Thursday February 27, 2014
In some Native American tribes, an herb known as blue cohosh has long been used to improve muscle tone in the uterus and treat a variety of women's health troubles (such as menstrual cramps and PMS). But while preliminary studies suggest that blue cohosh may shield health by reducing inflammation), other research shows that taking this herb while pregnant may raise risk of birth defects.
The research on blue cohosh and birth defects includes a 2008 report from the Canadian Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, which found that using blue cohosh during pregnancy may disrupt the physiological development of the fetus. What's more, the report indicates that use of blue cohosh may be associated with increased risk of stroke and other cardiac events during delivery.
A number of other natural remedies hold promise for enhancing women's health. For instance, there's some evidence that consuming soy may slightly lower your risk of breast cancer and build stronger bones to stave off osteoporosis.
Read the full article on blue cohosh.
Thursday February 20, 2014
Sometimes referred to as bishop's flower or lady's lace, an herb known as bishop's weed is often touted as a natural remedy for vitiligo. A condition marked by white patches on the skin, vitiligo is especially common among people with certain autoimmune disorders (such as Hashimoto's disease and alopecia areata).
Bishop's weed contains a compound called methoxsalen, which is classified as a psoralen (a substance shown to increases the skin's sensitivity to ultraviolet light). In a medical procedure known as PUVA therapy (which stands for "psoralen-UVA therapy"), people with skin disorders like vitiligo, eczema, and psoriasis are given methoxsalen and then exposed to ultraviolet light.
Although PUVA therapy once commonly involved the use of methoxsalen sourced from bishop's weed, today the prescription drugs used in PUVA therapy typically contain methoxsalen made in the laboratory. What's more, there's a lack of evidence to support the claim that taking bishop's weed in supplement form is effective as a vitiligo treatment.
Read the full article on bishop's weed.
Tuesday February 18, 2014
In a recent report from the journal Neurology, researchers have linked use of herbal incense to incidence of stroke in young adults. In their analysis of case studies of two healthy, young siblings who suffered strokes soon after smoking the recreational drug, the report's authors note that the strokes might have been related to chemicals found in herbal incense.
Increasingly popular in recent years, herbal incense contains a mixture of herbs and synthetic cannabinoids (a class of engineered chemicals similar to marijuana's main psychoactive components). Sometimes referred to as synthetic cannabis, Spice, K2, mamba, fake marijuana, or potpourri, herbal incense has been associated with a wide range of health risks, including elevated blood pressure, kidney damage, and seizures.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has placed a national ban on the sale of synthetic cannabinoids, which a recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration linked to 11,406 of the 4.9 million drug-related emergency department visits in the U.S. in 2010.
Read the full article on herbal incense here.
Friday February 14, 2014
Not just a top risk factor for major illnesses like cancer and heart disease, smoking was found to wreak havoc on sleep in one recent study. For help in kicking the habit, many smokers turn to alternative therapies such as ear acupuncture (a form of acupuncture that that involves stimulating specific points on the ear). Rooted in the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, ear acupuncture is often administered as part of a standard acupuncture session.
While studies on ear acupuncture's benefits in smoking cessation have yielded conflicting results, there's evidence that the therapy may be helpful for some smokers. In a 2004 study, for example, a survey of 126 people who had undergone ear acupuncture while attempting to quit smoking found that the treatment had a one-year success rate of 41.1 percent.
Other alternative smoking cessation aids include hypnotherapy, as well as herbs like St. John's wort.
Read the full article on ear acupuncture here.