I am always skeptical of herbs and such. They are not regulated by the FDA. I do take Cal/Mg and fish oil, but Hawthorn sounds like an unproven supplement. I read about the "benefits" but here are the side effects: (notice the arrhythmia one)
Excessive intake of hawthorn can produce sedation, dizziness, hypotension, cardiac arrhythmias, and tremors. Due to possible effects on the uterus, pregnant women should not take hawthorn. Patients who are sensitive to other types of Rosaceae plants should not take hawthorn. Hawthorn can potentiate cardiac glycoside action of digitalis. Hawthorn may enhance the activity of digoxin, a medication used for irregular heart rhythms.
I know I won't try it, but if anyone here does, please let me know what you think.
I have heard that hawthorn helps the heart in a variety of ways. I agree that taking herbs can be dangerous because they are not regulated...but there is no doubt in my mind that there are herbs as well as other alternative medicines that can be helpful and in many cases less toxic than the man-made drugs we take. The problem is that there are very few doctors who specilize in this kind of medicine and just toying around with it by oneself is not the answer (at least not for me). What makes me mad is that we as patients tend to just accept that because these alternative treatments are not regulated by the FDA, we take the pharmaceutical stuff that's prescribed to us by our doctors and go about our merry way. By the way, my beta blocker has cardiac arrhythmia listed as a side-effect as well, even thought that is in part what it is supposed to be treating. So I don't see why we are so quick to accept modern western medicine while shunning alternative medicine just because it isn't regulated. The real reason these herbs are not regulated is that there is no money in them. They are natural substances, and therefore cannot be patented like drugs created in a lab. Insurance companies typically don't cover visits to naturopaths, holistic doctors, or orthomolecular specialists. So my question is what if some of these herbs, like hawthorn, really are the answer? Who's going to really put this to the test?
Yes, you are quite right, but I didn't say that because I haven't tried! I have tried very many "natural" supplements to find that they had bad side effects for me. I think, because I am so sensitive to my body, I am also sensitive to other things. For instance, St. John's Wort is a very acceptable remedy in the medical community. I have been advised to take it by doctors, at times. Nope, I get side effects. I also do NOT jump on taking what is prescribed for me. I am very bad about that. I just got lucky with the two prescriptions that I do take. When I get a cold, I suffer. I will not take decongestants nor antihistamines! I can't. So you see, that is why I am very cautious about herbal supplements. I have a kitchen cabinet full of what I can no longer take. But if someone else wants to try, let me know. I will watch here. The people here seem to be sensitive like me.
And, yes, cardiac arrhythmia is a side effect on most meds, like dizziness. Mostly because people have these things when they are nervous and that makes these symptoms much more likely, when taking a new med. But they usually don't put them on side effects for supplements for that reason. They don't really have to.
Be skeptical of claims for herbal suppliments and "natural" remedies. Remember that natural DOES NOT equate to beneficial or even neutral. There is a reason why drug companies (in or marketing to countries with free economy medicine as opposed to sociallized medicine) go to all the time, trouble and mind-boggling expense of isolating the active compounds in naturally occuring herbal concoctions.
Herbal remedies may have beneficial compounds in them but they may also have non-beneficial or even TOXIC compounds in them as well! Digitalis is a useful heart medication but ingesting a tiny amount of the leaf of the plant will flat out KILL you. In the "natural isn't necessarily neutral" vein one might place snake venom. 100% natural but frequently lethal. There is a jelly fish (box jelly IIRC) which can kill an adult in under 2 minutes and its venom will destroy heart cells in culture on contact and will kill 100% of the cultured cells in a couple of minutes. They are looking at compounds in that creature's venom for possible medical uses but the venom itself is easily the most toxic naturally occurring substance on the planet.
Once again - "natural isn't necessarily neutral". Oh, and did you run hawthorne past your cardiologist? ???
Thanks for the feedback on Hawthorn, I am a great believer in natural medicine and very cautious in taking pharmaceutical medications. I have been managing my arrythmia with meditation, very healthy eating, moderate exercise, apple cider vinegar (organic) and cayenne pepper daily. I used to have palpitations days on end and now only get the occasional one. So I think I must be doing something right. (Hoping)
Good for you! I'm interested to learn more about your methods!
RNRita, I didn't mean to come off like I was accusing you of being pro-western med and anti-holistic med. My point was just that we are all captive to western meds (at least in the U.S.) because of a lack of information about natural medicines. By the way, I'm like you, hate to take pills. I can't really complain about my beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, at least not yet anyway, because they could be saving my life. I do believe in modern western medicine, I just don't like it's pompous, holier than thou attitude.
BionicBill, good points...but again, why isn't medical research done to isolate the good compunds in "natural" remedies or identify the the good "natural" remedies...or have there in fact been scientific studies that I'm just not aware of and how extensive have they been?
I didn't think you were! lol I just wanted to clarify that I have read everything I could extensively on anything that MIGHT help a little and used to try things that, sometimes, were quite dangerous and I didn't know it. I believe in alternative medicine. I've even tried accupuncture. People swear by it. It wasn't for me, though. I do, however, like accupressure. It helped my fibromyalgia. Too bad I can't afford some of these things because they don't take insurance!
In most cases if there are useful compounds in natural remedies they have already been studied or are being studied now.
The problem is that they have to first determine if there really is a useful effect then they have to prove the compounds are not toxic (or at least not TOO toxic) and lastly that they have beneficial effects in humans. Things that look good in rodent testing often do nothing for lower primates (monkeys) and if they don't help lower primates they probebly won't help us. Compounds that help lower primates do not necessarily help humans.
Oh and for all the folks who believe in natural cures and herbal medicines look at life expectancies in countries that rely heavily/solely on natural/herbal versus western meds. Remember, in countries like the U.S. with free market health systems the drug companies and medical service providers have a VESTED INTEREST in keeping us alive and active as long as possible. If we die too soon they cannot suck more evil money out of us. In countries with socialized medicine there is NO incentive to keep people alove longer - in fact there is a strong fiscal DISincentive to keeping people alive longer. SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) was severe only in countries with socialized healthcare. In the U.S. it was at worst MARS (Moderately Acute Respiratory Syndrome) because the Doctors here get paid for keeping alive. In the Netherlands patients with cancers that are frequently managed or put into remission in the U.S. are just labled "terminal" and given an assisted suicide - even if the patient does not WANT to go into the long dark!
Sorry for the digression into free market versus controlled/socialized medicine. I would likely either not be alive today or still be suffering from uncontrolled/uncontrollable a-fib and irregularly irregular heartbeat if I lived in Europe or Canada. Yeah, my health insurance had a $45k bill for my (ultimately unsucessful) ablation and a $30k bill for the pacemaker implant just 11 days later but I am here to feel sorry for myself for having the pacemaker. In Europe and Great Britain people DIE waiting for bypass operations that over here we routinely get following an emergency room visit for heart pain. We now have/use drugs to improve blood flow to the heart while in Europe they still install stents. One way costs more but is a LOT LESS uncomfortable for THE PATIENT. The other way is less comfortable and helps fill the Doctors' quotas of surgery. All in favor of drugs over surgery raise your hands.
A lot of herbal remedies that DO have beneficial compounds in them have them in such low concentrations that you'd have to drink litres of the herbal tea to see any effect.
Drink your herbal concoctions all you want. But stay in contact with the person who gets paid more if you stay alive and take the chemicals developed by the evil, greedy pharmaceutical companies who only have a chance to recouple their $multi-million investments if you are around to take their products. If I have to choose between altruism and selfishness (enlightened self-enterest) I'll go for selfishness every time.
There is a reason why "Insurance companies typically don't cover visits to [alternative medicine practicioners]". There is no scientific evidence that such parctices work. You can trust me on this. If there were good evidence that alternative medicine worked then the insurance companies would pay for it - HECK they'd probably DEMAND we go there first. It would be cheaper than evil, greedy, conventional western medicine is. They could save tons of money by paying for visits to such practitioners. Everybody thinks that the insurance companies are in bed with the Doctors and drug companies. UH_UH!! They are in bed with their investors/shareholders. If costs could be reduced by funding visits to alternative medicine practitioners the shareholders would demand such.
Here is an interesting excerpt from the (well documented) Wikipaedia article on Orthomolecular medicine:
"Nutrients may be useful in preventing and treating some illnesses, but the conclusions of medical research are that the broad claims of disease treatment by advocates of orthomolecular medicine are unsubstantiated by the available evidence. The American Medical Association stated in 1997 that 'much of the dietary intervention stressed by alternative healers is prudent and reasonable', but described as a 'myth' the idea that 'most diseases are caused by faulty diets and can be prevented by nutritional interventions'. Critics have described some aspects of orthomolecular medicine as food faddism or quackery. Research on nutrient supplementation in general suggests that some nutritional supplements might be beneficial, and that others might be harmful."
And, BionicBabe, the real reason herbs are not regulated is MOST ASSURREDLY NOT that there is no money in them. There are mega-tonnes of money to to be made from them (check out the figures on that industry). Federal low doesn't ALLOW the FDA to regulate herbal products and dietary suppliments. That's why some suppliments are no good. Not because the alleged ingredients are of no benefit but because the quality of the product is not subject to the same level of FDA scrutiny that pharmaceuticals are.
Did you every get any more information about hawthorn? I will ask my cardiologist about it next time I see it, in the meantime if you get any more insight, please let me know.
Bionic Bill, thanks for your information. I beg to differ on several of your points about health care in this country versus socialized medicine, but doubt this thread on "hawthorn" is the place to do that. Let me just say that there are lots of statistics out there that indicate socialized medicine, although not perfect, has many benefits, especially for people who could not receive medical care otherwise. Check out PBS Frontline's "Sick Around the World." It is a documentary comparing the health care sytems of 5 different countries. No, it's not by Michael Moore, although "Sicko" is a pretty compelling (yes, one-sided, but none the less eye opening) documentary as well. Furthermore, I don't think we are any where close to implenting any kind of socialized health care system in this country. At the very most, depending on who is in office come January 2009 (both executive and legislative) we might see more government regulation such as caps on premiums, laws to ensure that everyone can get insurance one way or another and maybe just maybe a national database to store medical information, which I know is scary to some people, but when you look at the stastics on how many dealths are the result of medical error, I can't help but think a database might not help prevent some of that, not to mention cut way down on administrative costs.
Wow lots of interest and opinions here so I may as well add my input.
there have been clinical trials and it was proven to treat heart failure and minor arrhythmias - but -it lowers blood pressure and increases the effects of some heart medications so adding it yo your regimen could conflict with the balance of what your doctor is trying to achieve - so consult your doctor before adding hawthorn.
I am a definite fan of looking at 'natural alternatives' and I seem tp remember reading that lots of scinrists are convinced that in the rain forests there exist cures for many of our serious medical conditions.
Thank you for everything!
Appreciate your feedback on Hawthorn. I have done a lot of research in the meantime about Hawthorn, It seems to be a very good product to keep the heart healthy but unfortunately it also lowers blood pressure and I already have mine pretty low, so, it's not for me. But all the other things I am trying seem to work very well. I also have a Camomile tea with lemon and honey about 1 hr before I go to sleep, seems to keep my heart pumping calmer and I don't wake up so often any more with a racing pulse. The Cayenne pepper does a fantastic job as well, when I get palpitations I drink a glass of fruit juice with 1/2 teaspoon of Cayenne and 5 min later my heart goes nice and normal again. When I feel very anxious I do deep breathing exercises and meditation. All combined is working really well for me. I never took the medication (flecainide)prescribed to me, tried it for two days and my heart raced even more. I think unless there is serious damage to your heart which needs medication or an operation, the natural method is still my preferred way to go.
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