Placebo ef­fect or real ben­e­fit? Dr Philippa sets out the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion’s po­si­tion on home­opa­thy, acupunc­ture and more

My Weekly Special - - | Real Life -

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!

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