Choosing and Using Alternative Remedies:
The alternative medicine industry is rapidly growing with many new products
entering the market daily. It is impossible for us to list or evaluate each
one, or even each category. What follows are some practical tips and basic
principles to practice before choosing alternative medicines for yourself and your family members. These include:
Do your homework: Get information from reputable sources, not
just health food store clerks! You didn't enter menopause in a day, don't
prepare for it in a day.
Keep in mind your goal(s) of
therapy: Are you trying to decrease your menopausal symptoms, prevent heart
disease, or reduce your risk of osteoporosis?
Keep your doctor informed, especially if you are taking other
medications or having a dental or surgical procedure- even if you are afraid
that your doctor will disapprove. Many herbal preparations have serious side
effects on their own, or can have potentially dangerous interactions with
anesthesia or other medications. And many herbal preparations are actually
combinations of various herbs. Data show that fewer than 40% of herbal users
inform their physicians about this.
If you take medicines that involve
regular blood level monitoring (e.g. coumadin, warfarin, etc.), do not take
any herbs without discussing it with your physicians.
Many serious adverse reactions to herbal products are actually
allergic reactions. If you are a taking any medicines known to increase the
risk of life-threatening allergic reactions (e.g. beta blockers, ACE-inhibitors),
do not take herbal medications without consulting your physician.
If you want to take phytoestrogens
and you have had breast cancer, ask your cancer specialist if these products
are safe for you.
If you are having surgery with
general anesthesia, stop taking all herbal preparations 6 weeks before
Read the labels carefully. Keep in mind why you're taking this
If some is good, more is not necessarily better. Stick to recommended
The term "natural" has no special medical significance. Conventional
wisdom suggests that if something comes from nature, it is better than something
that comes from a lab- but don't forget that diseases come from nature too.
When "natural" is used on a dietary supplement product labeling, its purpose
is for marketing only. Chances are it also comes from a lab, but the product
synthesized is the plant version of the compounds as opposed to the animal
Created: 10/17/2000  - Donnica Moore, M.D.
Get information from reputable sources, not
just health food store clerks!