Posts Tagged ‘Alternative medicine

04
Nov
13

Cleansing: What Does the Science Really Say?


preparation teaCleansing, sometimes also referred to as detoxification, has been all the rage in recent years among those interested in alternative medicine. The theory is that the body accumulates toxins from the environment in the form of pollution, processed foods and food additives (and even sometimes toxins created by the body itself), so a “body cleanse” or “detox” is necessary to rid ourselves of these harmful toxins. Those who promote detox programs have developed special diets along with a host of (often costly). Colon cleanses are another form of body detoxification that is popular in some alternative medicine circles. But scientific evidence shows that special cleansing regimes do not provide any additional health benefits, and in some cases may even be dangerous.

A noted epidemiologist from the Harvard School of Public Health, Dr. Frank Sacks, says of cleansing, “There is no basis in human biology that indicates we need fasting or any other detox formula to detoxify the body because we have our own internal organs and immune system that take care of excreting toxins.” Our bodies are expert at getting rid of unwanted substances.

Colon cleansing dates back to the days of ancient Egypt where it was thought that material in the intestines could poison the body. This theory became popular again in the late 19th century when the term “autointoxication” was coined, which led to resurgence in the use of enemas in perfectly healthy people. However, a study performed by Dr. Ranit Mishori and colleagues at Washington D.C.’s Georgetown University found that colon cleanses could actually be harmful for many people, causing nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

First of all, there is no way by which toxins can be absorbed into the blood through the colon. Almost all nutrient absorption takes place in the small intestine, and any toxins that have been excreted by the liver and kidneys is efficiently expelled in the urine and feces. Meanwhile, injecting fluid into the colon in the form of an enema or colonic on a regular basis not only does not aid your body in clearing toxins, but it can remove beneficial bacteria, in addition to robbing your body of much-needed electrolytes. Also, regular colon cleanses can interfere with your body’s ability to create normal bowel movements, so you become dependent on enemas.

Most doctors agree that fasting or pursuing an extreme detox diet is detrimental to long-term health. The body starved of nutrients does not operate efficiently, and will go into conservation mode. This means that your metabolism will slow down and any of the water weight you lost in the initial days of the diet (very little of the weight lost in fasting is fat) will come back in the form of accumulated fat once you start eating again, as your body will be burning fewer calories.

There is no doubt that eating processed foods filled with chemical additives and preservatives is not good for health. But you don’t need to go on a special detox diet to improve your health. Simply drink plenty of water and substitute fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, moderate amounts of fish and organic meat for the processed foods you are now eating. Your body will take care of getting rid of any toxins you may have ingested and you will be healthier without having to spend money for a special diet that makes you feel miserable and could even be harmful to your health.

Dr Dubois, DC, CCSP

Pierre DuboisDr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.

 

09
Sep
13

Risks of Mixing Drugs with Herbal, Dietary and Energy Supplements


??????????????In the past several decades, the number of people taking herbal, dietary and energy supplements has increased exponentially. Whereas, prior to the late 1980s, most patients were unlikely to be supplementing with anything other than multivitamins, now a doctor must expect the majority of the population to have read about their condition on the Internet and be using whatever complementary remedies they think might help, with or without expert guidance. Once seen as natural and harmless, it is now clear that herbal supplements, dietary supplements and energy supplements can interact with conventional medications just as conventional medications can interact with each other.

It is important to note that many complementary medicines are quite safe to take alongside most forms of pharmaceutical drugs, and a cup of nettle or chamomile tea together with your morning pill of whatever form is not going to have any deleterious effect. However, a little awareness goes a long way and it is good to know of the more serious risks of mixing conventional drugs with supplementary remedies.

The risks of taking medications together, whether conventional or complementary, are threefold:

1. The action of the drug, or supplement, may be increased

2. The action of the drug, or supplement, may be reduced

3. The rate and degree at which the drug or supplement is absorbed or eliminated may be altered.

Medications are prescribed at a certain dose in order to achieve a specific effect, so increasing or reducing the effectiveness of a medicine is potentially risky, especially in the case of life sustaining treatments. Many conventional medicines are based on chemicals that are also found in plants, so herbal medicines taken for a particular disease may have the same action as a pharmaceutical taken for the same reason and can result in an effective overdose.

One example of this is aspirin, which was originally derived from plants and herbal anti-inflammatories containing salicylic acid, the active ingredient of aspirin. Such herbs include willow bark, meadowsweet and wintergreen.  Salicylic acid is toxic in large quantities, so these herbs should clearly be avoided if taking aspirin.

Other examples of interactions that increase the effect of medications include taking kelp with drugs for hypothyroidism and herbal diuretics such as dandelion, globe artichoke and celery seed with diuretic drugs. Niacin (vitamin B3), calcium and/or magnesium taken in combination with hypotensive pills can lead to a greater than expected drop in blood pressure. Except under expert guidance, the blood thinner Warfarin should never be taken with a medication that decreases blood clotting, whether conventional or complementary, due to the risk of hemorrhage. Supplements such as cayenne, garlic, feverfew, willow bark, St John’s wort and the drug aspirin all fall into this category. Hawthorn berries increase the action of digoxin on the heart, with potentially fatal effects, and the adaptogen herb Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus) also increases digoxin levels in the blood.

Examples of drug and supplement combinations that can decrease the effectiveness of either are taking supplements that stimulate the immune system such as zinc, Astragalus and Echinacea with corticosteroids intended to suppress the immune system, as they are working in opposite directions. Also, remedies with a hyperglycemic (blood sugar raising) action such as celery seed, Bupleurum, rosemary and Gotu kola can counteract the hypoglycemic (blood sugar reducing) work of diabetic drugs. High doses of vitamins A, C and K can all decrease the anticoagulant activity of Warfarin.

If the absorption or elimination of a drug or supplement is altered due to taking something else at the same time, its effectiveness may be at risk. The drug may either be absorbed too quickly or excreted before it has a chance to work. Diuretic remedies are particularly problematic, because of increased elimination, and herbs with this effect include juniper, dandelion, celery seed and licorice. These are certainly to be avoided when taking lithium. Grapefruit juice, while not really a supplement, is also a concern when taken with several drugs, such as hypotensives and the immunosuppressant Cyclosporine, since it reduces the breakdown of the medicine in the body.

Although a comprehensive treatment of the risk of mixing conventional medicines and nutritional and herbal supplements is well outside the intention of this short article, it is hoped that this article serves to communicate the potential problems that may arise and some of the more well-known bad combinations. You should always consult your doctor before taking any combination of drugs and supplements. For further information, there are a number of websites that may prove valuable in flagging most of the riskiest drug-herb-supplement interactions. These include Herb-Drug interactions at i-care.net (http://www.i-care.net/herbdrug.htm), the herb and supplement database at Medline, which includes known drug interactions (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/herb_All.html) and a paper on herb-drug interactions published in The Lancet (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10675182).

Dr. P. Dubois, CCSP, DC.

 




Check out our Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 148 other followers


%d bloggers like this: