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Five Alternative Treatments That Work

It's hard to decipher all the hype about alternative medicine. How do we know what works and what doesn't?

Well, CNN got the lowdown from experts in the field on which alternative treatments actually work for what.

Here are highlights:

  • Acupuncture for pain: Hands, down, this was the No. 1 recommendation from our panel of experts. They also recommended acupuncture for other problems, including nausea after surgery and chemotherapy.
  • Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6 for PMS: When pre-menstrual syndrome rears its ugly head, gynecologist Dr. Tracy Gaudet encourages her patients to take these dietary supplements. "They can have a huge impact on moodiness, bloating, and on heavy periods," says Gaudet, who's the executive director of Duke Integrative Medicine at Duke University Medical School.

There are more so

  • St. John's Wort for depression: The studies are a bit mixed on this one, but our panel of experts agreed this herb — once thought to rid the body of evil spirits — is definitely promising. "It's worth a try for mild to moderate depression," says Dr. Andrew Weil, founder and director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. "Remember it will take six to eight weeks to see an effect." Remember, too, that St. John's wort can interfere with some medicines; the University of Maryland Medical Center has a list.
  • Guided imagery for pain and anxiety: "Go to your happy place" has become a cliché, but our experts say it really works. The technique, of course, is more complicated than that. "In guided imagery we invite you to relax and focus on breathing and transport you mentally to a different place," says Mary Jo Kreitzer, Ph.D., R.N., founder and director of the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota.
  • Glucosamine for joint pain: "It's safe, and it looks like it's effective," says Dr. Frederick Hecht, director of research at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. "It may be the first thing that actually reverses cartilage loss in osteoarthritis."

If you've had any experiences with any of the above, I'd love to hear about them in the comment section below.


Join The Conversation
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I'm interested in starting a fish oil regimen to help my tendonitis flare ups. Anyone know how effective it is? I really hate having to take ibuprofen when it flares up.
Saturn9 Saturn9 9 years
ami17han, I don't remember what kind of glucosamine I gave my kitty. It was several years ago, and I got it at a pet store. If you search one of the online pet supply companies, you'll see a bunch of different options. Good luck to you & your kitty!
nancita nancita 9 years
I would be interested to try to supplements for PMS. Do you take them only when you are pre-menstrual or having symptoms? Or do you take them all the time to prevent PMS?
estrela estrela 9 years
My cousin has knee problems and has been taking Glucosamine which he says has helped a lot!
suzanne suzanne 9 years
VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! This is so changing the subject, but our own FitSugar is in the top 3 of the Blogger's Choice Awards. YAY!!! :JUMPIN: The voting ends early November, so if you haven't voted yet and would like to add your vote to the tally - here's the link: (If you've seen this before, I apologize... I just wanted to get the word out to everyone :) )
suzanne suzanne 9 years
conventional medicine has not embraced alternative medicing - I'm an RN, so imagine my surprise to be totally cured of Bells' Palsy and TMJ by alternative medicine. How thrilled was I to throw away the prednisone...:JUMPIN: Now, I'm a believer too.
geohiker geohiker 9 years
Taking fish oil daily to reduce inflammation really works! I have an autoimmune disease, and without taking fish oil twice a day I am in constant pain and have trouble getting out of bed in the mornings. I read about fish oil on Dr. Weil's website and started taking it after Vioxx was taken off the market. The fish oil works so much better than Vioxx did (over the counter pain relievers do nothing to touch the pain); without it my hands hurt so much that I would be fighting back tears all day long over the pain. Fish oil (and eating oily fish!) has really changed my life!
emma- emma- 9 years
Yes...I love acupuncture, too.
TheMissus TheMissus 9 years
I love acupuncture. Can not say enough good things about it. And the needles do not hurt.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
Wow, I really like to have an natural alternative to medicine sometimes. Havign severe athsma means I am always taking medication and soemtiems I would ratehr have a choice to a natural remedy instead! Thanks!
Vannuccia Vannuccia 9 years
St. John's Wort for depression- Anyone thinking about taking St.John's Wort for depression, panic attacks, anxiety, etc, should think very carefully before taking this. I took St. John's Wort for about 6 weeks a year ago after I read several promising articles and someone also recommended it to me. At the time, I suffered from mild depression and feeling a bit down about things. Anyway, I actually got a LOT worse while I was taking St. John's Wort, but thought nothing of it because a lot of things were going on at that time. Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine who has also suffered from bouts of depression and she happened to mention that she'd decide to try St. John's Wort too, but had to stop taking it after she felt she was getting a lot worse while taking it and described all the symptoms that I'd experienced. Since then a friend of my mother's has also had to stop taking St. John's Wort, as she too started to fall deeper into depression- and like me and my friend, she'd only been taking it for a short time. I'm not saying that that St. John's Wort is dangerous, I'm just saying that people don't always realise how potent herbal alternatives can be, e.g. Valerian makes me very relaxed, but for some people it causes them to go hyper.
ami17han ami17han 9 years
Which type did you give to your cat - with sulfate or chondroitin? I may have to do that soon with my tabby. He's an indoor cat and huge.
Saturn9 Saturn9 9 years
Glucosamine isn't just for people - I used to give it to my elderly cat and it definitely improved her mobility.
ami17han ami17han 9 years
I have been taking GCS (Glucosamine Sulfate) for almost 3 months now and it has done wonders for my knees and ankles!
tati33 tati33 9 years
Thanks! I feel like I suffer from all of these! :(
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