Harvard Medical School has published a very comprehensive review of 52 herbs and supplements for use as medical remedies. With the establishment of the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicines (NCCAM), funding is available for solid research studies of existing "old time" remedies. Though research evidence of alternative remedies continues to pour in, the NCCAM strongly advises talking with your primary physician before starting any new remedies. This is especially true for women during child bearing years. Some of these remedies can have severe side effects if the proper doses (and allergy checks) are not followed.
The following is a sampling of Harvard's report. The remedies are ranked from "A" (very strong evidence that it works safely), to "F" (very strong evidence that it doesn't work, or isn't safe). A "C" ranking is no clear evidence it does or doesn't work. For a copy of the report, go to www.health.harvard.edu
· Aloe: "A" for constipation, "B" for skin conditions (but not for open wounds).
· Bilberry: "C" for blood system health and painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea)
· Black Cohosh: "B" for menopausal symptoms.
· Boron: "C" for improved cognitive function, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and vaginitis
· Cranberry: "B" for preventing urinary tract infections
· Ephedra: Though this Chinese herb has a wide number of uses, the FDA has banned it from sale due to harmful side effects.
· Eucalyptus oil: "C" for decongestant/cough suppressant and as a mouthwash, but extreme care must be used in dosage.
· Feverfew: "B" for migraines
· Garlic: "B" for high cholesterol, "C" for a whole range of blood system issues
· Ginkgo: "A" for blood system health, "C" for brain health
· Ginseng: "B" for mental performance and Type 2 diabetes, "C" for menopausal symptoms
· Kava: "A" for anxiety
· Niacin: "A" for high cholesterol, "B" for blood system health
· Fish oil (Omega-3 fatty acid): "A" for high blood pressure
· St. John's Wort: "A" for depression
· Shark cartilage: "C" for cancer, arthritis
· Valerian: "B" for sleep disorders
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