower levels of stress hormones in unsettled babies, but there's no evidence that infant massage has any benefit on growth or development, a scientific analysis shows.

Infant massage has long been used in many Asian and African cultures to ease colic and crying, help babies sleep, and even aid their growth and development.

There has also been growing interest in infant massage among parents in Western countries.

UK researchers seeking to assess the science behind the practice analysed 23 clinical trials.

They report their findings in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international organisation that evaluates medical research.

The trials involved infants aged six months and under who were randomly assigned to receive massage or not.

Source - Health News

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Parents told to massage babies for good night's sleep

Parents who want to ensure their newborn baby sleeps at night should try giving their child a massage.

Researchers have found it can be as good as rocking at lowering stress levels in infants, helping them sleep better and cry less.

It can also promote and strengthen the bonds between parents and their new baby.

They concluded that massage could be a useful technique for parents who want to find ways to improve their babies' sleep and ability to relax.

Infant massage has traditionally been used in some parts of the world including Africa, Asia and the former Soviet Union.

It is also increasingly being recommended to UK parents in antenatal or special baby massage classes. In each case the parents giving the massage had been trained by health workers.

Overall the research showed infants benefited from massage as they tended to cry less, sleep better and had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to those who did not receive massages.

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The English patient

Film director Anthony Minghella is never in one place for too long and the hectic pace takes a toll on his health. Here he explains why traditional Chinese medicine plays such a key role in his life

There’s a good deal of irony in my heralding a terrific book about traditional Chinese medicine. First, because it’s almost exclusively aimed at women and, secondly, because I am far from an example of good health and fitness. But I’m convinced that the alternative treatments I pursue, from Pilates to Thai yoga massage and, in particular, the visits to a couple of great practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, have enabled me to manage a hectic transatlantic career that makes unreasonable demands on my stamina and focus.
As a film director, it’s not unusual for me to get off a plane in another country and start work as if no journey had occurred. The toll of these schedules is hard to quantify but, without maintenance, the body soon complains and fails. Typically, Western medicine is called on at the failure stage. Other forms of healthcare can start earlier, at the complaint stage.

Xiaolan Zhao lives in Toronto. Her book, Traditional Chinese Medicine for Women: Reflections of the Moon on Water, is constructed in chapters that take women through the stages of their lives. She writes about how traditional Chinese medicine began more than 5,000 years ago, 4,500 years before the scientific traditions of the West, in a culture that forbade human dissection. Practitioners relied on their powers of observation, developing a different understanding of the body and disease compared with the West. Dr Xiaolan worked as a surgeon in China, but also trained as a doctor of herbal medicine and acupuncture. She champions an integrated approach to health that is balanced between the traditions of the East and West.

I suffer from a chronically underactive thyroid gland, a condition shared by several members of my family. This results in a lack of the hormone thyroxine which, among other functions, regulates the pace of our metabolism. Thyroid deficiency affects many sites in the body, such as the skin, joints and hair. It also contributes to weight gain, tiredness and depression. None of these things is serious in itself; collectively they can be disabling. I can monitor my condition by how much my hands claw in the mornings, my joints ache, my waistline thickens or I am suddenly poleaxed with exhaustion at almost exactly four o’clock in the afternoon.

Since my condition was diagnosed by my GP in the early Nineties, I’ve been taking thyroxine in increasing dosages. Five or six years ago, on a visit to Toronto, I heard about Dr Xiaolan from my friend Michael Ondaatje, the author of The English Patient (Minghella directed the film). He spoke of her as a great spirit, suggesting that she had saved many of his friends from invasive surgery by using traditional Chinese medicine. I went to see her. And I found her to be remarkable.

Source - Times

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

NITS are the bane of every parent's life

NITS are the bane of every parent's life, but there are some extremely effective natural solutions.

Head lice lay their eggs very close to the scalp, but attached to the hairs so that, as the hair grows, the egg is moved away from the scalp. The 'glue' is extremely strong: the eggs cannot simply be combed out of untreated hair.
A simple base shampoo with tea tree and lavender essential oils added is useful, but washing the hair is not enough. To get rid of lice, massage rosemary and cedarwood hair treatment (£7 for 75g) into the hair.

And coconut oil makes the hair smooth and slippery so the lice lose their grip. After applying, comb through the hair with a fine nit comb and again one hour later. It takes seven to ten days for lice to hatch from their eggs, so it is important to repeat this treatment on a weekly basis until no more lice are present. Bug Buster combs (£1.75) are recommended by the Department of Health.

If the lice are very persistent, boil up some Quassia chips (75p for 25g) and, after allowing to cool a little, use the warm infusion as a final rinse. It tastes very bitter, so don't get any in your mouth.

Source - Scotsman

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Sleepy in the car?

I always keep a bottle of Litsea Essential Oil (£4.35 for 10ml) in the car, as I find it more effective than coffee in helping me stay alert behind the wheel. I put about four drops on a hankie and inhale from time to time. It can also be used in a burner, diluted in a massage oil or added to a warm bath.

Litsea essential oil is steam-distilled from the small, pepper-like fruits of a plant commonly called may chang, which grows wild from north-east India to south Vietnam. It is a non-toxic and non-irritant oil that is soothing and uplifting. It is used to treat stress-related tension, which may cause conditions such as headaches, high blood pressure, travel sickness, indigestion, flatulence and muscular aches. It has similarly been used to ease arrhythmias.

Source - Scotsman

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Thursday, July 31, 2003

Ancient headache cures proven effective

Many ancient headache treatments, recorded by Persian physicians, have been proven in modern-day studies to be effective pain relievers according to a new German report.

Medieval Persian texts revealing that opium and cannabis were often used, as well as oil from willow trees - from which aspirin was derived centuries later - suggest that many other such remedies should be scientifically tested for therapeutic value as well, says Dr Ali Gorji, of the Institute for Physiology, Munster University, in Germany, in a report in the journal Trends in Pharmacological Sciences."

Despite progress in the development of therapy in recent years, effective and potent drugs are still required for the treatment of headache," Gorji says. "The search for new pharmacologically active analgesics obtained from plants has led to the discovery of some clinically useful drugs that, during the past two centuries, have played a major role in the treatment of human diseases. However, most medicinal plants prescribed by Persian physicians remain largely unexamined.

"Persian headache treatments go back to the 6th century BC, but physicians there in the medieval era scrupulously observed and diagnosed different headache types and assembled much information on traditional remedies from ancient Greece, Egypt, India and China to augment their own innovative treatment arsenal, he says.

In turn, Persian medical theories and knowledge were brought to the West during the renaissance and some of them have influenced medicine ever since, although they are little recognised as such.

"Medieval Persian physicians described the treatment of headache using many substances with variable modes of action. They attributed the therapeutic actions of plants to a specific analgesic, sedative or prophylactic drug property of variable strength," he says.

Their medicines were mainly applied topically to the head: they were mixed with vinegar, the head was shaved and the skin was washed with water and salt to increase their penetration. To reduce side-effects and dilute potent substances, some were mixed with flour, egg white, or milk. Others were given orally, nasally and rectally.

Treatment plans, which recognised trauma and environmental factors as the causes of some headaches, included abstinence from certain foods or activities, foot and head massage, as well as the use of ointments, essential oils and even leeches. All are finding renewed favour in mainstream and alternative medicine today.

Medicine cabinet in the garden

But it is the long list of medicinal herbs and plant extracts - some of them toxic in large doses – recorded in these old documents that Gorji believes may hold hidden chemical treasures. They include garlic, camomile, artemisia, deadly nightshade, camphor, caraway, frankincense, myrrh, saffron, spearmint, turmeric, henna, Spanish lavender, gum arabic and rose oil.

Myrrh, for example, has been shown to delay the onset of pain in mice through its interaction with the brain receptors for narcotic drugs such as opium. Opium poppy itself - and cannabis - was widely used by the Persians for strong pain and was applied to the skin or ingested.

Garlic contains antioxidants and other active compounds that may inhibit some of the causes of migraines, and frankincense has been shown to have pain-relieving and sedative effects in rats. Rose oil, which was prescribed for recurrent unilateral and bilateral headaches, contains several active substances including eugenol, which acts on pain receptors in the spinal cord in rats.

"Medieval Persian physicians accumulated all the existing information on medicine at that time and added to this knowledge their own astute observations and experimentation, with the introduction of many new remedies," said Gorij. "Such information provides comprehensive data on clinical remedies based on centuries of experience in the field of headache, and thus might help the testing of the probable benefits of these remedies for the treatment of cephalic pain [headache]."

Source ABC Science