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Cathy Wong, ND

Alternative Medicine


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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.

Can Wild Indigo Keep You Cold-Free?

Thursday March 13, 2014

Each year, about one billion cases of the common cold affect adults and children in the United States. To boost their defense against cold-related sneezing, sniffling, cough, and congestion, some people turn an herbal remedy known as wild indigo. Available in supplement form, wild indigo is known to contain arabinogalactans, a type of compound that may help stimulate your immune system.

Although research on the health effects of wild indigo is limited, some preliminary studies suggest that it may possess immune-enhancing properties. For example, a report published in the journal Advances in Therapy determined that wild indigo may help improve immune function when taken in combination with echinacea and white cedar leaf tips.

To strengthen your immune system and stave off colds all year long, make sure to get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress levels, and follow a healthy diet rich in immune-boosting foods. Taking herbs such as echinacea, astragalus, andrographis, and elderberry as soon as symptoms start may also help decrease the duration and severity of a cold.

Read my full article on wild indigo.

Autogenic Training for IBS Relief

Wednesday March 12, 2014

For people struggling with irritable bowel syndrome, working to reduce stress may help to soothe such symptoms as pain and cramping. One stress-management strategy that shows promise in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome is autogenic training, a technique that involves carrying out verbal-command-based exercises designed to promote feelings of relaxation.

While research on the use of autogenic training in treatment of irritable bowel syndrome is somewhat scarce, a small study published in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback in 2010 determined that the technique may be helpful for IBS patients. Compared to patients assigned to an intervention entailing discussions about their meal habits and lifestyles, those who practiced autogenic training were more likely to experience "adequate relief" by the study's end.

Although you can learn to practice autogenic training with the help of books and audio recordings, working with a teacher may be ideal for mastering the technique. And for more help in managing irritable bowel syndrome, consider natural remedies like enteric-coated peppermint oil and probiotic supplements (both found to benefit IBS patients in scientific studies).

Read the full article on autogenic training here.

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