The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

  • Support this site

    If you found the information here helpful, please consider supporting this site.If you found the information here helpful, please consider supporting this site.

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

    Key points about commonly used herbals

    Dr. Darrell Hulisz from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio has written a continuing education article on herbals.

    Here are the author’s take-away points, with additional references added.

    Echinacea purpurea and the common cold

    • Modestly effective for prevention in those at risk (people in contact with sick people).
    • Unclear if it can reduce the duration of cold symptoms.
    • The Cochrane review draws different conclusions.
    • Patients allergic to ragweed, or with progressive autoimmune disorders (eg, rheumatoid arthritis), and taking drugs that can be toxic to the liver should avoid echinacea.

    Garlic and cardiovascular disease

    • Use cautiously if taking blood pressure medicine, and monitor blood for orthostatic hypotension (eg, large decrease in blood pressure and possibly fainting when standing).
    • Avoid in the following situations
      • People with a history of orthostatic hypotension or unexplained dizziness.
      • Taking drugs that can increase bleeding, such as aspirin, warfarin and ibuprofen.
    • Dosing is not well defined, but to lower cholesterol, 600 to 1200 mg of garlic powder daily in divided doses, or up to 4 g of raw garlic daily may be taken.
    • A more negative perspective on garlic is here.

    Ginkgo biloba and Alzheimer’s disease

    • Reasonable to take by patients with Alzheimer’s disease who are also receiving medical care.
    • Its antiplatelet activity may make it inappropriate for people with a bleeding disorder or taking antiplatelet or anticoagulation drugs.
    • More info here.

    St. John’s wort and depression

    • OK for mildly depressed patient with an aversion to prescription drugs.
    • Depressed people should take it under medical supervision.
    • Check for drug interactions.
      • Recently published reviews of drug interactions with St. John’s wort are discussed here
    • The most studied dose for depression is 300 mg taken 3 times a day.
    • More info here.

    Valerian, chamomile, ginger and calming effects

    • Safe for most people.
    • Modest effectiveness.
    • People with chronic anxiety and insomnia should be under the care of a healthcare professional.
    • Here’s a summary of drugs and herbals to treat insomnia.

    Ginseng and energy

    • Lack of good study data.
    • Don’t exceed the labeled dosage since adverse effects may occur.
    • Caution in people who are on blood thinners, and those with cardiovascular or metabolic disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
    • I’ll add there is concern about its effect on the hormone system coupled with a lack of data about its safety in long-term use.

    Saw palmetto and the prostate

    • Men with obstructive urinary symptoms or benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) should not self-medicate with saw palmetto.
      • BPH symptoms can mimic more serious disorders — prostate cancer and prostatitis.

    Black cohosh and hot flashes

    • Results of studies are conflicting.
    • It appears to be safe, but use should be limited to not more than 6 months and should not be used in those with a history of estrogen-dependent tumors.
    • I’ll add there are different points of view on its liver effects here and here.

    1/5/08 18:53 JR

    Leave a Comment

    You must be logged in to post a comment.