Although a large number of alternative medicine professionals have their patients' best interests in mind, shams abound. Some are dangerous. You can't bumble your way through the world of alternative medicine and expect to stay out of harm's way. Make sure that your practitioner is open to conventional medicine and will work with your doctor's therapy and doesn't insist on being the alternative to your doctor's therapy.

The ABCs on Vitamins and Minerals
You might be surprised to know that, except for a few basic vitamins and a few minerals, we have limited scientific information about most supplements on the market. The bottom line? If a supplement works for you, then it works.

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Look for the "USP"
Nutritional supplements are classified as food products, so the FDA does not regulate them. Manufacturers can sell them in any quantity or combination they want, with little quality control. The pills might not even contain the substance claimed. Always look for a small "USP" on the label. This means that the United States Pharmacopeia, a reliable nonprofit science organization, has tested and verified the supplement. Check out the U.S. Pharmacopeia's website at to get more details.

What's the Real Deal on Echinacea?
Come cold and flu season, we see hordes of patients taking the herbal powder echinacea to ward off a budding bug. Unfortunately, the very few studies on echinacea in Germany and the United States have produced mixed results. And a few even hinted at negative affects. You might be better off putting your money toward a piping hot bowl of chicken soup, which has been proved beneficial by scientific research and grandmas everywhere.

The resources you need before finding a doctor

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