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Updated: 14 Jan 2004

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Alternative Health

For information on environmental concerns, organic food, our modern food & meat supply, food safety, and toxicology, see: CBTL Health & Medicine: First Aid & Safety

Health Information: Fact from Fiction.

Information on alternative medicine can be full of quackery -- false and highly misleading claims to make money off of people's desperation and ignorance. However, the same thing has been said about the "big drug companies" and many conventional medical practices as well. Since everything needs to be paid for and everyone has something to sell,
for a layperson, is there any way to determine fact from fiction at all?

Yes. The sites below are some of the best for alternative health information, but you need to decide for yourself. 10 Things To Know About Evaluating Medical Resources, CBTL's Who Can You Trust and Quackwatch can help train you to have a critical and objective eye for evaluating any health information you come across--be it on the web, in the news, books, articles, tv, ads, infomercials, wherever. Also, no information can substitute for examinations and consultations with a doctor.


The CBTL Health & Medicine guidepost is for informational purposes only.

    Popular National Media Programs:

  • Radio: The People's Pharmacy - from the Natl. Public Radio show on home remedies (NOTE: many unproven and non-scientific, but also some useful information, so as always, read critically) Features: "Is Your Favorite Remedy Safe?", articles, pharmacy questions, herbs, home remedy and vitamin questions, herb library, drug library, home remedies, in-depth guides, radio program archive, "Ask People's Pharmacy", and more.
  • WebMD - one of the better commercial all-in-one sites on the web--and with an alternative health focus. Offers patient advocate Dr. Dean Ornish, MD's - Lifestyle section, condition index, tools, and many other features.
  • Radio: Zorba Paster On Your Health - popular Wisconsin Public Radio show.
  • Prevention Magazine - highly commercial with lots of distracting pop up ads. Content on eating healthy, natural remedies, family health, diet, weight loss, etc.

Drugs, Supplements, Herbals:

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Look up information by treatment, supplements, therapy and by disease or condition; frequently asked questions; alerts and advisories, fact sheets; and links to other resources. The CCAM was established by the National Institutes of Health in 1993 through Congressional mandate to acknowledge other treatment possibilities outside of the generally accepted medical standards of care. For consumers and practitioners. Also: Tell Your Doctor If You're Taking Herbal Products (or other supplements) - pdf file. FDA Warnings & Safety Information
 

WholeHealthMD
"Developed by board-certified doctors and specialists to provide consumers with professional guidance on the many benefits of integrative medicine." Look up vitamins and supplements for their claims, real benefits or otherwise, latest research, drug interactions and more. The Healing Center has approximately 100 chronic conditions, ranging from acne to weight loss. Each ailment has a message from a physician, basic information, symptoms, causes, and treatment. The Healing Kitchen contains recipes to help manage ailments. The Reference Library has information on chronic conditions, integrative therapies, supplements, foods, and a glossary. Also: a News and Perspective section that discusses the latest research from around the world.

HerbMed
Scientific information about medicinal herbs. The Alternative Medicine Foundation presents plain English summaries of Medline research article abstracts (with links to the original), traditional and folk use reports. Includes warnings about toxicity, adverse effects, drug interactions/contraindications; preparations; mixtures; and mechanism of action. There are also links to pictures of the herbs and other useful information.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Information Resource: About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products
A database (geared toward professionals --lay version coming soon) to help the medical community identify the possible drug interactions and adverse effects of herbs and supplements their patients are taking along with their prescribed drugs and treatments.

WebMD: Drugs &amp Herbs
Ask NOAH: Alternative Health & Medicine (New York Online Access to Health)
Ask NOAH: Herbal
DrugDigest.com
RxList: Alternatives
About.com's Indexes:
"Herbs for Health" & "Alternative Medicine"


General

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Look up information by treatment, supplements, therapy and by disease or condition; frequently asked questions; alerts and advisories, fact sheets; and links to other resources. The CCAM was established by the National Institutes of Health in 1993 through Congressional mandate to acknowledge other treatment possibilities outside of the generally accepted medical standards of care. For consumers and practitioners. Also: Anesthesiologists Warn: If You're Taking Herbal Products (or other supplements) / Tell Your Doctor Before Surgery (pdf file).

WholeHealthMD
"Developed by board-certified doctors and specialists to provide consumers with professional guidance on the many benefits of integrative medicine." Look up vitamins and supplements, treatments and therapies, The Healing Center has approximately 100 chronic conditions, ranging from acne to weight loss. Each ailment has a message from a physician, basic information, symptoms, causes, and treatment. The Healing Kitchen contains recipes to help manage ailments. The Reference Library has information on chronic conditions, integrative therapies, supplements, foods, and a glossary. Also: a News and Perspective section that discusses the latest research from around the world.

U. of Pittsburgh's Alternative Health HomePage
Covers various forms of alternative health care. It links to sources of information on unconventional, unorthodox, unproven, or alternative, complementary, innovative, integrative therapies. Includes practitioners' directories.

Alternative Medicine: Ask NOAH
Coverage includes: "The Basics", Acupuncture, Alexander Technique, Apitherapy, Aromatherapy, Ayurvedic, Chiropractic, Electrical Therapies, Herbal, Homeopathy, Macrobiotics, Massage, Natural Hygiene, Naturopathic, Qi Gong, Reflexology, and Therapeutic. Also alternative therapies for specific health conditions like Alzeheimer's Disease and Asthma. Also available in Spanish.
Other Subject Indexes:
MedlinePlus' Alternative Medicine
Librarian's Index to the Internet: Health & Medicine - Alternative Health

Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
One of thirteen centers funded by the National Institutes of Health to study alternative medicine. Information on current research and practice of alternative medicine, dealing with pediatric and adult cancer therapies (see Carol Ann Schwartz Cancer Initiative). Directories and annotated links including Women's Health Information Resources, Databases, Botanical Medicine Information Resources, and Information Resources for Research on Aging.

Specialized

Centerwatch - Clinical Trials database
For laypersons and professionals, lists over 7,500 trials recruiting patients, organized by disease, category, and state. Trial profiles, contact information, background info, news, an index of current research, a current listing of newly approved drug therapies, profiles of drugs currently in clinical research.

Acurian - Clinical Trials database
Another clinical trials site: state-by-state listings of clinical trials of cutting-edge drugs under investigation both by pharmaceutical manufacturers and/or academic research facilities. An academic resource, the Acurian site is quick to note the experimental nature of the treatments to which it links. Data on length of studies listed, a given drug's side effects, stage in the FDA approval process, and how to be included in a clinical trial.

Unconventional Cancer Therapies Manual - The British Columbia Cancer Centre
For patients and their families. This manual (3rd ed., 2000) offers tips on evaluating alternative cancer therapies and objective information on 46 of the most popular alternative treatments. The entries for each therapy balance advocate views with evidence-based evaluations from the professional medical literature. Useful for patients wishing to integrate alternative therapy into their cancer treatment.

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