Complementary Alternative Therapies for Herps
©2000 Melissa Kaplan
alternative therapies (sometimes referred to as CAM, or complementary alternative
medicine) are those modalities that lay outside the current realm of conventional
medicine, both veterinary and human. Alternative therapies range from aromatherapy
to acupuncture, from meditation to massage, to herbs, supplements, and nutraceuticals.
The problem is that there is little hard research into the benefits of most of these treatment modalities. Worse, it is an area rife with charlatans and individuals who mean well but end up creating medical disasters. One example is in the case of nutritionists who do not do adequate testing - and looking at your saliva or hair is (with very few exceptions) about as effective as using a Ouija board to figure out what is wrong with you. The results range from no benefit/no harm, to destroyed stomach and intestinal linings and hypervitaminosis or hypermineralosis. Many herbs, vitamins and minerals impair the function of many drugs. If you take them together, you end up negating one, such as taking thyroid medication within 6 hours of taking an iron supplement.
There's also a lot of bad information out there, ranging from outright quackery ("My nutritionist said that drinking this herbal tea will cure my prostate cancer") to shoddy workmanship, such as the Kaiser-Permanent (Santa Rosa, CA) hand-out to someone with iron overload disease that says that taking vitamin C helps the body get rid of iron (in fact, taking vitamin C with iron supplements or eating high C foods when eating iron-containing foods enhances the body's uptake of iron, exactly the opposite of someone with critically high levels of iron needs!).
The medical school curriculum rarely includes a unit on nutrition; they certainly haven't added anything so radical as the study of herbs, nutriceuticals and aromatherapy! Thus, it is up to us as individuals to do our own research into the sparse but growing body of scientific literature on CAM and discuss them with our health care provider. As pet owners, we are equally responsible for doing the research and discussing them with our veterinarians if we are interested in using these things to help improve the health and quality of life for our pets.
The inclusion of any commercial sites below should not be taken as a recommendation of the companies products or services. Instead, they are there because I found the information presented on these sites to be useful in understanding what some of the alternatives are.
AVMA Position on
Drugs and Medications
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