Items in AFP with MESH term: Phytotherapy
ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease is characterized by the development of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, which are associated with neuronal destruction, particularly in cholinergic neurons. Drugs that inhibit the degradation of acetylcholine within synapses are the mainstay of therapy. Donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine are safe but have potentially troublesome cholinergic side effects, including nausea, anorexia, diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. These adverse reactions are often self-limited and can be minimized by slow drug titration. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors appear to be effective, but the magnitude of benefit may be greater in clinical trials than in practice. The drugs clearly improve cognition, but evidence is less robust for benefits in delaying nursing home placement and improving functional ability and behaviors. Benefit for vitamin E or selegiline has been suggested, but supporting evidence is not strong. Most guidelines for monitoring drug therapy in patients with Alzheimer's disease recommend periodic measurements of cognition and functional ability. The guidelines generally advise discontinuing therapy with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors when dementia becomes severe.
ABSTRACT: Over-the-counter dietary supplements to treat obesity appeal to many patients who desire a 'magic bullet' for weight loss. Asking overweight patients about their use of weight-loss supplements and understanding the evidence for the efficacy, safety, and quality of these supplements are critical when counseling patients regarding weight loss. A schema for whether physicians should recommend, caution, or discourage use of a particular weight-loss supplement is presented in this article. More than 50 individual dietary supplements and more than 125 commercial combination products are available for weight loss. Currently, no weight-loss supplements meet criteria for recommended use. Although evidence of modest weight loss secondary to ephedra-caffeine ingestion exists, potentially serious adverse effects have led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban the sale of these products. Chromium is a popular weight-loss supplement, but its efficacy and long-term safety are uncertain. Guar gum and chitosan appear to be ineffective; therefore, use of these products should be discouraged. Because of insufficient or conflicting evidence regarding the efficacy of conjugated linoleic acid, ginseng, glucomannan, green tea, hydroxycitric acid, L-carnitine, psyllium, pyruvate, and St. John's wort in weight loss, physicians should caution patients about the use of these supplements and closely monitor those who choose to use these products.
Treatment of the Common Cold - Article
ABSTRACT: The common cold is a viral illness that affects persons of all ages, prompting frequent use of over-the-counter and prescription medications and alternative remedies. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms (e.g., cough, nasal congestion, rhinorrhea). Dextromethorphan may be beneficial in adults with cough, but its effectiveness has not been demonstrated in children and adolescents. Codeine has not been shown to effectively treat cough caused by the common cold. Although hydrocodone is widely used and has been shown to effectively treat cough caused by other conditions, the drug has not been studied in patients with colds. Topical (intranasal) and oral nasal decongestants have been shown to relieve nasal symptoms and can be used in adolescents and adults for up to three days. Antihistamines and combination antihistamine/decongestant therapies can modestly improve symptoms in adults; however, the benefits must be weighed against potential side effects. Newer nonsedating antihistamines are ineffective against cough. Topical ipratropium, a prescription anticholinergic, relieves nasal symptoms in older children and adults. Antibiotics have not been shown to improve symptoms or shorten illness duration. Complementary and alternative therapies (i.e., Echinacea, vitamin C, and zinc) are not recommended for treating common cold symptoms; however, humidified air and fluid intake may be useful without adverse side effects. Vitamin C prophylaxis may modestly reduce the duration and severity of the common cold in the general population and may reduce the incidence of the illness in persons exposed to physical and environmental stresses.
Dietary Supplements for Osteoarthritis - Article
ABSTRACT: A large number of dietary supplements are promoted to patients with osteoarthritis and as many as one third of those patients have used a supplement to treat their condition. Glucosamine-containing supplements are among the most commonly used products for osteoarthritis. Although the evidence is not entirely consistent, most research suggests that glucosamine sulfate can improve symptoms of pain related to osteoarthritis, as well as slow disease progression in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Chondroitin sulfate also appears to reduce osteoarthritis symptoms and is often combined with glucosamine, but there is no reliable evidence that the combination is more effective than either agent alone. S-adenosylmethionine may reduce pain but high costs and product quality issues limit its use. Several other supplements are promoted for treating osteoarthritis, such as methylsulfonylmethane, Harpagophytum procumbens (devil's claw), Curcuma longa (turmeric), and Zingiber officinale (ginger), but there is insufficient reliable evidence regarding long-term safety or effectiveness.
ABSTRACT: Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a common condition affecting older men. Typical presenting symptoms include urinary hesitancy, weak stream, nocturia, incontinence, and recurrent urinary tract infections. Acute urinary retention, which requires urgent bladder catheterization, is relatively uncommon. Irreversible renal damage is rare. The initial evaluation should assess the frequency and severity of symptoms and the impact of symptoms on the patient's quality of life. The American Urological Association Symptom Index is a validated instrument for the objective assessment of symptom severity. The initial evaluation should also include a digital rectal examination and urinalysis. Men with hematuria should be evaluated for bladder cancer. A palpable nodule or induration of the prostate requires referral for assessment to rule out prostate cancer. For men with mild symptoms, watchful waiting with annual reassessment is appropriate. Over the past decade, numerous medical and surgical interventions have been shown to be effective in relieving symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Alpha blockers improve symptoms relatively quickly. Although 5-alpha reductase inhibitors have a slower onset of action, they may decrease prostate size and alter the disease course. Limited evidence shows that the herbal agents saw palmetto extract, rye grass pollen extract, and pygeum relieve symptoms. Transurethral resection of the prostate often provides permanent relief. Newer laser-based surgical techniques have comparable effectiveness to transurethral resection up to two years after surgery with lower perioperative morbidity. Various outpatient surgical techniques are associated with reduced morbidity, but symptom relief may be less durable.
ABSTRACT: Numerous reports in the medical literature and popular media have discussed the effectiveness of various nonhormonal agents in reducing menopausal hot flash symptoms. Data for these therapies are limited, and most of the studies have been conducted in women with a history of breast cancer. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and venlafaxine have been shown to reduce hot flashes by 19 to 60 percent and were well tolerated by study participants. Soy isoflavones reduced hot flashes by 9 to 40 percent in some trials, but most trials showed no difference compared with placebo. Black cohosh and red clover also have had inconsistent results, with some trials showing benefit and some no difference compared with placebo. Soy isoflavones, black cohosh, and red clover were well tolerated in clinical trials. Other agents that have been used to alleviate hot flashes include belladonna/ergotamine tartrate/phenobarbital combination, dong quai, evening primrose oil, gabapentin, ginseng, mirtazapine, trazodone, vitamin E, and wild yam, but few data regarding their effectiveness have been published. Further randomized controlled trials are needed.
ABSTRACT: Herbs, vitamins, and other dietary supplements may augment or antagonize the actions of prescription and nonprescription drugs. St. John's wort is the supplement that has the most documented interactions with drugs. As with many drug-drug interactions, the information for many dietary supplements is deficient and sometimes supported only by case reports. Deleterious effects are most pronounced with anticoagulants, cardiovascular medications, oral hypoglycemics, and antiretrovirals. Case reports have shown a reduction in International Normalized Ratio in patients taking St. John's wort and warfarin. Other studies have shown reduced levels of verapamil, statins, digoxin, and antiretrovirals in patients taking St. John's wort. Physicians should routinely ask patients about their use of dietary supplements when starting or stopping a prescription drug, or if unexpected reactions occur.
Medical Treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia - FPIN's Clinical Inquiries
Best Alternatives to Statins for Treating Hyperlipidemia - FPIN's Clinical Inquiries
Mild Cognitive Impairment in the Elderly - Editorials