Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices [Reblog]

Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices Information Resources By Evelyn Cunico, M.A., M.S. Posted June 02, 2015 Background “Time to Talk Tips” is one of the resources in the…

Source: Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices

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March 4, 2016 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Herbal medicines could contain dangerous levels of toxic mold — ScienceDaily

Herbal medicines could contain dangerous levels of toxic mold — ScienceDaily.

From the 22 October 2014 article

Herbal medicines such as licorice, Indian rennet and opium poppy, are at risk of contamination with toxic mold, according to a new study. The authors of the study say it’s time for regulators to control mold contamination. An estimated 64% of people use medicinal plants to treat illnesses and relieve pain. The herbal medicine market is worth $60 billion globally, and growing fast. Despite the increasing popularity of herbal medicine, the sale of medicinal plants is mostly unregulated.

October 24, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Herbal and Dietary Supplements Can Adversely Affect Prescribed Drugs, Says Extensive Review

Dietary supplements, such as the vitamin B sup...

Dietary supplements, such as the vitamin B supplement show above, are typically sold in pill form. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those of you who follow this blog know I continually harp on the necessity of sharing your use of complementary/alternative therapies as well as supplements with your health care providers.

From the 24 October 2012 article at ScienceDaily

A number of herbs and dietary supplements (HDS) can cause potentially harmful drug interactions, particularly among people receiving medication for problems with their central nervous or cardiovascular systems.

Those are the key findings of an extensive research review published in the November issue of IJCP, theInternational Journal of Clinical Practice.***

Researchers examined 54 review articles and 31 original studies. They found that the greatest problems were caused by interactions between prescribed drugs and HDS that included ingredients such as St John’s Wort, magnesium, calcium, iron or ginkgo.

“Consumer use of HDS has risen dramatically over the past two decades” says co-author Dr Hsiang-Wen Lin from the College of Pharmacy, China Medical School, Taiwan.

“In the USA, for example, it is estimated that more than 50 per cent of patients with chronic diseases or cancer use them and that many patients take them at the same time as prescribed medication.

“Despite their widespread use, the potential risks associated with combining HDS with other medications, which include mild-to-severe heart problems, chest pain, abdominal pain and headache, are poorly understood.”

Key findings of the review included:

  • The literature covered 213 HDS entities and 509 prescribed medications, with 882 HDS-drug interactions described in terms of their mechanisms and severity.
  • Warfarin, insulin, aspirin digoxin and ticlopidine had the greatest number of reported interactions with HDS.
  • More than 42 per cent of the drug interactions were caused by the HDS altering the pharmacokinetics of the prescribed drugs — the process by which a drug is absorbed, distributed, metabolised and eliminated by the body.
  • Just over 26 per cent of the total were described as major interactions.
  • Among the 152 identified contraindications, the most frequent involved the gastrointestinal system (16.4%), neurological system (14.5%) and andrenal ⁄ genitourinary diseases (12.5%).
  • Flaxseed, echinacea and yohimbe had the largest number of documented contraindications.

Related Resources

  • Evaluating Health Information (links at Health/Medical News and Resources by yours truly) 
  • Drugs, Supplements, and Herbal Information (MedlinePlus)Learn about your prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines. Includes side effects, dosage, special precautions, and more.Browse dietary supplements and herbal remedies to learn about their effectiveness, usual dosage, and drug interactions.
  • Dietary Supplements Label Database (US National Library of Medicine) offers information about label ingredients in more than 6,000 selected brands of dietary supplements. It enables users to compare label ingredients in different brands. Information is also provided on the “structure/function” claims made by manufacturers. These claims by manufacturers have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Companies may not market as dietary supplements any products that are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent …
  • Drugs and Supplements (sponsored by the Mayo Clinic)  Somewhat lengthy drug and over-the-counter medicationinformation with these sections: description, before using, proper use, precautions and side effects. From Micromedex, a trusted source of healthcare information for health professionals. Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians.

**Unfortunately this article is only available through paid subscription.
Ask for an available copy at your local public, academic, or medical library. (Many academic and medical libraries will help anyone who walks in, call ahead and ask for a reference librarian)

If your library does not have it, ask about Interlibrary loan. You may be able to get a copy from another library at little or no cost.

October 26, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

Traditional Chinese Medicines – Some Are Dangerous

Herbal supplements

Herbal supplements (Photo credit: Ano Lobb. @healthyrx)

As I’ve stated in previous postings here, choose your alternative/traditional/complementary medicines and therapies wisely.
Also, include herbs, supplements and traditional medicines in “medications” lists you share with your healthcare provider, pharmacist, or any healthcare professional you are consulting.  Many of these non-prescription items can interfere with any prescription medicine you are taking.
The Related Resources section below has links to trusted resources. However, they are not meant to replace advice from you health care provider.

From the 14 April 2012 article at Medical News Today

Australian border officials seized 15 TCMs (traditional Chinese medicines), which researchers from the Murdoch University analyzed to reveal the animal and plant composition by using new DNA sequencing technology. The results, published in PLoS Genetics, showed that some of the analyzed TCM samples contained potentially toxic plant ingredients, allergens, as well as traces of endangered animals.Leading researcher, Dr. Bunce, and a Murdoch University Australian Research Council Future Fellow commented:

“TCMs have a long cultural history, but today consumers need to be aware of the legal and health safety issues before adopting them as a treatment option.”

Related Resources

  • HerbMed® 
    an interactive, electronic herbal database – provides hyperlinked access to the scientific data underlying the use of herbs for health. It is an impartial, evidence-based information resource provided by the nonprofit Alternative Medicine Foundation, Inc. This public site provides access to 20 of the most popular herbs.
  • Herbs at a Glance (US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine)
    a series of fact sheets that provides basic information about specific herbs or botanicals—common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information.
  • Herbal Links
    a compilation of  sites that the researchers at the University of Iowa Drug Information Service consider to be the highest quality and most useful to pharmacists for finding information concerning herbal medicines.
  • Longwood Herbal Task Force
    This site has in-depth monographs about herbal products and supplements written by health professionals and students. It provides clinical information summaries, patient fact sheets, and information about toxicity and interactions as well as relevant links. The task force is a cooperative effort of the staff and students from Children’s Hospital, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

  • Drug Information Portal (US National Library of Medicine)
    Search by drug.  Information includes some basic resources (as that at MedlinePlus) plus some more technical ones (as Toxilogical Data and Literature)

  • Dietary Supplements Labels Database Information about label ingredients in more than 6,000 selected brands of dietary supplements. It enables users to compare label ingredients in different brands. Information is also provided on the “structure/function” claims made by manufacturers.These claims by manufacturers have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Companies may not market as dietary supplements any products that are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
  • NCCAM Director’s Page – It’s Time to Talk (March 13, 2012)
    • Time to Talk is a recently launched NCAAM series which encourages folks to discuss complementary health practices with their health care providersThe director notes the following
      • We know that nearly 40 percent of Americans use some kind of complementary health practice. But we also know that most patients do not proactively disclose use of complementary health practices to their health care providers. Likewise, most providers don’t initiate the discussion with their patients. As a physician, I strongly believe that patients and their health care providers need to talk openly about all of their health care practices to ensure safe, coordinated care. Talking not only allows fully integrated care, but it also minimizes risks of interactions with a patient’s conventional treatments.
    1. List the complementary health practices you use on your patient history form. When completing the patient history form, be sure to include everything you use—from acupuncture to zinc.  It’s important to give health care providers a full picture of what you do to manage your health.
    2. At each visit, be sure to tell your providers about what complementary health approaches you are using. Don’t forget to include over-the-counter and prescription medicines, as well as dietary and herbal supplements. Make a list in advance, or download and print this wallet card and take it with you. Some complementary health approaches can have an effect on conventional medicine, so your provider needs to know.
    3. If you are considering a new complementary health practice, ask questions. Ask your health care providers about its safety, effectiveness, and possible interactions with medications (both prescription and nonprescription).

April 16, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Molecular Secrets of Ancient Chinese Herbal Remedy Discovered [& related Alternative Medicine Resources]

For roughly two thousand years, Chinese herbalists have treated Malaria using a root extract, commonly known as Chang Shan, from a type of hydrangea that grows in Tibet and Nepal. More recent studies suggest that halofuginone, a compound derived from this extract’s bioactive ingredient, could be used to treat many autoimmune disorders as well. Now, researchers from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine have discovered the molecular secrets behind this herbal extract’s power.

It turns out that halofuginone (HF) triggers a stress-response pathway that blocks the development of a harmful class of immune cells, called Th17 cells, which have been implicated in many autoimmune disorders.

“HF prevents the autoimmune response without dampening immunity altogether,” said Malcolm Whitman, a professor of developmental biology at Harvard School of Dental Medicine and senior author on the new study. “This compound could inspire novel therapeutic approaches to a variety of autoimmune disorders.”

“This study is an exciting example of how solving the molecular mechanism of traditional herbal medicine can lead both to new insights into physiological regulation and to novel approaches to the treatment of disease,” said Tracy Keller, an instructor in Whitman’s lab and the first author on the paper….

Related General Resources for Complementary/Alternative/Integrative Medicine

  • MEDLINE plus: Alternative Medicine Trusted health information links from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Includes basic information, news, organizations, specific conditions, multimedia, financial issues, and more
  • Bandolier: Evidenced Based Thinking about Healthcare – Alternative Medicine
    The site brings together the best evidence available about complementary and alternative therapies for consumers and professionals. It contains stories, systematic reviews and meta-analyses of complementary and alternative therapies with abstracts.
  • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
    NCCAM is dedicated to exploring complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science, training complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals.

 

 

 

February 15, 2012 Posted by | Finding Aids/Directories, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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