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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…
“Time to Talk Tips” is one of the resources in the “Time to Talk Campaign,” managed by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Like any health-related decision, your decision about whether to use complementary health practices is central to your health and safety. Yet, information you find on the Web is not always specific to your illness or based on scientific evidence.
The NIH monthly consumer-friendly series, “Time to Talk Tips,” discusses specific health topics, together with the scientific evidence related to those topics. The series is designed to encourage you and your medical doctors or other healthcare providers to talk about any complementary practice that you are considering.
Examples of “Time to Talk Tips”
Each month, the series highlights a health topic. For example, topics include “Natural Products for the Flu and Colds,” and “What Consumers Need to Know about the Use of Dietary Supplements.”
The series includes simple tips, such as, taking vitamin C regularly does not reduce the likelihood of getting a cold, but may improve some cold symptoms, and some dietary supplements may interact with prescription or over-the-counter medications or other dietary supplements.
From the 6 November 2014 EurekAlert!
Study shows integrative medicine relieves pain and anxiety for cancer inpatients
Pain is a common symptom of cancer and side effect of cancer treatment, and treating cancer-related pain is often a challenge for health care providers.
The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing researchers found that integrative medicine therapies can substantially decrease pain and anxiety for hospitalized cancer patients. Their findings are published in the current issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs.
“Following Integrative medicine interventions, such as medical massage, acupuncture, guided imagery or relaxation response intervention, cancer patients experienced a reduction in pain by an average of 47 percent and anxiety by 56 percent,” said Jill Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., lead author and Senior Scientific Advisor at the Penny George Institute.
“The size of these reductions is clinically important, because theoretically, these therapies can be as effective as medications, which is the next step of our research,” said Jeffery Dusek, Ph.D., senior author and Research Director for the Penny George Institute.
The Penny George Institute receives funding from the National Center of Alternative and Complementary Medicine of the National Institutes of Health to study the impact of integrative therapies on pain over many hours as well as over the course of a patient’s entire hospital stay.
“The overall goal of this research is to determine how integrative services can be used with or instead of narcotic medications to control pain,” Johnson said.
Researchers looked at electronic medical records from admissions at Abbott Northwestern Hospital between July 1, 2009 and December 31, 2012. From more than ten thousand admissions, researchers identified 1,833 in which cancer patients received integrative medicine services.
Patients were asked to report their pain and anxiety before and just after the integrative medicine intervention, which averaged 30 minutes in duration.
Patients being treated for lung, bronchus, and trachea cancers showed the largest percentage decrease in pain (51 percent). Patients with prostate cancer reported the largest percentage decrease in anxiety (64 percent).
An integrative approach to treating chronic pain significantly reduces pain severity while improving mood and quality of life, according to a new study from the Bravewell Practice-Based Research Network (BraveNet) published last month in BioMed Central Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal. Researchers found a reduction in pain severity of more than 20 percent and a drop in pain interference of nearly 30 percent in patients after 24 weeks of integrative care. Significant improvements in mood, stress, quality of life, fatigue, sleep and well-being were also observed.
In keeping with the integrative medicine philosophy of individualized, patient-centered care, no standardized pre-specified clinical intervention for chronic pain was prescribed for all study participants. Instead, practitioners at each of the network sites devised integrative treatment plans for participating chronic pain patients. All BraveNet sites include integrative physicians, acupuncturists, mindfulness instructors, and yoga instructors; some also incorporate massage therapists, manual medicine therapists, fitness/movement specialists, dietician/nutritionists, psychologists, healing touch therapists, and other energy practitioners.
- Integrative medicine interventions found to significantly reduce pain, improve quality of life (eurekalert.org)
- A New Model Of Understanding Chronic Pain & Depression May Offer Hope To Sufferers (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Accupuncture Found to Relieve Pain Better Than Traditional Treatments (liveinthenow.com)
- One Yoga Class Per Week Sufficient For Lower Back Pain Relief (asianscientist.com)
- Could chronic pain become a thing of the past? (express.co.uk)
- Yoga Helps Ease Lower Back Pain (medindia.net)
- Managing Horrible Pain with Narcotics (apluscaregiver.com)
Herbal medicines make most doctors cringe, laugh, or want to put blinders on and pretend they don’t exist. This is understandable. While allopathic medical education hammers pharmaceutical formulas and mechanisms of action into our brains, we learn little-to-nothing about herbs in medical school. Quite the opposite – we are most often told to uniformly discourage our patients from taking herbs out of concern for safety; a conversation stopper with little room for nuance.
In Western medicine, at best, herbs and plants are recognized for their role as an anchor ingredient in many pharmaceutical drugs. At worst, herbs are shunned for being unstudied and unregulated – fraught with reports of contamination, false-advertising and misuse by patients. This is thanks in large part to the Dietary Supplement Act of 1994, which allowed their sale without prescription.
Yet at least 15 million Americans say they take some form of herbal medication, and the dietary supplement market grosses $28 billion dollars annually. In other words, chances are that some of your patients are taking herbs, whether you know it or not.
First, some context: Not all herbs are restricted to mysterious Internet sites or eight hour energy drinks. Far from it. Tumeric root, a staple in Indian food, is a great example of an herbal medicine whose active ingredient, curcumin, has been proven to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, adaptogenic, and immunomodulatory properties. Not only has it been widely studied and used, but it also has basically no side-effects.
Ginger, cinnamon, not to mention others less likely to show up in your salad – milk thistle, for example – all have double-blind studies backing their claims. Indeed, many herbs can be a great sources of antioxidants, phytonutrients, and alkaloids, and have properties ranging from the anti-microbial to the anxiolytic. These anti-inflammatory properties can lend them a supportive role in the continuum of health and illness, helping nourish the body properly so it can do what it was designed to do – heal from and resist disease.
So how do you, as a Western doctor, with a responsibility to do no harm, approach herbs intelligently? The following is a pathway for addressing the use of herbal medicine in your practice even if you would never recommend an herb yourself.
1. Do your research. I find that the most easy-to-use and comprehensive guides are the online databases The Natural Standard, and The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, as well as the textbook, The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety. For a quick reference, the National Institutes of Health also offers the online“Herbs At A Glance,” patient-focused resource with information on the most common Western herbs. Finally, the American Journal of Cardiology published two helpful lists in 2010 summarizing common herb-drug interactions and herbs to avoid in patients with cardiovascular diseases. The databases and textbook in particular offer a digestible run-down of efficacy, contraindications, side effects, drug interactions, and pregnancy classification.
- University of Ibadan to begin course on Herbal Medicine (whatsupibadan.com)