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Health News Results - 39

Nagging Low Back Pain? Try Mindfulness

MONDAY, Dec. 10, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Almost no one is immune to occasional low back pain. But when it's chronic, when simple movement seems impossible, it can keep you from enjoying life. And painkillers aren't always the answer.

Why not try meditation rather than medication?

Research has shown that mind-body practices can help. These include yoga and cognitive behavior...

Yoga, Meditation Surging in Popularity in U.S.

THURSDAY, Nov. 8, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- If it seems like everyone you know is trying yoga or meditation, you might be right. A new government survey shows that the number of Americans practicing the "mindfulness" techniques has surged in the past few years.

In 2017, more than 14 percent of U.S. adults said they'd practiced yoga in the past year -- up from 9.5 percent in 2012. Meanw...

Many Mistakenly Believe Alternative Therapies Can Cure Cancer

TUESDAY, Oct. 30, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Despite evidence to the contrary, four in 10 Americans believe alternative therapies can cure cancer, a new survey finds.

Research shows that cancer death rates are much higher among patients who use only alternative therapies than among those who receive standard cancer treatments, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO...

Is Crowdfunding Too Often Used for Bogus Treatments?

TUESDAY, Oct. 23, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Crowdfunding pleas for dubious or potentially unsafe medical treatments are increasingly common, and raised nearly $7 million on social media in two years, researchers report.

An ill patient pleading for naturopathic cancer treatments or hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be hard to resist. Ditto a parent seeking antibiotics for their child for ch...

For Pain Relief, Why Not Try Drug-Free Alternatives?

TUESDAY, Oct. 2, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Pain sends more people to the doctor than any other ailment. But if you don't want relief from a medicine bottle -- or when that relief isn't enough -- consider complementary and integrative health approaches for their emotional as well as physical benefits.

Though certain types of movement can feel painful, especially if you're in the midst o...

Acupuncture: A New Look at an Ancient Remedy

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 19, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Widely practiced in Asia for thousands of years, acupuncture is one of the key components of traditional Chinese medicine. Yet it's still viewed with some skepticism in the Western world.

And for the squeamish, just the idea of needles can be a turnoff. But, depending on what ails you, it might bear trying.

Acupuncture uses very ...

Ancient Treatment May Help Fight 'Superbugs'

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 29, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- A certain type of clay appears effective against disease-causing bacteria in wounds, including some that are antibiotic-resistant, researchers say.

In some cultures, wet clay or mud is used as a skin treatment or poultice, and the use of mud as medicine stretches far back in human history.

"We showed that this reduced iron-bearing...

A Little 'Horseplay' Eases Veterans' Mind, Body & Soul

FRIDAY, Aug. 17, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. Navy veteran Lisa Conway was having trouble coping with mobility issues related to two newly diagnosed autoimmune diseases when her therapist suggested equine-assisted therapy.

"I rode horses mainly as a youngster and a couple of times as an adult. When my therapist suggested equine therapy, I thought, 'Are you kidding me? How am I going ...

Cancer Survival Drops With Complementary Therapy: Study

THURSDAY, July 19, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- People with curable cancers who try "complementary therapy" often refuse some part of standard care. And they may die as a result, researchers say.

U.S. cancer patients increasingly use complementary medicine -- a combination of standard care along with therapies that fall outside of mainstream medicine (such as acupuncture or massage). But ...

U.S. Teens Embracing Alternative Meds. Is That a Healthy Trend?

MONDAY, June 18, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Alternative medicines -- such as herbal products and so-called nutraceuticals -- have soared in popularity among American youth, a new report shows.

Between 2003 and 2014, the use of alternative medicines doubled, driven largely by increased use of omega-3 fatty acids and melatonin among teens.

The findings are cause for concern, acc...

Non-Drug Migraine Treatments Often Ignored

TUESDAY, June 5, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Many migraine sufferers skip recommended behavioral treatments, such as stress management and talk therapy, a new study finds.

Lack of time, cost and skepticism are among the reasons why, said Dr. Mia Minen, director of research for NYU Langone's headache division in New York City.

Previous studies have shown that treatments such as ...

Is Integrative Medicine Right for You?

TUESDAY, May 8, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Any approach that differs from conventional -- or Western -- medicine is typically considered complementary and alternative, or CAM.

But these practices have become much more mainstream, leading to growth in the health care approach called integrative medicine, which draws on traditional and non-traditional systems tailored to each individual's...

COPD Patients May Breathe Easier With Tai Chi

MONDAY, April 9, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- People struggling with COPD might find some relief in an ancient art.

The centuries-old practice of tai chi appears to boost the exercise capabilities and the quality of life of those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a study from Chinese and British researchers suggests.

COPD is a chronic, debilitating and largely i...

FDA Gets Tough With Homeopathic Medicines

MONDAY, Dec. 18, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. government plans to crack down on unproven homeopathic remedies, particularly those that pose the greatest risk to patients.

The Food and Drug Administration released proposed rules on Monday that would step up its enforcement of homeopathic products, which largely have been given a free ride by regulators until now.

"In rec...

Could Fish Oil, Vitamin D Help Ease Lupus?

THURSDAY, Nov. 9, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- People with lupus may fare better if they have enough vitamin D and omega-3 fats in their diet, preliminary research suggests.

In separate studies, researchers linked the two nutrients -- or lack thereof -- to higher risks of certain lupus symptoms and complications.

In one, lupus patients with low blood levels of vitamin D faced a ...

Can You Trust the Labels on Your Supplements?

THURSDAY, Nov. 2, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Think you know what's in your favorite supplement? Think again.

More than half of the herbal and dietary supplements analyzed by researchers contained ingredients that differed from the list on their labels.

Some had hidden ingredients that might actually harm health, researchers said.

Bodybuilding and weight-loss suppleme...

Get In Step With Tai Chi

TUESDAY, Oct. 24, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- If you're looking for a low-impact exercise that can have a big impact on your quality of life, give Tai Chi a try. This ancient Chinese practice combines slow, flowing movement with meditation and deep breathing.

According to the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, studies show that Tai Chi is very good at improvin...

The Benefits of 'Being in the Present'

FRIDAY, Oct. 6, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- When you have a full schedule, multitasking might seem like the best way to finish your endless to-do list.

But the brain actually benefits from focusing on one activity at a time.

When you commit to training your attention and exerting control over your mind, you're practicing mindfulness. While it has become a popular psychotherapy ...

Can You 'Om' Your Way to a Healthy Heart?

THURSDAY, Sept. 28, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Meditation may help reduce some risk factors for heart disease, according to a new statement from the American Heart Association.

The statement, released Thursday, also noted that a healthy lifestyle and medicines to control high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other heart threats are the most effective ways to prevent heart disease.

Many Parents Don't Tell Doctor About 'Complementary' Therapy Use in Kids

TUESDAY, Aug. 29, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Parents often try unconventional treatments -- such as acupuncture and herbal products -- when their kids are sick, but many don't tell their pediatricians about it, a new report shows.

Such omissions could be risky, especially when these young patients are already taking traditional medications, the report authors said.

"The point ...

Alternative Medicine Alone as Cancer Treatment Linked to Lowered Survival

THURSDAY, Aug. 17, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- People who choose alternative medicine over traditional cancer treatments for curable cancers have a higher risk of dying early, researchers report.

"We now have evidence to suggest that using alternative medicine in place of proven cancer therapies results in worse survival," said study lead author Dr. Skyler Johnson from Yale School of Me...

Study Finds Options to Opioid Use After Knee Surgery

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 16, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Alternative drug-free interventions to manage pain, including acupuncture and electrotherapy, may help reduce the need for prescription painkillers after knee replacement surgery, a new review suggests.

"As prescription opioid use is under national scrutiny and because surgery has been identified as an avenue for addiction, it is important...

Marijuana May Help Ease Nerve Pain, Review Finds

MONDAY, Aug. 14, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Marijuana may be slightly effective at reducing chronic nerve pain known as neuropathy. But there's little evidence on whether or not pot helps treat other types of pain or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a pair of new studies suggests.

The findings on neuropathy "fit generally well with what we know," said Dr. Sachin Patel of the Vand...

Singing May Be Good Medicine for Parkinson's  Patients

FRIDAY, Aug. 11, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Singing? To benefit people with Parkinson's disease? It just may help, a researcher says.

"We're not trying to make them better singers, but to help them strengthen the muscles that control swallowing and respiratory function," said Elizabeth Stegemoller, an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University.

Stegemoller hol...

Yoga May Help Ease Depression

THURSDAY, Aug. 3, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- If you've ever taken a yoga class, you probably know that it can help relax your body and your mind. Now, several new studies suggest that practicing yoga may also ease depression.

But the leader of a session on yoga and depression held Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association (APA) in Washington, D.C., emphasi...

Consider Acupuncture for Incontinence, Not Certain Infertility Cases

TUESDAY, June 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Acupuncture, a 3,000-year-old healing technique, received mixed reviews in two new studies from China -- one focusing on incontinence and the other on a cause of female infertility.

A research team found acupuncture did improve symptoms of stress incontinence -- an involuntarily loss of urine, such as when a woman sneezes or coughs.

Yoga Soothes Back Pain in Study

MONDAY, June 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- If you suffer from chronic low back pain, yoga might bring you as much relief as physical therapy, a new trial shows.

The less positive finding: Both therapies fell far short of helping everyone.

People who did yoga or physical therapy reported less pain on average after 12 weeks -- an improvement that held up over a year. And some...

Acupuncture May Be Effective Painkiller in the ER

MONDAY, June 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Acupuncture is a safe and effective alternative to pain medications for some emergency room patients, a new study reports.

"While acupuncture is widely used by practitioners in community settings for treating pain, it is rarely used in hospital emergency departments," said study lead investigator Marc Cohen. He is a professor in the School of ...

Meds Rooted in Ancient China May Help Heart: Review

MONDAY, June 12, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Traditional Chinese herbal medications might have a role to play in treating or preventing heart disease in the West, a research review suggests.

Heart disease and stroke remain major killers worldwide, accounting for 17.3 million deaths a year, according to the World Heart Federation. This unrelenting death toll has prompted scientists to loo...

Yoga, Meditation May Ease Some Breast Cancer Symptoms

FRIDAY, May 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- The diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer can come with a lot of anxiety, depression and other symptoms that affect quality of life. But mind-body therapies, such as yoga or meditation, may help ease these troubling concerns, a new study suggests.

The researchers reviewed previous studies done on 80 integrative therapies.

"We have ...

Could Tai Chi Ease Insomnia in Breast Cancer Survivors?

FRIDAY, May 12, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- For breast cancer survivors who struggle with sleep, a new study suggests that tai chi might calm their restless nights.

Researchers found this slow-moving form of meditation was as good as talk therapy and more effective than medication in treating insomnia and reducing the risk for sleep loss-related health issues, including depression, fatig...

Meditation Can Help Improve Focus in People With Anxiety

FRIDAY, May 5, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- People who tend to ruminate and dwell on the same anxious thoughts could benefit from mindful meditation, a new study finds.

Mindful meditation involves purposefully paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, found that just 10 minutes daily of mindful meditation can ...

'Mindfulness' Probably Won't Cure Your Back Pain: Study

TUESDAY, April 25, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Proponents of mindfulness-based stress reduction claim it can improve relationships, mental health, weight and more. But, one complaint it's unlikely to fix is lower back pain, researchers now say.

Lower back pain doesn't respond to the programs, which embrace meditation, heightened self-awareness and exercise, according to a review of seven...

Music May Soothe the 'Savage Beast' of Post-Op Pain

FRIDAY, April 7, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Patients recovering from back surgery often struggle with pain and anxiety, but new research shows that music therapy may help ease their discomfort.

Medication is commonly used to manage pain for people who've had surgery to treat a spinal problem.

For the new study, researchers from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City provided 30...

How Much Melatonin Is Really in That Supplement?

WEDNESDAY, March 1, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- If you take melatonin supplements to help you nod off, take note: Many brands are inaccurately labeled, containing much less -- or much more -- of the sleep hormone than indicated, a new study reports.

What's more, a laboratory analysis found that eight of 31 melatonin supplements contained significant quantities of the drug serotonin, whic...

Review Raises Questions About Herbal Meds for Heart Problems

MONDAY, Feb. 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- While there's scant evidence that herbal medications are safe or effective to treat heart conditions, they remain popular among people with heart disease, a new review suggests.

"Physicians should improve their knowledge of herbal medications in order to adequately weigh the clinical implications related to their use," said senior review autho...

Low Back Pain? Relax, Breathe and Try Yoga

FRIDAY, Feb. 10, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- For people experiencing low back pain, the thought of exercise often seems daunting. But yoga may be a natural fit in the quest to relieve an aching back, a new review indicates.

The findings come from an analysis of 12 studies that included more than 1,000 participants with lower back pain. The studies compared yoga to physical therapy or pat...

Drinking Peroxide as 'Natural' Cure Leads to Dangerous Blood Clots

THURSDAY, Feb. 9, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Ingesting high-concentration hydrogen peroxide as a "natural cure" or cleansing agent may land you in the emergency room, health experts caution.

Of particular concern are alternative drinking "therapies" that proactively promote the health benefits of potent peroxide. These so-called "super water" cures are anything but curative, researchers...

Turning to an Ancient Art to Help Ease PTSD in Veterans

THURSDAY, Dec. 8, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- The age-old practice of Tai Chi shows promise in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans, new research shows.

The study was small -- just 17 U.S. veterans -- and involved four introductory sessions of Tai Chi, the Chinese exercise regimen that involves slow, fluid movements.

A team led by Barbara Niles, of Boston ...

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Wellness Library Results - 49

What is valerian? Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) is an herb that has been used as a sleeping aid for more than 1,000 years. Many people (especially in Europe) still take it before going to bed. It's also an ingredient in many over-the-counter sleep products in this country. Does it really help promote sleep? Several small human studies have found that valerian root extract reduced the time...

What herb-drug combinations should I avoid? Herbal supplements are popular these days, but very few people have given up on mainstream medicine. Most of us still pop aspirin, see our physicians regularly, and pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy. Mixing herbs with traditional medicines can be the best of two worlds -- as long as you mix wisely. Many popular natural remedies can clash with pres...

What is biofeedback? Biofeedback is a tool that helps people gain more control over their bodies. It works by translating subtle physical changes into easy-to-read signals. Through biofeedback, patients can learn how their state of mind affects their circulation, tension, and pain. In the end, they often feel more relaxed and more in control. Biofeedback is often used in combination with other rel...

What is biofeedback? Biofeedback is a tool that helps sufferers alleviate their own pain. By means of devices sensitive to very small changes in bodily conditions, it allows the user to monitor and fine-tune the connections between emotions and health. The mind can play an important role in treating headaches and other types of chronic pain. Biofeedback helps people recognize and control the tens...

From an early age, we learn that the touch of a hand can ease pain. When a toddler bangs his knee in a tricycle accident, he'll instinctively rub the sore spot. Likewise, an office worker with stiff shoulders will probably try to knead them. And if a dancer can't shake the throbbing pain in her back, she just might schedule an appointment with a massage therapist. The healing power of a well-place...

Terrence Auyeung wasn't prepared for the unexpected during the morning commute to his Redwood City, California, office. But suddenly his Subaru began to fishtail on a winding mountain road, and he narrowly avoided skidding off a steep hill. It was a close call, and Auyeung counted his blessings. Three days later, however, he began feeling excruciating shoulder pain, probably from slamming into the...

At this point, no one would dispute the link between growth hormone and aging. It's a fact that as we age, our bodies produce less of this important hormone. "It's natural human physiology to have a decline in the amount of growth hormone we produce as we get older," says Mary Lee Vance, an endocrinologist in Virginia who specializes in growth disorders. Youth at any price Since the link between ...

Not long ago, the number one treatment for chronic back pain was rest and more rest. Today, people are more active in the recovery process -- and open-minded about the methods used. While a few days of rest are a key step in recovering from pain and injury, modern medicine emphasizes getting back in motion sooner rather than later. This "use it or lose it" approach is right in line with yoga, an a...

What is milk thistle? Milk thistle (Silybum marianum ), a common herb with spiny white-veined leaves and pink flowers, has been used as a liver tonic for at least 2,000 years. In this case, the ancients may have been on to something. Milk thistle seed extract contains a group of substances called silymarin that may help protect the liver. Some human studies suggest that milk thistle seed extract ...

What is art therapy? From sketches of cave bears to children's drawings on a refrigerator, art has always been an integral part of humanity. Art therapy uses art and the creative process to help us:

  • reconcile emotional conflicts
  • reduce anxiety
  • build self-awareness
  • solve problems and
  • increase self-esteem
Drawing on dance, drama, and photograp...

What is ayurveda? Ayurveda, which means "life wisdom" in Sanskrit, is one of the oldest medical systems still in use. Developed in India thousands of years ago and promoted in the U.S. today by alternative-medicine guru Deepak Chopra, it is based (in the simplest terms) on the idea that each person's metabolism and personality are influenced by three main doshas, or forces. These are pitta, which...

What is bee venom therapy? If you've ever been stung by a bee, you already have firsthand experience of the basics of bee-venom therapy (also called apitherapy). The only technical difference between the sting you got and the therapeutic kind is that yours was probably accidental. People who use bee venom for medicinal purposes don't wait around for random insect attacks. Using long tweezers, th...

What is cranial therapy? Cranial therapy (also called cranial osteopathy and craniosacral therapy) is based on the theory, developed by a 1930s osteopathic physician, that the bones of the skull never fully fuse and can be delicately manipulated to treat illness. The idea is that trauma, such as a blow to the head or back, extensive dental work, or even a habit of clenching your teeth, can subtly...

What is the Feldenkrais Method? It's a therapy to reeducate the body so that you move with less discomfort and greater ease. If you're recovering from a strain or sprain, or if you have a condition that limits you physically, you may find it valuable. The concept behind the method is basically this: Your body tends to fall into habitual ways of doing everything from looking down when you tie you...

What is guided imagery? Guided imagery (also called guided visualization) is a therapy that harnesses your imagination to help you handle stress and illness. With the assistance of a psychotherapist, nurse, or doctor, patients visualize positive images that can lift their mood and reduce their stress. If they can picture themselves in a mountain meadow or on a beach instead of in a hospital bed or...

Here's a joke: A man tells his friend about a dinner party he had at his house the night before. "I made a real Freudian slip," he says. "I meant to tell my mother-in-law to pass the butter, and instead I said, "You silly cow, you ruined my life!" Is humor good for my health? You've probably heard countless warnings about the dangers of negative emotions. Stress, anger, and depression can sap yo...

What is magnet therapy? It's a therapeutic technique based on the idea that magnets can reduce pain and speed the natural healing process by manipulating your body's own natural magnetic energy. The practice has been traced back to ancient times in places like Egypt, Greece, and China, and it continues to enjoy a loyal following today, particularly among athletes and musicians who use magnets to ...

Swedish Massage Swedish massage is the kind you're most likely to encounter at the gym or at a spa. You lie unclothed on a padded table, draped with a sheet, while the therapist applies oil or lotion to his hands or your skin and then uses gliding and kneading strokes and even tapping or shaking to relax your muscles and loosen your joints. All this rubbing and kneading can really boost your circ...

Movement therapies are techniques aimed at "retraining" your body to move in a healthy way to relieve chronic pain and muscular tension. During a session, you may wear loose, comfortable clothing (except for Hellerwork massage, when you will want to strip to your underwear). Most of these techniques are quite gentle and accessible to beginners, and some are more widely available than others. Some ...

What is power yoga? Power yoga is essentially yoga with brawn. It's the American interpretation of ashtanga yoga, a discipline that combines stretching, strength training, and meditative breathing. But power yoga takes ashtanga one step further. Many of the poses (also called postures or their Sanskrit name, asanas) resemble basic calisthenics -- push-ups and handstands, toe touches and side bend...

Most people are familiar with the concept of massage, even if they have never had one. But reiki, a complementary medicine technique that involves a 'healing touch' or sometimes simply holding the hands over the body, is much less well-known. What is reiki? Reiki is an ancient Japanese method of healing illness and reducing stress through touch or, often enough, hand positions that stop short ...

A few days after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, Lynne Greabell got another surprise: She was also pregnant. Carrying a baby can be stressful business, especially when you're 38, hold down a full-time job, and already have a toddler at home. But carrying a baby while fighting cancer -- that's a challenge not everyone can handle. At least one doctor encouraged her to terminate the preg...

The first time Heidi Powers saw Shadow, she never envisioned taking the beautiful Weimaraner home. "I took one look at him and thought to myself, 'You're setting yourself up for heartache. You'd better walk away right now,'" the Petaluma, California, resident recalls of her visit to an animal rescue facility in 2003. One of Shadow's hind legs was frozen in position and sticking straight out, and ...

What are cold sores? Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are small red sores that occur occasionally on or near your lips or in your mouth. They actually have nothing to do with colds or with fevers; they're caused by a virus called herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). How do you get cold sores? Nearly nine out of 10 Americans are infected with the cold sore virus at some point in their liv...

Kava (Piper methysticum ) is a plant from the pepper family native to the South Pacific islands. The herbal remedy, also known as kava kava, is derived from the root of the flowering shrub. For centuries, this root was chewed or mashed into a pulp and then mixed with water or coconut milk -- and sometimes fermented -- to make a pungent drink used for ceremonial and spiritual purposes. Even today, ...

Devil's claw, skullcap, and stinging nettle: They may sound like the ingredients of a witch's brew, but many herbal remedies are gaining acceptance in the world of mainstream medicine. How much do you know about herbs and their uses? 1. Herbal remedies may be helpful in relieving which of the following ailments? a. Migraines b. Enlarged prostate c. Cold and flu d. All of the above 2...

Can herbs help fight cancer? As many as 88 percent of all cancer patients seek help from herbs and other alternative therapies. It's easy to see why. Certain herbal remedies appear to work -- after all, the potent anticancer drug taxol comes from the bark of the yew tree -- and compared with nauseating, painful, expensive, and sometimes ineffective conventional treatments, taking herbs or drinkin...

Echinacea (Echinacea purpura ) is a medicinal herb originally used by North American Plains Indians. In the 1870s, an enterprising Nebraska doctor began touting it as a blood purifier capable of curing everything from headache and rheumatism to syphilis and hemorrhoids. Commonly known as the purple coneflower after the large purple blossom that crowns its three-foot stalk, this member of the daisy...

Are all herbal remedies safe? No. Many herbal remedies can improve your health when used wisely. But even some of these have the potential for harm, especially if you're taking large doses or a synthetic version. You should know that most herbal remedies and "natural" supplements have not been thoroughly tested, a fact that hasn't prevented some companies from putting exaggerated claims on the lab...

Can dietary supplements help me lose weight? "Eat! Eat! Eat! And Always Stay Thin! No Diet, No Exercise!" Sounds great, doesn't it? Unfortunately, you'll have a hard time responding to this particular ad. For one thing, it dates to the early 1900's. And, to make matters worse, pharmacies no longer sell the miracle product: sanitized tape worms. Weight loss products have changed in the last centur...

What is shark cartilage? Just what its name implies: Shark cartilage is simply the skeletal material of a shark. But many people believe this substance does far more than keep ocean creatures together. Ever since the book Sharks Don't Get Cancer hit the market, shark cartilage has been touted as a powerful cancer fighter in human beings. People also take cartilage in hopes it will relieve the pain...

What is DHEA? DHEA is the most abundant steroid hormone in our bodies. (Hormones in this category include estrogen, testosterone, and cortisone.) DHEA, short for dehydroepiandrosterone, can convert to either testosterone or estrogen; it reaches its peak when we're in our 20's and then performs a dramatic disappearing act as we age. After we hit 30, our DHEA levels drop about 10 percent every 10 ye...

What is blue-green algae? Before the time of coral or starfish or bugs or birds, blue-green alga was practically the only living thing on earth. More than 1,500 species of the primitive single-celled organism are still around, mostly floating in stagnant ponds and growing on algae farms. That's right: algae farms. This ancient plantlike creature has become a cash crop. Web sites and health food st...

For many years, veterinarians routinely gave glucosamine to racehorses to help preserve their joints over years of pounding the track. Now scientists are studying whether glucosamine, a compound that your body uses to make cartilage, can help people as well. For 40 years, European researchers have been studying whether taking glucosamine in supplement form can help relieve arthritis pain and rebui...

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10, also called ubiquinone) is a vitamin-like substance that's present in foods and is also produced by your cells to help convert food into energy. The Japanese were the first to start taking it in supplement form, and it's still commonly used in Japan to treat heart-failure patients. During the 1980s, CoQ10 gained popularity in this country as an energy-booster; it's now touted ...

What natural alternatives to hormone replacement therapy are there? Women who decide not to supplement their declining levels of estrogen with prescription hormones may want to choose from a variety of "natural" remedies that may help relieve their menopausal symptoms. Black cohosh root may bring some relief from hot flashes, with potentially fewer side effects than estrogen. Creams made from wild...

What is licorice? First of all, if you're looking for the kind of licorice that serves as an herbal medicine, forget about the red and black sticks in the candy aisle. In the United States, so-called licorice candy is almost always flavored with anise and contains no actual licorice. Real licorice, which comes from the root of the plant Glycyrrhiza glabra, tastes just as sweet as the impostors bu...

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis ) is a perennial plant that grows deep in the woods from Vermont to Arkansas. Cherokee Indians used its golden roots as a yellow dye, for skin problems, and as an eyewash. After the Civil War it was such a popular ingredient in medicines that it nearly became extinct. Today it's still quite rare and expensive, and many herbalists discourage its use because of the l...

You may think of flax as a source of fine linens, but the plant's greatest value may well lie in its small, dark seeds. As far back as the 700s, King Charlemagne ordered every loyal Roman to eat flaxseed for health, and today many alternative medicine gurus echo that decree to all who will listen. Flaxseed is more than just nutritious -- health experts believe the seed can actually help prevent he...

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba ) is the only remaining member of a family of trees that flourished centuries ago in ancient China. Dubbed a living fossil, ginkgo today thrives worldwide in parks and gardens, and in plantations where leaves of carefully pruned ginkgo shrubs are harvested and processed into supplements. Although the people of China have been using the fruits and seeds since 2800 BC, only dur...

The knotty, twisted underground stem of the ginger plant (Zingiber officinale ) has been used as a spice and a drug in China for the last 25 centuries. Chinese sailors chewed pieces of it to relieve their seasickness thousands of years ago. Today ginger is a leading folk remedy for nausea and digestive problems as well as a flavoring for food and drinks throughout the world. What is it good for? ...

Garlic (Allium sativum ) reigns as a powerful -- and pungent -- leader among herbal remedies. A close cousin of onions, leeks, and shallots, garlic has traditionally been used to fight off everything from colds and infections to vampires and evil spirits. It's also one of the most intensely studied herbs; over the last 20 years, more than a thousand papers have been written about the "stinking ros...

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium ) is a relative of the daisy, marigold, and dandelion. The name is derived from the Latin word febrifugia, or fever reducer, and feverfew has been used for that purpose since the first century. Historically, the herb has also been used to treat headache, arthritis, menstrual irregularity, and stomachache. What is it good for? Some studies indicate that feverfew may...

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus ), the European blueberry, first caught the attention of the medical community during World War II, when British Royal Air Force pilots who snacked on bread and bilberry jam before their night missions started hitting their targets more often. Today, the fruit is widely used in Europe to relieve eyestrain. What is it good for? It may be good for your eyes. Researchers...

What is aloe vera? The aloe vera plant (Aloe barbadensis) is the source of two very different herbal products: aloe gel and aloe juice (also called aloe latex). Although you may hear the terms juice and gel used interchangeably, it's important to know the difference. Aloe gel, the clear, jellylike stuff that oozes from a torn leaf, is renowned as a salve for burns and wounds and is also the key in...

Yoga is a movement technique -- a series of poses (called asanas) that emphasize stretching, attentive breathing, and relaxation. The poses are part of a spiritual discipline and belief system from India. The exercises promote physical and mental well-being; some improve flexibility and strength as well. What is Iyengar yoga? Iyengar yoga, developed by yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar more than 60 years...

If you're tense, sore, or generally stressed out --in other words, if you feel pretty much like everyone else these days -- it might be time to put yourself in the hands of a professional massage therapist. Research shows that therapeutic massage can be a boon for both your mental and physical health. A single session can relax your body and help you sleep better at night. Go more often, and you j...

What are the benefits of peppermint? You already know about peppermint as a flavoring for candy and cookies. The oils from the peppermint (Mentha piperita ) have an unmistakable icy-cool flavor and smell. But peppermint oil seems to do more than freshen breath. It's a time honored remedy for sore throats. And in Germany, it's approved it as an aid to improve digestion and reduce bloating. Human ...

Green tea smells different from black tea. And it tastes different, too. You might call it "fresh" or even "grassy." And if you drink it regularly, you can also call it good for you. Packed with antioxidants, green tea may be one of the healthiest things you could ever put in a mug. What is green tea? Like black tea, green tea comes from the tea plant Camellia sinensis, a fragrant evergreen shru...

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