Friday, May 8, 2015

Evidence Based Herbal Therapy

When consulting with a traditional physician about a common patient, the most common question is “What are your credentials?” I explain that I am board certified in nutrition and that my studies were at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine.

I think my answer surprises most physicians and they can’t use my lack of education to dismiss my nutritional therapies. A resistant doctor will then ask for the evidence based research to support my treatment. Even when I provide the research studies, a few physicians refuse to accept nutritional therapy as valid and strongly object to their patient taking any OTC supplements.

The most amusing aspect of this stance is that the chemistry of most prescription drugs is poorly understood and the mode of action is often just a theory.

Recently I spent some time on PubMed. PubMed is online resource for published medical research. It is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the source for a vast majority of my blogs. NIH sends me a daily E-mail that summarizes recent research. Of late, I have found the topics lacked interest or were repetitive. So I decided to visit the source – PubMed.

The problem with PubMed is the sheer volume of information. There are hundreds or even thousands of research articles published daily. I limited my search to complimentary medicine and then plugged in some of my favorite herbs. What follows is a very short list showing the herb, the number of peer review published papers and one study title for your review:
  • Gymnema – 143 papers “Anti-Obesity Effect of Gymnema sylvestre Extract on High Fat Diet-Induced Obesity in Wistor Rats”
  • Echinacea – 1016 papers “Echinacea Reduces the Risk of Recurrent Respiratory Tract Infections and Complications: A Met-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials”
  • Boswellia – 268 papers “A Randomized, Double Blind, Placebo Controlled, Crossover Study to Evaluate the Analgesic Activity of Boswellia serrata in Healthy Volunteers Using the Mechanical Pain Model” (This type of study is the “gold standard” in research demonstrating the efficacy of Boswellia by any standards)
  • Ginger – 1925 papers “A Novel Component from Citrus, Ginger and Mushrooom Family Exhibits Antitumor Activity on Human Meningioma Cells through Suppressing the Wat/Beta-catemin Signaling Pathway” (Virtually every herb I reviewed had favorable studies on cancer treatment)
  • Ashwaganda - 641 papers “Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwaganda) Root Extract on Amelioration of Oxidative Stress and Autoantibodies Production in Collagen-induced Arthritic Rats”
  • Tribulus - 211 papers “Tribulus terrestis for Treatment of Sexual Dysfunction in Women: Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study”
  • Turmeric – 3179 papers “Curcumin Inhibits Apoptosis and Brain Edema Induced by Hypoxia-Hypercapnia Brain Damage in Rat Models”
  • St. John’s Wort -2343 papers “Hypericum performatum Reduces Paracetamol-Induced Hepatotoxicity and Lethality in Mice by Modulating Inflammation and Oxidative Stress”

The Bottom Line:
The next time someone tells you that herbal therapy is unscientific folklore, just refer them to this blog or PubMed. Of note is that a vast majority of these studies were conducted outside the U.S. as the rest of the world is advancing herbal therapy rather than scoffing at it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments Await Approval Before Posting