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Time Magazine and Trends in Natural Health Care PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Trends in Natural Health Care as Captured in Time Magazine's 2005 Review

Where are we seeing natural medicine and natural health care increasingly accepted, or rejected?

I just encountered, at the bottom of a pile at bedside, a "Special Issue" of Time (December 5, 2005) which looked at "The Year in Medicine from A to Z." I had saved it after getting to the "A" and learning that the magazine was blessing acupuncture's arrival in the mainstream, sort of. (See below.) While this four-month-old article is not new information - though news finally read counts as recent to the reader - the magazine's selections of research of note provide insights into what this mainstream medium is feeding the general public regarding CAM and natural health care. Here are extractions.

A is for Acupuncture  While citing increased scientific evidence that acupuncture "can relieve many kinds of pain," the writers focused on a study which showed sham points were as effective as inserting in recommended points. An interesting choice.

B is for Black Box Warnings   Adverse effects of some pharmaceuticals took a series of hits. The FDA's move to alert users to adverse effects of Celebrex and Strattera through "black box" warning labels was presented as a trend. Under "P is for Painkillers," aspirin was also categorized as needing stronger label warnings. And questions about both effectiveness and adverse effects of anti-psychotic medications was highlighted in "S is for Schizophrenia."

C is for Cancer  Taking 1200 mg of calcium daily was supported for its association with reducing colon polyps and colon cancer. In addition, sunlight and its effects on vitamin D production are associated with helping prostate cancers grow. Getting out in the sun rather than supplementation of vitamin D got the plug.

E is for Episiotomy  The routinely performed surgery, episiotomy, long opposed by midwives and other natural child birth supporters, was blasted for "often doing more harm than good." The reporters noted that mothers who receive them have been found to be "at greater risk of injury, take longer to heal and don't have a better sex life."

F is for Fish Oil    The research on the value of omega-3s, via supplement or oily fish, is presented as "continuing to accumulate." One downside is that those with implantable defibrillators appear to have increased risk of abnormalities with "too much omega-3."

L is for Laughter  The writers spoke of a study which found increased bloodflow with laughter and decreased blood flow under stress.
Normal Cousins lives. Perscribing laughter through the humor movies and books which some hospitals and clinics are beginning to stock, and prescribe, got a plug. (However, under "A is for Asthma", the writers noted that many asthmatics have events following prolonger laughter.)

M is for Marijuana   The analgesic and anti-inflmmatory effects of marijuana "bolster the case for the medicinal use of marijuana, making the 'patient pot laws' that have passed in 11 states seem less like a social movement than a legitimate medical trend."

O is for Obesity   Those long warning of the effects of the detrimental effects of "SAD" (the Standard American Diet) will not be surprised, but pleased to see the editors noting that "increased consumption of energy-dense, nutrient poor food high in saturated fats and sugar, combined with a decrease in exercise" are causal factors of the worldwide obesity epidemic.

P is for Parkinson's   Excercise received another plug as the writers highlighted the importance of "vigorous regular exercise in early adult life" to cut the risk of onset of the disease later.

R is for Right to Die  The Schiavpo case's ultimate resolution by the courts, allowing Terri Schiavo a right to die and her huspand to remove a feedling tube after 15 long and expensive years on life-support, supports a general move toward dying as a time in which individuals can have more say.

S is for Sleep  Raise your hand if you fail to take a strong enough dose of this medicine. The writers noted particularly a study which showed overweight patients tended to get fewer hours of sleep weekly.

S is for (Second Hand) Smoking  The public health move to ban smoking in public places is strongly supported by a series of articles cited regarding health problems from second-hand smoke.

T is for Tea  Oddly, the article focused on the benefits from drinking up to four cups of  chamomile tea, rather than green tea.  Instant tea was blasted for high levels of flouride.

V is for Vitamins
   A decidedly mixed review was offered among the three vitamins specifically noted. The writers noted the positive association between high dietary intake of B6. They also cited, on the negative side, a study which "suggested vitamin D and calcium supplements don't reduce the risk of fractures in elderly women," and the vitamin E trial which said a daily 400 IU dose of vitamin E "does nothing to prevent heart attack or stroke."

W is for Waist  In another link to food and obesity, the writers noted a study which showed that "having a large waist is associated with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome."

Z is for Zinc    Supplementing with zinc was reported as linked to better school outcomes in 7th graders and with preventing and lessening symptoms of pneumonia and diarrhea in infants.

Comment:  The article strongly underscores the what we all (now) know aspects of good health which propelled the natural health revolution: good food, exercise, pleasure/laughter,  vitamins, sleep/stress reduction and even natural (minimized surgical interventions) childbirth. The IBN&R review of trends in natural products and natural foods sales shows how some of this information has already been taken up into purchasing habits -- particularly with the burgeoning sales of omega-3 products and of natural/organic foods. Given the significant fall in the sales of calcium, the negative news on this supplement as a guard against fractures appears to have overwhelmed whatever gains may have come with the positive value of calcium in warding off colon cancer.


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