According to the latest government survey, 36% of Americans use some form of alternative medicine. If you consider prayer as a complementary form of medicine, then fully 62% use complementary and alternative medicine.
Some 19% of those queried used what were termed 'natural products' such as herbs and botanicals. 26% reported thata medical professional suggested that they try an alternative route.
Because of this widespread uses, there is worry about what people use. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has established an information center online so that people can have a reliable source of information. And the University of Illinois School of Pharmacy recently receive a large grant to study the value of using 28 herbal remedies.
Because herbal remedies come under the rubric of foods and food supplement, they are not regulated closely. The result is that dosages may vary and contamination occurs. A couple of deaths were recently reported when a remedy, produced by BotanicLab, was shown to contain not only the herbal remedy but also other drugs including an artificial estrogen banned years ago and larges does of the blood thinner, coumadin.
It is also true that some herbal remedies are shown to be effective in certain circumstances. Saw palmetto has been shown to improve prostate problems. BPH is a slow growth in the prostate gland that occurs as a man ages. It can be bothersome. The Harvard Men's Health Watch reports that saw palmetto appears to works like prescription drugs usually prescribed for this problem.
St. John's wort has been called 'a promising antidepressant' by doctors at Duke University. American ginseng appears to lower blood sugar. While the findings are preliminary, they also look promising. A large study of ginkgo is ongoing. It will test the findings that ginkgo can improve mental functioning.
Garlic appears to temporarily lower LDL or 'bad' cholesterol, it does not raise HDL or the good cholesterol. Some garlic supplements did not work at all. These are the contradictions that current research is thing to clarify.
As we have seen lately, all drugs or remedies can have adverse effects. Natural does not mean safe nor does prescription mean no side effects. All drugs should be used wisely and with caution. And do not fall for extravagant claims on the internet. There is much bad information out there. Many producers are not interested in your health-just your money.
We have a couple of web sites that may be helpful to people considering the use of alternative remedies.