Category: Herbs & Supplements

Failed Flaxseed and Bad News Brownies

Well, it’s been a tough month for herbs since my last monthly soiree here at SBM. Just last week at the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting, a group out of the Mayo Clinic presented data from a study showing that a well-characterized flaxseed extract was ineffective against hot flashes in postmenopausal women. But as Steve Novella noted here earlier this...

/ June 10, 2011

Black Cohosh and Hot Flashes

Black Cohosh, an herbal “supplement” (i.e. unregulated drug) remains popular for the treatment of hot flashes and other autonomic symptoms resulting from menopause. This product is yet another good example of the double standard that the supplement industry and ideological promoters are allowed to employ. The NCCAM website gives this summary: Black cohosh, a member of the buttercup family, is a plant...

/ June 8, 2011

Oil of Oregano

Paradoxically, the less evidence that exists to support the use of of a treatment, the more passionate its supporters seem to be. I learned this early in my career as a pharmacist. One pharmacy I worked at did a steady business in essential oils. And king of the oils was oil of oregano. Not only were there several different brands of the...

/ May 26, 2011

The Top Ten Pet Supplements: Do They Work?

An Embarrassment of Riches? Much has been written here about the dietary supplement business, a multibillion dollar industry with powerful political connections, and about the woeful inadequacy of regulation which allows widespread marketing of supplements without a solid basis in science or scientific evidence.  The veterinary supplement market is a pittance compared to the human market, but still a billion-dollar pittance that...

/ May 19, 2011

European Union “Ban” On Herbal Products

Regulations have just gone into effect in the EU regarding the sale of herbal products. The regulations seem reasonable, but they have sparked near hysteria on the part of herbal sellers and advocates of “natural” medicine. They are calling the regulation a “ban” on herbal products, which much of the media has parroted, but it is not a true ban, just a...

/ May 4, 2011

Hash Oil for Gliomas? What Would You Do?

A friend asked me to look at the evidence for hash oil as a treatment for glioma. His teenage daughter was recently diagnosed with brain cancer: a grade 3 anaplastic ependymoma. It recurred very rapidly after surgery and radiotherapy and the latest tissue diagnosis shows an aggressive grade IV glioma. Her prognosis is not good. No further attempts at curative therapy are...

/ May 3, 2011

Do calcium supplements cause heart attacks?

Calcium is good for us, right? Milk products are great sources of calcium, and we’re told to emphasize milk products in our diets. Don’t (or can’t) eat enough dairy? Calcium supplements are very popular, especially among women seeking to minimize their risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis prevention and treatment guidelines recommend calcium and vitamin D as an important measure in preserving bone density...

/ April 28, 2011

Dr. Oz on alternative medicine: Bread and circuses

NOTE: Dr. Novella has written up a detailed description of his experiences on The Dr. Oz Show. Please read it. Also note that the online video for Dr. Novella’s appearance is now available: Controversial Medicine: Alternative Health, Part 1 Controversial Medicine: Alternative Health, Part 2 Controversial Medicine: Alternative Health, Part 3 When I first learned that our fearless leader and partner in...

/ April 27, 2011

A Skeptic In Oz

UPDATE 4/27/2011: Here’s the online video of Dr. Novella’s appearance on The Dr. Oz Show: Controversial Medicine: Alternative Health, Part 1 Controversial Medicine: Alternative Health, Part 2 Controversial Medicine: Alternative Health, Part 3 I must say I was a bit shocked two weeks ago when I was contacted by a producer for The Dr. Oz Show inviting me on to discuss alternative...

/ April 26, 2011

The Free Speech About Science Act (H.R. 1364), “health freedom,” and misinformed consent

“Health freedom.” It’s a battle cry frequently used by supporters of “alternative” medicine against what they perceive to be persecution by the medical and scientific establishment that uses the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, and other federal agencies charged with regulating pharmaceuticals, food, cosmetics, and medical devices in order to protect the public against fraud, adulterated food, and quackery....

/ April 18, 2011