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Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in ALS/MND Practical Strategies to Differentiate Positive Integrative Medicine from Fraudulent Health Claims Amy Ellis, MPH, RD, LDN, CNSD Carolinas Neuroscience and Spine Institute Carolinas Medical Center Charlotte, North Carolina.
Practical Strategies to Differentiate Positive Integrative Medicine from Fraudulent Health Claims
Amy Ellis, MPH, RD, LDN, CNSD
Carolinas Neuroscience and Spine Institute
Carolinas Medical Center
Charlotte, North Carolina
“CAM is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.”
US National Center for Health Statistics
Source: US Department of Health and Human Services, September 2004
“Contain a dietary ingredient intended to supplement the diet. Examples of dietary ingredients include vitamins, minerals, herbs (as single herbs or mixtures), other botanicals, amino acids, and dietary substances such as enzymes and glandulars.”
United States Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) 1994
Advertised as a detoxification treatment for cancers, AIDS, and MND. No evidence of benefit but danger of a condition called “argyria,” an irreversible silver accumulation in skin and soft tissues.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (leucine/isoleucine/valine) and L-Threonine
Studies have shown no beneficial effects, but increased respiratory compromise in MND. (Tandan R et al., 1996; Testa D et al., 1989)
Calcium/magnesium supplement. May contain lead, arsenic, mercury and other heavy metals.
Advertised to treat or cure multiple diseases by making the blood pH alkaline. Laboratory analysis has shown that coral calcium supplements contain significant amounts of lead and other heavy metals.
Promoted to treat joint pain, neurological diseases, and cancer. Active ingredients Bladderwack and Laminaria can contain high concentrations of heavy metals and iodine. High doses of the ingredients Mountain Ash and Pau D’Arco have been associated with kidney damage and other toxicities.
Advertised for relief of joint pain. Risk of permanent renal damage.
Amygdalin (Laetrile, Vitamin B-17)
Used for thousands of years in TCM to treat respiratory ailments. Can produce a metabolite of cyanide. Evidence of lethal blood cyanide levels in several patients (Sayre JW et al., 2006; Moertel CG et al., 1982). Should only be used under close supervision of experienced herbalists.
Guarana, Yohimbe, and Ephedra/Ma Huang/Eptionin
Used as energy boosters. May dangerously raise blood pressure and heart rate in susceptible populations. Some over-the-counter products contain high doses of these stimulants.
Used as an overall body tonic. Can cause liver damage and interactions with antidepressants.
Used for wound healing. Carcinogenic and can cause liver damage.
Pokeweed and Sassafras
Used as overall body tonics. Carcinogenic.
Used as an energy enhancer. Can cause liver damage
Used as a cough suppressant. Carcinogenic.
Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.)
Open-minded Skepticism: Educating Our Patients to be Wise Consumers
“I do not pretend to know what ignorant men are sure of.”
“There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything you hear or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking.”
“None of us is as smart as all of us.”Ken Blanchard