Alternative Medicine Wordle

On this Memorial Day (in the US), as we honor those who have fallen in wars and we take a day off from work to reflect on the past and honor their memories, AltMedForYou brings you a lighter topic.


Today’s theme for the WordCount 2012 Blogathon challenges bloggers to create a Wordle “word cloud” image composed of words that define the blog or that are used in the blog. Users choose the layout, colors, fonts, and other design elements that best suit the blog.


Here’s our AltMedForYou Wordle for today:





It’s interesting to see the same image presented vertically, too:



Alternative Medicine Thoughts in Haiku…


Today is Haiku Theme Day for bloggers who are participating in the 2012 Blogathon


My first thought was “haiku on an alternative medicine blog?  Seriously?” I can’t recall ever seeing the art of haiku blended with the concepts of alternative medicine… but since both are about the beauty and wonder of nature, perhaps this is not as unlikely a pairing as it first seems. 


The form of haiku, when written in English, is simple enough: a first line of five syllables, a second line of seven, and a third line of five, for a total of seventeen. And the object, purpose, or goal of haiku is to capture and distill into those seventeen syllables the purest possible essence of a moment, an experience, a phenomenon, or a thought.


As a former poetry editor who judged haiku contests in times long past but has not dabbled in the poetic arts for many years, this theme day posed a unique challenge.


I look forward to seeing your comments. Thank you for stopping by today and be sure to visit again tomorrow when this blog returns to more traditional ways of exploring the world of alternative medicine. 


*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

(on herbal therapies)

fragile flowers soothe

jangled nerves and angry skin

gentle healing herbs …



 first to be planted

as settlers conquered the west

herbs for medicines …



*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

(on acupuncture)




               tiny needles rouse 

                    powerful healing genie

                                life-force energy…



*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

 (on nature’s vitamins)


  Assorted fruit 


bright colors wrapping

tempting fragrance and flavor

fruit-borne vitamins …




*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

(on medical practice)

    MP900321070[1]open western eyes

to ancient eastern healing 

health must integrate …


*  *  *




healing universe

grows when alternative is

mainstream medicine …









© 2012, all rights reserved (haiku and layout)


(Images courtesy of Microsoft

Menu Medicine: Oranges May Slash Stroke Risk in Women


You know the old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away…”  New research shows oranges can be powerful too.


Studies have shown that high vitamin C intake and high intake of fruits and vegetables was linked to lower risk of stroke. Now new research shows that flavanones, a sub-type of flavonoid antioxidants found in oranges and other citrus fruits, also plays a role.


Women who consume high amounts of flavanones were 19 percent less likely to suffer ischemic stroke (the type caused by a blood clot) than women who consumed the lowest levels of flavanones, a new study reports.


Lead author Aedin Cassidy, PhD, professor of nutrition at the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School in Norwich (England, in the United Kingdom), explained in a news release that “flavonoids are thought to provide some of that protection through several mechanisms, including improved blood vessel function and an anti-inflammatory effect."


The researchers on Cassidy’s team analyzed data collected from the more than 69,000 nurses in the USA who provided their diet and health information for the Nurse’s Health Study. Oranges accounted for 82 percent of flavanone intake, and grapefruit accounted for 14 percent.


Does that mean women at risk of ischemic stroke should drink more orange juice or eat more oranges?  That’s not clear yet.


As is often the case that note a connection between a certain type of food and a health problem, more studies will have to be done before we know for sure or make recommendations or tell women at risk of ischemic stroke they should make sure their diets include oranges or orange juice, or tell them how much OJ or oranges to consume and how often.


The same applies to those who prefer grapefruit – but be sure to check with your doctor before you increase the amount of grapefruit or grapefruit juice you consume because, despite its other benefits, grapefruit can interact with some medicines. (See our explanation in a previous Q & A column.)


See American Stroke Association website for resources and more information about stroke.


Want to read the study? See: Dietary Flavonoids and Risk of Stroke in Women, published online before print February 23, 2012 in the journal Stroke.



© 2012, all rights reserved

Drink to Your Health (Part 2): BLACK TEA

In an upcoming segment of the Drink to Your Health series, we’ll take a look at the many health benefits of green tea but first, let’s take a look at what black tea can do.


As the name suggests, black teas have a darker color and heavier or richer flavor that’s more appealing in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other Western countries. According to The Tea Association of the USA, Americans drink more than 3 billion gallons of tea, about 80 percent of which is black tea.


It’s a great drink for the nutrition conscious and weight watchers because tea has no sugar (for all practical purposes, it contains zero calories), no fat, no sodium, and no carbonation. It’s a soothing yet refreshing drink whether it is served hot or cold and it can be enjoyed plain or with milk, lemon, sugar, honey or other flavorings.


New research published in the May 2012 edition of the journal Preventive Medicine reported the findings of a small (just 87 people ranging in age from 25 to 60) clinical trial to see how black tea affected heart health. People who drank just three cups a day of black tea for 12 weeks had 18.4 percent lower blood sugar (fasting glucose levels) and 36 percent lower triglycerides.  Their ratio of bad (LDL) to good (HDL) cholesterol improved.


And there are many more studies that showed how black tea helps health.

Here’s a small sample:

  • 44 percent reduction in heart attack (myocardial infarction) risk in people who drank one or more cups of tea each day, according to a 1999 Harvard study.


  • 42 percent lower risk of skin cancer in people who drank iced black tea with citrus peel, according to a 2001 study published in BioMed Central’s journal BMC Dermatology.


  • 11 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) in people who drank five cups of black tea each day while they also followed a moderately low fat diet, according to a 2003 US Department of Agriculture study.


  • Significantly lower risk of the most common type of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, people who drank hot black tea, a 2000 study reported in the journal Cancer Epidemiology , Biomarkers & Prevention. 


  • Other research shows black tea aids diabetes management, helps reduce allergic response, helps curb weight gain (in animal studies), reduces risk of stroke and heart disease, combats prostate, colorectal, lung, and other types of cancer, and helps other health issues as well.


On top of all that, black tea eases stress. So, whether you prefer it iced or hot, plain or sweetened, enjoy a health-helping “cuppa” daily or oftener.




© 2012, all rights reserved

Drink to Your Health (Part 1) — COFFEE


Lately, we’ve seen lots of good news about studies that show popular beverages are as good for us as they are good tasting and pleasant to drink. In this Drink to Your Health series, we’ll take a look at what health benefits research is finding for water, green tea, black tea, red wine, and other drinks.


Today, we take a look at coffee. Not long ago, coffee was considered an unhealthy drink, a guilty  pleasure people indulge but apologized for with embarrassed remarks such as, “I know I really shouldn’t but … ”  People who truly enjoyed coffee didn’t want to give it up, no matter what the prevailing health theories said at the time.


But in the last few years, coffee has been transformed from villain to bystander to good guy.


Now research shows those java-licious cups of Joe are loaded with antioxidants that help protect against many diseases including:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • cancers (several types)
  • cardiovascular problems
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
  • liver disease


And the latest study shows people who drink coffee every day live longer than those who don’t. The project began in 1995 with approximately 400,000 people aged 50 to 71 who did not have heart disease or history of stroke at that time, and whose daily calorie intake was not too high or too low.


What the study found:

When the researchers compared people who drank just one cup of coffee each day to people who drank no coffee, the coffee drinkers turned out to be less likely to die (of all causes). For women, death risk dropped by 5 percent; in men it was 6 percent lower.


However, few drank only one cup. The study found that most people drank two to three cups of coffee each day. Compared to coffee abstainers, women in that two-to-three-cups-a-day group were 13 percent less likely to die and men were 10 percent less likely.


The greatest longevity difference was found in women who drank four to five cups of coffee daily. Their death risk was a stunning 16 percent lower than people who didn’t drink coffee.


In addition to living longer, the researchers also noted that coffee drinkers’ chances of dying from heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, diabetes, infections, injuries, and accidents was lower than those who didn’t drink coffee.


Naturally, everyone wants to know why. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for more research to get an answer. Researchers say they don’t know yet.


They also don’t have enough information at this point to say whether coffee was the cause of longer lifespan or merely an associated factor. It may be easier to see the different if you picture longevity as a car speeding down the highway. They know coffee is in the car but they don’t yet know whether coffee is driving the car or merely a hitchhiker tagging along for the ride.


But even though we don’t have all the answers, coffee lovers will be happy to know they can relax and enjoy another cup of their favorite (healthy) brew.


Want to read the coffee-longevity study? See Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality, published in the May 17, 2012, New England Journal of Medicine.


For other articles about coffee’s health benefits, see:

Say it’s so, Joe: The potential health benefits – and drawbacks – of coffee, Coffee and Your Health, WebMD,

* Coffee and Health: What does the research say?

* Why coffee protects against diabetes,

* Coffee drinkers may live longer, study suggests. USA TODAY


© 2012, all rights reserved

Menu Medicine: Oregano in Pizza and Pasta Sauce Kills Prostate Cancer Cells


Good news for men who love pizza and spicy pasta sauce. Those two favorite foods may help fight prostate cancer.


We already knew tomato sauce appears to reduce the risk of cancer. And we knew oregano, the herb that gives many Italian foods their classic spicy flavor, has many health benefits too including fighting bacteria and inflammation.


Now, new research indicates oregano contains a key component that helps kill cancer cells.


Long Island University (LIU) researchers presented their study’s preliminary findings at Experimental Biology 2012, an annual gathering of six scientific societies, that was held in San Diego, California, this April.


Previous research had reported that pizza cut cancer risk but researchers thought this effect was due to the lycopene in tomato sauce on pizza, explains LIU researcher Supriya Bavadekar, PhD, RPh. Her team focused on carvacrol, a constituent of oregano, and found that carvacrol promotes cancer cell “apoptosis,” which in plain English means cancer cell suicide.


“If the study continues to yield positive results, this super-spice may represent a very promising therapy for patients with prostate cancer” without the toxic side effects that accompany current prostate cancer treatments, Dr. Bavadekar said in an LIU news release.


Best of all, pizza as preventive medicine would be a great tasting treatment.


© 2012, all rights reserved

Red Pepper Curbs Appetite and Burns Calories


Yesterday, we told you about a study that found a weight loss benefit in black pepper, the same black pepper that many of us buy at the grocery store or use in restaurants to add flavor to foods. Today’s report is not a news item but instead is a reminder that red pepper has weight loss benefits too, specifically ground cayenne pepper.


Cayenne is a popular ingredient in many spicy recipes and, like black pepper, it’s available for purchase at grocery stores in the spice section. If you’re going to try adding more black pepper to your meals, consider adding cayenne too.


Last April, Purdue University researchers reported this simple red pepper can help curb appetite and burn calories. Its key is capsaicin, the component in some chili peppers that makes them taste and feel “hot.”


Before the Purdue study, there had been other research that showed capsaicin in red chili peppers aids weight loss, but their findings were based on consuming more red peppers than most Americans would be comfortable with adding to their daily diets. But the Purdue study was based on an intake of only one gram – just half a teaspoon – which most would find very do-able, even those who don’t like spicy foods. 


The study of 25 people who were not overweight included 12 who did not like spicy foods and 13 who did. Those who normally didn’t eat red pepper were less hungry for fatty, salty and sweet foods, and less hungry overall. And both groups – those who liked it and would normally eat more than 1 gram, and those who didn’t like it and would normally eat less than half a gram – burned more calories because red pepper raised their core body temperatures.


It’s the taste and heat of red pepper that triggers appetite suppression and “thermogenic” (core body heat producing) response. As lead researcher Richard Mattes, MPH, PhD, RD, distinguished professor of foods and nutrition, said in Purdue’s news release about the research, “That burn in your mouth is responsible for that effect.”


Want to read the full text of the study? See: The effects of hedonically acceptable red pepper doses on thermogenesis and appetite



© 2012, all rights reserved

Coming Back to Life…

As the old Big Bands song said, It’s been a long, long time…  But now, at last, Alternative Medicine For You is coming back to life.


To help start the ball rolling, this blog will be participating for the first time ever in the annual WordCount Blogathon (learn more here: The 2012 WordCount Blogathon), starting May 1, 2012.


Tomorrow, you’ll see a report on a September 2011 study on the effectiveness of saw palmetto, a popular herb that many men use to relieve the problem symptoms of enlarged prostate.

During this month, other topics we’ll cover include:

  • Acupuncture for migraine pain


  • Cancer five-year survival rates dramatically higher for cancer survivors treated with integrative medicine


  • Medicinal food research news including olive juice for antioxidants, chili pepper for cholesterol reduction, prunes for osteoporosis


  • Verdict on vitamin E: to take or not to take, that is the question


  • Resveratrol related compound in red wine and grapes wine fights fat


There’s so much news to share, so many important developments in alternative medicine to report, so many good sites to link… it’s going to be a great month!


Stay tuned … and stay healthy!


© 2012, all rights reserved