On today’s show, Doctor Oz hammered on the members of the medical community who don’t like alternative medicine, or as he says “afraid of alternative health.” Joining him on the show was Dr. Stephen Novella of the Yale University School of Medicine, who is an outspoken critic of alternative medicine. He says that he objects to the way alternative therapies are being put into an artificial category and used to market things that in his opinion don’t work. On the other side of the issue was Dr. Mimi Guarneri, a cardiologist at Scripps Hospital, who says she wants to prevent heart disease and if a solution works for her patient then she advocates it, whether it’s acupuncture or prayer.
Dr. Guarneri and Dr. Novella agreed that nutrition and exercise are not considered alternative medicine, and that preventative medicine is not alternative, it is science based.
Dr. Oz divided alternative care into three categories: things you put in your mouth like herbs, supplements and foods; things that are done to your body like acupuncture, massage and chiropractic care; and the mind/body connection like medication, breathing exercises and meditation.
On the first category, Dr. Oz says over half of Americans are taking a dietary supplement. Dr. Novella doesn’t like how herbs are be rebranded as alternative and being marketed as natural without evidence that they are effective. At the end of the day the public is sold products that evidence shows don’t work. Dr. Oz totally disagrees that they don’t work but he does agree that it’s a problem when patients self-medicate with herbs and supplements and don’t tell their doctors. Dr. Guarneri says that it’s a problem when you mix supplements with medications, so it’s important to tell your doctor what you’re taking!
Dr. Oz revealed that there’s a website called naturalstandard.com which they use a lot on the show and is a good resource for information about supplements. Catherine Ulbricht, the editor of the Natural Standard Research Center, says there is ample research and evidence on what works and what doesn’t.
For the second category, things that are done to your body, Dr. Guarneri says she sends her patients to acupuncture to help relieve inflammation and pain so they can exercise and rehab their hearts. She says the Hippocratic oath is “first do no harm,” and that’s what she’s doing. Dr. Novella says his job is to advise his patients to the best of his knowledge and he says the research shows that acupuncture does not work. He sees the benefit in having an hour of warm, personal therapy time, but sticking a needle in the skin does nothing, and there’s some risk to the use of the needle.
Dr. Oz says that’s very dismissive of Dr. Novella when there are millions of people who use acupuncture and think it works.
For the third category, the mind/body treatments like meditation, Dr. Novella wants to define what meditation is. He says it’s relaxation which we know reduces stress and then lowers your blood pressure. He’s fine with using it for stress reduction, but he doesn’t like when people make the leap to thinking it can help fight cancer too. That’s just mysticism.
Dr. Oz’s advice to everyone is to customize therapy for yourself. Figure out what makes sense for you. A bow-and-arrow approach, that targets exactly what you need and works for you is better than a ballistic missile approach that conventional medicine often uses. Patients don’t talk to their doctors about it because they think their doctors don’t know anything about it. Alternative medicine is in a grassroots stage right now, and he doesn’t want anyone to take anything away from us that works.
Dr. Oz took a brief time-out and showed us how a bunch of websites are pretending that he has endorsed their products. He says it’s infuriating and his lawyers send out stack of cease-and -desist letters every day!
Next he set the record straight on supplements by bringing Catherine Ulbricht back on the stage to discuss how her website grades supplements. For the first step, you should determine how long a supplement has been used. It’s safer to use things that have been around for a long time, or normally found in foods. Aspirin/willow bark is an example of this, as is ginger and green tea. Step number two is to determine the claims being made. If the claim is very specific it’s more likely to be accurate, but if it’s very broad then it’s more likely to be false. The third step is to determine the safety of a supplement, which you should do by discussing it with your doctor and by checking its grade on the Natural Standard website. Fish oil and glucosamine for example, have “A” grades on naturalstandard.com.
Dr. Oz says he never endorses a product, he only endorses information. Remember that the next time you see something that says it’s endorsed by Dr. Oz.
For the next segment, Dr. Oz discussed what triggers headaches. Certain scents like cleaning products, air fresheners, perfumes and even flowers can trigger headaches. If a scent is bothering you, rub a little peppermint oil on your temples to relieve the headache.
Weather can also trigger headaches. When the barometric pressure changes as a storm is coming in, it can spark electrical and chemical changes in your brain which causes a headache. Dr. Oz recommends taking a feverfew extract, 125mg a day for this problem.
Physical activity can also trigger headaches, and Dr. Oz recommends butterbur herbal extract, 75mg per day to combat that problem.
On the next segment, Doctor Oz discussed how secondhand shopping could be bad for your health. One lady bought a ceramic teapot at a thrift store, and the public health official tested it for lead and it flunked. It had a level of 9.1 and it should be 0. Evidently the lead in the colors can leach into the food. Whoops!
They shone a UV light on the pillow she bought, and it had bodily fluids on it. Yuck! As for the food chopper someone bought, the public health official said it is a roach motel. He recommends that anything you buy at a thrift shop, run it through the washer and dryer on high heat to kill any hitchhikers. Buy things made of wood, not upholstered. Small electronics and that sort of thing are all risky for having bugs or bug eggs inside. Gross!
In the last segment, we learned about the health benefits of apples. To summarize:
- Apples are rich in the carbohydrate pectin, which lowers LDL cholesterol by preventing cholesterol absorption.
- Adding apples to your diet can reduce your risk for asthma.
- Just one large apple makes up 20% of your daily fiber intake.