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Alternative medicine in ear, nose and throat disorders

HANOVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE. The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery has established a Committee on Alternative Medicine. This move was partly prompted by the fact that Americans now spend over 23 billion dollars every year on alternative and complementary therapies. The Committee has just published a very interesting review of alternative/complementary therapies used for ear, nose and throat complaints. Among their conclusions:

  • Homeopathic remedies can be effective in reducing hay fever symptoms.
  • The homeopathic remedy Oscillococcinum probably reduces the duration of influenza.
  • Echinacea (purpurea and pallida, but not angustifolia) is effective in the prevention and treatment of upper respiratory infections.
  • Bromelain is effective in the treatment of sinusitis and has significant anti-inflammatory properties.
  • High doses (1 to 2 grams/day) of vitamin C reduce the duration of a cold.
  • The homeopathic remedy Vertigoheel is effective in the treatment of vertigo as is Ginkgo biloba (120- 240 mg twice daily).
  • Ginger (300-1000 mg 2 to 3 times/day) is effective in the treatment of nausea, indigestion and vomiting.
  • Hawthorn berry has been shown to be beneficial for atherosclerosis, arrhythmia, and hypertension (160-900 mg extract 2 to 3 times/day).

The Committee report concludes that physicians need to educate themselves about alternative and complementary therapies so that they can responsibly advise their patients "without shutting the door on their interest".
Asher, Banjamin F., et al. Complementary and alternative medicine in otolaryngology. Laryngoscope, Vol. 111, August 2001, pp. 1383-89 [69 references]

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