A Doctor's Guide to Alternative Medicine:
What Works, What Doesn't, and Why

For Beyond 50's "Natural Healing" talks, listen to an interview with Dr. Mel Borins. He'll talk about the latest scientific research and double-blind studies to let you know what alternative treatments work, which don't and why. You'll also learn how to safely use these alternative treatments.

The evidence-based reviews written by Dr. Mel Borins as monthly columns in the "Canadian Journal of Diagnosis."  His readers were medical doctors wanting this kind of reliable information on effective vitamins, herbs, and other natural treatments. 

Based on his studies, he takes a middle ground stand about holistic healthcare: it is not all quackery and not all are supported scientifically to be considered safe or useful.

Alternative Medicines That Really Work

It is recommended that you consult with your physician first before taking any natural remedies.  Here are some examples of alternative treatments that work well on specific conditions, based on scientific research and double blind studies:

Depression - St. John's Wort is effective for mild to moderate depression (defined as twenty or greater on the Hamilton Depression Scale) with little side effects.

Menopausal Hot Flashes - Black Cohosh and Red Clover are commonly used for hot flashes.  There have been isolated reports of liver toxicity from taking Black Cohosh. 

Migraine - Feverfew's leaves have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that can be used as a preventative remedy for migraines.  As a warning, Feverfew is related to ragweed and can cause allergy symptoms.

Infections - Tea Tree Oil is a natural essential oil and has natural antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties.  Caution: Toxic when swallowed.  Useful for oral hygiene, yeast infections of the mouth  Can cause drowsiness, confusion, hallucinations, coma, unsteadiness, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach upset, blood cell abnormalities and severe rashes.  Do not use if pregnant and breastfeeding.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - Eye Movement Desensitizing & Reprocessing (EMDR) stimulates the right and left hemispheres of the brain using a combination of eye movements, visualization and free association.  Found to be more effective, compared to cognitive behavioral therapy.  Highly recommended by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense.

Coenzyme Q10 for Health - This enzyme that is manufactured in the body is essential for energy production (ATP in the cells) and supporting cardiovascular health (like heart failure, hypertension, cardio surgery, heart attacks), reduction in migraines, and Parkinson's Disease.  Caution: Possible side effects include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, appetite suppression, and epigastric discomfort.  There are also reports of insomnia, headaches, dizziness, and skin reactions.

Osteoarthritis - Glucosamine sulfate can have a positive effect on the symptoms (like joint-space narrowing) from Osteoarthritis, along with delaying its progression. progression.  Caution: It may increase blood pressure and cause reversible hypertension.  There are cases of gastrointestinal side effects, aggravation of asthma, kidney problems, palpitations,  headaches, and drowsiness. 

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