|Alternative Therapies and Treatment
updated Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Therapies listed do not represent the scope of therapies and treatments available.
Aromatherapy is endorsed by some as an alternative medical treatment, but the results of one study failed to demonstrate that aromatherapy improves immune status, wound healing, or pain control, according to a March 3, 2008, news release from The Ohio State University, Columbus. Researchers monitored the effects of Lemon and Lavender aromatherapy treatments on 56 volunteers' blood pressure, heart rate, blood biochemistry, healing ability, reaction to pain, and results of psychological testing of mood and stress. Blood samples were analyzed to measure the effects of aromatherapy on immune and stress responses.
Aromatherapy treatment using Lemon or Lavender essential oils did not demonstrate a positive effect on biochemical markers for stress, pain control, or wound healing. Lemon oil did appear to enhance participants' mood, but lavender showed no measurable effect on mood or health.
Aromotherapy may make you feel good, but it won't make you well [news release]. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University; March 3, 2008. http://reseorchnews.osu.edu/archive/aromathe.htm. Accessed March 10, 2008.
COPYRIGHT 2008 Association of Operating Room Nurses, Inc.
ScienceDaily (May 14, 2008) Ancient acupuncture and modern myofascial pain therapy each focus on hundreds of similar points on the body to treat pain, although they do it differently, says a physician at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville who analyzed the two techniques.
Results of the study, published May 10 in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, suggest that people who want relief from chronic musculoskeletal pain may benefit from either therapy, says chronic pain specialist Dr. Peter Dorsher of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic.
This may come as a surprise to those who perform the two different techniques, because the notion has been that these are exclusive therapies separated by thousands of years, he says. But this study shows that in the treatment of pain disorders, acupuncture and myofascial techniques are fundamentally similar and this is good news for anyone looking for relief.
Classic Chinese acupuncture treats pain and a variety of health disorders using fine needles to reset nerve transmission, Dorsher says. Needles are inserted in one or several of 361 classical acupoints to target specific organs or pain problems. This is a very safe and effective technique, he says.
Myofascial trigger-point therapy, which has evolved since the mid-1800s, focuses on tender muscle or trigger point regions. There are about 255 such regions described by the Trigger Point Manual, the seminal textbook on myofascial pain. These are believed to be sensitive and painful areas of muscle and fascia, the web of soft tissue that surrounds muscle, bones, organs and other body structures. To relieve pain at these trigger points, practitioners use injections, deep pressure, massage, mechanical vibration, electrical stimulation and stretching, among other techniques.
In the study, Dorsher analyzed studies published on both techniques and demonstrated that acupuncture points and trigger points are anatomically and clinically similar in their uses for treatment of pain disorders.
In another recent study, he found that at least 92 percent of common trigger points anatomically corresponded with acupoints, and that their clinical correspondence in treating pain was more than 95 percent. That means that the classical acupoint was in the same body region as the trigger point, was used for the same type of pain problem, and the trigger point referred pain pattern followed the meridian pathway of that acupoint described by the Chinese more than 2,000 years before, Dorsher says. Myofascial pain therapy has lately incorporated the use of acupuncture needles in a treatment called dry needling to treat muscle trigger points.
I think it is fair to say that the myofascial pain tradition represents an independent rediscovery of the healing principles of traditional Chinese medicine, Dorsher says. What likely unites these two disciplines is the nervous system, which transmits pain.
The study was funded by Mayo Clinic.
Is there any evidence that cupping therapy relieves fibromyalgia pain? Mayo Clinic rheumatologist April Chang-Miller, M.D.
There's no conclusive evidence that cupping therapy relieves fibromyalgia pain. But anecdotal evidence suggests a benefit. Cupping therapy is typically practiced by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. The theory behind cupping is that it moves or stimulates your body's natural energy also called qi.
Basically, cupping involves heating the air inside a glass cup, which removes some of the air from the cup. The cup is then quickly placed on the skin and the resulting vacuum pulls the skin part of the way into the cup. The cup may be left in place for several minutes and then removed, leaving behind a bright red, circular welt. Although it sounds painful, it's not.
Many articles have been published on cupping. But many of these are case reports or anecdotes published in Chinese medical journals and not always available in English. There have been no peer-reviewed clinical trials specifically evaluating cupping as a treatment for painful conditions. Thus, although cupping has been a part of Chinese healing traditions for at least 3,000 years, available research hasn't yet documented its effectiveness.
Acupuncture in the treatment of fibromyalgia in tertiary care - a case series.
Fibromyalgia is a common cause of chronic widespread pain. The benefit of medication is
often limited by its side effects, and the improvements obtained with exercise and
education are inconsistent. Many patients seek acupuncture treatment, which is reported to
be helpful in some cases. This study aimed to explore the acceptability and benefits of
acupuncture offered in the setting of a tertiary referral clinic.
Twenty four eligible patients were enrolled in a 12 month period. Baseline mean pain VAS
score for these 24 patients was 74 (SD 18) and mean Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire
score 78 (SD 12.4).
Acupuncture: Sharp answers to pointed questions
Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely thin needles to various depths at strategic points on your body. Acupuncture originated in China thousands of years ago, but over the past two decades its popularity has grown significantly within the United States. Although scientists don't fully understand how or why acupuncture works, some studies indicate that it may provide a number of medical benefits from reducing pain to helping with chemotherapy-induced nausea.
What happens during an acupuncture treatment session?
Acupuncture therapy usually involves a series of weekly or biweekly treatments in an outpatient setting. It's common to have up to 12 treatments in total. Although each acupuncture practitioner has his or her own unique style, each visit typically includes an exam and an assessment of your current condition, the insertion of needles, and a discussion about self-care tips. An acupuncture visit generally lasts 30 to 60 minutes.
During acupuncture treatment, the practitioner uses sterilized, individually wrapped stainless steel needles that are used only once and then thrown away. You may feel a brief, sharp sensation when the needle is inserted, but generally the procedure isn't painful. It's common to feel a deep aching sensation when the needle reaches the correct spot. After placement, the needles are sometimes moved gently or stimulated with electricity or heat.
How does acupuncture work?
The traditional Chinese theory behind acupuncture as medical treatment is very different from that of Western medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, imbalances in the basic energetic flow of life known as qi or chi (chee) are thought to cause illness. Qi is believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body. These meridians and the energy flow are accessible through approximately 400 different acupuncture points. By inserting extremely fine needles into these points in various combinations, acupuncture practitioners believe that your energy flow will rebalance. This will allow your body's natural healing mechanisms to take over.
In contrast, the Western explanation of acupuncture incorporates modern concepts of neuroscience. According to the National Institutes of Health, researchers are studying at least three possible explanations for how acupuncture works:
Opioid release. During acupuncture, endorphins that are part of your body's natural pain-control system may be released into your central nervous system your brain and spinal cord. This reduces pain much like taking a pain medication.
Spinal cord stimulation. Acupuncture may stimulate the nerves in your spinal cord to release pain-suppressing neurotransmitters. This has sometimes been called the "gate theory."
Blood flow changes. Acupuncture needles may increase the amount of blood flow in the area around the needle. The increased blood flow may supply additional nutrients or remove toxic substances, or both, promoting healing.
Who is acupuncture for?
Acupuncture seems to be useful as a stand-alone treatment for some conditions, but it's also increasingly being used in conjunction with more conventional Western medical treatments. For example, doctors may combine acupuncture and drugs to control pain during and after surgery.
Because of the difficulty of conducting valid scientific studies of acupuncture numerous past studies have been proved inadequate it's hard to create a definitive list of the conditions for which acupuncture might be helpful. However, preliminary studies indicate that acupuncture may offer symptomatic relief for a variety of diseases and conditions, including low back pain, headaches, migraines and osteoarthritis. In a 2006 Mayo Clinic study, acupuncture significantly improved symptoms of fibromyalgia.
In addition, research shows acupuncture can help manage postoperative dental pain and alleviate chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. It also appears to offer relief for chronic menstrual cramps and tennis elbow.
Pros and cons
As with most medical therapies, acupuncture has both benefits and risks. Consider the benefits:
* Acupuncture is safe when performed properly.
* It has few side effects.
* It can be useful as a complement to other treatment methods.
* It's becoming more available in conventional medical settings.
* It helps control certain types of pain.
* It may be an alternative if you don't respond to or don't want to take pain medications.
Acupuncture isn't safe if you have a bleeding disorder or if you're taking blood thinners. The most common side effects of acupuncture are soreness, bleeding or bruising at the needle sites. You might feel tired after a session. Rarely, a needle may break or an internal organ might be injured. If needles are reused, infectious diseases may be accidentally transmitted. However, these risks are low in the hands of a competent, certified acupuncture practitioner.
How to choose an acupuncture practitioner
In the United States, acupuncture services are offered by two types of medical professionals:
Medical doctors. About 3,000 medical doctors use acupuncture as part of their clinical practice. Most states require that these doctors have 200 to 300 hours of acupuncture training in addition to their medical training.
Certified acupuncturists. About 11,000 certified acupuncturists who aren't medical doctors practice acupuncture in the United States. To be fully certified, these professionals complete between 2,000 and 3,000 hours of training in one of several independently accredited master's degree programs. They also must successfully complete board exams conducted by a national acupuncture accreditation agency, the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)
If you're considering acupuncture, do the same things you would do if you were choosing a doctor:
* Ask people you trust for recommendations.
* Check the practitioner's training and credentials.
* Interview the practitioner. Ask what's involved in the treatment, how likely it is to help your condition and how much it will cost.
* Find out whether the expense is covered by your insurance.
Don't be afraid to tell your doctor you're considering acupuncture. He or she may be able to tell you about the success rate of using acupuncture for your condition or recommend an acupuncture practitioner for you to try.
Fibromyalgia Pain and Substance P Decrease and Sleep
Improves After Massage Therapy.
Hypnosis has long been used to treat both psychological and medical disorders. The Ancient Egyptians and Chinese used hypnosis to relieve symptoms of pain over two thousand years ago. Hypnosis was also used in the 1800s by medical doctors for anesthetic purposes. Recently, hypnosis has received more attention from the medical field; in fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has now recommended that hypnosis be used as part of a treatment regime for chronic pain like that caused by fibromyalgia.
What is Hypnosis?
Contrary to popular belief, though, people who are in a state of hypnosis are not unaware of their actions and will not do anything that they have a serious moral or ethical objection to. In fact, you do have control over your actions as well as what you say while you are hypnotized. Moreover, you have the ability to remember what transpired while you were hypnotized. However, in some cases, your subconscious mind may choose to "forget" just what happened.
Types of Hypnosis
Stages of Hypnosis
First Stage: The first stage of hypnosis is often referred to as a superficial trance. This is the lightest stage of hypnosis, during which you are aware of all of your surroundings. This type of trance is commonly used to help correct addictive behaviors such as smoking. During a superficial trance, you will accept suggestions but may not act upon them afterwards.
Second Stage: The second stage, the alpha state, is a deeper level of hypnosis. You may notice that your breathing begins to slow down, as will your heart rate and blood pressure, It is this stage of hypnosis that is used to control pain.
Third Stage: The third stage of hypnosis is the deepest. Psychiatrists use this stage to access forgotten emotions, memories, and events. It is often used to help those who have undergone severe psychological trauma.
How Does Hypnosis Work?
Effects of Hypnosis on Fibromyalgia Sufferers
Jane Kohler 2008
Craniosacral therapy is an alternative treatment technique that is very similar to osteopathy and physical therapy. It it a non-invasive treatment that uses gentle palpatations on your skin. It is believed this procedure reduces pain and bolsters your immune system. It was created in the nineteen-seventies by Dr. John Upledger, who based his treatment on theories developed in the early nineteen-thirties by William G. Sutherland.
Sutherland and Upledger theorized that the craniosacral system, which include the brain, spinal cord and the surrounding fluid play a large part in your overall health. Craniosacral therapists believe that the cerebrospinal fluid emits a measurable pulse as it rises and falls (called the cranial rhythmic impulse), much like your heart and blood vessels. If this pulse is upset it can cause a number of health problems, including fibromyalgia.
Therapists locate this pulse by placing their fingers over specific areas of the body and once located, they begin to restore a normal pulse. Using gentle palpitations on areas of your head they restore a healthy, cranial rhythmic pulse, reducing your symptoms.
Treatments are received in individual offices and last from forty minutes to one hour, depending on your level of need. Unlike massage you will remain clothed and encouraged to relax as they work on your spine, head and neck.
Ask your local clinic, hospital
or doctor for known, reputable craniosacral therapists or check with the Upledger
Institute for one near you.
eight hundred thousand Americans were arrested for violating marijuana laws last year,
according a report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Sound frequency is measured in units called Hertz. Low frequency sounds are comprised of those sound wavelengths that are between the range of 17 Hertz and 0.001 Hertz. Many animals, including elephants, whales, and giraffes, communicate with one another using low frequency sound. Humans cannot hear most of these low frequency sounds, because we only recognize sounds traveling at frequencies between 20 Hertz and 20,000 Hertz. However, our bodies can subconsciously receive and interpret low frequency sound waves.
What is Low Frequency Sound Therapy?
How Do You Use Low Frequency Sound Therapy? Low frequency or infrasonic therapy is typically delivered in a hand-held or portable device. This device has a transducer that is very similar to that used in ultrasound technology. You simply run this transducer over various parts of your body in order to receive the healing benefits of the low frequency sound waves.
Low frequency sound therapy can also be delivered in specially designed chairs that are equipped with internal speaker systems. These systems deliver low frequency sound to your body while you are sitting in the chair. Both chair and hand-held systems often incorporate massage therapy in order to maximize the benefits of low frequency sound therapy.
What are the Benefits of Low Frequency Sound Therapy?
How Does Low Frequency Sound Therapy Work?
How Does Low Frequency Sound Therapy Help Fibromyalgia?
The study delivered low frequency sound therapy through a portable device to fibromyalgia sufferers on a daily basis. Upon completion of the study, 89% of participants were reported to have experienced at least a 50% reduction in pain symptoms. Many of these patients also experienced periods of complete symptom relief when exposed to the low frequency sound therapy.
Costs of Low Frequency Sound Therapy
Cupping therapy has been adapted for use from a form of traditional Chinese medicine. This type of therapy uses glass cups applied to the skin to help relieve pain, flush out toxins, and restore healthy blood flow to the body. Using heat or a suction pump, a vacuum is created inside of each glass cup. These cups are then placed on various acupuncture points throughout the body and left for about ten minutes.
Types of Cupping
History of Cupping
Throughout the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, cupping was commonly used to help cure common colds and chest infections. Nowadays, cupping is making a big comeback. In the United States, it is offered by many massage therapists and acupuncturists, with various celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow, taking advantage of this ancient technique..
The Benefits of Cupping
It also works to reduce pain and soften stiff muscles and tissues.
Cupping Therapy for Fibromyalgia
What to Expect During A Session
Though these implements may worry you, rest assured, this is not a painful treatment. You will lie down on a massage table and your therapist will first locate areas that require treatment. Once these areas have been identified, the cupping procedure will begin.
You will feel a slight suction where each cup has been applied. Typically, between four and six cups are applied during one session. These are left on the skin for no more than 15 minutes. If you are receiving a massage cupping treatment, oil will first be rubbed over your skin. The glass cups will then be moved over your skin to help massage sore muscles and joints.
After the Cupping Treatment
Finding a Cupping Therapist
"Five of the six products emitted one or more carcinogenic 'hazardous air pollutants,' which are considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to have no safe exposure level." - Anne C. Steinemann
A University of Washington study of top-selling laundry products and air fresheners found the products emitted dozens of different chemicals. All six products tested gave off at least one chemical regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal laws, but none of those chemicals was listed on the product labels.
"I first got interested in this topic because people were telling me that the air fresheners in public restrooms and the scent from laundry products vented outdoors were making them sick," said Anne Steinemann, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public affairs. "And I wanted to know, 'What's in these products that is causing these effects?'"
She analyzed the products to discover the chemicals' identity. "I was surprised by both the number and the potential toxicity of the chemicals that were found," Steinemann said. Chemicals included:
"Nearly 100 volatile organic compounds were emitted from these six products, and none were listed on any product label. Plus, five of the six products emitted one or more carcinogenic 'hazardous air pollutants,' which are considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to have no safe exposure level," Steinemann said.
Her study was published online by the journal Environmental Impact Assessment Review. [See Fragranced consumer products and undisclosed ingredients, July 10, 2008.] Steinemann chose not to disclose the brand names of the six products she tested.
In a larger study of 25 cleaners, personal care products, air fresheners and laundry products, now submitted for publication, she found that many other brands contained similar chemicals. [Note: The Environmental Working Group offers detailed information on the fragrance & other chemicals in thousands of branded cosmetics. See "Online Safety Guide to Cosmetics and Personal Care Products."]
Because manufacturers of consumer products are not required to disclose the ingredients, Steinemann analyzed the products to discover their contents.
She bought household items at a grocery store and asked companies for samples of industrial products. In the laboratory, each product was placed in an isolated space at room temperature and the surrounding air was analyzed for volatile organic compounds - small molecules that evaporate from the product's surface into the air.
Results showed 58 different volatile organic compounds above a concentration of 300 micrograms per cubic meter, many of which were present in more than one of the six products. For instance:
This study does not address links between exposure to chemicals and health effects. However, two national surveys published by Steinemann and a colleague in 2004 and 2005 found that:
Manufacturers are not required to list the ingredients used in laundry products and air fresheners. Personal-care products and cleaners often contain similar fragrance chemicals, Steinemann said. And although cosmetics are required by the Food and Drug Administration to list ingredients, no law requires products of any kind to list chemicals used in fragrances.
"Fragrance chemicals are of particular interest because of the potential for involuntary exposure, or second-hand scents," Steinemann said.
"Be careful if you buy products with fragrance, because you really don't know what's in them," she added. "I'd like to see better labeling. In the meantime, I'd recommend that instead of air fresheners people use ventilation, and with laundry products, choose fragrance-free versions."
The European Union recently enacted legislation requiring products to list 26 fragrance chemicals when they are present above a certain concentration in cosmetic products and detergents. No similar laws exist in the United States.
"I hope this study will raise public awareness, and reduce exposures to potentially hazardous chemicals," said Steinemann.
For more information, contact Anne C. Steinemann at (206) 616-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: This information has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is generic and is not meant to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any illness, condition, or disease. It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and discussing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.
Chelation with EDTA has been used to treat heavy metal poisoning such as lead. For this use, there is a low occurrence of side effects. The safety of EDTA for treating heart disease has not been established.
The most common side effect is a burning sensation at the site where the EDTA is delivered into the vein. Rare side effects can include fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Even more rare are serious side effects that can include a sudden drop in blood pressure, abnormally low calcium levels in the blood, permanent kidney damage, and bone marrow depression (meaning that blood cell counts fall). Reversible injury to the kidneys, although infrequent, has been reported with EDTA chelation therapy. Other serious side effects can occur if EDTA is not administered by a trained health professional.
In addition, because chelation therapy removes important vitamins and minerals from the body, it will be very important for you to take the vitamin supplements
Michael Mahoney Clinical Hypnotherapist
A Comparative Analysis of Clinical Outcomes in the Refractive IBS Patient vs. the Newly Diagnosed
The successful use of clinical hypnotherapy (CHT) for the treatment of patients with irritable bowel syndrome has been established in at least 14 published studies (1) (2) where it has been shown to produce significant reduction in the cardinal IBS symptoms and associated symptoms such as anxiety. The success of this treatment method in the clinical setting is contingent upon the protocol being gut-directed or gut-specific, i.e. directly addressing the digestive tract, balancing the dismotility and restoring its proper function while allowing the patient to take part in their own healing. Sufferers who consider hypnotherapy currently tend to do so as a 'last resort' rather than a first approach after diagnosis.
In treating IBS patients since 1991, I recognised a consistent trend in therapy outcomes and decided to investigate this further with an informal observational study. From September 2003 to January 2005, I assigned 40 patients with the same primary IBS diagnostic criteria into two groups.
The first group consisted of 20 IBS patients of long-standing, termed as refractory where no previous medical interventions provided relief. Age ranges for this group was 27 years to 66 years; average age was 42.2 years; comprised of 10 males average age 38.7 years, 10 females average age 45.6 years.
The second group included 20 newly diagnosed IBS patients with ages ranging from (24 years) to (64 years); average age (40.1 years), there were (10) males average age 40.2 years and (10) females average age 40.1years.
The newly diagnosed patients had no prior IBS treatment intervention upon their arrival to me, however, they may have presented with symptoms for varying degrees of time.
The clinical protocol (3) consisted of an initial intake consultation session, where the IBS patient discusses symptoms and concerns.
A life-style, QOL and symptom questionnaire was also completed at this time, and again upon therapy completion to assess improvement rating.
intake session was followed by an introductory session, where the patient was apprised of
the method of CHT and assurances were given. Following that, five gut-specific sessions
were presented to the patient dealing with:
Standard treatment would allow for patients being seen five times over a 12 - 14 week period and all participants received a recording of each session which was listened to according to a specific schedule.
Psychological State and QOL of IBS Patient Prior to receiving CHT.
The intake information of the Refractory IBS Patient presented with two findings:
Higher Failure Expectation after years of frustration and unsuccessful treatment
The intake information for the Newly Diagnosed presented with two findings:
Less expectation for either failure or success for therapy outcome.
of CHT treatment
However, refractory IBS patients who had received other forms of treatment first, had a longer recovery and symptom reduction time frame. It was found that for these patients, the time required to move forward to the next session became extended by an average of 1 to 3 weeks (or more in some cases) depending upon severity and longevity of symptoms and the resultant psychological issues. This group's confidence and self esteem was very low, and their ability to see things in perspective was significantly reduced. When talking about the psychological elements most of these patients wept. After sometimes years of pain and discomfort, and the following of unsuccessful treatment options it was clear this group of sufferers had become emotionally drained. Having presented with, for example, such symptoms as diarrhoea, 3 or more times a day, often uncontrollable and explosive for years, it was therefore not surprising that such patients presented with anxiety or various levels of depression.
Before these sufferers could even begin to work through the IBS, the hypnotherapy sessions first provided a strong emotional base that increased self-esteem, confidence, and allowed the sufferer to begin a journey of self improvement and management, and thereby equip themselves emotionally to move away from the symptoms and the familiarity of IBS thoughts and commence recovery initially at the emotional level.
The newly diagnosed group who received CHT as a first line of treatment showed a much quicker response towards their improvement in IBS symptoms, and did not require extensions in the standard protocol time frame.
It was my observation that early intervention with CHT may reduce or eliminate the multi-faceted component of IBS, thus leading to earlier/less prolonged symptom reduction. My findings appeared to confirm this trend that was observed early on. Since the subconscious mind does not have to deal with non-present comorbid complaints with the majority of newly diagnosed patients, the IBS symptoms are dealt with initially and directly and resolved more quickly. For the refractory patient, internal and emotional energies relegated to coping with the long-standing burden of IBS usually must first be dealt with by the subconscious before IBS issues can be addressed.
This bears out a real look at providing CHT concurrently as a complementary therapy as a first line of treatment upon initial IBS diagnosis, and may prove to be a good defense in treating the whole person as the method has shown to improve the IBS symptom reduction rate, and may curtail or even eliminate possible further decline in QOL and psychological issues. (4)
what does this tell us?
2. Hauser W. Medizinische Klinik I, Klinikum Saarbrucken gGmbH, Saarbrucken. Hypnosis in Gastroenterology. Z Gastroenterol 2003 May;41 5:405-12 PMID: 12772053
3. In 1996 Mahoney was invited to participate in a medical research study funded by the UK National Health Service which was monitored and audited by the local Health Authority Audit Commission. Medical centre GPs and hospital gastroenterologists screened 20 IBS patients: all were long-term sufferers, had undergone all medical diagnostic tests, and had taken prescription medications without attaining significant relief from their symptoms. Each patient underwent Mahoney's original protocol of the introductory and five subsequent hypnotherapy sessions. At the end of the project, feedback sheets from the patients indicated an overall reduction of 80% in symptom severity and frequency of presentation. In 1997, Mahoney developed new processes for IBS clinical protocol. Patients were monitored using audio tapes both during the program and for the next three subsequent years: 1998 through 2001. The final results of this study are intended for independent publication so that they may be subject to peer review and analysis. Success rates were close to or exceeding 90% for all symptoms and patients.
4. Spiegel BM, Gralnek IM, Bolus R, Chang L, Dulai GS, Mayer EA, Naliboff B. Clinical determinants of health-related quality of life in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Arch Intern Med. 2004 Sep 13;164(16):1773-80.
5.Miller V, Hopkins L, Whorwell PJ. Suicidal ideation in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2004 Dec;2(12):1064-8.
6. Pinto C, Lele MV, Joglekar AS, Panwar VS, Dhavale HS. Stressful life-events, anxiety, depression and coping in patients of irritable bowel syndrome. J Assoc Physicians India. 2000 Jun;48(6):589-93.
7. Whitehead WE, Crowell MD. Psychologic considerations in the irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 1991 Jun;20(2):249-67.
8. Lackner JM, Quigley BM. Pain catastrophizing mediates the relationship between worry and pain suffering in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Behav Res Ther. 2005 Jul;43(7):943-57. Epub 2004 Sep 25.
9. Spiller RC. Potential future therapies for irritable bowel syndrome: will disease modifying therapy as opposed to symptomatic control become a reality? Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2005 Jun;34(2):337-54.
Palsson OS, Drossman DA. Psychiatric and psychological dysfunction in irritable bowel
syndrome and the role of psychological treatments. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2005
Mahoney is a member of various primay care societies, the Hypnotherapy Association, The
British Council of Hypnotist Examiners, as well as the International Foundation for
Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, the European Association for Cancer Education and
the International Functional Brain-Gut Research Group.
Alternative treatments such as acupuncture, dietary supplements, and herbs don't always get the official scientific nod, but some patients turn to them for help with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Acupuncture for IBS
Acupuncture is a popular alternative therapy for IBS and other conditions. It's proven effective for treating chronic pain, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, the studies are mixed on whether the treatments really work for IBS.
Some studies show that acupuncture helps with abdominal pain and other IBS symptoms. Other studies show that it doesn't help.
Philip Schoenfeld, MD, MSEd, MSc, investigated various IBS treatments when he co-authored the treatment guidelines published by the American College of Gastroenterology. He says the hard data showing acupuncture's effectiveness isn't very good. Yet "that does not mean that acupuncture might not be helpful," he says. Many individuals say they feel better after acupuncture. Out of all alternative options, he suspects that acupuncture may help some people with IBS.
It is not entirely clear how this traditional Chinese treatment works. Some researchers believe the acupuncture needles stimulate electromagnetic signals in the body. These signals are thought to either encourage the release of pain-killing chemicals, or nudge the body's natural healing systems into action.
Acupuncture is ideally used with other treatments, says Jeanine Blackman, MD, PhD, medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine. She says even in China, the therapy is never used on its own. Talk with your doctor if you are considering acupuncture.
Oils and Supplements for IBS
To help her IBS patients, Blackman recommends a combination of treatments, including changes in diet, stress reduction, and supplements such as evening primrose oil, borage oil, fish oil, or probiotics. She says the oil supplements help calm down the gut, and probiotics restore the good balance of bacteria in the digestive system.
Evening primrose oil comes from the seed of a small yellow wildflower, and borage oil comes from the seed of a common weed. Both supplements are similar in nature. Some proponents say evening primrose oil can help improve IBS symptoms, especially in women who experience a worsening of pain, discomfort, and bloating during their menstrual period. But claims about evening primrose oil are largely unproven, reports the University of California at Berkeley Wellness Guide to Dietary Supplements. Plus, side effects reportedly include stomach upset, headaches, and rashes.
Fish oil supplements have been examined along with fish for a number of benefits, including preventing heart disease and easing autoimmune disorders. There doesn't appear to be any scientific proof, however, that they work for IBS.
Herbs for IBS
Herbs are also popular options for people with IBS. Peppermint is used to calm muscles in the colon, which may cause some of the diarrhea and abdominal discomfort suffered by people with IBS. Studies have been mixed with this herb. The Mayo Clinic advises anyone who'd like to try it to get the enteric-coated capsules, and to be aware that it may make heartburn worse.
Registered herbalists never use peppermint on its own, nor do they recommend it for an extended period of time, says Jonathan Gilbert, who has a diplomate in herbology and acupuncture from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). He is a senior consultant for traditional oriental medicine at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland.
For people who are interested in true herbal therapy, Gilbert recommends a visit to an herbalist who has comprehensive training and is certified by the NCCAOM.
"In order to get a solution to a complex disorder, you need a complex formula, and in order to get that, you need to see someone who can actually prepare it," says Gilbert, noting he could combine up to 30 to 40 herbs for one formula. He says classic Chinese medicine has thousands of preset formulas for different ailments.
A lot of these formulas can't be bought on store shelves, adds Gilbert.
If you are interested in herbal therapy, dietary supplements, acupuncture, or any other treatment for your IBS, make sure you talk with your doctor. Herbs may interact with other medications you may be taking. Dietary supplements may become toxic if not used properly. Your doctor can also advise you on medicines for IBS with constipation and IBS with diarrhea.
Probiotics for IBS
On the other hand, there's some evidence that taking probiotics help IBS sufferers. Probiotics are bacteria that naturally live in the gut. Some people believe that several intestinal disorders may arise when there isn't enough good bacteria in the gut.
One study found that probiotic treatment significantly improved IBS symptoms and quality of life. In the study, researchers primarily used the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria infantis. People with IBS reported fewer symptoms and, in general, a higher quality of life after taking the probiotics for four weeks.
Just as significant, the probiotic therapy did not appear to cause side effects, according to the study's author, Stephen M. Faber, MD, from Albemarle Gastroenterology Associates, PC, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
"These are organisms that are supposed to be in the gut. The body knows how to control them," Farber told WebMD.
Therapy and Hypnosis for IBS
Researchers have found that focusing the mind with hypnotherapy can improve the emotional and physical symptoms in those with IBS.
In one study, 20 men and 55 women received between five and seven half-hour hypnotherapy sessions over a three-month period. Afterwards, patients reported a 30% improvement in emotional quality of life and a 16% increase in overall physical health.
Two other studies conducted by one researcher included 135 people with IBS. The study participants who received 12 weekly one-hour hypnotherapy sessions focusing on their troubles with IBS showed a 52% improvement in their physical symptoms. Improvements were also maintained when researchers checked in with participants six months after the end of the study.
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) trains people to identify and change inaccurate perceptions they may have of themselves and the world around them. It's also been used to help IBS patients ease symptoms and improve quality of life.
Researchers gave a group of IBS patients up to 10 weekly sessions of CBT in one study. The sessions covered information on IBS, muscle relaxation training, development of a flexible set of problem-solving skills related to IBS, and ways to curb worries about the illness. Results showed that 60% to 75% of participants had improvement in their symptoms.
Chelation therapy is based on the concept that when an amino acid complex known as EDTA (ethylene-diamine-tetra-acetic acid) comes into contact with positively charged metals and other substances, it will bind these toxins and remove them from the body. When EDTA binds to toxins, a stable compound will be formed that will then be excreted from the system.
While synthetic amino acids are used in chelation therapy, the process actually takes place naturally in our bodies. For instance, during digestion amino acids will naturally bind to minerals such as iron in order to transport them to other parts of the body where they will be released.
Chelation therapy for fibromyalgia treatment can help eliminate built-up ionic substances such as lead, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, plutonium and manganese.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved chelation therapy for the treatment of metal toxicity such as lead poisoning. Beginning in the 1940s, the amino acid complex EDTA (ethylene-diamine-tetra-acetic acid) was used to treat heavy metal poisoning; however, chelation therapy has been recognized as an effective treatment for hypercalcemia and ventricular arrhythmias as well. *Note: The American Heart Assoc. has issued a stern warning on this therapy pending further study.
Chelation has been used for both fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, believed to be aggravated by heavy metal toxicity. Chelation therapy can be used as a natural fiibromyalgia treatment for its cleansing properties, as the accumulation of toxic exposure may contribute to cellular damage and future health problems.
A reputable practicioner will submit you to a series of examinations and medical tests before begining treatment. They will also take a complete medical history that touches on your diet, health, family history, medications, injuries and stress levels. X-rays and blood work should also be expected.
EDTA for Fibromyalgia can be administered orally or by blood infusion. Treatment may be two to three times a week and may last up to thirty sessions. The IV drip therapy may last up to three hours. Edta may not be the only additive to your drip, if your practicioner deems it necessary he/she may also add vit. C, B and heparin, to prevent clotting.
After treatment you may experience headaches, skin irritation, nausea, diarrhea, fatigues or joint pain. This is attributed to the fact that your body may be addicted to the metals the EDTA has removed from your body, causing you to go through a period of withdrawl.
Do NOT attempt this line of treatment without consulting with your primary care provider.
Q.Is there any evidence that cupping therapy relieves fibromyalgia pain?
A.There's no conclusive evidence that cupping therapy relieves fibromyalgia pain. But anecdotal evidence suggests a benefit.
Cupping therapy is typically practiced by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. The theory behind cupping is that it moves or stimulates your body's natural energy also called qi.
Basically, cupping involves heating the air inside a glass cup, which removes some of the air from the cup. The cup is then quickly placed on the skin and the resulting vacuum pulls the skin part of the way into the cup. The cup may be left in place for several minutes and then removed, leaving behind a bright red, circular welt. Although it sounds painful, it's not.
Many articles have been published on cupping. But many of these are case reports or anecdotes published in Chinese medical journals and not always available in English. There have been no peer-reviewed clinical trials specifically evaluating cupping as a treatment for painful conditions. Thus, although cupping has been a part of Chinese healing traditions for at least 3,000 years, available research hasn't yet documented its effectiveness.
Eastern Medicine Offers Alternative IBS Treatments
There is nothing conventional about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For some patients, this mysterious ailment means diarrhea, while for others constipation.
Additional symptoms include gas, bloating and stomach cramps. Traditional treatments are understandably varied considering the inconsistency of the illness. Behavioral options include high fiber diets, limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption, regular exercise and some form of stress relief (yoga, meditation). Pharmaceutical treatments include the recently approved Zelnorm, for female patients suffering from constipation, and Lotronex, approved (on a special circumstance basis) for women suffering from diarrhea.
However, no pharmaceutical on the market provides relief for all IBS patients. In lieu of a chemical solution, many patients are turning to alternative methods of treatment to find relief from their nagging symptoms.
There are eight branches of Chinese medicine; each emphasize balancing a person's chi, or energy, in relation to their three realms: heaven, human and earth. These branches include: herbal therapy, acupuncture, diet, massage, exercise, mediation, cosmology and feng shui.1
According to traditional Chinese medicine, IBS is the product of an infection of heat and dampness of the gastrointestinal system. The head and dampness may be caused from external sources (weather) or internal sources (eating improper food).2
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 followed 116 patients who were suffering from IBS. Participants were divided into three treatment groups: individualized Chinese herbal formulations, standard Chinese herbal formulations or a placebo.
The results of the double-blind placebo-controlled trial found patients being actively treated saw significant improvement in their bowel condition. Herbal treatments tailored to the patient were no more effective than the standard treatment.
Researchers concluded Chinese herbal formulations improved the conditions of IBS patients.3
Acupuncture has long been used in Eastern cultures as a method of treating a variety of ailments. There are some 2,000 acupuncture points where needles can reportedly stimulate and regulate the flow of chi. Acupuncture is a method of keeping yin, the soft and feminine qualities, in balance with yang, the dark and masculine qualities.1
Pam Marsh, an IBS patient in Golden, Colo., turned to acupuncture after suffering for many years.
"My internist referred me to an acupuncturist for treatment," she says. "He had seen good results with other patients with IBS and Crohn's symptoms."
Marsh receives treatment in a healthcare center that offers both Eastern and Western medicine.
"The process takes about an hour," she describes. "The acupuncturist first takes my pulse and other readings. He sometimes checks my tongue, puts pressure on certain points, etc. I lie on my back on a massage table and needles are applied. Usually the needles are left in for 20 to 30 minutes. They are placed in a variety of places: toes, foot, stomach, hands and wrist. It never hurts, but will sometimes create a burning sensation for the first couple of seconds. Breathing deeply and slowly helps reduce the sensation. Afterward, I feel a bit spacey for a half an hour or so. If I have symptoms or discomfort before a session, I most likely leave feeling much better."
Marsh says she is using this alternative treatment, along with behavioral changes, to improve the illness she has been suffering from for 20 years.
"I have used various medicines," she says, "but I have also made changes to my diet and keep to a daily exercise program."
She says while initially hesitant to trust treatment outside of the Western methodology, she recommends the procedure to others.
"I am a believer," she says. "I have been able to go off of the over-the-counter and prescriptive drugs with the acupuncture treatments. I was raised with traditional Western medicine beliefs, with my father being a pharmacist. So it was a stretch for me to trust this Eastern medicine. I believe acupuncture can help with a variety of problems. I recently had damage to the trigeminal nerve and have found relief through acupuncture. Like any other medical practice, however, I think you need to search out acupuncturists who are well-respected and recommended in the community."
Although Western and Eastern medical ideologies seem distinctly different, there are several treatment options both trains of thought agree on. Diet, exercise and finding a method of stress relief, possibly meditation, are three behavioral methods of treatment for IBS urged by both ideologies.
Changing a person's diet for IBS is also a conundrum based on symptoms. Flax seed is often recommended as a natural laxative for those suffering from IBS-related constipation. Chinese herbs for treating constipation include: aquilaria root, white atractylodes rhizome, szechuan pepper fruit, melia fruit, codonopsis root, torreya seeds, poria, rubia, licorice root, dried ginger, myrobalan fruit, omphalia gruiting body, nutme seed and more.
Patients suffering from diarrhea related to IBS may be advised to stay away from dairy products.
Additionally, limiting alcohol, caffeine and nicotine are recommended for all patients. Drinking at least eight glasses of water daily can also help alleviate some symptoms.
Exercise and finding a method to relieve stress are also important behavioral changes that should be made by IBS patients. Ideally, patients should try to exercise 60 minutes daily, per the new Institute of Medicine guidelines.
Methods of meditation and stress relief include: yoga, stretching, Pilates, qui gong, tai chi, other martial arts, journaling, daydreaming, walking, hiking, etc. Meditation requires mindful concentration. While a spiritual practice for some, today the practice can be applied to nearly any activity that requires focus.
Herbert Benson, MD, was one of the first Western physicians to write about the health benefits of meditation. The first article published on the topic was written by Benson in 1970 in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. The Harvard researcher wrote mediation could reduce heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, oxygen consumption and muscle tension.5
FINDING AN ACUPUNCTURIST
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine has a list of acupuncturists nationally. They also have certification information for those interested in studying the practice.
NCCAOM: (703) 548-9004 www.acupuncture.com
The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture can recommend an acupuncturist who is also a physician.
AAMA: (323) 937-5514 www.medicalacupuncture.org6
With a vague cloud hanging over IBS research and treatment options, it is important to have information about other medical ideologies that may provide relief for your patientsNatural Remedies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Younger America (Pink Sheets:YNGR) is pleased to announce that the Company's wholly-owned subsidiary, Life Without Pain, has a revolutionized pain therapy process applying its MEDLIGHT[TM] MD630PRO. This process uses a Light Emitting Diode (LED) for pain therapy. Relying on narrow band near infrared energy, the MEDLIGHT[TM] MD630PRO is able to temporarily relieve minor aches and pains, such as arthritis, joint pain, muscle spasms, or relaxing stiff and sore muscles.
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Younger America recently announced that Mark Cobb has been appointed to the board of directors and will also serve as the Company's Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Cobb is a respected and successful leader in the technology industry. Mr. Cobb's career spans over 30 years as an executive officer, as well as executive level sales and management experience within different companies.
About Younger America:
Younger America is a holding Company that develops and acquires under-valued companies that provide products to improve the quality of life without the use of potentially harmful drugs or chemicals. The Company aims to acquire a portfolio of companies that provide leading-edge alternative medical devices, systems and services. The roll-up of these companies will create value for the shareholders and provide innovative technologies and products that can enhance the quality of life for their customers.
Please be advised that statements made herein, other than historical data, constitute forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those stated or implied by such forward-looking statements. The potential risks and uncertainties include, among others, potential volatility in the company's stock price, increased competition, customer acceptance of new products and services offered by the company, and uncertainty of future revenue and profitability and fluctuations in its quarterly operating results. Please also be advised that the company's stock is not currently registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Medical progress in the 20th century has been striking, and the advancement of the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases has greatly contributed toward prolonging life expectancy. However, for patients who receive treatment for diseases, this being not limited to cardiovascular diseases, there is no way of determining the gravity of internal suffering and conflict. Patients accept any examination and treatment that can help them to recover from diseases, even when it may involve pain. All surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and transplant therapy are therapies that inflict considerable pain and long term suffering on patients, mentally and physically. Patients still accept such therapy, because they expect it to help them recover from their disease.\
Without suffering from the diseases, it is impossible to understand the extent of pain, tension, and stress that are imposed on patients with the purpose of saving life. Even if the suffering of patients arising from various intractable diseases can be treated with inpatient hospital care at a large hospital combined with state-of-the-art medical facilities, patients have no opportunity, during the course of treatment, to experience a feeling of comfort and a pleasant state of mind arising from refreshing perspiration.
The treatment modality thermal therapy that I have worked on since 1989 is a warming therapy for soothing the mind and body equally, with 60°C dry far-infrared sauna bathing. Therefore, if thermal therapy is referred to as Waon therapy, it is easy to understand the true meaning as distinguished from, for example, local high-heat therapy for cancer. Soothing warmth: Waon is a word I have coined, and Waon can be understood in Japanese as soothing warmth, meaning warmth that comfortably refreshes the mind and body. In other words, Waon is the essence of the thermal therapy that I have been improving and refining for eighteen years. Therefore, to obtain a correct understanding of my thermal therapy modality, I would like to refer to it as Waon therapy: soothing warmth therapy and I would like to familiarize readers further with the idea.
Waon therapy is defined as therapy in which the entire body is warmed in an evenly heated chamber (device) for 15 minutes at a temperature that soothes the mind and body, and after the deep-body temperature has increased by approximately 1.0?1.2°C, the soothing warmth effects are sustained by maintaining the warmth at rest for an additional 30 minutes, with fluids corresponding to perspiration being supplied at the end.
There are various clinical applications 1-11) of Waon therapy, and the effects are dramatic. In particular, a drastic recovery is often seen in intractable diseases that are resistant to drug therapy such as severe heart failure 1), which is an indication of the need for a heart transplant, peripheral artery disease with intractable ulcer 6), severe fibromyalgia syndrome 9), chronic fatigue syndrome 8), and salivary secretion failure caused by Sjogrens syndrome 10)). The effects are remarkable, and Waon therapy is not simply therapy for organs and local sites. It also improves the systemic vascular function, corrects central and peripheral autonomic nerves and neurohumoral factors (hormonal activity), and activates autoimmunity and the bio-defense mechanism.
If Waon therapy is performed once a day for 3?5 days a week over the course of a 2?6-week period (10 weeks for peripheral artery disease) a clearly positive effect on the intractable diseases mentioned above can be obtained. Furthermore, with subsequent continuation for 2?3 days a week, the effects of Waon therapy can also be steadily maintained.
To demonstrate the effectiveness of Waon therapy as a comprehensive therapy, the effects on chronic heart failure are briefly described in the following example. Waon therapy improves the clinical conditions, cardiac function, and vascular function of patients with chronic heart failure and corrects abnormal autonomic nervous response and neurohumoral factors 3). It dilates systemic arteries and veins to reduce the preload and afterload on the heart and significantly increase cardiac output 1). Arrhythmia caused by chronic heart failure is significantly decreased 4). In addition, Waon therapy considerably improves a depressive state, insomnia, anorexia, and ill feelings of patients with heart failure 3). If Waon therapy is performed once a day for 5 days a week over the course of a 2-week period (10 times in total), cardiomegaly is significantly reduced, the cardiac function is improved, and ANP and BNP can be significantly decreased 3). If Waon therapy is subsequently continued even furth er, then the prognosis of patients with chronic heart failure tends to significantly improve. In an investigation using a heart failure model (TO-2 hamsters), it was verified that the group for which Waon therapy was continually repeated once a day had a 35% improved survival rate compared to the group without this therapy 12).
Waon therapy significantly improves the endothelium-dependent vasodilatory potency of patients with heart failure. In an experiment using heart failure model hamsters, Waon therapy considerably increased the expression of mRNA of vascular endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) in vascular endothelial and intensified the expression of eNOS protein 13,14). A remarkable expression of mRNA and protein of eNOS was also observed in an experiment with peripheral arterial disease models 15). Specifically, after an apolipoprotein E-knockout mouse has a femoral artery removed, if Waon therapy is continually repeated once a day for 35 days, the expression of mRNA and the protein level of eNOS also considerably increases, while the number of blood capillaries increases, the blood flow remarkably improves in the ischemic limbs, and angiogenesis can be achieved. In other words, Waon therapy is deeply involved in the production of effects on genetic, molecular, and cellular levels, and this treatment modality therefore plays an important role in the recovery of the living body.
Waon therapy is safe and highly cost-efficient, and is also a gentle comprehensive therapy that soothes patients and encourages refreshing perspiration, unlike conventional therapy, which often requires the patients endurance. I sincerely hope that Waon therapy will be approved for coverage by medical insurance as soon as possible, as a new therapy for the 21st century. Such approval would be very good news for our patients.
Efficacy of Waon therapy for fibromyalgia.
5 alternative medicine treatments that work By Elizabeth
Herb, Nutrient, and Drug Interactions: Clinical
Implications and Therapeutic Strategies
and pain are an old married couple. As early as 200 AD, Greek healers prescribed magnetic
rings to people wracked by arthritic pains. In 19th century America, magnetic salves,
corsets, belts, suspenders, insoles, liniments and even underwear were sold as balms for
JOHN FAUBER of the Journal Sentinel staff
In a test that pitted one of America's most common health complaints against one of the hottest forms of alternative medicine, therapeutic magnets failed to help low back pain, according to a study published today in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.
It is estimated that 85% of Americans will experience back pain during their lives. At the same time, a media campaign promoting magnets for pain has resulted in worldwide sales of $5 billion, according to the authors of the study.
The study found that magnet therapy applied for six hours a day, three times during one week of treatment had no effect on chronic low back pain.
But the study, which looked at 20 patients from a Veterans Affairs hospital in Arizona, is not likely to end the debate over whether magnets are humbug or healing. The patients all had chronic low back pain that had lasted an average of 19 years. Each patient received a week of treatment with both sham magnets and real magnets.
At the end of each treatment regimen, the patients were given standard tests designed to assess pain levels. The magnet group fared no better the placebo group.
Although the study is one of the few randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled tests of magnet therapy, the study's authors said it was not intended to definitively prove or disprove the effectiveness of magnets in general.
Stronger magnets might have yielded different results, the authors said. For the study, researchers used 300 gauss, bipolar permanent magnets. Gauss is the unit of measurement used in rating a magnet's strength.
Although the popularity of magnets has grown, testimonials are easier to find than scientific evidence showing they have benefit.
There have been only two previous, small double-blind, placebo- controlled studies, one involving patients with post-polio pain and the other involving peripheral neuropathy, foot pain caused by a circulation problem.
The Arthritis Foundation, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission warn that science does not support the use of magnets.
In a report titled Management of Fibromyalgia, the American College of Physicians & American Society of Internal Medicine listed malic acid among treatments recommended for Fibromyalgia pain. The report was published in the December 1999 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine and was authored by Lawrence J. Levanthal, M.D.
In their 1999 book, Making Sense of Fibromyalgia, by Daniel J. Wallace, M.D. and Janice Brock Wallace, the authors noted the success of malic acid and magnesium in FM patients with the following observations:
An interesting preparation, containing magnesium and malic acid is now available Controlled studies from England and Texas in peer-reviewed journals have documented modest effects of this preparation in muscle spasm, fatigue and pain in Fibromyalgia. If patients take a dose larger than recommended on the bottle its effects become apparent within a week; side effects are uncommon. This combination may work as a result of interactions between magnesium and calcium channels within muscles and the generation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), our cellular fuel.
Research Confirms Malic Acids Use to Alleviate Pain and Fatigue
Leading healthcare professionals familiar with CFS are continuing to recommend malic acid for the chronic muscle soreness and fatigue that most patients experience.
They have found that patients using a combination of malic acid and magnesium hydroxide report improvements with reduction of muscle pain and tiredness.
Among those physicians recommending the malic acid/magnesium hydroxide combination are Daniel Peterson, M.D., of Incline Village, CA, Paul Cheney, M.D. and Jay Goldstein, M.D., director of the CFS Institute.
Dr. Peterson comments, the patients who improved reported diminishing symptoms and an increase in exercise tolerance.
Similarly, Dr. Goldstein has found malic acid to be a safe, inexpensive nutritional supplement for CFS symptoms and suggests it should be added to the list of therapeutic approaches. He currently prescribes it for his patients with symptoms associated with CFS, and those diagnosed with FM. He explains, it may have a modest effect on fatigue and/or other symptoms.
Fibromyalgia pain may respond within 48 hours, while fatigue may take about two weeks.
The effectiveness of the supplement has a sound scientific base. Malic acid, a fruit acid extracted from apples and widely used in the food industry, is essential in the formation of ATP, which is our bodys energy source. Malic acid has the ability to allow the body to make ATP more efficiently, even under low oxygen, or hypoxic, conditions. Magnesium is a mineral that is required for over 100 enymatic reactions in the body. Interestingly, many researchers such as Dr. Cheney, have noted that a large percentage of patients are magnesium depleted on an intra-cellular basis (inside the cell). Standard blood tests are not sensitive to intra-cellular magnesium.
In a study published in the May, 1995 edition of the Journal of Rheumatology, the results of FM treatment with malic acid were assessed in terms of pain, tenderness, ability to function, and psychological well-being.
The results showed no therapeutic effects on Fibromyalgia symptoms when malic acid was taken at the dosage of 600mg for twice a day for four weeks.
However, when the dosage of malic acid was increased to 1200mg twice a day there were significant reductions in the pain and tenderness of the Fibromyalgia symptoms. [Treatment of Fibromyalgia syndrome with Super Malic: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover pilot study. Russell IJ; Michalek JE; Flechas JD; Abraham GE; J Rheumatol, 22(5):953-8 1995 May]
Jorge Flechas, M.D., M.PH., a holistic practitioner in Hendersonville, N.D., has participated in two medical studies that have tested the combination of malic acid and magnesium for Fibromyalgia patients. In these studies, patients reported a significant reduction in pain and tenderness within 48 hours and without any side effects. In his practice, Flechas has used this supplement combination for six years on about 500 Fibromyalgia patients. I have found the results are positive 90 percent of the time, he says.
Billie Jay Sahley, Ph.D., a San Antonio nutritional specialist and author of the indepth book, Malic Acid and Magnesium for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Syndrome reports impressive results in Fibromyalgia patients. The sooner malic acid and magnesium are started, the faster patients begin to return to their normal lifestyles, remarks Sahley. HW
A supplement called SAM-e could be a new ally in the battle against the pain of osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia and the depression that so often accompanies chronic illness.
Until last spring, hardly anybody in this country had heard of a European supplement called S-adenosylmethionine. But when it hit the market as a natural remedy named SAM-e (pronounced "sammy") it zoomed in a matter of months from an unknown import to one of the top-selling dietary supplements in the country.
With that user-friendly nickname, you almost expect "sammy" pills to be wearing a little smiley face. And no wonder: Its being touted as a treatment for depression and osteoarthritis (OA) pain (because of regulations, vaguely referenced on labels as "emotional well-being" and "joint health"). Studies suggest it can also help fibromyalgia symptoms and alcoholdamaged livers, and there are claims that it may help with migraine headaches and maybe even Alzheimers disease. And it seems to have no serious side effects and no known drug interactions.
These kinds of sweeping claims have a tendency to make doctors wary, says James McKoy, MD, chief of rheumatology at Kaiser Permanente in Honolulu, Hawaii. "Whenever something is promised to be a cure-all for so many diseases, physicians are very skeptical because so many miracle cures usually only benefit the producer and the seller," he says.
"But I think this substance has promise," he adds, and several other doctors agree.
Dr. McKoy says he has some arthritis patients using SAM-e supplements, "and they like it. SAM-e might be one of the most effective alternative supplements for osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, and I think it is going to prove to be a great alternative for depression," he says.
People particularly like SAM-e supplements because they dont have the side effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can cause gastrointestinal damage; or of antidepressants, which can include sexual dysfunction, dry mouth or nausea. It takes a week or so for SAM-e to take effect, which is slower than NSAIDs but about twice as fast as most antidepressant drugs.
Also, SAM-e has shown no signs of drug interaction and so can be taken along with most, if not all, prescription drugs, according to Richard Brown, MD, a New York psychiatrist who has been using SAM-e for years in his practice.
Science Behind Sam-E
Doctors in Europe have been studying and using SAM-e for more than two decades as a treatment for osteoarthritis and depression. There are dozens of European studies, including controlled clinical trials that show it relieves osteoarthritis pain as well as NSAIDs; and that it works as well as tricyclic antidepressants in improving mood.
In several countries, its a prescription drug, says Teodoro Bottiglieri, PhD, a neuropharmacologist at the Baylor University Institute for Metabolic Diseases in Dallas. Bottiglieri, who has been studying SAM-e for some 15 years, also recently co-wrote a book on SAM-e, Stop Depression Now (Putnam Publishing Group, 1999), along with Dr. Brown.
SAM-e is a compound that occurs naturally in all living cells, and is a key player in a process called methylation that affects more than 100 complex biochemical reactions in the human body.
SAM-e helps our bodies make and regulate hormones, cell membranes and the neurotransmitters that affect mood. SAM-e also contributes to the building blocks for cartilage, and is involved in making glutathione, which the liver uses to remove poisons such as alcohol.
Our bodies usually make all the SAM-e we need. But the level of SAM-e decreases as we age, and levels are low in those who are depressed, or who have deficiencies of B vitamins or methionine, says Bottiglieri. Good diet and vitamin B supplements can help our bodies better use SAM-e, but unfortunately they are not going to do much to help people who have low levels of SAM-e, he says.
SAM-e supplements, however, can raise levels of this compound. And while scientists dont know for certain how taking SAM-e supplements works, science has shown it relieves OA pain and some fibromyalgia symptoms, as well as depression.
The antidepressant effects of SAM-e are documented in several studies. Its being prescribed by some psychiatrists to treat depression, particularly for people who havent responded to other drugs, or who are reluctant to take prescription antidepressants because of side effects.
"Its a promising drug," says Maurizio Fava, MD, lead author of a study that shows SAM-e is an effective antidepressant. Dr. Fava is director of the Clinical Depression Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he uses SAM-e to treat some of his patients.
But there are mixed results in studies of SAM-e for fibromyalgia. In one small European study of fibromyalgia and SAM-e, 200-mg daily injections reduced the number of tender points and improved mood in patients with fibromyalgia. In another, those taking 800 mg of SAM-e in pill form had less pain, fatigue and morning stiffness than patients taking placebo, but no effect on tender points. A third study showed no benefit.
There are also mixed opinions from physicians.
"I think SAM-e is even better for fibromyalgia than for osteoarthritis," says Dr. McKoy, who has several patients using it.
Dr. Brown agrees, saying he finds the supplement more effective than antidepressants for fibromyalgia, and that some of his patients get significant pain relief from taking it.
However, Don Goldenberg, MD, a fibromyalgia specialist and chief of rheumatology at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in the Boston area, says hes not convinced SAM-e has much to offer people with fibromyalgia. His laboratory began and abandoned a study on SAM-e about eight years ago when it didnt appear to have any benefit for fibromyalgia patients.
However, Dr. Goldenberg notes that the SAM-e product that was used in the discontinued trial could have been too old and thus not effective. He says he would like to see more studies.
Downsides and the Bottom Line
Few rheumatologists know enough about SAM-e or its research to be able to advise you. And the appropriate dosage isnt known: Between 200 and 1,600 mg per day of SAM-e was used in studies, with the highest dosage used for depression.
SAM-e is not a cure: You have to keep taking it to get the effects, and its pricey for some: SAM-e costs approximately $60 to $230 per month, depending on the amount taken, and its not covered by insurance.
And, as with all supplements, loose regulations mean that there is no guarantee that consumers are getting active ingredients in the products they buy.
However, all agreed SAM-e appears to be safe when it is used short term. Both Bottiglieri and Dr. Brown say it can be taken with most prescription drugs, including antidepressants, under a doctors supervision. None of the experts interviewed thought SAM-e had any serious side effects "except poverty," one scientist said, half-joking about the cost of the supplement.
"We really dont have enough information to say if its effective or not," says Dr. Moskowitz. "But we need to keep an open mind."
Spotlight on SAM-e by Stacey Booth
What is SAM-e?
Not a prescription drug or an herb, SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine) is a synthetic replication of a compound that the body makes naturally from methionine, an amino acid found in protein-rich foods. Used in Europe for over twenty years, SAM-e is just beginning to make national headlines in publications like Newsweek magazine and the Los Angeles Times and in books and on major television networks.
How Does it Work?
The key to understanding the way SAM-e works is by recognizing its role in a process called methylation. Methylation happens a billion times a second throughout the body and is responsible for, among other things, the regulation of brain function, preserving bone health and protecting against heart disease. It helps regulate various hormones and neurotransmitters including serotonin, melatonin, dopamine and adrenaline. During the methylation process a molecule in the body "gives up" a methyl group comprised of four atoms to another molecule, changing both the original molecule and the recipient of the methyl group in the process. "It [SAM-e] is involved in almost everything," says Teodoro Bottiglieri, Ph.D. and co-author of the book, "Stop Depression Now," which discusses his extensive use of SAM-e to treat a number of illnesses.1
How does it ease depression?
There are a few theories. One may be SAM-e's regulation of serotonin and dopamine, which are mood-lifting neurotransmitters. This hypothesis was confirmed in one study where SAM-e was shown to cross the blood-brain barrier. This research further found that the cerebrospinal fluid levels of SAM-e were significantly lower in patients with severe depression, as compared to the control group. Researchers concluded that SAM-e has antidepressant effects.2
Actually, there is little, if any, debate over SAM-e's depression-easing abilities. In fact, SAM-e's ability to lift mood is comparable to that of standard antidepressants, yet without the possible side-effects of headache, stomach upset and sexual dysfunction that prescription drugs often bring.3 Richard Brown, who authored "Stop Depression Now" with Teodoto Bottiglieri and has treated several hundred patients with SAM-e, calls it, "...the best antidepressant I've ever prescribed. I've seen only benefits." 4
Can SAM-e Stop Pain?
SAM-e was first given to patients for use in treating depression, but when some of those same patients began to report relief from osteoarthritis joint pain, researchers began to study this second benefit of the product. Over 22,000 arthritis sufferers reported, after only four weeks of treatment, that SAM-e gave comparable results to NSAID pain relievers like ibuprofen.3 The vital distinction is that instead of causing stomach upset like NSAIDs often do, SAM-e may actually protect the stomach lining. Furthermore, animal studies show that SAM-e could help restore damaged cartilage in addition to relieving pain.1 This happens when B-vitamins convert homocysteine into the antioxidant glutathione. This glutathione conversion yields molecules called sulfate groups that actually help to restore cartilage. Proof positive: the Arthritis Foundation recently stated that they were satisfied that SAM-e provides pain relief.
Can it Treat Fibromyalgia?
Drs. Brown and Bottiglieri dedicate an entire chapter on SAM-e's positive effects on Fibromyalgia in their book, "Stop Depression Now." They state that depression and soreness, of all of FM's symptoms, are the most stubborn. They are careful to point out that the depression that is common among FM's sufferers is not a symptom of the disease, but often a by-product of living with chronic illness. They support the benefit of SAM-e's non-prescription effects: "...fibromyalgia patients get the best of all worlds--relief from depression and muscle soreness without the side-effects or possible adverse interactions with other medications." 1
They are not alone in their findings. In a study of 47 FM patients treated daily with 200mg of SAM-e intramuscularly and 400mg orally, patients reported significant reduction in tender points, significant improvement in well-being, and significant reduction in the mean scores of the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, the Zung SelRating Scale, the Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety, and the Lorish and Maisiak's Face Scale. All reported that SAM-e was well-tolerated, with no adverse side effects.5
In another study of 30 patients with FM, Sjogren's Syndrome, or both, the patients were treated with 200mg of SAM-e daily through intramuscular injection. At the end of the four week study, the patients with Sjogren's Syndrome and FM reported a significant reduction in painful areas and tender points. The patients with only Sjogren's Syndrome reported a significant reduction on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression. Finally, the patients with FM finished the trial with significant reductions in symptoms of FM, numbers of tender point areas and painful areas, pain severity scores and depression scales.6
Which SAM-e Should I Take and How Much?
Not all SAM-e is created equal and those who wish to make SAM-e a part of their supplementation program should look for two distinctive qualities before purchasing: type and coating. First, full-strength SAM-e is in a form called butanedisulfonate, which should not be confused with tosylate or SAM-e sulfate. Second, look for SAM-e tablets that are enteric coated, meaning that the tablets pass through the acidic environment of the stomach intact, and can be absorbed most efficiently by the body. Lastly, the amounts used in various SAM-e studies vary widely, leaving the consumer confused about effective dosage. The starting dose is 400mg of SAM-e daily on an empty stomach.1
Are There Are Precautions or Warnings About Taking SAM-e?
Even those who have jumped on the SAM-e bandwagon are clear to point out that it is not a "cure" for severe depression and advise consumers to consult with their physician before taking SAM-e (good advice for anyone beginning a new supplementation program).
There is at least one group of people who should avoid SAM-e: those with bi-polar disorder. Commonly called manic depression, these individuals should be aware that SAM-e may induce mania in those with the disorder.
Since the mass availability of SAM-e earlier this year, the buzz has been strong and the research to support it very promising, if not yet iron-clad. As stated above, it's a good idea to consult your physician when beginning any new supplementation program. However, it does appear that for those wishing to lift their mood, soothe painful joints and muscles, and lighten the load of FM's many symptoms, SAM-e is a safe complimentary treatment, nearly without side-effect.
Sources: 1. Brown, Richard, M.D., Bottigileri, Teodoro, Ph.D., Colman, Carol. Stop Depression Now. New York, 1999. 2. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry (England) Dec. 1990, 53 (12) p1096-8. "Cerebrospinal Fluid S-andenosylmethionine in Depression and Dementia: Effects of Treatment with Parenteral and Oral S-andenosylmethionine." 3. Cowley, Geoffrey and Underwood, Anne. "What is SAM-e?" Newsweek, July 5, 1999. 4. Curr. Ther. Res. Clin. Exp. (USA), 1994, 55/7 (797-806). "Primary Fibromyalgia is Responsive to S-adenosylmethionine." 5. Curr. Ther. Res. Clin. Exp. (USA), 1994, 55/6 (699-706). "S-adenosylmethionine in Sjogren's Syndrome and Fibromyalgia."
Oxygen Therapy Might Ease Pain of Migraine, Cluster Headaches
Straight Talk About Herbal Supplements
If you have high blood pressure, did you know you probably shouldn't take ginseng?
Or that St. John's wort can interfere with chemotherapy?
Or that garlic capsules and gingko biloba can hinder blood coagulation, a potentially major problem if you had to undergo surgery?
A new Web site created by experts at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City provides up-to-date information on the safety and efficacy of 135 of the most popular herbal remedies and dietary supplements, from bee pollen to shark cartilage and skullcap to milk thistle.
Each entry includes a summary and a critique of all the known medical studies on the supplement, as well as a link to the original research on the National Institutes of Health's Medline.
In the past decade, use of alternative treatments has skyrocketed, says Barrie Cassileth, chief of integrative medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, who started the site. "But until now there was no easy access to current, comprehensive information about these agents," she adds.
Research is under way around the globe to scientifically document the effects of hundreds of herbs and other dietary supplements.
Some studies have proven that certain natural substances do have benefits, though in nearly all cases research is mixed. The element zinc, for example, has shown promise in lessening the duration of a cold by making it difficult for the rhinovirus to replicate. And some research shows St. Johns wort can help ease depression.
But that means the converse is also true -- herbs can be dangerous.
"Herbs are powerful, biologically active products that do have important biological effects," Cassileth says. "Those effects can be useful at some times and harmful under other circumstances."
"Herbs should not be used in a casual fashion because they are serious medicines," she adds.
For instance, ginseng can cause low blood sugar in diabetics. And valerian and kava can lessen the effectiveness of prescription drugs by interfering with the liver's ability to process the medicines, Cassileth says.
Another thing to keep in mind: While much is known about the effects of herbs on the body, much more is not known.
Dietary supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or any government agency. That means the potency in one bottle of St. Johns wort, for example, can -- and often does -- vary dramatically from that in another bottle, Cassileth says.
And you can't even be sure you're getting St. Johns Wort.
"Anybody can put anything on a bottle and put it on a health food store shelf," she says. "Some of the herbal remedies have virtually none of what is assumed to be the active ingredient, some have much higher levels and some are contaminated with other substances."
On the new Web site, the 135 supplements are listed in alphabetical order by scientific name. The common name is below it. (Acanthopanax Senticosus is better known as ginseng. Allium Sativun is better known as garlic).
Each entry includes the brand names the herb is sold under, its purported uses, its chemical properties, and what's known about how the herb works on the body.
Each entry also includes a summary and a critique of all the known published medical studies, instances of adverse reactions, and warnings about potentially dangerous drug interactions.
Each critique is fully cited and linked to Medline, so that doctors or patients can retrieve the original research and read further if they wish.
The site will be continually updated, Cassileth says. In a few weeks, Cassileth and her colleagues are planning to launch a second Web site that will be less technical and more easily understood by patients.
Dr. David Rosenthal, past president of the American Cancer Society, endorses the Web site.
"This resource is an invaluable tool for both doctors and patients looking for comprehensive information about dietary supplements," Rosenthal says.
Herbs And Drugs: Never Mix, Never Worry Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter
Dr. Dean. Ive discussed the dangers of taking ginkgo with aspirin. It can increase your risk of a stroke, but this isnt mentioned on product labels. MY COMMENTS - This would also apply to Ibuprofen.)
In fact, ginkgo shouldnt be used with any anticoagulant drugs or with vitamin E, according to a nutrition newsletter from Tufts University. The reason is ginkgo acts as a blood thinner and taking it with other blood-thinning agents can put you at-risk for excessive bleeding or even stroke.
Shouldnt manufacturers be required to mention the adverse effects of mixing some herbs and drugs? Ginkgo isnt the only one you have to be careful with. Echinacea is an immune stimulant commonly used to ward off colds, but it shouldnt be mixed with corticosteroids, which work to suppress the immune system.
Here are some other examples of herbs and medicines that shouldnt go together:
--Echinacea Might counteract immune-suppressant drugs such as glucocorticoids taken for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Might increase side effects of methotrexate.
Primrose oil Can counteract the effects of anti-convulsant drugs.
--Folic acid: Interferes with methotrexate; ask your doctor how to take it.
--Ginseng: Dont mix with coumadin (warfarin) because the herb can reverse the drugs effects.
--G.L.A.: May increase effects of blood-thinning drugs and herbs.
--Garlic Can increase effects of blood-thinning drugs and herbs.
--Ginger: Can increase NSAID side effects and effects of blood-thinning drugs and herbs
--Ginkgo: May increase effects of blood-thinning drugs and herbs.
--Ginseng May increase effects of blood-thinning drugs, estrogens and glucocorticoids; shouldnt be used by those with diabetes; may interact with MAO inhibitors.
--Kava Kava: Dont mix with alcohol, anti-Parkinsons medications, antipsychotics, sedatives, sleeping pills. The reason is kava can add to the effects of drugs that depress the central nervous system, causing oversedation as well as tremors, muscle spasms or abnormal movements.
--Natural licorice: Dont mix with blood pressure medication because of the risk of counteracting the effects of the drugs treating hypertension.
--Magnesium: May interact with blood pressure medications.
--St. Johns Wort: Dont mix with antidepressants. Studies raise concerns of adverse side effects from the interaction. May enhance effects of narcotics, alcohol, and antidepressants; increase risk of sunburn; interfere with iron absorption.
--Valerian: Dont use with alcohol, sedatives or sleeping pills because it may result in extreme drowsiness.
interfere with glucocorticoids and other immunosuppressing drugs.
If mixing herbs and certain drugs causes adverse effects, shouldnt we be aware of this? I think herbal supplement labels should include these warnings.
Chinese Herbal Medicines May Contain Modern Drugs By Richard Woodman
(Reuters Health) - Chinese herbal medicines may sometimes work--and may sometimes cause
serious harm--because they are adulterated with synthetic drugs, a British research group
said on Tuesday.
Herbal medication: potential for adverse interactions with analgesic drugs.
Abebe W. Department of Oral Biology and Maxillofacial Pathology, School of Dentistry,
Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA, USA.
Updated: Mon, Sep 03 10:28 AM EDT By Patricia Reaney
GLASGOW, Scotland (Reuters) - A cannabis spray used under the tongue helps to relieve the suffering of multiple sclerosis patients and people suffering from chronic pain, a British doctor said Monday.
The spray contains extracts from the drug and allows doctors to control dosage effectively and measure the effects.
So far the results have been encouraging.
"We are finding it is useful for a lot of patients," Dr. William Notcutt of James Paget Hospital in Great Yarmouth in eastern England
told a science conference in Glasgow.
An estimated one person in 12 experience chronic pain.
Notcutt tested the spray, which was developed and supplied by the British company GW Pharmaceuticals, in patients with experience of cannabis and in others who were not familiar with the drug.
The spray totally relieved pain in some patients while it helped others get a good night's sleep, which Notcutt said is a blessed
event for many chronic pain sufferers.
In addition to providing valuable information about the effectiveness of the drug in easing chronic pain, Notcutt told the British
Association for the Advancement of Science Conference that the study was also providing data on the best dosage and side effects.
"We need much more basic information on how to use this," he said.
Although the use of cannabis is illegal in most countries, patients with diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis have been
lobbying to use cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Only three patients out of the 23 in the two groups said they received no benefit from the spray. Side effects included a high
level of euphoria, or "high," panic attacks and fainting.
Notcutt refused to be drawn on whether his research would provide further support to those seeking to legalese cannabis.
"Our goal has been to return people to an active life," he said, adding that one patient had returned to work and others had resumed
GW Pharmaceuticals, set up in 1997, operates under licenses from the British Home Office (interior ministry) to cultivate, possess and supply cannabis for medical research.
It grows cannabis in secure, computer-controlled glasshouses in southern England. The plants used in the trials were grown to
maximize the benefits of cannabinoids, the active ingredient in cannabis.
Notcutt said the use of cannabis extracts for pain could pave the way for the drug to be used for other conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, surgical premedication, epilepsy and eating disorders.
Peppermint ( Mentha x piperita ), a popular flavoring for gum, toothpaste, and tea, also serves as a calming agent to soothe an an upset stomach or to aid in digestion. Because it has a calming and numbing effect, it has been used to treat headaches, skin irritations, anxiety associated with depression, nausea, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, and flatulence. It is also widely used to treat symptoms of the common cold. These and other conditions for which peppermint may be beneficial are listed below.
Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
and Skin Irritations
Peppermint plants grow to about two feet tall. They bloom from July through August, sprouting tiny purple flowers in whorls and terminal spikes. Simple, toothed, and fragrant leaves grow opposite the flowers. Peppermint is native to Europe and Asia, is naturalized to North America, and grows wild in moist, temperate areas. Some varieties are indigenous to South Africa, South America, and Australia.
What's It Made Of?
Peppermint preparations start with the leaves and flowering tops of the plant. These contain a volatile oil, peppermint's primary active component, menthol.
Peppermint tea is prepared from dried leaves of the plant. Such teas are widely available commercially.
Peppermint spirit (tincture) in an alcoholic solution containing 10% peppermint oil and 1% peppermint leaf extract. A tincture can be prepared by adding 1 part peppermint oil to 9 parts pure grain alcohol.
Enteric-coated capsules, which are specially coated to allow the capsule to pass through the stomach and into the intestine (0.2 mL of peppermint oil per capsule)
Creams or ointments (should contain 1% to 16% menthol)
How to Take It
For digestion and upset stomach: 1 to 2 mL peppermint glycerite per day
Peppermint tea soothes an upset stomach and can aid digestion. It can be prepared using the infusion method of pouring boiling water over the herb and then steeping for 3 to 5 minutes. Use 1 to 2 tsp of dried peppermint leaf to 8 oz of hot water.
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, contain active substances that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a practitioner knowledgeable in the field of botanical medicine.
Peppermint tea is generally a safe way to soothe an upset stomach. However, peppermint should not be used by those with gastoesophageal reflux disease (GERD -- a condition in which stomach acids back up into the esophagus) even though some of the symptoms include indigestion and heartburn. This is because peppermint can relax the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus, allowing stomach acids to flow back into the esophagus. (The sphincter is the muscle that separates the esophagus from the stomach.) By relaxing the sphincter, peppermint may actually worsen the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.
Pregnant or nursing mothers should drink peppermint tea only in moderation and those with a history of miscarriage should not use peppermint at all while pregnant.
Rare negative reactions to enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules may include skin rash, slowed heart rate, and muscle tremors.
or peppermint oil applied to the skin can cause contact dermatitis or other type of rash,
including, possibly hives. Some have described hot flashes from the oil. It should be kept
away from the eyes and other mucus membranes and should not be inhaled by or applied to
the face of an infant or small child. Peppermint oil should be diluted and taken in very
small amounts, since it can cause negative reactions such as those listed above, cramping
and diarrhea, as well as, rarely drowsiness, tremor, muscle pain, slowed heart rate, and,
in severe cases of overdose, coma. Pure menthol is poisonous and should never be taken
internally. It is important not to confuse oil and tincture preparations.
Abdullah D, Ping QN, Liu G. Enhancing effect of essential oils on the penetration of 5-fluorouracil through rat skin. Yao Hsueh Hsueh Pao . 1996;31(3):214221.
Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs . Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:297-303.
Briggs CJ, Briggs GL. Herbal products in depression therapy. CPJ/RPC. November 1998;40-44.
Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions . Sandy, Oregon: Eclectic medical Publications. 1998:111, 173-175.
Dew MJ, Evans BK, Rhodes J. Peppermint oil for the irritable bowel syndrome: a multicentre trial. Br J Clin Pract . 1984;(1112):394, 398.
Gobel H, Schmidt G, Soyka D. Effect of peppermint and eucalyptus oil preparations on neurophysiological and experimental algesimetric headache parameters. Cephalalgia . 1994;14(3):228-234.
Hills J. The mechanism of action of peppermint oil on gastrointestinal smooth muscle. Gastroenterology . 1991;101:5565.
Kline RM, Kline JJ, Di Palma J, Barbero GJ. Enteric-coated, pH-dependent peppermint oil capsules for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome in children. J Pediatr . 2001;138(1):125-128.
Koch TR. Peppermint oil and irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol . 1998;93:23042305.
Liu JH, Chen GH, Yeh HZ, Huang CK, Poon SK. Enteric-coated peppermint-oil capsules in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective, randomized trial.
J Gastroenterol. 1997;32(6):765-768.
Pittler MH, Ernst E. Peppermint oil for irritable bowel syndrome: a critical review and meta-analysis. Am J Gastroenterol . 1998;93(7):11311135.
Pizzorno JE, Murray MT. Textbook of Natural Medicine . New York: Churchill Livingstone; 1999:827-829, 1361-1362, 1558.
Robbers JE, Tyler VE. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals . New York, NY: The Haworth Herbal Press; 1999: 67-68.
Woolf A. Essential oil poisoning. Clinical Toxicology . 1999;37(6):721-727.
Review Date: 4/1/2002
By: Participants in the review process include: Steven Dentali, PhD (April 1999), Senior
Director of Botanical Science, Rexall Sundown, Boca Raton, FL; Jacqueline A. Hart, MD,
Department of Internal Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Harvard University and Senior
Medical Editor Integrative Medicine, Boston, MA; Gary Kracoff, RPh (Pediatric Dosing
section February 2001), Johnson Drugs, Natick, MA; Steven Ottariono, RPh (Pediatric Dosing
section February 2001), Veteran's Administrative Hospital, Londonderry, NH; R. Lynn
Shumake, PD, Director, Alternative Medicine Apothecary, Blue Mountain Apothecary &
Healing Arts, University of Maryland Medical Center, Glenwood, MD; Tom Wolfe, P.AHG (March
1999), Smile Herb Shop, College Park, MD. All interaction sections have also been reviewed
by a team of experts including Joseph Lamb, MD (July 2000), The Integrative Medicine
Works, Alexandria, VA;Enrico Liva, ND, RPh (August 2000), Vital Nutrients, Middletown, CT;
Brian T Sanderoff, PD, BS in Pharmacy (March 2000), Clinical Assistant Professor,
University of Maryland School of Pharmacy; President, Your Prescription for Health, Owings
Mills, MD; Ira Zunin, MD, MPH, MBA (July 2000), President and Chairman, Hawaii State
Consortium for Integrative Medicine, Honolulu, HI.
OBJECTIVE: Peppermint oil is the major constituent of several over-the-counter remedies for symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). As the etiology of IBS is not known and treatment is symptomatic, there is a ready market for such products. However, evidence to support their use is sparse. The aim of this study was to review the clinical trials of extracts of peppermint (Mentha X piperita L.) as a symptomatic treatment for IBS. METHODS: Computerized literature searches were performed to identify all randomized controlled trials of peppermint oil for IBS. Databases included Medline, Embase, Biosis, CISCOM, and the Cochrane Library. There were no restrictions on the language of publication. Data were extracted in a standardized, predefined fashion, independently by both authors. Five double blind, randomized, controlled trials were entered into a metaanalysis. RESULTS: Eight randomized, controlled trials were located. Collectively they indicate that peppermint oil could be efficacious for symptom relief in IBS. A metaanalysis of five placebo-controlled, double blind trials seems to support this notion. In view of the methodological flaws associated with most studies, no definitive judgment about efficacy can be given. CONCLUSION: The role of peppermint oil in the symptomatic treatment of IBS has so far not been established beyond reasonable doubt. Well designed and carefully executed studies are needed to clarify the issue.
PMID: 9672344 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Peppermint oil Overview
Peppermint oil and capsules have not been studied as extensively as other treatments for I.B.S. We will list what we learn in order to help you make an informed decision on your own health care. The information offered below is a combination of study items and antedotal information.
Peppermint oil relieves pain and bloating by relaxing the bowel muscles.
Peppermint oil is available in capsule form. You can obtain a prescription from your doctor or buy it OTC (over-the-counter) under the name Colpermin.
Two known studies state that peppermint oil was better than a placebo in relieving I.B.S. symptoms.
Only enteric capsules should be taken to avoid irritation to the mouth, esophagus and stomach.
Three out of ten people taking the capsules reported nausea, heartburn and blurred vision.
Author: Laurie Barclay, MD
April 13, 2007 Peppermint oil is effective in treating digestive disorders and other conditions including headaches, although high dosages may cause adverse effects, according to the results of a review reported in the April 1 issue of American Family Physician.
"The medicinal use of peppermint and other mint plants probably dates back to the herbal pharmacopoeia of ancient Greece, where peppermint leaf traditionally was used internally as a digestive aid and for management of gallbladder disease; it also was used in inhaled form for upper respiratory symptoms and cough," write Benjamin Kligler, MD, MPH, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York, and Sapna Chaudhary, DO, from the Beth Israel Continuum Center for Health and Healing in New York. "Peppermint oil, which is extracted from the stem, leaves, and flowers of the plant, has become popular as a treatment for a variety of conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), headache, and non-ulcer dyspepsia."
Specific applications of note are as follows:
Although peppermint oil is well tolerated at the commonly recommended dosage, it may cause significant adverse effects at higher dosages. Common adverse effects include allergic reactions, heartburn, perianal burning, blurred vision, nausea, and vomiting. Interstitial nephritis and acute renal failure are rare.
Because peppermint oil may inhibit the cytochrome P450 1A2 system, it may interact with drugs metabolized via this system.
Peppermint oil is contraindicated in patients with hiatal hernia, severe gastroesophageal reflux, and gallbladder disorders and should be used with caution in pregnant and lactating women.
The recommended dosage is 0.2 to 0.4 mL of peppermint oil 3 times daily in enteric-coated capsules for adults, and 0.1 to 0.2 mL of peppermint oil 3 times daily for children older than 8 years.
Cost is approximately $24 to $32 for a 1-month supply.
"Peppermint oil should not be used internally or on or near the face in infants and young children because of its potential to cause bronchospasm, tongue spasms, and, possibly, respiratory arrest," the authors conclude. "However, the amount of peppermint in over-the-counter medications, topical preparations, and herbal teas is likely safe in pregnant and lactating women and in young children."
The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
Am Fam Physician. 2007;75:1027-1030.
Peppermint has been used as a medicinal substance for thousands of years. Most modern preparations of peppermint use its oil, which usually is provided with an enteric coating to prevent gastroesophageal reflux. This oil contains menthol, menthone, cineol, and other oils, and there is evidence that this combination of compounds can relax gastrointestinal smooth muscle as well as lower esophageal sphincter pressure.
Peppermint oil has been used to treat not only gastrointestinal complaints but also headache. The current article reviews the efficacy and safety of peppermint oil for these indications.
Pearls for Practice
A Phase I Study on the Feasibility and Acceptability of an Acupuncture/Hypnosis Intervention for Chronic Pediatric Pain. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management , Volume 24 , Issue 4 , Pages 437 - 446 L . Zeltzer
Abstract: The purpose of the present study was to conduct a Phase I investigation examining the feasibility and acceptability of a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) package combining acupuncture and hypnosis for chronic pediatric pain. Thirty-three sequentially referred children (21 girls) aged 618 years were offered 6 weekly sessions consisting of individually tailored acupuncture treatment together with a 20-minute hypnosis session (conducted while the needles were in place). Parent and child ratings of pain and pain-related interferences in functioning, as well as child ratings of anxiety and depression, were obtained at pre- and post-treatment. The treatment was highly acceptable (only 2 patients refused; = 90% completed treatment) and there were no adverse effects. Both parents and children reported significant improvements in children's pain and interference following treatment. Children's anticipatory anxiety declined significantly across treatment sessions. Our results support the feasibility and acceptability of a combined acupuncture/hypnosis intervention for chronic pediatric pain.
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