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Cathy Wong, ND

Alternative Medicine Blog


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Red Raspberry Leaf for Menstrual Cramps?

Thursday April 24, 2014

An herb said to relax the uterus, red raspberry leaf is often taken in tea form to help ease the pain of menstrual cramps. Also said to enhance overall women's health, red raspberry leaf contains such antioxidants as quercetin and kaempferol.

To date, there's a lack of scientific support for the claim that red raspberry leaf tea can help tame menstrual cramps. However, sipping warm beverages such as herbal tea may be helpful in treating menstrual symptoms.

For more help in soothing menstrual pain, consider taking herbs like ginger, upping your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, or massage on the lower abdomen with a blend of essential oils of lavender, clary sage, and marjoram (combined with a carrier oil). Cutting back on caffeine and alcohol, exercising regularly, and managing your stress can also go a long way in stopping cramps.

Click here to read the full article on red raspberry leaf.

Can Maracuja Oil Revitalize Your Skin?

Tuesday April 22, 2014

One newly trendy ingredient in natural skincare products is maracuja oil, a substance sourced from the seeds of the passionflower or passion fruit plant. Fans of maracuja oil suggest that it can help shield skin by locking in moisture and reversing signs of aging (such as fine lines and wrinkles).

Although there's not much scientific support behind the supposedly skin-saving effects of maracuja oil, some research shows that the oil is rich in linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid that plays a central role in skin function) as well as in antioxidants (a class of compounds found to fight sun damage when applied to the skin).

Other sources of skin-protecting essential fatty acids include argan oil, baobab, and sea buckthorn) (all commonly found in natural skincare products). There's also some evidence that upping your intake of antioxidant-rich foods and omega-3 fatty acids may enhance your skin's health.

Click here to read the full article on maracuja oil.

Thalassotherapy for Fibromyalgia

Thursday April 17, 2014

To soothe the pain and ease the fatigue commonly associated with fibromyalgia, some patients have tried a type of alternative medicine known as thalassotherapy. Sometimes considered a form of hydrotherapy, this practice involves using the ocean, seawater, or marine products like algae and seaweed to promote healing. It's thought that--once absorbed into the body--minerals found naturally in seawater (including magnesium and zinc) can help fight mineral deficiencies and enhance health.

Although research on thalassotherapy is limited, a few studies have shown that fibromyalgia patients may experience improvements in mental and physical health after undergoing this treatment. There's also some evidence that thalassotherapy may boost emotional health in people with fibromyalgia, a condition closely linked to anxiety, depression, and other emotional issues.

Other alternative approaches that show promise in the management of fibromyalgia symptoms include receiving massage and practicing yoga.

Click here to read the article on thalassotherapy.



Spikenard Oil: An Aromatherapy Remedy for Anxiety?

Tuesday April 15, 2014

Extracted from a plant in the valerian family), spikenard oil is a type of essential oil sometimes used in aromatherapy. Bearing a strong, earthy scent, spikenard oil is said to soothe anxiety (as well as relieve stress and alleviate insomnia).

So far, researchers have yet to test the health effects of spikenard oil in scientific studies. However, a number of essential oils said to blend well with spikenard oil have been found to offer anxiety-easing effects. For instance, studies suggest that essential oils of lavender and rose may help tame anxiety symptoms. What's more, bergamot essential oil also appears to lessen anxiety.

When using any kind of essential oil, it's important to combine it with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, sweet almond, or avocado) before applying directly to your skin.

Continue reading about spikenard oil...

Can Hyssop Ease Asthma Symptoms?

Wednesday April 9, 2014

Asthma is on the rise, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. As of 2009, one in 12 people in the United States now suffers from this respiratory disorder, compared with one in 14 people in 2001. For help in easing asthma symptoms and enhancing respiratory health, some patients turn to such natural remedies as hyssop (an herb found in the mint family and commonly consumed in tea form).

While research on the asthma-fighting effects of hyssop is very limited, a preliminary study published in 2011 found that hyssop extract may aid in asthma treatment. In tests on rats, the study's authors determined that asthma may help curb asthma-associated inflammation of the airways.

There's some evidence that alternative therapies like biofeedback, as well as herbal remedies like butterbur and bromelain, may also help treat asthma naturally. What's more, keeping your weight in check may help with asthma control.

Click here for the full article on hyssop.

Lessons from Tibetan Medicine

Monday April 7, 2014

One of the longest-practiced systems of medicine on the planet, Tibetan medicine has been deemed "the world's first integrative medicine." Somewhat similar to ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine , Tibetan medicine centers on the use herbal remedies for healing. In addition, practitioners of Tibetan medicine closely rely on mind-body techniques like meditation and yoga, as well as on nutritional therapy, exercise, massage, and moxibustion.

One of the key principles of Tibetan medicine is that your digestion offers insight into your overall health. To that end, practitioners maintain that many common health troubles stem from imbalances in the digestive system.

For a stronger digestive system, it's essential to drink plenty of water, practice mindful eating, and make sure you're getting enough beneficial bacteria (also known as probiotics). Check out this article for more advice on nurturing your digestive health.

Click here for the full article on Tibetan medicine.


Can Jiaogulan Fight Fat?

Friday April 4, 2014

Sometimes touted as a natural weight loss aid, the herb jiaogulan has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. While few studies have tested the fat-fighting effects of jiaogulan (often referred to as "Southern ginseng"), a study published in the journal Obesity in 2013 found that the herb may help promote weight loss and trim abdominal fat in obese people. Compared to study members given a placebo, those assigned to 12 weeks of treatment with jiaogulan showed a significantly greater reduction in body mass index, body fat mass, and abdominal fat.

Research suggests that jiaogulan may also help treat a number of other health problems, including diabetes, asthma, and anxiety disorders linked to chronic stress. For more help in promoting weight loss naturally, consider such remedies as cayenne pepper. There's some evidence that adding cayenne to meals may help curb your appetite and rev up your calorie-burning rate.

Click here for the full article on Jiaogulan.

Cassava: A Cancer-Fighting Herb?

Monday March 24, 2014

A plant native to South America, cassava is rich in a variety of health-boosting substances: its roots contain such nutrients as calcium and vitamin C , while its leaves are a source of protein, carotene, and lysine. But although cassava is said to enhance fertility and help treat a range of health troubles (such as arthritis, headaches, and even cancer), research on the herb's potential benefits is very limited.

The available evidence for cassava's health effects includes a preliminary study published in the Journal of Gene Medicine in 2002. In tests on rats, the study's authors observed that linamarin (a compound found in cassava) might help knock out tumors. However, further research on cassava's anti-cancer properties is currently lacking.

It's important to note that cassava can release cyanide when eaten whole. Signs of cyanide poisoning resulting from improper preparation of cassava include headache, agitation, and convulsions.

Read the full article on cassava.

Arabinoxylan for Diabetes Control?

Thursday March 20, 2014

The outer shell of wheat, rice, and other cereal grains contains a compound called arabinoxylan, a fiber component that's also available in supplement form. Often used to stimulate the immune system (as well as to treat common conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, arabinoxylan shows promise in the treatment of diabetes.

For a small study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2004, 15 people with diabetes added one of two types of baked goods to their diet for five weeks: bread and muffins enriched with arabinoxylan, or bread and muffins made only with whole wheat and white flour. By the study's end, those who ate the arabinoxylan-enriched bread and muffins showed a significantly greater improvement in blood sugar control.

For help in managing diabetes, it's crucial to follow a balanced diet, work out regularly, and maintain a healthy weight. There's also some evidence that consuming cinnamon and black tea on a regular basis may help keep your blood sugar in check.

Read the full article on arabinoxylan.

Transfer Factors: A Natural Solution for Shingles?

Tuesday March 18, 2014

Sold in dietary supplement form, transfer factors are a type of protein produced by cells in the lymphatic system. Proponents claim that taking transfer factor supplements can boost your immune system and stave off all kinds of sickness.

Although transfer factors are said to fight a wide range of health problems--from Alzheimer's disease to diabetes--there's limited scientific support for the supposed health benefits of using such supplements. The most recent research includes a small study published in the International Journal of Immunopharmacology in 1998, which found that transfer factors may aid in the treatment of shingles. Compared to shingles patients given the medication acyclovir for one week, those treated with transfer factors for the same time period experienced a greater increase in certain immune cells.

Several other natural therapies may benefit people with shingles, including proteolytic enzymes (such as bromelain) and topically applied capsaicin cream.

Read the full article on transfer factors.

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