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Alternative Medicine

Alternative medicine fans more likely to get shots

Alternative MedicineMar 15 08

Adults who use alternative or complementary medicines are more likely to receive recommended vaccinations than their peers who don’t use these products, according to a study by researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among 30,617 adults participating in the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, the 36 percent who said they had used complementary or alternative medicines (CAM) recently were more likely to have received shots for preventing the flu, pneumococcal infections and hepatitis B.

Nevertheless, most people the CDC considers “priority” recipients for the flu and pneumococcal vaccines because of a high-risk condition didn’t get them, Dr. Shannon Stokley of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases in Atlanta and her colleagues found.

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Yoga program benefits breast cancer survivors

Alternative Medicine • • Breast CancerMar 10 08

In a small study of breast cancer survivors, researchers found that a tailored yoga program helped relieve severe hot flashes and other bothersome menopausal symptoms.

Women who participated in the 8-week “Yoga of Awareness” program not only had greater declines in the frequency and severity of their hot flashes than did a comparison “control” group, they also experienced less fatigue, joint pain, sleep disturbance, and symptom-related distress. They also reported increased vigor.

These improvements were still evident 3 months after the yoga sessions ended.

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Ayurvedic Medicine: Ancient Approach to Balance Life, Health

Alternative MedicineMar 05 08

Ayurvedic (i-yur-VA-dik) medicine, thought to be one of the world’s oldest systems of natural medicine, is said to be about balance in one’s life. It encompasses yoga, massage, meditation and much more.

The March issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter provides an overview of ayurvedic medicine, which originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and is still practiced there side by side with conventional Western medicine.

According to ayurvedic medicine, balance in life starts at birth. Every newborn possesses innate qualities that help to frame their physical and mental patterns. This state is called prakriti. At the other end of the spectrum is vikruti, a person’s present state.

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Homeopathy ‘in crisis’ as NHS trusts drop services

Alternative MedicineFeb 04 08

NHS trusts are dropping homeopathic treatments following debate over whether they work. A study has found that only 37 per cent of 132 primary care trusts still have contracts for homeopathic services while more than a quarter have stopped or reduced funding in the past two years.

Homeopathy is based on diluting substances – that could otherwise be poisonous – in water or alcohol. Some scientists say homeopathic solutions are diluted so many times they are unlikely to contain any active ingredients at all. There has also been controversy over accreditation.

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Traditional Chinese exercises may increase efficacy of flu vaccine

Alternative Medicine • • FluAug 13 07

Move on mosquitoes. Step aside sweat bees. Before long, another unwelcome, but predictable, pest will return: the dreaded, oft-spotted flu bug.

But as this year’s sniffling-sneezing season approaches, there’s also a hint of hope present in the pre-germ-season air. In a study scheduled for publication in the August issue of the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, a team of kinesiologists at the University of Illinois suggest that older adults who adopt an exercise regimen combining Taiji and Qigong may get an extra boost from their annual flu shot.

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Gentle yoga may aid migraine sufferers

Alternative Medicine • • Headaches • • MigraineMay 16 07

A combination of yoga poses, breathing exercises and relaxation may help reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines, a new study suggests.

Researchers in India found that among 72 adults suffering from migraines, patients who were randomly assigned to take part in a yoga therapy program started having headaches less often and endured less pain with each migraine attack compared with the subjects assigned to a self-care group.

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Middle-Aged Adults Most Likely to Use Complementary Medicine

Alternative Medicine • • Public HealthMar 14 07

Even though older adults generally have poorer health, middle-aged adults are most likely to turn to complementary and alternative medicine, a new study shows. The study also found that adults of different races or ethnic backgrounds use these self-care methods in similar proportions.

“You’d expect that older adults and ethnic minorities would be the greatest users of complementary and alternative medicine because they tend to have more illness and relatively less money and often hold different beliefs about medicine. But, in fact, they don’t,” said lead author and sociologist Joseph Grzywacz, Ph.D.

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Balance Training Better than Tai Chi at Improving Mobility in Older Adults

Alternative MedicineDec 11 06

Physicians and physical therapists in recent years have explored whether tai chi, balance programs and fitness routines can help decrease the likelihood that older adults will fall and injure themselves. Many of these programs have shown promise, but their relative value is still open to debate.

Now, a study from researchers at the University of Michigan Health System and the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System suggests that a program focusing on increasing step length and speed is more effective at improving mobility and balance than tai chi. While tai chi -  a Chinese martial art form consisting of slow, rotational movements and weight-shifting -  offers many benefits, the researchers say, they’re not as great as those produced by a balance-training program.

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Acupuncture shows promise for fibromyalgia

Alternative MedicineJun 19 06

Acupuncture may help relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia, especially the fatigue and anxiety that often comes with the condition, a new study suggests.

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome marked by chronic widespread aches and pains, fatigue and sleep problems, among other symptoms; the cause is unknown, and there are no medications specifically approved for the condition. Instead, treatment usually involves a combination of approaches, such as painkillers, antidepressants and exercise therapy.

Only two well-designed clinical trials have tested acupuncture’s effects on fibromyalgia, and these studies yielded conflicting results.

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Echinacea Does Not Prevent Colds, More Evidence Shows

Alternative MedicineJan 25 06

The herbal supplement echinacea, when taken in certain forms, may help shorten the duration and severity of cold symptoms but is not effective for preventing the common cold, according to a systematic review of current evidence.

“Frankly, I would not actively recommend that consumers take echinacea preparations at the moment,” said lead study author Dr. Klaus Linde of the Center for Complementary Medicine Research, Technical University of Munich.

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Ginseng product may lessen misery of cold season

Alternative MedicineNov 03 05

A cold remedy derived from the popular herb ginseng could help make the cold season a bit shorter and sweeter, new research suggests.

In a study that pitted the ginseng product against a placebo, Canadian researchers found that adults who took the botanical everyday for 4 months developed fewer and less-severe colds than did those on the placebo.

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Do you tell your doctor about the supplements you take?

Alternative MedicineSep 25 05

The use of complementary and alternative medicine has been steadily rising since the mid-twentieth century. We are discovering that a healthy lifestyle, a good diet, proper supplementation, exercise and a good attitude go a long way toward preventing disease. More and more we look to naturopathic doctors, acupuncturists, nutritionists, doctors of traditional Chinese medicine, homeopaths, integrated medical doctors, chiropractors and many other licensed health care practitioners for treatment alternatives.

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US docs’ group wants package fixes for herbal meds

Alternative MedicineJun 23 05

The American Medical Association says packaging of some herbal remedies is confusing and gives the impression that the supplements are pharmaceutical products. The group wants it stopped.

On Tuesday the AMA approved a resolution urging that supplement manufacturers be required to clearly name and label products in a way that would clearly differentiate the products from pharmaceuticals. For example, the AMA is suggesting that the word “herbal” be included in product names.

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