Marijuana – The Truth – Part 5

Alternative Medicine, General Health, Parenting
In the book that I co-wrote with my good friend, Donal O’Mathuna, Ph.D., Alternative Medicine: The options, the claims, the evidence, how to choose wisely, we wrote an evidence-based article on marijuana. Here’s our fourth excerpt of that information: In earlier excerpts, we discussed “What It Is,” “The Claims People Make about Marijuana,” “Study Findings,” and “Cautions.” In this, our final excerpt will review “Our Recommendations.” (more…)
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Marijuana – The Truth – Part 4

Alternative Medicine, General Health, Parenting
In the book that I co-wrote with my good friend, Donal O’Mathuna, Ph.D., Alternative Medicine: The options, the claims, the evidence, how to choose wisely, we wrote an evidence-based article on marijuana. Here’s our fourth excerpt of that information. In earlier excerpts, we discussed “What It Is,” “The Claims People Make about Marijuana,” and “Study Findings.” In this excerpt, we’ll discuss, “Cautions.” Next week, our final excerpt will review “Our Recommendations.” (more…)
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Marijuana – The Truth – Part 3

Alternative Medicine, General Health, Parenting
In the book that I co-wrote with my good friend, Donal O’Mathuna, Ph.D., Alternative Medicine: The options, the claims, the evidence, how to choose wisely, we wrote an evidence-based article on marijuana. Here’s our fourth excerpt of that information: In earlier excerpts, we discussed “What It Is,” and “The Claims People Make about Marijuana.” Today we'll review the “Study Findings.” Next week,  we’ll discuss, “Cautions,” and in the final week, our final excerpt will review “Our Recommendations.” (more…)
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Marijuana – The Truth – Part 2

Alternative Medicine, General Health, Parenting
In the book that I co-wrote with my good friend, Donal O’Mathuna, Ph.D., Alternative Medicine: The options, the claims, the evidence, how to choose wisely, we wrote an evidence-based article on marijuana. Here’s our second excerpt of that information: In the first excerpt, we discussed “What It Is.” Today, we’ll discuss “The Claims People Make about Marijuana.” In future installments, we’ll discuss, “Study Findings,” “Cautions,” and finally, “Our Recommendations.” (more…)
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Marijuana – The Truth – Part 1

Alternative Medicine, General Health, Parenting
Marijuana – The Truth – Part 1 In the book that I co-wrote with my good friend, Donal O’Mathuna, Ph.D., Alternative Medicine: The options, the claims, the evidence, how to choose wisely, we wrote an evidence-based article on marijuana. Here’s an excerpt of that information: In this first excerpt, we’ll discuss “What It Is.” In later installments, we’ll address “Claims about Marijuana,” “Study Findings,” “Cautions,” and finally, “Our Recommendations.” (more…)
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Warning Signs of Quackery and Fraud – Part 4

Alternative Medicine, Bioethics, General Health, Nutritional Health
Here's Part 4 from an excerpt from my and Donal O'Mathuna's book, Alternative Medicine: The options, claims, evidence, how to choose wisely. You find the book here. 16. Is a therapy encouraged simply because it’s been used for centuries by people in some remote place? This might simply mean that those people had nothing else to use. If the best texts on the subject are decades or centuries old, you’ll probably find that many of the old ideas were discredited long ago. Medicine evolves—just think about all we have discovered about nutrition in the last few decades. Continued use adds to our knowledge, uncovers side effects, fine-tunes dosage, and brings change. (more…)
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Warning Signs of Quackery and Fraud – Part 3

Alternative Medicine, Bioethics
Here's Part 3 of an excerpt from my and Donal O'Mathuna's book, Alternative Medicine: The options, claims, evidence, how to choose wisely. You’ll find out more about the book here. Next week, I’ll post another five warning signs. 11. Does the proponent of the therapy claim to be criticized unfairly? Some proponents of CAM portray themselves as martyrs, persecuted by the government, the medical establishment, or some other organization with a stake in keeping you unaware of their breakthrough. (more…)
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Warning Signs of Quackery and Fraud – Part 2

Alternative Medicine, General Health
Here's Part 2 of an excerpt from my and Donal O'Mathuna's book, Alternative Medicine: The options, claims, evidence, how to choose wisely. You find the book here. Next week, I’ll post another five warning signs. 6. Are technical words used without a clear definition? “Energy” is one of those words. Claims that a therapy “boosts energy” can mean anything from the common idea that you feel better able to do things, to Eastern ideas of promoting the flow of chi or prana. Introducing ideas from quantum physics is usually not necessary if the product really works. Information sheets should clarify, not baffle with mind-boggling gobbledy-gook. (more…)
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Warning Signs of Quackery and Fraud – Part 1

Alternative Medicine, General Health
Here's an excerpt from my and Donal O'Mathuna's book, Alternative Medicine: The options, claims, evidence, how to choose wisely. You find the book here. Each week, for the next 4 weeks, I'll post another five warning signs. So, when you suspect quackery or fraud, how do you know if your suspicions are right? What are some of the warning signs? When evaluating a medical claim, here's what to look for: (more…)
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Alternative Medicine and Children – Part 6 – Vaccination and Alternative Medicine

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, Infectious Disease, Parenting
The anti-vaccination movement has no better friends than in the alternative medicine world. In the Massachusetts study mentioned in my last blog, less than one-third of the homeopaths recommended immunization, and almost 10 percent actively opposed immunization. In England, the most common reason given for not having children immunized is the recommendation parents receive from a homeopath. (more…)
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CoQ10 test results show high quality, but wide differences in dosages, formulations, and cost

Alternative Medicine, General Health, Heart Health
CoQ10 is among the most popular supplements in the U.S. and is used for cardiovascular disease and a range of other conditions. However, it is easy, however, for a consumer to be confused about CoQ10 due to mixed clinical findings, absorption issues, two chemical forms (CoQ10 and its activated from, ubiquinol), and a variety of suggested dosing across products. (more…)
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Antioxidant supplements boost male fertility

Alternative Medicine, Mental Health, Nutritional Health, Woman's Health
In my book, Alternative Medicine: The options, the claims, the evidence, how to choose wisely, in my chapter on antioxidants, I conclude, "The best advice is to meet most of your antioxidant needs through a healthy diet supplemented by a single multivitamin." However, there are some cases where taking antioxidant supplements may be helpful. For example, a new report has found that men who take antioxidants while trying to get their partner pregnant are four times more likely to succeed than men who do not. And, the type doesn't matter -- vitamin E, zinc, magnesium all work. The researchers say they "just don't understand why." MedPage Today reported that "antioxidant supplements may boost fertility for men," according to the study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. After pooling "the results from…
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U.S. spending millions to see if herbs truly work

Alternative Medicine, Medical Economics
People have been using herbal supplements for centuries to cure all manner of ills and improve their health. But for all the folk wisdom promoting the use of such plants as St. John's wort and black cohosh, much about their effect on human health remains unknown. Therefore, I'm delighted that the federal government is spending millions of dollars to support research dedicated to separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to herbal supplements. Here are the details from USA Today: "A lot of these products are widely used by the consumer, and we don't have evidence one way or the other whether they are safe and effective," said Marguerite Klein, director of the Botanical Research Centers Program at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. "We have a long way…
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FDA announces crackdown on chelation therapy — finally!

Alternative Medicine, General Health
I’ve written about chelation for many years. In my book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, I conclude, “Evidence against (chelation’s) effectiveness in heart disease is so clear, its continued use raises serious ethical questions. The therapy is very expensive and can be very lucrative for providers. But, it's virtually worthless for consumers." Some of my past blogs on chelation have included: Chelation therapy for autism not only potentially harmful, it’s based on faulty premise and Federal investigators uncover major problems with chelation study. Now, finally, comes news that the FDA is going to crack down on these quacks. The Washington Post reports that officials from the Food and Drug Administration have "announced a crackdown on" chelation, "a controversial therapy widely hawked on the Internet and elsewhere as an alternative treatment for conditions such as autism,…
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Yoga: Should Christians Be Concerned?

Alternative Medicine, Mental Health
Yoga is an alternative therapy that raises difficult questions for Christians. The physical and breathing exercises taught in yoga classes may improve general well-being. However, as a deeply religious practice with the goal of union with the divine, it is antitheti- cal to biblical Christianity. In spite of its reputation as a simple calisthen- ics program, reports of physical and spiritual harm continue to surface. A debate between Christian practitioners and opponents of yoga was triggered by Holly Robaina’s 2005 article in Today’s Christian Woman. The author interviewed a woman who was introduced to destructive beliefs through yoga. Ro- baina noted that terms commonly used in “secu- lar” yoga have religious meanings. The “salute to the sun” posture used to begin many classes pays homage to the Hindu sun god,…
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Study: Shark cartilage does not help patients with lung cancer

Alternative Medicine, Cancer
The Los Angeles Times "Booster Shots" blog reports that shark cartilage may not benefit patients with lung cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Investigators "enrolled 379 patients with non-small cell lung cancer that could not be treated surgically." All of the participants "received standard radiation and chemotherapy," while 50% of the participants were also given a shark cartilage extract known as AE-941. The Time "Wellness" blog reported that "after nearly four years, patients taking shark cartilage ... showed no better survival from their cancer than those swallowing a placebo -- on average, the shark cartilage group lived 14.4 months after treatment began, while the control group lived 15.6 months." If you want to learn more about alternative medicine and natural medications (herbs,…
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Homeopathic Cobra Venom for Pain? Watch out!

General Health
According to the experts at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Cobroxin and Nyloxin are new homeopathic products used for chronic pain. They come as an oral spray and topical gel. The bad news is that these products contain a "5X homeopathic dilution" of cobra venom. This means that they contain a concentration of about 0.001% cobra venom. As I discuss in my chapter on "Homeopathy," in my best-selling book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, although virtually all homeopathic products contain no detectable active ingredient (no even a single molecule), these two chronic pain products contain a small amount that could potentially have some effect. Preliminary research has evaluated cobra toxin given as an injection. But there is no reliable evidence about this homeopathic dose when taken orally or applied topically.…
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Acupuncture found lacking for fibromyalgia

Alternative Medicine
Reuters Health is reporting on a new study examining the treatment of fibromyalgia with acupuncture. Indeed, acupuncture may provide some temporary pain relief for people with fibromyalgia, but does not help with fatigue, sleep problems, or physical function, according to a new research review. However, the results are too inconsistent to recommend acupuncture as a treatment fibromyalgia, the reviewers conclude. Fibromyalgia, a debilitating pain syndrome that affects an estimated 2 to 4 percent of the population, is characterized by chronic pain, fatigue and difficulty sleeping. It's a somewhat mysterious condition with no clear-cut cause. Winfried Hauser of the Klinikum Saarbrucken in Germany and colleagues reviewed seven randomized controlled trials of acupuncture that included a total of 385 people with fibromyalgia. The study subjects were mostly white middle-aged women. All of…
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Gingko biloba may not be effective in preventing cognitive decline or improving memory

Alternative Medicine, Nutritional Health
In my best-selling book, co-written with Donal O'Mathuna, PhD, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, I wrote a chapter on Gingko biloba and said this: While ginkgo looks promising as a means of delaying the memory loss related to a variety of diseases, some studies have found no benefit. Studies have found memory benefits only for about six months. Ginkgo may prove helpful for retarding age-related memory loss, dementia, and peripheral arterial disease. However, studies have not examined the benefits or safety of taking ginkgo long-term. Now we may have the answer. I was first informed of it by watching the CBS Evening News where it was reported, "Americans spend a quarter billion dollars a year on" gingko biloba supplements, "hoping to improve their memory and slow cognitive decline." NBC Nightly…
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Many autism therapies are unproven and risky

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, Parenting
In a gripping series exploring autism and its treatments, the Los Angeles Times reports that "after reviewing thousands of pages of court documents and scientific studies and interviewing top researchers in the field, an investigation by the Chicago Tribune found that many of these treatments amount to uncontrolled experiments on vulnerable children." According to results of the investigation, "the therapies often go beyond harmless New Age folly," with many being "unproven and risky, based on flawed, preliminary or misconstrued scientific research." Moreover, "lab tests used to justify therapies are often misleading and misinterpreted," and "the few clinical trials conducted to evaluate the treatments objectively" have yielded "disappointing results." The  Times reports that "up to three-quarters of families with children who have autism try at least some alternative therapies." While some…
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Newly released test show most Milk Thistle supplements are substandard

Alternative Medicine, Nutritional Health
White Plains, New York — December 2, 2009 — A recent review by ConsumerLab.com of ten milk thistle supplements showed that only one met ConsumerLab.com’s quality standards.  Two products failed to properly list the part of the milk thistle plant used -- a FDA requirement.  Among the remaining supplements, only one contained the expected amount of silymarin compounds, which are believed to be the active constituents of milk thistle. Studies suggest silymarin may be helpful in type 2 diabetes and, possibly, certain liver conditions.  While most products claimed that their milk thistle extracts were standardized to 80% silymarin, ConsumerLab.com found actual amounts to range from 47% to 67%.  Sales of milk thistle in the U.S. have climbed for several years, reaching $95 million in 2008 according to the latest figures…
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Herbal remedies need real regulation

Alternative Medicine
In my best-selling book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, I explain the reasons that natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) received so little regulation in the United States, and the many problems this causes for health consumers. Now, David Frum, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the author of six books, including "Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again," and the editor of frumforum.com, has weighed in with a thoughtful article on CNN: Did you know that there exists an all-natural remedy for memory loss? Weight gain? Macular degeneration? Prostate enlargement? These products are so successful that clinical testing has already begun! Just listen to the following testimonial from an unidentified person ... As these ads blare at you from your favorite AM radio station, perhaps you wonder: How…
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