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Complementary Medicine / Alternative Medicine

How does acupuncture work?

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Acupuncture is a type of treatment that involves inserting very thin needles into different depths, through the skin of a person at specific points on the body.

Research shows it can help relieve pain, and is used for a wide variety of other complaints.

However, there is limited evidence for its effectiveness in areas other than pain, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

It remains unclear how scientifically the acupuncture works. Some people claim that it works by balancing vital energy while others think that it has a neurological effect.

Acupuncture appears to be controversial among Western doctors and scientists.

What is acupuncture?

What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves inserting needles at certain points of the body.

An acupuncurist may inject needles into the body of a individual, in order to balance their strength.

It is claimed that this can help boost wellbeing and may cure some illnesses.

Conditions it is used to include various types of pain such as headaches, problems with blood pressure and, among others, whooping cough.

How does it work?

Traditional Chinese medicine explains that health is the result of a harmonious balance between the complementary extremes of “yin” and “yang” of the life-force known as “qi,” pronounced “chi.” Illness is said to be the result of a force imbalance.

Qi is said to flow through meridians, or pathways, in the human body. Those meridiens and flows of energy are accessible through 350 body acupuncture points.

Inserting needles with appropriate combinations into these points is said to bring the flow of energy back into proper balance.

There is no scientific evidence that the meridians or acupuncture points exist, and it is difficult to prove either they do or they don’t, but numerous studies suggest that acupuncture works for certain conditions.

Neuroscience has been used by some experts to explain acupuncture. Acupuncture points are seen as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. The stimulation increases blood flow while simultaneously triggering the activity of natural painkillers in the body.

Uses

Research in Germany has demonstrated that acupuncture can help relieve tension headaches and migraines.

The NCCIH note that it has been proven to help in cases of:

  • low back pain
  • neck pain
  • osteoarthritis
  • knee pain
  • headache and migraine

They list additional disorders which may benefit from acupuncture but need further scientific confirmation.

In 2003, a number of conditions were listed by the World Health Organization (WHO), in which they say acupuncture has been proven effective.

These include:

  • high and low blood pressure
  • chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
  • some gastric conditions, including peptic ulcer
  • painful periods
  • dysentery
  • allergic rhinitis
  • facial pain
  • morning sickness
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • sprains
  • tennis elbow
  • sciatica
  • dental pain
  • reducing the risk of stroke
  • inducing labor

Other conditions for which the WHO says acupuncture can help but need more evidence include:

  • fibromyalgia
  • neuralgia
  • post-operative convalescence
  • substance, tobaccor and alcohol dependence
  • spine pain
  • stiff neck
  • vascular dementia
  • whooping cough, or pertussis
  • Tourette syndrome

The WHO also suggests it may help treat a variety of infections, including some urinary tract infections and epidemic hemorrhagic fever.

However, they point out that “only national health authorities may determine the diseases, symptoms and conditions for which treatment with acupuncture might be recommended.”

Benefits

Acupuncture can be beneficial in that:

  • Performed correctly, it is safe.
  • There are very few side effects.
  • It can be effectively combined with other treatments.
  • It can control some types of pain.
  • It may help patients for whom pain medications are not suitable.

The NCCIH is suggesting that people should not use acupuncture instead of seeing a conventional health care provider.

What to expect

According to traditional Chinese medical theory, acupuncture points are located on meridians, through which vital energy runs. That energy is called “qi” or “chi.”

An acupuncturist may evaluate the patient and determine their condition, insert one or more small, sterile needles, and offer guidance on self-care or other alternative therapies, such as chinese herbs.

Depending on where the needles are to be inserted the patient will be asked to lie on their back, front, or one side. The acupuncturist should use sterile needles, which are single-use, disposable. The patient may experience a very brief stinging or tingling sensation as each needle is inserted.

Occasionally, after the needle is inserted, there is a dull ache at the base of the needle which then subsides. Acupuncture tends to be relatively painless.

Sometimes after insertion the needles get heated or stimulated with electricity.

The needles are to remain in place for 5 to 30 minutes.

The number of required treatments depends on the individual. For several months a person with a chronic condition may need one to two treatments per week. An acute problem usually gets better after 8 to 12 sessions.

Risks

All therapies have risks as well as benefits.

The possible risks of acupuncture are:

  • It is dangerous if a patient has a bleeding disorder or takes blood thinners.
  • Bleeding, bruising, and soreness may occur at the insertion sites.
  • Unsterilized needles may infect the patient.
  • In rare cases, a needle may break and damage an internal organ.
  • When inserted deeply into the chest or upper back, there is a risk of collapsed lung, but this is very rare.

The United States (U.S.) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate acupuncture needles as medical devices.Their manufacture and labelling needs to meet certain standards. The needles shall be sterile, non-toxic, and registered by a licensed practitioner for one use only.

As with any alternative treatment, it is best to use it in cases of chronic or severe illness alongside conventional therapies.

How do I find an acupuncturist?

To find a licensed practitioner, visit the National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Certification Commission (NCCAOM) web site. Most states require that this board licenses the practitioners. Practitioners are advised to ask about their experience and training.

The NCCIH points out that some insurance policies are now covering acupuncture, but it is important to first check whether the costs are being covered.

According to Costhelper Health, it will cost from $75 to $95 for an acupuncture session and medical consultation and cost between $50 and $70 for a routine visit.

Complementary Medicine / Alternative Medicine

Safe and effective home treatments for kidney infection

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Kidney infections are caused by an overabundance of germs in the kidney. Another name for it is Pyelonephritis. Kidney infections can be serious enough to necessitate hospitalization, so home treatments are usually insufficient to treat them.

Because kidney infections have the greatest potential to harm the kidneys and spread to other parts of the body, they are often the most serious of all urinary tract infections (UTIs). Other UTIs can affect the bladder, ureters, or urethra, but they are less likely to cause harm.

Antibiotics are usually required to control the bacterial overgrowth that causes the condition. Home remedies, in addition to these, may aid in the body’s ability to remove the kidney infection as rapidly as feasible.

If someone feels they have a kidney infection, they should consult a doctor as soon as possible.

When to consult your doctor

If you experience any of the following signs of a possible kidney infection, you should consult a doctor immediately.

  • a fever of more than 103 ℉
  • In the urine, there is blood or pus, a thick white or yellow liquid.
  • they are unable to keep fluids down due to acute vomiting.

If a person has a history of kidney disease or stones, they should seek medical help right away to avoid further kidney damage.

The following are signs that a person should see their doctor as soon as possible if they suspect they have a kidney infection:

  • foul smelling urine
  • frequent urination
  • nausea
  • Is it safe to use home remedies?
  • a burning sensation when urinating
  • chills
  • flank pain, or pain in the sides or back

If a person’s symptoms worsen while taking medications to treat a UTI, they should seek medical attention. This could indicate that their infection has spread to their kidneys.

Is it safe to use home remedies?

It is not a good idea to treat kidney infections with only home treatments.

A person will need antibiotics to treat a kidney infection since it can cause severe symptoms and lead to kidney damage.

Home treatments, on the other hand, can help a person’s recovery and lower the chances of a recurrence of the kidney infection.

Before using any supplements as a home remedy, a person should see their doctor to ensure that they will not interact with any other prescriptions they are currently taking.

Symptom-relieving remedies

Drink plenty of water

Some home treatments and self-care practises that may help minimise kidney infection symptoms are as follows:

Drink plenty of water

When a person has a kidney infection, flushing bacteria from the kidneys is important. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, drinking at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day can assist.

If a person has kidney failure, their doctor may advise them to reduce the amount of fluid they drink.

Consume cranberry juice

Some specialists disagree with the premise of drinking cranberry juice to improve kidney health. However, some research suggests that cranberry juice may assist to reduce the quantity of bacteria in the body when a person has a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Mice with UTIs who drank cranberry juice had lower bacterial counts in their urinary tract, according to a 2018 study published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

The researchers hypothesised that acids found in cranberry juice, such as malic, citric, and quinic acid, protect the urinary system.

Rest

While this cure may appear simple, it has advantages. After a kidney infection, getting lots of rest assists the body to mend.

Use warm, moist heat

Applying a heating pad or a warm water bottle to the area of flank pain might assist to relieve pain and relax irritated nerves.

To prevent the risk of burns, a person should always cover the burning object with a cloth. They should only use heat for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.

Heating pads can be found in stores and on the internet.

Drink green tea or take green tea extract

Green tea extract may have an antimicrobial effect on common bacteria strains that cause UTIs, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

Green tea extracts were administered to bacterial cells in the lab by the researchers. They discovered that green tea suppressed bacterial development over time.

It’s difficult to say whether the outcomes would be the same in humans because the study was conducted in a lab with samples. Green tea may, however, provide health benefits when a person has a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Green tea extract can be found in stores.

Use non-aspirin pain medications instead of aspirin.

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help with a kidney infection’s fever and discomfort.

Aspirin is a blood thinner that might cause high blood levels in a person’s urine, therefore it’s better to avoid it.

If a person is unsure whether or not they can use an over-the-counter pain treatment, they should consult their physician.

Effectiveness

A kidney infection cannot be cured alone with home treatments.

If a person suspects they have a kidney infection, they should consult a doctor for an antibiotic prescription.

Treatments with medicine

In order to treat a kidney infection, doctors will usually prescribe antibiotics. If a person’s symptoms are severe, they may need to be admitted to the hospital for intravenous antibiotics.

Even if they are feeling better, a person should always finish their antibiotic course. This may help to prevent the infection from returning.

If a person has recurrent kidney infections, a doctor may need to examine them further to determine the cause.

Some men, for example, may have an enlarged prostate, which can clog the urinary path and allow bacteria to grow more easily. Others may have a kidney stone that is preventing urine flow.

To address any underlying condition contributing to recurrent kidney infections, doctors may prescribe medications or suggest surgical procedures.

Sources:

  • https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2017.00542/full
  • http://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-disease/kidney-problems/kidney-infection.html
  • https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2013.00162/full
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325887
  • https://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/kidney-(renal)-infection-pyelonephritis

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Complementary Medicine / Alternative Medicine

9 powerful earache home treatments

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Earaches are often dismissed as a small annoyance, but they can be really painful. Some home cures can help while you wait for medical attention or antibiotics to take effect.

Ear pain can be excruciating, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or do much else other than think about it. An earache is particularly tough for many children to live with.

People with significant ear pain should always consult a doctor, especially if it is their first time. However, there are several home treatments that can be used to relieve less severe earaches or to reduce pain.

This article looks at nine excellent home remedies for people who are suffering from ear pain.

Causes of ear pain

ear pain

The most prevalent cause of ear pain is ear infections. Inflammation and pressure building in the ear when it becomes infected can cause excruciating pain.

Because infections from other parts of the body can impact the ear, people with ear infections frequently experience other symptoms such as sinus pressure or a sore throat. An ear infection can also be treated as a separate condition. The majority of ear infections are caused by bacteria rather than viruses.

An ear infection can only be diagnosed by a doctor. Antibiotics should not be taken without a prescription, nor should symptoms be mistaken for an ear infection.

Earaches, on the other hand, are not usually caused by an ear infection. Ear pain can be caused by a variety of factors.

These are some of them:

  • Referred pain: Infections or inflammation elsewhere in the body could cause this. A toothache, for example, might cause agonising pain in the ear.
  • Chronic conditions: TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder is one of them.
    Infections of the skin: If they’re in or near your ear.
  • Allergic reactions: These could come from a variety of sources, including soap, shampoo, and jewellery.
  • Water: If it becomes stuck in the ear, it might cause pain.
  • Pressure: Changes in altitude might have an impact on ear pressure. This normally goes away on its own, with a popping sound.

Ear infections can spread to the jaw and other parts of the body if not addressed. They can also cause the ear and result in dangerously high fevers.

People should see a doctor if they have symptoms of an ear condition that do not go away on their own after a day or two. People should seek medical help right once if the pain is severe, accompanied by a high fever, or includes hearing loss.

9 earache home treatments

If an earache isn’t too bad, or if a person is waiting for medical treatment to work, they might want to try these home remedies to reduce the pain.

Here are nine great home remedies for people who are suffering from ear pain:

1. OTC (over-the-counter) drugs

NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications) can temporarily relieve earache pain. People who are suffering from ear pain should attempt the following remedies:

It’s important to remember that giving aspirin to newborns and young children is dangerous. This is due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome, a potentially fatal condition.

Before giving over-the-counter medications to a kid under the age of two, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises parents to consult a doctor.

In newborns and young children, these medications can have substantial negative effects. It’s also worth noting that the recommended dosage for children is frequently lower than the recommended dosage for adults.

2. Heat

Heat from an electric heating pad or a hot pack can help to relieve ear inflammation and pain.

For 20 minutes, place a heat pad in the ear. People should use the heated pad to massage their neck and throat for the best benefits.

The heating pad should not be too hot to bear. Never fall asleep with a heating pad on your body, and never let a child use a hot pack without adult supervision.

3. Cold

An earache can be relieved with the use of a cold pack.

Wrap ice in paper towels or use a cold pack that has been frozen and then covered with a light cloth. For 20 minutes, apply this to the ear and the area immediately beneath the ear.

The cold should not be painful, and parents should not apply ice to their children’s skin.

Heat, rather than cold, provides relief for some people. Others find that alternating heat and cold packs (20 minutes hot, 20 minutes cold) provides the most effective pain relief.

4. Ear drops

Fluid and earwax can cause pressure in the ear, which can be relieved using ear drops.

Before using ear drops on a child, people should read the recommendations carefully and consult a doctor.

People should only use ear drops for a few days because they are not a substitute for prescription ear drops or antibiotics. People should see a doctor if their symptoms reoccur.

It’s important to note that ear drops should not be used on a youngster who has tubes in his or her ears or whose eardrum has ruptured.

5. Massage

Ear pain that radiates from the jaw or teeth, or that causes a tension headache, can be relieved with gentle massage.

The tender area, as well as any surrounding muscles, can be massaged. Massage the muscles of the jaw and neck, for example, if the area behind the ear hurts.

Massage may also aid in the relief of ear infection pain.

  • Apply downward pressure starting just behind the ears and moving down the neck.
  • Work your way forward to the front of the ears while continuing to apply downward pressure.

This form of massage may aid in the drainage of extra fluid from the ears, as well as preventing the pain from worsening.

6. Garlic

Garlic has long been used as a pain reliever in folk medicine. It may have antibacterial characteristics that can help fight infection, according to some research.

It should not be used as a substitute for antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. Instead, consider include garlic in your antibiotic regimen to hasten relief.

Try eating a garlic clove every day to prevent ear infections.

Garlic ear drops may also help to relieve pain and prevent infection from worsening. Cook two or three cloves till brown in two teaspoons mustard or sesame seed oil, then strain. After that, put a drop or two in each ear.

7. Onions

Onions, like garlic, can help fight infection and relieve pain. Onions, like garlic, are not a substitute for medical care.

Microwave an onion for a minute or two to soften it. After that, filter the liquid and put a few drops in each ear. Allowing the liquid to leak out of the ear after lying down for 10 minutes is a good idea. As needed, repeat the process.

8. Sucking

Sucking can assist relieve pressure in the Eustachian tubes by reducing pressure in the tubes.

Allowing and encouraging nursing babies to nurse as frequently as possible may make them feel better. Hard candy or cough drops can be sucked by both adults and children.

9. Breast milk

Antimicrobial characteristics are found in breast milk. According to certain studies, a mother’s breast milk alters depending on the bacteria that a newborn is exposed to.

This suggests that in babies, breast milk is the most effective. Adults, on the other hand, may benefit from breast milk, according to some authorities. To gain the maximum benefits from breast milk, infants and children should continue to nurse.

Topical administration of breast milk to nursing babies, children, and adults may also be beneficial. Breast milk is unlikely to cause any major negative effects, even if it doesn’t.

People can try putting a few drops of breast milk in each ear and repeating the procedure as needed.

Sources:

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10594976
  • http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ear-infection/tc/ear-infections-home-treatment
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4232055/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318057
  • https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm263989.htm
  • http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/09/21/earache-home-remedies.aspx
  • http://www.reyessyndrome.org/aspirin.html

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Complementary Medicine / Alternative Medicine

Echinacea: Health benefits, side effects, and uses

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Echinacea is a daisy-like genus of blooming plants that is commonly used in cold treatments.

Supporters claim that the supplement improves the immune system and helps to minimize the symptoms of infections and other ailments, such as the common cold.

Researchers have yet to confirm that it has these advantages.

We’ll look at some of Echinacea’s potential applications and what the scientific research says about it.

What is it?

Echinacea
Echinacea’s antibacterial and antiviral characteristics may aid in the treatment of a variety of ailments.

The word Echinacea refers to a group of flowering plants native to North America.

Coneflowers are another name for these plants. Depending on the species, the petals are pink or purple, and they surround a spiky dark brown or red seed head, or cone.

Echinacea comes in nine different types, three of which are used to make herbal remedies:

  • E. angustifolia, which has narrow petals
  • E. purpurea, which has purple petals
  • E. pallida, which has pale petals

It’s probable that different species have distinct health advantages.

Traditional medicine uses echinacea, but experts have yet to show that it offers any health benefits.

Benefits

Echinacea plants contain a diverse range of active ingredients. Some of these molecules may be antibacterial and antiviral, while others may help the immune system in other ways.

Phenols are found in all kinds of Echinacea, as they are in many other plants. A variety of enzymes and cell receptors are controlled by phenols.

They may have advantageous antioxidant effects and protect the plants from infections and UV radiation damage.

The uses

Echinacea-based products are used by people all over the world to help with the treatment of a variety of ailments, including:

  • vaginitis
  • bronchitis
  • some inflammatory conditions
  • coughs and colds
  • upper respiratory infections
  • HIV
  • AIDS
  • gingivitis
  • influenza
  • canker sores
  • yeast infections
  • ear infections

Some people also take Echinacea to aid in the healing of wounds.

However, the majority of evidence for these applications is anecdotal. There are few scientific studies that back up the use of Echinacea in any treatment.

Types

Echinacea can be found:

  • fresh or dried, sometimes in teas
  • squeezed, as juice
  • as a dietary supplement, in pills
  • as an extract, in capsules
  • as a preparation to apply to the skin

Adverse effects

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), taking Echinacea by mouth for a short period of time is probably safe, but the long-term consequences are unknown.

After taking it, some people have acquired a rash, which could be the result of an allergic response. A person with a history of allergic responses is more prone to experience this.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the risk of other drugs interfering with Echinacea is probably low.

Herbal therapies are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, people can’t be sure what they’re getting when they take a herbal cure. It’s possible that the product doesn’t contain everything that the label claims.

Is it effective?

Various claims have been made concerning Echinacea’s ability to fight infections, including the one that causes the common cold.

Colds and Echinacea

Echinacea has been demonstrated in several trials to aid in the prevention of colds.

For example, scientists found that taking Echinacea reduced the risk of acquiring a cold by roughly 58 percent and cut the length of a cold by 1.4 days in a study of over a dozen research.

However, another study indicated that Echinacea had no effect on the common cold, and that it only cut the duration of symptoms by half a day at best.

“Echinacea products have not been proved to provide benefits for treating colds,” according to a Cochrane analysis published in 2014.

Echinacea and COVID-19

Echinacea has yet to be proven to aid with the symptoms of a cold, and there is limited evidence that it can help with other conditions.

Some echinacea preparations may help treat viral respiratory infections, according to the authors of a review published in 2011. They do warn, however, that the lack of uniformity across Echinacea medications may make it difficult for people to identify effective treatments.

Meanwhile, a 2020 study suggests that a commercial medication containing Echinacea extract could help prevent severe coronavirus-related respiratory illnesses.

Other scientists, on the other hand, point out that this limited experiment did not examine the product’s effect on the virus that causes coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19).

Furthermore, the product has only been evaluated on cell lines and viral particles, not on people. The research was also not peer-reviewed, and it does not prove that Echinacea can assist in curing COVID-19 in any way.

The substance could be risky to people with autoimmune diseases, according to the scientists who issued the warning.

There is no proof that echinacea or any other herbal medicine ingredient, including COVID-19, may prevent or cure serious respiratory diseases.

Conclusion

Echinacea may assist to enhance the immune system, but further research is needed to establish this. It hasn’t been proven to cure a viral infection or any other illness.

Echinacea is sold dry, in teas, as liquid extracts, or as capsules over the counter at pharmacies, health food stores.

Before taking Echinacea or any other herbal supplement, consult your doctor because they may interact with your current medications.

Sources:

  • https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/746567/echinacea-treating-common-cold-randomized-trial
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3586990/
  • https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/echinacea
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252684
  • https://wa.kaiserpermanente.org/kbase/topic.jhtml?docId=hn-2081004
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058675/
  • http://www.cochrane.org/CD000530/ARI_echinacea-for-preventing-and-treating-the-common-cold
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10825459
  • http://www.cmaj.ca/content/173/9/1043
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2254517/
  • http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(07)70160-3/abstract
  • https://www.researchsquare.com/article/rs-15282/v2

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