For more information see…

New Resource for Herbal Medicine Users

If you’ve ever struggled to pronounce the name of an herb or herbal medicine, you’ll love a new resource called A Guide to Pronouncing Plant Names, by Judith Sims (2012), from the American Botanical Council (ABC). 

Why would you care? For one thing, lots of herbs have more than one common name. Black cohosh for example, is also called black snakeroot, bugbane, bugwort, rattleroot, rattletop, rattle weed, and macrotys, according to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements. So you’ll use the Latin name, instead? Fine, but which one? Actaea racemosa or Cimicifuga racemosa – and how in the world would you pronounce either if you had to ask for it at a health store?

The Pronouncing Guide is available in two forms. Both are on CD and both are priced at $30 (US).

  • The audio CD is described by the ABC as:  “A succinct and entertaining guide to the pronunciation of Latin plant binomials. Covering 230 plant names, this guide is a set of drills designed to help you learn the scientific names of plants quickly and feel comfortable pronouncing them.” Printed materials are also included.

  • The digital CD provides the same with “PDF for those who prefer a totally digital version,” according to the ABC.

In addition to the eStore where the ABC sells this Guide and other materials, you’ll find a wealth of other goodies including…

…the Herbal Library with the ABC’s quarterly journal, HerbalGram

…summaries of major herb research articles

…an interactive database of scientific research on herbals

…monographs (detailed reports, each on a single herb, that tell how it is used, what its side effects and contraindications are, what dosage is best, etc.)

…Commission E Monographs (reports from the highly regarded German government organization that evaluates the safety and effectiveness of herbs used as medicine)

…courses for those who want to learn more about herbs


…speakers bureau

and much more.

Want a sample?  The four links below will give you a pretty good idea of the type of information that’s available. And these are open to anyone visiting the site (no fee, no membership required).

* The ABC’s Therapeutic Monograph on an herbal cold remedy called Cold-fX®

* A guide to the meaning of herbal Terminology (words or terms used in herbal info)

* Clinical Guide to Elder Berry (an herbal flu remedy)

HerbClip: Black Tea Intake Improves Lipid Profile and Antioxidant Status

For anyone who is interested in the world of herbal medicine and wants to know more about how to use individual herbs or combinations of herbs medicinally, the ABC site is a keeper.

© 2012, all rights reserved.

What Makes an Alternative Medicine Source Credible (or Not)?


The wonderful thing about having access to information on the Internet is that everything you want to know or could ever want to know is “out there” somewhere. It may be easy or hard to find, depending on how obscure it is and how well you use search tools, but odds are the answer is there, somewhere.


And the not-so-wonderful thing about it is that everything is out there, whether it’s valid or false, useful or frivolous, sincere or scam. Sometimes it’s easy to brush off the baloney, weed out the wacko, and spot the scams. But not always.


That’s why it’s important to think about what signs to look for before you believe (or buy) what you find online.  Conventional health and medicine websites may display the HON (short for Health On the Net) Code  symbol, which tells you the site has gone through a fairly stringent vetting process and passed. I can’t recall seeing the HON Code on an AltMed site but if I found it on one, I’d consider that site trustworthy.


But even without such a clear cue, other signs can tip the balance toward or away from credibility. Here are a few of my “red flags.”

  • Too much hype. Enthusiasm is fine but when an email or post or website that raves too enthusiastically about how wonderful a supplement or treatment or product, it casts a big shadow of doubt. If the item – whatever it may be – is really THAT fantastic, why do you have to push it so fervently? Can’t it stand on its own merits?  If facts and evidence show it really does what the hype claims, that goes a lot further to convince me than shouting and touting it with slick sales spiels.


  • Selling. It’s disappointing to discover an otherwise promising report about a supplement, product or device, book or treatment is really just fancy packaging for a sales pitch. If the person or group that created that report weren’t selling the item, would they still praise it so highly? 


  • Secrets “they” don’t want you to know. If this really is true, how did this report manage to sneak past the mysterious “They” who don’t want us to know about it?  And how did the author of this article or email or web page get past “them” to discover this “secret” information? To me, that “secret” tag means “be skeptical.”


What are your red flags? What tells you that you can trust what you’re reading? Please share your comments and we’ll revisit this topic in the future.



© 2012, all rights reserved

Dr. Andrew Weil’s “Spontaneous Happiness” works for Jackie Dishner


Today brings several firsts for AltMedForYou – our first guest post, first book review, and first exchange of posts between blogs. We begin with our guest’s great review of a book by a giant in the field of alternative medicine. I hope you’ll enjoy this review as much as I did and I encourage you to visit the writer’s blog often. (You’ll find my article about positive visualization posted there today.)


GUEST BLOGGER  Jackie Dishner, author of BACKROADS & BYWAYS OF ARIZONA, is a freelance writer who specializes in design, self-help and travel. She writes for consumer magazines, trade publications and websites. She blogs at BIKE WITH JACKIE, where she posts inspirational messages and discusses her BIKE philosophy and its mind-body connection, which can lead you to spontaneous happiness, a topic Dr. Andrew Weil recently wrote about in his latest book. Jackie has the review for you here.

Spontaneous Happiness

By Andrew Weil, MD

282 pp. Little, Brown and Company, $27.99


If you think being a happy person means you have to smile 24/7, you can relax. In Spontaneous Happiness, Dr. Andrew Weil, one of the founders of integrative medicine and a professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson dissolves that fallacy.


Spontaneous happiness, he says is more about finding that middle ground, that sense of contentment, serenity, comfort, balance and resilience. You won’t have all of this all the time, and you don’t have to. Are you relieved?


You should be. In his book about happiness, the New York Times bestselling author – he’s written 12 books that deal with some form of integrative medicine – shares his theory about how you can achieve this emotional well-being.


Starting with his thoughts about why people are so depressed – Do you realize 1 in 10 of us here in the U.S., including our children, take one or more antidepressant drugs and that the World Health Organization predicts that by 2030 more people worldwide will be affected by depression than any other health condition? – Dr. Weil’s book goes on to offer solutions for your unhappiness. His prerogative would be that you make a few lifestyle changes, as opposed to filling another prescription. Yet, he doesn’t fully discount medication for those with extreme mental health issues, such as bi-polar disorder.



But he doesn’t hold back, either, when it comes to suggesting a depression epidemic is taking place that might have in fact been manufactured. Pharmaceutical companies, the big insurers, and corporate healthcare prosper and have huge incentive to keep the epidemic growing. More than 164 million antidepressant prescriptions were written in 2008, worth $9.6 billion in U.S. sales, he writes.


Dr. Weil cites various research and includes interviews with other integrative or alternative medicine practitioners. One, a Native American healer, says something as simple as gathering a circle of friends for support and prayer can do wonders for all dimensions of the human experience: physical, mental, social and spiritual.  


Among the many informative points, Dr. Weil addresses how physical disease can be tied to your emotions, the critical importance of physical activity, the importance of touch, and he also mentions visualization, breathe work, and his concern that technology is socially isolating us from each other.


The part I like best about this book is the “8-week Program for Optimal Well-Being” he walks you through at the end. After explaining the various types of alternative therapies you can do to connect with your own sense of contentment, serenity, comfort, balance and resilience, he gives you a plan to see it through. The program requires you to answer a lot of questions each week about your general health and lifestyle, followed by some very specific tasks to take care of your body, mind and spirit. His point is to get you to connect with where you really are in life right now so you can get where you really want to be.


Clearly, spontaneous happiness doesn’t happen overnight.


                                                       *   *   *

© 2012 by Jackie Dishner, all rights reserved.


Complementary and Alternative Medicine Index

What it is: The University of Maryland Medical Center’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Index. The UMMC Web site lets visitors search CAM topics by various categories and includes (on the top right side of the page) links to “Ask an Expert” as well as other general health resources.

Where it is:

What you’ll find there:  A LOT! A menu of topics on the left offers an amazing array of information including Condition, Depletion, Herb, Supplement Treatment, Condition Symptoms, Supplement Interactions, and more. Click one of the listed topics and the content box on the right side of the page provides links to further details.

For example, if you click the topic “Supplement Interaction,” the adjacent box shows you a list selection of supplements such as Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Betain, Carnitine, Coenzyme Q10, Quercetin, Red Yeast Rice, Vanadium, Vitamin K, and so on. Click on the supplement you’re interested in and the site will tell you what about any potential interactions such as from medications, chemotherapy, hormones, mineral oil, weight loss products, and more.

If you click on the “Conditions” topic, you’ll find information on everything from Acne, Alopecia and Angina to Viral hepatitis, Warts and Wounds.  Click any of the listed conditions and you’ll find information including: 

  • an Introduction explaining the basics about the condition, how many people have it, and so on
  • Signs and Symptoms  
  • What Causes It? (If no one knows the cause, UMMC tells you that and explains what is known)
  • Risk Factors
  • What to Expect at Your Provider’s Office
  • Treatment Options
    • Conventional medicine treatments such as over-the-counter and prescription drugs and surgery and other procedures
    • Complementary and Alternative Therapies such as nutrition, vitamins and other dietary supplements, herbal therapies, homeopathy, etc.
  • Other Considerations such as pregnancy, prognosis and complications. This section also tells you when the information on this page was last reviewed and by whom.
  • Supporting Research, a comprehensive list of medical journal articles and references used in the preparation of this page

They even include a survey section at the bottom of the pages where site visitors can rate how helpful they thought an  article was and add comments if they wish.

Recommendation:  This site is a keeper. Invest a few minutes to browse the site to see what’s there, save it in your Favorite Bookmarks and visit whenever you have an AltMed, medicine, or general health question.

(c) 2009, all rights reserved.

Sloan-Kettering Integrative Medicine

Sloan-Kettering Integrative Medicine

What it is:  the Web site for the Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The Service was established in 1999 “to complement mainstream medical care and address the emotional, social, and spiritual needs of patients and families.” 

Where it is

What you’ll find there:  Many excellent resources on alternative medicine.

Most useful: the “About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products” searchable database of information on herbs, vitamins and other supplements. Entries range from from “714-X” and “Acai Berry” to “Zyflamed” and “Zymactive.” The database is divided into two parts. Click one tab to see the healthcare professionals version; the other to read the consumer version which is written in layman-friendly language, with each report broken down into sections that explain how the herb or supplement works, what it is used for, what the evidence from research says about the supplement, cautions (“Do Not Take If”), side effects, and special points.  At the end, you’ll find each entry includes a line noting when the entry was last updated so you’ll know how current the information is.

The Integrative Medicine site also includes a selection of clear, understandable videos clips in which Sloan-Kettering doctors explain four topics:  acupuncture (15 minutes), herbs and other botanicals (30 minutes), complementary therapies, and introduction to integrative medicine (3 minutes).

Recommendation:  Bookmark this site. The database is a must-check stop for anyone who is planning to try a new supplement or who needs the latest update on something you’ve been taking for a while.


© 2009, all rights reserved

(c) 2009, all rights reserved.



What it is:  the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, is a division of the National Institutes of Health, “The Nation’s Medical Research Agency,” from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. To quote the site, NCCAM …”conducts and supports research, trains CAM researchers, and provides information about CAM.” 

Where it is

What you’ll find there:   Information about what CAM (complementary and alternative medicine – that’s the CAM in NCCAM) is; research based information on specific therapies such as acupuncture, milk thistle and other herbs, the latest studies on alternative medicine remedies and treatments such as a January 2009 report on acupuncture for migraine headaches and a study that showed grapeseed extract may help neurodegenerative diseases, and much more.   NCCAM is a conservative, reliable resource for anyone interested in alternative medicine. 

Recommendation:  Bookmark this site and visit often.

(c) 2009, all rights reserved.