|MadSci Network: Medicine|
Iím sorry that I canít come up with any one reference about the validity of herbal or the latest "vogue" alternative medicine, although "The Honest Herbal" by Varro Tyler, PhD. is one that may help with some of the herbs. I know it is frustrating for myself as a practicing family physician as well as a f.p. educator to deal with some of the strange combinations. Actually Germany has done lots with herbal research, you might watch their journals. There are alot of ongoing studies for almost everything you read about, but that goes for mainstream medications also. So you will have to look for individual herbs, additives or supplements in a search of the literature. I guess my biggest concern when encountering a patient on a supplement or herbal medicine is: is it helping, it hasnít replaced another medication that was prescribed for a chronic illness, and is there potential drug interactions. I do try to keep an open mind. All of the medicines (and they are medicines and rarely cheap) sold through the mail or in health food stores are not regulated by the FDA and can be mislabeled, and so problems may occur after the substance is ingested . An example of this was the substance "Chomper"- a dietary supplement sold for "internal cleansing". A 23 yr. old healthy woman developed complete heart block after taking this. One of the ingredients labeled plantain was actually Digitalis lanata, which in refined forms are used for various heart ailments. On the positive side several years ago the vogue substances were anti-oxidants including Vitamin E and fish oil capsules. Today, physicians including cardiologists are recommending Vitamin E 400 Iu a day, and there continues to be lots of work on the fish oil capsules.
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