Posts Tagged ‘evidence based medicine’
This time of year is always an exciting one for us here at Vintage Remedies as we finalize and release our newest courses and finish planning the rest of the year’s releases. Just when I think we cannot possibly imagine a new program that is good enough to join our already stellar list of programs, our amazing team here at VR comes up with another perfect idea. The new program for early 2013 is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Here’s why:
Have you ever wondered about the health claims of various foods? We’ve all been told that spicy foods alleviate congestion and carrots improve eyesight. But, can artichokes heal an inflamed gut? Can foods treat acne? Or ear infections? Can chocolate reduce hypertension? While countless books and programs exist to tell us how to eat and which diets are ideal, most ignore the additional healing benefits of many real foods. The notion of food as medicine is typically only referring to prevention, but extends much further. Food really can be used as medicine. The Pharmacology of Food, our newest program, focuses on the healing, medicinal actions of over 130 foods that are unrelated to basic nutrition or vitamin/mineral content. Learn about the chemical compounds that naturally occur in food and how those impact the body and over 50 different health conditions.
The Pharmacology of Food includes 17 units, a textbook and a food encyclopedia (both pictured above), plus The Vintage Remedies Guide to Bread, all full student benefits and discounts, and 12 months of access to our online learning center. Full enrollment cost will be $345.
The new course will be available for pre-enrollment beginning this Friday, January 25th. It will officially be released March 1 and will ship out that week. You can pre-order at any time after this Friday, but if you get your order in before midnight February 8th, you’ll be able to save $50 on enrollment, making the whole program only $295 AND receive free copies of The Kitchen Herbal, which also focuses on culinary healing through kitchen herbs (value $9.95) and Real Foods on a Budget, which provides tips and helpful information on saving money while eating healthy foods (value $10.95).
To answer your first question, no, this program does not adhere to any one dietary principle. It actually does not cover nutrition at all. You won’t be hearing anything about optimal diets or healthy eating, and it can be used by anyone already familiar with basic nutrition, regardless of dietary preferences. So, if you love the principles of the vegetarian diet, WAP diet, Paleo diet, or have food allergies, you’ll still benefit from this amazing new resource. Instead of covering basic nutrition such as vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients, it focuses on the other chemical compounds found within foods that clinical studies have shown can offer healing benefits. If you want a good introductory guide to basic healthy eating, we recommend adding the Vintage Remedies Guide to Real Food, which makes a great supplement to the course.
Got any more questions? Comment below or contact the Vintage Remedies office for info.
For months, we’ve received your requests for a program that covers not only herbalism, but also homeopathy, flower remedies, hydrotherapy, enzyme therapy, and other natural health sciences that are not strictly botanical. We had a similar course years ago, but discontinued it to offer some other programs. So, at your request, we’ve modified the program to make it more friendly to the home health care provider (that’s YOU!) and are releasing this modified version of the Holistic Wellness course – today!
This program includes the Family Herbalist course as a foundation. So, you can enroll in the entire program or you can upgrade if you are a current FH student or a graduate. It contains three modules and an impressive line-up of complementary therapies that you can read about on the website here.
In keeping with our tradition, the new program will be offered at a discount for the earliest new students, so if you enroll or upgrade before midnight January 21st, you can save $100! Got questions? You’re welcome to post them here or you can email the VR office.
Ear infections (otitis media) are serious business, whether you’re a parent or practitioner. Approximately 75% percent of children have one by the age of three and almost half of them have 3 or more ear infections by that age. By the age of 7, 93% of children have experienced an ear infection. This led to a total of 8.8 million ear infections in children during the year 2006, and most of those were in children 7 and under. These infections cost those of us in the US approx $5 billion dollars annually to address, and are the primary cause for childhood antibiotic prescription.
In fact, the typical situation involves an upper respiratory infection, which leads to a visit to the primary care provider. This in turn results in a peek into the ears and, quite often, a diagnosis of an ear infection as well. In some cases, the ear infection causes pain, and the child’s complaints spur the visit to the care provider. Regardless, this diagnosis usually results in a prescription for an antibiotic, and in many cases, the antibiotic of choice is stronger than the drug used to treat the previous infection. The prescription begins and within a few days, the symptoms subside and parents once again are increasingly grateful for the benefits of modern medicine.
While this scene plays out all across our country, many parents don’t realize that this standard practice is in direct conflict with evidence-based medicine, AAP guidelines, and the standard of care for ear infections across the world. Even fewer parents realize that this standard practice may be causing our children more harm than benefit.
Here’s the catch. Actually, there are a couple:
1. Ear infections are not always correctly diagnosed. According to the AAP, “The diagnosis of AOM, particularly in infants and young children, is often made with a degree of uncertainty.” (AOM = acute otitis media) Each year, thousands of prescriptions for antibiotics are written for conditions that never were ear infections.
2. Studies show that antibiotics don’t have a benefit in most ear infections. The vast majority of ear infections resolve on their own without antibiotic treatment. This takes a couple of days in many cases, and can coincide with antibiotic treatments, leading many parents to believe the antibiotic is actually curing the infection, furthering the belief that they won’t go away on their own.
3. Because antibiotics are overused in ear infections, we’re now having to use stronger drugs than we could have used in previous generations. This means more side effects and more resistance. According to the AAP, “Greater resistance among many of the pathogens that cause AOM has fueled an increase in the use of broader-spectrum and generally more expensive antibacterial agents.” For more info about the very real risks of antibiotic overuse, see here.
4. Antibiotics don’t relieve pain or distress. They will not make our little ones feel better sooner. Pain relief treatments are responsible for that. Reducing the inflammation and the accumulation of fluid will make our little ones feel better; an antibiotic does neither of those things. However, a study published in Pediatrics in 2003 does show that an herbal ear oil treatment can help to relieve the inflammation, reduce pain, and reduce the duration of the illness, faring much better than the antibiotic test group.
5. The AAP has clearly recommended since 2004 that practitioners use the “wait and see” approach for most children. Given that 61% of children naturally have decreased symptoms within 24 hours, with or without antibiotics, and that 75% of children have a decrease in symptoms within 7 days, the official recommendation is that antibiotic use be delayed for the first 48-72 hours in most children. This will dramatically reduce the use of needless antibiotics, reserving them for the small percentage of children that would receive the most benefit. Additionally, studies show that immediate antibiotic treatment does little to reduce the duration of the infection and does nothing to reduce pain or distress in the child.
So here’s the crux of the problem – why does this matter? So what if antibiotics don’t work on most ear infections and we’re using stronger antibiotics than ever before? Parents need to feel like they’re doing something and this gives the parent comfort. And after all, some ear infections do need antibiotics.
The problem is – antibiotics have risks. In fact, the risks of antibiotic treatment, according to several studies, outweighs the potential benefit. According to the studies, initiating antibiotic use at the first visit may reduce the symptoms by 1 day in between 5% and 14% of children. However, it will cause adverse effects in 5% – 10% of children, it can cause infrequent but serious side effects, and it increases the risks of antibiotic resistance. These side effects are numerous and can lead to chronic health concerns. When it takes between 7 and 20 prescriptions for 1 child to benefit, and each of those prescriptions have clear risks, the overall situation just isn’t worth it. That, coupled with the success of wait and see approaches in European countries, played a role in prompting the AAP to make those recommendations years ago.
So the keys for ear infection management include: prevention (breastfeeding!), obtaining an accurate diagnosis or having clear conversations about the degree of certainty with a diagnosis, focusing treatment measures on comfort and the natural options that have clear records of success (many natural options do not have clear records of success and some are risky), and keeping an eye on the infection for the first few days to seek advanced help if indicated. Not only does this benefit our own children, it helps to reduce the overall antibiotic load, reducing our community risks of antibiotic resistance.
NIH Pub. No. 97-4216 July 2002
Gates GA. Cost-effectiveness considerations in otitis media treatment. Otolaryngol Head Neck Sur. April 1996. 114 (4): 525-530
Soni, A. Ear Infections (Otitis Media) in Children (0-17): Use and Expenditures, 2006. Statistical Brief #228. December 2008. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD
Rosenfeld RM, Vertrees JE, Carr J, et al. Clinical efficacy of antimicrobial drugs for acute otitis media: metaanalysis of 5400 children from thirty-three randomized trials. J Pediatr.1994;124 :355– 367
Del Mar C, Glasziou P, Hayem M. Are antibiotics indicated as initial treatment for children with acute otitis media? A meta-analysis. BMJ.1997;314 :1526– 1529
Glasziou PP, Del Mar CB, Hayem M, Sanders SL. Antibiotics for acute otitis media in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev.2000;4 :CD000219
Rosenfeld RM, Kay D. Natural history of untreated otitis media. In: Rosenfeld RM, Bluestone CD, eds. Evidence-Based Otitis Media. 2nd ed. Hamilton, ON, Canada: BC Decker Inc; 2003:180–198
Subcommittee on Management of Acute Otitis Media Diagnosis and Management of Acute Otitis Media Pediatrics Vol. 113 No. 5 May 1, 2004; 1451 -1465
One of my favorite things about the new essential oil line launched by J&M Botanicals earlier this month is that I now personally have a steady supply of high quality, organic essential oils to use. This means that when I may have previously turned to an herb or supplement to solve a problem, the nearest thing for me to grab is now more likely to be an essential oil. My purse is always stocked with peppermint, ylang ylang, red mandarin, bergamot, lavender, and lime essential oils and the uses for this handful of oils seems to be endless. Here’s my top 5 for peppermint:
1. Headaches. My job requires a lot of travel. I really enjoy traveling, so I frequently find myself on a plane just for fun as well. While I may have learned to sleep in just about any space, the time zone changes coupled with chatty fellow passengers can sometimes lead to headaches. Fortunately, according to clinical studies, peppermint oil can be very effective when it comes to treating tension headaches. For example, in this study the peppermint oil test group reported significant reductions in the intensity of headaches within 15 only minutes of a topical application of a heavily diluted peppermint essential oil, and the researchers concluded that there was no significant difference between the benefits of the oil and test group that received 1,000mg of acetaminophen! While we know that even occasional use of acetaminophen can damage the liver, topical peppermint oil is a much safer (and more pleasant!) alternative.
2. Energizing. Whether you’re traveling or at home, a lack of energy can quickly ruin your plans. When I’m feeling sluggish, I diffuse a drop or two of peppermint oil throughout the room for an energizing boost. The scent is awakening and refreshing.
3. Nausea. The peppermint plant has historically been used to promote digestion and alleviate various digestive complaints, including nausea. The concentrated oil can be diffused throughout the air and can even alleviate nausea. The best way to do this is to diffuse 2-3 drops throughout a room, where it has been found to be effective.
4. Topical Relief. When applied topically (diluted, of course), peppermint oil can be cooling for inflammatory conditions such as hives or poison ivy. The refreshing, cooling feeling of topical peppermint oil is not recommended for large parts of the body, but 1-2 drops can be soothing when applied as a spot treatment, especially after being diluted in a teaspoon or so of a nourishing oil such as coconut.
5. Colds and Flu. Because it contains menthol, many believe that peppermint oil can help to thin mucus, breaking up a cough. This key ingredient forms the basis for popular over the counter petroleum based cough rubs. Studies support this use as peppermint and eucalyptus oils have been shown to help promote clearer breathing in older children and adults with colds. For best results, diffuse 1-3 drops of the oil throughout a room.
One important thing to remember is that peppermint oil is extremely potent and should always be diluted before any topical application. We teach our students that topical solutions should never exceed 3% for products that will be used on a regular basis. Peppermint oil is such a potent and strong substance, 3% provides more than enough of the active compounds required for effectiveness. Increasing the solution probably won’t provide any additional benefits–assuming you’re beginning with a high quality and pure oil–but it could lead to skin sensitization, as acknowledged here.
Not a fan of peppermint oil? Aromatherapists (such as myself) have found that spearmint oil, which comes from a similar plant, can have many of the same benefits as peppermint oil. It’s more suitable for use with pregnant women and children because it’s milder, and it’s fresh, pleasing scent may be more welcoming than the stronger peppermint oil. Whatever your preference, you can find high quality and organic peppermint and spearmint oils at J&M Botanicals.
This is a post I’ve wanted to write for many years now, but haven’t. I keep putting it off because I know it will come as unpleasant to many, but after several recent events the staff and I have encountered, we’re aware that the issue isn’t going away and this information needs to be said.
This is a post about aromatherapy. More specifically, it’s a post about the SAFE and effective use of essential oils – particularly in the States. You see, aromatherapy, as we know it, is a really new area of science. It originated in the 1920s in France. While aromatic oils from plants have been used therapeutically for millennia, these highly potent chemical extracts have only been used in the US for a few decades. So, naturally, with a field of science so new, it makes sense to turn to its place of origin for the widest array of evidence based information about its proper use.
In our Clinical Master Herbalist course, we rely upon such textbooks for the program. These include original research and case studies conducted at hospitals and physicians’ offices in locations where aromatherapy is accepted as a normal part of medical care. In the US, however, the practice is still very fringe and not used widely, neither is it studied as in depth.
These textbooks and experts, backed by large bodies of scientific evidence are able to best tell us how to use essential oils for safe and effective results. One of the things they tell us is that essential oils – with very, very few exceptions – are not to be used “neat” or undiluted on the skin. They are also not to be taken internally, again with very few exceptions, many of which require direct medical supervision or care. These pioneers of the field that have been studying the chemistry of essential oils for decades are not confused about the quality of a good oil. They’re not talking about adulterated oils or low grade oils. And they’re not recommending “therapeutic-grade” or similarly certified oils – designations that are essentially developed by the marketing departments of popular direct-sales brands here in the States. They’re talking about high quality organic oils that are so potent that they must be diluted before use on the skin and should not be ingested due to their chemical purity.
The reason for this is that these oils are not liquid equivalents of whole herbs. They’re not extracts that are already diluted in alcohol, glycerin or another substance like we use for herbal remedies. They’re concentrated chemical portions of the whole herb that have been removed directly from the plants for use in natural medicine. They’re not only safer when inhaled or diluted for topical application – they’re usually most effective when used that way. We know this to be true because we have vast amounts of scientific evidence over many years verifying this as the ideal use of the substances.
Many direct-sales or MLM companies exist in the States that are telling us otherwise. They say their oils are so potent/pure that they can be used undiluted on the skin or internally – a claim that is not even logical as the more potent/pure an oil, the less suitable for either application it would be. Our educational programs have always sided with evidence based medicine. We’re strict about that, and through the years have not always been popular for that stance. However, we’re also confident that we’re providing a valuable service with such information, enabling parents to use natural health safely and effectively in their homes. Our families are not guinea pigs, so why subject them to unverified and inaccurate recommendations hoping for the best, when we have large bodies of evidence that show us how to get reliable results without risking their safety?
Why bring up this topic now? Because in addition to the years of frustration of watching well intended consumers purchase overpriced oils to use incorrectly and dangerously in their homes, we’re now hearing reports of harm associated with these risks. Most recently, we read a heartbreaking post on our VR forums about a miscarriage suspected to be a result of consumption of oils that are not to be consumed internally – even when not pregnant. We’re deeply saddened at this news and don’t want to see these situations increase in number.
So please, regardless of what you’re told otherwise, always check the validity of claims given to you about any natural health option you’re considering – whether it be essential oils, whole herbal preparations, or something else. Insist upon sticking to evidence based information for your family’s sake.
Because they’re not guinea pigs; they’re priceless and irreplaceable.