Isoflavones reduce postmenopausal insomnia, hot flashes

Alternative Medicine, Mental Health, Nutritional Health, Woman's Health
In a past blog, Natural Medications (Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements) for Menopausal Symptoms, I discussed the data supporting a trial of isoflavones in women with menopausal symptoms. However, there was not a lot of data. Now, Medscape is reporting, "Isoflavones may reduce insomnia symptoms" in postmenopausal women, according to a small study in the journal Menopause. (more…)
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Less Than 25% of Valerian Herbal Sleep Supplements Pass Tests For Quality

Alternative Medicine, Mental Health
Long-time readers of this blog know of my admiration for ConsumerLab.com, a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of natural medications (herbs, vitamins and supplements). In fact, I use their findings almost daily in my practice to recommend natural medications to my patients. In its most recent evaluation of a natural medication, valerian, ConsumerLab found that MOST of the valerian herbal supplements tested contained less of the herb than expected and/or were contaminated with lead. Valerian is a popular herbal sleep aid used by approximately 6% of the U.S. population. Valerian accounted for $68 million in sales in the U.S. in 2009, up 10% from the prior year, according to Nutrition Business Journal. Among nine leading and best-selling products selected by ConsumerLab.com for review, only TWO passed testing.…
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Problems Persist With Ginseng Supplements

Alternative Medicine, Men's Health, Woman's Health
Long-time readers know of my fondness for ConsumerLab.com. Their independent testing of natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) guides my teaching and my prescribing. Now, a review by ConsumerLab.com finds 45% of ginseng products don’t provide the full amount of the ingredient indicated on the label, or worse, are contaminated. ConsumerLab.com is now reporting that five out of eleven of the most popular ginseng supplements in the U.S. were selected for testing and contained less ginseng than expected from their labels or were contaminated with lead and/or pesticides. Problems with the quality of ginseng supplements have been reported by ConsumerLab.com since 2000. Ginseng is a popular herb with U.S. sales last year of $83 million according to Nutrition Business Journal. "Consumers need to be wary of the quality of ginseng…
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My Recommendations for Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and SAMe for Osteoarthritis

Alternative Medicine
Several readers have requested that I post the advice that I both use in practice and teach other healthcare professionals when it comes to a topic on which I frequently teach, Natural Medications for Osteoarthritis: An evidence-based evaluation. This year I've given this talk in several hospitals and to state and national gatherings of physicians and PAs. Let's start with the take home recommendations: The Bottom Line Take Home Point #1 All patients with osteoarthritis should take part in an active exercise regimen and reduce weight (if overweight or obese). I also recommend they begin a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and low in unsaturated fats. Antioxidants in pill form probably won't help. Instead, I advise patients to boost consumption of vegetables and fruits that provide lots of vitamin C, vitamin E,…
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Dietary supplements found to contain prescription drugs (once again)

Alternative Medicine, Nutritional Health
Instant Access to All Product Review Reports Covering Latest Test Results for Over 900 Products Quality Ratings and Product Comparisons by Brand Expert Tips on Using Supplements Price Checks on Popular Brands Encyclopedia of Natural Products e-Newsletter with Updates and Alerts New and Archived Recalls and Warnings As I’ve told you in many past blogs, U.S. law prevents the regulation of natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements). Such regulations could protect consumers from purchasing product with all types of contamination. You can read more about this in my book, Alternative Medicine: the options, the claims, the evidence, how to choose wisely. Anyway, it’s past time for this sort of regulation to be enacted. Here's another example why: The Los Angeles Times "Booster Shots" blog reported, "Here are two recalls that…
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GAO study reveals contaminants in herbal supplements

Alternative Medicine, Nutritional Health
Today I'm in Orlando, Florida, where I'll be speaking to the Florida Academy of Family Physicians on this exact issue. And, I find that most of my patients and most physicians are simply unaware of the danger. The New York Times is reporting, "Nearly all of the herbal dietary supplements tested in a Congressional investigation contained trace amounts of lead and other contaminants, and some supplement sellers made illegal claims that their products can cure cancer and other diseases, investigators found." Although the "levels of heavy metals – including mercury, cadmium and arsenic – did not exceed thresholds considered dangerous," almost half of them "contained pesticide residues that appeared to exceed legal limits." Notably, "Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, principal deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said in an interview…
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Parents cautioned about giving children dietary supplements

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, Nutritional Health, Parenting
On the front of its Personal Journal section, the Wall Street Journal reports that increasingly, Americans are giving their children dietary supplements. However, groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association, caution that food is the best source of nutrition. In addition, many supplements, if taken in excess, can prove dangerous. Nevertheless, physicians concede that children who are picky eaters may need certain supplements, although experts urge parents to be wary of nutrition claims, particularly since the FDA does not regulate supplements to the same extent that it does drugs. I have much more information about natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements), in general, and giving natural medicines to children, in particular, in my best-selling book, Alternative Medicine: the options, the claims, the evidence, how…
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A hot product on the Internet, but should you consider L-methylfolate instead of plain old folic acid?

Alternative Medicine, Nutritional Health
My favorite natural medicines website is the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. The NMCD has new information about L-methylfolate which is being heavily promoted, especially on the Internet, by some manufacturers as a more active form of folic acid. Are they telling the truth? Here's the information from NMCD: L-methylfolate is in many prenatal vitamins such as Optinate, Neevo DHA, Prenate Elite; and regular vitamin supplements including Optimized Folate, MegaFolinic, and others. It's also being used in medical foods for memory loss or depression, in products such as CerefolinNAC and Deplin. According to the NMCD, "folates" are a mixture of different forms of the vitamin that occur naturally in food. Most supplements contain folic acid, a synthetic form of the vitamin. In the body, all of these forms are converted to…
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Stricter government oversight of dietary supplements may be moving closer – thank goodness

Alternative Medicine, Nutritional Health
Whenever I give talks on natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements), whether to healthcare professionals or laypersons, people seem shocked to learn that these substances are virtually unregulated in the United States. I've written about the many problems this causes healthcare professionals and consumers in my book, Alternative Medicine: The options, the claims, the evidence, how to choose wisely. So, I was very happy to read an AP article reporting "Stricter government oversight of dietary supplements is moving closer, thanks to an agreement among senators to include guidelines in" the Dietary Supplement Safety Act. The report says that in a letter sent to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) outlined "four key areas of…
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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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