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What empirical, peer-reviewed evidence exists to support "alternative" medicine recommendations?
There is a growing body of evidence to support “alternative” medicine recommendations. Two excellent sources are the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and the evidence database from Cochrane which includes work on complementary and alternative medicine.Large medical centers, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Duke, the University of Arizona, Georgetown, and George Washington schools of medicine, have embraced integrative medicine as an evidence-based approach. A government-funded 2010 survey of more than 700 U.S. hospitals found that 49 percent of respondents primarily offered CAM because of patient demand, while another 24 percent said such services reflected their organizational mission.Other motivations included clinical effectiveness (45 percent), attracting new patients (41 percent), and differentiation from competitors (36 percent).More than 70 U.S. academic health centers with integrative medicine programs are members of the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine & Health. There is a corresponding European Society of Integrative Medicine and a global International Society for Complementary Medicine Research.There is even an integrative medicine specialty designation through the American Board of Physician Specialties.In addition, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, which is specifically focused on complementary and integrative health practices.The American College of Physicians, the Department of Defense and Veterans Health Administration, and the Joint Commission have added CAM approaches to their practice guidelines especially in the area of pain management.An estimated one in three U.S. adults uses some form of CAM, primarily in conjunction with conventional medicine rather than as a substitute. During 2007 US adults spent $33.9 BILLION dollars on out of pocket costs for CAM modalities.Global use varies from 20% to 80% depending on the country.However, even if a practice is shown to be safe and effective, it is not wise to merely substitute a medication with a CAM approach without a doctor’s guidance. It is critical to integrate alternative and self-care within your current system of care. The term “integrative care” surfaces as a buzz word in the industry; however many health care systems struggle to provide care that combines the best of traditional and non-traditional medicine with self-care.Mind body practices are a common alternative practice. Mind-body techniques have been shown to be helpful in the treatment of cancer symptoms, high blood pressure, asthma, coronary heart disease, obesity, pain, insomnia, diabetes, fibromyalgia and a host of other ailments.Most mind-body therapies evoke a relaxation response that directly counters the stress response. Mind-body practices increase brain connectivity between the left and right hemispheres, enhance cerebral blood flow, enlarge gray matter in areas associated with memory, learning and self-regulation, and alter immune function (Newberg et al., 2010; Vestergaard-Poulson et al., 2009; Davidson et al., 2003).MULTI-MODAL PRACTICESA systematic review of 116 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of multi-modal mind-body-spirit training programs (e.g., guided imagery, breath work, progressive muscle relaxation, relaxation response, mindfulness, yoga) found statistically significant improvements on stress, distress, anxiety, coping, burnout and trauma-related thoughts, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms (Crawford et al., 2013)The clinical populations that were helped include adult and pediatric patients with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic headaches, cancer, heart disease, HIV, heart surgery, anxiety, depression, PTSD and schizophrenia.MINDFULNESSMindfulness is one of the most effective and well-researched mind-body skills. More than 2,500 studies in the past 20 years have demonstrated the positive impact of mindfulness on physical, emotional, cognitive and psychological well-being.MINDFULNESS-BASED STRESS REDUCTION (MBSR)A meta-analysis of 20 controlled and observational studies of MBSR in diverse populations found significant effects for mental and physical outcomes in both clinical and nonclinical populations. Effects included decreasing emotional distress and anxiety, improving pain perception, and increasing well-being and quality of life. Clinical populations that were helped included patients with fibromyalgia, cancer, heart disease, depression, chronic pain, anxiety, obesity and binge eating (Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, & Walach, 2004).In another study, a review of 21 RCTs found MBSR is a useful method for improving mental health and reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. The authors recommended it in medical disease management to improve health-related quality of life (Fjorback, Arendt, Ornbøl, Fink, & Walach, 2011).For additional therapies including acupuncture, nutrition, yoga and massage, I provide evidence summaries on my website.Dr. Wayne Jonas is Executive Director at the Samueli Integrative Health Programs and the author of How Healing Works.
If all parents in your child’s school were asked not to include peanut products in their lunches because some kids have life-threatening allergies, would you comply or insist on your child’s right to eat whatever he or she wants at school?
Somehow, when two adults with no allergies came together to produce two children, we hit the universal lottery and received two kids with food allergies.While in daycare, Cassidy had a series of strange vomitings. We’d observed them, too. We couldn’t put a trigger to what was causing them until daycare served her a tortilla with some peanut butter spread on it. She broke out in hives and threw up. Our daughter now had to worry about peanut butter—which seemed to be in great abundance in daycare centers. Fortunately, the kids were still eating in high-chairs and it was fairly easy for the staff to keep any peanut butter off of her tray. She didn’t seem to have any problems with the smell. She had to ingest the food to have a reaction.Parents don’t think about kids having allergies and we were no different. Our girl was four and our son was still in a high chair. It was a beautiful Monday morning of a three-day Memorial Day weekend. We’d decided to make South Beach Pancakes for breakfast. Mostly, they contain instant oats and Egg-Beaters egg whites. I mixed them up and we decided to eat on our back patio. There were no peanuts in our breakfast, of course as we’d already modified our eating to keep it away from Cassidy.My wife and I were just about done eating. My wife asked if I thought our son might want to try a pancake. He was beginning to gum solid food, so I said sure. Let’s tear one up for him. Our daughter had eaten most of hers when her head lolled to one side and she pointed toward the glass-top table. She said, “Thaddy, dares an anth on the thableth.”What the hell?My wife and I assessed her. She was clearly altered. She couldn’t speak clearly and she was lethargic. We made the decision. We had to call 911. We live 3 blocks from the fire station. We heard the sirens immediately and they arrived within minutes. They put our daughter on a stretcher and started taking her vitals. They put her on oxygen and she started to perk up a bit.My wife was holding our son. “Clint. There’s something wrong with Ryan.”I looked at him. He was gasping for air in sharp wheezing barks. Clearly, he couldn’t breathe. I called to the fire captain and pointed to my son. Within moments, our daughter was off the stretcher and my son was on it and we were off to the hospital.My readers know that I have two great kids, so of course, they were okay after our trip to the local Emergency Room.What we didn’t know before that morning that we soon learned was that our daughter was allergic to ants. The ant she had seen had bitten her and she was reacting to the toxin. Fortunately, it was short-lived and wore off rather quickly. She was already recovering when the paramedics arrived. We learned that my son is allergic to eggs. Thus began our lives as parents of allergic children. South Beach Pancakes will forever be known in our home as, “Dad’s Killer Pancakes” as we could have lost both of our kids on one happy Monday morning.We had both kids allergy tested. Cassidy was allergic to anything with the word “nut” in it. Peanuts, tree nuts, etc. Ryan was allergic to eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish. He’d never consumed a nut in his life, but he was allergic to all of them.For their entire tenure in public schools, they had to sit at the allergy table with other kids with known food allergies. Both have to eat their toxin to have a reaction. Smelling peanut butter doesn’t trigger them. In that, we are lucky. Others are not. If our kids consume a trigger, they get hives and then throw up and it usually ends. Not a pleasant experience, but it seems self-limiting and correcting. Once they toss their cookies, the incident is mostly finished. They get really tired after, but they sleep it off and wake up feeling better. Both have to carry Epi-Pens everywhere they/we go.We read the ingredients of EVERYTHING.This is the part that you don’t get. When I say, “you” I mean the folks who don’t deal with allergic kids. Some products have the common allergens listed below the ingredients, making it easy to sort out eggs or nuts from thiamin and niacin and riboflavin and red dye number 6. Others don’t and we have to dig through all of the chemicals to sort out the trigger words that mean we can’t buy that product.You are used to buying hotdog buns when you want to eat hot dogs. You don’t have to ask the clerk at the Circle K if he can find the bag the buns came in so you can know if your kid can have a hotdog with a bun, or not. They still charge you for the bun, even if your kid can’t eat it. You aren’t used to asking to talk to the cooks when the wait staff can’t answer questions about allergens in the food. You aren’t used to having the allergy talk with any parent interested in asking your kid over for a sleepover and then teaching them how to use an Epi-Pen. When my son prepares to go to Boy Scout Camp, the leaders always ask if any kids besides Ryan have food allergies. They are all well-acquainted with his and they have a copy of the allergy form that already has his needs listed in the template.We are totally immersed in food allergy concerns. You are not. So, when I encounter those of you who insist that your kid isn’t going to adapt to help protect my child…that’s fine. You get added to the list of people who will not be hosting my kid at your birthday parties or sleepovers.Our kids play soccer. When they were on younger teams, somebody was always designated “snack parent” to reward the tikes with a snack after the game. Each week, we’d contact the snack parent and politely ask if they could bring a snack that was safe for our kid. “Oh, sure. No problem!” Then they’d show up with packets of peanut butter crackers or nutty buddy bars.“What? You were serious about that?”I always wanted to bring their kid a bag of crushed glass for a snack.Instead of sharing my broken beer bottles, we just started bringing “disappointment snacks” as a backup. The kids never got to eat the fun stuff their friends were eating, but here are two Oreos for you. Sorry, your friends' parents can’t read or don’t care.It is really hard navigating our world without feeding our allergic kids something dangerous. And, as more and more kids are diagnosed with food allergies, the food industry hasn’t been very helpful. Some, are good. Others have looked at the legal landscape and have chosen to put a blanket, cover your ass disclaimer language on their packaging:“This product may contain or is made in a facility that uses, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, milk, flashlight batteries, car horns, broken glass, and cat dander.”Here, I’m going to name names. Sara Lee. One of the biggest producers of bakery goods has been a company we could buy from. Until recently when they added the cover your ass language to products we’d been safely eating for years. I contacted the company and called them on it. They gave me a number I can call from the store to give them the lot number of the loaf of bread and they can tell me whether it is safe or not. They’d rather staff a phone bank than print actual ingredients on actual bags. Well here’s a new one for you, NOBODY IN THIS FAMILY LIKES SARA LEE.By adding a few words to a package, they took away the English muffins that were a staple of my son’s breakfasts for years. They don’t care.Now, to answer your question, I’m going to say what needs to be said:This ain’t about you. It’s about the safety of allergic children, mine included. Your kid doesn’t care about his peanut butter sandwich. You do. This is your issue. How do I know? My kid sits at the allergy table and YOUR kid asked to be given a different sandwich so he could eat with MY kid. Kids want to sit with their friends. Kids have been our strongest allies.When our grade school first created the allergy table, it was a round table that sat 6–8 kids. It grew to be an entire two-sided cafeteria table that seats 24. Why? Friends wanted to sit together and they didn’t want a peanut butter sandwich to come between them.This is about you.And you just don’t get how difficult this is.I love my kids. I assume you love yours. Imagine me sending a baggy of broken glass to snack time. Would you be concerned? Would you politely ask me to bring a kid-safe snack?My bet is you would. The difference is, I’d understand because I have two allergic kids.Edit: 6/4/19Thanks for all of the comments!For accurate info regarding allergies and life with allergies, look up: Food Allergy Research & Education® (FARE) They are the leading source for allergy info in the United States.A new movement affiliated with their site is the Snack Safely organization: SnackSafely.com - News and resources to help your family cope with food allergy They are working with manufacturers to properly label their food in a consistent and easy to read format to aid families in making good food decisions.We all want to see our kids grow to be thriving adults. The more we all know about this life-threatening condition, the more likely we are to help them get there.Because the first step toward acceptance and tolerance is understanding, and because some comments appear to be digging into the “you aren’t going to make me stop feeding my kid…” I copied this from the FARE site in hopes that you can begin to understand how pervasive and life-threatening this can be:What Is a Food Allergy?A food allergy is a medical condition in which exposure to a food triggers a harmful immune response. The immune response, called an allergic reaction, occurs because the immune system attacks proteins in the food that are normally harmless. The proteins that trigger the reaction are called allergens.The symptoms of an allergic reaction to food can range from mild (itchy mouth, a few hives) to severe (throat tightening, difficulty breathing).Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that is sudden in onset and can cause death.To Which Foods Are People Allergic?More than 170 foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions.Eight major food allergens – milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustacean shellfish – are responsible for most of the serious food allergy reactions in the United States.Allergy to sesame is an emerging concern.How Many People Have Food Allergies?Researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under age 18. That’s one in 13 children, or roughly two in every classroom.About 40 percent of children with food allergies are allergic to more than one food.Food Allergies Are on the RiseThe Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports that the prevalence of food allergy in children increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011.Between 1997 and 2008, the prevalence of peanut or tree nut allergy appears to have more than tripled in U.S. children.Food Allergy Reactions Are Serious and Can Be Life-Threatening.Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room.Each year in the U.S., 200,000 people require emergency medical care for allergic reactions to food.Childhood hospitalizations for food allergy tripled between the late 1990s and the mid-2000s.More than 40 percent of children with food allergies have experienced a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis.Medical procedures to treat anaphylaxis resulting from food allergy increased by 380 percent between 2007 and 2016.Serious Allergic Reactions Require Immediate TreatmentOnce a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) starts, the drug epinephrine is the only effective treatment.Epinephrine (also called adrenaline) should be injected within minutes of the onset of symptoms. More than one dose may be needed.Easy-to-use, spring-loaded syringes of epinephrine, called epinephrine auto-injectors, are available by prescription.Not treating anaphylaxis promptly with epinephrine increases the risk of a fatal reaction.Food Allergy Impacts Quality of LifeFood allergy limits a major life activity and may qualify an individual for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.Caring for children with food allergies costs U.S. families nearly $25 billion annually.About one in three children with food allergy reports being bullied as a result.Compared to children who do not have a medical condition, children with food allergy are twice as likely to be bullied.Who Is at Greatest Risk?Compared to children who don’t have food allergy, children with food allergy are two to four times as likely to have other allergic conditions, such as asthma or eczema.Compared to non-Hispanic white children, African American children are at significantly greater risk of developing food allergy.Delaying introduction of allergenic foods does not provide protection against food allergy. In fact, feeding peanut foods early and often to babies with egg allergy or eczema dramatically reduces their risk of developing peanut allergy.While most food allergies arise in childhood, at least 15 percent of patients with food allergies are first diagnosed in adulthood. More than one in four adults with food allergies report that all of their food allergies developed during adulthood, and nearly half of adults with food allergy report having developed at least one food allergy during adulthood.Approximately 20-25 percent of epinephrine administrations in schools involve individuals whose allergy was unknown at the time of the reaction.Severe or fatal reactions can happen at any age, but teenagers and young adults with food allergies are at the highest risk of fatal food-induced anaphylaxis.Individuals with food allergies who also have asthma may be at increased risk for severe or fatal food allergy reactions.Most fatal food allergy reactions are triggered by food consumed outside the home.More than 15 percent of school-aged children with food allergies have had a reaction in school.Can Food Allergies Be Outgrown?Although allergies to milk, egg, wheat and soy often resolve in childhood, children appear to be outgrowing some of these allergies more slowly than in previous decades, with many children still allergic beyond age 5.Allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish are generally lifelong.Is There a Cure?There is no cure for food allergy. Food allergies are managed by avoiding the problem food(s) and learning to recognize and treat reactions symptoms.Food allergy therapies are under study in clinical trials, but none has been approved yet for general use.Downloadable PDF of Facts and Statistics with References
What are the side effects of homeopathic medicines?
Accordingly, mistaken diagnosis can result in negative side effects. Western medical science has given little support for homeopathy, as many remedies are so highly diluted that they may contain no molecules of the potent ingredient. Consult your primary health-care provider before seeking treatment.Accurate PrescriptionAccording to homeopathy's principle of "like cures like," taking the wrong type of remedy may result in new, undesirable symptoms. As homeopathy works holistically, taking a broad view of any individual's condition, homeopathic practitioners must familiarize themselves thoroughly with each patient before recommending a remedy. Two individuals with similar conditions might require different remedies. Factors that affect prescription include health history, body type, emotional tendencies, mental symptoms and specific details of recent symptoms. If you seek homeopathic treatment, consult a qualified professional.Homeopathic AggravationEven if you receive the correct homeopathic remedy for your condition, you may experience a worsening of effects before you see improvements. Many homeopathic practitioners refer to this as "homeopathic aggravation," a typical dip in the healing process. According to the National Center for Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the few scientific studies on this aspect of homeopathy have not found regular evidence of aggravation. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that many individuals report an initial worsening of symptoms after taking a remedy.Side Effects and Drug InteractionsThe extremely diluted nature of homeopathic remedies removes risk of ultimately negative side effects, suggests the University of Maryland Medical Center. One common remedy, arnica, can cause serious side effects if taken internally in large doses. For instance, the herb may irritate the stomach and may cause vomiting, diarrhea and nosebleeds, according to the American Cancer Society. However, when used in homeopathy, the herb is extremely diluted, purportedly removing the risk of side effects. No studies, as of publication, have shown negative side effects of combining a homeopathic treatment with conventional medicines. Still, inform both your doctor and your homeopathy practitioner of remedies you plan to take concurrently.General PrecautionsAs the University of Maryland Medical Center reports, homeopathic treatments have undergone limited clinical studies, largely because of the difficulty of producing repeatable effects with such a holistic and personalized treatment. However, preliminary findings confirm homeopathy's helpfulness for a range of conditions: from allergies to cold and flu to asthma and diarrhea. When you have a serious condition like cancer, consult with multiple medical specialists before selecting a treatment. In the United States, homeopathic practitioners needn't receive nationwide licensure, though many states require some form of licensing. Many homeopathic practitioners are also medical doctors or hold a degree in another medical field.