MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: Homeopathy etc. vs. mainstream medicine

Area: Medicine
Posted By: kathi clement, faculty md, family practice, Univ. of Wyoming
Date: Fri Sep 19 12:38:37 1997
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 873410676.Me
	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 
	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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