Wednesday, February 28, 2007

'I would become a raging monster'

For two weeks every month Sue Scarlett used to become what she calls a "raging monster". Normally laid back, Sue, 37, from Essex, became terrified by the changes that came over her for half her life. She would spend days weeping for no reason, flying into irrational rages and even contemplated suicide. "My symptoms started getting really bad when I was 27, but I thought it was the relationship that I was in that was making me feel weepy, anxious and generally very sensitive at certain times," she said.

Dan managed to get Sue home and together they researched natural remedies. They discovered that eating carbohydrates every two-and-a half hours helped balance her moods and increase her serotonin production. Vitamin B12 was also a great help in keeping her nervous system balanced. She also asked her GP for a mild anti-depressant, avoided alcohol, exercised more, took multi-vitamins and ensured she got a good night's sleep. Sue says the results have been dramatic. "I have managed to reclaim most of my life. "I do still have severe PMS at times but generally only for about five days, and nowhere as bad as previously. I can still get ratty, but it has been made bearable." Sue and Dan have stayed together throughout her ordeal and plan to marry later this year.

Source - BBC

Labels: , , , , , , ,

We are more than our individual parts

Psychoanalyst Darian Leader says doctors need to treat more than the physical symptoms. "Doctors don’t listen to us. That’s one of the reasons for the growth in complementary medicines. No matter what their medical benefits, they treat patients as individuals and not just the sum of their parts. What concerns me is that by not listening to patients, doctors and other health professionals are not only making patients feel excluded, they are missing out on information about their history that could reveal the true root of their medical problem."

One bestselling textbook for medical students pays lip service to the doctor-patient relationship, telling doctors to indicate to the patient that they recognise their experiences. Then it explains why: “Otherwise the patient may tend to believe that the clinician has not got things right, which increases the risk of the patient not adhering to the recommendations that follow.” In other words, it makes it more likely that the doctor will be obeyed.

It wasn’t always like this. Just before the Second World War doctors were lamenting how the study of disease had begun to overshadow the study of the patient. They recognised that illness was not an isolated physical problem but something that concerned the whole person and his or her relationships with others. Then, but not now.

Now patients are shunted from consultant to consultant, each one unable to follow a patient for long, removing any possibility of learning about their ways of coping, reacting and dealing with their lives. The patient is alienated in a chain of medical procedures, and any chance of studying the relationship between illness and the person as a whole has been lost.

Until the mid1950s, it was not uncommon for a psychotherapist or psychiatrist to receive referrals from a dentist. Yet today this would be a newsworthy event. What happened? In a series of papers in learned dentistry books and journals in the 1940s, psychological factors were recognised as bringing about changes in the saliva and gums that encourage bacterial activity.

Medical students, for example, have higher rates of dental decay after exam time than at other less tense moments. Nighttime gnashing of teeth has been linked to a psychological state in hundreds of studies.

Yet, today, teeth problems simply mean a trip to the dentist. Case closed. Does the patient lose out here? I heard about a dentist who diagnosed constant clamping of the jaw at night in a patient who was an artist, a painter. The dentist advised on dental procedures but didn’t ask any questions of the patient. So he was unaware that the symptoms had started when the painter knew that a canvas she was particularly attached to was going to be sold. Once she realised that it was her wish not to part with the painting that produced her jaw clamping, the nocturnal symptoms disappeared.

It’s a similar tale with eyes. Psychiatrists once received many referrals from ophthalmologists, yet today this would be seen as bizarre. In 1960, a paper in Psychosomatic Medicine estimated that between 40 and 100 per cent of recorded eye disorders were influenced by psychological factors. Intraocular pressure, for example, can be associated with states of anxiety, and may influence conditions such as glaucoma. But today, drug treatments are applied almost automatically.
The move away from listening to patients to looking at bare physical facts is reflected in the way that we now regard the only authoritative research as being about numbers, not people.

Source - Times

Labels: , , , , ,

Gut feeling for a good remedy

Targeting stress was key to curing a painful bowel complaint, says Emma Mahony

It wasn’t until Melanie Smith sought help from a homoeopath a year ago to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that she was able to look back on seven years of suffering and see it for what it was: stress-related. “Just discovering that I was pregnant, with the stress of a major life change, triggered a flare-up,” says Smith, 35, mother of two boys, 3 and 18 months.

Like many of the million sufferers in the UK, Smith was in the dark as to why she was afflicted until that realisation. But while the cause of IBS, the most common of all diseases diagnosed by gastroenterologists, is often hard to pinpoint, the symptoms follow a traditional pattern: swelling, soreness and bloating in the stomach, either constipation or diarrhoea, and occasional blood and mucus. The unpleasant condition had dogged Smith since the age of 27, but she had learnt to live with it while holding down a demanding job as a modern-languages teacher at a secondary school in Surrey.

Conventional medicine did not help. She visited her GP twice at the onset, and was referred to a specialist gastroenterologist, a surgical consultant and a medical consultant, as well as having a colonoscopy to check for ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. “The colonoscopy showed inflammation,” Smith recalls, “but it was inconclusive and I found it an ordeal.” While IBS affects between 10 and 20 per cent of the UK’s population at any given time, treating it is not always effective. People with IBS have what appears to be a disturbance in the interaction between the gut, the brain and the autonomic nervous system that regulates the bowels, and anything from diet, levels of serotonin (the mood-controlling hormone) to emotional factors are cited as the cause.

Before she became pregnant four years ago, Smith had tried dietary changes to improve her symptoms, preparing fruit and vegetable juices. But as a vegetarian who ate some fish, she considered her diet to be good. At the same time, she was given medication prescribed by the hospital. “I had blind faith in my treatment,” she says, “and I didn’t see it as a long-term problem.”

That all changed after the pregnancy and birth of her first child. “I had been told by a GP that during pregnancy the condition can get better, but mine was bad throughout. Then, postnatally, I had a huge flare-up, and was prescribed a high dosage of steroids, which gave me steroid psychosis in which I ballooned up and I went a bit loopy.” Coming off the steroids, Smith began to question her treatment, particularly because she was seeing a lot of different specialists.

When she fell pregnant and gave birth for the second time a year later, the condition flared up again, and again she was prescribed steroids. “I thought that they must know what they were doing,” says Smith. But she had chronic diarrhoea, requiring about 20 visits to the bathroom day and night, and she started losing weight. “I was breast-feeding, but all I could do was lie on the sofa with my two-year-old reading, cuddling the baby, while my mother cooked and cleaned.”

Feeling deeply depressed, Smith agreed to a friend’s suggestion of homoeopathy. And so, seven months after the birth of her second child, she went to see Kate Mead, a London-based homoeopath, last February. Nothing could have prepared her for the transformation. “She looked washed out,” recalls Mead, who had worked in the NHS for ten years as an auxiliary nurse before qualifying as a homoeopath from the Contemporary College of Homoeopathy in Exeter.

Source - Times

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Salsa is an answer to the blues

An epidemic is sweeping the Western world. One in five of us is already suffering the symptoms and the numbers are set to grow. And what is this rampant disease? Bird flu? Obesity? No. Depression. Russell Jones, a mental health nurse writing in Nursing Times (Sept 26), says that dire warnings from the World Health Organisation about the growing prevalence of depression mean that nurses must be extra vigilant about screening patients.

But he questions whether we are right to be so alarmed. Pharmaceutical companies make huge profits from anti-depressants, he says, while research creates ever more complex types of depression.

“Surely the key should be to look at the whole person over time and accept the vital roles that friends, family, faith, music, art and exercise can play in recovery.”

Acknowledging the distressing nature of depression, he points out that in a society obsessed with quick fixes, “the pressure to diagnose and prescribe often prevails”.

But a study at the University of Derby recenlty showed that Salsa dancing may help tackle depression. After nine weeks of dance classes participants recorded lower depression scores. Matt Birks, senior lecturer in mental health said salso could be an alternative therapy.

Source - Times

Labels: ,

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Herbal Supplement Fails To Relieve Hot Flashes In Large NIH Trial

The herbal supplement black cohosh, whether used alone or with other botanical supplements, did not relieve hot flashes in postmenopausal women or those approaching menopause, who participated in the Herbal Alternatives (HALT) for Menopause Study, according to results from the clinical trial. The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that women using menopausal hormone therapy, however, did receive significant relief from their hot flashes and night sweats.

The 12-month randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, compared several herbal regimens and menopausal hormone therapy (estrogen with or without progesterone) to placebo in women ages 45 to 55.

The HALT Study was conducted by Katherine M. Newton, Ph.D., of the Group Health Center for Health Studies, Seattle, and the University of Washington, and colleagues. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), two components of NIH, funded the research. The findings are reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"In recent years, scientific studies have raised questions about the safety of certain types of menopausal hormone therapy in some women. Interest has grown in alternatives to hormones, including herbal supplements, for controlling hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause," says NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. "Testing the safety and efficacy of various treatments in randomized clinical trials such as HALT is critically important in helping women in mid-life and their doctors to make informed choices."

Three-hundred and fifty-one women, ages 45 to 55, took part in the HALT Study, conducted at the Seattle-based Group Health Center for Health Studies. Each participant was experiencing at least two hot flashes and/or night sweats daily at the start of the study. The women were approaching menopause, having missed at least one menstrual cycle in the preceding 12 months, or were postmenopausal, having had no menstrual cycle in at least 12 months. Researchers included women who were perimenopausal (or in the menopause transition) because most previous studies looked only at postmenopausal women, who tend to have fewer symptoms than women going through menopause.

Source - Medical News Today

Labels: , ,

Nutrition the key to beating the bottle

Ever more doctors believe that a diet of fish, high-cholesterol food and vitamins is the best cure for alcoholism

The news earlier this year that Britons are the heaviest drinkers and the most obese in Europe is no coincidence to Dr James Braly, the author of Nutrition Revolution and Dangerous Grains. Braly, though still a lonely voice, belongs to a growing band of alternative practitioners who believe that nutrition and alcoholism are intrinsically linked. In Braly’s addiction recovery centre, Bridging the Gaps, based in Winchester, Virginia, the emphasis is placed squarely on diet rather than drugs.
“Patients are first hooked up to an IV [intravenous drip] for ten days and fed high levels of fish oils (3 and 6), vitamins B and C, calcium, magnesium and zinc because their gastrointestinal systems have been grossly compromised by their habit,” he says. “This is followed with a wholefood diet (including four to six servings of fish a day, as well as high-cholesterol foods such as eggs), exercise and therapy. The combination has meant that 85 per cent of my patients do not succumb to a relapse. Coffee is also forbidden because it raises cortisol levels, reduces dopamine and leads to cravings of carbohydrates and sugar.”

Braly’s theory is that most alcoholics are depressed, and that depression and low cholestoral are linked. Ergo, by attacking depression with high-cholesterol foods such as eggs and foods high in mood-boosting amino acids, such as fish, patients are more open to the therapy needed to beat their addiction. The severity of “abstinence symptoms” (cravings, anxiety, fuzzy thinking, restlessness) are radically reduced within the first few days of his treatment, he says, allowing patients to be receptive to counselling and exercise programmes.

Source - Times

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 22, 2006

Herbal Supplement Fails To Relieve Hot Flashes In Large NIH Trial

The herbal supplement black cohosh, whether used alone or with other botanical supplements, did not relieve hot flashes in postmenopausal women or those approaching menopause, who participated in the Herbal Alternatives (HALT) for Menopause Study, according to results from the clinical trial. The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that women using menopausal hormone therapy, however, did receive significant relief from their hot flashes and night sweats.

The 12-month randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, compared several herbal regimens and menopausal hormone therapy (estrogen with or without progesterone) to placebo in women ages 45 to 55.

The HALT Study was conducted by Katherine M. Newton, Ph.D., of the Group Health Center for Health Studies, Seattle, and the University of Washington, and colleagues. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), two components of NIH, funded the research. The findings are reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"In recent years, scientific studies have raised questions about the safety of certain types of menopausal hormone therapy in some women. Interest has grown in alternatives to hormones, including herbal supplements, for controlling hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause," says NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. "Testing the safety and efficacy of various treatments in randomized clinical trials such as HALT is critically important in helping women in mid-life and their doctors to make informed choices."

Three-hundred and fifty-one women, ages 45 to 55, took part in the HALT Study, conducted at the Seattle-based Group Health Center for Health Studies. Each participant was experiencing at least two hot flashes and/or night sweats daily at the start of the study. The women were approaching menopause, having missed at least one menstrual cycle in the preceding 12 months, or were postmenopausal, having had no menstrual cycle in at least 12 months. Researchers included women who were perimenopausal (or in the menopause transition) because most previous studies looked only at postmenopausal women, who tend to have fewer symptoms than women going through menopause.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I was frozen to improve my health

The latest alternative health fad is ‘whole body cryotherapy’.

This rather bizarre sounding treatment involves exposing yourself to extremely cold, dry air in a sealed room for up to three minutes at a time.

In Poland cryotherapy has become a popular treatment for rejuvenating and revitalising the body. It is also widely used by eastern European athletes as an alternative to the ‘ice bath’ to aid post-training recovery.

But it seems there could be also serious medical uses for the treatment. Some experts claim it can alleviate the painful symptoms of everything from rheumatism and osteoporosis to multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome and depression, and even suggest it as an anti-cellulite and skin-firming treatment.

Cryotherapy apparently shrinks the molecules in the body and then, when you emerge from the cold, the molecules then expand, increasing the blood flow which then helps ease pain and swelling, as well as fighting inflammation.

Source - Daily Mail

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Health shops give bad advice on depression

Only one in 13 drugs recommended by health shops to treat depression is proven to work, according to a survey published today based on health food shops in a city centre. Staff were more likely to prescribe multivitamins than St John's Wort, the only alternative medicine scientifically proved to have an effect.
Ginseng, liquid tonic, cat's claw, ginkgo biloba and royal jelly were also suggested as treatments, despite some having "potentially serious drug interactions".

The findings, published today in Psychiatric Bulletin, the journal from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, emerged after Joyce Reed, a junior doctor at St James's university hospital in Leeds, surveyed staff at 10 health food shops within three miles of Leeds city centre. Dr Reed turned up or rang as a customer with a range of symptoms typical of moderate depression, including lethargy, poor concentration, weight loss and weepiness.
Most of the staff asked extra questions but only two asked if a GP had been consulted, and only three asked about depression. Only one pointed out she was not medically trained. They made no response when Dr Reed claimed to be taking oral contraceptives, despite evidence that St John's wort can affect the pill.

Dr Reed, and her co-author Peter Trigwell, a consultant psychiatrist at Leeds general infirmary, admit that the "public nature" of health food shops may lead staff to avoid asking personal questions. But they were concerned that "staff are unlikely to warn customers about potential interactions and adverse side effects".

Last month the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists warned that alternative remedies used to treat menopausal symptoms could cause problems. Difficulties include interacting with the blood-thinning agent warfarin and anti-depressants.

Source - Guardian

Labels: ,

Latitude granted to homeopathy infuriates medical establishment

New regulations allowing homeopathic remedies to put therapeutic claims on labels must be annulled, says the medical establishment. Lord Taverne, chairman of the charity Sense About Science, tabled a debate yesterday in the Lords on the rules, which he described as "disgraceful".
The rules allow remedies to be licensed based on observed symptoms and to be labelled to indicate what ailments they purport to treat. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said the rules could improve consumer information. But hundreds of scientists, doctors and scientific societies have expressed concern. "It has come as a shock to the medical and scientific world," said Lord Taverne: "What is at issue here is the notion of trust between the public and drug regulation."

Source Guardian


Alarm as homeopathic treatments are free to make health claims without trials

Lives will be put at risk by a controversial law which allows homeopathic medicines to make unproven scientific claims, leading doctors have warned.

More than 700 medics, scientists and members of the public have signed a statement criticising a new law which they say makes a mockery out of conventional medicine.

The Government's medicines safety watchdog says the change gives patients clearer information. But critics fear that giving legitimacy to pills and potions that are based on 'magic' rather than science will cost lives.

One expert likened the change to categorising Smarties as a medicine, on the basis that chocolate makes you feel better.

Homeopathy, which has won the backing of Prince Charles, claims to prevent diseases such as malaria by using dilute forms of herbs, minerals and other materials that in higher concentrations could produce the symptoms of the condition.

Popular treatments include arnica, a plant-based remedy used to treat cuts and bruises, and malaria nosode, anti-malaria tablets made from African swamp water, rotting plants and mosquito eggs and larvae.

However, a recent study published in the Lancet suggested that the benefits of homeopathy are all in the imagination, with alternative remedies performing no better than dummy pills in clinical trials.

Until recently, homeopathic medicine manufacturers were banned from claiming new products could treat specific ailments.

But regulations introduced last month by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency allow the manufacturers to make such claims, as long as they can prove the remedy is safe.

Source - Daily Mail

Labels: ,

Catch of the day - Should we be giving our children fish oil supplements? Lucy Atkins examines the evidence

When 12-year-old Thomas Wood was given fish oil supplements last year, the transformation seemed dramatic. "The change in him was amazing," says his father, Frank, a postman. "He became very organised. He started waking up early and was keen to learn. His teacher couldn't believe how well he did in his Sats - he managed to get all fours, which was incredible for him. Seeing him in his last class assembly, we were amazed. Usually you could pick him out because he'd be jumping around, but he was sitting still, calm. Everyone noticed the difference."

Thomas was given the supplements as part of an initiative by Middlesbrough LEA to see whether they could improve the academic performance and concentration of children aged eight to 11. Others have followed. This academic year, education chiefs at Durham county council offered £1m worth of donated Eye Q fish oil supplements to 5,000 GCSE students. Parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, dyslexia or dyspraxia may already be aware of promising research into the role of fish oils. But now fish oil supplements are hitting the mainstream as the newest dietary must-have for diligent parents everywhere. Bung your child a brainy pill with his muesli, the hype goes, and he will become serene, reasonable and perform brilliantly in spelling tests. It is a tempting proposition.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found naturally in oily fish such as mackerel, sardines or salmon, have long been known to be important for brain function (not to mention heart health). The problem is that our modern diet - even post-Jamie Oliver - contains paltry amounts of oily fish (only fresh, not tinned, tuna counts). Most children are therefore officially deficient in omega-3. Brands such as St Ivel, Flora, Müller or Kingsmill have already cottoned on to this deficit's market potential and are bunging omega-3s in everything from yogurt to sliced bread. But the real revolution is happening in the supplements aisle where vitamin manufacturers from Sanatogen to Bassets are offering chewy, strawberry-flavoured fish oil supplements aimed at kids and their doting parents.

This all sounds quite useful - after all, who wants to force a kipper down their six-year-old's throat twice a week? The only problem is a lack of evidence that fish oils help to develop mentally normal kids.

Here is what we know: scientists have established pretty convincingly that healthy adults who have relatively low levels of omega-3 in their bloodstream are more likely to be mildly depressed, pessimistic and impulsive than those who have high levels of omega-3. There is good evidence to show that omega-3 supplements can reduce the symptoms of depression in adults. Preliminary studies also show that omega-3 could help adults with conditions such as schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder. When it comes to children's behaviour and academic performance, however, the evidence is more mixed.

Source - Guardian

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Speedy recovery

Can yoga or Pilates help back pain? Should you go for the burn when you've got a cold? Peta Bee on how to exercise with an illness or injury

Gym junkies swear that working out is a hard-core cure-all - it keeps the blood circulating to areas that need healing and sweats out severe colds. Are they aware, however, that exercise-related injuries are on the increase?
According to figures from Bupa Sports Injury clinics, up to 50,000 people suffer some form of sports injury every day, while research at the University of Arkansas revealed that there has been a 35% rise in gym injuries since the 80s. And with the flu season now upon us, many of even the most enthusiastic exercisers will be deliberating whether or not to hit the treadmill.

In some cases, experts say, persevering with your workouts can enhance recovery from illness and injury; in others, it can hamper it.
How to negotiate this minefield? Professor Thomas Weidner, director of athletic training at Ball State university, Indiana and a leading researcher in the effect of exercise on colds (and vice versa), says a consistent gym programme "pumps the immune system" and keeps us from getting colds in the first place. But if you do get a bout of the sniffles, should you forgo your gym sessions until you recover? Weidner says the decision should initially depend on how poorly you are feeling and "always listen to your body".

A useful strategy is to assess the severity of your cold. If you have a runny nose, sneezing or a sore throat (what Weidner calls "above-the-neck" symptoms), it is probably safe to exercise at a low intensity - walking, cycling or yoga - and it may even boost the activity of illness-fighting white blood cells. If, however, you are suffering from extreme tiredness, muscle-aches or feverish symptoms (below-the-neck), stay at home with a hot-water bottle.

According to guidelines from the American Council on Exercise - a consumer watchdog on the fitness industry - allow at least two weeks for a full recovery if you have flu-like symptoms. Mild colds, though, are different. In various recent studies, Weidner and his colleagues inoculated subjects with rhinovirus and then asked them to follow either a moderate exercise regime (half-hour workouts at 70% of their maximum heart rates on treadmills, bikes or steppers for five days a week), or to remain mostly sedentary, except for a shortish walk to work. While the exercisers said they felt better after their gym sessions, there was no difference in symptoms between the groups.

"Nobody feels good when they have a head cold, but research says people can exercise," Weidner says. "It found that cold symptoms do not get worse after working out and that athletic performance does not suffer during light to moderate exercise. Neither the severity nor duration of symptoms seem to be affected."

Among the most common injuries to sporty types are pulled or torn leg muscles. Claire Small, a spokeswoman for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, who specialises in treating musculoskeletal problems, says laying off workouts for a few days after pulling a muscle is essential: the healing process begins with an inflammatory response that can last for three to five days. "This is a crucial time during which rest - protection of the injured muscle is vital in order to prevent any further damage," Small says. "During the inflammatory reaction, the body produces chemicals and cells that remove dead muscle fibres and start the repair process."

Source - Guardian


Saturday, September 30, 2006

Menopause alternative remedy fear

Women who swap hormone replacement therapy for alternative therapies to treat menopause symptoms risk harming themselves, doctors say.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists also warned women not to expect too much from the therapies.

They said there was some evidence they reduced hot flushes, but there was also a risk of stomach upset and rashes.

In one case, a woman even needed a liver transplant after taking the herb black cohosh.

Source: BBC News

Labels: , , ,


Natural medicine is based on the principle of enhancing well-being, not just removing the symptoms of illness. Herbs do not require sophisticated processing and they don't create harmful waste or side-effects. They work with the body to help us get well if we are sick, or they can help defend the body from disease.

Source: Scotsman


Vitamin 'may block MS disability'

A recent study suggests that vitamin shots may help protect multiple sclerosis patients from severe long-term disability.

Currently, there is no effective treatment for the chronic progressive phase of MS, when serious disability is most likely to appear.

Researchers cut the risk of nerve degeneration in mice with MS-type symptoms by giving them a form of vitamin B3 called nicotinamide.

The Children's Hospital Boston study appears in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Source: BBC News

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Can Naturopathic Remedies Fight Cancer, Hot Flushes?

FRIDAY, Aug 18 (HealthDay News) -- Advocates for naturopathic remedies say their treatments may help fight menopausal symptoms, depression and even cancer.

For example, "bio-identical hormone therapy" looks promising for relieving the symptoms of menopause, one study found, while an age-old herbal remedy for cancer is proving effective -- at least in the laboratory and in animals.

That's according to naturopathic physicians presenting their research at the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians annual meeting, held earlier this month in Portland. Ore.

Naturopathic physicians are trained in "natural" health care at accredited medical colleges, according to the AANP. Their approach is based on the belief that it is the nature of all things to return to balance. Treatments include dietary changes, counseling for lifestyle modification, herbal medicine, nutritional supplements and homeopathy.

"Bio-identical hormones," a natural alternative to synthetic hormone replacement therapy, were effective in reducing the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause, said lead researcher Dr. Jan M. Siebert, a naturopathic physician in Pleasant Prairie, Wis.

Source: Health Day News

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 31, 2006

Safety warning given for popular herb

LONDON (Reuters) - Black cohosh, a herb popular for relieving hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause, may be linked with liver damage and products containing it will in future carry a warning, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said on Tuesday.

The drug regulator said a review of all available data had concluded that liver injury resulting from black cohosh was rare but could be serious.

"In the light of this advice, the MHRA is working with the herbal sector to ensure that labels of black cohosh products carry updated safety warnings," Professor Kent Wood, the agency's chief executive, said in a statement.

Source: - Scotsman

Labels: , , ,

Friday, June 30, 2006

Cannabis effects on MS trialled

Patients are being recruited for a trial to determine whether chemicals in cannabis can slow the impact of multiple sclerosis. #

Evidence suggests the drug may relieve symptoms but the three-year national trial is also to determine whether it slows the disease's progress.

It is estimated that 85,000 people in the UK have multiple sclerosis (MS).

Prof John Zajicek, of the Peninsula Medical School and Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, will lead the research.

Source: BBC News


Sunday, April 30, 2006

Herb 'no aid to prostate health'

A herb extract for men with a prostate condition has no more effect on it than a dummy version, a study has found.

Saw palmetto is taken to improve urinary symptoms in men with an enlarged prostate gland.

US researchers carried out a year-long study of 225 men, none of whom knew if they were taking the real herb or not.

Prostate experts in the UK said the New England Journal of Medicine study contradicted anecdotal reports from men of benefits from saw palmetto.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, March 31, 2006

Doctors 'recommend cannabis use'

One in six people who take cannabis for pain relief say their doctor advised them to use it, a survey suggests.

The UK survey, published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, asked just under 1,000 people about their use of the drug.

Almost 70% said cannabis significantly relieved their symptoms - 45% said it worked better than prescribed drugs.

But the British Medical Association said it had never heard of a doctor recommending the drug.


Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Red clover may combat hot flushes

Scientists are testing an extract of red clover as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy for symptoms of the menopause, such as hot flushes.

The extract contains chemicals called isoflavones, which mimic the effects of the female sex hormone oestrogen.

A study will be carried out by Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital's menopause and PMS centre.

Source - BBC News


Sunday, July 31, 2005

Popular 'cold cure' herbs useless, study finds

MILLIONS swear by it, but according to a new study, the herbal remedy echinacea does nothing at all to help treat the common cold.

As part of the research, which took place in America, 399 healthy patients were given either extracts from an echinacea plant or a dummy preparation which did not contain any of the plant.

The patients were then exposed to the common cold virus and their symptoms recorded.

Scientists found patients who took an echinacea plant extract fared no better than those who took a dummy treatment.

Source - Western Mail

Labels: ,

Quit smoking to save your teeth

So, if cancer, ageing skin and bad breath weren't enough of an insentive for you there is now this:-

Smokers who give up are much less likely to lose their teeth prematurely than those who do not kick the habit, research shows.

A team at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne studied cigarette smokers with chronic gum disease - which can lead to loss of teeth - over one year.

They found some symptoms were more likely to improve in the people who quit during the study period.

The research is published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

Source BBC News

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Calcium, Vitamin D may reduce PMS

Women searching for ways to ward off the anxiety and irritability caused by premenstrual syndrome may be able to find answers as nearby as their local supermarket.

A study published Monday finds that a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D -- available in milk, cheese, yogurt and fortified orange juice -- appears to help women reduce the risk of PMS symptoms.

The findings support earlier research indicating calcium seems to help women cope with PMS. But the new study also suggests that when calcium is combined with enough vitamin D, it may help prevent PMS altogether.

"It seems that women who eat more foods high in calcium and vitamin D have less risk of experiencing PMS," said the study's lead author, Dr. Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson of the University of Massachusetts. "It's very exciting, and could end up being good news for many women out there."

She said, however, that the research is too preliminary to recommend diet changes for women in general and that more thorough studies are needed.

Source -

Labels: , ,

Cannabis' may help mentally ill

Chemicals found in cannabis could be used to relieve symptoms of severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, researchers have claimed.

The drug itself has previously been linked to an increased risk of developing such conditions.

But a University of Newcastle team, writing in the Journal of Psychopharmacology said cannabinoids might help.

Source BBC News


Saturday, April 30, 2005

Hypnosis could banish hay-fever

Hay fever sufferers could benefit from using self-hypnosis, researchers say.

A Swiss team at Basel University taught 66 people with hay-fever the art of hypnosis and found it helped them alleviate symptoms such as runny nose.

The volunteers also took their regular anti-hay-fever drugs, but the effect of hypnosis appeared to be additive and reduce the doses they needed to take.

The findings appear in the medical journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

Source BBC News


Cannabis drug approval buoys firm

Shares in GW Pharmaceuticals rose nearly 9.5% after the UK biotech firm's prescription cannabis drug was approved for use in Canada.

Sativex is used to treat the central nervous system and alleviate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The Salisbury-based company said this was the world's first approval of a medicine derived from cannabis.

Delays in development of the product - its first to come to the market - has hit GW's stock price in the past.

Source BBC News


Saturday, January 01, 2005

Recognising a stroke

I was sent this in my e-mail and felt it was important to share. I have rewritten it a bit to make it more universal. I'll try to keep it at top position as long as possible.

Valuable information for everyone to keep in their memory bank.

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed and getting to the patient within 3 hours which is tough.


Susie is recouperating at an incredible pace for someone who has had a massive stroke all because Sherry saw Susie stumble - - that is the key that isn't mentioned below - and then she asked Susie 3 questions. So simple - but this literally saved Susie's life - - Some angel sent it to Suzie's friend and she did just what it said to do. Suzie failed all three points and her friend called the emergency services.

Even though she had normal blood pressure readings and did not appear to be a stroke victim as she could converse to some extent with the Paramedics they took her to the hospital right away. Thank goodness for her friend's good sense.

Read and Learn!

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify.

Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

1. Ask the individual to SMILE.
2. Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
3. Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (ie . It is sunny out today).

If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call the emergency services immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

After discovering that a group of non-medical volunteers could identify facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems, researchers urged thegeneral public to learn the three questions.
They presented their conclusions at the American Stroke Association's annual meeting last February.

Widespread use of this test could result in prompt diagnosis and treatment of the stroke and help prevent brain damage.

A cardiologist says if everyone who reads this tells another 10 people, you can bet that at least one life will be saved.


Origina author Laura Hoskinson


Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Flower oil 'no good for eczema'

A popular alternative eczema treatment called "starflower oil" has little impact on the condition, say doctors.

Patients given the extract fared no better than those trying a placebo drug, experiments found.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, is also bad news for those using Evening Primrose Oil to tackle eczema.

It shares the same ingredient as starflower oil, though in different concentrations.
"Starflower oil" is actually an extract of borage, a herb which grows in the UK.

It has been suggested that it could have an anti-inflammatory effect which could ease the symptoms of eczema.

Source BBC News

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, January 31, 2002

Herbal treatment for hayfever

A herbal extract is as effective as conventional medicines for treating hayfever, research has suggested.

A team of Swiss researchers found that not only is the extract, butterbur, as effective as antihistamines for treating hayfever, it does not have the sedative effects often associated with the drugs.

The researchers gave 125 hayfever patients either butterbur extract tablets or a commonly-used non-sedating antihistamine called cetirizine.

After two weeks, the treatments had achieved similar effects.

However, even though cetirizine is considered a non-sedating medicine, it still produced more symptoms of drowsiness than the herbal remedy.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the researchers said: "We believe butterbur should be considered for treating hayfever, particularly in cases where the sedative effects of antihistamines need to be avoided."

Source BBC News


Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Caffeine 'can ease headaches'

A cup of tea or coffee might be able to tackle certain types of headache, say researchers.

The caffeine it contains could help a higher number of people gain complete relief from "tension headaches".

Caffeine is already routinely added to many painkilling medications, including some which can be bought over the counter at chemists, and the latest research confirms that it has therapeutic value against conventional headache symptoms.

But researchers at the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago also found that giving caffeine in isolation appeared to be as useful as giving standard pain relief.

In all, 58% of headache sufferers said that taking caffeine capsules was completely successful, the same proportion as in those taking ibruprofen only - and many said they felt better more swiftly.

Tension headaches involve constant, dull pain, although not generally as excrutiating as a migraine.

Source BBC News

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, October 23, 2001

Garlic 'prevents common cold'

People who take a garlic supplement each day are far less likely to fall victim to the common cold than those who do not, research suggests.

Although garlic has been traditionally used to fight off and treat the symptoms of the common cold, this is the first hard evidence of its medicinal properties.

However, more research will be needed to corroborate the data.

Source BBC News


Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Fruit extract helps beat period blues

A herbal remedy made from dried fruit extract could help ease the unpleasant period symptoms women suffer each month.

In the days leading up to their periods, millions of women suffer mood swings, headaches and sore breasts.

But scientists think a fruit extract first discovered by Greek sages nearly 2,500 years ago can be used to beat the period blues.

Up to 40% of women suffer from pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) so badly that they need to go to their GP and up to 2% have to take two days off a month sick.

Dieticians have given the research cautious support, but say they will be recommending women suffering from PMS try the extract.

German Researcher Rued Schellenberg from the Institute of Care and Science, near Frankfurt, found that women taking the fruit extract over three months suffered less from mood swings, anger, headaches and sore breasts than those who did not.

Agnus Castus

Better known as the fruit of the Chaste Tree.
Grows in valleys and riverbanks of the Mediterranean and Central Asia.
Has delicate violet flowers and finger shaped leaves.
Fruit is the size of a peppercorn and it has the taste and smell of pepper.

Source BBC News

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 31, 2000

Herb 'as effective as antidepressants'

The herb St John's wort is as effective as standard antidepressant therapy, according to a major research trial.

They found that an extract of the herb, known technically as Hypericum perforatum, was as effective at easing the symptoms of depression as the commonly used drug imipramine.

Scientists from the University of Giessen in Germany, are recommending that the herb should be considered as a first line treatment for patients with mild to moderate depression.
Britons spend around £5m a year on St John's wort and an estimated two million people have tried it.

However, the use of the herb to treat depression has been controversial.

The Medicines Control Agency (MCA) in the UK issued a warning earlier this year advising that the herb should not be used by women taking the contraceptive pill and patients on HIV, depression and migraine treatments.

Source BBC News

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 30, 1999

The uppa in the cuppa

Caffeine-filled cups of tea and coffee do not really provide the boost to mood and alertness that people think - they just beat withdrawal symptoms.

New research by Dr Peter Rogers, a psychologist from the University of Bristol, shows that caffeinated drinks have a "pick-me-up" effect only because they counter the tiredness, headaches, and slowing of reactions caused by withdrawal from caffeine in the first place.

Dr Rogers and his team found that caffeine gave the biggest lift when people were suffering from overnight caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

They conducted studies in which they gave people fruit juices with caffeine, and compared this with what happened when people were given a drink with no caffeine.

Not surprisingly, when they felt the caffeine-induced lift, people preferred the drink.

Source BBC News

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, July 31, 1999

Fruit tea linked to Parkinsonism

Tea made from tropical fruits such as the pawpaw has been linked to a higher rate of a condition with similar symptoms to Parkinson's Disease.

A study carried out in the French West Indies, where the drink is popular, found many patients with "atypical parkinsonism" as a result.

The conditions found were often as deadly as the progressive brain disorder, but started at an earlier age, and were resistant to standard Parkinson's Disease treatments.

Some patients' conditions improved when they stopped drinking the tea.

Source BBC News

Labels: , ,