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Natural medicine doesn't just involve "nutraceuticals," but extends to modalities like yoga and acupuncture that an increasing body of peer-reviewed research shows can be superior to drugs.
Natural medicine is an amazing field, full of inspiring stories and an ever-accumulating body of scientific research to support its increasingly popular views on health. In fact, at GreenMedInfo.com we specialize in dredging up from the National Library of Medicine's 27-million citation deep, seemingly oceanic database, highly promising clinical pearls indicating not only the value of natural substances in disease prevention and treatment, but sometimes their clear superiority versus drugs. Considering correctly prescribed medications are one of the top 3 causes of death, what's not to like about safe, effective food-based alternative like that?
But our project, and natural medicine at large, is not without its challenges, one of which is that it is quite easy to get caught up in the allopathic model of treating surface symptoms, albeit naturally. This 'natural allopathy,' if you will, entices people to look for 'natural cure' shortcuts and Band-Aids ('nutraceuticals') instead of address the deeper issues associated with avoiding, limiting and addressing environmental exposures, reducing stress, and improving diet and exercise, for instance. In a culture that pops hundreds of millions of doses of drugs and supplements on a daily basis, it is increasingly difficult to break free from the powerful psychological pull to ingest something -- be it a natural or synthetic "magic pill"; its effects real or imagined -- instead of address the underlying problems.
This is also why part of our project is to identify peer-reviewed published research from biomedical journals indicating that there are therapeutic actions, from walking to yoga, dietary changes to exercising, that are at least as effective and often superior to conventional drug-based treatments.
So, here is a good smattering of data that edifies the notion that sometimes, we do not need to "take anything" to stimulate our body's innate self-healing abilities, as non-invasive therapies – including doing nothing (i.e. watchful waiting) -- can accomplish favorable results:
- Colored light versus Benzyl peroxide for Acne: A combination of blue and red light irradiation therapy was found superior to 5% benzoyl peroxide in treating acne vulgaris without side effects. [i] Another study found blue light irradiation therapy alone as effective as 5% benzyl peroxide in the treatment of acne, but with fewer side effects.[ii]
- Dietary changes versus Drug Treatment for Hypertension: A high fiber, low sodium, low fat diet is superior to the beta-blocker drug metoprolol in hypertensive type 2 diabetic subjects. [iii]
- Acupuncture and moxibustion versus pharmaceutical treatment for Sudden Deafness: Acupuncture and moxibustion therapy was found to be superior in treating sudden deafness as compared with the routine drug-based therapy.[iv]
- Acupuncture versus Drug Treatment for treating Migraines: Acupuncture treatment exhibited greater effectiveness than drug therapy with flunarizine in the first months of therapy for migraine and with superior tolerability.[v]
- Dietary changes versus high-dose steroid for Crohn's disease: An elemental diet is as effective as high dose steroid treatment in improving Crohn's disease activity in children, while superior in supporting the growth of the children.[vi] Two additional studies found similar results in adults with mild-to-moderately active Crohn's disease.[vii] [viii]
- Aromatherapy massage versus Tylenol for Menstrual Pain: Aromatherapy massage on the abdomen was found superior to Tylenol for alleviating menstrual pain in high school girls.[ix]
- Hypnosis versus Valium for Anxiety: Hypnosis during embryo transfer is as effective as diazepam in terms of pregnancy ratio and anxiolytic effects, but with fewer side effects.[x]
- Yoga technique versus Antidepressant Drug for Depression: Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (a rhythmic breathing technique) was found superior to the drug imipramine in the treatment of depression.[xi]
- Yogic intervention versus Drug treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Yogic intervention consisting of poses and breathing exercises was found superior to conventional treatment in diarrhea-predominant IBS.[xii]
- Foot Reflexology versus Drug treatment for Insomnia: Foot reflexology (Wooden needle technique) was found superior to the drug Alprazolam in the treatment of insomnia.[xiii]
- Watchful waiting versus Drug treatment for childhood Ear Infection: Watchful waiting compares favorably to immediate antibiotic treatment for some children with non-severe acute otitis media.[xiv]
This sampling reflects only a minor subset of data within our Therapeutic Actions index, one of six databases on the GreenMedInfo.com open access site. Presently, we have 216 distinct actions indexed, which can be viewed on our Therapeutic Actions Display Page. You may be surprised how simple conscious acts such as chewing your food thoroughly, laughing or a walk in the forest can produce healing responses within the human body.
[i] P Papageorgiou, A Katsambas, A Chu. Phototherapy with blue (415 nm) and red (660 nm) light in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Br J Dermatol. 2000 May;142(5):973-8. PMID: 10809858
[ii] Lúcia H F de Arruda, Vanessa Kodani, Antonio Bastos Filho, Carla Bassanezi Mazzaro. [A prospective, randomized, open and comparative study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of blue light treatment versus a topical benzoyl peroxide 5% formulation in patients with acne grade II and III]. An Bras Dermatol. 2009 Oct;84(5):463-8. PMID: 20098847
[iii] P J Pacy, P M Dodson, A J Kubicki, R F Fletcher, K G Taylor. Comparison of the hypotensive and metabolic effects of metoprolol therapy with a high fibre, low sodium, low fat diet in hypertensive type 2 diabetic subjects. Diabetes Res. 1984 Nov;1(4):201-7. PMID: 6099231
[iv] Xin-hua Fan, Ya-nan Ding, Xiang-hui Chang, Yu-lu Ouyang, Qiang Xie. [Comparative observation on acupuncture-moxibustion and western medication for treatment of sudden deafness]. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2003 Jan;180(1):263-9. PMID: 20942277
[v] Gianni Allais, Cristina De Lorenzo, Piero E Quirico, Gisella Airola, Giampiero Tolardo, Ornella Mana, Chiara Benedetto. Acupuncture in the prophylactic treatment of migraine without aura: a comparison with flunarizine. Bone. 2009 Nov 26. PMID: 12390610
[vii] M Okada, T Yao, T Yamamoto, K Takenaka, K Imamura, K Maeda, K Fujita. Controlled trial comparing an elemental diet with prednisolone in the treatment of active Crohn's disease. Hepatogastroenterology. 1990 Feb;37(1):72-80. PMID: 2179093
[viii] G Zoli, M Carè, M Parazza, C Spanò, P L Biagi, M Bernardi, G Gasbarrini. A randomized controlled study comparing elemental diet and steroid treatment in Crohn's disease. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1997 Aug;11(4):735-40. PMID: 9305483
[ix] Myung-Haeng Hur, Myeong Soo Lee, Ka-Yeon Seong, Mi-Kyoung Lee. Aromatherapy massage on the abdomen for alleviating menstrual pain in high school girls: a preliminary controlled clinical study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012 ;2012:187163. Epub 2011 Sep 22. PMID: 21949670
[x] Patrick Catoire, Laurent Delaunay, Thomas Dannappel, Dominique Baracchini, Sabine Marcadet-Fredet, Olivier Moreau, Luc Pacaud, Daniel Przyrowski, Emmanuel Marret. Hypnosis versus diazepam for embryo transfer: a randomized controlled study. Am J Clin Hypn. 2013 Apr ;55(4):378-86. PMID: 23724572
[xi] N Janakiramaiah, B N Gangadhar, P J Naga Venkatesha Murthy, M G Harish, D K Subbakrishna, A Vedamurthachar. Antidepressant efficacy of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) in melancholia: a randomized comparison with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and imipramine. J Affect Disord. 2000 Jan-Mar;57(1-3):255-9. PMID: 10708840
[xii] Indu Taneja, K K Deepak, G Poojary, I N Acharya, R M Pandey, M P Sharma. Yogic versus conventional treatment in diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized control study. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2004 Mar;29(1):19-33. PMID: 15077462
[xiii] Yu-ling Gong, Yan-bo Zhang, Chang Han, Ying-yong Jiang, Yuan Li, Shi-chang Chen, Zeng-yu Liu. [Clinical observation on therapeutic effect of the pressing plantar reflex area with wooden needle for treatment of patients with insomnia]. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2009 Nov;29(11):935-7. PMID: 19994698
[xiv] David P McCormick, Tasnee Chonmaitree, Carmen Pittman, Kokab Saeed, Norman R Friedman, Tatsuo Uchida, Constance D Baldwin. Nonsevere acute otitis media: a clinical trial comparing outcomes of watchful waiting versus immediate antibiotic treatment. Pediatrics. 2005 Jun;115(6):1455-65. PMID: 15930204