It’s clear where you can find the most reliable information on alternative therapies. But what this resource is called can be a puzzle.
The doctor who created it calls it the Natural Health Encyclopedia, formerly The Natural Pharmacist. You can find it on some websites as The Complementary Therapies Natural Health Encyclopedia. The owner of the site provides it to libraries as the Natural and Alternative Treatments database.
Whatever its name, this is a wonderful resource to check out herbs and supplements that someone suggests you try. Some of these really work; many of them don’t.
Steven Bratman, M.D., of Fort Collins, Colorado, created this encyclopedic resource and has written almost all of it. He has also written many books about herbs and supplements. When we talked a few days ago, he told me that he regularly updates and expands the database.
Dr. Bratman, unlike most M.D.’s started out as a true believer in alternative medicine. “I once took alternative medicine on faith,” he writes. “Then I learned about double-blind studies, and it was like a tornado blowing down a house of cards.”
His article about double-blind studies is the best I’ve ever read. With his permission I include it on my website . It gives a strong argument why one cannot trust anecdote, traditional use, clinical experience, or testimonials.
While Dr. Bratman is virtually the sole author of what is now generally called the Natural and Alternative Treatments database, he doesn’t own the copyright. The current owner and copyright holder is EBSCO Information Services , which holds the copyright, maintains the database, and licenses it. EBSCO includes the Natural and Alternative Treatments database in online reference sections that they provide to many libraries around the country.
But in my poking around the Internet I’ve also discovered that there are easier ways for people with Web access to read it. It is online as “The Complementary Therapies Natural Health Encyclopedia” at all HCA hospitals including the Alleghany Regional Hospital in Low Moor, Virginia and Memorial Hospital Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Florida.
All of these sites provide this wonderful resource to you at no cost. Perhaps the best place to start is by reading the article on “Diabetes, General.” Here you can read about many alternative treatments like aloe, chromium, fenugreek, gymnema, ginseng, and vanadium, and then click on links to articles about each of them. You will very likely be surprised about the scientific evidence — or lack thereof — and safety concerns about some of these supplements.
This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.