By Mitzi Perdue
Sunday, March 25, 2012
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has authoritative research on which non-mainstream therapies work and which don't. From Evening Primrose for PMS to hypnosis for anxiety, here's a quick run down.
Some can be harmful. NZU, marketed for morning sickness, should be avoided, especially by pregnant or nursing women. Ingredients are implicated in bladder cancers and fetal risks.
Briggs recommended that patients who use complementary and alternative practices discuss them with a health care provider.
Other findings from her agency's research:
But the official research center also highlights remedies that do seem to be working.
With more than 10 years of scientific research to back her up, Briggs told her audience that, "Tai chi, yoga, acupuncture, meditation, massage and hypnosis can be effective in managing pain, anxiety and fatigue."
Some of the therapies may work, she said, but not always in ways that were expected. Scientists found, for instance, that acupuncture has a positive effect whether the needles were placed on the correct meridians or merely nearby. How could this be?
"Acupuncture and hypnosis both involve a ritual that changes expectations, and in the process, they do dramatic things to brain chemistry," Briggs said, adding, "Expectation really will change how your body experiences pain."
She went on to say that for at least one-third of the population, hypnosis can be predicted to help substantially with pain. "It's underutilized," she pointed out, "partly because there aren't a lot of people who have become doctors who also want to become hypnotists."
Briggs said that successful alternative therapies have a way of winning acceptance. "Breast feeding was not recommended in the 1950s, and even in the 1960s," she said, "Lamaze was considered an alternative medicine. Today these are mainstream."
Mitzi Perdue is a Maryland-based writer and former syndicated columnist for the Scripps Howard News Service. She is the founder of Healthy U of Delmarva, an organization that works to encourage community-wide healthy lifestyles.
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