Taber's Medical Dictionary

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Herbal Medicines and Their Uses

Note: BPH: benign prostatic hyperplasia; Inhaln: Inhalation; PO: by mouth; PSA: prostate-specific antigen; Top: topical.

Note: * note : Instruct patient to consult health care professional before taking any prescription or OTC medications concurrently with any of these herbal products. The purity, safety, and effectiveness of many herbal remedies remain untested and unproven.

Common Name Uses Adverse Reactions and Contraindications Interactions Route/Commonly Used Doses
aloe External: Use on burns/sunburns, wounds, skin irritation; used as anti-infective agent, moisturizer. Internal: Used as laxative and for general healing.Contact dermatitis, intestinal contractions. Avoid oral use in various GI conditions (i.e., obstruction, inflammation), ulcers, abdominal pain, menstruation, kidney conditions.May increase risk associated with cardiac glycosides. Use with other K+-wasting drugs may add to hypokalemic effect of aloe. PO: Capsules— 50-200 mg daily; gel— 30 mL t.i.d.; tincture (1:10, 50% alcohol) — 15-60 drops.
Top: Aloe gel can be applied liberally to affected area 3-5 times daily.
aniseCommon cold, cough/bronchitis, fevers, liver and gallbladder complaints, loss of appetite.Occasional allergic reactions (skin, respiratory, and GI). Avoid if allergy to anise exists.Excessive doses may interfere with anticoagulants, MAO inhibitors, and hormone therapy. PO: Dried fruit— 0.5-1 g; essential oil— 50-200 mL; tea— 3 times daily.
arnica External: Used after injuries (bruises, dislocations, contusions, muscular and joint problems). Inflammation caused by insect bites.Prolonged use on broken skin may cause edematous dermatitis with pustular formations. Eczema (long-term use). Use of higher concentrations may cause toxic skin reactions with vesicle formation and necrosis. Avoid use on broken skin; avoid if allergy to arnica and plants in Asteraceae family exists.None known. Top: Typical strength is 2 g of flower heads in 100 mL of water. For poultice, dilute tincture 3-10 times with water. For mouthwash, dilute tincture 10 times with water.
black cohoshPremenstrual symptoms, perimenopausal and postmenopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, depression, mood swings, profuse sweating, and sleep disorders. Dysmenorrhea. Rheumatism.GI discomfort (occasionally). Avoid during pregnancy and lactation.None known. PO: Dried root— 0.3-2 g 3 times daily; liquid extract (1:1, 90% alcohol)— 0.3-2 mL. Do not use for more than 6 mo.
brewer’s yeastCommon cold, cough/bronchitis, dyspepsia, eczema, acne, fevers, inflammation (oral, pharyngeal), loss of appetite, prevention of infections.Allergic skin reactions may occur. Migraine headaches may be triggered in susceptible patients. GI gas may result from large doses. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation.Concurrent use with MAO inhibitors can cause an increase in BP. PO: 6 g of brewer’s yeast daily.
camphor External: Pain relief for warts, cold sores, hemorrhoids, muscular aches. Antipruritic. Inflammatory conditions of the respiratory tract. Internal: Circulatory regulation disorders, catarrhal diseases of the respiratory tract (internal use is unsafe and should be avoided).Skin irritation (local effect), contact dermatitis may occasionally occur following application of oily salves with camphor. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Avoid if GI conditions (infectious, inflammatory) exist.None known. Top: 0.1-3% 3-4 times daily for cold sores, antipruritic agent, hemorrhoids.
Inhaln: 1 tbsp of camphor solution per quart of water in a hot steam vaporizer or bowl up to 3 times daily.
chamomile External: Inflammation of skin and mucous membranes, bacterial skin diseases including oral cavity and gums. Respiratory tract inflammation and irritation. Anogenital inflammation. Internal: GI spasms and inflammatory conditions.Contact dermatitis, severe hypersensitivity reactions, anaphylaxis, vomiting. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation.None known. PO: Dried flower heads— 2-8 g 3 times daily; tea— 1 cup of tea 3-4 times daily. Tea is made by steeping 3 g of flower heads in 150 mL of boiling water for 10 min. Liquid extract— 1-4 mL 3 times daily.
comfrey External: Bruises and sprains.No adverse reactions known. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Do not use on broken or abraded skin.None known. Top: 5-20% comfrey ointment. Use should be limited to 10 days.
dillDyspepsia, fever, colds, cough, bronchitis, digestive aid.Contact dermatitis. No contraindications known.None known. PO: Dill seeds— 3 g; dill oil— 100-300 mg/day.
echinaceaCold remedy, cough and bronchitis, fevers, wounds and burns, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx.Tingling sensation on tongue, nausea, vomiting, allergic reaction, fever. Avoid if multiple sclerosis, leukoses, collagenoses, AIDS, or tuberculosis is present; avoid if hypersensitivity and cross-sensitivity exist in patients allergic to sunflower seeds and the daisy family, including ragweed; avoid during pregnancy and lactation.May possibly interfere with immunosuppressant agents because of its immunostimulant activity. PO: Fluid extract— 1-2 mL t.i.d.; solid form (6.5:1)— 300 mg t.i.d.. Should not be used for more than 8 weeks at a time.
eucalyptusCough/bronchitis, rheumatism, catarrhs of the respiratory tract.Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may occur after ingestion of eucalyptus (rare). Avoid if severe liver disease, GI tract and bile duct inflammation, hypotension, kidney inflammation are present.Induction of liver enzymes, which may increase the metabolism of other drugs. PO: Eucalyptus oil— 300-600 mg/day.
Top: Eucalyptus oil (5-20%) in vegetable oil or semisolid preparations, used for local application by diluting 30 mL of oil in 500 mL of lukewarm water.
fennelDyspepsias, catarrhs of the respiratory tract.Allergic reactions (skin and respiratory tract) have been reported. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation.None known. PO: Dried fruit/seed— 5-7 g/day; tea— 1 cup daily. Tea is made by steeping 1-2 g of ground seed/fruit in 150 mL boiling water for 10 min and then straining.
feverfewProphylaxis of migraine headaches, fever, arthritis.Dizziness, heartburn, indigestion, inflammation (lips, mouth, tongue), light-headedness, mouth ulceration, and weight gain. Allergic contact dermatitis (reported with many species of feverfew). Avoid during pregnancy and lactation.May inhibit platelet activity (avoid use with warfarin or other anticoagulants). PO: 50-125 mg of freeze-dried leaf per day with food.
garlicInternal: Reduction of BP and serum cholesterol level. External: Dermal fungal infections including tinea corporis, cruris, and pedis.GI irritation (rare), allergic reactions, alters intestinal flora. No contraindications known when used in normal amounts.Decreases platelet aggregation (may affect warfarin and other anticoagulant therapy). PO: One clove of fresh garlic 1-2 times daily.
gingerPrevention and treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness, loss of appetite, pregnancy, surgery, and chemotherapy. Prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting. May be used for dyspepsia, flatulence, elief of joint pain in rheumatoid arthritis, , cramping, and diarrhea. Migraine headache. Tonic (toning/strengthening agent) in gout, gas, respiratory infections, anti-inflammatory, stimulant (tones the gut, increases saliva and gastric juices, acts as anticoagulant, decreases blood cholesterol)..Minor heartburn, dermatitis. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation (if using amounts larger than those typically found in food); avoid if gallstones exist. Use cautiously in patients with increased risk of bleeding or diabetes. Natural Product-Drug: may theoretically increase risk of bleeding when used with anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents.
Natural Product-Natural Product: may theoretically increase risk of bleeding when used with other herbs that have anticoagulant or antiplatelet activities.
PO: 1000 mg ginger taken 3-60 min before travel for motion sickness or before surgery. Chemotherapy-induced nausea--2-4 g/day. Migraine headache--500 mg at onset; then 500 mg every 4 hr up to 1.5-2 g/day for 3-4 days. Osteoarthritis--170 mg tid or 255 mg bid of ginger extract.
ginkgoSymptomatic relief of organic brain dysfunction (dementia syndromes, short-term memory deficits, inability to concentrate, depression), intermittent claudication, vertigo and tinnitus of vascular origin.Dizziness, headache, upset stomach, allergic skin reaction, palpitations. Avoid if hypersensitivity exists; avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Natural Product-Drug: theoretically may potentiate effects of antiplatelet agents and MAO inhibitors.
Natural Product-Natural Product: may increase risk of bleeding when used with other herbs with antiplatelet effects (some include angelica, arnica, chamomile, feverfew, garlic, ginger, and licorice).
PO: native dry extract— 120-240 mg in 2 or 3 doses for organic brain syndromes; 120-160 mg in 2 or 3 doses for intermittent claudication, vertigo, and tinnitus.
ginsengImproving physical and mental stamina, general tonic to energize during times of fatigue and inability to concentrate, sedative, sleep aid, antidepressant, diabetes. Enhanced sexual performance/aphrodisiac. Increased longevity. Adjunctive treatment of cancer. Increased immune response. Increased appetite.Depression, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, hypertension, tachycardia, amenorrhea, vaginal bleeding, skin eruptions, estrogen-like effects, mastalgia, Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation; avoid if manic-depressive disorders or psychosis exists. Natural Product-Food: may potentiate effects of caffeine in coffee or tea.
Natural Product-Drug: may decrease anticoagulant activity of warfarin. Avoid concomitant use with warfarin, heparin, aspirin, and NSAIDs. May interfere with phenelzine treatment and cause headache, tremulousness, and manic episodes. May potentiate the toxic effects of corticosteroids.
Natural Product-Natural Product: may increase risk of bleeding when used with herbs that have antiplatelet or anticoagulant activities.
PO: capsule— 200-600 mg/day; root powder— 0.6-3 g 1-3 times daily.
glucosamineOsteoarthritis. Temperomandibular joint (TMJ) arthritis. Glaucoma.Nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, headache, drowsiness, and skin reactions.May antagonize the effects of antidiabetics. May induce resistance to some chemotherapy drugs.500 mg 3 times daily.
goldensealInfections of the mucous membranes (bacterial and fungal), conjunctivitis, and GI infections associated with diarrhea, cirrhosis, gallbladder inflammation, and cancer. Topically used to treat eczema, acne, itching.CNS stimulant, hallucinations, occasionally delirium, nausea, vomiting, constipation, ulceration (vaginal use), may affect production of B vitamins in colon. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation; avoid if hypertension exists. Natural Product-Drug: May interfere with antacids, sucralfate, H 2 antagonists, antihypertensive agents and anticoagulants. May have additive effects when used concurrently with other drugs with sedative properties.
Natural Product-Natural Product: concurrent use with herbs that have sedative properties may potentiate sedative effects.
PO: dried root and rhizone— 0.5-1 g t.i.d.; liquid extract— (1:1 in 60% ethanol)— 0.3-1 mL t.i.d.; tincture— (1:10 in 60% ethanol)— 2-4 mL t.i.d.
Top: used as mouthwash 3-4 times daily.
hawthorneHypertension, mild to moderate HF, angina, spasmolytic, sedative.Agitation, dizziness, headache, sedation (high dose), sleeplessness, hypotension (high dose), palpitations, nausea. Avoid during pregnancy. Natural Product-Drug: increases vitamin C utilization in body, may inhibit metabolism of ACE inhibitor, potentiates effect of cardiac glycosides, concurrent use with other coronary vasodilators (theophylline, caffeine, epinephrine) may potentiate vasodilatory effects, may have additive CNS depressant effect when used with other CNS depressants.
Natural Product-Natural Product: additive effect with other cardiac glycoside-containing herbs (digitalis leaf, black hellebore, oleander leaf).
PO: Hawthorne fluid extract (1:1 in 25% alcohol)— 0.5-1 mL t.i.d.; hawthorn fruit tincture (1:5 in 45% alcohol)— 1-2 mL t.i.d.; dried hawthorn berries— 300-1000 mg t.i.d.
kava-kavaAnxiety, stress, restlessness, insomnia, mild muscle aches and pains. Mentrual cramps and PMS.Dizziness, headache, sedation, sensory disturbances, pupil dilation, visual accommodation disorders, gastrointestinal complaints, allergic skin reactions, yellow discoloration of skin, pellagroid dermopathy, weight loss, ataxia, muscle weakness. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation; avoid if endogenous depression exists. Do not give to children under 12 yr of age. Natural Product-Drug: additive effect when used with alprazolam. Potentiates effect of CNS depressants (ethanol, barbiturates, benzodiazepines), has decreased the effectiveness of levodopa in a few cases. May have additive effects with antiplatelet agents and MAO inhibitors.
Natural Product-Natural Product: May have additive sedative effects when used with other herbs with sedative properties.
PO: dried kava root extract— 100 mg 3 times daily for antianxiety; kavalactones— 180-210 mg for insomnia.
ma-huangAsthma, hay fever, colds, weight-loss aid.Increased BP and heart rate and cardiac arrhythmias, insomnia, motor restlessness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, anxiety. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Avoid if heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or BPH is present.Potentiates sympathomimetic effects of antihypertensives, antidepressants, MAO inhibitors, and caffeine. PO: Ephedra— 15-30 mg of 2-3 times daily; crude herb— 500-1000 mg 2-3 times daily.
milk thistleCirrhosis, chronic hepatitis, gallstones, psoriasis, liver cleansing and detoxification, treatment of liver toxicity due to Amanita mushroom poisoning (European IV formulation) and chemicals. Dyspepsia (in combination with other herbs). Diabetes.Mild laxative, mild allergic reaction. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation.None known. PO: Extract (70%)— 200-400; dried fruit/seed— 12-15 g/day; tea— 3-4 times daily 30 min before meals. Tea is prepared by steeping and 3-5 g of crushed fruit/seed in 150 ml of boiling water for 10 min and then straining.
mugwortGI ailments (colic, diarrhea, constipation), worm infestations, persistent vomiting, hysteria, epilepsy, menstrual problems and irregular periods; as a sedative.Allergic reactions. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation.None known. PO: Tincture— 5 mL 30 min before bedtime or 1-4 mL up to 3 times daily.
nettleUrinary tract infections, kidney and bladder stones. Supportive therapy for rheumatic ailments.Allergic reactions (rare). Avoid during pregnancy and lactation.None known. PO: Tea— 1 cup up to 3 times daily with adequate fluid intake. Tea is made by steeping 1.5-5 g of nettle in 150 mL of boiling water for 10 min and then straining. Dried extract (7:1)— 770 mg twice daily; liquid extract (1:1, 25% alcohol)— 3-4 mL 3 times daily.
Top: Tincture (1:10) for external use.
oak barkExternal: Inflammatory skin disease. Internal: diarrhea (nonspecific, acute), mild inflammation of oral and pharyngeal regions and genital and anal areas.GI disturbances, kidney damage, liver necrosis. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Avoid oak bark baths if weeping eczema, large areas of skin damage, febrile or infectious disease, cardiac insufficiency is present.May reduce or inhibit the absorption of alkaloids and other alkaline drugs. PO: For diarrhea, 1 cup of tea up to 3 times daily for 3-4 days. Tea is made by steeping 1 g coarsely ground bark in 150 mL of boiling water and then straining.
Top: For rinses, compresses, gargles, use 20 g bark in 1 liter of water. For baths, use 5 g bark in 1 liter of water and add to bath water. Topical use should be limited to 2-3 week.
pennyroyalExternal: Skin diseases. Internal: Digestive disorders, liver and gallbladder disorders, gout, colds, and increased urinary frequency.Abortifacent in high doses. Hepatotoxicity (use not recommended because of hepatoxicity). Avoid during pregnancy and lactation.None known.Use not recommended because of toxicity.
peppermintColds, coughs, inflammation of mouth and pharynx, GI cramps and as an antiflatulent and antipyretic agent. The oil is used topically for myalgias, toothaches, pruritus, urticaria and as an anti-infective agent.Heartburn when taken orally. Allergic reactions (headache and flushing). External use may cause skin irritation and contact dermatitis. In small children and babies, the oil may cause bronchial spasms and collapse when applied to their facial, nasal, or chest areas. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Avoid use of oil on infants/small children. Avoid if hypersensitivity to peppermint exists. Avoid if bile duct obstruction, severe liver disease, or gallbladder inflammation is present.Gastric acid-blocking drugs. PO: Peppermint oil— 0.2-0.4 mL 3 times daily in diluted preparation; capsules— 1-2 capsules 3 times daily (0.2 mL/capsule).
Top: 5-20% peppermint oil in oily preparations, 5-10% in aqueous/ethanol preparations, 1-5% in nasal preparations. To apply, rub small amount on affected skin areas.
Inhaln: 3-4 drops of oil placed in hot water and inhaled. Inhalation contraindicated in children.
psylliumConstipation, diarrhea, lowering serum cholesterolFlatulence, abdominal distention, esophageal/bowel obstruction if not taken with water/fluid. Allergic reactions. Avoid if fecal impaction, GI tract obstruction or narrowing is present.Interferes with absorption of other drugs taken simultaneously. PO: 3.5 g 1-3 times daily of the seed husk taken with adequate fluids.
Saint John's wortManagement of mild to moderate depression. Externally used for inflammation of the skin, blunt injuries, wounds, and burns. Other uses are for capillary strengthening, decreasing uterine bleeding, and reducing tumor size.Dizziness, restlessness, sleep disturbances, fatigue, hypertension, GI side effects, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, dry mouth, feeling of fullness, flatulence, nausea, vomiting, allergic skin reactions, phototoxicity, photodermatitis. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Do not give to children.Concurrent use with alcohol or other antidepressants may increase the risk of adverse reactions. Concurrent use with indinavir may significantly reduce blood concentrations of indinavir. PO: hypericum extract— 300 mg 3 times daily for depression.
Top: hypericin— 0.2-1 mg daily.
saw palmettoUrination problems in BPH, irritable bladder.Headaches, stomach problems (rare). Avoid during pregnancy and lactation; avoid if breast cancer exists.Oral contraceptives and hormone therapy (possible). PO: Whole berry— 1 g of dried berry daily; tea— 1 cup of tea 3 times daily. Tea is made by steeping 0.5-1 g of dried berry in 150 mL of boiling water for 10 min and then straining. Saw palmetto extracts with 80-90% fatty acids— 160 mg twice daily or 320 mg once daily.
spruceColds, cough, bronchitis, fevers, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx.May worsen bronchial spasms. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Avoid if asthma or whooping cough exists. Avoid baths with spruce if extensive skin damage, acute skin diseases, fevers, infectious diseases, or cardiac insufficiency is present.None known. PO: Fresh shoots— 5-6 g/per day. Essential oil— given as 4 drops in water or with sugar 3 times daily.
Top: 200-300 g of shoots boiled in 1 liter of water; steep for 5 min, strain, and add to full bath.
Inhaln: Inhale 2 g of oil in hot water several times daily.
uva-ursiUrinary tract infections.Nausea, vomiting, GI upset, hepatotoxicity, high toxic doses (30-100 g of uva-ursi) can cause death. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Avoid if kidney disorders or GI irritable disorders exist. Do not give to children.Use with urine-acidifying drugs may reduce the efficacy of uva-ursi. PO: 1 cup of tea up to 4 times daily. Tea is made by steeping 3 g of dried leaf in 150 mL cold water for 12-24 hr and then straining. This herb should not be used for more than 1 week at a time, no more than 5 times a year.
valerianRestlessness, sleeping disorders due to nervous conditions. Anxiety.Morning drowsiness, headaches, excitability, insomnia. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation.Use with alcohol and other sedatives may potentiate sedative effects. PO: Extract (0.8% valeric acid) 150-300 mg 30 min before bedtime. Tea— 1 cup 1-3 times daily. Tea is made by steeping 2-3 g of root in 150 mL of boiling water for 5-10 min and then straining.
woodruffNervousness, sleeplessness, hysteria, cardiac irregularity.Headache, stupor (high doses). Liver damage (reversible) may occur with long-term use in susceptible patients. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation.None known. PO: 1 cup of tea once a day, shortly before bedtime. Tea is made with 2 teaspoonfuls (1.8 g) in one glass of water.

SOURCE: Vallerand, AH; Sanoski, CA; with Deglin, JH: Davis's Drug Guide for Nurses, 13th ed., F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2012.

Forms of Herbal Preparations

bath A form of hydrotherapy. Immerse the full body in a bath with 500 mL or 1 pint of infusion or decoction. The full-strength herbal infusion or decoction is used for foot or hand baths.
capsule or pill Powdered herbs may be enclosed in gelatin capsules or pressed into a hard pill. The powder can also be rolled into a pill with bread or cream cheese. This is one of the most common ways herbs are supplied and used.
compress A clean cloth is soaked in an herbal infusion or decoction and applied over injured or inflamed areas. Also called a fomentation.
crude herb The fresh or dried herb in an unprocessed form. Measurements are expressed by weight.
decoction An aqueous preparation of hard and woody herbs, which are made soluble by simmering in almost boiling water for 30 minutes or more. If the active ingredients are volatile oils, it is important to cover the pan to prevent vaporization. The decoction is then strained while hot and either stored or consumed as needed.
essential oils Volatile oils, usually mixtures of a variety of odoriferous organic compounds of plants.
extract Concentrated form of natural products obtained by treating crude herb with solvent and then discarding the solvent to result in a fluid extract, solid extract, powdered extract, or tincture. Strength is expressed as the ratio of the concentration of the crude herb to the extract (e.g., 5:1 means five parts crude herb is concentrated in 1 part extract, and 1:2 means one part of extract is comparable to 0.5 parts herb).
fluid extract Concentrated tinctures with a strength of one part solvent to one part herb.
fomentation A clean cloth is soaked in an herbal infusion or decoction and applied over injured or inflamed areas.
infusion The preferred method used for soft plant parts such as leaves, flowers, or green stems, an infusion is prepared just like making a tea. In the case of volatile oils or heat-sensitive ingredients, soaking in water or milk for 6 to 12 hours in a sealed earthenware pot makes a cold infusion.
liniment Usually a mixture of herbs and alcohol or vinegar to be applied topically over muscles and ligaments.
lozenge Dissolvable tablet often used for upper respiratory and throat problems. It is made by combining a powdered herb with sugar and viscous jelly obtained from either an edible gum or mucilaginous plant.
ointment An herb or mixture of herbs in a semi-solid mixture such as petroleum jelly. This is applied externally for injuries or inflammation. If made with volatile oils, it can even be used as a respiratory anticatarrhal. Also known as a salve.
powdered extract A solid extract which has been dried to a powder.
poultice A raw or mashed herb applied directly to the body or wrapped in cheesecloth or other clean cloth. It is used either hot or cold for bruises, inflammation, spasm, and pain.
salve An herb or mixture of herbs in a semi-solid mixture such as petroleum jelly. This is applied externally for injuries or inflammation. If made with volatile oils, it can even be used as a respiratory anticatarrhal.
tincture An alcohol-based preparation. Alcohol is a better solvent than water for many plant ingredients, so mixing herbs in alcohol such as vodka or wine with a specific water/alcohol ratio is a common method of extraction. The mixture is soaked for about 2 weeks. Then the herbs are strained out and the liquid is saved in a dark, well-stoppered bottle. Tinctures are much stronger volume-for-volume than infusions or decoctions. Strengths are typically 1:5 to 1:10.
tea Made by steeping herbs in hot water (The same as an Infusion ). Place 1 tsp dried herb or 2 to 3 tsp fresh herb into 1 cup (250 mL) hot or boiling water. Steep for 5 to 15 minutes. For larger quantities, use 1 oz (30 g) of herb in 1 pint (500 mL) of hot water. Bruise or powder seeds before making an infusion or tea. The shelf life of these bioactive fluids is short, even in the refrigerator. Discard them after 8 to 12 hours.

SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Premises of Mind-Body Medicine

  • Mind and body are simply two aspects of a whole individual. The mind is no less medically real and significant than the body.
  • Every person has self-healing abilities.
  • Each person is unique, and must be responded to as such. To be most effective, the treatment program must be individualized for each person.
  • Each person is an integration of physical, psychological, intellectual, and spiritual aspects. All aspects are equally important. All must be addressed in the approach to health.
  • Patients' healing abilities are strongly affected by their expectations and beliefs. The expectations, attitudes, beliefs, and words of practitioners strongly influence the expectations of their patients.
  • Mainline medicine does not have a monopoly on the search for health.
  • Patients need to be actively involved in their own healing and in the decision making concerning their treatments.

SOURCE: Modified from Mind-Body Medicine: A Clinician's Guide to Psychoneuroimmunology, Watkins, A, p. 99, 1997, by permission of the publisher Churchill Livingstone, and Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Websites for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

This list of Web sites, though not exhaustive, is intended to provide general sources of useful information on complementary and alternative medical therapies. Many of these Web sites provide links to information on specific therapies and medical conditions. Inclusion of a Web site on this list does not imply endorsement of the information contained on that site.


Alternative Therapies for Anxiety

Therapy Best Evidence Probably Useful Least Evidence §
HerbalsValerian (150—300 mg t.i.d.; 1-3 mL of tincture t.i.d.); kava-kava (45-70 mg kavalactones t.i.d.); Saint John's Wort (300 mg t.i.d.).Chamomile; hops; oats (oat straw); passion flower; peppermint; skullcap.Aromatherapy.
Diet and Nutrition/LifestyleHigh potency multivitamin; exercise; eliminate caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, sugar.Flaxseed oil (1 T/day); magnesium (200-300 mg t.i.d.); niacinamide (500 mg q.i.d.); phosphatidyl choline (4 g t.i.d.).
Mind-Body InterventionsBiofeedback; cognitive-behavioral therapy; deep breathing; group therapy; hypnotherapy; meditation; relaxation response; spiritual healing.Dance; music; qi gong; tai chi; yoga.
Bioelectromagnetic TherapiesCraniostimulation; energy healing. Electrosleep.
Alternative Systems of CareAcupuncture; ayurveda. Homeopathic: gelsemium 30C t.i.d.-q.i.d.; argentum nitricum 6C t.i.d.-q.i.d.; ignatia amara 6C t.i.d.-q.i.d.
Hands-On Healing TechniquesMassage.Chiropractic.Craniosacral therapy.
Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
§ Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

NOTE: C denotes the number of times that a substance is diluted at a ratio of 1:100.


SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Arthritis

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
HerbalsBoswellia (150-400 mg t.i.d.); capsaicin (topically); ginger concentrate (500 mg t.i.d.).White willow (60-120 mg/day salicin; 1-2 mL t.i.d. tincture).Aromatherapy; devil's claw; horsetail; sea cucumber; yucca.
Diet and Nutrition/LifestyleWeight loss; exercise; vitamin C (500-1000 mg t.i.d.); vitamin E (400-800 IU/day).Vitamin B 3 (niacinamide): (1-3 g/day), check liver enzymes; boron 6 mg/day; omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) 3 g/day.Eliminate solanine from diet (found in nightshade plants: tomatoes, white potatoes, peppers [except black pepper], eggplant, tobacco); copper bracelet or supplement; d-phenylalanine; pantothenic acid; zinc.
Mind-Body InterventionsCognitive-behavioral therapy.Biofeedback; qi gong; relaxation; social support; tai chi; yoga.Guided imagery; meditation; music.
Pharmacological and Biological TreatmentsGlucosamine sulfate (500 mg t.i.d. or as single dose); S-adenosyl- l -methionine (SAMe) (400 mg t.i.d.).Chondroitin sulfate (400 mg t.i.d.).DMSO; chelation therapy; shark and bovine cartilage.
Bioelectromagnetic Therapies Static magnet therapy; pulsed electromagnetic fields; TENS.
Alternative Systems of CareAcupuncture; acupressure; ayurveda; traditional Chinese medicine. Homeopathy: Gout: nux vomica 6C; belladonna 6C; calcarea 6C; colchicum 6C.
Osteoarthritis: Rhus toxicodendron 6C t.i.d. for 2 weeks; ledum 6C q.i.d. for 2 weeks; belladonna 6C q.i.d for 2 weeks; Apis millifica 6C t.i.d. for 2 weeks.
Rheumatoid arthritis: Rhus toxicodendron 6C for 2 weeks; bryonia 6C q.i.d. for 2 weeks; ruta graveolens 6C q.i.d. for 2 weeks; pulsatilla 30C t.i.d. for 2 weeks; arnica ointments and gels.
Hands-On Healing TechniquesPhysical therapy.Massage; chiropractic; osteopathy.Craniosacral therapy; rolfing.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

NOTE: C denotes the number of times that a substance is diluted at a ratio of 1:100.


SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, FA Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Asthma

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
HerbalsAtropa belladona; capsaicin; ephedra sinensis (12.5-25 mg t.i.d.); quercetin (400 mg ac t.i.d.); glycyrrhiza glabra (1-2 g t.i.d. powdered root; 2-4 mL t.i.d. extract; 250-500 mg dry powdered extract t.i.d.); grape seed extract (50-100 mg t.i.d.); guaiac wood (guafenisin 600 mg b.i.d.).Ginkgo biloba (60 mg b.i.d.); tylophora asthmatica (200 mg b.i.d.).Coleus forskohli (50 mg t.i.d.); lobelia inflata; coltsfoot (potentially toxic).
Diet and Nutrition/LifestyleAvoid sulfites, aspirin, tartrazine, biogenic amines; environmental control; vitamin C (10-30 mg/kg/day in divided doses).Carotenes (25,000-50,000 IU/d); essential fatty acids (fish oils, omega-3 fatty acids); magnesium (200-400 mg t.i.d.); vitamin E (200-400 IU/d); zinc (15-30 mg/d); food allergy identification and avoidance (milk, egg, wheat); green tea (Camellia sinensis); onions, garlic; reduced sodium intake.Treat hypochlorhydria; probiotics; selenium (200 µg/day); vitamin B 6 (if on theophylline: 25-50 mg b.i.d.); vitamin B 12 (sulfite-sensitive children: 1000 µg/d or IM weekly).
Mind-Body Interventions Biofeedback; hypnosis; yoga breathing techniques.Treat depression; stress management.
Pharmacological and Biological Treatments Anti-Candida diet; DHEA.
Bioelectromagnetic Therapies Electrical stimulation.
Alternative Systems Acupuncture; African herbs; ayurvedic herbals; Chinese herbals; homeopathy.
Hands-On Healing TechniquesMassage. Chiropractic; osteopathy.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Cancer Prevention and Treatment

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
Herbals Mistletoe (bladder); yew (paclitaxol), (breast); hoxsey; astragalus membranaceus; polysaccharide krestin; chlorella; capsaicin.Chaparral (toxic); Pau d'arco; essiac tea; evening primrose oil.
Diet and Nutrition/Lifestyle Mushrooms: maitake, shiitake (colon), enokitake.Whole grain barley; macrobiotic diet; Gerson diet; Hippocrates wheat grass diet; Livingston-Wheeler; Kelley-Gonzales nutritional programs; vitamins A, C, E (controversial).
Mind-Body Interventions Getting rid of anger, negative emotions; support groups (breast); group therapy (melanoma); stress management; treatment of depression, feelings of helplessness, hopelessness; encouraging a fighting spirit; imagery, biofeedback, hypnosis, meditation; yoga, qi gong; spiritual approaches, prayer, faith healing.Intuitive, psychic approaches.
Pharmacological and Biological Treatments Antineoplastins (brain); shark cartilage; bovine tracheal cartilage; hydrazine (cachexia, lung); ozone therapy, hydrogen peroxide; Livingston therapy; immunoaugmentive therapies; melatonin.
Bioelectromagnetic Therapies Nordenstrom electrical stimulation; therapeutic touch.
Alternative Systems of Care Acupuncture, acupressure, moxibustion for relief of pain, nausea, side effects of cancer treatment.Chinese herbal remedies; ayurveda; Homeopathy: gelsemium 6C (anxiety) 2-3×; ipecac 30C (nausea) 3-4× q 15-30 min; nux vomica (nausea/vomiting) 6C t.i.d.-q.i.d. for 1-2 days; cadmium; sulfuricum 30C (vomiting, exhaustion) t.i.d. for 1-2 days.
Hands-On Healing Techniques Massage and gentle manipulation for pain control, immunostimulation, relaxation.Laying on of hands.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

NOTE: C denotes the number of times that a substance is diluted at a ratio of 1:100.


SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Congestive Heart Failure

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
HerbalsHawthorn (80-300 mg b.i.d., tincture 4-5 mL t.i.d.). Cinnamon (2-3 mg/day, tincture 2-3 mL t.i.d.).
Diet and Nutrition/LifestyleCoenzyme Q10 (30-100 mg t.i.d.); magnesium (300 mg/day); thiamine (20-100 mg/day).Carnitine (500 mg b.i.d.-t.i.d.); taurine (3-6 g/day). l -Arginine (1500 mg-12 g/day).
Mind-Body InterventionsRelaxation and stress management; screen and treatment for depression; guided imagery.Cognitive-behavioral therapy; social support; anger/hostility management; meditation; tai chi; yoga.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Coronary Artery Disease

Note: note : C denotes the number of times that substance is diluted at a ratio of 1:100.

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
Herbals Ginkgo biloba (40 mg t.i.d.); garlic (900 mg/day or 1 clove); curcumin (400 mg t.i.d.); green tea (3-5 C/day).Khella (250-300 mg/day); eutherococcus (Siberian ginseng) (2-3 g/day); gugulipid (25 mg/t.i.d.)—lipid-lowering agent.
Diet and Nutrition/LifestyleExercise; eliminate tobacco, caffeine, alcohol; low-fat diet/dietary antioxidants; Ornish program; vegetarian diets; vitamin C (1 g/day); vitamin E (400-800 IU/day); vitamin B 6 (50-100 mg/day); vitamin B 12 (800 µg/day); folic acid (800 µg/day).Resveratrol (red wine) and other bioflavonoids; consumption of nuts; selenium (100-200 µg/day); pantethine (300 mg t.i.d.).Evening primrose oil (3-6 g/day).
Mind-Body InterventionsRelaxation and stress management; screen and treat for depression; guided imagery.Cognitive-behavioral therapy; social support; anger/hostility management; meditation; tai chi; yoga.
Pharmacological and Biological Treatments Chelation therapy.
Alternative Systems of Care Acupuncture; traditional Chinese medicine; ayurveda.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Depression

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
Herbals Ginkgo biloba (80 mg t.i.d.) in elderly; Saint John's Wort (300 mg t.i.d., 0.3% hypericin).Saint John's Wort and 5-HTP in combination; damiana; yohimbe; aromatherapy
Diet and Nutrition/LifestyleExercise; relaxation, stress reduction; thiamine (1-10 mg/d); niacin (500-1000 mg b.i.d.); pyridoxine (50-100 mg/d); folic acid (800 µg/d); vitamin B 12 (800 µg/d); vitamin C (500-1000 mg t.i.d.).S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAMe) (200mg b.i.d.-400 mg q.i.d.). Avoid in bipolar disorder. 5-HT (hydroxytryptophan) (100-200 mg t.i.d.); flaxseed oil (1T/day); iron replacement; vitamin E (200-400 IU/day).Inositol; phenylalanine; phosphatidylserine; tyrosine; detect and treat food allergy; restrict caffeine and sugar.
Mind-Body InterventionsCognitive-behavioral therapy; spiritual approaches, prayer.Tai chi; qi gong; hypnosis; meditation; biofeedback.
Pharmacological and Biological Treatments DHEA; neural therapy.
Bioelectromagnetic TherapiesLight therapy (for seasonal affective disorder).Magnetic brain stimulation; energy healing.
Alternative Systems of CareAcupuncture.Ayurveda.Homeopathy (not commonly used except for postpartum depression): Each t.i.d. for 2 weeks: sepia 30C; ignatia 30C; pulsatilla 30C; natrum muriatricum 30C.
Hands-On Healing TechniquesMassage.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

NOTE: C denotes the number of times that a substance is diluted at a ratio of 1:100.


SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Diabetes

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
Herbals Artemesia herba alba; bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) (retinopathy): 80-160 mg t.i.d.; bitter melon (Momordica charantia): 30-60 mL of juice/day; coccinia indica; gymnema sylvestre: 200 mg b.i.d.; ginkgo biloba (retinopathy, neuropathy, and vascular complications): 40 mg t.i.d.; garlic; green tea (Camellia sinensis) 2C/day; Trigonella foenum-graecum.Artichoke; dandelion leaves; eleutherococcus; fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum): 50 g/day defatted seed powder; ginseng 100 mg t.i.d.; glucomannan; guar gum; horehound; juniper; lavender; myrrh; neem; primrose oil (neuropathy); salt bush (Atriplex halimu); silymarin (cirrhosis in diabetes); Spanish needles (Bidens pilosa); tragacanth; yellow bells (Tecoma stans)
Diet and Nutrition/LifestyleRegular exercise; weight loss; diet high in fiber, low in simple sugars and fats; Pritikin diet; Ornish diet.Alpha-lipoic acid; biotin (type 1 and type 2 DM): 9-16 mg/day; chromium (200 µg/day); essential fatty acids (cold-water fish, 480 mg/day; gamma linoleic acid, 1 T/day flaxseed oil); magnesium (300-500 mg/day); onion; potassium (dietary); vitamin C (>2 g/day in divided dosess); vitamin B 3 (prevention of new-onset type 1: 25 mg/kg/day); inositol hexaniacinate (hyperlipidemia): 500-1000 mg/day; vitamin B 6 (neuropathy): 50-100 mg/day; vitamin B 12 (neuropathy): 1000-3000 µg /day p.o. or 1000 µg/wk IM; vitamin E (800-900 IU/day); zinc (30 mg/day).Flavonoids (dietary, 1-2/day); manganese (30 mg/day).
Mind-Body InterventionsSelf-care, personal locus of control and responsibility.Biofeedback; reduction of threat of DM (adolescents); relaxation therapy; social support; spiritual approaches; yoga.Treatment of depression; qi gong.
Bioelectromagnetic Therapies Electrical stimulation.
Alternative Systems of Care Acupuncture (neuropathy); traditional Chinese medicine.Ayurveda; curanderismo herbalism.
Hands-On Healing Techniques Massage.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
HerbalsDeglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), 380-760 mg t.i.d./ac.Caraway; lemon balm; raspberry tea; white wine (increases gastric emptying).Oregon grape, yellow dock, wormwood.
Diet and Nutrition/LifestyleLactase (for those with lactose intolerance); lipase (pancreatic insufficiency); weight loss; small meals; don't lie down for 2 hr after a meal; elevate head of bed 6 in; avoid foods that promote reflux, like alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, onions, spicy foods, peppermint. Proteolytic enzymes; vitamin A up to 25,000 IU/day; vitamin C 500 mg t.i.d.; vitamin E 100 IU t.i.d.; zinc 20 mg/day.
Alternative Systems of Care Acupuncture; ayurveda. Homeopathy: bryonia 6C q 30 min for 2 hr; carbo vegetabilis 6C q 30 min for 2 hr; lycopodium 6C q 30 min for 2 hr; nux vomica 6C q 30 min for 2 hr.
Hands-on Healing Techniques Osteopathic manipulation.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

NOTE: C denotes the number of times that a substance is diluted at a ratio of 1:100.


SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Gastrointestinal Problems

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
HerbalsAloe (constipation), 30 mL t.i.d.; cascara (constipation), tea from 1 tsp. bark b.i.d., 1 mL tincture b.i.d.; deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) (peptic ulcer disease [PUD]), 380-760 mg t.i.d./ac; peppermint (indigestion), 0.2 mL-0.4 mL enteric coated oil b.i.d.-t.i.d./ac; senna (constipation).Aloe (heartburn), 30 mL t.i.d.; bilberry (diarrhea); boldo (cholagogue, indigestion); caraway; chamomile (antispasmodic, colic, PUD) 2-3 g/day, 3-5 mL tincture t.i.d., as tea t.i.d.-q.i.d.; ginger (nausea), 500 mg t.i.d.; goldenseal (diarrhea) 500 mg t.i.d., use with caution; fennel (colic, antispasmodic), tea 1 cup t.i.d.; 600-mg caps t.i.d., for infants, 2 tsp seeds t.i.d.; garlic (antispasmodic), up to 3 g b.i.d.; lemon balm; marijuana (nausea); raspberry tea; sage (antispasmodic); white wine (increases gastric emptying).Bitters (indigestion): barberry, dandelion; Oregon grape, yellow dock, wormwood; butcher's broom (hemorrhoids); horse chestnut (hemorrhoids).
Diet and Nutrition/LifestyleLactase (for those with lactose intolerance); lipase (pancreatic insufficiency).Bismuth (PUD), 240 mg subcitrate b.i.d./ac, subsalicylate 500 mg q.i.d./ac; cabbage (PUD), 1 L juice daily, effects possibly due to glutamine content; charcoal (excess gas); lactobacillus acidophilus (diarrhea, antibiotic-induced diarrhea).Betaine HCl (low stomach acidity); flavonoids (PUD), 500 mg t.i.d.; proteolytic enzymes; yogurt (antibiotic-induced diarrhea); vitamin A up to 25,000 IU/day; vitamin C 500 mg t.i.d.; vitamin E 100 IU t.i.d.; zinc 30 mg/day.
Mind-Body InterventionsDepression (functional bowel complaints), detect and treat; exercise (constipation); psychotherapy; stress management (PUD).
Alternative Systems of Care Acupuncture (nausea); acupressure (nausea); ayurveda.Homeopathy: Colic: cuprum metallicum 6C t.i.d.-q.i.d.; chamomile 6C t.i.d. for 3-4 days; colocynthis 30C t.i.d.; nux vomica 6C q 15 min until vomiting ceases; belladonna 6C q 1 hr for up to 6 doses; bryonia 6C q 1 hr for up to 6 doses.
Constipation: nux vomica 6C t.i.d. for 10 days; sepia 30C: 3 doses in 24 hr once a month; sulfur 6C t.i.d. up to 10 days.
Diarrhea: arsenicum album 6C q 30 min for up to 6 doses, then t.i.d.; argentum nitricum 6C q 1 hr up to 6 doses; podophyllum 30C t.i.d.-q.i.d. for 2 days; pulsatilla 6C q 2 hr for up to 6 doses; sulfur 6C q 1 hr up to 6 doses, then t.i.d.
Hemorrhoids: hamamelis 6C t.i.d. for 3 days; calcarea fluorica 6C t.i.d.-q.i.d. for 3-4 days; arnica 30C q.i.d. for 2-3 days; aesculus; hippocastanum 30C t.i.d. for 3 days.
Heartburn, indigestion, and gas: nux vomica 6C q 30 min for 2 hr; carbo vegetabilis 6C q 30 min for 2 hr; lycopodium 6C 2-3 times after meals; natrum phosphoricum 6C q 30 min for 2 hr; arsenicum album 6C q 1 hr up to 6 doses, then t.i.d.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

NOTE: C denotes the number of times that a substance is diluted at a ratio of 1:100.


SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Migraine Headache

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
HerbalsFeverfew 0.25-0.5 mg, parthenolide b.i.d.Ginger 4-6 g/day, 1.5-3 mL tincture t.i.d., 500 mg q.i.d. dried ginger, also treats nausea; ginkgo biloba 40-60 mg t.i.d.Capsaicin intranasal; yucca.
Diet and Nutrition/LifestyleVitamin B 2 (riboflavin) 400 mg/day for at least 3-4 months.Magnesium 250-400 mg t.i.d., esp. for premenstrual migraine and those with low Mg levels; calcium 800 mg/day; vitamin D 400 IU/day; avoid dietary amines, which provoke migraine: chocolate, cheese, beer, red wine; food allergy: detect and eliminate most common allergenic foods: dairy, wheat, chocolate, eggs; use elimination diet; vitamin B 12 25 mg t.i.d.Fish oil, EPA/DHA; S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAMe) 400 mg q.i.d., gradually increase dose from 200 mg b.i.d. to 400 mg q.i.d. over 3 weeks; 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) 100-200 mg t.i.d.
Mind-Body InterventionsRelaxation therapy; biofeedback.Guided imagery; meditation; stress management; tai chi; therapeutic touch; yoga.
Bioelectromagnetic Energy healing; magnets; TENS.
Alternative Systems of Care Acupuncture; traditional Chinese medicine; ayurveda.Homeopathy: belladonna 6C q 30 min for 1.5 hrs; bryonia 6C q 30 min for 1.5 hrs; gelsemium 30C q 30 min for 1.5 hrs; kali bichromicum 6C q 1 hr up to 6 doses, then t.i.d.
Hands-On Healing Techniques Chiropractic.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

NOTE: C denotes the number of times that a substance is diluted at a ratio of 1:100.


SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Tension Headache

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
Diet and Nutrition/Lifestyle Magnesium 250 mg b.i.d.-t.i.d.
Mind-Body InterventionsRelaxation therapy; biofeedback; cognitive therapy.Guided imagery; meditation; progressive muscle relaxation; stress management; tai chi; therapeutic touch; yoga.
Bioelectromagnetic Therapies Energy healing; magnets; TENS.
Alternative Systems of Care Acupuncture; traditional Chinese medicine; ayurveda.Homeopathy: belladonna 6C q 30 min for 1½ hrs; bryonia 6C q 30 min for 1½ hrs; gelsemium 30C q 30 min for 1½ hrs; kali bichromicum 6C q 1 hr up to 6 doses, then t.i.d.
Hands on Healing Chiropractic.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

NOTE: C denotes the number of times that a substance is diluted at a ratio of 1:100.


SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Hepatitis

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
HerbalsMilk thistle (hepatitis, cirrhosis), 70-140 mg t.i.d.Artichoke; Astragalus membranaceus caraway; glycyrrhizin, licorice root 100 mg/day, 1 g root t.i.d., higher doses affect electrolytes, BP; goldenseal 500 mg t.i.d., use with caution; lemon balm; raspberry tea; turmeric, 250-500 mg b.i.d.Oregon grape, yellow dock, wormwood; evening primrose oil (alcoholic liver disease); Sho-Saiko-to (TJ-9); Compound 861; Phyllanthus amafus .
Diet and Nutrition/Lifestyle Proteolytic enzymes; vitamin A up to 25,000 IU/day; vitamin C 500 mg t.i.d.; vitamin E 100 IU t.i.d.; zinc 20 mg/day.
Mind-Body InterventionsPsychotherapy.
Alternative Systems of Care Ayurveda.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Hypercholesterolemia

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
Herbals Artichoke 320 mg of std extract t.i.d.; avocado; barley; evening primrose oil; flax seeds 20 g/day, 1 T flaxseed oil daily; glucomannan; pectin; plantain. Fenugreek 5-20 g with meals t.i.d. or 15-90 g once daily with a meal; fo-ti 3-5 g/day as tea t.i.d., 500-mg tabs, up to 5 tabs t.i.d.; ginseng; proanthocyanidins (grape seed extract, pine bark); wild yam 2-3 mL tincture t.i.d., 1-2 tabs t.i.d.; yogurt.
Garlic 1-4 cloves/day, tabs 300 mg t.i.d. (4000-5000 µg of allicin), tincture 2-4 mL t.i.d.; Guggul 500 mg tab t.i.d. (5-10% guggelsterones or total of 25 mg t.i.d.); psyllium 5-10 g/day; Chinese red yeast rice (cholestin) (Monascus purpureus), two 600-mg capsules b.i.d..
Diet and Nutrition/LifestyleExercise; 5-7 servings/day fruits and vegetables (source of bioflavonoids and beta carotene); fiber; Mediterranean diet; quit smoking; soy protein 30 g/day; vegetarian diet; very low-fat diet (Ornish); vitamin B 3 (niacin) up to 3 g/day (potential hepatoxicity); weight loss.Calcium 800-1000 mg/day; coenzyme Q10 100-200 mg/day; fish intake (EPA/DHA omega-3 oils); inositol hexaniacinate 500-1000 mg t.i.d.; olive and canola oil; Pritikin program; reduce intake of refined sugars; reduce caffeine intake; red wine or other form of alcohol 1-2 drinks/day; selenium 200 mg/day; vitamin B 5 (pantothenic acid) 300 mg b.i.d.-t.i.d. esp. for diabetics, hypertriglyceridemia; vitamin C 100-1000 mg/day; vitamin E 100-800 IU/day.Beta-sitosterol; brewer's yeast 2 T/day carnitine 1-4 g/day; chitosan 3-6 g/day; chromium 200 mg/day; green tea 3C/day; lecithin; magnesium 400 mg/day; mushrooms: shiitake, maitake; oats; octacosanol; vitamins B 6 (pyridoxine) 50 mg/day; B 9 (folic acid) 400 mg/day; B 12 (cyanocobalamin) 1000 mg/day (may lower homocysteine levels, alone or together); quercetin 35 mg/day (apples, onion, black tea); safflower oil.
Mind-Body Interventions Modifying type A behavior, stress reduction, reducing hostility, time urgency, competitiveness; reducing chronic arousal; improving sleep pattern; relaxation therapy.Meditation; qi gong.
Pharmacological and Biological Treatments Chelation therapy.
Alternative Systems of Care Ayurveda; traditional Chinese medicine.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

NOTE: C denotes the number of times that a substance is diluted at a ratio of 1:100.


SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Hypertension

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
Herbals Garlic; hawthorn.Ginseng, 1 g dried root/day; guar gum, 5 g t.i.d.; yellow root; yucca.
Diet and Nutrition/LifestyleDASH diet; fiber; aerobic exercise; potassium in diet; quit smoking; reduce caffeine; low sodium; weight loss.Vegetarian diet; CoQ10, 50 mg b.i.d.; alcohol intake <3 drinks/day; calcium, 800-1500 mg/day; magnesium, 350-500 mg/day (esp. if taking diuretics); fish oil, EPA/DHA, omega-3 fatty acids 3 g/day.Check for heavy metals such as lead; reduce sugar intake; vitamin C; chitosan; arginine, 2 g t.i.d.
Mind-Body Interventions Anger prevention or management; anxiety reduction (men); guided imagery; meditation; music therapy; religious attendance; social support; stress management; tai chi; yoga.
Pharmacological and Biological Treatments Chelation therapy.
Alternative Systems of Care Ayurveda; traditional Chinese medicine.Homeopathy.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
HerbalsPeppermint, 0.2 mL-0.4 mL enteric-coated oil b.i.d.-t.i.d./acCaraway; chamomile, 2-3 g/day; 3-5 mL tincture t.i.d., as tea t.i.d.-q.i.d.; fennel (colic antispasmodic), tea 1 cup t.i.d., 600 mg caps t.i.d., for infants 2 tsp seeds t.i.d.; garlic (antispasmodic), up to 3 g b.i.d.; lemon balm; raspberry tea; sage (antispasmodic).Oregon grape, yellow, dock, wormwood.
Diet and Nutrition/LifestyleLactase (for those with lactose intolerance); lipase (pancreatic insufficiency); fiber; food allergy: identify and eliminate if present; dairy and grain most common factors.Charcoal (excess gas); lactobacillus acidophilus; refined sugar: reduce amount in diet.Proteolytic enzymes; vitamin A up to 25,000 IU/day; vitamin C 500 mg t.i.d.; vitamin E 100 IU t.i.d.; zinc 20 mg/day.
Mind-Body InterventionsCognitive behavioral therapy; depression (functional bowel complaints), detect and treat; exercise; hypnotherapy; biofeedback; progressive muscle relaxation; psychotherapy; stress management.
Alternative Systems of Care Traditional Chinese medicine herbals; acupuncture; ayurveda.Homeopathy: (follow label dosages) argentum nitricum; asa foetida; colocynthis; lillium tigrinum; lycopodium; natrum carbonicum; nux vomica; podophyllum; sulfur.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Musculoskeletal Problems

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
HerbalsArnica ointment/gel (topical); tiger balm; white willow (salicylate); glucosamine, chondroifin Topical agents for wound and tissue healing, pain: aescin (horse chestnut); aloe gel; angelica; calendula; comfrey; echinacea; Saint John's wort oil; tea tree; witch hazel; wintergreen oil; curcumin (anti-inflammatory) Tissue and wound healing: cat's claw; gotu kola; aromatherapy: lavender, camphor, eucalyptus, chamomile, rosemary.
Athletic performance enhancement: Asian ginseng, eleuthero; guarana.
Diet and Nutrition/LifestyleStretching, conditioning, warm-up to prevent injuries; bioflavonoids: citrus 900-1800 mg/day (improves healing time of injuries); enzymes: bromelain 500 MCU q.i.d. (proteolytic, anti-inflammatory).Calcium 800-1000 mg/day (bone, muscle injury); magnesium 300 mg t.i.d. (muscle spasm, injury); vitamin C 400-3000 mg/day (connective tissue support, muscle damage); vitamin E 400-1200 IU/day (muscle damage), topically for scars; eliminate food allergy (may worsen inflammation). Tissue/Wound Healing: vitamin A; copper, manganese, silicon, zinc; chondroitin sulfate; glucosamine sulfate; arginine, glutamine, l-carnitine.
Bursitis: vitamin B 12 1000 µg q.d. for 2-4 wk IM or subcutaneously.
Fibromyalgia: vitamin B 1 10-100 mg/day; magnesium 300-600 mg/day; vitamin E 100-300 IU/day; d , l -phenylalanine 500-700 mg t.i.d. (for pain).
Enhancing athletic performance: antioxidants, B complex vitamins, chromium, zinc, iron, magnesium, branched-chain amino acids, carnitine, pyruvate whey protein, leucine, inosine, ornithine, ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate, glutamine, creatine, gamma oryzanol, medium-chain triglycerides.
Mind-Body InterventionsRegular exercise, stretching; tai chi; yoga.Biofeedback; guided imagery; hypnosis; music therapy; qi gong; relaxation therapy; spiritual interventions.
Pharmacological and Biological Treatments Hydrotherapy (add essential oils, Epsom salts); spa therapy; DMSO topically.
Bioelectromagnetic TherapiesTENS unit.Energy medicine; healing touch; reiki; therapeutic touch.Hyperbaric oxygen; light therapy; magnet therapy.
Alternative Systems of Care Acupuncture; acupressure; traditional Chinese medicine: cupping; ayurveda: massage, oil, herbal techniques.Homeopathy: Broken bone support: arnica 30C q 15-30 min for 2 hr, then t.i.d. for 2 days; Ruta graveolens 6C t.i.d. for 2-3 days.
Sprains and injuries: arnica 30C t.i.d.-q.i.d. for 2-3 days; Ruta graveolens 6C t.i.d. for 2-3 days; Ledum 30C t.i.d. for 2-3 days.
Bursitis: Rhus toxicodendron 6C t.i.d.-q.i.d. for 3-4 days; Ruta graveolens 6C t.i.d. for 3-4 days; belladonna 6C t.i.d.-q.i.d. for 1-2 days.
Hands-On Healing Techniques Craniosacral; Feldenkrais; rolfing; trager.Chiropractic; massage; osteopathy.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

NOTE: C denotes the number of times that a substance is diluted at a ratio of 1:100.


SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Upper Respiratory Infections

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
HerbalsEchinacea 3-5 mL tincture or juice t.i.d., 300-600 mg caps t.i.d., dried root or as tea 0.5-1.0 g t.i.d. Garlic 300 mg (4000-5000 µg allicin) t.i.d., 1-4 cloves/day; goldenseal 4-6 g t.i.d. Immune support: Asian ginseng, astragalus, eleuthero, schisandra.
Antiviral/antibiotic: elderberry, horseradish, myrrh, usnea.
Symptomatic relief: slippery elm, marshmallow, red raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, sage, yarrow, eucalyptus oil, meadowsweet.
Diet and Nutrition/LifestyleAvoid exhausting exercise; bedrest; drink large amounts of fluids.Vitamin C 1-3 g/day; avoid dietary allergens; Gargle: salt water and vinegar; hot water with lemon juice and honey.Zinc gluconate or gluconate-glycine lozenges 10/day until better; l-lysine 4-5 g/day initially, then 500 mg t.i.d. for cold sores, l-lysine cream; vitamin A 15,000-25,000 IU/day (unless pregnant); beta carotene 50,000-100,000 IU/day.
Mind-Body InterventionsSocial support; stress management and awareness.
Pharmacological and Biological TreatmentsControl respiratory allergies with antihistamines, nasal steroids, avoidance of allergens.Hyperthermia.
Bioelectromagnetic Therapies Energy medicine; hydrotherapy; magnet therapy.
Alternative Systems of Care Ayurveda; traditional Chinese medicine; acupuncture; cupping.Homeopathy: aconite 30C q 2 hrs for 3 doses only; kali bichromicum 6C t.i.d.-q.i.d. for 2-3 days; Rhus toxicodendron 6C q 2 hrs up to 6 doses; euphrasia 6C q.i.d.
Hands-On Healing Techniques Percussion.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

NOTE: C denotes the number of times that a substance is diluted at a ratio of 1:100.


SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

Alternative Therapies for Urinary Tract Infections

Therapy Best Evidence * Probably Useful Least Evidence
Herbals Cranberry juice 0.5 L/day, 400 mg/b.i.d of extract; blueberry juice 0.25 L/dayUva ursi 3-5 mL tincture, 100-250 mg t.i.d. (as arbutin in herbal extract) (requires alkaline urine—potassium or sodium citrate, .5 tsp sodium bicarbonate, Alka Seltzer); garlic 300 mg t.i.d., 1-4 cloves/day; goldenseal 250-300 mg t.i.d. std extract, 3-4 g/day root caps, tabs, tincture; sandalwood oil 1-2 drops t.i.d.; herbal diuretic teas: asparagus, birch, couch grass, horsetail, Java tea, juniper lovage, spiny restharrow, nettle, parsley: 1-3 tsp (5-15 g) steeped for 15 min and taken t.i.d.
Diet and Nutrition/LifestyleDrink large amounts of low-sugar juices, water, other fluids (>2 L/day); urinate after intercourse (women); eliminate obstruction. Identify and eliminate food allergies in recurrent infections; vitamin C 5 g/day; vitamin A 25,000 IU/day; beta-carotene 200,000 IU/day; zinc 30 mg/day; bromelain; multivitamins.
Alternative Systems of Care Ayurveda; traditional Chinese medicine.Homeopathy: cantharis 30C t.i.d. for 2 days; sepia 30C t.i.d. for 2 days; belladonna 6C q 2 hr up to 6 doses; staphysagria 12C t.i.d. for 2 days; nux vomica q 2 hr up to 6 doses.
* Therapies with the highest degree of scientific support for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that are often helpful but that do not have the highest degree of supporting evidence for efficacy and safety.
Therapies that may be useful but that have limited scientific evidence for efficacy and safety.

NOTE: C denotes the number of times that a substance is diluted at a ratio of 1:100.


SOURCE: Sierpina, VS: Integrative Health Care: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for the Whole Person, F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, 2001.

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