Integrative Medicine News from Natural Standard

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  1. Wildfire Smoke Side Effects: Do Any Natural Medicines Help?

    Much of the Western United States is dealing with wildfires and wildfire smoke. Poor air quality is a major concern for those in affected areas. While no natural medicines can help treat smoke inhalation, some remedies might help combat certain side effects caused by the smoke. Help patients navigate what actually works and what to avoid.

    Cough: Cough is a common side effect caused by wildfire smoke. Research shows that taking 0.5-2 teaspoons of honey at bedtime can reduce coughing in kids. It’s at least as effective as common OTC cough suppressants like dextromethorphan, and there aren’t any major safety concerns. But remind parents that they shouldn’t give honey to infants under 12 months old – doing so puts the child at risk for botulism poisoning. And it’s unclear if honey is beneficial in adults.

    For more information, visit www.naturalmedicines.com.

  2. Tianeptine Warning

    Tianeptine is an antidepressant with opioid-like effects at high doses. It’s showing up in some dietary supplements, despite being on the FDA Advisory List. Learn more about its known side effects in our monograph.

    For more information, visit www.naturalmedicines.com.

  3. Melatonin for Chronic Pain

    New research shows that melatonin might reduce certain types of chronic pain. Check out our recently updated monograph to learn more.

    For more information, visit www.naturalmedicines.com.

  4. Green Tea to Black Tea: Why Are Camellia sinensis Teas Different?

    Green tea, black tea, oolong tea and pu-erh tea are all made from the Camellia sinensis plant. But their preparation, effects, side effects and caffeine content all vary.

    Green tea accounts for about 20% of the world’s tea production. One cup typically contains under 50 mg of caffeine – the lowest amount in all of these teas. Unlike the other teas, green tea is not fermented. It’s prepared by steaming, pan frying, and then drying the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. This preparation method sets green tea apart because it maintains the polyphenol content of the leaves. One polyphenol in particular, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), seems to be responsible for many of the health benefits linked to green tea, and also some of the safety concerns. There’s some evidence that drinking green tea can reduce the risk for a variety of conditions, including heart disease, endometrial cancer, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, ovarian cancer, and Parkinson disease. But there’s also some concern about potential liver injury from green tea extract products due to their very high EGCG content. Tell patients that taking green tea extract with less than 600 mg of EGCG daily seems to be safe for most healthy adults. And taking green tea extracts with food might also lower the risk of liver injury. Green tea as a beverage is almost certainly safe for the vast majority of people when consumed in moderation.

    For more information, visit www.naturalmedicines.com.

  5. Intermittent Fasting: What to Tell Patients

    Fasting isn’t new. But in recent years, intermittent fasting has been growing in popularity. Many celebrities tout its benefits for a variety of reasons. What does the evidence say?

    Intermittent fasting is a broad term. Alternate-day fasting, periodic fasting, and time-restricted feeding are all considered intermittent fasting.

    For more information, visit www.naturalmedicines.com.

  6. Vitamin D, Calcium Getting Attention for Vertigo

    A large new study recently evaluated vitamin D and calcium supplements for the prevention of positional vertigo. No medications are currently effective for this condition, so this study is getting a fair amount of press. What should you tell patients?

    While we still need more data, this new research is promising. Patients with recurrent vertigo in 8 different hospitals were randomly assigned to receive either vitamin D 400 IU and calcium carbonate 500 mg twice daily, or observation only, for one year. Vitamin D levels were monitored throughout the study for those in the treatment group. At the end of the study, vertigo recurrences had dropped by 27% for patients receiving vitamin D and calcium compared to those receiving no treatment.

    For more information, visit www.naturalmedicines.com.

  7. COVID-19: Why Ashwagandha & Adaptogens Are Growing in Popularity

    Patients are increasingly turning to traditional medicines to reduce stress and boost immune function during the pandemic. Be prepared to address questions about ashwagandha and other adaptogens as product sales in this market surge.

    Adaptogens are a class of natural substances that are believed to stimulate the body’s resistance to physical, environmental, and emotional stressors. Although many plants are traditionally referred to as adaptogens, only some plants have demonstrated these effects in research.

    For more information, visit www.naturalmedicines.com.

  8. COVID-19: Why Ashwagandha & Adaptogens Are Growing in Popularity

    Patients are increasingly turning to traditional medicines to reduce stress and boost immune function during the pandemic. Be prepared to address questions about ashwagandha and other adaptogens as product sales in this market surge.

    Adaptogens are a class of natural substances that are believed to stimulate the body’s resistance to physical, environmental, and emotional stressors. Although many plants are traditionally referred to as adaptogens, only some plants have demonstrated these effects in research.

    For more information, visit www.naturalmedicines.com.

  9. COVID-19: Warn Patients About Poisonous Oleander Extract

    Oleandrin, a chemical extracted from oleander, is getting a lot of press as a potential COVID-19 treatment. Make sure patients understand that it is poisonous and should NOT be taken as a dietary supplement or home remedy.

    Oleander is a flowering shrub that is famous for its use as a poison. It contains cardiac glycosides, which have effects similar to the prescription medication, digoxin. Taking any part of the plant by mouth can cause a wide range of toxic effects, including vomiting, respiratory paralysis, serious heart problems and death. There are some claims that oleandrin is safe because it is a “purified” part of oleander. But the research doesn’t support this claim. In fact, oleandrin is one of the cardiac glycosides responsible for the toxicity of oleander.

    For more information, visit www.naturalmedicines.com.

  10. COVID-19: Warn Patients About Poisonous Oleander Extract

    Oleandrin, a chemical extracted from oleander, is getting a lot of press as a potential COVID-19 treatment. Make sure patients understand that it is poisonous and should NOT be taken as a dietary supplement or home remedy.

    Oleander is a flowering shrub that is famous for its use as a poison. It contains cardiac glycosides, which have effects similar to the prescription medication, digoxin. Taking any part of the plant by mouth can cause a wide range of toxic effects, including vomiting, respiratory paralysis, serious heart problems and death. There are some claims that oleandrin is safe because it is a “purified” part of oleander. But the research doesn’t support this claim. In fact, oleandrin is one of the cardiac glycosides responsible for the toxicity of oleander.

    For more information, visit www.naturalmedicines.com.

  11. New Chart: Qualified Health Claims

    The FDA just announced a new qualified health claim for certain cranberry products. Learn more about this new claim and all other Authorized and Qualified Health Claims in our new chart.

    For more information, visit www.naturalmedicines.com.

  12. NEW Monographs
      For more information, visit www.naturalmedicines.com.

  13. New Study Suggests Cinnamon Improves Blood Sugar Control

    A small study suggests that taking a cinnamon combination product daily improves blood sugar control in people with prediabetes. This study is getting a fair amount of media attention, but it’s likely too soon to make any recommendations.

    The 12-week study included a total of 54 patients with prediabetes. They were randomized to receive a capsule containing 200 mg Padang cassia (Cinnamomum burmannii) and 300 mg of an unspecified cinnamon species (Cinnamomum spp.), or placebo, three times daily. After 12 weeks, the cinnamon group experienced no change in blood sugar, whereas those in the placebo group experienced an average increase of 4.5 mg/dL. While this finding is promising, the study was small and relatively short. Also, there are many different types of cinnamon, and the evidence varies depending on which species is used. Previous research shows that taking other combination products containing Padang cassia may benefit people with prediabetes. Cassia cinnamon is another species that has been evaluated for benefit in people with prediabetes, with mixed results. But this study did not clarify the second cinnamon species that was used.

    For more information, visit www.naturalmedicines.com.

  14. Serious Side Effects Linked to Synthetic Cannabinoids

    New reports confirm that using synthetic cannabinoids known as K2/spice can cause life-threatening side effects. It’s important for providers to be aware that these products are growing in popularity, and to recognize signs of toxicity.

    K2/Spice is the general name given to a class of over 100 different types of synthetic cannabinoids. They’re man-made and are intended to produce a cannabis-like euphoria when inhaled. But side effects can be much more severe. And six of them are actually classified as Schedule I controlled substances due to their high potential for abuse and side effects. A new case series described 30 patients admitted to the ICU over a two-year period. The researchers found that taking K2/spice can lead to serious brain damage, respiratory failure, and death. While these chemicals aren’t detectable in standard toxicology testing, providers should be aware that coma, extreme agitation, and seizures are among the most common symptoms of toxicity. There’s also evidence that people commonly use K2/spice along with other drugs. In several cases, patients who took opioids with k2/spice did not respond to naloxone.

    For more information, visit www.naturalmedicines.com.

  15. Prevagen Remains Popular Despite No Supportive Evidence

    Prevagen was listed as the number one pharmacist recommended memory support supplement in the 2020 Pharmacy Times survey. But Quincy Bioscience, the Prevagen manufacturer, recently settled a nationwide class action lawsuit for making deceptive claims. Make sure you understand the facts about this popular product.

    Prevagen contains apoaequorin. It’s a calcium-binding protein that comes from the jellyfish species Aequorea victoria. Because apoaequorin has a similar structure to human calcium-binding proteins, some theorize that it might help regulate calcium in the brain and reduce memory loss. But one manufacturer-sponsored study shows that taking apoaequorin daily only slightly improves memory in older adults – there isn’t any high-quality research confirming this.

    For more information, visit www.naturalmedicines.com.

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