Friday, June 26, 2009


The Dangers of Getting Prepared for a Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is one of the most effective screening devices, If a problem with polyps is detected, it can be cured on the spot. The FDA warns against using over-the-counter products for bowel cleansing prior to the procedure. In the past, Fleet enemas were routinely used. Rarely, this product can lead to permanent kidney damage. Similar prescription products (Visicol, Omniprep) will now have a black box warning against use in high risk patients. The alternatives suggested are PEG solutions, like Golightly and Halflightly. Increasingly, colonic irrigation is being used for a bowel prep. At COHA we have used this procedure therapeutically for many years for various bowel problems and for detoxification, because of its safety and effectiveness.

See Prescriber’s Letter (click here-subscription required) , January, 2009, p. 6.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Many Physicians Give Placebos

In a study by 5 medical ethicists from National Institutes of Health (NIH), it was found that 46-58% of physicians said they prescribe placebos on a regular basis, and almost two-thirds stated that it was ethically permissible to do so. In many studies, the placebo beneficial effect is 30-40%. If a placebo works for a patient, is that part of the art of medicine? If the patient gets better, does it matter if a placebo is used? The problem arises when placebo medications, such as over-the-counter pain drugs, are used that have significant side effects such as gastritis and kidney failure. Another problem is one of definition. If a nutritional supplement is prescribed that has potential benefit for an individual patient but that benefit has not been definitively proven, that could be called a “placebo” by physicians who do not believe in supplements. By limiting prescribing to proven evidence-based medicine, a doctor will miss the opportunity to significantly help a good number of his or her patients. If only 1/3 of patients respond to a safe, inexpensive therapy, those 1/3 are still helped, despite what evidence-based medicine concludes. They should not be forbidden to take a therapy that is helpful for them.

See Family Practice News(click here, subsription required) 12/1/09, p. 50 or BMJ 2008:337:a1938.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis Have Increase Risk of Heart Disease

Physicians have been preoccupied with treating Rheumatoid Arthritis by suppressing the immune system. In December, 2008, a European task force concluded that patients with RA have similar risks for cardiovascular disease as those with Diabetes. This is a major risk that has been ignored or perhaps been even increased by the therapy given. There have been reports that reducing heavy metals by chelation therapy might be useful for both RA and cardiovascular diseases. Such an approach might be more rational, considering these research findings.

See Family Practice News (click here) subscription required , December 1, 2008, p. 11.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hibiscus Tea Can Lower Blood Pressure

Dr. Diane McKay, a gerontologist at Tufts University, reported to the American Heart Association meeting this winter that drinking 3 cups a day of Hibiscus tea can lower blood pressure an average of 7.2 mm of Hg. Other studies have shown that lowering the BP even half of that amount can reduce the incidence of stroke by 8% and heart attacks by 5%. Patients with high BP at baseline had even greater benefits. Hibiscus can be combined with other herbs, exercise, and certain muscle relaxation techniques taught by Steve Kaufmann, DC, to effectively control BP, perhaps without the need for prescription drugs and their accompanying side effects.

See Family Practice News (subsription required), 1/1/2009, p. 8.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Restless Legs Helped by Valerian

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a common problem that interferes with sleep quality. Adequate amounts of sleep is an important factor in many medical and psychiatric conditions, al well as for general well-being. Conventional medicine has proposed numerous medications to treat this problem that often are expensive and have major potential side effects. Folic acid 5-10 mg can be helpful. Recently, Norma Cuellar published a triple-blinded, placebo-controlled study showing that 800 mg of valerian was effective in controlling restless legs symptoms and improving sleep quality. This herb is safer and less expensive than the usual and customary treatments.

See Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine (subsription required), p. 22-28.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Systematic Reviews Support the Use of Common Herbs

Mark Blumenthal, editor of HerbalGram, contends that evidence-based medicine on natural therapies is being distorted in the popular media. Several negative studies have been widely publicized as proof that herbs in general do not work. In actuality, there have been a good number of systematic reviews lately (which are much more revealing than a single study) that have supported the safety and effectiveness of various herbal therapies. These include reports on ginseng, St. John’s wort, garlic, echinacea, hawthorn berry and saw palmento. True evidence-based medicine should be applied without prejudice or financial incentives from pharmaceutical company influence. We have a way to go.

See Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine (subscription required), March/April 2009, p. 14-15.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Integrative Medicine and Health Care Reform

Dr. David Riley, Editor of Alternative Therapies published a perceptive editorial pointing out that if we are going to make progress for the rapidly increasing numbers of patients with chronic degenerative diseases such as asthma, autism, diabetes, circulation problems, cancer and autoimmunity, we simply must incorporate an integrative approach that includes a good diet, rational use of supplements, exercise, detoxification and mind-body techniques to promote healing. To do this on a large scale, we need to bring together the 300,000 primary care docs, 150,000 nurse practitioners, 2 million nurses, 90,000 chiropractors, 20,000 licensed acupuncturists, and 3000 licensed naturopaths in a coordinated effort. No one group can do it alone.

See Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine,(subcription required) March/April 2009, p. 10-11.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Scientific Fraud Alleged for Vioxx and Celebrex Research

On April 7, 2009, Federal investigators issued subpoenas for financial records of Dr. Scott Reuben, who is accused of faking data in 21 studies showing the benefits of Vioxx and Celebrex in the pain clinic that he headed at Baystate Medical Center in Massachusetts. He also was on the faculty of Tufts University Medical School. His work was funded by the drug companies that produced and marketed these drugs. I shudder to think of how many patients were harmed by the side effects of these drugs, which were presumed to be safe and effective. Natural alternatives such as Glucosamine, MSM, Boswellia and other substances are much safer and usually just as effective.

The Wall Street Journal (click here), the online journal, for April 7, 2009