Placebo effect or real benefit? Dr Philippa sets out the medical profession’s position on homeopathy, acupuncture and more
Lily was suffering with hot flushes and sweats, feeling irritable and not sleeping well. She felt these were related to the menopause; her periods had been getting more irregular and she hadn’t had one in seven months.
Although Lily came for advice she wasn’t keen on taking any medication – not just not HRT. She wanted to use complementary medicine – in this case herbal medications and acupuncture – to treat her symptoms and wanted to know if I was aware of any issues surrounding these.
We had a long chat about the pros and cons of any medication, including herbal ones. I was able to tell her that there is some evidence for some herbal medicines for hot flushes – namely black cohosh and St John’s wort. She is trying black cohosh for three months and will get back to me!
There is a wide variety of complementary and alternative therapies. A complementary therapy is used alongside traditional Western medicine; an alternative therapy is used instead of. It is useful to have information to make an informed decision about what may be best for you. Please do talk to your doctor about any complementary medicine you may be taking, as active components may interact with other medication you may be on. And even if there is no evidence for a treatment, as long as your doctor doesn’t feel there are any risks, if you feel a treatment is helping you then
go for it!