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Archive for the ‘National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’ Category

Using Dietary Supplements Wisely

July 18, 2014 Comments off

Using Dietary Supplements Wisely
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Like many Americans, you may take dietary supplements in an effort to stay healthy. With so many dietary supplements available and so many claims made about their health benefits, how can you decide whether a supplement is safe or useful? This fact sheet provides a general overview of dietary supplements, discusses safety considerations, and suggests sources for additional information.

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Mind and Body Practices for Fibromyalgia

July 8, 2014 Comments off

Mind and Body Practices for Fibromyalgia
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Fibromyalgia syndrome is a common and chronic disorder characterized by widespread pain, diffuse tenderness, fatigue, and a number of other symptoms that can interfere with a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. It is estimated that fibromyalgia affects 5 million American adults. Most people with fibromyalgia—between 80 and 90 percent—are women. However, men and children also can have the disorder, which is often associated with other syndromes. The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, but there are probably a number of factors involved. Recently, researchers have focused on abnormalities in processing of pain by the central nervous system.

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Current diagnostic criteria are available from the American College of Rheumatology. Treatment often involves an individualized approach that may include both pharmacologic therapies (prescription drugs, analgesics, and NSAIDs) and nonpharmacologic interventions such as exercise, muscle strength training, cognitive behavioral therapy, movement/body awareness practices, massage, acupuncture, and balneotherapy.

Melatonin: What You Need To Know

June 4, 2014 Comments off

Melatonin: What You Need To Know
Source: National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine

What’s the Bottom Line?

How much do we know about melatonin supplements?
Researchers have conducted many studies on whether melatonin supplements may help people with various sleep disorders; however, important questions remain about its usefulness, how much to take and when to take it, and long-term safety.

What do we know about the usefulness of melatonin supplements?
Melatonin supplements may help some people with certain sleep disorders, including jet lag, sleep problems related to shift work, and delayed sleep phase disorder (one in which people go to bed but can’t fall asleep until hours later), and insomnia.

What do we know about the safety of melatonin supplements?
Melatonin supplements appear to be safe when used short-term; less is known about long-term safety.

NCCAM Clinical Digest: Dietary Supplements for Osteoarthritis

June 2, 2014 Comments off

NCCAM Clinical Digest: Dietary Supplements for Osteoarthritis
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Osteoarthritis, which affects an estimated 27 million Americans, is a leading cause of disability in older adults. Because the general population is aging and obesity, a major risk factor, is increasing in prevalence, the occurrence of osteoarthritis is on the rise. Clinical practice guidelines issued by the American College of Rheumatology recommend aerobic exercise and/or strength training, weight loss (if overweight), and a number of pharmacological and non-pharmacological modalities for treating OA of the knee, hip, or hand.

Many people with OA report trying various dietary supplements in an effort to relieve pain and improve function. However, there is no convincing evidence that any dietary supplement helps with OA symptoms or the underlying course of the disease. This issue of the digest summarizes current scientific evidence about several dietary supplements most often used by people with OA, including glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) and Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), and herbal remedies.

Sleep Disorders and Complementary Health Approaches : What the Science Says

May 2, 2014 Comments off

Sleep Disorders and Complementary Health Approaches: What the Science Says
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Discusses Mind and Body Techniques, Dietary Supplements

See also: 5 Things To Know About Sleep Disorders and Complementary Health Approaches

Acupuncture Research – Areas of High and Low Programmatic Priorities

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Acupuncture Research – Areas of High and Low Programmatic Priorities
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

On this page:

  • Published Research
  • Areas of High Programmatic Priority
  • Areas of Low Programmatic Priority
  • NCCAM Contact Information
  • Selected References

NCCAM Clinical Digest: Chronic Low-Back Pain and Complementary Health Approaches

April 4, 2014 Comments off

NCCAM Clinical Digest: Chronic Low-Back Pain and Complementary Health Approaches
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

This issue of the digest summarizes current scientific evidence about spinal manipulation, acupuncture, massage, and yoga, the complementary approaches most often used by people for chronic low back pain.

Massage Therapy for Health Purposes: What You Need To Know

February 27, 2014 Comments off

Massage Therapy for Health Purposes: What You Need To Know
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

A lot of the scientific research on massage therapy is preliminary or conflicting, but much of the evidence points toward beneficial effects on pain and other symptoms associated with a number of different conditions. Much of the evidence suggests that these effects are short term and that people need to keep getting massages for the benefits to continue.

Credentialing: Understanding the Education, Training, Regulation, and Licensing of Complementary Health Practitioners

February 14, 2014 Comments off

Credentialing: Understanding the Education, Training, Regulation, and Licensing of Complementary Health Practitioners
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Health care providers’ credentials—the licenses, certificates, and diplomas on their office walls—tell us about their professional qualifications to advise and treat us. In the United States, local and state governments and professional organizations establish the credentials that complementary health practitioners need to treat patients. This fact sheet provides a general overview of the credentialing of practitioners and suggests sources for additional information.

Chronic Pain and Complementary Health Approaches: What You Need To Know

February 12, 2014 Comments off

Chronic Pain and Complementary Health Approaches: What You Need To Know
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

What’s the Bottom Line?

Are complementary health approaches for chronic pain safe?
There’s no simple answer to this question. Although many of the complementary approaches studied for chronic pain have good safety records, that doesn’t mean that they’re risk-free for everyone. Your age, health, special circumstances (such as pregnancy), and medicines or supplements that you take may affect the safety of complementary approaches.

Are any complementary health approaches for chronic pain effective?
The currently available evidence is not strong enough to allow definite conclusions to be reached about whether complementary approaches are effective for chronic pain. However, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that some of these approaches, such as massage, spinal manipulation, and yoga, may help to manage some painful conditions.

Ayurvedic Medicine: An Introduction

September 19, 2013 Comments off

Ayurvedic Medicine: An Introduction
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

Ayurvedic medicine (also called Ayurveda) is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. It originated in India more than 3,000 years ago and remains one of the country’s traditional health care systems. Its concepts about health and disease promote the use of herbal compounds, special diets, and other unique health practices. India’s government and other institutes throughout the world support clinical and laboratory research on Ayurvedic medicine, within the context of the Eastern belief system. But Ayurvedic medicine is not widely studied as part of conventional (Western) medicine. This fact sheet provides a general overview of Ayurvedic medicine and suggests sources for additional information.

Finding and Evaluating Online Resources on Complementary Health Approaches

September 18, 2013 Comments off

Finding and Evaluating Online Resources on Complementary Health Approaches
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

The number of Web sites offering health-related resources—including information about complementary health approaches (often called complementary and alternative medicine)—grows every day. Social media sites have also become an important source of online health information for some people. Many online health resources are useful, but others may present information that is inaccurate or misleading, so it’s important to find sources you can trust and to know how to evaluate their content. This guide provides help for finding reliable Web sites and outlines things to consider in evaluating health information from Web sites and social media sources.

Clinical Digest — Spotlight on a Modality: Omega-3 Fatty Acids

September 9, 2013 Comments off

Clinical Digest — Spotlight on a Modality: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Omega-3 fatty acids have been in the news lately, after a new study raises concern about the association of omega-3s and an increased risk of prostate cancer. Omega-3s are a popular supplement used by many Americans. In fact, according to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey on the use of complementary health practices by Americans, fish oil/omega-3/DHA supplements are the natural product (excluding vitamins and minerals) most commonly taken by adults, and the second most commonly taken by children.

Moderate evidence has emerged about the health benefits of consuming seafood, but the health benefits of omega-3s in supplement form are less clear. For example, the findings of individual studies on omega-3 supplements and heart disease have been inconsistent, and in 2012, two combined analyses of the results of these studies did not find convincing evidence that omega-3s protect against heart disease.

There is some evidence that omega-3s are modestly helpful in relieving symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-3s may also be helpful for age-related macular degeneration (AMD; an eye disease that can cause loss of vision in older people). For most other conditions for which omega-3s are being studied, definitive conclusions cannot yet be reached. This issue of the digest provides information on what the science says about omega-3’s effectiveness and safety for several conditions for which there is the most evidence, including heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, infant development, and diseases of the eye and brain.

Passionflower

August 19, 2013 Comments off

Passionflower
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

This fact sheet provides basic information about passionflower—common names, what the science says, potential side effects and cautions, and resources for more information.

Sixteenth-century Spanish explorers learned of passionflower in Peru. Native peoples of the Americas used passionflower for boils, wounds, earaches, and liver problems. Today, passionflower is promoted as a folk or traditional remedy for anxiety, stress, and sleep, as well as for heart ailments, asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, burns, and hemorrhoids.

Passionflower is available dried (which can be used to make tea), or as liquid extract, capsules, or tablets.

Spotlight on a Modality: Oral Probiotics

July 31, 2013 Comments off

Spotlight on a Modality: Oral Probiotics
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

Probiotics are live microorganisms (e.g., bacteria) that are either the same as or similar to microorganisms found naturally in the human body and may be beneficial to health. Probiotics are available to consumers in oral products such as dietary supplements and yogurts, as well as other products such as suppositories and creams. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any health claims for probiotics.

There is mounting evidence that probiotics can have beneficial effects on human health. Possible mechanisms under active investigation include altering the intestinal “microecology” (e.g., reducing harmful organisms in the intestine), producing antimicrobial compounds (substances that destroy or suppress the growth of microorganisms), and stimulating the body’s immune response.

Probiotics commonly used in the United States include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. There are many specific types of bacteria within each of these two broad groups, and health benefits associated with one type may not hold true for others. This issue of the digest provides information on what the science says about probiotics, with an emphasis on oral products.

Backgrounder — Homeopathy: An Introduction

July 30, 2013 Comments off

Homeopathy: An Introduction
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

Key Points

  • There is little evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any specific condition.
  • Although people sometimes assume that all homeopathic remedies are highly diluted and therefore unlikely to cause harm, some products labeled as homeopathic can contain substantial amounts of active ingredients and therefore could cause side effects and drug interactions.
  • Homeopathic remedies are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, FDA does not evaluate the remedies for safety or effectiveness.
  • Several key concepts of homeopathy are inconsistent with fundamental concepts of chemistry and physics. There are significant challenges in carrying out rigorous clinical research on homeopathic remedies.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health practices you use. Give them a full picture of all you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Asthma and Complementary Health Approaches

July 8, 2013 Comments off

Asthma and Complementary Health Approaches
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects people of all ages. It causes episodes of wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Although there is no cure, most people with asthma are able to manage the disease with medications and behavioral changes.

Researchers also are studying various complementary health approaches for asthma relief. This fact sheet provides basic information about asthma, summarizes scientific research on the effectiveness and safety of complementary health approaches for asthma, and suggests sources for additional information.

Cancer and Complementary Health Approaches

July 3, 2013 Comments off

Cancer and Complementary Health Approaches
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

People with cancer want to do everything they can to combat the disease, manage its symptoms, and cope with the side effects of treatment. Many turn to complementary health approaches, including natural products, such as herbs (botanicals) and other dietary supplements, and mind and body practices, such as acupuncture, massage, and yoga.

This fact sheet was produced through a collaboration between the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). It provides an introductory overview of complementary health approaches that have been studied for cancer prevention, treatment of the disease, or symptom management, including what the science says about their effectiveness and any concerns that have been raised about their safety.

NCCAM Clinical Digest: Weight Loss and Complementary Health Practices

June 21, 2013 Comments off

NCCAM Clinical Digest: Weight Loss and Complementary Health Practices

Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

More than two-thirds of adults and one-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese. Achieving a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and being physically active can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar—and may also help prevent weight-related diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as you know.

Your patients may ask you about complementary health approaches for losing weight, such as dietary supplements marketed for weight loss, which are available in supermarkets, pharmacies, health food stores, and the Internet. Although patients may be tempted by the “quick fix” claims of these products, most of these products haven’t been proven safe or effective. Two important safety concerns about dietary supplements for weight loss are the possibilities of drug interactions and product contamination. This issue provides information on “what the science says” about a few popular dietary supplements marketed for weight loss, including acai, bitter orange, ephedra, and green tea, as well as several mind and body practices that are being studied for weight loss.

Seasonal Allergies and Complementary Health Practices

May 6, 2013 Comments off

Seasonal Allergies and Complementary Health Practices

Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Seasonal allergies, also called “hay fever,” are a common chronic medical problem. At least 17.7 million American adults (7.8 percent of the adult population) and 7 million children (about 9 percent of children) have seasonal allergies.

People manage seasonal allergies by taking medication, avoiding exposure to the substances that trigger their allergic reactions, having a series of “allergy shots” (a form of immunotherapy) or using various complementary approaches. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, “respiratory allergy” is among the 15 conditions for which children in the United States use complementary approaches most frequently. This issue of the Digest provides information on what the science says about several complementary health approaches for seasonal allergies, such as saline nasal irrigation, butterbur, honey, acupuncture, and other practices.

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