Complementary and alternative medicine are of such interest to the medical community that the National Institutes of Health has an entire agency devoted to scientific research into these non-conventional treatments. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) uses scientific research to explore complementary and alternative healing practices, including natural remedies and other practices mentioned below.
The term alternative medicine refers to health care practices that are used in place of conventional medicine. For example, using a special diet to treat cancer instead of undergoing radiation or chemotherapy is alternative medicine. Complementary medicine is not the same as alternative medicine. Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine. Using dietary supplements for diabetes in addition to conventional medical treatment is an example of complementary medicine.
Complementary and alternative medicine includes a variety of medical systems. Eastern cultures have used traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, and acupuncture for centuries. Homeopathic medicine and naturopathic medicine are newer alternative medical systems.
Mind-body medicine uses techniques such as meditation, art, mental healing, and dance to enhance the mind’s ability to affect the functioning and healing of the body. Clinical depression sometimes responds well to these techniques.
Dietary supplements, herbs, and vitamins are natural remedies used in both complementary and alternative therapies. For example, research shows that leaves and flowers of the hawthorn tree are safe and effective for treating mild heart failure. Flaxseed oil is used to treat arthritis, while ginger relieves pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting. NCCAM continues to study the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on heart disease. (more…)
Multiple Sclerosis medications are what any new patient will want to learn about when first diagnosed with a serious disease such as MS. Multiple Sclerosis affects the body by the immune system gradually destroying the sheath covering the nerves. The nerves deteriorate over time and unfortunately, there is still no cure for this debilitating disease, even though there is ongoing research to attempt to discover a viable cure. However, there are medications to alleviate the symptoms and slow the degenerative process.
Very common medications for Multiple Sclerosis patients are corticosteroids. These are used to lessen the inflammation that will occur during a relapse. The most well-known types are methylprednisolone which is taken intravenously and the oral prednisone. These need to be monitored carefully because they can cause cataracts, higher blood sugar and more chances of infection after using them for a long period of time.
Other Multiple Sclerosis medications are Avonex, Betaseron, Rebif and Extravia which will slow the progression and the symptoms. This group of medications are called beta interferons. A daily oral medication is Fingolimod or Gilenya. This medication will lessen the attacks and any short-term disability that may result from an attack. The med blocks the immune cells inside the lymph nodes.
Another medication is Glatiramer or Copzxone. This stops the immune system from attacking myelin which is the covering around the nerves. The med needs to be injected once a day. A powerful drug called Natalizumab or Tysabri inhibits any dangerous immune cells from moving from the bloodstream to the spinal cord or brain. This med is only used by patients who cannot take the other medications well because it may cause a fatal brain infection. Mitoxantrone or Novantrone are Multiple Sclerosis medications that are only used on very advanced cases of MS. Taking these drugs may cause serious heart problems or even cause a form of blood cancer.