The union of science and traditional medicine is a tricky business. The scientific method of identifying and objectively testing elements in food, medicinal plants and the environment is relatively new to the human experience. In generations past, observation and trial-and-error sufficed, and it still does for some populations and the majority of animals. Experiences are handed down from elders to the young and from non-scholastic healers to their communities. In some cases, advocates choose one of these philosophies over the other. But, increasingly, a middle ground is something both camps acknowledge may be the best of both worlds.
Tags: Ashwagandha, Cortisol, Stress
Posted in Diabetes, Diet and Weight Loss, Nutritional Supplements | 4 Comments & Updates
Dietary supplements fall into a somewhat murky part of the current healthcare pond. They’re not really food, but they generally contain elements found in food. They’re not really medications, but they often have medicinal effects. Because nutritional supplements straddle the world between traditional and modern medicine, they are frequently not used in an optimal manner.
Tags: Minerals, Probiotics, Vitamins
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 3 Comments & Updates
According the American Thyroid Association, over 20 million men, women and children have one form or another of thyroid disease. Over the course of the average lifetime, it is estimated that about 12% of the populace will fall into this category. Perhaps the most disconcerting part of this trend is that over 60% of those living with thyroid dysfunction are unaware of it. The consequences can be quite significant, putting unwitting individuals at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, depression, infertility, osteoporosis, pre-term pregnancies and beyond.
Tags: Gluten, Soy, Thyroid
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 4 Comments & Updates
One of the distinct pleasures of attending Natural Products Expo West is the opportunity to take part in some fascinating educational events. This year, three lectures in particular struck a cord with me. At the core of each presentation was a focus on specific supplements that have yet to break into the mainstream. However, based on the data that I’ve reviewed, this is likely to change in the near future.
Tags: aging, Memory, Osteoporosis
Posted in Bone and Joint Health, Memory, Nutritional Supplements | 4 Comments & Updates
In the most general sense, amino acids are building blocks or components of protein. Whenever you eat chicken, eggs, fish, nuts, seeds, steak, tofu, etc. you’re getting a large amount of a blend of essential amino acids. Without enough amino acids/protein, your body simply can’t function and repair itself as needed. Amino acids may also be used as supplements in individual or specific combinations. In this application, the amino acid(s) are usually taken in a purified form and apart from food in order to induce a therapeutic effect. A popular example is the use of L-arginine and/or L-citrulline to enhance blood flow via increased nitric oxide production – a vasodilator.
Tags: Anxiety, Mood, Sleep
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Mental Health, Nutritional Supplements | 2 Comments & Updates
One of the ironies of life is that we are often called on to perform at our very best during the busiest, most stressful times. This is understandable from a pragmatic, rational standpoint. Simply put, we do what’s required as best we can. But, that’s not to say that there aren’t tools available to help our brains adapt to such intense challenges.
Tags: Chocolate, Laughter, Meditation
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Memory, Nutritional Supplements | 35 Comments & Updates
Pharyngitis is the technical name for a sore throat. In most cases viral infections, such as the common cold or influenza, are responsible for the characteristic inflammation and swelling in the back of the throat or pharynx. Thankfully, there are some evidence-based alternatives that address sore throat prevention, recovery time and symptom severity.
Tags: Echinacea, Licorice, Zinc
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements | 7 Comments & Updates
Strong emotions have an upside and a downside. Even love can be harmful if it’s directed in an inappropriate way. This truism is particularly apt in the case of anger. Under ideal circumstances, anger can be a tool that changes circumstances of all kinds. The ire of a populace can alter unjust laws and regulations. A fiery exchange between friends or a couple can spur important conversations that can positively alter relationships. But, too much anger or anger that is held on to for prolonged periods of time, can literally damage your health.
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Mental Health, Nutritional Supplements | 11 Comments & Updates
One of the hottest new supplements in the natural health marketplace is Moringa oleifera. The leaves of this “miracle tree” are frequently described as an exotic “super food” because of their nutrient density and subtropical origin. So, on the one hand, you’ll often find organic, powdered forms of M. oleifera leaves in high-end health food stores. And, at the same time, a lesser processed version is sometimes used as an ingredient in the diets of poor communities where malnutrition is common.
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements | 6 Comments & Updates
Recently, I was asked an intriguing question that regularly comes up in my line of work. A friend of the site wondered whether eating too many “super foods” or going overboard on supplements can increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. There are two types of stroke: hemorrhagic and ischemic. According to the National Stroke Association, only about 15% of strokes are the hemorrhagic variety. This form of stroke involves bleeding in the brain caused by damaged or weakened arteries and blood vessels. Cerebral blood spills build up pressure in the cranium and subsequently damage the brain.
Tags: Aspirin, Ginkgo Biloba, Stroke
Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements | 9 Comments & Updates
It’s time to come clean. I’ve been putting off writing this blog for several days. The research was ready. I had a mental outline of what I wanted to say. But, I was concerned that I wouldn’t do the topic justice. And, perhaps more importantly, composing this column will make real for me an event that I so wish never happened: the death of Dr. Wayne Dyer at the young age of age 75.
Tags: Circulation, Diabetes, Pycnogenol
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements | 12 Comments & Updates
Alcohol abuse is a major health care and societal issue in the United States and around the world. Fortunately, there is greater awareness about alcoholism than ever before. And, consequently, there are now many treatment options available for those who are ready to seek help. But, even willing alcoholics sometimes find that conventional therapies aren’t sufficient to keep them “dry”. That’s where evidence-based, alternative and complementary options can make a big difference.
Tags: Addiction, Alcohol, Kudzu
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Mental Health, Nutritional Supplements | 5 Comments & Updates
In part one of this column, I mentioned that Parkinson’s disease (PD) is in the news on a weekly basis. Since writing that first piece, several articles about PD have appeared in various publications. Time magazine reports that diabetes drugs “may offer hope for Parkinson’s disease treatment”. EurekAlert, an influential science news resource, describes mounting evidence supporting the use of low-dose lithium to reduce involuntary muscle movements – a common side-effect of carbi- and levo-dopa treatment. There’s even a story about how some PD patients are literally fighting back against the disease by taking part in non-contact boxing.
Tags: CoQ10, Creatine, Parkinson's Disease
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 5 Comments & Updates
Scientific publications dating back to 1872 document the medicinal properties of Paullinia cupana, also known as guarana. Today, however, this herbal extract is primarily thought of as a caffeine source commonly used in “energy drinks”. Unfortunately, this form of reductionism is all too common. Modern medicine often times focuses on a specific attribute of any given food or remedy. Oranges are a good source of Vitamin C. Red wine contains resveratrol, an age-defying antioxidant. Oats provide a cholesterol-lowering pop of soluble fiber. All of these assertions are valid, but leave a lot by the wayside.
Tags: Cancer, Memory, Mood
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements | 6 Comments & Updates
Hormones play a pivotal role in sexual desire in both men and women. Perhaps the most recognizable examples are the changes that are precipitated during andropause and menopause. Prescription hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can address some of the symptoms of these processes. But, HRT is not without contra-indications and risks. One of the more interesting aspects of flibanserin, the so called “Female Viagra”, is that it addresses hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in older and younger women, whether premenopausal, perimenopausual or postmenopausual. And, flibanserin does so without affecting hormone levels.
Tags: Estrogen, Ginkgo Biloba, Testosterone
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health | 5 Comments & Updates
Chronic gastrointestinal symptoms can be caused or worsened by a long list of suspects. Common culprits include food allergies or sensitivities, H. pylori infection, intestinal permeability, microbiome (gut bacteria) imbalance and ulcers. Furthermore, in some instances, the exact cause or contributing factors is not easily identifiable. When this occurs, medications are frequently prescribed based on the specific symptoms that present themselves. Two popular examples include proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to minimize gastric acid and tricyclic antidepressants to reduce abdominal pain. Physicians who veer towards the integrative side of medicine may also suggest certain dietary changes such avoiding dairy, FODMAPs, grains and/or heavily refined foods. Some doctors will even go so far as to encourage an “elimination diet” to methodically rule out any likely food-based troublemaker.
Tags: Digestion, IBS, Probiotics
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements | 27 Comments & Updates